After the granola recipe post, I received several emails asking about gluten-free options. If this is something that concerns you because you truly need to be gluten-free (perhaps you have Celiac disease) or you have just noticed that limiting your intake of gluten makes you feel better, then the following information should be GOOD for you.
There is a book I highly recommend by Frank Lipman, MD called Spent, in which he describes the immune system response to gluten (which is a mixture of gliadin and glutenin proteins found in wheat, rye and barely) as making you feel ‘a vague unwellness’. Perhaps you haven’t yet paid attention to gluten in your diet and this post will inspire you to do some further homework. Dr. Lipman references a book Dangerous Grains by Dr. James Braly & Ron Haggan, M.A. in which they show research that suggests ‘that gliadin causes our immune system to to react as though it is responding to a foreign body rather than a nourishing food.’ They believe that some people produce a liver enzyme that helps our body to metabolize it but others don’t produce it and, as a result, the gluten isn’t broken into smaller particles (in other words, it’s not digested properly) and these bigger particles then leak through the walls of our gut and enter our bloodstream at which point our body attacks them as foreign substances. I’m over-simplifying it, but as I’ve mentioned before, if you see your body’s energy as a ‘pie’, your immune system has to use a huge slice of your ‘energy pie’ to fight the effects, which leads to the ‘vague unwellness’ Dr. Lipman references.
The good news is that there are alot of whole foods that are satisfying alternatives to products containing gluten (cereals, pastas, commercially-produced cookies, etc.), such as brown rice, buckwheat, nut flours, quinoa and millet. There are many packaged gluten-free products (pastas, fruit bars, etc.) but in my experience, many of them taste like cardboard. However, there are a handful (and probably more that I’ve just never tried) of good options. Many years ago, before I had even heard of gluten, my oldest brother got me hooked on Ezekial bread. I actually started eating it to help reduce carbohydrates in my diet, back in the day. Most large grocery stores and probably every health food store carry it in their freezer section. We love the cinnamon raisin variety (in the purple bag) and I happen to think the ‘plain’ version (the orange bag) is a little ‘cardboardy’ but I know plenty of people who like it. It is a grain bread, but it is flourless and sprouted. Dr. Lipman indicates that most people can tolerate it well. Apparently, the problems that many have with gluten are actually with the gluten lectins which are primarily in the seed coatings and are actually destroyed in the sprouting process. They also make English muffins, pitas bread and corn tortillas; we are big fans.
One friend wanted to know about the oats in Margo’s granola recipe. Here’s the deal with oats: apparently, if they are pure and uncontaminated, they should not cause a problem. Dr. Lipman references a study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57, no. 1 (2004): 163-169 (S. Storsrud et al., “Adult Coeliac Patiens Do Tolerate Large Amounts of Oats”).
There are supposedly two companies that sell ‘pure oats’ that have not been cross-contaminated with wheat, barley and/or rye during harvesting, processing, etc.
I have not tried these so please do your own homework. Here they are:
My boys would eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I let them. We do mostly 100% whole wheat pasta but if someone in the house seems a little under the weather, I’ll use the best gluten-free pasta I’ve tasted, which is from bionaturae; the best price I’ve found is from amazon.com and here’s the link:
I know that many of you have had your own experiences with gluten-free products; please share if there’s anything you love and think we should all know about.