Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gluten Free Tricks of The Trade!

Gluten Free Toaster - GOOD CALL!

Wendy Rose over at Candyheartsblog.com wrote a pretty fantastical guest post and shares her Gluten Free Tricks of the Trade! It's a great piece with loaded with info and humor to boot!
FYI: Enjoy, learn, & since St Patrick's Day is just around the corner, make sure you checkout the Gluten Free Beers link!

QUICK! You need to whip up a gluten free (GF) meal for a neighbor that just had a baby...or you've invited a friend with celiac over for dinner...or your cousin’s husband’s sister’s niece will be stopping by and she has a gluten sensitivity…or, hey, I’M COMING OVER FOR YOUR NEXT PARTAY! (WOOHOO!!!!)

Where do you start? What do you do? What the heck is gluten, anyway?

I got your back, my friends. I’m not claiming to know everything about all things gluten free, but I do think I can help you whip up a lil’ summin’ summin’ in a pinch!

First of all, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and contaminated oats. Pretty simple, right? EASY PEASY!

Well, you know, EASY, except that U.S. labeling laws do not mandate companies to disclose whether or not a product is, in fact gluten free…AND that companies often change ingredients – therefore, the can of soup you determined was gluten free last week may not be gluten free today…AND that gluten can be hidden in things like soy sauce, licorice, and marinades.

So…now what?

Well, there are a TON of blogs and websites devoted to gluten free recipes for every occasion. With the power of Google, you should be able to browse MILLIONS of recipes before deciding on just the right one.

After you’ve decided what you’re after, you’ll need to make sure to read EVERY label! There are some BIG words that should pop out at you when scanning a label, specifically: WHEAT in any form (except buckwheat – which isn’t actually derived from wheat at all), BARLEY, RYE, OATS (including oat flour, and unless they’re specifically labeled GF), and MALT (including malt flavoring and malt vinegar. Malt is derived from barley). That being said, HERE is a more comprehensive list of do's and don'ts that I have found very helpful when going to the grocery store.

Whenever possible, look for products containing the words “gluten free” on the label. Not only does it take the guesswork out of deciphering ingredients, but it also supports those companies who have gone the extra mile to help consumers.

You can help avoid cross contamination in the kitchen by staying away from wooden cutting boards and utensils, unless they haven't ever come into contact with gluten before. Wood is porous and creates an environment for harboring gluten. As an alternative, you should use plastic chopping mats along with plastic or metal utensils. Regarding your dishes, pots/pans, and all that stuff, generally a hot dishwasher cycle is sufficient for making sure cross contamination doesn’t occur. If you aren’t sure, using tinfoil to line cookie sheets, pizza pans, and casserole dishes works well too. In our kitchen, we have a dedicated pasta strainer (because, really, no matter how hard you try, it seems like there’s always residue that will cling to those little holes) and a dedicated GF toaster.

The grill can be tricky, because gluten is often found hiding in marinades. After our daughter was diagnosed with celiac in 2008, the doctor told my husband he should invest in a new grill. (Can we submit that to the insurance company?) While we do plan to buy a new grill one day, we haven’t yet…but have managed to get by just fine by keeping the grates clean and dedicating one side as being gluten free.

If you’ll be dining out, there are a number of chain restaurants that offer gluten free menus. Outback even offers a gluten free dessert! These days, you can find a pretty decent selection of gluten free beers … not to mention, MY favorite, HARD CIDER!!!

Oh, and by the way – CHOCOLATE IS GLUTEN FREE! (Just make sure there aren’t any cookie/wafer –type ingredients.)

So raise your (gluten free) green beer, toast St. Patrick’s Day, and make some memories! I promise you don’t need a lucky leprechaun to help you pull off a successful gluten free dinner with the people you care about.

Though, having a lucky leprechaun for anything in life couldn’t hurt, right?


Unknown said...

Thanks K2 for having Wendy over here! She is a fantastic resource to all of us fumbling and dabbling in the GF world. I use her blog as a resource when my Gluten Intolerant (she is intolerant in other ways too - haha) sister comes to town. Many people can benefit from her tips and from her wonderful blog.

P.S. How's DC treatin' ya? You were fantastic at the roundtable forum. You made me tear up a couple of times friend.

Misty said...

Fantastic guest post introducing GF to those of us who feel like we just may need to move in that direction. I have had the feeling that I have some sort of intolerance to gluten but have been too scared to confirm it. Thanks, Wendy, for making GF a little less scary! (Especially since I now know that I can still eat chocolate!!)

Unknown said...

Thanks for having me, K2! I wish we could raise a little GF green beer for St Patty's Day :) CHEERS!

Brenda Bell said...

Thank you VERY much for the gluten-free primer. Given the large number of people with Type 1 diabetes who also have celiac disease, I'm one of those who considers it important to make sure there are gluten-free treats at d-meetups, just as I tend to think towards the vegans and persons with food allergies at pot-luck/covered-dish events.

Following that same train of thought, are there any issues with baking in a shared oven (presuming gluten-containing foods are not in the oven at the same time as gluten-free ones) -- i.e., need to Easy-Off or torch the oven to prevent contamination?

Alexis Nicole said...

Awesome post! I never knew so much about celiac! Thanks Wendy!

Unknown said...

Hi Brenda,

Thank you for your question and thank you for going the extra mile to make sure GF snacks are available at d-meetups! My daughter and I both appreciate that, even if we aren't there to enjoy them!

Regarding your question, you don't need to take any precautions with the oven. In our experience, we haven't ever had a problem :) You just need to protect the surfaces the food is coming into contact with...baking dishes, cookie sheets, spatulas, etc.

One important point that I forgot to mention is that gluten particles can remain in the air for several days and settle on surfaces all around the kitchen. For this reason, it's very important to make sure you wipe down counter tops, appliances, and exposed utensils prior to beginning a GF cooking project.

Feel free to contact me anytime if you ever have questions!



Tracy Portner said...

I recently bought a glutten-free magazine that advocates healthy eating. it reads amazing even if I don't have a problem with the G. the recipes are fantastic.