In an attempt to pinpoint a couple of annoying symptoms, I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet to see if it’s the culprit. I’m not entirely sure what I hope the outcome to be — If it works, no more cupcakes or breads as I know them for me! If it doesn’t… then, I’m still baffled with random weird stuff that is more than annoying!
So, here we go!
My hubby is on board and the kids… well, we’re not really telling them! Because we took the Whole 30/Paleo Challenge a while back, I feel pretty well armed with some great places to start. Our eating will definitely need to shift a lot, but I’m hoping we can make this as painless as possible! Change can be hard!
Armed with what I know about Paleo (GF gives you a lot more to work with), I’ve been using the following resources to get me started (thought they’d be helpful for you too!):
Safe foods to eat (includes snacks, condiments, etc) – http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/glutenfreefoodshoppin1/ss/Gluten-Free-Food-List.htm
Fast Foods + Gluten Free (It’s not the BEST, but sometimes you get caught out and are HUNGRY): http://prettylittleceliac.com/2013/05/07/gluten-free-fast-food-options/
Gluten Free Restaurants: http://www.gluten.net/Programs/awareness-programs/gluten-free-restaurant-awareness-program
More Gluten Free Restaurants (search by your city!): http://www.findmeglutenfree.com
For my family, we need to be able to figure out how to eat GF without breaking the budget, so eating out isn’t a normal thing. Like, hardly ever. However, on DAY 1, we were caught “out” (aka poor planning on my part) and with nothing prepared and people were hungry. We went by Wendy’s and I had a super-healthy (sarcasm) baked potato with broccoli and cheese and small chocolate frosty. For supper, since we’d just finished our errands by that time, meaning our food wasn’t prepared… we opted for El Chico’s. Hubby was wanting Mexican and this was more promising than our favorite minimal-English speaking spot we normally head to. Talking about gluten in my own language can be hard, much less trying to communicate the complexities of it with people who don’t speak English well… it just wasn’t going to happen that night! So, we headed to El Chico’s and they were GREAT! They had a special menu, and my dinner was really delicious! I had chicken and mushroom fajitas with corn tortillas and YUM!
Beyond eating and errands, we also had some shopping to do! Every Saturday, I sit down with a list of our family’s favorite meals and choose meals for the week. So, Day 1 was no different except I needed things I could easily make Gluten Free. I found a couple of “fixes” that could turn our favorites into contenders. YAY! (I’ll share them with you below!) We bought a few normal items at the grocery and then I picked up some Pamela’s Pancake Baking Mix, White and Brown Rice Flours, GF Penne Noodles, and GF Pizza Dough Flour (hubby had mentioned something earlier about wishing for a good GF pizza dough, so I picked it up on a whim). Other than that, our purchases were “normal foods.” The ketchup, mustard, and ranch brands we eat are all gluten free naturally. So are our spaghetti sauces we had. So, no changes there! Cheese, meats, and veggies are all clear, so those are okay too!
For Day 2, I had leftovers from supper the night before and because we had small groups that night, I chose to take a loaded baked potato and a GF brownie for the ease of things. Everyone else was eating buffet style, so this was the easiest and most logical option for me… (And, I already had a baking potato that needed to be used! Yay!)
Today for lunch (for me) was hard-boiled eggs. And, some GF brownie The kids will end up on the GF diet (mostly) while I’m on it just for the ease of things, but since we had bread left, they had almond butter sandwiches and oranges (on the side). Supper will be baked crockpot ziti.
A few random things I’ve learned so far:
1. Being on this diet requires a LOT of trust in other people! Trying to figure out which restaurant would be “safe” and would take food-handling very seriously or buffet bars is HARD! You have almost no control in these areas and depending on what being glutened does to your body, this could make a person VERY sick!
2. There is a difference between gluten allergy, intolerance, and celiac disease. You can come up positive for one and not the other.
3. The symptoms for these are a WIDE range of things… from neurological stuff to your skin to your gut and so many other things. You can have random symptoms or just one or barely any or the whole shabang! It’s hard to diagnose, apparently. (Reminds me of Lyme Disease symptoms with all of the variety)
4. Cross-contamination can happen EASILY. Picking croutons off a salad or just taking buns off is a NO NO. Not to mention people going before you in a buffet line. (Did you know that if you have a party or buffet set up at home, you should ask those with food allergies to go first? Because of cross-contamination. One of those things you don’t realize/understand until it’s you or you know someone.
5. Gluten isn’t bad for EVERYONE. I do agree that we use way too much of it in America, but a GF diet isn’t necessarily the best thing for everyone. ESPECIALLY if your version of GF is processed-ready made stuff rather than eating mostly lean meats, fish, cheese, and veggies and fruits.
And, time for a couple of recipes!
Easy Gluten-Free Brownies:
1/2 c. butter
4 T cocoa powder
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. (heaping) almond flour
1/2 c. walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 9×9 glass dish with oil.
Mix butter and cocoa powder.
Add sugar, eggs, flour, walnuts. Mix with spoon or whisk.
Pour into pan.
Bake at 350 for 24-28 min.
Store in air-tight container. Personally, I really like mine in the refrigerator.
Crockpot Baked Ziti:
1 15 oz part-skim ricotta
1 c. shredded mozzarella (plus more to top with if you prefer)
1 c. Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 tsp salt
1 lb GF ziti/penne noodles
2 25 oz jars marinara sauce (check back to make sure they are GF, most are)
2 T basil
Combine all 3 cheeses and salt in a medium bowl.
Rinse ziti under cold water and drain. Allow some water to cling to pasta.
Mist inside of slow cooker with cooking oil.
Place 1/2 of pasta in an even layer over bottom of slow cooker.
Spoon 1/2 of sauce over pasta.
Next, add 1/2 of cheese mixture and 1/2 of basil.
Repeat with remaining pasta, sauce, cheese, and basil.
Pour in 2/3 c. water.
Cover and cook on high 2-3 hours until pasta is tender.
*NOTE: You can add chopped veggies, mushrooms, meat (ground turkey, ground chicken, beef, shredded chicken, bacon), and more to this dish to change it up. Also, while not necessary, our family loves adding 8 oz of cream cheese to the ricotta and cheeses. YUM!
What are your favorite Gluten Free (or Paleo) recipes?
What do you guys use for lasagna noodles? Do you buy them (if so, which/where?)? Do you make them (recipe)? Do you use zuchinni/squash instead?
Have a GREAT bread recipe you want to share that’s GF, tastes great, is easy, doesn’t need a ton of ingredients, and is pretty healthy (not tons of fillers?)??