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Gluten Free Basics and What Contains Gluten?

H and H bagel

H and H bagel, contains gluten

If you are on a Gluten Free diet you probably know exactly what you can and cannot eat. But for most of us, the line is a little fuzzy regarding what contains gluten and what gluten is exactly. The Daily Meal has a interesting article looking at What is Gluten? Here are a few of the basics so that if you can be confident if you every find yourself needing to cook for gluten free guests or family members. Also a few interesting facts! Get to know gluten…

Why go gluten free? For some, they don’t have a choice because they have Celiac disease. You know, the condition that Elisabeth from the tv show The View has. But for others, they simply try to limit or avoid gluten because they find their digestion is better (although they don’t formally have Celiac).

So what is gluten? “Gluten is a protein composite found in species of grains that include wheat, rye, and barley. It’s created by washing wheat flour until all the starch is removed, leaving only the gluten.”

Gluten Fun Fact: Did you know that gluten’s name comes from the Latin for glue? this idea will help you understand just what gluten’s role is in foods. Is actually is slightly like glue…

When gluten is added to dough it creates stretch – it is what puts the “chew” in pizza dough and toasty bagels. All those yummy foods we love to call comfort breads. The Daily Meal says, “The more you knead the dough, the stronger the gluten web gets, which is where bagels and pizza crusts get their chewiness.” The “gluten web” is a great visual of how gluten acts in foods.

But gluten is not just found in breads. It can be found in fake meat products like seitan - made from vital wheat gluten. Seitan is a chewy, tender common meat-substitute that is very rich in protein and low in fat. The strength and complexity from the seitan comes from gluten.

Here is a handy list of foods which contain gluten: Wheat, Wheat germ, Wheat grass, Rye, Barley, Bulgur, Couscous, Farina, Graham flour, Kamut, Matzo, Seitan, Semolina, Spelt*, Triticale, Oats
*Spelt – some gluten free folks can tolerate spelt while others cannot.

But have no fear! These foods do not contain gluten - they are commonly used as “gluten-replacers”: Amaranth, Rice, Corn, Soy, Potato, Quinoa, Tapioca, Tef, Beans, Flax, Garfava, Sorghum, Millet, Buckwheat, Arrowroot, Nut flours.

Get some more fun facts over at The Daily Meal: What is Gluten?

And if you are looking for a wide variety of gluten free and vegan recipes check out FindingVegan’s #GlutenFree section.

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