Rice and the Gluten-Free Diet
Celiac disease (CD) is an inherited autoimmune disorder with symptoms ranging in severity from abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea, to anemia, joint pain and skin disorders, to name a few. It is estimated that CD affects 1 in 133 people in Canada and these numbers are growing. In fact, this segment of the population is increasing so much that according to a survey sanctioned by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association (CFRA), foodservice professionals agree that gluten-free entrÃÂ©es, that may include rice, are an 'up-and-coming' menu trend.
Individuals with CD or gluten sensitivity are restricted to a gluten-free diet (GFD). This means avoiding proteins found in the grains wheat, rye and barley. The alternative, for most, is to resort to purchasing gluten-free products. However, these products are often priced at a premium and, more importantly, can be low in fibre, iron and B vitamins.
A healthy and cost-efficient gluten-free grain alternative for those with CD is rice. Brown or white rice is an excellent source of protein with eight essential amino acids, and contains 15 vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, potassium and iron and, in the case of brown rice, selenium and fibre. Rice is also allergen-free, low in calories and contains no cholesterol, sodium or fat. According to Canada's Food Guide, a half-cup (125 mL) of brown rice equals one serving of a whole grain. Children require three to six servings of grain products per day, while adults require six to eight.
Shelley Case, RD, a leading international celiac nutrition expert and Canadian Celiac Association professional advisory board member, suggests incorporating rice into your daily diet whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Listed below are some of Case's recommended ways to make this gluten-free grain a staple in your GFD:
Start the day with cream of brown rice hot cereal; add dried fruit, a spoonful of ground flax and dash of vanilla and cinnamon.
Cook double batches of rice to have on hand for the next meal. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to six months.
Add rice to homemade soups or cooked rice to canned soups.
Extend meatloaf or hamburger patties with cooked rice.
Mix rice with beans in southwestern-inspired recipes.
Brown rice flour adds fibre and a nutty flavour in baked goods. Whether using brown or white rice flour, it is best combined with other GF flours to make a better textured product than using a single GF flour.
More healthy and delicious gluten-free inspired recipe ideas can be found online at www.riceinfo.com.