(PRWEB) July 27, 2011
Beans may be the unsung heroes of the food world, but a new booklet co-authored by Carol Fenster aims to give beans a more prominent role in the gluten-free diet. The free, downloadable booklet called Pulses in the Gluten-Free Diet was commissioned by a Canadian organization called Pulse Canada. The term “pulse” is commonly used in Europe and Canada; in the United States pulses are typically called beans.
“Beans are almost the perfect food because they are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber―and they are very low in fat. Plus, they are extremely inexpensive,” says Fenster, who often uses beans in her weekly online cookbook at GfreeCuisine. “People on a gluten-free diet need information on how to incorporate beans into their diets in easy, practical, and tasty ways. The booklet provides tips and recipes for a variety of savory and sweet dishes that make it easier to meet the government’s recommended goal of one and one-half cups of beans per week,” adds Fenster.
Gluten is a protein in wheat and related grains such as rye, barley, and spelt that is safe for most people, but toxic for those with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which gluten inhibits the absorption of nutrients in food and leads to malnutrition. It is also toxic for people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and can cause a diverse set of uncomfortable symptoms.
“The nutrients in beans are especially important when commonly-fortified wheat foods such as breads, cereal, and pasta are avoided because gluten-free versions are rarely fortified and often made with flours that are not nutritionally equivalent to wheat,” says Fenster. “Beans can help fill in those nutrient gaps,” she adds.
Fenster, the author of 10 gluten-free cookbooks, including Gluten-Free 101, teamed up with internationally-recognized dietitian, Shelley Case, RD, to produce the 26-recipe booklet because they want to raise the nutritional level of the gluten-free diet and beans are an inexpensive, practical way to accomplish that goal. Plus, beans are readily available in grocery stores unlike some gluten-free ingredients that may be harder to find.
Beans can be eaten in a variety of ways, such as side dishes or in soups, stews, and casseroles. The booklet explains how to prepare dry beans from scratch in time-saving ways such as using slow-cookers.It also discusses how to use canned beans and Case, the author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide recommends rinsing canned beans until the water runs clear to remove 35 to 40 percent of the sodium.
Another way to use beans is in baking. “Bean flour ―such as chickpea (also known as garbanzo) or white bean―can be used to make breads, cakes, cookies, and bars,” says Fenster. “You can also grind cooked beans into purees with a food processor and then use the puree to replace some of the fat in baked goods.The advantage of using bean flours and bean purees is that they add moisture to baked goods and prolong their shelf life so they don’t get stale as quickly,” says Fenster. Pureed beans can also be used as a binder in savory dishes such as meatloaf.
Fenster and Case suggest adding beans to the diet in small amounts at first to allow time to adjust to the increased fiber, then working up to at least one and one-half cups per week. They agree that “beans are an excellent way to meet the recommended goal of 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day,” but suggest drinking plenty of water to handle the increased fiber.