Ta-BOO-lee

How’s this for point/counterpoint: Amy is making wonderful-looking no-knead bread while I am thinking about:

Things ‘gluten-free’

(Disclaimer: my information comes from talking to people with opinions, reading food labels, and doing some random internet searching. Therefore, please read with grain of salt in hand.)

Lately there is a lot of fuss about gluten-free food and gluten-free diets. As with any (food) trend, there are a couple of vocal camps; in this case, the ‘gluten is bad for you! live a healthier life by going gluten-free!’ camp, and the ‘those crazy people on their gluten-free diets have no idea what they’re talking about and the whole thing is a load of BS’ camp.

Then there’s this other camp of folks who are forgotten in all the buzz: those who actually really can’t eat gluten or else bad things happen to their bodies, i.e. folks with Celiac disease. The bodies of people with Celiac disease cannot process gluten. It jams up intestines and prevents absorption of other nutrients, which is very, very not good, and which can (and does) make folks feel very, very, very ill. For a person with Celiac, not eating gluten is a good way to fix this and restore digestive health.

Ok, wait: what is gluten? Basically gluten is a thing found in wheat and barley and rye. It is in flour, in bread, in pasta, in beer, and shows up in a lot of processed foods as a filler and additive. Gluten is NOT in things like rice, (wheat-free) oats, potato flour, quinoa, and polenta (cornmeal). Things gluten free (e.g. bread, tortilla wraps, &c.) are becoming easier and easier to find in mainstream Canadian grocery stores. The Canadian Celiac Association outlines a gluten free diet.

I don’t know enough about the reasons for and against opt-in gluten-free diets (as opposed to necessary-to-digestive-health gluten-free diets), so will not weigh in on that particular food trend debate. What I do know is that some people think that eczema can be worsened by gluten. Because I sometimes have to deal with eczema, I experimented for several months with cutting gluten. I learned that, for me, stress is a greater irritant than gluten, so cutting gluten didn’t directly help in my case. However, I liked a lot of the food I was making, and, unsurprisingly, eating a lot of bread and pasta, and drinking a lot of beer make me feel not very nice, so I continue to pursue alternatives, like…

Gluten-free Tabbouleh!

(I checked with my friend Emily: at least by white people in Canada, tabbouleh is pronounced ‘ta-BOO-lee’.)

This recipe is adapted from Julie Van Rosendaal (see this post) and the recipe on the back of my bag of chia seeds.

½ cup quinoa (brought to a boil in 1 cup of water, then reduced to simmer for 15 minutes; it’s cooked when the little white coils around the quinoa start to come off)

½ can chickpeas (optional, though a delicious addition)

¼ cup chia seeds (optional)

2 tomatoes, chopped finely

2 cups chopped fresh parsley

a few green onions (or a small red onion, chopped finely)

⅓ cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Cook the quinoa. Chop things. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil in a little bowl. (In the last minute or two of cook time for the quinoa, I like to throw in the chickpeas to soften them a bit.) When the quinoa is done, stir everything together in a bowl and pop it in the fridge for a bit so all the flavours blend. Eat!

–x–

This was so delicious! So quick to make, meets tricky dietary requirements (it is gluten-free AND vegan), and is such a lovely, light, hot weather food. I divided it up into Ziploc containers took them to work for lunch (leaving these in the fridge for another day or two had the added bonus of making it even more flavourful).

Kate’s parsley plant: parsley is one of the main ingredients in tabbouleh

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Is Local Really Better?

I am currently in the midst of reading Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly by James E. McWilliams.

My copy of Just Food with my thoughts on sticky tabs.

It is incredibly intriguing read. McWilliams is painstakingly fair in his systematic criticism of the local and the organic food movements. What the title does not give away is that he is no proponent of the results of Green Revolution or the industrialization of food production either. Although I am super anxious to post about what I have been reading, I am not yet ready.

I did think I would be remiss, however, if I did not mention that there is a new book (published just last week) making a similar assertion. That is, in terms of the ability to save the environment, locavore/farm-to-fork movements are well-meaning but gravely misguided. The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-Mile Diet is by University of Toronto associate geography professor, Pierre Desrochers, and policy analyst, Hiroko Shimizu.

An interview with Prof. Desrochers can be found here.

Much more on this topic to follow!

If you have an opinion (on locavores/local food movement, globalization/industrialization of food, agriculture and the environment, the books specifically), please share!