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The gist of going gluten-free

3 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

I have a friend who said she and her husband tried going vegan for a couple of weeks, and they’re going to give gluten-free a whirl. The vegan thing, she explained, helped them cut out animal fat and calories, and they felt healthier. She isn’t nearly as clear on the benefits of gluten-free, but it’s a hot trend and they heard there might be health benefits, so they’ll give it a shot.

Gluten-free menus are again among the year’s top culinary trends, for people who have trouble with gluten and for those who have some notion that it will help them be healthier or lose weight. However, going gluten-free can be confusing for consumers, restaurants and chefs, FastCasual blogger Betsy Craig writes, especially because so many products don’t seem as though they would have been made with wheat or other grains that contain gluten. She shares a rundown on the origins of gluten — every substance derived from wheat, plus others, including rye and barley — and points out lesser-known sources of gluten, such as soy sauce.

She wraps up with a list of naturally gluten-free food, including rice, corn, quinoa and buckwheat.

What’s not on her list? Beer. But it might be soon.

Between 2007 and 2012, gluten-free entrants in the annual Great American Beer Festival increased from eight to 20, a sign that brewers are looking to grab a bigger share of the $4.2 billion gluten-free food and beverage market, Bill Chappell writes on National Public Radio’s The Salt blog.

The piece explains that brewers typically use one of two methods for brewing gluten-free beer: They either substitute sorghum, rice or fruit for the wheat, barley and rye traditionally used in brewing, or they make the beer with barley, then extract the gluten after the fact. The second method removes enough of the protein to qualify for gluten-free by international standards, but people who are highly sensitive to gluten still avoid the product.

So, people with celiac disease and gluten-sensitive consumers had options for tossing back a cold one on Super Bowl Sunday. They also have romantic choices when it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day, including a step-by-step meal for two from gluten-free cooking expert Carol Fenster. “Candles, flowers, wine, romantic music and a caring attitude about a guest’s food sensitivity create a positive ambiance and complete the setting for this memorable meal,” she said.

How are you showing the love to gluten-free guests? Tell us in the comments.