This has been Celiac Awareness month. It’s also my one-year gluten-free blog anniversary! To celebrate, I’ve prepared something special for you! Let’s not let the needs of those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance get forgotten.
Do you find the whole issue of the gluten-free diet to be completely overwhelming? I’m sure my friends do, especially when they so thoughtfully do their best to prepare foods that I can eat. It can all be very complicated, so I’m doing my best to help you.
Gluten is a mixture of two proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. It gives dough an elastic texture that holds it together.
A visual reminder to help you remember what to watch out for when avoiding gluten is the acronym BROWS.
Basic Gluten Grains
Although wheat, rye, and barley are the main grains that contain gluten, there are many subcategories and other versions of these grains. Spelt is a form of wheat. These grains are often hidden in various forms in processed foods.
The first complication is oatmeal. Oats on their own are gluten-free. However, oats are often grown in fields that have previously grown wheat. So some stray wheat seed misses the harvest, reseeds itself, and there you have a few wheat plants growing among the oats! Additionally, oatmeal is often processed on the same equipment as wheat, so there is an issue with cross contamination. You can, however, avoid these problems by using only gluten-free oats. Gluten-free oats are grown and processed in pure conditions, hence the higher price tag. You might think that the little bit of wheat in a whole crop of oats wouldn’t be enough to matter. That’s what I thought. Although my symptoms improved a great deal when I cut obvious gluten from my diet, it wasn’t until I completely eliminated sources that “may contain gluten” that I went totally symptom-free. I had still been making my daily granola with regular oats and had to replace them with gluten-free oats.
Other Hiding Places
There are other products and ingredients that are surprising sources of gluten. For instance, regular soy sauce contains wheat and therefore gluten. Processed liquorice candy contains gluten. Who would have thought! It’s frustrating that a lot of products that could easily be made gluten-free still contain gluten.
The Handy List
Are you faced with the daunting task of preparing a gluten-free meal? Are you newly gluten-free and confused by all the places where gluten can be hidden? Maybe you’ve been eating gluten-free for awhile and would just appreciate a comprehensive list to help you navigate those long ingredient lists in the grocery store.
To help you negotiate the grocery store aisles, I’ve compiled a free comprehensive list of what to look out for. It includes those big unrecognizable names in ingredient lists that indicate the presence of gluten as well as reminders of the main foods that you need to check out. You can either download the list to your phone or print it off and carry it with you. To get the FREE Gluten List, click here.