Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gluten Free? No Problem!

Hey there Southern Veg Folks!  Here at Southern Vegetarian Chronicles, we are always looking for ways to better serve our readers.  I know some of you may not only be vegetarian/vegan but also gluten free.  So, I asked my Twitter friend Patricia Biesen, (I meet some of the coolest people there:-) to help me by writing up a little survival guide for folks who are making the switch to gluten free living.  Enjoy!

A Gluten-Free Vegan Survival Guide
 No meat AND no wheat? What to eat? A lot actually.

Instead of Bread

§  Try a baked sweet potato with a drizzle of coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast flakes.
§  Most gluten-free breads actually contain eggs so I recommend making your own. I like Perfectly Elizabeth’s muffin mixes. To replace eggs, use a few tablespoons of well-soaked flax seeds
§  Try your own panini (grilled sandwich) with two big slices of grilled eggplant.
§  Wrap it up. Instead of wheat-based tortillas use big lettuce or red cabbage leaves to make nutrient dense wraps.

Pasta Schmasta

§  Many Asian marts carry noodles made of out of sea vegetables like kelp. Shirataki makes noodles out of tofu; talk about high protein!
§  If you have a Saladacco spiral slicer you can make lovely raw noodles out of zucchini and if you don’t, just slice your zucchini very, very thin.
§  Nature’s own “bisgetti” is from the autumnal spaghetti squash. Just roast and top with your favorite marina sauce. Add nutritional yeast flakes as your vegan Parmesan cheese.

You knew it was coming: The “protein question!”
Where do you get your protein? You will have to avoid seitan (wheat gluten), which does have a lot of protein, but you have a plethora of foods to chose from: tofu, tempeh, sea vegetables, quinoa, nuts, seeds, lentils and dark green veggies. Athletes can add soy, hemp or pea protein powders to smoothies and shakes.

Do you speak “allergese”? When shopping it is important to know what to avoid
Ingredients that indicate the presence of wheat: modified food starch, gelatinized starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soy sauce, vegetable gum, vegetable starch and my personal favorite “natural” flavorings.

I hate to repeat the obvious, but some are not obvious. Foods that often contain wheat are: most breads, cakes, pastries, cookies, bread crumbs, pasta, couscous, cereals, kamut, crackers, enriched flour, bran, bran germ, malt, starch, gluten, semolina, bulgur, vital gluten, durum, graham flour, whole wheat flour, spelt, cracker meal and farina.

Don’t forget to share your knowledge
Invite your fellow gluten-free vegans to a potluck. Hosting dinners is another way to not only “eat safe,” but also educate others on how delicious your diet truly is. If they don’t like raw vegan chocolate cheesecake, they may be beyond your help!

Patricia Biesen is a holistic health coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She specializes in helping clients with food allergies find delicious alternatives. She writes ChicagoNow’s Eclectic Eating Chicago and The Eclectic Body.  You can drop her an e-mail @

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