Like most people, I was unaware of celiac disease or gluten-intolerance until recently. Research from the Mayo Clinic showed that “the disease is four times more common today than it was in the 1950s” and that “Today, it’s estimated that about one in 100 people have celiac disease.” That’s a lot of people! Other figures project that 1 in 7 Americans born today will have celiac disease.

Briefly, Celiac Disease is “a permanent intolerance to gluten that results in damage to the intestine and is reversible with avoidance of dietary gluten.” Symptoms include iron-deficiency anemia, lactose intolerance, constipation, osteopenia (weak, thin bones), chronic fatigue, arthralgias (joint pain), brittle diabetes, and dental enamel defects. Approximately 50% of people diagnosed with CD are also lactose intolerant–hence the growing number of vegan, gluten-free folks.

For the most comprehensive list of gluten-free ingredients and products, visit Karina’s Kitchen. She’s spent a lot of time compiling gluten-free information and I can’t out-do her, especially since I’m not gluten-free and I’m just learning about how to cook and bake gluten-free!

In short, though, gluten-free (and vegan) cooking and baking can include a wide range of vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, polenta, millet, corn, teff, brown rice tortillas, oats (specifically those labeled gluten-free), red and white wine, liquor, gluten-free beer (must be labeled gluten-free), etc. Just go check out Karina’s page, she has a lot of good info!

For baking, I like to use Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour as much as possible because it just makes life a lot easier for me. You can find it in the bulk section (cheapest option) at your Natural Foods Co-op or in individual bags at most major grocery stores in the natural foods section. Other flours that I find important are chickpea (besan) flour, brown rice flour, and corn flour. For baking, xanthun gum and guar gum are important in that they both thicken and allow breads to rise by releasing the gasses trapped in the flour. Remember–no wheat, rye, barley, spelt flour. Only use flours labeled gluten-free in baking!

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