Friday, October 28, 2011

Celiac: After the sob induced diagnosis.

Okay. So I didn't really sob after finding out I had Celiac Disease, but I did shed a tear for this amazing cheese herb bread that I had just discovered and now will no longer be able to enjoy. Such is life. I can't enjoy my Size 2 jeans or my used-to-be perfect 20/20 vision either. You just move on.

Afraid I would be existing solely on eggs and water for the next 50 years I contacted my cousin, Kelly. She's one of those women that can do anything life throws at her and she does it well. With a Martha Stewart style. Each of her three children has a special - and different - dietary need. Trust me when I say she knows her way around a Gluten Free kitchen.

And Kelly took me shopping. We spend hours wandering around Walmart alternating between seriously discussing ingredient labels and laughing so hard I was going to pee. We even ran into my sister, which is an incredibly dangerous situation - but her husband pulled her out before we could consider margaritas in the canned veggie aisle.

At Kelly's advice, here's what I did:


I had this box of old dot matrix printer labels... I had even joked about the box awhile ago on Facebook. What on earth would I do with 5,000 old labels?

As soon as I was home from shopping I sorted out the gluten free items and slapped a label on them. This makes it SO much easier when cooking (or munching) because I can quickly see if the product is gluten free or not.

 I made a dedicated area in the pantry for my GF items and through the filled with evil wheat products on their own shelf. I'll have to admit that this is working sort of okay. My family is lazy and tends to throw things back in a general vicinity; they could care less if wheat products are near GF items. That being said, it makes the individual labeling that much more necessary - and appreciated.

 Okay, yeah, it's eggs... just what I had feared... but this bacon was naturally gluten free and I never pass up a chance to eat bacon. I once had a boyfriend show up at more door with a 2lb package of bacon. It meant more to me than flowers. Anyway, it was morning. So I had breakfast.

 Gluten Free Chili. Which is made exactly the way I have made it in the past. Honestly. There was no change to this whatsoever. I did find that I have to watch the labels... not all kidney beans are made equal. Some are made in a plant where there could be traces of wheat found in their products (mostly the cheaper beans). So, I just made sure I got the cans that said gluten free right on the label. Easy peasy.

Please also note this picture serves as double duty:  Can you spot the utensil I would never eat with?

If you answered the plastic handled spoon then you are correct! Mostly because I hate the feel of the metal portion of the spoon. It's too thin. I don't know how to explain it other than my nerves are exploding with sensory overload when I use that spoon. It took me about twelve minutes to find the proper spoon. And then I was able to fully enjoy my gluten free chili experience.

I made ranch chicken for dinner. Normally I would side it with egg noodles slathered in butter but since noodles are out I went for a gluten free brown rice which Big V likes. For me it's meh. The other change was the coating for the chicken. See, this is a lazy person's recipe: melt a stick of butter in the microwave. Stir in one packet of (dry) Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. Dip the chicken in the ranch/butter concoction. Now, take a sleeve of Ritz crackers and crush them. Dredge the chicken through the crushed carackers and throw in a casserole dish. Bake at 350-degrees for 30-45 minutes. Enjoy!

But, no crackers meant no breading. Or so I thought! You know what works just as well? Smashed up Rice Chex Mix! Holla! Also, my family would tell you they preferred the Rice Chex because it was crispier than the Ritz crackers. Would you look at that? I just improved my baking skills!

The next awesome thing that happened? THIS HAPPENED! Pete Novak from Novak's Restaurant felt pity on me and brought me a Gluten Free Goody Basket filled with things to try. Seriously - I thought I won the lottery!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Gluten free products are expensive and not knowing what would taste decent felt like too much of a risk. (I'm not gonna lie; I've heard horror stories about GF breads.)

In my humble opinion:

The Udi's Chocolate Chip Cookies? Totally worth it. They won't replace the real thing, but it's a dang good replacement.

The Udi's Pizza Crust? I couldn't even tell the difference between that crust and Jack's frozen pizza. Also, I had made a homemade pizza which scored me some major points with the family. One pizza was just sauce and cheese for the boring kids in the family. The other pizza I made included pepperoni and pepper jack cheese. (It's all about the cheese, people!) I didn't tell my family the crust was gluten free until after they ate. They had no idea and told me to make them again. Holla, again!

The Udi's bread? Um. I can't lie. It's not the bread of my past. My glorious, fabulous, soft, gooey bread of my past. No, this is harder. Crumblier. Ickier. BUT -- the trick is to toast it. I've had a couple bacon sandwiches on toast and have been very pleased. I think I'll be okay. (To be fair, I only tried the bread plain with butter. It might be better with awesome sandwich meat and lettuce and tomatoes to distract my picky taste buds.)

I've gotten LOTS of advice and offer for help and my sweet, sweet neighbor dropped off a couple books which I have studied and xerox copied and need to return... and I appreciate every single bit of advice. Every recipe. Every word of encouragement. Every "don't worry; it'll take a while to get used to it."

I still haven't even attacked everyone who's offered to help me.... like Jessica over at Lunch at 11:30 - who I totally am planning on stealing all of Holly's awesome GF recipes from (it's a known fact Jessica is the diva of the relationship and totally makes Holly do everything... like cook and risk her life changing the dryer vent) ... but every time I go to say something to Jess she posts another positively soda snorting from your nose humorous blog and I get all sidetracked.

I know I have a lot to learn. The other day I found myself sitting at my desk facing the realization I hadn't brought a lunch and had no idea how to navigate the world of take out. I sat gnawing on a pencil hoping the roughage would fill me up. It did not.

Overall, though, I'd say this isn't the worst thing to have happen to me. Allowing my sister to cut my hair right before picture day when she was clearly not a licensed beautician was probably the worst thing. That and my decision to wear thick purple plastic framed glasses throughout my formative middle school years.


Ellen said...

It must be challenging to work through what you can eat and what you no longer can eat. To let go and accept. Then feel good/better makes it worth whatever you have to do.

Looks like you are doing the positive direction and taking it with a sense of adventure as well!

Brenna said...

I had no idea that such common things were GF. I've been thoroughly educated. I hope you get the hang of take out soon enough, no one wants pencil splinters in their tongue.

lunchat1130 said...

soda-snorting! oh i so love that. WAIT IS SODA GLUTEN FREE?? (psych; i think it totally is)

shhh! holly totally thinks she "the boss" at home! hah! what a joke!

thanks for the shout-out! p.s. don't eat pencils, LEAD POISONING.

p.p.s. avoid Rudi's gluten-free AT ALL COSTS (that's Rudi's not Udi's). major GI disturbance. won't even go there. me. ttyl, lylas!

Artsmarts said...

My husband has been on a gluten free diet for about 10 years now and within the last year has added lactose intolerance to that as well. Very challenging. For pasta find Tinkyada Gluten Free Rice Pasta it cooks up nice and my family eats it too. Chex cereal and Rice Crispies are gluten free now. I cook mostly from scratch but some frozen meals that are good are Amy's and Cedar Crest. Good luck getting over the initial hump, it gets easier. As far as takeout most Chinese is ok, Mexican if you ask for corn tortillas and steak & potato is always safe.

Johi said...

Try to find Canyon Bakehouse's 7 Grain- San Juan Bread. It is the ONLY gf one that I found that I could eat without toasting.