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Carol Fenster’s Back-to-School Tips for Gluten-Free Meals

Denver, CO (PRWEB) September 03, 2013

For millions of families, back-to-school means organizing dinner around school activities like homework, soccer, band practice, and dance lessons. "Shopping for and preparing a healthy meal is hard enough for busy families, but for those on a gluten-free diet it is extra-challenging," says Carol Fenster, a cookbook author who offers a gluten-free weekly e-cookbook with recipes and personalized shopping lists at GfreeCuisine. Eating wisely contributes to healthy kids and success in school, so Fenster offers these tips for getting meals on the table:

*Stock the Pantry
Keep a pantry full of quick dinner fixes, such as gluten-free pasta, rice, broth, marinara sauce and cans of clams, tuna, beans, and artichokes, olives, capers—plus dried garlic, basil, oregano, and rosemary. Keep frozen shrimp, frozen link sausage, and frozen vegetables on hand. “From these items, I make a quick linguine with red clam sauce, or paella, or an easy bean soup,” says Fenster. “The possibilities are endless with these ingredients.”

*Maximize the Slow Cooker
Assemble soups, stews, and roasts in the morning, cook in the slow-cooker all day, and then be greeted at the end of the day with a wonderful aroma that says “Sit down and enjoy dinner.” Chili makes a hearty meal and leftovers can be used for sloppy joes, on baked potatoes, or frozen in individual servings for reheating later. Slow cookers not only save time, they don’t generate as much heat as full-size ovens which make them especially helpful during warm fall days.

*Assemble Ready-to-Cook Meals Ahead of Time
Freeze ready-to-cook meals that are assembled ahead of time, such as marinated meats. For example, place the marinade in a freezer container, add the meat, seal tightly, label with cooking instructions, and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator the night before and then cook. The meat marinates as it thaws so by dinner time it has absorbed marvelous flavor—with little effort. “I always have a marinating flank steak in the freezer for a quick grilled dinner, which provides leftovers for sandwiches the next day,” Fenster says. She also believes in cooking meat in smaller pieces (such as kabobs rather than a full steak) to speed up cooking time.

*Cook More Than Needed; Incorporate Planned-Overs into Future Meals
It saves considerable time to cook twice as much and use the extra cooked food in future meals. For example, roast more chicken than needed, but use the leftovers later for casseroles, stews, or sandwiches. Or, cook a large pork tenderloin in the slow cooker, then use the leftover meat in pulled pork sandwiches later in the week. Starting with cooked meat (instead of having to cook it first) is much more efficient, says Fenster, who often chops leftover cooked chicken and steak into cubes, freezes it, and then it’s ready for whatever she wants to do with it later.

*Subscribe to a Weekly Gluten-Free Meal Planner
“Deciding what to cook each night is half the battle,” says Fenster. “Many families find it hard to plan menus—especially when they’re gluten-free—and they find grocery-shopping very time-consuming, so I started GfreeCuisine to help them plan more effectively and save time when shopping.”

Here is how it works: Subscribers choose five dinners from a list of ten weekly gluten-free, kitchen-tested menus (entrée and side dishes) with minimal prep times (usually less than 30 minutes). Based on the recipes selected by the subscriber, the system generates a personalized grocery list identifying gluten-free brands to speed up shopping time. The weekly service also offers tips for a gluten-free pantry, seasonal menus, bread-baking, dairy substitutes, freezer meal menus, desserts, dinner party menus, and more.

“In other words,” says Fenster, “ contains all the information necessary to cook wholesome meals and this information is presented in easy-to-handle weekly segments that break it down into manageable parts.”

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