Gluten allergies affect millions of people worldwide. Roughly 2 million people in the United States alone have Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that impacts the digestive system. Those who must avoid gluten need to rely on alternative diets to remain healthy, and such diets often left St. Patrick's Day revelers looking far and wide for foods they could safely digest but still enjoy all the festivities of Patty's Day. But now anyone can enjoy the sounds and tastes of St. Patrick's Day with just a few modifications.
No St. Patrick's Day celebration is complete without a healthy portion of traditional Irish soda bread. And thanks to the wide variety of alternative flours on the market, a batch of bread can be made that is acceptable for someone with a gluten allergy or Celiac disease. Try this soda bread recipe, courtesy of Celiac.com.
Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup raisins or currants, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
Preheat oven to 350* F and line a standard loaf pan or baking dish with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients until well-incorporated. In a second bowl, stir together buttermilk, butter, honey, egg and soaked raisins.
Hollow out a small well in the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet mixture. Stir until combined and sticky. Form into a loaf and transfer to baking pan. Cook for 35-40 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool and remove from parchment-line dish.
Toasting St. Patrick and the luck of the Irish would normally be a problem with a gluten intolerance (yes, beer contains gluten), but in the last 10 years or so a growing number of specialty breweries have begun experimenting with gluten-free beers. Earlier attempts were grainy and not very palatable, but now it's possible to find beers that are refreshing and taste good despite their lack of gluten. Choose among Omission Lager, Bard's Tale Beer, New Grist Beer, Green's Discovery, Endeavor and Quest Gluten-Free beers.
Potatoes and more ...
Potatoes are naturally gluten-free so it is safe to include any and all potato varieties in your St. Patrick's Day feast. Mix up a large bowl of mashed potatoes or boil potatoes to go along with a traditional corned beef. Colcannon, or a potato and cabbage dish, can be enjoyed without worry.
Those preparing Irish sausages (bangers) can substitute rice or potato flour for the bread crumbs included in some recipes. Otherwise, forego the breadcrumbs altogether.
Irish stew is another traditional dish that can be made without any substitutions. Lamb, potatoes, carrots, and herbs are the primary ingredients of Irish stew, so it is easy to stick to a gluten-free diet and enjoy this St. Patrick's Day staple.
The Irish recognize the importance of a hearty breakfast. The main part of an Irish breakfast consists of a "fry up," which includes meat, bread, vegetables, eggs, pudding, and other ingredients that are shallow-fried in a pan. In place of wheat bread, use a potato bread or another gluten-free variety in the fry up. This will provide the texture without the gluten.
St. Patrick's Day is right around the bend, and those who have dietary restrictions due to gluten intolerance can still enjoy many of the dishes synonymous with this beloved holiday.