Look at most elimination diets and youll find many call for grain free recipes.
From keto to Paleo to a Whole 30 meal plan, grains are on the no-no list. Thank goodness Ive found out its not hard to come up with grain free elimination diet recipes!
First off though, how in the world do you go grain free without going crazy? More importantly WHY would you want to go grain free??
Youll find all my grain-free resources here with the benefit of years of experience eating grain-free on and off with a family of 6.
Should You Go Grain Free?
Gluten can spell big problems for some people (yes, even if you dont have full blown Celiac disease), but the buck doesnt stop with wheat. Even other grains can contribute to leaky gut, autoimmune disease, and mental health problems.
When my husband had undiagnosed Crohns Disease,stomach pain after eating was a major symptomand telling factor. Seven blissfully symptom-free years after surgery to remove part of his small intestine, when he had chronic diarrhea for two months, the medical establishment couldnt do anything to help him.
Two days of going grain-freefixed his eliminationbetter than it had been in his whole life and nixed any stomach pain after eating. Just. Like. That.
People talk to me a lot about digestive issues, and my first reaction is generally: You should try gluten-freeand its easier to just go grain-free and see what happens. Friends and family have seen impressive results! (Some also see no results, which is also helpful information.)
Just one example: My mother accidentally got dragged into one of our early grain-free experiments when we spent a week with them in Florida and cooked gluten-free and largely grain-free for the week. She had a burger bun once or twice, but for my mom, who eats a half peanut butter sandwich and an apple nearly every day for lunch, it was a pretty serious reduction in grains/gluten.
Her results?She lost weight and noticed more regular digestion, without a doubt (and shes not a heavy woman). When she returned home, after just three days of her typical sandwich lunch and unsoaked oatmeal for breakfast, she felt a negative difference.
Honestly, I think its fascinating to see the difference grains make in the diet! But its not easy
Its daunting to cut an entire food group out of your diet, especially one that may have previously been, say, the foundation of your eating habits (aka the Food Pyramid). An elimination diet may sound intimidating, but Ive picked up some tricks for how to start an elimination diet successfully (even with kids!).
Cutting Out Food Groups IS Hard!
When we firstdecided to go grain-free to see if my husband might have a gluten sensitivity, I admitted here at KS that I was a little nervous, and that I expected some difficulties.
There were some folks who pretty harshly told me that new diets are easy and I should stop complaining.
I beg to differ.
Cutting something from your diet that you usually eat every day, if not every meal, is far from easy.
Im no superwoman, and I dont claim to be.
Going grain-free, or dairy-free, or nut-free, or gluten-freethose are BIG changes. And its okay to be scared to death of trying them.
Its okay to wonder, What in the world am I going to eat?
Its okay to wish you didnt have to do it.
But its also okay to take baby steps and do what you can each day.
If you feel like you should try an elimination diet of some sort, wellyou probably should.
Tell yourself youll do it for one day.
Tell yourself youll do it every lunchtime for five days.
Tell yourself youll start next week, then spend this week researching recipes, collecting ideas, making lists, and buying a few new ingredients that you might need. Make a meal plan and just start thinking about it. Youll be so much more prepared.
My Three Best Tips for Starting a Grain-Free Diet
If you do want to try eating grain-free, do these first:
- Buy a lot of vegetables.
- Plan meals where you can just skip the grains stir fry without rice, a burger without a bun, soup laden with veggies and no pasta or rice. For a few days, thats really not that hard.
- If you want some bread-like products, dont freak out about all the Paleo or grain-free recipes (or gluten-free ones) and ingredients youve never heard of. Buy one bag of coconut flour , found here at Tropical Traditions for typically the best price it will seem uber expensive at first, but you dont use much, maybe 1/4 cup at a time in recipes, so that bag should last you a while. (Check out thecoconut flour testing I did with three different brands. I also tested various brands of almond flour and almond meal.)
Most people can benefit from cutting grains, but where do you find elimination diet recipes for a grain-free experiment?
Elimination Diet Meal Plan
There are lots of grain free recipes out there, but some can have mixed results. Cara, who feeds her family grain-free (GAPS) and has for quite a few years, is an expert I turn to when I need a new recipe. This lovely lady has a number of resources for sale:
- Health Home and Happiness GAPS Starter Package(most popular!)
- Grain-free freezer cooking class do it in an afternoon!
You dont need a completely done for you elimination diet meal plan though to get started.
Many healthy recipes can be adapted to grain free.
Theres always the good old standby of meat and veggies, salads, and yet more veggies. When I first surprised my husband with, Were cutting grains, legumes, and dairy from our diet starting tomorrow, our family ate a salad every day since it was simple and doable.
A Salad Every Day???
- lots of peppers
- water chestnuts
- dried fruit
- cut fruit
- crispy walnuts (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!)
- crispy sunflower seeds
- I add cooked chicken, hard boiled eggs, or cheese when I need a little something extra and dont feel like a raw lunch.
These dont go all in at once, but you can imagine the variety we end up with. I also vary the greens a bit, using fresh spinach and cabbage sometimes.
Make a list of what you CAN eat.
As Haley explains in this beginners guide to going gluten-free, youll find many normal, everyday meals your family already loves probably dont include grains, and there are plenty of new recipes to find if youre feeling adventurous. Many recipes can easily be converted to grain free with a few tweaks.
For example, this Chicken Leek & Barley Soup can be converted to grain free by nixing the barley, and upping the leeks and carrots for a thick, delicious soup. Or a homemade Burger & French Fries becomes grain-free simply by skipping the buns. You can always use lettuce or portabella mushrooms instead, and many restaurants are getting the hang of this request (some wrap the burger beautifully in lettuce!).
Everyone Should Know Some Grain-Free Baked Good Recipes
I think everyone should have a few grain-free baked good recipes they feel comfortable with, even if you dont need to eat grain-free.
Grain-free baking is easier than gluten-free baking because you generally need only one flour. Especially if youre only baking without gluten (or grains) occasionally, youll want grain-free recipes you know how to make. I think its good for everyone to stretch their boundaries a bit and get out of their whole grain (or especially refined grain) comfort zone sometimes.
If you think carbs are a problem (or not), if you use a food combining strategy where some meals are low-carb, or if you need to make something for a diabetic dinner guest or a gluten-free classmate its handy to have a few low-carb baking recipes that fit the bill. Grain-free options are perfect for these and so many other reasons.
It can be easy to overdo it though and eat a ton of coconut products, eggs, or almonds/coconut/eggs https://www.kitchenstewardship.com/how-much-is-too-much/ The key here is balance!
What is Grain-Free Baking?
Grain-free baking mimics bread products most people make with wheat flour: muffins, tortillas, crepes, banana bread, biscuits, pie crusts, ETC., without using any grains.
No rice flour, no cooked oatmeal, no sorghum, buckwheat or any other seed-based grains.
Which Flours are used for Grain Free Baking?
The most common flours for grain-free baking are coconut flour and almond flourand youll sometimes see some starch, like coconut flour.
- How to Bake Grain-free with Coconut Flour
- How Do 3 Brands of Coconut Flour Differ?
- Comparing 3 Brands of Almond Flour (and the difference of almond meal)
Thrive Market is a great place to find these ingredients if you cant get them at your local store. Especially if you are in a rural area or somewhere without access to Whole Foods or Costco, you might want to check them out. You get a 30-day free trial AND 15% off your first order. They carry both almond meal and coconut flour along with many other fun ingredients. You dont want to miss out!
Blend it Up for a Keto/Paleo Recipe
Some grain-free recipes use whole nuts or legumes ground into the batter, so you dont even have to buy a special flour.
- grain-free almond apple pancakes (above)
- brownies made with walnuts as the base from the cookbook Nourishing Meals (theyre amazing, truly)
- looks like whole wheat biscuits, also with walnuts, from Health Home and Happinesss Grain-free menu plans
- black bean brownies found in my eBook, The Everything Beans Book
- nifty cashew-based grain-free waffles I adapted to include veggies for my Healthy Breakfast eBook.
Why Almond Flour Isnt my Favorite
I prefer coconut flour for starting out over almond flour for a few reasons (although both make great end products):
- Although both are expensive, you use far less coconut flour per recipe, stretching one bag quite far. It feels more frugal to start out with.
- Coconut flour can also work for nut-free individuals, plus sometimes I feel like we might eat too many nuts as snacks between basic trail mix and my grain-free granola, which is all nut based.
Usually, the only way to get this recipe is to buy either one of those ebooks, but Im sharing a preview of Healthy Snacks To Go here for free, and it includes the grain-free granola recipe!
Is Grain-free a Deprived Diet?
Would you be disappointed if these were offered to you?
There are plenty of delicious, real food, grain free baked goods to try!
If you ask the average real food cook to make pancakes without any grains, she might look at you sideways. Its not on the list of normal recipes people have on hand. I also heard from a creative (and efficient!) reader you can pour the grain-free pumpkin pancake batter out on a Heres the instructions.
How Does Grain Free Affect Your Food Budget?
I have no good news here. Theres no getting around it: meat, nuts, dried fruit, and even vegetables, most of the time, cost much more than grains and legumes. Especially coming from my perspective since I grind my own bulk whole grains, make everything from scratch, and use dry beans.
I just stocked up on $130 of grass-fed beef and chicken, which usually lasts 2-3 months. I dont think it will stretch that far this time, although I still managed to stretch one package of meat into 2-4 meals, including leftovers.
I discovered spaghetti squash, which is the one replacement for grains that is just as cheap as its namesake. I promptly bought a half bushel of them the day after we decided to go grain-free so I had some easy-as-spaghetti meal options.
The Financial Upside of Grain Free
The one positive impact on the food budget is probably in the cheese department. Since my husband is staying dairy-free for a while, too, we skip the cheese in most recipes.
Someone asked last week if NOT buying the grains would at least help tone down the food budget. Because I buy so much in bulk, its hard to say what weve spent the last few weeks compared to normal Kimball life, but I have noticed this: not preparing the grains has spared a lot of prep time, especially in the evenings. I dont miss soaking things and getting sourdough sponges startednot one bit.
I wonder what Ive done with all that extra time? I think Ill go look for it now.
Grain Free Elimination Diet Recipes
In addition to the recipes above, I made a grain free recipe guide you can grab here. This is an extensive collection of the grain free recipes from Kitchen Stewardship all in one convenient place. Plus Ive included info on more of my favorite grain free resources in the guide.
FREE Download: 5 Paleo Snacks Your Kids Can Make
Solve the Whats for Snack??? problem once and for all!
Your kids might not be doing this grain elimination diet with you, but its still nice to have food everyone in the family can eat.
I have four kids, and we try hard to reduce the refined grains and white flour in our diets, and since my kids all know how to cook, they often make their own snacks!
Request our little ebook to see some of our favorite grain-free paleo snacks that my kids like to make.
In the mood to browse through recipes here? Here are my grain free, elimination diet friendly recipes broken down by category.
Grain-Free Breakfast Recipes
Grain-Free Appetizers, Snacks and Sides
Grain-Free Baked Goods
I have SO many more grain-free recipes! FIND THEM ALL HERE!
Hungry for more?
- WHAT IF GRAIN-FREE DIDNT WORK FOR ME?? Sometimes, grains arent the problem. If youve tried an elimination diet and it didnt work to decrease bloating, constipation, or stomach pain, youve got to read Suzannes story and the very real solution.
- Five Keys to Weight Loss with Real Food
- Key Steps You Can Take to Heal Your Gut
Phew! I think thats it. All my grain-free knowledge, all in one place.
If you have weird digestive stuff going on, diarrhea, stomach pain after eating, or wonder about a gluten or grain sensitivitygive it a try for a few days. You dont need a ton of resources to skip grains, even for a week.