I have recently found out that I am a Celiac and may not eat any Gluten products. It's very difficult because I love BREAD. So my question is what kind of products are there that are natural and not processed that I could purchase and cook with to help compensate for my bready goodness needs?

Your question is a good one. It is estimated that 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease. As you know, this is a chronic disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Having this disease means that your digestive system has a very difficult time digesting and absorbing certain nutrients from food. One with celiac will need to follow a gluten free diet, as gluten can cause inflammation in the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in various foods so those following this diet will need to exclude wheat, barley, rye, malt, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). A gluten free diet may also exclude oats, but many practitioners have not come to a consensus on whether this is necessary or not. Avoiding wheat can be a challenge because there are many names for the various wheat products. When at the supermarket, be sure to avoid purchasing: bulgur, farina, graham flour, semolina and spelt (unless labeled “gluten-free”). In general, you will want to avoid common foods (unless labeled “gluten-free”) like beer, bread, cereals, croutons, gravy, pasta, processed lunch meat, salad dressing, cookies, crackers, cake, pie, etc.

I realize that reading the aforementioned list may lead you to believe that you will never be able to enjoy a tasty well-rounded diet again. But, I counsel my patients to try to look at what they “can” have on a gluten free diet instead of what they have to omit. Foods allowed on a gluten free diet include: fruits, vegetables, most dairy products, beans, seeds, rice, nuts, eggs, and meats/fish/poultry. To address the main part of your question, I will let you know that there are many grains and starches that can be a part of the gluten free diet including: corn, flax, quinoa, gluten free flours (corn, rice, soy, potato, bean), rice, millet and tapioca. Many manufacturers make a wide variety of gluten free products. So, if it is bread you are craving, most supermarkets will have a gluten free option. But, these products often times are pricey so I would advise you to find a naturally gluten-free flour (rice or corn) and whip up a batch of your own homemade bread! Here is an easy recipe: http://www.elanaspantry.com/simple-bread/

You can freeze what you do not eat right away. Other natural but healthy gluten-free snacks include: nut butter on rice cakes, a turkey/corn tortilla roll, natural popcorn, nut butter on apples, corn chips and 2% cheese, soy milk-based fruit smoothie, dried fruit and nuts, cottage cheese and fruit, hard boiled eggs, etc.

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