January 13 is National Gluten-Free Day! A special day to raise awareness and learn more about the evolving gluten-free community, all those who have gluten intolerance or have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Reasons Why People Go Gluten-Free
Gluten is a protein naturally found in cereals such as wheat, barley, and rye. In the food production process, gluten is a stabilizer that helps keep products in their form, and it’s on some products derived from processed grains, including food and beverages.
Some of the reasons why people go on a gluten-free diet are mostly
the changes in the environment and the way our food is produced, causing a rise in gluten/wheat intolerance, allergies, and diagnosis of celiac disease.
Celiac Disease and Symptoms
According to data from Beyond Celiac Organization, 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the cell of the intestine. People who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten, or those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, should avoid gluten to prevent unpleasant symptoms and long-term health complications.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), some of the symptoms people with celiac disease may experience include:
- Stomach pain or abdominal bloating
- Chronic diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Joint pain
- Skin Rash
If you are experiencing symptoms and would like to know if you are gluten intolerant or suffer from celiac disease, please speak with your primary care provider.
Gluten-Free Food Labels
How can people who follow a gluten-free diet determine if a product is gluten-free and is safe to consume?
Many of the food packaged products will have a gluten-free label. The term “gluten-free” is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When the product has a “gluten-free” label, it means that the product contains no more than 20 parts per million of gluten. Since that’s an extremely minuscule amount of gluten, a product containing this amount or less is regarded as a safe level to consume for someone with celiac disease.
So next time you go grocery shopping, be on the lookout for the labels. Gluten can also be found hidden in condiments such as dressings, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, gravy. “Couscous, many alcoholic beverages, malt vinegar, and several other foods are sneaky too” explains Blake Metcalf, Clinical Nutrition Manager from Baptist Health Fort Smith and Van Buren.
Although “gluten-free” is a trend and there are a variety of foods labeled gluten-free, always be sure to read the Nutrition Facts labels to avoid gluten exposure due to cross-contamination.
If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or want to live a gluten-free lifestyle, here are three gluten-free recipes to enjoy without worry.
1. Oatmeal Energy Balls
- 1 cup gluten-free oats
- ½ cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup or honey
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup craisins
- Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well coated.
- Form into 1-inch balls and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container or bag for up to 7 days.
This recipe makes 10 immune-boosting oat balls. Each ball is one serving.
2. Baked Sweet Potato Wraps with Egg and Avocado
- 2 BFree Sweet Potato Wraps
- 2 Eggs
- 1 avocado
- A handful of basil leaves
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Place the BFree Sweet Potato Wraps in a deep muffin tin and cut off the excess.
- Crack an egg into BFree wrap within the muffin tin and place in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the oven, and leave it in the oven for 5 minutes with the door closed until eggs are ready.
- Top with chopped-up avocado, basil leaves, a sprinkle of chili flakes, pepper, and serve warm.
3. Creamy Artichoke and Bacon Pesto
- Sea Salt Multi-Seed Crackers
- 1 container of prepared basil pesto
- 1/4 cup Bacon Bits
- 4 medium canned artichoke hearts, chopped
- 2 tbsp Heavy Whipping Cream
- In a small bowl, mix the pesto, bacon bits, and chopped artichoke. Add in the heavy cream. Mix again until smooth and well blended.
- Transfer to a serving dish and serve with your favorite Crunchmaster® Original Multi-Seed or Sea Salt Multi-Grain Crackers.