Gluten-free is the name given to products or foods that are completely devoid of gluten.
Gluten, a form of protein normally found in the starchy or “white” part of certain grains – like wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, rye, oats and triticale – is responsible for giving raw bread, pizza dough, and dessert dough their elastic quality which later results in the delightful, chewy texture bread fans prize. Gluten is also used as a food additive in the form of flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agents because of its versatile nature.
So why do some people strive to avoid it? Sadly, some adults and even children have a rare immune deficiency that causes extreme inflammation of the intestines when they eat anything containing gluten. No one knows why some people contract this disease, which is called Celiac Disease and for which there is no cure to date.
So, what do suffers of Celiac Disease eat? They learn to live a gluten-free lifestyle and become gluten sleuths, reading all labels, as gluten can hide in any number of places. You might be thinking that this is an extreme carb-free diet, however those with Celiac Disease can enjoy plenty of gluten free starches such as corn, potatoes, rice, and tapioca.
Other grains and roots can be enjoyed like amaranth, arrowroot, millet, quinoa, sweet potato, taro, teff, and yam, as long as they are not processed with any other food or a plant that processes foods with gluten.
Here are some foods that you might not think contain gluten, but they do:
- soy & teriyaki sauce
- malt beverages, including all beer
- bleu cheese (made with bread mold)
You should also be careful of the following, as they may contain gluten:
- food coloring
- stock/bouillon cubes
- dried fruit
For a comprehensive list of gluten-free foods and shopping sources, check out Joy Bauer’s book Food Cures. For any recipes that are gluten-free, be sure to purchase your groceries from a “gluten free source”:
- Cherry Almond Smoothie
- Garden Veggie Bowl served with gluten free bread.
- Or try delicious gluten-free cookies from Betsy and Claude.
- Of course, there’s always my Skinny Chef Superfoods Sauces to help you make delicious, healthy and fast meals.
First published September 2008.