Gluten is the protein element of wheat, rye, barley and other similar grains. For those that cannot tolerate gluten when it comes in contact with the small intestine, a condition known as Celiac disease, which is known to be genetically determined, gluten must be avoided. While it may seem difficult at first, once you get used to checking labels and buying food items you know to be gluten-free, you can eat a balanced, healthy diet full of rich flavors.
Some varieties of rice are free of gluten, while those strictly avoiding gluten because of potential contamination cannot safely eat others. Basmati rice, jasmine rice, japonica rice, black rice, red rice, brown rice, calrose rice, enriched rice, Arborio rice, which is used for risotto dishes, and glutinous rice found in Asian cuisine can safely be eaten on a gluten-free diet, but other items like bulgur, which is made of wheat, couscous, durum and farina, should be avoided.
Many beans are gluten-free and are a good source of protein and other essential vitamins and nutrients. Fava beans, black beans, red beans, soy beans, garbanzo beans and navy beans are all fairly common in canned, easy-to-prepare varieties and in dried form. Commercially produced flours made of beans can be used in a variety of different recipes for those strictly avoiding gluten. Bean flour can be found in many Asian and specialty markets.
Tree nuts do not contain gluten and are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Tree nuts include peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, filberts, cashews and pecans. Tree nuts can be eaten raw, roasted or made into butters or oils as long as they are not mixed with ingredients that do contain gluten. For those that have a severe gluten allergy, stick with raw nuts or products labeled as gluten-free.
Gluten-free flour is essential for those with Celiac disease, as cooking is extremely difficult without some type of flour. Numerous types of flower can replace regular flour, including bean flour, rice flour, soy flour, potato flour and corn flour. Choose the right type of flour for the food you are cooking based on potential flavor and food pairings, and if possible, keep multiple types of flour on hand for when you need them.
Fresh Meat, Fish and Poultry
Fresh meat, fish and poultry can be eaten as part of a gluten-free diet when prepared with gluten-free ingredients. Breaded, batter-coated and marinated items should be avoided unless you can verify they are gluten-free.
Fresh vegetables are naturally gluten-free and provide essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function properly. As with meat, fish and poultry, marinated vegetables should be avoided unless you are certain they are made with gluten-free ingredients.