On Gluten-Free Eating… An Important Distinction (and Miniature Chocolate Banana Loaves)

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Let’s talk about gluten-free eating today, shall we?

It seems that gluten-free is the latest craze and it’s everywhere. There are no shortage of gluten-free foods at the grocery store these days. Some of them are great, but many of them are merely junk food lacking gluten. There are plenty of books and diets that promote a gluten-free lifestyle for health… Many of them are based in actual scientific fact. Sadly, some aren’t.

With all of the gluten-free hype, I’m guessing you know a few people (even dozens, perhaps) who have “gone gluten-free” recently. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that there’s at least one of them that can’t even tell you what gluten is or why they stopped eating it. Herein lies the problem.

If you’re a regular reader, you may know that I recently cut back on gluten.  (I cut back on processed foods, sugar, and dairy, as well… But, that seems to draw much less attention.) In the process, I’ve gotten a lot of questions and plenty of blank stares. There are also a handful of people who think it’s just a joke. (A few late night TV hosts have also tried to make a joke out of it lately.)

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So, today I want to talk about gluten-free eating and make a very important distinction.

I am not gluten-free. A few crumbs of wheat bread mixed into my food will not make me sick.

After cutting gluten out of my diet completely for 2 weeks and reading about the effects of gluten (and more generally, wheat and other grains) on the body, I have decided to cut back on it. Do I feel better? Yes. But, I didn’t have a serious problem before. Do I have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity? Maybe, but it’s not serious. In that regard, I am very lucky. And, I know that.

I firmly believe that people have the right to eat (or not eat) what they choose. Gluten seems to get a lot of attention lately, and people get very excited and even angry about it. Honestly, it makes no sense to me. Most of us have something we prefer not to eat for one reason or another. Maybe you don’t like tomatoes and pick them off your sandwiches. Or, perhaps you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. That is all fine and good with me. And, I feel exactly the same way about your choice to eat or not eat gluten.

Here’s the thing… Those of us who have cut a food out of our diet (or cut back on a particular food) by choice need to be especially sensitive to the fact that there are many people who do not have that choice.

I have plenty of friends who will get sick (very sick) if they eat just a trace amount of gluten… or peanuts… or dairy… or eggs. For them, it is not a fad, it is not a diet choice, and it is certainly not a joke.

For that reason, I am careful not to say that “I am gluten-free.” I frequently eat gluten-free foods. But, I am not gluten-free.

I realize that it’s quite popular to say that you are “gluten-free”…  Could that be any more ridiculous?! Unless you have cut gluten out of your life 100% for always and forever, you’re not gluten-free. So, don’t tell your waiter at a restaurant or the person standing in line with you at the supermarket or anyone else that you are.

There are plenty of people who don’t eat tomatoes, but I’ve never heard someone bragging that they are “tomato-free.” I think the tomato haters have it right on this one.

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Miniature Chocolate Banana Loaves (Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free)

Makes 8 miniature loaves (or 12-15 muffins)

Whether you’re actually gluten-free or just enjoy baking with new ingredients, I think you’ll love these miniature loaves of chocolate banana bread. They are naturally sweetened and made without any grains or dairy. They’ve been a big hit each time I’ve made them, especially with my daughter (who couldn’t wait until I was done taking photos to help herself to a snack!).

  • 3 (very) ripe bananas
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (75g) coconut flour
  • ½ cup (75g) almond flour
  • ¼ cup raw cacao powder
    (A good quality baking cocoa would work here, too)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips (optional)
    (I used organic, fair-trade chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a mini loaf pan or line a muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, mash the three bananas until they are mostly smooth.  Add the almond milk, eggs, honey, olive oil, and vanilla. Beat together with a fork until the mixture is well combined.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, almond flour, cacao powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt.

Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients.  Use a spatula to fold the mixture together until the dry ingredients are well incorporated.  Divide the batter among the mini loaves or use a ice cream scoop to portion out the muffins. (I used approximately ½ cup of batter for the mini loaves and a generous ¼ cup of batter for the muffins).

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Sprinkle the tops of the loaves or muffins with sliced almonds and chocolate chips, if desired.

Bake the mini loaves for 20 – 22 minutes and the muffins for 18 – 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean (or with a few wet crumbs).

Let the loaves cool in the pan.  Gently run a knife around the edges to carefully loosen the loaves to remove them from the pan. Muffins with a paper liner will come out more easily… Let them cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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5 Responses to On Gluten-Free Eating… An Important Distinction (and Miniature Chocolate Banana Loaves)

  1. Smith Bites says:

    thank you for this – and you know i love you already but right now? i just want to squeeze you!! (((hugs)))

  2. heatherseattle says:

    Your comment regarding tomato-free eaters – I loved it. I literally laughed out loud. :)

  3. Winnie says:

    Great post, Jen! Years ago, I used to say my blog was gf because I didn’t eat much gluten at that point and I enjoyed baking without it. But then everyone started assuming I had celiac and I felt weird about that (because I don’t- I just didn’t feel great eating a lot of gluten and I eat a very varied diet). Anyway, these days I actually eat more gluten and it works for me just fine! So I do think our bodies change and adapt and food sensitivities can improve with attention to improving the digestion. (of course that doesn’t go for celiac, as you know!) These banana loaves look amazing!

  4. Katie says:

    Thanks for a great post. This is the best most insightful piece I have read about gluten free choice from a non coeliac. As a coeliac myself, I don’t get the choice or gluten or gluten free, but LOVED your comment about people being tomato-free. So true!
    The recipe looks delicious too :)

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