Posted: 01/04/2014 15:10 BST

By Poorna Bell, Lifestyle Editor at Huffington Post UK

nutritionists wheat free

With an increasing number of signs in cafes and recipes in magazines evidencing the popularity of wheat and gluten-free foods, some of us are left wondering what that exactly means.

Something that is wheat free may not be gluten free, but on the other hand, people may not be so bothered about cutting out gluten – they may just want to reduce the amount of breads and pasta in their diet.

Although some leading experts say the wheat and gluten-free craze is just that – that apart from people with coeliac’s disease, there is no other form of allergy, some people are choosing to cut it out of their diet just because they fancy it.

So, who are we to judge?

We asked four nutritional experts to give us their alternatives to going wheat and gluten-free.

Henrietta Norton, nutritional therapist and founder of  Wild Nutrition says:

Try: Millet toast with avocado:
Why: Millet is a rich source of trace minerals manganese, phosphorous, copper as well as magnesium (of which 70% of the population are estimated to be deficient in). These nutrients have been shown to support blood glucose regulation, cardio-protective properties and cellular energy production.


Try: Scrambled eggs and buckwheat pancakes

Why: Although the name suggests it should be related to the wheat family, Buckwheat actually not a cereal grain at all but a fruit seed (related to rhubarb and sorrel).

It is a good source of rutin, an antioxidant from the flavanoid group, and lignans which are especially beneficial for hormone support- some studies have shown it to have potential health-promoting effects great than many fruits or vegetables. It offers a healthy dose of magnesium, and has been shown to be particularly supportive for healthy blood sugar balance and lowering cholesterol.

Try: Quinoa
Why: An excellent alternative to cous-cous (cracked wheat). Quinoa is a good source of the minerals manganese and phosphorous as well as protein and oleic acid (a heart healthy fat). Cook like rice and make a salad combined with shredded chicken, pumpkin seeds, chopped dates, mixed herbs and olive oil.


Try: Amaranth porridge or crackers
Why: This is a plant protein powerhouse with 2 essential amino acids often lacking in other grains, Lysine and Methionine. It is also dense in iron, calcium and fibre. It takes a little longer to cook (25 minutes) than oats so start breakfast earlier or make in advance and keep in the fridge. Top crackers with almond nut butter or tahini and a thin spread of manuka or raw honey.

Naomi Mead, nutritional therapist and HuffPost UK blogger says:

“Be aware of the fact that wheat is hidden in many processed foods that you wouldn’t suspect such as soups, sauces and ready meals, so always check the label.”

Try: Courgette spaghetti
Why: Very quick and easy to make, and can be substituted for pasta in any recipe. All you need is a basic julienne peeler to peel your courgette into spaghetti strands, then pan-fry in a dash of olive oil until just tender. Also delicious raw in salads.

Try: Nori wraps
Why: Nori is high in protein, rich in minerals and one of the best sources of natural iodine, vital for maintaining a healthy thyroid gland.

Julia Buckley, fitness trainer and author of The Fat Burn Revolution says:

“While I don’t generally recommend cutting any food out entirely unless there’s a medical reason, most people in the UK eat too much wheat and would benefit from cutting down and making a few switches.”

Try: Lettuce wraps
Why: Stuff a large lettuce leaf with your sandwich filling of choice and wrap like a tortilla. You’ll need more filling without the spongy bread bulking it out which, so long as your filling is nutritious, means more good stuff gets into your tum.

lettuce wraps

Try: Beansprout noodles
Why: Usually have noodles with your stir fry? Cook up some beansprouts instead. Bean sprouts contain vitamins C, K, A and B as well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and manganese, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Try: Spaghetti squash bolognaise
Why: Scoop out the stringy flesh of a spaghetti squash and serve in place of pasta with bolognaise sauce or as a pasta-sub in any dish. Spaghetti squash will give your body a good hit of folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, C, beta carotene and niacin.

Try: Omelette pizza
Why: Instead of using a bread pizza base, top an omelette with your favourite pizza goodies. You’ll be getting all the goodness of eggs in this dish – so protein and a host of vitamins and minerals including including vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, folic acid, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.

Layne Lieberman, author of Beyond The Mediterranean Diet and nutritionist says:

rice cakes

Try: Plain rice cakes (puffed) instead of toast, serve with jam mixed with strained non-fat plain yogurt.
Why: Rice cakes are typically just made from one ingredient: puffed rice (sometimes they are lightly salted). Choose brands made with whole brown rice for more fiber, vitamins and minerals. If you’re avoiding salt, choose unsalted varieties.

Try: Polenta grits with nut butter and banana
Why: Polenta is made from fine cornmeal, and I love the texture and nutty flavour. Also, a good source of protein and fibre!