The topic of gluten has been on fire in the media of late so Celiac Disease has certainly risen in prominence.
Just in case you are not too sure what it is, Celiac Disease is a lifelong condition, a digestive and autoimmune disorder that can damage the lining of the small intestine and inhibits the sufferer from being able to absorb food containing gluten into their small intestine.
For some excellent information about the symptoms and risk factors of coeliac disease I recommend you have a look at the Better Health Channel sponsored by the State Government of Victoria.
Gluten is a protein found in a variety of common grains including wheat barley and rye. Some gluten sensitive people are also sensitive to the protein found in oats.
So as you can imagine Celiac disease sufferers have to be extremely careful when shopping and cooking for the foods they can tolerate.
Luckily just because you may be suffering from celiac disease, it doesn’t mean your life is over or the quality is reduced. These days there are so many gluten free products on the market most celiac disease sufferers can eat and enjoy a relatively normal diet as long as you take a bit of care.
Many manufacturers are catching up to the fact there are thousands of gluten intolerant people out there and many products now display information as to whether they contain gluten or not. But be warned, there are many out there who don’t and it is this type of product that disease sufferers should be careful about when making a purchase.
A lot of baked goods can cause a huge variety of problems for celiac sufferers and it’s probably best that unless specifically labelled, pre-baked goods are avoided. They can also tend to be quite expensive so making your own cakes and pastries from scratch often makes good economic sense as well as giving you the reassurance that you know exactly what has gone into the recipe. Better to be safe than sorry.
Unfortunately gluten free baked goods don’t have ‘quite’ the same appeal as those containing gluten. This is because it is gluten that gives bread and cakes its texture and bounce.
Gluten free flour can be a tad more difficult to work with than normal flour; however with some perseverance it is possible to bake delicious recipes that are gluten free.
Here are a few gluten free ingredients and substitutions you can use to make a delicious recipe.
* Gluten free flour
Includes flours made from buckwheat, rice, soy, potato, chickpea and quinoa. Once the gluten is removed anything baked with them tends to have a much crumblier texture, however if careful thought and consideration is given to the types of recipes used when using these flours then a very acceptable dish can be made.
* Xantham gum
This is a powder that can be used very successfully when baking with gluten free flours. The gum mimics the qualities of gluten and when a small amount is added ensures the finished baked product (such as bread or pastry) looks more like those products baked with gluten flour.
* Gluten-free baking powder
Very useful when baking a cake. Ordinary baking powder contains gluten and can’t be used; gluten free baking powder makes a satisfactory substitute.
* Gluten free pasta and noodles
These are now becoming more widely available and can be bought either at specialist health food shops or the specialist aisle in most big supermarkets. Check labels carefully as you’ll find there are products such as rice and soba noodles which are naturally gluten free. Also check out the farmers markets, I have come across some good products there as well.
* Grain usually contains gluten
So be careful when buying bulgur wheat and semolina as many people think its gluten free (it’s not). Quinoa makes a decent substitute and so does polenta and/or ground rice.
There are many gluten free recipes sites on the Internet so don’t think you have to be tied to making the same old dish over and over again. Get online and start exploring,
A good site I found and well worth a visit for recipe ideas and tips and hints on how to live with celiac disease is Celiac.com – give it a try, I hope this helps.
And here’s another article I wrote about the Best Flour Choices for Gluten Free Cooking.
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