Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Restrictive Diet? Sites and Meal Ideas

I hear "gluten-free" more and more these days. My college roommate found out she had celiac's disease (allergy to gluten) a few years ago. Most recently, one of my oldest childhood friends was advised to try a restrictive diet for two weeks. She has to cut out Gluten; Citric Acid; MSG; Refined Sugar; and Aspartic Acid. I connected my two friends, but am still interested in the findings as a conscientious hostess. I thought it would make for a fine blog entry.
The million dollar question: What can she eat?????

Gluten: a composit of two proteins found in grass-related grains like wheat, rye and barley. (wiki)

Celiac's Disease is caused by a reaction to a gluten protein. http://www.celiac.com/ offers a wealth of information including recipes. The biggest task is reading labels - on everything that you would put in your mouth. Not only food products, but also Alcohol and OTC drugs. The average joe would be amazed at what has gluten thrown into the pot before selling a product!

There are books and websites that help point out the answer to our million dollar question. Bellow is some info that I found.

Book: Gluten Free Shopping Guide 2009/2010 edition
Basic Diet Information

"Safe Alcohol"
- many hard liquors and wine are safe if made from something other than wheat: potato vodka (Belvedere is my fav), rum, tequila, wines, gin, ciders, even gluten-free beer (read the labels - watch out for additives.)

"Safe Ingredients"
Corn Products (gluten, starch, meal, sugar, syrup, etc.)
Rice Products (flour, starch, syrup, vinegar)
Soy Products
Tapioca (flour, starch)

How to Adapt Recipes
1. Focus only on the items in the recipe that need to be adapted. Choose a recipe with very little flour or gluten-containing items. Sometimes the flour can be omitted. (Breading or flouring meats can easily be omitted for most recipes.) Concentrate on the major flavors. Serve simple fruit and vegetables while gaining skills. Think "omit" or "substitute" while reviewing a recipe. Perhaps mark problem ingredients in a recipe.

2. Avoid recipes that rely on convenience foods. Go back to the "from scratch" recipes the convenience food replaces. Learn to make the basic sauces and gravies often used in casseroles and soups.

3. Look in a gluten-free cookbook or Lifeline for a similar recipe. Compare proportions, they are the key. Flour and other ingredients that act as thickeners are compared to the amount of liquids in the recipe. Keep proportions nearly the same for your recipe. Given the same amount of liquid, it takes less starch to thicken than flour (cornstarch vs. corn flour).

4. Use commercial or home-made gluten-free substitutes. For example, gluten-free macaroni, bread and corn tortillas.

5. Don't make anything more complicated than it already is. But do take family health concerns, likes, dislikes and food dollars available into consideration.

I just made a great "gluten-free" breakfast: 1 egg (fried) and a salted sliced heirloom tomato from a neighbor. Tasty!

What are your best suggestions? Favorite meals? Favorite brands? Favorite websites?


City Girl said...

I stopped by to let you know I left you a blog award at my blog. Do come by and pick it up :)

Also, I am currently on a fairly restricted diet myself - pretty much a combination of your two friends (though I am currently only wheat-free, while the first 2 months was gluten-free as well) and also dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, sugar-free, no chemicals... etc etc. I blogged about it for a while this summer http://citygirllifestyle.blogspot.com/search/label/detox%20diet%20diaries so you might get some good recipe ideas there :)

One last note - because of being corn-free, I have been using tapioca starch to replace flour or cornstarch in sauce and, honestly, I like it better.

kat said...

I think you can learn a lot in the online cooking & baking groups like Recipes to Rival & Daring Bakers. There is always a group that are working on how to make the recipes gluten free, etc..

City Girl said...

Oh and here is t he link to the award