Gluten free is a growing term that many are aware of… but not everyone fully understands the meaning behind what it truly means to be “gluten free”. So I asked my friend Eileen, who happens to be gluten free, for some answers on the subject. (PS, she has a super awesome blog, Pass Me the Gluten Free, full of recipes and tips for people eating gluten free that is definitely worth checking out!)
What exactly is gluten?
Gluten is a protein (found in wheat, barley and a couple other grains,) like an enzyme that if you have an intolerance to, your stomach can’t digest, causing you to not digest other foods properly as well.
Why eat gluten free?
For me, I have to be gluten free. I have a medical intolerance to gluten. When I eat gluten I have very bad stomach pains… it actually tears up the lining of my stomach and gives me ulcers. If I eat it continually I get migraines, I break out in a weird rash, I get really dizzy and I get depression when I eat gluten. I get a wide range of symptoms but as long as I’m not eating gluten, I don’t get any of those symptoms.
There are other benefits to eating gluten free as well, for people who don’t have an intolerance. It definitely helps eliminate that logy feeling you can get after you eat… it’s a very clean way of eating. And tends to be lower carb and healthier. It’s essentially good for everyone.
There are definitely some drawbacks though. Gluten free alternatives are more expensive both in the grocery store and in restaurants. That’s a pain, especially when you’re a poor college student. It’s also very hard when you’re gluten free to find what foods do have gluten and what doesn’t. It sneaks its way into a lot of things, like Campbell’s tomato soup has flour in it to thicken it up, and soy sauce is made from wheat.
What are your top three favorite gluten free meals?
The amazing thing with gluten free these days is that you really can find almost anything gluten free, or make it yourself. I made homemade gluten free pizza that was really good. I also use gluten free pasta and shrimp with a lemon and garlic white wine sauce… that’s really good! For dessert, my mom makes this incredible gluten free chocolate cake. It’s like eating a cloud, its sooo good.
Would you recommend gluten free to anyone interested in trying it?
Definitely. Especially if you have some sort of chronic ailment… If you’re always tired, if you’re always in a bad mood, if your stomach always hurts, if you always get migraines, if you have this weird rash thing. Try a gluten free diet, it might help more than you think. It’s not a cure all thing, but you will experience more vibrancy.
Keep in mind it does take time for it to start working. You have to let the gluten work its way out of your system. There’s a grace period where you will feel a little bit better but you’re not going to feel the real effects of it yet.
Eileen inspired, I looked up some gluten free recipes on Pinterest and found a super yummy 5-Ingredient Easy White Chicken Chili.
The name really says it all: It’s a super easy meal that only calls for 5 simple ingredients. And it only takes about 15 minutes to make! Definitely a perfect busy weeknight meal (and it makes for great leftovers!)
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 2 (15-oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained
- 2 cups salsa verde (storebought or homemade)
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- optional toppings: diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, chopped green onions, sour cream, crumbled tortilla chips
What To Do
- Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, beans, salsa and cumin to a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm with desired toppings.
That’s it. Simple right!?
It was great! Although I have to be honest… I was a little skeptical in the making. While it smelled amaaazing, the chicken broth and salsa verde combination looked so strange to me at first… that is until I let it simmer and really cook together.
We used storebought salsa verde and a rotisserie chicken. The chicken was sooo tender, it literally just fell apart in your mouth. And the salsa verde provided pretty much all of the seasoning we would have needed otherwise! A great shortcut after all!
The only thing that disappointed me was that it reminded me more of a soup than a chili. With the title, I was hoping for something more thick and hearty, like a chili.
I would definitely make it again though!