Reasons for avoiding gluten vary from person. Some choose to limit their intake, while those with Celiac disease cannot tolerate even the tiniest amount. Health benefits of avoiding or eating less gluten, as reported by some clients, include enhanced digestion, increased energy, less joint pain, improved concentration and mental focus, and clearer skin. What ever the reason for avoidance, the demand for gluten-free products continues to grow. Statistics show that in 2014, the global market for gluten-free foods was worth around 4.21 billion U.S. dollars, and the projection for 2020 is 7.59 billion!
I’m not a fan of ready-made gluten-free alternatives, however. I prefer to make my own, and here’s why. Mass-produced GF products are often lower in fiber and higher in carbohydrates than their gluten-containing counterparts. Additionally, they most always contain some form of added sweetener such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), malt barley, rice syrup, glucose, dextrose, maltodextrin, to name a few. For interest sake, high-fructose corn syrup has been associated with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in both adults and children.
Big food companies have gotten wise to the unhealthy reputation high-fructose corn syrup has developed, and some are still using it, but under an alias. Variations to look for include natural corn syrup, isolated fructose, maize syrup, glucose/fructose syrup, and tapioca syrup. Not only do these types of sweeteners contribute to disease, the danger here is that consuming foods that contain them as one of the top ingredients can lead to overeating. That is, they interfere with the hormone that tells our brain that we are full, and before we know it, we’ve eaten too much!
Many gluten-free products are made with unhealthy trans fats. Like HFCS, trans fats have been shown to increase the risk for many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Not unlike other packed and processed foods, gluten-free products generally contain chemicals to further enhance taste and extend shelf life.
I’m always on the hunt for healthy gluten-free recipes, for myself, and to share with my clients. Although my eating style has changed over the years, some days I crave a sandwich or a cracker, or a reasonable facsimile. Like me, those who have reduced their gluten intake, or given it up all together, are usually thrilled when they find a healthy and tasty alternative.
Thankfully, through trial and error, I have discovered how to make my own healthy gluten-free flat breads, crackers, crepes and wraps. I must say, I find very them all very satisfying. My go-to crepe/wrap is one such example.
Excited to try a new gluten-free pizza crust recipe, I was disappointed, as my first attempt was a bit of a flop. The crust was heavy and doughy in the middle, and because I refused to use the oodles of oil the recipe called for, it stuck to the pan. Liking the idea that garbanzo bean flour was gluten-free and the organic variety was readily available, I didn’t give up. I simply added more liquid, and came up with my own version of Socca crepes. Besides the flour, the only other ingredients are water, choice of seasonings, and a little coconut oil. I have also had success with adding an egg to the batter, making the crepes a bit more substantial for mini pizzas or “pita” chips. These crepes are perfect for any sandwich filling, as well as tacos, and even desserts. If time is a concern, and it is for most people these days, they can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for a few days or frozen between sheets of waxed or parchment paper.
Diets are as individual as people, and whether a person chooses to eat gluten, be gluten-free, or to be somewhere in between, I suggest eating whole foods, and keeping an intake of processed foods to a minimum.
I invite you to try my Socca Crepe recipe (and other recipes) posted on my Gallery page. Also, if you're interested in more healthy recipes as well as healthy meal ideas, please join my FaceBook group @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/janiceinspiringchange/.
This is Janice, inspiring change