Gluten Free Slow Cooking

Gluten-free diets have been heralded by those suffering from Celiac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases and even autism and depression. Despite its health benefits, adopting a gluten-free lifestyle can increase time spent in the grocery store and kitchen. Gluten-free slow cooking not only cuts down the hassle and effort of cooking, but also allows you to better monitor your gluten intake and explore new ways to cook and plan meals.

Getting started

The ideal gluten-free meal is balanced, and begins with a source of protein. Slow cooking makes cuts of meat or beans (even tofu!) tender and juicy, and allows spices and seasonings to infuse with proteins and vegetables. These ingredients can be prepared before you plan to cook them. If you pre-cut and season your ingredients, a home-cooked dinner is as easy as setting your slow cooker after you add the ingredients before work in the morning.

Adapting recipes for gluten-free slow cooking

Although gluten-free eating requires that you pay close attention to the nutrition facts of your ingredients, it's relatively easy to adapt existing recipes for a gluten-free diet. Because gluten-free diets are gaining popularity, you may find that your local grocery store is carrying more gluten-free options for meals and snacks.

Spices are the key ingredient to make any gluten-free slow cooking recipe successful. Because many gluten-filled items have artificial flavors that can cause inflammatory responses in the body, it's important to check all labels to ensure that spice blends don't contain hidden amounts of gluten.

A crock pot or slow cooker is an ideal tool for making delicious and hearty soups and sauces, but how do you thicken sauces without using flour? There are a few options to convert thick sauces into gluten-free recipes.

Rice flour, almond flour and coconut flour all act the same way as regular flour, but will not irritate those with inflammatory health issues such as arthritis or Celiac disease. Simply substitute regular flour for any of these alternatives and you'll have thick sauces, soups and desserts without the side effects of gluten. Arrowroot powder is also a thickening agent used in gluten-free slow cooking. Consult a recipe converter to determine how much powder to use per recipe.

Gluten-free slow cooking ideas

Risotto is a naturally gluten-free recipe that is ideal for a slow cooker. Add rice, cheese, tomatoes, peppers and a few cups of chicken broth and cook for several hours on low. Casseroles are also a quick and easy way to experiment with gluten-free slow cooking. A breakfast casserole can involve eggs, spinach, peppers, bacon and more. For more traditional casseroles, use gluten-free pastas, meats, cheeses and vegetables for a well-balanced meal.

Fondue is an easy go-to gluten-free idea. Add your favorite cheeses to your slow cooker with some peppers, onions and a bottle of gluten-free beer. Dip veggies or pieces of seared meat for a fun dinner. For dessert, prepare some chocolate fondue with gluten-free chocolate and a splash of cream or milk. Dip fresh fruit or gluten-free baked goods for an after-dinner treat.

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