Curried chickpeas in a bowl served with white rice

Vegan and gluten free cooking doesn't have to be restrictive. Just don't focus on foods you're avoiding, and instead think of the many ingredients that you can enjoy and include in your meal. All vegetables and beans are both gluten free and vegan, and most grains are fair game as well, with the exception of wheat, rye, barley and oats (unless the oats are specifically labelled as processed in a gluten free facility). Here are some ideas from a variety of cooking traditions. All lend themselves to plenty of variation; just substitute different vegetables or beans, or different gluten free grains.

1. Beans and Rice

Use cooked white or brown rice and whatever beans you have on hand, precooked or canned. Saute onions and garlic in a vegetable oil such as safflower or olive, and add seasoning that fits the type of bean you're using. Try chili powder or salsa for black beans to make a Mexican-style dish. Use paprika, oregano and hot sauce with red beans for a Cajun-style dish. Or add curry powder with chickpeas or lentils for an Indian-style dish. Once the onions and garlic are soft and fully seasoned, add the beans and rice, heat through, and serve.

2. Polenta with Vegetables

Polenta is a filling, satisfying dish made from corn. Use 3 parts water, along with some olive oil and salt, for each part dry grain. Boil the water and drizzle in the polenta, stirring almost constantly until the mixture thickens, which should only take a minute or two. Pour the polenta into a casserole pan to set and then roast or saute some vegetables. Season the vegetables with fresh herbs or a seasoning salt. Try zucchini and sweet peppers, or onions and swiss chard. Layer the vegetables on top of the polenta.

3. Baked Tofu

Use firm or extra firm tofu, and cut into slices a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick. Prepare a sauce or use a prepared, bottled sauce. Try gluten free soy sauce, rice, vinegar and toasted sesame oil, or gluten free soy sauce, coconut milk and lime juice, or tomato juice, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil. Pour the sauce into a baking dish, arrange the tofu slices in the pan, and then spoon a few tablespoons of sauce over the tofu. Bake at 375F or until the liquid is absorbed, about half an hour. Serve with rice or quinoa.