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A Gluten-Free Beef Menu

by Ann Mazzaferro

A gluten-free diet does not have to be bland or tasteless; it introduces a whole new spectrum of flavors and makes meals more exciting for your family. While some beef favorites like hamburgers, pasta with meat sauce and tacos have to be rethought to include a wheat-free lifestyle, putting together a gluten-free beef menu creates a delicious meal that will leave your family healthy and satisfied.

Gluten-Free Grilling

Hamburgers and hot dogs are a staple of warm-weather barbecues, but store-bought buns and some processed cheese slices can trigger gluten-induced allergic reactions in those with celiac disease. To make a beef barbecue gluten-free, start by purchasing cheese in blocks and slicing your own. For bunless burgers, try wrapping them in large butter lettuce leaves or any other sturdy, whole-leaf lettuce. Grilled Portobello mushroom caps also make sturdy burger bun stand-ins. Hot dogs and burgers can also be wrapped in warm corn tortillas, but read the label carefully to avoid tortillas with any wheat starch. For those who cannot eat a burger without the bun, many recipes exist online for gluten-free hamburger buns. Prepare the dough and buns up to one day ahead to save time and mess on the day of your barbecue feast. Served with homemade potato salad, grilled corn on the cob and fresh fruit, a gluten-free barbecue won't leave anyone feeling deprived.

Wheat-Free and Delicious

Many Italian-style family favorites involve both beef and wheat-based pasta, which is off-limits to those with gluten allergies. There are some sneaky ways to avoid such pitfalls by preparing meals that are both delicious and extra-healthy for your family. Spaghetti or winter squash is a delicious base for beef Bolognese sauces and gives your family a dose of vitamin C and potassium. Shirataki noodles are another option for those who need a gluten-free pasta substitute. These noodles are made from the root of the konjac plant and can be found in the vegetable sections of many supermarkets. Check the labels of bottled spaghetti sauces and avoid those that contain distilled vinegar, which can be made from wheat. With a leafy green salad, plenty of fresh Parmesan cheese and lemon sorbet for dessert, your next Italian feast can be both beefy and gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Fiesta

Homemade Mexican-style cuisine is easier to adapt to a gluten-free diet by switching from flour tortillas and chips to yellow or white corn varieties. Read the labels carefully and avoid any product that uses wheat or wheat starch as an ingredient. Ground beef makes an easy taco and burrito filling, as does skirt steak sliced into strips and sautéed with bell peppers and onions. Shredded cheese can be hit or miss, as many companies dust the cheese with starch to keep the cheese from sticking together in the package. Check labels and choose cheese that is free of wheat starch, or buy a block of cheese and grate your own. Toppings like sour cream, avocado, and pico de gallo are typically gluten-free, as are sides like pinto beans and Spanish rice.

Sunday Dinner Swaps

Homestyle beef favorites like meatloaf and pot roast can be potential gluten bombs without careful preparation. Shredded potatoes, found in many supermarkets in the frozen vegetable aisle or with eggs and breakfast foods, can be used in place of bread crumbs to form meat loaf. Many catsups and barbecue sauces are gluten-free, but check labels carefully to avoid those that might contain wheat-based distilled vinegar. Homemade pot roast is easily made gluten-free if you use fresh vegetables and herbs, avoiding any packaged spices that contain wheat starch. Making gravy from the drippings requires a gluten-free thickener like arrowroot, which can be added to pan drippings over low heat. Pair either entrée with homemade mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables and ice cream for dessert to create a memorable, gluten-free family meal.

About the Author

Hailing from California, Ann Mazzaferro is a professional writer who has written for "The Pacifican," "Calliope Literary Magazine" and presented at the National Undergraduate Literature Conference. Mazzaferro graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of the Pacific.

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