Fruits and Vegetables

An apple a day really does keep the doctor away, and the best part is they’re Naturally Gluten-Free!

As are all whole, fresh fruits and vegetables.

The USDA says make half your plate veggies and fruit.  Canada’s Food Guide say’s 7-8 servings per day for women, 8-10 for men.  Though I have some issues with both of these guides, in this case they give very good advice.

Fresh is always best! 

Whole, fresh produce, the way it came from the garden is “live” food.  This means it contains enzymes that our bodies need to function and most importantly, to digest our food.  For those of us with digestive issues this is especially important.  And with fresh fruits and vegetables you’ll never have to worry about gluten.  How peachy is that?!  Worry free eating for a celiac  :)

Organic vs. Conventionally Grown

This is kind of the hot potato issue of the day isn’t it?  So why should a celiac give a fig? (Sorry about that)

Well let’s think about what we’re really trying to accomplish.  It’s all about getting healthy right?  To gain control of our health through the food we eat.  You and I have compromised digestive systems and we need to look beyond just the gluten, beyond just the celiac disease.  There is an undeniable increase in diet related illness these days.  What could be the cause?  I’m not saying pesticides and chemical fertilizers cause celiac, but does it make sense to stress our bodies with these things while we’re trying to heal?

The reasons to eat organic fruits and vegetables are many, from reducing our own intake of harmful chemicals, to taking better care of our soil and our planet.  For more on this google the Pesticide Action Network.  I also highly recommend both “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan.  Once you have the inside story on our food system and what the real consequences are, you’ll never again question whether it’s worth it.

So for your gluten free fruit and vegetable needs, choose produce that is organic, in season and local as much as you can. 

Alternatives to the Supermarket

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are an excellent place to find the best that your region has to offer.  I love browsing the market and talking to the farmers.  There’s something very heartening about connecting directly with the people who produce our food.  Taking out the miles of middle men and paying the farmer directly for what he or she grows.  I’d much rather give my money to a farmer than to the CEO of a multinational food chain. 

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

You can also find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) delivery service in your area.  They’ll source seasonal fresh produce, local where possible and often deliver it right to your door.  You may find you’ll discover new and wonderful varieties you may not have tried if you were shopping in the supermarket choosing the same things week after week.  Here's a link to Durham Organics, the one I use to give you an idea.  Here is an Ontario CSA Directory.  A little bit of web research should turn up something local for you.

Frozen is the next best thing

Freezing retains more of the nutrients than canning so it’s a great idea to keep a few bags of mixed vegetables in the freezer for those nights that you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to prepare from scratch, or if the crisper is running low.  A little boiling water on the stove and your gluten free veggies are ready in minutes.  Or you can even do them up in the microwave.  Put a bit of water in the bottom of a microwave dish, push the button and presto! Drain, add a little salt and butter and there you go.

One of my favourite treats is frozen berries topped with plain yogurt, a small handful of nuts and little maple syrup.  Instant sundae!  The yogurt freezes just a little from contact with the berries and the maple syrup adds just a touch of sweetness.

You can also make lovely fruit compotes to top your toast or gluten free pancakes.

Canned Fruits and Veggies (where the gluten hides)

Cans are not a big part of my gluten free fruits and vegetables selection for a few reasons. 

  • Canned foods are where most of the food additives are found and that’s often where the gluten hides
  • Canned foods are highly processed which destroys enzymes and the nutritional value
  • Canned food has been shown to contain a harmful chemical called BPA which is used to treat the linings of the cans and it also used in some plastic bottles.  Some food producers are eliminating this due to public awareness, but are we comfortable with what they are replacing it with?

I can’t say I’ve totally eliminated cans from my pantry, but I’m working on it.  A good rule of thumb if you are looking for prepared foods (besides to always read the label) is to look for glass jars rather than cans or plastic bottles.

So naturally gluten-free fruits and vegetables really are the cornucopia of life.  There are so many delicious choices and so many wonderful ways to prepare them.

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