Health News and Information
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an inherited, multi-system, autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 1% of the population. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that 95% of this population remains undiagnosed. This is due to a lack of familiarity with modern diagnostic algorithms. Symptoms are varied, and include fatigue, gastrointestinal complaints, depression, weight loss or gain, anemia, learning disabilities, developmental delays in children and more. Left undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can result in complications including osteoporosis, infertility, other autoimmune diseases, permanent stunted growth, and malignancies. Untreated patients also have increased mortality and a decreased quality of life. The treatment for celiac disease is the implementation of a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture.
How can gluten affect the body?
People who cannot tolerate gluten can suffer from a wide variety of aliments including seizures, bloating, intestinal problems, compromised immune systems, depression, anxiety, ADHA, autism, adrenal exhaustion, thyroid problems just to name a few of the not so pleasant results.
Must-Do's for Newly Diagnosed Celiacs
If you’ve just been told that you or a family member has celiac disease, it’s likely your head is spinning with information overload and you’re in a daze of disbelief. We have listed a few things to do initially to help for a healthy start.
1. Understand Your Disease.
Make a point to learn all you can about your condition. Read recently published books written by acknowledged experts and turn to websites run by national celiac organizations, noted celiac research centers and trusted publications.
2. Build a Medical Team.
Consult with a doctor and nutritionist who specialize in celiac disease. We’re fortunate to have a number of celiac research and treatment centers located throughout the United States. If you’re not currently receiving specialized celiac care, consider seeking out the closest celiac center. A good nutritionist can answer your questions and get you off to a good start on the gluten-free diet.
3. Join a Support Group.
Chances are there is a celiac support group within short driving distance from where you live or work. These groups offer a wealth of information, food samples, tips for local restaurants, physician recommendations, recipes and, of course, friendship and emotional support.
If your child is gluten free, a support group dedicated to kids and their families is a must. These groups organize meetings, parties, picnics, field trips and so much more. Plus, they are an invaluable source for kid-friendly activities and restaurants in your town, not to mention summer camps and food brands.
4. Check Your Pantry.
This step includes cleaning or replacing the items in your kitchen where gluten contamination can occur: scratched pans, the toaster, your food mill and breadmaker, etc. Do the homework to truly understand cross contamination, gluten-containing ingredients and food labeling, so that your kitchen becomes a safe haven that you can rely on for tasty, uncontaminated foods.
5. Stock the Basics.
Use this time as an opportunity to improve your overall diet by choosing simple, nutritious, unprocessed foods. Most whole foods are naturally gluten free. At the same time, buy some prepared items, like frozen pizzas, pasta, soups, and other favorite snacks–whatever you enjoyed eating before going gluten free. Having these on hand will keep you from feeling deprived and help you avoid the temptation to cheat.
6. Stay Loyal to Your Favorites.
You’ll feel better once you figure out dining spots in your town that serve safe foods and your favorite foods. Develop a relationship with a small local eatery with an agreeable chef who’s willing to work with you. Find your favorite foods, including the staples such as Pizza, Breads, and Pasta and stay loyal to those companies. Become a repeat customer–give them every reason to want to service you.
Great Recipe Ideas
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cherry Chocolate Biscotti
MAKES 24 BISCOTTI
1¼ cups granulated cane or coconut palm sugar
½ cup butter or dairy-free butter substitute, room temperature
2 large eggs (or 2 tablespoons arrowroot mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water)
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1¾ cups gluten free all-purpose flour blend, more for dusting
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (add only if flour blend does not include gum)
¼ cup gluten-free oat flour or almond meal
½ cup gluten-free cornmeal
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped dark chocolate, optional
Cinnamon-sugar topping, optional
3 ounces premium dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs (or arrowroot mixture) and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Stir in the flour, xanthan gum (if blend does not contain it), oat flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Fold in dried cherries and chopped chocolate, if desired, to integrate. Dough should be somewhat sticky but should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, to get the dough to come together.
Divide the dough into 4 sections. Scoop each section individually into your floured hands to prevent it from sticking. Form a log with each ball of dough approximately ¾ inches high by 2 inches wide (logs will spread when baking, so leave space between them). Place 2 logs on each baking sheet. Pat the tops down gently so they’re slightly less rounded. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, if desired.
Place in preheated oven and bake 25 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Remove to cool on wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice at a slight angle to form ½-inch thick slices. Place each slice, cut-side down, on parchment-lined baking sheets.
Return biscotti to hot oven and bake 10 more minutes. Flip and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove to fully cool on wire racks. Biscotti will harden as they cool. Once cooled, they are no longer brittle and can be dipped in the melted chocolate.
Place 3 ounces of chopped chocolate in a small, heavy saucepan. Heat over low flame for 5 minutes or until melted. Stir often to prevent burning. Dip one face of cooled biscotti in chocolate, allowing excess chocolate to drip back into pan. Return biscotti, chocolate-dipped sides up, to baking sheets. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or let stand 1 hour until chocolate has set. Store in air-tight containers once fully cooled.
Each biscotti contains 168 calories, 6g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 28mg cholesterol, 94mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein.
TIP When replacing eggs, beat the arrowroot and water together and add to creamed butter and sugar. Then proceed with recipe.