Click inside for the weekly food rail, with items on gluten-free diets, "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" by Michael Pollan, Jim's Bacon Cornbread recipe and more. Or check out these links:

 

Have you found yourself searching for more labels that carry the "gluten-free" tag? There are many reasons you might be doing this, but the search for gluten-free often starts with celiac disease.

An advanced sensitivity to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley, affects more than 15 percent of the American population. Recent studies show that about 1 in 133 people has celiac disease, but only 1 in 4,700 is diagnosed.

Diet is the only way to combat celiac disease. Thanks to a greater awareness of celiac disease, an increasing number of people are trying gluten-free diets. In fact, some experts say that many individuals are now ahead of their own doctors, self-diagnosing and altering their eating in response to gluten sensitivity, which usually must be advanced to appear in blood tests or intestinal biopsies.

If you or someone in your home is gluten-free this holiday season, you may be thinking about the fact that everyone's meal will be affected. How do you plan those celebratory meals and stay gluten-free?

If you're sticking with tradition, start with the turkey: some brands contain additives that must be closely checked for gluten. Read the ingredients and make sure you're safe. Find recipes for gluten-free gravy and cornbread, as well.

-- ARA

Easy recipe: Jim’s Bacon Cornbread? ?

3 strips bacon??

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup flour                            

??4 teaspoons baking powder??

1 tablespoon honey??

1 cup buttermilk??

1 large egg??

3/4 teaspoon salt?

Optional: ?1 cup cheddar cheese ??Paprika

Traditional cornbread is always made in a greased, cast-iron skillet, which imparts a slightly iron flavor. In the South, cornbread baked in iron is called pone. If you don’t have an iron skillet, use a baking dish.??

Fry the bacon in a cast-iron skillet, drain on paper towels and crumble. Lightly beat egg and honey into buttermilk. Sift together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. (Sifting the dry ingredients creates a light and fluffy bread.)

Add bacon, milk and egg and lightly beat until batter just forms. Don’t worry about little clumps of flour in the batter –– over-mixing creates tougher bread. ??Pour into the iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Optional: Dust the top with paprika before baking. After baking, top with cheddar cheese and return to warm oven to melt.

Cut into 12 wedges. Serve with butter and apple butter.

-- The Repository

Did You Know?

Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories –– and they are filling. In addition, they provide essential vitamins and minerals, including fiber. Healthy diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

-- cdc.gov

Critics’ Cupboard: Nature Valley Granola Thins?

?Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter; 10 individually wrapped squares in a 6-ounce box.??

Saimi Bergmann: SPATULA DOWN

I liked the thin part. Granola bars of regular thickness can be tooth-breaking hard.??But Granola Thins are difficult and messy to eat. The chocolate coating melted the second it came into contact with my fingers. The sticky granola adhered to my teeth like barnacles.  ??

And the taste didn’t knock me out. If I’m going to eat an 80-calorie dessert or snack, I’d like it to be richly indulgent: a fine dark chocolate mint; a warm, home-baked cookie; or a small scoop of silky ice cream.

Jennifer Mastroianni: SPATULA DOWN

Good flavors. Bad application.??Picture a granola bar the size and thickness of a graham cracker. Now spread peanut butter or chocolate on the bottom. Now secure a thin piece of waxy cardboard to the spread so it doesn’t stick to the wrapper.??

Way too much unwrapping, peeling, licking cardboard and licking fingers; too much work for a measly square of granola. I’ll pass.

-- The Repository

Food Quiz

The pear shares its taxonomic subfamily with the apple and which other fruit?

A.    Quince
B.    Avocado
C.    Orange
D.    Mango

-- www.funtrivia.com

Answer is at bottom of column

Wise to the Word: Dashi

?[DA-shee] Used extensively in Japanese cooking, dashi is a soup stock made with dried bonito tuna flakes (katsuobushi), seaweed (kombu) and water. Dashi-no-moto is the same stock in instant form, and it is available granulated, powdered or in a concentrate. ?

-- epicurious.com

Number to Know: 321

There are 321 calories in one whole, commercially sold avocado.

 – calorielab.com

The Dish On …

"The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" by Michael Pollan

Pollan examines what he calls "our national eating disorder" (i.e. the Atkins craze, the precipitous rise in obesity) in this remarkably clearheaded book. It's a fascinating journey up and down the food chain –– one that might change the way you read the label on a frozen dinner, dig into a steak or decide whether to buy organic eggs.

You'll certainly never look at a Chicken McNugget the same way. Pollan approaches his mission not as an activist, but as a naturalist: "The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world." All food, he points out, originates with plants, animals and fungi.

-- Amazon.com

From the Beer Nut’s Blog: LongShot contest winners from Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams recently announced the winners of its annual LongShot home-brew contest. The two winners, along with the employee winner, will have their beers included in the LongShot six pack, due to be out at a later date. I’ve been a big fan of some of these beers in the past, and I’m looking forward to the new ones. Here’s what the press release said about two of the winners:

Richard Roper’s Friar Hop Ale combines his love of hops with his affinity for spicy Belgian ales. To develop his recipe, Roper created a hybrid of two styles: an India pale ale, with the big hoppy taste, and the spicy, fruity flavor of a Belgian. Richard’s Friar Hop Ale is a refreshing beer that can be enjoyed any time of year.

Rodney Kibzey’s Blackened Hops is a perfect combination of deep roasted malt character and citrus hop bitterness. Harnessing eight years of home brewing knowledge, Rodney found that combining de-bittered dark malts and citrus hops yielded a surprising and unique flavor for this brew. Its black color hints at roasted malt and coffee flavors, but it is the big hop character that really steals the show.

To read more from the Beer Nut, visit http://blogs.townonline.com/beernut/.

Food Quiz Answer

A.    Quince

GateHouse News Service