Good morning! I hope your week is off to a blessed start. I just looked at the 5 day forecast and saw temperature predictions in the 70’s, and that gives me a spring in my step!
In the past month I have had 5!! people ask me for help in going gluten free. After writing and sending 5 variations of the same e-mail to these friends, I decided to just type up a post for those starting the GF diet or those cooking for someone on the GF diet. I realize that many of you will have no interest in this advice/information. But if you are thinking of going GF or have a GF family member or friend visiting your home for a meal, I hope this information will be helpful.
First a little background—
After hospitalization for severe and sudden stomach pain in May of 2010, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I had been unable to eat or drink for several days before I was admitted to the hospital and underwent an exploratory endoscopy. Even though I had suffered with various mild symptoms of Celiac Disease for over 10 years, my blood tests for the disease had always come back negative, so I was told that C.D. wasn’t the cause of my difficulties. Well, the endoscopy tested positive for Celiac Disease, which I am told is the only sure way to know if you have the disease. I was advised to immediately start the GF diet.
I was given little to no practical information on how to make this drastic dietary change. I turned to Dr. Google, and a friend with Celiac Disease, and my supermarket. I googled complicated GF baking recipes, and I shopped for GF flours with foreign names. I felt so hungry that I ate, and ate and ate. I soon weighed 10 pounds more than my regular weight!
For the first 6 months I followed the GF diet and experienced a general lack of energy, constant gluten cravings, AND a serious sense of self pity. I was mourning not only the delicious taste of gluten, but all my favorite recipes, the smell of freshly baked bread in my home, the ability to eat whatever I wanted on restaurant menus, and the simplicity of traveling to the home of a friend for a meal. I HATED asking friends and family members to make me something that was on my diet. I started eating before I went to people’s homes, and I grieved the loss of cultural food traditions and social eating.
With time, some of my nagging health issues improved, and so did my ability to make GF foods. This combo gave me the incentive I needed to push forward with the GF diet. It has not cured all my health issues, and I do still experience stomach problems, but overall my health is much better than it was before adopting the diet.
In my early research on the GF diet I came across website after website that advised me to cook plenty of fresh meat and veggies. I was already a bit of a health nut, so this advice was rather obvious to me, but I thought I’d throw it out there in case your diet is not primarily comprised of meat and vegetables.
In May of 2010, I wasn’t looking for advice on how to cook meat and vegetables, what I really wanted was advice on basic staple products and substitutions that would make some of my old recipes work and make the transition to eating GF easier.
So here is the information I wanted to fine, but couldn’t–
Easy staples that you can buy for meals–
- Corn Chex
- Rice Chex
- Udi’s Bread (the best GF bread you can buy, it’s edible but still not gluten bread, I eat it toasted with eggs in the am and for my sandwiches, the cinnamon raisin bread is great with butter in the morning)
- Van’s Waffles
- Tinkyada brown rice pasta (this is good pasta, cook al dente, substitute for regular pasta in recipes, it’s the BEST GF pasta I have found)
- Snyders GF pretzels (taste just like regular pretzels!)
- Kind bars
- Pamela’s baking mix for pancakes and muffins (add sour cream to the mix to make delicious pancakes, you can buy Pamela’s baking mix more cheaply online at amazon.com)
- Corn Starch in lieu of flour to thicken sauces
- Betty Crocker GF Brownie Mix (these brownies are easy and fast and delicious!)
- Learn to make risotto (it is soooooo good!)
- Purchase GF bread crumbs or grind up Udi’s bread for breading chicken or adding to meatball recipes, or use another failed GF bread baking attempt as breadcrumbs
- Tamari sauce in lieu of soy sauce (la choy soy sauce is GF), use this to make asian rice based recipes
- Oatmeal (GF oats only)– I order this off of Amazon and it is cheaper than the store bought GF oats. A certain percentage of people going GF can’t eat oatmeal, so I would wait a few months before adding this into your diet.
For good online recipes try–
- The Crockpot Lady (easy recipes and they are all GF)
- Gluten Free Girl –GREAT for special occasions and baking, but all the recipes are time consuming and complicated (but delicious!)
- Gluten Free Mommy–good recipes, not as time consuming, she has a great cornbread recipe too!
I also can’t recommend highly enough that you spend time cooking lots of meat/fish/ and fresh veggies with rice. GF baking is hard, so I wouldn’t start off trying to make white cake or white bread (I still can’t make these recipes work). You will learn with time that there are certain things you can make GF and other things that just don’t work well. In general, chocolate is my go to dessert, I avoid making white bread/cakes as they never taste as good as gluten products.
As I mentioned earlier, it took me about 6 months to adjust to the GF diet and to stop craving gluten foods like pizza, regular pasta, and bread. It also took me about that long to get more energy and start feeling much better. I’d recommend supplementing with a good multivitamin because a lot of gluten baked goods are fortified with B vitamins and GF foods are not. Even if you are not going completely GF, just cutting back will leave you craving gluten foods for a while. Give it time, it will get better.
I hope this helps. Feel free to leave your thoughts of questions in the comments.