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GLUTEN FREE MEALS: RECIPES ABOUND

The freedom in gluten-free eating.

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Photo: "Gluten-free BBQ chicken pizza" by Flickr user Gudlyf. Used with permission.

Gluten-free meals are becoming more accessible. Celiac disease affects one out of 133 people. It's no wonder more restaurants are adding gluten-free dishes to their menus. With more grocery stores carrying gluten-free products, eating in has gotten easier too.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a storage protein found in grains, wheat, rye, barley, possibly oats and the products that derive from them. Many commercial products such as wheat starch, starch fillers, vegetable gums, seasonings, flavorings contain gluten.

Who benefits from a gluten-free diet?

Those who benefit from a gluten-free diet are those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease—a genetic, autoimmune disease where the lining of the small intestine is damaged by gluten. Dermatitis herpeteformis, a related condition, affects the skin through intense itching and rashing and can result in a damaged gastrointestinal tract. Because there is no cure for either, the only way to treat these conditions is through a gluten-free diet.

What kind of foods can one eat on a gluten-free diet?

Believe it or not, those on a gluten-free eating plan can indulge in many popular dishes enjoyed by people without strict eating habits. Using carefully chosen ingredients, one can enjoy any hearty food item from meatballs to chicken pot pie to scalloped potatoes. As for breads, the Washburn and Butt book make it easy to identify the proper flours and starches to use when making cornbread or flaxseed with banana bread. They also offer baking tips to help compensate for not using commercial baking ingredients.

Where to Shop

Stores that offer gluten-free ingredients depend on where you live. In Southern California, organic-food stores and smaller chains such as Sprouts and Whole Foods have a variety of gluten-free products. The good news is, more major brands such as Betty Crocker and General Mills are adding gluten-free products to their lines. The Celiac Disease Foundation offers diet and lifestyle tips for people who have the condition.

What about restaurants?

The restaurant chain PF Chang's offers a number of popular gluten-free dishes such as shrimp with lobster sauce and Chang's lettuce chicken wraps. If you live in or around Portland, Maine, you can dine at Saltwater Grille, where cobb salad, Maine lobster and filet mignon are all featured on their gluten-free menu. For a national list, Gluten Free: The Celiac Site features a national list here.

References

125 Best Gluten-Free Recipes, Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, Robert Rose Inc. 2003

Resources

The Celiac Disease Foundation

Gluten Free: The Celiac Site

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