What is Gluten-Free Eating?
There are many healthy food choices that are delicious and naturally gluten free. What is gluten free eating all about? For me it is about keeping my husband healthy, because he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease it is vital that he does not have any gluten at all in his diet. And because he shows no outward symptoms when he consumes gluten it is harder to make sure that he doesn’t have gluten.
My most challenging thing was changing the way I cooked. You have to learn what food is gluten free. Not all foods are gluten products in fact their are a lot of naturally gluten free items available but you have to be aware of how you cook them to keep them that way. The way I cooked using frozen things like breaded meats which were easy and quick but that all had to change. They do make gluten free breading now horray!
One of my staple casseroles is the green bean casserole which I am always required to bring to Thanksgiving. The first year I made two different casseroles one gluten free with no fried onions on top and one regular. This year however I found gluten free fried onions so I took a chance and made it with progressive gluten free soup and used the gluten free fried onions for on top. I didn’t tell anyone until it was gone so I guess it was a success!
Now I have to prepare for meals more than I ever had to before. I don’t have to eat gluten free but it only makes sense to and I really don’t mind I didn’t realize how much of my food was already gluten free. It really is a life changing event but in the long run it is also a healthy one. Your core food groups should still be fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy.
There are many healthy food choices that are delicious and naturally gluten free. There are several food groups that are naturally gluten free and they include foods such as vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy, fish and seafood as well as beans and nuts.
Always Read Labels
Just about all Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. It is however, important to check the labels on any vegetables and fruits that have been processed. Dried fruit and pre-packaged items such as smoothies. Additionally, packaged frozen potatoes are not always gluten-free, and labels should be read carefully when considering these products.
The food industry is getting better at marking the packages with the Gluten Free label which in turn makes for easier shopping for the consumer.
Many items are naturally gluten free but, they can be easily cross contaminated by preparing foods where you are also preparing gluten containing foods. Such as using a cutting board where you have cut bread. Or using a toaster that has been used to toast bread that contains gluten. Or just using a knife to cut something with gluten and not washing it before using it to prepare gluten free foods.
Many Grains are Gluten-Free
You can find many grains at your local grocery store and then their are others that you may have to look harder for perhaps at a health food store. Times are changing for the gluten free group store are becoming more aware of the need for this type
of food and are making it easier for the consumer to find and recognize them. Also, the product manufacturers are producing prepackaged products that are now gluten free such as, cake, muffin, bread mixes and much more you just have to know where to find them in your store. Do not buy grains in bulk because of the chance for cross contamination.
These two grains are gluten free but do have gluten in the seeds so if they are not harvested right gluten contamination can occur. Depending on your sensitivity you may want to stay away from pure wheat grass and barley grass. Grains should contain less than 20 ppm of gluten to be considered safe.
Naturally Gluten-Free Grains
Below are some grains that are naturally gluten free.
Amaranth, Arrowroot, Beans, Buckwheat groats(kasha), Cassava, Chia, Corn(maize), Flax, Millet, Nut Flours, Oats (Gluten Free), Potato, Quinoa, Rice, Sorghum, Soy, Tapioca, Teff, and Yucca.
There are many products that are marked gluten free and that really helps the consumer greatly. Beware their are also products that are not marked but may be gluten free. Your job is to be a good label reader to check the ingredients carefully to make sure it is safe.
Most wheat products contain gluten such as breads, crackers, pasta and other baked goods. Today their are alternatives to many of these items using other non gluten flours and grains. Of course these products are prepackaged but use can purchase flour blends that will allow you to make your own items from scratch.
There is usually a freezer section with gluten free items which is where you will most likely find the bread. One of my favorite things to make is muffins using the King Arthur’s Brand muffin mix which allows you to add your own ingredients. I will add cinnamon, dried blueberries, cranberries and walnuts and they are delicious!
Many cereals contain gluten, their are several that are gluten free. Not all brands make it easy to tell but General Mills Cheerios make it very obvious with there Gluten Free label right on the front of the box. Please note not all the varieties are but their is a good selection. Not all cereals are marked gluten free so check the ingredients to make sure. There are some cereals you might think should be gluten free but when they are processed they might use ingredients that have gluten. For example malt flavoring is used in cornflakes and rice puffs.
As far as breakfast goes pancakes are one of my husbands favorites. It took a while to find the pancake mix that was just right but I have and I would like to share it with you Here! I use King Arthur Brand Pancake Mix it is light and fluffy. A trick I use to make them more to our liking is to add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the mix. It gives the pancakes a different flavor.
Soups and Sauces
When it comes to soups and sauces many prepared soups include wheat as a thickener therefore if it doesn’t say it is gluten free you must check the ingredients carefully especially cream soups. Of course if you make your own soup you can control what goes in it. I haven’t found any canned soups that are perfect but Progresso makes a fairly decent one but you still have to check each flavor because not all are gluten free.
Most beverages are gluten-free, including juices, sodas, and sports drinks.
Generally most wines are considered gluten-free to the FDA standard because they contain under 20ppm of gluten. Wines fermented in barrels lined with wheat paste do not contain enough gluten to cause a reaction. These wine might include muscatel, port, and maderia.
Wines with added flavoring or color are not safe for someone with Celiac. These are generally dessert wines. Also, wine coolers made with barley malt are unsafe. For these, consumers should check the label, and if in doubt, opt out or contact the company for clarification.
Hard liquor, distilled liquors, and hard ciders are all considered gluten free. Others made from gluten containing grains that are not distilled which includes beers, ales, lagers, and malt beverages are not gluten-free. However, their are several brands of gluten-free beers available in the United States and abroad. There are more coming on the market all the time. My husband found one he likes called New Grist.
Check, Check, and Recheck!
These are the Steps I take to make sure my packaged foods are gluten free before I purchase them.
First I look for the GF label which tells me the FDA has passed this product as Gluten Free.
Second, if no label is on the products I would check fo common gluten containing ingredients such as Wheat, Rye, Barley, Malt, Oats (not specified gluten free) and Brewers Yeast.
Third I check for the allergens found in the product. Then check the overall ingredients to make sure their aren’t any hidden gluten ingredients.
I also, have an app on my phone that lets me scan the barcode and tells me if it “contains no gluten”, or it might say “no gluten ingredients found.” This is just one more way to make you feel more comfortable with the product you may purchase.
After doing the above checks you might want to also check with the manufacturer to see if the product is processed in the same area as other products that contain gluten. If so, there is a risk of cross contamination.
Are gluten products bad for you? No they are not unless you have Celiac’s Disease or have a gluten senitivity.
So what is gluten free eating all about? It is making sure your foods and other products you use do not contain gluten. Being sure the foods you eat and even the products you use don’t contain gluten is the only safe way to control Celiac disease at this point in time. I hope this has helped you learn what food is gluten free. There is always research being done and maybe one day a cure or an easy way to help will be available. So eat gluten free and live a healthy life with Celiac Disease.
It does get easier as you learn what products you can have.