Chef Suzy Singh Breaks Down The Gluten-Free Thing

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By Chef Suzy Singh

Editor’s Note: The gluten-free diet is definitely one of the most prevalent and discussed lifestyle choices right now, and we wanted to know what it is really all about and what’s the healthiest way to do it. So, if you’re ready to give up the tasty stuff (pizza, pasta, cake…) for good, check out this scoop from “MasterChef” Season 2 Alum Chef Suzy Singh, who is all about that gluten-free life!

I was born in Chicago, Illinois, to a first generation South Asian Family. Most of the people in my family are doctors, lawyers, or go into business. I ended up choosing to go into neurosurgery as a neural engineer because I was simply fascinated with the brain. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in bioengineering, concentration in neural engineering and a minor in philosophy. I started working as a senior bio-engineer in neurosurgery at the age of 21.  But while I loved what I was doing, I was also overwhelmed and didn’t seem very happy.

On a whim I auditioned for FOX’s “MasterChef ” Season 2 in December 2010, and was fortunate enough to get cast on the show and make it all the way to the Top 4 contestants! The show gave me an amazing platform in the culinary world. After the show I started a collaborative food truck, became a culinary director for several restaurants, and finally found my home and perfect job as the Research and Development Corporate Chef at NOW Foods, a leading manufacturer of natural foods and supplements.

My goal at NOW is to make it easy for people to make natural products a great-tasting part of their daily diet. Within the past few years I’ve learned that people are often intimidated at the prospect of cooking with healthier foods, or they don’t know how to easily incorporate them into their daily routine. I want to make eating better-for-you-foods fun, easy and satisfying. To me there’s nothing better in the world than fresh whole foods that contain no additives or preservatives. That’s why I helped develop Living Now, a new gluten-free, allergy-friendly line of foods with a focus on wholesome ancient grains and flours, as well as baking mixes. Did you know that nearly 30 percent of people are now trying to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle, with the majority doing so because they feel it’s a healthier alternative and not necessarily because they have gluten sensitivity?

However, gluten sensitivity or celiac disease is a big issue for many people. An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease, and 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.

A blog post can’t confirm if you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you think you might have one of these ailments.

However, going gluten free or just cutting back on gluten certainly can’t hurt!  One way to ease into going gluten-free is to stock your pantry with smart alternatives, And the best part is, when you swap them in for the ingredients you know and love, you likely won’t even be able to tell the difference! Here are my five suggestions on how to jump-start your new gluten-free lifestyle in the next week.

FDA Defines Gluten-Free in Food Labeling
First things first: You’re going to want to look for this label.
 

+ Stock essential grains.

Referred to by the ancient Incans as “the mother of all grains”, Quinoa (along with buckwheat and amaranth) is one of the few plant sources to offer a complete set of amino acids, making it a rare plant source of complete protein. It’s naturally gluten-free and a good source of protein and fiber. Quinoa can be an easy substitute for rice in your favorite dishes.

+ Consider 1:1 replacements for wheat-based flours.

Check the labels when shopping, and look for gluten-free all-purpose flours, white rice flours or brown rice flours. All should be made with no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or hydrogenated oils. You can have a gluten-free week without missing your favorite baked goods and recipes!

+ Satisfy a sweet tooth with organic baking mixes.

Try our Living Now Gluten-Free Organic Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix! We added Flax Meal to this brownie to bump up the functionality, flavor, and taste!  You will never know it’s gluten-free!

+ Don’t be afraid to experiment!

To help people achieve a more natural lifestyle, companies are rolling out a greater variety of gluten-free products that don’t sacrifice the taste and texture when used in original recipes. Try a few new products each week to see what you like best.

+ Find easy-to-follow gluten-free recipes.

I’ve given you a head start by crafting a ton of new and simple-to-prepare gluten-free recipes. Visit www.livingnowfoods.com or www.NOWFoods.com/chefsuzyrecipes to find which ones work for you!

Photo: (Getty)