Gluten Free This Week (originally published August 25th, 2011)

Yes, this is another post copied from my personal blog.  And the seed of the idea of this blog! 🙂  It didn’t even take me a week…  Ah, I’m so predictable.

I am seriously contemplating breaking out my Gluten Free posts into a separate blog.  I’m sure my non-GF friends are totally sick of reading about all of my observations, already, and while this is a huge part of my life right now (since, you know, it’s new) I don’t know that I want it too take over my personal blog…  I haven’t made a decision yet but when I do I’ll let you know…

That said, I wanted to post a quick update.  People keep asking me if I’m going to go to the doctor to get diagnosed.  I really don’t see that I need to, since it’s reallyreally obvious that going without gluten is helping every part of my body to heal.  From digestion to sleeping to joint inflammation, I feel like a completely different person.  Can you imagine if this has been the root of my problems for the last few years?  I remember weeks when I couldn’t sleep at all.  Now, at the time there were other things going on.  Stress and what have you.  But the way my body has responded to eating gluten free includes sleeping like a baby.  Even when I’m stressed out.  I am loving it.  Anyway, I don’t think I’m going to bother with going to the doctor.  The most that they can tell me at this point is that yes, I’m right that I’m gluten intolerant (um, duh).  They may be able to diagnose me Celiac, if I have it.  I’m not really sure that diagnosis would do a lot of good for me, though, since I’m already eating like a Celiac and it’s helping me.  Maybe if I go to the doctor later this year I’ll inquire about a test.  Then again, maybe not.  Doctors really haven’t been all that helpful in this case.

I’m discovering that while I like rice, I’m totally sick of it.  White rice, that is.  It seems like that’s the staple gluten-friendly food that’s widely available.  This weekend was kind of crazy for my business and I literally wasn’t home enough to cook or shop for food.  So I had to eat at the food court at my job for the last three days.  Indian, Mexican, and Japanese – I’m lucky, since we have those options, but that’s a lot of rice.  Last night we made a stir fry (luckily I have to say we haven’t had to tweak our normal meal “staples” all that much, since we have a lot of tacos and stir fries on a regular basis) and I just couldn’t take another plate of white rice.  Luckily we had Forbidden Rice in the cupboard (one of the many “fun” options I bought for myself during the first week of this gluten free diet…  Just like giving a kid lots of colorful meal options in fun shapes encourages the eating of foods that otherwise would be shunned, I wanted to make sure I gave myself a ton of different and interesting options to enjoy so I wouldn’t feel deprived!).  It’s a deep black and cooks up chewy and nutty.  It’s full of flavor and nutrition, and was just the ticket, since it cooks in a half hour (versus traditional brown rice, which I also love, but which takes nearly an hour to cook).

Tonight, though?  No more rice.  I think we’re doing spaghetti squash spaghetti.  Veggies masquerading as carbs.  YUM.

Last weekend we had dinner with friends.  Despite Jeff’s joking about thickening the chili with flour, they were all incredibly careful to make everything – including an amazing souffle-like cupcake that Anne made – gluten free.  It was a huge relief for me, since we’ve been doing our little dinner parties for over a year now and we’ve done everything from pizza to grilled cheese, but no one even blinked.  They just took it in stride.  That’s what I call an awesome friend. :)

I’ve also decided that it’s Amaranth flour I’m not too keen about.  Teff flour is very flavorful, but it’s mild.  Amaranth has a distinct herby aroma and aftertaste.  I’ve been tweaking my flour mix to minimize the Amaranth, but I’ve still got a big bag of it at home, so I’ll just deal.  I do like Amaranth seeds in my bread, though.  Crunchy!

I’ve been using the flax seed slurry from Gluten Free Girl in my baked goods (per my earlier post), but I also have been tweaking it based on a tapioca slurry I found on Cake and Commerce.  Since Xanthan Gum seems to seriously disagree with me, I need to find the best alternative, and I have to say that combining the two slurries seems to produce an amazing result!  I used them for a cornbread to eat with the chili above (I just took my favorite recipe, subbed out the flour, and added the slurry) and it was incredibly light and beautiful.  Once I get the exact proportions down I’ll have some recipes.

I also worked on a protein bar recipe, since most protein bars contain wheat.  I made a passable first attempt, but it’s nowhere near posting quality.  I realized on Saturday morning that I usually bring a Clif bar (which is mostly GF, but may contain wheat per their labeling, so I didn’t want to risk it) with me to events… And that I needed something quick, so I just started tossing stuff into a bowl.  It tasted good but the texture was off.  I suspect that if I added some fat it would be less crumbly (it had only an egg for fat, no butter or oil).

Lastly, I received my digital scale last night.  I’m still learning to love it, and to cook by ratios…  And made a truly horrific version of my Lemon Brown Sugar cookies in an attempt to make them gluten free.  Yeah, that recipe needs a ton of tweaking!  But I love my new scale!

Anyway, there’s nothing earth-shattering here.  Just enjoying the feeling of being healthy, and learning how to live with this intolerance.  It’s especially fun when you go to parties where everything to eat is baked (as I did on Tuesday – I was never so happy to see a Rice Crispy Treat in my life), or when you order sushi that has no crunchy topping in the description but includes crunchies on the top of your roll (I was sharing with other people so I just carefully took off the top layer of my avocado).

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they don’t think they could go without bread, or cookies, or tortillas…  But you know something?  You can still have these things.  You just have to watch HOW you have them.  Most people aren’t sensitive to Xanthan gum, so they can buy their food at the store.  I can’t – but I can bake.  It might not be as easy for everyone (I have always enjoyed baking my own bread), but it’s an option.  It’s a simple choice, for me.  Eat “normally” and be miserable all the time, or choose alternatives and feel healthy.  It’s not such a hard choice, when those are your only two options.  I adore bread, pasta, and baked goods.  But if it’s obvious that they’re not feeling the same way about me, I’d best be moving on.  Trust me, once you realize you can feel better, you make that choice.  And you’re happy you did.

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