• Tommy Centola

Check Label when going gluten-free

Unlike the Keto diet, which I wrote about recently, eating gluten-free is not a diet choice. It’s a way of life. For those who have celiac disease, gluten will trigger the immune system. Like gluten, all fresh meat, poultry and seafood are all gluten-free, as are most dairy products.

One of the pluses of gluten-free is the inclusion of grains. Rice, cornmeal, grits and polenta are all acceptable in a gluten-free diet. Since they are high in carbohydrates, they won’t work for Keto.

Which brings me to today’s recipes, BBQ Shrimp & Grits and Jambalaya Cajun Style. Both of the recipes are exactly how they were featured in my cookbooks. There has been no need to substitute for any ingredient. You just want to make sure that you are checking labels. In some cases, products are produced in the same plant as gluten items. There is always a chance of cross-contamination. Now let’s get into the kitchen and start cooking!

This is a recipe from my first cookbook, You Can’t Keep New Orleans Out Of The Chef. Now, most grits are gluten-free. Just check the label. The most common grits, Quaker Quick grits, are not. Use a good quality stone-ground grits.

BBQ Shrimp & Grits

2 pounds 15-20 or larger wild American shrimp head & tail on

3/4 pound butter (3 sticks)

3/4 cup olive oil

2 1/2 tablespoons garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons basil leaves (dry)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon oregano (dry)

3/4 teaspoon thyme (dry)

3/4 teaspoon BBQ seasoning

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

Melt butter in olive oil in a large pot. Combine all other ingredients, adding shrimp last. Cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes.

Cheese Grits

¾ cup stone-ground grits

3 cups water

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium saucepan, bring water to boil. Add the grits and salt. Stir well with a whisk. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Keep covered until ready to serve.

To serve the Shrimp & Grits, place grits in a bowl and top with shrimp and sauce.

Jambalaya is a Louisiana staple. I have said this before, there’s no one way to make a jambalaya. This iconic dish is also gluten-free. Just make sure you check the label on the andouille. It’s possible to have some gluten show up in some brands.

Jambalaya Cajun Style

1 pound andouille sausage, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup chicken meat, cut into bite size pieces

1/3 cup onions, chopped

¼ cup celery, chopped

¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 quart beef stock

1 quart chicken stock

2 cups long grain rice

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

2 tablespoons basil

2 tablespoons oregano

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning

1 tablespoon paprika

Over medium heat, cook sausage, chicken, onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil. Add broth and dry seasonings. Bring to a boil. Add rice. Cover and lower heat to low. Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.

To make this Jambalaya a Creole Jambalaya, add a small can of tomato sauce with the stock.

I am glad that I have had people reaching out to me on these alternative ways of eating. I know there are a couple of Facebook pages dedicated to this eating lifestyle. Just remember, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor on these diets. Fresh and dry herbs are all natural and fit into all diets. Don’t cheat yourself out of a favorable dish.

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