I’ve been on the dietary fence about gluten for awhile now, though I definitely monitor my intake and eat gluten-free whenever possible. And why not cut out at least 63 more kinds of foods we can eat in our home, as my husband so eloquently asks? So, if you are so inclined to join me on my quest to understand gluten, put down your “Glutenny Goodness Gluten Nibs” and let’s get to it.
Looking back, I can see that I grew up being stuffed with gluten at every opportunity — homemade gluten steaks covered in gluten (wheat flour, milk) gravy, gobs of bread, and pasta at least three times per week. Oh. My. Goodness. It’s easy to blame all of my adolescent angst on gluten, come to think of it. . .
Even if you have sworn off wheat bread, pasta, and seitan (though I think many would spell this stuff s-a-t-a-n), don’t throw a gluten-free party yet because you’re not in the clear, my friend. Gluten is used as a binder in make-up, medications, and vitamins, and can also be found in pickles (malt vinegar) and even soy sauce, for Pete’s sake!
My family doesn’t suffer from celiac disease and we are not particularly intolerant of gluten, as far as I can tell. However, many doctors and nutritionists believe wheat can cause inflammation (arthritis), serious intestinal issues (“bunda burps” and beyond), raise blood sugar (enter diabetes), and is a major allergen. Further, the ways wheat is processed removes most if not all of its nutrients, so we’re consuming empty calories. I’ve never forgotten one of the facts I learned in Wheat Belly by William Davis: that eating two pieces of whole wheat toast raises your blood sugar more than a freaking Snickers bar. What the WHAT?!
I’m not trying to say we should all go vegan, shun all processed foods, cook everything from scratch, and, on top of it all, go gluten-free (well, okay, maybe a little bit), but I am recommending that we at least limit our intake of gluten and diversify our use of grains — and especially if you have any of the above-mentioned ailments.
Are you going to walk into your local grocery store and pick up a sweet bag of aramanth, buckwheat, millet, or quinoa? Perhaps. But if you can’t find these grains locally, don’t give up — try ordering online. Here are a couple of recipes to help you get to know your new best grain friends.
Aramanth Mushroom Risotto (from The Oregonian, thanks pdx!)
- 2 cups uncooked amaranth
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 portobello mushroom, stem removed and diced, cap cut into thin, 1-inch-long slices
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes or vegan Parmesan
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, to garnish
1) Combine aramanth and broth, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
2) Meanwhile, heat oil and margarine in pan and add onion. Saute for 4-5 minutes, then add mushrooms and garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Finally, add wine and peas. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
3) Combine aramanth and mushroom-pea mixture, top with yeast flakes (optional!) and parsely. I also think it would be delicious to throw some slivered almonds or other seeds on top for some crunchy delight.
You know I love me some brussels sprouts and one-dish meal options, so imagine my joy at finding this succulent-looking recipe for Roasted Winter Vegetables and Millet Salad on Yummly!
- 3 to 4 cups brussels sprouts (you can also add carrots, butternut squash, and/or sweet potatoes)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion (small)
- 1 cup millet (cooked, cooled)
- 2 12 handfuls spinach (or Kale)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 salt (and pepper)
- hummus (to serve)
1) Toss veggies in oil, roast in oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. (The recipe doesn’t say whether or not to roast the onion, so do with it what you will, depending on who’s eating finished dish!)
2) While they are cooking (unless you do not want to pull your meal together in the allotted 35 minutes), combine millet with dressing.
3) Serve veggies over millet with hummus on the side (optional). Some gluten-free crackers might be just the thing to add some crunch. . . just sayin’.