Surviving the Gluten-Free Diet.

Gluten-free awareness has really taken off in the last decade. Even more so in the past 5 years. You may have already noticed several new gluten-free items in the grocery store popping up every week. Why? Thousands of individuals are realizing that they have a serious intolerance to gluten, a protein found in the seeds of certain plants, notably in grains such as wheat, rye and barley and foods made from them.
There's a few groups of individuals that need to be off of gluten for health reasons such as those with Celiac Disease, Autism and ADD or ADHD. Many people have Celiac and don't even know it until they are either diagnosed or have felt the difference of not consuming gluten.

I want to put together a basic gluten-free survival guide, if you will, to educate those that have no idea where gluten is found and those trying to get on this diet to make sure you don't buy anything that contains it.

First and most obvious point: Grains ARE NOT ALLOWED on GLUTEN-FREE Diets.
Avoid: Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oat

More specific Gluten-containing grains and products to be AVOIDED are:
  • Barley
  • Bulgar
  • Cereal Binding
  • Couscous
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Filler
  • Farro
  • Graham Flour
  • Kamut
  • Malt
  • Malt Extract
  • Malt Flavoring
  • Malt Syrup
  • Oat Bran
  • Oats
  • Oat Syrup
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Spelt (Dinkel)
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
  • Wheat Bran
  • Wheat Germ
  • Wheat Starch
Common foods CONTAINING Gluten:
  • Breads
  • Rolls
  • Biscuits 
  • Croissants
  • Doughnuts
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Croutons
  • Breaded Fish or other Breaded Foods
  • Hamburger Buns
  • Waffles
  • Bagels
  • Ice Cream Cones
  • Pastas
  • Fried Vegetables
  • Graham Crackers
  • Crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Pita Bread
  • Corn Bread
  • French Fries (if frozen)
  • Toast
  • Stuffing
  • Cereals 
  • Pizza
  • Cookies
  • Pies 
  • Cakes
  • Pastries
  • Cupcakes
Tips for following a GLUTEN-FREE Diet:
  • BEWARE- Wheat-free on a label is not necessarily gluten-free
  • Look for GLUTEN-FREE symbols on labels 
  • Use gluten-free pocket guides and recipes
  • Food manufacturers can often change their ingredients. CHECK INGREDIENT LISTINGS regularly and especially if product is not labeled as gluten-free. Call manufacturer and check
  • When dining out, you are safest ordering PLAIN FOODS with minimal ingredients. Inform your server so the kitchen takes special care with your meal to avoid your food coming into contact with gluten-containing foods or surfaces where gluten-containing foods have been prepared.
  • Prepare gluten-free foods at home separately and USE SEPARATE UTENSILS and chopping boards
  • Use SEPARATE COOKING OILS for gluten-free foods
  • Prepared gluten-free products can be found in HEALTH FOOD STORES
  • Try to eat mostly FRESH UNPROCESSED food
I've personally tried many gluten-free products, and while I personally am a huge fan of wheat, barley and gluten-containing products, there are many that taste very good. New gluten-free products come into our store weekly (even gluten-free chocolate bars). It amazes me to see so many different options and alternatives to practically anything you'd eat regularly, BUT gluten-free.

I love hearing stories from individuals with Celiac tell me that over 20-30 years ago when hardly anyone knew what this disease was or entailed, there were close to no options for food, whereas now, you can enter your local health food store and you'll typically see entire aisles dedicated to just gluten-free products.

It's getting easier everyday to find good tasting gluten-free products from reliable brands.

Disclaimer: Information should only be regarded as general information and is not intended as dietary advice for anyone with a medical condition or regarded as a complete reference guide on gluten-free diets. Always consult your doctor for individual advice if you have been diagnosed with any medical condition or suspect you may have one.

Springtime is here...

When some think of Spring, they think: flowers, pastel colors, dresses, sun, grass. While others think: allergies, cold, flu, sneezing.

In order to enjoy the Spring and all its beauties, there are several things that can help you avoid allergies and boost your immune system.

One of the best and easiest things to do (if your not diabetic or pre-diabetic) is buy local honey and take 1-2 tablespoons a day. Why local? Bees pollinate local flowers which is where many people develop their allergies of pollen. This is why local honey is so excellent in treating and even preventing allergies.

A few other great immune boosters that help, not only now but year round are:
  • Oregano oil (Oreganol is the best brand for this)
  • Source Natural Wellness Formula
  • Isotonix OPC-3 (This is the one I's amazing! If you're interested in it, email me)
  • Olive Leaf
  • Echinacea/ Goldenseal
These are excellent in building your immune system and cheaper than a doctor's visit, insurance, plus antibiotics =)

Be blessed and be healthy! Enjoy the beautiful flowers!

Eggplant Parmesan

This was my first time making eggplant anything. In fact, prior to buying the eggplant at the farmer's market I had never tried eggplant or had the slightest inkling to do so. But I can't pass up a freshly harvested vegetable.

So, after asking on Facebook, the overwhelming response was: Eggplant Parmesan.

Here's exactly (well I didn't really measure, but you catch my drift) what I did:

1 small eggplant (I used several small organic ones)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon of water
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
1/3 cup grated fresh Italian Parmesan cheese
1 cup meatless spaghetti sauce (mine had a little bit of mushroom)
3/4 cup shredded mozarella cheese (3 ounces)

1. Wash and peel the eggplant (I left skin on mine and it tasted great, but easier if you take it off); cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Combine egg and water; dip eggplant slices into egg mixture, then into the flour, turning to coat both sides. In a large skillet cook the eggplant, half at a time, in hot grapeseed oil for 4 to 6 minutes or until golden, turning once (see image on left). Drain on a paper towel.

2. Place eggplant slices in single layer in an ungreased rectangular baking dish (if necessary, cut slices to fit). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Top with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered in a 400°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through.

Before you know it, you have a quick, delicious, healthy vegetarian meal. Bon Appetit!