These days, in most conversational situations, the moment the word gluten is uttered, the listener’s mind would almost immediately race off into a labyrinth filled with images of food that is unhealthy, oily and sickening due to the incessant negative media attack unleashed on gluten over the past decade. However, many would be surprised that gluten is not the demon in foodstuff that so many think it is and to make matters worse, most people have faint ideas about what gluten really is.
To clear the air, Gluten can be generally classified as a protein contained in some of our favourite grains which include wheat, rye and barley which gives these grains both the texture and structure that these plants need to survive. However, besides that fact and the fact that gluten is actually classified under the protein family, gluten in general does not come attached with any nutritional benefits to humans; nevertheless the grains that need gluten to grow have all the essential nutrients that we need to remain healthy.
Then, why is gluten always portrayed as the nasty factor in food by the media? Well, the truth behind this claim is due to those who are ‘gluten intolerant’ and to those who are gluten ‘tolerant’ the protein is actually pretty much harmless. As a matter of fact, for those without ‘gluten issues’ eating gluten containing grains is considered to be the path to a healthier lifestyle because ‘gluten rich’ grains are also rich with fibre, iron and most of the vitamin B that we need.
Thus by removing an entire class of food is not really the best way to go about avoiding an element in food as problems caused by deficiency can be irreversible. Since you have a better idea of what gluten actually is and that it is actually harmless to those who are ‘gluten tolerant’, let us look at what the problem arising from gluten is for those who are ‘gluten intolerant.
‘Gluten intolerance’ can actually be simply described as a condition that some people have whereby their immune response system is triggered when they consume anything containing gluten. This situation is equivalent to someone swallowing food that has bad bacteria on it and the same immune response is triggered. To put this into perspective, individuals who are ‘gluten intolerant’ have immune systems that identify gluten as a bad pathogen causing their immune system to attack it and in the process of attacking gluten which tend to be sticky, the immune system’s response damages cells in the intestines which in turn creates a whole new set of problems for the individual as the degeneration of the intestines could be precursors to digestive disorders, nutrient deficiencies, fatigue and even anaemia, to name a few.
It is actually due to this reason that those who are gluten intolerant need to stay away from it as much as possible. However, the problem with this is that in order to avoid gluten, an individual probably has to avoid almost 60 % of what a normal human eats and this is not an easy task by any measure as wheat, rye and even barley contain gluten and oats which usually does not contain gluten may also have gluten if crops that do produce gluten are raised within the same vicinity. In other words foodstuff such as cakes or anything baked, pasta, most cereals as well as sauces, beer, malt and salad dressings are likely to contain gluten making them ‘off limits’ for the gluten intolerant individual.
But as they say, if there is a ill, there is always a way and there are a variety of gluten free food out there that is perfect for the gluten intolerant bellies out there that could compensate for what they need to give up. There are plenty of dishes that are gluten free and some of the more popular, not to mention delicious servings include Honey Mustard Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Glazed Salmon, Bacon and Parmesan Salad, Kale, Lasagne, Honey Mustard Salmon with Tropical Fruit Salsa and much more. Here are two recipes that those who have issues with gluten could easily prepare.
Bacon Pimento Cheese Dip
- Preparation Time: 10 Minutes Approx.
- Cooking Time: 25 Minutes Approx.
What you need:
- Eight pieces of Dry Aged Bacon (Jones Dairy Farm)
- A cup of mayonnaise
- Cream Cheese (4 ounces)
- Pimentos diced, drained 4oz Jar
- 2 seeded and minced Jalapeno Peppers
- Diced Scallions (2 -3)
- Cheddar Cheese shredded 2 cups
- Pepper Jack Cheese shredded 2 Cups
- Salt and Pepper according to taste
What you need to do:
Firstly the bacon needs to be cooked in preferably a sauté pan on mid heat until it is crisp and then transfer it to a paper towel and crumble it.Then in a good sized bowl, stir bacon, mayonnaise, pimentos, cream cheese, jalapeño peppers, shredded cheese and scallions together and subsequently season with salt and pepper to taste. Then all you have to do is evenly spread the mix in a casserole dish and bake for 25 minutes. Serve.
Beet Fennel & Mandarin Orange Salad
Preparation time: 20 Minutes approx.
For the Salad
- Baby Red Beets about two medium bunches
- Fennel Single Medium Bulb
- Dole Spring Mix One Pack
- Dole Mandarin Oranges I can
- Mint fresh 4 or 5 sprigs chopped
- Goat Cheese 1/2 Cup crumbled
- Olive Oil 2/3 cup full
- Sherry Vinegar Quarter Cup
- Lemon Juice 3 Tablespoons
- Shallot 2 Tablespoons finely chopped
- Salt & Pepper
What you have to do is preheat an oven to about 200ºC then place the baby red beets in a roasting pan with water added just enough to cover the bottom part of the pan and cover it with aluminium foil. Then roast for about 45 minutes for the baby red beets to become tender. After which you will need to allow it to cool before removing the skin and cutting them into wedges. Following this you have to trim the fennel leaves chop up the stalk to thin slices, then combine them with the salad, mandarin oranges, mint, beets and fennel. Finally pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle some cheese over it.
As for the Vinaigrette, just put everything together and whisk until it is well mixed
For more recipes that are gluten free, follow this link: https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/lifestyle/recipe-grid/
For those of you who are not into cooking as much and have a penchant for eating out, believe it or not, there are a number of restaurants that actually care about people with gluten intolerance, with the number of restaurants offering gluten free options growing rapidly in recent years.