Coeliac disease is a lifelong and serious condition caused by the immune system reacting to gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and some other grains. The only treatment is to follow a strict gluten free diet for life.
For those newly diagnosed with the condition, the prospect of a strict gluten-free diet may seem a little overwhelming at first, but as they say, knowledge is power, and with these handy tips, the transition should be relatively easy.
1. Read Food Labels
All packaged food in Australia is required to include allergen warnings in their product information panel, so you should be able to ascertain if a product is suitable for a gluten free diet by reading this. If a cereal containing gluten has been used in the ingredients it should be listed in the ingredients (no matter how little is used)
2. Learn about gluten-free substitutes, and use them.
Pasta, bread, crackers and many other common foods contain gluten, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy these foods. Switch to gluten -free alternatives of your favourite foods; if Sue’s Gluten Free doesn’t currently stock what you’re looking for, contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your request as soon as possible and will notify you when we have them in store. We stock a good range of pasta, bead, crackers, cereals, snack foods and more.
3. Remember, a lot of foods are naturally gluten-free.
Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, cheese, eggs and many other common foods are naturally gluten-free. Use these as the basis for your meals.
4. There are many naturally gluten-free grains and cereals.
Following a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean that all grains and cereals are no longer on the menu. Quinoa, amaranth, teff, polenta, corn, tapioca and millet are just some of the naturally gluten-free grains available at Sue’s Gluten Free. We only sell uncontaminated versions that are certified gluten free, so you are quite safe ordering on-line. Swap normal breadcrumbs for quinoa or rice crumbs, or opt for buckwheat or rice based noodles or pasta; experiment with different flours.
5. Don’t be afraid to eat out with family and friends.
Being on a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean you can’t eat out. Most restaurants can provide gluten free options of many meals. If in doubt about anything, ask the wait person. Better still, if you know in advance where you’re going, phone ahead and find out about your options. Google gluten free friendly restaurants and cafes in your area.Even in the small country town we live in I can confidently go to any of the cafes and restaurants knowing I can find something safe on the menu.
Most beers, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten as one of their ingredients is barley, so these are not suitable for a gluten free diet. There are a few gluten-free beers available on the market, but make sure you only consume those that are suitably labelled. The good news is that wine is fine.
7. Cross Contamination
For someone who suffers from coeliac disease even the tiniest bit of gluten can cause unpleasant symptoms, so make sure you minimise the risk of cross contamination. Wash down kitchen surfaces before use; use separate butters, spreads and jams and if possible, have a ‘gluten free’ toaster.
8. Avoid Sauces Containing Gluten
Lots of commercial pasta sauces, gravies, stocks and condiments contain wheat flour, and therefore gluten; ensure you read the labels and exclude anything unsuitable. Try making your own using alternative flours such as corn starch, potato starch, tapioca flour or plain gluten-free flour to thicken them. Sue’s Gluten Free has a wide range of flours available.
Finding the right gluten-free substitute for your recipes is a matter of experimentation and personal taste. Spend time in the kitchen getting used to different products. One of the best I’ve found for including in cakes is Orgran Gluten Free Gluten. Sounds weird but it works. I even make an acceptable Yorkshire Pudding by replacing some of the flour (gluten free of course) with this product.
10. Gluten Free can be just as delicious.
Think Orange and Almond cake, Macarons, Crème Brulee and Panacotta to name a few. I’ve adjusted most of my recipes to accommodate a gluten-free diet quite successfully. We stock many items that taste just like the ‘real thing’ including lollies and snack foods.
If we can help you in any way with your gluten free requirements, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Each of these points will be expanded on in future blogs. Feel free to email comments to the above email address, or if you’re in the area, drop into our shop for a chat