Whether by choice or due to medical reasonings, there is no denying that the number of Australians following a diet free of gluten is rising. Now with a vast range of dietary requirements requested by customers and an abundance of choice, hospitality venues across the country need to ensure their menus are catering to every need. That’s why we’ve revealed how you can transform your current menu items to gluten free meals using a few common substitute products.
With 2.4 million Australians already following a diet free of gluten, it’s no wonder chefs across the country are searching high and low for product substitutes for their menus. As that figure continues to grow rapidly, the onus is on venues who risk being rejected by diners if they don’t have a menu that meets their dietary requirements.
These days, there are endless products on the market that are great (and tasty) gluten free alternatives. So, the question is – should you create a new gluten free menu, do you alter some of your current dishes, or do you simply turn a blind eye?
The simplest and cheapest answer would be to leverage the dishes that your diners already know and love – tweaking crowd favourites to open them up to a bigger market. Do you have a famous burger that your customers desire? Switch up the bun and sauce to make it gluten free appropriate. Do you have a popular pasta sauce that your customers can’t get enough of? Switch the pasta to gluten free pasta or try a rice alternative.
So, when you take a moment to reflect on your menu, do you think it’s up to scratch with the demand for gluten free dishes? We’ve picked out some of the traditional dishes found on the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus across the country and turned them into gluten free meals, to make the transition easier to follow.
We have heard it endlessly for years, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, the pressure’s on chefs to ensure their breakfast menu features everything from the healthy and hearty to the sweet and guilty pleasures of the plate.
When it comes to offering a range of gluten free breakfasts to customers, the options are quite easy, in fact, they could possibly already be on your menu. With many breakfast bowls containing oats these days, switching the ingredient to quinoa can quickly turn the dish into a gluten free alternative.
To capture the eyes of your customers, replace the oats with quinoa, top it off with fresh fruit, Greek yoghurt and a row of toasted honey coated quinoa as a crunchy feature. Another popular gluten free offering can be your trusted omelette.
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While they aren’t heavily labelled as gluten free on menus, they are a perfect dish to have available. Give your omelette some flavour and texture by adding spinach and roasted tomato or mix it up with mushrooms, prosciutto and cheddar cheese. If you want to serve it with a slice of toasted bread, be sure to switch it to a gluten free roll or loaf.
Lunch menus used to be an eye-rolling experience for gluten intolerant customers, as it used to be about getting a sandwich or burger that was small, dense and flavourless. And due to the unpleasant experience, many used to resort to a salad with a bland dressing.
But now with a new and improved gluten free bread on the market, the sandwich and burger experiences are proving to be close to the real thing. The new Helga’s Gluten Free range now allows customers to have a “normal” bakery experience.
While it isn’t necessary to change the bread used across every sandwich on your menu, having the option of swapping the bread to gluten free is more than enough to satisfy customers. Though it is important you make it clear and obvious that you have the option available.
Adapting your offering to the new Helga’s Gluten Free loaf will ensure all your delicious, fresh ingredients within your sandwiches are contained thanks to its larger slices. While the rolls will contain all the juices and sauces of your famous burgers, ensuring the best experience is received by all diners at all times.
Another lunch offering you can transform can be your Mexican meals. Mexican food has always been a crowd pleasure amongst many menus, so for your burritos provide diners with the option to go for the “naked bowl” or switch to a corn tortilla.
Your nachos can also be modified by using tortilla chips made from corn instead of wheat – instantly widening your lunch time target audience. Sweet Potato fries are also a popular side dish for cafes, though remember, if you are going to label them as gluten free, ensure you don’t fry them in the same oil as products that contain gluten.
Dinner menus can sometimes be harder to swap and change, especially in high-volume, high-pressure venues. But offering the same protein and vegetable dish can be tiring for many gluten intolerant customers, giving them a negative experience at your venue.
While it is hard, and sometimes near impossible for venues to offer a gluten free base alternative to their pizza options, having one or two dedicated gluten free pizzas can be the answer. By switching the standard base or plain flour to specific gluten free flour, you can create a number of pre-made pizzas for your patrons. When it comes to cooking your gluten free pizzas, following the below steps to ensure there is no cross-contamination with any wheat products within the kitchen:
Another dish that can easily be transformed into a gluten free offering is the traditional shepherd’s pie. By removing the pastry and presenting it as a rustic hot pot dish, you can provide diners with a warm, tasty meal free of gluten. Though, make sure you read the labels of your gravies and ensure they also don’t contain any traces of gluten – in fact, it’s always worth giving any gluten free labels a second, thorough review.
An easy solution for gluten free desserts is offering your customers a plate of freshly cut fruit. But now, you have options that allow your diners to indulge in delicious sweets that contain no gluten.
Bread pudding continues to grow in popularity (especially in the cooler months) and now you can transform it into a gluten free offering by simply switching the bread. By changing the standard bread loaf to a gluten free loaf, you can broaden the dishes customer range. Check out Chef Adam’s creation – it will make your customer’s mouths water.
And with chocolate mousse also being a favourite amongst both adults and children, an adaption should also be available for orderings. A ricotta, cherry mousse dessert contains the same fluffiness, strong flavours and smoothness as a regular mousse, just minus the gluten. Created with ricotta cheese, sugar, almond extract, vanilla extract and cherries – it’s a simple recipe that could place your venue on the go-to list for your gluten intolerant diners.
Conclusion: Overall, it’s becoming near impossible for venues not to offer their customers a range of alternative options, especially gluten free. By providing your customers with gluten free alternatives, it broadens your venue’s target audience and leaves your diners feeling welcomed and satisfied.
It’s a continuous learning curve while chefs continue to adapt their cooking styles and kitchens to ensure they are providing customers with what they want (and need). Start with two or three gluten free items on your menu and assess how they are enjoyed by your customers and most importantly – ask for feedback.
But don’t forget, just like your everyday menu, your gluten free offerings aren’t a set and forget. Regularly assess the current food trends and learn how you can incorporate them without the traces of gluten.