7 Things You Never Thought Could be Gluten-Free

With wheat, barley and rye out of the picture, what do you eat? (Buh-bye, pizza, pasta, bread… and so much more.) We’ve scoured the internet for gluten-free food, and surprisingly found these products  that we never thought could be gluten-free. Not all these are available yet in the Philippines. But it’s nice to know there are creative ways out there by which the gluten-free community can still enjoy their favorite meals.

1. Gluten-Free Corn Dogs

This yummy bread and meat on a stick is typically made with cornflour and sadly, baking flour made of wheat. And so we thought we’d never see the day corn dogs off a shelf can be gluten-free.  Foster Farms Gluten-Free Corn Dogs, Chicken Franks Dipped in Honey-Cruchy batter: doesn’t that just sound delicious? And gluten-free, thank you very much.

gluten free corn dog
Photo: Fosterfarms.com

2. Gluten-Free Gravy

Feels a bit unfair that just because you cannot have gluten, delicious things such as gravy become forbidden. What with its usual wheat containing thickeners and flavorings. But McCormick created a solution so your sauces and meats do not have to go gravy-free. (Seriously, McCormick, you’re golden.). 

McCormick Gluten Free Gravy
Photo Credit: McCormick.com

3. Gluten-Free Couscous

Aside from pasta, which we already know  have gluten-free versions, Couscous also has a big red flag for the gluten-intolerant. A pasta like product which is a staple in the North African cuisine, it is traditionally made from crushed durum wheat. Woolworths the popular grocery store in Australia carry San Remo Gluten-Free Couscous. It’s made instead of corn flour and water. Add it to your vegetables meals, meats and fish. Cooks in only 9 minutes.

san remo gluten free couscous
Photo: San Remo
  1. Gluten-Free Whole Grain Bread

You don’t need wheat to get nutrition and tummy pleasant fiber from whole grain bread. Whole wheat breads are usual things we see in stores, but more types are actually out there.  Genuine Bavarian Breads brand makes gluten-free whole grain breads: organic whole flaxseed bread, whole grain bread made mostly of whole cereals and whole rice. These can be ordered from iHerb to ship to the Philippines via UPS, DHL or via local post. If you want other breads like whole loaf, baguette and sliced breads, we also know where you can get some

Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread
Photo: iHerb
  1. Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

You would think that soy sauce, soy being the operative word, should naturally be gluten-free. But lo and behold, the ingredients list of most soy sauce out there contain wheat in its primary ingredients. Even Kikkoman, the naturally brewed soysauce, still contains gluten in undetectable amount below 10 parts per million. For Gluten-Free soy sauce then, try the Tamari style soy sauce that don’t use wheat. Kikkoman also has it. FilStop may ship internationally to you. Or if you you don’t want to pay shipping charges to have soy sauce shipped, this Skinny Protein Aminos from 7grains available locally,  for your marinades, and dish seasonings.  

Gluten Free Soy Sauce Alternative
Photo: 7grains
  1.  Gluten-Free Pizza

We used to believe the only way you can have gluten-free pizza is to make it from scratch. But our good friends from Amy’s made these pizzas with rice crust for our enjoyment.

amy's gluten free pizza
Photo: Amy’s

Kroger also has these pizzas with fantastically extra thin crust made from tapioca starch, brown rice flour among other gluten-free ingredients.

  1. Gluten-Free Beer

For alcoholic beverages, we can have the gluten-free alternative, all the time. Wine, it’s called. But sometimes we really just want beer. Bad news for us since barley equals beer, right? Well, not all the time. Check Shape’s list of 12 Gluten Free Beers made from alternative ingredients like sorghum , gluten-less barley malt, hops, fruits, chestnuts. I’ll drink to that.

gluten free beer
Photo: Green Brewery

It’s fun finding out about these, isn’t it? Suddenly the gluten-free diet doesn’t seem at all that limited. Do you have your own Gluten-Free food discovery? Feel free to share with us in the comments!

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Diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Where to Start?

Firstly, take a breath.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed.  It’s even easier to immediately jump to the wrong conclusion that because of your diagnosis, your hope for a normal diet is effectively doomed. But stop. And breathe. Like any other new thing you are learning,  this thing that is now overwhelming will soon be second nature to you.

Join Groups Dedicated to Living Gluten- Free

Now that you’ve had a breath or two to relax, go online. You can take comfort in the fact that there’s  a whole community out there that shares the same sentiment. Nothing beats advice taken from practical experience in ensuring you learn tips that has a high chance of actually working for you. Join forums on sites such as on Glutenfreesociety.org . You can also find a number of groups on Facebook , that can provide helpful information. Try these groups, which have a lively energy and a high following:

Gluten Free Living and Recipe Share

Gluten-Free – Celiac Disease Support Group

Free From Gluten

The other day, a member posted a photo of a mouthwatering burger. It’s enticing, and the entire thing is totally gluten-free. I know where to get the bun, though I was curious what seasoning I can use, since flavor packets that I usually use has gluten. Now I have new things to try: garlic powder, onion powder and salt–  Such priceless help you cannot find just anywhere.

Google is your best friend

When in doubt, Google. Google credible sources,  that is. Some of these are : Celiac.com, Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten Intolerance Group , Mayo Clinic. Your criteria for judging should be that the information provided really comes from studied research, backed by nutritionists who know what they are talking about, or practical information from people who actually are living gluten-free themselves.  Also, go to the company websites of the products you are doubtful about. They pretty much will tell you what you need to know about the product.

Get to Know Health Apps

There are excellent apps that can help you, and  you don’t even have to pay to get useful service. Here are a few apps we’ve experimented with:

-Ipiit, The Food Ambassador, is a good app to start with, it let’s you scan items off a grocery shelf for potential allergens. But disappointingly, though, this is only available in the US and works only with US products for now. But if are going gluten-free in the Philippines we found for you an alternative:

-HAPIcoach, the nutritionist in your pocket. You can download the app and register a free account. Upload a photo of your food  and have a registered nutritionist comment on your food. If you are worried about gluten, ask-away, and they can give you valuable insight.

filipinorice

Naturally Gluten-Free Food is in Abundance

Realize that most of the food you are  already eating are gluten-free. For food allergies, the typical reaction would be, “Can I still feed myself conveniently? What can you eat instead of gluten containing food?”  In a gluten-free diet, you  will need to stay away from these three things and their sub-forms: wheat, barley and rye. And so, what else is there to eat? Well, a whole lot of options! Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, corn, rice these are all gluten-free. So you’re not depriving yourself. And you’d actually be eating additive-free with just these items in their pure state, if you think about it. (gluten usually sneak their way into these items through additives and spices)

Get to Know Gluten-Free Shops

Though in the Philippines, Celiac Disease is not familiar to most people you meet off the street. Most of those who know about Celiac disease are those afflicted or have relatives who suffer from it. But there are a few places that offer gluten-free options.

You may already know GERALD.ph offers gluten-free options for home delivery but there are restaurants as well that serve gluten-free food such as Corner Tree Cafe in Makati, or the Wholesome Table in BGC offer great options. Tripadvisor also has a comprehensive list of restaurants around Manila that you can checkout. Be sure to call in advance to ask especially if gluten-free options are available.

So take heed my now gluten-free friend and you’ll get there! If you have questions, you can post them in the comments so our gluten-free readers can also share their insight and experience with you. Have a great journey!

Yes, Ratatouille is Gluten-Free!

ratatouille gluten free

Ratatouille (not cooked by the famous chef rat, as the animated movie would have you believe) is a classic autumnal vegetable dish hailing from Provence.  Some say it is a dish for leftover pieces of vegetables. Some say it’s a celebration of the bountiful harvest of early 20th century Nice in Provence, in the south of France.  Whichever way it came about, if you’re worrying about foods that contain gluten, you’ll definitely enjoy this classic French delicacy. It’s one of those real comfort foods which makes you want to curl up on a nice plush couch bowl in hand,  taking 2 spoonfuls at a time.

It’s not a very usual thing to cook in a Filipino kitchen,  but really. What could be more Pinoy than a very delicious vegetable stew (Pakbet, anyone?)

I think the only reason we don’t embrace this dish as much as we would is because it uses Zucchini (or sukini in Tagalog),  which can come a bit pricey to as much as P250.00 per kilo.  But if you are ready to shell out a few extra pesos, you can have this exciting nutritious meal that can just make you parler francais.  We can even get a bit Pinoy-dangerous, and try it with rice and a side of meat. (Do we dare? Of course.) Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces

1½ tsp salt

½ cup olive oil

1 large zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

2 big tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch think rounds

4 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

2 medium yellow onions, cut into ½-inch dice

1 red bell pepper—stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Red pepper flakes

1 cup basil leaves, torn

1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, choped

Directions

Prepare the eggplant by mixing with 1 teaspoon salt.  Let sit for 30 minutes and drain. This process sweats out the eggplant and removes extra moisture.  Pat the eggplant pieces dry and set aside. Heat olive oil in a heavy pot, and cook the eggplant until golden, stirring occasionally. Set aside.  In the same pot, add more oil as needed. Cook the zucchini in this same pot until golden, and then set aside with the eggplant.

Prepare half the tomatoes by crushing by hand, and seasoning with ½ teaspoon of salt. Set aside.

Tie thyme, bay leaf sprigs together. In the same pot, cook onions and herb bundle until soft and translucent. Add the bell pepper and cook stirring occasionally, until very soft.

Add garlic, pepper flakes until fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the tomatoes are very soft flavors have married. Add the reserved eggplant and zucchini and the remaining tomatoes. Lightly mix to combine.

Season with salt, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until all the vegetables have softened. Remove pot from heat, and take out the herb bundle. Top dish with the basil and parsley. Serve!

Making this makes for a surprisingly easy cleanup, no peeling, and you cook everything in just one pot! Have a go a this recipe and let us know how you find it. 🙂 Bon appetit!

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.

meal

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!

Gluten-Free (and Nut-Free) Trail Mix

reipe image trailmix bar

Who says you can’t have trail mix without nuts? This s a great snack option for you if you’re watching your gluten intake. A smart way is to find gluten-free oats for this recipe, but if you can’t find one, simply ditch it and stick with the dried fruits and seeds. This one is packed with energy, with natural sugars from the fruits to rev up when you need it. Takes seconds to make! Are you ready? Let’s start mixing it up!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 dried probiotic prunes, chopped
1/2 cup premium raisins
1/4 to 1/2 cup raw cocoa nibs
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

DIRECTIONS

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl… and enjoy!

If you want a snack pack version, after mixing, put the contents of the bowl in a baking sheet. Cover with wax paper and flatten with a rolling pin. Take a sharp knife and cut them into bars. Store in the refrigerator to keep for several weeks.

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!

How to Make Gluten-Free Tiramisu

Tiramisu is a decadent luscious treat that you may indulge in that is perfect for satisfying your craving for something caffeinated, creamy and delicious.

The only concern you will have for making Tiramisu are the cookies you will use. Luckily you can now buy gluten-free lady fingers that will make it even easier for you to make this dessert, as you won’t need to make them from scratch. This recipe also incorporate a gourmet touch, by using  strong coffee made from coffee capsules. Yum! Let’s get started!

INGREDIENTS

4 Coffee Capsules, full-bodied and strong
1/2 cup marsala (or another liquor of your choice)
1 jar of Gluten-Free Broas or lady fingers
250g mascarpone
300ml whipping cream, lightly whipped
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Cocoa powder, for dusting

DIRECTIONS

Pour coffee and marsala into a shallow dish and set aside. Beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick. Add the mascarpone and whipped cream, mixing gently to combine. Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with electric beater until soft peaks form. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.

Dip enough lady fingers into the coffee mixture to cover the base of your ceramic dish of choice, ideally 9 square inch in size. You can choose to line the sides of the dish with the coffee dipped lady fingers for added accent. Cover the biscuits with one-third of the mascarpone mixture. Repeat layers 2 times, ending with the cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Dust generously with cocoa and serve.

TIP: Only dust with cocoa powder right before serving the dessert!