Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eliminating Gluten

When you say gluten free some people don't really know what that means. Gluten is a protein that is found in certain grains. Grains that contain the protein are wheat, barley, & rye. If you have Celiac Disease or are Gluten Intolerant that means you cannot eat anything that contains something that is derived from wheat, barley, rye or often oats. Oats seem to be somewhat controversial. I believe the reason is basically because oats are generally processed in plants that also process the other offending grains, which would then mean there are cross contamination issues. You can find oats labeled Gluten Free.

When you think gluten free you right away think of the big things like bread, pasta, baked goods. Often what you don't think of are the ordinary things you use every day. There are also hidden glutens in a wide variety of things from cooking spray, vitamins & medications, to (as my friend pointed out) the paste they use in dental cleanings. 

The question then becomes how do you guard against such things? You have to be super vigilant & pay extra attention reading labels. More & more companies are becoming aware of the need for gluten free labeling. Many of the items in stores that are not limited to the "Health Food" section declare that they are gluten free. For example: Our trip to Costco today, we were looking at the turkey & ham. I kind of felt stupid because I was scouring the back label & then realized it said right on the front it was gluten free. Same with tamales that I picked up, right there, nice & pretty on the front. 

If the packaging doesn't declare gluten free either on the front or the back usually below the list of ingredients it will say what it contains. The turkey gravy at Costco that we looked at was not gluten free & right there on the back it said clearly "Contains: wheat". I love it when they declare one way or the other. It makes it much easier & quicker to do your shopping. There are so many different names of things that are made from gluten products that it's kind of hard to spot every single thing. Right now since we're starting out on this journey our shopping times have gone up. Thankfully a coworker suggested to me that I get a gluten free app. The one that I use is called "Is that Gluten Free" & I LOVE it. I'm not as thrilled with the Dining Out app but the traditional one is great while you're shopping. You look for the category of food that you want, then listed by brand name are all those items that are verified gluten free. 

I will list some of the first things we learned & bought:

Ruffles & Lays Original Potato Chips-gluten free
Dorritos Nacho Cheese Chips - NOT gluten free, says contains wheat
Dorritos Spicy Nacho & Salsa Verde -gluten free

*Update: Frito Lay has now started to label their chip bags if they are Gluten Free

I find it very odd that the Nacho Cheese are not gluten free but the others are. I guess the cheese part makes the difference.

La Choy Soy Sauce-seems to be only brand in our area gluten free (Kikkoman also now makes a GF version, make sure it says GF on the label)
Heinz products- Heinz claims that all of their products are gluten free
Mission Corn Tortillas- gluten free
Nathan's hot dogs-they say on the package they are gluten free. None of the other brands we saw said that.
Glutino Apple Cereal Bars-gluten free but taste like apple filled sawdust
Brown Rice Bread-gluten free but taste like sawdust
Rice Krispies-Contain malt flavoring & malt is a no no (They now make a GF version, I've bought some from Amazon)
Nature's Path Maple Sunrise-gluten free & pretty tasty
Honey Nut Chex Cereal-gluten free & very tasty
Corn Chex & Rice Chex-also gluten free, not particularly tasty but used in some gluten free recipes.
Gluten Free Bisquick - makes excellent pancakes & also used as an alternative for pie crusts & other things. As a side note for my friend allergic to corn it's made from rice & potato flour & only declares that it may contain soy.
Vans Gluten Free Frozen Waffles-found these in SaveMart in the freezer section & they weren't too bad
La Victoria Salsa-it appears that most if not all La Victoria salsa is gluten free. I have always used this on my tacos.

Update as of 12/16/11

Udi's White Sandwich bread is my favorite. I use it for everything from toast, sandwiches, hamburgers, garlic bread etc. I always eat it toasted & prefer it that way. Udi's also makes another bread (Millet, I believe) that is softer & more moist & some people prefer it.

Betty Crocker makes a variety of GF baking box mixes. If you can't find them in your local stores check out

Santitas are my favorite brand of taco type chips.

Nutella!-I lived through most of my pregnancy eating toast with nutella & bananas on it


I can't think right now of any of the regular food items that we bought but you really have to be careful with sauces especially. Most sauces contain gluten as a filler. It's also often used in lunch meat & other types of packaged meats, especially pork.

Now to cross contamination. If you read my first post you saw how I cross contaminated myself. I had even read about dipping into the mayo jar but I was so focused on the obvious things & worried my husband was going to cross contaminate me that I did it to myself. I also almost got cross contaminated at my 2nd meal with my in-laws. We fixed tacos & just in case, we separated my corn tortillas & my lettuce. The one thing I didn't think of was the avacado dip that I make. I was thinking the whole meal was gluten free since we were eating corn tortillas but at the end of having everything ready my mother in law wanted flour tostadas. That should have triggered the thought for me to put some of the dip in my own bowl but it did not. Those of us that like the dip generally put it on our tacos. I had 2 of my 3 tacos made when my mother in law spooned out some dip & spread it on her flour tortilla. Now, it's a very awkward thing. I don't want to cause a fuss. I don't want people to think they have to cater to me. So there was that moment as she spread her dip around that I thought, "do I not say anything & just eat these two? or have my last without dip? Or do I just tell her?" I knew that I had to decide soon before she put the spoon back in so I decided that if this is the way that I am going to have to live the rest of my life then I better say something. If I don't tell them, then they won't know. So I had the even more awkward moment of saying, "Stop! Please don't put that spoon back in the bowl!" followed by the blank look lol. I explained & quickly went & got a new spoon. Thankfully a friend of mine had just mentioned how that when she was at another of our friends house that is allergic to wheat she had to scoop with a spoon & then use a knife to spread from the spoon onto the bread. So the rest of the night if dip was needed for the flour tortillas they scooped with the good spoon & dropped onto the contaminated spoon.

Just thinking about that situation above almost exhausts me. It's a royal pain in the butt! If I didn't believe it was truly necessary for me, I wouldn't do it. I know there are some diets to lose weight that apply some of the gluten free lifestyle. I have no idea if they are supposed to be that vigilant or if it's mainly about cutting out the breads etc. I know that there are some Celiacs out there that actually have a separate section of their kitchen for gluten free preparing. They have their own pots, pans, utensils etc. I am hoping that we do not have to go quite so far in my home. My husband said that he would rather just prepare one meal than us have to prepare multiple meals. So when we're cooking at home, we will be cooking strictly gluten free meals. I think we're fine on our pots & pans but we probably need to buy some new utensils. There is special concern regarding wooden spoons or older, cracked plastics because even after washing there could still be gluten in those utensils. As of 12/16/11 my husband still eats regular bread so we have to be careful about cross contamination with anything we might spread on our bread. Also only he uses the regular toaster & all my bread goes in the toaster oven. I have a piece of aluminum foil on the tray that I change every so often, just as a precaution.

So that's the run down on some of the things we're doing now. As a side note on gluten free & losing weight, it appears that I have lost 10lbs already & my husband noticed that he lost 5lbs. I think it will be very beneficial for us as a family to eat gluten free. Not just because I have to, but it will make it simpler & less likely of cross contamination in our cooking. Also if I really do have Celiac Disease like we believe then the chances are fairly good that our son could have it as well. We don't plan to restrict him unless we are fairly certain & they say it's very hard to detect even through tests until children are 5 or older. So for now this is working well for us. I was very afraid at first because I wasn't sure what I could eat or if anything I could eat would taste any good but we've managed to find some pretty good meals or alternatives. I intend to start posting recipes of things we have tried & approve as yummy! Look for them soon!

Update as of 12/16/11
I don't believe my husband has actually lost anymore weight but even after being pregnant from 2/11 to 10/11 I now weigh 45lbs less than right before I went GF. Our oldest son has had the blood test & it came back negative. It's been nearly a year since he was tested but we are still noticing the same issues that lead us to him being tested in the first place. He's over 2yrs old now & we are growing more concerned by his low weight. We've been debating what to do & will be discussing it with his doctor next month.

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