Well the science is "easy," it’s a protein that gives a delicious chewy texture to breads. But it’s also used to make soy sauce and salad dressings. I’ve even found it within cans of tomato soup. The fact of the matter is gluten can be found in almost anything. "Delicious chewy texture," makes gluten sound pretty yummy. Bread is yummy, but some people are gluten intolerant. That means every-time they eat gluten, it causes their digestive systems to panic, it's definitely not saying, that was yummy let's eat more even if their minds are.
All of this gluten-free talk, may be starting to creep up on you. You're hearing about how food-allergies have been flying under the radar for years being passed off as just a sensitive stomach. Proteins that can set off a whole day of bathroom usage, and all of these buzzwords, like "gluten-free", leaving you to ask: should I be avoiding Gluten?
Short of going to the doctor, there aren’t a whole lot of ways to know if you should cut gluten from your diet. The easiest way is to eliminate it from your fridge for a period of time and see how you feel afterwards.
Glad you asked, if you’re experiencing migraines, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, fatigue, or strangely enough joint pain, It won’t hurt to try eliminating gluten. Take note of how you feel everyday. Keep a food diary or body feels journal. Check in after a month or two: Do you feel better after you eat? Are you going to the bathroom regularly? These are similar to the questions my doctor told me to ask myself when she suggested I go on a Low FODMAP Diet, for my Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
If you don’t see a big change, you probably don’t need to eliminate gluten, next you could try dairy-elimination...the process goes on.
But if you are feeling better without bread in your life, maybe you want to make it a 'sustainable' lifestyle choice: you want to know more about going gluten-free.Well if you have a food allergy, Celiac Disease, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I bet you're already aware of gluten, so you can skip to our recipes below! But if you've been experiencing constant gut discomfort you might not be 100% sure if gluten is the culprit, but you tried eliminating it for a few days and it seems to be going well. You seem to be feeling better. Why not try to make this a forever thing?
If this is something you want to try maintaining for many more years to come, I know it can seem daunting, because well it's commitment, and you think it's going to be hard to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle with Papa Johns right around the corner. (Actually, Papa Johns actually added a Gluten-Free crust to their menu, made of sorghum, teff, amaranth and quinoa.)
Going gluten-free means reading the labels of almost everything you buy. But honestly, you get used to it. It’s not a big deal to flip a box over and read labels in the middle of a busy grocery store aisle. People move around you. And once you get into it, you'll be too excited that you finally did discover something is sans gluten, that you won't notice the people looking at you like your pretentious.
For me, I look at going gluten-free as not only a way to help my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but to challenge my pre-packaged food upbringing. I think as an American, I should be more knowledgeable about what I’m actually eating. So much of our nation relies on pre-packed meals, goods that are over processed and full of unpronounceable ingredients.
Living the Gluten-free life is actually super easy. There’s rice and cauliflower pizza crust, gluten-free bread brands, corn tortillas shells, rice wraps, a myriad of gluten-free sweets and dressings. Well at least there’s a lot of these options if you live in a diverse, populated area. If you don’t, your gluten-free section at the local grocery store may just be Life cereal, and that’s okay, because today we’re going to talk about gluten-free baking. Taking a step further away from even pre-packed gluten-free foods.
For most recipes you can easily switch out wheat based, all-purpose flours for gluten-free options. So you don’t need to stop baking all those sweet treats, ever. Here's a quick cheat sheet you can take to the grocery store with you next time:
Teff Flour "Ethiopian households have been using teff flour in their baking for ages. A favorite teff dish eaten at almost every Ethiopian meal is a flat, crepe-like bread called Injera.” -bobsredmill.com
There are so many more gluten-free alternatives out there the possibilities are really endless. In fact, there’s opportunities to introduce even more nutrient rich foods into your diet by using these gluten-free flour alternatives.
Chickpea flour, (garbanzo beans) are high in magnesium, protein, fiber, and potassium. Coconut flour, doesn’t cause your blood sugar to spike, which helps keep it low when eating baked goods. Cassava Flour, which can be swapped for white flour, is full of resistant starch, which is said to help improve insulin sensitivity. Arrowroot flour, is full of iron, potassium, and B-Vitamins. Teff flour, is high in protein, calcium, and fiber. Sorghum flour, also has protein, antioxidants, fiber, and iron.
Really the list goes on, if you’re missing some of these nutrients in your diet you could beef up your pantry’s flour staples. You can find more information on the nutrients of gluten-free flours on healthline.com.
You can go Gluten-free and still eat cake. Literally, eat all the delicious cakes you want and don't worry about an upset stomach or constipation. I find this super exciting, getting to eat yummy foods at no cost to my stomach comfort. Going Gluten-Free also means you get to experiment with different flours, challenging the idea of what a cake should taste and look like. Sometimes it’s even better than a traditional cake.
Photo Via bobsredmill.com
Photo Via https://tefftribe.com.au/
Photo via Darebeefitness.com
Not a cake but it’s important to find a good cracker substitute if you’re going gluten-free and this one is super easy with only 20kcals per cracker.
2 cups ground flaxseeds, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, ½ cup water
Photo via Darebeefitness.com
Pancakes count as cake right, I mean “cake” is literally in their name...so we think so. I actually made these with honey and cinnamon and oat milk. I love this recipe. I kept the remainder of the mix in a jar and had pancakes for three days in a row, talk about living the life.
1 cup (3oz / 90g) quick oats, 1 cup (8oz / 240ml) milk, 1 ripe banana, 1 teaspoon baking powder, oil for frying [cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and honey to taste]
This recipe will take about 2hrs and will need to be chilled overnight, delayed gratification anyone?
½ cup finely ground hazelnuts, 1 cup gluten-free flour, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
16 ounces cream cheese, softened, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 cup crème fraîche, ⅛ cup gluten-free flour, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar, ¼ cup water, ½ cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, 1 tablespoon sea salt
See, you really can have your cake and eat it too with Gluten-Free Baking.
~Bon appétit! BCRX Content Writer, Klarrisa Arafa