A few months ago, I caught an Oprah show with Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of my favorite book on menopause: The Wisdom of Menopause, which I listed in an earlier posting as part of a reading list on this important topic. A woman in the audience mentioned that she had problems with bread and Dr. Northrup noted that women over 50 have a difficult time with wheat. So even if you don’t think gluten is a problem, you may want to try some of the gluten-free items below as a test for yourself, to see if you feel better when you eliminate wheat or other gluten items, such as rye and barley. (See Health Flashes for more information on gluten-free and Profiles for a discussion of Peggy Wagener’s magazine Living Without.)
Fortunately, there is no lack of gluten-free products available today, both in health food stores and supermarkets. One of the largest selections that I found was in Wegmans Supermarket chain. (If their name is Wegman, then the store sign should be Wegman’s, but their signs always says Wegmans, so maybe their name does end in an S. Then the sign should read Wegmans’. Oh, well, I belong to the Apostrophe Preservation Society, so I am grammatically curious.) Wegmans section on gluten free is huge, with a wide variety of products for gluten sensitive shoppers, which seem to be growing in number. The picture above is merely a small sampling of what is on the market, with one “misleading” item. See caveat below.
My favorite crackers, pictured in the upper left hand corner, are Mary’s Gone Crackers. They are thin and crisp, with a variety of flavors. I also like Mi-Del’s gluten free Ginger Snaps. I have tried several pastas, such as the quinoa pasta and the shiritaki noodles made from tofu, but none of them tastes the same as “regular” pasta. Taste adjustments obviously need to be made if gluten free is necessary. However, Pamela’s cookies and her pancake mixes are excellent, although a little pricey.
One caveat: Whatever mix or packaged product you do want to buy, check first for soy derivatives, cornmeal, or any other ingredient that might be troublesome for you. (Note: Many gluten sensitive persons are also dairy sensitive. If so, you may want to check for milk products in any of the items you want to try.) For example, the couscous brand in the photo is made from 100% whole wheat and is not gluten-free. However, there is a gluten free couscous made from rice. Just Google “gluten free couscous” for a list of sites for all gluten free items, including rice couscous. Since I haven’t reviewed the sites in detail, I hesitate to recommend any particular one. You will have to be the food detective!
Perhaps author Beatrice Trum Hunter’s quote in her booklet Gluten Intolerance (Keats Publishing, $3.95) is the best advice: “To avoid gluten, avoid all factory processed foods.” (p. 22) This is good advice for anyone who seeks a whole foods, “cleaner,” healthier diet.
Note: Some stores have free publications on various topics, such as this. I picked up two booklets at Whole Foods. One is called simply Gluten Free, while the other is called Gluten Free Bakehouse.(These publications don’t hyphenate gluten-free.) The first lists all the foods in their stores that are gluten free, while the bakehouse discusses celiac disease and explains Whole Foods Market awareness campaign with The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). Both pamphlets are helpful for gluten sensitive or gluten-free shoppers.
Please feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have any questions about gluten free that I may be able to answer. I do diet consultations by phone and email for a nominal fee, so I would be happy to help you design a menu for your special needs. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s the quickest way to reach me. Or leave a reply in the box below.