To continue our discussion on gluten-free diets, this week I'll briefly discuss some pitfalls as well as finding
For starters, you need to raise your awareness, prevent cross-contamination and increase your vigilance, particularly
when it comes to label reading, restaurants and bulk bins at the grocery store.
When cooking, you should use separate food prep areas to avoid cross contamination. Prepare gluten-free foods before
other items and aggressively clean grills, cutting boards, knives, utensils, thermometers and sponges. Toaster
grills, butter dishes and condiment bottles can be tricky.
When baking, be aware that baked goods prepared with gluten-free flours will improve if adaptations are made. These
will vary depending on the use (for specifics, call me). Adding gum (xanthan or guar) to gluten-free flours can help
improve the finished product. Gum improves elasticity and keeps it from crumbling. For baking, add a half teaspoon
xanthan or guar gum per cup of flour blend for cakes, cookies, bars, muffins and other quick breads.
For baked items that call for yeast, add 1 teaspoon per cup of flour blend for breads, pizza dough, etc. For
high-altitude baking, add 1-2 tablespoons more flour, decrease sugar by 1-2 teaspoons and decrease rising time by
about 10 minutes. Gluten-free breads lose moisture quickly so wrap in airtight packaging using wax paper between
Reading labels is important. Gluten is found in a wide variety of products beyond the obvious breads, buns and baked
goods. It is surprising where you might find dangerous traces of flour, including communion wafers, bleu cheese
crumbles, herbal teas, ice cream, soy sauce, maltodextrin (made from wheat starch), malt vinegar, licorice and other
candies, vegetarian burgers, seasonings, rice mixes, salad dressings, puddings and even cottage cheese.
Beer, condiments, supplements and medications are other possible culprits.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires labels to disclose certain allergenic ingredients, but for gluten, it
is voluntary. The only way to be certain a product is gluten-free may be to contact the manufacturer.
Many of our local grocery stores (particularly the specialty grocery stores) carry specific flours and baking mixes
(such as Bob's Red Mill). These also are available on the Internet.
Several chain restaurants now offer gluten-free menu items. These include Burger King, Wendy's, Beau Jo's, PF Chang, Red Robin and Boston Market. When ordering, go back to basics. Avoid fried foods (the oil can be cross-contaminated), sauces, stews, desserts and soups where allergens can hide.
Lastly, this is just a teaser, but word has it that there is a support group in town - let's hope so.
email@example.com. us or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County