From The Nutritionist

Carol Wilder-Tamme, M.S., R.D.
Guest Author:
Carol Wilder-Tamme, M.S., R.D.

Gluten Free…
Maybe Not The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread For Everyone

The gluten-free craze
Popular diets come and go: Hollywood Diet, Paleo Diet, Atkins, Green Tea Diet, HCG Diet and the list goes on! Ideas about what’s good and bad for us also change. One of the current popular trends is to follow a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-free advocates believe that avoidance of gluten can improve health by reducing “toxins”, assisting with weight loss, or just providing an increased sense of general well-being. Celebrity endorsements of gluten-free diets have also helped to drive its popularity. Unfortunately, enthusiasm does not always equal science as these beliefs are not proven by research, and not equivalent to the sound information one can obtain from a registered dietitian.

Who really needs to follow a gluten-free diet?
People with Celiac disease must follow a strict gluten-free diet all of their life. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder where consumption of gluten causes severe small intestine damage. Now, gastroenterology specialists largely agree that “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” is also a reality for some patients who test negative for Celiac disease. It is recommended that you see your doctor and discuss your symptoms prior to eliminating gluten from your diet.

What is gluten? What is a gluten-free diet?
Gluten, a protein that provides texture and structure to bread and pasta is found in wheat, rye and barley. It is also used as a thickener and stabilizer in many processed foods. A gluten-free diet (avoidance of wheat, rye and barley) is not best for everyone, as it may needlessly lower ones intake of important nutrients. Oats, while gluten free as an ingredient, are often avoided on gluten-free diets because oats may come in contact with other gluten-containing grains when processed.

Some gluten-free alternatives & suggestions
Avoiding wheat, rye and barley can be made easier and healthier by experimenting with the so called ancient grains: amaranth, buckwheat, chia, millet and teff, quinoa and sorghum. Using unprocessed whole foods rather than depending on expensive, specially formulated products will provide the necessary variety of nutrients and fiber. Looking to try a new, yummy recipe? Check out these two gluten-free choices Flounder with Clams en Papillote or Balsamic Chicken.

For those who tolerate gluten
Grains such as whole wheat and barley provide fiber, B vitamins and vitamin E. Needlessly eliminating those grains and substituting specialty products can lower one’s intake of important nutrients. Check out this collection of delicious recipes for healthy eating. They all can help you meet the USDA My Plate recommendations. Enter your food intake into the “Super Tracker” to see how your daily food choices compare to the recommended food group targets. It is a fun activity for all ages!

To summarize
Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten intolerance is real but not everyone has it or can benefit from a gluten-free regimen. A medical diagnosis is recommended before embarking on a gluten-free diet. Click here to see Campbell’s gluten-free product list.

Helpful websites include:


Carol Wilder-Tamme, M.S., R.D., L.D.
Carol is a registered dietitian, freelance writer and health blogger who specializes in gluten free, active lifestyle and fresh healthy eating options. Her Nutrition Fresh blog features fresh, natural options and streamlined food prep along with family and even a “dude food” section. Follow Carol on Facebook and Twitter.

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En Papillote Technique

1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper.

2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.

3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture.

4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment, folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

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Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely cut julienne
  • 1/3 cup sugar snap peas, cross cut thinly
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, yellow, finely cut julienne
  • 6 each cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. parsley, fresh, minced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 oz. fillet, flounder (2 fillets, 3oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice
  • 3/4 lb. clams, in the shell

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shallot, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well to combine.
  3. Lightly oil two large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper.
  4. With the parchment paper on a sheet tray, place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of one half of each heart leaving about a 2" border.
  5. Lightly season each fillet with salt and pepper. Fold or roll the fillet to create a uniform thickness and place on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the fish with the remaining herbs and the Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice.
  7. Place half of the clams around each portion of vegetables and fish.
  8. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop.
  9. Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal.
  10. Continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge.
  11. When you get to the point of the heart twist and fold to finish the seal.
  12. Bake the packets for 10-14 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  13. Remove from the oven and serve by cutting an "X" in the top and folding back the edges.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 180, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 16g.