Feel limited on your gluten-free diet? If you’re like many Americans, that might be because you’re eating a few familiar vegetables over and over again and don’t consider all the other vegetable options you have to eat. Expand your thinking to broaden your diet. Start by trying these four vegetables that aren’t commonly eaten.
- Artichoke. A member of the thistle family that has tough petal-shaped leaves, artichokes may seem intimidating to make and eat, but doing so is worth it. Most people who try them love the flavor, and the vegetable promotes health in many ways. Research shows that artichokes are rich in antioxidants and minerals and they help liver function, improve digestive disorders (including indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome), and can lower blood cholesterol levels. To make artichokes, use kitchen scissors to cut sharp tips off leaves, if desired, cut off most of the stem, wash them in running water, and drain. Steam them in a steamer basket inside a pot, making sure to add water to just below the steamer basket base. Steam until a fork inserted into the artichoke bottom goes in easily—about 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes.
To eat, pull off the petals and dip the white fleshy end in a lemon juice–olive oil–garlic-basil dressing, vinaigrette dressing, or gluten-free garlic mayonnaise. Pull the soft, pulpy bottom portion of the petal through your teeth and discard the rest of the petal. Continue until all the petals are removed. Use a knife to scrape out and remove the fuzzy part, then cut the bottom (the artichoke “heart”) into pieces, dip, and eat.
- Arugula. This is an aromatic green with a peppery-mustardy to bitter flavor. Make a salad with it alone or add it to mixed greens. Dress with a balsamic vinegar–olive oil or lemon juice–olive oil dressing and, if desired, toss in Roma tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella or goat cheese, gluten-free pancetta, or glazed walnuts. You can also add arugula sautéed in olive oil to gluten-free pasta.
- Bok choy. A type of cabbage with dark green leaves and white stalks that resemble celery, bok choy is a natural to use in stir-fries. Slice the stalks like celery and chop the leaves into pieces. Stir-fry the pieces of stalk and other vegetables in macadamia nut oil for a few minutes. Add minced garlic and ginger, if desired, then stir-fry the dark green leaves for about 45 seconds. Add a few drops of toasted sesame oil and Bragg Liquid Aminos, a gluten-free soy sauce substitute, at the end. If you’re new to bok choy, start with baby bok choy, which is more tender and easier to work with.
- Leek. This member of the onion family looks like an oversized scallion and has a delicate, milder taste. Cut leeks into 1/4-inch slices and simmer in soups, or sauté in olive oil or butter until they are soft but not brown. Cooked leeks can be puréed in a blender to make nondairy “creamy” soups and sauces. They go especially well in mashed potatoes or potato soups.
Melissa Diane Smith, author of Going Against the Grain, is an internationally recognized nutritionist who specializes in therapeutic gluten- free diets. To learn about her online Going Against the Grain Group or to sign up for her free newsletter, visit againstthegrainnutrition.com. For info about her books, consultations, or nutrition coaching programs, visit melissadianesmith.com.
Hodgson Mill Gluten Free All-Natural Brown Rice Pastas
These delicious and versatile pastas are a great way to get more whole grains into your gluten-free diet. Not only are they free of gluten, wheat, dairy, and eggs, they’re also made with golden milled flaxseed, which is rich in important omega-3 essential fatty acids. All Hodgson Mill pastas are produced in a strictly maintained gluten-free facility and are tested using the ELISA Gluten Assay test to ensure the highest quality. As a bonus, each variety has a gluten-free recipe printed on the back of the box—the Creamy Macaroni Bake recipe is a healthful, yet decadent example. Choose from five varieties: Elbow, Penne, Spaghetti, Angel Hair, or Linguine.