In the past couple years, "gluten-free" baking and cooking has arised popularity. But why? What is gluten and why is it harmful? Is it healthy? How do I adjust baking and cooking recipes to gluten free? Keep on reading to find out more about gluten and gluten-free baking.
What is gluten? What is Celiac disease?
Celiac disease is "an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine. It can rear its troublesome head at any point from infancy to old age. Currently, celiac disease symptoms are believed to be inherited. " In other words: your body cannot digest gluten in a normal fashion. Thus, Gluten "is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture." Gluten is present in many flours and gives baked items their "structure." High gluten items tend to be breads, bagels, and pizza dough.
Is gluten harmful? What foods are gluten-free? Is going gluten-free healthier?
Gluten is only harmful when you are gluten-intolerant and in large doeses. Many people BECOME gluten-intolerant because they consume too much "bad gluten" foods, like pizza, white breads, and processed foods. Keep your gluten intake at a low-moderate.Going gluten-free can be very difficult, yet it can work if you carefully read food labels. Popular items that contain gluten are: All white/wheat flours (except if the label reads "gluten-free"), bagels/breads/crackers/snack items, pizza dough, majority of baked goods, semolina, cous cous, most cereals, breadcrumbs, processed/frozen items, barely, beer, rye, etc. The list can go on forever. Be sure to double check food labels and ask questions. Also, oats are naturally gluten-free, but they are processed in a plant that makes gluten flours, thus you have to buy gluten-free oats at a special store.
So, what items are gluten free? Many healthy, happy, and tasty choices. People may believe that going gluten-free will be difficult or leave them with little food choice. First off, most raw veggies and fruits are gluten-free. So is the majority of animal protein (if cooked WITHOUT gluten). Unsalted butter, eggs, milk, cheese, and plain yogurt are also gluten free.
Popular gluten free grains are: Buckwheat, quinoa, rice, brown rice, and polenta. When baking, instead of white/wheat flour, you can use: Potato flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, arrowroot, rice flour, brown rice flour, cornstarch, or taro flour.
Gluten-free can lead to a healthier lifestyle because gluten-free carbs are very easy for your body to digest and process. You will feel less bloated, nausated, and full. That does not mean all gluten items are harmful, some gluten-items are just as healthy and tasty.
Baking and cooking gluten-free can be very difficult if you are not used to it. Start slow and easy. Check out gluten-free blogs, websites, and books. Look at recipes that you like. Baking gluten free can be more challenging because you're dealing with gluten-free flours that do not work like gluten flours. I had to adjust many recipes while working with gluten free flours, such as tapioca flour, xanathan gum, and rice flour. To my gluten-free baked goods, I like to add natural flavor like mashed bananas, unsweetened applesauce, spices like cinnamon, and nuts for added texture.
Happy gluten free baking and cooking to all!