Reduce your consumption, by necessity or by choice, using these tips
Have you wondered what all the hype is about gluten-free foods? Is it strictly for people with celiac disease, a way to sell books or just the latest trend?
It turns out there is science behind the effects that gluten can have on the body, and it is important for some people to avoid consuming it. However, if it is not causing you any health issues and you tolerate it well, you may not have to skip this grain-based protein.
While it is not necessary to avoid it if it works for you, it seems every day there are new stories about people who felt better when they eliminated gluten from their diet. I have worked with people who have found relief from their symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid issues, auto-immune problems, chronic headaches, diabetes and depression in part by eliminating gluten from their diet.
Gluten is responsible for the elastic texture in dough and is found in the grains wheat, rye, barley, oats, kamut, spelt and triticale. It is hidden everywhere, so it is especially important to read the labels carefully for hidden gluten or wheat products. (See www.celiac.org to learn the hidden names and discover sources of gluten in food).
Other grains may be contaminated if they are grown or stored with gluten-containing grains. The best way to avoid it is to eat only whole, fresh foods and nothing made in a factory unless you are 100 percent sure it is gluten-free.
Even licorice, soy sauce, toothpaste, laundry detergent, shampoo, fruit juices and communion wafers can contain gluten.
“Celiac disease affects 1 percent of all people, but gluten sensitivity might affect up to 10 percent, or more than 30 million Americans. Less than 1 percent are diagnosed,” said Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The Blood Sugar Solution.”
“Gluten is in refined, high-glycemic foods like bread or baked goods and contributes to weight gain and insulin resistance. Even whole wheat bread spikes your blood sugar more than table sugar; any grains can increase your blood sugar, for that matter,” he said.
Foremost, if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, following a gluten-free diet becomes life-saving and a big must. Those of you who would like to feel better and would like to try to reduce gluten consumption, here are my suggestions:
Eat more whole foods.
Gluten-packed foods are found on the grocery shelves in packages that have other additives and preservatives. Spending most of your time shopping the perimeter of the grocery store has health-promoting benefits.
Eat fewer sugary sweets and yeast-filled breads.
Swap in healthy choices like fresh fruit or dark chocolate. Make some of your own sweets, crackers and flatbreads. Some easy, ready-made choices that are always on my grocery list are Coconut Wraps by Julian Bakery, Organic Thin Stackers by Lundberg and Mary’s Gone Crackers.
Make your own salad dressings.
This is one of the easiest, healthiest and fastest ways to make some changes.
Keep asking questions.
Remember that restaurants use gluten-filled flours to thicken their sauces and to bind foods together. Even veggie burgers may contain flour. I was told of a restaurant that coated its French fries with flour before deep-frying to make them crispier. Look for a gluten-free certification on the menu.
Don’t be tricked by labels.
“Gluten-free” doesn’t necessarily mean “healthy.” Breads and baked goods marked gluten-free are frequently made from rice, potatoes and corn and are often much lower in fiber than their gluten-containing counterparts. Check the sugar content, which can be very high, substituting sugar for flavor.
“Naturally gluten-free” is a marketing ploy placed on foods that have the absence of gluten-like sugar, syrups, oils, corn chips and nuts, to name a few. Watch for the certified gluten-free symbol — “GF” inside a circle — not just the words “gluten-free.”
Watch your grocery bill.
Gluten-free prepared items can be pricey while lacking in nutrition. Whenever possible, make gluten-free foods from scratch to control your ingredients and keep the grocery bill within a budget.
Replace your vitamins and minerals.
Unprocessed gluten grains have important B vitamins, as well as iron. Processed wheat products are fortified with these. If wheat flour has been your main source of iron and B vitamins, make sure you’re supplementing with a B-complex vitamin and/or multivitamin.
Today’s recipes include some great tasting substitutes for packaged breads and crackers. Everything used in the recipes is a whole, non-processed food, herb or spice. You can eat the Buttery Mexican Cracker batter as a dip or spread, as well as making it into crackers.
The Caprece salad on the Almond Flatbread uses a fermented cashew “cheese.” I will teach attendees how to make this “cheese” and other recipes at my Living Dairy Free class April 29. To view a list of recipes you will learn and to register for my the class, visit www.eatsofeden.com/corporate-services.
Keep asking your questions, request gluten-free alternative, and after awhile, you won’t even miss the wheat and gluten.
List of gluten-free grains recommendations
Chick pea flour
Chia, black and white
Coconut and Coconut flour
Dal or Dahl (Legume from India)
Flax (ground), gold and brown
Legumes (whole, or cooked beans)
Psyllium Husk Powder
Makes 20 pieces
3 cups dry sunflower seeds (hulls removed)
½ cup hemp seeds
2 cup raw almonds
1 ½ teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup water or more to blend
Soak the sunflower seeds and almonds for 4 to 8 hours in purified water (enough to cover), then rinse well and drain.
Blend everything together in a blender until smooth, leaving a little bit of texture if desired. (Can also use food processor.)
Line a dehydrator tray or cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the batter onto 2 or 3 trays or sheets and score into bread-size pieces. More batter per tray will make it more like bread.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
OR dehydrate at 110 degrees for 8 hours, then flip and dry until desired texture is achieved (longer for crackers and shorter for bread).
Buttery Mexican Crackers
4 cups sunflower seeds (8 cups after sprouting)
½ cup golden flax seeds, ground
2-4 cups water (enough to blend)
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cups fresh tomatoes and/or red peppers
1/2 red onion
3 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove garlic
3 teaspoon chili seasoning mix
2 teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan salt
1 small jalapeño (optional)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
Soak 4 cups of sunflower seeds for 4 hours.
Drain and rinse and place in a colander.
Let the seeds sprout at room temperature for another 4 hours or more until they get ¼-inch tails. Sprouting will make the lightest, most nutritious, protein-rich crackers.
Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender except 1 cup sunflower seeds, on high until smooth. You can do this in two batches if you have a smaller blender pitcher. (Optional: use food processor).
Pour into a large mixing bowl, and hand-mix the remaining 1 cup of sunflower seeds into the batter.
Spread onto nonstick drying sheets ¼-inch thick
OR place on parchment paper on baking sheet.
Score into square crackers.
Sprinkle smoked paprika.
Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 6 to 8 hours, flip them on to the mesh sheets and peel the sheet off.
Continue drying for another 6 to 8 hours or until dry.
OR bake in a 220-degree oven for 2 to 3 hours, flip and remove parchment paper. Continue baking until dry on both sides.
Once cool, snap the crackers apart and store in an air tight container. Will last 1 to 2 months.
Save some of the cracker mix to use as a pate for dipping vegetables or crackers.
Savory Seed Crackers
Makes 8 servings
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground flax powder in 2 teaspoons water
more water, if needed
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix all ingredients and spread on parchment paper greased with coconut oil on a cookie sheet.
Press flat (about 1/8-inch thick).
Bake for about 30 minutes on each side.
Score the seeds immediately after removing. (They will still be pliable at this point, but score right away, as they will firm up quickly). A pizza cutter works well.
Tips: Before spreading on cookie sheet, oil hands or spatula to keep seeds from sticking to.
Watch closely so you don’t burn the seeds.
Consider longer duration of time at lower cooking temperature (i.e., 250 degrees).
Pizza Flaxseed Crackers
Makes approximately 180 crackers
4 cups flax seeds soaked 24-48 hours (seeds will double in amount so put them in an 8-cup container and fill to the top with water)
1/2 onion pureed
3-5 cloves garlic pureed
2 cups sun-dried tomatoes soaked 4 or more hours (saving the soaking liquid)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
6 tablespoons liquid aminos or 2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Puree onions, garlic and tomatoes in a food processor until it becomes a paste. You may need to add the soak water from the tomatoes to keep things moving.
Mix the paste in a large bowl with the seasonings and flax seeds.
Place 2 cups in the middle of a nonstick dehydrator sheet on the tray using a plastic spatula.
Take the corner edge of your firm spatula and score the sheets into cracker squares.
Dehydrate at 105 degrees until crackers are firm enough to flip (about 12 hours).
Remove from the dehydrator and place another tray with mesh sheet on top of crackers and flip over.
Return the crackers back to the dehydrator for another 12 hours.
Remove from dehydrator when crunchy and store in an air-tight container for 1 to 2 months. The soaked flaxseeds will become a solid gel. Add all other ingredients to that bowl and stir in.