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Gluten Free Diet – Demystified

Gluten Free Diet – Demystified 0

Gluten Free Diet – Demystified

Gluten free diet is such a buzzword. Every one who is into health swears by a Gluten Free diet. But do we really understand the science behind what “gluten’” does to our body and why we should avoid it, if at all we should. 

The word “gluten” has become such a buzzword in recent years, most likely because of the sudden popularity of the gluten-free diet that’s been endorsed by famous personalities. Before you consider trying this diet, read this page first to learn about gluten, and how it can negatively impact your body and health in the long run.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that forms an elastic bond in the presence of water. Its this adhesive property found in gluten that gives our rotis the perfect rolling. This ability isn’t surprising, considering that the word “gluten” is derived from the Latin word for “glue.”

How does Gluten behave?

Gluten interferes with nutrient breakdown and absorption from foods, regardless if they have gluten or not. This leads to the formation of a glued-together constipating lump in the gut that can prevent proper digestion. Afterwards, the undigested gluten prompts the immune system to attack the lumps or the fine mesh like lining in our small intestine.

Gluten consumption can also predispose people to increased damage and inflammation to the small intestine, causing nutrient malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, osteoporosis and other health problems.

A damaged gut then makes people susceptible to auto immune reactions or diseases in the longer run.

Where is Gluten found:

Foods like Wheat, Maida, Suji (Semolina) etc. Anything which contains wheat may have traces of gluten in it.

Major food habits of Indian include having three meals containing gluten in form of breakfast (Parathas, Porridge, Breads – wholewheat or white), lunch (Rotis, Pasta, pancakes) or dinner (Rotis, Pasta) etc. Hence we not only eat Gluten but our diets primarily comprise of gluten based diets. Even our evening snacks of samosa, mathiri, pav are all gluten based products.

What is Celiac disease

Most people who need to avoid gluten have celiac disease, a chronic digestive disorder in which individuals who ingest gluten experience an immune response. There is no cure for celiac, though people who have it can manage the disease by following a gluten-free diet. People who get diagnosed with Celiac know the havoc that gluten causes to their bodies.

So do we need to worry about Gluten then?

If we don’t have Celiac, it doesn’t mean that Gluten doesn’t play with our digestion. It simply implies that the effects on our digestion may not be sudden and extreme and here comes the importance of following a “Gluten Free” or “Gluten reduced diet”.

If we reduce most of the gluten based products, we minimize the effects and add solid nutrition to our bodies.

Why a Gluten-Free Diet Works

What can we eat to get to gluten free diet:

  • Naturally gluten-free: Rice, millets, quinoa, sorghum, flax and amaranth seed are naturally gluten-free grains.
  • Refined to remove gluten:We should typically avoid these flours as they are deprived of any goodness in the process of making the wheat gluten free. 

We are writing a series on gluten free diet and its various aspects. This is the second in the series. Stay tuned for more.

 

  • Pallavi Gupta
Going Gluten Free!

Going Gluten Free! 0

Going Gluten Free!

(The below piece has been written by our guest author Rashmi. Its her personal account of how Gluten Free diet has helped her with her Fibromyalgia)

I avoid gluten – though I do not have Celiac disease. Why do I do that? Well – definitely not because it is currently fashionable to do so – I do it on medical advice. I am a Fibromyalgia veteran of over two decades. Unfortunately, it is one of those conditions that need to be managed and cannot be cured. I met a Rheumatologist for the condition and one of the first things she asked me to do was to avoid Gluten.

Dr. Humeira Badsha, one of Dubai’s leading Rheumatologists is an advocate of gluten free eating to manage auto immune conditions like Arthritis, Lupus, Fibromyalgia etc. She says “ I have seen an improvement in most of my patients who have gone gluten free. There is a definite link between gluten and Arthritis”.

This was a revelation to me. I loved my phulkas, parathas, puris, breads.. well you get the gist! My mind rebelled at the idea of avoiding all the delicious food. At the same time, a small inner voice piped up – reminding me of Dr. Badsha’s words. I discussed this with a friend and decided to give gluten up as an experiment. My son wisely suggested that I put a time limit on it – so I decided to try it for 3 months.

That was 3 years ago! The effects were so spectacular that I couldn’t find a reason to go back to eating gluten. My stomach felt lighter – no signs of Irritable Bowel Syndrome that used to be the bane of my life; my burping marathons disappeared, skin cleared up, inflammation levels came down a bit..

I do have my cheat days when I sneak in hot phulkas with baingan bharta or yummy homemade alu parathas with butter.. but they are few and far between. It was very tough initially – but with time – it became easier and the cravings are gone!

As always, when I started the process, I turned to Dr. Google for help. I read copious amounts about the good, bad and the ugly of gluten. I learnt to appreciate the distinctions between gluten allergy and gluten intolerance. I read stories of people who have to avoid gluten at all costs if they have to stay alive! I also read stories where people were following the diet as it was made fashionable by Hollywood celebrities. I spoke to doctors and nutritionists to get their view on the topic. I struggled with the to be or not to be questions ! “ Should I make my whole family gluten free?” ( No – I didn’t !); “ What will I do when I travel? Being a vegetarian is tough enough!” ( It is not difficult. I managed a Switzerland holiday); “ Does this mean that I stop eating out at all?” ( No – I was surprised at the choices offered )

Luckily – you don’t have to read through so much stuff! Stay with me for a series of articles that would hopefully demystify gluten and help you decide!

  • Pallavi Gupta
Salads in a Jiffy!

Salads in a Jiffy! 0

Short on time but want to eat Healthy! Our chef has whipped up a few salads which can be made in a very short time and still pack a punch in flavour.

1. Mango Kasundi Salad:

Ingredients:

  1. Ripe Mangoes diced – 2 Mangoes / 2 Cups
  2. Kasundi – 2 Tbsp.
  3. Mint Leaves – a few
  4. Honey – 2 Tsp.
  5. Green Chilli fine chopped – ¼ Tsp.
  6. Rocket leaves – 2 cups
  7. Salt as per taste
  8. Mustard Seeds powder – ½ Tsp.
  9. Curry leaves – 5-6 no's

Cut mangoes in dice and keep aside.

For the Salad Dressing take small mixing bowl; take two table spoons of Nutty Yogi Kasundi, fresh mint leaves, honey, salt and green chillies & mix well.

Take bigger mixing bowl and put diced mango, salad dressing, add hand full of rocket leaves and put tadka of rai and curry leaves from top. Mix it well and serve.

Protip: If Rocket leaves are not available, baby spinach or even normal spinach can be used to make the salad. You can also add the mustard micro greens.

Mango Kasundi Salad

 

 

2. Raw-Ripe Mango Salad

Ingredients:

  1. Raw mango – 1 nos
  2. Ripe Mango – 1 nos
  3. Salt - as per taste
  4. Green Chilli – ½ Tsp.
  5. Coriander leaves – 1 Tsp.
  6. Honey – 1 Tbsp.
  7. Tamarind Fresh Ginger Desi Style Dressing– 3 Tbsp.

Cut both types of mangoes into thin slices. Take a mixing bowl put Nutty Yogi Tamarind Fresh Ginger Desi Style Dressing, freshly chopped green chilies, fresh coriander, honey & mix well. Add the mangoes and mix well. Ready to serve. 

 Raw Ripe Mango Salad

3. Lobiya (Black eyed Beans) Ki Garam Chaat

Ingredients:

  1. Onion – ½ nos fine diced
  2. Lobiya boiled – 1 medium Cup
  3. Corn – ¼ medium cup
  4. Tomato – 3 tbs fine diced
  5. Green Chilli – 1 tsp fine chopped
  6. Rajasthani Lehsun Chutney – 2 tsp
  7. Salt – as per taste
  8. Sugar – ½ tsp
  9. Lemon – 2 tsp
  10. Fresh Coriander – 1 tbs

Take a mixing bowl add boiled lobiya, add boiled corn, add chopped onion, tomato, green chilly, add Nutty Yogi Rajasthani Lehsun Chutney, add Lemon, sugar and fresh coriander and mix well and serve hot.

 Lobiya Ki Garam Chaat

4:Three P’s (Potato - Paneer – Pineapple) Salad

Ingredients:

  1. Aloo cut in cubes – ½ cup
  2. Paneer Cubes – ½ cup
  3. Pineapple Cubes – ½ cup
  4. Hung Curd – 2tbsp
  5. Black pepper – ¼ tsp
  6. Lemon – ½ tbs
  7. Salt as per taste
  8. Sugar – ½ tsp
  9. Cream – 1 tbs
  10. Kashundi – 2tbs
  11. Lettuce – a hand full

Take a mixing bowl; add hung curd, black pepper, lemon juice, sugar, cream and Nutty Yogi Kashundi and mix well. Your salad is ready to serve.

Add aloo, paneer and pineapple cubes and lettuce and mix well and add salt to taste.

 Three P's Salad

5: Mango Capsicum Paneer Salad

Ingredients:

  1. Mint Leaves – 4-5
  2. Salt as per taste
  3. Green Chilies – ½ tsp
  4. Mango – ½ bowl diced
  5. Capsicum – ½ bowl diced
  6. Paneer – ½ bowl diced
  7. Sweet and Spicy Tamarind Peanut Salad Dressing – 2tbsp

Dice all in thin slices - mango, capsicum and paneer. Add mint leaves, salt, green chilies and Sweet and Spicy Tamarind Peanut Salad Dressing and mix all together and serve.

 Mango Capsicum Paneer Salad

  • Pallavi Gupta
Quinoa - the Super seed

Quinoa - the Super seed 1

I picked up my first packet of quinoa a few years back after I read an article screaming about its goodness. The packet sat pretty in my pantry for a few months! I would look at the packet and wonder about it and then decide that is it too much of a bother to cook and anyway I am not sure if I will like the taste, if the family would like it – and isn’t it easier to make pasta for dinner? I forgot about its existence and it stopped niggling my conscience (it was expensive!). I finally threw it out when I was moving countries – the expiry date long gone!

When we moved into Dubai, it took a while to get the kitchen set and we were either eating out or ordering in for close to a month.

Zomato helpfully gave us a list of restaurants and we happily experimented with cuisines and dishes! We tried quinoa biriyani, quinoa tabbouleh, quinoa risotto and loved it!

We were converts!

I decided that something that tasted so good cannot possibly be healthy – and went fact hunting! To my surprise – I found that it is not just healthy – it is super healthy!!

Here’s a list of what I found:

  1. Quinoa is pronounced keen-wah not kwin – o – ah!
  2. Quinoa is not a grain!! It is what is called a pseudo grain. We eat the seed of the quinoa plant. It belongs to the Goosefoot family and is related to other filled with goodness plants like Spinach and Chard.
  3. Quinoa is naturally gluten free and it is a complete protein. It provides all of the essential amino acids which the body needs. It is rich in Iron, magnesium, Vitamin E, potassium and fiber. It is a great source of proteins for vegetarians
  4. Quinoa is not a modern day seed – it has been the staple food from pre – historic days! The ancient Incas cultivated it in the Andes region of South America.
  5. It comes in different colours. The colours just add to the variety and all of them are equally nutritious!

Cooking Quinoa

With its nutty flavor and fluffiness, it is a versatile seed and lends itself to any recipe. It can be used in salads, baked dishes, risotto, biriyanis, dosas, cookies, pancakes… the list is endless and the limit is your imagination! It pairs well with most vegetables and gives a nutritious boost to all your dishes!

Basic Recipe

First things first! Rinse your quinoa well! Nature has given the seeds a bitter coating to deter birds.. but we cannot let that deter us! Soak the quinoa in cool water for 5 – 7 minutes and rinse well. I use a large tea strainer or a fine meshed colander to help me rinse it!

Quinoa is cooked the same way as rice. Pour 2 cups of water in a pot and add 1 cup of quinoa to it. Let it simmer for 12- 15 minutes till all the liquid has been absorbed. Do not stir while simmering. Once the water has been absorbed – remove from heat and gently fluff up the quinoa with a fork. Ta da! Your quinoa is ready! ( If you are like me and use a pressure cooker for everything – pressure cook 1 cup of quinoa with 1 ¾ cups of water for one whistle). Salt is optional. Don’t be grossed out by the little curly string that will come out of cooked quinoa- it is just the germ of the seed and is edible! 

    • Pallavi Gupta
    • Tags: Quinoa
    Ghee – the ultimate elixir!

    Ghee – the ultimate elixir! 0

    As a child – I was not interested in food. My mother even today talks about the efforts it took to get me to have a meal (and she relishes telling the stories to my son who laps it up all with glee!). My bête noire was the plain dal, rice and ghee. In our family, it was just what the name suggests – plain boiled tuvar (arhar) dal, rice and ghee. This would be mashed up to and it was supposed to be the ultimate in nutrition. I could never eat it, but sometimes I would close my eyes and get a whiff of homemade ghee and manage a few mouthfuls. My fascination with ghee continues to this day. The aroma of freshly made ghee can stimulate your appetite and whet your taste buds.

    When I started living alone and had to cook for myself – I stopped using ghee. My mother would faithfully send me a bottle of homemade ghee – but that would just sit pretty for c’mon – who doesn’t know that ghee is bad for you? It is fattening, it increases cholesterol, it is for grandmothers! This was not just my opinion, but most people around believed it. Dalda (otherwise known as Vanaspati ghee) was supposed to be healthier and relatively cheaper, if I remember right. The urban Indian kitchen was flooded with Palm oil, Canola oil, Sunflower oil and so on and ghee was relegated to the back of the larder. Despite the reduction in consumption, the incidence of life style diseases was rising. Quite a conundrum, isn’t it?

    When I was pregnant, my mother took over my nutrition and insisted that I have a teaspoon if ghee with every meal. She said that it would be good for my baby and I will thank her later! She paid no heed to my protests about ghee making me fat. To my chagrin, the doctors also agreed with her. I was seeing a wonderful Ayurvedic practitioner at that time who explained the benefits of ghee.

    What is ghee?

    When you simmer homemade (or store bought) unsalted butter for a few minutes, preferably in a thick bottomed pan, you will get a goldenish brown liquid – the kitchen will have a tantalizing aroma! The liquid will have some blackish impurities that need to be strained out. The result is fresh homemade ghee! Ghee dates back thousands of years and ancient Hindus have long used it for cooking, medicinal value and of course for various rituals. Traditionally, ghee was made from cow’s milk.

    Ghee does not have lactose or casein – thus making it suitable even for the lactose intolerant. It is rich in short- chain and medium-chain fatty acids, hence is actually good for the health of your heart!

    Top Benefits of Ghee

    Weight Loss

    I can see the speculative looks right now! Yes, you read right! Ghee is good for weight loss! Ghee is rich in medium short chain fatty acids and this helps in increasing the metabolism. Rashi Chowdhary, a Dubai based Nutrionist and a regular columnist with Friday magazine is a major advocate of having a teaspoon of organic, pure ghee on an empty stomach. She says that this kick starts the metabolism. (it is implied that you need to have a balanced diet too!)

    Gut Health

    A healthy gut means a healthy you! Ghee is rich in butyric acid. Butryic acid is needed to eliminate toxins and other fats from the digestive tract. The body does produce its own butyric acid, but ghee aids the process! Ghee also increases the gastric acid which means saying bye-bye to constipation!

    Inflammation levels

    We live in the golden age of auto immune diseases.. every second city dweller has some condition related to this – which also means increased inflammation levels in the body. If you have tried Ayurveda, you would have had experience in having medicines that are either or need to be laced with ghee. Ayurveda believes that ghee reduces the leukotriene secretion and prostaglandin – reduces acidity and brings down the overall inflammation levels. High inflammation levels are linked to Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Heart problems, Arthritis etc. Ghee aids in the cure and management of so many health conditions

    Healthy cooking Medium

    Ghee has a high smoke point – that means that heating ghee does not spoil it. It does not release free radicals like most cooking oils at a high temperature. Cooking and frying in ghee is healthier.

    Ghee is rich in Vitamins A, D, E & K2 These vitamins are essential for a healthy body. The lack of Vitamin D leads to multiple health issues. Our ancestors knew this and hence increased the consumption of ghee during the winter months – ghee is needed for strong bones and glowing skin!

    As mentioned earlier – ghee is generally safe for people who are lactose intolerant.

    Choosing the right brand

    It is best to make ghee at home using age old methods. But it may not always be possible. I cannot make it in Dubai as I do not have access to good quality raw milk. The next best choice is to buy good quality organic ghee. Traditionally ghee from cow’s milk is considered healthier. Read the labels on the packet- it should clearly state that it is made from cow’s milk. There should typically not be any trans-fat mentioned

    Bottomline

    Ghee is healthy! Include it in your daily diet. Add it your rotis, rice, dosas, idlis, kichadis… or just have it plain!

    • Pallavi Gupta
    • Tags: Ghee
    The Fibre Rich Diet!

    The Fibre Rich Diet! 0

    A new word has been added to the Healthy way of talking and that is Dietary Fibre. A relatively new entrant in the family of vitamins, cholesterol free and minerals, aren't we confused what is Dietary Fibre. How does it work and most of all how is it beneficial for us!

    Dietary fibre is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested by our bodies' enzymes. It is found in edible plant foods such as cereals, fruits, vegetables, dried peas, nuts, lentils and grains. 


    There are two kinds of Dietary Fibre – Soluble and Insoluble:

    Functions and benefits of insoluble fibre

    Insoluble fibres have many functions, including moving bulk through the digestive tract and controlling pH (acidity) levels in the intestines.

    Benefits of insoluble fibre:

    • Promotes regular bowel movements and prevents constipation
    • Speeds up the elimination of waste through the colon
    • By keeping an optimal pH in the intestines, insoluble fibre helps prevent microbes from producing substances which can lead to cancer 

    Food sources of insoluble fibre include vegetables - especially dark green leafy ones, root vegetable skins, fruit skins, whole wheat products, wheat bran, corn bran, nuts, and seeds

    Functions and benefits of soluble fibre

    Soluble fibre binds with fatty acids, it slows down the time it takes to empty the stomach and the rate of sugar absorption by the body.

    Benefits of soluble fibre:

    • Reduces cholesterol especially levels of LDL (bad cholesterol)
    • Regulates sugar intake, this is especially useful for people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome
    • Soluble fibre is fermented by gut bacteria, improving immune, digestive, and overall health

    Good sources of soluble fibre include kidney beans, pinto beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, apples, oranges, grapefruit, grapes, prunes, legumes, oatmeal, and whole-wheat bread.

    What kinds of foods are rich in fibre?

    Eat plenty of vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fruits. Do remember that much of the fibre in fruits and vegetables is stored in the seeds, skin and membranes. Hence, an un skinned apple has more fibre than a peeled banana. By the way, raspberries have the highest fibre among all fruit and avocados are second to raspberries with 14 grams of fibre in a cup. Strawberries and blueberries are also full of fibre.

    Do remember to drink plenty of water (about eight glasses a day) with your fibre-rich diet so that you can eliminate the undigested fibre easily. Also, the water you drink binds with the soluble fibre to form a gel that lowers insulin and your body’s capacity to store fat.

     

    • Pallavi Gupta
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