Going Gluten Free Ain’t Always Easy

Oat grains in their husks

Do you find it easy to go gluten free? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month and organizations around the country will be working to raise awareness about the condition and how those who have it have learned to live with it.  Celiac disease causes damage to the lining of the small intestine by creating an abnormal immune system reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and anything made with or from those products.  The damage makes it difficult for people with this condition to absorb the food they need in order to be healthy.  People with celiac disease must generally adhere to a gluten-free diet, which can be much harder than it sounds.

Let’s take a look at a typical weeknight dinner and determine what would have to change in order for that meal to be gluten-free (g-free).

Dinner starts with a Green Salad that calls for you to pick your own dressing.  You may be thinking that with only veggies and salad dressing this starter is a g-free slam dunk.  You might be right, but you might also be wrong; it completely depends on the salad dressing you choose.  This highlights one of the things that can make adhering to a g-free diet so difficult; there is gluten hiding in places you would never suspect.  Check the ingredients of any salad dressing you are looking to put on your salad against the Unsafe G-Free Ingredient List at Celiac.com.

You could also skip the Salad Dressing all together and replace it with the Country Garden Salad instead, just be sure to make your dressing with g-free mayo.

For our main course, we are serving Beef Stroganoff.  This is a great example of how you may have to swap out an entire entrée to get to a g-free dinner.  Although the stroganoff can be served over pasta or potatoes, it doesn’t really matter since there is already gluten in the sauce.  Your best bet here is to swap to a new recipe like Hearty Hamburger Stew and avoid the issue entirely.  You can also purchase g-free flour specifically made to replace wheat flour in recipes and create a g-free Stroganoff

We definitely need some side dishes for this g-free meal and vegetables are always a good bet.  First, let’s have Creamy Potatoes which may be g-free from the get go, but you won’t know until you check the ingredients on the label of the cream of chicken soup.  If the soup is g-free, you have yourself a solid side dish.  If not, look for a replacement or use additional sour cream or plain yogurt to enhance the creaminess without introducing gluten.   Our second side dish is Garlic Roasted Summer Squash and doesn’t need a single change to make it on tonight’s g-free menu.

For dessert, most cookies, cakes, and pies are out of the question unless they are specific created using g-free ingredients, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have any dessert.  Serve up a scrumptious dish of Sauteed Apples and your family can finish off their g-free meal in style.

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