(A small victory)
And, you were creative enough (and listened on date one) to think of a non-dinner, spontaneous Date #2.
And now, you've mustered up enough balls to cook for her.
"Sure...but, I'm gluten-free"
Living in the days of gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, raw, paleo, whole, or organic, it's easy to become inundated with cooking restrictions. But in reality, those words shouldn't be taboo - it's actually easier than you think. If you can confidently cook a gluten-free meal, in the words of Vince Vaughn, "you're money baby."
I have a cookbook that contains "1,000 gluten free recipes" and there are hundreds of people sharing thousands of gluten-free recipes online. But I want to keep it simple, besides you're probably stressing about too many other things:
- Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye
- Gluten is not synonymous with carbs (potatoes do not contain gluten)
- It's easy to eat and cook gluten-free
- Vegetables, fruit, quinoa, rice, beef, pork, seafood are all safe
- Beef and pork can naturally be difficult to digest, if you both like seafood, try fish
- If you want a theme, focus on other cultures - Mexican (primarily corn-based) or Asian (primarily rice-based)
- Since she'll be cooking with you or watching, she'll say something if you misstep
- Most packaged food will say if it's gluten-free or not
- If you want to cook pasta, buy the blended gluten-free pasta (made with a combination of rice, buckwheat, and potato flours). Rice flour is too grainy by itself and surprisingly companies have done a pretty good job at perfecting the ratios
- New Grist and Bard's are both pretty good gluten-free beers
- Wine is fine
- Gluten-free bread or english muffins may look and feel like solid, indestructible miniature frisbees but you just need to microwave them
The Nitty Gritty:
- If she's extremely sensitive to gluten, watch cross-contaminating cutting boards and knives
- Many sauces contain gluten as a binding agent (check labels!)
- Regular soy sauce, BBQ sauce, and most salad dressings have gluten
- Some commercial soups use gluten products to thicken the soup
Some Pretty Fool-Proof (Personally-Tested) Ideas:
- Appetizers (while she watches you cook): Wine, Hummus, Cucumbers, Rice Crackers, Olives, Cheese
- American: Cast-iron, grass-fed rib-eye steak + Sauteed Portabella Mushrooms & Sweet Onions + Quinoa (the easiest thing to cook in the world)
- Seafood: One pot - Salmon/tilapia/haddock sauteed with chives, tomatoes, and green squash in gluten-free soy sauce + Rice/Quinoa
- Quick Seafood: Seared tuna steaks (with some dry cajun spices) + Sauteed okra or green beans in olive oil
- Mexican: Make your own fajitas - Thinly sliced skirt steak + Red onions, Avocado, Shredded Cheese, Tomatoes, Salsa + Corn tortillas
- Quick Asian: Stir-fried vegetables + Shrimp + Jasmine rice
- Italian: Gluten-free spiral pasta + Homemade sauce (mushrooms, onions, sausage/ground beef (watch the casing), basil) + Fresh green salad with Oil & Vinegar
- Breakfast: Yogurt + Fruit. More Fruit. Scrambled Eggs + Gluten-Free Toast + Tomatoes. Gluten-Free English Muffins + Laughing Cow + Smoked Salmon + Capers. Cinnamon Chex (I know...a sugar-laden carb...and not sexy...but God did I love Cinnamon Chex went I was gluten-free)