Plated + Served: Gluten Free… Not Flavor Free


A few of y’all have asked for gluten free recipes… particularly dessert recipes. Mama’s sweet tooth is always happy to oblige that kind of request.

First, a quick note before my primer on gluten. Limiting or removing something from your diet, whether it’s sugar, meat, fat, gluten or any number of other things, doesn’t mean a bland restrictive culinary existence. No. It means you have to dig a little deeper and look for alternatives that are equally tasty and, well, fun. So quit pouting about what you can’t have and start eating what you can.

Sometimes you just have to be blunt.

Now, back to gluten. Basically, gluten is a sticky protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley… it’s what makes dough rise before baking. Oats are okay to eat, but only if they are non-contaminated gluten-free oats. You may have noticed that supermarkets are selling more gluten-free products these days. Why? Because at least 150 million Americans suffer from gluten-related issues.

If you’re trying to go gluten-free or reduce the gluten in your diet, start by reading the label on the package! Gluten is everywhere. It is used as a thickener in ketchup, sauces and ice cream. It’s also used in bottled salad dressings to keep them blended and in vegetarian and vegan foods as a meat substitute. You can learn more about gluten at the Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Diet Information website.

I like this recipe for blueberry crisp because it is not only gluten free, but egg free (another allergy trigger for some people). Right now, the markets are bursting with fresh berries, especially my favorite, the blueberry. This is my go-to berry because its high sugar and acid content allows it to swing sweetly with pies, cobblers and jams, as well as hang out with savory dishes like lamb and wild game. It also freezes well, a huge plus.

Always look for firm, plump blueberries… size doesn’t matter! Taste one before you buy the carton or box. They won’t get any sweeter than at that moment. If you’re buying them in the supermarket and they are in a plastic box, turn it over and look at the bottom. Make sure there’s no mold and that there aren’t too many flattened berries.

When you get home, give them a rinse with cool water and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to dry. If you want to freeze them, make sure they are completely dry. Spread them on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet and freeze for several hours. Loosen the berries and pour into a zipper-lock freezer bag. Berries can be frozen for up to 9 months.

Remember, gluten-free doesn’t mean fun-free… especially when you have so berry many options!



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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: