Gluten-Free Food You Are Already Eating

donut

When you are dealing with Celiac disease or non Celiac gluten-intolerance,  it is easy to focus on what you can’t have: pasta, pizza, bread, beer, that very attractive glazed donut.  I mean anything with wheat, barley and rye and its other forms. Basically, a whole lot of delicious. Frustrating, right? 

It is serious business to try to steer clear of  gluten in order to avoid those pesky gluten related symptoms. When you cannot eat just anything off the shelf, it is pretty much a cause for much worry and anxiety.  Completely understandable, since the Philippines is not exactly a haven for gluten-free food.

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Taking time to see what is already gluten-free in your current diet, can save you a lot of gluten induced headaches, rash breakouts or very angry trips to the loo. Think, which items in your regular food list are already naturally gluten-free? If you actually take time to look back over your many countless effortless and delicious meals you’ve regularly eaten, you might be pleasantly relieved.

For example: Roasted chicken seasoned with just a little salt and pepper, a side of steamed vegetables, and rice? Gluten-free. Your sunny side up or omelet in the morning? Both gluten-free. The classic hungry combo of homemade mashed potatoes and grilled steak? Gluten-free. Delicious caramel crusted bananacue? Corn-on-a-cob? Pop-corn? Gluten-free. Fresh fruits for snacks? Again, gluten-free. 

vegan pasta 1

It doesn’t necessarily mean an overhaul for your diet if you find out that you suddenly have to chuck the bread, pizza and anything containing gluten. If you can’t live without pasta, for example, it would simply be a brand switch (for the gluten-free kind, corn & rice pastas are very popular. )

Anything in mind pops up to make your gluten-free dining a whole lot easier? Feel free to share with us in the comments!

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Gluten Free Go-to Foods in the Philippines

We’re back with some more useful gluten-free diet tips for you! These are great to know if you have sensitivity, intolerance to gluten or have Coeliac disease, and are living in Manila or anywhere in the Philippines.  Be a smart gluten-free shopper and build your vocabulary for basic Filipino gluten-free meals, so that you can wing it and be safe even without the proper gluten-free label, or too heavy planning. You’ll be an expert in no time.  So, let’s get started!

Suman, Biko and other rice cakes

Rice is gluten-free. And this leaves us with a plethora of options.  Tasty rice cake can be a go to meal or snack at any time of the day. With traditional bread made from wheat flour out of the picture, this can be a very good substitute especially if you’re looking for carbohydrate sources that are still yummy and filling.

A good tip here is to stick to rice cakes that traditionally made purely from rice without thee need for extenders, wherein stealth gluten from wheat may sneak its way in.

Rice noodles

Pure rice noodles is a safe bet when looking for meals that are gluten-free. As always, be mindful of possible additives and extenders which contain gluten. 

The sahog for your pancit recipe would also be a tricky part. To be safe, stay away from fish balls or squid balls, as these typically have wheat flour in the ingredients, and opt for gluten-free seasonings.  Try other meats instead like chicken or real seafood: shrimp and squid.

Veggie and Fruit Snacks

 

Wheat, barley and rye are things to stay away from if you need to be on a gluten-free diet. And so… vegetables and fruit snacks or chips are actually free territory. Horaay! 

What you would need to be mindful about are any additives that may have gluten in them.  Remember to stay away from flavorings, breading mixes that would commonly have wheat flour. Try making some at home, to make sure what really goes into them. Filipino snack dessert banana cue, or ube halaya are classic and a definite treat. 

If you are one of those who suffer from Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, it is important for your nutrition (and general convenience), to have a number of Pinoy food items on your gluten free food list.

What else are your go-to Filipino gluten-free food? Feel free to leave us tips and comments!

Gluten Free Flour Substitutes

What do we miss most in a gluten-free diet? I would argue it is bread: because sadly, we cannot have wheat 😦 And this sucks, am I right? Thankfully, there is an abundance of other starches out there that we can use in place of wheat.

Sure, the texture of non-wheat breads may need a little getting used to. But if you are willing to be industrious enough to make your own bread (or well, buy from a grocery store), you would not need to miss out on this convenient and filling diet staple!

Try making your all purpose Gluten Free flour from a mixture of these ingredients:

Brown Rice Flour – provides sweet and nutty flavor
Sorghum Flour – close to regular wheat
White Rice Flour – lends a light texture

The ratio between these ingredients would need a bit of experimentation based on the bread but study the consistency and taste each ingredient lends to a recipe, so you can achieve the perfect texture.

Have some tips to share that you use for your own recipes? Feel free to share it with us in the comments.

Shopping Gluten-Free? Helpful Tips to Decode Food Labels

A lot of food items are thankfully gluten-free. However, the way they are processed may sometimes  introduce gluten sources: wheat, barley or rye or Triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye) or their other sub forms, to get the preferred consistency or taste. You can be sure of unprocessed products but for processed food, being able to decode food labels is a definite must!

So! What to do? Food labels can be a bit daunting to look at, and in the end it may just leave you playing the guessing game. All that unfamiliar terminologies, in the back label?(– is it just me? Or do they make it complicated on purpose?) 🙂 Before you give up, here are a few more handy tips we’ve gathered, for the next time you need to decipher the food label.

  • Remember that “wheat-free” is not necessarily gluten-free.
  • Wheat (and also barley and rye for that matter) take other forms. Hydrolized wheat protein” for example contains wheat and has gluten.
  • Malt – malt extract, syrup and the like is the term that appears for Barley, and so has gluten
  • Maltodextrin that is an additive used as thickener or filler, is not to be confused for malt: this is made from potato, rice or corn (even the wheat variant, is not to worry about as processing renders it gluten-free) and so this is one less thing you don’t need to watch out for.
  • It is a good idea to have a preference for the “all-natural” if you’re looking for gluten-free options. Of course, it is a claim that can be abused and misused, and so as a smart shopper, it is always a good idea to look at the back label for the ingredients of the product we are buying. But it is best for you to look for products without any additives.

Studying gluten sources is a worthwhile effort. Keep educating yourself and in no time, you will be reading those food labels like you are your own nutritionist. 😉

Feel free to share your own tips in the comments! 🙂

Gluten-Free Diet: Is it Right For You?

Does it pay to go on a gluten-free diet when you do not have gluten intolerance? What does gluten-free food actually mean, and is it right for you? These are questions that may have crossed your mind with all the “gluten-free” buzz that has been happening as of late. Along with the questions: is it actually a healthier option? Will it make me lose weight? Let’s try to answer some of them, shall we? 🙂

What is Gluten

First, let’s talk about gluten. Gluten is a protein found in certain grains as wheat, barley and rye, and triticale which is a hybrid of wheat and rye. [1] It is the protein that gives the food a gummy and elastic quality, and is important protein in making baked goods as it gives it its nice structure.

How does it affect people?

Gluten is the only protein in food that cannot be fully digested. As the food goes through our digestive system, this indestructible molecule can slip through the intestinal walls. And for people who have Celiac disease, this can cause intestinal inflammation. [2]

Our small intestines have what we call villi which are finger-like projections in the walls of the small intestines, 0.5 to 1.6 millimeters long.  These villi collectively form a “brush border” facilitating nutrient absorption from the food we eat as it passes through the small intestine. [5] In people with Celiac disease, gluten irritates the lining in the small intestine, and causes the immune system to attack the villi, damaging it over time. As a result, nutrients go through our system without getting properly absorbed. This in turn can cause malnutrition.[3]

Purpose of Gluten-Free Diet

Intolerance to gluten ranges from gluten sensitivity (non-Celiac gluten intolerance) to Celiac disease.  A gluten-free diet is essential for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity for its treatment. A gluten-free diet can be beneficial for other conditions, as well, like IBS or irritable bowel syndrome being that a gluten-free diet is also classified as a low FODMAP Diet ( Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols), a diet that is helpful for people with IBS.

However, an important thing to note is that worrying about gluten is not at all material to those without these conditions, since gluten doesn’t affect them in the same way.

I Don’t Have Gluten Intolerance: What’s in it for me?

Since in a gluten-free diet, one would need to eliminate certain grains, it is a risk that you could miss out on the nutritional benefits of a well-balanced diet. Wheat, barley and rye containing foods, especially in their wholegrain format offer important nutritional benefits. Gluten-free processed foods refined to make them gluten free has the disadvantage of stripping grains of their essential parts, making them have less fiber, vitamins and minerals as compared to whole grains.

However, should your choice of a gluten-free diet involve you switching to more non-processed food, opting for food that are naturally gluten-free like plain fruits, vegetables, nuts, lentils, beans, that you wouldn’t consume on your normal diet, then this might prove beneficial. However, as gluten containing food may contribute to a nice balanced diet, then a better choice would be to eliminate processed food from your diet instead, regardless of gluten content.

Will a gluten-free diet help me lose weight?

Being smart in your choices pays, especially when introduced with  diet concepts that are unfamiliar. It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking a certain diet will help you lose weight, without proper research and effort to be informed. Since the gluten-free diet only aims to eliminate the protein gluten, properties of food that will affect your weight need to be taken into account before deciding to get into this type of diet, and any other diet for that matter, with weight loss in mind. Look at the calorie content of food, for refined carbs, for unhealthy fats in your diet instead.

Those who claim gluten-free diet helped them lose weight benefit from it by incidentally removing processed food from their diet, regardless of gluten content. Gluten-free food and weight loss are not synonymous, unless it helps you to “get rid of the junk” and eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are naturally gluten-free, as mentioned by Shelley Case, one of North America’s premier experts on the gluten-free diet. [4]

Bottom line: Gluten-free diet is the right diet for those with gluten-intolerance and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and certain conditions like IBS. Gluten-free diet can incidentally be healthier if it eliminates processed food from your diet. However, in some cases it could be less beneficial if it causes one to eat more processed food stripped of nutrients. A gluten-free diet should not be seen as a weight loss diet since what is removed in the diet is mainly gluten. And depending on how much nutrients is eliminated and junk food added when it is processed, gluten-free food can either be healthier or less healthy than conventional gluten-containing food.

References:

1- Boyles, S. (2012, February 17). Gluten Sensitivity: Fact or Fad? Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20120220/gluten-sensitivity-fact-or-fad

2 – Gluten-free diet: What’s allowed, what’s not. (2014, November 25). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gluten-free-diet/art-20048530

3 – Bradford, A. (2015, December 10). Gluten-Free Diet: Benefits & Risks. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.livescience.com/53061-gluten-free-diet-facts.html

4 – Helms, J., MS, RD. (2012, September 6). Will Going Gluten Free Help You Lose Weight? [Web log post]. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://blogs.webmd.com/food-and-nutrition/2012/09/will-going-gluten-free-help-you-lose-weight.html

5 – Moreau, J. (Eds.). (n.d.). Digestive System, Enzymes, Absorption in the Small Intestine. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://scienceaid.net/biology/humans/digestion.html

Gluten-Free Snacks for the Kids

Moms, and of course dads, too, know very well the challenge of feeding their kids healthy food. To be able to give the energy their kids need daily, parents want better quality for snacks they get their hands on.

However, children  whose meals require more special attention make the daily diet plan not so easy to deal with. 

So! Read up for we have some tips for you if you have gluten sensitive kids, that we hope might make things a lot easier 😉 

1.) Fresh fruit slices in light syrup

Kids tend to be really active. So it’s really important to give some energy-boost mid-day while still having enough nutrients to maintain a good health. And since fruits are known to be gluten-free, adding this easy-to-prepare treat would really make you at ease.

Ingredients:

-1 cup of sliced fruits (You can explore different kinds. But try to ask your kids first which they prefer more)

-1 tablespoon sugar

-1/4 cup water

 

Procedure:

1.) Dissolve sugar in water by heating on a stove or in a microwave. For another healthy tip, use chemical free muscovado sugar. 

2.) Cool the syrup down by placing it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

3.) Pour over the fruit slices and chill for few more minutes.

4.) Serve on snack, or put in a container if intended as a packed snack.

 

2.) Fruity gelatin

Just to add some variety to your kids’ snacks if you wish to make fruits as staple, why not have some gelatin? Also known as a gluten-free food, gelatin would surely make children excited for snack with its glossy and easy to mold shape. In fact, this snack for adults who wish to lose weight!

Ingredients:

-2 cups freshly squeezed/pureed fruit juice (depending again on your or your kid’s preference)

-2 packets of gelatin

-2 cups cups boiling water

 

Procedure:

1.) Boil water and gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

2.) Add fruit juice into the mixture, and stir.

3.) Put in a gelatin a molder or to any fancy shaped molder you wish to use (e.g. animal shapes)

4.) Refrigerate for at least an hour and serve.

3.)  Flourless banana pancake

Hit two birds with just one stone by eliminating the gluten-packed flour in the recipe, and save more time in preparing this easy-to-make gluten-free pancake! We all know that kids are pancake fans, so making a safer alternative for our gluten sensitive children would definitely make them happy. Also, for those adults who are asking questions on how to lose weight and some diet tips, then this recipe is definitely for you, too!

Ingredients:

-2 large very ripe banana

-4 medium eggs

-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure:

1.) Mash the bananas and mix in the eggs and vanilla extract in a bowl.

2.) Spray the heated non-stick pan with oil and scoop about ¼ cup of batter in.

3.) Cook each side for about 30 seconds.

4.) Put on the plate and top with light maple syrup as you wish.

  Join your kids in enjoying these treats and make snacking time more fun. Enjoy and eat up! 

 

Common Gluten-Free Pinoy Dishes You Should Know

Generally, Filipino food is very friendly to people who need to strictly follow a gluten-free diet. Here are some common Pinoy dishes that do not contain gluten as it is, cooked with the usual recipe. These will be handy the next time you are craving for something really Filipino:

Adobo

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Be it chicken, pork, or CPA (chicken and pork adobo), adobo is normally a gluten free dish. Some questions were raised if soy sauce, one of the primary ingredients used in this dish is gluten-free. And the good news is, it is![1] In fact, if the soy sauce is made purely of its base ingredient which is soy beans that is naturally gluten-free. But to sure, always purchase the brand that you know and trust. As it may happen that soy sauce manufacturers process them in the same area as wheat, and cross contamination is still a possibility.

Sinigang

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Photo credit: PanlasangPinoy.com

One of the healthiest Pinoy dishes around and thankfully, also devoid of gluten. Do away with potential gluten source which are sinigang mixes which usually contain wheat. Flavor it with natural sampalok or guava, and eat worry-free. Also, since vegetables have no gluten, you can definitely be sure that no adverse effect will happen if you have gluten intolerance. Other might worry that since there are certain starches included in the list of ingredients such gabi, gluten might still be there. Apparently, even though most  of the sources of gluten are starches, not all starches have it. And the good thing is, gabi didn’t make the cut.

For more information about gluten sources, click here.

 

Pancit Bihon

We also discussed before about bihon, one of the party foods that we all love to serve, as a gluten-free staple for us Filipinos. And this ingredient itself is safe for consumption. Nonetheless, there are certain ingredients that we put in pancit bihon that should be used with caution or better yet, eliminated. Common ingredient such kikiam, should be, as much as possible, replaced with something whole such as meat chunks. Certain processed foods as such use wheat flour as binder. This also goes with other common street foods in a stick such as fishballs and squidballs.

We will include more information about anything gluten in the typical Filipino diet on the next articles, so always keep posted!

Got questions? Please don’t hesitate to comment below.