"A gluten-free diet still allows you access to almost every fruit and vegetable, a variety of grains and legumes, your pick of dairy products, fresh meats and fish and a whole slew of special gluten-free delights to satisfy your pretzel-bagel-muffin-doughnut craving." -Daphne Oz
When people hear the words "gluten-free diet" they die a little bit inside because they think of a lifestyle without savouring some of the world's most delicious treats such as croissants, biscuits, pies, and bread.
Nevertheless, due to the ever-increasing amount of gluten-free intolerances and sensitivities among people, there are more yummy free of gluten snacks than ever before. For example, in the United Kingdom alone, it is estimated that around 8.5 million people are now gluten-free for several reasons; mostly for health issues.
What is Gluten?
To the surprise of many, gluten is a protein that’s present in wheat, barley, oats, and rye. The group of proteins known as gluten are called prolamins and glutelins and they account for 75-80% of the total protein in wheat-based food items.
It is important to state that gluten intolerance or coeliac disease can cause various health problems that, if not treated effectively, can lead to serious illnesses such as cancers, ulcers, osteoporosis, etc; the list goes on!
If you're contemplating going gluten-free due to intolerance, you're not alone! In recent years, a large number of celebrities who’ve gone gluten-free has led to its total rise. Which celebs? Sports, film, and music stars such as Novak Djokovic, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Lady Gaga have all made a gluten-free diet their own while at home or travelling on the road. Since celebrities are very influential beings, going gluten-free has become very popular all over the world.
Since it is difficult to know the health benefits of going gluten-free for those who aren’t gluten intolerant, in this article Superprof has the goal of instructing all of our readers, gluten avoiders and eaters, about why you should go gluten-free, which foods contain gluten, some of the tastiest gluten-free recipes, and some valuable advice for those who are on the brink of going gluten-free.
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Why Go Gluten-Free?
Do you really want to stop eating fluffy pancakes or warm bread? While the majority of individuals would answer with a resounding NO, others do not have a choice; they must stop eating gluten before their health deteriorates.
On the other hand, there are some people who are following diet trends such as keto or paleo and decide to cut off all types of carbs; especially those containing gluten protein.
Without further delay, the following are the three main reasons to stop consuming gluten:
- Gluten intolerance
- Gluten sensitivity
- To improve your overall health
At first glance, gluten intolerance is an auto-immune problem. The inability to digest gluten from wheat products begins in the small intestine and is the result of poor absorption of gliadin and atrophy of the mucus in the intestine.
Also known as coeliac disease, gluten intolerance usually appears early on in life from the ages of 6 and 24-months old; nevertheless, one thing about the coeliac disease is that it can go away for some time yet resurface some years later. Many may ask, what are the symptoms of coeliac disease? The following are the most common manifestations of gluten intolerance that can cause the body much harm:
- Weight loss,
- Abdominal pains.
The symptoms of coeliac disease are a result of the body's negative immune reaction to gluten after some time. If it goes untreated for some time, coeliac disease can cause very severe health issues such as cardiovascular problems, cancers, or neurological issues.
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What Can Be Done?
Seeking the help and the advice of a medical professional is necessary after some weeks of intense pain and struggles with the previously mentioned symptoms. Doctors and health experts can identify your body's issues by conducting immunological tests, intestinal biopsies, and immediate implementation of a gluten-free diet.
For those who are not quite grabbing their stomach in pain after eating some bread rolls yet still suffer some pains from wheat-based products, the overall symptoms of a gluten allergy are similar.
Nevertheless, after some important tests have been conducted by a medical professional, the antibodies found in coeliacs won’t be present and neither will atrophy of the villi of the small intestine; the one moment in time when having a gluten allergy is celebrated!
If you think you may be gluten sensitive, consult a medical professional and plan a gluten-free diet that includes the right nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
If you’re neither gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive, there may be no reason to go gluten-free. Why? Recent studies conducted by Columbia University and Harvard University have shown that stopping gluten consumption in those who aren’t intolerant could increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Nutritionist Laurent Chevallier further emphasises this point by stating: "Whole grains are known for their ability to reduce cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiac diseases.”
Therefore, before becoming gluten-free just because of trends and the result of minor health complications that might from another underlying health issue, we greatly suggest doing research and understanding the science behind the matter.
However, is it really truthful and factual that many people feel better when they stop eating bread?
Let us allow doctor and registered nutritionist, Laurent Chevallier, to answer the question correctly: "You need to know that some bread is full of additives that aren’t necessarily tolerated by the body. Rather than stop eating gluten, you need to consume bread with real yeast."
Therefore, the pain that we may feel in our stomach after eating some bread or other wheat-based products is most likely from the chemicals, preservatives, and additives that tend to really mess up a person's digestive system. That's why before blaming gluten for all of your health issues, as so many people have done, you might want to change your diet and eat fewer processed products.
Eating healthy, natural products and exercising regularly can work wonders on your gut and entire immune system; you may even live longer!
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Gluten-Free: Food Groups and Items to Avoid at All Costs
If you're a person who is extremely sensitive to the effects of gluten or cannot ingest any wheat, rye, or barley products, you must become familiar with all the foods that you cannot eat. It is important to mention that there are some food items and drinks that contain gluten that might surprise you.
I can't eat gherkins or drink whiskey, are you for real?
Without any further delay, the following are some food groups and specific products that cannot be consumed by those who are following a gluten-free diet:
- Bread: white, brown, rye, whole-grain, unleavened, etc.
- Types of Baking Flour: wheat, rye, barley, spelt, etc.
- Specific Breakfast Meals: cereals, biscuits, pastries, toast, pancakes, waffles, etc.
- Pastries: cakes, croissants, meat pies, fruit pies, biscuits, doughnuts, muffins, and even ice cream cones, etc.
- Premade Frozen or Packaged Products: pizzas, soups, sauces, quiches, dough, some types of chocolate, crisps, stock cubes, soy sauce, etc.
- Beverages: beer, whiskeys, powdered drinks, etc.
- Medicinal Products
- Miscellaneous: surimi, gherkins, meatballs, stews, etc.
The previously mentioned list was not designed to discourage gluten-free consumers and have them remember what they cannot eat but it's rather it was provided in this article as protection. How's that? To aid gluten-free consumers from tasting something that could result in much pain and discomfort.
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Also, we greatly suggest that those with gluten intolerance pay careful attention to food labels. Be sure to buy things that are gluten-free certified and have a label that is easily recognised. Nevertheless, at times deciphering the ingredients is necessary to ensure that absolutely no gluten has been included. For instance, some lentils or chickpeas may have been handled in a factory that cooks bread; therefore, some traces of gluten may exist.
In addition, ideally, you want to avoid as much pre-prepared and readymade products as possible. Why? Firstly, there so unhealthy and filled with so many preservatives, and secondly, in these products such as soup or gravy packages, gluten is used as a thickener.
Like always, it’s better to cook from raw ingredients; you'll be saving yourself and the environment!
Find out which foods are gluten-free.
If after some lengthy visits to the doctor and discouraging test results you discover that you are gluten intolerant and need to make changes to your diet, you're not alone. As we have discussed earlier, 1% of the British population finds themselves suffering from coeliac disease.
However, a complicated aspect of becoming gluten-free is learning how to cook again. The staple recipes that you frequently used that featured wheat-based products might as well have never existed; you need to start from scratch and find alternatives.
Are you saying I must get rid of my Nan's apple pie recipe?
Nonetheless, there is no reason to suffer discouragement since the internet is absolutely packed with gluten-free recipes that will satisfy all members of the family.
While there are plenty of recipes that you can easily make, the following four recipes are for different plates or meals and are equally delicious and healthy:
The unique flavours of the Mediterranean and the Middle East have captured the taste buds of Brits for decades now. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that delicious recipes such as hummus, baklava, and falafel can be made without any gluten.
Follow the subsequent recipe to eat some of the most delightful gluten-free lentil falafels known to man!
Ingredients for three people:
- 150g of yellow and green lentils
- 1 carrot
- 10 pieces of dried tomatoes
- 1 egg
- 5 tablespoons of olive oil
- 10 mint leaves
- 150g of rice
- 1 onion
- Some parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 1 container of store-bought natural yoghurt
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the rice and lentils in different pots until they are ready.
- Mix the carrot, onion, rice, lentils, tomatoes, eggs, parsley, vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Roll the mix into small balls and bake in the oven at 200°C for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve the lentil falafels with a sauce made from the yoghurt, mint, olive oil, salt, and pepper; enjoy!
Quinoa and Bream Ceviche
Fish is a perfectly healthy and light meal that can be enjoyed throughout the year at all times. Making quinoa and bream ceviche is not as difficult as one may think; follow the recipe mentioned here.
Ingredients for about four people:
- 4 fresh fillets of bream fish
- 3 grapefruits
- 600g of quinoa
- 80g of coriander
- 20g of sesame
- 2 beetroots
- 4g of pink berries
- 400ml of rice vinegar
- 200ml of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste.
How to make:
- Cook the quinoa for 10 minutes on low heat.
- Cut the grapefruit into separate yet equal parts and collect the juice to make a sauce with the olive oil and rice vinegar; yummy!
- Cook the sauce in a pan for a few minutes before mixing it with the quinoa.
- Cut the bream fillets until small cubes and add the coriander; mix them together.
- Serve the ceviche and quinoa in a medium-size bowl with the quinoa on the bottom, the raw bream in the middle, the grapefruit pieces around the outside, and the beetroots sliced as a decoration; I'm coming over for dinner tonight!
Gluten-Free Chocolate Fondant
The news of being diagnosed with gluten intolerance will not even disturb the most passionate bakers; why's that? In today's world, there are so many gluten-free confection recipes that taste nearly the same as when used with normal ingredients.
Read about our gluten-free chocolate fondant to decorate your cakes in style.
Ingredients for approximately four people:
- 300g of dark chocolate (make sure that there are no traces of gluten in the chocolate)
- 200g of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 6 eggs
- 150g of soft/room temperature butter
How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 75°C. Butter the mould and melt the chocolate in the microwave or a pan for 2 minutes before adding the butter.
- Mix two eggs in a bowl and 4 egg yolks with the sugar. Keep the egg whites. Add the cornstarch, then the butter, and, finally, the chocolate mix before whipping.
- Beat the egg whites before adding them one a time into the mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the mould and bake for 30 minutes.
12 Minute Gluten-Free Chicken and Broccoli
Do you like to cook things that are both healthy and easy to make? The answer is this delightful chicken and broccoli recipe that will please all eaters.
Ingredients for a family of four:
The Stir Fry Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 boneless chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch of chopped broccoli florets without the stem
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Some sliced green onions
- A handful of toasted sesame seeds
Stir Fry Sauce Ingredients
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 2 cloves of garlic,
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and slowly add the chicken breasts. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep cooking for five minutes.
- Mix all the ingredients needed for the sauce together in a small bowl when waiting for the chicken to fully cook.
- When chicken is browned add the broccoli and cook until it is bright green.
- Stir in sauce and cook for another minute until the sauce has thickened to perfection.
- Remove from heat and stir in the sesame oil before garnishing the dish with green onions and sesame seeds and serving over rice.
Dear gluten-free reader, eating without gluten has never been so easy by following the previously mentioned delicious recipes; we hope you and your family enjoy these delightful meals!
Helpful Tips, Tricks, and Pieces of Advice for Eating Gluten-Free Successfully!
Going gluten-free is quite confusing from the beginning since it means learning how to use new ingredients and finding current recipes that are healthy and delicious at the same time. Nevertheless, even with the best intentions, new gluten-free chefs need advice from more experienced pros. Without further delay, the following tips and tricks will help all gluten-free people go from zero to hero in no time:
- Don’t eat readymade or processed foods such as ravioli cans, frozen chips, etc. Why? The vast majority of ready meals include gluten as its often used for consistency and thickness.
- Read the labels to check for gluten and its derivatives such as gliadin, glutenin, wheat starch, malt, malt extract, vegetable proteins, etc. Though allergens are usually in bold on most packages. Nonetheless, if you have any doubts, a quick search on Google should do the trick!
- Replace wheat flour with gluten-free flour options such as rice flour, chickpea flour, cornflour, chestnut flour, buckwheat flour, etc.
- If you bake bread often consider changing chemical baking powder with products like baker’s yeast, guar gum, xanthan gum, sodium bicarbonate, or egg whites.
- Opt for salads with low-fat vinaigrettes in restaurants; sometimes dressing may contain thickening agents such as gluten.
If you do not feel the symptoms of gluten intolerance or sensitivity, the choice is ultimately yours if you choose whether or not to go gluten-free. Don’t hesitate to look for recipes online and spending hours trying new things in the kitchen.
Finding a Private Nutritionist to Discuss Gluten-Free Diets and Options
While it is true that going gluten-free is completely your choice, it is greatly recommended to seek the advice of a medical professional or nutritionist to avoid any complications from drastically switching your diet.
What Will You Do?
If you need any help with nutritional advice, consider getting in touch with one of the private tutors on Superprof. There are plenty of talented nutritionists, dietitians, and fitness instructors who can help you at a time and location most convenient for you in a city in the UK.
There are three main types of tutorials that Superprof offers with nutritionists: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Each has several advantages and disadvantages and it's up to the student to choose the type that works best for them.
Firstly, face-to-face private tutorials are just between you and the tutor; they can focus fully on you and your goals. Of course, this does come at a cost and face-to-face tutorials tend to be the most expensive type of tutorials available. Nonetheless, you pay for the quality that 100% worth every penny.
Secondly, online tutorials are also just between you and the tutor; however, the private nutritionist isn't physically there in the room with you. How are classes conducted then? The internet. Via Skype, FaceTime, or other video conferencing software, students can attend classes. With fewer travel expenses and the ability to schedule more tutorials per week, online tutorials tend to be cheaper per hour than face-to-face ones.
Thirdly, group tutorials involve one tutor and several students. However, with multiple students, less of the tutor's time will be spent focusing on your unique needs but the cost will be shared amongst all the students which mean more money in the bank for you!
Also, something great about Superprof tutors is that the first hour of tutoring is always for free! We hope that reading about gluten-free diets has provided our readers with the necessary information needed to make an informed decision.