Do you have any easy, tasty gluten-free recipes that I might try? I have friends who are gluten-free converts — some by necessity, some by choice — and I am curious about this ‘trend’ and how the recipes will taste and how they will make me feel ?
Thank you for your question!
Let’s start with some basics. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and all their species and hybrids (such as spelt, kamut and triticale). Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting like a glue that holds foods together. Many types of common foods contain gluten, including bread, baked goods, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad dressings, soups, roux, malt, food coloring, beer, and Brewer’s yeast. While oats themselves do not contain gluten, cross-contact may occur when oats are grown side-by-side with wheat, barley or rye, and therefore, only oats labeled gluten-free can safely be considered gluten-free.
Some people must follow a gluten-free diet. For those diagnosed with Celiac Disease, for example, avoiding gluten is essential because when a person with Celiac Disease eats gluten, their body’s immune system attacks the small intestine, preventing proper nutrient absorption. The only treatment for Celiac Disease is a strict, gluten-free diet.
Other people believe that eating a gluten-free diet is healthier for them. People who go on a gluten-free diet without a medical need often do so to lead a healthy lifestyle, but they need to be very careful to not put themselves at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Wheat flour is fortified with B vitamins and iron. Rice flour, often used in gluten-free products, is not. B vitamins help convert food into fuel, repair cells and maintain normal nervous system function. Also, gluten-free diets are not always easy to follow, and the products are typically more expensive than products that contain gluten.
Some people experience symptoms found in Celiac Disease, such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and headaches when they have gluten in their diet, but they do not test positive for Celiac Disease. Gluten-sensitivity is usually the term used to refer to this condition, and removing gluten from the diet resolves these symptoms.
There are a myriad of awesome gluten-free (GF) recipes out there. For breakfast items, try a healthy muffin or oatmeal recipe.
For hot meals, keep things simple! All meat, poultry, fish, beans and tofu is naturally GF. So are all fruits and veggies. Potatoes, sweet potato, rice, quinoa, corn, corn meal (polenta) and squashes are also GF and make wonderful starchy components to many dishes. When preparing a recipe to be GF, just be sure to eliminate wheat, wheat flour, bread crumbs, panko, pasta, rice pilaf (which usually contains orzo pasta in addition to rice) and orzo.
Try grilled marinated chicken with a tossed salad and roasted sweet potato for a simple weeknight dinner. Stir-fry veggies and tofu with garlic, rice vinegar, GF soy sauce and sesame oil for a flavorful one-dish dinner. Throw together your favorite chili recipe in the Crock-Pot, or make a pot of vegetable soup from scratch!