2013: The Year to Be Gluten Free

Twenty years ago, being placed on a gluten free diet was like the end of the world. Shopping was a nightmare at best. There were no wide ranging options on grocery store shelves for those that had to give up wheat, barley and rye products. Most of their favorite prepackaged foods were laden with the problematic protein. But deciphering which ones were still acceptable was made difficult by the various and obscurely located packaging labels.

Fast-forward about ten years and with the new universal nutrition labels that list calorie, fat, and carbohydrate facts, and an ingredient list it’s better, right? No. Even today people living with celiac are in a quandary. Look at any ingredient list of prepackaged foods—shelf top and frozen (this includes some canned and frozen vegetables as well, believe it or not). Most will have these words: modified food starch. Could they be any more vague?

Modified food starch is simply the thickening agent, stabilizer, or emulsifier in the product. Not all food starch is bad. It’s just the starch that is derived from wheat, barley, and rye that are the gluten-laden archenemies of the villi in the jejunum of the small intestine of one living with Celiac. Cornstarch is perfectly fine for those afflicted, but can you be sure which one the manufacturer used with such vague wording on the label?

People living with Celiac don’t want to play Russian roulette with their bodies, so most simply avoid the prepackaged foods aisles altogether. And who could blame them? When it takes thirty minutes to meticulously read the label of each product they would consider purchasing, on one section of one aisle alone, the task becomes too overwhelming is better avoided for some.

So what does that leave them with? Only freshly picked vegetables that they can steam, boil—or if they are really adventurous fry—and deli ham. How time consuming to prepare, how bland to taste!

The modern food industry has heard the cries of its consumers and now there are far more options in prepackaged foods available for the person living with Celiac. For example, Verdurabrand has come out with a new line of frozen vegetables in sauces to make you swoon with delight. Their new products, flash frozen vegetables in gluten free and dairy free sauces, will become available in early 2013. These side dishes can easily be added to any gluten free meal in less than five minutes and come in a variety rarely seen. Sautéed Spinach, Sautéed Broccoli Rabe, Sautéed Escarole & Beans, Peas with Pancetta, and much more are available from The Fresh Market and other fine specialty food grocers.

Based in Boca Raton, Verdurabrand foods have previously only been available in southern Florida. Recently, The Fresh Market, with stores in many states along the east coast and southern regions of the U.S., has agreed to carry the Verduraband line of vegetable side dishes.

Other prepackaged food companies are heeding the pleas of consumers who live with Celiac. Whole Foods Market®, a worldwide natural foods supermarket based in Texas, carries the GlutenFree Bakehouse® brand of products. These are a variety of baked goods from breads, to cakes, to cupcakes and cookies. All made with various alternatives to wheat-based flour.

In Canada snack time just got a little bit easier. enerjive™, a health food company that specializes in food products that balance energy and metabolism, will be releasing Quinoa Skinny Crackers this year. Not only are these new snacks gluten free but also high in protein and low on the glycemic index scale to help balance blood sugar and insulin levels. Good news indeed for individuals battling hypoglycemia and diabetes as well as those living with Celiac. Quinoa Skinny Crackers will be available in five new flavors for 2013: Garlic Cayenne Heat, Lemon Berry Burst, Chocolate Fix, Cozy Apple Cinnamon, and Rock Salt Crave. From savory to sweet, this line has your snack craving covered. And anything with cinnamon is always a winner in my book. These can be purchased online at their website http://revivelifestore.com/

Living on a gluten free diet is never easy, but the advances in food product offerings by manufacturers have made it a little more bearable in this New Year.

Source: PRNewswire


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