Gluten is sneaky stuff

So, as promised I am doing my gluten research in an attempt to have a GF February. Though truthfully I don’t know if I can do a whole month because when I announced my plans to my family one night at dinner it sounded something like this:

Chirp

Chirp

Chirp…

And it looked like this:

imagesCAAMWIMZ

So I decided to say no more about it and just continue doing what I do.

Now in my research I am collecting recipes and making plans and menus, and I am going to attempt to take this one week at a time. Mainly so that I don’t overwhelm myself  but also because I really do want to see (and feel) the benefits of this so that we can be encouraged to go on. Mostly I don’t think my family will really notice the difference in the meals- at least not by what I’ve seen in the recipes I’ve been collecting and the huge amount of GF options available these days- as far as taste and quality goes.

I try to take ALL the available information (there’s a lot!) in stride. There’s so much to know and I am not even going to fool myself into believing that I am going to understand it all right away. In fact, for you other GF wannabes like me, I say just focus on the cooking. Find some good recipes and follow them. Learn the rest as you go. I say this with all humility because these past few weeks have taught me one really important thing: I eat a lot of gluten!

Like I said, the cooking is easy because I can just follow someone else’s wonderful tried and true recipes until I get the hang of it myself. What really gets me is paying attention to what I’ve put into my mouth during these weeks of research. It’s amazing. Does anyone else ever feel that those easy access foods are the most gluten-filled? It’s true. The most common thing I am likely to eat during a regular day is some type of bread.

But here’s the sneaky part. You know when you’re putting bread into your mouth, that’s obvious, but did you know where else gluten is? It’s in prepackaged gravies, broths, salad dressings, cured meats, burger patties, meatballs, herb cheeses, spice blends, dry mustard, canned soups, tomato paste, sweeteners, confectioners and brown sugar, flavored coffees, herbal teas, roasted nuts, jerky, yogurt and pudding, some chocolate chips, cocoa, flavored vinegars, cooking wines, wine coolers, some ice cream and other frozen desserts, and liquor.

Always read the labels.

Do you know what you’re looking for? Here’s a basic list for you:

1. Flour  (bleached white, unbleached, whole wheat, cracked wheat, barely, semolina, spelt, farro, kamut, triticale)

2. Pasta  (Semolina, spelt, whole wheat)

3. Cous Cous

4. Beer, ale, lager

5. Malt vinegar, malt flavorings, barley malt

A few items that are sometimes GF but not always: seitan, tempeh, flavored tofu, Injera bread (typically made from teff flour), Asian rice wraps. Always check the labels to make sure that these substitutes are GF.

So what is Gluten-free?

1. Corn (grits, polenta and cornmeal, tortillas)

2. Buckwheat (buckwheat cereal, kasha, buckwheat flour)

3. Rice (white, brown, risotto, basmati, jasmine, sticky rice, rice cereal, rice flour, sweet rice and brown rice flour, rice paper)

4. Quinoa (quinoa cereal flakes, quinoa flour)

5. Millet and millet flour

6. Oats (certified GF oats and oatmeal)

7. Nut meals and flours (almond, chestnut, pecan, cashew)

8. Soy (chickpea, garbanzo, soya {NOT soy sauce}, bean flour)

9. Tapicoa (whole) and starch (manioc)

10. Potato starch (for baking) and potato flour (as a thickener)

11. Sweet potato and yam flour

12. Starches (cornstarch, arrowroot)

13. Other flour substitutes: Sorghum, amaranth, coconut, teff

14. Pasta alternatives: soy, rice, corn, soba

15. Nut & Seed Butters: almond, peanut, cashew, pecan, sesame tahini, sunflower and hemp seed butter

You see how many options you have, yes? It just takes a little more work and planning. For example, you can’t just use an almond flour in place of regular flour. It takes a combination of flour substitutes to replace the one regular wheat flour, but it can be done and none too difficult. Next I will share a GF flour blend I came across, so stay tuned for that.

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