GF Nutrition: Nutritious Gluten-Free Carbs

Sarah Waybright is a registered dietitian and founder of WhyFoodWorksSarah offers in-home cooking classes and dinner parties, both of which happen to work really well for people and families with food allergies/sensitivities—you get a chance to try lots of delicious new recipes with the added bonus of minimal contamination risk! Talk about a win-win!!! 

I asked Sarah to partner with us because she genuinely loves food and she is an expert at using real food to make our bodies work better. So much of gluten-free living revolves around how food makes us sick or the need to deprive ourselves of enjoyable food to stay healthy—let’s turn the conversation around and talk about all the ways to use nutrient-dense real food to help us feel strong, healthy, and excited about eating again!

Take it away, Sarah!

Nutritious Gluten-Free Carbs

Going gluten free used to mean a drastic reduction in the overall carbohydrate in your diet – which in itself tends to make people feel better, since most people are consuming much more than they need, and too much in the form of refined flours and sugar.  But with the huge surge of gluten-equivalent products on the market today, such a reduction may not happen at all! A food intake pattern high in white rice and gluten-free baked goods is no more nutrient rich than one containing gluten!

It’s crucial to know “the two q’s” when evaluating carbohydrate sources: quantity and quality.

  • Quantity: know the serving sizes for grains (most are 1/2-3/4 cup, cooked) and other carb-rich foods like potatoes, peas, and corn
  • Quality: how many vitamins + minerals, fiber, and protein a food has per serving (this consideration is what makes quinoa a much better choice than rice)

2013-10-26 09.39.58Winter squash is a quality source of carbohydate. There are dozens of varieties, but all of them are nutrient and fiber rich – take butternut squash, one of the season’s most popular: it has almost half your daily requirement of vitamin C, over 200% vitamin A, and 3g of fiber, all for around 60 calories and only 16g of total carbohydrate.

The best part is that every part of the squash is edible – skin, flesh, and seeds.  Not all of them have the most tender skin (acorn squash is pretty tough!), but most are easy to include in recipes, no peeling necessary (and contain extra fiber and nutrients!).  And never throw out the seeds!  A quick rinse, toss with salt, and a few minutes in the oven make a wonderful snack that will keep for weeks.

Cook’s secret: you can use squash puree in place of pumpkin in almost any recipe.  In my featured recipe this month, I didn’t have time to run to the store for canned pumpkin, but I did have a bright orange Sweet Kuri Kabocha squash that I zapped in the microwave for 10 minutes (after deseeding) to use.  These Pumpkin Spice Almond bars are gluten-free and nutrient rich – perfect for breakfast or a snack!
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So get to your local farmer’s markets – they’re bursting with squash varieties right now!  For some recipe inspiration, this Pinterest board is a great place to start.

To ask Sarah a question or request a topic for a future blog post,
please leave a comment on any GF Nutrition post
or email me with the subject “Gluten-Free Nutrition.”

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