Recipe Image
Carol Kicinski
Pistachio-crusted goat cheese adds an extra special touch to this berry salad.

Gluten: The sticky villain

   Gluten is everywhere. It’s in bread, pizza, beer, you name it. It doesn’t even limit itself to foods – some cosmetics actually contain gluten. But what exactly is this villainous ingredient?
   Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It’s what makes pizza dough stretch, bread rise and pasta hold together.
    Gluten acts like a glue in those who are gluten-intolerant. It literally gums up the lower intestine and food absorption is minimized.
     People who are gluten intolerant can suffer from a variety of ailments including seizures, bloating, intestinal problems, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and thyroid problems.
    According to a 2010 study by the Center for Celiac Research, nearly 1 in 130 people suffer from celiac disease, the worst type of reaction among
Author Byline Imagepeople with gluten-related conditions. And approximately 18 million people have gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance.
    Unfortunately there is no “cure” for gluten-related conditions. The only thing you can do is stay away from gluten. Just don’t eat it. Most people who can’t tolerate gluten will start to feel better within days of removing it from their diet.
    Not everyone who goes on a gluten-free diet is gluten intolerant. Some people find they simply feel healthier or don’t feel so bloated if they cut out the gluten.
   Staying away from gluten sounds simple enough: no more bread, pizza, pasta. Piece of cake! (Pardon the pun).
    Unfortunately gluten hides out in many places you would not immediately think, like jelly beans, popsicles, canned soups, soy sauce and many processed foods. It is also found in some lipstick, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and medications.
    Living gluten-free can be overwhelming at first.     My philosophy is not to focus on what you can’t eat but to focus on what you can eat. There is a big beautiful world of naturally gluten-free foods out there including vegetables, fruit, unprocessed meats, most cheeses and seafood. This simple salad has what I like to call the “wow factor” and is made with naturally gluten-free ingredients.
Pistachio Goat Cheese and Berry Salad
Serves 6
¼ cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
6 ounces goat cheese
8 ounces baby lettuce
1 pint raspberries
1 cup blueberries
½ cup sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
   Place chopped pistachios on a plate. Divide goat cheese into 16 equal pieces (about 1 teaspoon each) and roll into balls. Roll cheese balls in pistachios. Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
   Put strawberries in a blender with the vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more honey, salt or pepper if desired. (Can be made a day ahead, just store in a covered container and shake well before using.)
   Put salad greens in a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing. Add raspberries and blueberries and gently toss. Divide the salad among 6 salad plates and top each with 4 pistachio goat cheese balls.