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Gluten Free Cooking: Feed's All You Need Guide

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Gluten, an ingredient found in various bread, cakes, pasta, and even medications, forms the basis of many of the foods we enjoy in our diets. Unfortunately, many individuals experience sensitivity or intolerance to gluten and must be very careful of the foods they consume or avoid all gluten products altogether. Whether you or someone you love is gluten intolerant or just want to be informed about gluten-free lifestyles, it’s important to build a toolbox full of knowledge and tools to know what to do. For today’s Pop's All You Need Guide, we wanted to talk about gluten-free cooking and provide some insights into what goes into managing a gluten-free lifestyle.

Before we jump into how to support a gluten-free lifestyle through gluten-free cooking, it’s essential to understand what gluten is and what it does to the body. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale, which helps foods maintain their shape. According to Johns Hopkins, the process of breaking gluten down within the body, for those who cannot handle it, can cause damage to many of the organs and, in turn, cause severe health issues. There are a  variety of different factors that cause many people not to be able to consume gluten, including 

  • Celiac disease, or an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine when a person consumes gluten
  • Gluten intolerance, or gastrointestinal irritation caused by gluten for those who don’t have celiac disease
  • Wheat allergy
  • Gluten ataxia, or a rare neurological autoimmune disorder that causes your body to attack parts of your brain due to gluten

In fact, according to Very Well Health, it has been found that one in 133 people have celiac disease, and even more could be gluten intolerant, making gluten very difficult on their bodies. Because of this, it’s essential to learn cooking techniques and preparation methods that are conscious of a gluten-free lifestyle to help those around you who may be experiencing this and  support their best health and well-being.

Cooking Gluten-Free: What to Look For

When considering the foods eaten by those who experience celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it can be overwhelming to see the limit of the foods one can eat. To start, there are three foods that gluten is commonly found in: Wheat, Barley, and Rye. Foods such as bread, baked goods, soups, pasta, malt, beer, rye bread, salad dressings, and even food coloring all likely contain gluten, so make sure when looking to cook around a gluten-free lifestyle to avoid these foods.

According to Beyond Celiac, reading all ingredient labels is important to ensure you’re not accidentally using a gluten-free product. Many times there are products that may not seem like they contain gluten within them but have gluten or traces of gluten. Additionally, it is essential to remember that many foods that may not actively have gluten in them may have come in contact with other items that do contain gluten and therefore are cross-contaminated. Be sure when cooking to keep gluten items separate from gluten-free items (usually, it is recommended to keep dishes and cooking utensils separate and to prepare food separately to avoid cross-contamination.

Gluten-Free Cooking: Inspiration and Some Tips

While it may seem that gluten-free cooking is something challenging to work around, most of it is just like regular cooking (with a little more effort). Keep in mind that when practicing a gluten-free lifestyle, it is imperative to not mix or cross-contaminate gluten into your food; as we mentioned before, remember to watch the ingredients of each product you are using and try to keep all of your cooking dishes, utensils, and surfaces separate from each other.

There are several wonderful dishes you should try if you’re looking to lead a gluten-free lifestyle, many of which are just as good (if not better) than the real thing! This weeknight steak and rice noodle salad, for example, is the perfect after-work or school meal that will be sure to make an excellent dinner for you and your family (and you can even meal prep it for easier preparation!). If you’re in the mood for a bit of seafood, this Tuscan butter shrimp, paired with a nice steak, is a beautiful dish to prepare for a bit of surf and turf!

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