What the heck is gluten anyway?

gf-skeletonsSo the big buzz word lately is gluten. Unless you live under a rock, I am sure you have heard the word gluten. You can’t go to a grocery store, watch TV commercials, flip through a food magazine, or even go to most restaurants without seeing  a reference to gluten or gluten free. Is everyone going gluten free now? Is it in all foods?  Why all the sudden have people developed an intolerance? But most importantly, what the heck is it anyway?

Gluten is a protein (actually a combination of 2 proteins, gliadin and glutenin) found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten basically acts as a glue. It helps foods maintain their shape, holds them together and is also responsible for the chewy texture in baked goods.

So you ask, why is this a bad thing? Not everyone is sensitive to gluten, but when some people eat foods containing  gluten it causes their immune system to recognize it as a threat and react by attacking the tissue  lining of the small intestine.  The most severe result of these attacks is an autoimmune disorder called Celiac Disease.

  • According to the Celiac Disease Foundation. “These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body. The only treatment currently for celiac disease is a strict, gluten-free diet. Most patients report symptom improvement within a few weeks, although intestinal healing may take several years.”
  • If celiac disease is left untreated, a range of complications can occur from osteoporosis to iron deficiency, and even cancer. Over 3,000,000 Americans are living with celiac disease and 83% of these cases go undiagnosed.
    Read more at https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/what-is-celiac-disease/#MLs1oYcvlPWxbUKf.99
  • Some people exhibit non-Celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance. Both of which cause non-favorable reactions to gluten, but are less severe than Celiac Disease. Others choose to be gluten free as part of a lifestyle program, such as the Whole30, Paleo or other weight loss programs.
 Were you recently diagnosed with one of the above and thinking, ” I will never be able to eat my favorite foods again”. Don’t fret, there are several options to satisfy your cravings for pasta, pizza, bread, pastries and other whole grains products. If you have a craving for pasta , substitute spaghetti squash or try one of the many brands of rice pasta’s such as  Tinkyada . A hankering for pizza? Try Udi’s  gluten free pizza crust with your favorite topping (they also offer breads, cookies, rolls, muffins, etc.)  Need a night off from cooking, restaurants across the nation are now offering gluten free options. Be sure and check your local listings.
Below is a Portion Plate favorite for Chicken Piccata which can be adapted to gluten free.  Just substitute regular all-purpose flour for  GF all-purpose King Arthur flour or brand of your choice, we have even used GF Bisquick. You can also experiment with rice flour, coconut flour and others.
  • 1 pkg of thinly sliced chicken breasts (we like them really thin so we pound them out)
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • butter and/or olive oil (start with 2 Tbps. of each and add more as necessary to brown chicken)
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 jar of drained and rinsed capers
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley (optional)
  • parmesan cheese (optional) 
  • lemon slices (optional)

Mix together flour, salt and pepper and dredge chicken in the mixture. Heat olive oil and butter together in skillet on medium high heat.  Add about half of the chicken to the pan without crowding them. Brown approximately 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. Continue until all chicken is cooked.

Leave drippings in skillet and add chicken broth, lemon and capers. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  Add chicken back to the pan and spoon liquid over chicken.  Optional: when serving top with any or all – lemon slices, parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

There you have it, we just took an italian classic and with one adjustment made it gluten free. Add a side of broccoli, green beans or a nice salad and maybe some rice pilaf or rice pasta and you are good to go!

Don’t forget if you have any comments or questions you would like us to answer email them to plateorders@bebetter.net or post on our Facebook page.

Have a healthy day!




About portionplateblog

The Portion Plate Blog is a great place to learn about great tricks on how to eat and be healthier. We believe in simple eating, portion control, and eating more healthy foods.
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