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Gluten-Free Baked Goods Can Satisfy Taste and Nutrition

By John Mcdonald

Many people dread the concept of a gluten-free diet because of the foods they'll be missing out on, namely: breads, cakes, cookies, and pasta. But today, many gluten-free alternatives for baked goods and flour mixes are increasingly available at local grocery stores.

Some Celiac patients, like myself, experience radical weight loss as a result of cutting out all wheat, rye, and barley products. Despite high caloric intake, it can be hard to keep the weight up without complex carbohydrates found in whole grains. Typically, these baked goods are made from gluten-containing grains, but it is possible to find mixes using rice, tapioca, potato, and other naturally gluten-free grains. Of course, it is important to make sure that the mix is protected against possible cross-contamination, because it is a common practice in American agriculture for manufacturers to share bins for various grains.

When I learned I would have to go gluten-free, I feared that I would never enjoy fettuccine Alfredo or a chocolate chip cookie. Since the health benefit was so positive, I was able to resist these dietary temptations - but I could never get my weight back up to a recommended level! Now that I've been cooking whole-grain rice pasta and gluten-free walnut brownies, I don't feel like I'm missing out on much because of my dietary restrictions and I've gained some more weight and muscle mass that had been so difficult to accomplish before.

Baking without gluten is a unique challenge, but its a rewarding one if you or someone you know suffers from auto-immune reactions to wheat or gluten protein. Milk protein can be used somewhat effectively as a replacement ingredient, but it is still difficult to create the fluffier foods like sandwich bread. Cookies and cakes work particularly well, because they are a denser consistency to begin with - and because the sweetness complements the more varied flavors of the gluten-free flours.

John McDonald has been gluten-free for almost two years and recently started blogging about it at GlutenBlog.com

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