Monday, September 30, 2013

How to live with an Intolerance - Part I - Gluten

As I wrote the other day, I believe is relevant to lecture you slightly about intolerances, particularly gluten and lactose. And why?

Because I discovered that I was(and I am ) intolerant to this main group of products. My organism is not able to digest them due to a lack of some enzymes necessary during the digestion process.
So, in this post I am going to write a little about the gluten intolerance, namely what is gluten, which products contain gluten, alternative products and leave you some of my own tips to live with this and some blogs and sites with a massive range of recipes to face this that can be, sometimes, a massive inconvenient in a world where gluten is everywhere.

Let’s start for the beginning: Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley or rye and responsible to give the elasticity to dough and helping it rise, so the power element in a dough.

So, when we go to a bakery or a patisserie, 99% of the products there, such as breads, cakes, biscuits, pies or tarts are made with a flour from one of the cereals that I mention before, unless there is some label saying Gluten-Free, exactly because of the elasticity and rise power of the gluten.

However, there are some products free for those who need to avoid gluten like:
. Amaranth (comparable to rice or corn, so needs to be cooked like other grains to be edible. Really rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium)
.Arrowroot (is a tropical plant which root has a white tuber rich in starch, something really popular during the Victorian Era and can be used like a thickener for acid foods)

. Buckwheat (more common in Asia and used to make noodles in countries like Japan or Korea. And recently it has been used in the production of beers)
. Flaxseeds (rich in Omega 3, 6 and vitamins E and complex B, minerals and fibre really important in the digestion process. However, to be perfectly absorbed for our organism we should grind it before use and keep it in a fresh area as well as in a tin or something not expose to the light. Another recommendation, no more than 2 tablespoons per day)

. Gluten-free flours (rice, corn, soya, potato, almond, coconut, tapioca)

. Teff (a grain highly cultivated in Ethiopia, easy to plant and, as well, easy to grind and get a beautiful flour. Teff leads all the grains in its calcium contain, so 220gr of teff offering 123mg. It’s also an amazing source of vitamin C)

. Millet (the world’s sixth most important grain, India being the largest producer of millet. High in magnesium and antioxidants and like other grains, millet can be made into breakfast cereals and add to some recipes that not need to rise as much, like biscuits)

. Quinoa (everybody is crazy about quinoa and why? Cause this grain is really high in protein – more than in brown rice, potatoes, barley and even millet, but less than in wild rice and oats- magnesium, iron, calcium -really important for those who are as weal lactose intolerant - and fibre that decrease the appetite and helps to get a good intestinal function)

. Rice

. Oats

. Sweet-potato

. Plantain

So, if we know from which ingredients we can 100% avoid gluten, there is a large range of other products that can contain gluten, but just if we check the label carefully we can make sure if there is or isn’t gluten. So, pay attention to these products (I found this really useful list in the blog, Gluten-free Girl)

. Soy sauce
. Imitation crab
. Liquorice
. Seasoning packets
. BBQ sauces
. salad dressings
. cornflakes and rice Krispy’s
. chocolate
. ice cream
. broth
. yougurt and other dairy products
. miso
. oyster sauce
. sports drinks
. malt vinegar
. Oats (just if the pack says Gluten free oats will be really free)

Now, let’s talk about some blogs/websites that have the main focus in articles and recipes gluten-free;

I have to admit that sometimes, especially if I have to travel, going to a restaurant, family meals, meeting someone in a café, pastry shop or find something to eat in the street during a working day, it’s not always an easy task to choose what to eat or not, but we learn how to live with this. And searching for recipes, testimony’s and tips, its always one of the best pieces of advice that I can give you. Use and abuse the internet.

So, besides the daily research, other things that come with this little “problem” was the weekly meal planning (recipes, supermarket list, plan and cook snacks for when I am out) and always trying to get a good variety of ingredients to offer my body all the nutrients that I need and leave my other half happy with no-gluten meals.

So the secret for a normal gluten-free diet is, for me, translated in 3 words: acceptance: research and creativity.

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