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During the holidays, food traditions move front and center. But if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, your favorite family dishes might be off-limits. However, with a little know-how from Jennifer Welper, executive chef for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, you can convert grandma's special casserole or dad's secret sauce into a just-as-delicious, gluten-free version. Stock up on Jen's recommended pantry alternatives for easy recipe substitutions.
In recipes that call for all-purpose wheat flour (like that scrumptious topping on apple crumble or breading on chicken), use a gluten-free flour instead. Some common options are:
Some recipes use wheat flour as a thickening agent (think gravy or white sauce). Try a gluten-free thickener instead:
If your recipe calls for bread crumbs (like meatballs), panko (panko-crusted fish) or wheat crackers (casserole topped with crumbled crackers), try:
In recipes that call for soy sauce in a meat glaze, marinade or other recipe, use:
For most basic recipes, you can make a 1:1 substitution. For example, if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, use 1/2 cup of gluten-free flour. All other ingredients in the recipe — given that they are gluten-free — stay the same.
Substituting flours in baked goods is more complex. The 1:1 substitution ratio for cookies, cakes and breads — which need to rise in the oven — doesn't hold up. To achieve the correct texture in baked goods, you typically need to mix several gluten-free flours together. And it can take a lot of trial and error to find the right mixture. So instead of adapting your favorite baked recipe yourself, seek out a new-to-you gluten-free recipe to try. The hard work of figuring out the baking ratios will already be done for you.
If you don't use gluten-free flours very often, store them in the freezer. Many flours, wheat flour included, go bad when they sit on the shelf for a long time.