I still have a vivid memory of my parents on Christmas Eve, making breadcrumbs for the sage and onion stuffing which was always put into our turkey. Whilst my mum chopped the onions and fresh sage, my dad would take an enormous loaf of bread, which had been left out to go stale, cut the crusts off, and carefully rub it through a metal colander. This was a yearly ritual throughout my childhood which I continued for many years.
When I mentioned breadcrumbs to my husband, who is strictly speaking a Shetlander but grew up in Aberdeen, he remembered his mother using something like breadcrumbs called Ruskolene to coat fish. I googled this to find out what it was: wheat flour mixed with salt, yeast and paprika colouring. It’s still available today.
Nowadays, I use breadcrumbs made from gluten-free bread and frequently dry them in the oven so that I always have a good supply on hand. There is nothing simpler than blitzing a slice or two of bread in a Nutribullet (or food processor), spreading the crumbs on a baking tray and drying them on a low heat in the oven. They keep for ages in an airtight container and can be used plain or mixed with herbs, spices, chilli etc.
Although the exact cause of gluten intolerance is unknown, most theories revolve around changes in the way that wheat is grown and processed. One theory states that wheat is higher in gluten than it once was because it makes bread “springier” and easier to slice. Another possible cause is the way wheat is grown at a higher rate — bred to produce higher yields or to make it disease-resistant (copied from an article on Healthline)
Unfortunately, many people don’t understand the effects of gluten on someone who is gluten intolerant. They think of it as one of these new fads spreading across the media; a new ‘diet’ everyone is going on; or just another bandwagon to jump on.
There probably are people who ‘jump on the bandwagon’ as soon as they read about it; there are those who claim to avoid gluten as it bloats them so much, but happily tuck into sandwiches, cakes, scones, breakfast cereals etc without thinking about the gluten in all of them.
But for someone who is gluten-intolerant, the effects of eating just a few crumbs of something containing gluten are really horrible to see. My husband is one such person and for years he believed he had an irritable bowel, he often thought he had eaten something that had disagreed with him, he also started to believe something more serious was going wrong with his insides as his symptoms started getting worse and worse. He was also losing weight although eating well. He was prodded, poked and tested for everything by the medical profession but they could find nothing wrong.
It was my daughter-in-law Sarena (Juicy Health) who suggested it might be gluten causing the problem after Denis suffered yet another attack whilst we were all away together. I’m sure many sufferers have different symptoms but my husband never had a ‘comfortable’ stomach and every few days it would flare up with devastating consequences. We immediately eliminated bread from his diet, together with anything we knew gluten to be in, and saw an improvement. After a month, Denis said he felt better than he had for years. He then gave in and had a sandwich for lunch whilst out one day! He was ill for a week and also lost a lot more weight which he could ill-afford to lose.
It was a slow process getting back to feeling as good as he had previously so we decided to seek additional help with the aid of a good Food Intolerance and Naturopath Practioner. He also underwent numerous allergy tests to make sure he wasn’t reacting to anything other than gluten. Surprisingly Denis was very slightly allergic to ham, but the tests for gluten went off the scale. He has found that occasionally eating a slice of ham or bacon has no reaction, but he only eats its rarely as he doesn’t want to upset the balance he now has.
It was great having help to understand the effect of gluten on Denis. His stomach was so sensitive to it that he was suffering malabsorbtion of food hence the weight loss. With professional help, the aid of some natural supplements, Denis slowly turned the corner. His stomach settled and a gradual weight gain occurred.
Today we are thankfully aware of most places in which gluten hides although it can catch us out unsuspectingly like the time Denis called into a Sushi restaurant and didn’t realise the sauce (soy) contained gluten. His stomach soon let him know!
Because gluten is eliminated from his diet, the slightest amount can now trigger a reaction which takes days to work through his system.
Being gluten-intolerant doesn’t mean he has to miss out on his favourite foods which is why I keep a supply of GF breadcrumbs in an airtight container. They can be added to any recipe that uses breadcrumbs; mixed with a little seasoning and/or chilli flakes to coat chicken fillets, fish cakes, etc. I also add them to minced beef or to minced chicken/turkey to make burgers.
NB: All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared myself.