Me: Hi, I have some food allergies.
Waitress: sigh* …Ok
Me: (mustering my best 😀 ) I’m gluten, corn and dairy free.
Waitress: (deer in headlights)…what do you even eat?
Me: (nervous laughter)…Ok 🙂 I’m looking to get (menu item) can you have them do it without butter, flour, and no pre-made seasoning mixes or marinades…fresh herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, all great.
Waitress: (I’m obviously the bane of her shift at this point) smirk* I gotta go talk to our chef.
Me: Thank you! :)…sorry??
Food allergies am I right? Chances are you or someone you love feels my pain. lol They touch more and more people these days and today I want to help you navigate the waters through one of mine: Gluten.
Gluten Intolerance, Celiac or just plain trying to eliminate gluten and see how you feel, is on the rise. I’ve talked to so many people who are trying to get to the bottom of why they don’t feel well and are in turn, going the G-free route, and with good reason. It’s estimated that about 1 out of every 100 Americans deals with some form of Gluten Intolerance (the inability to break down the protein in wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt) and the experts say that only about 1 out of every 4,700 ever get diagnosed. Crazy. There are blood tests available, BUT last I heard, they are only about 30% accurate in their diagnosis. So how do you know for sure if you can tolerate gluten well? You become your own guinea pig and experiment!
Ideally, to see how gluten affects you, eliminate it from your diet for 2 weeks. After that 2 week period, eat something with gluten in and and see how you feel over the next 24 hours. Most people who are gluten sensitive will be able to tell immediately if it affects them or not. Symptoms are different for every one, but the most common are digestive issues, bloating, headaches, “foggy” brain, and achy joints. So, if you think you might want to try this new way of eating, please allow me to put my 7 years of personal experience to good use. 🙂
First things first, whether you’re newly diagnosed or just curious…breathe. 🙂 Yes, you have some re-learning to do, but the most important thing is to not get overwhelmed. Because of its emerging popularity, gluten is one of the easier allergies to navigate these days. PLUS, you have something I didn’t have 7 years ago, you have ME! 😀 Cheering you on, in your corner and offering you tips and substitutions along the way. So, are you ready for some great ideas and products?…walk with me, talk with me…
First, you’re a breakfast eater right? And if not, you should be 😉 A great go-to is either Gluten Free Oatmeal
(Trader Joe’s is by far the most affordable) or Quinoa. If you decide to do Quinoa, you may want to either soak it the night before or cook batches ahead of time to eat through-out the week. Trying to cook quinoa the morning of might be too time consuming for you depending on your schedule. I also do a lot of green smoothies in the morning like this one and this one. And of course you know by last weeks post that a quick egg recipe is always a great go to.
On the hunt for a new bread? One of my favorites has been from a mix called “Breads from Anna.” It’s easy to make in a bread maker and tastes very “gluten-ous.” 😀 Full disclosure, I’m not a huge bread person, I and usually prefer brown rice cakes or some type of flax/chia cracker. These are great, but you can also make your own. (Check out my Recipe Board on Pinterest for some ideas)I’ve also recently started experimenting with this Plantain Bread recipe…I know, its sounds strange right? BUT, here’s the deal, this recipe is super inexpensive, unbelievably simple and very versatile. Think a little thinner and less crumbly version of corn bread and you’re about there. Very good.
Pasta: If you’re a purest, Brown Rice pasta is a good sub, Tinkyada is my favorite, I use these in my minestrone soup.
Bean Pasta is also super nutritious!(I picked this up at Whole Foods.)
It boasts 11g of fiber and 25g of protein a serving. Fair warning, its sometimes slightly “bouncy.” 🙂
However, if you’re not a purest(definitely the category I fall into 🙂 ) try substituting Spaghetti Squash or even just roasting up a bunch of veggies (I’ll show you how to make my favorite quick roasted veggies soon) and serving those with your sauce and a little Pecorinno Romano (sheeps milk cheese=dairy free! Whoo to the hoo)
Next step, get aggressive about label reading. Gluten likes to be sneaky and hide in things like tea, bottled dressing, licorice, and boxed broths just to name a few. Fortunately, there are substitutes for almost everything. Looking for a Soy Sauce alternative? Try Bragg’s Amino Acids (soy based) or Coconut Amino’s (soy-free).
Both delicious and bonus, lower in sodium than Soy Sauce!
It’s a wonderful base for many of your baking needs and makes (quoting my gluten-eating hubby) “the best pancakes.” It contains whole grains, but is not 100%. I’m looking into trying a couple of other mixes as well. I’ll keep you posted.
If you need a flour substitutes for breading or for thickening sauces, you can definitely use Pamela’s. I’m also a big fan of using Almond flour or a combo of Brown Rice & Chic pea flour. Coconut flour is one I’m just starting to experiment with as well and loving so far.
There are so many incredible resources, recipes and substitutions out there. Check out the websites: Livingwithout, wholefoods.com and affairsofliving.com (this women is completely allergy free) for lots of helpful info.
And most importantly, don’t ever let a different way of eating cause you to feel frustrated and small. You are your health’s first and most important advocate and if a tweak in your diet is going to add to your quality of life, its well worth it!
I hope this post inspires and empowers you if you’re interested in making some G-free dietary changes.. And if you have any questions, need more ideas or have a g-free find you are dying to share, leave it in the comments below!
Until next time…