Hidden Sources of Gluten

Many people are deciding to eliminate gluten from their diet, whether it has been advised by their healthcare practitioner, or they have done the research and decided that eliminating gluten from their diet will benefit them.  Many sources of gluten are obvious – the bagels and muffins, the pasta and cookies.  Yet gluten hides in the sneakiest of places.  In order to be truly gluten free and reap the health benefits of a gluten free diet, it is critical to recognize and avoid not only the commonly known sources of gluten, but the hidden sources of gluten as well.

Here are the most commonly discussed sources of gluten.

  • Wheat products
  • Rye products
  • Barley products

Here are some not so obvious places where gluten is present.

  • Bran
  • Couscous
  • Durum
  • Farina
  • Farro
  • Graham flour
  • Malt, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar, malt extract
  • Matzo
  • Oats, unless labeled gluten free
  • Orzo
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Tabbouleh
  • Triticale

Here are some places where gluten may be present.  If you are unsure, contact the manufacturer or avoid the product altogether.

  • Artificial flavors and colors
  • Beer
  • Breading
  • Broth
  • Caramel color or caramel flavor
  • Cereals
  • Emulsifiers
  • Flavored coffee and tea
  • French fries
  • Hot dogs and sausages
  • Hydrolyzed proteins
  • Imitation fish or imitation bacon bits
  • Lunch meats
  • Medications
  • Modified food starch
  • Natural flavors or natural colors
  • Pie fillings
  • Rice mixes
  • Rice pilaf
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces and marinades
  • Seasoning mixes
  • Smoke flavoring or liquid smoke
  • Soups
  • Soy sauce
  • Vegetarian meat substitutes
  • Worcestershire sauce

 

Farm Raised vs. Wild Caught Fish

farmed fish

When it comes to seafood, there is a real difference between farm raised and wild caught fish.  Wild caught fish is significantly healthier than farm raised fish, and it is better for the environment.

Farm raised fish are typically raised in tanks or pens in rivers, lakes, or the ocean.  Since they live in such compact and confined spaces, they contain more hormones, toxins, pesticides, antibiotics, fat, and diseases than fish that are allowed to be in their natural habitat.  Farmed fish have more than three times the saturated fat as wild.  Sea lice are common in farmed fish.  Since wild fish can swim near the fish farms, sea lice can infect the wild fish in the area, killing many juvenile fish.  Farmed fish are frequently fed antibiotics to try to control sea lice infestations and other diseases.  They are frequently given hormones to increase breeding and growth.  Farmed fish have been found to contain high levels of polybrominated diphenyl ether, or PBDE, which is a chemical used as a flame retardant.  PBDEs are thought to contribute to cancer.  Farmed fish have also been found to contain polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in levels 10 times higher than in wild caught fish.  PCBs are another potential carcinogen.

Wild caught fish swim the oceans, lakes, and rivers and therefore seek their own food.  This means that they are usually free from toxins, antibiotics, and hormones.  They also have much lower incidences of disease than are found in farm raised fish.  Their activity level also makes them lower in fat.  Wild salmon has 32% fewer calories than farmed salmon.  Wild caught fish are higher in protein and contain more Omega 3 fatty acids.

While it is true that farm raised fish is less expensive than wild caught fish, it is beneficial to your health and to the environment to make the choice to purchase only wild caught fish.

How Safe Are Microwave Ovens?

Most of us have been using microwave ovens to defrost, warm, or cook our food for decades.  They’re quick, efficient, and so commonplace that most people don’t think twice about using them.  Almost all kitchens have one, but are they as harmless as we have been led to believe?  What are microwave ovens doing to our food and our environment?

Approximately 90% of American homes have a microwave in the kitchen.  Most people trust that cooking food in a microwave is perfectly safe, and doesn’t negatively impact the food or the people around them; however there is abundant evidence to prove that this is not true.  Microwave ovens alter the chemical and molecular structure of food through radiation.  Once food has been microwaved, the body no longer recognizes it as food and sees it as a foreign substance.  The body doesn’t know what to do with this foreign substance, so it holds onto it and stores it.  To the body, it is no longer a food, but a chemical.  Microwave cooking robs the food of its nutrients, and converts the food into a potentially toxic and carcinogenic product.

Not only do microwaves strip food of its nutrients and create carcinogens in the food, just being near a running microwave poses serious health risks.  It has been found that every microwave oven leaks electromagnetic radiation.  Exposure to the energy field around an operative microwave is enough to cause adverse consequences.

Microwaves are convenient and can heat food quickly, but at what cost?  There are plenty of alternatives to microwave cooking.  They might take a few minutes longer to warm your food, but the health benefits far outweigh any small inconvenience of waiting those few extra minutes.  Toaster ovens are a quick and convenient way to heat or cook small quantities of food.  Conventional ovens or stove tops can also be used relatively quickly.

Unplug your microwave – your body will thank you.

 

Gluten Free Grains

Eating gluten free can be simple and delicious.  There are many gluten free grains that are easy to prepare that can become a healthy part of a gluten free diet.  Here are some gluten free grains and some ways to prepare them.  Enjoy!

 

Brown Rice:

Brown rice is similar to white rice, but has been processed less and retains many nutrients missing in white rice.  It is excellent as a side dish, a base for soups, or sir fry.

Cooking instructions:  Bring 2 1/2 cups of liquid to a boil and add 1 cup of brown rice.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.

 

Wild Rice:

Wild rice has a nutty flavor and remains slightly chewy after cooking.  It is commonly found mixed with brown rice as a wild rice blend, and is great as a side dish.  It can also be used in the same ways as brown rice.

Cooking instructions:  Bring 3 cups of liquid to a boil and add 1 cup of wild rice.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer just until kernels puff open, about 40 to 45 minutes.  Drain off any excess liquid.

 

Quinoa:

Quinoa is actually a seed, and a complete protein.  It can be eaten as a side dish, added to salads, or as a gluten free substitute for bulgur wheat in tabbouleh recipes.  Cooking it in broth adds even more flavor.

Cooking instructions:  Rinse quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter tasting outer layer.  Bring 2 cups of liquid to a boil and add 1 cup of quinoa.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Teff:

Teff is moist with a sweet yet slightly bitter flavor.  The ivory variety is milder than the brown.  Teff can be used in pilafs, porridge, or stuffing.

Cooking instructions:  Bring 3 cups of liquid to a boil and add 1 cup of  teff.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

 

Millet:

Millet has a flavor similar to corn and can be used in any dish that calls for rice or quinoa.

Cooking instructions:  Bring 2 1/2 cups of liquid to a boil and add 1 cup of millet.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 18 minutes, then let stand for 10 minutes.  This will produce separate, fluffy grains.  Adding more liquid and stirring frequently will produce a creamy dish.

 

Amaranth:

Amaranth can be eaten as either a sweet or savory dish.  It has a slightly peppery flavor, and it is a complete protein.

Cooking instructions:  Bring 2 cups of liquid to a boil and add 1 cup of amaranth.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Buckwheat:

Buckwheat is a gluten free seed, despite its name.  Buckwheat groats can be made into a hot cereal or added to soups.

Cooking instructions:  Bring 2 cups of liquid to a boil and add 1 cup of buckwheat.  Cover and reduce heat to simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

 

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