There are a lot of allergies that people suffer through the consumption of certain foods and gluten is one of those components that affect approximately 1 out of 100 people in Australia.
People who have coeliac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. When people with coeliac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine.
The cause of coeliac disease is unknown, but it is thought there are both genetic and environmental factors involved. There is no cure, but the disease can be managed by a strict gluten free diet.
So how do you determine if a recipe is gluten-free?
Here are some guidelines to follow.
1 - Recipes that use flour (bleached white flour, whole wheat, cracked wheat, barley, semolina, spelt, farro, kamut, triticale) or vital wheat gluten are not gluten-free.
2 - Recipes featuring pasta, including cous cous, are not gluten-free.
3 - Alcoholic drinks including beer, stout, ale, guinness and lager. Most contain gluten, however, a range of gluten free boutique beers are available. This also includes meat, sausages or other food cooked in beer too.
4 - Cereal and baking products – wheat, wheaten corn flour, semolina, couscous, wheat bran, barley, oats, porridge, breakfast cereals containing wheat, rye, oats or barley, corn or rice cereals containing malt extract, some icing sugar mixtures and baking powder.
5 - Recipes calling for breadcrumbs, croutons, cereal, cookie crumbs, pastry, crackers, are not gluten-free.
6 - Snacks such as liquorice, some lollies and chocolates, packet savoury snacks and some flavoured potato and corn chips.
7 - Hidden gluten and wheat can be found in gravy, broth, soy sauce, malt vinegar, marinades, sauces, salad dressings, cured meats, sausages and burgers, hot dogs, self-basting poultry, flavoured and herb cheeses, spice blends including curry powder, dry mustard, canned and prepared soups, tomato paste, sweeteners, beverages, flavoured coffees, herbal teas, roasted, flavoured or spiced nuts, jerky, flavoured yogurts and puddings, some chocolate and chocolate chips, cocoa and instant coffee mixes, flavoured vinegars, cooking wines, flavoured liqueur and liquor, wine coolers, ice cream and frozen desserts.
Naturally gluten free foods
Despite the restrictions, a person with coeliac disease can still enjoy a wide and varied diet. Corn (maize), rice, soy, potato, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, lentils and amaranth are all gluten free. It is important to read the labels of all packaged or prepared foods.
1 - Meat products – unprocessed meat, fish, chicken, bacon, ham off the bone and meats that are frozen or canned but with no sauce.
2 - Dairy products – eggs, full cream milk, low fat milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, fresh cream, processed or block cheese and some custards and soymilks.
3 - Fruits and vegetables – fresh, canned or frozen but not sauced; fruit juices, nuts and peanut butter.
4 - Cereal and baking products – corn (maize) flour, soya flour, lentil flour, rice (all types), rice flour, rice bran, potato flour, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, breakfast cereals made from corn and rice without malt extract, polenta and psyllium.
5 - Bread, cakes and biscuits – most rice crackers, corn cakes, rice crispbreads, corn tortillas and corn taco shells.
6 - Pasta and noodles – gluten free pasta, rice noodles, rice or bean vermicelli and 100 per cent buckwheat noodles.
7 - Condiments – tomato paste, tahini, jam, honey, maple syrup, cocoa, all kinds of vinegars (except malt), some sauces and some salad dressings.
8 - Snacks – plain chips and corn chips, popcorn and plain chocolate.
9 - Drinks – tea, coffee, mineral water, wine, spirits and liqueurs.
It is essential to check the label of all products. All packaged foods have ingredient labels printed on the box, package or bottle. There are two types of food suitable for those requiring a gluten free diet:
- Foods labelled ‘gluten free’
- Foods made for the general market that are gluten free by ingredient.
The product ingredient label may not list ‘gluten’ as a component. However, under mandatory labelling standards, all ingredients and food additives derived from wheat, rye, barley or oats must be declared on food labels. Processing aids must also be declared if present in the final product.
Here are some delicious recipes that range from a pre-dinner snack, entree, main course and then dessert. Gluten-free living doesn’t always have to mean flavour-free living.
Gluten-Free Nut Biscuits
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 firmly packed cup (100g) brown sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
- 1 cup (150g) rice flour
- 1 cup (150g) unsalted mixed nuts with sultanas, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Using electric beaters, cream butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and thick. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to combine.
- Fold in yoghurt, flour and nut mix.
- Roll slightly rounded tablespoons of the mixture, flatten and place on trays.
- Bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until golden.
- Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Truffle Infused Field Mushrooms served with Truffled Polenta and Wilted Spinach
This is an amazing dish that really embraces the beautiful taste and aroma of truffles. It makes a great entree and suits a vegetarian option too.
Truffle Infused Field Mushrooms
- 4 large field mushrooms
- 75ml Truffle oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
- Salt and pepper
- Remove the stem from the mushroom.
- Combine the garlic and truffle oil and drizzle around the underside of the mushrooms.
- Place onto a greased oven tray then into a 180 C oven for 8-10 minutes.
- 250ml water
- 250ml milk
- 1/2 teaspoon shaved truffle (optional)
- 75ml Truffle Oil
- 200g polenta
- 75g finely grated parmesan
- Bring the water and milk to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat.
- Gradually add the polenta whisking constantly until the polenta is incorporated.
Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes or until polenta is soft.
- Remove from heat.
- Add the parmesan and stir to combine.
- Stir in the truffle oil and truffle.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Place into a piping bag and pipe little cones with the base being a little smaller than the size of the mushroom.
- Set aside for 5 minutes.
- 100g spinach
- 80g butter
- Melt butter in a fry-pan then add the spinach.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes until spinach is just wilted.
- Season with the salt.
- Place the mushroom onto the centre of a plate. Add the spinach and top with the polenta.
Serves 4 as an entree.
Grilled chicken breast served on a salad of slow dried tomatoes, roasted red onions, fresh mango slithers, baby rocket leaves and chickpeas
The recipe that I have for you is a very fresh, light and healthy dish perfect for the summer months.
It is extremely simple to make but the flavours involved are a magical combination that complement each other bite after bite.
From the sweetness of the onions and mangos, to the tartness of the tomatoes, balanced so well with the mild peppery taste of the rocket and complete with the chickpeas to finish a substantial meal that will not leave you bloated.
- 4 Chicken breasts
- 2 Red onions
- 4 Roma tomatoes
- Baby rocket leaves
- 1 tin chickpeas
- 2 Mangoes
- 20ml balsamic vinegar
- 60ml olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
Cut the tomatoes into 8 pieces lengthways. Cut them into quarters and then each piece into half discarding the core. Place onto a tray and sprinkle with salt and place into the oven at 100 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until they have shrunk half in size.
Peel the red onions keeping the core intact and cut lengthways into 8-12 wedges. The core will hold the wedges together. Toss in olive oil and salt, place on a tray and roast at 160 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until the onions are soft without any major browning.
Seal the chicken breasts both sides and place into the oven at 190°C for about 15 minutes until quite firm to touch.
Slice the mango into slithers and strain the chickpeas. Toss together the onions, tomatoes, chickpeas, mango, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt with the rocket leaves. Place this evenly over four plates and top with the chicken breast.
Hint: Remove the skin of the chicken breast for a healthier option.
Vegetable oil can be substituted for olive oil but will not give as good of a result.
Flourless Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
- 500g dark chocolate, chopped
- 6 eggs
- 2 Tbsp frangelico or brandy
- 1 1/2 cups ground hazelnuts
- 1 cup whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 150°C
- Grease a deep 20cm round cake tin and line with paper.
- Melt chocolate using a double boiler.
- Place eggs in a bowl with frangelico and whisk over a double boiler until light and foamy.
- Fold into the egg mix, the chocolate and the ground nuts.
- Fold in the cream and pour into prepared tin.
- Bake for 1 hour or until just set.
- Remove from tin and cool to room temperature leaving on the paper.
- Wrap in glad wrap and refrigerate overnight.
This article is a guide only and you should contact your doctor or dietician to control individual needs.
Better Health Victoria - Gluten-Free Diet
Matt Clark Freelance Writer, Cooking Consultant and Culinary Madness
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