'Gluten-Free Frenzy!' by Jen Heringhausen

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Working as a dietitian for several years, I have put together many different diet plans for clients, most of which were low fat, heart healthy or low sugar. Since I’ve started culinary school, I find myself studying menus when I go out to eat at restaurants and I’ve began to notice that gluten free options are starting to pop up more and more. I then started researching how these foods are prepared and how often people are actually ordering these menu items.
As it turns out, 1 in 249 or 1.1 million people in the United States have celiac disease (or gluten intolerance). My aunt was diagnosed with the disease a few years ago so I called her to ask how she prepares her foods and difficult it is to find foods that do not contain wheat products. Overall, she told me that label reading is KEY. First off, anything with the word “wheat”, “rye” or “barley” should be avoided. The less obvious ingredients include hydrolyzed vegetable protein, modified food starch, vegetable starch or vegetable protein, gelatinized starch, natural flavorings and soy sauce.
When diagnosed with this disease, finding the right foods to eat is unfortunately a lot of trial and error. On the bright side, there are several delicious dishes you can whip up with a little creativity. My aunt has experimented with several gluten free substitutes. For example, she has found that corn cereals make a good coating for chicken and oatmeal can be used in place of breadcrumbs in meatloaf (I tried hers and I actually like it better this way). Also, making marinades from scratch (rather than using a bottled kind) is not only more flavorful, but also safer because you avoid added ingredients that could be harmful.
Living in a wonderful city like Chicago, we are fortunate enough to have access to several restaurants that are either completely gluten free or at least gluten free friendly (such as Hopleaf and Weber Grill). This in turn will make the dining experience more enjoyable for those who may have felt their options were limited before.
Aunt Coleen’s GF Meatloaf
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1/4 c. gluten-free ketchup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. onion, diced
1/2 c. water
1 c. gluten-free oats
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Blend all ingredients and press down into a loaf pan. Bake 1 hr. at 350 degrees. Top with more gluten free ketchup and bake 5 more minutes.

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