Posts

Gluten-Free Grains for the Holidays

Holiday Cooking and Baking, Sans Gluten

The fall and winter months tend to bring along a whole new style of eating (well, for most of us, anyway). We’re not eating the juicy fresh fruits and fresh garden salads as much, but bring on the warm baked goods and hearty pasta dishes.

Holiday cooking is very different than during the rest of the year–it’s all about the comfort foods!

The sudden influx of gym memberships every January is no coincidence: while eating this way, we aren’t just filling up on too many carbohydrates, we’re also filling up on gluten, a protein found in wheat and a few other grains (which is a common ingredient in the foods we just named above) and difficult for many people to digest.

For those living with celiac disease (currently 1 in 133 people in Canada) or those who suffer with gluten sensitivities and allergies, many of these foods can be made with substitutions to make them gluten-free!

Here are 5 wheat alternatives commonly used for holiday cooking and baking:

Buckwheat

Although ‘wheat’ is in the name, buckwheat contains no actual wheat. It’s gluten-free! (And technically it’s a seed that we treat like a grain, like quinoa.) Its nutritional profile boasts high levels of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate, thiamine and choline.

Buckwheat is available in roasted or unroasted, in whole grain form as well as in flour, and often used as a substitute to make gluten-free pancakes!

Corn

Corn kernels are dried and then ground into meal called cornmeal, polenta or grits, depending on the method used a how finely ground it is. Nonetheless, all three are gluten-free.

Cornmeal is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B-6. Creamy stove top polenta makes for a delicious alternative to mashed potatoes or pasta. Don’t discount on corn, but when possible, make sure to buy organic and non-GMO.

Quinoa

Technically a seed, quinoa is a fabulous replacement for grains that may contain gluten. It’s also a good source of protein, making it ideal for those who have vegetarian and/or vegan diets.

Quinoa boasts anti-inflammatory benefits and can help lower cholesterol. It can be consumed as a grain, or milled into flour to be used in gluten-free baking or to make gluten-free pasta!

Honestly? Holiday cooking is a breeze with quinoa.

Oats

Oats are gluten-free, but come with a disclaimer: many oat crops suffer from cross-pollination from neighbouring wheat fields, rendering them not gluten-free. To be sure the oats you’re eating are free of gluten, look specifically for a gluten-free label—these oats originate from fields nowhere close to wheat crops.

Brown Rice

Rice—especially sprouted brown rice—is a great grain to incorporate into any diet. It’s super versatile, and definitely gluten-free.

Of course by adding NutraCleanse™ (also technically gluten-free, though not yet formally certified as such) to your favourite dishes, you are further increasing their goodness with a healthy portion of your recommended daily fibre intake.

For more recipe ideas, or to learn where you can buy NutraCleanse™ to add to your favourite foods, visit our website.

How Well Do You Know Your Gluten-Free Grains?

With more and more people committing to a gluten-free diet, the question of which grains are gluten-free comes up a lot. Here’s a non-conclusive list of popular gluten-free grains:

Quinoa

Technically a seed, quinoa is a fabulous replacement for grains that may contain gluten. It’s also a good source of protein, making it ideal for those who have vegetarian and/or vegan diets. Quinoa boasts anti-inflammatory benefits and can help lower cholesterol.

Oats

Oats are gluten-free, but come with a disclaimer: many oat crops suffer from cross-pollination from neighbouring wheat fields, rendering them not gluten-free. To be sure the oats you’re eating are free of gluten, look specifically for a gluten-free label—these oats originate from fields nowhere close to wheat crops.

Buckwheat

Although ‘wheat’ is in the name, buckwheat contains no actual wheat. It’s gluten-free! (And technically a seed, like quinoa.) Its nutritional profile boasts high levels of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate, thiamin and choline.

Millet

Often the main ingredient in bird seed, millet is very high in minerals (copper, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus) and a healthy alternative to grains containing gluten. Couscous, a Middle Eastern dish, is traditionally made with cracked millet.

Rice

Rice—especially sprouted brown rice—is a great grain to incorporate into any diet. It’s super versatile, and definitely gluten-free.

Grains that definitely DO contain gluten include wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. If you’re consuming a completely gluten-free diet, it’s best to avoid these ones.