Living a gluten-free lifestyle is becoming more and more mainstream these days, as evidenced by the gluten-free informational insert from Media Planet in the Los Angeles Times during the month of March (via www.Celiac.org), and is not as some may think the latest diet fad.
Why is living a gluten-free lifestyle so important? Many suffer from either a gluten intolerance and/or Celiac’s Disease, both of which can have serious debilitating factors, some of which can be life threatening over extended periods of time. And symptoms can be different in children and adults so it’s important to get tested. Use this checklist from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to get you started!
What is the difference you ask between being gluten intolerant and having Celiac’s Disease? Gluten intolerance is just that, it’s an intolerance to ingredients containing gluten (all forms of wheat, rye, barley, oats, modified food starches, etc.), whereas Celiac’s Disease is an actual autoimmune disorder/disease in which the individual cannot ingest any foods and/or use any products containing gluten, as it results in a immune response and directly affects the small intestines. Here is an informational link from the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America explaining the difference in more detail.
Living a gluten-free lifestyle can be easy once you’ve learned the “gluten-free ropes.” There is so much to learn (e.g., modified food starch — -in most case — contains some form of wheat or gluten, and is often found in such products as puddings and salad dressings. Many cosmetic and personal care products such as shampoo and conditioner contain wheat germ). And when you’re a mom having to feed and care for a family, that can be a tough challenge. I have found regardless if I am cooking for myself or my family, being prepared is key! Having a host of gluten-free products in your home, especially if you have little ones, is so important. I find that if I don’t keep my pantry stocked with gluten-free items, this is when I get myself into trouble!
With the ever-evolving and improving range of gluten-free products, there is no need to eat gluten-free and feel as though your missing out. Check with your local grocer to see what gluten-free items they carry. Whole Foods, HEB and Sprouts here in Austin, TX carry a wide range of products. Whole Foods also has an online/in-store resource list of all the gluten-free items they stock, and they have a very knowledgeable staff that can help you find your way. Additionally, your grocer may carry/stock prepare gluten-free meals in their frozen food sections (I purchase my gluten-free pie crusts from Whole Foods Market, plus Amy’s gluten-free meals, and from Sprouts I purchase Talenti gluten-free/vegan gelato/sorbeto). Another really great resource for prepared gluten-free meals is Snap Kitchen. Snap Kitchen carries breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snacks. Breakfast ranges from peanut butter pancakes to granola with yogurt. Lunch can being grilled chicken and vegetables with a chimichurri sauce, and for dinner you have your pick of such entrees as lasagna, meatloaf and dill-poached salmon, none of which disappoints. My personal favorite is their Truffle Mac & Cheese! Oh yes, and I cannot forget to tell you about Hail Merry! Amazing gluten-free snacks . . .I can’t live without them!
Tips that I find helpful for gluten-free cooking & eating:
-Keep gluten-free flour(s) on hand (King Arthur, Bob’s Red Mill and Bona Dea Baking are my top three – I use for baking, starting roux and other cooking methods that require traditional wheat flour). For example, I use a gluten-free pie crust mix to start my roux (butter and flour mixture used in most soups) as it is a flour blend and the flavor is really good.
-Keep easy-to-prepare gluten-free items on hand (e.g., quiche – can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Requires eggs, milk, cheese, gluten-free pie crust for basic recipe).
Gluten-Free Books, Cookbooks & Websites I use regularly:
-Amy’s Simply Sugar & Gluten Free (Website & Cookbook)
-Blackbird Bakery (Website & Cookbook)
-Food Network.com (Website)
-Healing Foods: Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Crohn’s and IBS (This was my 1st book purchased & it was a life saver!) (Book)
-Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel (Love Bethenny’s approach to eating healthy) (Book)
-The Celiac Diva (Website)
Note: You can basically take any recipe and make it gluten-free. It’s just a matter of switching out the gluten-free flours and other ingredients that contain wheat or gluten.
Family Friendly Recipe(s): Here are some delicious links to gluten-free recipes I have created that are family friendly:
If you looking for additional recipes and/or how to tweak a recipe to be gluten-free, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachelle King writes the gluten-free blog Blinded by the Bite! Rachelle’s writing has also appeared on Foodpressed.com as a featured blogger, ATXGlutenFree.com, “Please to Tweet You” feature by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, listed on Central Texas Food Blogger Directory on Austin360.com, radio feature on Lonely Gourmet Radio Friday Foodie Feast, part of a three-women team behind the Gluten-Free Pizza Fest, Team Leader for Austin Bakes for Japan and serves on the board of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. Living gluten-free for three years as a result of eight car accidents from 2005 to 2007, with additional diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, and Sjogren’s Syndrome (both auto immune diseases). A 90-pound weight gain, back surgeries and rapid deterioration of my health, I was on a mission to learn just how to live gluten-free and not miss out on all the flavors I’d experience over the years! It’s about eating gluten-free, healthy whole foods and I hope to help you do the same and know that you don’t have to compromise on taste and quality. Read more about my story here.