Monday, June 14, 2010

Going Without Gluten

I have recently begun seeing a doctor for some issues I've been having. I suspected hormonal imbalances, but he tested several other things to make sure we didn't miss anything (thyroid, adrenal function, neurotransmitters, vitamin D levels, the list was not short). One thing that came up--something we had not anticipated--is that I have a mild intolerance for gluten. (A test result of 13-14 is "borderline intolerance" and 15+ is intolerance, with 30+ being severe intolerance. My result was 16.) I got these results the day before we left on our trip, so I haven't been able to do much about them yet. My doctor recommends going completely gluten-free immediately. The information pages he gave me suggest that if I stick to a strict gluten-free diet for 3-4 months, then after that (because I have a milder intolerance) I can have something with gluten once every week or so.
I am thoroughly overwhelmed.
Going gluten-free would require some MAJOR changes in how I cook (starting with no more homemade whole wheat bread...) and honestly I am feeling very lost in how to start. I know there are lots of GF families out there, and I'm hoping that perhaps you can help me in three ways:
  1. Can you recommend specific websites and/or books that will be helpful for me in understanding better what gluten-intolerance is, how it works, and for goodness sake which foods have gluten and which don't (for example oatmeal--I'm finding conflicting information on whether it's ok or not).
  2. Can you recommend specific websites/cookbooks where I can get good GF recipes?!
  3. Are there ways to prepare gluten-containing foods so that the gluten is already broken down and therefore not a problem? For example, if I sprout my wheat before grinding it into flour, then can I eat it? What about soaking? This is actually something I'm very hopeful about, especially since my intolerance is on the very mild end of the spectrum. I would vastly prefer to find a way I can just cook for my whole family, rather than having to cook separately for myself...and trust me this family is not giving up carbs.
I really appreciate any help you can offer. ☺

18 comments:

Mallory said...

I don't know much about gluten and how to have a diet free of it...but I have heard about making stuff with bean flour, because it doesn't have gluten in it. If you have a nice grinder (that can grind beans) it is really easy to make bean flour. And if you do a Google search on bean flour, you will find a TON of gluten free websites (and recipes). Good luck!

throwslikeagirl74 said...

I'm sure you've already seen it but the 365 days of slowcooking blog is all gluten free. :) http://www.crockpot365.blogspot.com/

Mommy Bee said...

I found this site http://www.gluten.net/ "The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America" or GIG. It has a ton of info about how to get started on going gluten-free, and also a very helpful video explaining the differences between allergies and intolerances (Celiac Disease is a gluten allergy, and needs to be responded to differently than just an intolerance. Some symptoms that look like gluten intolerance/allergy may actually be a reaction to a different protein--not gluten--in wheat).

In my case, I *know* that the reaction is to gluten because I was tested specifically for gliadin--gluten. However I find the information helpful, and though I'd share it here for the sake of anybody else reading.

Mommy Bee said...

I also want to thank D for this email (and am reposting it here for the sake of anyone else who is seeking the info)


URLs with GF recipes:

http://www.glutenfreecookingschool.com/

http://glutenfreefoodreviews.com/

http://glutenfreemommy.com/

http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/

http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/

http://lovinggfcf.blogspot.com/

http://simplygluten-free.blogspot.com/

http://gingerlemongirl.blogspot.com/

http://gfcfexperience.blogspot.com/

As for the oatmeal, you can buy GF oatmeal (Bob's Redmill is one brand), but it's pricey. The deal with oats is cross-contamination. As you go GF, and it can take a while to get it out of your system, you'll eventually learn what sets off your triggers. If oats don't, then no worries! Your intolerance may be considered on the "low end of the spectrum" medically, but it may have a big impact on your health. I recently read (I think it was on a recipe site) about a gluten intolerant woman who basically loses the ability to walk when she ingests gluten, but her intolerance barely registers on the blood tests. You will be the best judge of what you can eat and how much, after you've had a period of detox. Some people have to have separate toasters and cooking utensils (especially cutting boards and whatnot), and for others it’s just not that big a deal.

You'll still be able to make good homemade wholegrain bread... it just won't be whole wheat! Look for ppl’s recipes for substitute flour mixes. They’re usually pretty complicated to mix up (guar gum, xantham gum, tapioca, and fava bean flour aren’t exactly sitting on my pantry shelf), but once made they make life a lot easier. You can make decent baked goods if you have a good mix.

There is hidden gluten in all kinds of processed things (barley flavoring in Rice Crispies, for instance), so you'll want to be pretty vigilant in the beginning. Because you're such a good "from scratch" cook, this will be a much easier transition for you than it is for some people. Our favorite brands, off the top of my head: Van’s waffles, Lay’s potato chips, Rice Chex cereal, fritos, Food Should Taste Good chips, Udi’s bread, Betty Crocker GF cake mixes.

There is a lot of weird information out there about intolerance vs. allergy, because ppl tend to incorrectly interchange the words.

I don't know about partially broken down gluten, but there are enzymes you can take that help the digestion of some gluten. I remember reading that Jenny McCarthy uses them so she can eat a few slices of regular pizza.

If you focus on what you can eat, rather than what you can’t, you’ll do better. “Ethnic” foods are generally easier to make gf than the all-American type stuff. Just think, you never have to sit through another box of Hamburger Helper again J You will get to eat tons of fajitas on corn tortillas!

Mommy Bee said...

D also shared this link for a gluten-free bread. I think I'll be picking up xanthian gum and brown rice flour this afternoon so I can try it out http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/05/how-to-make-gluten-free-sandwich-bread-recipe.html

Niki said...

Jenni,
With it being fishing season, we will be making some more trips down to the area so if you needed or wanted something in some larger quantities from up here let me know and we can work it out.

Mommy Bee said...

GF "monster cookies" (made with oatmeal, but no special/weird ingredients) http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1710,147173-226204,00.html

Destiny said...

Most of the recipes on http://www.5dollardinners.com/ are gluten free. Good luck finding recipes.

Becky N. said...

I feel for you. I think I would majorly panic (and probably majorly fail) if I were told to go gluten-free. But it seems like it's getting easier these days, as more and more people seem to be intolerant.

I *just* started subscribing to a recipe blog, and she also has a separate blog (linked below) dedicated just to allergen-free recipes. There's nut stuff, but there's also lots of gluten-free stuff, too. Maybe it will be helpful to you!
http://lynnskitchenadventures.com/lra/

megandjon said...

I don't know if this is enough for your intolerance level, perhaps you can try it in a few months when you can have more wheat and gluten again, but i do know that spelt has much lower levels of gluten and that making bread sourdough style, instead of with commercial yeast, can often help people with mild gluten intolerances. Real yeast--the kind that grows naturally and slowly from sourdough start, digests the wheat and gluten, so to speak, for you and breaks it down and makes it more digestable. You might look into it! Good luck!

Janeen said...

I am actually staying with a friend currently who is on a gluten free diet. Her five year old is as well. I can certainly ask her for any information to pass on to you. She actually follows more of a raw/vegetarian diet these days due to other health issues that have come up for her. I will say, it's been a challenge not being able to get a lot of the foods I am used to getting but it has definitely narrowed my focus to the perimeter of the grocery store. lol With a five year old, the concern is obviously that she could get into something that's not good for her especially as she's still prone to putting her hands near her mouth (even art projects can be a problem as things like play dough, finger paints, etc are not gluten free).

And yes, I think I do miss bread the most. I love my wheat bread (and was already missing it a ton having been in South Korea) and the gluten free bread definitely has a different taste but I figure it's all good in the long run because then I'm filling up on foods that are probably better for me, especially as far as carbs go. It's amazing how easy it is to fill up on carbs like bread and pasta and not fill up as much on veggies. Now, I'm actually getting more veggies in my diet since I'm not filling up on the other stuff.

Marti said...

Changing diet so completely can be WAY intimidating, but at least you know what monster to go after...so many people suffer from health problems without having any idea of the cause. You can do it!

Whitney said...

Substitute pulse flours into most things. A group in my capstone class at college worked with a company on ways they could increase their margins on their pulses. The group ended up looking into the gluten free market, but the company was obviously concerned about taste because everyone thinks GF diets are gross. The group made a few things for the class to try and they were actually pretty good. Pulse flour makes good tortillas, cookies, etc. The problem is when you use it for breads that need to rise. The dry pea and lentil council website has a cookbook for using pulses if you're interested. Pulses are quite cheap, but the flour is not so I would recommend getting a grinder that will work for those if you don't already have one.

laminathegreat said...

my younger sister has been GF. She recently picked up the newest 'bread in 5 min a day' book which has a GF recipe in it. I guess she ate most of the loaf of bread. By herself. In less than an afternoon.
http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/
http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=1396

PaTcHwOrK jEnN said...

Get a Vitamix with a dry container for grinding all your bean/rice flours. It will pay for itself in no time as gluten free flour is expensive. My friend does gluten free and her garbanozo bean pancakes rock and her chocolate cake she made with rice flour was good.

Mommy Bee said...

(from another friend)

I talked to my friend who is gluten free and she recomended www.glutenfreeregistry.com that helps you find gluten free dining/grocery stores, etc. Not sure how much that will help in Alaska, lol

she also recommended googling the food name and "gluten" to see if it is gluten free or not

Mommy Bee said...

a great place i found--a long list of GF blogs!

http://crispycook.blogspot.com/2010/02/updated-list-of-gluten-free-blogs.html

Jenni said...

I also discovered http://www.zeer.com/ where you can input a food (eg "S&W tomato sauce" or "Bryers vanilla bean ice cream") and it will list off the ingredients, including which ones have gluten. It's definitely a fast/easy way to figure out what's ok and what's not!

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