Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Posts tagged ‘Living Without’

Living Without Offers Secrets to Boosting Gluten-free Flavor

I just got my April/May edition of Living Without Magazine, and in it was an article about some cooking methods I’ve been curious about lately.  I’ve been wanting to try poaching since I had a delicious poached chicken rice bowl at a downtown Gainesville lunch stop last week and then there it was featured in the magazine article – along with en papillote (how fancy does that sound?), braising (a Food Network buzzword) and good-ol-fashioned stir fry.


On poaching, the article says,

Beautiful in its simplicity, poaching involves submerging  meat – most often poultry or seafood – in a liquid where it gently cooks on the stovetop.

The chicken I had last week was wonderfully moist, and I can’t wait to try it this week.  The article recommends infusing the poaching liquid with green tea and I’m definitely up for the challenge.

En Papillote

Believe it or not, I’ve actually cooked “en papillote” before.  It really just means “in a bag.”  All you have to do is wrap all of your ingredients – meat, veggies, spices – in parchment  paper and cook – everything steams inside the bag and stays incredibly healthful.  Here is the recipe they recommend:

This recipe is equally good with chicken breast and other seasonal vegetables, such as sugar snap peas and fiddleheads. Try serving with quinoa.

4 boneless, skinless turkey breast fillets (about 1½ pounds total)
Zest + juice of 1 orange
¼ teaspoon sea salt + more to season vegetables, to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed, each cut into three pieces
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium zucchini, sliced into
½-inch rounds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Rinse turkey breasts and pat dry with a paper towel. Divide breasts among 4 pieces of parchment paper.

3. In a small bowl, mix together orange zest, salt, pepper and cayenne. Top breast meat with zest mixture.

4. Toss vegetables with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt, to taste.

5. Divide vegetables among parchment hearts. Squeeze orange juice over top of each breast and vegetables. Close packets, place on a baking sheet (they may overlap slightly) and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing open.

Photo from Living Without


For those who prefer heartier meats, the article recommends braising (quickly searing and then slow-roasting) brisket, oxtail, short ribs, lamb and pork for tender, fall off the bone meat that fills the house with an undeniable aroma.  The good news for vegetarians is that braising also amps up the flavor of hearty vegetables like carrots, parsnips and potatoes.


Stir-frying was by far my most oft-used method of cooking when I first started eating gluten-free.  Asian food (with GF soy sauce) just seemed like the obvious choice.  And the quickness with which  everything gets cooked was definitely a plus, as was the one-pot clean-up.  Just like braising, it’s good for meat and veggie lovers.  Here’s my tried and true 5-step stir fry recipe:

Step 1: Begin boiling white rice in a medium sized sauce pan or rice cooker. The ratio is generally 1/2 cup rice per 1 cup of water per person.

Step 2: Heat a tablespoon ot two of sesame oil in medium sized skillet or wok.

Step 3: While it is heating, cut 1 chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Dice vegetables of your choice. I would suggest broccoli, mushrooms and red peppers but anything will do.

Step 4: As the rice cooks on low-medium heat, stir fry the vegetables and chicken together in the sesame oil, adding LA Choy soy sauce periodically. Feel free to use any Gluten-free stir fry sauce you want.

Step 5: When the water has been absorbed by the rice, dump it in the skillet and stir it around until it is brown and coated with the sesame oil and soy sauce.

One of the best things about the gluten-free diet is all the kitchen experiments that are somewhat of a requirement.  I encourage anyone to try any of these four methods.  You won’t be disappointed.



Living Without Magazine discusses the “Celiac Pill”

If you, like me, have settled into the gluten free diet, have learned (or are starting to learn) to navigate its healthy highs and frustrating lows, then an alternative treatment to Celiac Disease might not be at your top list of priorities.  But for some celiacs (and, studies have shown, maybe for all celiacs), a GF diet isn’t good enough.  Luckily, according to the December/January issue of Living Without magazine, there is a hope for supplementary treatment for CD and a full-on cure may not be too far in the future.

celiac pill

Photo from Living Without

Here’s some interesting tidbits of the article (in purple).  To read it in its entirety, subscribe to Living Without here.

“‘There’s growing evidence in the medical literature and in clinical experience that if a repeat endoscopy is performed, many adults on the gluten-free diet have persistent damage to the small intestine,’ reports Alessio Fasano, MD, medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research.

“A 2007 study found that some degree of intestinal damage was observed in approximately 25 percent of children and over 80 percent of adults with celiac disease when follow-up biopsies were performed.”

In the back of my mind, I knew this was probably true, given the risks of cross contamination and the fact that I still feel gluten-sick at least once a month.  Still, it’s disheartening to hear that the only treatment for the condition you have isn’t all that effective.

One of the new drugs the article mentioned is ALV003, being developed by Alvine Pharmaceuticals.  It’s designed to prevent an immune response to gluten.

“’No humans fully digest gluten,’ explains Daniel C. Adelman, MD, senior vice president of development and chief medical officer of Alvine Pharmaceuticals, located in San Carlos, California. ‘When we eat gluten, we digest it down to a protein comprised of about 33 amino acids.’ But that large a protein can be immunogenic—capable of stimulating an immune response in those with celiac disease. ALV003 chops up the gluten protein further than the digestive system does naturally, with the hope of rendering it harmless.

“‘If you can degrade gluten into smaller fragments, fewer than nine amino acids in length, you can destroy its immunogenic potential,’ says Adelman.”

Pretty fascinating stuff.  It should be noted that these drugs are designed to collaborate with a gluten free diet, to prevent if not eliminate the effects of cross contamination.  They are not cures.  However, a cure may be on the horizon.

“Australian researchers just completed the first clinical trial on a peptide-based vaccine known as Nexvax2, which exposes the immune system to very specific, small amounts of gluten fragments (peptides) with the idea that repeated small exposures will help induce the immune system to once again tolerate gluten. It’s a concept not unlike allergy shots.”

“’The long-term ambition of Nexvax2 is to replace the need for the gluten-free diet and to prevent celiac disease,’ says Bob Anderson, PhD, director of Nexpep, the biotechnology company that developed Nexvax2 and is running the clinical trial.”


It is unclear, as of yet, how long it would take for a Celiac’s body to begin tolerating gluten again, but the findings  and animal-based studies do seem promising.  How amazing would it be to be able to order a gourmet sandwich, an artisan pizza, or even a big mac?  Unfortunately, this miracle drug won’t be hitting pharmacies tomorrow.

“’There’s a real possibility that in the next 10 to 15 years, we will be able to offer celiac disease patients an alternate treatment for the gluten-free diet,’ says [Bana] Jabri [MD, PhD, co-director of the University of Chicago Digestive Disease Research Core Center]. “We can even dream today of being able to identify a preventive cure for individuals at high risk of developing celiac disease. This is something we wouldn’t have said even five years ago. There’s been lots of progress.”

But before getting too disheartened over what seems like a long way away, remember how far the gluten free diet has come just in the last few years.  The market is huge and is continuing to grow.  Eating out is easier than ever.  Until the day comes when there is another treatment out there, it is up to no one but us to prevent cross contamination, not take risks, and keep coming up with delicious gluten free foods.


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