Gluten, the protein that gives wheat, barley and rye their characteristic elasticity in doughs and pastries, can cause painful stomach upset for people with Celiac disease. Others are allergic to the protein and want to eliminate it from their diets. If you or someone in your family has a gluten sensitivity, alleviate the digestive troubles or rashes that gluten can cause with foods that contain no gluten.
Grains and Seeds
When you eliminate wheat, you might think first of taking bread off the table. That's a sensible start, but wheat, barley and rye find their way into other foods as well. Pasta, croutons and even some brands of colorful modeling compounds that your child might decide to sample while playing contain wheat. Oats contain no gluten, but factories that process oats sometimes process wheat as well, so shop for oats labeled gluten-free. Safe grains and seeds include corn, rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth and tapioca. Switch out standard bread for cornbread and replace biscuits with corn grits for a gluten-free meal that still contains a satisfying starch.
Meats, Cheeses and Other Proteins
Meats, fish and poultry naturally contain no gluten, but breadings and toppings might. Prepare your own wheatless breadings based on cornmeal, crushed nuts or rice flour to ensure that your family's meal remains gluten-free. While whole cheeses typically don't contain any gluten, some canned or blended cheese products contain wheat proteins in the form of modified food starch. Choose cheeses that contain only dairy cheese to avoid gluten. Kids who have gotten used to the wrapped individual cheese slices may initially look questioningly at a sandwich topped with shredded cheddar or mozzarella, but the taste and familiarity of the product will quickly overcome any resistance. Beans, lentils and eggs round out the list of gluten-free proteins.
Fruits and Vegetables
By themselves, fruits and vegetables contain no gluten and fit well into a gluten-free diet. Load your family's plates with plenty of nutritious vegetables in formats your kids will enjoy, such as mashed potatoes topped with real cheese. Fruits help fill the gap that removing wheat can leave in some families' diets. Kids won't miss cookies and cakes as much if you serve them sweet treats like frozen fruit bars and berry crumbles topped with oats and nuts.
When you shop for condiments, dressings and gravies, look for food starch on the ingredient list. Food starch may come from many sources, but one of the most common is wheat. If you see food starch or modified food starch on an ingredient list, choose another flavor. Seasoning packets are a good replacement for salad dressings, as you control the ingredients you mix into them. Whole mayonnaise contains no gluten, but check the labels of light versions. Soy sauce also contains wheat sometimes, so look for versions labeled gluten-free.
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