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May 19, 2013 11:08 PM

How to teach someone to cook GF

A close friend of mine recently discovered a gluten intolerance and has decided that she now needs to learn to cook. I am a decent cook and know my way around my own kitchen and food preferences, and she has asked me to teach her how to cook so she can live a healthier, GF life. The problem is, I've never taught anyone to cook, much less teaching someone to cook GF.

My first instinct is to help her master some basic techniques and go-to recipes based in items that are naturally gluten free. If anyone has recommendations for simple prep, gluten free dishes, that would be much appreciated! One of her requests is not for things that require her to stand over a stovetop for very long -- she is impatient and hates cooking already, so we're going to avoid those recipes altogether for now.

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  1. Basic technique will go far! Also, work with your friend to understand food labels, so that she can purchase items with confidence. The celiac associations often have published lists or guides available for purchase.
    That said, if your friend doesn't like to cook, then she could do well by going to talk w/ the GF specialists at her local Whole Foods.

    1. For very fast stuff I would go for basics.

      How to pan fry or bake meat (chicken breasts, pork chops, steak). How to cook eggs (fried, scrambled, poached). How to make a salad and microwave or saute vegetables, and some basic seasonings for them. How to boil and bake potatoes and cook rice.

      Then a few basic stick in the oven and forget casseroles.

      A lot of the easy/cheap/nutritious options are stewed dishes or soups, which are easy, but do take time to cook.

      1. My daughter cooks gluten free. She is only 22,so she was just beginning to cook when she discovered gluten was the problem. To complicate things, she is also vegetarian and allergic to soy :(

        She got a good GF cookbook and started trying out the recipes, step by step. Hearty salads with roasted vegetables involve learning to roast or grill, making a dressing, learning about what makes a complete meal, etc. she makes all kinds of "burgers, balls and loaves" from lentils, beans,veg and eggs (and different seasonings) then makes sauces for dipping or spreading. Just between these 2 things ( loaves and salads) she can make a wide variety of meals.

        she has learned a lot about cooking -and is now branching out to baking a little (baking is a whole different challenge).

        1. I'll definitely get a gluten-free cookbook - there are many good ones out there.

          There are so many items that contain gluten, so she needs to be careful but there are some decent substitutions. One gem I found in the Asian market was pasta (elbow macaroni and the like) made with rice flour - excellent substitute.

          1. Even though she isn't that experienced at cooking, does she have much ingredient knowledge - i.e. does she know what grains are GF and which aren't? If not, start with rice and point her in the direction of a website with a comprehensive list.

            As you've already said, start with the basics (as per the above, different ways of cooking meat, vegetables, eggs etc) and build on it with the flavours she likes. No/minimal cooking options - have her look at a decent recipe collection of salads.

            My fast options for GF - smoked mackerel and potato salad, larb gai (ground chicken in lettuce cups), brown rice with tofu and edamame, scrambled eggs on GF toast, steak, salad and oven wedges, stir-fried vegetables with chicken or shrimp on rice, rice noodles or 'naked'.

            Popcorn. Fresh fruit. Raw nuts and roasted seeds. Yoghurt. Cucumber and carrot sticks with hummus. A cube of cheese. That's my list of go-to snacks that are coincidentally GF.