Most of us are fortunate that we don't have any restrictions on what we can eat and drink. We're free to order anything off a menu, grab whatever we like at the grocery store and eat without limitations when we're out. Not everybody has that option these days. Some people are restricted to eat Lactose-intolerant, Kosher, Diabetic, Macrobiotic and Gluten-free diets.
The days of assuming we all eat meat and potatoes are gone. Once obscure food choices are now mainstream and prevalent. Some people have food sensitivities and others special diets due to medical and food allergies, religious practices and diseases. One of my neighbours has a special diet due to Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Celiac disease is caused by the inability of the human body to absorb nutrients. It is more common than I believed with recent statistics showing 1 in 133 people in this country suffering from it. Although there is no cure at the moment it is managed with a gluten-free diet. Basically, a necessity to avoid wheat, rye, oats and barley. Many food staples are obviously affected but there are many you wouldn't think about it, like licorice, vinegar, cold cuts, and many soups and stocks. The things we take for granted like pizza, pasta, breads and cakes are off-limits.
These are a couple gluten-free meal options, all fantastic alternatives. No matter what food restriction you have remember that it can still have loads of flavour.
Pasta Primavera (Gluten-free)
1/4 c. olive oil
2 c. sliced Portabello mushrooms 1 white onion, sliced 1 red pepper, sliced Salt and cracked pepper 1/4 c. basil leaves, torn 2 tbsp. chopped garlic 1/2 c. chopped sun dried tomatoes 1 lb. gluten-free pasta, cooked to al dente and drained 2 c. your favorite marinara sauce
Method: Using a large sauté pan over med-high heat, add the olive oil. When the onions soften add the portobellos, onions, red peppers and cook until oil is absorbed and the vegetables begin to wilt and soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Throw in the fresh basil leaves, garlic and sundried tomatoes and stir to coat and combine. Toss with the gluten-free pasta and marinara sauce. Garnish with the grated Parmesan. Serve.
Asparagus Risotto (Gluten-free)
A handful of fresh asparagus- approx. 16 to 20 spears
4 c. fresh hot water
2-3 tsp. olive oil
1 cup raw organic Arborio rice
1/2 c. white wine
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tbsp. fresh chopped Italian parsley
First, break the asparagus from the bottom. Then wash and slice the asparagus, cutting on the bias (diagonal) every 2-3 inches down from the tip. Splash some water into a skillet and quickly blanch the asparagus and when it turns bright green, remove them. Rinse with very cold water to stop the cooking process. You want the asparagus to still have a touch of crispness.
Making the risotto requires constant attention. Heat the water in a separate sauce pan, and keep it warm.
In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the uncooked Arborio rice and stir well, until the rice is coated. Stir and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Add the white wine and continue stirring until most of the wine is cooked off. Add 1 cup of the hot water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring often for 7-8 minutes. When most of the liquid is absorbed, add the remaining cups of hot water 1 cup at a time, stirring and simmering until each cup of the liquid is absorbed before adding the next one.
The entire process should take about 20-25 minutes. Roughly 22 minutes reaches al dente. If you cook the risotto longer you'll end up with a dish that's too soft and gooey.
When the final cup of liquid is absorbed gently add in the blanched asparagus, cover and set aside for a few moments before serving, allowing the asparagus to rest.
Labels: Celiac Disease, Dietary Concerns, Gluten-Free