Being Gluten-Free and the Benefits of Whole Grains

To be honest, I, like many people, have often been confused by “gluten-free” labels on many products. For one, I had no idea what gluten was. Two, why would someone need to be free of it? I know several people who cannot eat gluten because of Celiac’s Disease, but the gluten-free labels on products these days sort of seemed fadish. A friend of mine had started a “gluten-free” diet when she was trying to lose weight. Since I do not believe in weight-loss diets (just simple well-rounded, moderated, healthy eating all the time), I found myself moved to find out what gluten is and what benefits exist in leaving it out.

These questions have stayed with me for some time and I still haven’t found answers. Though I know that some people truly need to keep their diets free of gluten because of the digestive issues it causes them, it’s hard for me to believe that this disease is so prevalent as to create the buzz I am often hearing about it. Don’t get me wrong, gluten-free restaurants and product lines are great for the people who need them, but is there a reason for someone who doesn’t to patronize them? Please, someone who knows more about this inform me, because it baffles me.

Emily over at Dragonfly: Tales from the Phantom Rickshaw just wrote an interesting post on her family’s reasons for being gluten-free (and dairy-free) and how they did it. She also sprinkles in some interesting points about generally maintaining nutritional value through using unrefined sugars, and fresher, uncracked grains. I learned a lot, and if you are confused about these things as I am, check out her “Gluten-Free Brain Dump,” parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. The last part is especially interesting as it includes her recipe for rice milk and its uses. I think I might try this soon, as rice milk is just plain delicious, and sometimes my stomach is just happier if I avoid dairy.

About this author:  I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin.

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