than 20 years, Kristine Kidd tasted what came her way as the
food editor at Bon Appetit magazine. But she never felt great.
had digestive issues my whole life," she says, but 2 ½
years ago, the aching joints, bloating, fatigue and digestive
problems became so severe she couldn’t ignore the symptoms
of celiac disease.
already left her job and started doing some research, she says
in the roomy, sunny kitchen of her hilltop home in Topanga
was so miserable. And as soon as I went gluten-free, the
symptoms started to subside," she adds, as she prepared
shrimp in tomato sauce over polenta, a recipe from her book
"Weeknight Gluten Free." In four months, she felt
gluten-free life has become easier now that the conditions
underlying the intolerance can be diagnosed. There are
hundreds upon hundreds of products available, as well as a
growing number of restaurants willing to accommodate diners
who avoid gluten.
easier doesn’t mean easy. One wrong bite can mean a week
happy that I don’t feel like I’m dying, but … I’m
still angry and resentful," says Carol Blymire, a writer
in Washington, D.C., who for a time wrote the blog
"Gluten for Punishment."
not alone. It is estimated that 1 percent of the population
has celiac disease and a greater number of people suffer from
wheat allergies or are gluten-intolerant, says Melissa Dennis,
the nutrition coordinator at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel
Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. In addition, consumer
research from the NPD Group suggests that nearly one-third of
Americans want to reduce or eliminate the gluten in their
are due in part to the Paleo, low-carb and "wheat
belly" diets, to the never-ending desire to lose weight
(though a gluten-free diet is no guarantee of that) and to
celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow. "Saturday Night
Live" poked fun of going gluten-free as a "made up
allergy that you invented to get attention" — just the
sort of joke to make the celiac community cringe.
has maintained this steady growth, but it has shifted in the
reason why so many consumers are interested," says
Melissa Abbott, senior director, culinary insights at the
market research firm Hartman Group. "Consumers don’t
even know why they’re doing it often."
be a little annoying to people who have no choice.
of me resents them because they’ll go to restaurants and say
everything has to be gluten-free, then nibble on their friends’
bread," says Blymire, whose condition means she needs to
avoid using even a shared microwave oven. "I’ve gotten
accidentally ‘glutened’ six or seven times, and it’s
consumer desires, and dollars, mean that the list of
gluten-free foods, which include quinoa pasta, brown rice
cereals and mung bean noodles, continues to grow. Evol makes
burritos and other frozen entrees without gluten. Blue Diamond
makes rice-and-almond crackers. Way Better Snacks produces
chips with corn, flax and chia seeds.
the big player in the gluten-free kitchen, has grown in the
last three years from $6 million in sales to an expected $130
million this year, says its vice president of marketing,
Denise Sirovatka. Its whole grain sandwich bread is its
biggest seller, and a frozen baguette has just been launched
in limited distribution.
consumers are trying gluten-free products without professional
medical advice, she says. "People hear about it and
self-diagnose. If it works for them, they stick with it."
gluten-free diet is not inherently a healthful one. Some
products are no more healthful than "your classic
processed foods," Dennis says. "They’re adding
salt and fat to make up for the mouth feel and texture of
gluten, and they’re lower in minerals and fiber."
Cerier, author of "Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious
Cook," suggests people branch out to grains such as
amaranth, new spices and lots of produce.
breakfast, "think beyond toast. You can have a variety of
different porridges with millet or rolled oats, or quinoa. Top
with coconut milk or yogurt, maple syrup," she says.
cooks with lots of polenta, made from corn, and quinoa. She
turns scrambled eggs into crepes and makes the naturally
gluten-free French flatbread called socca.
out can be a challenge, and Kidd says restaurant kitchens don’t
always know what to do: Cooks will put gluten-free pasta into
the same water they use for wheat pasta, for instance. In
L.A., Kidd returns to the same restaurants; when she travels,
she carries bags of gluten-free flour that she gives chefs for
her meal. "In the beginning, I was very uncomfortable at
restaurants, but if you don’t stand up for yourself once and
you get really sick, then you know."
vaunted French Laundry in the California Wine Country has
heard the gluten-free call, and chef Thomas Keller asked his
research and development chef, Lena Kwak, to find a solution.
After a lot of trial and error to replicate the complex role
of flour in baking, the result was Cup4Cup, a gluten-free mix
now available in stores.
there’s hope for beer drinkers who want to avoid gluten.
Planet, one of several gluten-free beer makers, uses sorghum
to replace barley and is coming out with a brown ale in
August. Omission beer, which uses traditional barley but
removes the gluten after brewing, came on the market a year
able to sit down with someone and have them want to drink the
same beer I’m drinking is really fun," says Terry
Michaelson, chief executive of Omission, who has celiac
disease. "I’m beginning to understand how important
beer is to people and understand the passion gluten-free
consumers have when they learn, wow, I can drink this. It’s
a really fun experience."
baking is possible with the right flour. Here are some brands
in stores and where to learn how to make your own.
has been a challenge for people who maintain a gluten-free
diet, especially for people trying to make traditional
birthday cakes or re-create a childhood favorite. That’s in
part because flours made from other ingredients (almonds,
chickpeas, rice) don’t "behave" in the same manner
as flour made from wheat.
there are a number of flours for sale at Whole Foods and other
specialty stores that are meant to be replacements for
all-purpose wheat flour. With a combination of ingredients
such as potato starch, tapioca and rice flour, cooks are told
they can use them in place of all-purpose flour in a recipe.
Among the producers are King Arthur Flour, which has been in
business more than two centuries; natural food store staple
Bob’s Red Mill; and renowned chef Thomas Keller, whose
kitchens developed Cup4Cup. There’s even a Trader Joe’s
a poundcake with five of them, using a recipe from Rose Levy
Beranbaum’s classic book, "The Cake Bible." All
five turned out, albeit with a couple of major tweaks to the
Cup4Cup cake. (The opinion of an unscientific sample of office
colleagues held that cakes made with the King Arthur and
Trader Joe’s products were the best.)
cooks who want to make their own flour mix, Shauna James Ahern
has two simple recipes in her book "Gluten-Free Girl
Every Day," and there is one in the book "Artisanal
Gluten-Free Cooking," by Kelli and Peter Bronski.
causes problems for some people. Here’s a look at that
protein, where it’s found and gluten-free diets.
is a protein that is found in certain grains, including wheat,
barley and rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).
problems prompt people to avoid gluten?
causes inflammation of the small intestine in people with
celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease diagnosed with
a blood test or biopsy; other symptoms include digestive
problems, anemia, fatigue, headaches and joint pain. Avoiding
gluten is the treatment, though there is no cure. Left
untreated, celiac disease can lead to severe intestinal damage
and osteoporosis, among other conditions.
people have a less severe sensitivity that may be an allergy
to wheat, or what’s called non-celiac gluten sensitivity
that causes such symptoms as digestive discomfort.
foods contain wheat?
addition to such obvious foods as breads and cakes, many
products may have wheat in them. For people avoiding gluten,
it’s important to read labels. Some unlikely sources of
wheat include processed meats, seasoning mixes, snack foods,
soups and sauces, salad dressings, medications and
supplements. In addition, people who are particularly
sensitive need to avoid foods produced in facilities in which
wheat products are made.
there risks of a gluten-free diet?
grain products in U.S. supermarkets are enriched with iron,
thiamine, niacin, folate and other nutrients. People who eat
gluten-free should check with a professional to make sure
their diets are healthful.
grains are gluten-free?
grains include rice, cassava, corn, millet, buckwheat,
sorghum, amaranth and quinoa.
Celiac Disease Foundation, Mayo Clinic, "Gluten-Free
Recipes for the Conscious Cook" by Leslie Cerier
ON CELIAC DISEASE
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Disease Foundation, based in Studio City,