How do you shop for a gluten-free diet in Filipino grocery stores?

A woman shopping in a grocery store

Proper food labeling regulations by the Bureau of Food and Drugs require indicating common allergens in food. However, rules specific to gluten have not been properly defined as of late. As a result, hunting down gluten will take a bit of legwork in the Philippines.

To start, let’s get to know the culprit:  Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. So, as a basic rule,  you would need to develop the habit of checking the back labels of items to make sure gluten is not found anywhere in the ingredients of the food you are buying.

You also have to watch out for stealth gluten, which are not as easy to spot. One example is malt. Malt is commonly made from barley and is mostly in items such as energy drinks, for its energy giving properties, and to enhance flavor and color (So, you’d know that malt drinks, such as Milo chocolate drink, are out.) Another thing is hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which can be a term used for hydrolyzed wheat protein, that is used as a flavor enhancer in processed food like soups, gravies, and some meat products like hotdogs.  

To further guide you in your shopping, here are some common grocery items  that you’d need to be more careful about when following the gluten-free diet:

Breads

tastybread

Say bye bye to breads as you know it, as common breads on the shelves and even in your bakery are made of wheat such as white bread and whole wheat bread. But then you can say hello to a wide variety of alternatives which use other types of flour, such as brown and white rice flour, and cassava starch. Breads like these are safe and available in gluten-free specialty shops, and online at GERALD.ph.

Breakfast Cereals and Oats

cerealbowl

Breakfast cereals also should be studied carefully. Read the back label since some that are not even made of wheat such as corn or rice cereals may have malt in their ingredients.

Oats on the other hand are not related to the varieties of grains you need to watch out for. Studies have also suggest that commonly, oats in its pure form are safe for those with gluten-intolerance. Although, household brands such as Quaker Oats state their products may not be completely gluten-free due to manufacturing cross-contamination. So, if you’d want to be on the safe side, better to research brands and see if any of them fit the gluten-free bill.

Pizza & Pasta

Lots of pastas are commonly made of wheat. But thankfully, like bread, alternatives are available that use other gluten-free ingredients such as brown rice. You can find gluten-free penne and spaghetti to use as substitute for your favorite pasta dishes. A great recipe to try can be found here.  

Yes, unfortunately pizza is also another casualty when going gluten-free, as your classic pizza doughs are made of wheat. But before you decide to start cutting yourself, hold that thought! There are gluten-free pizzas available, and you can also play arround with gluten-free pizza toppings on gluten-free crust to make your own pizza, also available on GERALD.ph

Alcohol

You can still clink a glass in a gluten-free diet. Just choose wine instead of beer or whiskey that are normally made of malted wheat.

Snacks and Desserts

cakes

Usual sweets like cakes and cookies are also out when following a gluten-free diet. But keep on scouting the grocery aisles as there are countless other options for snacks like corn chips, or rice cakes that are waiting for you. But if you cannot let go of the cookie and cake craving, there are gluten-free options that do not use wheat, rye or barley and are as good as any other gluten laced dessert.

If you want to be a little more carefully in your shopping, also consider that some packaged snacks like packaged nuts may be subject to cross-contamination since packaging lines are commonly dusted with common wheat flour. Better to opt for those that still come in shells.

It may seem at first that taking out gluten is taking over your whole grocery check list. Do take comfort in the fact that most items are naturally gluten free such as eggs, unprocessed meats, fruits, vegetables, all-natural cheeses and dairy, and other starches such as potato and rice.

To further help you, you can also visit WebMDs list of hidden sources of Gluten to arm  you in your next grocery shopping.

References: WebMD, About.com, QuakerOat.com

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How Do You Make Sandwiches Gluten-Free in the Philippines?

SandwichesTo make things a bit easier for a sometimes challenging diet to conform to, we’ve gathered some sandwich classics to help you whip up filling gluten-free meals for kids’ school baon (lunch pack) or even for the office.

As a basic, of course, you’d want to start with a gluten-free base like your gluten-free bread, and baguette. Though pandesal and tasty bread are out, don’t fret. There are still great alternatives you can try. These are available in your supermarkets, and be sure you are looking to avoid these in the ingredients: wheat, barley, rye, oats, malt, and brewer’s yeast. If you want more convenience, you can visit GERALD.ph for a gluten-free selection you can have delivered to your home in Metro Manila. If you’re new to the gluten free diet, you can visit celiac.com’s comprehensive list of gluten-free foods .

So without further ado, here they are:

1 – Egg salad sandwich

egg salad sandwich

This is an easy one and definitely a favorite for quick sandwiches. We love it for it is moist, light but filling. It’s perfect that the typical ingredients, like mayonnaise and plain mustard, are grocery staples that happen to be gluten-free. Most come without the gluten-free stamp, but check the back label. Let a saucepan containing eggs submerged with water come to a boil, then turn the heat off and put the lid on and let sit for five minutes. Let the eggs cool in a bowl of ice water, and peel and dice. To the eggs, add mayonnaise plus mustard, salt and pepper, chopped celery and onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Smother on gluten-free bread, add strips of ham (check the label for some ham glazes may contain gluten. If the glaze is in a separate packet, just don’t use it). Chill and enjoy!

2 – Hamburger

burger

Make your own burger patty and skip the frozen patties. You can make better ones for less. Pure unprocessed meats do not have gluten, and so the ground beef that you get straight from the butcher and then mixed with wholesome spices yourself is guarantee you don’t have gluten cross-contamination risks that processed meats may have.  Also, this gets you away from additives and extenders that are common in local ready-made patties.

One thing that might require some research is the soy sauce to use with your patty. We do use a lot of soy sauce in our cuisine and a burger patty isn’t an exception. Based on a research made by soya.be, Kikkoman, a brand we have here locally appeared to meet the 20 parts per million content enough to qualify as gluten-free (and not have adverse physiological effects.)

Top patty with veggies like tomato, coleslaw, or gluten-free sauces to make different versions. 

3 – Grilled cheese sandwich

grilled cheese

Typically an American sandwich, but it practically has the Pinoy stamp on it what with the Filipino’s love for the really cheesy meals. Really, can you think of anything better than warm gooey melted cheese? I can’t. The ‘unspecial’ grilled cheese sandwich is made with processed cheese. For your gluten-free diet, go with the all-natural variety. It’s hard to find a proper grocery store now without a deli section so getting these should be easy (check: SM, Puregold, Rustan’s all has this. Now it’s online, too). Natural cheese does not have gluten, and you can choose to add much more interesting cheeses like emmental, gruyère, or comté, as long as they are soft, melting cheeses (Parmesan might be challenging to melt). Want to be more adventurous? Add crumbs of blue cheese. And the secret: add butter in your pan with the sandwich after your cheese melts. Look here to master the art of grilled cheese.

4 – Caprese wrap

caprese roll ups small

Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil in a sandwich. To make a gluten-free roll up version, substitute corn or brown rice tortillas for bread. Add steamed or grilled chicken and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette, and you have an exciting roll up. With how easy it is, this simple but elegant tasting dish will surely be a regular in your lunch pack.

Tip: for wrap recipes, you can actually do away with bread altogether and wrap it in greens like a nice iceberg lettuce or cucumber. Healthy, and certainly gluten-free.

5 – Croque Monsieur/Croque Madame

croque_monsieur_social

For something a bit fancier, try to make this baking-required French sandwich. A little trouble in the kitchen but Oui it’s all worth it. With gluten-free bread as base, Croque monsieur for the most part already uses gluten-free ingredients:  butter, milk, mustard, gruyere and Parmesan cheese. For the cheese sauce, just use rice flour instead of all-purpose flour.  Check out an easy to follow recipe here. Don’t forget to substitute the ingredients!

Add an egg to make a Madame. 😉

Hope you can make yours out of these and try other gluten-free versions, too! Do share with us some of your own special gluten-free sandwich tricks in the comments!

References: Celiac.com, celiacdesease.about.com, soya.be, seriouseats.com

RECIPE: Gluten-Free Spaghetti with Scallops and Mussels

gluten-free-spaghetti-scallops
There’s no need to go to an Italian restaurant to enjoy this classic pasta dish, and you can even have it gluten-free. You can prepare it in minutes with the convenience of the frozen seafood available on Gerald.ph.

Ingredients
1 pack Gerald.ph gluten-free spaghetti
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1 pack scallops (roe off)
1/2 pack mussels (shell off)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup frozen chopped parsley
2-3 tbs garlic herb butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tbs. flour
2 tbs. olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Directions
1.In a large pot, cook pasta until al dente or tender to the bite. Drain and set aside some pasta water.
2. Lightly dredge each scallop in a bowl full of flour and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Shake off the excess. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil and half of the garlic herb butter. Saute scallops for about 2-3 minutes on one side until just beginning to brown, then carefully turn over and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Add chopped garlic into the skillet and saute for 30-40 seconds – do not let it brown. Add the wine and a little bit of the pasta water, about 1/4 cup. Then add mussels and cover for 3-4 minutes. Stir.
4. Add cooked pasta and season with additional salt and remaining herb butter. Add more pasta water or a touch of wine if you prefer more broth. Sprinkle with parsley and toss gently to combine.
Voila, a delightful pasta dish!

Gluten-Free Breads and Treats You’ll Love! Available in the Philippines

Many of you know us at GERALD.ph for our freshly baked breads and pastries. But I have also heard from some customers  to make some gluten-free options options for them. That’s why this year, we also started introducing gluten-free food items so that these customers can also enjoy bread, cookies, muffins, pizza, and more.

In simple terms, gluten constitutes about 80% of the protein in common grains such as wheat, rye, barley and oats. Some people can have an allergy or intolerance towards gluten, so they must follow a gluten-free diet for medical reasons.

Our gluten-free items are prepared in a separate facility from our regular breads and pastries, so there is no fear of cross contamination. Most of our gluten-free items are also vegan (except the gluten-free salami pizza) and dairy-free!

To give you an idea of the substitutes for flour in our gluten-free products, here’s the list for our top 5 best-selling gluten-free items:

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (vegan)  All-purpose gluten-free flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, flaxseed, coconut oil, coco sugar, vanilla extract, salt, cocoa nibs or dairy free chocolate chips

Gluten-free banana carrot loaf Brown rice flour, sorghum flour, white rice flour, cassava starch, carrots, banana, eggs, brown sugar, coconut oil, cinnamon, baking soda

Gluten-free bread (round) (vegan) brown rice flour, sorghum flour, cassava starch, flax seeds, (with sesame seeds sprinkled on top)

Picture of Gluten-Free Baguette

Gluten-free baguette (vegan) All-purpose gluten-free flour, coconut oil, flaxseeds, yeast, xanthan gum, sugar, salt

Picture of Gluten-Free Vegan Pizza

Gluten-free vegan pizza (vegan)   All-purpose gluten-free flour, coconut oil, flaxseeds, yeast, xanthan gum, sugar, salt, tomato sauce, vegetables

It’s part of our commitment towards offering better and healthier food choices to people in Manila. We soon hope as well to serve everyone in the Philippines!

Order your gluten-free food for delivery in Metro Manila today.