Fast and Gluten-Free
Among all the health-food buzzwords out there, gluten-free really stands out, backed by a noticeable increase in everything from gluten-free restaurant menu items to gluten-free foods and cookbooks. While some people ditch gluten-containing foods to help them lose weight, others make the switch because health reasons force them to.
If you suffer from gluten intolerance, don’t feel bad--you have plenty of company. Gluten is a sticky protein found primarily in wheat, rye, and barley. It can be hidden in a surprisingly wide variety of the processed and prepared foods we eat every day. Because gluten is hard to digest, it can wreak havoc on our bodies, causing symptoms that range from the simple—fatigue, bloating, gas, diarrhea, headaches, and skin rashes—to the severe such as malabsorption of nutrients, infertility, and even osteoporosis.
Determining whether you have celiac disease or simply a sensitivity to gluten can mean the difference between a lifelong sentence to a gluten-free diet—with absolutely no exceptions—to scaling back on the amount of gluten you consume. Why? Because celiac disease is a hereditary autoimmune disease with no known cure except the elimination of all forms of gluten. Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is a condition that can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms that can be controlled by reducing the amount of gluten you eat.
How can you know if you have celiac disease or just a sensitivity? A simple blood test, called a celiac panel, can give you a pretty good idea. Only gastrointestinal endoscopy can produce an ironclad diagnosis, but you should undertake that only after a positive blood test. You can find out if you’re gluten-sensitive by cutting all foods containing gluten from your diet for a minimum of one week (and, ideally, up to one month) and seeing how you feel.
So either you know gluten is taboo for you or you’re thinking of eliminating it to see if your health improves—and you’re worried about what your new diet will look like. Fortunately, you now have far more choices when you decide to go gluten-free. There are a variety of gluten-free products including crackers, chips, breads, cookies, and cakes. Although the quality and taste of these products has improved, gluten-free breads, pretzels, and pastas simply taste different, which makes sense considering they’re made from ingredients like rice flour, potato flour, and cornstarch. Read labels carefully. As of 2006, the FDA requires all manufacturers to indicate which of their products contain wheat—a good start, but be aware that many innocent-sounding food ingredients, like malt flavoring or vinegar, contain gluten.
Don’t despair—we found many gluten-free products that can satisfy your sweet tooth. These include products created using ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and wild rice. Not only are these a great-tasting alternative to wheat, they’re healthier too.
Some of the most time-consuming foods to prepare from scratch are breads, cookies, and cakes. In order to help you cut down on time spent baking, Natural Solutions features a few easy-to-prepare breads and treats so you can spend more time enjoying your food with family and friends than cooking in the kitchen.
Inspiration Mixes: Cara’s Sugar Cookies box includes recipes for sugar cookies, frosting, Snickerdoodle cookies, and pound cakes. Made from only potato starch, cornstarch, tapioca flour, baking powder (non-aluminum double acting), sea salt, and xanthan gum, Cara’s Sugar Cookies are gluten-free, casein-free, and dairy-free. Mix up some tasty treats in next to no time at all!// $5, 11 oz, inspirationmixes.com
Bella Gluten-Free: Made with 100 percent natural and organic ingredients, Bella Gluten-Free baking mixes add an ease to the kitchen that doesn’t compromise taste.// Multigrain Sandwich Bread Mix, $6, 14.5 oz, Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix, $6, 16.7 oz, All Purpose Baking Mix, $6, 24 oz, Pizza Dough, Rolls & Focaccia Mix, $6, 15.2 oz, bellaglutenfree.com
Wholly Wholesome Gluten Free Pie Shells: Made with brown rice flour, water, palm-fruit shortening, evaporated cane juice, tapioca flour, potato flour, sea salt, aluminum-free baking powder, and xanthan gum, these pie crusts are flaky and delicious for all pie lovers. // $4, two pie shells, whollywholesome.com
Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Mixes
Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix: Everyone likes chocolate chip cookies—people with a gluten intolerance are no different. These cookies are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. // $5, 22 oz, bobsredmill.com
Short bread Cookie Mix: Shortbread cookies are a classic treat; enjoy this all natural, gluten-free treat in next to no time flat. //$5, 21 oz, bobsredmill.com
Brownie Mix: Rich and classic, Bob’s Brownie Mix includes Ghirardelli cocoa for every chocolate lover’s dream. //$4 , 21 oz, bobsredmill.com