This is a guest post by Elsa Larson.
Many people are under the impression that Celiac Disease is an allergic reaction to wheat or wheat products. The Celiac Disease Foundation states that Celiac is an adverse reaction to foods or products that contain gluten; gluten is a protein that can be found in wheat, rye, or barley.
These gluten proteins provoke an attack by the immune system, but the white blood cells end up striking out against nutrient receptors within the body, called vilii, damaging them to the point where a person can no longer absorb the vital nutrients from the foods they eat. Due to this inability to absorb what the body needs to survive, many with Celiac Disease are malnourished, regardless of their food intake.
Celiac is a hereditary disease and, like other autoimmune diseases, you are at higher risk for other diseases, disorders, and complications. Persons with Celiac can also have Lupus, Type 1 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, anemia, and other serious ailments.
Celiac Disease Symptoms
Symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:
- Acid reflux or heart burn – acid reflux is when acid from the stomach gets into the esophagus. This can cause erosion in the esophagus. If you have GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease), you may throw up small amounts seemingly randomly throughout the day. Heart burn is when you have a burning pain which seems to center around the heart, usually caused by eating spicy foods.
- Itching, rash, or dermatitis – the skin may become inflamed, creating blistery, hard red skin or rashes. Dermatitis herpetiformis is a blistering rash caused by gluten sensitivity and can typically be found on the arms, elbows, knees, torso, scalp, and behind. This condition can generally be treated by a gluten free diet and medical ointment.
- Enamel erosion of the teeth – when the enamel of your teeth is worn away, there is no replacing it. Enamel does not grow back; it is the protective cover of your teeth and if you have enamel damage, erosion, or a complete stripping of your enamel, you may need serious and expensive oral procedures or possibly in depth surgery.
- Nervous system injury – this can take form in tingling or numbness in the extremities, or cause balance issues. Prolonged numbness or tingling may be a sign of nerve damage or death.
- Loss of bone density
- Digestive issues – this can range from upset stomach to vomiting. Severity of symptoms will vary person to person.
- Reduced function of the spleen – the spleen filters your blood to make sure nothing bad gets in and messes you up; clean, healthy blood passes through, iron gets stored and reabsorbed, and the unnecessary junk gets tossed in the garbage.
- Joint pain
Children and infants may also experience pain, swollen belly, weight loss, inability to thrive on their own, diarrhea, constipation, stunted growth, later puberty, and neurological conditions such as ADHD, ADD, learning disabilities, headaches, and lack of coordination due to muscle weakness.
While I don’t have any relatives with Celiac, I have known someone with the disease. He also has Type 1 diabetes and probably other conditions I don’t know about. All of the autoimmune diseases I have written about have symptoms that are so common that most people have or have had them, which makes diagnosis hard. I had acid reflux as a child, possibly GERD, to the point where my adult teeth are now at risk due to the enamel loss I have suffered. Teeth are often taken for granted, but dental deterioration can also cause many health and life threatening problems. An untreated cavity can cause infection, which can spread to the jaw and throughout your skeletal and circulatory systems. Take care of yourself, including your teeth!
If you have any combination of the above symptoms, please contact your regular physician. If left unchecked, these symptoms can cause serious problems, illnesses, and otherwise compromise your health. It’s better to be wrong and healthy, than right and undiagnosed.
While going gluten free might seem a little overwhelming, don’t give up. Many of your favorite recipes and treats can be altered to fit the gluten free lifestyle. Some companies even specially make bread and cookies, yum!!
Gluten Free Recipe – Vegan* Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Please, don’t let the name deter you, these are INCREDIBLY delicious and do NOT have to be made Vegan if you prefer having milk, eggs, and butter in your food.
As diabetes and enamel erosion are serious possibilities in those with Celiac Disease, this recipe uses sugar alternatives. These alternatives are in powdered form, as liquid replacements are harder to judge substitutions for and tend to have a strong, unsavory flavor. You may want to play around with the recipe a bit until it suits your taste.
I found a recipe for these when I was doing a bake sale to benefit my college’s performance of The Vagina Monologues last Winter. They are moist and very light; I marketed them as Peppermint Brownie Bites. The original recipe is from GlutenFreeGoddess, but the recipe below has my alterations and suggestions.
What you will need:
- 1 cookie sheet
- Parchment paper
- Two medium to large mixing bowls
- ½ c. Red Mill Gluten Free Tapioca Starch/Flour*
- 1 c. Red Mill Gluten Free Sorghum Flour**
- 1 c. Red Mill Gluten Free Buckwheat Flour**
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- ½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder – I use Hershey’s
- 2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder – I use Hershey’s
- ¾ c. organic white sugar – or substitute regular sugar, xylitol, or stevia
- ¾ c. organic light brown sugar – or substitute regular light brown sugar
- ½ c. dairy free chocolate or carob chips – substitute regular chocolate chips if desired***
- 2/3 – ¾ c. Spectrum Naturals Organic Shortening or coconut oil – or other oil as desired
- 2 tbs. molasses or raw agave nectar
- 7 to 10 tbs. chocolate Chocolate Hemp milk, milk substitute, or milk as desired – I use 10 tbs.
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. organic peppermint extract
- 1 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer, whisked with 1/4 cup warm water – or 2 eggs, if desired
*Tapioca Starch and Tapioca Flour are the same thing. If you don’t like it, please substitute whatever starch you prefer.
**These flour types are a suggestion. Use whatever flour you like or play around with combinations until it tastes/feels right to you.
***I don’t use chocolate chips because I can’t find these materials in my area.
If this is the first time you are making these, it may take some time.
Preheat the oven to 350 and cover your baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl. In the other bowl, mix your wet ingredients, starting with only 7 tbs. of your milk or milk substitute. Make sure that if you are using the Ener-G Egg Replacer, you mix it with water beforehand.
Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients. If your dough is too dry, slowly add a tablespoon more of your milk or milk substitute until to the desired consistency; I use chocolate hemp milk and tend to use the entire 10 tablespoons. The dough should look wet and will be sticky to the touch.
Pinch off a chunk of dough – you can use a scoop, spoons, or plastic wrap to make it into small balls and place onto parchment paper. Dough balls should be approximately 2 inches in diameter and placed two inches apart on the tray.
Baking time will vary depending on the age of your oven and your height above or below sea level. Bake approximately 10-18 minutes. I live above sea level, so my cookies stay in for about 10-12 minutes. As these cookies are chocolate, they’re dark, so be careful to watch for burning.
When done, cookies should be fluffy on top. Take off tray and cool. Eat and enjoy!