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Gluten-Free Grains: A Guide for Celiac Sufferers

Updated on January 4, 2011

Gluten is everywhere. You can hardly escape it!! When you are aceliac sufferer, it seems like EVERYTHING has wheat in it. Pretty much, thelist of foods with gluten in them (a big “no no” is you have celiac disease)mimics the list of my favorite foods: pretzels, pizza, pasta, bread, beer,pancakes…it never ends! But, with the spotlight on celiac disease these days –did you know that researchers say that 1 in every 100 Americans potentiallyhave the disease – there is a host of information about what grains are safe toeat. There are new products rolling off the shelves that make it safe forceliac sufferers to stuff their face with pasta once again!!

About Celiac Disease

Basically, celiac disease is an autoimmune disease (totallyinherited – thanks, Mom and Dad!) that affects your intestines when you eatgluten, a protein found in wheat, oats, barley and rye. The symptoms varywidely, and many people probably don’t even know they have it. Symptoms caninclude: easy bruising, fatigue, stomach cramping, constipation, diarrhea,nausea, and the gross list goes on and on. Pretty much the only way to get ridof the symptoms is a gluten-free diet, which is not too hard these days giventhe wide variety of grains and products on the market that cater to celiacsufferers. Here is a short list of some of the gluten-free grains that arebecoming more and more popular!

Wild Rice

Wild rice, and really any kind of rice, is a great side dish for celiac sufferers. They are super versatile and can be combined with a variety of different flavors and vegetables - they will satisfy any carb fanatic, I promise!

About Wild Rice. Wild rice is technically a grass and it grows in shallow water – most of the plant actually grows underneath the water! Wild rice is a great source of protein, fiber, potassium and phosphorus. Wild rice is a staple in Native American cultures, where some consider it to be sacred. Native Americans started harvesting this grain many years ago using canoes!

How to Cook Wild Rice. While you could cook wild rice in the microwave or in the oven, I prefer cooking wild rice on the stove – in my opinion, you have better control over the final texture of the rice, which is super important when you are dealing with a hard grain like wild rice.

First, rinse 1 cup of wild rice and add it to 3 cups of boiling water in a heavy saucepan (you can adjust the amount of rice, but remember to keep the proportions the same.) Once you add the rice, bring the water back to a boil and don’t forget to stir! Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, cooking about 60 minutes. Uncover the pot and let simmer and additional five minutes after fluffing rice with a fork. If you like your rice chewy, cook less time, just like you would if you were making pasta!

Alternatively, you can simmer the rice in beef, chicken or vegetable stock to add more flavor! And, once the rice is done, you can add in whatever chopped veggies you want to make a more substantial side dish.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain that I didn’t even know how to pronounceuntil recently! Quinoa is actually a complete protein, making it a greataddition to any diet, not just a gluten-free one. I even saw quinoa pastafeatured on an episode of Top ChefMasters last year so you know it is getting popular.

About Quinoa. Harvesting quinoa for food originated in SouthAmerica with the Incas, who considered it sacred – are we seeing a pattern herewith sacred grains? Quinoa is high in magnesium and iron. In the wild, quinoahas a waxy coating that makes it taste bitter (take that, predators!) but mostcommercially-available quinoa and quinoa products take this coating off beforeit gets to your table.

How to Cook Quinoa. You will cook quinoa similar to any kindof rice, but it takes much less time than the wild rice we talked about above –really only about 15 minutes! Take 1 cup of quinoa and put it in 2 cups ofboiling water. Cook about 12-15 minutes, fluff with a fork and you are done!Make sure to let it stand for a couple of minutes just to make sure it is fullyready before you dish it up.

Even Celebrities Eat Gluten-Free!

Flax

I think we’ve all heard about flax seeds and the benefits of omega-3s, but flax can be a great addition to any diet, and not just in pill form. If you hate the taste of flax (pretty nutty) then you can always sprinkle it on top of your food or into a shake instead of making it a major player on your plate.

About Flax. Flax has been around for a LONG time – we’re taking 34,000 BC! Flax has lots of uses from medicine to fibers to soap, but we’re taking about the seeds we use in cooking. Flax seeds have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease.

How to Cook with Flax. Flax seeds or flax seed oils can be incorporated into a variety of dishes. If you simply want to add it to foods, sprinkle it in your morning shake or on salads. Because it has a nutty flavor, it will add a nice punch to plain stuff like oatmeal. If you want to incorporate the oil for cooking, use it in pretty much any recipe that calls for cooking oil, but remember that 1 ½ cups of flax seed oil is equal to ½ cup of regular oil. Add flax seeds (maybe about 1 tablespoon to muffins, cakes or other baked goods!) Experiment with different applications and you’ll see how easy it is to incorporate this important grain into your daily life!

Buckwheat

We’re not talking about one of the stars of The LittleRascals, we’re talking about a very versatile grain – buckwheat! America isgoing buckwheat crazy these days: buckwheat flour, buckwheat pancakes,buckwheat pasta. And for good reason – this grain is a great source of fiberand a perfect choice for celiac sufferers.

About Buckwheat. Buckwheat was first cultivated in southeastAsia. It’s another ancient grain, clocking in around 6,000 BC. Buckwheat plantsgrow super fast, growing 30 inches in six weeks, which is great news forbuckwheat lovers – faster to your plate!

How to Cook with Buckwheat. If you want to cook buckwheat asa side dish, it is pretty much exactly the same as quinoa. Make sure to give ita good rinse before you add 1 cup of buckwheat to 2 cups of boiling water. Inabout 15 minutes, you will have yourself a healthy side of cooked buckwheat(which will double in size while it is cooking!) Buckwheat pasta is a greatalternative to regular pasta – just cook it according to the packageinstructions. Buckwheat flour gives baked goods a rich and nutty flavor tobaked goods that don’t have to rise…think cookies, cakes, muffins. YUM!

Millet

Even though it seems like all these grains are createdequal, they are not. While they all possess a nutty flavor and heartier texturethan some traditional grains, you should use each one and see what textures andflavors work best for you. Millet is one of my favorite grains!

About Millet. Millet is another grain that originated inChina way back a bazillion years ago. Currently, India is the top producer ofmillet, although it is gaining popularity all over the world as an importantdiet staple, mostly because it is almost as high in protein as wheat. Oneinteresting thing to note – millet is one grain used to fill beanbags!

How to Cook Millet. If you get sick of rice, rice, rice, themillet is a great substitute. Each of these grains has a different taste andtexture so experiment to find your favorite. My favorite way to cook millet isto toast it first to bring out more of the sweet, nutty flavor. Just put yourmillet in a dry pan and stir it for about 3-4 minutes until you can smell thetoasted aroma. Then cook just like quinoa, adding 1 cup millet to 2 cupsboiling water.

If you’re not going to toast the millet, make sure to giveit a good rinse before you boil it.

Popcorn

You didn’t think I was just going to bore you to death withgrains like millet and quinoa, did you?! No way!! Popcorn is a great grain –wonderful source of fiber and the perfect snack for celiac sufferers out there.

About Popcorn. Simply put, popcorn is a type of corn thatexplodes and puffs up when it gets got. Popcorn was first discovered by NativeAmericans and became popular during the Great Depression. If you get itair-popped without a truck load of butter, it is naturally low in fat and highin fiber, but still delicious! It is still a popular snack today – I can’twatch a movie without it.

How to Cook Popcorn. Everyone knows how to pop a bag in themicrowave or order a tub at the movies, but the most fun way to cook popcorn isthe old-fashioned way – on the stovetop! Heat a heavy saucepan on medium-heatand add about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Test the oil by putting onepopcorn kernel in – when it pops, your oil is ready to go! Add one cup ofpopcorn kernels and start shaking. Once the kernels start popping, put the lidon the pot and keep shaking. When the pops aren’t as frequent, take it off theheat, season and serve.

Gluten-Free Cornbread

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    • manthy profile image

      Mark 8 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Nice hub I hope it helps someone somewhere, Thanks for posting it

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