Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gluten-Free Diet

This week I am talking about celiac disease, which requires a life-long commitment to a gluten-free diet. So, what the heck does that involve? Well, gluten is a protein found in all forms of wheat, as well as related grains such as barley and rye. What is made with wheat? At first glance, it feels like EVERYTHING has wheat.

Most cereals, breads, cookies, muffins, cakes, dough (think pizza), buns, and pastas, etc. ALL are classically made using wheat flours. Happily, though, there are more and more foods in these categories that are made with rice, corn and potato flours- all of which are gluten-free. In almost every grocery, there is a small (and ever-expanding) section of gluten-free "bread" products and mixes. Check out my "commercial" for delicious gluten-free pancakes, for example- yum! And rice-flour cereals such as Rice Chex are still on the menu, though ones like Rice Krispies that sound gluten-free (GF) may not be (because of additives like malt.)

More importantly, though, there are tons of delicious, healthy foods that are naturally gluten-free. Practically the whole perimeter of the grocery store: every fruit and vegetable (think MORE!), dairy, nuts, and meat are all GF. Our bodies don't NEED gluten nor any of the treats/sweets/doughs that our MOUTHS or minds may crave...

I think the biggest challenge of GF eating is baking. There does not seem to be a simple recipe substitute- at least not "replace one cup of wheat flour with one cup of brown rice flour" style. Because of the TEXTURE, you need to make blends involving rice flour, potato starch and tapioca flours, for example. I have found a great baking cookbook that I would recommend: Gluten-Free Baking Classics, by Annalise Roberts- try the delicious lemon pound cake!

If you are committed to a GF diet, make an appointment with a registered dietician to really learn all the nuances of this meal plan. Here in Austin, I recommend Daniela Knight, RD, to help you with this transition.

BOTTOM LINE: Gluten-free diets are rich in fruits, veggies and protein, and can be supplemented with carefully chosen gluten-free baked goods.

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