Have you or a family member been diagnosed as Gluten Intolerance or Coeliac? Do you find it confusing? I know I did!
Gluten is actually a protein found in some grains – specifically, wheat (including spelt, triticale & kamut), rye, oats and barley. When gluten passes through the small intestine, the lining becomes damaged because the villi become inflamed and flattened. This then means that the body finds it hard to absorb water and nutrients from the food it is digesting. As time goes on, and more damage is done, stomach and bowel problems can occur, also nutritional deficiencies.
What can you do?
1. Read labels
If it is labeled “gluten-free”, then it is. But be careful, sometimes, things that look like they should be gluten free may not be, because they were processed in an area at risk of cross-contamination. More and more products are being released as “gluten-free”, keep an eye on your supermarket shelves for g/f sauces, baking powder, stock powders, gravies etc. Always read both the ingredients list and the allergens box on the label.
2. Food preparation
If you are cooking gluten-free and regular meals, you must store the foods separately to avoid cross-contamination. You may need to keep separate containers of spreads and butter/margarine for the g/f people in your home. Cook g/f before regular, even on the bbq, making sure that the preparation area and utensils are all thoroughly cleaned of any cross-contaminants. Either have another toaster, or clean out your toaster thoroughly of any “regular” crumbs.
Xanthan gum, or guar gum are both available from health food stores, some supermarkets and specialty shops. Basically, they act as a binding agent in the flour and reduce crumbling. You can use them at a rate of 1/4 teaspoon of gum per 150gm of flour for cakes; for breads, use 1 teaspoon of gum per 150gm of flour; for pizza crusts, use 2 teaspoons of gum per 150gm of flour.
You can mix up your own flour and if you do, sift it at least 3 times and replace it by weight, not volume. Here are some suggestions:
- Plain Flour
- Mixture no 1 – Mix 6 parts rice flour with 2 parts potato flour and 1 part tapioca flour
- Mixture no 2 – Mix 2 parts soy flour with 1 part rice flour and 1 part potato flour
- Mixture no 3 – Mix 1 part each of soy flour and potato flour: soy flour and rice flour
- Self-raising Flour
- Put 2 tablespoons potato flour into a measuring cup, then add enough white rice flour to fill the cup. Sieve the mix into a bowl and add ½ teaspoon each of bi-carb soda and cream of tartar, and 1 teaspoon xanthan (or guar) gum.
Read the labels carefully, while the actual medication may not have gluten in it, it may be included to make them easier to handle and swallow.
Drinks like wine (including sparkling), liqueurs, fortifieds, and spirits are either made from gluten-free products, or are distilled, and suitable for consumption. However, beer, lager, stout, ale and Guinness will contain varying amounts of gluten, and are not suitable.
Living gluten-free can have its challenges, but it is quite achievable! There are a lot of resources available for information. Go to your local library and look for gluten-free recipe books, ask a dietician or nutritionist, and browse the ‘net.
“Coeliac Australia” is a good resource, too, they have branches in each state.
Guest Post by Coralie Gerhardy
Coralie was diagnosed as gluten intolerant 8 years ago, and has been feeling her way with it since then. As gluten-free awareness is growing, she has been able to make better choices with food, and loves it now!