kitchen myths & fads: to be or not to be gluten-free plus a nutty chocolate chunk banana bread recipe
At the beginning of every New Year, after indulging during the holiday season, many people are ready to turn over a new leaf. New Year’s resolutions vary, but one of the most popular is the resolve to lose weight. Evidence of just how popular this resolution is can be found on the covers of magazines that hold within their covers the secrets to losing weight, cooking segments on morning TV shows that demonstrate lighter versions of everyday meals and on the shelves of our local markets where Slim-Fast cans and diet aids replace baking products and holiday candy.
I can’t help thinking that people are becoming too paranoid with their never ending need to stay thin and lose weight. And, with each New Year there seems to be a fad diet lurking around the corner. Some of these diets have scientific validation, while others are just plain silly. Fad diets are not a modern phenomena and I’m sure they predate 1820, but in that year a popular diet was the vinegar and water diet. During the Roaring Twenties you might try the cigarette diet (1925). In 1950 cabbage sales probably rose as many would participate in the cabbage soup diet. I’m not sure I want a single detail about the tape worm diet of 1954. Of course, most of us can probably remember the Beverly Hills Diet in 1981, Scarsdale Diet in 1987, Atkins’ high protein, low carbohydrate diet in 1994, Raw Food Diet in 2000, South Beach Diet in 2003, and the Gluten-Free diet that has quickly gained popularity.
What is gluten and why do so many people want to be free of it? Gluten is a complex mixture of certain wheat proteins. They are not water soluble, but form connections with water molecules and each other. Gluten contains some of the largest protein molecules found in nature. Gluten is mainly composed of large protein molecules, which are long, chain-like molecules that are built up from smaller molecules called amino acids. It is the bonding and breaking of bonds that create the elasticity or relaxation of wheat flour dough. Wheat gluten food has high protein and low fat content. Gluten is rich in iron, contains other nutrients such as calcium, and it is low in carbohydrates, cholesterol and fats.
Having said that, what does it have to do with dieting and why do people want to be “gluten-free”. Eating gluten free was primarily a decision made for health issues. Gluten-free diets were primarily designed for people diagnosed with celiac disease, which is a chronic digestive disorder. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.
Gluten-free diets used for weight loss purposes have started to become popular because of the Atkins Diet fad. The Atkins diet is very low in carbohydrates, which are found in foods such as bread, crackers, pasta, cereal, and baked goods. It is wonderful that gluten-free products have become more accessible to those who suffer from celiac disease or suffer from intolerance or allergies, but these products are not necessarily low calorie. Dieters cannot eat a massive amount of cookies and expect to lose weight because they are gluten-free. This was true during the fat-free craze.
How does a fad diet start? In the case of the gluten-free diet it is clear that it is riding the coat tails of the Atkins diet. And, when celebrities such as Rachel Weisz, Victoria Beckham, Elisabeth Hasselbeck , Zooey Deschanel, and even Gwyneth Paltrow go on gluten-free cleansing diets they set the example and start a trend. They look great, they say they feel great and therefore it must work. (I’m not saying that any of these stars do indeed use the services of trainers and personal chefs, but they can afford to and wouldn’t that make life easier? The diet may help, but they have a lot of other aides.)
I hate to say it, but a gluten-free diet is not the magical diet that many think it is in spite of all the pre-packaged products in the aisles of grocery stores. Going on a gluten-free diet for a few days may do no harm and may even give your diet a jump-start if it helps you limit calories. But it’s not a long-term weight-loss strategy. A gluten-free diet greatly limits the number of foods you can eat, not to mention the nutrients you need like fiber, Vitamin B and iron. Gluten-free foods can contain more calories, sugar and fat to substitute for the taste and binding nature of gluten.
So, while those with medical conditions may need to eat gluten –free, it is our humble opinion that using a gluten-free diet as a long term weight loss solution is a mistake. Let’s just be clear where I stand on the weight loss issue: Would I love a miracle diet or pill? Absolutely! Do fad diets work for long term goals? No. Dieting is no more complicated than this: Move your body! Exercise and consume fewer calories. Eat a balanced diet to include the correct proportion of fats and carbohydrates.
Our body needs to be balanced, eating smaller portions and the proper balance of food groups while participating in a consistent exercise routine is the only safe, logical and long-term solution. Losing weight isn’t about fad diets and short term goals. Losing weight is about changing a lifestyle. You’ve heard it before and it isn’t the quick fix, easy answer, but it is the truthful answer.
Gluten-Free Recipe Below.
Nutty Chocolate Banana Banana Bread
Adapted from : Shelley Albeluhn
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
1 Cup of mixed nuts
1 Cup of chocolate nibs ( we take our favorite bar of chocolate white or dark)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Gluten-Free Banana Bread Recipe
Recipe by: Taste of Home
2 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4-5 medium)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10
Our Guest Photographer Today is: Isabel Poulin
Photography Tips: Use an ISO setting of 100 to a get dark and sultry outcome.
Model: Canon EOS 30D