If you or someone in your family has been recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance, it can be quite difficult to know what you can or cannot eat. Is that chocolate cake okay? Can I still add cashews when preparing a coconut curry dish? It may seem confusing at first but trust me; it does get easier as you get acquainted with what you cannot use and their substitutes. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Use the Right Wheat Substitutes

You know you cannot use wheat but that does not have to mean the end of all baking; there are several substitutes you can use. White rice or brown rice flour is closest to wheat in composition, so they are most likely to give you a texture and taste like wheat. Make your cupcakes with these flours and see what happens——if you need more texture, try adding in some ground almonds. For soups, use amaranth and for pancakes, try buckwheat. Yes, give yourself time to adjust to the new taste as well as to digesting these new fibers.

Mix-n-Match Flours

Using one type of flour as a wheat substitute may make for a blander taste; instead, check some blogs on gluten-free cooking for advice on flour blends. I’ve noticed quite a few people with gluten intolerance swear by a mixture of tapioca flour, sorghum flour and potato starch. Make sure you carry out an initial trial to find the right proportion of water you need to add. Generally, gluten-free batters tend to absorb more water on baking and so, it is good to use more water and less flour blend.

Avoid Rice Flour in Baking

If you are making food that needs to be thick, there is no beating the grittiness of rice crumble. However, this very quality works against it when you use the batter for baking. So, if you are preparing a soup or gravy, rice crumble is good; not if you are baking cakes.

Pay Attention to What You Use

Many people I know use a cream prepared by blending cashews to thicken their gravies. If you do this too, make sure you use raw cashews—not the one’s which have been salted or otherwise processed. This is important because the ingredients that go into the processing may contain a source of gluten and using such nuts may very well mess up your gluten-free cooking.

These are just a few of the tips: there are several other ways you can follow for a gluten-free diet, without compromising on taste and the variety of food. Invest in a gluten-free cookbook, or bookmark and visit a few gluten-free cooking blogs and you are sure to find inspiration for many interesting meals.