While strolling through the supermarket, you’ve probably noticed a surge of products labeled “gluten-free.” So what is a gluten-free diet, and who needs to follow it? Let’s start with the basics:
Gluten is a protein most commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye, and is often added to processed foods as a stabilizing agent. People who suffer from Celiac disease can’t properly ingest gluten, and adhering to a gluten-free diet is the only known treatment for reducing the symptoms.
Symptoms of Celiac disease:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Abdominal bloating and cramping
- Inflammation of the small intestines
Tips for Eating Gluten-Free:
- In general, foods such as beer, bread, pasta, cereal, and highly processed foods are off limits.
- It’s essential to familiarize oneself with all of the common names for wheat to interpret product labels.
- Try new grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat and amaranth.
- Don’t forget that many foods are gluten-free (fruits, vegetables, most dairy products, meat, fish, and eggs).
- Check out the wide range of gluten-free snacks, pastas, and baking mixes on the market.
- Look for gluten-free cookbooks to get healthy recipe ideas.
If you have any of the symptoms of Celiac disease, talk with your doctor about a treatment plan. They will most likely advise you to abstain from gluten for a period of time to see if your symptoms subside and can help you balance your diet accordingly.
Don’t worry, eating gluten-free can be delicious!
Here’s a recipe from Gluten Free Goddess to get you started:
Quinoa Salad with Blueberries, Strawberries and Watermelon
2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups fresh water
Pinch of sea salt, to taste
Place the quinoa, water, and sea salt in a large to medium rice cooker, and cover. Cook until all the water is evaporated and the quinoa is tender. Scoop the cooked quinoa into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Let it cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the fruit and baby greens.
1.5 cups fresh blueberries, washed, picked over
1.5 cups fresh strawberries, washed, sliced
1.5 cups diced watermelon
6 cups baby salad greens
A handful of fresh chopped herbs: cilantro, dill, parsley and mint
For the dressing:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh squeezed lime juice from 1-2 limes
Cracked pepper, to taste
When the quinoa has cooled, drizzle it with the extra virgin olive oil and toss well to coat, fluffing with a fork to separate the grains. Add the fresh squeezed lime juice and toss again. Season with cracked pepper, to taste. Taste test. Add more olive oil or lime as needed.
Add the blueberries to the quinoa, and toss lightly.
Distribute the baby greens on six plates. Add the quinoa and blueberries. Add the sliced strawberries and diced watermelon, and the fresh chopped herbs.
Cook time: 30 minutes