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Have you ever wondered what gluten is? I had heard about people avoiding it to lose weight, but never really delved deeper until our daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Let me tell you, it was rather daunting at first, because it is in EVERYTHING, or at least it felt like it was.
What exactly is gluten?
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, it is a generic name for proteins found in many grains. The main three offensive grains are wheat, rye, and barley (but there are others, so check).
Gluten enables dough to have its elastic texture, basically, it acts as a glue and helps doughy goods maintain their shape.
Problem: because gluten is naturally missing from gluten free flours, you will need to either add xantham gum or buy a gluten free flour blend that has it. This acts like gluten and helps glue things together. It may take some time finding the right texture and density to your baked goods, but don’t give up! Everyone’s flavor palette is different so what my family and love, you may hate – and that is OK. Just keep trying until you find what works best for you.
Where you can find the 3 Offensive Grains (not an all-inclusive list)
Wheat: bread, baked goods, soup (think thickening agent), pasta, cereal, sauces, salad dressings, etc.
Barley: malt (stay away from anything that has the word malt attached to it), food coloring, beer, brewers yeast, etc.
Rye: bread, beer, cereals, etc.
Basically, any regular flour you would buy at the store contains gluten.
Gluten is hidden in almost everything so read your labels!!!
Why can this be an issue?
If you have Celiac Disease, your body can’t metabolize gluten so it attacks it like its the devil. While your body is battling the evil gluten, damage ensues (like any battlefield). For Celiacs, they have a myriad of physical symptoms and internally their villi are being mowed down which makes it extremely difficult to absorb nutrients.
You will also find that some people can only have certified gluten free items due to their sensitivity, while others can eat items that are labeled gluten free but aren’t certified gluten free without issues.
What about oats?
It’s are a grain, but some contain gluten; however, you can find gluten free oats. Make sure they aren’t processed on shared lines or there may be issues with cross-contamination. I will add that some Celiacs still can’t eat oats so it may be trial and error for you, unfortunately.
So what can you eat?
Anything without gluten, duh. Just kidding, I know it isn’t that easy. You have to READ every fricking label, seriously! It sucks, but just embrace it or you will feel like crap (pun intended). I have found the most gluten free items at places like Sprouts and Whole Foods, especially specialty items. However, Albertsons (our closest grocery store) and Walmart (they are increasing there selection) also carry gluten free options, just a bit more limited.
I have also ordered items online from Amazon and Thrive, so if you live in a smaller community don’t forget to check them out.
We still cook/eat all the foods that we had before, I just have tweaked the recipes to make them gluten free. I even bought an air fryer to make wings (totally worth it!).
It isn’t the end of the world, but it will seem like it. Start remaking one recipe a week. It will take a lot of trial and error finding what you and your family prefer because there aren’t perfect one-for-one swaps.
Do you need help making a recipe gluten free? If so, I would love help!