Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gluten Free 101

Living a gluten free lifestyle has been gaining in popularity recently due to associated health benefits such as feeling better, more energy, sharper clarity and so much more.
I will be up  front and state I am not a registered nutritionist or a dietitian but I have done some research on the subject and here are some general remarks that might take some of the mystique out of the terminology. 

  • A gluten-free diet does not include the grains wheat, barley, rye, or hybrids of these grains. This includes all varieties and forms of these grains, such as spelt (a type of wheat) and malt (made from barley). A gluten-free diet is called a gluten-free diet because the grains that must be avoided all contain a protein called gluten.
  • Most people who follow a gluten-free diet have celiac disease, a serious genetically-based autoimmune disease. When gluten is eaten by a person with celiac disease it triggers an immune system reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine. When the lining of the small intestine is damaged, nutrients can not be properly absorbed. Once gluten is completely removed from the diet the intestine is able to heal.
  • You may be thinking that no gluten means no bread, no pasta, and no pizza. It is true that most of these products in regular grocery stores contain gluten, but there are plenty of gluten-free options available. As you may have noticed perusing the aisles of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or any other natural food store, there are plenty of breads, pastas, breakfast cereals, and other products labeled gluten free. 
  • There is also an abundance of grains that just happen to be gluten free including rice, corn, millet, sorghum, wild rice, teff, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth. It would not be surprising if many of these grains are not familiar to you.
  • You might not know what teff is but you may have eaten it, especially if you have ever been to a restaurant that serves Ethiopian food. Teff is a staple grain in Ethiopia where it is used to make a spongy flatbread called injera. What about quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)? It sounds exotic but it is as simple to cook as rice and has a very mild taste — even picky eaters will love it. The same is true for all the gluten-free whole grains—they are delicious, nutritious and easy to cook.
Gluten free diets mean less prepared foods and more cooking from natural sources. Thankfully, more and more stores are stocking the ingredients to make healthy food. When shopping locally for gluten-free foods you will have the best luck at natural foods stores, although an increasing number of gluten-free foods are carried in regular grocery stores. If you do not live near a natural foods store, there are plenty of mail-order companies. Among the many companies to check out are Enjoy Life Foods (, Bob’s Red Mill (, and the Teff Company (
Sausage, Brussels Sprouts and Parmesan Pasta
Cook's notes: Kristen Porter from was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2013 so the majority of her recipes are gluten-free. This recipe can be made in 20 minutes. It's a filling dish with loads of flavor.    
Gluten- Free Mac and Cheese with Tomato  
Cook's notes: This Mac and Cheese is one of the gluten-free recipes on this site. The recipes are divided up into breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert/snacks for kids that will provide parents and grandparents some inspiration for meal planning.

1 comment:

  1. You're right. I thought all pastas contained gluten. You just taught me a lot today.


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