Demystifying ‘gluten free’: What does GF actually mean?

Demystifying ‘gluten free’

What does GF actually mean?

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Gluten free food has become far more prevalent over the last decade, with the innocuous (but for some mysterious) ‘GF’ badge popping up on take-away and restaurant menus the world over.

As a result, many people are justifiably asking the question what does gluten free actually mean?

Should I be interested in this? Is there something to be gained by opting for the GF dishes on a menu, or swapping my wholegrain loaf for a gluten free alternative?

Allow us to give you the lowdown.

What is gluten and is it bad for you?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is springy and gluey and is what helps dough maintain its shape.

Gluten is not inherently bad for you. But like most things, there are people who will suffer reactions, ranging from mild to severe, following its ingestion.

Such reaction to gluten can be part of coeliac disease.

The NHS estimates that around 1% of the UK population has coeliac disease but believes that the true number may be much higher with many people being undiagnosed.

NHS website

Gluten free food groups

Gluten free meals are either meals that contain no gluten, or meals that have had their gluten components substituted for gluten free alternatives.

A gluten free alternative (such as gluten free bread or pasta) is made using refined grains.

Refined grains is the name given to whole grains that have had one or more elements removed. The gluten containing element is removed from the grain before it is used to make bread and pasta in the same way as normal.

Due to the lack of gluten, it is common for gluten free products to be less springy and more dense than their gluten containing counterparts. 

Apart from refined grains, gluten intolerant individuals can also consume naturally gluten free grains such as quinoa and buckwheat.

As well as grains, there is a whole host of healthy and naturally gluten free food groups including:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Meat and Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and legumes

Gluten free ready meals

“So,” I hear you ask, “what about those days when I don’t fancy cooking gluten free meals from scratch?”

Well for times when you’re looking for a more convenient option, the ready meal market handily provides numerous gluten free options.

gluten free spelled out in bread

Here at Parsley Box, we currently offer 26 gluten free meals in our range including three of our particular best sellers; Cottage Pie, Chicken with Lemon & Ginger Sauce, and Beef Bourguignon.

Our ready meals just need to be warmed through in a microwave or oven.

You can view our entire gluten free range here. Just be sure to select the gluten free filter (see below).

So there you have it.

Gluten – nothing to particularly worry about unless you have an intolerance.

And if you do have an intolerance there are plenty of delicious options to enjoy on a gluten free diet, even when you don’t fancy cooking.