In the beginning there was wheat. But more and more people are turning away from wheat. Allergies are on the rise. What do you do if you don’t eat wheat?
There are lots of possibilities. Asian cuisine uses rice pasta in Pad Thai and thin vermicelli noodles in Vietnamese dishes. These noodles can be served hot or cold. Japanese soba noodles made with buckwheat are good for salads with vegetables and a sesame dressing. Or hot in soup with tempura, egg, pork, tofu, and other ingredients.
There are also pastas made with a combination of flours including rice, soy, corn, potato, and quinoa. Bionaturae, DeBoles, and Pastato make a variety of pasta types including spaghetti, elbow, rotini, ziti, penne, and fusilli; they’re all gluten-free.
And if you’re not allergic to gluten, try spelt as an alternative. Spelt is an ancient form of wheat that’s more easily digestible and tastes more like wheat than the other grains. Vita-Spelt offers shells, spaghetti, and elbow pasta, and some stores carry a white spelt variety that’s lighter and looks more like regular pasta.
Brown or White?
Rice has been a source of food since 2500 BC. It can be a nutritious part of your diet, containing calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, selenium, omega-3s, and fatty acids.
Brown rice is a whole grain. Both the germ and bran are preserved, giving you a nutty, chewy flavor and loads of nutrition. White rice, on the other hand, tends to be milled, polished, and enriched. Manufacturers strip away the natural health to offer a product that cooks quickly and easily, then they add vitamins back in.
For better health, brown is a superior choice. You might also try basmati or wild rice. All of these require longer cooking time. But if you’re in a hurry, and we all have those times, then go for the white rice. Sometimes quick and easy is what you need.
Oil or Butter?
Nothing tastes like butter. Rich, creamy butter spread on warm bread. Artichokes dipped in melted butter. Crisp, flaky pie crust made with butter. But times have changed. People are cutting down on saturated fats. As wonderful as butter tastes, you may want another option. Is there something good?
Olive oil is a great alternative. It contains MUFAs – monounsaturated fatty acids – which are considered a healthy dietary fat. These can help lower your cholesterol, normalize blood clotting, and benefit insulin levels.
Extra virgin olive oils are oils that are pressed mechanically, without the use of chemicals or excessive heat. Cold pressed is the result of the first pressing, more expensive, and more suited for uncooked dishes like salads, dipping bread, condiments. Extra virgin oil has a fruity taste and can range from pale yellow to bright green. Whether for cooking or eating cold, there are tons of olive oil choices, so let your taste buds do the picking. Don’t just go by price. Choose something you like.
All of these substitutions work in our Easy Weekly Meals ecookbooks, and so do many more. Visit our Healthy Substitutions Page for more ideas.
Image courtesy of Simon Howden / free digital photos.