Friday, June 28, 2013

Gluten Free....what does that mean exactly

We are by no means experts in the study of what gluten free means.  However, we are often asked if our products have gluten in them.  When we started making our products several years ago, it was clear we needed to learn a thing or two about gluten so we could give good information to those who are gluten sensitive, gluten-free, and those who suffer from celiac disease. 

To begin with, it is an oversimplification to say that gluten is found in wheat.  While that is true, the whole truth is that gluten is a protein and is found in wheat, barley, rye, kamut, spelt, couscous, triticale, and bulgur.  Those are the most obvious of the glutens.  

You might have noticed that oats are not on the list.  Turns out that oats do not naturally have gluten.  However, be aware that often oats get cross contaminated with the other grains listed.  Those who are celiac would not consume oats at all.

It turns out there is a whole host of what might be considered "hidden" glutens that I didn't even know existed. 

Here's what I learned:

*Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein has gluten, unless made from soy or corn flour. (often found in processed food)
*Cereal products have gluten, unless made from pure rice flour, corn flour, or soy flour (boxed cereal)
*Malt or malt flavoring has gluten, unless derived from corn. (often found in beer, baked goods, breads, breakfast cereal, milkshakes and candies)
*Vegetable protein has gluten, unless made from soy or corn. (often found in processed foods as a thickener or stabilizer)
*Modified starch or modified food starch has gluten, unless made from arrowroot, corn, potatoes, tapioca, maize. (often found in salad dressings, powdered mixes to help them dissolve and be smooth)
*Vegetable Gum has gluten, unless made from carob bean gum, locust bean gum, cellulose gum, guar gum, xanthan gaum or vegetable gum. (often found in processed food as a stabilizer)
*Soy sauce or soy sauce solids, unless you know they do not contain wheat. (often found in nut snacks, dairy free cheese, packaged side dishes)
*Anything on a food label using the terms stabilizer, starch, flavouring, emulsifier or hydrolyzed protein has gluten. (found in almost everything processed)

WOW!  That's a lot to know.  If you are gluten-free, I'm sure you have become a label reader. We write often about shopping for natural and organic products that will do your body good.  It seems that once again we learn that processed foods can be quite a problem, in this case regarding the types of gluten used there.  

Our good friend, Hanakia*, is allergic to quite a few things, including all glutens, rice, corn, yeast, name a few.  He loves to make and eat fried chicken.  So what does he do to replace the flour in the coating?  He found a solution.  He agreed to give us his personal recipe for his fried chicken wings.  We've had them and they are wonderful!  Here it is for you to try:

Healthy Portion of Bean Flour** in Large Ziplock Bag........Sprinkle in Seasoned Salt,
Louisiana Seasoning, and Cajun Seasoning to taste...yes taste it.
Throw in chicken wings, 3 or 4 at a time, shake and completely cover 
and sit on a large plate.
Fire up canola or non allergen vegetable or flower oil.
 Flip frequently until golden brown
and never forget to thank Hana for the yummy chicken every time! HZ
*A teacher/poet/all around good guy, and one heck of a kid brother. :)
**You can find bean flour along with organic seasonings in many grocery stores and all co-ops.
Here are a few suggestions of replacements for wheat flour:

Flour Alternatives
1 cup wheat flour =    1 cup millet flour, or:
1 cup cassava flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup chickpea flour or other bean flour
1 cup quinoa or amaranth flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup almond flour
For gluten free baking you can use a combination of chickpea flour and brown rice flour.

1 tbsp flour = 1 ½ tbsp arrowroot, or:
½ tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp tapioca flour
1 tbsp potato starch

For a more extensive look at gluten-free options take a look here.

As with all foods, know what you are eating, read the labels of everything in a box, bag, or can.  Be healthy and enjoy your meals!

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