If you’ve lived anywhere but under a rock, you’ve heard the health craze called gluten-free. You might think it’s all about bread, but gluten is found, or hidden, in many things. Whether you think it’s hype or not, you probably have a friend or two who is trying out this gluten-free fad. If you’re inviting someone to dinner or even over for coffee and dessert, you might want to honor their diet choice. But how?
First, let me tell you the basics of gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat and related grains. It helps bread rise and gives it the chewy texture we all know and love. Less commonly known, gluten is found in everything from cosmetics to meats, beer to soy sauce, ice cream to ketchup. Crazy huh?
For the general population, gluten is not a life-threatening issue. But for some, it feeds an auto-immune response in the body. Like with lots of things, too much of any one thing causes an overload. When the body gets bombarded with something over and over, it might decide it’s being attacked and go into defense mode, thus creating a physical response. The response can be different with different people. I have friends who report problems sleeping and concentrating, bloating and cramping, and joint and muscle pain. These problems completely clear up when gluten is avoided. Wheat Belly, a book by William Davis, MD, outlines his real life experience and treatment of patients with various medical issues through eradicating wheat, and a large portion of gluten, from their diets. Whether you believe it all or not, it’s an interesting topic and one to take seriously if you are preparing food for gluten-free friends.
Another portion of the population suffers from celiac disease. These people cannot tolerate gluten in even minute portions. They have a serious allergy to gluten in any form and their health should be treated with great concern.
Now, that we’ve covered the basics of gluten, don’t turn tail and run. There is still hope for supplying snacks for a party or hosting a dinner for gluten-free friends. Katie at KitchenStewardship.com just released a new book, Gluten-Free Snacks. Every recipe is gluten-free, but most don’t require a bunch of specialty GF flours. There’s a real variety of quick-and-easy snack foods and knock-your-socks off impressive appetizers to share at parties.