Gluten is a protein found in certain grains: wheat, barley and rye. This protein
also is found in a variety of products, including certain food starches, some
vinegars, some alcoholic beverages, some powdered nutritional drinks, and
even some cosmetics.

For people with celiac disease, consuming gluten can be deadly. They don't
suffer an obvious external reaction -- the damage occurs internally. They must
avoid all gluten and all products derived from gluten because -- for them --
gluten harms the small intestine. The small intestine normally absorbs nutrients,
so those with celiac disease can develop nutritional deficiencies or gastro-
intestinal problems that are often difficult to diagnose. Once celiac disease is
suspected, a physician can diagnose it through a blood test or a biopsy.

We've found a variety of national companies that offer good-tasting gluten-free
products, like spaghetti and cake mixes, from companies such as Pamela's
, Gluten-Free Pantry and Glutino. Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and
other health-food markets often carry a variety of gluten-free products,
including gravy packets and cereals. We're also fortunate that some local
businesses offer gluten-free specialties, including gluten-free pizza from
Amici's Pizza
(Berkley, Michigan) and gluten-free breads and cakes from
Sugar Kisses Bakery
(Berkley, Michigan).

Here are some additional tips for gluten-free living:
  • Learn what ingredients contain gluten. A good place to start is
  • Don't assume that a safe-sounding ingredient means the product is
    gluten-free. For instance, some rice and corn cereals contain barley
  • Ask about ingredients at restaurants. Sometimes, rice dishes have
    wheat added to them.
  • Some national restaurant chains go out of their way to help gluten-free
    patrons, such as Outback Steakhouse, P.F. Chang's and Wendy's.
    Check restaurant websites beforehand to see if they list menu items
    without gluten.
  • Make a habit of reading ingredient labels on foods, powdered drink
    mixes, and even cosmetics. Sometimes, wheat gluten is an ingredient in
    face creams.
  • To avoid gluten crumbs at home, keep a separate toaster for gluten-free
    bread and a separate container for butter or margarine.
  • If you're making griddle items, such as French toast or pancakes, use
    the griddle first for the gluten-free items, then keep them warm in the
    oven while you reuse the griddle for gluten-based products. Or separate
    them by using two different griddles.
  • If you're using a package of Bob's Red Mill mix to bake a loaf of gluten
    free bread at home, you can improve the springy texture of the loaf by
    altering the directions: bloom the yeast before you add it to the mixture
    in the pan. (Thanks to Ron Teper for this suggestion.)
  • If you plan to travel, you can check out Gluten Free Registry TM,
    a Web site that lists the names of restaurants and stores with gluten-free
    menus and products at your destination.
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