Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gluten Free

As many of you know, or will soon learn, two of the kiddos are Gluten Free.  Lincoln, who has Asperger's and benefits greatly from this diet and Vincent, who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease just after his first birthday.  One thing that I have noticed in the last three-and-half-years is that more and more people are being diagnosed with Celiac or have Gluten Intolerance issues.  A large part of this has to with better testing, previously the only way to find out if you had Celiac was to do and Upper GI, which is a semi-invasive procedure.  However, now there is a Celiac Antibody test which can see if you might have it.  Of course no test is perfect but when all digestive issues have the exact same symptoms it certainly is nice to only need a blood test to see if you might have something before the invasive tests.

I admit we're very lucky.  Vinny had a determined medical team who knew that something was wrong and wouldn't rest until we had an answer, and in less than a year of medical struggles we had our answer.  However, many people aren't so lucky.  I read a statistic right after Vinny was diagnosed that on average a person will go through 8 doctors before getting diagnosed.  That is 8 general doctors, not specialists!  I don't know what the average is today, but I do feel very blessed that it wasn't that hard for us.

However, with the rise in people being diagnosed with Celiac or simply choosing a Gluten Free diet and lifestyle many of you may know or be close friends with someone on a GF diet.  Food is so central to a lot of things that we do, our hospitality and get together's and I thought I might share a crash course in GF cooking and baking so that you don't have to fear when making tasty treats.

First thing you must understand right off the bat is whenever you start to cook or bake for a GF friend you have to wash your kitchen before starting.  I mean, scrub it down all the nooks and cranny's.  It is also best that you do your baking/cooking at the start of the day before you've done any wheat cooking/baking.  The reason for this is that wheat flour is light and will float into the air and it can take up to 4 HOURS for it to settle back down onto counter tops. 

Next look at your equipment.  Besides making sure it is clean and free from any wheat build up you cannot use any wooden spoons, wooden bowls, or stones.  This all has to do with cross contamination, people who have gone a very long time before diagnosis tend to be ultra sensitive to Gluten in even the smallest amount.

Finally all containers of products must be new, ie. peanut butter, butter, jam, honey...When you make a sandwich and use the same knife to make multiple ones you contaminate the container with Gluten, which is fine for you but not for the Gluten conscious.

Now here is a quick list of what contains Gluten: Wheat, Barley, Rye, and Spelt.
Oats are gluten free however how they are grown and harvested makes the Quaker variety on your local supermarket shelf cross-contaminated.  Also, even gluten oats can be difficult for some people so always ask.
Things that are gluten free: Quinoa, Buckwheat (odd I know), rice, corn, potatoes...there are more but truly these are the most readily found flours.

Okay, this is a lot of information but for a quick meal for a friend I suggest sticking with Naturally Gluten Free foods.  Dairy, Cheese, Fresh Meats,  Fruits & Veggies.

Great ideas for breakfast foods & snacks: Chex Cereal, yogurt (double check ingredients, some pie flavored yogurts contain wheat) & fruit.  Look for the boxes that say Gluten Free.  Chex is AWESOME, they have great recipes on their boxes for snacks like Chex Muddy Buddies or what I just made Snickerdoodle Chex Mix.  Even the traditional Chex Mix can be made Gluten free by omitting the Wheat Chex and making your own seasoning.

Lunch: Quesadillas!  Nachos!  Make sure you use corn tortillas, I personally make PB&J sandwiches using corn tortillas for the boys.  Perfect! 

Dinner: Tacos, Faijtas, Stir Fry.  You do have to make your own seasoning packets but really it isn't that hard.

Taco Seasoning
2-3T of Chili Powder
1t garlic powder
1t dried onions
1t cumin (this is key)
opt. 1t basil, Husband and I like it but you can omit it if you like

Use seasoning the same as traditional packet by adding about 1/4-1/2 cup of water to meat and seasoning and let simmer.

Faijta Seasoning
Lime juice
Chili Powder
Fresh Garlic, minced
Cilantro (fresh is always best)

All ingredients are to taste but at least a teaspoon of each.

Well there is a ton of information, but it is a great start.  I'll follow up in a week or so with some tasty and easy gluten free baking recipes.  There are a plethora of Gluten Free Cooking and Baking blogs out there and it really isn't my desire to go this route but a lot of them are pretty difficult for the non-gluten free cook and I just wanted to share a few easy tips with you all!


If any of you are interested in knowing more about this diet and websites that I enjoy on the subject of cooking/baking leave a comment.  I can try and put together a link list of sites for you guys.  I hope you all have a great weekend and Mother's Day!


  1. Such great info! I have a dear friend who is a super-celiac and have learned many valuable hints from her over the years. For taco seasoning, the McCormick brand from Costco was gluten-free the last time I bought some, as that is one of my go-to meals when she's over.

    Being familiar with cooking from scratch makes this whole thing much easier as well. What a good reason for all of us to get back into the kitchen and get used to those raw ingredients and "old-fashioned" recipes!!

  2. Thanks Sara! When we first went Gluten-Free almost all of the seasoning packets were no-no's and we are so accustomed to 'our' mix that we can't go back.

    I am trying to get into my kitchen a bit more but unless I'm baking I'd rather be doing something else.


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