Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gluten Free, how I love thee, let me count the ways.

Hello fellow gluten free foodies!

I decided to dedicate this blog entry to the ever intrepid gluten free foodie. The foodie who avoids gluten for a myriad of reasons may encounter a world of resistance. Never fear, your brain is here to help you and what is more I'm here too.

The basics of gluten free eating is that you avoid foods that have gluten in them. This includes wheat and its bretherin. Anything that contains wheat is not gluten free. There are many food lists online, so I will not exhaustively list them here. What I will do is list what I do eat. Hopefully this will give you an idea of how to navigate the grocery store. In the finer grocery stores there will be a section of "gluten free" products. This is especially true at Raley's and Bel Air grocery stores in northern Ca. I have found their service to be invaluable. They go to the trouble to label the foods with little green signs that say "gluten free" in the natural health food section. The Sacramento Co-op and Elliott's Natural Foods have a good selection of gluten free foods. At the co-op they sometimes have a gluten free brownie in the deli for sale, its not good for the waist line but sometimes "anti-depression Friday" really is Anti-Depression. Watch out for protein powders, often they hide gluten in the form of "dextrose." Any prepared trail mix is suspicious too. Chocolates and candies are risky. Read the label, check the allergens. Look out for yogurt or chocolate milk, sometimes those have dextrose.

What to eat???? Where to eat????

If you start off in any of the deli counters or hot woks across the country, the likely hood that the sauces are full of gluten is pretty high. The average soy sauce has wheat in it. San-J Tamari sauce is wheat free. I use that at home. Dextrose is often found in meat products. This can be derived from wheat or corn. Its safest to buy plain meats, vegetables, fruits, dry beans, lentils, and rice. Watch out for prepackaged foods often there will be the opportunity for hidden wheat. Eating commercial food is not easy. If you are going to a restaurant check the website before you go out. I've had success with Denny's, Applebee's, Del Taco, Fresh Choice, and Carl's Jr. Its easier just to pack a lunch or snacks. Don't trust any dessert when you are out. Oddly enough, the Olive Garden website says that they have a gluten free pasta available, I have not tried it yet. There is often gluten in chocolate sauce or caramel sauce. There is gluten in most baked goods. I do like the Quinoa Macaroons from Mrs. Denson. Soo good!

Gluten free alternatives do abound in the stores and online. Vitacost is a good source online for gluten free groceries and they have very reasonable shipping costs. I like rice pasta, quinoa pasta, and Trader Joe's even has a gluten free brownie mix available. They have a handy list online that you can printout and take with you to the store. I carry it in my little fabric grocery bags. It just sits in the trunk of my car. I never know when I might stop by. I love pork chops, roast chicken, or hamburgers. I get the nitrate free bacon from Trader Joe's. Its really tasty. I haven't found a bread I really liked. The pretzels are fine. I like some of the alternative flours like garbanzo and brown rice. Beware, that brown rice flour must be mixed with either the AP or something else. There are great cook books on the subject, get one to help you out. Don't just rely on the internet.

So, what do you eat? Thats the question I get asked all the time.
This is what I eat most of the time:
Fats coconut, olive oil, butter
Protein: eggs, meat, cheese,
Vegetables of all kinds especially romaine hearts, spinach, asparagus, sugar snap peas, and broccoli slaw.
Fruits like tomatos, avocados, summer and winter squash

I eat the following less often because I'm on a low-carb diet.
Pulses, nuts, drupes and seeds that are not roasted/salted like almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and brazil nuts.
Gluten free pasta, brown rice (rarely, I'm on low carb), quinoa, lentils, beans,
I use dairy sparingly from whole milk, organic cream, kefir or plain yogurt. I prefer coconut milk So Delicious for its carb content, but its not induction friendly.
Gluten free cookies, gluten free chips or cheese puffs (not good for the diet, just a cheat day food.)
Haagen Daz 5 mint ice cream.

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