To be, or not to be, gluten-free? This is the question on our minds this month at Hinode rice.
Wading through all the information about gluten-free diets can be daunting. So, we offer this guide to help you better understand what gluten is, why some people choose not to eat it, which grains have it and how to cook gluten-free with Hinode rice.
Most people accurately associate wheat with gluten. But what about rice? It’s a carbohydrate like wheat, so does rice also contain gluten? According to a recent study by NSF International, nearly half of consumers think it does.
So, it might surprise you to find out that rice is naturally gluten-free!
Of course, there are so many types of rice it’s worth questioning if they are all gluten-free. What about “glutinous” rice, which is often used in making mochi desserts, or packaged rice mixes?
Let’s start with a basic definition of gluten. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in grains like wheat, rye and barley. It’s formed by two molecules, glutenin and gliadin, that come in contact to form a bond. This bond creates an elastic membrane that acts like a glue to help foods, such as baked goods, maintain their shape and chewy texture. Gluten also traps carbon dioxide, which as it ferments, adds volume to carbohydrates like a loaf of bread.1
Want to actually see how gluten works? Watch this amazing demonstration video from America’s Test Kitchen.
Inherently, there’s nothing scary or bad about gluten. Wheat and other gluten-containing grains are staples of diets around the world that humans have been eating for thousands of years.
However, for people with celiac disease (a hereditary autoimmune disorder affecting about one percent of the population) gluten can damage their digestive system. This is because they have an immune response to gluten if they ingest it, even in small amounts. Essentially, this immune response damages villi, which are the small finger-like projections that line the small intestine and absorb nutrients from food into the body.2
Beyond those diagnosed with celiac disease, other people choose not to eat gluten for a variety of reasons. Some believe they feel better without it, relieving various digestive and health issues, and are categorized as having non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Researchers are only beginning to explore this condition, and there is some evidence that gluten alone may not be responsible for the symptoms. Rather, an entire group of poorly digested carbohydrates called FODMAPs could be the cause. There are also many Americans who simply choose to eliminate gluten from their diet or try to cut down on gluten as a dietary preference.3 , 4
I’M GLUTEN-FREE, CAN I EAT RICE?
Regardless of how you approach gluten, it’s helpful to know that all rice, in its natural form, is gluten-free! This includes every variety of short, medium or long grain rice. From brown whole grain rice to enriched white rice and even special varieties like jasmine, basmati, red and black. Wild rice, which is technically not rice but a water grass by the scientific name Zizania, is also naturally gluten-free.
And, even though it may sound counter-intuitive, glutinous rice is gluten-free! Glutinous rice is also commonly called sticky rice or sweet rice. The term glutinous is used to describe its sticky texture rather than the presence of gluten.
Glutinous rice is distinguished from other types or rice by its very low levels of amylose and high amylopectin content, which are the two types of starch in rice. Amylopectin is responsible for the sticky qualities of rice. Farmers looking for this quality developed glutinous rice by selecting a single genetic mutation.5 The best news in all of this is that anyone who is gluten-free can enjoy all of the glutinous sticky rice they want!
One thing to look out for on a gluten-free diet is flavored rice mixes. Although rice in its natural state is gluten-free, gluten may be present when it is combined with other ingredients in packaged blends. Always check the ingredients listed on pre-cooked, quick-cooking or boxed rice mixes and look for gluten-free labels.
Below are two charts that identify which grains contain gluten and which are naturally gluten-free.
Now let’s put this knowledge to our own personal test in the kitchen. With a growing list of creative, gluten-free bloggers online, there are endless recipes to try with Hinode rice. Here are some of our favorites to get you started.
Easy to throw together on a weeknight, this hearty dish with warm spices and fall apple flavors will bring everyone to the table.
Less clean up and more left overs! Enjoy this simple, one-pot meal that your family will want to eat again, and again.
Black Rice, Kale and Eggplant Pilaf
This is a healthy, filling “family salad” that everyone can customize to their picky eaters.
A comforting, fall dessert that can bring your family together at the end of a busy day.
Here are additional articles and sites you may enjoy.
Gluten and Grains
- Whole Grains Council http://www.wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/gluten-free-whole-grains
- USA Rice Foundation http://www.thinkrice.com/nutrition/gluten-free
- “What’s So Bad About Gluten?” The New Yorker, November 2013 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/03/grain
- Celiac Disease Foundation https://celiac.org
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness http://www.celiaccentral.org
- Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/basics/definition/con-20030410
- “Celiac Disease, a Common, but Elusive, Diagnosis.” The New York Times, September 2014 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/celiac-disease-diagnosis-gluten/?_r=0
- “When Gluten Sensitivity Isn’t Celiac Disease.” The New York Times, October 2014 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/06/when-gluten-sensitivity-isnt-celiac-disease/?_r=1
Additional Gluten-Free Rice Recipes
- Pinon Rice Bake with Artichokes and Goat Cheese http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2006/08/pinon-rice-bake.html
- Mango and Forbidden Rice Spring Rolls http://yumuniverse.com/mango-forbidden-rice-spring-rolls-with-spicy-sweet-orange-sauce-toasted-almond-sauce/
- Vegetable Fried Rice with Pineapple http://beardandbonnet.com/vegetable-fried-rice-pineapple-gluten-free-vegan/
- Saffron Rice with Sofrito http://beardandbonnet.com/saffron-rice-with-soffritto-gluten-free-and-vegan/
- One-Pot Butternut and Cabbage Stew with Whole-Grain Rice http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/one-pot-pumpkin-cabbage-stew/
- Specter, Michael. “What’s So Bad About Gluten?” The New Yorker. N.p., 3 Nov. 2014. Web. 28 Oct. 2015. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/03/grain
- “What Is Celiac Disease? – Celiac Disease Foundation.” Celiac Disease Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2015. https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/
- Barclay, Eliza. “Sensitive To Gluten? A Carb In Wheat May Be The Real Culprit.” NPR. NPR, 22 May 2014. Web. 28 Oct. 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/05/22/314287321/sensitive-to-gluten-a-carb-in-wheat-may-be-the-real-culprit
- Haspel, Tamar. “Think You’re Gluten-sensitive? It Might Really Be FODMAPs.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/before-you-conclude-that-youre-gluten-sensitive-consider-fodmaps-foods/2015/02/09/a66349fa-6c19-11e4-a31c-77759fc1eacc_story.html
- “NC State Geneticists Study Origin, Evolution Of “Sticky” Rice.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 Oct. 2002. Web. 28 Oct. 2015. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021023064638.htm