Gluten-Free, the good news

Gluten-Free, the good news, spotting hidden gluten in processed foods is a lot easier now. Fortunately, there are many more delicious foods on the gluten-free list than the forbidden list.

What Is Gluten Anyway?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barley. There are many reasons people avoid gluten. Celiac disease is the most serious. There are others who have a sensitivity to gluten and just feel better when they avoid it. Some people are allergic to wheat itself. You know which category you belong in.

 

Gluten-free, No More Bread? No Pasta?

At first, going gluten-free may sound awfully limiting. Fortunately, there are many more delicious foods on the gluten-free list than the forbidden list. There are also more and more products, from cereals to baking mixes to pastas, that are now being formulated in gluten-free versions. These days you’ll find them not just in health food stores and online, but also on the shelves of most major supermarkets.

 

Some Good News

Spotting hidden gluten in processed foods is a lot easier now thanks to the FDA’s Food Allergy Labeling Law that went into effect in 2004. Since wheat is a common allergen, any product that contains wheat or is derived from it must say soon the label. That means formerly questionable ingredients, such as modified food starch or maltodextrin, must now show wheat as part of their name if they were made from it (for example, “wheat maltodextrin”). Be aware that this ONLY applies to foods produced in the U.S. and Canada. Imports are a different matter.

More Good News for gluten-free

Look at your dietary restrictions as an opportunity to try new foods. Add quinoa and chick pea flour to your cupboard. Use corn tortillas to make sandwiches or lasagna. You’ll find easy recipes in this website that are so delicious you’ll forget that they’re gluten-free. Health yeating may actually be easier without gluten, too. Adding more fresh produce to your meals, eating less processed food and avoiding refined flour are all steps to a better diet for anyone.

The Short List of gluten-free

Sensitivities differ from person to person and ingredients differ from brand to brand. Always check the label’s fine print. This is an abbreviated list of some common foods.

Green lights ( no gluten ) :

  • Beans
  • Buckwheat
  • Cellophane noodles (bean thread noodles)
  • Chickpea flour (garbanzo flour)
  • Corn, corn meal
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fruit
  • Lentils
  • Meat and poultry
  • Millet
  • Nuts
  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Rice, rice flour
  • Rice noodles
  • Seafood
  • Soy, soy flour
  • Tapioca
  • Tofu
  • Vegetables(fresh, canned or frozen without sauce)

Yellow Lights (check ingredients)

  • baking powder
  • barbecue sauce
  • emulsifiers
  • flavorings
  • frozen vegetables with sauce
  • marinades
  • mustard
  • non dairy creamer
  • oats*
  • pasta sauce salad dressings soy sauce**
  • vegetable broth

* Most oats are processed in facilities that also handle wheat products. Look for oats processed in a dedicated gluten-free facility.

**Most soy sauce is brewed from soy beans and wheat. Look for brands that skip the brewing process and use soy concentrate and caramel coloring instead.

Red Lights (contain gluten)

  • barley beer
  • bran
  • brewer’s yeast
  • bulgur
  • cereal
  • commercial baked goods
  • couscous
  • durum
  • graham
  • gravies and sauces
  • imitation seafood
  • kamut
  • malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar
  • matzo
  • orzo
  • pizza
  • pretzels
  • rye seitan
  • semolina
  • spelt
  • wheat

Supermarket Savvy

Before you rush off to buy a cupboard full of specialty products, remember that most basic ingredients are naturally gluten free. You can pick up fresh produce, meat or fish without worrying. However, frozen dinners and fish sticks are no longer on your list. This doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite foods anymore. It just means you will be making some adjustments.

Impulses hopping isn’t a great option either. Most supermarket stocks huge displays with brightly colored boxes of highly processed, gluten-filled items. It may also amaze you how many aisles you can skip when you no longer wander aimlessly amidst the latest bread, cracker and snack items.

Of course, you will want to stock upon certain things so that you’re prepared to eat well on your new diet. Five years ago, a health food store was the only place to buy specialty flours and mixes. Fortunately, today most super markets offer just about everything you need.

The Gluten-Free Pantry

Cooking gluten-free is easier if you keep these staples on hand.

  • Beans and lentils
  • Chickpea flour
  • Corn grits
  • Cornmeal and cornstarch
  • Corn tortillas and taco shells
  • Gluten-Free cereal (corn and/or rice)
  • Gluten-Free flour blends
  • Gluten-Free mixes for your favorite brownies, cookies or muffins
  • Gluten-Free pasta in various shapes
  • Gluten-Free soy sauce
  • Polenta
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (arborio rice, basmati rice)
  • Rice flour (brown, white and sweet rice flour)
  • Rice noodles
  • Tapioca flour
  • Wild rice
  • Xanthan gum

Flour Blends and Friends

Why can’t there be a single one-for-one substitute for wheat flour? Unfortunately, wheat flour performs many different functions and is made up of both protein (the gluten) and starches. It helps make pie crust flaky, cookies chewy and breads crusty. There is no one Gluten-Free flour that can recreate all those benefits, but that’s no reason to give up baking. With two basic flour blends in your refrigerator you can turn out yummy cakes, cookies and even yeast breads. Both of these recipes can be doubled or tripled. For longer storage, keep flour blends in the freezer.

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend

(Makes about 5 cups)

Ingredients
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup almond flour or coconut flour
Instructions

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Whisk to make sure flours are evenly distributed. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

Gluten-Free Flour Blend for Yeast Breads

(Makes about 5 cups )

Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup millet flour*
  • ½ cup instant mashed potato flakes

*If millet flour is not available, substitute chick pea flour.

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Whisk to make sure ingredients are evenly distributed. Store in air tight container in the refrigerator.

 

Denver brunch bake

(Makes 4 servings)

Ingredients
  • 2 table spoons butter, divided
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½c up cubed ham
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ tea spoon salt
  • 4 tea spoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 slices gluten-free bread, cutting to ½ inch cubes
  • ¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
Instructions
  1. Grease 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter.
  2. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers; cook and stir 3 minutes. Add ham; cook and stir 2 minutes.
  3. Beat eggs, milk, salt and red pepper flakes in large bowl. Add bread cubes, ham mixture and ½ cup cheese; mix well. Pour into prepared dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours over night.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle case role with remaining ¼ cup cheese.
  5. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

 

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