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I have a friend who for years was constantly having pain and discomfort almost always after a meal. Over the years the Dr.’s were unable to identify what was wrong with her until recently. They finally diagnosed her with celiac disease. This disease prevents foods from being absorbed into the small intestines and actually damages the lining of the small intestine. It can be very painful, as it was for her. What caused this disease is an intolerance to gluten.

What is gluten? It is a protein found in wheat and other grains that gives doughs that elastic feel. It helps the dough to rise, keep its shape and makes it chewy. Folks who suffer, as my friend does, from celiac disease have to consume a special diet so that they can avoid this protein.

Here is a brief list of foods that are recommended for those suffering from this condition. The list includes beans, seeds and nuts, none of which are processed. It also includes fresh eggs, most dairy products and fresh vegetables. It is also important that any meats that they consume do not have breading, batter coated or marinated. There are gluten free “flour” alternatives to wheat, like quinoa, amaranth, corn, to name a few.

Last year you might remember I attended the Tony’s Fine Foods food show. At this event we went looking for gluten free crackers. We were doing this so that folks who came to visit the winery where I work would be able to clear their palette, enjoy the varying flavors of the wine, and not suffer from the gluten side effects.

I spoke to one of the vendors about how a single plant can make items with gluten and items without. I was told that they have to have separate facilities. This is because as wheat flour is processed gluten can float into the air and contaminate other products.

So, now you know that gluten comes from wheat. And, food manufacturers have now included the words “Gluten Free” on packaging. Now this is not a surprise on crackers, cake mixes, pastas, bread and such. I was surprised to find this labeling on bacon. Yes, I saw gluten free bacon! And, I was surprised to find it on coffee too! The two manufacturer’s do not have plants that process wheat. Here is a coffee label that indicates it is gluten free.

Gluten free coffee

Gluten free coffee

Searching the internet, I did find this one club that offers the “gluten free bacon.”

Gluten free bacon

Gluten free bacon

I understand the necessity of labeling an item as gluten free for those that suffer from celaic disease and marketing products as gluten free has now become the norm. I believe that people should educate themselves on what gluten is and what food alternatives there are.

Have a terrific Tuesday and thanks for stopping by!

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