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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

10 things I learned about going gluten free

There seem to be a number of people declaring that gluten is the source of great evil and causes inflammation in the body.  This inflammation is supposed to trigger an autoimmune response which leads to MORE inflammation as well as arthritis, infertility, allergies, and even weight gain.  So, the new thinking is that you ought to try a gluten-free diet just for a month and see how it makes you feel.  If you re-introduce wheat products and it causes no reaction then you have discovered that this isn't the cause of some of your health problems.  Since I'm one of those people who seems to gain weight without any effort despite a reasonable diet, I decided it was worth it.  I also have really horrible allergies which I have been hoping would improve.  Here's what I discovered:
  1. Friend suggestions on Facebook coupled with a real person encouraging you to jut try it equals actually trying it - at least for me.
  2. It CAN be expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  There are specific snacks that are suggested as gluten-free replacements for regular products from companies like Glutino which make a variety of crackers and desserts.  I found a bunch of these products on sale at the local Grocery Outlet, Bargain Market for about $1 or $2 rather than the $5 it costs at a regular supermarket.  I bought 5 boxes for $8 when they would have cost $25.  Sweet.  We're off to a good start.
  3. There are many foods which are naturally gluten free because they have no wheat.  Rice, corn, millet, quinoa, potatoes.  And I'm talking Mexican food.  If you love Mexican food, you will most likely have 0 problems sticking to this diet.  What am I craving for lunch right now?  Oh, yes, Mexican.  And by that, I mean REAL Mexican food - not that crap from Taco Bell.  I mean corn tortillas, fish a la diabla, mole, pozole, and the like.  If you're feeling pedestrian, go ahead and have the tacos.  Chipotle is a pretty good option, too.  Just stay away from breading or flour tortillas and its easy.
  4. Make a list of foods you like that don't involve wheat.  It'll be it's longer than you think.  You can eat potato chips, but you can't have most of the crackers in the snack aisle.  If that's what you've been subsisting on, maybe this is a good exercise for your health.  You can't have a burger - unless its with gluten-free bread or without the bun.  Have some steak and potatoes.  Expensive?  Who said you have to eat out?
  5. It's amazing where gluten is hiding.  You can have rice crackers - so long as they aren't coated in soy.  You can find gluten-free soy sauce on Amazon, so don't worry about where you live.
  6. Gluten free foods keep getting better.  I've eaten gluten-free cookies that were absolutely delicious.  You can often find some of these items at your local farmer's market or friendly neighborhood supermarket.  If you're adventurous, try ordering some items from Amazon.com like baking mixes or even bread.  I order there frequently and have a lovely time of it.  Most sellers will bend over backward to help when there have been minor problems.
  7. If it doesn't seem to really hurt, you might find support from family.  My husband is going along with it - even though he really wants to make couscous - which is a wheat product.  If you are the person in charge of dinner, why not grill a steak, or chicken?  We bought gluten free flour at Trader Joes and made crepes.
  8. It gives you an opportunity to try other things.  Quinoa is shaped about like couscous, maybe we can try that as a compromise.  Maybe it's a reasonable substitute.
  9. It makes you explore why you like certain foods.  Why ARE you so attached to wheat that you can't give it up for a short time, like say Lent.
  10. You CAN eat out.  Going to Subway?  Have you sandwich as a salad and skip the croutons.  Skip the burrito and have the corn tacos or barbacoa plate with rice.  Go to Sizzler, Outback, or whatever steak house and have the steak, potato, and vegetables - skip the cheese bread.  You can eat Italian - just skip the pizza and the pasta.  My favorite Italian dish involves salmon in a delicious pomodoro sauce.  You can go for Chinese, but nothing fried and no soy sauce.  If you're in the South, you can go out for BBQ, but just don't have it in a sandwich.  Eat ribs.  And you can have the french fries, so quit crying.  You can have ice cream or yogurt as long as there are no cookies in it.  Mint chip and chocolate fudge, here I come!  You can go out for Indian food, and skip the naan bread.  Kebabs are totally OK.  Mexi is the bestie!  You can have wine.  You can even have beer, so long as it's gluten free, which there is some and even a delicious Oatmeal Cream Stout from Steadfast, or a Glutenator.  You can go hog wild, just skip the wheat.
You can start slowly.  Eat fewer crackers before you make the leap.  Try one meal.  Try one day.  See how you like it.  It's for your health.  So if you have any of the same concerns as me about allergies and inflammation, it's worth thinking about and then actually trying.  And, while you're at it, try having some vegetables, too.

If you're worried about desserts or other deliciousness, check out these gluten free baking recipes and other gluten free foods at McCormick.com/recipes, courtesy of the spice company.

Here are some new ways of flavoring chicken and sea food using Old Bay, a nice little spice, at OldBay.com.

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