Thursday, November 5, 2015

Gluten-Free Foods

luten-free. A phrase that has been known to have a polarizing response. i must confess that i was among those whose reaction upon hearing the phrase "gluten-free", was not a positive one. i was of the thought that most people going on ad nauseum about gluten-free dietary choices were extolling its virtues not because they truly had a health concern such as celiac disease, but rather because they wanted to sound hip & trendy, vis-a-vis the latest culinary trend---similar to when everyone & their nutritionist couldn't stop saying that acai should be a part of everyone's diet. That is not to say that acai is not beneficial but many were speaking of it as if you would surely drop dead sooner rather than later if it was not on your shopping list. As the saying goes 'never say never'---i am a recent convert to adding gluten-free items to my cupboard, refrigerator, and recipe file. i am fortunate in that i do not have celiac disease, but i have recently discovered the health benefits of incorporating gluten-free products to my dietary choices.

A few months ago i had tendonitis in my right metatarsal. The pain was intense. i was hoping for a cortisone injection but the doctor treating me declined to do so. When the doctor would not give me a specific reason as to why this treatment would not be given other than to say "I wouldn't recommend it" i decided to look for alternatives. i had an acupuncture treatment. An interesting experience. It offered some relief but the cost & travel time to the practitioner was prohibitive. Since we are what we eat, i researched which foods are natural anti-inflammatories. In addition to learning which foods are natural anti-inflammatories, i learned that gluten exacerbates inflammation. Even though i did not need or intend to go completely gluten-free, i discovered there were more foods and spices than i'd initially thought that were and/or could be made so. Rice, soy milk, pineapple, tumeric, ginger, crackers, cookies, pie shells, flour, cereal, etc.


What precisely is gluten? From wikipedia: Gluten (from Latin gluten, "glue") is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.

Gluten is the composite of two storage proteins, gliadin and a glutenin, and is conjoined with starch in the endosperm of various grass-related grains. Worldwide, gluten is a source of protein, both in foods prepared directly from sources containing it, and as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein.

The fruit of most flowering plants have endosperms with stored protein to nourish embryonic plants during germination. True gluten is limited to certain members of the grass family. The stored proteins of maize and rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from true gluten.

Gluten is extracted from flour by kneading the flour, agglomerating the gluten into an elastic network, a dough, and then washing out the starch. Starch granules disperse in cold/low-temperature water, and the dispersed starch is sedimented and dried. If a saline solution is used instead of water, a purer protein is obtained, with certain harmless impurities departing to the solution with the starch. Where starch is the prime product, cold water is the favored solvent because the impurities depart from the gluten.

In home or restaurant cooking, a ball of wheat flour dough is kneaded under water until the starch disperses out. In industrial production, a slurry of wheat flour is kneaded vigorously by machinery until the gluten agglomerates into a mass. This mass is collected by centrifugation, then transported through several stages integrated in a continuous process. About 65% of the water in the wet gluten is removed by means of a screw press; the remainder is sprayed through an atomizer nozzle into a drying chamber, where it remains at an elevated temperature a short time to evaporate the water without denaturing the gluten. The process yields a flour-like powder with a 7% moisture content, which is air cooled and pneumatically transported to a receiving vessel. In the final step, the collected gluten is sifted and milled to produce a uniform product. In August 2013, FDA issued a final rule, effective August 2014, that defined the term "gluten-free" for voluntary use in the labeling of foods as meaning that the amount of gluten contained in the food is below 20 parts per million.


After trying several products, some of the gluten-free items that made the final cut for my shopping list are: Arrowhead Mills Organic Gluten-Free Pancake & Baking Mix [0g trans fat], Wholly Wholesome Gluten-Free 9"Pie Shells [2 to the package], Silk lactose and gluten-free milk, Applegate Naturals Gluten-Free Frozen Chicken Tenders, Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Wholegrain Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Gluten-Free Wholegrain White Bread, and my all-time fav for satisfying my sweet-tooth, Pillsbury Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough [Do Not Eat Raw].

Applegate Naturals Gluten-Free Frozen Chicken Tenders are very tasty but the amount of strips compared to the yield i get when making them from scratch means a preference for making from scratch to save some scratch. Instead of breasts i used boneless skinless thighs [less fat].

sookietex' Gluten-Free Fried Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs Recipe

2 pkgs of 4 pieces boneless skinless
chicken thighs
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Silk Gluten-Free Lactose Free Milk
Honey [approx 1 teaspoon; this ingredient's
measurement is drizzled to taste]
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup Arrowhead Mills Organic Gluten-Free
Pancake & Baking Mix
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
[When i cook i'm of the pinch/dash school
i sometimes use more sometimes less
than the measurements indicated

Lightly beat the eggs, add to the milk and honey mixture to create a batter. Thoroughly rinse then pierce the chicken pieces and place into the batter. In a separate bowl combine the gluten-free mix and other dry ingredients. Transfer the chicken from the batter to the seasoned gluten-free mixture. Thoroughly coat chicken. Coat frying pan [preferably a non-stick pan] with vegetable oil. If more than 4 Tablespoons of oil are needed, add as necessary. Fry chicken for 20 mins [or until thoroughly done] on each side. Covering the pan while frying is suggested to retain moistness & reduce oil splatter. As always when frying take care to not be splattered by hot oil. Side dish serving suggestion: turmeric seasoned rice with mushrooms peas vidalia and red onion.

Text Credit: Wikipedia || Image Credit: The Letter G