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JCAK

Is Mexican Food Safe? With Modifications?

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I am a newly diagnosed Celiac, and am now very conscious of what I eat. My wife is Mexican, and we live near the U.S.-Mexico border, so naturally, I eat a lot of Mexican food. My concern is, is Mexican food safe for my Celiac Disease, most specifically my favorite dish as follow:

3 Enchiladas: (She replaced the flour tortillas with corn)

One Chicken

One steak strips

One cheese

(Each Enchilada is topped in a meat/gravy sauce with avocado and tomatoes on top)

Fried Rice (in olive oil) with diced carrots and peas.

Re-fried pinto beans with a little salt, and a generous amount of Garlic powder.

Corn tortilla chips, and a tomato based sauce with chili peppers and onions.

Are the modifications safe, and is my favorite meal safe overall?

I'm Italian myself, so mine and my family's cooking is a no go at the moment until we can modify them and find some gluten free noodles and sauce additives.

I love to eat and cook, so this is so depressing! Can someone please help?

Thank you.

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Mexican places seem to be the easiest for my family. You may want to check any seasonings that they add on to the steak strips.

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You need to look at the ingredients on each label. Some sauces will be thickened with wheat. Not all corn tortillas are good choices - fried in mixed oil. Most cheese is fine.

You must read every label. If you can't source it don't eat it.

Overall, Mexican food is much easier to substitute so overall taste shouldn't be affected.

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Your meal would not be safe at a restaurant. Enchilada sauce is often thickened with wheat flour. If the meat isn't home-cooked it's possible a seasoning containing flour was used on it, though that's unusual for Mexican cooking. Tortilla chips at restaurants are often not safe because they are fried in a deep fat fryer used for flour tortillas or churros.

If it's homemade your wife needs to check all the labels on foods and seasoning mixes. She needs to use alternative thickeners like arrowroot starch or superfine rice flour in the enchilada sauce.

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Your meal would not be safe at a restaurant. Enchilada sauce is often thickened with wheat flour. If the meat isn't home-cooked it's possible a seasoning containing flour was used on it, though that's unusual for Mexican cooking. Tortilla chips at restaurants are often not safe because they are fried in a deep fat fryer used for flour tortillas or churros.

If it's homemade your wife needs to check all the labels on foods and seasoning mixes. She needs to use alternative thickeners like arrowroot starch or superfine rice flour in the enchilada sauce.

Exactly.

At my favorite place I can eat the beans but no rice (bullion). I can eat soft corn tortillas but not fried or chips (I sneak my own in). I can eat salsas but not the enchilada sauces. I usually get grilled meats with corn tortillas and eat lots of salsa and beans. But the margaritas are juuuussstt ffffiiinneee!

You must learn to ask questions at restaurants and if there's doubt, don't do it.

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I have not had Mexican food out, but I have made it many times @ home. I do not use prepackaged seasoning, I use the individual seasonings and make my own, same goes for the sauces and salsas. Watch prepackaged grated cheese, most are dusted with potato flour but you never know unless you read the label.

As far as Italian goes, it took me many months to find my favorite dried pasta's. I prefer corn or potato not rice pasta. I have also found a couple of local specialties stores that carry fresh and frozen stuffed shells, different stuffed ravioli and even gnocchi. Guess I'm too lazy to make it fresh.

A good container stock for a scampi or picatta is Kitchen Basics it's gluten-free. There is also several companies that sell gluten-free frozen pizza. Reading label is the most important.

Cathey

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I have not had Mexican food out, but I have made it many times @ home. I do not use prepackaged seasoning, I use the individual seasonings and make my own, same goes for the sauces and salsas. Watch prepackaged grated cheese, most are dusted with potato flour but you never know unless you read the label.

Cathey

Generally shredded or grated cheese would be dusted with potato starch and/or corn starch as anti-caking agents, both of which are gluten-free. I still read the label though but I doubt cheese would be dusted with any gluteny flour as that would make a gluey sticky mess.

Edit: Mission brand corn tortillas are very easy to find in Wal-Mart and lots of grocery stores and are gluten-free and made on dedicated lines.

Edited by sa1937

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The steak might not be safe either. They might put soy sauce on it.

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3 Enchiladas: (She replaced the flour tortillas with corn)

One Chicken

One steak strips

One cheese

(Each Enchilada is topped in a meat/gravy sauce with avocado and tomatoes on top)

Fried Rice (in olive oil) with diced carrots and peas.

Re-fried pinto beans with a little salt, and a generous amount of Garlic powder.

Corn tortilla chips, and a tomato based sauce with chili peppers and onions.

Oh, yummy!

If I were going to do this homemade, it would not be a problem to sub this for gluten free. Use safe gluten free corn tortillas and corn chips (Mission). Cook the chicken, steak without any gluten products. This is easy to do if you just don't use preseasoned package mixes, but the plain single spices. (use McCormicks, they will label) and pure extra virgin olive oil. Or just bake the chicken, plain. Use fresh garlic and onion. Cheese is generally gluten free.

Rice, to be safe, you can use Lundberg brand, which is gluten free. Many other brands of rice also work. Frozen peas/carrots, read the label. Should be okay, but make sure company does not package their lines with wheat products (call them if you are concerned. Stick to name brands.)

I would make my own beans by taking a can of cooked pinto beans (read label) and draining it well, rinsing it, then refrying it with a little oil, with seasonings. I don't use garlic powder anymore, just fresh, after a reaction to Chinese sourced garlic powder. I use a lot of pure apple cider vinegar, or fresh lime juice, cumin, garlic, dash of salt, maybe onion, maybe not, and some hot pepper (careful with that) or some smoked Chipotle Tabasco sauce. (American Tabasco is gluten free).

Tomato sauce. Read the labels on the can, start with a plain, plain tomato sauce such as diced tomatoes (ingredients: tomatoes, juice, salt) and then add your own stuff. Or use fresh tomatoes for salsa.

Flour: In The Beginning, if you are not allergic to anything on the label, you can pick up a bag of name brand, all purpose type gluten free flour, such as Pamela's Gluten Free Pancake Mix, and use that for thickening sauces. There are also other brands, such as King Arthur's Gluten Free all purpose. Many people really do not care for the taste of bean flours, and they therefore get a little bag of Bob's Red Mill all purpose, and think that gluten free is nasty, but, that brand is sort of not really tasty in THAT mixture, because they use bean flour in it that just quickly goes "off." Other single flavors of Bobs are completely fine in taste, it's their all purpose which bothers some people. I am okay with bean flour taste in fresh ones, but it looks like I'm an oat reactor, which is not that common, so I've been switching to some other brands, because Bob's makes oats in their milling facilities. You can also just use rice flour for thickening, (Authentic Foods makes a very nice brown rice flour) or even tapioca flour, or potato starch these are easy to find in stores under gluten free categories or in the imported foods aisle.

If you are low glycemic index, low carb, you can also try using almonds ground up in a blender, or almond flour.

If you are grain free, you can make a mixture of 1/3 each gluten-free potato starch, buckwheat (not a wheat, but a seed) and garbanzo bean flour, which is a nice mixture.

Amaranth and sorghum mixed half and half is also a mixture that works well, amaranth is a historical, high protein grain for the Aztec.

Quinoa flour is high protein. Some people find the taste bitter. I don't, but I'm the same way with bean flour.

Millet does not agree with everyone. And tends to be cross contaminated in certain brands.

If you don't want to use the gluten-free flours, using canned pumpkin to thicken sauces works, and it is low glycemic index. Pumpkin is very good in chile sauces.

If you need a dairy substitute for sauces or for coffee, you can use canned coconut milk.

Sour cream - read the labels. Sometimes they add thickeners to the cheaper brands.

Cornmeal in the USA can be cross contaminated with wheat, because they use the same combine machinery to harvest different grains on these huge farms. Sometimes it says gluten free, when it turns out they are not batch testing it for cross contamination, and it is not. If you can find a source of dried corn that was hand picked, that you can grind yourself, or was from a small producer, that may be the way to go, if you turn out to be very sensitive, it varies from person to person. Check with the manufacturers if you need to find some Masa Harina corn meal that is not cross contaminated with wheat in the milling place, this information keeps changing, and what brands are safe varies. (I know that one gluten free restaurant here in CA uses a brand that they went ahead and tested independently, since the manufacturer did not, and it turned out that it was very gluten free, less than 5 parts per million. I had eaten there several times and didn't react. This is when I started wondering what was in my gluten free corn meal at home, turns out it was made in the same place as oats are milled. Then my non- reactions to the restaurant and to fresh corn, started to make sense.)

You spend a lot of time sleuthing this out sometimes. :rolleyes:

____ * ______

Your main problem, other than ingredients, is going to be getting rid of some of the stuff in the kitchen which can cause ongoing problems with gluten cross contamination, which means you may be giving some cookware and tupperware away, and replacing it with new stuff which is dedicated gluten free.

Best thing to do is take a permanent sharpie marker pen and then write on things that are gluten free dedicated "NO GLUTEN" or however you want to do it.

Wooden cutting boards, plastic bowls, teflon cookware, rubber spatulas, your toaster for starters, are the most obvious. Don't forget cast iron cookware needs to be gluten free dedicated, either new, or really scrubbed out and re seasoned.

I also washed or replaced my oven mitts and potholders, because they had touched a lot of previous baking.

If you have a mixed household, the stuff "for you" and the gluten free needs to be marked and others need to be kept from dipping into it, such as butter, mayonnaise, peanut butter, jelly, salsas in a jar that you spoon out, etc. Otherwise people always get crumbs into it.

If somebody is making a regular bread or cake item serving, have them do it on a surface where the crumbs don't get spread all over the counter, such as a plate with a paper towel laid on it. You can also do this with your gluten free foods. Paper towels are your friends !

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