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Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the small intestines when gluten, a protein compound found in some grains, is consumed. A damaged digestive tract can lead to poor absorption of important nutrients and, if left untreated, may cause malnutrition, osteoporosis and anemia. Celiacs need to avoid wheat, barley, rye and most oats. It’s important to be mindful of these grains' derivatives, which are often found in pre-packaged goods.
Preparing gluten-free options for friends and family during the holidays is not as daunting as it may seem. Here are some guidelines to make mealtime celiac friendly:
• Cook from scratch. Knowing exactly what's in dishes by adding it yourself is the best way to avoid gluten contamination.
• Avoid cross-contamination. Even a trace amount of gluten can be damaging to people with celiac disease. Ensure all cooking surfaces, utensils and appliances are carefully cleaned if they have come in contact with gluten-containing products.
• Read ingredient lists carefully. Many prepared sauces, dips and condiments contain hidden sources of gluten.
• Involve guests and give them a tour of the food, emphasizing the importance of avoiding cross-contamination if the meal is not entirely gluten-free.
Leave it out!
Here are some common additives that may contain gluten found in packaged foods. Remember, if in doubt, leave it out!
- Modified starch
- Hydrolyzed proteins
- Malt (i.e. maltodextrine, malt syrup)
- Wheat free claims (may still contain barley, rye or oats)
• Choose an unseasoned fresh or fresh-frozen turkey. Be sure to read all the ingredients for potential contaminants on packaged or seasoned birds.
• Read ingredient list on hams carefully: many contain additives for seasoning and texture modification.
• Try rice stuffing for the turkey, or substitute toasted gluten-free bread crumbs for the
• Thicken gravy with cornstarch rather than flour.
• Purchase gluten-free pie shells or pie crust mixes and fill with your favourite gluten-free filling. (To thicken fresh fruit filling, use cornstarch.)
Where to get gluten-free products
The demand for celiac-friendly foods is rising and now there are outlets across Canada where people can meet their gluten-free needs. As well, most health food stores and many supermarkets also carry some gluten-free products.
Here are websites that carry products that may be difficult to find locally:
• The Specialty Food Shop
Shop online, by phone, or visit the shop at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to stock up on perishable items. There are also registered dietitians on staff available to answer questions. Ships nationwide: www.sickkids.on.ca/specialtyfoodshop /1-800-737-7976
• El Peto Products
Order products in person, by e-mail, telephone or fax from this Canadian manufacturer and supplier: www.elpeto.com / 1-800-387-4064
Choose your location as "Canada" to view the products available for shipping outside of the U.S.: www.glutenfree.com / 1-800-291-8386
Where to get more information
The Canadian Celiac Association website (www.celiac.ca) offers resources for people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease. The site includes helpful information on how to shop gluten-free in Canada and how to avoid cross contamination. It also offers the opportunity to learn about new products and recipes. It offers a yearly membership, which includes a new-member's kit, a subscription to the national newsletter and membership to your local celiac chapter. For more information, visit the website, or call toll free: 1-800-363-7296
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Recipes that are naturally gluten free and great for the holidays
NOTE: Many Canadian Living salad dressing recipes contain Dijon or grainy mustard. Read labels carefully to ensure there is no hidden gluten, or purchase gluten-free mustard for these recipes.
- Roasted Garlic and Eggplant Dip
- True Canadian Cheese Fondue (Serve with rice crackers, broccoli, cauliflower, and corn chips.)
- Grilled Figs Wrapped in Proscuitto with Balsamic Drizzle
- Sun Dried Tomato Cheese and Basil Pate
- Sweet and Salty Walnuts
- Easy Asparagus Ricotta Frittata
- Tofu Stuffed Eggplant with Mushroom Ragout
- Charmoula Roast Turkey Breast
- Oven Poached Salmon
- Lamb Ribbons with Mint Pesto
- Curry Beef Kabob Bites
- Lemon Rosemary Chicken Skewers
- Lemon Semifreddo with Coffee Syrup
- Orange Creme Caramel
- Earl Grey Pots de Creme
- Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Sauce
- Honey Roasted Pears
- Caramel Baked Pear Sundaes
- Strawberries in Chocolate Pavlova
- Blueberries and Ginger Cream Meringues
- Frozen Chocolate Praline Meringue Torte
- Lemon Sorbet Cups
- White Chocolate Lemon Rice Pudding with Cranberry Compote
Click here to see CanadianLiving.com's entire database of gluten-free recipes >>
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