If something in your life triggered interest in gluten-free living, shopping, cooking, and eating, only good things can come out of that. It doesn't hurt anybody to learn something new and implement healthier habits for life. Read the list of 10 things that are worth knowing about gluten-free:
Gluten is a type of protein found in various kinds of grain, such as wheat, barley, rye, some oats and spelt. Gluten gives food its structure. This is especially important for baking. Bread is chewy and stretchy all thanks to gluten.
Most of us have something in our kitchen that is naturally gluten-free. Think chicken, potatoes, salad, milk products, fruits, veggies, fish, and all other things that are not made of grain.
Besides its most common pure form, the grains, gluten can be found in products that are made from grain, like cereal, crackers, bread, baked goods, pasta, cookies, and even beer. Sometimes gluten is hiding in such things as oats, salad dressings, malt vinegar, soy sauce, imitation crab, miso, and seitan.
Gluten is an excellent thickening agent, so you can find it in cream sauces, broths, snacks, soups, candy, chocolate, spices, ice cream, yogurt, and pilaf mixes. If you want to avoid gluten completely, you have to study ingredient lists like there is no tomorrow.
Cross contamination is very real, so keep glutinous stuff really far away from gluten-free. The longer you live without gluten, the less tolerance for it your body has. The smallest particle of regular flower getting into your gluten-free food can really irritate your system. Someone cutting into a nice loaf of bread and sending particle dust into your salad bowl can cause serious problems for you.
Keep all your utensils, toasters, and deep fryers separate if you are using them for your gluten-free food. Gluten-free lifestyle is still in its infancy, so we are all learning how to live with it. This learning is also happening at the restaurants and production facilities, so don't think that others know more - always triple-check everything yourself.
Baked goods don't stick together without gluten. This simply means that you have to replace it in your cooking. Consider including a mix of chia, psyllium, and flax to substitute what is missing. You can also use baking soda, starches, and more eggs. Xanthan or guar gum can help you achieve the desired sticky effect.
Don't be surprised if your gluten-free batters will be looser than regular kind. This happens because of higher moisture content. Cakes usually need to be baked longer and on lower temperature. Cooked gluten-free goodies can be very sensitive. Make sure you let your creations cool off completely to avoid falling apart. Use parchment liners and spring forms for safe removal. Cookies should rest on the sheet pan.
G.f. products don't last very long and shouldn't be stored for extended periods of time. Consider freezing them as soon as they are cool for later use or store at room temperature for immediate consumption.
Single-grain flour will not replace wheat flour on its own. You have to be creative and test lots and lots of various mixes to find what works for you. You have to look for a perfect combination of sticky and structural. You can try using already premixed gluten-free baking mix or make your own.
Make sure to read reviews about various ready-to-use gluten-free flour mixes before using them. Trader Joe's has really great mix that is free of xanthan gum. If you decide to make your own mixes at home, shoot for 30% low-protein starchy flour and 70% low-starch high-protein flour. You should store the mix in an air-tight container in the freezer.
There is some good news for gluten-free bakers - you can never overmix the batter due to lack of wheat protein, which tends to become gummy if mixed for too long. The best way to measure your dry ingredients is by weight. This helps you ensure that the recipe has the right proportions. Use regular kitchen scale for that.
Many people confuse gluten-free diet with a common good-for you diet. This is not the case. People with Celiac disease, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases definitely feel better after cutting gluten out. For all others - if it makes you feel better, great! Otherwise continue consuming whatever you like and don't follow hypes.
Lots of food is absolutely great, delicious, and still available for gluten-free lifestyle. You can have your favorite indulgences, treats, and desserts with a bit of modification. Focus on seasonal goods, experiment with new recipes, and live your life to the fullest with gluten-free diet.