OK In Health - Gluten Free Goodness

There’s No Such Thing as “Mostly Gluten Free - February 2012

You are either strictly gluten free or you are not gluten free at all.

By Cathy Lauer

Cath's Chocolate Valentine cookies

Sometimes trying to find a topic to write about each month can be a daunting task. You want to say something inspiring and useful but you also don’t want to repeat yourself. A comment made by a parent at our homeschool Christmas Party gave me the inspiration for this month’s topic. As I placed my plate of gluten free cookies on the snack table the mom next to me said “I didn’t know you were gluten free? We are mostly gluten free too.” Obviously she doesn’t understand what being gluten free really means.

        I’m not knocking people who try to improve their diet by making healthier food choices such as more fresh fruits and vegetables or organic meats. I applaud those who choose healthier food options like staying away from the junk food and avoiding pre-packaged foods as much as possible. There is even a great movement towards raw food diets which seem to work well for some people. My concern is people who are on a “mostly gluten free” diet. Unfortunately they see gluten free as a fad and want to jump on the band wagon without knowing what being gluten free really means. It makes things difficult for those who are newly diagnosed and those of us who eat “totally” gluten free as a medical necessity.

 

        My concern for newly diagnosed is that they will be misinformed by the “mostly” gluten free eaters who do not experience the devastating consequences of eating even a little gluten. They also may not know all the places gluten can hide and by what names they can appear as on package labels. They also may not be aware of the risks of cross contamination. It is so important not to be contaminated or cheat when you are on a gluten free diet. And really, why would you want to put yourself through the pain and discomfort of having just a little gluten. Another homeschool mom was showing me the effects of her having eaten gluten over the holidays. She has gained 15lbs of excess fluid in her system, her joints are swollen to twice the size of normal and she is in a lot of pain. Was it really worth it? She is regretting it now.

 

        In my August article I reviewed two resource books (Living Gluten Free for Dummies and Hidden Epidemic) both of which stress the importance of a strictly gluten free diet and the negative effects even a small amount of gluten can have on your system. This is another of the challenges that those on a fad gluten free diet do not understand and cannot relate correctly to those newly diagnosed. As a person on a strictly gluten free diet it is important to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible so if you happen upon a “mostly gluten free” dieter you are able to explain the difference between what they do as a choice and you do as a necessity.

 

        So what is it that those on a gluten free diet crave the most and are willing to make themselves sick over just to have a bite of? The number one answer would likely be breads or baked goods. Many chocolates and candies are gluten free (always check the label) so it is not so hard for those with that kind of a sweet tooth. The holidays are a difficult time for those on a strictly gluten free diet because so much of what we do over the holidays is centered around food, family gatherings, and holiday traditions. No one wants to be left out of any of that because of their diet.

        To avoid cheating in the future and while you recover from your cheating over the holidays here are some ideas that might help you in the future. Treat yourself once in a while! If there is a certified gluten free bakery in your area, or within driving distance, go there and get yourself a selection of cheat treats. Put some in the freezer if you are afraid you will eat them all at once. Many of these bakeries have a wonderful selection of nice breads that freeze well and that can be reheated for sandwiches or toasted for breakfast. Many also make fancy desserts, cookies, cakes and muffins. The more safe choices you provide for yourself the less likely you are to cheat. If you really like pre-packaged snacks, health bars, and cookies buy individually wrapped ones to keep in your purse or your desk drawer in your office. If safe snacks that you actually like are handy you will be less tempted to cheat and eat something you cannot have. Have a treat instead of a cheat!

 

        To help you with staying on your strictly gluten free diet I am putting a recipe in this month’s article. With Valentines Day right around the corner the urge to cheat will once again be great. Hopefully this recipe will inspire you to create your own “cheat treats” that won’t make you feel guilty or sick when you eat them. Check the recipe page of OK in Health for two more chocolaty Valentine delights. If your Valentine is taking you out to dinner don’t forget to check the Celiac Scene for celiac friendly restaurants so you both have an enjoyable dinner. www.theceliacscene.com

See OK In Health eMagazines Recipes page for Gluten-free Valentine treats in the Gluten-free category.




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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VEGETARIAN DIETS AND IRON
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Recipe
Tuscan Leek, Potatoe & Bean Soup
Category: Soup
Description: Welcome those crisp winter days with a pot of hearty Tuscan bean soup. Leeks are a unique combination of flavonoids and sulfur-containing nutrients, the allium vegetables belong in your diet on a regular basis. Like their allium cousins, onions and garlic, let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their health-promoting qualities.
A good source of dietary fiber, leeks also contain goodly amounts of folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. Easier to digest than standard onions, leeks have laxative, antiseptic, diuretic, and anti-arthritic properties.
Leeks contain many noteworthy flavonoid anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins that have proven health benefits.
Leeks are low in calories. 100 g fresh stalks contain 61 calories. Further, their elongated stalks provide good amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber.
Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells. Further, it also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities.
Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide (NO); thereby bring reduction in the total blood pressure. It also blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels, which helps decrease overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.
Leeks are great source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Their leafy stems indeed contain several vital vitamins such as pyridoxine, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin in healthy proportions. 100 g fresh stalks provide 64 µg of folates. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Their adequate levels in the diet during pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies.
In addition, leeks are one of the good source of vitamin A (1667 IU or 55% of RDA per 100 g) and other flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants such as carotenes, xanthin, and lutein. They also have some other essential vitamins such as vitamin C, K, and vitamin E. Vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Further, its stalks have small amounts of minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium.
Often overlooked in leeks is their important concentration of the B vitamin folate. Folate is present in leeks in one of its bioactive forms (5-methyltetrahydrofolate, or 5MTHF) and it is present throughout the plant (including the full leaf portion, not only the lower leaf and bulb).
Fresh leeks should be stored unwashed and untrimmed in the refrigerator, where they will keep fresh for between one and two weeks. Wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag will help them to retain moisture.
Tips for Preparing Leeks - Cut off green tops of leeks and remove outer tough leaves. Cut off root and cut leeks in half lengthwise. Fan out the leeks and rinse well under running water, leaving them intact. Cut leeks into 2-inch lengths. Holding the leek sections cut side up, cut lengthwise so that you end up with thin strips, known as the chiffonade cut, slicing until you reach the green portion. Make sure slices are cut very thin to shorten cooking time. Let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking.
With a more delicate and sweeter flavor than onions, leeks add a subtle touch to recipes without overpowering the other flavors that are present. Although leeks are available throughout the year they are in season from the fall through the early part of spring when they are at their best.
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