“The Healthy Gourmet”

August 19, 2011

Gluten-Free eating – There has been a lot of discussion over the effects of gluten allergies and intolerance over the past few years.  Gluten is the protein part of wheat, rye, barley and some other grains; people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance/allergies cannot tolerate gluten when it is in contact with the small intestine.  The reactions to gluten, for those who cannot tolerate it, vary from intestinal problems and cramping to skin reactions to far worse symptoms for those with celiac disease.

So how do you know if you have any issues with gluten?  The only way is to check with a medical professional and follow their instructions for testing and dietary limitations.  As a personal chef, I often cook for clients with gluten issues so I wanted to share information on how to provide tasty meals for those who suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

There are many gluten-free products on the market, but take care in buying them for a few reasons.  First of all, how the product was manufactured, shipped, and even displayed in the store can influence whether it really is gluten-free.  Buying gluten-free flour that is sold in the same shelf area as other flours may lead to cross-contamination, so be sure the products you buy are not located next to products that contain gluten.  Secondly, gluten-free products often have different flavor and/or texture than their grain-based counterparts, and the gluten-free products may not stand up to freezing – so be sure to experiment to see how the particular product you buy works for you.

One sure way to be sure you are providing healthy, tasty and gluten-free meals is to follow the “outside of the grocery store” idea – most stores have produce, meats, seafood, dairy, and eggs located along the perimeter.  The exceptions to this plan of shopping along the perimeter are processed meats, refrigerated breads and biscuits, pizza, and many things in the frozen food section.  However, there are lots of great meals to be made using fresh ingredients combined with a few condiments.

Items that you can include in a gluten-free diet include corn, potato, rice, soybeans, tapioca, arrowroot, carob, buckwheat, millet, amaranth and quinoa.  Most types of vinegar with the exception of malt vinegar are good to use.  Things to avoid in a gluten-free diet include anything with wheat, barley or rye and be sure you know that oats were processed without cross-contamination from wheat or other grains.  Avoid flour or cereal products, modified starch or modified food starch, vegetable protein and hydrolyzed vegetable protein unless they are made without gluten (and state that on the label).  Another no-no that seemed unusual to me was processed sausage – it sometimes has fillers that contain gluten, so be very careful when buying sausage, either link or patty form.

Ok, that sounds like a lot to avoid but there really are huge choices for great eating when avoiding gluten!  Here are some tasty recipes to include in your menus to be enjoyed both by those who can and cannot tolerate gluten.  Healthy Eating to you!

Lemony Quinoa

Serves 6


1/4 cup pine nuts (or you may substitute toasted sliced almonds or crasins)

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

Sea salt to taste

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Toast the pine nuts briefly in a dry skillet over medium heat. This will take about 5 minutes, and stir constantly as they will burn easily. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the quinoa, water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then fluff with a fork.
  3. Transfer the quinoa to a serving bowl and stir in the pine nuts, lemon juice, celery, onion, cayenne pepper, cumin and parsley. Adjust salt and pepper if needed before serving.


Celery Salad

Serves 6


1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch celery



  1. Whisk together vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste in a large salad bowl. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly, to form a smooth and tart dressing. Set aside.
  2. Pluck all the leaves from celery; set aside. Remove the outer ribs of the celery. (Save the innermost ribs from the core of the bunch for another use.) Roughly chop the celery ribs into 1/4″–1/2″ pieces. Add celery to bowl with dressing and toss well to coat. Adjust the seasonings.


Chicken Limone

Serves 4


4 chicken breasts

Gluten-free flour for dusting (or corn starch if you don’t have G-F flour)

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 cup gluten free chicken stock

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons capers

1 Tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped


  1. Place the chicken breasts between plastic wrap and pound to about 1/4″ thickness with a mallet. Salt and pepper each side of each breast and lightly dust with flour.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides; transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
  4.  Add wine to skillet to deglaze, increase heat to high and let boil until liquid is reduced to 3-4 Tablespoons.
  5. Add stock and let boil for 5 minutes, until reduced and slightly thickened.
  6. Add lemon juice and capers and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Adjust seasonings and return chicken to skillet. Let heat through and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.