10 Simple food swaps that make gluten-free eating a cinch

Aug 27, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. ET

If you're going gluten-free or just cutting back, it can be daunting trying to figure out how to replace your favorite foods and ingredients.

This list will help you seamlessly transition into gluten-free eating while still enjoying the foods and flavors you love.

1. Instead of noodles, use zoodles

Zoodle recipes

Zoodles (or zucchini noodles) are pretty much the best thing ever to happen to gluten-free noodle lovers. With a spiralizer and some veggies, you'll be slurping down bowls of zucchini (or carrot, or sweet potato, or cucumber) noodles in no time. Try them out in one of these 15 zoodle recipes. No spiralizer? You can also swap wheat noodles for rice noodles, found in the international section of your grocery store, or shirataki noodles, usually found near the tofu in the refrigerated foods section.

2. Instead of wraps, use rice paper rolls

Mexican rice paper rolls

Image: Tales of a Kitchen

If you're obsessed with lavash or tortillas, you don't have to miss out. Use rice paper rolls instead, and turn your favorite wraps into fresh rolls. You can try it with your favorite wrap ingredients (smoked turkey and Swiss? Chicken Caesar salad?) or try something new, like these Mexican fresh rolls.

More: 4 Mistakes that halt gluten-free diet success

3. Instead of bread, use leafy greens

collard turkey burrito

You can try using gluten-free buns or sandwich bread, but if they aren't available (or aren't to your liking), using lettuce or other greens to make wraps is a fun and low-carb way to eat your favorite sandwiches and burgers. Using butter lettuce or sturdier collard greens, place the filling of your choice in the center of a leaf, and wrap, roll or bundle around the filling as you see fit. Try it out with these collard-wrapped turkey burritos (just make sure to use gluten-free taco seasoning).

4. Instead of flour as a thickener, use cornstarch

gluten free turkey gravy

For thickening gravies and cream sauces, you can't go wrong with cornstarch. Just mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water for each cup of sauce, and whisk into the simmering sauce. You can also use arrowroot powder or potato starch. For soups in which a roux is called for, you can add creaminess by using pureed beans or mashed potatoes as a thickener. Or you can take some of the soup and blend until smooth, then add it back to the pot to give it a thicker consistency. Try the cornstarch trick to make this silky turkey gravy.

5. Instead of flour or breadcrumbs as a breading, use...

parmesan almond crusted cod

If you're frying or baking something and want a crispy coating, you don't need to rely on flour or traditional wheat breadcrumbs. You can easily make your own breadcrumbs using gluten-free bread. Or you can give your favorite gluten-free crackers or cereal a whirl in the food processor and use those crumbs instead. You can also use tortilla chips (or a corn tortilla you've toasted) or potato chips or even chopped nuts to create a crunchy coating for your next meal. Try out this Parmesan and almond-crusted cod, and you'll be a believer.

6. Instead of soy sauce, use liquid aminos

clean eating gluten free chinese food recipes

Soy sauce is pretty ubiquitous in Asian food, but unfortunately it contains gluten. Luckily you can still enjoy your favorite recipes by using wheat-free tamari or liquid aminos instead. Try out liquid aminos in these gluten-free paleo Chinese food recipes.

More: Our top 10 Gluten-free Friday recipes of 2014

7. Instead of overnight oats, try chia pudding

cinnamon cashew chia pudding

Some grocery stores don't stock gluten-free oats, and other times they're just out. Overnight oats are a great make-ahead breakfast, but when you can't get your hands on gluten-free oats, try chia pudding instead. This super-nutritious breakfast combines chia seeds with yogurt, milk and fruit or other flavorings for a meal that will keep you going until lunch.

8. Instead of store-bought dressing, make homemade

homemade salad dressing recipes

You may not think it, but many store-bought salad dressings contain gluten in the form of "modified food starch," which is used as a thickener. Making your own salad dressing is super easy, and you'll be able to keep it gluten-free while also leaving out the additives, preservatives and fillers that are so common in store-bought dressings. Don't have a recipe in mind? Start with one of these 10, and go from there.

9. Instead of malt vinegar, use apple cider vinegar

apple cider vinegar

Image: Mike Mozart/Flickr

Malt vinegar is derived from barley, which contains gluten. For recipes that call for malt vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar instead. You should also be careful with distilled white vinegar, which can sometimes contain wheat, but rice wine, white wine, red wine and sherry vinegars should all be safe to use.

More: 18 Gluten-free snacks that don't taste like cardboard

10. Instead of pre-flavored, DIY at home

pumpkin bacon ice cream

Flavored nuts, chips, ice cream, coffee — these processed foods often contain gluten, though you might not expect it. Luckily you can easily DIY your own flavorful versions at home. Try these mixed nuts, spicy garlic and chili chips, pumpkin-bacon ice cream or iced chai lattes for gluten-free versions of your favorite snacks.

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