Delicious Gluten-Free Pasta from GlutenOut

Last week I had the pleasure of sampling gluten-free pastas and breads from GlutenOut; they are imported from Italy and delivered frozen to your door.  The website is http://www.byebyegluti.com/home.php.

The gnocchi was delicious. It cooked up in several minutes and then I tossed it with a homemade sauce made of fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden, garlic and olive oil. I finished the dish with a touch of cream and freshly grated parmesan reggiano. It was a treat, since I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten gnocchi. And at $8.49 for 10.6 ounces, it was really a treat. The pasta was soft and the sauce clung to the nooks and crannies.  My teenage daughter took one bite, proclaimed the gnocchi was fantastic and proceeded to finish the entire sample.

Next up was the Foccacia. I baked it in the oven as per the directions but on a pizza stone. The Foccacia was light and crisp. We dipped it in flavored olive oil and ate it with cheese. It delivered the goods and reminded me of many Italian gluten meals where I enjoyed a slice of Foccacia and a glass of red wine with my meal. Yum! This Foccacia would make mouthwatering Panini sandwiches. But at $9.99 for 2 (total weight 10.6 ounces), I’m not sure I will be seeing it a Macaroni Grill anytime soon.

I encourage you to explore the ByeByeGluti website and order a couple of old favorites, as a treat, if for no other reason, but to realize that delicious gluten-free gnocchi, ravioli, and Foccacia are a click away.

Bon Appetit!

The Glycemic Index Diet Can Make You Fat

Low glycemic diets are very much in vogue these days due to the diabetes epidemic. The theory behind the science states that diets high in carbohydrates lead to high insulin levels which results in obesity and type-2 diabetes. Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas to help glucose gain entry into our cells where it is turned into energy. Glucose is a simple sugar found in all dietary carbohydrates that is used by our cells as the key source of energy for the body and brain. Insulin stores excess glucose as fat. Too much insulin affects the body’s ability to use calories efficiently thereby causing obesity.

All carbohydrates — fruits, vegetables, grains — are converted to glucose in the body. The glycemic index (GI) categorizes carbohydrates according to the speed at which they raise blood glucose levels in three hours. The Glycemic Index was developed in 1981 when researchers looked closer at the dietary recommendations for diabetics; which was to eat more complex carbohydrates (starch) because they took longer to process and digest than simple carbohydrates (sugar). When you eat high-GI foods, you experience high glucose levels after meals, called glucose spikes, which are damaging to our arteries and various blood vessels, and they promote insulin production. Eating low-GI foods means you avoid those spikes and dramatic falls in blood-glucose so you get a much steadier stream of energy. You, therefore, reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases that are implicated by those blood-glucose fluctuations.

Vegetables generally have a low GI below 50 and refined grains with a lot of sugar have a high GI above 80. GI is measured in a clinically controlled setting where 50-gram portions of food are fed to people who have fasted overnight. The rise in blood sugar is measured every 15 minutes for 3 hours and then plotted on a graph. The area under the curve is measured and indexed against pure glucose at 100. That number is the food’s glycemic index. The higher the rise in blood sugar, the higher the glycemic index of that food.

Low glycemic diets claim that High GI foods are bad for weight control for two reasons. Firstly, glucose spikes stimulate hunger because you are getting that dramatic drop in glucose (energy), 90 minutes to two hours after eating. By eating low GI foods you feel fuller for longer and are, therefore, not as likely to go searching for snacks every two hours. Secondly, insulin is a storage hormone that stockpiles nutrients for later use by the body. A high-GI diet causes a lot of insulin to be produced and when you have too much insulin in your body too much of the time, it makes it easier to store fat and harder to burn it.

What works in a lab doesn’t always translate well to the real world. A 50-gram portion of most root and tuber vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets and parsnips) has a high GI above 65 and about equal to a 50-gram portion of sugar and white bread. According to the GI, these starchy vegetables would be considered dangerous because they are assumed to produce the greatest insulin. However, who only eats these fiber-rich, vitamin and mineral packed vegetables alone for three hours? Usually they are part of a whole meal with protein and fat, both of which slow digestion. And the health benefits of these vegetables filled with cancer-fighting phytochemicals far out weigh any type of bread, whole wheat or white. We doubt anyone got fat eating roasted carrots, potatoes, beets and parsnips.

In addition, carrots have only 195 calories per pound and a boiled potato has about 450 calories per pound while bread contains around 1250 calories per pound (whole grain or white) and sugar contains 1725 calories per pound. The GI index is biased against lower calorie, nutrient rich foods in favor of calorie dense grains. Let us demonstrate what we mean.

A 2-ounce carrot has 30 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of carbohydrates and naturally occurring vitamin A. A 2-ounce serving of whole wheat bread has 160 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 24 grams of carbohydrates and added B vitamins and iron. It also contributes to inflammation in the body because gluten, the protein in wheat, is not completely digested in our stomach. It doesn’t make nutritional sense that 2 slices of bread with 5 times the calories and 3 times the carbohydrates would be more desirable to eat than a carrot. Bananas are another big no-no of low glycemic diets. A 2-ounce piece of banana has 72 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 19 grams of carbohydrates and significant naturally occurring levels of potassium and vitamin C. A 2-ounce portion of pasta has 200 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 41 grams of carbohydrate and added B vitamins and iron. Even though pasta contains more calories and carbohydrates per serving, it has a lower GI than a banana and is considered a better food choice.

The Glycemic Index just doesn’t make sense nutritionally and it surely will not make you thin or healthy due to its emphasis on whole grains versus fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, in the past 30 years Americans eat 325 more calories of just WHEAT per day and have only gotten fatter and sicker. We believe the best diet is one based on WHOLE FOODS (fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean protein) not whole wheat.

Can a Gluten-Free Diet Benefit Migraine Sufferers?

Migraines are severe, recurring and disabling headaches, usually affecting only one side of the head; they often are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, a sensitivity to light and visual disturbances. They occur more frequently in women than men. Approximately 6% of men and 18% of women experience a migraine headache during their lifetime and 30 million Americans experience multiple migraines every month. Many sufferers report that their migraines were moderately or very disruptive to their families and friends (1).

There are many foods that can trigger headaches including aged cheese, red wine, food additives and chocolate. Research also shows that gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, may be a cause of recurring headaches (2). Wheat contains gluten and many of the other trigger foods are eaten in combination with wheat based products: cheese and crackers, red wine and pasta, hot dogs and lunch meat containing food additives and bread, and chocolate cake, In fact, the medical community has known about an association between migraines and gluten intolerance for years. Celiac disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged (villous atrophy) from eating gluten. It is estimated that 4% of migraine sufferers have celiac disease, equal to approximately 1.2 million Americans (3).  Celiac disease is just one type of gluten intolerance and affects 1 in 100 people. Non-celiac gluten intolerance affects an estimated 1 in 10 and is only recently being recognized as a gluten sensitivity without villous atrophy. Could 40% of migraine sufferers have non-celiac gluten intolerance? Could 12 million people go on a gluten-free diet and experience fewer and less severe headaches, maybe even no headaches? No bagel is worth the pain to you or your personal life. To understand the difference between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten intolerance, go to http://www.foodphilosopher.com/assets/docs/011808hnut.cfm.

Going on a gluten-free diet no longer means giving up your favorite foods. And contrary to many reports in the news, a gluten-free diet of whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean protein, nuts, seeds and gluten-free grains (including oats, quinoa, and brown rice) is very healthy and nutritious. The Food Philosopher website is filled with delicious gluten-free options for bread and pancakes. One of my favorite summer pasta dishes is Penne Pasta with Feta, Tomato and Basil. Serve it with grilled chicken and vegetables. For a complete dinner menu with gluten-free recipes go to http://www.foodphilosopher.com/assets/docs/0706menu.cfm

PENNE PASTA with FETA, TOMATO and BASIL

Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish

1 pound gluten-free penne pasta* (such as Tinkyada®)
½  cup chicken stock
½ cup prepared pesto
8 ounces feta cheese cut into cubes
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup corn, cooked until just tender
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. In large mixing bowl, toss cooked warm pasta with chicken stock and pesto.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients and toss with pasta. Adjust seasonings.
  4. Can be served hot or at room temperature. Keep tightly covered until ready to serve.

References:

(1) “Migraine frequency and health utilities: findings from a multi-site survey,” published in Value in Health, surveyed 150 migraine patients in the U.S. to study how migraine frequency affects quality of life. The study was co-authored by Jeffrey Brown, PhD (Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care), Peter J. Neumann, ScD (Tufts-New England Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy), George Papadopoulos (Schering-Plough Corporation), Gary Ruoff, MD (Westside Family Medical Center), Merle Diamond, MD (Diamond Headache Clinic), and Joseph Menzin, PhD (Boston Health Economics, Inc.).

(2) American Academy of Neurology (2001, February 14). Gluten In The Diet May Be The Cause Of Recurring Headaches. Science Daily. Retrieved June 7, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2001/02/010213072604.htm.

(3) Gabrielli, M., Cremonini, F., et al (2003). Association between migraine and Celiac disease: results from a preliminary case-control and therapeutic study. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 98(7):1674. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12650798.