Monday, June 20, 2011

Gluten Free Grains

So you have recently adopted the gluten free lifestyle. You are probably feeling stronger, healthier, and more energetic. It couldn't get any better than this, right? Wrong! There are plenty of ways to kick up your new healthier lifestyle. Let us start with some basics, and probably one of the most crucial parts of a person's diet. After all, it plays a major role in the food pyramid, and in your digestive system... Whole grains! 
Going gluten free involves cutting out some of the more traditional grains: Wheat, Rye and Barley. Unfortunately, these are also some of the most popular grains used in the USA today. They are also less nutritious than their whole grain counterparts. So, what are some of the alternatives? 
Quinoa is one fantastic alternative to whole wheat. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, then this is a great way to get your complete protein in. Quinoa is also high in fiber (it keeps you more full for longer), as well as magnesium and iron. Cooking only requires simmering in water, just like rice. Then you can add anything from dressings to vegetables. Get creative!
Amaranth is another great choice when it comes to gluten free nutrition. Not only is it another great source of protein, studies have shown that amaranth is nutritionally similar to oats. It may lower cholesterol levels, decrease the risk for heart disease and lower high blood pressure. Amaranth also improves the immune system with the help of several antioxidants.
Millet is also on the top of the nutritious grains list, matching whole wheat in protein levels. This one outranks the glutenous grains in things like B vitamins, calcium, iron and several other nutrients. It is also commonly used to make gluten free alcoholic products (if you are over 21!)
All of these grains are just as delicious as their whole wheat counterparts, and more nutritious! So if you miss the "healthy" lifestyle you gave up when you switched to the gluten free lifestyle, give these grains a try. You can bake them into gluten free bread, make a hot cereal in the morning, or create nutritious side dishes for everyday meals. Remember, you can always make a good thing better, and healthier!

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