Dustin found out in 2011 that he has a gluten allergy and must eat gluten-free. His allergy isn’t as severe as individuals with Celiac disease (who can become very sick from only a few crumbs of gluten), but it does wreck havoc on his body. We both work full-time, so when he first began eating gluten-free, (I’m embarrassed to admit) he mostly relied on eating out options. Gluten-free takeout options were widely available in Atlanta.
When we moved to Albany, NY, the options for eating gluten-free takeout were no longer as widely available. It was cold at night, and it wasn’t as easy to pop around the corner for a quick bite to eat. I also had some much-needed time off during a transition between jobs, so it was the perfect opportunity for a fresh start.
And, it has worked. I used to dread cooking – and I mean all of it. The meal-planning, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning – each step felt like a chore. Now that we’ve found recipes we love, and I’ve learned how to plan a shopping list (on one trip, we usually purchase ingredients for 2-3 recipes to cook at night or on weekends and a slow-cooker recipe to prepare the night before work one day), I look forward to cooking and cherish it as an outlet. And this transformation took place in less than 3 months! (God is faithful when we take steps hoping to help our little family :).)
And there are other beneficial side effects. Without making much of a conscious effort to do so, we eat more greens, less sodium, and definitely less animal protein (in exchange for plant protein). And, we avoided the post-marriage weight gain.
Here is our top 10 list of our staple, go-to recipes we’ve cooked, edited, and cooked again: Gluten-free recipes that actually taste good! (Each is linked to a Pinterest pin, as we keep all of our recipes on this Pinterest board and collect ones to try on this board.)
10) The Original Old Bay Shrimp Fest – Modifications: we usually do only ¼ of the recipe of the shrimp, sausage and corn; decrease the Old Bay we use drastically; but use the recommended quantity of potatoes as these come out soft and well-marinated
(Thanks to Dustin’s mom, Mrs. Kathy, for the next four recipes, which came from books full of recipes she gave to us or her own recipe collection.)
9) Italian Chicken – We cut cheese quantity in half and use part-skim.
8) Turkey Sausage Soup – This recipe is so easy. Boil rice; mix can contents, turkey sausage, and rice together; simmer. (A Howard favorite.)
7) Maple Chicken – I save this recipe for a night when I’m craving comfort food, and the kick of sugar hits the spot. We serve with baked potatoes and salad.
6) Almond-Crusted Lemon Chicken - I LOVE THIS RECIPE. We miss “crunch” because you can’t cook with bread crumbs. This recipe is such a good option to give a crunch and get the health benefits of almonds.
- Hints: Serve with broccoli or herbed red potatoes. It is good left-over as well.
- Modifications: We usually cook it for closer to 75-80 minutes (not the 55-60 minutes), but it doesn’t dry out.
5) Broccolini and Chicken Spaghetti – This is one of our favorite meals as it’s naturally gluten-free with an easy gluten-free spaghetti substitution
(Thanks to my Aunt Lynn for the next three recipes. Check out her fabulous blog for healthy, doable, budget-friendly recipes from a mom of four busy kids.)
4) Chicken Cacciatore - Yummy Italian.
3) Crock-Pot Tortilla Soup: I LOVE our crock pot. My favorites to make are easy recipes that come from cans so that I can pour it all in the morning in less than 5 minutes (I’m NOT a morning person), set to low, and come home to dinner ready-to-eat.
- Hints: This recipe doubles well.
- Modifications: I decrease the broth just a bit to thicken.
2) Baked Salmon with Lemon and Raisin Relish – This is our default “special night” recipe. We can’t always buy salmon and stay on our grocery budget, but the health benefits and delicious factor are worth the splurge every once in awhile. The relish is sweet and subtle and has received rave reviews from guests. Serve with baked potatoes and on a bed of mixed greens or spinach.
1) Slow-Cooker Turkey Breast with Wild Rice Stuffing – This recipe was outside my comfort zone. I do not have as “sophisticated” a palette as some of my cultured foodie friends. But, this recipe was fantastic and much easier to make than I expected! The neutral rice balances the flavorful cranberries.
- Hints: Use sliced almonds instead of hand-slivering almonds (which I did the first time I made this – not recommended).
- Modifications: We try to cut down our animal protein, so we usually only prepare with about 1-2 lbs. of turkey but keep the ingredients of the rest of the recipe the same.
Bonus! Yay! Spicy Kale Soup with Chicken Sausage, Sweet Potatoes and Gold Potatoes - I know, I know – who really eats kale? But, kale is unbelievably budget-friendly (about $2 for a huge bunch), and this recipe is unexpectedly delicious. The potatoes melt in your mouth; the kale is tender and flavorful.
- Hints: We always double the recipe (except for the kale – because we couldn’t fit it all in the pot – and the chicken sausage). It’s easy to adjust the spice-factor by selecting chicken sausage flavors that are more or less spicy.
- Modifications: We skip the red pepper because I’m not a fan of super-spicy soups.
SIDES AND DESSERTS – Super Bonus! Yay!
“The Best Broccoli of Your Life” - We usually pick and choose what we add to the broccoli based on what we have on hand.
Baked Potatoes - We love making baked potatoes as they’re easy and budget friendly. We rinse the potatoes, poke holes with a fork, coat with just a bit of olive oil (½ tsp) and rub in with hands, and salt and pepper. Then, put in the oven for 90-100 minutes – yes that long. It sounds like forever, but the potatoes are crispy on the outside and so soft and fluffy on the inside. We usually cook these ahead of time and in batches (e.g. 4 at a time).
Nut and Fruit Dinner Salad – We usually use whatever we have on hand, including greens (field greens or spinach), nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts or pine nuts) – baked at 350 for 8 minutes in a baking dish lined with aluminum foil for easy clean-up, diced fruit (e.g. pears, strawberries or blueberries), shredded cheese (I prefer part-skim types). And this lemon dressing is a breeze: 1 tbs. lemon juice (about half a lemon), 2 tbs. olive oil, ¼ tsp. dried basil.
Berry Crisp – Dustin eats this stuff like it’s candy. We sometimes even skip the berries and take the nut/date mix to pour on oatmeal or vanilla ice cream.
Please tell me about your favorite recipes and where you find them. We’re always searching for more to try.