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Posts Tagged ‘gluten free’

There is a small percentage of the population that cannot consume gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) due to medical reasons (such as Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy); and a larger percent of the population that has chosen gluten free eating as a dietary preference. Most of the recipes used in traditional American cooking and baking use wheat flour (containing gluten) as a base, which makes baking without gluten a challenge.

Gluten performs several functions in baked goods. The sticky protein helps create stretchy and elastic dough, trapping air bubbles and forming a light, airy texture. Gluten provides structure for breads and a tender crumb. Replacing gluten in baked goods can be tricky, and often requires a combination of flours to achieve similar flavor, texture and density to gluten-filled flours. For a list of wheat-free flour substitutes, look at the Kids With Food Allergies webpage.

Here are some tips for baking without gluten:

Xanthum GumGluten free flour

Add xanthan gum or guar gum to replace some of that structure that gluten provides (1 tsp per cup flour for yeast products and ½ teaspoon for non-yeast products).

Baking Times

Gluten free products take longer to bake, and usually at a lower temperature compared to a traditional recipe. This allows the dough more time to rise and hydrate.

Flavor

Some gluten free flours (sorghum) or starches (chick pea) have a flavor not welcomed in baked goods. Try adding extra vanilla and/or spices to mask some of the off taste.

Freshness

Gluten-free grains and starches have a shorter shelf-life. Buy small quantities and store in the refrigerator or freezer. To avoid soggy baked goods, transfer to a wire rack as soon as possible after baking to ensure proper cooling. Store leftovers in air-tight containers and freeze to preserve freshness. Thaw completely before eating.

Leavening

Leavening agents such as eggs, baking soda and baking powder help form gas bubbles and give rise to dough. Try adding an extra teaspoon of baking powder or substitute with baking soda and buttermilk to leaven instead of baking powder. Dissolve leaveners in liquid from the recipe before adding to dough to produce a better rise to the product.

Moisture

Gluten free flours tend to be more ‘thirsty’ than wheat flours. They are very dry and take longer to absorb moisture. Simply giving the batter a short rest of 30 minutes can help the flour to hydrate (as well as give extra time to rise). Use less (up to a tablespoon) of gluten free flour per cup of wheat flour in the standard recipe. Recipes that call for pureed fruit, sour cream or yogurt tend to be moister. Use brown sugar, honey or agave instead of white sugar to add a little moisture. Adding an extra egg may help with moisture as well as leavening.

Fat

Gluten free flours don’t absorb fat like wheat flour. You might find using a standard recipe and substituting the flour yields a greasy product. Use a little less fat (butter or oil) to avoid a greasy feel.

Nutrition

Use 1/4 cup ground flaxseed in 1/4 cup water for 1/4 cup flaxseed flour to increase fiber and nutrients in any recipe.

Structure

Use dry milk solids or cottage cheese or the moisture tips listed above to improve structure so products don’t fall apart as easily.

For more tips on Gluten Free Baking, check out this fact sheet from Colorado State University Extension.

Sources:

Gluten Free Baking Tips and Tricks. 2016. Beyond Celiac. http://www.beyondceliac.org/gluten-free-diet/baking/

Recipe Substitutions for Wheat Allergy or Gluten Sensitivity. 2017. Kids with Food Allergies, A Division of Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/wheat-allergy-gluten-free-recipe-substitutions.aspx

Watson, F. and others. Gluten Free Baking. Colorado State University Extension. https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/foodnut/09376.pdf

Written by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State Univeristy Extension, Perry County

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There is an ever-increasing bounty of gluten free foods available in grocery stores and on restaurant menus. Why? Are more people needing a gluten free diet, or just choosing to avoid gluten? The short answer is yes… to both questions.

Gluten free food products.If we look at the percentage of Americans that must avoid gluten for health reasons, that includes 1% of the US population with Celiac Disease, 0.4% with a wheat allergy, and then there’s that confusing category of non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, which may affect up to 6% of the US population. For more information on these conditions, you can read this blog article from Live Smart Ohio. That adds up to 7.4% of the US population avoiding gluten for medical reasons.

According to a 2015 Gallup poll, approximately twenty percent of Americans are on a gluten free diet. So what is the remaining 12.6% of our population doing on a gluten free diet? The most popular reason consumers give for buying gluten-free products is they believe the gluten-free diet has health benefits, including weight loss. While there is evidence to show that gluten free diet can help lessen symptoms associated with certain autoimmune diseases such as dermatitis herpetiformis, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis, and psoriasis, there is no evidence to support gluten-free health claims for the general population. Gluten is found in foods that are part of a healthy diet and contribute nutrients and fiber. Some people that are on a gluten-free diet simply don’t need to be.

As for losing weight, that all depends on how you go gluten-free. Reducing refined carbs like white bread, crackers and pasta and processed grains and replacing them with whole grains will reduce calories and increase fiber. However, if you replace gluten-containing products with their less healthy gluten-free substitutes, you’re likely to consume more fat, sugar and calories. Additionally, refined gluten-free foods are not usually enriched or fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. Gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.

While there are medical diagnoses that require avoiding gluten, there is little evidence to support gluten-free health claims for the general population. If you would like more information about gluten-free eating, please visit this 30 minute webinar by OSU Extension on Gluten Free Eating.

Sources:

“9 Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten-Free” 2016. Celiac Disease Foundation.

Gaesser, G.A., PhD & Angadi, S.S., PhD “Gluten-Free Diet: Imprudent Dietary Advice for the General Population?” 2012. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“What is Celiac Disease?” 2016. Celiac Disease Foundation.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

 

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You’ve probably heard a lot about Gluten. Labels in grocery stores highlight many products as gluten free… Many of these seem like healthy products. But does being “gluten free” make something healthy? Is gluten bad for you? And… what is gluten?

What is Gluten? Gluten is a protein naturally found in wheat, rye, and barley. This protein provides bread, grain, and pasta products with elasticity and the ability to hold shape. Without gluten, we wouldn’t have many of the grain products we’ve enjoyed for thousands of years!bread-725873_1920

Is Gluten Unhealthy? The simple answer is “no.” However, there are 3 groups of individuals who are unable to eat gluten products due to specific dietary restrictions:

  1. Those with Celiac Disease: When those with Celiac Disease consume gluten, their bodies send immune responses that attack their small intestines. Over prolonged periods of time, this immune response destroys the intestine’s ability to obtain nutrients from food. Celiac Disease is a serious condition that can cause digestive issues,  fatigue, anemia, osteoporosis, and malnutrition.
  2. Those with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS):  Those with NCGS will not experience damage to their small intestine due to gluten consumption. But they will experience a list of unpleasant symptoms including brain fatigue, lost energy, and digestive issues.
  3. Those with wheat allergies: Those who are allergic to wheat experience allergic reactions to  wheat itself– not to gluten in wheat. These individuals must avoid gluten simply because it is naturally present in wheat products.

spike-8739_1920For the rest of us, gluten is just a protein in wheat, barley, & rye. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans consume grains daily, making half our grains whole. Whole grains are essential to digestive health and provide valuable nutrients. Whole grains include wheat, barley, and rye, as well as other non-gluten products like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat.

If you don’t have Celiac Disease, an allergy, or sensitivity to gluten; eating wheat, barley, and rye is not unhealthy. Instead, these whole grains can supply important nutrients.

Why are gluten-free products everywhere? Formally, the U.S. lacked any rules regarding what food companies could market as being “gluten free.” In 2013, The FDA created a law which required all food products to meet specific criteria before they could be marketed as “gluten free.” This rule ensured all individuals with Celiac Disease could be certain the food they purchased was safe.

Since this time, the use of “gluten free” on labels has grown in popularity as a way to market products to those with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity. However, these labels do not indicate greater nutritional value. Some products which say “gluten free” would never normally contain gluten. For example, packages of potatoes, rice, candy,  or meat which market that they’re”gluten free,” do not normally include gluten. But this label indicates to those with Celiac or gluten sensitivity that no gluten has been present on the equipment used to process these foods– aka that the risk of cross-contact with gluten on equipment is limited to the trace amount allowable by the FDA. Nothing has been done to make these non-grain products healthier.This label is simply there to highlight a safe products for those with Celiac or gluten sensitivity.

So what does this mean for me? If you have Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, be sure to consume gluten-free whole grains which are easy to find in most stores.  bread-399286_1920

If you don’t have Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity, enjoy wheat, barley, and rye products: Just be sure to make half these choices whole grain. This will help you choose grain products high in nutrients and help you to live healthy live well!

 

References:

UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases. Celiac vs. gluten sensitivity vs. wheat allergies. University of California, Los Angeles. Retrieved from: http://gastro.ucla.edu/site.cfm?id=281

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

U.S. Food and Drug Aministration (2014). ‘Gluten free’ now means what it says. FDA Consumer Health Information. Retrieved from:  http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM363276.pdf

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Most of us remember some of the diet trends from the past few years – the cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, or low-carbohydrate/high protein diet.  These diets are like most other fads:  they’re popular for a short amount of time and then disappear.   If they were more effective at helping people lose weight, they probably wouldn’t fade so quickly from the public eye.

One of the most popular food trends in 2010 was the gluten-free diet.  With endorsements from celebrities, movie stars and television personalities, it’s easy to understand why sales from gluten-free products have more than doubled during the past few years.  But what is a gluten-free diet, and does it help a person lose weight?

Gluten is a protein found in foods such as wheat, barley, and rye.  For people who have celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is necessary since gluten may damage their intestine.  Food product labels must be read with caution since gluten comes in different forms.  It is frequently used as a food additive and is found in several foods including soups, condiments and baked goods.  Many food products that don’t originally contain gluten may also be “cross-contaminated” during the manufacturing process with foods that do contain gluten.

Although the evidence has not shown that eating a gluten-free diet has health benefits, individuals who follow the diet claim to feel better and have more energy.  However,  individuals who eliminate gluten from their diet and expect to lose weight may be surprised to learn that gluten-free foods are not always lower in fat or calories; in fact they may be higher in one or both!

Trying to assess weight-loss plans can be confusing and overwhelming.  With conflicting information from various sources, there may not be an easy way to determine if a diet will work.  When evaluating the latest diet trends, consider the following  information:

  • Does the plan eliminate food groups?

Avoid any plan that restricts eating foods from an entire food group.  You’ll miss out on important nutrients.

  • Does it promise quick weight-loss?

A healthy weight goal is no more than ½ to 1 pounds per week.  Losing weight too quickly usually results in muscle and water loss.

  • Does it recommend physical activity?

Regular exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle!

Source:  American Dietetic Association; National Institutes of Health. 

Author:   Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

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