Monday, June 21, 2010

Some Side Effects of Being on a Gluten-Free Diet

For people with celiac diease -- even those with no obvious symptoms -- being on a gluten-free diet can prevent serious, life-threatening complications. But just avoiding gluten doesn't guarantee that your diet is completely healthy. Here are some things to keep in mind when you shop and plan your meals.

You Will Probably Gain Weight:
Many of us were gaunt and sickly before we were diagnosed. Damage to the villi that line the small intestine -- a hallmark of celiac disease -- meant that food (and calories) couldn't be absorbed. After some time on the gluten-free diet, when the intestines start to heal, the nutrients (and the calories) in foods will be absorbed. Even though we may not be consuming any more calories now than we did when we were eating gluten, it's likely that we're going to gain weight. In fact, hard as it may be to imagine for people who were too thin before their diagnosis, studies show an increased risk for obesity on the gluten-free diet. It's really important to start counting calories.

You're At Risk for Poor Vitamin Status:
Patients with newly diagnosed celiac disease are usually vitamin deficient. To complicate that problem, gluten-free products are usually low in B vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. Few if any gluten-free products are enriched or fortified with these nutrients. When researchers studied adult celiac patients who had been gluten-free for 10 years, half of the patients had vitamin deficiencies, including low levels of vitamin B-6 or folate, or both, and high levels of homocysteine (a risk factor for heart attacks, vascular disease, and strokes). Before the study, all the patients had biopsies to prove their intestines were healed and healthy, so these vitamin deficiencies could not be explained by malabsorption. Other researchers have found similar deficiencies in gluten-free adolescents. When it's time for an annual check-up, celiac patients should ask their doctor whether their vitamin status needs to be measured, and whether they should be taking folic acid and vitamin supplements.

Your Cholesterol Levels Will Probably Rise:
While I was still eating gluten, my cholesterol levels were always low. I now know why -- my intestines weren't absorbing any of the cholesterol in the foods I was eating. Not any more. Now I have to watch my cholesterol levels along with everyone else. When I check food labels for the presence of gluten, I also check the fat and cholesterol content. It's really important to choose low-fat, low-cholesterol foods. Packaged gluten-free products are usually higher in fat than their gluten-containing counterparts. This is especially true of packaged gluten-free cookies, crackers, and cakes. The American Heart Association says that foods that are high in fiber have been shown to help lower cholesterol -- so look for beans, peas, rice bran, citrus fruits, strawberries, apple pulp, and gluten-free oats.

You Might Experience Constipation or Diarrhea:
If you've replaced the bread and pasta in your diet with only white rice, the low-fiber diet may lead to constipation. If fiber-rich grains and beans are added to your diet in large amounts too quickly, you might develop gassiness and diarrhea.

Some People Actually Lose Weight:
Changes to your diet to eliminate gluten can also lead to a decrease in caloric intake and weight loss.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Grape Tomatoes

For me suppertime is usually whatever I have on hand.  Today I had a package of sweet Italian turkey sausage and a package of grape tomatoes.    I started by heating a pan up and then coating the bottom with Smart Balance oil.  I added a package of 5 pieces of turkey sausage and cooked the sausage until almost done.  I removed the sausage from the pan onto a plate to cool and added about ¾ of a cup of white wine (I had a Chardonnay in the fridge).  Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all those delicious bits off & into the wine (deglazing) so you get all the flavor into the dish.  Add 2 – 3 cloves of garlic chopped fine and about ½ cup of chopped onions.  Cook until the onions are tender.  Slice about 2 cups of grape tomatoes in half and throw in.  Add about ¼ - ½ cup of chopped dried tomatoes.  Both of these tomatoes add a sweetness you can’t get any other way.  If you buy grape tomatoes & you find that they are a bit sour just roast them or throw them into whatever you are cooking.  This brings out the sweetness.  Cook a few more minutes.  In the meantime, or whenever you find the time, cut the sausage into bite size pieces and add to the pan.  Cook a few more minutes.  Add to this about 2 cups of chicken broth.  Let the dish bubble for about 5 more minutes so all the flavors blend together.  Add salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.  Reduce the heat to as low as it goes and add about ½ cup of mascarpone cheese.  I use this a lot, I know it is expensive but I can’t help myself.  You can easily substitute cream cheese for the mascarpone. Stir the cheese in until it is completely dissolved.  At this point turn off the burner and add about ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese, ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley and a few tablespoons of chopped basil.  Pour a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in & stir to combine.  Wallah !!  Done.  Oh, don’t forget to cook up some pasta.  GF for you and whatever the family likes for them will do.  Any type of pasta will go well with this.  Serve this up with a salad on the side and you have a quick and healthy meal for those who are gluten free and non-gluten free.  I have included a picture as well as a real recipe below.  Be sure to try this, your family will appreciate it!

The Recipe:

Cooked pasta
2 – 3 Tablespoons oil
1 package turkey sausage (quantity depends on how much you prefer to use)
¾ white wine
2 – 3 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
½ cup chopped onions
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
½ cup mascarpone cheese (substitute cream cheese or ricotta cheese)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another Really Good Pasta Dish

The May issue of bon appetit magazine has a lovely picture of a pasta dish that I just knew I could recreate and make gluten free.  I did & it was awesome!  Here is the recipe taken right from the magazine.  The only change I made was to use GF pasta for my serving.  This has several ingredients but trust me, it is easy and oh, so good.  FYI, it is even better the next day.  Enjoy!


12 oz. Fettuccine or penne
3 oz pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 ¼ lb asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1 inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water drained, or frozen peas (do not thaw)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
2 garlic cloves pressed or chopped
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite.  Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.  Return pasta to pot.

    Meanwhile, cook pancetta in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain.  Pour off all but 1 teaspoon drippings from skillet.  Add asparagus to drippings in skillet and sauté 3 minutes.  Add peas, white and pale green parts of green onions, and garlic and sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat.

    Add vegetable mixture, ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid, dark green parts of green onions, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, half of parsley and half of basil to pasta.  Toss, adding more cooking liquid by tablespoons if needed.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Transfer to large bowl.  Sprinkle pancetta, remaining parley and basil over.  Serve, passing more Parmesan cheese