Archive for April 23, 2014

Let’s Talk About Gluten

talk about gluten

Wheat is the third most produced cereal crop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s Talk About Gluten

  1. What is Gluten?
  2. Where does it come from and what does it do for us?
  3. Will somebody please tell me why do we need it?

Have you asked yourself any of these questions lately? Well if you haven’t, I bet you have heard somebody somewhere mention the word ‘gluten’ in a conversation.

I decided to do a little research and bring some insight to this topic. To start with, gluten is a Latin word meaning “glue.”

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a plant protein found in foods that are processed from wheat and other grains like barley, rye and spelt (flour). It is actually what gives food items its chewy texture, licorice would be one good example. It also helps dough to have elasticity when you add a bit of water to it. This is helpful when making a pie crust or a pizza. Increasing moisture content in dough is what causes gluten to develop. Gluten is the piece to the puzzle that makes the dough rise!

Bread flour has a higher content of gluten than pastry flour. When wheat gluten is cooked in broth, the gluten absorbs some of the liquid and thus becomes firm to the bite thereby imitating the following:

  • beef
  • chicken
  • duck
  • fish
  • pork

Wheat Gluten

Wheat gluten, sometimes referred to as seitan (Japanese), is a product used in many vegetarian restaurants. Asian, Buddhist and macrobiotic cuisine use this instead of meat.

There are two components of gluten, one called gliadins and the other is glutenins, that are added proteins. Gliadin is the protein that is in all 3 parts of a wheat kernel. You might find this video interesting The Gluten Quality Of Different Grains (Video) | LIVESTRONG.COM

  1. Germ contains the plant embryo, which gives bread the ability to rise properly while baking.
  2. Endosperm makes up the kernel which is usually ground up into flour.
  3. Bran is the outer coating of the kernel or (wheat seed) is the very tough and  fibrous part of the wheat berry. This tough coating is removed at the processing point.

Processing of wheat bran and other whole grains most often lead to a major loss in nutritional properties e.g. fiber, folic acid and iron:

  • Fiber – helps to keep our colon clean by eliminating constipation. It helps our body to slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream.
  • Folic acids – B vitamins play a huge part in helping the body to make new healthy cells.

    “it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.” CDC – Folic Acid Homepage – NCBDDD

  • Iron – An essential mineral found in our red blood cells. It helps the body to convert carbohydrates and fats into energy.

talk about gluten pictureWhole grains are concentrated sources of not only fiber but biotin, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc to name a few more.

Know the Facts

When you talk about gluten or have a discussion about going gluten free it is so important to know the facts before you do so. The one thing you don’t want to do is rob your body of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

People with health issues such as celiac disease and wheat sensitivities find it necessary to drop gluten from their diet.

My recommendation for anyone desiring to go gluten free, who do not have health issues, would be to first speak with their doctor or a registered dietitian. I believe that one of the problems causing more and more people to want a gluten free diet stems from the increase of heavy spraying of pesticides. These chemicals are extremely toxic at high levels.

Wheat grain has been associated with a condition known as brain fog and digestive problems.

Foods that contain gluten

Moving on, here are a list of some food items that contain gluten, you may or may not be aware of.

Cereals
Cookies
Crackers
Beer
Broths
Deli meats
Flavored coffees
Hot dogs
Pasta
Salad dressings
Soups
Medications
Imitation  seafood
Processed food
Seasonings and soy sauce

Food for thought…if a product is not labeled gluten free….well just go ahead and assume that it does contain gluten.

In regards to medications for those of you with concerns, consult with a pharmacist. Ask if gluten is in your medication and if it is what alternatives are there.

♦ Chef Ann’s Talk About Gluten Nutrition Tips: Now then after reading all of this and believe me there are plenty more foods that can ride this list. Let’s talk about gluten a little more with a few more tips from Chef Ann.

For those of you that will choose to go gluten free:

  1. Get ready to do some serious research
  2. Read all product labels
  3. Learn how to find key words that will help you to know gluten is in the product.
  4. Do not be afraid to ask questions, there are no stupid questions!
  5. Be ready to pay more at the grocery market.
  6. Be proactive and call some of the manufactures, Corporations, government agencies and politicians. Make noise and talk about the things that are important to you!

My conclusion in the grand scheme of things is one word and that is moderation! Instead of totally eliminating gluten from my diet, I choose to change my consumption. I feel I know the facts about gluten and now all I have to do is use wisdom.

The original plan was to come up with a blog that would be informative for my audience. My hope is that you leave with more information than you started out with. Please do not hesitate in leaving a comment on my website.

Thank you so very much for lending me your eyes, now it’s your turn, Let’s Talk About Gluten!

Pork Loin Chops – Baked or Smothered

picture of baked pork loin chops

picture of smothered pork loin chops

Description

These lovely pork loin chops can be taken to another level just by smothering them in my delicious gravy. Pork loin chops baked or smothered with sweet peppers and onions, such a savory dish.This takes comfort to a whole new place!

Ingredients

  • 2 large pork loin chops
  • 1 small red onion thinly chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper thinly chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper thinly chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper thinly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of cream sherry
  • ½ teaspoon mild chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Pinch of salt

♦ Chef Ann’s Notes: This portion is optional for those that do not care for gravy.

Ingredients for Gravy:
  • 1 cup of chicken broth (low sodium or sodium free)
  • 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Directions

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Preparation before cooking
  • Rinse pork chops in cold running water and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Wash and scrub all bell peppers thoroughly in cold water before cooking.
  • Peel onion and rinse in cold water and set aside.
  • In a small bowl add chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and mix with fork.
  • Place chops on a medium size dish, slightly prick one side several times with a fork.
  • Pour cream sherry over both chops on prick side only.
  • With your fingers evenly spread or sprinkle dry ingredients of spices on both sides of chops.
  • Cover and place in refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.
  • Chop red onion and all bell peppers in thin small pieces (julienne style) Remove and discard all seeds from the peppers.
Preparation while cooking
  • Remove chops from refrigerator and place in a cast iron skillet or in a baking pan.
  • Cover with lid and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. It will depend on the thickness of your meat. You want to make sure they are completely done inside .
  • You can make a small cut in each chop to make sure it is done or use a meat thermometer.
  • There should be no pink or red inside.

♦ Chef Ann’s Notes: This portion is also optional for those that do not care for gravy.

Creating your Gravy
  • Remove chops from skillet or baking pan and set aside and cover.
  • Place skillet or pan on medium heat and add flour to the meaty bits and pieces left in the pan.
  • With a fork or whisk vigorously stir and scrape the bottom of the iron skillet or pan making sure to lift all the tasty bits stuck to the bottom.
  • Add chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce and continue to whisk, increasing the heat almost to a boil but not quit.
  • Add crushed garlic, ground coriander and cumin stirring constantly until gravy starts to thicken, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Turn heat down low and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place chops in with the gravy, cover with lid and place back into the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, dinner will be ready in five minutes!
Cooking

Five minutes before removing Smothered chops from the oven, prepare to cook peppers.

  • In a medium size pan at medium high heat, add 1 teaspoon of rice bran oil or olive oil.
  • Add onion, peppers and a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir for about 3-4 minutes then cover and remove from heat.
  • You want a slight bite of crispness to your peppers when you serve them.

All I can say at this point is Bon Appetite!

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 2

♥ Chef Ann’s ‘Pork Loin Chops’ Tip:
  • I prefer the loin when cooking a pork dish. Because the loin is a better cut of meat. It is always lean, tender and juicy if you cook it properly.
  • Always cook pork thoroughly to eliminate an possible parasites.
  • Also if you can’t cook with wines, you may substitute with a sweet vinaigrette or Worcestershire sauce.
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