Processed vs. Non-Processed Gluten-Free Food

Over the past decade, more people than ever have gained awareness and insight to the health problems associated with foods with gluten. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have benefited from reworking their diet to be gluten-free (or gluten-less), including those with celiac disease to the simply gluten-sensitive. Last year, gluten-free product sales reached an all time high of $23 billion per year!

But not all gluten-free products are good for you. In fact, many people make some common, health-harmful mistakes when trying to make their diet gluten-free. Specifically, “the gluten-free specialty food aisle contains some of the most heavily processed food in the grocery store that won’t do your body any favors,” as one blogger noted.

Processed gluten-free foods are not good for you, despite the lack of gluten. Why not? These foods usually contain some or many of the following bad-for-you ingredients:

  • Additives
  • Refined/GMO sugars
  • Inflammatory oils such as canola, soy and cottonseed oil

Most gluten-free foods are also often not organic. “If you go completely gluten-free without the guidance of a nutritionist, you can develop deficiencies pretty quickly,” said Laura Moore, R.D., a dietitian at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, in a Consumer Reports review.

This is because many processed gluten-free foods are often made with replacement flours and/or starches that don’t bring any nutritional benefit. These include tapioca starch, potato starch, corn, soy lecithin/soybean oil or rice flour. When used alone, as many gluten-free food makers do, these flours and starches make seemingly healthy gluten-free foods unhealthy, and full of empty calories.

Tapioca starch, for starters, is high in carbs but has hardly any protein, fiber, vitamins or minerals. Without being balanced with whole grains and nutrient-rich flours, the empty calories in tapioca and the other starchy flours will likely spike your blood sugar — sometimes even more than refined sugar! High insulin levels follow, which blocks mobilization of fat and encourages inflammation so you will actually gain weight, instead of losing it.

In contrast to what many gluten-free food makers do, Manini’s balances our gluten-free products with lots of Ancient Grains, which are full of important vitamins, minerals, and protein. Your Manini’s pasta and bread products are excellent sources for protein, fiber, and key minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. In fact, every serving of Manini’s pasta contains 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, and the buns and rolls are high in both as well.

Also, while many gluten-free foods are made with processed sugars that contain GMOs, Manini’s uses non-GMO, organic cane sugars. Don’t be fooled! If sugar is listed on the nutritional label, it’s probably processed sugar that contains GMOs, unless it’s specified as ‘cane sugar’.

Worse than processed sugars or empty calories, approximately half of gluten-free products today contain rice in some form, which has reportedly been found to contain measurable levels of arsenic. Not only is arsenic poisonous, it’s a potent carcinogen. This is why Manini’s doesn’t use rice in our gluten-free products, so you can trust that they are arsenic-free as well as being gluten-free!

So what to do? Stick with whole, clean, unprocessed gluten-free foods. Examples include vegetables and fruits (no surprises there), beans, seeds, lentils and nuts. Other tips for effectively and healthfully eating a gluten free diet are as follows:

  • Bake with nutrient-rich flour substitutes such as almond meal, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, chickpea flour, sorghum flour, coconut flour, or teff flour.
  • Choose only the gluten-free pastas that are made from beans or lentils (or the flours listed above, like Manini’s gluten-free pastas!).
  • Make your own veggie pastas from zucchini or spaghetti squash.
  • Use quinoa instead of rice for dishes that normally call for rice.
  • Buy gluten-free breads (if you can’t make your own), such as Manini’s buns and rolls with nutrient-rich grains such as teff, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, or quinoa (avoid ones with brown rice).
  • Use butter lettuce or collard greens instead of corn tortillas.
  • Make your own pizza crusts with cauliflower.
  • Choose raw/clean snack foods with organic seeds, dried fruit, and/or nuts.
  • Here are some additional tips for a healthy gluten-free diet.

Manini’s gluten-free pastas, breads and rolls, flours and other products are all made with our custom-blended flour from nutrient-rich Ancient Grains. We use five primary grains, including amaranth, millet, teff, sorghum and quinoa — instead of less nutritious gluten-free grains like corn and rice. When you enjoy our gluten-free products, your body will thank you for the good-for-you protein, fiber, and minerals that our pastas and bread products naturally contain.

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