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gfcf_croutons

Croutons…definitely one of those little “treats” that I miss from my days of eating gluten! However, here’s a super easy way to make your own at home.  I guarantee these are even better than the ones in the store and you won’t have to worry about eating any gluten. My son has stopped eating the crusts on his gluten-free bread sandwiches, so when I cut them off (prior to putting anything on the bread), I’ve been saving them and putting them in Ziploc bags in the fridge. Then, I repurpose them to be gluten-free croutons; a much better solution than wasting all that expensive gluten-free bread! And, ironically, Nicholas thinks these croutons are fantastic! He gave them 100 Thumbs Up.

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Croutons (Nicholas Rating = 100 Thumbs Up)

4 slices gluten-free bread, cut into 1/2-inch size cubes (or the equivalent of leftover crusts)

1/4 cup melted ghee

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning blend

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, then add onion powder and Italian Seasoning and stir well.

Add bread cubes, stirring until all cubes are well-coated with butter mixture. Spread cubes on shallow baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, and bake for 10 minutes longer.

Cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Makes about 2 cups of croutons.

I’ve been hearing about this book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, for a few months now. I figured it was probably a good book, but what I didn’t realize was that it would be such a great book! Admittedly, there is a fair amount of science talk in there that is tough to get through. But, there are also some amazing gems of information too. Personally, I think when you feel you might burst if you don’t tell someone about a book…that’s a good indication that it has made an impact on you!

 

So, what is it about this book that was so impressive? Well, Dr. Davis examines the history of wheat over the past thousand or so years and discusses how the introduction of genetically modified ingredients like gluten have really destroyed the essence of wheat. It’s true, the current wheat available is certainly not the same wheat that your grandparents ate. Now, you may have already discovered that for yourself. But, what he does explain rather thoroughly is how the ingestion of all this gluten-infused wheat is impacting society by causing so much inflammation and impacting diseases, particularly diabetes. Dr. Davis links all this “healthy, whole grains” hype with the intestinal and autoimmune damage that it is doing in all of our bodies. If you have diabetes, you’ll be intrigued to find out that those “healthy, whole grains” have a higher glycemic index than a Snickers bar!

 

In addition to all the science and background history about wheat/gluten, Dr. Davis talks about how his patients have had dramatic turnarounds in their own health because of eliminating wheat/gluten from their diets. (And, he even mentions that eliminating dairy along with gluten is a good idea too.) This is a great book to give a skeptical family member because Dr. Davis just doesn’t make claims and state his own opinion, he backs it all up with published studies that explain these exact findings about whole grains and autoimmune diseases. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, as soon as you can. I can think of a few family members that might find this under the tree for Christmas this year, too!

coffeeI mentioned a few weeks ago that I had read a disturbing article that there may be something in coffee that acts like gluten. This new information caused me to rethink my beloved coffee, wondering if perhaps it was doing something detrimental to my health. I decided to try switching to caffeinated tea, since the problem isn’t the caffeine, for a month to see if I’d notice any changes. Well, I did make the switch to caffeinated tea, but I only lasted about 2 weeks!

I realized that the only thing I was feeling differently was a caffeine headache, based I’m sure on the fact that I wasn’t clear on how to match the tea for coffee exactly (in terms of caffeine levels). I enjoyed the different flavors with the tea, especially the chai tea in the mornings. But, it soon became clear that I was not feeling anything remarkable (which I definitely did when I first eliminated gluten from my diet). So, I have returned to my beloved coffee!

Perhaps some of you may think I didn’t give the experiment long enough to really show the differences? Maybe. But, I guess my passion for coffee is overriding my desire to wait for months to see any possible changes. I do have the fortitude to follow a gluten-free, casein-free diet very faithfully, but I guess I have to draw the line somewhere!

Did any of you try this experiment too? Please comment below about your own experiences.

I have learned some potentially tragic news this week….there may be something in coffee that irritates the stomach like gluten. Oh, no – my one vice is having 3 (sometimes 4, depending on the day!) cups of coffee each day. But, now, I have learned that my beloved coffee could be harmful to my intestinal tract.

coffeeHere’s a summary of  the research that I found about this possible link:

  • Coffee cross-reacts with gluten antibodies (in other words, gluten antibodies can hop on other non-gluten and really mess up your system; coffee is excellent and attracting gluten antibodies)
  • Only 10% of coffee is a protein that cross-reacts with gluten, but apparently it is enough to do damage
  • You can find out for sure if you are sensitive by going through expensive lab tests, ordered by your doctor
  • Coffee is apparently one of the most harmful foods to a gluten sensitive/intolerant individual
  • It’s not the caffeine that causes the problem, so decaf coffee will still cause a problem

See more specific information here –

Dr. Clark’s Brain Based Blog 

Body Ecology

The Healthy Home Economist

As an avid coffee drinker, this was some tough news to swallow (no pun intended!).  But, I thought it was something to be concerned about too. So, I’ve decided to try giving up coffee for 30 days to see if I notice any change. I know that when I gave up gluten the first time, I noticed a definite change when I reintroduced it for ten days to get tested. As of 8/28/12, I switched to black tea instead of my usual coffee. I will write a follow-up post towards the end of September to let you know how this little experiment goes. (Personally, I’m really hoping they are wrong as I really enjoy coffee! But, my health is most important to me – so I will make the sacrifice if I have to!)

Anyone else interested in joining me for this experiment?

If you have Celiac disease or any kind of gluten intolerance, you will have to give up certain foods in order to keep any symptoms from flaring up.  But considering that there are over 3 million Americans who have Celiac disease, more and more gluten-free options are becoming available.  You don’t have to even give up Chinese food.  In fact, you never really had to give up Chinese food, but you will have to avoid some of the sauces and noodles.

The Incredible Variety of Chinese Food

Chinese food isn’t all about Chinese take-out; that would be like judging all of American cuisine from McDonald’s (ew, gross!).  But even at your favorite Chinese take-out, you can ask them to hold the sauce or ask about lighter fare.  You can often choose brown rice over white rice.  Stir-frying brings out, instead of covering up, the flavors inherent in all of the ingredients.

Chinese restaurants and take out places want to please their customers in order to stay in business.  They are aware of food allergies and the requirements of vegans or vegetarians.  They also will try to include some gluten-free Chinese food or dairy-free dishes on their menus.  You want to avoid anything that may have food additives, a thick sauce, or bread or pastry coating because these would contain gluten.

One alternative before going out or ordering out is to check out Select Wisely.  This website contains Cantonese translations to be sure you are communicating your needs directly.  Although most Chinese food establishments have excellent multi-lingual skills, some still have mostly native-speaking staff, especially in larger cities.

Make It Yourself

The best way to assure that you have gluten-free Chinese food is to make it yourself.  A wok is the best way to cook gluten-free Chinese food, but if all else fails, a big frying pan will do.  If you want to avoid rice (which you don’t have to), use crunchy bean sprouts.  The cooking itself takes only a few minutes.  It’s the chopping that will take up the most of your time.  But once you practice vegetable and meat chopping, you will get faster and may find it a fun way to engage your children in the kitchen as well.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.

The main spices of gluten-free Chinese food are the same as for any other Chinese cooking – fennel, peppercorns, cloves, star anise and cinnamon or ginger.  Many commercial Chinese Five Spice mixes will often have salt and pepper and garlic powder in them.  Fresh garlic is another must for gluten-free Chinese cooking, unless you really hate garlic or have been told by your doctor to cut down on it. Be sure to use a tamari soy sauce, however, because regular soy sauce has gluten in it.

Two Restaurant Options

I know of two restaurant options that do cater to a gluten-free diet (and it’s pretty easy to avoid dairy at Chinese restaurants). These two restaurants are:

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

Pei Wei

Do you know of other Chinese restaurants that cater to gluten-free eaters? Please add them in the comments below.

luggage_tagIt’s summertime…a time that many people go on vacation. But, what if you’re gluten-free? How can you manage travelling outside your comfort zone and still feel like you can find something to eat that won’t make you sick? The answer is found at Gluten Free Traveller! This website is chock full of information about different cities around the globe and where you can eat gluten-free in each of them.  For those of us worried about finding places to eat in far off places, this website is definitely something to consult when planning your next vacation/trip.

Here’s a snippet about the creator of this website:

“My name is Laura. I’m originally from Scotland (hence the British spellings throughout this website).  I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in August 2009. I cannot eat gluten ever again and even the tiniest crumb will make me sick. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye but it’s not as simple as just avoiding bread, pasta and beer like some people might think.”

The best thing about this website is that it’s written by people who have actually been to the locations, rather than a generic story or obvious advice like, “Ask what the ingredients are in the food you order.” By listing actual restaurants and location tips, you can really use this website when planning your trip, similar to how you would gather advice from a friend who has already been to the location that you plan to visit. Now, the only thing is….where do I want to go next!

oatmeal_blueberries

When you are diagnosed with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you are immediately warned about foods you should avoid for the rest of your life.  Oats are in the top five.  That means ANYTHING made of oats – cereal, cookies, sacks, even breading on some frozen foods – is a no-no.  So you might be surprised to hear that there are such things as gluten-free oats.

Who Says?

Gluten-free oats can’t (or really shouldn’t) advertise themselves as gluten-free until they get a certificate from the GFCO (Gluten Free Certification Organization).  The GFCO is a non-profit organization that is a part of The Gluten Intolerance Group.  They work with the FDA on occasion.  They only check food for the presence of gluten and nothing else.  They still urge you to seek out a professional doctor for all your medical and Celiac or gluten intolerance questions.

Groats

Sometimes called “oat berries”, they can be found mostly from health food stores, specialty food stores and their online equivalents.  They are round oats with hardly any or no gluten.  Be sure to read the label carefully before purchasing.  They are usually sold whole and you have to grind them yourself to make flour. However, many gluten-free products are made with “oat groats”, which you now know are gluten-free oats.  (“Groats” usually refer to the shape.) You can have buckwheat groats, millet groats as well as oat groats.

Gluten-Free Oats

There are, indeed, gluten-free oats made from oats.  For some reason, they do not contain gluten, perhaps because they are not flattened, processed or treated with additives and preservatives.  Even if the label says “Gluten Free Oats”, it still may contain tiny traces of gluten.  Read the label carefully: anything under 20 ppm (parts per million) is good, 10 ppm is great.

There are some Celiacs and gluten intolerant people who do very well on fresh oats that haven’t had anything added to them.  Gluten intolerance hits people in different ways.  The New England Journal of Medicine in 2004 concluded that a small to occasional eating of oats, either gluten-free oats or not, did no harm.  Still, you might want to talk this over with your doctor before enjoying some fresh oatmeal cookies.

How can you substitute for dairy or gluten-containing items and still stay on the GFCF diet? It’s actually easier than you think for most items. Many times when I’m trying to adapt a recipe, I find I need to either find a common substitution, or create one. This can take quite a bit of time, so I thought it would be helpful to create a resource for you to refer back to easily when you are cooking. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of common dairy substitutions and a list of common gluten substitutions to help you stay true to the gluten-free, casein-free diet without getting too frustrated in the process!

Dairy Substitutions

Stick Butter – Willow Run Soybean Margarine by Shedd’s (if you can eat soy); OR, Ghee (clarified butter) : this doesn’t contain casein and yet has all the richness of butter; OR, Spectrum Organic Shortening (I use this when I need more than a few tablespoons); OR,                                 Coconut Oil (melts nicely, easy to scoop into a measuring cup).

Buttermilk – 1 cup milk alternative (unsweetened, unflavored) with 1 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

Milk – substitute 1:1 with milk alternatives like rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk

Yogurt – substitute 1:1 with So Delicious coconut milk yogurt or soy-based yogurt

Cream -1/4 cup soy half-n-half, mixed with ¼ cup soy margarine, melted, and ½ c unsweetened soymilk; OR, 1 cup cream of coconut

Condensed Milk – substitute 1:1 with canned coconut milk

Gluten Substitutions –

Gluten-Free Flours –      rice, sorghum, corn, amaranth, soy, almond meal, coconut flour, quinoa flour, flaxseed flour, arrowroot,millet, buckwheat, etc.

Pastas – rice pasta, corn pasta, quinoa pasta

Cereals – items made with rice, corn, or gluten-free oats and marked “gluten-free” (watch out for extra chemicals though in some mainstream cereals!)

Breads – rice cakes, corn tortillas, gluten-free bread mixes, gluten-free crackers

Oats – look for “gluten-free” certified oats (Trader Joe’s sells them)

Rice – rice doesn’t contain gluten; if you need to avoid rice, try quinoa because it is very similar in taste/texture

(Sources of information include:  Dairy-Free Cooking; GlutenFreeWorks.)

Are there any substitutions that I missed? Have one you’d like to share? Please comment below.

woman_eats_salad

Many people associate the GFCF Diet with Autism Spectrum Disorders or with Celiac Disease, or even just consider it to be a new weight-loss fad. However, there are many other autoimmune disorders that can be helped by the GFCF Diet. The reality is that many people with autoimmune diseases also have Celiac Disease or they are gluten intolerant. “Some practitioners theorize that celiac disease may be triggered after infection by a type of virus that biologically resembles the proteins in gluten. After the infection, the body cannot distinguish between the invading virus and the gluten protein, and subsequently, the body reacts allergically, releasing mucous into the intestinal tract upon gluten exposure, and causing damage to the intestines (source).”

The following is a summary of 6 autoimmune diseases and how each can be improved through switching to the GFCF Diet. I’ve also listed some additional resources for further reading, if you need to research further.

1. Diabetes – A gluten free diet may make it easier to control blood sugar levels, according  to Donna Korn in Living Gluten Free for Dummies (Wiley, 2006) (source).

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis – “New research from Sweden shows that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who skip both animal products and certain grains could reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke (source).”

3. Multiple Sclerosis – “Research published in 2011 indicates a strong link between multiple sclerosis and celiac disease. Clinicians in Spain analyzed the prevalence of positive celiac blood tests and biopsies in people with confirmed multiple sclerosis, and in their first-degree relatives (source).”

4. Thyroid Disease – “Although it’s far from proven, at least one medical study suggests the environmental trigger for thyroid disease could be gluten (source).”

5. Osteoporosis/Osteopaenia – ” Because of the impairment that gluten causes on your intestinal function, it interferes with the absorption of nutrients, including vitamin D, calcium, phosphate and magnesium (source).”

6. Lupus – “Some studies indicate that over 20% of patients diagnosed with lupus really have celiac disease.  That’s a lot of people being treated with toxic pharmaceutical drugs, yet are still sick.  These people will improve, probably completely, by eliminating gluten from their diet (source).”

Additional Resources

American Diabetes Association information on gluten-free diet

Study about Gluten’s Effect on Rheumatoid Arthritis

Best Bet Diet for Multiple Sclerosis

Thyroid Dysfunction helped by GF Diet

Should Osteoporosis Patients Be Tested for Celiac Disease?

Gluten Allergy Connection to Lupus

(Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning a gluten-free, casein-free diet or if you have medical questions.)

chipotle_logo

I thought I’d change things up this week and do a restaurant recommendation. Believe it or not, Chipotle Mexican Grill has actually been around since 1993, but I admit that it’s really just gotten onto my own radar. They have many locations in the USA, Canada, and the UK.  There are many things to love about Chipotle – almost everything is gluten-free, their meat has no antibiotics in them, and all the produce is organic. It’s a fast-food restaurant where you can actually eat healthy!

For the gluten-intolerant, here’s a look at their allergen menu. However, the only item that has gluten is the flour tortillas. Imagine, going to a restaurant and not having to worry about gluten for the large majority of the menu; it definitely makes it fun to order food there! The fact that all the produce is organic and the meats have no antibiotics is just icing on the (figurative) cake.

Last night, I took Nicholas to Chipotle for his birthday dinner. He loves to order the Taco Kit on the kids menu – two hardshell tacos, his choice of meat (uually Barbacoa, the spicy choice), beans, and guacamole. Since we are also dairy-free, we always splurge to get the additional guacamole (believe me, it’s worth it!), in lieu of cheese and/or sour cream. I ordered two hardshell tacos for me as well, but I chose the carnitas topped with generous dollops of guacamole. Sometimes, I will order the taco salad which is salad, meat, rice, and guacamole (in my version, at least). I skipped this last night because my son is not able to have rice at this time and he does get upset if we eat something in front of him that he isn’t allowed to eat.

Nicholas and I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner from Chipotle Mexican Grill last night. I definitely recommend Chipotle as a terrific option for dining if you have to avoid gluten and other allergens. The food is tasty and healthy and with many locations to serve you – it’s the perfect choice for a dinner (or lunch) out!

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