OK In Health - Gluten Free Goodness

The Evolution of Our Gluten Free Diet - April 2017

In the beginning there was rice cakes and white rice flour.

By Cathy Lauer

       17 years ago, at the beginning of my gluten free journey there were rice cakes and white rice flour. My youngest daughter was always sick and had skin rashes so severe sometimes she could not wear diapers. At six months old she began to lose weight. The paediatrician said it was because she was a preemie (my 3rd by this time) so I should expect she was going to grow slowly. By the time she was 5 and ready to start school she looked like a malnourished child with a big stomach and gaunt eyes.

        On a friends recommendation I took her to a naturopath and found out that she was allergic to just about everything. No wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, citrus or tomatoes! That was pretty much everything in her diet. Back then the choices for pre-packaged gluten free products was very limited and the taste and texture were horrible. My daughter used to say “I would rather eat the packaging! It probably tastes better”.

        I experimented with individual flours until a friend found a recipe for a flour mix that, with the addition of methylcellulose produced a reasonably consistent product. The product however was just like white wheat flour so had very little nutrition, no fibre and was only soft for a day at most. Meals and school lunches weren’t much better. My daughter loved pasta and the only brown rice noodles available were expensive, took forever to cook and did not taste great either.

         Over the years my daughter's health improved and she was able to add in some of the once off limit foods such as eggs and soy but it was a slow process and was set back every time she ingested something she should not eat. When my older daughter was 16 she started having symptoms of gluten intolerance and so both girls were on a gluten and dairy free diet. After much pleading from them I joined them on the gluten/dairy free diet and found I felt much better also.

          With the advances in pre-packaged products and the discovery and availability of a wider variety of gluten free flours, baking has become a rewarding even exciting experience. Not only does the product look better and have a more pleasing texture but with the current line up of gluten free flours the products are far more nutritious and flavourful. After extensive testing and trial and error I have come up with four flour mixes that are high in protein and fibre and produce a consistently good product.

          Gluten free cooking in general has also become a lot easier with more gluten free brands available in regular grocery stores. Pasta, noodles, breakfast cereal, and cookies in many shapes and sizes have burst onto the market and the taste and texture of many of these new products is amazing! There are still some products out there that I only need to taste once to know I can make it better myself but overall the newly diagnosed have it much easier today when it comes to gluten free choices. None the less it can still be a daunting experience to go shopping when you are first told to eliminate wheat and/or gluten.

            Over the years 8 more members of my extended family have been diagnosed gluten intolerant and so the volume of baking/cooking I do has greatly increased. I am not afraid to try making anything gluten free now. Do I still have disappointments and outright failures? Yes of course, but with the knowledge and experience I have accumulated over the years I am usually pretty confident that I can fix the recipe to make it work or know it is so gluten dependant that I cannot.

            I plan to use this column to provide information on different aspects of eating gluten free be it baking or cooking with a focus on easy, nutritious suggestions that satisfy the taste buds as well as the wallet. Traveling and eating out can also be a challenge but with a little help and knowledge this too can be successfully accomplished. If you have questions you would like me to answer in this column please feel free to contact me.

            My vision is to inspire those who are currently on or recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance or celiac disease to embrace the gluten free lifestyle with a positive attitude. Being gluten free is without a doubt a big lifestyle change but the marketplace is thankfully changing with us. There is no going without any more. With the recent changes to labelling legislation consumers will find it much easier to determine which foods are safe to eat. Restaurants and food manufacturers are all jumping on our bandwagon! How lucky we are to be a part of that changing attitude and how tasty and varied our diets will be compared to 20 years ago. 

 




Cathy LauerCathy's Bio: Cathy Lauer has been cooking/baking gluten/dairy free for 17 years. She has written 3 all baking cookbooks and has a gluten free baking blog/store. In her spare time she loves to garden in a big way with fruit, vegetable and flower gardens. She is a classically trained singer and loves to read and collect recipe books. She homeschools her youngest son (11) and has 3 grown children and is grandmother of 2. Cathy's Gluten Free Creations Ltd. Gourmet Gluten Free Baking. Cookbooks and Baking Mixes. 250-758-5232 - Cathy Lauer Website - Email


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