What is gluten free?
Gluten free is more than just a diet trend. Most people have some level of gluten intolerance – from mild to full scale celiac disease – excess gluten can damage the villi (the absorptive surface) of the small intestine leading to poor nutrient absorption and even other serious health conditions including coeliac’s disease, infertility, auto-immune problems and more.
Gluten is part of the elastic, rubbery protein found in wheat, spelt, rye, barley, triticale, burghul, kamut. Gluten binds the dough in baking and prevents crumbling. It can be found in breads, cakes, pastries, cookies, biscuits, crackers, battered foods, cereals, snack foods, pastas and pizza. Because gluten is also used as a thickener and filler it is found in soups, gravies, sauces, processed meats, pickles, sweets, instant pudding and chocolate.
The ideal scenario is to avoid grains completely, particularly those rich in gluten (described previously). This initial change to gluten free habits leaves some people feeling like all the “fun is gone” but this is far from the truth! Food is to be enjoyed but not abused. Portion control is essential for good health. And the key is to find new foods and recipes to replace those grain and gluten containing ones you no longer will use.
10 Good Reasons to Avoid Grains and Go Gluten Free
- Grains (gluten containing or otherwise) are usually high glycaemic and cause blood sugar irregularities being a real problem for people with diabetes, hypoglycaemia, PCOS, and insulin resistance;
- Gluten is highly allergenic meaning the body will behave like it’s under attack and this may mean serious digestive disturbances, allergic reactions and more;
- Gluten is highly inflammatory which can lead to skin flare ups including eczema and psoriasis;
- Joint inflammation leading to increased body pain and exacerbated back problems;
- Gluten has been shown to decrease a woman’s ability to ovulate 1;
- Gluten has been linked to decreased couple fertility 1;
- Grains are bad for your teeth due high levels of phytates which also decrease nutrient absorption in the body;
- Eating grains makes you crave grains and sugar since grains break down into sugar, they create a rise in insulin levels when those levels fall you crave more grains and, thus, the vicious cycle continues;
- Avoiding gluten has been shown to improve mental health decreasing the symptoms of depression, schizophrenia and autism 2,3,4;
- Improve your energy levels! Gluten has also been shown to have a negative impact on energy levels—avoidance is the best policy 2!
There are loads of great gluten-free recipes and cookbooks out in the market these days. Just find one that suits your food preferences. Here are a couple of gluten free recipes to get you started and to enjoy responsibly!
Gluten Free Olive Oil Pastry Dough
A wonderful base for your pies and pastries… minus the gluten! Makes: 1 serving
- 1 cup whole bean flour
- ½ cup rice flour or tapioca flour
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (or preferably coconut oil), frozen
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup ice water
Method of Preparation
Measure flours into the bowl of a food processor, pulsing to sift. Add the salt and frozen olive oil or coconut oil. Combine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the motor running, add the water 1 tablespoon at a time. Stop when about half the water has been added to begin checking the consistency of the dough by pinching the crumbs. The dough should hold together but not be sticky. Add the remaining water as necessary.
Bring the dough together into a ball, and then flatten it into a disk. Wrap in waxed baking paper and refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180oC. If making a pie case, roll the chilled dough to about 0.5cm thick to fit a 25cm tart pan. Fit the dough in the pan and dock the dough with a fork. Line the dough with a circle of parchment or baking paper. Add dried beans or pastry weights. Blind bake for 12 minutes and allow cooling in the oven slightly before removing.
Gluten Free Flourless Brownie
Recipe Courtesy of Wholefoods Market http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/ No one will ever guess the secret ingredient in this recipe: black beans! Makes: 16 servings
- 1 (425g) can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup melted butter, more for the baking dish
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cane sugar
- 1/2 cup gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
Method of Preparation
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Butter 20cm baking pan. Place the black beans, eggs, melted butter, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Remove the blade and gently stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 30 to 35 minutes, or until just set in the centre. Cool before cutting into squares.
Gluten Free Diet Plans
If you would like further guidance for gluten free foods and menu planning including recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks and treats then subscribe to a fertility friendly and gluten-free diet plan today. With our gluten free food lists and menus you’ll never be short of healthy and deliciously good food to feed your family!
1. G.F. Meloni, S. Dessole, N. Vargiu, P.A. Tomasi and S. Musumeci. 1999. The prevalence of coeliac disease in infertility, European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Vol. 14, No. 11, 2759-2761
2. M. SINISCALCHI, P. IOVINO, R. TORTORA, S. FORESTIERO, A. SOMMA, L. CAPUANO, M. D. FRANZESE, F. SABBATINI & C. CIACCI. 2005. Fatigue in adult coeliac disease. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Volume 22 Issue 5, Pages 489 – 494
3. Millward C, Ferriter M, Calver S, Connell-Jones G. 2007. Gluten- and casein-free diets for autistic spectrum disorder (Review). The Cochrane Collaboration. Cochrane Library 2007, Issue 3
4. JR Rice, CH Ham, WE Gore 1978. Another look at gluten in schizophrenia American Journal of Psychiatry Volume 135 Issue 11