Giving your kitchen a gluten free makeover
If you’re wondering which foods are gluten free and which are not, you probably aren’t the only one. It is no secret that we Americans love food, especially when it’s deep fried in large portions. There is certainly no shortage of food diversity in our country, but when it comes to being gluten free, you may be surprised to hear just how much different it actually is.
A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. This type of protein is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between rye and wheat). Following a gluten-free diet is used to treat celiac disease and can be frustrating when transitioning from a traditional diet. The reason those with celiac disease stay away from gluten is because the protein causes inflammation in the small intestines, creating large amounts of pain and discomfort. Gluten-free living allows people with celiac disease to control their symptoms and prevent additional complications.
Just like any diet, transitioning to gluten-free is certainly difficult as it limits your ability to eat a number of staple ingredients in most cuisines. Going to the super market may begin to seem like a far more stressful task than you imagined, but in today’s culture food stores are integrating gluten-free products on every aisle, allowing you to indulge in foods and treats that you thought could never be consumed. The gluten free lifestyle may have you trying new ingredients and adding new flavors to your dishes, so be open-minded and prepare your kitchen for a full makeover.
As you get used to newer foods and flavors, you start to become creative and unique with what you decide to cook and order out. From pizza, to sandwiches, stews, cookies and desserts, many grocery stores and food markets offer gluten free products for you to cook with, so that you can enjoy all types of food while staying healthy and comfortable. Below are some naturally gluten free ingredients that you can stock your kitchen with:
- Fresh eggs, most dairy products
- Beans, seeds, natural/unprocessed nuts
- Fresh meats, fish, poultry (not-breaded, battered or marinated)
- Fruits and vegetables
As you can see, when following a gluten free lifestyle, you have a lot of ingredients and options to work with when cooking, breakfast lunch and dinner. When you are transitioning your kitchen to become gluten-free, be aware of roommates/family members or friends using kitchen utensils and appliances that have been in contact with food containing gluten. It is recommended that those following a gluten free diet use a separate toaster to avoid the serious risk of cross-contamination. Being gluten free asks that you pay attention to detail when eating out and when shopping around the grocery store. The following items should be avoided unless labeled ‘gluten-free’:
- Breads, Cakes and Pies
- Cookies, Crackers, Croutons and Cereal
- French fries
- Gravies, soups and soup bases, salad dressing, sauces, including soy sauce
- Season rice mixes, snack foods such as potato chips and tortilla chips
- Self-basting poultry, imitation meat or seafood, pasta, processed luncheon meat
- Vegetables in sauce
Being gluten-free is a specific lifestyle and though it may make eating a bit more complicated, there are plenty of tasty meals and snacks to be consumed. When buying specific ingredients; always check the ingredient list on the label and food messages including a “may contain” statement to avoid cross-contamination. An important aspect to remember about living a gluten-free lifestyle is that your new intake of ingredients may not be fueling your body with the amount of vitamins that you need. Since gluten-free diets negate against grains, you must make sure your body is receiving sufficient nutrients like iron, calcium, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate. Your health should be number one priority, so when you transition to living the gluten-free lifestyle, make sure you are paying complete attention to what goes inside your body.
If you’re just starting out on the diet, remember to be patient with yourself and let it be known that your palate and stomach will still be satisfied by plenty of scrumptious foods and snacks.
Stephen Gerard is a Freelance Writer from Blooms Today who loves being active, eating healthy and ocean activities. Some of Stephen’s favorite foods are fresh fish, green vegetables and all kinds of desserts (including gluten-free ones!).