(fill in the blank)-free foods are no fun

A lot of the time food labelled "(fill in the blank)-free" aren't that much fun. Fat-free. Sugar-free. Gluten-free. I'm not advocating a full-fat or all-sugar diets but there's gotta be a balance somewhere.

Gluten-free seems to be all the rage right now. And I understand there are certain illnesses that require one to have a certain diet. Totally understand that. What I think is a misunderstanding is that gluten itself is bad or harmful. Quite the contrary. It's only bad or harmful to those with celiac and other such illnesses or conditions. Gluten in itself is really just a protein and one with many uses. 
I myself am not gluten-free. With that said, I recently ventured into the world of imitation meats using wheat gluten. Friends turned me on to a barbecue "ribz" recipe lately so I wanted to give it a shot. (Thank you, Loki Van Lancaster!) 

I know what you might be thinking: imitation meat, really? Isn't that "meat"-free? That's just weird, right? 

Yes, for most meat-eaters, the texture alone will be different, but it's not too far off the mark. My dinner companion/taste-tester husband said they were good but admitted he wouldn't want them very often. OK I'll give you that, meat-eaters. But the grilling at the end really finishes it off. This is where you get that caramelized sauce effect with those crispy, burnt edges that really make ribs taste so good. This isn't even mentioning the protein punch that gluten carries. No wimpy vegan meal here! For these ribz, it's 27g of protein per serving. Bam! 
The meal was rounded out with an Asian-theme cabbage salad with ginger-lime dressing - a suitable summer-time companion that provided a fresh balance to the rich-flavored ribz. Check out my blog about this summer salad here.

Overall, I would definitely try these again, perhaps using a more traditional BBQ sauce next time. I've also been researching some "loaf" ideas for fall. It would be a nice vegetarian alternative come Thanksgiving as it's pretty versatile and can take on really whatever flavor you infuse.

So if your diet allows it, don't limit yourself with (fill-in-the-blank)-free foods. Have some fun and try something new!

Check out the recipe on my vegan Pinterest board.

Tell me what you think.  Share your ideas too.
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