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POSTED JUNE 23, 2021

What is "Gluten?"

Gluten is a protein most commonly found in grains, wheat, barley, and rye. This protein helps food maintain its shape. Think of it as the glue that binds some foods together. In processed foods (snacks, baked goods, etc.), gluten is commonly used as an additive to keep products moist and improve texture. Because of gluten's practical use in processed foods, it can be found in a lot of different foods, even those you wouldn’t immediately assume. Currently, food manufacturers are not required to label products as containing gluten or “gluten free”. Due to wheat being a major allergen, “wheat” is required to be labeled. Usually with a “contains: wheat” statement immediately following the package's ingredient statement. In recent years gluten free lifestyles have become a growing trend. In 2016, the gluten free industry grossed over $15 billion in sales. This growing awareness has led to many new gluten free products as well as restaurants catering with specially marked sections on their menus.

Gluten Free Lifestyle

As of 2016, nearly 8% of North Americans follow a gluten free diet. 64% of US customers consider the diet to be a healthy diet even for those without Celiac Disease. This is a common misconception for most. The diet may lead to weight loss, but this tends to be a result of cutting out unhealthy processed foods from your diet and eating more single-ingredient foods. With the rising trend of gluten free options, it is possible to have high-calorie gluten free foods that would negatively impact any weight loss goals you may be seeking. The easiest way to avoid gluten is by sticking to unprocessed foods. Those with even a minor gluten intolerance may experience better digestion, reduced chronic inflammation, and higher energy. Following a strict gluten free diet will require more diligence when food shopping or going out to eat. Read food labels, plan ahead, and don’t be afraid to bring your own food to parties or events. Lots of foods are naturally gluten free and are an easy go-to when preparing your own dishes. Fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins are all great options when following a gluten free diet.

Gluten Free Recipes

Chef Cento has chosen some of his favorite gluten free recipes.

Gluten Free Penne with Peas, Prosciutto & Parmesan

A gluten free version of a classic dish that combines peas, salty prosciutto and tender penne in a rich parmesan cream sauce.

Looking for more gluten free recipes? Be sure to check "gluten free" when browsing our entire recipe catalog.