19 Mar Food Allergies: Gluten
Natala here, reporting for allergy shopping duty!
Why am I writing about allergies? Because I once, almost killed my husband before we even started dating. You would think that almost killing someone would be some kind of warning sign, but my husband looked past that and married me anyway! My husband is severely allergic to nuts. Nut allergies are serious business, especially peanut allergies (which he also has). Many people do not know this, but peanuts are an airborne allergy, so if you are on a plane and the kid next to my husband opens up his crunchy peanut butter sandwich? It’s not good, and usually involves having to move somewhere else. Thankfully some airlines will make an announcement that there are no peanuts allowed, if there is someone that could die on the plane because of your trail mix. On that note, if you have severe food allergies, or if your child does please consider wearing a food allergy bracelet, to be on the safe side.
However, aside from nuts when my husband first went plant-strong he was allergic and had severe food sensitivities to the following:
ALL vegetables- except very well cooked spinach.
All fruit – except very well cooked pears/peaches
and because of the particular plant-strong diet that I follow I can not have the following:
And of course because we are allergic to suffering for decades with nasty, horrible diseases we do not eat: meat, dairy, eggs, oil, processed foods nor do we eat anything with added salt.
So what do we do? We just drink water. Kidding! We drink seltzer as well. Kidding again! We LOVE food, love, love and more love. If you are suffering from food allergies, or one of your family members is, there is no need to worry. Yes, you will have to plan a little bit more, but all in all it is not so bad.
*I’d like to add that because of his plant-strong diet, my husband reversed his food sensitivities to fruits and vegetables, so he can now eat things like tomato with out going to the ER (which happened, twice).
So let’s break these allergies down. Today we are going to focus on gluten.
Gluten: Gluten-free products seems to be in every store now, because recently the fear of gluten has sky rocketed. Now, don’t get me wrong, some of this fear is totally warranted. However, not everyone has a gluten allergy or Celiac disease, and for people who do not, gluten is a perfectly healthy thing to consume, so long as it is in it’s whole grain state. The trouble with gluten, like so many other things is that it gets lumped into this ‘bad food’ category, because there happens to be junk food made with gluten. Many people who feel ‘better’ after getting rid of gluten, feel better because they are eliminating a lot of the processed junk they were previously eating. If you suspect a gluten allergy, you should get checked out by your doctor first. Also, before you self-determine that you have an allergy, try going plant-strong for a couple of months, eliminating all of those processed foods and other junk foods (like oil/animal foods) to see if you start to feel better.
Gluten allergies and Celiac disease are serious business. Thankfully there are plenty of products out there that you can still enjoy even if you have a gluten allergy. Beware though, just like there are junk food vegan products, there are junk food gluten-free products! Just because it says ‘gluten-free’ does not mean it is healthy or even healthier than it’s gluten counterpart.
Gluten is found in the following grains: Rye, barley and wheat. Because you are eating plant-strong now, many of the products that sneak gluten in, will be automatically eliminated because they are not plant-strong (like processed junk food).
So with that, let’s look at some of the grains and starches you can eat that do not contain gluten:
Potatoes of all variety
Oats *just be sure they are gluten free oats*
As you can see you have plenty of whole grain options that do not include gluten.
In addition to the grains, there are plenty of products now available made from gluten free whole grain. Instead of using whole wheat lasagna noodles in our “Sweet Potato Lasagna” use brown rice noodles instead. Instead of using whole wheat cereals try using gluten free oats, or brown rice crispy cereal (like rice krispies). If something calls for whole wheat bread crumbs, opt of corn based bread crumbs instead.
Breads and tortilla wraps might be a little harder to find. There are a few gluten free breads that will fit the bill, but often they can contain things like eggs or excess oil. Instead of whole grain wraps, go for corn tortillas or big collard greens, collards make GREAT burrito wrappers.
Instead of whole wheat flour – try making your own gluten free oat flour – simply put your oats in a blender and blend them until they become flour. There are some gluten free flours on the market as well that you might enjoy.
Just because a recipe has a gluten product in it does NOT mean you have to toss it out! Get creative with recipe revamping. We have yet to find a recipe that can not be made gluten free. Even seitan recipes! Happy Herbivore has a great post on gluten free seitan. Lindsay also has a great post about gluten free flours.
Sometimes it is best to keep things simple. Having gluten free oats and fruit for breakfast, a big soup with beans, veggies and brown rice for lunch and a couple of sweet potatoes topped with your favorite greens, chickpeas and salsa for dinner. Simply combining a gluten-free (healthy) starch, a bean and a vegetable will always make a great meal.
Here are a few resources for great gluten free recipes:
Gluten Free/Fat Free Recipes
Fat Free Vegan Gluten Free Recipes
Straight Up Food
Forks Over Knives Gluten Free Thanksgiving Recipes (but good anytime of year!)
Healthy Girls Kitchen Gluten Free Recipes
For more information about grains and about gluten, Dr.McDougall has written a very informative article, found here. There is also a great forum topic lead by Jeff Novick found here - look for the comments by Jeff.
Are you gluten free? What tricks and tips do you have for others who are following a plant-strong gluten free diet?