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Feb 10th
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Going Gluten-Free

glutenfreeUntil recently, I had very little reason to ever think about gluten—or the fact that there are many people who cannot eat it. But this all came to my attention when I asked a friend what sort of baked good she would like for her upcoming birthday, and her only request was that it be gluten-free.

She has Celiac disease, which is a disorder of the small intestine and is caused by a gluten protein. Because gluten is found in oats, wheat, rye, barley and malt flavorings, I was confused as to how I could bake anything without flour. Still, I wanted to accommodate my friend’s dietary restrictions, so I searched for some possible alternatives at my local New Leaf Community Market. There in the baking aisle, I found Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking flour, which is wheat, gluten and dairy-free. It is less than half the size of, but about the same price as, a regular bag of all-purpose flour from Safeway. I later made blondies from a recipe by simply substituting regular flour with this seemingly identical substance, and they tasted no different. Plus, they were quickly consumed by my gluten-challenged friend.

Curious about the effects of a gluten-free diet on someone who has no serious reason to not eat gluten, I decided to do some research. A website devoted to the gluten-free lifestyle,, explains that those who strictly adhere to the diet are far more likely to eat healthier, because in order to not eat any gluten at all, they usually prepare their food from scratch. They also often avoid already processed products that are not marked gluten-free and this lowers their general intake of sugar and fast foods.

The website goes on to explain that this diet is very popular within Hollywood, because its severe restrictions can double as a diet. Yet, as I had already found during my baking adventure, there are still countless ways to eat recklessly and still be gluten-free.

I went back to New Leaf, where I spoke to cook Natascha Hendry, who explained the surprisingly wide amount of food available to those who are not able to, or simply choose not to, eat gluten. If baking gluten-free treats from scratch isn’t on your agenda, there is a tower of completely gluten-free, and already made, sweets by the sandwich counter in New Leaf, including a decadent looking chocolate bean brownie. I was also shown a variety of gluten-free entrees available, including basmati rice and corn salad and peanut tofu farfalle. It all looked delicious.

Now GT would like to know: what is your favorite gluten-free recipe or must-have gluten-free item? Tell us in the comments section below.


Comments (3)Add Comment
written by j9, July 29, 2011
Thank you for the article. Everyday, I hear more and more about the Celiac disease, and how many people are affected by it. I wish I had a recipe to share.
written by js, July 28, 2011
Living a gluten-free life takes commitment and devotion to your health. Some days it is nearly impossible to stay away from gluten; everything from the caramel color added to soft drinks and the soy sauce on your shelf to nearly every grain that you have used to bake are glutenous. Even some makeup and prescription medication use gluten-filled products as a binder. Baking itself is a chemistry project and gets more so when living gluten-free, due to the extra (and expensive) additives that need to help the flours stick together. My physician does not recommend that anyone attempt a gluten-free lifestyle unless it is for a confirmed diagnosis of celiac disease. It is definitely not a fad diet--it's work and an attempt at longevity. Cheers to celiacs everywhere who, like me, are making through a little at a time.
written by Suzie Kriz, July 28, 2011
I've had to go "Gluten Free" because of Celiacs. As I cut it out of my diet I actually became more and more "sensitive" to it. The first few months were awful... it seemed that EVERYTHING I really wanted to eat contained wheat or some kind of "Modified Food Starch" that could be a "hidden" wheat. I was doing pretty well for about a month when one evening after having a simple meal of stir-fried veggies over brown rice; I broke out in turned out that the soy sauce (that I've always cooked with) was made from WHEAT! So now i have to read EVERY lable. I've found some great recipes on line and have been experimenting with different kinds of flours. Although I have cooked with Garbanzo, Almond and Amaranth flours, I recently learned that you can even buy Coconut flour and its been great fun experimenting with the mixes and textures. The Nut flours make a great base for a "no sugar" fudge using stevia as a sweetner, and coconut flour along with coconut sugar and butter make a GREAT little "shortbread" cookie. Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum added to their Gluten free all purpose flour (although I add a little rice flour too) makes a fairly stable pizza dough (check out the recipes on the Bob's Red Mill website) it gives it some decent "stretch". I like a thin crispy crust so I brush the edges with a little olive oil before I bake (it also serves as a nice "berm" for herbs and red Pepper flakes to stick to for an added "kick".

There are several Celiac's websites that offer some great recipes. I'd love to hear from other locals who are going through this... I know how tough it is. I wish more restaurants were "HIP" to this. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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