Forget carbs and cholesterol—“gluten” may be the dirtiest word among today’s health-conscious diners. Celiac disease affects only 1 percent of the population and another 6 percent suffer from gluten sensitivity, yet at least 30 percent of Americans are looking to reduce or eliminate gluten, notes the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Restaurants cannot afford to ignore the groundswell—gluten-free menu item claims increased 275 percent from 2009 to 2012, reports Mintel Menu Insights. Jehangir Mehta, chef-owner of Mehtaphor in New York City, is a pioneer in reworking recipes into gluten-free versions. He offers 12 gluten-free dishes, and from 10 to 50 percent of dine-in and takeout patrons order them. “It’s easy for me to go gluten–free,” says the Mumbai-born chef. “Ingredients like chickpea flour, tapioca and rice flour are common in my culture.”
Fennel ice cream forms the base of Chef Mehta’s twist on the sundae, which he tops with melted chocolate and slivered almonds. To get the mouthfeel of a cookie in a gluten-free format, Mehta dredges rice paper in chicory powder, then coats it with sugar ten times to create sweet crisps.
Smart Dessert Swaps
|Instead of ...||Try this ...|
|Cookies made with wheat flour||Cookies made with lentils or rice paper|
|Cookie crumbs for ice cream topping||Fried tapioca pearls or toasted almonds|
|Cakes made with wheat flour||Cakes made with rice flour and/or tapioca flour|