Tagged with 'Gluten Free Lifestyle'

Are Sodas Naturally Gluten-Free?

Gluten Free Soda
Itching for a refreshing root beer to pair perfectly with your burger? Or simply wondering if you can safely enjoy a cream soda or can of coke? Worried about the ‘hidden’ ingredients in things like soda?  Gluten has become recognized much more prominently as a problematic allergen in recent years, but it can still be incredibly difficult to determine what foods and drinks actually contain gluten in them – especially for those eating out at restaurants. Anyone can request gluten-free burger buns, and things on the menu like fries are obvious ‘gluten-free’ options, but what about something like root beer? Is root beer truly gluten-free? Yes, generally, most soda and soft drinks are indeed gluten-free. While gluten can seemingly hide in any sort of food product or drink, most sodas are naturally gluten-free as well. The importance lies in checking specific brands – formulations can change from one company to another, and some corporations may use ingredients or natural flavoring that is derived from gluten, or which has come in contact with gluten. This is often referred to as “cross-contamination,” and the reasoning behind why people with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance react to things like oats that do not naturally contain any gluten. In this article, we will further explore what soda is most frequently made from (mostly carbonated water and sugar, with flavoring), what gluten actually is, and how to spot potentially problematic ingredients that may contain gluten – whether in a restaurant or a grocery store. Not all soda is created equal.  What Is Soda Actually Made From? Traditionally, most sodas are typically made from carbonated water, sugar (or glucose-fructose), flavoring, and preservatives. Very few soft drinks contain any traces of gluten, and if they do contain wheat or wheat-based ingredients, they would be labeled explicitly as allergens on the bottle or can. While you might not see the gluten-free label plastered on the outside of the can or bottle, most of the major corporations like Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Co ensure the products are safe for those with Celiac Disease so as not to cut this large demographic out of the market. The concern lies in the “natural and artificial flavoring” and things like “caramel color,” which could potentially be derived from wheat or barley. These additives have caused a lot of stress for people wondering if that can is really safe for them to drink.  More on these problematic additives will help better clear up the fear among consumers looking to avoid gluten – but first, let us actually explain what gluten is and if you need to be avoiding it if you do not have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. What Is Gluten? Should I Avoid It? So, what is gluten, actually? Gluten is used as a very broad and general term for the complex of proteins specifically found in wheat and wheat-related grains. Most people have likely heard the phrase ‘gluten-free’ by now, but many are still blissfully unaware of what gluten is all about. Shall we? As we mentioned, gluten relates to the proteins found in wheat and wheat-related grains, which include everything from durum wheat semolina (often used to make pasta) to rye, barley, farro, farina, spelled, triticale, and emmer.  You do not need to be familiar with all of these varieties of wheat to understand that essentially any grain that is not specifically marked or indicated as ‘gluten-free’ on the packaging has the potential to contain gluten, or be “cross-contaminated” with gluten. For most people, this is not a problem – as we have consumed bread, baked goods, cereals, pasta, and soups containing these grains for over 10,000 years. Part of the issue lies with a lot of modern food production processes. Current wheat crops have been bred to have an especially high gluten content, as this is desirable for leavened bread, the perfect consistency of pasta, and that ‘rise’ we get in dough and baked goods. However, a higher gluten content means more of the problematic proteins in wheat that can cause people allergies and intolerance – just as people have digestive upset from milk and cheese due to the ‘casein’ protein found in dairy. This means that current wheat crops may be more inflammatory and allergenic than those in the past. For those without Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, gluten does not need to be avoided. “Celiac Disease” is an autoimmune disorder that results in the body attacking itself upon consumption of wheat or gluten-containing grains.  As a result, gluten damages the intestines by immune cells in the body attacking it. Damage to the small intestine can result in “intestinal permeability,” which can lead to a whole host of health issues including vitamin deficiencies, i ...

Top Vegetarian Sources of Protein

If you're a vegetarian, you've most likely been asked the same question over and over again: "but how will you get your protein?" Well, contrary to popular belief, protein is not exclusive to meat-based sources. There are plenty of plant-based and other sources of protein for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. We should be striving for somewhere between 10-15% of our daily calories in the form of protein. Or, an easy way to figure out your daily protein requirement is to take your weight in pounds, divide it in half, then subtract 10. So if you weigh 140 pounds, you would need 60 grams of protein per day. Here are the top vegetarian sources of protein, along with how many grams they contain per serving: Beans and Lentils - 12-14 g per cup cooked (beans) and 18 g per cup cooked (lentils) - Beans and lentils are excellent sources of protein. Either look for organic brands that use BPA-free cans, and rinse the beans well before using, or buy dry beans and cook them at home, which is much cheaper! Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and red, brown and green lentils are all delicious and very versatile! Nuts and Seeds - 3 to 7 g per 1/3-cup (nuts) and 2 to 5 g per 1/3-cup (seeds) - Nuts, seeds, and their butters are very tasty and nutritious protein sources. A handful of almonds is a great mid-morning snack, and some almond or sunflower seed butter is a delicious spread on a piece of toast or some apple slices. Hemp - 12 g per oz (powder) and 6 g per oz (seeds) - Hemp is special because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Add a scoop of powder into your morning smoothie or sprinkle some seeds over a salad for a healthy protein boost. Check out Healthy Planet's wide range of hemp products. Milk and Yogurt - 8 g per cup (milk) and 20 g per cup (greek yogurt) - Whether you drink cow's milk or a non-dairy alternative like almond milk, you'll get somewhere between 7 and 9 grams of protein per cup. And organic greek yogurt packs a huge protein punch! Again, stay away from soy milk since it's highly processed and most likely contains GM soy. Vegetables - 1 cup of green peas (9 g), spinach (5 g), or broccoli (5 g) on your dinner plate is an easy way to include some green veggie-based protein in your diet. Either fresh or frozen, these three are a great addition to any diet. Chia Seeds - 5 g per oz - Although they should be included with the nuts and seeds section, chia seeds really deserve a section all their own since, like hemp, they are a complete protein. They contain twice the potassium of a banana, three times more iron than spinach, and are high in dietary fibre. Sprinkle some over cereal, soups, and salads, or add some to a smoothie. Healthy Planet also carries a nice range of chia products. Grains (ancient, sprouted, multi) - Quinoa (9 g per cup), oatmeal (6 g per cup), and sprouted grain breads (7-10 g) are a healthy addition to a vegetarian diet, since they provide a high amount of protein, and quinoa is also gluten-free! Some oatmeal is also gluten-free, but you must check the label. Check out Healthy Planet's selection of quinoa products and gluten-free oats. What About Tofu and other Soy Products? Though it's true that soy products contain some of the highest amounts of protein, tofu is one of the most highly processed products on the market today. Nearly all of the soy being produced now is genetically modified (GM), and even if you purchase organic soy products, there is no guarantee that those crops have not been contaminated by GM soy. Recent studies have also shown soy to be a hormone-disruptor, as it contains phytoestrogens, causing it to mimic estrogen in the body. Tempeh, on the other hand, which has been consumed by Asians for many generations, is a fermented soy product and is much healthier and more nutrient-dense than tofu. What are your favorite vegetarian sources for protein? Have anything to add to this list? Share your tips in the comments!