Practical Solutions for Gluten Free Diets and How Zojirushi Products May Help With a Gluten Free Lifestyle

Blog 2 Photo - zojirushi GF cinnamon raisin bread - gfJules (small)

Once you’ve decided to go gluten free, you’ll need to start in your kitchen. Whether it’s?large or galley, stocked or empty, your new gluten-free kitchen will be your safe zone. Your gluten-free kitchen will become the place where you can always find and make yummy and safe gluten free foods. When your kitchen goes gluten-free, too, then?you won’t be tempted to “cheat” by eating gluten — because there won’t be?other options.

It is important to first understand why a fresh beginning is so essential to going gluten free successfully. Because gluten is just one tiny ingredient in lots of foods, it’s not something you can actually?see. It can lurk in crumbs, sauces, pasta…. Which means that anything in your kitchen that has touched these things (think toasters, pans, colanders, lunch boxes, utensils, counters, dish scrubbers, tea towels, etc.) may still have gluten on it or in it. When this gluten residue touches your gluten free food, gluten contamination (or gluten cross-contact) occurs.

So start fresh with any pots or pans or appliances that may touch your food if they are scratched or difficult to fully clean, and make an effort to rid your kitchen of gluten entirely (or banish it to its own cabinet for others to use). Knowing you have a safe place to prepare and to eat food for any meal of the day will help you successfully establish your new gluten-free lifestyle.

Once your kitchen is in order, it’s time to cook! Even if you’ve never considered yourself to be a baker or a chef, you don’t have to earn a degree to learn to prepare easy home cooked meals. Beyond proteins like meat, fish and chicken – which are gluten-free unless and until they are marinated, basted, or otherwise dressed with a sauce containing gluten – you’ll want to explore new ways to incorporate gluten-free grains and breads into your family meals for a nutritious and delicious diet.

Cooking with Gluten Free Grains

Rice:

Brown and white rice are just the most recognizable rice options you may already be familiar with. Jasmine, wild*, basmati and sushi are among the over 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice in the world. Whole grain rice contains bran which houses most of the nutrition in a grain of rice – vitamins, minerals, resistant starch and energy from carbohydrates — but even white rice offers carbohydrate energy and nutrition.

Get creative with rice as a side dish, salad, substitute for pasta (even in Pad Thai and Macaroni and Cheese!), filler for crab cakes and other patties, and even as a meal in itself. With a Zojirushi Rice Cooker, making rice is as easy as a push of a button, so dinner can be served on your schedule.

Quinoa:

Quinoa is another wonderful option that is prepared in much the same was as you would rice. It is one of the most popular ancient grains to have resurfaced lately as a superfood and a gluten-free hero.

First cultivated over 5,000 years ago, quinoa is technically a “pseudo-cereal,” not actually a grain. As seeds, it may be ground into flour like a grain and also prepared as you would any rice dish. The primary difference is that it is richer than rice in B-vitamins, vitamin E, minerals, fatty acids, calcium and fiber and it is considered a complete plant-based protein source.

Pick your favorite rice dish and substitute white, red or black quinoa in its place; see how you like it. The small grains cook even faster than most rice and it offers a nutty taste that many favor over blander grains. Serve as a hot breakfast cereal option, hot or cold side salad, or even as a binder in veggie burgers or other patties.

Millet:

Another delicious gluten-free seed is millet. This tiny grain alternative has been cultivated for thousands of years. It can be found as a flour or in its whole form which can be prepared much like rice or added to muffins, salads or other recipes as a substitute for a nutty crunch.

Millet is mild in flavor, and offers an abundance of magnesium and insoluble fiber. It is delicious as breakfast porridge or as an alternative to rice or potatoes as a side dish. Prepare in much the same way as you would rice.

Soups:

Many of us think of hearty bowls of chili or thinner tomato-based broths when we think of soup, but there is no end to the creative possibilities of what you can make in a pot.

Creamy cauliflower, vegetable lentil, green pea, and even cold soups like gazpacho can be made more quickly using a Zojirushi Stainless Steel Thermal Vacuum Cooking Pot or in a standard pot on your stove. Just be sure to verify all ingredients like stock and broth are gluten-free.

Oats:

Oats are a delicious way to add healthy fiber to your diet, but for those who are living gluten free, only certain oats are safe. It is essential to purchase only certified gluten free oats, grown under the purity protocol, to ensure there has not been cross-contact with gluten-containing grains. Independently certified gluten free oats can include traditional rolled oats, instant or quick oats, oat bran and steel cut oats.

Make a large batch of oatmeal in a Zojirushi Rice Cooker on the Porridge setting, and re-heat as you need quick breakfasts, snacks or even hearty side dishes. Or use Zojirushi stainless steel food jars to make yummy steel cut oats in the container with no fuss, then take the food jar with you to work or for travel. With a little planning, a warm and hearty meal of gluten free steel cut oats and fruit is better than any fast food or snack bar.

Baking Homemade Gluten-Free Breads:

If you’ve been unsatisfied with the gluten-free options available to you in pre-made or frozen breads at the grocery store, take heart! Making your own homemade gluten-free bread is the answer!

Even if you’ve never baked a loaf of bread in your life, you can bake gluten-free bread that tastes like real, soft and delicious bread and you’ll never have to settle for store-bought or hard, frozen gluten-free loaves again.

The reason why it doesn’t take an expert bread maker to make gluten-free bread is because all of the laborious steps involved in coaxing and babying gluten breads into life are absent in the making of gluten-free yeast bread. The steps are quicker and simple, and start-to-finish you can make a gorgeous loaf of gluten-free bread in about 2 hours.

The keys to remember about baking gluten-free bread are these:

  • There is no kneading or punching down of the dough
  • There is no second rise
  • Shape the breads before rising
  • Don’t over-work the dough
  • You may use quick rise yeast for even faster rise times
  • Check the temperature of your bread before removing it from the oven or bread machine – make sure it has reached 205 – 210° F or it’s not quite done baking

Blog 2 Photo - bread-temp

The absolute easiest way to gluten-free bread nirvana is by using a bread machine with gluten-free setting. Older machines didn’t offer the gluten-free option, and were pre-programmed for all the settings necessary to exercise gluten into holding its shape. Those same settings are actually counter-productive in baking gluten-free breads, which is why a gluten-free setting is so helpful.

However, it is possible to program some machines for your own gluten-free setting. If doing so, set your machine to a 20-minute mix cycle, a 45-minute rise cycle and a 60-minute bake cycle for a 2-pound loaf.

With any bread maker, the liquids should be at room temperature and go into the pan first, followed by all dry ingredients and lastly by the yeast, poured into a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso??Breadmaker may become your best friend in gluten-free baking. It bakes a beautiful 2-pound loaf with an easy and reliable gluten-free setting and two mixing paddles for even distribution of dough.

Anything from gluten-free green tea bread to brown rice bread to raisin bread is possible … and easy with this machine. It even makes cakes and can mix pizza dough or other shaped bread dough for you to bake in the oven.

I actually travel with my bread maker so that I can have fresh-baked gluten-free bread with me wherever I am, and I don’t have to worry about clean up or a contaminated kitchen space. I regularly bake homemade bread in my hotel rooms and enjoy soft sandwiches or breakfast bread for several days.

The most important thing to remember about going gluten free is that it’s not about deprivation – it’s about delicious new and healthier possibilities. Doing more cooking at home may seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll soon find it is a more economical, nutritious and safe way to live gluten free. Feeding your family home cooked meals is also a wonderful way to spend more time together. Remember that your kitchen is your safe haven and be sure to keep it well stocked with ingredients to favorite recipes so you are always able to bake up something yummy!

 

*Wild rice is not actually rice, but is prepared in the same fashion and is a wonderful alternative to rice in the same dishes.

What is a Gluten Free Diet?

Blog 1 Photo - gfJules bread mix white bread loaf Zojirushi (small)

The term “Gluten Free Diet” has been thrown around a lot lately, but what does it mean to be gluten free or to follow a gluten free diet?

First we must understand what gluten is, to understand what it means to avoid it. Gluten is a food protein found in the grains wheat, barley (malt) and rye. In the western diet, these grains are pervasive, so it can be difficult to avoid them, particularly when eating out or buying processed foods.

Gluten is not something you would see with the naked eye – it’s a tiny food protein, but to those who are sensitive to it, a tiny amount is enough to cause a cascade of health problems. Gluten can lurk in crumbs, sauces, dressings, seasonings, and of course breads, pastas, pizza and grain-based alcohols like beer. That means that anything in your kitchen or in a restaurant kitchen that has touched these things (think toasters, pans, colanders, lunch boxes, utensils, counters, dish scrubbers, tea towels, etc.) may still have gluten on it or in it. When this gluten residue touches gluten free food, gluten contamination (or gluten cross-contact) occurs and it can make certain people very sick.

Who should follow a gluten free diet?

There are really three categories of people who need to follow a strict, medically-necessitated gluten free diet: those who have an allergy to wheat, barley or rye; those who have celiac disease; and those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

An allergy to one of the gluten-containing grains (usually wheat) is akin to what we are familiar with for those with a peanut allergy. A person with the allergy cannot be exposed to wheat, or their body will react by releasing histamines, producing a variety of symptoms, usually unique to the individual. Like most true allergies, these symptoms are often rapid and may be severe. Food allergy symptoms can range from a skin rash to gastrointestinal distress, swelling, migraines or even difficulty breathing and death due to such anaphylaxis. Luckily, once the allergen is removed from the body, or in many cases, if the person takes antihistamines, the body can quickly get back to normal. This rebound differs greatly when compared to the often long-term effects gluten produces in someone with celiac disease.

Celiac disease?(also known as celiac sprue, coeliac disease, non-tropical sprue or gluten sensitive enteropathy) is a chronic and permanent sensitivity to the food protein gluten. Developing celiac disease requires three things: a genetic predisposition; exposure to gluten through digestion; and a trigger that starts an immune system’s injurious response. Celiac disease occurs in people of all ages. It is the most common genetic disorder in North America and Europe, and is found in populations all over the world, affecting approximately 1 in 100 people.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body attacks?itself?in an inappropriate immune system reaction. In most all other autoimmune diseases, the catalyst for starting the body’s inappropriate reaction is not yet known. But celiac disease is actually the only autoimmune disease for which there is a cure — to eliminate gluten from the diet entirely.

Gluten sensitivity is a very real medical condition that affects an estimated 18 million people in the United States, to some degree. It is not an allergy, nor is it an autoimmune disease like celiac disease, but it can cause severe, uncomfortable and even debilitating symptoms.

Gluten sensitivity is a condition where the body is unable to properly digest gluten.?Recent studies?have found that the bodies of those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity also produce an abnormally high number of proteins that activate inflammation (the immune system’s first defense) and an abnormally low number of suppressor T cells which suppress the inflammation. The inflammatory response, like that raised against the flu virus, can cause fatigue and dizziness. Symptoms can range from quite mild to very serious, but unlike a true “allergy,” anaphylaxis leading to death will not occur.

A gluten free or even a low-gluten diet may help alleviate these symptoms, but the only way to know is to try a completely gluten free diet for a period of several weeks to see if you feel better. If you do, then your body is telling you your answer. Unlike with celiac disease, a person with gluten sensitivity may be able to eat small amounts of gluten without damaging their body — the symptoms suffered will dictate whether and how much gluten they can tolerate.

A dish featuring gluten free quinoa

Quinoa is an example of a naturally gluten free food

How Gluten Free is “Gluten Free?”

Studies have shown that anything more than?1/8th teaspoon of regular flour, or 1/350th?of a slice of regular bread (up to 10mg gluten) can cause intestinal inflammation and even villous atrophy in celiacs. Many people find that they experience symptoms with even less gluten exposure. Other?studies attempting to find the threshold for prolonged gluten exposure formed the foundation for the?FDA’s decision to restrict gluten free food labels to only those foods containing less than 20ppm gluten.

All this is to say that mere crumbs could harm someone with celiac disease; trace amounts can cause symptoms for those with gluten sensitivity. That’s why you should never simply pick the croutons off a salad, for example. And you shouldn’t risk using pots, pans, condiments, grills or appliances which may have such crumbs remaining from a non-gluten-free meal.? It also means that eating out can be tricky. It is very difficult for a restaurant which is not dedicated gluten free to prepare a meal that is truly safe. Fortunately, you can make ANYTHING you want at home, ensuring not only that your food is gluten free and free from cross-contact, but also that it is healthier, less expensive and tastes better!

How to Go Gluten Free

When people go gluten free, I always tell them to make a list of their “must haves”– the things they must be able to enjoy, even on a gluten free diet. This could include staples like soft sandwich bread, as well as sentimental favorites like deep dish pizza, your grandma’s noodle casserole, Thanksgiving stuffing, pierogi, donuts and cinnamon rolls. Whatever those essentials are, they are unique to you, and they need to be put on your list. Without finding replacements for those dishes, your transition to gluten free will be bittersweet.

However, when you learn to make these favorites again, gluten free, you will not only feel satisfied, but proud! There is no feeling quite like the accomplishment of baking fresh homemade bread to share with friends and family, whether you were an avid baker pre-gluten free or you’ve never baked a thing from scratch.

Once you identify the foods you need to have to make a successful transition, it’s time to find a way to get them or make them yourself. Because of the explosion of gluten free products in recent years, it is hard not to stumble upon many popular food items as packaged food in most grocery stores. Not all of these items are particularly healthy – many contain extra fat or sugar to mask the taste of some gluten free flours – and many are not as tasty as you would hope. It is for that reason that cooking at home is the best answer for most of the essentials and the treats you’ve put on your list.

Before you dismiss the idea of baking at home, let me assure you that baking gluten free is in many ways easier than baking with gluten. That means that even inexperienced bakers can expect to enjoy success in the kitchen.

bbpac

Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso? Breadmaker

Let me give you an example: baking with yeast is typically an hours-long process when using gluten-containing flours, involving steps like punching the dough down, kneading it for extended periods, allowing it to rise at least twice and babying the dough with time, gentle temperature and moisture. This process, while beautiful and truly an art, is daunting to many. By contrast, baking gluten free yeast breads is a relatively simple and quick process. So much so that I recommend using rapid rise or quick yeast, rather than regular yeast, in gluten free bread baking. There are no steps like punching or kneading, no second rise and less babying. In fact, if you choose to use a bread maker with a gluten free setting, like the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso? Breadmaker, you simply add the ingredients to the pan, close the lid, press a button and walk away. Two hours later, you are treated to fresh baked, soft and savory bread!

Loads of other foods like rice, quinoa, beans, salads, fruits and vegetables are already gluten free and are easy to prepare. These whole foods plus easy soups, gluten free pasta, lean proteins and homemade breads and treats combine to make a delicious and nutritious, well-rounded meal plan that is far more economical and safer to make at home.

Controlling your budget and your health through diet alone is truly a gift. Once you embrace the gluten free diet for the healthy new lifestyle that it is, you should take pleasure in taking control, learning a new way of cooking, and enjoying more family meals at home, together. You never know what great new memories will be made in the kitchen and around your table!

~jules e. d. shepard

gfJules.com