What is Gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats. It is composed of the gliadins and glutenins in wheat, and secalins, hordeins, and avenins in rye, barley, and oats. With the exception of glutenins, these protein components, termed prolamines, are the source of a number of digestive challenges for individuals suffering from a myriad of health concerns including Celiac’s disease. This is due to the inability of the body to digest these proteins and the resulting damage. Because of this, a gluten free diet is prescribed. Armed with a list of gluten free foods, choosing food options is much easier.
Receiving the news of a change of diet can seem hard to digest, but with a gluten free diet, the food options you have are more exciting than you might initially think. Fresh meat, fish, and poultry can remain staples in your diet and continue to be a source of protein, B vitamins, and iron. If you are a vegetarian, dried beans, peas, eggs, and cheese can fill the bill. Be sure to check the label to see how products were processed to detect added foods and preservatives, which might contain gluten. A list of these foods can be found in the recent article, “What Contains Gluten?”
A Variety of Veggies
The good news is, fresh vegetables are gluten free, healthy, and so delicious. Try some or all of these:
- Scallions, shallots, onions
- Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage - all super foods
- Potatoes, tomatoes
- Lettuce, spinach
- Pumpkin, squash, turnips, parsnips
- Brussels sprouts
- Beans, peas, beets
All fresh vegetables are great to eat. If you are purchasing a vegetable that has been cooked with a sauce or topping, make sure the sauce or topping does not have an added gluten ingredient.
Fruit is another category of foods that is plentiful and gluten free. A few examples include:
- Dried fruit
- Jam, jelly, juice
(When purchasing processed fruit, check the label for additives which might contain gluten.)
When it comes to dairy, the options abound. Try some or all of these to add variety to menus:
- Cottage cheese
- Some brands of yogurt: care should be taken to verify no ingredients containing gluten have been added.
Let Me Eat Cake!
With flour comes a greater consideration of gluten. Still, there are a number of options for the gluten free diet:
- Potato flour
- Rice flour
- Corn flour
- Buckwheat flour
- Gluten-free flour
What About Snacks
When eliminating gluten, you don’t have to give up snacking. Just give some of these healthy options a taste-test.
- Rice cakes with fruit
- Chocolate: check the label for added ingredients containing gluten
- Gluten free granola
- Dried fruit
- Corn tortillas
Gluten-free Is Easy to Find
Gluten-free foods are now easier than ever to find. In fact, many manufacturer’s have begun labeling foods that are gluten-free. In addition, numerous companies have begun launching entire lines of gluten-free products such as gluten-free flour, gluten free pizza crust, gluten free sauces, soups and stews, and gluten free breads, pastas, casseroles, pies and desserts. These products are available at supermarkets, health food stores and organic markets, making a gluten-free diet just a list of gluten free foods away.
Murray, Michael and Pizzorno, Joseph: Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine; 1998
The Vegetarian Society: Gluten-free Diet - www.vegsoc.org
the-gluten-free-chef: Everyday gluten free foods - www.the-gluten-free-chef.com