My Kitchen Wisdom
Q: I have to be gluten-free, otherwise I feel just lousy. I was wondering if you had any special tips or recipes for eating gluten free? Thanks, Emily
A: If I asked you ten years ago if you knew anyone who was following a gluten free diet, you would have given me a blank stare in response. Now it seems I can quickly rattle off a long list of people I am acquainted with who have either experimented with a gluten free diet or are presently living a life devoid of baguettes. While some people, including myself, go gluten free for cleanse or detoxification purposes, many do so after discovering they either have a gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease.
I present a BIG disclaimer…I am not a doctor. There are countless books, websites and blogs dedicated fully to this topic. This topic changes by the minute, so I will keep my “medical” information brief. Gluten is a generic name for protein found in grains. Every grain has its own protein. The most common gluten problems are found within wheat, barley, and rye. When people are affected by gluten they may fall anywhere on a large scale from those with a mild intolerance to those with Celiac Disease. People with gluten intolerance have issues digesting the proteins. Celiac Disease or CD for short is much more serious. CD is an inherited autoimmune condition that causes intestinal damage when one with the disease ingests any amount of wheat, barley or rye. The frightening part about CD is you may not have symptoms and if left untreated, you can do irreversible harm to your body. If someone in your family has CD, you feel crummy after eating gluten or what I just said made you paranoid, please go to a doctor and get tested. Knowing if you have a gluten problem and where you fall on the scale will make it easier to get on a gluten free (GF) diet and stick with it.
Is life over if you have to go gluten free? Absolutely not, though I am sure my gluten obsessed husband would disagree. My recommendation is do not get overwhelmed by the amount of food items you cannot eat. There are so many more that you can.
Think clean and simple…meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices, oats, rice, corn and quinoa. Aside from wheat, barley, and rye, the above foods are the main diet of the majority of the world and have been since humans walked the earth. It is only in recent decades that foods have become processed with stabilizers and preservatives (many of which contain gluten). Make a list of all of the meals that you already eat that are gluten free. Enjoy those meals with abandon.
Get support…Find someone who is already living gluten free and has a similar level of intolerance. Ask for their advice. Check out magazines and blogs with up to date info and recipes. (See below for a list of resources and recipes). A little support when starting a new diet and lifestyle goes a long way.
Everyday things to make life easier… Get familiar with ingredients such as rice flour, potato flour, arrowroot, tapioca, Xanthan gum and wheat free tamari. (Advice to sushi lovers…bring along a bottle of the gluten free tamari when you hit your favorite sushi spot. There is no need to forgo salty soy goodness with your sashimi). Oats are fine, but people with CD have to worry about cross contamination during processing. Look for oats that are labeled Gluten Free. Get a bread machine. It will save you a ton of money. Pamela’s brand mixes for bread, brownies, etc are the #1 most recommended of my friends. I recommend looking for retailers like amazon.com who sell by the case. Udi brand premade breads are also popular and are found in the freezer sections of many grocery stores. Find restaurants that have gluten free (GF) menu items. Please note, most all commercial kitchens have flour floating around in them. Some people may be more sensitive to the cross contamination than others. Those folks in Teton Valley can find GF pizza crust at Tony’s, GF bread for sandwiches at Thyme Out and my favorite, the Florentiner at Pendl’s Pastries. (Florenteiners can be ordered on the website for delivery during the Christmas holiday season.) Need an adult beverage? Wine, rum, tequila and potato vodka are in the clear. There are even GF beers on the market.
Finally…if your favorite food contains gluten and you can’t find a GF version or those commercially made are not to your liking, try and recreate it yourself. This is a great opportunity to learn how to cook new things, eat wholesome foods and live a healthier life. A life without gluten is still a life worth living!
Lemon Chicken with Croutons
Makes 2-4 servings (depending on appetite)
I made Ina Garten’s version of this recipe for a friend with CD and her family. Ina stuffs a whole fryer chicken with the lemons, which is great for serving a large group. For those of you like me, who have two people to feed and a dislike for multiple days of leftovers, chicken thighs work well. You can find Ina’s recipe here. Any gluten free bread will do for this recipe, but Pamela’s white sandwich bread is especially sweet and delicious. Make the croutons while the chicken is roasting.
4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
2 medium onions (preferably sweet), thin sliced (~6 cups)
1 ½ lemons, sliced
5-6 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4-5 slices gluten free sandwich bread, such as Uti’s or Pamela’s
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Place onions in a large cast iron skillet, Dutch oven or roasting pan. Toss with 2 Tbs olive oil.
Brush butter on chicken thighs and season with salt and pepper. Place chicken on top of onions. Slide one lemon slice under the skin of each thigh and lay the remaining lemon slices over the chicken.
Place dish in oven and roast for 45 minutes or until chicken registers 160ºF and its juices run clear when pierced. The onions should be caramelized (the darker they are, the better). If they are not, remove the chicken from the pan and return the onions to the oven to continue cooking while the chicken rests. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes. (It will continue cooking during this time).
Portion out the croutons to each plate. Top with onions, chicken and any drippings left in the pan. Remove lemon slice from under the chicken skin. Dig in.
Cut up gluten free bread into crouton shaped squares. Heat a large skillet until hot. Reduce the heat to low, add 3 Tbs olive oil and bread. Season bread with salt and pepper and toss frequently, adding more olive oil if bread seems dry. Sauté until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
Gluten Free Resources:
Celiac Disease Foundation
Celiac Spruce Association Diet and Lifestyle Info
USDA Food Allergies and Intolerance Resource List
Living Without Magazine
Gluten Free Girl
Gluten Free Goddess
Pamela’s Products Website
Whole Foods List of Gluten Free Foods that the Grocer Retails and Links to more GF sites
Wegman’s Grocery Store Gluten Free Products
Bon Appetit Top 6 Gluten Free Products
Fresh Gluten Free Egg Pasta I am not a fan of rice pasta, so I am dying to try and make this.
More Single Chef Gluten Free Recipes I didn’t realize how many recipes I already had that were gluten free!
Mel’s Veggie Burgers (replace the 1 Tbs flour with rice, potato or oat flour)
Broiled Lamb with a Balsamic Demi-Glace
Simple French Lentils and Veggies
Sausage, Spuds and Cabbage
Pork Chops and Apples in a Cream Sauce
Halibut with a Warm Grapefruit Butter Sauce
Meatloaf (Substitute GF oats for the breadcrumbs or make your own breadcrumbs. Tear GF bread into chunks and leave out overnight. Put in food processor and pulse until they reach the desired consistency).