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Going Gluten-Free

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I don’t have celiac and I am not sensitive to gluten. However, following a recent trip to Italy, and a week on non-stop pasta eating, I decided to go gluten-free for a week just to see how I would feel. At the end of the week, I felt like I was less bloated and generally had more energy.

Gluten is the substance in foods that makes them chewy. For some reason, more and more people are becoming sensitive to wheat products and gluten. Scientists have come up with a variety of possible reasons. Firstly, we are eating a too much wheat. Apparently, Americans are the fourth largest consumers of wheat in the world and consumption has been steadily increasing since the 1950’s. According to the US Department of Agriculture, annual average grain consumption was 45% higher in 2000 than in the 1970’s (Source). Secondly, we are eating a smaller variety of grains than our ancestors did. Finally, we may be reacting to wheat that has been genetically modified or is full of pesticides.

Reactions to gluten can range from mild sensitivities to full-blown celiac disease. Foods which contain gluten are: any wheat products (including spelt, durum wheat, bulgur and farro), barley, rye and, sometimes, oats. Gluten-free grains are: rice, buckwheat (related to rhubarb and not wheat), quinoa, corn and millet.

After my experiment, I realized that—as with most things in life—moderation is best. While I do enjoy bread and pasta, I have decided to limit my intake of wheat products to once or twice a week. I feel it’s a good way to give my digestive system a break and allows me to experiment cooking with other grains. That said, what I do make sure to stay away from are the gluten-free processed foods, sugary snacks and cereals, which seem to have become quite the fad lately.

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Quote of the Month

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“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh

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About Me Headline

I am the mother of four daughters and a Certified Health Counselor, as well as a passionate advocate of organic and local food and a healthy lifestyle. I decided to become a health counselor to fulfill my passion of working with children and parents to improve their health and family life. Learn more about me at healthytiffin.net/about.html

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In this issue:

Recipe

Soba Noodle Salad with Cucumber, Radishes and Edamame (Serves 6)

Here is an interesting gluten-free recipe that I adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine. It makes a great school lunch option:

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 green jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 6 oz soba noodles (check the labels for gluten-free options)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup edamame beans
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • ½ cup basil, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup mint, thinly sliced
  1. Heat vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in garlic and chile, if using. When cool, stir in lime zest, juice and toasted sesame oil.
  2. Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water and let dry.
  3. Put noodles in a serving bowl with remaining ingredients. Add dressing and toss to coat.

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