Gluten-free menu development: Celiac disease is a chronic food intolerance to gluten, in grains: wheat, barley, rye and oats and industrial products that contain them in the form of starches, flavorings, stabilizers (H-4 …, E-14 … , which are modified starches).
Gluten destroys the small intestine in Celiacs and consequently there is poor absorption of essential nutrients. Recovery can only take place with a lifetime strict gluten free diet (SG) which takes 2 to 5 years. Celiacs are highly sensitive to some normal bread or crackers. People suffering from this illness that properly follow a gluten-free diet can lead a normal life.
Gluten-free menú: This diet is peculiar in how it handles food in 3 concrete products:
- Bread (regular or bread crumbs).
- Cookies / sweets.
- Pasta (spaghetti, macaroni …)
However, there is now an assortment of gluten-free breads, cookies, candy and pasta as well as prepared meals.
For “artificial additives” or packaged products, celiac associations have lists of products that “always” guarantee of the absence of gluten. It is possible to make artisan breads, cakes and biscuits or pasta. Theres are special bread flours in the market that are made of corn or rice. Bulk corn mealcannot be used because it could be cross-contaminated if milled in the same mill as wheat flour. As for yeast, we have to use certain brands such as: “Maizena bakery, prepared baking” or raising agents, which also work as fresh pressed pastry yeast.
Celiacs can eat all natural products, except the aforementioned grains, provided that they are handled and prepared with great care and in a “healthy” kitchen, which does not include wheat flour or bread crumbs, products, seasonings or industry additives (prepared sauces, broth cubes, artificial coloring …), except for certain brands. When using these products, you must consult the updated list created by the Celiac Associations (FACE or SMAP) because it continuously changes. Updates are usually usually published every two weeks (on the internet). You should always read the labels.
Celiacs can eat these products with ease (in addition to the specific gluten-free products):
- Milk and dairy: cheese, except for some cheese spreads, in portions or slices, plain yogurt (flavor: check brands), curd, kefir, pastry cream, butter and margarine with traditional fiber.
- Meat, fish, seafood (fresh or frozen, or the natural oil), eggs, vegetables, fruits, legumes, fresh vegetables.These can be prepared in different methods: fresh, baked, grilled,sugar coated fried, roasted, stewed …
- Canned fish / seafood (andalusia natural, oil, lemon, garlic)
- Sausages: serrano ham and extra-sweet ham. Other sausages and pâté: check brands.
- Corn flour or rice flour, Tapioca. You should not buy in bulk, instant mashed potatoes.
- Sugar, honey, salt, oil, vinegar, olives, pickles and “natural.” spices
- Teas, sodas and soft drinks: orange, lemon, cola, bitter, tonic (drinks and light refreshments, no sugar, no caffeine: check brands). Natural juices and nectars (Packaged: check brands). Coffee (except for self-service machines).
- Alcoholic beverages: anise, brandy, cognac, rum from sugar cane, wines, champagnes, ciders.
- Natural or dried nuts (toasted / fried: check). Dried figs (consult). Bag of flavored potato chips (potato, oil and salt). Traditional popcorn.
- Ice Cream: all ice creams, cream, and vanilla. There are different suitable brands. Candies and chocolate (see brands).
Gluten must be avoided not only a directly (by not consuming what clearly contains it), but also by so-called “cross-contamination” (when gluten-free food comes into contact with other food that contains gluten, basically flour or bread crumbs). Another clear example of cross-contamination is a potato omelette: intially it does not contain gluten but it can become “contaminated” if cooked in oil that has been previously used for a frying coated. These smal continuously repeated “contaminations” cause alterations in Celiac intestines if a strict diet is not followed.
Purchasing specific ingredients for celiacs
- Celiac-specific products (bread, bread crumbs, pasta, sweets, as well as meals) must be purchased based on brands specified in the associations’ list. Currently, they can be found in health food stores and supermarkets. They can also be obtained via the Internet, e-commerce stores.
- No one should buy products in bulk orartisinal products, as ingredients cannot be verified and they could be cross-contaminated due to increased contact possibilities.
- One must be very careful with imported products. The same product made in different places may not be made of the same ingredients.
- When buying ground beef or sausage, ask if the machine could be cleaned prior, and if you could remove the first slice.
- When in doubt as to whether a product contains gluten, do not consume it.
- Before preparing any dish, you must clean any areas to be used (the table …) It is best to place gluten-free dishes in a different area.
- It is easiest to store ingredients that contain gluten in separate areas (shelves, cabinets …)
- Do not share utensils/containers or when cooking (dishes with or without gluten) or at mealtime. It is better to differentiate utensils / containers, and in any case, clean them well.
- Should have separate toasters, fryers, mixers and ovens. You could use a different toaster, fryer and blender (cheaper). If using the oven, make sure you have cleaned it before putting something gluten-free in it. You can also put the gluten-free dishes on the top oven tray.
- It is best to first prepare the gluten-free dishes in both preparation and cooking, baking … avoid possible contamination.
- Do not fry with oil that has already been used for frying breadings. In any case, first fry the gluten-free breading and then the gluten one. Use separate fryers.
- When you touch a product containing gluten (bread, flour …), wash your hands before handling a gluten-free product.
- Do not use butter or margarine used for spreading on gluten bread or biscuits.
- When preparing a stew with lentils … and placing some sort of stuffing inside, it must be gluten free. Removing it while serving is not enough.
Celiacs do not need a “special menu”, but we can choose to adapt all meals to a celiac diet, except for specific products (bread, pasta …). Remember that products fit for celiacs are also suitable for non-coeliacs, and it is certainly healthier and better quality.
Clearly, offering a menu for celiacs is a new challenge for professionals. There are several ways to approach this challenge from the simplest, which would be to provide a menu that lists gluten presence in dishes; to the perfect situation, which would be to offer a complete and open menu for Celiacs. This latter option would mean following a few simple rules that are outline in this restaurant Guide. On behalf of the Celiac group: Thank you.
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