Going Gluten-Free: Some Suggestions
If you've decided that the gluten-free lifestyle is right for you, you've got your work cut out for you. Avoiding wheat and wheat products can be challenging in 21st century America. Reading food labels is a good place to start. Unfortunately, wheat can be camouflaged on food labels. Avoid all of the following: Bulgar, durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, spelt, semolina, malt or malt flavoring, and modified food starch.
Fortunately, plenty of gluten-free products now line store shelves, making it somewhat easier for dedicated gluten-free folks to make gluten-free substitutions. Finely ground almond flour or coconut flour have been suggested as suitable alternatives to wheat flour for many recipes. The suitability is a matter of opinion.
Frankly, there will probably never be a substitute for wheat flour that holds up as well in head-to-head comparisons for things like baking bread that looks, feels, and tastes anything like "real" bread. But dedicated gluten-free folks often say they don't really miss bread or other wheat products, especially in light of how much better they feel when avoiding wheat. Some feel that cutting back on carbs in general helps reduce cravings for carbs, so bread and pasta are not really missed.
When it comes to pasta, there are some clever and not-too-bad alternatives out there. Try pasta made from quinoa, for example. It has a taste and texture that, for my money, is not that different from ordinary dried pasta. It's made exclusively from corn flour and quinoa flour. As you may know, quinoa is the trendy "new" grain that folks have been eating in the Andes for centuries. It's taken the rest of the world by storm, and has much to recommend it.
Quinoa is an excellent source of complete protein, meaning it supplies all nine essential amino acids. It's a good source of trace elements, such as manganese and magnesium, and it's a fairly rich source of iron (one serving of pasta provides about 9% of your Daily Value for iron). It also contains beneficial plant nutrients, such as quercetin and kaempferol. Higher intakes of quercetin are linked to reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. One serving of quinoa pasta contains about 205 calories, and four grams of dietary fiber. Ordinary pasta has about the same number of calories, but just two grams of fiber. Obviously, quinoa does not contain any gluten.
Lomer MC. Review article: the aetiology, diagnosis, mechanisms and clinical evidence for food intolerance. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Dec 3. doi: 10.1111/apt.13041. [Epub ahead of print]
Nash DT, Slutzky AR. Gluten sensitivity: new epidemic or new myth? Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2014 Oct;27(4):377-8. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4255872/