My last blog was about anaphylaxis, life threatening allergic reactions often to foods. Today, I want to tell you a little bit about gluten intolerance. You’ve probably heard the word but do you know what gluten actually is? The word gluten comes from the latin word for glue and is a protein mix giving foods a chewy texture. It is also used in cosmetic products and hair products.
Keeping a gluten-free diet can be very challenging, especially at the beginning as gluten is often hidden in products you least expect to contain it. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains. This includes all wheat-based flours such as whole wheat flour, durum wheat, graham flour, spelt, kamut, wheat germ and wheat bran.
So, which products are safe?
- All fresh fruit and vegetable are safe but beware of frozen or canned preparations.
- Fresh meat, poultry and fish are safe, too but read labels of pre-packaged or processed foods such as deli meats or sausages.
- Fresh milk and dairy products such a milk, butter, plain yoghurt, fresh eggs are gluten-free. Aged hard cheeses such as cheddar or parmesan are gluten-free. Be sure though to check ingredients for soft cheeses like ricotta, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and pasteurised or processed cheeses. Check ingredients in ice creams as some are gluten-free and other are not.
- Coffee, tea, fruit juices (if made from 100% juices) and alcohol are gluten-free.
- Baking supplies, such as baking soda, sugar and cocoa, are typically gluten-free, baking mixes are not (see below).
- Many condiments and sauces contain gluten but Heinz ketchup is gluten-free.
Did you know soy sauce contains gluten? Naturally brewed soy sauce does not contain gluten but many products contain wheat, so it is important to read the ingredients carefully.
- Clearly breadcrumbs, croutons and matzo, an unleavened bread.
- Prepared Foods often contain gluten, so only buy when marked gluten-free.
- Baking Mixes should be specifically labeled gluten-free to be safe.
- Pickles may be prepared using malt vinegar, which is made from barley.
- Broth in soups and bouillon cubes may also contain gluten
- Pre-seasoned rice and pasta mixes
- Fried foods dipped in batter
- Hot dogs, deli meats and veggie burgers maybe also be made with wheat to give it a good texture, so again, read the label.
- Some candies such as licorice which has wheat flour as its main ingredient but seem gluten-free brands are now available.
- Salad dressings often contain modified food starch as a thickening agent, which is a wheat derivative.
- Some flavoured potato chips and other seasoned snacks might also contain gluten as flavouring might be based on wheat, barley or rye.
- Beer contains gluten, it’s made from barley, so look out for gluten-free beer. Wine is gluten-free.
Another food to pay attention to are oats. While they are naturally gluten-free, they are often contaminated with gluten during processing or even harvesting.
For gluten-free recipes, try these websites:
- Gluten-free Goddess
- Celiac.com was founded in 1995 and is an invaluable resource for gluten-free recipes, and coeliac disease in general.
- BBC Food
For gluten-free products available in Switzerland, try these links:
- Migros (in G, F, I): the Aha! range of gluten-free products. There are also products for those lactose-intolerant or allergic to nuts.
- Coop (in G, F, I): a list of gluten-free products available at Coop.
- Freefrom Supermarket (in G & E) is a fantastic online shop for products free from anything, organic foods, foods for various intolerances, separated into different categories and new also with some small kitchen appliances.
- Mr. & Mrs. Glutenfree is a new health food shop in Zurich focussing on gluten-free products. They even run events and apéros offering gluten-free foods.
- i can eat (also in E): an online health food store with a large orange of gluten- and lactose-free products.
- Glutenfreie Produkte (G only) are specialised on baked goods, pizza and other dough and cakes.
Eating out can be and other challenging for those on a gluten-free diet. Here are some tips for Switzerland:
- Restaurant Le Karma in Lausanne
- Le Napoli in Lausanne Blécherette if you fancy gluten-free pizza or pasta.
- Search for more restaurants across Switzerland serving gluten-free meals on lunchgate.
- Or download the restaurant list published by the Swiss Zöliakie Association (in German).
There are some great magazines available, in print, online and on the Newsstand on iTunes. I like the newsstand version as it is a lot cheaper than subscribing to the print version and have it shipped here. Many magazines don’t just have recipes but advice on food sensitivities, updates on research and legal changes and much more. My favourite magazines and their websites are:
- Living Without Magazine is published bi-monthly and covers gluten and lactose intolerance and other allergies and food sensitivities. It is available on iTunes for CHF 19 per year or CHF 4 per issue.
- Simply Gluten Free was founded by TV chef and cookbook author Carol Kicinski with the first issue published November 2012. On their website, you can also purchase gluten-free flours and her cookbooks.
- Gluten Free Living is also published bi-monthly and is available on iTunes for CHF 7 per issue.
- A free ebook Breakfast with Benefits by HolyCrap with 12 gluten-free recipes is also available on iTunes or as a pdf file.
With all these precautions in mind, I wish you “En Guete” or “Bon appétit”!
Posted on January 09, 2014 by Luitgard Holzleg
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