Friday, June 27, 2014

Kimberly's One Year Gluten-Free-Anniversary

A year ago this week, my precious first born, Kimberly, was undergoing tests that are usually reserved for people much older than fifteen. She had already endured surgery to remove her gall bladder, numerous blood tests, various antibiotics, multiple doctor appointments and months (years really) of feeling crummy. The gastro doctor finally said as an afterthought, "Well, I guess you could try going gluten free." So she did. She began to feel better within a day or two. And my brave girl has never looked back. Not once in this past year has she eaten gluten by choice.  The dark circles under her eyes, foggy brain, and stomach troubles are gone.

We do not have a gluten free house, but I do try to make most of our family meals gluten free so that we are all eating the same things. She has her own cupboard which I try to keep stocked with things she has found that she likes.

This journey presented a steep learning curve for both of us. I have tried a thousand different recipes and finally feel like I am getting the hang of things. She has learned to advocate for her herself in a variety of settings so that she doesn't get sick. We have a weekly pizza tradition in our family and it has really been hard to find a decent pizza crust. I am so thankful for my friends at church (Elke and Jenifer) who have been walking this journey for a long time. They have given me so much good information and encouragement as I have tried to cook for Kimberly.

In celebration of this milestone (and because many are walking this same road) I thought I would share my top 10 tips for cooking gluten free. I am focusing on a mixed kitchen like ours where not everyone is on a gluten free diet. This may also be helpful if someone is coming over for a meal who is gluten free, or if you are taking a gluten free meal to someone.

1. We have separate cutting boards for gluten free and non-gluten free food. The gluten free ones are red. I sometimes forget and grab the wrong one, but this has been a helpful habit for us.

2. America's Test Kitchen has recently published a cookbook called The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook. Everything we have tried so far from that book has been excellent. It is very thorough and gives the science behind the recipes. The waffles and muffins were gobbled down by my whole crew.

3. Find a local gluten free bakery. In Colorado Springs, we have Outside the Breadbox. They sell their bread at their own bakery, and also at several other places around town. I take apart the loaves of bread and freeze them in two slice portions so Kimberly can pull out what she needs. Their pre-made pizza crust is not too bad.

4. It is easy to make gluten free "cream of" soup. There are several casserole recipes that I serve often which call for cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. These products have lots of weird ingredients in addition to gluten, so I discovered that I can make a delicious alternative with the following little recipe:
     1 cup milk
     1 tsp. gluten free bouillon (Better than Bouillon is the brand I like)
     1 Tbs. butter or oil
     3 Tbs. gluten free flour
Combine the flour and butter or oil and cook for one minute. Stir in the bouillon and milk. Cook until thick. Use in any recipe calling for "cream of" soup.

5. Most Pamela's products are delicious. We especially like the pancake mix and the cake mixes. The coffee cake recipe on the back of the pancake mix bag is so good.

6. Some products are disgusting. And trial and error is expensive. But don't give up.

7. Jovial Pasta is very good. We just discovered this after reading about it in the America's Test Kitchen cookbook.

8. Gluten free specialty food is expensive. But a lot of food is, of course, naturally gluten free. Fruits, veggies, nuts (depending on how they're processed), cheese and meat are always gluten free.

9. Costco often has a lot of gluten free options that I don't see elsewhere. They have Tate's Bakehouse chocolate chip cookies that are really good. I also buy gluten free granola there that is about half the price of anywhere else. But, like everything at Costco, sometimes I'll buy it one month and not be able to find it the next. We recently tried Rice Rollers that everyone liked. They are like rice cakes in a cylinder shape. We have been dipping them in peanut butter.

10. There are some good apps that are helpful in finding restaurants (find me GF) or for scanning the UPC of products that are questionable (Shop Well).

I am proud of you, Kimberly, for your dedication to this new life style. It hasn't always been easy, but you have never given up. You are a tremendous example to me. Happy gluten-versary! And here's to many more!

1 comment:

  1. This is so helpful, Amy! I really appreciate the "cream of soup" mix. Thanks! We too, have gone gluten-free for Aleya who had similar symptoms (dizzy, foggy brain, stomach aches, moodiness) and find the same challenges. Our Costco carries many gluten-free options! Our favorites are Udi's bread, Glutino pretzels and Namaste flour (which can be used in any regular recipe, less 1/4 cup).