May is Celiac Awareness Month! And what better way to celebrate than by joining a blogging event called 30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living created by Diane at The WHOLE Gang. I’m excited about participating, because I remember the struggle of my first few months of living gluten-free, and that memory inspires me to help newbies as they transition to their gluten-free lives.
When I was first diagnosed with gluten-intolerance I did not have a fraction of the resources and gluten-free products that are available today. So if you are newly diagnosed, be so thankful! You have choices! (Both good and bad!)
I can remember walking down each aisle of the grocery store thinking that my life had come to an end. I had no idea what to eat. Not only were all of my favorite foods off limits, but I found out that there were hidden glutens that tainted even my favorite sauces and salad dressings. How was I going to live through this?
Smoothies were my salvation, and today they continue to be one — sometimes two — of my go-to meals each day. Smoothies helped ease me into the gluten-free lifestyle, because they provided stability to my diet when everything seemed so uncertain and scary. While I was still learning what foods contained gluten and how how to read ingredient labels, I had a simple meal that was convenient, nutritious, and safe.
Most blenders can make a smoothie. I used an old Oster for a year until I upgraded to the Vitamix. It took a little arm wrestling, but my ingredients eventually blended together. But, oh how I love my Vitamix. It’s a bit of an investment, but with a ten-year warranty and blade that can pulverize a fork in seconds (whoops), I am confident that it’s worth every penny. Making a smoothie effortlessly in 30 seconds or less with quick, easy cleanup is more than worth it to me.
Smoothies can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. I use the following basic formula to make easy, nutritious, gluten-free smoothies:
Liquid + Protein + Fat + Fruit = Delicious, Healthy Smoothie
The liquid helps to make your smoothie creamy, the protein and fat will give your smoothie staying power, and the fruit provides necessary carbohydrates and flavor, flavor, flavor!
1. First choose your liquid. If you are newly diagnosed, you may have also found out that you allergic to a host of other allergens including dairy. Have no fear! There are many dairy-free milk options! (When I was first diagnosed I could not tolerate dairy. But once my gluten-damage intestines healed I could enjoy dairy again.) Be sure to look for the gluten-free label on all milk products.
- Almond Milk
- Hazelnut Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Rice Milk
- Soy Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Cow’s Milk
You can also choose watery fruits like grapes and oranges to provide the liquid base, but the smoothie won’t be as creamy.
2. Next choose your protein. Some people skip this step, opting for a pure fruit smoothie, but protein is incredibly important for muscle recovery, sustained energy, and satiety. You will get some protein from milk and nut milk, but in my experience, it’s not enough. If your first response is, “But I hate protein powders,” you just haven’t tried the right ones. Protein powders should not taste like chalk. Find a powder that tastes good without added sugar that meets your dietary needs and fits your budget. And of course, read the labels. Not all protein powders are gluten-free.
- Chocolate Protein Powder (current whey protein favorite – Energy First Chocolate Whey)
- Vanilla Protein Powder (current vegetarian favorite made with brown rice and pea proteins – Nutribody)
- Fitness Labs Whey Fit Protein Powder (most economical whey with a great taste – ordered from Nutrition Express)
- Hemp Seeds (vegetarian option that’s new to me which I’m really enjoying)
- Spirulina (sea vegetable with the highest protein concentration)
3. Then choose your fat. Do not skip this key nutrient because you think you want a fat-free smoothie. Your body needs fat in order to function and in order for it to let go of its extra body fat. If you don’t eat healthy fats, your body will cling to the fat that it has. No, thank you. (Again, read all labels carefully for gluten-containing ingredients or warnings of possible cross-contamination.)
- Flaxseed oil
- Udo’s Oil
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts)
- Nut butters (peanut butter and almond butter are my favorites)
- SunButter (for those with nut allergies)
4. And now the fun begins, choosing your fruits! The options and combinations are endless! You can buy bags of frozen fruit for convenience-sake, or freeze your own fresh fruit. In the summer, when fresh fruit is on the verge of not looking so fresh, I slice and freeze it for smoothies. When the bananas start to speckle, I break them into thirds and toss them in the freezer.
- Berries – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, marion berries
- Peaches, nectarines, apricots
- Apples, pears, grapes
Those are the four basic steps for creating a smoothie, and once you’ve found a few favorite combinations as your staples, you can rely on them for a quick, satisfying meal while you’re trying to figure out how to pack a gluten-free lunch or bake a gluten-free birthday cake.
When you’re ready to go beyond the basics, play around with adding some super foods, spices, and other interesting ingredients.
- Raw dates
- Extra banana or pineapple
- Chia Seeds
- Maca Powder
Spices and Other Flavors:
- Cardamom (my new favorite)
- Coconut shreds
- Carob Powder (without barley malt)
- Raw cacao
- Vanilla (Simply Organic is always gluten-free)
- Ask yourself, “What would taste good in a pie?” and toss it in.
You could even add some greens. There are three nutrient-rich greens that are almost unrecognizable by even the most discerning palates when hidden in a smoothie.
The Husband could never eat two fistfuls of spinach in one sitting, but he sure can drink them down!
- Swiss Chard
Here are a few of my favorite smoothies:
Berry Pomegranate Smoothie
Basic Chocolate Banana
Chocolate Strawberry and Banana
I leave you with my newest, simple smoothie and my best wishes for a happy, healthy gluten-free transition.
1 c. almond milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (Nutribody)
1 c. organic peach slices
1 T. hemp seeds (optional)
Keep visiting The Whole Gang for links to each day’s 30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living post, or check here daily, and I’ll add a link to each post. By the end of the month, I hope you’ll feel comfortable with your new diet and encouraged by wonderful tips from those who have walked the journey before you.
Links to 30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living posts:
- Diane of The WHOLE Gang shared Easy Gluten Free Grocery Shopping Tips
- Iris of The Daily Dietribe shared How to Start a Gluten Free Diet
- Alta of Tasty Eats at Home shared Make Your Own Convenience Foods
- Elana of Elana’s Pantry shared Cherry Vanilla Power Bars
- Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness shared Easy Meals GF Style
- Megan of Food Sensitivity Journal shared Gluten Free Baking Undone: Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
- Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free shared Magic Cookie Power Bars
- Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs shared Gluten-Free Baking Tips
- Ellen of Gluten Free Diva shared Gluten-Free Travel Tips
- Kim of Cook it Allergy Free shared Eating From Your Garden for Easy Gluten-Free Living
- Melissa of Gluten-Free For Good shared Gluten-Free Food Rules
- Brittany of Real Sustenance shared Easy Gluten-Free/Vegan Quick Bread Base with Endless Flavor Possibilities
- Nicola of G-Free Mom shared Kids’ Lunch Boxes
- Wendy of Celiacs in the House shared Fast Food For the Gluten-Free Teens
- Shirley of gluten free easily shared Your Pantry is the Key to Being GFE
- Nancy of The Sensitive Pantry shared BBQ and Picnic Tips and Recipe
- Heidi of Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom shared Tips for Getting Kids to Embrace Whole Foods
- Silvana of Silvana’s Kitchen shared Everything I’ve Learned So Far About Gluten-Free…
- Maggie of She Let Them Eat Cake shared Easy Gluten-Free Living: The Preschooler Version
- Sea of Book of Yum shared Easy Gluten-Free Soy Free Breakfast Burritos
- Tia of Glugle GlutenFree shared The Value of Support
- Alisa of Alisa Cooks shared Thinking Outside the Bun
- Hallie of Halle’s Bites shared Cooking By Color
- Carol of Simply…Gluten-Free shared Tips for Entertaining
- AndreaAnna of Life as a Plate shared Tips on Traveling on Day Trips with Kids
- Zoe of Z’s Cup of Tea shared Feasting With Their Eyes: Food Packaging and Presentation for Kids
- Kelly of The Spunky Coconut shared Buying in Bulk to Save Money, Cooking in Bulk to Save Time
- Rella of Penny Pinching Epicure shared Gluten-Free on a Budget
- Naomi of Straight to Bed, Cakefree and Dried shared Soaking and Fermenting Grains for Fluffy and Nutritious Results
Newbies, what questions do you have about the gluten-free diet?
Veterans, please post your favorite easy gluten-free tip in the comment section below.