This post is one for the parents. One for the home chef inviting friends over. One for the scout leader, and one for, in a sense, anyone and everyone embarking on the exciting journey of cooking for others and finding out you have a Coeliac Vegetarian in the mix. You've hit gold, you've won the jackpot, as you've been selected to prepare a meal not only free of gluten on a microscopic scale, but doing so with the whole world of meat stripped away from you. Every non-veggie Coeliac knows that when they eat out steak is the easy option, but that's no good to you here. There is no steaky saviour here.
Scared? You shouldn't be. It's not actually all that difficult to pull together a good gluten-free meal, and using meat can often be somewhat of a cop-out that gets in the way of real cooking, all it takes is a little forethought and preparation. Still nervous? Don't worry, we've put together Mr Lee's 3 top tips on cooking for a Coeliac Vegetarian. The reality is that most dishes can be altered to suit their needs, which leads us to our first tip...
One for all, or all for one?
The first decision you've got to make is whether you adapt the meal you're cooking for everyone to suit a gluten and meat-free diet for one, or whether you cook the same meal for everyone. It's been a longstanding myth that gluten-free food is bland, and should not be put upon those who don't need it as it's 'not fair'. This mindset is born somewhat of truth, as years ago this would of been the case, but nowadays the substitutes are so much better, and recipes completely avoiding the need for substitutes are plentiful. Take the common salad, for example, and simply google ways to funk up your salad for a meal that will leave your guests' mouths watering. Take a classic Caesar salad, for example, you can:
- Swap out the chicken for whole, boiled eggs, or perhaps some grilled halloumi
- Replace anchovies with seaweed, all the salty taste, but none of the fish and no need for excess sodium
- Ditch the 'normal' croutons, and roast some of your own. The gluten-free substitutes are great, but need a little heat to break the flavour out
- Make your own dressing! Homemade beats store-bought any day, add in a good amount of garlic and parmesan cheese and your way
...and away you go! The best of store-bought, mixed with essentials of homemade. Just going the extra mile for flavour will be enough to impress any guest, coeliac or not.
Take it easy!
Going camping? Preparing a picnic? Just don't want to cook? There's some good news, and that is the exciting world of gluten-free, veggie noodles. We're biased, but instant noodles have come a long way over the last couple of years, with certain brands (*ahem* Mr Lee's...) creating vegetable noodles that are super healthy when compared to 'normal nasty noodles', and can easily be served in the knowledge that they're a nutritious, tasty meal, whilst quickly bypassing all the required preparation it would take for a fully home-cooked meal. Perfect for Coeliacs, Mr Lee's gluten-free noodles are ideal both for home or when out and about, as hot water is the only requirement.
Don't forget the seasoning...
A rookie error when cooking, vegetarian or gluten-free meals (or any meal for that matter!) is forgetting to adequately season the food in front of you. We're all about, and very serious on the subject of reducing the amount of salt, sugar and other nasties in people's diets, but the fact still stands that to want to eat - food has to taste good, and when it's all taken as a part of a balanced diet, it's important to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Gluten-free substitutes are very often barren of certain levels of taste, pasta being one of them. When cooking gluten-free pasta it's very important to adequately salt the water it's cooked within, to raise it to a similar level of that of 'normal' pasta. The rice noodles in our coeliac-friendly noodles is a slightly different case, as is naturally gluten-free with a taste of its very own, and is seasoned to perfection with the surrounding broth - but everyone's individual palette is different, with some of us here in the office adding extra ingredients like added coconut and honey, as well as seaweed and miso for those who prefer a saltier taste, but don't want the added raw sodium.
Follow the above, and you're well on your way to impressing your Coeliac Vegetarian friends, which couldn't be more important with this week being both #CoeliacAwarenessWeek and #NationalVegetarianWeek. So make sure to put a little forethought in when inviting them over, and impress them with your extended knowledge! For more information, you can view our simple guide on all things meat-free on our guide to flexitarians, and you can pick your very own armoury of noodles right here on our webshop!