Saturday April 9, I presented a class about going gluten free at the Spencer County Extension Office. Here are the notes from that class.
Description : Learn about Gluten, symptoms of gluten allergy, sensitivity, and intolerance, Celiacs, how gluten affects the body in these cases, how to become gluten free, and how to cook and bake with gluten free alternatives.
What is Gluten? Gluten is a combination of two types of protein found in all grains. But it’s the Gluten in Wheat, Barley, and Rye grains that cause a reaction in persons with a gluten sensitivity. Wheat is the most common grain used in bread, pasta, cereal, and box mixes. Other grains that do not naturally contain the reactive Gluten, like oats, corn, and rice may be contaminated with it if it is processed in a factory that also processes wheat, barley and rye.
However, new research is showing all grains to have the reactive gluten and this may be why some people even after eliminating wheat, barley, and rye from their diets still have problems. It may be necessary to eliminate all grains from the diet in order to not have a reaction.
How does Gluten affect persons with a Gluten sensitivity such as Celiac Disease, an allergy, or an intolerance? Symptoms of a Gluten sensitivity include but are not limited to diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramping, bloating, flatulence, acid reflux, indigestion, heartburn, anemia, headaches, nausea, eczema, or dry itchy skin, depression, irritability, weight gain or loss, stiff joints, sore muscles and general weakness or fatigue. Gluten Free Society has indicated “…there are people with various risk factors or diseases that are at greater risk of having gluten sensitivity who should undoubtedly be tested.
• Relatives of those with celiac disease or gluten-sensitive individuals including
• Chronic diarrhea of unknown origin
• Hepatitis C
• Dermatitis herpetiformis
• Diabetes mellitus
• Degenerative disc disease
• Colon Cancer
• Any autoimmune diseases (common ones include):
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
• Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
• Iron deficiency
• Down’s syndrome
• Mothers of kids with neural tube defects
• Female infertility (includes those with multiple miscarriages)
What is Celiac Disease? According to the Mayo clinic, Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten. People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in theirsmall intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.
But Celiac Disease is one of several conditions that are related to a gluten intolerance. See the chart to find out more.
What happens when a person who is gluten intolerant eats Gluten over time? The Mayo clinic says “eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment.” Essentially, starving you death no matter what your weight. “No treatment can cure celiac disease. However, you can effectively manage celiac disease by changing your diet. “
How to test for a Gluten sensitivity: Your doctor can test you for a sensitivity, but it is very hard to detect so many who would benefit from a Gluten-Free diet never know they have a sensitivity. You must be eating Gluten for as much as a month before testing. And in extreme cases you may need a biopsy of part of your intestinal tract. Or, you can eliminate Gluten from your diet and see if you relieve some symptoms associated with a sensitivity. Give any change in diet at least 3 weeks to show improvement.
How to eliminate Gluten from your diet: It seems simple to eliminate Gluten by simply eliminating all Gluten containing grains from your diet. However, as I said before some naturally Gluten-Free grains like Oats, Corn, and Rice may have gluten by being contaminated in a facility that also processes Gluten grains. The Gluten Free Society, in late February, published an article that suggests all grains have the type of gluten that causes sensitivity and that it may be best for sufferers to avoid all grains.
Many processed foods and condiments like salad dressing and soy sauce have gluten added as a thickening agent or sweetener. Unless your processed foods and condiments claim “Gluten-Free” they might contain Gluten. This is what I call “Secret Gluten,” on an ingredients list it might read modified food starch, which is often from wheat, Malt Extract, which is often from Barley, or Hydrolyzed Protein, which is from wheat.
Other culprits are vinegar and alcohol. If the vinegar or alcohol is distilled from grains, more than likely it’s a Gluten containing grain. So stick with vinegar that comes from fruit like apple cider or wine vinegar, and alcohol that is Gluten Free or from fruit like wine, sorry beer drinkers. This leads into another problem with condiments, the vinegar used in mustard, salad dressing, hot sauce, barbeque sauce, and ketchup may contain Gluten. Look for products using apple cider or wine vinegar or that read “Gluten-Free” on the label. Be wary of seasonings which usually have modified food starch.
Another issue is grain fed meat, the grains fed to livestock are often Gluten containing grains and this meat may cause a reaction in you. Look for grass fed meat products. It’s not only healthier for you, but more sanitary, healthier for the animal raised, the environment, our water systems, just all around good. Keep in mind that ruminants like cows are designed to eat grasses not grain. Big Springs Beef is a local farm that offers grass fed beef by order only or at the Farmers’ Market, they do deliver. Also, watch out for gluten in deli meat and smoked sausage, it’s used as a binding agent. One more gluten culprit is moldy cheeses like Blue or Roquefort the mold is grown on bread and mixed into the cheese.
And lastly, even when you do your best, you still may have reactions. A personal example ofthis was when I went out to eat at a popular chain chicken wing restaurant: I made sure to research ahead of time and order only the foods that did not contain Gluten. Unfortunately, I still had a reaction. So I wrote an email to the company in question and the respondent who answered enlightened me to the fact that while the foods I ate did not contain Gluten, they were fried in the same oil as all the foods that do. I was surprised that this hadn’t occurred to me, but also at how insignificant cross-contamination can cause a reaction.
As a mention, the FDA has an amount of gluten that is acceptable in foods labeled “Gluten Free” so you may find some “Gluten Free” foods still bother you. Really just pay attention to your body. As I always say, every-body is different.
And finally I neglected to mention this in class but body care products that contain wheat, barley or rye may also cause reactions in persons with gluten sensitivity.
But before you run out and buy a bunch of Gluten-Free alternatives to the foods you’re used to eating, give yourself a few weeks to adjust to not eating those foods. The alternatives are not going to be as delicious or have the same texture you’re used to and will ultimately be a disappointment which may cause you to want to give up and go back to your familiar Gluten containing diet. By waiting, these alternatives will seem like a welcome treat and variation to your new Gluten free diet. In the meantime stick to Vegetables, Fruit, Beans, Nuts, Organic Dairy, and Grass Fed Meat. With more and more people recognizing gluten sensitivity more and better products are available. There’s a listof my favorite brands of alternatives and a few recipes at the end of this packet.
Can I go out to eat or eat other people’s cooking? The short answer is No. The long answer is yes, but there will be Gluten in the food you eat even if you avoid breads and pastas. Since many condiments and seasonings have gluten and many people use flour as a thickening agent you can guarantee there will be gluten in their cooking. It is up to you to decide if you want to suffer from eating out or other people’s cooking. Even with the best of intentions from my friends and family who tried to cook Gluten Free for me I have gone home only to suffer from the symptoms of eating Gluten. I have since learned to bring my own food everywhere and enough to share if it is potlatch or even if it isn’t because people are curious and want to eat your food. But take care because with 1 in 5 having a gluten sensitivity more restaurants or friends and family will be cooking gluten free before too long.
On a personal note, I have found that other people who do not have food allergies or sensitivities will not really understand what it means to be Gluten Free. They do not know how even a slight amount can very greatly impact my body, and might not think to tell me if something they made has gluten, if it is a small amount, or in something they don’t know has Gluten, like soy sauce. Often feelings are hurt because they’ve tried their best to cook for me and I still can’t eat it.
Not to mention all the holidays where I have brought my own food rather than eating all the delicious family foods I associate with the holidays. And every one of these occurances has illicited the dreaded gluten free diet chat that in my opinion never seems to go well because most people just don’t understand.
It is a big adjustment. And the easiest thing you can do for yourself and others is to let them know you are on a restricted diet, you will be attending but you’ll be bringing your own food and not to worry about you. Or just skip the food part and join up for the rest of the fun.
How to cook and bake with Gluten-Free alternatives: Many of your local stores will have Gluten Free flours and Gluten free baking mix. For the beginner I would suggest getting a baking mix that includes rice, potato, sorghum, and tapioca flours and avoid the ones with bean flour. Bob’s Red Mill has a large assortment on-line if you want something specific. Here in Taylorsville we have a local company Blend-Pak which makes Bloomfield Farms Gluten Free products that you can find at Country Mart. This is what I used often in my Gluten Free value added products at the Farmers’ Market. I think they work really well, but unfortunately have a high carbohydrate count and no fiber. But when you’re eating cake are you really thinking about either of those things?
Also remember any product you use must be Gluten Free. You will probably need new baking powder, baking soda, corn starch, vanilla extract and any other extracts you use, and make sure things like your chocolate chips are gluten free. Make sure it claims Gluten Free.
The big difference in Gluten Free is taste and texture. This has to do with how refined gluten free flours chemically react when baked and how little water they absorb. I find the best flours for baking to produce a good texture are oatmeal and buckwheat. This is partly because they are whole grains, have fiber, and bind together better. But unless you are used to Buckwheat flour’s taste I would suggest mixing it with something else light like rice or oat flour. Most other gluten free flours do not absorb a lot of liquid because they don’t have as much or any soluble fiber. So you will not need to add as much liquid as usual.
My general rule of thumb is to make the recipe you have, substitute wheat flour for your gluten free flour and see how it turns out and adjust from there. Sometimes you don’t have to change a thing and other times it’s a complete mess. It often has to do with the type of flour and most mixes will have some recipes to follow on the back. I have learned that if it’s not a quick bread, meaning no rise time, it will not be good.
As a short lesson in baking with gluten, it is what gives bread it’s chew and holds it together. This is why the longer you knead dough the tougher the bread becomes and
why when baking with whole grain, adding gluten will give your breads a lighter
Eggs! Eggs are very important in holding the bread together, giving it a good texture, and helping it rise. But if you have an egg allergy, using ground up flaxseed as a substitute works well.
But, Gluten Free Quick breads typically come out nicely. But I’ve always had problems making good yeast breads and cookies. In the latter it is probably because the flour does not absorb the fat. Oatmeal cookies are about all I can do and Peanut butter cookies. And with Gluten Free baking the least amount of time you mix/beat your flour the better. And you want to get it baked almost immediately, it does not do well for the dough to sit around. Another big difference is quick breads made with Gluten Free flours, will dry out faster and the texture will deteriorate more quickly. So, most taste best nearly fresh out of the oven. Some leftover will become crumbly and mealy.
Now if you are trying to thicken a sauce or make gravy your best bet is Gluten Free Corn Starch, but there are other gluten free thickening alternatives like arrow root.
In Closing I just want to say it is very hard at first to give up the largest part of the food pyramid. But eventually you will not miss gluten containing foods. The improvement in the way you feel will positively reinforce your new diet, and you’ll be reminded why you don’t want to eat gluten when you do eat it.
Sarah’s Favorite Store Bought Gluten Free Alternatives:
You should be able to find most of these at Kroger, or a natural foods market like Rainbow Blossom, Amazing Grace, or Whole Foods Market. Failing that, you can get it all on-line.
Kinnikinnick brand Pizza Crust, so good even gluten eaters like it. Kinnikinnick brand anything for that matter, if you can find it. They have a lot available on-line.
1.2.3 Gluten Free Box Mixes, esp. the spice cake, make it with pumpkin.
I have not found a bread or pasta that I like so try to choose something with some fiber.
Ancient Grains makes a Quinoa lasagna noodle that is pretty good.
Blue Diamond Nut Thins crackers, the Hazelnut are the best! Be wary of the seasoned ones, some of them have gluten.
Food For Life sprouted grain corn tortillas
Sarah’s Favorite Substitutions:
Quinoa (Pronounced Keen-Wa) is a delicious grain alternative to bulgur wheat or couscous , it’s high in protein and fiber.
Spaghetti Squash instead of Pasta
Quick Cooking Gluten Free Oatmeal in meatloaf and meatballs, use can also use whole grain oats by blitzing them in a food processor first.
Gluten Free Corn Tortillas for wraps
Corn Chips instead of pita or crackers.
Omelets instead of sandwiches. Easy to eat fresh, but hard to pack as a lunch.
For every egg use,
1 Tablespoon Oatmeal or Buckwheat Flour, or a combination
1 Tablespoon of Milk
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Gluten Free Pancake mix (Like Bloomfield Farms)
1 Tablespoon of milk or water
Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat eggs and milk, then add dry ingredients. Mix ingredients together, you do not want lumps. Using a good 10 inch skillet, over medium heat, melt some butter, pour in batter slowly-it will spread quickly. I find it easier to make several small pancakes vs. large ones. Grease with butter in between batches. Serve with Maple Syrup or Cream Cheese and Fresh Fruit Compote.
This recipe is modified from The Betty Crocker Cookbook, 1969 Banana-Nut Cake, pg.100. This is similar to my pound cake recipe in amounts of ingredients, but varied by a few and certainly more flavorful with bananas, nuts, and dried fruit. I don’t exactly remember but I’m hoping this is the recipe I used. I just found a great Gluten Free Whole Grain Flour mix recipe on Gluten Free Girl but I haven’t had a chance to try it.
3 cups of Gluten-Free baking mix (no bean flour)
2 cups of packed Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
1/2 cup Canola oil
1 cup of Buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 mashed over-ripe bananas
1 cup of chopped Walnuts
1 cup of dried Cranberries
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour pans, or use foil paper cups in muffin
pans. This recipe will make 1 large loaf, and 2 small ones, or 20-30 muffins.
Sometimes I will fill a muffin pan (12), and make 2 small loaves. The small
loaves are great because you can wrap and freeze them and they keep well, and
stay more moist. But the muffins are just as good to freeze, and if you pop
them in the microwave for a few seconds they are just as moist as the day you
baked them. Secret tip, I use an ice cream scoop to measure out batter for
Start by creaming the butter, oil, and sugar. Add eggs one-at-a-time till
blended. Add vanilla and blend. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients.
Mix 1/2 the dry ingredients into the wet, then add all the milk and blend. Mix
the remainder of the dry ingredients into the batter till well blended. Add the
mashed bananas, nuts, cranberries and blend. Pour into the pans and place in
the middle of your oven on one rack together if possible. Bake 25-30 minutes
for muffins. 30-40 for small loaves, 50-60 for large loaves. Basically just
check on them, toothpick poked in the center should come out clean.
If you use lean beef be advised a crust will not form. Nor will there be any fat that cooks out of the meatloaf. You can use the ketchup crust method where you spread ketchup on the exterior of the meatloaf before baking. Or you can try oiling the exterior of the meatloaf or adding ½ a cup of oil to the mixture.
1 1/2 pounds of ground meat (like Big Springs Farm ground beef)
1 1/2 cups of quick cooking Gluten Free Oatmeal chopped in a food processor
1 large onion, diced
½ cup of Gluten Free Ketchup
1 Tablespoon of Gluten Free Mustard
2 teaspoons of Gluten Free Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons of Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup of milk or water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl combine all ingredients and
hand mix until blended. Form into a loaf
and place into a greased glass baking dish.
Bake 50-55 minutes.
The Mayo Clinic Research http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/celiac-disease/DS00319
Gluten Free Information www.glutenfreesociety.org
Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/GlutenFreeSociety
Celiac Disease www.celiac.org
Kinnikinnick bra nd foods www.kinnikinnick.com
Gluten Free Girl (one of my favorite baking blogs) http://glutenfreegirl.com/
My own food blog http://cookingitupsarahstyle.riversongfarm.com/
RiverSong Farm www.riversongfarm.com
Big Springs Beef www.bigspringsbeef.com
Bloomfield Farms Gluten Free Box Mixes www.thebloomfieldfarms.com
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free products www.bobsredmill.com/gluten-free/
Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free products www.arrowheadmills.com/category/gluten-free