Food Allergies: Gluten (including recipes)

Jill Miles, Assistant to 100 Days of Real Food

Have you noticed lately that everyone seems to be avoiding certain foods for one reason or another?  Maybe it’s a food allergy or intolerance or perhaps just a dietary preference.  Whatever the reason, avoiding certain foods can present challenges for both eating and cooking, but, as I have found, you can overcome them.

My Story

I am Jill (assistant to 100 Days of Real Food) and a little over 2 years ago, my husband started suffering from digestive problems following back surgery.  After countless visits to doctors, including specialists, numerous medical tests and a weight loss of 40 pounds, we still had no answers.  While his most severe symptoms had subsided, he was still not feeling well and was continuing to lose weight.  Frustrated, we decided he should eliminate both gluten (despite him testing negative for celiac disease) and dairy (for which he had tested positive for a slight allergy although the doctors did not recommend avoiding it).  It has been about 9 months now and his weight has stabilized and he is feeling pretty well overall.  Even better news though is that his change in diet, although forced upon him, was really a gift.  His diet of highly processed foods was finally catching up with him, even placing him at risk for elevated cholesterol (combined with a family history of high cholesterol and heart disease).  Having to eliminate so much from his diet forced him to add in more whole foods, including fruits and vegetables.  So, at the end of the day, while the initial change in diet was both difficult and frustrating at times, the long-term health benefits have been immeasurable.

We still do not have a definitive answer as to whether gluten or dairy was the cause of his illness, and the only way to tell for certain would be to add it back to his diet and see what happens.  Right now we are not willing to do that as we are enjoying his improved health for this period of time, but we may eventually consider it just to know for sure.

Where Do I Start?

This was my biggest question and the one that caused me the most angst.  Once I got started though, it became easier and almost second nature to cook within the parameters of these new food omissions.  So, for starters, let’s focus on gluten first.  Over the next few months, I plan to post more on food allergies and intolerances, specifically gluten and dairy, so please stay tuned.

Naturally Gluten Free Foods

So the big question I get from family and friends is “what can he eat?”.    Here is a list of some more common naturally occurring gluten free foods.

  • Fresh fruit – all kinds
  • Fresh vegetables – all kinds
  • Potatoes
  • EggsGluten Free Recipes from 100 Days of Real Food
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Dairy
  • Oils
  • Whole Grains
    • Amaranth
    • Buckwheat
    • Corn
    • Millet
    • Oats (use certified gluten free to avoid cross-contamination)
    • Brown rice
    • Quinoa
    • Sorghum
    • Teff
    • Wild Rice

The bigger issue is with the food preparation.  For example, many marinades, dressings, sauces and other condiments contain wheat.  For this reason, I now make all of my own marinades, dressings and sauces, not to mention that making them myself ensures that they are free of added sugar and preservatives.  Additionally, there is the issue of cross contamination during food preparation with foods containing gluten.

What About the Rest of Your Family?

I am often asked if the rest of my family suffers from gluten sensitivity or intolerance and the answer is no. The obvious next question I usually get is “do you cook separate meals then or do you just have your whole family follow a gluten free diet?”  Again, the answer is no.  I do not (personally) believe that my children or I should avoid gluten without a medical reason to do so.  I believe a diet rich in whole grains is important.  A New York Times FAQ published last year quoted Michael Pollan as saying that “People who eat lots of whole grains are generally healthier and live longer than those who don’t.” In the same article Pollan also addressed gluten-free diets saying, “They are very important if you have celiac disease or can’t tolerate gluten. But it’s hard to believe that the number of people suffering from these conditions has grown as fast as this product category. Gluten has become the bad nutrient of the moment, the evil twin of Omega 3 fatty acids. Could it really be that bread, a staple of Western civilization for 6,000 years, is suddenly making millions of us sick? I’m dubious.”

So, how do I accommodate my husband’s gluten free diet while allowing the rest of my family to eat wheat?  For dinner, I most often cook a meal that is naturally gluten free.  If I make something containing gluten, like whole-wheat biscuits (which my kids love), he just doesn’t eat it.  On the occasion I serve a pasta dish, I make a gluten free sauce and prepare a separate gluten free pasta for him (like brown rice pasta) while the kids and I have whole-wheat pasta (although they are happy to eat the brown rice pasta too).  Breakfast is probably our biggest challenge when it comes to making pancakes and waffles because I do often find myself making a whole grain version as well as a gluten free one.  We all love oats too, so as long as I use certified gluten free oats, everyone can eat them and feel good.  And, finally, lunch…this is my easiest meal since my husband only eats this meal at home on the weekends…PHEW!

A Final Word About a Gluten Free Diet

A gluten free diet can present a challenge in regards to whole grain intake since it eliminates some of the most common sources of whole grain, including wheat, rye and barley.  Fortunately, it can also provide an opportunity to eat a more whole food diet as is evidenced by the list above.  While there are many refined gluten-free grain replacements such as cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch and white rice flour, the variety of nutritious gluten free whole grains is plentiful.  So, rather than having the gluten free diet be a challenge, look at is as an opportunity to increase both variety and nutrient content through the incorporation of the above mentioned gluten free foods, including whole grains.

I’d like to leave you with  two gluten free recipes to try that will help incorporate the whole grains listed above.

Two of our Favorite Gluten Free Recipes

Adapted from
  • ⅓ cup millet
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup whole milk or unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • Optional - ½ whole apple, peeled and diced, or 2 tablespoons raisins
  • Optional – walnuts or almonds, about 1 tablespoon

    MilletPorridge Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food
  1. Combine millet, water, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and apples or raisins (optional). Bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer 25 minutes or until liquid is fully absorbed. Stir in maple syrup or honey and nuts (optional).

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 tomatoes (or equivalent amount of cherry tomatoes), chopped with juice
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Let cool.
  2. Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, orange juice and salt and pepper to make dressing.
  3. Pour over quinoa and mix. Add all chopped vegetables and mix.
  4. Chill for a few hours before eating. Feel free to add whatever other vegetables you like.

    Quinoa Salad from 100 Days of Real Food


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  • Comments

    1. |

      I became lactose intolerant after stomach surgery. The antibiotics given during surgery can mess with the gut balance of bacteria, “creating” reactions to foods that were fine before.

      Whenever I eat more probiotics foods (mom, kimchi), I am better able to tolerate milk and dairy products. I would not be surprised if gluten were also affected by this. Of course, I’m not saying this is a cure for celiac, but something to keep in mind before and after surgery and antibiotics?

    2. |

      Great balanced post!

      My family is very lucky. None of us have allergies or sensitivities to wheat or dairy. I’m very suspicious though that many of the sensitivities today are caused not by grains or dairy themselves but the tremendous processing that we’ve all been consuming and been unknowingly exposed to. For example, I was shocked to learn about all the ingredients in our processed cereal (which my kids and most kids today grow up eating daily), that carry warnings when consumed in larger quantities. Surely the cumulative effects can’t be denied. Yet, hospitals, heart associations, etc, endorse these.

      Either way giving up whole categories of foods can be a gift into eating cleaner and more whole. I found this with sugar. Focusing on all the good foods you can have was key in my eliminating certain foods. Fall in love with what you can have that heals and nourishes your body.

    3. |

      Just a correction… My kids grew up eating. unfortunately we didn’t start eating whole until this past year. They’re teens now, and I won’t let them go near 98% of the cereal sold today.

    4. Alexis |

      I’m in the process of trying an elimination diet to figure out a host of problems with my family, from skin issues, digestive and behavioral. I am working with a nutritionist to help guide me, since it is overwhelming! I look forward to hearing more of your experience. Thanks!

    5. |

      I am so excited to see this post! My youngest daughter is gluten intolerant, as well as, corn! Boy does that narrow down your choices! Thank you for starting to incorporate real food choices that are also gluten free!

    6. Cindy |

      I have been gluten-free for 1 1/2 years, and have never felt better. A doctor at OSU believes that many of the problems with wheat today stems from the prevalence of genetically altered wheat, which is causing the intolerance…hence the number of people who suffer from gluten today.

      • |

        I agree! The wheat we eat today is NOT the same as the one people had thousands of years ago. Also, most bread you buy in the store has tons of sugar and preservatives. I am gluten sensitive and allergic to dairy among many other things. Recently, I had my family “doctor” tell me to not give up gluten or dairy because I would not get enough vitamins and nutrition! Are you kidding me? What about fruits and vegetables? Later in the day, I went to my cardiologist, who said that dairy and meat were not necessary to have a so-called “healthy” diet. He did encourage Omega 3 from fish, but I am still on the fence about that because of all the chemicals that are in our water due to pollution! It seems like talking about diets in general is more controversial than discussing politics or religion!

    7. Ny |

      Jill (and Lisa) Thank you for diving into the world of gluten free. I am a new follower of the 100 Days of Real Food plan but find it challenging with my six year old having a gluten allergy. She doesn’t have celiac but has a sensitivity to it, is lactose intolerant and has a tree nut allergy. It was a challenge in the beginning but over the past year we have adapted and she is doing so much better. Thank you for the recipes and all the information you provide not only in regards to gluten but also being aware, informed and changing the way we eat. I appreciate it so much and will be looking forward to more posts/recipes about gluten free. Blessings on your work and how you help so many.

    8. Theresa Haider |

      Well done Jill. Regardless of who has what intolerance, it’s always useful to read about healthier ways of preparing meals, so thanks for the recipes and descriptive tips. I plan to continue following this site for more!

    9. jennifer b |

      Like most of those that commented I loved this post too. We are moving gluten-free for my son because our doctor suggested it to remedy some behavior issues we were having. It has made a dramatic improvement!
      But like Karen above- I too love Michael Pollan but I don’t know if I completely buy his opinion that this “outbreak” of gluten senstivities is only attributable to gluten being the “bad nutrient” of the moment. Today’s wheat plants are absolutely nothing like ancestral wheat. There is a “franken-gluten” in today’s wheat that responds very differently in our bodies. You come across this wheat even if you are eating true whole wheat– not just the typical “wheat” bread from the grocery store. There is a fabulous episode on the People’s Pharmacy with Guest Dr. Mark Hyman. He is an MD and talks a lot about grains and how our bodies respond to them. In the show he is concentrating on discussing sugar and our bodies but his aside on the wheat of today was very convincing to me. The link is below if it is of interest to anyone: People’s Pharmacy:Dr. Mark Hyman
      You can listen to the show for free by clicking the play button icon.

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill) |

        Hi Jennifer. Yes, I am familiar with Dr. Hyman and have read some of his books. I have not seen this particular episode, but thanks for sharing it and the theory you state about today’s wheat plants. Jill

    10. Rebecca |

      Could you post your flour? I just moved and the new town we are in doesn’t have the Mama’s Almond flour we love! But I know it is a combination of gluten free flours! Could you post what you use and the ratios? That is what I am at a loss for… And I can’t afford to experiment! Thanks!

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill) |

        Hi Rebecca. I don’t have a set ratio of flours, it usually depends on the recipe. I have been ordering my flour online as it is much cheaper. I usually just go through Amazon but I am planning to look around some more to see if I can find an even better price. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Good luck. Jill

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