Ask a Health Coach: How Lily Harris Mastered Gluten-Free Cooking at Home 

Last Update: January 22, 2024

This article is part of our Ask a Health Coach series, which focuses on answering common health and nutrition questions from our community. Because we know that meeting one-on-one with a health coach may not be accessible to all people, we tapped Lily Harris, certified Holistic Nutrition Practitioner and friend of Thrive Market, to learn about the best advice that she gives her clients. 

When you’re managing a food allergy or sensitivity, eating out can be tricky. Lily Harris knows this all too well. The Holistic Nutrition Practitioner lives with celiac disease, a condition that causes an immune reaction to eating gluten. While Harris loves going out for happy hour oysters or the occasional dinner with friends, she’s quick to say that cooking at home is her best bet for consistently avoiding “getting gluten-ed”, as she jokingly refers to unknowingly eating food that contains gluten.

If you’re wondering how to approach gluten-free cooking in a way that will still allow you to make exciting, flavorful, and colorful meals that aren’t boring or restrictive, Harris has the answers. Here are her best tips for gluten-free cooking at home. 

Gluten-Free Cooking Tips from Lily Harris

  1. Prioritize real, whole foods. Many gluten-free recipes seem to try to take foods containing gluten (think: pizza, breads, and baked goods) and make them gluten-free, often in a way that Harris says “sacrifices taste or adds in unnecessarily processed ingredients”. Instead, she prefers to prioritize unprocessed, naturally gluten-free ingredients like fresh vegetables, meats, and legumes when preparing meals at home, and save the gluten-free goodies for the occasional treat. 
  2. Don’t be afraid of grains. “I recommend starting by replacing glutinous grains with naturally gluten-free grains — even better if they’re ‘certified gluten-free’, which ensures that they aren’t processed near other glutenous products that can cause cross-contamination,” Harris says. “My favorites are basmati rice, quinoa, and wild rice blends.” 
  3. Prep your staples to create new combinations throughout the week. Some light meal prep goes a long way when it comes to gluten-free cooking. Harris often prepares a big batch of rice, some chicken, and versatile veggies at the beginning of the week to use in salads, soups, rice bowls, and even breakfasts throughout the week. 
  4. Make lunches fun and flavorful. At lunch, Harris often uses what she has on hand to create grown-up snack plates and other no-prep dishes. One of her staples is a seaweed roll with tamari, a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. “I love roasted seaweed with a healthy oil, like olive oil. I add fresh avocado and some leftover rice in the seaweed, and then just a little bit of tamari on top. Then you just roll it up and shove it in your mouth.” For extra protein, Harris often adds tinned fish or leftover salmon.
  5. Add a few quick, easy snacks to your arsenal. Harris often encourages her nutrition clients to lean on a few go-to, gluten-free snacks on busy days. “You don’t have to avoid packaged snacks altogether,” she says. “You just have to pick the right ones. I don’t want you to be afraid of minimally processed foods, so you could do something like grass-fed beef sticks without all the added ingredients and some fresh fruit.”
  6. Make your favorite restaurant dishes at home. “Because I’m celiac, ordering food for me is really hard,” Harris explains. “If I always keep a few staples in my pantry, I can trust that they’re gluten-free and I can make something quickly.” One of Harris’ main goals (and a phrase she often uses with her clients) is to “fulfill cravings at home with ingredients we trust.” This may mean making her own hearty pho noodle soup with gluten-free noodles, childhood favorite cookies using alternative flours, or an elaborate brunch spread on a Sunday morning.

This article is related to:

Gluten-Free, Gluten-Free Foods

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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