Allergy Friendly Zone: What About Wheat?
What Exactly is Celiac Disease?
In the simplest of terms it is an allergy to wheat and/or gluten.
In a more complicated definition…
Gluten - a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye - enters the system and is seen as the enemy by the immune system that then starts to attack the villi - the small strings that cover the wall of the small intestine. When they are damaged the intestine can no longer absorb the nutrients that the body need.
When someone develops Celiac’s, it can happen at any age or time in life, there is a large chance that other auto-immune problems may emerge. These include Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Anemia, etc. The faster a person is diagnosed and begin treatment the less likely these problems will develop.
How do You Know?
There is a test, a blood test known as tTG-IgA, that will look for the antibodies. If the numbers come back to indicate the possibility of Celiac your doctor may request a biopsy of your small intestine to confirm yes or no.
One thing to remember, you MUST be eating gluten when this test is done. If you have already stopped eating gluten, like I did, you will have to go back to eating it for several weeks to a month so that the antibodies will be present to be counted.
There is a possibility that your biopsy and blood test will come back negative even though you are obviously having a reaction to gluten. This is called a Gluten Sensitivity.
Gluten Sensitivity - All the fun none of the damage. It means that your body doesn’t like gluten but your intestines aren’t being damaged by it. You will still need to avoid it but slips or mistakes will not do any permanent damage.
Welcome to the World of Gluten Free!
Now is the time to try new things and find alternatives you can enjoy. 20 years ago if you wanted Gluten Free (GF) foods you would have to make it yourself or go to an organic store and pay triple the amount. Thankfully, with the increase in awareness there is also and increase of availability and quality.
One woman, she was avoiding wheat long before her diagnosis, has seen the change in the quality of product over the years. Buying a Gluten Free roll was great but eating it was another story. Dry, brittle, and tasteless, most often she would rather go without the roll and make a sandwich with it.
Now, it has changed. More and more companies are making tasty, almost equal, products that are Gluten Free.
Just a Few:
- Betty Crocker
- Blue Diamond
- Bob’s Red Mill
But let’s just say the package doesn’t advertise as “Gluten Free”… what should you look for?
Reading a Label
Reading a Label
As we all know there is a label on every box, bag, or carton that tells you the nutrition and ingredients of the food purchased. “Nutrition Facts” in big bold letters on top. Skip on down past the numbers and you will find the list of ingredients. Below that you will find a label for allergies. Sometimes it simply says “Contains” or sometimes it says “Allergy Information”. If Wheat or Gluten is listed there you know it is not safe.
Still, there are times when it isn’t there. So what then? Look for some key words:
- Whole Grain - Does it say which grain?
- Wheat - obvious
- Natural Flavor - Does it say what is it?
- Malt Flavoring - Malt is from barley which has Gluten
- Flour - Does it say which kind?
- Bread or Breadcrumbs - that is wheat unless otherwise stated
Sadly some sources are hidden and can take you by surprise.
- Soy Sauce - one of the most common ingredients in Asian cooking is made with wheat
- Malt - this is made from barley
- Marinades and Salad Dressings - wheat is used as a thickener
- Soup - wheat flour is used to make roux which is the starting base to many soups
- Oats - wheat is used for processing the oats
- Spice Mix - wheat can be used as part of the mix
Which option Would You Choose?
Suppose you want to make your World Famous dish for the next family picnic but you know that Cousin Joe is Celiac or Gluten Sensitive. What can you do?
Tell him it’s not safe to eat. He’ll just have to do without your delicious food, even though it is his favorite.
Make something else. Dag-nabbit… ‘I ALWAYS make this one!’ Oh well… anything for Joe, he’s my favorite cousin.
Find an alternative ingredient and make your World Famous deliciousness so that Joe can devour it along with everyone else!
Me, I always go for option three. So what can you use as an alternative?
- Flour - try a different kind like nut, soy, or corn. Or you can buy a Gluten Free flour mix.
- Bread - use a loaf of Gluten Free bread - usually found in the freezer section
- Breadcrumbs - if you can’t find Gluten Free Breadcrumbs simply make your own by destroying a slice or two of Gluten Free bread
- Soy Sauce - they make a Gluten Free soy sauce
- Pasta - there are many varieties of Gluten Free, Corn, Quinoa, or Rice pasta
- Roux Based Soup/Sauce - try a different kind like nut, soy, or corn. Or you can buy a Gluten Free flour mix.
- Spice Mix Packet - make the spice yourself, it will be much healthier and tastier anyway
Gluten Free Idea's
It’s not hard to make delicious food that completely avoids gluten in every way. Sometimes you just need to think outside the box.
Snack or Appetizer Idea:
- Bruschetta - tomato, onion, basil mixed and served with corn chips
- Salsa and Chips
- Veggie Tray
- Fruit Tray
- Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates (this one is a personal favorite)
- Fruit Smoothie
- Eggs and Bacon
- Chex Cereal
- Hot Quinoa Cereal (much like oatmeal but with the grain quinoa)
- Spinach and Feta Omelet
- Lettuce Wrap (so yummy, fresh, and crisp)
- Tuna Salad with Veggie Slices
- Salad with Hot Chicken
- Rice Noodle Asian Soup (Asian Kitchen is a popular brand of this)
- Fresh Fruit and Yogurt
- Burrito Bowl
- Italian Chicken and Mashed Potato
- Parmesan Tilapia with Quinoa Pilaf
- Zucchini Lasagna
- Greek Rice Stew (see the recipe below)
- Baked Apples
- Chunky Monkey Bites
- Fruit Fondue
- Ice Cream or Sorbet
- Grilled Pineapple and Honey Glaze
Greek Rice Stew - Gluten Free
- 1 medium vidalia onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 4 cups Gluten Free Chicken Stock
- 1 cup rice
- 10 ounce frozen spinach, thawed
- 8 ounces fresh mushroom, cleaned and sliced
- 2 ounces sundried tomato, diced
- 8 ounces feta, crumbled
- 8 ounces chicken breast, boneless/skinless, diced
- Add the onion, carrot, celery, oregano, chicken stock to a pot with lid and bring to a boil.
- Add chicken and continue to boil with lid for 15-20 minutes.
- Add rice, stir, return to boil then reduce to simmer, with lid, and cook for 45 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this time!
- Remove lid and add spinach, sun-dried tomato, and mushroom. Stir to incorporate.
- Serve in bowl and sprinkle with feta. Enjoy!
|Serving size: 1/8 of Recipe|
|Calories from Fat||63|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 7 g||11%|
|Saturated fat 3 g||15%|
|Carbohydrates 15 g||5%|
|Sugar 3 g|
|Fiber 3 g||12%|
|Protein 22 g||44%|
|Cholesterol 53 mg||18%|
|Sodium 484 mg||20%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|