The Gluten Free Obsession

Body Balance Institute Blog

By: Karen Chaska (UNF Dietetic MS Student)

If you have been to a grocery store, restaurant, or have had a conversation with just about anyone in the past year, you have probably noticed the increased popularity in “gluten free” foods or diets. So what is this gluten that everyone is trying to avoid? Gluten is made up of two proteins (specifically glutenin and gliadin) that are found in wheat, barley, and rye. These proteins help bread to rise, as well as gives texture to gluten-containing foods. In individuals with Celiac’s disease, these proteins can cause autoimmune responses causing symptoms from anemia to migraines to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Others have intolerances to gluten, which may also cause gastrointestinal issues. Some individuals choose to eliminate gluten from their diet as a personal choice.

When person decides to eliminate gluten from their diet – whether it is due to health conditions or a personal choice – there are options to continue to eat nutritiously. Many gluten-containing foods such as breads, cereals, and grains contain B-vitamins and fiber, thus it is important that a person who is not eating gluten to receive these nutrients from other sources. Other sources may be gluten free whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, sorghum, or millet, as well as fruits and vegetables (which are always gluten free!) Some sneaky sources of gluten to watch out for are sauces such as soy sauce, and foods that may cross-contaminated by gluten such as oats. For those who are not choosing a gluten-free lifestyle, make sure to choose whole grains over white or processed grains, and to always eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Be on the look out for gluten free options when grocery shopping and dining out!

Herbed Quinoa Veggie Salad

Serves 8

⅓ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons warm water
1 or 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon agave nectar Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of parsley leaves

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
8 leaves romaine lettuce
3 large carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
¾ cup chopped herbs of choice
Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Directions: Combine dressing ingredients in one small bowl and store in refrigerator until use. Cook quinoa according to directions on box and chill. Prepare vegetables and choice herbs, and then mix into chilled quinoa. Combine with dressing and serve.

Per Serving: 204 Calories, 5 grams Fiber, 4 grams Protein.
Recipe Source:

About Karen:

Karen Chaska is a Graduate Student and Dietetic Intern with the University of North Florida. She will graduate with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics this coming December. Although she is originally from Minnesota, she completed her undergraduate degree in Dietetics at Florida State University. She has completed internship rotations in food service, clinical nutrition, and community nutrition prior to her specialty rotation in wellness.