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Gluten-Free Meals

gluten free family cookbookPreparing gluten-free meals may seem overwhelming at first because it may seem like there is a whole new set of ingredients and combinations needed to make healthy meals. Even though there are lots of new and appetizing ideas, you can start with what you know and gradually learn about substituting different ingredients in your favorite recipes. There are also many specialty products available now, so you can have all the pasta, different kinds of bread, baked items, sauces, thick soups and cereals that you thought you would have to give up. A few examples of gluten-free meals based on what you already eat are:

  • Puffed corn or rice cereal with fresh fruit
  • Granola (with gluten-free oats) and seeds, nuts and dried fruit
  • Eggs and bacon can become a designer omelet by adding mozzarella, turkey or onions and tomatoes
  • Chicken with rice soup—it’s easy to add lentils or beans and vegetables
  • Pasta—there are many types of gluten-free pasta
  • Baked potato—scoop out the potato from the skin and mix with cheese, onions and vegetables and put the mixture back in the skin
  • Salad—a side dish or a complete meal, salads are versatile. Add raw vegetables, chickpeas, sunflower seeds with a tangy dressing
  • Fruit flavored yogurt can be poured over a bowel of fresh fruit or granola

A gluten free support group online for people who need to follow a gluten-free diet is one of the best places to get ideas for interesting and tasty meals. People who have been doing it for years can give tips to beginners, and help them make the transition much easier. They are a group of people who care about your wellbeing.

Contamination of Gluten-free Items

For a manufacturer to claim their product to be gluten-free is no guarantee that the product is actually free of gluten. There is no legal standard and tests are not required to make such a claim. If there is no gluten in the ingredients of the product, they may say the product is gluten-free without considering the environment where the product was processed or the ingredients of additives. Any grain can become contaminated by being in the same truck, mill or bagging facility as well as coming from the same farm.

Whenever a gluten-free food item comes in contact with wheat, rye or barley there is the possibility of cross-contamination. It can be as simple as leaving a few crumbs of wheat bread in the same butter that a person uses who needs to eat gluten-free. Even a very small amount of gluten can cause pain and diarrhea for some people. Others may not have any immediate symptoms, but the damage is still done.

Contamination can also happen during the manufacture or packaging of gluten-free products. If there is any dust from wheat flour in the same facility, it can contaminate the product. Most manufacturers are very well educated on gluten intolerance and will answer any questions if you call the 800 number on the package.

Keeping a gluten-free kitchen at home can be difficult if normal wheat flour is also used for other people. It is best never to prepare two different types of meals at the same time. If you cook with wheat products, do it on a different surface, put everything away and clean the area before starting a gluten-free meal in a different part of the kitchen. Better yet, make gluten-free meals for everyone. It cuts cooking time and shows support for the friend or family member who has special needs.