I dunno, is it? On my recent detox journey, I've been making a conscious effort to avoid the stuff. It's not easy. The obvious product to avoid is bread. That's cool, I don't eat sandwiches that much. Next, pizza. Boy howdy, I love me some pizza, but it's loaded with lots of that awesome dairy stuff as well. No dice.
Gluten is sort of everywhere. While I've actually been using tamari soy sauce for a while, I used to be a huge fan of shoyu - which is unfortunately brewed with wheat. Tamari is not. As a vegetarian, another one of my favorite meat substitutes is seitan, pronounced SAY-tan, not Satan, not the devil (or is it?). I have a way I like to prepare seitan using lots of butter, shallots, black pepper and red wine. Whoah, Nelly, that does not belong on the detox diet, but my sister said it tastes just like steak. I'll bet it does!
Recently, I was at the salad bar at Whole Foods and I was so disappointed that so many of their perfectly vegan salads had shoyu in their dressing. WHY? They are actually a company that is so great about clearly marking gluten free items on their shelves and they even have a full on gluten free bakery. I visited another Whole Foods in a different state today and had much better luck, they even used cider vinegar which is another topic, but still really awesome.
As I soak up new information about nutrition through some of the books and blogs I have been reading, especially the raw foods stuff, I'm amazed at how much more interesting a diet that is more plant-based can be. I mean, I know this stuff. I've been veggie for a long, long time, but it's so easy to eat cereals, breads, baked goods and other things that are loaded with gluten. Focusing on eliminating or avoiding gluten is another nudge towards upping the number of veggies on your plate.
Just to clarify, gluten is not just found in wheat. It's also in kamut, spelt, barley, rye, malts, BEER (whomp whomp) and triticale. Ever seen the word "dextrin" on your ingredients list? That's got gluten in it, too. In fact, chances are you won't recognize or be able to identify most of the long list of ingredients on packaged processed foods. I'll admit, I'm no pro at that, but making your own stuff or buying products where you do actually recognize all the ingredients are sure fire ways to avoid things you may not want in your diet.
There are still lots of great grains and grain-like things to enjoy if you're going gluten free. Whole Foods stocks lots of gluten free pastas that are made with brown rice, corn and quinoa. I've been trying out a few different blends and I'm on the fence. I think they take practice so that you don't end up with a big old gummy mess. I eat them on my lazy nights or when I just can't stand another bowl of the trusty superfood, quinoa.
As a cracker hound, I've been happy to find some awesome selections out there. My favorite, first tasted with family friends in Santa Barbara, is Mary's Gone Crackers Onion Crackers. We have also been enjoying Back to Nature's multi-seed gluten free crackers. Dunk in some hummus or a freshly made dip and you're golden. If you're eating dairy, a nice spread of goat cheese would also taste nice.
Other gluten free grains include amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats (look for oats that are clearly marked gluten free), brown rice, sorghum, teff and wild rice. I can imagine a million different grain pilafs and salads that you can make with these goodies. I haven't done it yet, but I hear that you can make lots of raw treats with buckwheat and wild rice. I'm working my way towards it, not there just yet.
I read the choicest quote today from the chef / owner of famed vegan restaurant Horizons explaining why he's shutting the doors on his esteemed restaurant and starting fresh with a new concept that relies a little less on gluten:
“Vegetables are where all of our creativity is right now,” Landau said. “The grilled seitan has not changed in seven years. It’s like our “Stairway to Heaven,” but vegetables are really where my passion is now. I’m not saying no to seitan at the new place, I just don’t want be known as the guy who puts a big slab of wheat gluten on a plate.”
Read the article in its entirety on GrubStreet Philadelphia.
Going gluten free, or even mostly gluten free is an adventure. I think everyone should try it for a few weeks and listen to what their body tells them. I'm sure it's something new that you haven't heard before.