I have a personal Gluten Free Chef…and it isn’t my wife????

…And to be honest with you she’s OK with it.

Time is just not something that I think anyone has a lot of these days.  Especially with two teenage boys who go to school miles away from our home and a wife who works full-time.  So when I was diagnosed I thought OK, I will go out and buy whatever I can get my hands on and my wife and I can start baking/cooking gluten free, WRONG!!!

With limited time, there never seems to be those few extra minutes to try to figure out how to make the best GFree brownies, or how to work with GFree flour, never mind sit down and create a gluten free meal plan for the week.  Therefore, I have relied on a lot of gluten free prepackaged food from one of my favorite local places Allcaneat Foods.  (I promise to review them sometime in the near future-they’re awesome and if you’re in the area you need to check them out).  I must also confess that I believed that once I was diagnosed that we (my wife and boys) were in this alone. I thought we would deal with this as a family, much like we did when our youngest son was diagnosed with a milk protein allergy as a baby and a red dye allergy as a toddler.  We weren’t thinking about all the supporting cast members in our journey.

In my case, people like my sister who saw GFree bread and boxed Mac & Cheese; and picked them up for me.  Or my mother-in-law who instantly started thinking about how my favorite meals at her house could be adjusted to make them GFree.  And, of course, my Mom (you may remember from an earlier post I told you I am kind of a mama’s boy) who immediately went online to look for GFree cookbooks and magazines.  She even spent a whole afternoon watching GFree day on QVC and was texting me the whole time asking if I wanted her to buy this or that!

apple-pie-ck-709820-l But I think everyone (yup that includes my wife and my Mother!) pales in comparison to who I now refer to as “my personal gluten free chef.”  For the sake of protecting the innocent we’ll just call her Eliot.  Eliot is one of our family’s closest friends and she has been more “into” my diet than me.  On one of my first visits to her house, I was greeted with boneless chicken breaded with mash potato flakes accompanied with white rice, so yummy.  Another time it was GFree risotto and for dessert GFree brownies made with sour cream to make them super moist.  Most recently it was a homemade apple pie, completely gluten free!  This put me right over the top and provided the muse to write this post.  On top of all this, she has a list of items containing gluten on her refrigerator so that when we are planning our next “pizza night” she can make sure there is always something there just for me-and yes she even found a local place that has GFree pizza!  She always has a new type of cracker for me to try along with her homemade hummus that is gluten free for me to snack on.

You are probably saying to yourself, you are so lucky to have an Eliot in your life, and how I wish I had an Eliot too.  And that is exactly my point-I had no idea when I was diagnosed that I would have the supporting cast members I now have to help me figure my way through this new GFree world in which I now find myself.  But, as I am learning to navigate my new GFree existence; I have found that the people who love me really are willing to go the extra mile so that I continue happily on my “crazy” diet.

Just take a good look around and you will find that you too have this support system waiting to help you in any way they can.  And lastly my hope for you is that you too will find yourself an Eliot in your life.

 

 

Gluten Free Traveling

Let’s face it, being on a gluten free diet and traveling is really a hassle.  When I first learned I needed to maintain a GF diet, I did what Bill did and pretty much binged on anything labeled GF that I could get my hands on – thankfully, I didn’t have the same results as Bill!  A lot of these things required making something at home, or being near a kitchen, so traveling became a real quandry.  Nowadays, there are a ton of GF options out there, many of which have always been GF (or have recently tweaked their recipe to be), and I didn’t realize it.

So, now, when I travel, I have a system – a list of items I bring along to eat.  No, I don’t make a batch of GF cookies, GF bread, and go skipping off to grandma’s house in my red cape.  I don’t gorge myself on GF stuff before I leave the house thinking that I won’t be able to eat until I return.  I, as many folks do, look for something handy, easy to carry and fits my diet – like a candy bar or power bar.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask for, even though we are GF.

I’m not saying you can’t bake till your hearts content and maybe even bring along a sandwich or two on your favorite GF bread.  For me, these things almost always seem to get crushed.  A PB&J sandwich that is moist and oozing out the side just doesn’t seem appealing to me.  I never liked being that kid in school with crushed cupcake and a soggy sandwich, and I don’ t like it now.

Enough babbling now … let me get to it.  Here’s my list – I get what I can, whereever I can find it, and go with it.

1) Larabars - you’ll find these with other healthy power barr, meal replacement bars, and the like.  They are small, easy to carry and tasts great.  My favorite is the Apple Pie!
2) Bora Bora bars – I just recently learned of these, and they are incredible.  These bars are all natural, organic, and gluten free!
3) Gluten Free Instant Oatmeal – all you need is a cup of hot water and you are golden.  I’ve asked many flight attendants for one and they’ve begun to bring packets of oatmeal themselves!
4) Snickers Bars – I am ok with these, but be sure to read the package in case you may not be.  The bite size ones have gluten, so don’t eat those.  I like snickers because if I am in a pinch, there’s usually a candy shop around!
5) Trail Mix – any brand will do.  There are many out there that are GF and also nut-free if you need.  I need the protein and the good fats, so I stick with the traditional kind with nuts and all.

This is just my short list.  You are going to want to do a bit of research ahead of your travel to find GF places to eat – unless you checked a bag of luggage full of pre-made items (which I wouldn’t recommend seeing as it’s extremely hot in the bowels of the plane!).  Goto GlutenFreeRegistry.com to see what’s out there, and if possible, as folks living in your destination to look around for you.  And – always remember to tell people  you are gluten free!  There’s nothing more heartbraking then arriving at your friend’s hose and they’ve made lasagna – the real deal!

Happy GF traveling!  (And if anyone else out there has some traveling favorites, please add to this list – we are always looking for new things to try!)

Ahh!, Gluten Free! Now What?! – A starter guide to the best gluten free products

Ok, so you just got home from the doctor’s office and are now frantically searching the internet for ‘gluten-free’ and wondering what the heck to do.  You may even have plans next weekend to go out and you’re wondering, ‘what will I be able to eat?’.  Then, it dawns on you … ‘holy crap!  I can’t have bread.  I can’t have beer. I can’t have cookies, cakes, or pasta!’

Calm down!  You can eat plenty!  For instance, potato chips are ok. You can still have a steak.  And, you can probably still have coffee.

It took me a long time and a lot of money to figure out what tasted good, and what I may want to pass over during my next grocery trip.  Gluten-free products have come a long way in the past ten years.  It was rare back then to see anything prepackaged, and mostly I just went without, or tried to make something at home that ended up tasting sandy, lifeless, and fell apart before making it to my mouth.  So, if you’re just starting out gluten-free, print out this list before your next shopping trip – you won’t be disappointed.  (Disclaimer: Read the labels in case there’s other things you can’t have!! )

  1. There are a few gluten free product reviews on a site called Qwowi.com, you may recognize the author.  Look for more of these types of reviews here at GFY.
  2. Celiac.com is another very good site for tips on how to keep on a gluten free diet – recipes, links and shopping can all be found there.
  3. Most local grocery stores how have natural food sections – this is where you can find gluten free products.  Here’s a few brands to stick with:
    1. Udi’s – they make the best GF bread out there.  (I’ve been told that Rudi’s is very similar, but I have yet to try it).  This bread doesn’t need to be toasted like other GF brands.  You can just plop your ham and cheese on it and go.  They make a really good cinnamon raisin too!
    2. Glutino – very good brand.  They make the closest thing you’re going to get to an Oreo.  Christine has even tried them and agrees.  As with all GF things, the difference often comes in texture, not taste.  I noticed that over time, I don’t even notice anymore.
    3. Mi-Del makes decent cookies as well – ginger snaps and oreo-like, both are good.
    4. DeBoles and other past brands make decent corn & rice pastas.  The best way to go with pasta is corn.  If you can find corn spaghetti or other pasta, go with it.  It holds up like wheat when boiled and baked.  The rice can be finicky and fall apart.
    5. Amy’s is another brand that has gluten-free options.  They make frozen dinners and such.  They also have a pretty decent pizza crust too.
    6. Foods by George is very good as well.  They make a really good brownie!  Put it out when company is over and no-one will know the difference.  They make really good muffins too.  Be sure to heat the muffins up for better results – again, without the gluten things are either really dry or really moist.
    7. Pamela’s is best for their pancake and baking mix.  The pancakes are great.  I make them every weekend.  The cookies that they sell are a bit dry, so it depends on what you like.  Get the pancake mix though!!
    8. Bob’s Red Mill makes GF oatmeal.  Oatmeal doesn’t contain gluten as wheat and all.  The reason why some celiac and GF folks stay away from oats is because they are processed in the same facilities as wheat and all.  Bob’s isn’t and it’s good.  I eat it and so does my 9 month old daughter (who must remain gluten free her first year).
    9. Cherrybrook Kitchen is another maker of baking goods.  Cake mixes, etc. – they’re all good.
    10. Believe it or not, Betty Crocker has GF stuff now too – right in the same aisle as the other baking goods.  The cake and cookies are great.
    11. EnjoyLife has come very good cookies – snickerdoodles, ginger, oatmeal raisin, etc.  They are all pretty good and they don’t have a lot of other common allergens in them either
    12. Liz Lovely has a GF line of cookies – very, very good.  We get these a lot.  My wife eats these instead of the gluten-filled ones too.  Any of the ones they make are great.  (More on these in future posts!)
    13. Chex cereals are now GF.  They’ve been advertising and all too.
    14. Fruity Pebbles is GF too!  Check the box and you’ll see.
    15. Aleia’s almond horn cookies – really good.
    16. Kinnikinick makes excellent donuts – the cinnamon sugar are great.
    17. Larabars are great on-the-go type bars.  They are gluten free.
  4. Read up on what has gluten and what doesn’t, and be sure to read labels.  Depending on how sensitive (or strict) you want to be, there are many folks who would argue that most store-bought, prepackaged things have some sort of wheat or oat-based product in them, including things like red-dye #9 and all those other fillers.  Wheat is a common filler to a lot of products, even some over the counter medicines and vitamins.  Again, be careful or as cautious as you need to be.
  5. Remember, there are A LOT of things you can still eat – potatoes, rice, corn, buckwheat (actually a seed, not a grain and no relation to wheat at all), nuts, soy etc.  All of these can still be consumed without worry of gluten.  All fruits and vegetables too.  There’s no gluten in meats either.
  6. For breading things for cooking – either crush up corn flakes or potato chips.  They both work well when breading chicken or creating some sort of beer-batter for frying.  In my opinion, they sometimes taste better anyway.
  7. Beer – there are a lot of beers out there now that are gluten free.  Bud makes a beer called Red Bridge.  It’s very good.  It’s made with sorghum instead of barley and wheat.  Sorghum beer has been being brewed for centuries in Germany and other countries, so it’s not anything novel, other than it’s gluten free and you can still have a beer with friends.  As for other alcohol, you just have to do your homework – some vodkas are, as well as some whiskey’s and scotch.

Good luck and stay tuned for more from two guys who live gluten free!

Copyright 2011 © Gluten Free Yodas