Who needs it?
Gluten is a protein composite that can be found in wheat and related grains, like barley and rye. It doesn't dissolve when placed in water,
adds texture to baked products and is used as a thickener, flavor enhancer and binder. Can be found in many staple foods. Gluten alone is
not bad for your health. Nevertheless, there are people who have difficulties digesting gluten or develop gluten sensitivity so they must avoid it. For those that suffer from an inherited digestive disorder called celiac or for those with gluten intolerance, the available treatment at this time is a strict gluten-free vegetarian diet.
Nature offers help
In a gluten-free vegetarian diet you have to avoid wheat, oats, rye, barley, and all derived ingredients. Everything from pasta sauce to baked beans must be eliminated. Vegetarians who suffer from gluten sensitivity or from celiac disease have many difficulties when searching for food because most restaurants and stores don't prepare or keep gluten-free natural foods. It is good to know that there are many naturally gluten-free foods including:
- Bean Flours
- Mesquite flour
- Millet and Millet flour
- Nut flours (almond, hazelnut)
- Potato, potato flour, potato starch
- Pulse flours (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
This is a large variety of foods and definitely ensures that you get all the key nutrients even when you follow a gluten-free vegetarian diet: Calcium (spinach, kale, collard), Zinc (teff, quinoa, amaranth), Iron (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame), Vitamin B12 (non dairy beverages, soy milk), Vitamin D (almond milk, rice milk), protein (nuts, soybeans, tofu). There is a growing number of gluten-free products and flours, snack foods, hot and cold cereals, crackers, soups, sauces and pastas that can be found in health food stores and online, too. Apart from the above we must not forget pulses. It's an extremely important category.
The role of pulses in a gluten free vegetarian diet
Pulses are also known as legumes and contain very low amounts of fat. They include dry peas, dry beans, lentils and chickpeas. Peas or fresh
green beans are not a part of this category because they have a much higher fat content. The benefits of legumes in a gluten-free vegetarian
diet are many: rich in protein and complex carbohydrates, low in fat and sodium which is good for your heart, rich in a variety of vitamins
and minerals. They are a good source of plant protein, very high in soluble and also insoluble fiber, have a low glycemic index and are high
in potassium. Pulses are free of trans-fats and cholesterol, rich in folate they prevent blood clots and heart attack, provide us with zinc,
calcium, magnesium and iron. They also are good for the environment in the sense that they take less energy to grow than other crops and
produce fewer greenhouse gases. Legumes are very versatile. We can include them in main dishes, salads, appetizers, baked products,
desserts, soups. Another major advantage is the fact they are readily available and low-cost. Considering the above it is very important to
incorporate pulses in our gluten-free vegetarian diet.
Legumes and strategy
A good idea is to eat pulses every day. If you don't eat them daily, add them gradually, slowly in order to control bloating and gas. When you incorporate legumes in a gluten-free vegetarian diet keep in mind some tips:
- make list of safe, gluten-free foods: beans, seeds, nuts, fruits, rice
- drink fluids, mainly water
- eat loads of protein with each meal
- try a vegetarian omega 3 supplement from algae
- ask your friends and family to support you
- Maintain a positive attitude
- Consult your physician to ensure that your gluten-free meals include enough nutrients.
Who needs it?