Since going without gluten and refined sugars, I'm meeting more and more of my friends (or friends' friends) who have gone (or just found out that they need to go) without gluten. I haven't been doing this for very long, but I'd like to help. So, here's some of my advice if you're new to starting gluten-free:
1) Don't get overwhelmed.
If you already are, please know that you do not have to be. Yes, at the beginning, it can be very overwhelming, because there's so much information out there, especially with the Internet (but the Internet is also a wonderful tool for finding GF help!). But you really can make the transition into being gluten free, and it can be good.
Here's some of the best websites I've found that helped bring all this information down to a "normal person's" level, and helped me to calm down and collect my thoughts:
Gluten Free Sugar Free: http://simplysugarandglutenfree.com/
Gluten Free Girl and the Chef: http://glutenfreegirl.com/
Gluten Free Goddess: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/
For even more ideas and links, check out my Links tab...and also there are some good articles posted under my FAQ, "What is Gluten?"
2) Focus on what you CAN eat, not on what you can't.
This is some of the best advice that I found when first doing my GF research. There really is so much that you can still eat; you just have to look at it in a different way. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, plain meat, spices...There's so much you can do with these! You can use fruit to sweeten things. Almonds have become one of my new favorite snacks. You can also make almonds into almond butter, almond milk, almond flour...but I digress. :)
3) Start simply.
In the first few weeks of going gluten free, I didn't make any recipes. I didn't experiment in the kitchen--I wasn't sure I wanted to. What if something I made turned out terrible?? But the more I adjusted to what I could eat, I began to get a little braver. Then (thanks to some help from Gluten Free Girl's website) I started tinkering...and learned that, even when I do have a recipe that's a complete flop, it's okay. I learn to laugh at myself and move on. I'll try another recipe tomorrow. And I'm learning not to be such a perfectionist in the kitchen. Just let the flour go flying, lick the batter, and laugh at the mysterious gobs of...something...on the cookie sheet (but it still tastes sooo good!).
Here's some of the first basic meal ideas that I started with...let your imagination take over :)
Fruit (of course)
- you can freeze banana halves, grapes, etc, for a quick snack
unsweetened applesauce (I like adding cinnamon)
plain yogurt mixed with a spoonful of 100% Smuckers fruit preserves, and a squirt of agave nectar
smoothies (with any combination of milk, yogurt, fruit, even spinach!)
- if you can't have milk, almond or coconut milk are good substitutes
salad; watch the dressing ingredients
spaghetti (most grocery stores offer GF pasta noodles)
soup (I have some easy recipes for Butternut squash; tomato; white bean chicken chili)
"grilled cheese" (a.k.a. quesadillas with corn tortillas in the George Foreman grill or on the skillet)
Warm corn tortillas in skillet with olive oil till soft; sprinkle tortillas with cheese and roll up in 9x13" pan. Pour a lg. can of enchilada sauce (I think Old El Paso is GF) over tortillas, and sprinkle with more cheese. Bake 350 for about 30 min., or till bubbly. Can add chicken, chopped green onions, etc.
dried fruit, without added sugar (apricots, dates, and raisins usually don't have added sugar)
vegetable chips (They're those colorful ones by Terra-something brand, with sweet potato, etc; I love them)
Most basic corn tortilla chips and some salsas are good, just check package ingredients.
So that's for starters...Find what you like, and go with it. Have fun!
"A large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life, by him who interests his heart in everything." ~ Laurence Sterne
"Adventure: the pursuit of life." ~ Daniel Roy Wiarda