Stories, recipes and health info for the gluten challenged

America’s most popular g-free joints

odd_duckFoodista found it first: Urbanspoon compiled a list of the most popular g-free restaurants in America. I think a road trip is in order!

Find the list at Urbanspoon’s blog.

For those Living Without

As a foodie mag junkie, I love discovering new recipes and fantasizing about the ones that I would never attempt (Yorkshire pudding, I’m talking to you). But, being g-free means that a good portion of those recipes aren’t even relevant to me.

Enter Living Withoutliving-without, the food and lifestyle magazine for people with food allergies and sensitivities. I first encountered Living Without in the checkout aisle in Whole Foods. While being g-free doesn’t mean I’m nut-free, dairy-free or whatever-else-you-can-be-allergic-to-free, Living Without does a decent job of including content for readers of all interests. And, with simple recipes that use many readily available or easy to find ingredients, Living Without is a great reference for any g-free person’s kitchen.

Discover them here, where you can sign up to get a free recipe sent via email every week, or find an issue in your grocery store!

G-free: The fad

The interweb has been buzzing in recent months about a slew of celebrities who’ve gone g-free in the name of losing weight. If you’re here because your coworker’s counsin’s best friend from gradeschool went g-free and lost, like, 30 pounds, I’m about to disappoint you: G-free doesn’t equal weight loss.

Gluten-FreeAccording to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a g-free diet has not been shown to aid weight loss. The only potential benefit, says Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C., in this US News article, is that a g-free diet means you’re cutting out the refined, high-calorie carbs found in things like pasta, bread and baked goods. But as any g-free person knows, you can still score pasta, brownies, cookies, bread and many more diet-offending food in their g-free forms.

So if there’s no proof that going g-free helps shed pounds, why would anyone elect to go g-free when a medical need doesn’t exist? Rachel Krantz at The Daily Beast has an interesting theory: People need a socially acceptable reason for an extreme diet (read: eating disorder).

People suffering with eating disorders thrive on the need for control, says a 2008 study by the International Program of Psycho-Social Health Research in Australia. According to Krantz, the ultra-controlled diet required by g-free eating provides ample opportunity to obsessively control every item eaten, without the stigma associated with eating disorders. Miley Cyrus had to publicly debunk rumors of an eating disorder, instead crediting her g-free diet for her super slim physique.

If you’re considering a g-free diet to lose weight, experts (even this unofficial one) agree that a traditional low calorie, low fat diet paired with an active lifestyle is the best way to shed weight and keep it off. Check out MyLifecheck for some easy tips and healthy living information.

Sausage & fennel risotto

This delicious one-pot meal is perfect anytime. Simplify it by subbing the arborio rice and laborious risotto process and making your own white rice in chicken broth. You’ll want to have at least 3 cups of cooked rice.

Ingredients

  • 3 sweet or hot Italian sausage links
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced fennel (also called anise)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1.5 cups arborio rice
  • 3 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  •  2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large frying pan, cook sausage links. Remove from pan and cut into 1″ pieces. Set aside.
  2. In the same frying pan, add half of the olive oil (1.5 tsp) and saute fennel and onion. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and thyme. Cook another 2 minutes stiring often. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. In the same frying pan, add the remaining olive oil (1.5 tsp) and arborio rice. Stir rice to coat in oil and heat, 1 minute.
  5. Deglaze pan with white wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to reduce until it’s almost completely absorbed by the rice.
  6. Add 1 cup of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the broth is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining 2 cups of chicken broth until the rice is tender.
  7. Reduce heat. Add sausage, onion/fennel mixture and mix well.
  8. Remove from heat. Add parsely, lemon zest and parmesan cheese. Mix well and enjoy!

Per serving: 242 calories; 44 carbs; 11 grams of fat; 13 grams protein

Cross contamination: The mystery

While out with friends for dinner at an Italian restaurant, I ordered what I consider my fail-safe dinner: Steak, steamed vegetables and a baked potato. It’s a slam dunk, right? No sauces, creams, seasonings or additives to worry about. Unless, of course, they dunk those steamed vegetables in pasta water. A hard lesson was learned that day.

CC000552Unless something is prepared in a dedicated g-free facility or kitchen, the chances of cross contamination are high. Retracing what you ate, what you purchased or how something was made can help solve the mystery. But it’s often impossible to pinpoint the source or avoid cross contamination, even when you’ve taken great pains to go g-free.

A fun little point to keep all of my neurotic readers awake at night: Cross contamination can happen before products even make it to store shelves.  A 2010 study by the American Dietetic Association found that of 22 naturally g-free grains purchased and tested, nine (41%) had been contaminated with a small but significant amount of gluten, while seven (32%) contained enough gluten to not be considered g-free.

In other words: 73% of the g-free grains tested had been contaminated with gluten. How? Unless those naturally g-free grains had been processed and packaged in a g-free facility, they very likely could have come in contact with gluten-containing products.

So what’s a g-free person to do? Look for labels that specifically say “Processed in a dedicated gluten free facility.” Other tips to avoid cross contamination:

  • Have dedicated g-free dishes, cookware and condiments at home
  • Be specific and ask questions when ordering out
  • Avoid items fried in the same oil as breaded items
  • Ask how food was prepared when eating at a party
  • Make sure serving utensils aren’t used across g-free and other dishes

Find more tips from the ADA here.

For a list of g-free friendly restaurants, click here.

Food, art, recipes

If you’re like me, you drool over the recipes and the beautiful photography in some of the top foodie mags. Enjoy some stunning images and gourmet g-free recipes, courtesy of the New York Times. Thank you, NYT, for this delicious treat!

(c) New York Times

(c) New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/06/01/dining/20110601-GLUTEN.html

Gluten and … infertility?

Along with royal jelly, accupuncture and any number of strange things said to enhance fertility, one of the hottest “trends” in fertility diets is going g-free. Amazingly, this trend might have some legs to stand on.

pregnant-bellyA few studies have been published linking gluten and infertility. One study of Italian women conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that the women who had celiac disease were nearly nine times more likely to experience amenorrhea (the absence of a menstrual period), and four times more likely to experience complications during pregnancy.

The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada is also apparently in on the secret, and warns that more women with celiac disease are infertile than non-celiac women (3.03% compared to 1.06%), and that 8% of women with unexplained infertility also have celiac disease.

The Gluten Doctors posted about another study that found that women with untreated celiac disease have higher miscarriage rates, increased fetal growth restriction and lower birth weights.

OK, I give! There’s a connection. So why isn’t more being done to screen for celiac or gluten “issues” when a woman presents with fertility issues?

The infuriating answer: Many Ob/Gyns and perinatologists don’t know about it.

For those interested in learning about going g-free, check out the natural foods section in your grocery story and some online sources like this one. And most important: Ask your doctor if gluten “issues” could be causing your digestive or fertility problems