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Alison's Gluten Free Cooking and Baking A-Z: Part 2 N-Z

I think it is always nice to know what others use in gluten free baking and some tips on what works and what doesn't, this is part 2 of my gluten free baking a-z

Added 24th April 2018
Updated 10th November 2020

Alison's Gluten Free Cooking and Baking A-Z: Part 2 N-Z
Last week I posted part 1 of two of my cooking and baking gluten free A-Z which ran from A-M and includes all kinds of hints and tips and recipe suggestions from Yorkshire Puddings to making curries. You can find that part of the blog right here.

Carrying on from the A-M of gluten free cooking and baking here is N-Z, a few more hints and tips to help you with your cooking and baking!

N - Nut Butters

There is no end to what you can use nut butters for, they aren't just for making the American classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, they are great for biscuits and bakes and making sauces.

The easiest thing you can make with nut butters is cookies, just 3 simple ingredients. Peanut butter is popular for this one but almond butter would work really well (especially with a little salted caramel flavouring) too. Peanut butter and cocoa would also be a great flavour sensation.

Nut butters are also great for sauces for pastas or to top chicken, you can make a very easy Satay sauce with just some peanut butter, tamari sauce, plan yogurt and some curry powder. Super quick and easy lunch or dinner!

O - Oats

Not all Coeliacs can tolerate oats but if you can you must only have pure oats which are grown away from wheat unlike regular oats. They are not a gluten containing grain but regular oats are at a very high risk of contamination.

If you a someone who can tolerate oats they are great for all sorts. I love making baked oats which is a popular Slimming World breakfast but is gorgeous and filling and you can spice it up how you like. I love making carrot cake baked oats (40g oats, 1 egg, half a vanilla yogurt, a little sweetener or sugar, a small grated carrot, 1tsp mixed spice, 1tsp nutmeg, 1/2tsp cinnamon and 15g dried mixed fruit all mixed together placed in an oven proof dish and baked on gas mark 5 for 20-25 mins until well browned)!

Oat flour is also great for cakes and breads it makes nice and light doughs with a different flavour to normal self raising or plain flour.

P - Potato Starch

Potato starch is basically the bee knees when it comes to gluten free baking, especially for bread. Potato starch is what helps give gluten free bread rise and make it lighter, it won't work on it's own, it has to be combined with other starches to make bread but it is a key element. You can actually make bread using mash potato!

Potato starch is also brilliant when it comes to Chinese cooking, they use it a lot in place of regular flour. Potato starch makes amazing chicken nuggets and is used a lot in Chinese dishes which use coated meat such as sweet and sour chicken, Sweet Mandarins Sweet and Sour Chicken is a key example of potato starch being used in Chinese cookery.

Potato starch can easily be bought in health food shops but don't confuse it with potato flour which is thicker. If you can't get potato starch, cornflour is probably the closest to it in consistency.

Q - Quinoa

Quinoa is a popular gluten free grain alternative to couscous or rice. It has an almost nutty flavour but can also be very bitter when it's not cooked properly.

I get asked a lot how you know if it is cooked, easily way to know is it turns from a solid ball to looking like it flipped inside out, or looking like a planet with a ring round, the grains almost explode after 10-15 mins when cooked in boiling water on the hob.

Quinoa is a very versatile grain and can be used for all sorts. I love making breakfasts with them, just cooked them in milk or coconut milk, add honey, top with fruit, delicious! It can be used in place of rice or couscous as a side or in a main dish, I've even made Vegan burgers with it, it can be used so so many different ways, the possibilities are endless. Check out my quinoa recipes, from salads to sides and breakfasts.

R - Rice Flour

Rice flour is the most common form of flour in gluten free baking, you will find it in breads, cakes, almost any gluten free baked product, it has the closest consistency of wheat flour but needs to be boosted with other starches and flours although I have made cakes using just rice flour before.

There has been some debate on the arsenic levels in rice flour but unless you live off processed foods such as bread, biscuits, cakes which use rice flour as a main ingredient rather than eating healthy fresh meals you shouldn't be eating enough for the arsenic levels to be a problem.

S - Sausages

Sausages are a staple with kids and even adults, these days there are so many gluten free sausages around, it used to be hard to get them but not now, you can pick sausages up easily in all supermarkets.

From simple sausage, egg and chips or a baked breakfast to something like a sausage chilli you can do so much with sausages, if you have them in you can easily throw a meal together

T - Tapioca Flour

If you want decent bread tapioca flour is one of those that has to be paired with potato starch to give you a nice bread it helps bind and also helps give a nice crust.

On its own it holds little in nutritional value or taste though so has to be paired with other grains to work well.

U - Udon Noodles (or just noodles in general)

Unfortunately it's pretty impossible to get Udon Noodles gluten free, sorry I couldnt think of anything for U!

So lets just talk about noodles, egg noodles, like Udon are almost impossible to get, your choices basically are ribbon rice noodles or vermicelli rice noodles. Honestly I hate ribbon rice noodles, they are just like slimy slop to me. I love vermicelli though, they are fine but they work well in both stir frys and in soup, they only need to be soaked in hot water for about 30 seconds and they are done!

V - Vegan Baking

Cooking both gluten free and vegan isn't always easy. Balancing the ingredients so they work as well as their gluten free and animal based counterparts takes some experimentation.

I have already mentioned that flax can be used in place of eggs in vegan baking and soya spreads or other plant based dairy subs can be used in place of dairy products.

Other subs you can use for vegan making which work well with gluten free too are apple sauce or dates as sweeteners and banana in place of eggs, all naturally gluten free and easy to buy or make.

W - Wet Mixes (Bread)

When it comes to bread a wet mix is better when you are doing gluten free bread. Normal bread is a thick dough but if you get that with gluten free you an almost guarantee it will be dense when you have cooked it. Make sure your mix is wetter than you would expect, especially in a bread maker and you will find it will be much lighter.

X - Xanthan Gum

You find Xanthan Gum in a lot of gluten free baking, but do know what it is? Well its basically glue. Have you tried adding water to gum and seeing what happens? Well if you haven't it basically goes slimy. When it's in baking it acts as a binder pulling everything together and holding it strong, it basically takes on the role of what gluten does in normal baking.

Y - Yogurt

Yogurt makes a great breakfast, you can have plain greek yogurt with berries and honey, yogurt also works great in cakes, it can be used as a low calorie alternative too cream in swiss rolls or as cake toppings but can also be used in the cake itself, just add some in your cake mix and it can help make cakes lighter.

Z - Za'atar and othe spices

Za'atar is a spice mix from Middle Eastern countries, it is a popular mix in their cooking with a mix of green herbs.

Spice blends can often contain wheat for some odd reason so you have to remember to check the but a lot of spice blends are super easy to make yourself. You can get large packs of spices from the Asian aisles in supermarkets or Asian/Oriental supermarkets so you can make the blends yourself easily.

These are some common ones I make:

Piri Piri - 1tbsp paprika, 2tsp oregano, 2tsp ginger, 2tsp ground cardamom, 2tsp garlic powder, 2tsp onion granules, 1/2tsp cayenne pepper

Tikka - 2 tbsps ground coriander, 2tbsp ground cumin, 2tbsp garlic granules, 2tbsps paprika, 1tbsp garam masala, 1tbsp gound ginger, 1tbsp mint and 2 tsp chilli powder

Cajun - 2tbsps garlic powder, 2tbsp paprika, 1tbsp salt, 1tbsp black pepper, 1tbsp thyme, 1tbsp onion granules, 1tsp cayenne pepper, 1tsp oregano, 1tsp thyme, 1/2tsp basil, 1/2tsp rosemary and 1/2tsp sage

And there we have it, my A-Z of baking with some of my favourite ingredients that I commonly use in gluten free baking and cooking and what I hope are some hints and tips for those who want them.

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