If you’ve been on the celiac diet for longer than 3 months, you can go ahead and add some specialty gluten free foods into your diet. Be careful though, as many companies say their product is gluten free when they have in fact been “manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat.” These foods are not safe for celiacs! The easiest rule to follow is to only purchase products with the certified Gluten Free symbol:
If that symbol is present, then its time to get cookin'! I’ve been experimenting with pasta lately and wanted to share my thoughts on 3 brands: Bionaturae Organic, Tinkyada and Ancient Harvest.
Bionaturae Organic pasta is made from 100% organic rice, potato and soy. It is free of GMO, corn and wheat. This is great for people with celiac who must also avoid corn products. It was the first brand I tried, so I was over the moon to be eating any pasta at all! My family ate it with me so I could get a fair judgement. They were pleasantly surprised! If you're used to eating white flour pasta, this is an easy transition to make. I had been eating hearty whole wheat pasta for years, so this still felt mushy to me. I’d say it is definitely a good purchase, but not my all time favorite.
Tinkyada is a certified Organic and Kosher rice pasta. They boast all over their packaging about how wonderful the flavor is, how great the al-dente consistency is and how easy it is to cook. You just add the pasta to a pot of boiling water, keep at full boil for 1-2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Don’t be afraid of overcooking! the package says, it’s nearly impossible! Well, I only boiled mine for 1 minute and let it sit for 17 and it was the stickiest, mushiest thing I’ve ever eaten. My boyfriend ate it with me and was very optimistic about it, noting that it had a pretty ok flavor. Maybe its my fault for eating so much wheat pasta in the past, but if this were the only pasta I could ever eat, I’d rather just stick with wild rice!
Ancient Harvest is a USDA Organic Quinoa-Corn blend pasta. When quinoa is lightly roasted its infused with a rich, almost nutty flavor. Mixing that with the hearty texture of corn makes this the best GF pasta I’ve had by far. Its even better than regular pasta because it walks the texture line between white and whole wheat. It cooks with just 8-9 minutes of uncovered boiling and, though the box instructs you to be wary of overcooking, I’ve experienced none of the mushy qualities I found in rice pasta. Bonus: They make additional varieties of vegetable infused pastas that look beautiful when served!
If you or anyone close to you has Celiac disease then you know how important it is to eat healthy, home cooked meals, especially in the first three months after being diagnosed. I am in this initial phase myself having had a biopsy confirm my Celiac on May 11th, 2012. And do you know what the biggest challenge has proven to be thus far? Cooking in the summer heat!
I’m a native Oregonian and June is usually very mild, rainy even, but I moved to NYC exactly two weeks after receiving my diagnosis. In my apartment we section off the kitchen and bathroom from the living and bedrooms in order to centralize the air conditioning. This helps all of my roommates who can hang out on the couch eating delivery pizza or sandwiches from the corner store, but I end up quarantined in the kitchen slaving over a stove in already sweltering heat.
I was getting fed up with this situation and finally went to the trusty message boards on Celiac.com to ask for help. Note: If you have Celiac and you’re not signed up with this site yet, I highly recommend it! Its a great source of wisdom from other people navigating the growing and changing world of Gluten Free living.
So, here is my survival guide to NYC summer cooking, GF style:
Cook your staple items in the evenings: This may sound obvious, but I’m terrible at planning ahead unless someone explicitly tells me to do so! - I like making a big pot of wild rice that lasts me 3 days in the fridge. It’s great for anything from a simple breakfast of cool rice, a splash of cream, brown sugar and cinnamon, or reheated and plated next to any protein at dinner. - For a mid-morning kick of protein I like to snack on a hardboiled egg, so I make a batch of 12 every Sunday night. - Finally, you can boil a pot of potatoes, drain them and leave them in the fridge to cool. The next evening you just pull those taters out, dice them up, toss them in a mustardy mayo with some pickles and you’ve got go-to Potato Salad that last for days in the fridge.
- Crock Pots:This is a great way to get your big dinners cooked while radiating very little extra heat into the kitchen. I have a gas stove and its unbearable trying to stand next to that flame while I make oatmeal in the mornings. So I got myself a mini crock pot solely for my GF steel cut oats! I love being able to throw my healthy GF ingredients into a pot, go out on a wild summer adventure, and return home to find a hearty meal and a cool apartment!
- Smoothies for breakfast: What better time than June for fresh fruit smoothies? I can grab a few peaches, blueberries and yogurt at the bodega and instantly have a wonderfully refreshing breakfast. Tip: If I know the weather is going to really heat up, I’ll cut the fruit the night before and pop the pieces in the freezer overnight. By the time I wake up, I’ve got fruit that is fresh but gloriously cool. The perfect start to a hot day!
What are your favorite ways to beat the summer heat in the kitchen?