Friday, May 07, 2010

Things: Installment 41

Several of my co-workers and friends have had questions about going gluten free. Namely: how on earth do you do that?? So, let's talk a little walk & discuss.

Things About Going Gluten Free
  • Gluten appears in all kinds of things you would not expect, which is why it is important for gluten senstitive folks to read every single label. For instance, Blue Bell Vanilla Chocolate Ice Cream has wheat in it while most other Blue Bell flavors do not. Would you have thought ice cream would be suspect?
  • Did you know that most run-of-the-mill soy sauces contain wheat? Yep, but there are a few common brands, like La Choy, that do not & there are also several certified gluten-free substitutes.
  • Traditional cornbread mix contains gluten. You: But, Susan, I thought cornbread was made from corn? SF: It is. However, other leavening agents are needed to make it rise into bread, and traditional mixes use wheat flour. But never fear, there are plenty of substitutes for those of us who are gluten free.
  • What about cookies and cakes? I guess you can't have those anymore either. On the contrary, there are LOTS of gluten free cookie and cake mixes out there. Did you know that Betty Crocker has launched a line of gluten free mixes?? I've tried several, and they've all been delicious, not to mention  a lot cheaper than the specialty brands.
  • I received word yesterday that Bisquick is launching a gluten free mix this summer! Just ask your local grocer to carry it. Hooray for pancakes!
  • You: What about alcohol? Isn't beer made from wheat? While there are quite a few options eliminated b/c of gluten, there are still quite a few gluten free options out there. For example, I know that my local Flying Saucer has two gluten free beers. And I recently discovered that both Ace and Woodchuck ciders have been certified gluten free. So for those of you who enjoy an "adult beverage" from time to time, you're not out in the cold.
  • Gluten sensitive folks have to replace many common kitchen items that have been contaminated by gluten. For instance, plastic cutting boards, non-stick pots & pans, stone bakeware, and grates on the outdoor grill are just a few things that I have to replace in my own household. You: But wouldn't the sanitize cycle "kill" the gluten? According to the literature that's out there, no. Unfortunately, once these porous surfaces are contaminated, there's no decontamination - replacement is the only option. It's this fact that makes eating out a bit tricky b/c there's always a risk of cross-contamination from a porous surface. You: What about stainless steel items? Because they are not porous, the gluten does not get into the tiny microscopic crevices b/c, well, there aren't any. If stainless steel surfaces are cleaned well after exposure, the gluten is removed.
You: Wow, this is pretty overwhelming. Yep, it is. Honestly, if my mom hadn't been diagnosed with celiac disease two years ago, I would be completely lost in this world of Gluten Free. Her diagnosis opened my eyes to just how much of our day-to-day eating is ladened with gluten, and I've constantly been on the lookout for substitutes for our favorite things, like soups and sauce mixes and baking products. So I come into this pretty well-armed with information and product knowledge.

With more and more people being diagnosed with some type of gluten sensitivity, most of the large grocery stores, like Tom Thumb, and Super Centers, like WalMart and Target, have begun carrying more and more gluten free products. Before, you could only get gluten free items at specialty stores or health food stores. Naturally, products from these stores tend to be much more expensive. Eating gluten free is much more expensive simply b/c the alternatives are more expensive to process and b/c the processing has to occur in a certified gluten free facility. But with mainstream companies, like Betty Crocker and General Mills to name just two, jumping on the bandwagon, we are seeing more and more affordable gluten free options in our "regular" grocery stores. In fact, most supermarkets are open to and even welcome customer suggestions. So if you don't see a product, ask. More than likely, the store will at least trial it for you.

I hope you found today's stroll down Gluten Free Lane an informative one. You may see a few more of these as I educate my friends & co-workers.

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