As someone who is allergic to Gluten, you could be forgiven for thinking it makes living a ‘normal’ life a bit difficult.
First a bit about Gluten. So what is it? Gluten is a mixture of two proteins present in cereal grains, especially wheat, which is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. As it is found in wheat, the usual things that people eat and take for granted in every-day life, I cannot.
If you need to eat gluten free food it is usually because of something called Coeliac disease. This a lifelong intolerance to gliaden, part of the gluten proteins that are a large part of the grain of wheat, rye and barley. It causes damage to the small intestine and many other symptoms and tends to run in families. Strict adherence to a gluten-free diet brings complete resolution of symptoms but there is currently no cure, so the dietary restrictions are for life.
As an example, foods that I commonly avoid, include bread, pasta, cereals, cakes gravies and batter-fried foods. I cannot lick stamps either, as the glue on the back contains gluten strands.
Many prescribed and over the counter drugs contain wheat. So every medication I use has to be prescribed by my doctor, as he is aware of my condition.
It is not all doom and gloom as there are alternatives to wheat that are acceptable for me to eat and these include, chickpeas, beans and lentils, these are good fillers and can be added to soup, and flour is not totally off the menu either. I can have maize (corn) flour, potato flour and rice flour. The current general advice is also to avoid processed meat, yes you heard that right, I need to avoid this due to cross contamination, I think the above gives you a general idea of my restricted diet.
In spite of the restrictions, I have always lived a normal life, I just work these into my every day diet and it doesn’t hold me back.
This means I still eat pasta, cakes and bread, I just ensure it is gluten or wheat free or I make my own as you can guarantee what goes into it.
I am not a great cook; I try, but I am not naturally gifted in this regard. So I bought a Zojirushi bread maker with a specialist gluten free menu setting. In my opinion, this is the best gluten free custom loaf bread maker.
The Bread Maker:
Gluten free and custom menu settings will accommodate gluten free and organic baking ingredients. It produces a large, traditional rectangular shaped 2-pound loaf. It kneads the bread thoroughly with a dual head dough blade and the quick baking cycle prepares breads in about 2-hours. Great if you need the bread quickly.
Easy to Use – Novice Cooks Included
What is great about this machine, is the fact you don’t have to watch DVD’s or complicated instruction manuals before you can even start to make the bread. The gluten free programme, is all set and ready to go. I used a recipe (from my favourite gluten free diet cook book):
White Bread Mix:
- 2 cups rice flour
- 1⁄2 cup potato starch
- 1⁄2 cup tapioca flour
- 2 1⁄2 teaspoons xantham gum (or guar gum)
- 2⁄3 cup of powdered milk (or 1/2 non diary substitute)
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 2⁄3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons dry yeast, granules (or bread maker yeast)
- 4 tablespoons melted butter (or margarine)
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (or dough enhancer)
- 3 eggs, room temperature
Most of this mix can be placed straight into the baking pan of the bread maker in the order suggested in your manual. Some place yeast on the bottom, flour mix next, then sugar and liquids; other suggest the reverse order.
- Place 1 & 1/2 tablespoons yeast in bread pan.
- Add all the flours, xanthum/guar gum, milk powder and salt.
- Add the sugar.
- Beat the eggs.
- Combine all the water, the butter, vinegar, and eggs. (If your bread machine manual recipes call for warm water, use that. If it has a pre-heating cycle, put in at room temperature.).
- Use the white bread setting at medium crust (if you have this selection). Alternatively use a 3-4 hour setting.
This bread freezes well, although this never occurs in my family, as it is always eaten the same day.
The bread itself is to die for. I like my bread a bit on the crusty side, no problem for this machine. The above recipe is the best gluten free bread recipe I have ever used. It is absolutely fool proof. My friends and family have eaten this bread and say it is better than non-gluten free bread. I do find myself baking extra loaves regularly for my friends and family because it is so tasty.
A Normal Life
I am not saying that you don’t have to watch what you eat when you have dietary restrictions like me, far from it, but I will say that I live a normal life and eat normal things with a few ingredients omitted. I never feel like I am going without, which is important. I don’t get cravings and feel really healthy and happy. I watch what I eat when I go out but at home making my own baked goods has really changed my life.