Heights residents explore gluten free lifestyle

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Gluten-free chef and freelance writer Lisa Howard discusses wheat during a session about a gluten-free lifestyle at Caroline Kennedy Library July 8.

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Gluten-free chef and freelance writer Lisa Howard discusses wheat during a session about a gluten-free lifestyle at Caroline Kennedy Library July 8.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Dearborn Heights residents filled Caroline Kennedy Library for an informative session about gluten-free lifestyle.

Michigan-based chef and freelance writer Lisa Howard shared her tips on how to make delicious gluten-free dishes.

“Eating gluten-free doesn’t just have to be for a medical reason,” Howard said. “It can also be used to make your body feel better.

Gluten is defined as a protein composite found in wheat and grains, such as durum, emmer, spelt, farina, faro, rye, barley and triticale.

The protein is mostly known for its use in dough, which helps the dough rise and gives it elasticity.

“A gluten-free diet or lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to give up on your favorite foods and recipes,” Howard said. “Your food can still taste good.”
During the session, Howard shared her story on living a gluten-free life.

“It started when my dad and my dad’s grandmother would have reactions when they would eat certain foods,” Howard said. “We all got tested and we all had an allergy to the gluten protein.”

Howard was able to get her father to cut out gluten from his diet and as well as her mother during the first two years after her father was diagnosed.
“For me, I was just sick of the stomach pains and rash side effects when eating gluten products,” Howard said. “I also have a thyroid issue, so this lifestyle helps me.”

Howard also explained the best way for others to diagnose themselves, beyond the obvious rash and stomach pains.

“Keep a food journal of all the food you eat,” she said. “The more details you can give the doctor or medical professional, the better for you and them.”

Howard handed out lists including gluten-free tips, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, roots, tubers, starches, sugar, flours and recipe fixes.

Gluten-free grains included corn, rice and millet and nuts listed were almond, hazelnut and peanut.

Seeds with no gluten are sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin; legumes or bean flours included black bean, soy bean and garbanzo.

Gluten-free starches are sweet potato, potato and tapioca, and sugar replacements included coconut sugar, honey and concentrated fruit juice.
Howard also shared ways to tweak recipes or dishes to make them gluten-free.

“A solution for pasta dishes can be using rice, quinoa or corn-based pastas,” Howard said. “For pies, you can use sorghum, oat or nut flours to replace flour with gluten.”

Full lists and with gluten-free recipes, tips and healthy tricks are available at theculturedcook.com.

Attendees were impressed with Howard and the information she provided.

“This session tonight taught me a lot about the gluten-free lifestyle,” attendee Joan Hicks said. “It changed my whole view on eating gluten-free.”
Mary Ann Somers was also pleased with the session.

“Living gluten-free doesn’t mean that food loses its flavor,” she said. “The recipes and tricks shared by Lisa prove that a gluten-free can still include all my favorite foods.”

For more classes, demonstrations and coaching from Howard, email lisa@theculturedcook.com.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)