A must have for gluten-free eaters: Gluten Free: The Definitive Resource Guide

 

Going gluten-free can be an incredibly daunting task – even nowadays with all the information at your fingertips on the internet. It’s not just about reading labels and looking for ingredients you should avoid, but it’s about knowledge -the know-how you need to identify which foods and beverages contain gluten but also how to navigate a gluten-free diet, whether at home, at a restaurant or travelling.

Simply put, following a gluten-free diet can be overwhelming and for those who with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is not a choice. It’s the only treatment currently available for those with this autoimmune disease. It’s also key for those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

To the rescue is Shelley Case, a leading international nutrition expert in the field. She is the authority many health professionals turn to not only when they have questions about this diet but even when it comes to making a diagnosis. The latest edition of her book, Gluten Free: The Definitive Resource Guide, has been long anticipated and is now available. It offers a wealth of information about anything and everything to do with a gluten-free diet. As the title says, it is the most comprehensive guide available.

You name it and Shelley covers it. While she has meal plans, delicious recipes (over 50 including one from yours truly) and cooking hints, all of which are invaluable for someone following this eating plan, these topics are just the tip of the iceberg as to what’s contained.

Before she even gets into the diet itself, there is comprehensive information about the diagnosis of celiac disease. I hate to say this but I do think that many physicians would benefit from reading this section of the book as it goes into great detail about even how a biopsy should be performed-in terms of where and how many different places in the small intestine.

There are almost 20 pages detailing foods to question in terms of gluten. And there might be surprises for many. For example, if you were dining out and asked about the salad dressing on your greens, would you know to ask what type of the vinegar was used? Malt vinegar, for instance, should be avoided as it’s made from barley.

Besides the over 3700 gluten-free foods listed by company and product name and directory of more than 220 companies, Shelley has included information about products which can help the gluten-free eater meet their nutritional needs.

Information about iron fibre and calcium contents of various foods is included in easy-to-read chart form. Did you know that one cup of chia seeds contain 17.5 mg of iron compared to 2.5 mg in one cup of pecans? Likely not!

But she doesn’t just include basic information about gluten free alternatives. Want to use quinoa? She explains the difference between quinoa flakes, quinoa pasta, quinoa polenta and quinoa beverages.

The same goes for rice but did you know that rice vinegar may contain gluten due to the ingredients that are used in the production of some brands? She also clears up the confusion  about whether oats are indeed gluten-free or which alcoholic beverages can be included in the plan.

Besides important chapters such as gluten-free meal planning and gluten-free shopping, there are also a wealth of tips on eating out or what to do when travelling. Even avoiding peak mealtimes can help to lessen the risk of being unable to ask a server about gluten-free dishes.

For those with celiac disease, avoiding gluten includes even foods just coming into contact with trace amounts – what’s called cross-contamination. Besides offering lots of information on how to avoid cross-contamination in your own home kitchen, such as buying condiments in squeeze bottles so they don’t come into contact with gluten, Shelley also offers examples of what to look for to avoid cross-contamination in restaurants. Did you know that eggs might be cooked on a grill where French toast and pancakes are being prepared? She suggests asking for separate clean pan.

The eating out section includes a long list of tips but also some common sense pointers you might not think of. For instance, when you order a gluten-free meal and the food comes, do you check with the server to make sure that it’s gluten-free that you had ordered before you actually eat?

The wealth of information contained is invaluable for gluten-free eaters and for anyone who cooks for someone on a gluten-free diet on a regular basis. Also, dietitians, chefs and anyone else needing accurate information about this complex diet should purchase Shelley’s book.  The book is $29.95 and is available from Shelley on her website as well as at Chapters/Indigo.

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Categories: Book Review

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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