Monday, May 30, 2011

Anti-Inflammatory Juice Cocktails


















(If you're new to The Daily Dietribe, read here to find out how you can join my gluten free health challenge).

Since Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, I wanted to give you a couple of juice recipes that will cool you down and keep you feeling your best. The first is the juice I drink when I'm feeling a headache coming on, or my stomach feels particularly inflamed. The second contains a shot of glutamine from a hefty portion of cabbage. As I mentioned in my post on healing, glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, and is used by the cells of the gastrointestinal tract to help repair your gut. Beef, chicken, fish, beans, and dairy products (i.e. high protein foods) are all good sources of amino acids, but I find that a vegetable juice serves the dual purpose of calming inflammation and repairing the gut at the same time.  Beets are also a good source of glutamine, so you could replace one of the carrots in the cabbage recipe with a beet, but the sugar content of beets is pretty high, so you don't want to have beet juice all the time. In addition, both of these juice recipes are made with the newbie juicer in mind, and contain a good portion of sweetness from carrots or apples. If you've been juicing for a while, and can handle a more bitter juice from greens, feel free to reduce the amount of carrots and apples and add in a green vegetable of your choosing.

Why these ingredients? 

Apples: You know the saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away?" While that may be an exaggeration, apples are a miracle fruit in my mind. Studies have linked the consumption of apples to a reduced risk of a variety of cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and Type II diabetes. They are strong antioxidants, and contain a number of phytochemicals, including quercetin, which I mentioned last week as being particularly anti-inflammatory.

Ginger:  Ginger ale is historically the tonic of choice for stomach unrest. However, with all the high fructose corn syrup or sugar in ginger ale, your best bet is making your own tea or including a chunk of fresh ginger in your juice. In addition, ginger is known to alleviate migraine symptoms, and my own experience with ginger juice has proven that to be true. Whenever I feel a headache coming on, I make a ginger juice - the worse the headache, the more ginger I add. If you've never used ginger in your juice, it can taste pretty strong, so start with a 1-inch chunk and increase the amount over time.

Cucumber: Do you remember putting cucumber slices over your eyes to reduce morning puffiness (or seeing women do it in movies)? Well, imagine cucumber doing the same thing for your gut. It contains vitamin C and caffeic acid, both of which may help reduce inflammation and swelling.

Fennel: Fennel is a carminative, and can aid in the prevention of gas. Its antispasmodic properties are also useful for calming your stomach down. As an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory vegetable, it contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, anethole and limonene (phytochemicals).

Carrots: Carrots are the dieter's best friend for a reason. They taste good raw or cooked, and are high in a number of nutrients, especially beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium. I like to use them in juice partially because they I love the taste, but also because they have antioxidant properties.

Cabbage: As I mentioned, cabbage is a good source of glutamine, which is my main reason for including it in my juices. However, it's also a great source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and various phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Different types of cabbage will contain unique amounts of micronutrients and phytochemicals, so I recommend using a variety of cabbages. Perhaps red cabbage one week, green the next, and savoy the third.

Parsley: The inclusion of fresh herbs in your diet can be especially beneficial, as many of them are strong antioxidants. Parsley contains beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. It also tastes great in carrot juice!


















Anti-Migraine Juice
Ingredients:
1 apple
1-3 inch chunk fresh ginger
1/2 cucumber
1 stalk fennel

Makes approx 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups).

Gut Repair Tonic
Ingredients:
2 carrots
large handful of fresh parsley
1/2 head cabbage

Makes approximately 8 ounces (1 cup).

If possible, buy all your juicing vegetables organic. In general, I follow the dirty dozen list to pick which fruits and vegetables to buy organic, but if I'm planning on juicing it, I always buy organic. It's more expensive, of course, but it seems counterproductive to drink a juice for its health benefits if it's also full of pesticides.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Raspberry Orange Mint Sorbet



In my last post, I wrote of the benefits of including fruits in your diet with anti-inflammatory properties.  Today, I want to share with you a dessert that's chock full of antioxidants, and would make a perfect accompaniment to your afternoon tea. This Raspberry Orange Mint Sorbet contains only four ingredients. I'm betting you can guess three of them!

Raspberries, orange, mint, and stevia come together beautifully in a light dessert that pairs well with the fading warmth of a late spring afternoon. Raspberries and oranges have potent antioxidant properties, due to their high levels of vitamin C and various phytonutrients, including quercetin and herperidin, both known to be anti-inflammatory. Because the highest concentration of phytonutrients in oranges are in the zest and rind, I've included orange zest in this recipe, as well as much of the pulp that is usually lacking in commercial orange juice. Some fresh mint adds a mild twist to this sweet and slightly tangy sorbet, and for those of you with digestive discomfort, you may find the mint soothing to your digestive tract.

Raspberry Orange Mint Sorbet 
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Ingredients:
1 seedless orange
1 cup frozen raspberries
15-25 drops liquid stevia
2-3 mint leaves, minced

Directions: 

  1. Zest an orange and place the zest into a blender. Cut the orange in half and cut around the edges with a knife so you can easily spoon out the orange segments with the pulp. Put the orange segments into the blender, squeezing any extra juice into the blender as well.
  2. Puree the raspberries and orange until smooth. Add liquid stevia to taste. 
  3. Pour into ice cream maker, following your maker's instructions. 
  4. Once sorbet is ready, stir in mint, and garnish with a mint sprig if desired.  
Makes enough for 1 generous serving or 2 "I'm in polite company so I'm not going to eat as much" servings. 
























This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free and to the May 2011 edition of Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free at Flip Cookbook. The theme this month is garden tea parties, which sounds absolutely delightful to me. Would you like to join me for some cucumber sandwiches and sorbet?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How To Start A Gluten-Free Diet: Healing Through Foods

As food harms us, so can it heal us. 


















In this seventh and final installment of the series, How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet, I turn my attention to healing through foods. Because gluten causes so much intestinal damage, just taking it out of your diet is often not enough. Yes, that is the first and most important step. But depending on the amount of damage that has been done, it may take time for your body to heal properly. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help speed up that process, and just as it was food that caused the damage in the first place, so food must be the answer for healing as well. There is an amazing amount you can do to help your body, and I've asked my good friend (and fellow Bastyr nutrition student), Gina Pagano, to help me sort out all of the research. Gina was diagnosed with Celiac Disease four years ago after six years of digestive and skin problems which progressed to malabsorption, anemia, and amenorrhea. Gina's own experience with healing her gut, as well as her research skills - did I mention she's the person I go to when I'm trying to answer questions for class - make her the perfect person to partner up with on this discussion. Together, we've gathered a number of ideas for you all, and Gina will be back later this week sharing one of her healing recipes with us as well.

And now, what you really want to know. Be forewarned that this is long, but it's worth it:
  • Goodbye Gluten: The first step, of course, is to eliminate gluten from your diet. This includes being careful with cross-contamination because even the smallest crumb can set off a reaction in your gut, whether you're aware of it or not. 
  • Rotate your Foods: Because your body is in a state of damage and inflammation, you're more likely to develop sensitivities to other foods. While I'm not suggesting you follow a complete rotation diet (although some people do suggest this), it is important to eat a variety of foods. Rather than eating the same meals every day, switch it up. For example, for breakfast try scrambled eggs with spinach and baked sweet potatoes one day, cooked amaranth with walnuts and raisins the next, and a green smoothie with a side of gluten-free toast the third day.
  • Take a Break from Dairy: Eliminate dairy from your diet until your gut has healed. Dairy can increase stress and inflammation in the body, thus impeding healing. Once you're feeling back to normal, you can try adding dairy back in to see if you can tolerate it. If you can, great! If not, there are a ton of wonderful gluten-free products on the market that you can replace your dairy with, such as coconut/almond/hemp/rice/soy milk, and some amazing dairy-free recipes that you can try:
  • Pay Attention to Bone Health: Individuals with Celiac Disease are more susceptible to osteoporosis, due to nutrient malabsorption. While it is important for everyone to pay attention to bone health, women may be at higher risk for developing osteoporosis due to estrogen balance. Calcium is not the only nutrient that matters here, though. Vitamin D is also required for the absorption of calcium from the gut. Sunlight is the best way for you to get your vitamin D, but when that's not an option (such as winter in Seattle), there are a few food sources that you can try to incorporate into your diet to help. In addition, weight bearing exercise helps strengthen bones, so getting that exercise in is critical! Every time you want to talk yourself out of working out, remind yourself that you're not just burning calories, you're also strengthening your bones! Here are a few of the many non-dairy food sources of calcium and vitamin D: 
    • Calcium: sardines (with bones), sesame seeds, spinach, blackstrap molasses
    • Vitamin D: wild salmon, sardines, shrimp, cod, shiitake mushrooms, whole eggs
  • Increase Nutrient Intake: As Gina knows only too well, malabsorption from years of eating gluten can cause a number of vitamin deficiencies. Some common nutrient deficiencies in the Celiac population are: iron, vitamin A, and zinc. In addition, a factor to keep in mind is that many wheat products are fortified with the B vitamins and folic acid, whereas many gluten-free products are not similarly fortified. So in addition to eating a variety of foods, look to include rich sources of these vitamins in your diet. If you're able to, ask your doctor to check your vitamin levels so you know which vitamins you should be targeting. Here are just a few of the many (non-dairy) food sources for these nutrients:
    • Iron: chard, spinach, romaine lettuce, blackstrap molasses, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, black beans, wild salmon, grass-fed beef
    • Vitamin A: carrots, spinach, kale, mango, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes (with skin on)
    • Zinc: calf's liver, crimini mushrooms, spinach, sea vegetables, grass-fed beef
    • Folic Acid: dark leafy greens, legumes, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, tomato juice,
    • Thiamin: legumes, salmon, jerusalem artichokes, orange juice, potatoes, carrot juice, nuts,
    • Riboflavin: liver, mushrooms, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, asparagus, eggs
    • Niacin: meat, fish, white rice, tomato products, peanuts, tofu, peas, eggs
    • Pantothenic Acid: cod, tuna, chicken, eggs, broccoli, lentils, split peas, avocado,
    • Biotin: chard, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, almonds, eggs, onions, cabbage
    • Vitamin B6: liver, fish, baked potato, chicken, garbanzo beans, bananas, sunflower seeds,
    • Vitamin B12: oysters, crab, beef liver, chicken, clams, nutritional yeast, fortified soy milk 
  • Improve Digestion with Fermented foods. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, and will improve digestion, absorption, and assimilation of all of the amazing nutrients and phytonutrients in your meals. However, start slow and build up the amount of these foods in your diet, as a rapid increase in fiber might cause increased bloating.
  • Decrease Inflammation: Before you can even start the process of repairing the mucosal lining of your gut, you need to soothe your inflamed gut. There are a variety of ways you can do this: 
    • Decrease refined carbohydrates and sugars: High intake of refined carbohydrates or sugars can create insulin spikes, which increases inflammation. Luckily, there are a number of gluten-free grains that are healthy options, as well as many recipes using unrefined sugars. 
    • Increase Foods Containing Quercetin: Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory phytonutrient that is found in high amounts in: apples, onions, parsley, and green tea, as well as many other fruits and vegetables.
    • Increase Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs and Spices with Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Fruits and vegetables are just plain good for you. It's about as simple as that. However, there are a number of foods that are especially known for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as: turmeric, ginger, nettles, garlic, basil, rosemary, fennel, cloves, berries, purple grapes, and cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cabbage, broccoli).
    • Increase Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Omega 3 fatty acids are a key component to reducing inflammation. Some common sources in the diet are: wild salmon, flax and chia seeds (be cautious with increasing fiber too quickly though), sardines, tuna, walnuts, and grass-fed beef.
    • Try Soothing Foods: Due to the inflammation, your body may do better with mild, soothing foods for a little while. Strong spices, tomatoes, and/or citrus fruits may be too harsh for your gut right now. Instead, try:
        • Soft, well-cooked foods like quinoa soaked overnight, cooked until soft, or this apple pie recipe.
        • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce mixed with 2 teaspoons of marshmallow root or slippery elm powder. Gina's naturopathic doctor recommended slippery elm powder to her after she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. She ate it in apple sauce faithfully for at least two weeks, and it not only improved her overall digestion, but alleviated lower GI and bowel pain and spasming. Marshmallow root and slippery elm powder are both powdered herbs that are demulcents (they soothe mucous membranes).
  • Heal Your Gut with Glutamine: Once you've taken gluten out of your diet and begun to work on decreasing inflammation, the final step is to repair the mucosal lining of your gut. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, and is a key building block for protein. Glutamine can help to stimulate regeneration of the mucosa cells, as well as prevent further damage and decrease the amount of bacteria leaking across the mucosa. Cabbage is an excellent source of glutamine, as are most high-protein foods, such as chicken, fish, or beans.
  • Practice Stress Reduction Techniques: Stress is as much a culprit in inflammation as anything you're eating. High stress levels increase cortisol, which will in turn increase inflammation in the body. In addition, stress can decrease the flow of digestive juices, thus hampering all the hard work you're doing by working on your diet. Of course, in today's world, it's much easier said than done to reduce stress in your life. But there's one thing you can do every day that will only take a little extra time: 
    • Start by planning an extra fifteen minutes into your meal times. If you're like me, you're usually eating fast so you can rush out the door, or worse, eating standing up, walking, or driving. It took a conversation with Gina to make me realize how detrimental this was to my efforts to improve my digestion. Now, I plan enough time so that I can sit down and savor my meals at the kitchen table. You might feel like you don't have an extra fifteen minutes, but once you notice the difference in how you feel after eating, you'll want to make this a priority. 
    • Now that you have an extra fifteen minutes planned out, sit down to your lovely meal and quietly take a few deep breaths. Because food is often a source of stress for those of us with dietary restrictions, our minds may be primed to see food as the enemy. And if your mind thinks that way, your body is going to follow suit. So as you breathe, tell your body about all the healthy nutrients you're feeding it. Tell it that it's safe and has nothing to fear from the food you're about to eat. Ask your body to help you absorb all those nutrients and work with you to heal. (This may sound a bit out there - and it is - but incorporating this practice into my meals has helped reduce my food sensitivity symptoms more than I could imagine. Plus, you can do this all quietly and in your head, so if you're eating with other people, no one has to know you're doing it!) As you eat, take the time to chew your food and take some nice deep breaths in between bites. Once you're done eating, pause and take a few more deep breaths before you get up. Keeping your body relaxed in this way throughout your meal will help your digestion more than you would expect!
Now that you know what to do, I'll be focusing the last few days of this month on healing recipes that incorporate some of the anti-inflammatory foods we've talked about, such as my Anti-Inflammatory Cocktail, Cranberry Glazed Salmon, and Gina's Fresh Herb Salad.


















Sunday, May 22, 2011

How To Start A Gluten-Free Diet: Cooking and Baking Gluten-Free

It occurred to me after I started this series that most of what I wanted to tell you had already been said. Often when I was starting to write, I would recall a great post I had already read that touched on everything I was thinking! That's why my How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet series has included so much link love. Why say it again when it's already been said so well by someone else?

For this reason, I'm going to link to a couple of great posts on cooking and baking gluten-free. These are the places I go to when I have questions. My only advice for you in these areas is to start simple and build your way up. Cooking gluten-free is really no different than cooking any food. You just have to know which ingredients are okay and which aren't. On the other hand, baking gluten-free is kind of like an alien baby. You might be scared when you first see it, but once you get used to the tentacles and googly eyes, you'll start loving it more and more every day. Eventually, it will look no different to you than any other adorable baby. (I have no idea where that idea came from and I recognize it doesn't make much sense, but just humor me and go with it.)

In all seriousness, baking gluten-free is an adventure and it is fun. But start simple. Buy some baking mixes, like Pamela's or Bob's Red Mill. They've already done the hard work; you just need to add a few ingredients and stir. Then look for some really basic recipes, ones that don't contain twenty different ingredients. Many gluten-free recipes call for a variety of flours, and for good reason. Baked goods often taste better with a mix of flours. But if you're starting out, it can be intimidating to have to buy five new flours for a recipe. So save my recipe index for once you've purchased more flours, and start with an easy recipe like Elana's Chocolate Chip Cookies or something that's already naturally gluten-free like meringues. Perhaps set yourself a challenge to try one new recipe a week. Just remember, there will be failures, but there will be more successes. Believe me, I've had my fair share of both!

So here are my favorite resources for tips on cooking and baking gluten-free:
Gluten-Free Baking Tips (and more!) at The Gluten-Free Goddess
How to Avoid Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free Baking Mishaps at Cook It Allergy Free

That's it. I know there are many more great resources out there, but more often than not, if I have a question, The Goddess or The Mistress of Allergy Free Cooking has the answer.

Have you missed any of the posts in this series?

So now that we've got all of this information on living gluten-free down, I finally get to talk about my favorite topic: Healing your body through food! On Thursday, I'll be posting a tip sheet for speeding up the healing process after you cut out gluten, followed by some healing recipes. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How To Start A Gluten-Free Diet: Handling Social Events and Traveling

There's a discussion on twitter right now. The question is, "What's the hardest thing about being gluten-free?" The answer I'm seeing over and over is socializing. This means eating at restaurants, dealing with parties (especially kids' parties when your own child is gluten-free) and traveling. So for today's installment of How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet, I knew I had to address this topic. But here's the thing: I suck at this.

Yep, you heard me. I would like to be your voice of authority here, and give you lots of great tips, but if you've learned anything about me yet, it's that I'm honest to a fault. I can't pretend to be an expert at restaurant eating, navigating parties, or traveling gluten-free because I'm not. I rarely dine out, and when I do, I generally go to restaurants that have gluten-free menus. If I'm going to a restaurant without a gluten-free menu, I inevitably become more and more anxious as the waiter comes to take my order. Will he understand what I'm saying? Will he get the cross-contamination issue? Will he make me repeat myself over and over? How about I just run across the street to the grocery store and get myself a snack and meet you all back here after dinner? Now, I've gotten better over the last couple of years, and my Triumph Dining Cards are a big help, but this is still not my area of expertise. Luckily for me, I love to cook, and I believe that learning to cook is the key to living a gluten-free lifestyle.

Nonetheless, social situations are a part of our reality, and we have to figure out how to handle them with ease, right? While I may not have all the answers, I have spent countless hours looking for those answers, and I want to share with you the best resources I've found for these tricky situations. If you have any tips or resources that have made it easier for you to socialize gluten-free, please feel free to leave them in the comments below for other readers!  

Dining Out and Traveling
Gluten-Free Passport: Tips on traveling and dining out, as well iphone apps for eating out.
Gluten-Free Travel Site: This site has reviews of restaurants with gluten-free menus, as well as resources for traveling gluten-free.
Gluten-Free Dining Tips at Gluten-Free Mom
Dining Out at Gluten-Free Living
Gluten-Free Travel Tips at A Gluten-Free Guide
Tips for Traveling Gluten-Free at Gluten-Free Dietitian
Gluten-Free Travel Tips at The Gluten-Free Diva

Social Events and Traveling with your Gluten-Free Child
Handling School and Other Activities Gluten-Free at Gluten-Free Mom
Kids Party Planning at Gluten-Free Food Diet
Gluten-Free Kids at Gluten-Free Living
Gluten-Free Kids Travel: This blog is written by Jen, who travels frequently with her husband and young daughter (who has Celiac Disease).
Top Ten Tips for Traveling with a Gluten-Free Child at G-Free Mom 
Summer Holidays with Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kids at She Let Them Eat Cake
Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom: Heidi is a great resource for up-to-date information on kids and the gluten-free diet. 

Check out the other posts in this series:


This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker, where you can find many more articles on living gluten-free.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How To Start A Gluten-Free Diet: Building A Community

When I first decided to eat gluten-free, I had no idea what that would mean. It was a random decision that became permanent once I realized how awful I felt when I tried to eat gluten again. But one of the aspects of becoming gluten-free that I never realized was that it would set me apart. As anyone who eats differently than the mainstream knows, our social lives often revolve around food. And when you can't eat with everyone else, it changes your perspective. 
Luckily, the gluten-free lifestyle has become much more mainstream, and even in the two years I've been eating this way, I've noticed a difference in how people respond to hearing that I'm gluten-free. People are much more aware of what it is now, and I assume that will only improve with time. Of course, I still get the occasional blank stares, but I can only imagine how hard it must have been for others who have been eating gluten-free much longer than I have been. If you're starting out now, you're in a good spot because there are so many more options available to you. 

However, having a gluten-free aisle in the grocery store doesn't take away from the fact that you'll feel isolated sometimes. There will be moments when you'll be in a social situation and look around at everyone eating, and feel a bit lonely. Those moments will come less and less, but they'll still happen. Which is why building a gluten-free community is so important. It was my intention to write a whole post on this, but my dear friend, Debi, just wrote a post saying everything I was thinking. So I'll let her tell you why it's important to be a part of a gluten-free community

By the way, I've only ever met Debi online - through our blogs, through Facebook and Twitter. She is a part of my gluten-free community, and if you're reading this, then that means you're a part too. It's a community that comes with a lot of perks: free recipes, tips and advice, support, and friendship. Definitely take advantage of the wealth of knowledge being shared online!

Speaking of taking advantage, I have definitely soaked up as much as I could from this community. My first pitiful attempt at gluten-free baking (I simply substituted rice flour for regular flour in my lemon square recipe) would have been ten times better had I known about all of these gluten-free blogs. Since then, everything I've learned about cooking and baking gluten-free, I've learned through recipes and tips I've found online. 

One of the first blogs I noticed was one called The Gluten-Free Dish, written by a fabulous woman named Debbie. It took me a while to try one of her recipes, but I kept going back to her blog. Her style was like mine...that is to say, she had as many food sensitivities to deal with as I did, and knew how to get creative. Eventually, Debbie and I became friends on Facebook (see the power of the online community?) and she was always there with a kind word or gesture of support. In fact, when she made this cookie recipe, I was delighted to see that I could easily adapt it to my needs, and she admitted that she had been thinking of me when she came up with the recipe. How's that for community!?

I decided to "adopt" Debbie last month as part of Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger, the monthly blog event started at Book of Yum, encouraging bloggers to get to know each other and try out new recipes. Her pecan sandies had been calling to me, so I whipped up a batch - seriously, they were really easy to make - by substituting the pecans with sunflower seeds. The result was amazing, and because the ingredients are so healthy, I enjoyed these with breakfast for days, eating some on their own and crumbling some into my oatmeal. Sadly, I didn't get to make any of the other recipes I had bookmarked, but I'm still planning to, starting with Debbie's Chicken Stew and Dumplings. Once I get caught up on school work, it's the first thing I'm going to do!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How To Start A Gluten-Free Diet: What Can You Eat On A Gluten-Free Diet?

I've avoided starting this post for days. The post where I tell you which foods have gluten and which don't. Partly because I know that many of you already have this information. But more because if I were to tell you everything you need to know, the post would never end. Gluten is a tricky little bugger. It can hide in places you'd never think to look. Like baking soda. Did you know that you have to make sure your baking soda is gluten-free? Or that your Thanksgiving turkey is gluten-free? Turkey!? Really? Why would there ever be gluten in turkey? Some things just don't make sense...

So what I'm going to do is start by telling you what you definitely CAN'T eat, then tell you everything you definitely CAN eat, and finish with the annoying "I don't know so I'm just going to stand in the grocery store aisle with this confused look on my face" items.


If you need to eat gluten-free, that means you cannot eat: 
  • wheat (this includes spelt)
  • barley
  • rye
  • triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye)
Now that's not so bad, is it? That's only 4 things you can't have. What? You think I'm simplifying things? Perhaps a little...

If you need to eat gluten-free, that means you definitely, without a doubt, no standing in the aisle with a look of confusion on your face CAN eat: 
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables, including potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and peas
  • Eggs (Did you know that the yolks are a good source of lutein, which is good for your eyes? Forget about just eating the egg white; go for the whole egg!)
  • Cow's Milk
  • Edamame
Ok, so here's the thing. I'm going to stop there, and I'll tell you why. I've debated with myself for about 10 minutes on this, because there are a ton of other naturally gluten-free foods. However, I'm going to put them all in the "Stop and Check" list because anything that's been processed has the possibility of having gluten in it. I'm not saying this to scare you, but simply to point out the reality that is gluten-free eating. Like I said earlier, even turkey can have gluten in it, although turkey itself is naturally gluten free. So read on to learn the tricks. You CAN eat everything on this list; you just have to be careful and know what to watch out for: 
  • Fish and Meat: Fresh or frozen, these should be gluten-free, but some can include fillers, marinades, or seasoning, so make sure to double check. 
  • Dairy: Most dairy is gluten-free. However, occasionally a slippery little gluten gnome will slip into your dairy. As far as I know, milk is the only dairy product that is always gluten-free. (If anyone knows something different, feel free to correct me!)
    • Yogurt: Click here for a list of my favorite gluten-free brands
    • Cheese: Most block cheeses are gluten-free, but check the ingredients on bleu cheese, shredded cheese, or any cheese "products."
    • Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream and Cream Cheese: Most are gluten-free, but check the ingredients
  • Beans: Dried beans and canned beans are gluten-free, although I've heard of some people having problems with cross-contamination. This has never been an issue for me personally. However, refried beans can contain gluten, so check the ingredients.
  • Soy: Tofu and tempeh are usually gluten-free. Just read the ingredients. Soy sauce is pretty easy to find a gluten-free version of these days. And San-J makes an awesome gluten-free tamari.
  • Rice, Quinoa, Tapioca, Sorghum, Millet, Buckwheat, Arrowroot, Amaranth, and Teff: All gluten-free! Don't you love the variety? However, if it's processed in a facility with gluten, there could be cross-contamination. So I recommend buying brands that you can trust are gluten-free. Bob's Red Mill is my most trusted purveyor of gluten-free goods.   
  • Oats: Oats must be certified gluten-free. (See note in the comments from Tasty Eats at Home!)
  • Flax, Chia, and Hemp seeds: See above.
  • Tree nuts and Peanuts: A wonderful snack, but if you buy roasted or spiced nuts, they might have some hidden gluten. Which is a good excuse to buy them raw and unsalted. They're healthier for you that way too.
  • Soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, and rice milk: Most brands on the market are gluten-free, but - you know what's coming, right? - check the label.
  • Alcohol: According to Living Without magazine, wine and hard liquor are gluten-free. Beers, ales, and lagers are not (unless you buy gluten-free beer, which I see cropping up more often in bars lately). Generally, I've found that alcohol itself is not a problem, but mixers can contain gluten (usually in the form of barley malt), so be sure to ask if you're getting something fun like a margarita. 
  • Everything else: Check, check, check! I can't think of a single food item for which there isn't a gluten-free option, but the rule of thumb when eating gluten-free is this: 1. Read the label. 2. If the label isn't clear, call the company and ask. 3. When in doubt, don't eat it! 
  • p.s. We may not think of medicine as food, but we put it in our mouths and swallow it, therefore we have to make sure it's gluten-free. Check here or with your pharmacist if you're unsure of any medications you're taking. 
Now, I'm sure I've left something important off this list, so please leave your thoughts in the comments below as well as any links to good resources. Anything you want to add, anything you think I got wrong, or any questions, go for it! There are also a number of other bloggers who have great posts on how to go gluten-free, so I'm going to link to a few of those as well, in case they've included anything I've missed:

How to Go Gluten-Free at Gluten-Free Goddess 
What is Gluten? at Simply Gluten-Free
Gluten-Free Tip Sheets at Gluten-Free Easily (scroll down on the right side; they're PDFs)
Gluten-Free Diet Information at The Gluten-Free Homemaker
30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living at The Whole Gang.

How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet: Part 1
How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet: Part 2

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How To Start A Gluten-Free Diet: Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about the first day of starting a gluten-free diet. My advice was to keep it simple. The goal on that first day is to simply cross that initial mental barrier of this-is-so-overwhelming-land and move into I-can-do-this-world. But even as I was writing that post, I knew I was leaving many of the intricacies of gluten-free eating out. I did that on purpose, knowing that there is only one goal for that first day: not eating gluten. And for most, that's going to mean starting with the foods you know are safe because they come in a box labeled gluten-free.

Of course, there's a caveat here which is that there really is no regulation of gluten-free labeling. Because of this, there's a movement to gain federal regulation standards for gluten-free labeling. This is extremely important because we need to feel safe and we want to know that our friends and family are safe. If something is labeled gluten-free, we don't want to have to worry that we might still get sick from it. You can learn more about that here.

But that isn't the point of this post. The point now is that once you've passed that monumental first day hurdle, that's when the real work starts. There are a number of steps you then need to take to become comfortable with your new gluten-free life:
  1. Learn where gluten is hidden, what brands you can trust, and  how to avoid cross-contamination
  2. Learn how to handle social situations and family/friends who think you can "just eat one bite."
  3. Learn how to successfully eat out gluten-free
  4. Learn how to travel gluten-free
  5. Make the shift from processed gluten-free foods to whole foods. This includes:
    1. Learning how to cook gluten-free
    2. Learning how to bake gluten-free
    3. Learning how to eat to speed up the healing process.
Now if there's one thing I've learned in the last two years, it's that I'm not an expert on Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, or eating gluten-free. No seriously. Despite this blog, there's still so much I don't know. But I do know a lot. There's a learning curve, and I'm at least two-thirds of the way around the bend. And more importantly, I know where to go (and who to talk to) when I don't have the answer. So I've decided that since May is already the month of 30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living, I'm going to continue with that theme here all month. I'll be sharing my experiences on the topics above, and if there's another topic or question you'd like answered, feel free to leave a comment and let me know. And please, share your experiences and your own tips in the comments for the posts. As a community, there's so much we can learn from each other!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How To Start A Gluten-Free Diet

When you change to a gluten-free diet, it seems to me that there are some predictable phases you go through. At first, there's the amazement of starting to feel better. Then that moment when you think, "Well, I don't have to be that strict about it." Followed by the moment when you realize you do. Of course, then there's the reality crash of realizing the enormity of what that means. The subsequent grief (and yes, there is grief) when you realize you'll never be able to eat a special family recipe again. The excitement when you decide to make your own version of that family recipe and it tastes amazing. Or the disappointment if it turns out to be a flop. If you like to cook or bake, there's the wonder of learning the rules of gluten-free flours and realizing your options are endless. If the kitchen isn't your favorite place, there's the sense of accomplishment you feel the first time you successfully order out at a restaurant. And always, always there's the camaraderie you feel when you meet someone else and find out he or she is gluten-free too. You look at each other with wonder, and instantly think, "They understand."

But before you can go through this fun roller coaster of emotions (it's all worth it, believe me!), there's something you have to do first.

You have to get through your first day of eating gluten-free.

And that may be the hardest, simply because, if you're like I was, you have very little idea what you're doing.

So how do you actually do it? When it comes down to it, simplicity is the key. When I was thinking about first trying out a gluten-free diet, I told a friend with Celiac Disease that I didn't know where to start. His advice was simple: start with breakfast. So that's what I did. Instead of trying to picture a whole day in my head, I just went meal by meal. And that's what I'm going to do with you, in the hopes that if you're struggling, you can take a deep breath and just focus on your next meal.  What you'll want to do is imagine what you normally eat for that meal, and then figure out the simplest way to make it gluten-free.

Breakfast:
  • Want cereal? Try Barbara's Puffins, Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal, or Bakery on Main granola
  • Prefer hot cereal? How about Bob's Red Mill Creamy Rice Hot Cereal, Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, or Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal.  
  • Are you more of a toast in the morning kind of person? Rudi's and Udi's have both set the gluten-free world on fire with their bread that actually tastes like bread. If you like the warmth of homemade bread, but aren't ready to start buying an assortment of gluten-free flours, you can pick up a mix like Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix or Bob's Red Mill Homemade Wonderful GF Bread Mix.
  • Like eggs? You're in luck. They're naturally gluten-free! Bacon? Well that's a bit more complicated because you do have to check that the brand you're buying is gluten-free (I've found that most are). But here's my two cents. If it's your first day eating gluten-free, don't bother with anything that's going to cause you stress or confusion. If it isn't obvious that it's gluten-free, move on to something else and save that idea for another day! On day one, your mantra is: simplicity.
  • And in that vein, if you want to get really simple, just chop up a banana, add some raw almonds and coconut flakes, and you're all set to go! 
Now Lunchtime: 
  • Sandwiches are a staple. I've already mentioned that Rudi's and Udi's have great bread. There are a lot of other brands out there, but I have yet to taste any that I thought could compare. So the toughest part is out of the way. Oh, but what to put in that sandwich? Once again, it gets complicated. In the beginning, everything in your fridge is suspect. You have to scour labels because you haven't yet memorized which brands you can trust. So how to make it simple? There are two things in the grocery store that don't require labels because there are no hidden ingredients. Fruits and vegetables. So for today, make it a vegetarian  sandwich and try a layer of hummus (many brands I've seen in the store will say gluten-free on them) topped with thinly sliced veggies (carrots, sprouts, peppers, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, etc.). If you want to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something with meat, Trader Joe's is a great place to shop because you can print out their "no gluten" list and take it with you. And if you want to grab something on the go, many of Subway's ingredients are gluten-free, and they're even testing out gluten-free bread rolls now.
On to Dinner:
  • Gluten-free pasta gets a bad rap, but I think it tastes really good. Tinkyada, Bionaturae, and Ancient Harvest are three brands I love. Annie's also makes gluten-free mac and cheese if you're missing Kraft.
  • Pizza lover? Me too! I've noticed more and more gluten-free pizza shops popping up, but that might be because I lived in New York City and now live in Seattle, both gluten-free friendly cities. If you can't go down the street and buy a hot, ready-made pizza, you can still buy one in the freezer section at the grocery store. To start, there's Amy's pizza - check out Amy's extensive list of gluten-free foods; you won't be disappointed. There's also Udi's pizza crust, and a growing number of gluten-free pizza crust mixes. I've also seen gluten-free pizza crusts in the frozen aisle at many grocery stores. I've never bought any so I can't attest to them myself, but it would be a great way to throw together a fun meal.
  • There are a number of brands jumping on the gluten-free wagon, so while I'm not a huge fan of getting dinner out of a box, on your first day, as I said, go simple. Every grocery store I've been to in the last year has a gluten-free section now, from Massachusetts to Ohio and all the way out to Seattle. If that isn't the case where you live, you can order from a store online, or...
  • Rice is gluten-free. So is quinoa. And potatoes. And sweet potatoes. Cook up any one of these, saute a chicken breast or salmon fillet with olive, salt, and pepper, steam some vegetables, and you've got dinner.
I didn't forget snacks and desserts: 
  • Your options here are endless. Truly. Along with fruits, vegetables and nuts, there are a ton of gluten-free snack options at the grocery store. And more are popping up daily. I say try them all at least once, but if you're a bit wary of spending money on something without knowing if it's any good, check out my gluten-free product reviews or google the item you want to try. Someone has probably tried it and blogged about it!
Okay, so I know I've kept this basic and I've left a lot out. But that was intentional. Your first day is not about switching to a whole foods diet (although hopefully that's the ultimate goal), navigating eating out, or handling social issues surrounding food sensitivities. It's not about learning to bake gluten-free or becoming an instant expert. It's about getting the gluten out of your diet so that your body can begin to heal. Plain and simple. The sooner you're on a completely gluten-free diet, the sooner your body will recover and the better you'll feel. My diet right now is very much a whole foods diet, with little to no processed foods on a daily basis. But that took time, and if you look back at old posts, you'll see my eating habits shifting since the beginning. On that first day, I just took it meal by meal and didn't worry about the next day or the next month. That will come. But start with that first hurdle. Once you tackle the first day, you can handle the rest. 


Today marks the second day of 30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living, a compilation of helpful tips and ideas from a different blogger every day. Diane of The Whole Gang organized this event with the intention of sharing our experiences so that we can all learn from each other. I'll update this with links to each post as they're written, ending on May 31st.

Easy Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping at The Whole Gang
Smoothing the Gluten-Free Transition with Smoothies at Gluten-Free Cat
Make Your Own Convenience Foods at Tasty Eats at Home
Cherry Vanilla Power Bars at Elana's Pantry
Easy Meals G-Free Style at Gluten Free Goodness
Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie at Food Sensitivity Journal
Magic Cookie Bars at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free
Gluten-Free Baking Tips at Diet, Dessert and Dogs
Gluten-Free Travel Tips at The Gluten Free Diva
Eating from Your Garden at Cook It Allergy Free
Gluten-Free Food Rules at Gluten Free For Good
Easy Gluten-Free Quick Bread Base with Endless Possibilities at Real Sustenance
Kids Lunchbox Ideas at G-Free Mom
Fast Food for Gluten-Free Teens at Celiacs in the House
Your Pantry is the Key to Living GFE at Gluten-Free Easily
BBQ and Picnic Tips at The Sensitive Pantry
Tips for Getting Your Kids to Embrace Whole Foods at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom
Everything I've Learned So Far About Gluten-Free at Silvana's Kitchen
Easy Gluten-Free Living at She Let Them Eat Cake
Easy Breakfast Burrito (Vegetarian, Soy-Free) at Book of Yum
The Value of Support at Glugle Gluten-Free
Thinking Outside the Bun at Alisa Cooks
Cooking by Color at Daily Bites
Entertaining at Simply Gluten-Free
Traveling on Day Trips with Gluten-Free Kids at Life As A Plate
Food Packaging and Presentation for Kids at Z's Cup of Tea
Buying and Cooking in Bulk at The Spunky Coconut
Gluten-Free on a Budget at Penny Pinching Epicure
How to Prepare Grains so they are More Nutritious & Digestible at Straight into Bed, Cakefree and Dried

{A message from my sponsor} A healthy lifestyle with a clean, healthy diet helps to improve and maintain your Body Mass Index (BMI). You can calculate your body mass index using this nifty calculator found on the official BMI Private Health Care site.

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