Yesterday, another beautiful photo of a doughnut came across my FB feed promoting a multitude of gluten free products – doughnuts, a variety of baked goods, and crunchy snacks. I’m annoyed and over the gluten free market. Of course, I am sympathetic to the challenges people face with Celiac’s Disease, (a condition that ranges from mild to severe disruption of digestion and inflammation of the digestive tract resulting in discomfort and malabsorption of nutrients), but do we need to make these people even sicker but promoting a plethora of baked goods?? I’m all for the occasional piece of gluten containing baked good, and think that gluten free options for people with celiac eloquently fill this need. However, gluten free does not mean calorie free, sugar free, or healthy – just means no gluten.
Let’s take a step back. Gluten is the most famous lectin, found in wheat. Any product that contains wheat will contain gluten, and not all of the items we eat are that straightforward. Pastas, breads, crackers and baked goods are usually easy to identify, but gluten can also be found in sauces that have used a roux to thicken, soy sauces, beer, tortillas, energy bars, foods with breading, soups and many others. Oats, a naturally gluten free food, is typically a contaminated crop and manufacturers must certify their product has been found to be free of trace gluten from neighboring crops. Gluten free is certainly hard to navigate in an environment that depends on processed and manufactured foods.
Marketing, as such, has capitalized on the new craze. Many people decide to eat gluten free even if they aren’t compelled by medical necessity, viewing this as a healthier lifestyle. Great! But, let’s define a gluten free lifestyle. Food manufacturing doesn’t make money if you choose to grill a piece of chicken and serve it with a fresh salad (a naturally gluten free meal), but let’s circle back and remember the gluten free doughnut.
There’s nothing wrong with following a gluten free lifestyle without celiac, but be mindful of your choices. Gluten free chips, cookies, doughnuts, protein bars, pea snaps, rice crisps are everywhere and advertised as a gluten free snack. An apple is also gluten free. Add some nut butter. Gluten free. Berries are chock full of fiber, antioxidants and are gluten free. Sautéed or steamed string beans with sea salt are gluten free.
I made a snack yesterday for myself (and for teens!). Preparation was about 5 minutes and our fresh snack was full of nutrients, fiber and gluten free. No highly processed snack. Everyone ate it.

Sesame Broccoli Crowns
In a skillet, melt 2 T coconut oil over medium heat. Add 2 T sesame seeds and cook until golden brown – about 1-2 minutes. Chop broccoli into bit sized crowns and place crown side down in pan. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes. As the oil absorbs into your broccoli, you may see the pan get dry. Add 2 T coconut aminos. If you don’t notice your pan get dry, wait about 1-2 minutes before adding the coconut aminos. Cook until the tenderness you like.
This crunchy snack is robust in flavor and a great source of fiber, vitamin A, B6 and C. Way better than a gluten free doughnut.
I heard you say that there’s no way that your child will eat broccoli for a snack (or you!). Hm. I disagree. Vehemently. If your child has been eating chips, cookies, dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets other salty, sugary snacks for years and then you realize it’s time to offer broccoli – yeah, that may not go smoothly. At first. Think of all those children out there without access to chips and dinonuggets. They survive. Our culture has made snack foods easy and comfortable, but in the long run, may not be a healthy path. There’s no judgement regarding a dinonuggets or doughnuts, but I encourage you to make that a part of your healthy lifestyle, not the foundation.

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