Is Cheese Gluten Free?

Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and their hybrids, as well as items that have been contaminated with gluten by growing beside these grains. If you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease, then understanding which foods are free of gluten and which contain gluten is important. (Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which people experience damage to their small intestine when they consume gluten. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity also causes gastrointestinal symptoms from gluten consumption.)

The vast majority of cheese products (but not all) are free of gluten. With the exception of vegan cheese, most cheese products on the market are made primarily from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep. Typically, the milk used is pasteurized in order to kill off any possible harmful bacteria. Some cheese products are made from raw (unpasteurized) milk and may contain health-promoting bacteria, but they can also pose a risk of foodborne illness (also known as food poisoning).

What is cheese?

According to U.S. Dairy, cheese in its natural state is a food that is “made from four basic ingredients including milk, salt, a ‘good bacteria,’ and rennet, which is an enzyme. From there, cheesemakers can adjust the basic recipe by adding other ingredients to make all of the cheeses we know and love.” Cheese consists primarily of the curd, which is “the semisolid substance formed when milk curdles, or coagulates.” The cheese-making process has several steps, and different countries and cultures have their own spin on it. Many kinds of cheese are aged, which helps their unique depth of flavors to develop (and also affects how stinky they may become!).

In addition to the many types of cheeses we have come to know and love, such as cheddar, mozzarella, and Swiss, there are also cheeses that have been made to meet different nutritional needs, such as low-fat, fat-free, and reduced sodium.

Harvard School of Public Health says, “One can enjoy a modest amount of cheese as part of a healthful diet.” Aside from it typically being a source of saturated fat and sodium, cheese is a good source of calcium and protein. It also contains vitamins A, B2 and B12, as well as zinc and riboflavin.

Which types of cheese contain gluten?

Some cheese products may contain gluten, so it is important that you always read food labels carefully and contact food manufacturers for verification when necessary.

Some types of blue cheese may contain gluten, but it is not common. The status will depend on where exactly the mold is grown, since mold cultures of cheese may be grown on wheat or rye products. According to the nonprofit organization Beyond Celiac, blue cheese is usually free of gluten, but you should verify for certainty.

Beyond Celiac says cottage cheese is another type of cheese to be extra diligent about. It is usually gluten free, but some store-bought varieties may contain “wheat starch” or “starch” made from wheat.

Beyond the cheeses described above, any cheese or cheese product that has been processed beyond the creation “natural cheese,” such as cheese spread or shredded cheese, has a greater chance of containing gluten. Cross-contamination (also referred to as cross contact) is another concern regarding gluten — this is when the food is made with the same equipment as or otherwise comes into contact with gluten-containing products.

Gluten-free cheese list (according to Beyond Celiac):

  • Brie.
  • Cheddar.
  • Cream cheese (cream cheese that is flavored may contain ingredients that have gluten, so check the ingredient list).
  • Feta.
  • Goat.
  • Parmesan.
  • Provolone.
  • Ricotta.
  • Swiss.

Cheese products explained (according to Beyond Celiac):

  • Cheese powder is usually free of gluten, but you should check the ingredient label to be certain.
  • Cheese spreads are usually gluten free, but read the ingredient label because questionable ingredients may be added to improve consistency and flavor.
  • As of July 2022, Cheese Whiz is not listed as including any gluten-containing ingredients (but formulations may change, and it is not specifically certified as gluten free).
  • Dairy-free cheese options include cheese alternatives, which are often made from plant-based ingredients, such as nuts, seeds, or soy. Although many dairy-free cheese products are gluten free, some dairy-free cheeses are made with flour or other gluten-containing ingredients, so read the ingredients label before eating dairy-free cheese. Other dairy-free spread options include experimenting with mashed avocado, which can add a creamy texture to your recipes and dishes. Nutritional yeast is a healthful gluten-free, dairy-free, and natural powder high in B vitamins that you can purchase from your local health food store. It has a cheesy flavor and can be sprinkled on top of dishes like pizza and pasta as a replacement to parmesan cheese.
  • Shredded cheese is usually free of gluten. Some varieties may contain starch made from wheat. Read the ingredient label to verify whether it contains any gluten-containing ingredients.
  • String cheese or “cheese sticks” are usually gluten free.

Want to learn if other common foods are gluten free? Visit our Diet section.

Are French Fries Gluten Free?

Gluten is a type of protein found in grains including, but not limited to, wheat, rye, and barley, as well as items that have been contaminated with gluten by growing beside these grains. Typically, french fries are made from sliced potatoes, which are a type of starchy vegetable. The sliced potatoes are fried in oil, which is also a gluten-free ingredient. In their unaltered, whole food state, all varieties of potatoes are indeed gluten free. Therefore, individuals who are gluten intolerant, including those with celiac disease, can safely enjoy french fries that come from potatoes and do not have any gluten-containing ingredients added to them (check out this handy ingredient list).

When are french fries not gluten free?

To ensure your french fries are indeed gluten free, verify that there are no batters that contain gluten (this is a common concern), additives, preservatives, seasonings, sauces, gravies, or toppings (such as toppings on poutine) added to them that may contain gluten. Many fast food restaurants and other dining establishments add a wheat-based batter to make their french fries crispier. Always read food labels and ask the person who prepares your food questions when dining out.

Aside from avoiding ingredients that contain gluten, there is one important caveat to consider: cross contact (also known as cross contamination). Cross contact takes place when gluten-free food makes direct contact with food that contains gluten. Cross-contamination can happen at home, as well as at food manufacturing and dining establishments. Although manufacturing processes are out of our control, there are things we can do when we are at home or in someone else’s home.

Ten tips to avoid cross-contamination of your french fries

Here are some tips to help you prevent cross-contamination of your french fries:

  1. At home: Clean your cooking surfaces, cooking equipment, and utensils very thoroughly before preparing gluten-free food. You can even dedicate an area of your counter as “the gluten-free spot.”
  2. Grocery shopping: When shopping for packaged french fries, look for a trusted gluten-free symbol. This will verify the product does not contain ingredients that contain gluten and that it has not come into contact with gluten in the manufacturing process.
  3. At home: Try to use a separate set of cooking and baking equipment and utensils (including a separate fryer or pan for your french fries). Consider labeling your gluten-free cooking equipment.
  4. At home and dining out: Do not fry gluten-free food in the same oil used for frying non-gluten-free food. In dining establishments, ask whether non-breaded foods are fried in the same oil as breaded foods. The same principle applies to pasta — find out if your gluten-free pasta has been boiled in the same pot or water as the non-gluten-free pasta.Research suggests that cross contact may occur when gluten-free foods are cooked in shared fryers that contained gluten and that those who are gluten intolerant should avoid foods cooked in shared fryers. You won’t know how much gluten is in the oil of any given fryer, nor how much gluten may end up in your order of french fries. This study suggests “shared holding trays, scoops, and fryer baskets also are sources of potential cross contact.”
  5. Grocery shopping: Avoid purchasing flours and starches in bulk in order to batter your french fries. Gluten-free flours at bulk markets can become cross-contaminated from the scoops. It is better to purchase these products in package form with a trusted gluten-free symbol.
  6. At home and dining out: Have your own condiments, gravies, and toppings labeled gluten-free. When dining out, request prepackaged condiments and verify their safety.
  7. Dining out: Choose where you eat wisely and ask questions. Food prepared in any kitchen that is not 100% dedicated gluten-free is at risk of cross-contamination. For example, if the equipment is not cleaned properly after preparing gluten-containing food, there is a safety risk.
  8. Dining out: When in doubt  dining out, use paper plates and plastic cutlery.
  9. At home: Make your own gluten-free french fries, poutine versions, and gravies. Experiment with different recipes. Try using different types of potatoes (including sweet potatoes) and batter to coat your french fries.
  10. Everywhere: Keep informed and ask lots of questions. When in doubt, just don’t (eat it)!

Want to learn if other common foods are gluten free? Visit our Diet section.

Is Popcorn Gluten Free?

People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity need to avoid gluten in order to protect their health and prevent adverse reactions. Gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and their hybrids. Gluten is also found in grains such as oats if they have grown beside gluten-containing grains like wheat. This is referred to as a type of cross contact or cross contamination (when food makes contact with gluten). Most nutrition experts recommend purchasing grain products that are specifically labeled “gluten free” to reduce the risk of eating consuming cross-contaminated foods. This is true of popcorn as well, especially because store-bought popcorn can contain added ingredients to provide flavor.

What is popcorn?

Popcorn is categorized as a whole-grain “maize” food, since it is a variety of corn kernel and resembles corn-on-the-cob in cultivation and appearance. However, not all corn kernels will pop — only those from popcorn cobs. Popcorn kernels are harvested from the cob when they are fully mature. When you heat these kernels, they pop and become light and fluffy. Heat will expand popcorn to 20 to 50 times its original volume. Most of the world’s popcorn is grown in the “Corn Belt” of the United States in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio. Corn was domesticated about 10,000 years ago in what is now known as Mexico. Archaeologists have discovered that we have been consuming popcorn for thousands of years. Evidence of this is found in fossils from Peru, which shows corn was popped as early as 4,700 BC!

Is popcorn gluten free?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, a product is gluten-free if it contains fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten. In its natural form, corn and popcorn are typically gluten-free grains. However, in the manufacturing process popcorn is often processed on equipment that also processes gluten-containing grains. The end result is not always gluten-free because of this type of cross-contamination. To avoid cross contamination, choose store-bought popcorn and kernels that are labeled gluten free and avoid buying these products in bulk. Most major popcorn brands carry a “gluten free” label, making it easy for you to shop safe.

Always double check the ingredient lists on package labels to ensure your popcorn is truly gluten free as store-bought popcorn may contain gluten in the seasoning. Some common gluten-containing additives include malt flavoring, wheat starch, and brewer’s yeast. When you are at the movie theater or community fair, ask questions about how the popcorn you want to purchase is prepared (some movie theaters state their buttery topping is not gluten free) , if the popcorn machine is a dedicated gluten-free machine, how often the popcorn machine is cleaned, and which ingredients are in the seasonings. If the venue allows, take your own air-popped popcorn from home to play it safe.

Is popcorn nutritious?

The main nutritional advantage of popcorn is that it is a whole grain. Whole grain foods like popcorn include the entire grain seed, also called the kernel. This means they contain beneficial dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. On the other hand, the bran and germ components of the grain are removed from refined, processed grains (like baking flours).

Popcorn is considered a fairly good snack option compared to other snack foods when consumed in moderate amounts (and without heaps of butter or oil!), as it contains more fiber than other snacks such as potato chips. Popcorn’s fiber content also makes it more nutritious and more filling. As a whole grain, popcorn has the following additional nutritional benefits: it contains protein, vitamins and minerals (e.g., B vitamins, calcium, potassium, zinc, and other minerals), it is low in fat and sugar, and it does not contain cholesterol.

Air-popped popcorn without any ingredients added is your healthiest popcorn option. You can air-pop popcorn by heating popcorn kernels in a popcorn maker or on your stovetop. Adding butter, oils, sugar, and salt can turn popcorn into an unhealthy snack, particularly when it is store-bought, since the amounts of these ingredients can be quite high.

Want to learn if other common foods are gluten free? Visit our Diet section.

Is Corn Gluten Free?

What is corn?

If you have ever had a debate about whether corn is a grain or a vegetable, the truth is there isn’t one correct answer. According the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), corn is considered both a grain and a vegetable! It just depends on when the corn is harvested. Corn was first cultivated in the area of Mexico, then spreading through North and South America. Eventually, it was introduced to Europe, China, and around the world thereafter.

One of the most popular foods in the U.S., there are four main types of corn. First, the sweet corn that you eat on or off the cob comes in yellow, white, or a combination of the two colors. Second, popcorn, which before being popped, has a soft, starchy center and a hard golden shell. Third, flint corn is harder than sweet corn. It comes in black, blue, red, and white. Flint corn grows in Central and South America, and in the U.S. it is mainly used for fall decorations. Last but not least, dent corn comes in yellow and white, and has a “dent” in the top of each kernel. It is mainly used for animal feed and manufactured foods such as tortilla chips.

Is corn gluten free?

In its natural form, corn is gluten free. When it is in a processed food, you need to evaluate the full ingredient list as well as any risk of cross contamination. To avoid cross contamination in milled or ground corn products, such as corn flour and cornmeal, choose products that are labeled gluten free and avoid buying these foods in bulk. Always double check the ingredient labels to ensure store-bought foods are truly gluten free. For example, reading food labels can help you verify whether gluten-containing ingredients are hidden in corn products that contain sauce. Even store-bought popcorn may contain gluten in the seasoning. When you are consider popcorn at a movie theater or community fair, ask questions about how it is prepared, how often the popcorn machine is cleaned, and what ingredients are in the flavorings before consuming. You will need to inquire about whether corn dishes contain gluten when dining out as well.

Is corn a grain?

If corn is harvested when it is dry and fully mature, it is considered a grain that can be milled into cornmeal, which is less fine than flour. In Mexico, very finely ground cornmeal is referred to as corn flour. Cornmeal and corn flour can be used to make foods such as tortillas, chips, and crackers. If you want to consume corn as a “whole grain,” consider popcorn — popcorn kernels are also harvested when fully mature. Popcorn contains much more dietary fiber than fresh corn.

Is corn a vegetable?

Fresh corn (a whole food), such as good old corn on the cob and frozen corn, is harvested when soft and is considered a starchy vegetable. In this state, the corn kernels contain liquid, making them juicy. Enjoy corn as a side dish, or mixed with other vegetables. Eat fresh corn in moderation, as it contains carbohydrates that can raise your blood sugar levels.

Is corn nutritious?

Since corn is classified as a starchy carbohydrate, dietitians recommend that it should be consumed in moderation. Corn contains vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage. Yellow corn is a good source of the carotenoids (another type antioxidant) lutein and zeaxanthin, which are nutrients that are good for eye health. Corn contains other phytochemicals, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, fiber, and resistant starch. Some studies tout corn’s health benefits, suggesting it is “rich in nutrients, bioactive compounds, and phytochemicals.” Corn also contains small amounts of vitamins B, E, and K, as well as minerals such as magnesium and potassium. When it comes to nutrients, color is important. White and yellow corn has fewer antioxidants than blue or purple corn. These dark-colored types of corn are often found in chips and taco shells.

More about cornstarch

Cornstarch (corn ground into a powder) is made by grinding up the starchy carbohydrate part of corn grains, which are turned into a very fine powder. Cornstarch is gluten free when in its natural form. Cornstarch is typically used as a thickener for soups, stews, sauces, and gravies. It is also commonly added to gluten-free flours to create a smoother texture.

More about corn flour

Corn flour (milled corn) is gluten free when in its natural form. It has a light and fine texture making it a good addition to baked goods. Purchase corn flour that is labeled gluten free to prevent cross contamination that can take place during manufacturing processes.

More about cornmeal

Cornmeal (coarse ground corn) is gluten free when in its natural form. Just like cornstarch and corn flour, choose products that are labeled gluten free when possible, as cross contamination can occur during manufacturing.

Want to learn if other common foods are gluten free? Visit our Diet section.

Bake Up a Gluten-Free Storm With This Bob’s Red Mill Roundup

If you are gluten free, you are probably familiar with Bob’s Red Mill — a notable (many say iconic) American producer of whole grains, baking ingredients, and gluten-free foods, a number of which are organic and non-GMO. Founded in Oregon in 1978 by Bob and Charlee Moore, the brand has expanded over the last four-plus decades to offer an extensive assortment of high-quality, wholesome foods that are safe for people who need to follow a gluten-free diet.

Bob, who is loved by his fans, is also the face of the brand. He has become well known in the gluten-free community for his roots in stone milling his own grains, his passion for healthy eating, and his love of people. At 93 years young, he is still very actively involved in the company and continues to make guest appearances at brand-related events. Bob is clearly the reason why many people have developed an emotional attachment to the brand.

As far as safety for those with celiac goes, the brand stands by their “dedicated and completely separate gluten-free facility with specialized equipment to ensure their gluten-free products maintain their purity.” They assure customers that “only gluten-free products are milled, mixed, and packaged in that facility and their machinery is never exposed to non-gluten-free products.” The company also promises they “test every incoming delivery of product using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test — ensuring that every product is less than 20 ppm of gluten.”

Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free products

With a wide range of flours, baking mixes, cereals, and nutrition bars, Bob’s Red Mill offers a huge assortment of gluten-free products to choose from. The following roundup outlines a handful of the brand’s more popular gluten-free selections. To see more, take a peek at the full product catalog. Stay safe, read all food labels, and look for the red gluten-free symbol on all products before consumption.    

Gluten Free 1-to-1 Flour 

According to Bob’s, you can follow your favorite baking recipes and replace the wheat flour with this flour blend. This flour is touted as being ideal for muffins, cookies, cakes, and brownies. It is a blend of sweet rice and brown rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum.

Almond Flour

A lower-carb flour, this option is made of whole blanched almonds that are ground into a fine meal. You can make almond flour pancakes, cookies, coffee cake, muffins, and many other recipes. You can also use it to replace bread crumbs. Almonds provide vitamin E, protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Chickpea Flour

This flour is stone ground and made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Garbanzo beans contain protein, fiber, and iron, and make a wonderful ingredient for gluten-free baking. This flour works well in crackers, pizza crust, and bread recipes. It can also be used to thicken soups, sauces, and gravies.

Gluten Free Pancake & Waffle Mix

Dairy-free and made with whole grains, this pancake mix promises pancakes that turn out fluffy, light, and delicious. You just need to add milk of your choice, such as soy, rice, coconut, almond, or cow, as well as butter or oil, and eggs.

Gluten Free Whole Grain Rolled Oats

Bob’s gluten-free oat groats are steamed and rolled to create the ideal texture. You can use these oats to make oatmeal, cookies, granola and granola bars, and all sorts of other healthful recipes. (Some people cannot tolerate oats, even if the oats are gluten free. Check with your health professional to ensure gluten-free oats are safe for your diet.)

Egg Replacer

This gluten-free, vegan egg substitute is made with potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda, and psyllium husk fiber. It can be used in cakes, cookies, muffins, and other recipes where eggs are needed. There’s nothing to do other than simply add water. 

Flaxseed Meal

Flaxseed meal is a versatile ingredient that provides nutritional benefits, such as omega-3 essential fatty acids (healthy fat), fiber, and lignans, a category of antioxidants. You can add flaxseed meal to bread, muffins, cookies, and other recipes. It can also be used as a thickener in soups and stews, as well as an egg replacer in different recipes.

Quinoa

Known as an ancient grain and “superfood” packed with goodness, quinoa works well in pilafs, salads, and soups. It is a source of complete protein and a source of iron. It’s a nutritious alternative to couscous and white rice. Bob’s quinoa has been thoroughly rinsed and air dried to remove any bitterness — an extra preparation step you don’t have to worry about.

Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free recipes

Looking to put some of these products to good use? Try the following recipes, courtesy of Bob’s Red Mill:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Sage Pesto

Gluten-Free Donuts

Interested in more gluten-free products? See some of what is gluten-free at KrogerTrader Joe’sALDI, Whole Foods Market, and Safeway.

Is Butter Gluten Free?

What is butter?

If you can tolerate dairy and you have medical approval, then butter can be a safe addition to your diet in moderation. An ancient gluten-free creation with a fascinating history, butter has been produced by humans for thousands of years. In fact, according to researcher Elaine Khosrova, it has been with us for over 9,000 years. Khosrova says butter likely began as an accident whereby chilled milk was probably “shaken around in a sack on the back of an animal on a bumpy trail.” According to website Milky Day, the earliest evidence of butter dates back to 2000 B.C.: Archaeologists found a limestone tablet that is approximately 4,500 years old, which illustrates how our ancestors made butter. But some historians believe this food was actually discovered much earlier.

Butter is an animal fat made by churning the cream from milk, typically from cows and other mammals such as goats. Its smooth, creamy texture and rich flavor make it an ingredient that no other product can duplicate. It is a preferred fat used in many recipes, since it is versatile and enhances the flavor of most foods.

Due to its high calorie and saturated fat content, butter should be consumed in moderation. Saturated fat has been linked to an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad,” cholesterol. For this reason, the American Heart Association advises we should consume no more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day. That is what’s contained in a little less than two tablespoons of regular butter.

On the plus side, butter does contain small amounts of certain vitamins, including A, D, E, B12, and K2. More information about butter’s nutrition profile can be found here.

Is butter gluten free?

Butter itself is gluten free. According to the University of Chicago, grains are not excreted into milk and there is no cross-reactivity with milk, meaning that butter safe as well. When shopping, keep in mind that gluten may not be in the “main ingredient,” but gluten can sometimes be found in additional ingredients such as seasonings. Although some dairy products, such as certain cheeses, may contain additives or flavorings that contain gluten, butter as a standalone ingredient is generally very low risk (unless it is flavored and contains added ingredients). To be safe, always read the ingredients on food labels for verification before consumption.

When is butter unsafe?

You should always be aware of the possibility of cross-contamination of butter stored in a communal fridge, since shared knives and “double-dipping” when spreading onto bread can be cause for concern.

In short, you can generally use butter as an ingredient without worrying about whether it will have gluten or not, but you should always check the labels to be safe. The best type of butter to select is to plain butter, which won’t contain other ingredients, including salt.

What is ghee?

Ghee is a form of highly-clarified butter that contains less lactose than the common butter found in grocery stores. Ghee is traditionally used in Indian and other Southeast Asian cooking. Like butter, ghee is typically made from cow’s milk. In fact, ghee is made by melting regular butter, which separates into liquid fats and milk solids. Once separated, the milk solids are removed, leaving the ghee. This leads to a modified butter that contains mainly butterfat and less lactose than regular butter.

Butter is gluten free

Like butter, similar ingredients such as ghee (described above), margarine, cream, buttermilk, and fresh milk are also gluten free when free of additives, additional ingredients, or flavoring. Certain food brands offer plain butter, and you can find these options at most grocery stores. Some of the safe butter brands that include gluten-free products are Smart Balance, Organic Valley, Land O’Lakes, and Earth Balance. If you are unable to find a butter brand specifically labeled as gluten free at your local grocery store, simply read ingredients lists of different products. If the label or ingredients lists says “plain butter,” then the product should be gluten free. However, if the label lists additional ingredients, be aware that these may contain gluten.

Want to learn whether more common foods are gluten free? See the articles in our Diet section on potatoes, salad dressing, rice, and more.

Pancakes: The Perfect Gluten-Free Meal

It’s that time of year when we’d like to cozy up in front of a fire, stay home, and hibernate when we can. It’s also a time when comfort foods come calling. Need a quick “go-to” meal when you’re short on time and energy? Consider whipping up some homemade pancakes! Avoid processed options. You don’t need a box or a mix — just use real ingredients that tickle your taste buds. In short, anything goes. A versatile and easy-to-prepare meal, pancakes can be made with the gluten-free flour and milk of your choice, eggs or egg replacers, and a splash of butter, ghee, or a quality oil.

The origin of pancakes

Where did pancakes come from anyway? Pancakes have been around for centuries (possibly several thousand years) and are common to many cultures all around the world. In ancient Rome and Greece, pancakes were made from wheat flour, curdled milk, honey, and olive oil. The ancient Greek poets Magnes and Cratinus wrote about the deliciousness of pancakes, as did Shakespeare. During the English Renaissance, people flavored their pancakes with interesting spices, rosewater, and apples. The Ancient Romans called their fried creations “alia dulcia,” which is Latin for “other sweets.” Eventually, people started using the word “pancake” during the 15th century, and the word became common during the 19th century in America. Early American pancakes were actually made with gluten-free ingredients such as buckwheat or cornmeal. As you can see, pancakes evolved from humble beginnings.

Homemade pancake ingredients

Which ingredients should you experiment with? You can’t go wrong when you use simple flavors. Are you a fan of savory foods? If so, try almond flour, buckwheat-, cornmeal-, or chickpea-based recipes. Throw in a bit of cheese you have on hand. Do you prefer something sweet? If so, try sweet potato- or banana-based recipes. Cinnamon and vanilla extract also offer sweet notes.

What about the kids? For your gluten-free kiddos, use cookie cutters to cut your pancakes in to adorable little shapes. As a special treat, top with a spoonful of homemade chocolate spread. You can also secretly add a little bit of pureed fruits or vegetables (whatever you have on hand). You can even add avocado for texture.

Finish with your favorite toppings, such as yogurt, berries, chopped nuts, or gluten-free granola. Using wholesome, fresh ingredients like these can provide you with a satiating meal filled with complete protein, fiber, healthy fat, calcium, antioxidants, and a range of vitamins and minerals. Enjoy a stack of pancakes for breakfast, brunch, dessert, or a snack. Try them out as a bread alternative for a soft, scrumptious sandwich! Pancakes generally freeze well, making them even more convenient.

Try these naturally gluten-free toppings for your pancakes:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Fresh fruit such as sliced bananas or berries
  • Chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Almond butter or cashew butter
  • Gluten-free granola
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Honey

Try these simple gluten-free pancake recipes:

Easy Almond Flour Pancakes

Simple Sweet Potato Pancakes

Gluten-Free Lunchbox Ideas

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The return to school can be a challenging time for parents and kids alike, particularly when it comes to getting kids to eat their lunch! Children love to play with their food. They also enjoy a rainbow of colors and a variety of textures. With these ideas in mind, you can turn just about any lunch into one they will dig into. Here are some easy ways to offer variety and fun in your child’s lunchbox.

SchärLunchbox ideas

Get creative with pizza crust. Slice an eggplant or zucchini into thin pieces and bake in your toaster oven with your child’s favorite tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings. This is a great way to get more vegetables into their lunch.

Make oodles of noodles. Switch things up with cooked spaghetti squash or spiraled vegetables with the help of a spiralizer kitchen gadget. Add your child’s favorite pasta sauce and voilà! This is another way to pack more veggie punch at lunch.

Be quick with quinoa. Quinoa is an easy addition to salads and soups and makes a wonderful, versatile side dish. It is an excellent substitution for nutrient-lacking white rice. It will fuel your child with complete protein, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. Boil gluten-free quinoa in the evening, let it cool, and add your child’s favorite finely diced vegetables, herbs, or dried fruits. Store your quinoa in an air-tight container in the fridge overnight.

Add some fun: find food picks. Think about the cute little umbrellas in cocktails. Didn’t you love playing with those as a kid? For children who are old enough, keep cake and cupcake decorations, as well as other food items with child-safe picks. Clean them and insert them into fruit, vegetables, and sandwiches.

Create cookie cutter sandwiches. It is easy to turn a plain sandwich into an irresistible one with a good cookie cutter. Simply make your child’s sandwich and push down on the cutter to cut shapes out.  (This idea works best with bread that is not toasted or frozen.)

Boil egg people. Boiled eggs are an eggsellent healthy protein source. After you boil your eggs, make or attach faces, arms, legs, and any accessories you like. For example, use gluten-free pretzels for arms, raisins for eyes, etc.

Fix some fruit kebobs. Cut up your child’s favorite fruit (of various colors) into bite sized pieces and put on a kebob stick. Make sure the ends of the sticks are not sharp.

Try tasty snacks

Create some custom trail mix. Pack a snack your child will love! Write out a list of your child’s favorite bite-sized gluten-free munchies and make a custom trail mix. For example, include healthful foods like dried fruit, banana chips, coconut chips, and tiger nuts (which are not actually nuts—they are part of the tuber vegetable family—and are school safe).

Hatch up homemade granola bars. Another nutrient-dense snack is homemade granola bars. When you make them yourself, you can eliminate white sugar, additives, and preservatives. Add pieces of your child’s favorite dried fruit. If you use oats, make sure they are pure, gluten free, and free of cross-contamination.

Veggies are vital. Do not forget the veggies. Buy in-season, local produce your child loves. Accompany with a small container of homemade Tzatziki dip with Greek yogurt and a little olive oil, lemon juice, chopped garlic, chopped or dried dill, diced cucumber, salt, and pepper.

Add extra crunch. Seaweed snacks (nori) are an excellent replacement for potato chips. They satisfy the need to munch and crunch something salty. Seaweed contains calcium, iodine, folate, magnesium, and B vitamins. When giving these snacks to children, beware of the small toxic packages that are included in each pack to maintain freshness, and remove beforehand.

Dig into this dessert recipe

Gluten-free pastries are a welcome change, especially when they turn out soft and flaky. Try this delightful mini fruit Danish recipe from Schär. Their puff pastry is incredibly versatile for Danishes. Once you know how to fold a Danish, the fillings are endless. Here is one option (raspberry apricot) to start you off.

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Gluten-Free Raspberry Apricot Danishes

Gluten-Free Raspberry Apricot Danishes

Makes 9

Ingredients

1/2 package Schär Puff Pastry Dough

1 can apricots, halved

1 jar organic raspberry jam

Powdered sugar (optional)

Preparation

Allow the Puff Pastry to thaw at room temperature for 3 hours until it yields when poked, but is still cold.

You can also defrost in the microwave on the defrost setting for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Drain the apricots and cut each half in half, until you have nine quarters of apricots.

Unroll one sheet of Puff Pastry and cut into nine equal squares.

Take the first square. Using a sharp knife, cut ¼ inch into the border of the square, the cut only meeting in two corners opposite each other.

Gently fold one corner flap to hug the cut line on the opposite side.

Take the opposite corner and fold it over the border you just made, so it hugs the outside line of the opposite side.

Use water liberally to seal the folds.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Repeat the above step with remaining squares.

Drop a teaspoon dollop of raspberry jam in each cavity.

Place a quarter of apricot on top of each raspberry jam dollop.

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Dust a wee bit of powdered sugar over your baked Danishes and enjoy!

**

This is just one of several kid-friendly recipes found in the handy and informative Schär “Celiac Disease 101: For Parents & Children” e-book. In addition to tasty recipes, the e-book also contains information about what celiac disease is, hidden sources of gluten, cross contact, gluten-free ingredients, tips for navigating social situations, fun activities for kids, and more. You can download the e-book here for more information. 

Tips to Prevent Gluten Cross-Contamination

Celiac disease (CD) is a digestive autoimmune disease that can occur in genetically susceptible people. Those with the condition are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and their hybrids, like triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). Those with celiac can also be affected by other grains — such as oats, for example — that may have been contaminated by gluten-containing grains. These sources of gluten are found in countless packaged foods, beverages, and even medicines.

When people with celiac consume gluten, the body attacks itself and the small intestine that absorbs nutrients from food is damaged. The only current medical treatment recommendation for celiac is a gluten-free diet. When left untreated, the condition can cause serious health problems. That is why understanding how to prevent cross contamination of gluten is essential for people with celiac.

Keep cooking surfaces clean

Wash your cooking surfaces, cooking equipment, and utensils thoroughly with soap and water before preparing gluten-free food. Dedicate an area of your kitchen counter as the “gluten-free zone.” Then let it be known!

Use the right cookware

Avoid using cookware and utensils made of scratched or porous materials that can hold onto gluten, such as silicone or plastic spatulas, and wooden cutting boards, spoons, and bowls. If you choose to use such items, keep them as your exclusive gluten-free set. A dedicated gluten-free cutting board is essential.

Eliminate crumbs

Cross-contamination is caused when the food you want to eat has come into contact with another food containing gluten. According to the Canadian Celiac Association, “Anywhere you see crumbs is a potential place for cross-contamination.” For example, countertops, cutting boards, microwaves, toaster ovens, and containers with spreads can be major culprits. What can you do? Get your own toaster and cutting boards. Boil, bake, fry, and cook your meals in their own dedicated and separate pots and pans.

Seal your meal

Having your food (especially protein sources) cooked on or wrapped in foil will also help prevent cross-contamination. This can be accomplished in a toaster, oven, or on the barbeque, for example. You can also use a separate, gluten-free toaster in your home. If you share a microwave, disinfect it regularly and make sure you heat your food on a clean plate.

Fry food safely

Do not fry gluten-free food in the same oil used for frying non-gluten-free food. The same applies to boiled pasta and other boiled/fried foods — use separate pots and pans for gluten-free and non-gluten-free food.

Keep the bread out of the spread

When it comes to spreads such as butter, cream cheese, jam, nut butter, etc., breadcrumbs often get left behind. Label gluten-free spreads to keep them as such. To avoid an accidental mix up, keep your gluten-free spreads on a separate shelf, away from others.

Avoid buying in bulk

Another important tip is to avoid purchasing gluten-free flours in bulk. Gluten-free foods and flours sold at bulk markets can become cross-contaminated from the scoops getting mixed around in different bins, so buying gluten-free food in this way is not recommended. Also, beware of certain flours that are naturally gluten-free, such as buckwheat flour and quinoa flour, as studies have found them to be at risk of cross-contamination during manufacturing processes. Select packaged flours that are actually labeled “gluten free” by the product manufacturer.

Don’t be shy

Also, don’t forget to ask, ask, and ask again if the food you are about to consume is safe — I always verify with wait staff and the chef at restaurants, whether dining in or taking out. These tips apply to cooking at home, dining out at restaurants, and in the homes of loved ones.

Try new recipes

There are so many delicious and nutritious celiac-friendly cookbooks and recipes available online, thanks to gluten-free food bloggers, chefs, and cookbook authors who take the time to share their creations. Try new recipes that look appealing, and have fun with the experimentation! Start by visiting Gluten-Free Living’s recipe section.

Gluten-Free Comfort Food Swaps

It can be challenging to make healthy choices at the best of times. With all the pressures we face as we live through a pandemic, it can be particularly difficult to eat well, even though we know how important it is to support our immune system right now. It takes time and energy to prep meals and it can be tempting to mask our feelings with the quick grab-and-go of processed junk food. Having said that, there are lots of healthy comfort food recipes you can try out and make in a snap — it’s very doable, even on a gluten-free diet.

Instead of giving up the comfort foods you crave, why not continue to enjoy them — with healthier ingredients that help reduce the amount of unhealthy trans fats, simple carbohydrates, refined sugar, and excess calories? Here are a few ideas for you to experiment with.

Stack your plate with healthy pancakes.

You don’t need flour of any kind for these two-ingredient pancakes! To make them, combine four eggs and two bananas in a blender. Heat olive or coconut oil in a skillet. Pour the batter in small, round spoonfuls. Cook the pancakes for about one minute on each side (add oil to the skillet as needed so the pancakes don’t stick). Stack and serve with butter, ghee, or your favorite fruits.

Swap pizza crust and lasagna noodles for zucchini or eggplant.

Bake your veggies of choice and then simply slice and layer the veggies in a baking dish with your favorite tomato sauce and cheeses. You’ll be surprised at how delicious this dish can be!

Replace high-carb noodles with spaghetti squash or shirataki noodles.

Here’s another comforting meal that’s quick, simple and offers far more nutritional value than traditional pasta. Simply roast spaghetti squash for about 45–50 minutes, remove the seeds, scoop the “noodles” out and add your favorite sauce. Try shirataki noodles which are also delicious when fried in a flavorful stir fry. Low in calories and carbohydrates, they’re made from glucomannan, a type of fiber that comes from the root of the konjac plant. Substitute mashed potatoes and fried rice with cauliflower.

Make a mouthwatering mashed cauliflower dish in minutes.

It’s much better for you with respect to unwanted carbohydrates and calories, not to mention a boost in vitamins. Simply boil and finely chop in your food processor. Mash and cook with roasted garlic, garnish with chives, and serve hot with butter or ghee and a pinch of salt. Chop and sauté your cauli into rice and make a lovely couscous or vegetable fried rice dish.

Swap your sweetener and make a healthy chocolate pudding.

There are many reasons why we should all try to avoid refined sugar. A high sugar intake has been linked to weight gain, and it’s bad for our heart health and overall immune system, to name a few. Dr. William Davis, MD, cardiologist and best-selling author, says the best sweeteners for good health are stevia (liquid or powdered), monk fruit (Lo han guo), erythritol, and xylitol (listed in random order). Go easy on honey and maple syrup, especially if you have blood sugar issues. Make a nutritious, creamy chocolate pudding by blending avocado with cocoa powder, vanilla extract, a little milk of your choice, and one of the sugar substitutes mentioned.

Get creative with cookies.

Try different versions of healthful gluten-free oatmeal cookies. If you can tolerate gluten-free oats, take advantage of their nutritional benefits. Oats offer heart-healthy fiber and are loaded with important vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, and antioxidant plant compounds. The recipes available could not be easier, and some taste just like chocolate chip banana bread! One easy example is mashing three or four ripe bananas with one cup of gluten-free whole oats, a few handfuls of chocolate chips (try chips sweetened with stevia to eliminate the sugar), and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Scoop onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for about ten minutes.

Learning how to swap comfort foods for healthier gluten-free options can be an adjustment. However, the process can be a surprisingly creative and enjoyable learning experience.

Nutrition-Packed Gluten-Free Whole Grains

There was a time when I feared all grains due to their carbohydrate content, and as a result I overlooked their many benefits. Eventually I came to realize that they are not the enemy I thought they were, especially when eaten in smaller amounts alongside protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Some people can’t tolerate any grains, including those with refractory celiac disease. However, for those of us who can tolerate grains, there’s no denying that they offer a lot of bang for their buck. Most nutrition experts agree that whole grains in moderate amounts are an important part of a healthy diet. If you can tolerate gluten-free grains, consider incorporating these nutrient-rich options into your meals.

Whole grains

Gluten-free foods made from refined grains and starches are stripped of their nutrient-rich components. Whole grains, on the other hand, contain all of their beneficial layers: bran, endosperm, and inner germ. The benefits of consuming whole grains have been shown to include lowering risk of heart disease, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes, as well as helping maintain a healthy weight. Whole grains contain vitamins B6 and E, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, and folate. They also offer important minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium, and potassium. They even provide protein, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that protect our health.

Enjoy cooked gluten-free grains for breakfast, or enjoy them as a side dish or snack. They are versatile and can also be used in baked goods. Make sure package labels say “gluten free,” and avoid buying grains in bulk to prevent the risk of cross contamination. Here are a few nutrition-packed gluten-free whole grains worth considering. (The items noted below with an asterisk are not technically grains — they are referred to as “pseudograins,” but they behave similarly to grains.)

Amaranth

Amaranth is high in fiber, manganese, magnesium, and calcium. It can help lower hypertension (high blood pressure) and cholesterol. It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It contains more protein than quinoa, gram for gram. Enjoy amaranth as breakfast porridge, in muffins, or as a side dish.

Buckwheat groats*

Technically, buckwheat is not a grain — it is the seed of a fruit in the rhubarb and sorrel family. Another complete protein that does not contain gluten (despite its misleading name), buckwheat is a great source of folate and zinc, which have been shown to support fertility in women and men. These nutrients are also excellent for your immune system. Buckwheat is also good source of fiber and magnesium. Enjoy it in pancakes, as porridge, or as a side dish replacement for rice.

Millet

Millet is mild in flavor, which makes it a great addition to any baked good. This grain is a good source of B vitamins, iron, and essential amino acids. Enjoy millet as a cereal or as a replacement for your mashed potatoes.

Oats

Proceed with caution when it comes to oats, and ensure that any you eat are labeled gluten-free. If you have celiac disease, find out from your physician if it’s safe for you to consume oats, as many people with the condition are unable to tolerate them. Oats contain B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and beta-glucan, which is a dietary fiber that has been shown to be helpful for people with diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. This fiber has also been linked to healthy gut bacteria.

Quinoa*

 Like buckwheat, quinoa is also the seed of a fruit. This pseudograin offers complete protein, along with many other nutrients, including fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, iron, and zinc. Quinoa flour is great in baked goods and can be served in its whole form as porridge, or as a main or side dish. Add it to soup as a replacement for rice.

Teff

Last but not least, teff is the world’s tiniest grain! It is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, which all important for immune function. Enjoy teff in its whole form as a hot cereal. It is also available as a tortilla wrap.

Food Allergies in Babies and Toddlers

If you are concerned your baby or toddler may have a food allergy, you’re not alone. Food allergies are quite common today. According to research, nearly 5 percent of children under the age of five years have food allergies. It’s important to get the facts, consult with your physician and take the right steps to keep your little one safe. If you believe your child is having an anaphylactic (severe) reaction, emergency treatment is critical. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can cause a coma or even death. Read on to learn more about food allergies and what you can do as a parent to protect your child.

What is a food allergy?

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) classifies a food allergy as a medical condition. It can occur at any age, including babies and toddlers. According to John Hopkins Medicine, a food allergy is “an abnormal response of the body to a certain food.” More specifically, the immune system attacks protein(s) in the food. It is not the same as a food intolerance, which does not affect an individual’s immune system, but there may be similar symptoms. Food allergies cause an immune system response, which in turn causes symptoms involving various bodily organs that range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. Although many children “outgrow” their allergies, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are often lifelong.

What causes a food allergy?

Before having an allergic reaction to a certain food, a baby or toddler (or child) would typically have been exposed to the food in question at least once before, or may have been exposed through breast milk consumption. Usually, the second time a baby, toddler or child consumes the food, there is an immune system response and allergic reaction symptoms occur. The body has mistaken food as something harmful. At that time, Immunoglobulin E or “IgE” antibodies (antibodies produced by the immune system) react with the food. Histamines (chemicals made by your immune system that help your body get rid of foreign threats) are released, which can cause your child to experience a wide range of symptoms.

Which foods cause food allergies?

According to FARE, more than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions. John Hopkins Medicine says approximately 90 percent of food allergies are caused by the following eight foods (also known as the “big eight”): milk, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish. Eggs, milk, and peanuts, wheat, soy, and tree nuts are the most common food allergies in children. FARE says allergy to sesame is an emerging concern. Allergies to milk and soy are typically seen in infants and very young children.

The symptoms for these allergies often include the following: colic, blood in the stool and poor growth. Doctors will often advise parents to change their baby’s formula to a soy formula, hypoallergenic formula or breast milk if it is believed there is a milk allergy. Peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish typically cause the most severe allergic reactions. Keep in mind that food allergens can get transmitted through breast milk.

What are the symptoms of a food allergy in babies and toddlers?

As previously mentioned, babies, toddlers and children will typically experience an allergic reaction to food fairly quickly after the second exposure to it. There are a wide range of symptoms that your child may experience, such as (but not limited to) hives, asthma, itchiness and digestive symptoms such as cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergies can also cause skin conditions like eczema. Any of these symptoms should be investigated by your child’s doctor as soon as possible. The Mayo Clinic says more serious symptoms can include rapid pulse; drop in blood pressure; trouble breathing due to constriction or tightening of the airways; and/or swelling of the throat, lips, face, tongue or other parts of the body. Seek emergency treatment if your child develops any of these signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Risk factors for food allergies

Risk factors for food allergies include family history, other allergies (if your child has one allergy, it can put them at risk for others) and asthma — asthma and food allergies often occur together. Dr. Thomas Casale, MD, says allergic reactions to food can affect different systems of the body. Dr. Casale serves as FARE’s Chief Medical Advisor for Operations and is also a Professor of Medicine (including in the Department of Pediatrics) at the University of South Florida (USF Health). He says, “An allergic reaction to food can affect the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract and, in the most serious cases, the cardiovascular system. Symptoms typically appear within minutes to several hours after eating a food to which the baby is allergic. A more comprehensive list of symptoms indicating an allergic reaction to food can be found on the FARE website.” Dr. Casale advises, “in very young children, signs of an allergic reaction can include putting their hands in their mouths, pulling or scratching at their tongues, and becoming hoarse or squeaky. The FARE website also lists some of the language that children might use to describe their allergic reactions.”

One family’s experience

Living in Boston, Melanie Gold’s three year old, Ruth, was diagnosed with an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. When Ruth was exposed to peanuts she experienced an itchy throat and difficulty breathing. Her pediatrician said these symptoms are common in anaphylaxis. Melanie sought emergency medical attention and Ruth was administered an EpiPen, which treated her immune response. “It was a scary experience to have such a young child diagnosed with an anaphylactic allergy. Over the last few years we have learned how to protect Ruth from any cross contact with nuts and tree nuts through awareness and education. As a family, we are always reading food labels and ‘may contain’ labels. We check and double check with wait staff and chefs at restaurants and we call food producers when in doubt. We inform family, friends, Ruth’s teachers and anyone who has direct contact with her about her allergies and the seriousness of them. Ruth always has an EpiPen in a fanny pack around her waist for any emergency situation. We have social support from other families with children who have anaphylactic allergies like Ruth. My best advice to parents is be brave but always be prepared. We experienced one incident where restaurant staff promised Ruth’s meal was nut free and then she experienced an anaphylactic reaction where we needed to administer her EpiPen. We later found out the meat was cooked in peanut oil and that ingredient was overlooked. Be diligent and always ask questions. Check and double check. Remember you are not alone.”

Although parents of babies need to be aware and diligent, they should not catastrophize about the unknown. A recent study suggests allergic reactions to foods are milder in infants. “We found that infants, unlike older children, have a low-severity food-induced anaphylaxis, which should come as reassuring news to parents who are about to introduce their baby to potentially allergenic foods like peanuts,” says Waheeda Samady, MD, and lead author from Lurie Children’s, who also is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Since early introduction of peanuts is now encouraged by national guidelines, it is understandable that parents might be fearful of triggering a serious reaction.”

What about celiac disease?

Celiac disease (CD) and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) are not caused by food allergies. Neither is lactose intolerance. However, some of the symptoms can be similar. While CD is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a gluten allergy, it is actually an autoimmune disease and digestive disorder that does not result in anaphylaxis. It can get confusing because CD can involves an immune system response when gluten (proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and their hybrids) is consumed, but the reaction is more complex than a typical food allergy.

If your child is diagnosed with CD and consumes foods containing gluten, an immune reaction occurs that damages the surface of the small intestine, which causes an inability to absorb certain nutrients. A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment recommended by medical doctors for celiac disease.

Are there treatments for food allergies?

Regardless of age, there are no medications for food allergies (at the time this article was written). Aimmune Therapeutics, a California-based company, has been working on submitting an orally administered immunotherapy capsule (also referred to as the peanut capsule) for peanut allergies for approval in North America and Europe. In the meantime, the best treatment is prevention of exposure to food allergens. Although it is not considered a cure, the company expects the drug to become available in 2020. Desensitization, the underlying principle behind immunotherapy like the peanut capsule, is being studied to help treat other allergies. “It’s the same mechanism behind allergy shots for dust mites and pollen,” says Dr. Susan Waserman, a professor in the Division of Clinical Immunology & Allergy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “The reason it was slow to start for food is in part because of uneasiness around making patients eat something potentially dangerous.” There was an immunotherapy study conducted in Colorado in 1997, where a child died of anaphylactic shock. “That kind of tragedy derails research for a long time.”

What can parents do?

Detection and prevention is key. Seek medical attention if your child displays any food allergy symptoms. Help your child avoid foods they are allergic to. Be aware of ingredients in foods that well-hidden, especially in restaurants and social settings. Here are some helpful tips in random order.

· This is important and could be lifesaving. Speak with your doctor about emergency epinephrine. Your child may need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen, Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q) at home and at school or daycare if he/she is at risk of a severe allergic reaction. Be aware of the expiration dates on auto-injectors. If your child does not have an allergist, you can ask their primary-care provider for a referral.

· There is medical consensus (at the time this article has been written) that cow’s milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts and fish should be avoided during a child’s first year of life. Additionally, babies should not be fed solid food until they are at least 6 months of age.

· Read all food labels very carefully (pay attention to “may contain” statements) and inquire about questionable ingredients and cross contamination from food manufacturers and those who prepare your child’s food (relatives, restaurant chefs, etc.).

· If you breastfeed your child, avoid foods that your child is allergic to. Small amounts of food allergens can be transmitted to your child through your breast milk and cause an allergic reaction.

· Purchase a medical alert bracelet for your child that lists and informs others about his/her food allergy should your child have a reaction and be unable to communicate. Indicate required treatment, such as auto-injector.

· Be extremely clear and careful at restaurants. Inform your server and chef that your child can’t eat the food they’re allergic to (mention the serious consequences), and you need to be 100% certain their food doesn’t contain it. Ensure their food isn’t prepared on surfaces or in pots/pans that contained any of the food they’re allergic to. Request to have their protein (like meat or fish) cooked in foil to avoid cross contamination.

· Prepare healthy snacks before leaving home (especially when flying). Take a cooler packed with allergen-free foods when you travel or attend an event. Include a (safe) special treat so your child doesn’t miss out on dessert. Take a small sandwich maker and allergy-friendly bread with you when you travel. It can come in handy!

· Be mindful of cross contamination at home and outside the home. Ensure your kitchen surfaces are clean and sterile. Use separate kitchen tools including cutting boards, toasters, pots, pans and utensils when preparing your child’s meal.

· Teach your child about their allergies as early as possible and how to request help if needed. Educate others and indicate that allergic reactions (explain what they are) can be life-threatening and require immediate action. You can also show them how to administer an auto-injector. Speak with relatives, friends, child care providers, school staff and other adults who interact with your child. Your child’s school (and anywhere your child is supervised) should have an information form and action plan that includes all steps that should be taken in the event of an emergency. See the link below regarding laws that protect children with food allergies.

· Ask your child’s doctor if he/she should take any specific vitamins and/or minerals due to deficiencies that can arise from avoiding certain foods.

Additional resources

For more information, visit:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: https://www.aafa.org

Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN): http://www.foodallergy.org/anaphylaxis

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE): http://fare.foodallergy.org

Learn about U.S. laws and regulations regarding food allergies: https://www.foodallergy.org/life-with-food-allergies/newly-diagnosed/laws-and-regulations

Cleanse Clarity: 5 Tips for Leaving Gluten Behind

The gluten-free diet is imperative for those who have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by the consumption of gluten—a family of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye (and their hybrids). In this case, gluten can cause the body to react in negative ways, damaging the small intestine and causing a wide range of symptoms, including but not limited to those that are gastroenterological. The most effective way to limit the pain and discomfort of celiac disease is to avoid gluten completely. Individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) also need to follow a gluten-free diet.

In addition, some health professionals recommend eliminating gluten from the diet to help manage and reverse a variety of medical conditions or as a short-term cleanse. Generally speaking, cleanse diets can range from ones that replace a couple daily meals with organic juices to more extreme types where food is more restricted. They can also range from one to two days to several months. Any cleanse that lasts more than two days should be supervised by a physician.

If you have been advised to eliminate gluten from your diet in order to cleanse your body, here are some key steps you can take. It’s important to note that if your doctor suspects you have celiac starting a gluten-free diet may be advisable following a biopsy. Going gluten free before might make diagnosis more difficult. Never make changes to your diet or start a specific cleanse diet before consulting with your health care provider first

5. Understand gluten

If you are considering a gluten-free diet, one of the most important steps is to understand what gluten is and how it can interact with the body. Gluten functions as a natural binding agent, allowing these foods to maintain their shape and consistency. While whole grains can provide necessary health benefits, for some people, digesting gluten products can be quite dangerous. Individuals who are considered intolerant to gluten have celiac disease. If left undiagnosed, celiac disease can lead to dangerous long-term effects and health complications from coronary artery disease to intestinal cancers. It is estimated that 1 in every 100 people suffer from some form of gluten intolerance, with 60% to 70% of those diagnosed with celiac disease being women. Celiac disease is often hereditary, and symptoms include abdominal bloating and pain in children and anemia or fatigue in adults as well as numerous effects for individuals of any age. 

4. Read ingredient labels

Typically, when purchasing packaged food, it is best to look for a certified gluten-free mark, which typically indicates a product has been manufactured in a gluten-free facility or contains virtually no gluten. However, even with stickers or advertisements, it can be difficult to truly know whether something is actually gluten free. The American Chemical Society argues that even gluten-free labeled products are not always completely gluten free. FDA labeling is an important clue for anyone looking to change their diet and pursue a gluten-free cleanse. It is vital to correctly read packaged food labels to ensure that you are not consuming hidden gluten.

In order for a food item to be considered gluten free, it must contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. It is also imperative to remember that “wheat free” does not always mean “gluten free.” For instance, the Celiac Disease Foundation provides a checklist for reading packaged food labels that advise consumers to check for obvious ingredients like wheat, barley, rye, oats (oats are often contaminated with wheat because they grow in the same fields), malt and brewer’s yeast. As well, consumers should always read the allergen statement indicated on food labels; typically the statement may read “contains wheat;” however, if the allergen statement doesn’t include a gluten warning, you should check the ingredient list in order to ensure the product in question is completely gluten free. 

While labels may state that something is gluten free, researchers at Kansas State University argue that not everything that is considered gluten free is healthy. This is key if you are eliminating gluten to cleanse your body. Mark Haub, associate professor at Kansas State and head of the department of food, nutrition, dietetics and health in the College of Human Ecology, urges those who are on a gluten-free diet to keep a close eye on their caloric intake since sorghum (a gluten-free alternative), corn or rice flour have a similar caloric density to wheat flour, which might lead individuals to over-eat, as they may believe they are consuming fewer calories. While approximately 1% of people have celiac disease, Haub argues that if diets are rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables in conjunction with portion control, a gluten-free diet can also be beneficial for those without celiac disease or related conditions. 

3. Clean out your pantry

To begin your gluten-free diet or cleanse, it is important to completely re-organize your kitchen. Products like regular bagels, non-gluten-free breads and pastas, some gravies and sauces, flour tortillas and chips are just a few common food items that are not conducive to the gluten-free diet. These products can have adverse effects on the body for those suffering from celiac disease and for those looking for healthful dietary options.

Fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meat, fish and most dairy products are gluten free and safe to incorporate into your diet. There are several healthy gluten-free grain alternatives to restock your pantry with, including sorghum, polenta, brown rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat. Sorghum, a type of bran, is high in antioxidants, surpassing levels found in blueberries and pomegranates. Researchers from the University of Georgia measured compounds within sorghum and found that two variates, black and sumac, had properties associated with reducing inflammation. Diane Hartle, the study’s co-author, argued that sorghum bran delivers not only fiber but many other antioxidants as well.

2. Create a gluten-free home

Another important step is to make sure other products within your home are gluten free as well. Many people are unaware that medication, cosmetics, toothpaste and hair products can contain gluten as an added, low-cost filler.

Luckily, some companies have started producing gluten-free cosmetics, including bareMinerals and Marcelle. Some companies already sell home care products that don’t utilize gluten as filler, such as Acure, Dove and Paul Mitchell. Researchers from George Washington University found that cosmetics, including lip and body lotion products, harbor gluten additives. Sometimes an individual with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can experience rashes and/or negative reactions to the skin. The researchers note individuals searching for gluten-free cosmetics and lotions have to observe ingredient labels or contact manufacturers to ensure the products are safe.                                                                                                                                                           

1. Drink lots of water

Last but not least, water is where it’s at! Consuming adequate amounts of water on a daily basis is important, especially throughout a gluten-free cleanse. Typically, water can help control weight and reduce sugar, sodium and saturated fat intake, all of which can be associated with a gluten-heavy diet. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted a study involving 18,300 American adults regarding water consumption and found that increasing plain water consumption by 1% can reduce the daily intake of sodium, cholesterol, sugar and saturated fat. Researchers detailed how adding 1 to 3 cups of water to your diet can decrease daily caloric intake by 68 to 205 calories. As well, cholesterol consumption can lessen by 7 to 21 milligrams and sugar can fall by 5 to 18 grams daily. 

Healthy Gluten-Free Alternatives to Traditional Grill Fare

Fire up the grill without breaking a sweat

With summer here, it’s important to ensure that you maximize the nutritional benefits of seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as gluten-free and grill-friendly protein sources. Doing so will fuel your body with the vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats and phytonutrients it needs.

For many, barbecuing is likened to an art form; it’s an activity we get revved up about, as spring and summer are often short. Be creative with your cooking and savor the flavors.

When you grill, make every bite matter with meals that are nourishing for you and your loved ones. You can do this by choosing unprocessed whole foods, clean protein choices and lots of flavorful vegetables. Make your own marinades, sauces and dips from scratch to avoid unwanted sugar, starch and sodium. Here is a comprehensive look at some of the healthiest gluten-free food options for the grill this summer.

Nutritious protein options for the grill

Turkey is a key choice

Turkey is a wonderful lean protein source and can be easily adapted for the grill. Researchers at New York University School of Medicine found that turkey meat, especially the dense nutrients found in the dark meat, has cardiovascular health benefits. The study found that the naturally-occurring nutrient taurine, present in the dark meat of turkey and chicken, has the ability to lower the risk of coronary heart disease in women who suffer from high cholesterol levels. In regard to the study’s findings, Dr. Yu Chen, associate professor of epidemiology at NYU School of Medicine and principal investigator, stated, “Taurine…seems to have a significant protective effect in women with high cholesterol.”

Taurine has little effect on women with low cholesterol levels; however, women with high cholesterol are 60 percent less likely to develop or suffer complications from coronary heart disease when consuming taurine. Let your turkey absorb your favorite marinade overnight in the fridge before you pop it on the grill for fuller flavor.

Salmon is a summertime favorite

Salmon is a summertime favorite for many people and provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. A study conducted at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston discovered that the consumption of fish such as salmon can improve the aging process in adults. Through extensive research that took place between 1992 and 2015, American researchers found that properties in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found most commonly (in abundance) in fish like salmon, can aid in “healthy aging,” through the regulation of blood pressure, heart rate and inflammation.

Another study from the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, found that omega-3 fatty acids can affect serotonin levels in the brain, which control important cognitive functions, including mood, decision making, aggression and impulsive behavior. The omega-3 found in salmon positively interact with serotonin to improve cognitive function. Try honey-and-Dijon-mustard-basted salmon steaks on the barbecue for a delicious, heart-healthy, lighter alternative to red meat (steak).

The best veggies for the barbie

Eggplant is good for your heart

Grilled eggplant with a touch of olive oil and salt is a great addition to any meal, and researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that dietary flavonoids found in berries, grapes and eggplant can improve your cardiovascular health. Harvard researchers found that a specific component of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, can help to dilate arteries, allowing better blood flow and the elimination of plaque buildup.

Dr. Aedin Cassidy, head of the department of nutrition at Norwich Medical School, stated, “We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits and vegetables may reduce risk of a heart attack later in life.” The study found that women who consumed considerable amounts of flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables like eggplant had a 32 percent reduction in their risk for heart attack. 

Zucchini is abundant in dietary fiber

A study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center discovered that consuming fruits and vegetables that contain a high dietary fiber content can aid in lowering blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. The researchers found that individuals who consumed at least 50 grams of dietary fiber per day from foods such as zucchini, winter squash, sweet potato, oranges and papayas were successful in lowering blood sugar levels and decreasing insulin levels in the blood.

In addition, researchers at Georgia State University found that dietary fiber can also help prevent metabolic syndrome, promote healthy gut bacteria and prevent obesity. The study found that soluble fiber directly impacts gut microbiota, essentially restoring gut health, which, along with the proper diet, can lower an individual’s chances of obesity. To increase sweetness, drip some lemon juice on your zucchini before grilling it.

Brussels sprouts boast cancer-fighting properties

Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University discovered vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, bok choy and broccoli have cancer-fighting properties. Dr. Emily Ho, a researcher at Oregon State University, believes that “if you are worried about cancer…increasing your dietary intake of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are a good idea.” These dark-green vegetables contain the compounds sulforaphane and histone deacetylase (HDAC), which can aid and promote cancer prevention. This particular study specifically focused on prostate cancer, finding that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli could trigger HDAC production.

Portobello mushrooms offer antioxidant power

A study conducted at Penn State discovered that portobello mushrooms contain similar levels of dietary antioxidants when compared to colorful fruits and vegetables. Antioxidant-rich foods are often vibrant and bright in color; however, Dr. N. Joy Dubost from Penn State has found considerable evidence to suggest that antioxidants are particularly abundant within mushrooms, especially portobello and cremini mushrooms. Dubost used the oxygen radical absorbance capacity assay (ORAC), which measures the antioxidant capacity of a substance, and found that Portobello mushrooms have an ORAC of 9.7, while carrots and green beans have an ORAC of 5.

You can’t beat the taste of barbecued mushrooms brushed with olive oil and a pinch of salt. When cooking any type of mushroom, make sure you grill it properly and do not overcook. You can even use portobello mushrooms as a bun for your burger!

What about the bun?

A low-carb bun alternative

You might wonder what fun a burger is without the bun. To limit the amount of carbohydrates in your bun while still presenting an easy-to-serve, easy-to-hold, protein-filled meal, try meat on a skewer! Skewers are extremely trendy, and the hand-held skewer is easy to customize, depending on each person’s health needs and food interests.

Skewers are not just for protein. Add a colorful assortment of vegetables onto your skewer with your protein for a beautiful and balanced snack or meal.

There are also low-carb buns available on the market. Or make your own low-carb bun with an almond flour-based recipe.

Cooking With Sea Vegetables

Naturally gluten free (always read ingredient labels to verify) and an excellent source of nutrients, sea vegetables are aquatic species of algae that have been popularized throughout East Asian cuisines.

These vegetables are often incorporated in Japanese, Korean and Chinese meals, providing essential nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and E, B vitamins, folate, calcium, iron, protein (particularly in sea lettuce) and more. They are a great alternative source of healthy complex carbohydrates. Sea vegetables can be utilized for a variety of meal options and are often paired with dishes that include seafood. Some of the most popular sea vegetables include nori, kombu, sea grapes, sea lettuce and wakame. Use these sea vegetables to make delicious homemade sushi, hand rolls, wraps and salads. Here is a comprehensive look at these sea vegetables and their health benefits.

Nori seaweed

Nori is a species of red algae, commonly used in Japanese cuisine. Most people recognize nori as the seaweed wrapping around their favorite sushi rolls.

Nori is one of the healthiest seaweeds, providing the highest source of protein, approximately 50 grams per 100-gram serving.

Researchers from Stanford Medicine found that gut bacteria responded positively when nori was introduced into the diets of mice. Gut bacteria can provide essential nutrients and promote healthy digestion. The lead author of the study, Elizabeth Shepherd, PhD, believes microbes “are a very powerful lever to modulate our biology in health and disease,” and nori can add help incorporate an additional strain of healthy gut bacteria into your digestive system. Researchers from the American Chemical Society reviewed over 100 scientific studies and found that nori seaweed contains proteins similar to bioactive peptides, a protein chain found in milk products and various other animal-based products, which can reduce blood pressure and even prevent certain diseases. In addition, nori provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B-12.

Kombu

Kombu is another edible sea vegetable that is popular in East Asia and is often found in noodle dishes or broths.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that brown seaweeds, such as kombu and wakame kelp, could have a significant effect on breast cancer in humans.

The study focused on an American seaweed variety called bladderwrack, which is closely related to the Japanese kombu and wakame kelp. These seaweeds contain properties that had an effect on the sex hormone estradiol. Estradiol is a potent hormone that can increase the risk of developing a variety of diseases, including breast cancer. This study suggests that brown seaweeds like kombu can lower the level of estradiol found in the body, effectively lowering the chances of estrogen-dependent diseases from arising. In a press release, Professor Martyn Smith of UC Berkeley stated, “Kelp is a little-studied nutrient, but there’s good reason to look at it more closely…this study opens up a new avenue for research leading to cancer-preventive agents.” While kombu and other seaweeds and kelps offer wonderful nutritional benefits, it is important not to over-consume seaweed, as it is often high in iodine.

Wakame kelp

Similar to the kombu seaweed, wakame kelp is another variety of brown algae that is commonly consumed in Japan. It has a distinctively strong flavor and is often incorporated into soups, broths and salads. Most people are familiar with wakame kelp as it is often used in miso soup, a Japanese dish found in virtually every sushi or Japanese cuisine restaurant.

Wakame can also aid in lowering the chances of developing sex-hormone related disease, as well as fighting off obesity.

A study published by the American Chemical Society found that brown seaweed and kelp, like wakame, contain a compound that promotes weight loss. The compound fucoxanthin successfully promoted weight loss by reducing the accumulation of abdominal fat in obese rats and mice. Fucoxanthin produces a brown pigment, which gives the species of brown algae its name, and is only found in large quantities in species of brown algae. It is believed that the compound interacts with the protein UCP1 to stimulate fat oxidation, which, to put it simply, is the conversion of energy to heat. Essentially, the proteins found within wakame promote the burning of fat cells, especially abdominal fat. Fucoxanthin also causes the liver to produce DHA, a compound similar to omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol.”

Sea lettuce

Sea lettuce is a popular edible green algae that is commonly used in salads as an alternative to lettuce. Sea lettuce can be found along most coastal regions throughout the world, lending to a wide variety of recipes and dishes that it can be incorporated into.

American researchers recently discovered that varieties of edible algae like sea lettuce contain polysaccharides that can aid in lowering the effects of allergy symptoms and asthma.

Researchers also noted that the molecule gracilaria lemaneiformis, common in seaweed and edible algae, had similar anti-allergen properties, with the ability to reduce tropomyosin, a protein found in shellfish that can result in an allergic reaction. Moreover, a 2015 study published by the Institute of Food Technologists found that edible algae is a wonderful alternative protein source. For individuals interested in reducing their animal protein consumption, sea lettuce can provide the essential requirements for a healthy and reasonable protein intake. One serving of edible algae consists of 63 percent protein and 15 percent fiber. Algae protein can be found in protein shakes or smoothie mixes and protein bars.

Okinawan seaweed

Just like sea lettuce, Okinawan seaweed, or, as it’s commonly known, “sea grape,” is another variety of green algae found in coastal regions of the Indo-Pacific. Sea grapes, a beloved snack in Japan, can be consumed on their own or with rice dishes or sushi.

Sea grapes are another type of green seaweed that can provide essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as promote docosahexaenoic acid, which supports brain functioning.

Researchers from the University of Kansas found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), when taken by pregnant women as a supplement, resulted in a greater percentage of fat-free body mass in children by the age of 5. The study suggests that DHA can greatly influence body composition in the early stages of childhood, lowering the possibility of childhood obesity. As well, research conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that DHA can affect the development of Alzheimer’s disease and depression significantly. The study argued that the omega-3 fatty acids found in DHA provided anti-inflammatory properties that could help protect the brain against neurological diseases. Plus, the study found that consuming DHA-rich foods like fish and sea vegetables could greatly reduce the risk of developing depression or memory loss. Dr. Papasani Subbaiah, an author of the study, suggests, “This study is proof of the concept that we can increase levels of both EPA and DHA in the brain via supplements or by incorporating LPC-EPA in the diet.” Consuming a single serving of DHA-rich food like sea grapes can help to improve cognitive functions.

Simple Seaweed Salad

Simple Seaweed SaladOur gluten-free simple seaweed salad contains wakame kelp: brown algae with a distinctively strong flavor commonly consumed in Japan.

Quick Gluten-Free Miso Soup

Miso Soup

Miso Soup is a Japanese dish found in virtually every sushi or Japanese cuisine restaurant that uses wakame kelp. Our Miso Soup recipe is quick and easy.

 

Smoked Salmon Nori Rolls

Smoked Salmon Nori Rolls

Nori is a species of red algae, commonly used in Japanese cuisine.Most people recognize nori as the seaweed wrapping around their favorite sushi rolls.

 

Chocolate Mint Green Smoothie

Chocolate Mint Green SmoothiePut a healthy twist on a chocolate smoothie. Our chocolate mint green smoothie uses cacao powder, banana, milk, mint leaves, kale, and wakame seawood. 

 

Enjoy a Delicious, Nutritious Gluten-Free Seder this Passover

In early spring, those of Jewish faith celebrate the festival of Passover to commemorate the Exodus—the deliverance from slavery in Egypt during the 19th Egyptian dynasty. It is customary to read the story from the Hagaddah (book) before the meal where many traditional foods are enjoyed among loved ones. Unleavened bread (wheat matzah) is eaten to reflect on the time of slavery, when there wasn’t any time to wait for bread dough to rise. Thankfully, there are gluten-free matzah options today.

The ceremonious Passover meal, also known as a seder includes a seder plate decorated with six foods, each representing a different piece of the Passover story—meat, egg, vegetables such as parsley, celery and potatoes, bitter herbs such as horseradish, and a deliciously sweet paste made of apples and walnuts or dried fruits such as dates. The main course is free of leavened grains (this applies to desserts too) and often includes matzah ball soup, as well as various types of savory, roasted meat, vegetable and potato dishes. Make your own gluten-free and delicious seder and include some of these these nutritious ingredients and recipes.

Dates for the Seder Plates

One of the first plants cultivated by humans thousands of years ago, there are hundreds of delicious varieties of date palms. Top producing regions include the Middle East and North Africa—the dates grow well in the dry desert heat of these regions. In the United States, dates are grown in Southern California, Southwestern Arizona, and around Las Vegas, Nevada. The two most widely grown types in those areas are the “Deglet Noor” and the “Medjool.” They are typically in season January through April.

Filled with nutrients such as b-vitamins, phytonutrients, iron and dietary fiber, dates are often thought to be one of the healthiest foods in the world! Dates can be used to naturally sweeten and texture cookies, cereal, bars, truffles and any type of baked good. On the seder plate, dates are a primary ingredient in charoset (paste) which resembles the mortar used by Jewish slaves in the Passover story.   

Hearty Root Vegetables for a Seder Main Dish

Tzimmes is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish stew made with sweet and nutrient dense root vegetables–carrots, sweet potatoes, yams and sweet dried fruits like dates (yes, again and why not!) and prunes. Ashkenazi means Jews of central or eastern European descent, which is where this dish originated from.

The word tzimmes is also a Yiddish expression for “making a fuss” over something. Whether served with meat or as a stand-alone side dish, tzimmes is sweet, delicious and definitely worth making a fuss over! Brisket with tzimmes makes a savoury and hearty one-pot meal.

Parsley for the Seder Plate

Parsley is a nutritious, mild and versatile herb that you can buy or easily grow in your garden. The popular curled-leaf variety is used fresh mainly as a garnish. Flat-leaf parsley (also known as Italian) is commonly used to flavor soups, stews, sauces, stir-fries and dips. It pairs wonderfully with beef, chicken, fish, carrots, egg, eggplant, potatoes and tomato. A widely available herb, the top five states producing parsley are California, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, and Hawaii.

Although generally available before the first frost hits, parsley is most affordable and abundant during the early spring harvest. Parsley offers a good source of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Another addition to the Passover seder plate, parsley (for some it is customary to use celery) signifies the labor of the Jews during slavery. The Hebrew letters of karpas (vegetable) can be arranged to spell the word “perech,” which means backbreaking work.

On the Seder Plate: Charoset 

This delicious charoset makes a beautiful addition to the Passover seder plate. Leftovers can be enjoyed on gluten-free matzah and in warm cooked cereals, plain yogurt and smoothies. Get the recipe.

Passover Dinner Main Dish: Brisket with Tzimmes

This hearty dish serves as a mouthwatering main course. Get the recipe.

Passover Dinner Side Dish: Roasted Spring Vegetable Medley with Parsley

You can’t go wrong with roasted veggies. Simple and full of earthy flavor, they make a colorful, nutrient-dense addition to any holiday table. This savory side pairs perfectly with any Passover main dish. Enjoy leftovers as a topping for burgers or pasta, inside a gluten-free sandwich or a wrap. Get the recipe.

Passover Dessert: Simple Compote

Compote is a traditional dessert comprised of stewed fruits (fresh or dried) in a sweet syrup with added spices. Compotes are usually served chilled and like this recipe, they are quite simple to prepare. Get the recipe.

Benefits and Key Ingredients of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet

To adhere to a gluten-free diet, you need to avoid foods derived from wheat, barley, rye, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye) and contaminated oats as they all contain gluten. If you’ve become accustomed to eating gluten-free packaged and processed foods (like many other Americans), you might wonder what you should be eating instead.

One diet that focuses on nutritious, anti-inflammatory whole foods is the anti-inflammatory diet, and most of the foods included in it are naturally gluten free.

What is the anti-inflammatory diet?

Inflammation throughout the body can be influenced by a variety of internal and external factors, from injuries to chronic diseases. Obesity can also cause inflammation and stoke the development of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The goal of inflammation, as described by Lauren Whitt, PhD, is to, “detect and destroy the toxic material in damaged tissues before it can spread throughout the body…the trouble with inflammation occurs when the defense system gets out of control and begins to destroy healthy tissue.” A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, believe the researchers at the University of Alabama, can reduce the severity of painful inflammation.

The foods described in this article are known anti-inflammatory agents and, when added to a healthy gluten-free diet, can greatly improve your overall health and ease the pain of both acute and chronic inflammation, should you experience it.

The following naturally gluten-free foods recommended in an anti-inflammatory diet boast numerous nutritional benefits and can help to significantly improve the quality of your diet and your overall health, particularly if you have celiac disease, which is a malabsorptive disease.

Avocado makes a great appetizer

Avocados have become extremely popular as a healthy fat substitute. Rich in fatty acids and similar in nutrient values to olive oil, avocados have been shown to lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or bad cholesterol. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine found that natural compounds found in avocados may reduce signs of aging caused by inflammation. The compound NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide), found in broccoli, edamame and avocado, is reduced in the body as age-related inflammation occurs. By including more NMN-containing foods in your diet as you get older, scientists argue, you can diminish age-related inflammation.

Click here for our Stuffed Avocado recipe.

Make fish your main dish

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that diets rich in oily fish such as mackerel, tuna and trout greatly improve inflammation. Researchers discovered that an anti-inflammatory lipid in humans is also present in the essential fatty acids found in fish oil. Fish like salmon can help to reduce inflammation due to their high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are widely known to improve conditions like cardiovascular disease and arthritis.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center recently discovered that fish oil might suppress the growth of breast cancer cells due to the anti-inflammatory properties found in omega-3 fatty acids. The study suggests that the fish oil and other sources of omega-3 have the potential to control the growth of cancerous tumors and that the ability of omega-3 to suppress inflammation is one factor that could stop the spread of cancer.

Click here for our recipe for Roasted Wild Salmon with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette.

Fall in love with leafy greens

Dark, leafy greens are always an essential component of any anti-inflammatory diet. Leafy greens and dark vegetables such as kale, spinach, red cabbage and broccoli are high in vitamin K and other essential nutrients that aid in reducing inflammation in the body.

A 2018 study from the Francis Crick Institute provides evidence to suggest that diets rich in dark, leafy greens can help you to maintain healthy gut bacteria and prevent colon cancer. The reduction of gut inflammation due to changes in diet can greatly improve and reduce the risks of gut-related diseases, especially colon cancer. Diets rich in indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in almost all brassica vegetables (i.e., broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and more) is known to act as an anti-inflammatory agent in the gut.

Click here for our Lemon-Glazed Brussels Sprouts recipe.

Choose the right oil

We need heart-healthy fat in our diet; it is an important macronutrient. Olive oil is another great substitute for an anti-inflammatory diet. Not only is olive oil one of the healthiest fat sources, but also it is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia discovered that oleocanthal, a naturally occurring compound in extra-virgin olive oil, can be utilized as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, similar to the effects of ibuprofen. Katherine Zeratsky, RD, LD, suggests replacing butter and margarine with olive oil will “lower total cholesterol and…may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be helpful if you have or are at risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Click here for our Walnut Cake with Olive Oil recipe.

Go nuts over nuts

What about snacks? Various nuts, including pistachios and walnuts, should accompany an anti-inflammatory diet. Researchers at Penn State suggest that the antioxidants found in pistachios further aid in reducing inflammation in the blood vessels and lowering cholesterol. Antioxidants help to prevent LDL from causing inflammation and plaque buildup in blood vessels. LDL is the main contributor to high cholesterol and heart disease.

Moreover, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center published a study suggesting walnuts have positive effects on bacteria in the gut. Researchers found that the addition of walnuts to a diet can result in a change in the essential makeup of gut bacteria. By doing so, walnuts can provide diverse bacteria like Lactobacillus, necessary for combating obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. As well, the consumption of walnuts has been shown to lower the risks for cardiovascular disease and slow the growth of tumors.

Click here for our Maple Rosemary Mixed Nuts recipe.

Buy blueberries fresh or frozen

According to the Society for Neuroscience, blueberries have been found to contain compounds that reduce the inflammation that targets the central nervous system. Researchers from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, discovered that compounds found within blueberries interact positively with protein molecules in human neuronal cells, effectively reducing inflammation throughout the nervous system, specifically in the brain and spinal cord.

Further research at the University of South Florida found that supplementing blueberries into the diets of elderly rats increased brain circuitry, enhanced brain function, and reduced inflammation caused by aging in just eight weeks. While the rats were supplemented 2 percent blueberry extract into their overall diets, it would only require approximately half a cup of blueberries to yield similar results in humans. When they are not in season, consider buying blueberries frozen.

Consume nature’s candy

Last but not least, beyond blueberries alone, a variety of mixed berries make an excellent dessert. Multiple studies conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Tufts University found that the consumption of berries can positively influence brain function and reduce inflammation by combating toxic accumulation.

Both blackberries and strawberries have been cited as being beneficial to anti-inflammatory diets, targeting various brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Similar to compounds found in blueberries, blackberries are believed to aid in healthy brain function and reduced aging in the brain. As well, anti-inflammatory properties in acai berries, cherries and cranberries are known to assist in cancer prevention, arthritis, gout and urinary tract health. In general, it is suggested that fruits and vegetables with dark, vibrant colors tend to aid in the reduction of inflammation throughout the body.