Gluten Intolerance is a common digestive complaint that affects almost 10% of all people. It is caused by a sensitivity to the protein gluten found in the grains wheat, barley, rye, spelt, triticale, kamut, farro, and einkorn. Gluten is the protein composite that provides elasticity to dough helping it to rise and hold its shape. A sensitivity to gluten involves an immune system reaction that causes inflammation in the small intestine. This inflammation damages the interior wall of the small intestine, specifically harming tiny, fingerlike projections called villi that absorb the nutrients from food. The loss of the villi often leads to malnutrition and related complications such as bone disease.
A more serious gluten intolerance is called Celiac disease, affecting one in 133 people. That's when gluten actually triggers the body's immune system. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the villi and for this reason is considered an autoimmune disease.
With gluten found in countless processed food items it is difficult to avoid contamination. However, with the growing numbers of people suffering from digestive issues due to gluten intolerance the food industry has created an assortment of alternative products, menus and recipes. Having to give up gluten based products is far from the end of the world. There are now many wonderful foods you can substitute and ways to prepare them. Begin with these gluten free, nutrient and fiber rich grains: amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and millet either in their whole grain form or use the flour to make your favorite cookies, cakes and granola.
You may be surprised to find great sandwich bread made from millet and brown rice flour; hearty al dente pasta rolled from rice, quinoa or buckwheat flour. There are even pastas made strictly from beans such as black, mung and soy beans and a rice pizza crust can be crisp and satisfying with the right toppings. The Peruvian grain, quinoa, can be white, red or black in color and loaded with usable protein and fiber. It makes a great substitute for the wheat cous-cous in the Middle Eastern classic Tabouli recipe.
Yield: 4 – 6 servings
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
3 green onions (scallions), minced
In a saucepan combine the quinoa, water and sea salt; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
When done allow to cool and spoon into a medium bowl.
Add the parsley, green onions and toss well with the dressing.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one fresh lemon
sea salt to taste
1 clove garlic, pressed
Preparation: Combine in a jar, shake well and pour over Tabouli.
CRUNCHY BREAKFAST BARS
Yield: 8 bars
Grapeseed oil non-stick spray
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 ¼ cups spelt or quinoa flakes
½ cup dried fruit juice sweetened cranberries
¼ cup flax meal
¼ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup honey or rice syrup
¼ cup creamy peanut or almond butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Brush an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with oil.
Line the bottom and two sides with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side. Brush the paper with oil.
In a bowl combine the spelt, cranberries, flaxseed meal, pecans, and salt; set aside
.In a small saucepan or double boiler, combine honey, nut butter and vanilla.
Cook over medium heat until heated through stirring well.
Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Transfer mixture to prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake until golden and edges pull away from sides of pan, about 20-25 minutes.
Cool completely in pan, then using paper overhang, lift bars out of the pan.
On a cutting board, cut into 8 pieces using a serrated knife.
Store in an airtight container, separating pieces with wax or parchment paper.
RICE CRUST PIZZA
Yield: 4 – 6 servings
1 rice crust pizza (available in supermarkets, health food stores, or online at Amazon.com)
1 cup pesto sauce
1 large tomato, sliced
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1 cup cooked greens, such as kale, Swiss chard or broccoli rabe
¼ cup of chopped chives
¼ cup of parmesan cheese
Spread pesto sauce over the entire pizza crust
.Chop the greens and layer around the pizza’s center.
Place sliced kalamata olives around the greens
Sprinkle with chives and parmesan cheese.
Bake pizza in the oven on either a pizza stone or oven rack at 425 degrees for 8 minutes.
Serve with a fresh green salad.
MISO SOUP WITH SOBA NOODLES
Yield: 4 servings
4 oz. Buckwheat soba noodles (100% buckwheat)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root, peeled
3 medium scallions, white and green parts, sliced thin
1/3 cup white miso
5 oz. silken tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Bring several quarts of water to a boil in large pot.
Add noodles and cook until al dente.
Drain and rinse under cold water.
Divide noodles among 4 bowls.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan and add garlic, ginger, and scallions.
Sauté over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil.
Place miso in a small bowl.
Ladle about 1/2 cup broth from pot into bowl. Stir until miso has dissolved..
Add miso mixture and tofu to simmering broth.
Turn off heat and let stand for 1 minute so tofu can heat through.
Ladle soup over noodles in individual bowls and serve immediately.