Short Order: Going against the grain

Being diagnosed as a celiac or gluten-intolerant is not unusual in America it is estimated to affect one out of every 133 people.

whole grains 88 (photo credit: )
whole grains 88
(photo credit: )
'You're looking very well, and very slim," I told Gila Goldberg during a recent kiddush held in our synagogue. She was standing to one side and, I noticed, hadn't helped herself to any food. "I'm feeling brilliant," she replied. She went on to tell me about the upturn her life has taken since last October, when she was diagnosed as being celiac, or gluten-intolerant. The condition is not unusual; in America it is estimated to affect one out of every 133 people. "I'd suffered from a bad stomach for many years, but never did anything about it. I thought maybe it was due to overeating. Then my mother persuaded me to see the doctor, who put me on a strict gluten-free diet. "It was dramatic: Within about five days my stomach was normal. This diet has revolutionized my life." Gila now eats nothing containing wheat flour, barley, oats or rye - which explains why she wasn't indulging in any of the crackers, cakes or other typical kiddush fare. "It's basically like keeping Pessah all year round. My friends are already asking for some good recipes! "I've cut out all the stuff I used to enjoy - bread, pasta, biscuits and other nosh. The only carbohydrates I can have are potatoes and rice. You can get bread made of corn flour, but I don't like it. I've adapted ordinary recipes to use potato flour, and instead of barley I use quinoa in soups. I put thin rice noodles in chicken soup instead of lokshen." She eats gluten-free cereal in the morning and takes rice crackers to work. "I have to be careful about dried fruits because they sometimes dry them with flour. And did you know there is wheat in some soy sauce?" It seems one can't be too careful. "There are these chocolates from England of the same make: One kind contains gluten; the other doesn't. I take nothing for granted. "You can get chocolate-covered rice cakes, but I don't bother with them. I have a tendency to put on weight, and now I'm pleased to be losing weight naturally." Now she is diligent about product labels. "Shopping time is longer now because I have to read all the ingredients. It's like keeping kosher in England again - except that 'gluten-free' is my hechsher now." Gila used to be anemic because she wasn't absorbing all the nutrients from her food. "Now I have much more energy, and my digestion is normal. I'm functioning better during the day, and not going to bed at 9 p.m. I feel great." She pays tribute to friends and family. "They've been fantastic. When they invite me for a meal, they check everything. One even went on the Internet to make sure she wasn't giving me any forbidden food. I'm humbled by their concern." HERE'S A recipe that Gila's teenage daughter, Dana, pronounces "very good." GLUTEN-FREE SPINACH GNOCCHI 50 gr. butter or canola oil 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 400 gr. frozen spinach, thawed and chopped 300 gr. ricotta cheese 100 gr. Parmesan cheese, grated 2 eggs 100 gr. potato flour 1⁄4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (from a health food store) gluten-free tomato sauce (Osem's Perfecto) Saute the onion and garlic in the butter (or oil). Add the spinach and mix well. Transfer to a bowl, and place in iced water to cool. Mix the other ingredients together and add the spinach mixture. Roll into small balls. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the balls. The gnocchi are ready when they float to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon and arrange in a baking dish. Pour tomato sauce over them and bake at 180 for 45 minutes. I'M EATING more fish these days, enjoying how it leaves you feeling satisfied but not "heavy." During a recent hotel stay I ignored the meat entrees in favor of the fish option, and felt I had dined royally. For last Friday night I bought a slab of frozen Norwegian salmon. I took it home, thawed it, contemplated it, wondered what to do with it and finally phoned Nechamah Golomb. "Squeeze lemon juice over it," she said, "and leave it for a while. Then drizzle on a bit of olive oil and bake it, loosely covered with foil, on medium heat for 15-25 minutes, depending on your oven. Test for readiness by "pinkness" and by how easily a piece separates using a fork. Don't let it get dry." The result: Fish delish.