If you've recently discovered that gluten is too harsh on your stomach, you may find yourself in a panic. What does this mean? Where should you start? What should you eat? These are all questions our team gets asked daily about a gluten free lifestyle. Fear not. Our Bob's Red Mill Team knows a lot about going gluten free and the easiest way to do so. In fact, some of us at the Mill are gluten free ourselves! If you're feeling overwhelmed know that you're not alone. In this guide, we'll walk you through how to be gluten free and the basics of beginning a gluten free lifestyle. If you have any questions after reading this guide, feel free to leave a comment below. We're always here to help.
What Is Gluten?
Now, what is this so-called "gluten" we talk about? Simply put, gluten is a protein that's found in many grain-based foods. While gluten occurs in many foods naturally, it's also added to recipes and products to make them more creamy. We encourage you to start checking the products' labels around your home and see what you find. You may even notice that gluten is found in your shampoo! While gluten isn't necessarily bad for you, it is dangerous for those who are gluten intolerant or have an allergy towards it. Gluten sensitivity has been linked to everything from bloating to brain fog, and the symptoms continue to worsen depending on your level of sensitivity. For individuals with celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder, eating gluten can significantly impact their everyday life.
Eating Gluten Free
Whether you've been diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten allergy or are merely trying to eliminate processed grains from your diet, transitioning to a gluten free diet will help. When it comes to gluten-filled foods, many of them are carb-heavy, and some are processed and filled with simple carbohydrates. Two of the most popular gluten-filled foods are bread and pasta. Now, we know what you may be thinking, what is a dinner without pasta and bread on the menu? While going gluten free doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite foods, it does mean that you'll need to make some adjustments. Luckily, countless gluten free substitutes and options on the market allow you to create your favorite dishes sans gluten.
Gluten Containing Foods
Bread and pasta may be the biggest culprits of gluten. However they're not the only ones out there. If you're serious about sticking to a gluten free diet, you must make a habit out of reading nutrition labels. Some surprising foods that you may find gluten in include:
- Processed Meats (Think sandwich meat, bacon and pre-marinated meat)
- Protein Bars
- Protein Shakes
- Marinades, dressings, and sauces
- Processed foods
- Premade meals
- Premade soup
Eliminating Gluten-Containing Carbs
One of the quickest (and healthiest) ways to go gluten free is by limiting your intake of gluten-containing carbs. Cutting processed, refined and simple carbs from your diet will help you steer clear of gluten and prevent you from consuming unnatural ingredients and additives. Once refined, foods often provide little nutritional value. This is because the refining process usually removes the healthiest part of the grain and the vitamins, complex carbohydrates and fiber found in it. Not sure what a refined carb is? Think cookies, candy, soda and chips.
Thankfully, there are several gluten free healthy carb options for you to choose from. Eating natural, wholesome carbs is a great way to ensure that your body is getting proper nutrition, and they're especially great for individuals sticking to a plant-based diet. Peppers, carrots, tomatoes and leafy green vegetables all have a bit of carbs in them and make a great addition to any healthy meal.
If you can't fathom giving up your favorite after-dinner sweets, we have a solution. Making delicious gluten free desserts are easy with just a few swaps. By swapping out the flour, using natural sweeteners, and skipping over any gluten-filled ingredients, you can make delicious desserts like these Grain Free Peppermint Brownies with little to no effort at all! Not a fan of chocolate? Don't worry. This Apple Cranberry and Walnut Galette is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Now, what to do about starches. If you're a fan of starches and want to continue to include them in your diet, there are plenty of great-for-you grains that are gluten free. Eating more complex varieties of grains will allow you to achieve the same great flavor while also loading your body up on fiber and nutrients. Check out a few of our favorite gluten free grain alternatives:
Gluten Free Grains and Starches
Amaranth is a gluten free grain that offers up a wide array of health benefits. Jam-packed with minerals and amino acids, it is an ideal substitute for rice, soups and can even be made into porridge. Looking for a fun way to enjoy amaranth, try popping it like popcorn to create a unique treat.
Gluten Free Pasta
There are many gluten free pasta on the shelves today, most of which taste delicious. Gluten free pasta offers the taste and texture of an authentic pasta-based meal minus the gluten. When searching for gluten free pasta, be sure to check the labels to ensure that it is made with wholesome, healthy ingredients. While some pasta varieties may be gluten free, this does not mean they are good for you.
To create a great-for-you gluten free pasta at home, try out this Easy Homemade Gluten Free Pasta recipe.
Hulled millet is another popular gluten free grain that can be used in several different ways. Though not technically a grain (millet is a seed), it cooks and tastes similar to grains. Ideal for whole-grain salads, rice pilafs and stir-fries, you'll love working the unique flavor millet adds to your dishes.
Going gluten free doesn't mean you have to give up popcorn! An excellent snack substitute, popcorn is loaded with good-for-you nutrients. Just be sure to top it with something healthy!
For a mouthwatering popcorn recipe that will surely curb your cravings try this Cinnamon Bun Popcorn.
Oh, how we love quinoa. Like millets, quinoa is another seed that cooks like a grain. It's appealing, nutty flavor can be combined with just about anything. Loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals, it's an easy way to boost your meals' nutrition.
For a mouthwatering quinoa recipe that will have you forgetting other grains altogether, try this Quinoa Tabbouleh.
Eliminating processed and gluten free grains from your diet is easier than it sounds. With this list of gluten free grains to choose from, you can continue to make your favorite dishes and boost your health at the same time.
Eliminate Gluten from Your Space
In addition to reading food labels and avoiding gluten-filled foods, it's essential that you remove gluten from your home when beginning a gluten free diet. Throwing out gluten free foods and snacks and cleaning all appliances that have been in contact with them is essential to success on a gluten free diet.
Gluten Cross Contamination
Gluten is just one of many ingredients in foods, and while it's something that you cannot see, even just crumbs of it can be dangerous for someone with celiac disease or gluten allergy. This being, if you weren't gluten free before, it's likely that many of your kitchen appliances and surfaces have come in contact with gluten. To be sure that your new recipes don't contain trace amounts of gluten, it's imperative toasters, pans, utensils and anything that you believe came in contact with gluten is cleaned. Though this may seem like a bit of work, it could save you and gluten free family members from experiencing gluten-induced symptoms.
Ditch Double Dipping
While it may be tempting to get a bit more spread/dip on your snacks, you must avoid double-dipping and encourage those eating with you to do so as well. As we mentioned, even small traces of crumbs can cause harm to those with celiac disease. When possible, purchase condiments in squeeze jars. If squeeze jars aren't available, then it's time to set a "one dip" rule in the household. When double-dipping is involved, breadcrumbs can be found in peanut butter jars, mayonnaise jars and even in butter. Making sure that these condiments remain free of gluten will save you and others a lot of trouble.
From reading labels to swapping in gluten free grain alternatives, we hope these tips help you when eliminating gluten from your diet. While any lifestyle change can be hard at first, it's undoubtedly for the better if it improves your health. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, we wish you the best on your gluten free journey.