Gluten Free Cooking: Giving up the Gluten

Gluten Free

Seems like everywhere you look nowadays, you see the words ‘Gluten Free’ emblazoned on everything from specialty breads and bakery goods (where it makes sense) to steak sauce, mineral water, and beef jerky (where, for the most part, it doesn’t.) Because gluten is a substance found only in wheat and certain other cereal grains, clearly, baked goods, traditionally made from wheat flour, would be full of it and it would take some clever substitutions and kitchen wizardry to make them both good to eat and gluten free. That’s worth trumpeting on the label for sure. And gluten can—and quite often does–lurk in condiments and other commercially prepared foods, because of the wide-spread use of grain-based thickeners. So, again, a ‘gluten free’ stamp makes sense. One wouldn’t, however, expect to find gluten in a piece of fresh meat, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables or mineral water and yet, nowadays, you’ll see them so labeled in the stores. What’s all the fuss about gluten?

What is gluten and where do you find it?

Gluten is a protein component of wheat and such grains as barley, rye, triticale, kamut, some oats, and spelt.  For many years, it has been recognized as a dietary trouble spot for certain people, who have a disorder, called ‘celiac disease’ or ‘celiac sprue’.  This  intestinal malady (cramping, bloating, gas, and more) occurs in people, who are allergic to or severely intolerant of this gluten protein, sometimes to the point of becoming quite ill if they eat even the tiniest trace of it. The truly gluten intolerant must be ever vigilant label readers to keep gluten out of their diets and even out of their kitchens. And until quite recently they’ve had to be uber creative in thinking up ways to enjoy many foods they once loved, because (with a few exceptions) they were unable to partake of such things as baked goods, pizza, breads, or pasta – things typically made from or containing wheat and its kin. The good news for them is that there are some grains (amaranth, buckwheat, corn, flax, millet, quinoa, rice, and teff) and thickening agents (arrowroot, potato and bean starches and flours, tapioca) that don’t contain gluten, and it is this group that gluten-intolerant or gluten-avoidant people can creatively use in cooking gluten free. But lately, more and more people, not technically suffering from celiac disease, are adopting this way of life!

Why are people going gluten-free?

In the last couple of years, courtesy of bestselling books, such as Dr. William Davis’ Wheat Belly (Rodale 2011), gluten avoidance has gone mainstream for a growing number of health conscious people, who, while they don’t suffer from true celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance, are seeking ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and a whole host of gluten-implicated health issues. Thus, the number of people following a gluten-free diet has skyrocketed of late and in response, every product on the grocery shelf wants to proclaim itself ‘gluten free’ to attract their interest.

For those wishing to avoid gluten, whatever the reason, the safest and best way is to eat at home. Only when you prepare the food yourself, can you be completely sure of what’s in it. Cooking at home gives you complete control over ingredients and quality. But who has the time? Actually, you do!

Sous vide makes gluten-free cooking easier!

When it comes to delicious gluten-free cooking, sous vide cooking is a natural, because it brings out the best in so many foods that are naturally gluten free (meat, fish, poultry, game, shellfish, eggs, vegetables, fruits.) And it does so with minimal hands-on time, perfectly cooking your food while you’re away at work or doing something fun or exciting! With a few exceptions, mainly in the dessert category, the majority of the recipes on this site are naturally gluten-free, easy, and delicious, so we invite you to head to the archive and have a look! But it isn’t really breaking news that a steak or piece of sous vide salmon is gluten free.

So we thought that those of you joining the movement might enjoy a recipe for something that when prepared traditionally is filled with gluten. We wanted to give you something that you may have missed since your conversion:Gluten-Free Sous Vide Fried Chicken. Pair it with To Die For Potatoes or Boursin Mashed Potatoes and your choice of any of the delicious sous vide cooked vegetables in the recipe archive. Or, if you’re going low-carb as well, try the Cauliflower PureeAsparagus with Crispy Pancetta or Squash Sformato.  We hope you’ll enjoy it!

If you have a great recipe for a gluten-free sous vide dish, we hope that you’ll share it with us here in the comments!

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