Westchester Hosptial Dietitian Discusses Going Gluten Free

Posted on: August 19, 2013

Going Gluten-Free

by Amy Rosenfeld, MS, RD, CDN, Northern Westchester Hospital

gluten free stampIs everyone you know going gluten-free? While a gluten-free diet is trendy, it is less appropriate for weight loss but crucial in the treatment of celiac disease.

A protein found in wheat, rye, barley and most oats (although there are some certified gluten-free oat products), gluten is the base of bread products and works as an emulsifier and thickener in packaged foods. In healthy individuals, gluten is perfectly healthy. For celiac patients, however, gluten damages the small intestines, causing inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients. Over time, nutrient deficiencies and conditions can develop, including osteoporosis or poor growth in children.

Although not medically necessary, many individuals feel better going gluten-free. These individuals may be gluten-intolerant and can follow a gluten-free diet.

Foods that contain gluten include anything with flour, such as breads, cereals, pastas, pastries, crackers, pretzels; certain sauces and condiments and fried foods. Gluten-containing grains include bran, farina, semolina, graham, bulgur, einkorn, emmer, farro, spelt, or kamut. Always read ingredients; look out for key words “hydrolyzed wheat protein, malt, and dextrin.”

With celiac disease, be wary of cross-contamination. Keep all gluten-free items separate, using different cooking and serving utensils. When dining out, ask specific questions about food preparation, ensuring a safe option.

Nutritious, naturally gluten-free grains are rice, quinoa, amaranth, and millet. You can bake gluten-free with nut, legume and quinoa flours. Fresh fruits & vegetables, dairy products, corn, potatoes, unprocessed meats, poultry, fish, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, and eggs are naturally gluten-free. Focus on eating fresh, gluten-free foods for the healthiest diet. For more information, please visit www.celiac.org.

For more healthy and delicious recipes, visit the www.nwhc.net/Nutrition.

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Quinoa Salad (Yield: 6 servings)


1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 red onion, diced
1 cup corn kernels
1 red pepper, diced
2 cups of low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 whole avocado, cubed
1 lime, juiced
¼ cup of salsa


1)      In a large mixing bowl, toss together all ingredients until well-combined. Serve warm or cold.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 257 calories, 7.0 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 61 mg sodium, 40.1 g carbs, 9.4 g fiber, 10.3 g protein

Baked Chickpeas (serves 12)

2 cups of low-sodium canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Pinch of pepper


1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2) Rinse and drain the canned chickpeas and dry thoroughly. Remove all excess skins.

3) Toss with the olive oil. Combine all seasonings in a small bowl. Toss the chickpeas in the spice/cheese mixture.

4) Roast the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking tray for about 15 minutes on each side (flipping the beans once) until the beans are crunchy but not burned. Serve when cooled.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 147 calories, 4.2 g fat, 1.1 g saturated fat, 52 mg sodium, 20.6 g carbs, 5.8 g fiber, 8.0 g protein

Other varieties: Try cinnamon with honey or paprika with chili powder (replacing the garlic powder and parmesan cheese).

Editor’s Note:  See also post by Dr. Elie Abemayor MD, Chief of Gastroenterology at NWH about the condition of celiac.