What else is happening as we close out May? It’s Celiac Awareness Month

Other than Mother’s Day, the month of May is also symbolic of many other events and awareness organizations. May is the month for celiac awareness, a disease in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food. This triggers an immune response in the body that damages the intestines of the person affected, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients.

I’m certain that it’s safe to say we have all seen or heard of gluten including related items such as gluten free diets, food choices and menu’s in our society today. At first, many of us may have perceived this as another trend or band wagon to jump on for weight loss, dieting and over all good health choices. However, gluten-free became part of our mainstream vocabulary, Celiac Disease was present, and is in fact the original underlying cause for the gluten free switch. So what is gluten? And how is it affecting those with Celiac Disease? Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains like barley and rye. It gives dough its elasticity, helps it rise and also contributes to the chewy texture of bread. Now that we’ve gone through the chemistry lesson we can take our white lab coats off and dive into the importance of gluten free diets for those affected by Celiac Disease.

Carbs are that one thing that I think everyone has a love hate relationship with and perhaps for those with Celiac the hate is a little stronger! I think it is vital to recognize how many amazing substitutes are now available that allow us the ability to continue to eat food items that we know and love (while being completely gluten free). From restaurants to grocery stores you can now find options for pasta, muffins, pizza dough, cereals, you name it, in the name of Gluten Free. Although this seemed to rock our society in the last few years, the trend has really helped chefs become more creative and offer options that are delicious and taste just like the real thing.

Here are a few restaurants with terrific gluten free options:

Una Pizza & Wine

Famoso (gluten free pizza)

Gaucho Brazilian Barbecue

The Coup (vegetarian, local ingredients, organic options and gluten free menu)

OEB Breakfast Co

Redwater (95% of the menu can be made gluten free)

Cheesecake Cafe (offers an entire gluten free menu)

Fergus & Bix (gluten free pasta)

Joey’s Only Seafood( pan fried fish in rice flour batter and gluten free fries)

Often times we worry that when we take out the real ingredients and substitute because of allergies or illness that the taste of foods will suffer, but that has proven not to be the case. Case in point – check out the upcoming events in Calgary including the National Celiac Conference and a few local Gluten-Free Cooking classes:

May 29 – *SPRING CLEAN YOUR GLUTEN-FREE DIET – Cooking Demonstration – South Calgary Health Campus

May 30 – June 1: 2014 NATIONAL CELIAC CONFERENCE – Telus Convention Centre

June 12 – *GLUTEN-FREE BAKING FOR BEGINNERS CLASS – South Calgary Health Campus

For more information on future events, check out the Calgary Chapter – Canadian Celiac Association

Until next time,
Tamara