Celiac disease is one of the 80 known autoimmune disorders, a disorder in which the “body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake.” This unique disease occurs in genetically predisposed people, oftentimes running in families, and hinges on gluten consumption. When gluten is ingested, the body reacts by mounting “an immune response that attacks the small intestine” causing damage to the “small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine.” These fingerlike projections, called villi, are essential for nutrient absorption and therefore, when damaged, hinder your body’s ability to properly absorb the nutrients it needs.

For celiac-sufferers, finding safe grains that won’t interact with their condition is a challenge. Even if you purchase a gluten-free grain, it may have been produced in a facility with gluten. Depending on specific sensitivities, this may set off a reaction. Foods to avoid include wheat, barley, rye, processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cookies, pastries, etc.), most baking flours, beer and malt alcohol, bottled condiments, processed fats (hydrogenated oils, trans fats, refined oils, etc.), added sugars, and even some “gluten-free” grains. Also, if you’re concerned about cross-contamination and grain safety, “purchase only versions that are tested for the presence of gluten and contain less than 20 ppm.”

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With that said, while the list of foods to avoid is long, there are 19 naturally-gluten free grains and starches that are excellent sources of other essential vitamins and minerals. Here are 15 celiac-friendly recipes from the Food Monster App that creatively use naturally gluten-free grains or starches.

1. Spicy Cabbage Rice Bowl

Source: Spicy Cabbage Rice Bowl

Rice is one of the wonderful gluten-free grains that is safe for those with celiac disease. Plus, it’s super versatile! In this Spicy Cabbage Rice Bowl by Lenia Patsi the rice is infused with onion, garlic, carrot, peppers, white wine. The spice in this dish is balanced with cabbage — rich in gut-healing glutamine — and finished off with extra-virgin olive oil and a dash of pepper.

2. Harissa Roasted Potato, Okra, and Broccoli

Source: Harissa Roasted Potato, Okra, and Broccoli

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If you haven’t tried harissa, today’s the day! While many condiments are off limits due to gluten content, this aromatic and spicy paste is not! Made from a “blend of hot [smoked chili] peppers … garlic, olive oil, and spices, like cumin, coriander, caraway and mint,” and, oftentimes, tomato and rose petals, harissa is completely gluten-free. With that said, if you’re worried about hidden gluten in the harissa paste, simply create your own harissa concoction of these ingredients! Harissa is excellent for seasoning bland and bitter grains, starches, and veggies such as in this Harissa Roasted Potato, Okra, and Broccoli by Elsa Brobbey. Potatoes are a great celiac-safe substitute for grain and this recipe gives you the choice of red or white! 

3. Blueberry and Millet Porridge

Source: Blueberry and Millet Porridge

Blueberries are the wonder fruit! They are nutrient-rich — such as fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese — antioxidant-rich — such as flavonoids, in particular, anthocyanins — and blueberries are known to protect against aging, cancer, protect cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and can even prevent heart disease. Along with enriching blueberries, this Blueberry and Millet Porridge by Natalie Yonan uses celiac-friendly millet, warming spices cinnamon and cardamom, and your choice of plant-based milk (steer clear of the oat milk!) for a filling and delicious breakfast! For this recipe, make sure to substitute a hearty oil — coconut oil or olive oil — for the vegan butter, as this plant-based substitute uses apple cider vinegar, which is not celiac friendly.

4. Sugar-Free Puffed Quinoa and Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars

Source: Sugar-Free Puffed Quinoa and Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars

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Quinoa is good for so many things! Quinoa porridge in the morning, cold quinoa salad for lunch, and a nice warm quinoa and veggie bowl for dinner. This celiac friendly pseudo grain does it all. When it comes to dessert, these Sugar-Free Puffed Quinoa and Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars by Annie Oliverio do it right. Along with fiber, vitamin, and mineral-rich quinoa, these bars use multiple layers of cacao — cacao butter (look for dairy free!), cacao syrup infused with mint, and cacao nibs — which is rich in flavanols, potent antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that are great for autoimmune disorders.

5. Zucchini Mushroom Veggie Burger

Source: Zucchini Mushroom Veggie Burger

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When in doubt, choose beans. There are currently 40,000 known varieties of beans with the most popular being pinto, navy, kidney, mung, black, cannellini or white kidney, garbanzo, great northern, and Appaloosa. Beans are a great celiac-friendly source of protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, minerals (such as calcium, iron, and magnesium), and vitamins (such as vitamin A and folate). When you’re hankering for a burger, try out this celiac-safe Zucchini Mushroom Veggie Burger by Kathryn Geyer. The patty is craftily molded with celiac-friendly grains, legumes, and veggies — cannellini beans, almond meal, long grain rice, buckwheat groats, zucchini, red bell pepper, and scallions — slapped between your choice of gluten-free buns. For the vegan mayonnaise, either don’t use the apple cider vinegar or omit the mayonnaise altogether.

6. Buckwheat Groat Almond Pizza Crust

Source: Buckwheat Groat Almond Pizza Crust

Buckwheat is yet another celiac-friendly pseudocereal — referring to a seed that is consumed like a grain — yet what are buckwheat groats? These are the hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant, which can be enjoyed as celiac-safe steel cut oats, roasted snacks, or mixed in to make bigger faux-wheat recipes such as this Buckwheat Groat Almond Pizza Crust by Robin Runner. This recipe also uses celiac-friendly nutritional yeast, which is naturally gluten-free, yet make sure that the italian seasoning you use is exclusively made with herbs.

7. Creamy Lemon Berry Popsicles

Source: Creamy Lemon Berry Popsicles

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Enjoying a sweet treat with these Creamy Lemon Berry Popsicles by Dana Sterling. In order to make these celiac-safe, Dana uses a gluten-free thickening agent called arrowroot. This incredibly useful powder is “comprised of starches extracted from various tropical tubers, such as the arrowroot plant.” Plus, these popsicles incorporate anti-inflammatory spice turmeric and healing lemon which is rich in vitamin C, and are sweetened with celiac-friendly stevia.

8. Zucchini Stuffed with Amaranth

Source: Zucchini Stuffed with Amaranth

If you haven’t heard of amaranth, you’re not alone. This ancient grain — actually 60 different species of grains — is just recently making a come-back as a gluten-free make, nutritionally-rich, pseudocereal. Amaranth is “naturally gluten-free and rich in protein, fiber, micronutrients and antioxidants,” making it a great celiac-friendly ingredient such as in this Zucchini Stuffed with Amaranth recipe by Alejandro Olmedo.

9. Chocolate Banana Squares

Source: Chocolate Banana Squares

The key to celiac-friendly dessert recipes is flax such as in these Chocolate Banana Squares by Anarki “AJ” Tjon Affo. Flaxseed — along with its many other forms such as flax meal and flax flour — it’s emerging as a superfood due to its incredible nutritional value. Along with being a great gluten-free option, it also has ample servings of protein, carbs, fiber, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B1 and B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. These chocolate squares are cake-like due to the combination of flax seeds, buckwheat flour, cacao powder, and creamy dates. In order to make sure this recipe is 100 percent celiac-friendly, consider making your own Homemade Applesauce, as store-bought may contain non-celiac friendly ingredients such as flavored vinegar.

10. Flourless Chocolate Chia Cupcakes

Source: Flourless Chocolate Chia Cupcakes

Think you can’t have cake on a celiac diet? Think again. As a beginner, try out these simple, celiac-safe Flourless Chocolate Chia Cupcakes by Inka Szot. In lieu of gluten flour, this recipe substitutes chia seeds — minuscule seeds that gain a gelatinous coating when exposed to liquids — plant-based milk, and agar agar flakes — vegetarian gelatin substitute made from seaweed.

11. Lentil Loaf with Smoked Paprika Glaze

Source: Lentil Loaf with Smoked Paprika Glaze

Legumes of all kinds are great plant-based ingredients, yet lentils take the cake when it comes to meat substitutes. This celiac-friendly Lentil Loaf with Smoked Paprika Glaze by Lee Khatchadourian-Reese uses an array of flavorful spices and herbs — garlic, thyme, rosemary, and parsley — to enrich the blander, yet nutrient rich lentils, potato, and celery. For the glaze, make sure to chose a ketchup brand that is vinegar and gluten-free — this Very Well Fit list offers some specific brands that you can find in the grocery store.

12. Teff Pancakes with Pomegranate and Pears

Source: Teff Pancakes with Pomegranate and Pears

Teff is yet another gluten-free grain making a comeback. This tiny seed is also known for its many health benefits such as its ability to “naturally balance hormone levels, boost immunity, stimulate digestion, strengthen bones, promote cardiovascular health and even aid weight loss.” It is also an excellent gluten-free flour substitute, such as in these celiac-friendly Teff Pancakes with Pomegranate and Pears by Kathryn Geyer. For those that are concerned about cross-contamination of baking powder, try making your own with this simple recipe.

13. Chickpea Corn Salad

Source: Chickpea Corn Salad

Corn is sweet, crunchy, filling and happens to be celiac-safe! In order to bulk up this Chickpea Corn Salad, Michele Elizabeth includes chickpeas, meaty mushrooms, probiotic-filled sauerkraut, and decadent avocado. When using fermented products, make sure that the fermentation process did not use malt vinegar. Those with celiac disease need to avoid malt and malt products.

14. Pumpkin Pie Stuffed Dough Balls

Source: Pumpkin Pie Stuffed Dough Balls

These easy to make tasty Pumpkin Pie Stuffed Dough Balls by Lindsay Cotter are not only great for kids, but also happen to use cassava flour, a gluten-free alternative. Cassava “is a shrub-like plant native to South America whose ‘starchy tuberous root’ provides the tropics with its third-largest source of carbohydrates.” It is ground to make gluten-free flour and is also used as a thickening agent in products such as tapioca, puddings, and yogurts. For this recipe, if you’re worried about cross-contamination, substitute coconut oil for the vegan butter, — as vegan butter oftentimes uses flavored vinegar — a gluten-free sweetener of your choice — agave or maple syrup, for instance, — homemade nut butter — such as this Almond Butter, — and homemade nut cheese — such as this 5-Ingredient Almond Feta.

15. Almond Flour Sandwich Bread

Source: Almond Flour Sandwich Bread

Sometimes you just want a simple sandwich, yet finding gluten-free substitutes can sometimes get your head spinning. Did you know you can use something as simple as almonds? This Almond Flour Sandwich Bread by Priscilla Soler uses a creative mix of both almond flour, coconut flour, flax seed “eggs”, and sesame seeds to create a fluffy, gluten-free, celiac-safe bread to enjoy for sandwiches, French toast, and even just to snack on. If you’re nervous about the source of your baking powder, you can make your own with “1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch.”

Looking for more celiac-friendly, plant-based, gluten-free recipes? we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

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