Grain Bowls: Gluten-Free Actually Means More Options

Gluten-a protein found in wheat-is used in many foods as a binder, thickener, or protein additive and has recently become a new concern for many people. For those who suffer from celiac disease or gluten-intolerance, consuming foods with gluten causes many stomach woes. Gluten can cause inflammation in the tiny intestinal structures of some people among other issues. For those who now need to avoid this protein, it may seem that eating delicious or healthy foods is totally off the table. But, never fear! With the revival and popularity of ancient whole grains coming back into play, there are so many more options that are packed full of nutrients and naturally free of gluten. These whole grains include sorghum, teft, quinoa, amaranth, millet, and buckwheat (don’t let the names discourage you). Some of them, like quinoa and buckwheat, even pack an extra punch of plant protein. Using these super grains, follow this basic formula below to whip up a quick and healthy dinner with just a few items from the fridge.

Build-our-Own Grain Bowl

  • ⅔ cup cooked whole grains (cook as directed on package plus a dash of olive or coconut oil and sea salt) 
  • 3 oz protein: grill up some chicken, fish, or cooked legumes such as lentils  and chickpeas 
  • ½ cup fresh, leafy greens (i.e. spinach, kale, or arugula)
  • ½ cup cooked vegetables (roast your favorite veggies in olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven at 400 °F between 20-40 minutes or until browned)
  • 1to2 tbsp sauce of choice (recommended:a simple vinaigrette or pesto) 

Still feeling stuck onbowl inspiration? Try this gluten-free Mediterranean combo!

Mediterranean Quinoa Tabbouleh Bowl

  • 2/3 cup of cooked quinoa 
  • 1/3 cup of canned chickpeas or 3 oz of grilled chicken 
  • 1 to2 tbsp each of diced red onion, tomato, cucumber, and green bell pepper 
  • 2 tbsp of greek olives
  • 1 handful of fresh spinach (chopped)
  • ¼ cup of diced fresh parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil or gluten-free Greek vinaigrette 
  • Optional: 1 tbsp of full fat feta cheese 

Playing around with fresh produce and gluten-free whole grains gives you the chance to experiment with new flavors and foods. When cooking these super grains, try preparing them using broth or stock instead of water. Don’t be shy on the herbs and spices either. Adding a handful of parsley or cilantro with a squeeze of lemon or lime can give your grains a nice, zesty flavor. And when making your grain bowls, keep your meal healthy and balanced by making sure you have a variety of colors with plenty of vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts or seeds. Don’t forget to check the nutrition facts on any premade sauces and protein sources you wish to use ahead of time to ensure they’re gluten-free. If a package isn’t labeled gluten-free, you should definitely avoid it along with any items that contain wheat ingredients.

Lindsey Gass

Lindsey Gass, RD, LD/N is a registered dietitian in Miami, FL. With a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University, Lindsey has years of experience in clinical, sports, long term care, and community nutrition. Lindsey currently works in critical care at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where she provides nutrition support and participates in trauma research. Outside of her career, Lindsey is an avid runner and Nike run club pacer working towards qualifying for a Boston marathon. Follow Lindsey on Instagram at @lin.health for nutrition tips and tricks. Learn more about Youfit’s Registered Dietician