One of the most common terms in the culinary world at the moment is 'gluten-free". It has turned into something of a buzzword in recent times as more and more Australians place gluten to one side and explore a new diet.
Walk down supermarket aisles or peruse restaurant menus and you're bound to see gluten-free options, highlighting the importance of the next generation of chefs and hospitality workers knowing about this concept and how to adapt their skills. Of course, gluten-free is just one dietary requirement out there, but is expected only gain more prominence in the years to come.
What does 'gluten-free' mean?
On a basic level, there are two reasons why people engage in a gluten-free diet.
Firstly, based on medical advice. According to Coeliac Australia, around one in 70 people have coeliac disease. This medical condition affects how the body processes the gluten proteins found in wheat, rye, oats, barley and triticale. Eating foods with these proteins can make individuals feel tired, sick and generally unwell.
Secondly, based on a lifestyle choice. Those same gluten proteins are associated with symptoms such as bloating, wind and weight gain, so people decide to cut it out of their life by choice. Coeliac Australia states that around 30 per cent of people are reducing gluten by choice, usually based on their own research rather than medical research.
"Coeliacs have been going without gluten for decades, but for people who don't have an intolerance, cutting it out is catching on," Nutritionist Lola Berry told the Herald Sun in a 2014 article.
What does this mean for Australian chefs?
With many Australians going gluten-free, it's vital that restaurants and cafes catch up to the trend. Customers expect choice on the menu and by not offering gluten-free options, there is a risk of alienating a massive part of your customer base.
The first step in this process is simply replacing common gluten ingredients with alternatives. In most cases, the taste isn't changed greatly, but can make a big difference to the health of your customers. Here are several easy switches.
- Regular flour – corn flour
- Pasta – rice
- Bread – corn tortillas
- Binders – gelatin
- Bread crumbs – corn flour and gluten-free potato chips
As well as replacing ingredients, restaurants and cafes can simply invest in gluten-free products which are common today. Some establishments have taken this concept a step further and eliminated all gluten from their menus – illustrating the importance of understanding what gluten-free means.
For more information about the latest food trends and how you can develop your knowledge, get in touch with the team at Kenvale College today.