Q+A Tuesday: Eating Gluten-Free Without Access to Specialty Food Stores.

Welcome to Q+A Tuesday! A super hot topic today: gluten-free nutrition.

Q: “Hey Lee-Ann, my son and I are currently being tested for celiac disease. Even if the test is negative, I’ve noticed a huge change for the better after eliminating gluten from both of our diets, so I plan on sticking with it. Any dietary advice? We now live in a very rural area (on a grain farm, ironically enough) so many of the ingredients in gluten-free recipes, I can’t get at my local grocery store.” —Victoria M. in (rural) Ottawa

A: Hey Victoria! Looks like you and your son have joined the many who are converting to a gluten-free lifestyle and reaping the benefits. That’s great! Our bodies are brilliant machines and they do let us know when something doesn’t agree, and sometimes that something isn’t always plainly obvious. But with the engineering of wheat occurring since the mid-1900s and the proliferation of wheat in our food system, it’s not surprising that our bodies are letting us know that perhaps other alternatives may be best.

This question really depends on which foods you regularly prepared using wheat flour. I personally like to work with people’s favourites and teach them ways to convert the recipe to a gluten-free recipe. But we’ll go over a few options that even folks living in rural areas with a limited grocery supply can enjoy so that we can get a general sense of gluten-free options if there are some who are considering making the change as well.

1. Aiming towards eating a paleolithic-style diet.
I don’t normally like to preach this or that diet because there are as many different dietary/nutritional needs on this planet as there people, but I’ll use the term “paleo” in this case for the general framework it implies, which is usually no grains, and a lot of veggies, nuts/seeds, some fruit, and some meat. What basically ends up happening on a paleo diet is that people start eating more low glycemic whole foods, blood sugar stabilizes, they’re eating more fruits and colourful vegetables instead of grains and thereby consuming more antioxidants, reducing inflammation, and gaining more energy. It’s a great way to learn to consume carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit rather than grains. And if you have the space, growing a few veggies is a great way to get the freshest and cleanest produce. For omnivores, soup broths or bases made from the bones of organically-raised and pastured animals make a super nourishing option to which veggies, bits of meat, herbs, and spices can easily be added to. Bone broth soups are inexpensive, versatile, and very nourishing. They can help restore balance to a gut that has been damaged by gluten sensitivity reactions.  (Google “red velvet beet cake/cupcakes” and “home made bone broths”.)

2. Experimenting with bean, nut, and alternative grain flours.
The internet is a great resource for alternative grain recipes and with more people being on board with a gluten-free lifestyle, the recipes keep getting better and more creative. Many people are beginning to use and prepare their own bean, nut, and gluten-free grain flours from home. You can make small batches using a coffee grinder. Whole beans, whole rice, and steel-cut oats can also be used. For example, rice pudding is not just for grandma. And if you need to use a dairy-free “milk” option to go with some of the preparations, almond milk can easily be made at home with just a few supplies. In terms of local alternatives to wheat grain, buckwheat is a gluten-free grain that may be available from farm co-op stores.  Talk to your farmers and find out if they grow organically. This also helps to raise awareness! (Google “black bean brownies”, “buckwheat pancakes”, and “home made almond milk”.)

Best of luck with your new changes and happy experimenting, Victoria! Making nutritional improvements is very rewarding, empowering, and is a great opportunity to reveal our creativity.

Thank you for participating in Q+A Tuesday! Remember to keep sending in your questions! See you next week!

Much love and wellness,

Lee-Ann
xo

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