I kept thinking the “Gluten-free” trend would go away. I was wrong. Dead wrong. Researchers estimate gluten makes about 6 percent of Americans feel sick. On the other hand, 20 percent of Americans are out shopping for gluten-free food, spending $4.6 billion dollars. What the heck is going on? It seems I have become, at this advanced age, gluten intolerant.

My question is, what is gluten? And why suddenly are we now intolerant to it and having problems with it?

Alright. Let’s start there. What is gluten? It’s a combination of proteins found inside the wheat kernel. Inside dough, gas bubbles are forming. Gluten’s job is to keep those bubbles trapped inside the bread. It does that by giving the loaf strength and structure as it bakes. Basically, gluten makes bread fluffy.

While some people have a rare disease, called Celiac, where gluten actually damages the body, others have gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity is not a disease. It is a medically accepted diagnosis with symptoms that include intestinal distress, stomach pain, gas/bloating, fatigue, mood changes, skin rashes and headaches.

Why do so many people say they’re having these problems? Now, we are able to test for it, where we were not able to do that before. A leading advocacy group called Beyond Celiac says the only way to diagnose gluten sensitivity is to eliminate it from your diet and see if that improves health. But Jen Seiler MSN CNP-BC of Vitality Natural Wellness disagrees. She recommends and utilizes newly available lab tests like Wheat Zoomer, which tests for gluten and wheat allergies as well as gluten and wheat sensitivities.

Seiler states “We are losing the good bacteria we need for digestion-- from eating processed foods, taking antibiotics and antacids as well as other medications that disrupt the normal flora of our gut. 90% of our immune system stems from our gut, 80% of our serotonin receptors lie in our gut. Our immune systems are stressed out from fighting off things like these toxins. An elimination diet can be helpful but when we can test for sensitivities, we can quickly start a protocol that not only eliminates the sensitivity but also helps repair the gut. We find mood, cognition, gut issues, energy, all improve and more.”

Here are some gluten-free recipes for you to try with our gluten-free Bellisari’s products.

Gluten-Free Pad Thai

Serves 2

Ingredients:
5 oz. pad Thai rice noodles
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ cup Bellisari’s Balsamic Shallot & Black Garlic Spread
1 large egg, room temperature
2 Tbsp. sliced/cubed pressed tofu
1 cup bean sprouts
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. tamarind paste mixed with 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. water
1 ½ Tbsp. (or more) Thai fish sauce
1 ½ Tbsp. simple syrup, preferably made with palm sugar
4 garlic chives, 2 cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. ground dried Thai chilies, divided
2 Tbsp. crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts, divided
2 lime wedges

Directions:
Place noodles in a large bowl, pour hot water over to cover. Let soak until tender but not mushy, 5–10 minutes. Drain; set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add egg; stir until barely set, about 30 seconds. Cook egg until almost cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Add tofu and cook for 30 seconds. Add noodles and cook for 1 minute. Stir in sprouts. Add tamarind water, fish sauce, Bellisari’s Balsamic Shallot & Black Garlic Spread and simple syrup and stir-fry until sauce is absorbed by noodles and noodles are well coated, about 1 minute.

Stir in chopped garlic chives. Add 1/4 tsp. ground chilies and 1 tbsp. peanuts and toss well. Transfer to serving plates. Garnish with remaining 1/4 tsp. ground chilies, 1 tbsp. peanuts, and lime wedges.

Gluten-Free Lettuce Wrap Shrimp Tacos

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup Bellisari’s Blistered Jalapeno & Fig
2 heads Bibb lettuce
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup frozen organic corn, defrosted
2 lb. of shrimp deveined and tails removed
1 avocado, diced
1 bunch of cilantro
1 lime , zested

Directions:
Separate the lettuce into cups and reserve.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive in a skillet and sauté the corn over medium-high heat until light golden at edges. Season with salt and pepper. To the same skillet, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp begin to turn pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Bellisari’s Blistered Jalapeno & Fig and cook 1 to 2 minutes Add in the lime zest. Toss and remove to a serving plate. Dress the avocado with the lime juice and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve in lettuce cups as the vessel for the taco. Enjoy!

Some gluten stats sourced from WCHS6