Why Gluten Free?

I want to start by answering the question that many ask: Why gluten free? In early 2014, my mother-in-law of 34 years was in late stages of Alzheimer’s at only 71 years of age. With so many unknowns about the disease, I wanted to find some answers. At the top of my list of questions was whether it was genetic. Certainly I didn’t want my husband following this fate. One of the books I read that seemed to make sense was the book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter.

Dr. Perlmutter is a Neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition – the only physician with a combination of these two credentials in the U.S. Dr. Perlmutter presents a compelling and well-researched case showing that gluten can cause inflammation, and the organ most susceptible to the detrimental affects of inflammation is our brain. He links gluten sensitivity to a variety of not only brain disorders, but health problems of all kinds, ranging from ADHD, depression, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, to cancer, and infertility. Most commonly, gluten sensitivity results in health conditions related to the brain, stomach, and skin. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize that they have gluten sensitivity.

And this was the case with my husband. He has had problems with psoriasis and indigestion, as well as had his gall bladder, and a portion of his colon removed. Not to mention the family history of Alzheimer’s onset at an early age. Red flags started going off when I realized that he had skin and digestive problems, and a family history of Alzheimer’s – all three of the areas where gluten sensitivity seems to show up. I am certainly not medically trained, nor am I an expert on the subject. And I am not naïve to the other important considerations in warding off disease such as exercise, mental stimulation, and maintaining a healthy weight. But I also don’t want to dismiss the myriad of solid information that can profoundly affect our future health – even if we can’t always see all the physical affects now.

After reading Dr. Perlmutter’s book and several other articles, my husband and I reduced the gluten in our diet thinking that going fully gluten free would be very difficult. Then I read an article by Dr. Vikki Petersen, author of The Gluten Effect, a best-selling book on gluten sensitivity. Her strong words for those with gluten sensitivity – even if they don’t feel bad or yet recognize they are sensitive, pushed me to cut out gluten all together. “Gluten can kill you. No exaggeration. It may be slow but it’s still doing the job and moving you towards disease and a shortened lifespan.” That’s pretty compelling!

We have now been eating gluten free for about seven months and here’s what we have found. I have noticed small improvements in my energy level, focus, and emotional well being. My husband noticed the biggest impact. He no longer felt bloated after eating, or had digestive problems. He felt so much better that he began researching gluten-free options for some of his favorite foods and drinks – such as beer – on his own. And he openly started talking about his gluten-free diet with friends and colleagues. This was a huge step for a masculine, motorcycle riding, beer drinking, kind of guy!

Since I’m concerned with healthy eating, the recipes you will find here are not meant to replace the breads, desserts, pastries and such with gluten-free alternatives. Instead, I have focused mainly on providing healthy food choices that are naturally gluten free, or need only minor modifications. I regularly cook and entertain with a gluten-free menu, and guests are never the wiser, unless I bring it up at the end of the meal.

Yes, occasionally we all need a treat, and so you’ll see a few of my favorite baked good recipes appear here. However I truly believe that the proliferation of processed foods, carbohydrates, and sweets are contributing to health problems in our society such as diabetes, a disease that according to the Centers for Disease Control has risen 176% during the period from 1980 – 2011.

What you will find on this blog are fabulous recipes for good food that is easy to make, as well as tips for finding quality gluten-free grocery and restaurant choices. I also welcome your comments and questions. Together we can make healthy, gluten-free food that tastes great!

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Cashew Chicken with Snow Peas


Marinade:

1 egg white

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 tablespoon La Choy brand soy sauce

(Note: many soy sauces contain wheat, a source of gluten.
La Choy brand is gluten free. )

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Slice two boneless, skinless chicken breasts in thin strips, and combine with the marinade ingredients above. Refrigerate for at least an hour, and up to 24 hours in advance.

Sauce:

2 tablespoons La Choy brand soy sauce

¼ cup white wine

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup Wok Mei Hoisin sauce

(Note: many hoisin sauces contain gluten. Wok Mei brand does not.

You can also make your own if you have the time.)

Additional ingredients:

4 tablespoons sesame oil – divided

1-1/2 cups cashews

2 cups snow peas washed and trimmed

Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a heavy skillet and stir fry the cashews until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining oil to the pan and heat to medium high. Add the marinated chicken and stir fry for 3 – 4 minutes until there is no pink visible on the chicken. Add the sauce and the snow peas, cooking for 1 – 2 minutes until snow peas are steamed through, but still crisp. Add cashews.

Serve over steamed rice.

Hello Fellow Foodies!

As a long-time foodie who enjoys both eating and cooking, I am often asked to share recipes, and always on the lookout for great new food ideas.  Cooking has always been a way for me to express my care, love and appreciation for family and friends.  It is an amazing way to bring people together. Recent events have led me to change to a gluten-free diet – something that I initially thought would be a real challenge.  On the contrary, the change has been amazingly easy.  Many recipes and foods are naturally gluten free, or require only minor modifications. Other recipes require a bit of experimenting to obtain the desired results.  I look forward to hearing from others who have taken the gluten free journey and can share their food tips as well.