Archive for July, 2011


A year and half ago I was worried that this gluten free world would take away all my traditions.  I am a person very well grounded in traditions.  I love them.  I create them.  (I have found this works better if the others involved are aware of the “traditions” status, however!)  My nephews and I used to go on dates.  The elder always chose Olive Garden and wanted mussels. The younger always wanted On the Border.  It was “our thing” and we knew if we were going out exactly what to expect.  Neither of those places is gluten free friendly.  Thus began “pancake nights”.

 

Now, our dates are a little simpler.  We go to my house.  We walk into the familiar kitchen and we pull out bowls and measuring spoons.  My heart danced a bit the night the younger boy told me he wanted to take cooking classes.  I told him that I would happily oblige.  Instead of the usual “dump this spoon into that bowl” method we have been employing up until now, I took a moment and realized that he is old enough.  So I stood aside and simply instructed.  They measured, scooped, poured.  And my little dark eyed man was allowed to pour that batter straight onto the cast iron griddle I had previously deemed too dangerous for him.  We talked about safety and the importance of keeping our attention only on the task at hand.  I talked, and he intently worked at his task. I stood at his side and together we entered this next phase.

 

Then, we ate pancakes.  Just as we always do.

 

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What do we eat?

Someone asked me recently what exactly I eat now that my diet must be gluten free, msg free, and fake sugar free.  I laughed at first, the list of foods we eat is nearly endless.  The question has echoed over the last few days and I realized that a year and a half ago I was asking the very same question.  Now?  I can flip through a cook book and make nearly anything in it.  Sure, substitutions must be made.  We eat burgers sans buns most times, but I also know how to whip up a fantastic bun in a hurry when we desire one.   

I have, over the years, had to become more adaptable than I once was.  A few years ago, I ate the same basic rotation of a dozen or so foods at all times.  I ordered the same thing off of the menu if we went out.  It was rare that I chose to deviate.  Then I discovered celiac and it’s long assault on my body.  I realized just how malnourished I had been, despite the fact that I was never remotely underweight.  When the diagnosis came back of Osteopenia I knew that changing my lifestyle was the only answer.  So I began to work exercise into my life.  I still have not met my own goals, but we do manage far more than I ever did in my twenties.  I also wanted to give my body the best nutrition I could.   I eat things now I doubt I would have even tried five years ago.  Hummus has become a staple this summer.  Wild rice salads are fast becoming a favorite.  Our grocery list eat week consists almost entirely of produce and dairy.  I laugh when I open my refrigerator and instead of boxes/tubs/and bottles there is a predominate number of mason jars.  Mason jars filled with homemade dressings, homemade mayo, yogurt, whey from the yogurt (used in smoothies and baking), honey caramel creamer for our weekend coffee, and infused sugars to stir into the seltzer water when I just MUST have a soda – though compared to my old habits this is pretty rare.  Our freezers hold just as many mason jars.  Those are filled with smoothies (for the days I need a to-go meal), soups, stews, granola, and ingredients for baking.  There are also food savered bags of casseroles.  Whenever I make a casserole I try to make two or three.  One for that nights supper and one or two to freeze for later.  Doing that gives me the ability to take a weekend off from cooking now and then.  I try to keep that mentality whenever we are cooking.  If we are making burgers, why not get an extra pound and make some spares to freeze for later?  I find I feel much less controlled by my lack of ability to eat out of I have some easy pre-prepped meals on hand.  I also tend to make our meal plan/grocery list based off of what is on sale at Fry’s or Sprout’s.  So buying an extra pound of meat is good for the budget too.  

I know that I am blessed.  That man I fell head over heels for two years ago has learned to dance in the kitchen with me.  It wasn’t always easy.  I have been cooking for years.  His repertoire consisted of scrambled eggs, quesadilla, and grilling pre-formed frozen burgers.  He chose to invest in me, and us, by tolerating the taste tests I subjected him too.  Now, he can readily tell me if he wants more thyme or rosemary in a dish.  Two years ago he said “that’s the green stuff right?”.  I love that he was willing not only to have our house be entirely gluten free, but also willing to invest in what it requires to keep it that way.  Cooking everything from scratch.  He can even make the yogurt all on his own 🙂  I am blessed indeed!!

Traveling Gluten Free

Most days, I do not even really think about being gluten free.  Our home is safe, and I’ve learned a few lessons about keeping myself safe at work too.  Traveling still makes me take a deep breath and the list making begins.  I keep a mental list handy of things that travel well.  

I know that if we are going on a military trip I’ll likely find a refrigerator at the hotel, but almost never a microwave.  I didn’t know that the first time we traveled and believed the email I had telling me a microwave would be no problem.  After a few tears, a lot of begging, and a few hours of wondering what I was going to do with the frozen food we had brought with us on the airplane – the hotel did steal a microwave from their housekeeping department but I learned on that trip – cold food that does not require heating is the only way to go.  Our schedule is usually pretty full when we travel with the military and we are not authorized a rental car so I must take everything we need. This was rather daunting that first trip, but now I have a decent handle on it.  I can take our chex mix cereal and get the milk from the continental breakfast bar.  Bananas are usually found there too, and since the skin protects the part I eat I do not have to worry about gluten fingerprints on them.  Lunch and dinner typically consist of a chicken salad, tuna salad, quinoa salad, sandwich meat with cheese and crackers, or hummus and veggies.  I take a small lunch box sized cooler and extra cold packs.  That way if we can’t get back to the room for lunch we won’t starve.  I keep a stash of Nature Valley Almond Bars and Welch’s fruit snacks on hand for the afternoon munchies.  I learned to take a water bottle that has a filter in it so I can just fill it from the tap.  Often the water is just stored in big pitchers at the hotels and I have no idea if they might be cross-contaminated. A baggie of craisins keeps me happy in the airport.  I also take a zip-lock of bleach wipes so I can wipe down any surface we might be eating on.  I always feel a bit paranoid going to this extreme, but the thought of trying to fly home if gluten hits me is enough to make me take the extra precaution anyway.

If we are traveling by car the options are more vast.  The toaster oven is my salvation and offers me so many more options.  We can take waffles or muffins for breakfast.  I made these grain bombs for dinner a few weeks back and we both quickly decided they would be a go-to meal for trips.  Sandwiches also become a possibility (technically you can eat sandiches not toasted but I do not know of anyone gluten free that chooses to do so)

We can take small mason jars of yogurt and zip-lock of granola to add to it.  Smoothies made and stored in mason jars are not only tasty, they also help keep the cooler chilly.  They also help me get more veggies and fruit in our diet when we are traveling, which seems a bit harder to do than we are at home.  We still rely on quinoa salads, chicken salads, and tuna salads*.  Our black bean and corn salad makes it into the rotation too.  Hummus and veggies is great if we are driving through a meal time.  Sandwich meat layered with cheese and mustard and rolled into lettuce works well if we need a quick meal or something to take hiking with us.  If we have some hummus leftover we typically spread that over the lettuce before we roll them up!  Shredded chicken doused in bbq sauce or dressed with a honey mint dressing is a favorite of ours! 

I’m sure over time our lists will expand but for now this our go to plan for traveling.  


*I realize that I list salads a few times, but I do try to vary them.  We’ll take a Mexican inspired quinoa taco salad for one meal and a Greek quinoa salad for another, for example.  I also vary the hummus we take, doing an artichoke herb one time and a chipolte based the next.