I have talked to so many people about being gluten free in the last few days that I thought I would share how and why we became GF. I wrote awhile back about Mary-Ann Shearer and her book Perfect Health the Natural Way. She is an amazing speaker and has not had a medical bill due to ill health in over twenty years! She is from South Africa and has visited a couple times here in California and I have seen her speak many times. I love her book and refer to it often.
The first time I saw her I asked her about Kira's bumps on her cheeks and back of her arms. They were like little pimples, my doctor had given me some lotion and said it was baby acne. I knew it was not baby acne, as she was two years old! Mary-Ann told me it was a sign of gluten intolerance. Which made sense because she did not have them until she started eating wheat. I also knew she always had issues with bowel movements and was not regular. No matter the amount of fresh fruit and veggies, she always was constipated.
So I decided to reduce her intake of gluten. I bought rice noodles, Ezekiel bread, because she did not like the rice bread and I don't blame her. It was hard, everything we ate had gluten. Crackers, cereal, pancakes, waffles, bread, noodles all had gluten. I did not even research sauces or other food labels at this point. I tried my best to keep her happy but also not to be anal. I noticed a little change in her skin and bowel movements but nothing miraculous. Granted she had been eating gluten for almost two years, it was going to take some time to get out of her system and for her body to repair.
When we went to NZ to visit my sister in April it was bad. It was so expensive to buy anything GF. So we ate regular products and the bumps on her body increased to cover her back, legs and belly. I felt so bad. This was in one week! The second week we bought a bread mix and I tried to really limit her gluten intake and it helped a little. However all of the repairing her body had did in the past few months were totally ruined to one week of gluten. She was constipated the rest of the trip and for the next few weeks. I was so bummed and felt like I had let her down. We got back on track but were still not totally GF.
In July, we discovered Enzo had Celiac Disease, which is an auto immune disorder. Since then we have been GF totally. How did I start? It is very easy to get caught up with all the things you can not have and go and buy the GF equivalent. Let me just tell you GF products are not cheap. Your best bet is to buy a few GF products that you can not live without and then just substitute for naturally GF products.
It is so overwhelming when you first think about changing your diet, so try to think of what you can eat rather than what you can not. Here is a list of items I buy and I will follow it with menu ideas to give you and idea of what we eat.
Gluten Free Products (meaning they are substitutes)
Rice bread (TJ)
Rice tortillas (TJ)
Mac n Cheese (TJ)(I have to have this for those nights I just do not want to cook )
Rice Noodles (TJ)
*Fruit smoothie- oj, pineapple, strawberries and cashews
*Eggs and Rice toast
*Waffles or Pancakes and fresh fruit
*Dried fruit and Raw nuts
*Veggie Chips (TJ)
*Gorilla Munch (TJ)
*Savory Rice Crackers (TJ)
* Quesadilla with corn tortillas
*Leftover Rice Noodles with tomato sauce
*Pizza on rice bread
You take the rice bread and spread tomato paste mixed with oregano and garlic and top with mozzarella, put it in the oven on broil for five to seven minutes or until cheese is melted.
I either use corn tortillas with cream cheese and lunch meat or rice tortillas. It works great if the tortillas are warm and then they won't tear or break when you roll them.
I have found dinner is a little harder because I am feeding my husband and parents who are not GF and I want to make sure it taste as close to the real thing.
*Stir fry-use Braggs Amino Acid instead of soy sauce
*Tacos- corn tortillas and my own seasoning of cumin, chili powder, garlic, S&P on ground turkey
*BBQ chicken pizza- make my own crust and BBQ sauce
*Baked potatoes and salad- make my own salad dressing
*Veggie Burgers and Fries-make your own patties or just use grilled veggies and make sure fries are not flour coated or make your oven
*Pasta-use rice noodles and make tomato basil or use a jar sauce that is GF
*Homemade soups and french bread
These are just the basics are there to show you can have a normal menu that is appetizing to both GF and not GF
The major concept I really had to make sure about not consuming gluten was reading the labels. I think this is the hardest part, when you are at a party or in-laws and I am reading the label. I do not want to be "That Girl" worried about ingredients so I always explain myself if I get one of those looks and joke that I could care less about the fat content and laugh.
The following are some ingredients that you may not think about
modified food starch,
sauces and gravies
imitation seafood or bacon
liquor* some are okay but you should research it
I would check out celiac.org or celiac.com for more detailed lists of do's and don'ts.
Lastly, I hope this has been encouraging not overwhelming. It is a lot to take on. It has been a process and it is continuing to be a process. I realized that with the kids to make food as enjoyable and fun as possible. Because I bake a lot of our breads/pizzas I make sure to include the kids in the process. I measure out flours and they dump them in and help mix. They love it.
If we have a birthday party, I try to find out what is going to be served and bring the necessary GF equivalent and in those cases I do buy the GF equivalent because I do not want the kids to miss out on a cupcake or hot dog because of their issues. I want them to feel different as little as possible.
We splurge and go to In n Out burger because their fries are in oil that only fries potatoes and we do protein style burgers. They love it and it is a treat, not a daily or even weekly occurrence. You have to be proactive living this way. You can not go to a restaurant and assume their fries are GF or the the sauce is GF. You have to ask and let them know you have a serious disease or serious allergy. I have found that when I explain how it makes my son sick the food server is a little more patient and understanding. Having been a food server for the last fifteen years, I am well aware of how to ask. Be polite and appreciative. Call before hand or research it on the web. When my girlfriends and I had a Christmas party at Cheesecake Factory I was a little worried about the menu. They were so great, I called before to corporate and to the restaurant itself. Both replies were fantastic and offered to talk to me when I came in and to make myself known to the management and they would help me out. It was great I was able to order and share items with everyone with out changing major details of the food. They even offered a Hot Fudge Sundae instead of Cheesecake and man was it good!
Okay enough rambling, I hope this helps and please feel free to leave comments, questions or tips you have found.