Gluten-free is a rather misunderstood term that has been overused and abused, particularly in the areas of healthy eating and dieting. But what exactly is gluten, and why does it seem to be public enemy number one? We wanted to explore what gluten really is, why it has become so popular, and a couple of our favorite recipes that you can make based around the diet.
Breaking It Down
According to natural grocers.com, “gluten refers to a family of proteins that naturally occur in the cereal grains wheat (and its relatives, spelt, emmer, einkorn, kamut), rye, barley, and triticale.” These proteins are characterized as being sticky and strong, and it is essentially what acts as a “glue” that holds certain foods together. Without this, breads would be dense and crumbly. In this sense, gluten is what makes bread ‘bread.’ The issue is when somebody with a gluten-intolerance consumes it as this triggers an auto-immune response that can lead to major health problems.
Why are so many people gluten intolerant now?
A lot of people have sensitivity to gluten even if they are not sufferers of Celiac Disease (which is gluten intolerance in its strongest form.) It varies from person to person, but for some people, eating gluten can give them anything from diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, mood swings and gas. Not exactly a pleasant list of things you’d want to experience! While ‘gluten-free’ has become a dietary buzzword over the years, it is important to note that we as people eat a lot (and we mean a LOT) of processed foods which have wheat fillers packed with gluten. Whether it’s toast at breakfast, a sandwich for lunch or garlic bread at dinner, that is a lot of gluten! Not to mention our stomachs are not exactly designed for this kind of excessive consumption, as gluten is a relatively new addition to the human diet.
Consider this; humans primarily existed on a diet that was supplemented with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and meat in ancient times. According to gizmodo.com, “it wasn’t until the start of the Neolithic era-around 9500 BCE- and the transition to agriculture that we began consuming carbohydrates and gluten in the form of grains.” With respect to evolutionary terms, we may as well have started eating gluten yesterday for how well-equipped our bodies are to deal with consuming it. With our teeth being designed for tearing through meat and plants over processed flour, our digestive system has not fully adapted to handle consuming and breaking down these complex carbohydrates into more competent amino acids. Despite this, for most people this isn’t actually a problem. Even though our bodies are not fully processing the gluten or lactose, we’re not worse off for eating it, unless you do happen to suffer from gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease.
Interestingly enough, though Celiac Disease was once considered a very rare digestive illness afflicting perhaps 1 in 10,000 people (according to gizmodo.com) it is now considered one of the most common genetic disorders in the western world by the Center for Celiac Disease Research at the University of Maryland. With this is mind, it’s important to have a menu of food that people who do suffer from this kind of intolerance can make, and not feel like they are missing out. That’s where our gluten-free recipes and products come in!
Gluten-Free Massel Products
One of the founding principles of Massel was to create seasonings, stocks and bouillons that anyone, regardless of diet, religion, or lifestyle choices could enjoy with their food. All Massel Seasonings and Bouillons are gluten-free and vegan, made from all natural ingredients including premium vegetables, herbs, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. They are GMO-free, and do not include MSG or artificial preservatives or additives.
Our products are fat-free, cholesterol-free and are also much lower in sodium when compared to other instant bouillons. As well as being Kosher-certified, free of lactose and gluten, almost anyone can enjoy Massel products.
So how exactly can you use them?
Massel Gluten-Free Bouillons and Seasonings can be used in a variety of ways. You can add them to savory soups, stews, and sauces, sprinkle generously over risotto and paella, make vegetables (stir-fry, roasted or steamed) that extra bit more delicious, enhance the flavor of polenta, quinoa or couscous, or even use them as a marinade for meats and vegetables.
Our Ultracube Bouillon Cubes are salt-reduced and gluten-free, which means that you don’t need to add any salt to your meals. Packed full of fantastic flavors including vegetables, herbs, extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt, these cubes are a dynamite package of taste to enhance any meal.
These 7’s Bouillon Cubes come in three delicious flavors including vegetable, chicken-style and beef-style. Not made from any animal products, they are gluten-free, onion-free and garlic-free. They’re also perfect if you want a quick, healthy snack on the go. Add them to a hot drink, bowl of noodles or your next dinner as a way to cut out salt.
What’s on the Menu?
The best part about being gluten-free is that there is no shortage of delicious dishes that you can make. We’ve picked out a couple of recipes that are sure to make even the most stubbornly opposed to gluten-free happy to change their tune.
One such dish is this gorgeous Curry Potatoes meal sent in by one our customers, Kaitlin from Illinois. It’s quick and delicious, and you can add chili sauce at the end to spice it up. You can even wrap it in a tortilla with lettuce and tomato! If you’re vegan, you can make the recipe with or without yogurt. The choice is entirely yours!
Gluten-free Chicken Enchiladas
We can’t believe this recipe is gluten-free either. These delicious enchiladas are light and delicious in contrast to the usually meaty and heavy variety that are typically served in Mexico. You can make this recipe your own by choosing your favorite salsa, making it spicy, mild or anything in between. Whether you choose to eat it now or later, this dish is perfect to be made ahead of time or consumed straight away!
Egg Foo Young
You don’t even have to order this in it’s so easy to prepare! Choose your protein (pork, shrimp, etc) or just use vegetables. The typical ingredients we use are bean sprouts, green onions and peas, but if you want to add extra goodies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc, you can! It’s great for leftover veggies, and drizzling Massel gravy over the top makes a delicious, guilt-free sauce for this dish. Don’t forget to serve it with your favorite rice! Find the recipe for it here.
Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich
This delicious parm-veggie burger by Meg van der Kruik from This Mess Is Ours is served with a simple, homemade tomato jam that is sweet and tangy. With the jam bringing out the flavors of the eggplant that’s smothered in basil and pesto, this recipe is sensationally good!
Don’t forget that if you want a complete list of our gluten-free recipes to click on this link to take you to our recipes page.
That’s a wrap! What do you think of being gluten-free and our recipes? Share your thoughts on the topic, and if you’ve made any of these meals with us on our Facebook page!
If you do have Celiac Disease and need to reach out for help or just want to understand the disease better, be sure to visit the Celiac Disease Foundation website.
We would also like to make a special mention to Gluten-Free Forever magazine. Check out their variety of delicious recipes that will no doubt inspire you when creating your next gluten-free meal!
And last but certainly not least, be sure to follow our friends Tess Masters, The Blender Girl and This Mess Is Ours for even more mouthwatering gluten-free recipe ideas and inspiration on Facebook!