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Which Ethnic Foods Are Safe To Eat?

IndianLunchBananaLeafThe world has grown very small in my opinion.  People travel back and forth between continents as if it’s nothing special.  My friends just got back from Ireland as a matter of fact.  The closest I get to traveling overseas right now is going to the nearest ethnic restaurant.

I’m very adventurous when it comes to food.  I don’t mind trying new flavors and recipes, but since I’m gluten intolerant, I have to be really careful what I eat.   I decided I didn’t want to roll up into a little ball and hide in my gluten free pantry, so instead started learning which foreign dishes are typically gluten free.

There are so many ethnic gluten free foods to talk about, it’s hard to know where to start.  I can’t talk about all of them at once, so will tell you about a few that I know other people have asked about on the Gluten Free Club Forum.

The first question I want to clear up is about sticky rice.  Rice does not contain any gluten and that’s true for sticky rice too. Sticky rice is actually sweet rice.   I love to eat sticky rice at Japanese and Thai restaurants for dessert.  It’s called sticky rice because it has a lot of free sugars in it that make it sticky (what a surprise) when it’s cooked.  So don’t let anyone tell you sweet rice, or sticky rice, has gluten because it certainly doesn’t.

By the way, there is the word “glutinous” and there is the word “gluten”, and people who aren’t in the know are always mixing the words up.  Glutinous means sticky.  Gluten is a protein.  The words have definitions that are worlds apart.

Here’s another fact about an ingredient.  Japanese soy sauce is made with wheat (go figure).  Even Chinese soy sauce can have cross contamination or wheat solids in it.  So unless your bottle of soy sauce is specifically labeled “gluten free” you can’t eat soy sauce (which makes Chinese and Japanese food very tricky for someone who’s gluten intolerant).

I recently discovered hummus.  I always thought it was something only yuppie specialty-food lovers ate, but one day I got really curious and read the label.  Lo and behold, it’s made with chickpeas, garlic and olive oil.  I was amazed, because I love chickpeas on my salad.  Hummus is a great dip for gluten free crackers, and I use it to add extra flavor to tossed salads.  It’s also good for you.

When I go to a Mexican restaurant, I know the guacamole dip is safe to eat with corn chips.  Guacamole sauce is pureed avocados.  Gazpacho soup is a cold soup made from tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and different spices.  I never thought I would like a cold soup, but it’s delicious.  I’ve even made it at home for variety.  You should try it sometime.

These are a few international foods I’ve tried and enjoy.  You should try to be a bit adventuresome with gluten free menu items.  The worst thing you can do is get in a rut and eat the same food over and over again. Without some variety, I promise you boredom will eventually set in.

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