Here's some questions that I've been getting about going gluten free. This is not a comprehensive list by any stretch of the imagination. I won't go into as much detail as some people might...if you want more explanations, you can research for yourself (isn't the Internet awesome?!), but here's just a few of the basics. I hope this helps clear up some of the questions you may have, whether you are new to GF, or know someone who is.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye, malt, and spelt (There's proteins in almost every food; Another food example would be casein, which is the protein found in dairy). For all practical purposes, I usually just tell people right off the bat that I don't eat wheat, and leave it at that; if they want to know details, they can ask further. No need in overwhelming people with information they don't want.
Anyway, the most obvious form of gluten is in breads, crackers, pretzels, and other similar products made with wheat. Some not-so-obvious hiding places for gluten include packaged seasoning mixes, some soy sauces, and packaged sandwich meats. For a more comprehensive list, check out this website. And here is also a very useful post.
However, if you are gluten free, this does not mean that you have to go without bread again! You just have to learn how to get used to breads made with different flours besides wheat and the other gluten flours. And, honestly, the more I experiment with gluten free foods, the less I even crave bread; I've even started preferring not having a lot of grains at all. But you'll get there eventually. (More on this here--a very good article!)
Think about it: bananas, fresh berries, roasted asparagus, squash, and sweet potatoes with rosemary and olive oil; cardamom, cinnamon, paprika, muenster, Gouda, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, honeycrisp apples--all gluten free! Look up my New to Gluten Free tab for more ideas; or explore the rest of the blog!
Why did you decide to go without gluten?
Although I am not allergic to gluten, I do have a gluten sensitivity. Gluten affects the way I feel...I had gotten used to feeling "blah" all the time, due to having had digestive issues since being a teenager. I have been on "restricted diets" before, but never stuck to it. Since being without gluten, I haven't felt "blah," except when I occasionally get "glutened." Also, being without refined sugars has also given me new energy, and has helped even out my moods, too. This time, I don't see this as just another "diet" or "fad." This is a new way of looking at food, for me, simply because it has helped me to feel better, and I'd like to keep it that way.
Does everyone react to gluten the same way?
Definitely not. People who have celiac disease (an autoimmune infection specifically targeting the small intestine), or even severe gluten intolerance, can get very sick if they ingest gluten. This means that if they even get crumbs of gluten (for example, left over from croutons on a salad), they can be sick for days--digestive problems, headaches, and more. That is why it is so important to educate yourself on the effects of cross-contamination. Here is a very good site about this. This won't give you all the answers, but it may get you started, if you have questions about gluten sensitivity.
Are all of your recipes also without refined sugar?
Yes. Some are also grain free or dairy free; check the label on each recipe. For more about going gluten and refined sugar free, read this story from this website.
What do you use to sweeten your recipes?
Usually I use agave nectar (see the Ingredients tab). Another sweetener is coconut palm sugar, which is derived from coconut, and is raw (not processed). Other natural sugars used in refined sugar free recipes may include molasses and stevia. Fruits also contribute a lot to sweetening recipes in natural ways. Even with agave nectar, I try to use it sparingly, because it's still sugar.
What flour mix do you use?
I use different flour combinations, depending on the recipe I'm making. I will often use almond flour and coconut flour, especially with my grain free recipes. As far as using a blend of multiple flours, I like to mix my own blends. I found out early on, that I don't like to taste of most of the pre-made blends that I've tried (although I will have them sometimes).
My blends come from Gluten Free Girl's website. The whole grain blend is basically a guide, because the site says to add 700g. of any blend of whole grain flours + 300g. of starches (click on the link for more info).
Here's my current blends:
All Purpose Flour Blend
150 g. sorghum flour
150 g. brown rice flour
50 g. potato flour
+ 50g. each of 3 of the following:
white rice flour
Whole Grain Flour Blend (makes a large batch)
brown rice flour
+ 150 g. each:
white rice flour