Whether you have an actual Celiac Disease (CD) diagnosis or you've done an Elimination diet - look for more details on this in my Oct. 12 Sharepost - and realized that gluten is not your gut's friend, you are going to have to learn to eat gluten-free (GF).
About four months ago I was tested for Celiac Disease. And, even though the results came back negative I started eating gluten-free anyway. Why? Because for the previous two months I'd been having a lot of gas and bloating, and these were not symptoms I had ever experienced as a typical part of my ulcerative colitis or IBS. For a while I tried to chalk-up these new symptoms as a simple part of being 42. A number of my girlfriends told me that when they hit 41 or 42 years old they were astonished by the physical changes in their body. But as days and weeks went by and my symptoms seemed linked to when I did or didn't eat, I knew it wasn't just a simple part of the aging process (I'm willing to admit that could have been part of my pants not fitting quite right, but not the whole reason).
My first step was to figure out what gluten was and what had gluten in it. According to my trusty Compact Oxford English Dictionary, gluten is a protein present in cereal grains, especially wheat, which is responsible for the elastic texture found in dough. Darn! That meant that anything like bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, pancakes, muffins, and cakes were going to be out of my life. I'm a strong and determined person, especially when it comes to my health. So, I knew that if cutting out things I loved, like bread, pasta, and baked goods, was going to make me feel better I could do it. But I wouldn't say I was too happy about it.
So, off to the internet I went to research this whole GF diet further. I found very helpful information at web sites like: www.celiace.org; www.gluten.net; www.americanceliac.org; www.and celiac.com.
The nuts and bolts of what I found out is this. To avoid gluten, you must eliminate from your diet all foods that contain:
Wheat (this includes durum and semolina wheat),
Oats - unless you can find them from a source that guarantees they have been processed on equipment that hasn't been cross-contaminated with wheat.
So, this means that if you plan on baking anything like bread, cakes, pancakes, muffins, brownies, or cookies you're going to have to learn how to do it with alternative flours such as: white rice flour
Brown rice flour
Potato flour or starch
Tapioca flour or starch
Quinoa flour or flakes
Buckwheat (dark or light)
Nut flours, like almond flour
Corn flour or startch
Bean flours, like garbanzo or fava bean
I've always enjoyed baking as well as cooking so I jumped into baking with alternative grains with both feet. I read recipes on the internet, but nothing too in depth. I figured it wouldn't be hard to replace wheat flour with the alternative flours and come away with an acceptable loaf of bread, cookie, or brownie. WRONG! Baking gluten-free is a whole new science. First, and foremost, since all the alternative grains are gluten-free they have nothing in them to bind them together. Let's go back to that dictionary definition of what gluten is: ... gluten is responsible for the elastic texture found in dough. Which means, gluten is what helps hold together the cakes, cookies, and loaves of bread we all love so much.