Monday, June 21, 2010

Goodbye Gluten!

(Disclaimer: This is a LONG post. Read only if you're interested!)
I have not blogged in what seems like forever, but since school is out and I've got a little extra time on my hands, I'll share something that has become a big part of our family's life in the last 4 months or so. Mark and I have decided to say goodbye to gluten...for the most part, that is. Let me explain.

No, neither of us have celiac disease and neither of us are gluten-intolerant. However, we have become aware of several people in a short amount of time who are. Mark suggested doing a diet without gluten a while back and I could not bear to do life without my breads and pasta. These were a huge staple of my life! However, after seeing and hearing stories about the effects of gluten on so many people, it got me wondering if there really was something to this life without gluten.

Let me start at square one for anyone who is not familiar with what I mean by gluten. Gluten is defined by as "An inherent starch that exists in most grain or wheat sources. Gluten is an important source of nutritional protein and as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein. Gluten is also used as a flavoring additive or a thickening agent." You find gluten in many of your obvious wheat sources: cereal, bread, pasta, pizza, cake, cookies, and pastries, but also can be found in many of your processed foods and even in things like shredded cheese. Gluten products can be added as an extra source of protein to many processed foods and can also be used as a non-caking agent. This website is one I use as a reference often to figure out what foods do contain gluten.

However, let me be VERY clear on something, I am by no means an expert on gluten at all. In fact, I enjoy learning more about it every day. I find it very interesting. Like I said before, I do not have an intolerance, so I will still have gluten products time and again. I find it interesting to see how my own body reacts to gluten. This article was written by a man in a similar situation to myself (no gluten intolerance, just trying it out) and his results are very similar to my own. Like I said, I still have gluten occassionally, and I have found that I can tell when I DO have it. No, unlike celiac disease, my intenstines do attack themselves when I have it, but I can feel a general sluggishness and change in demeanor. I know that many people think it's strange that we are going without gluten or I get funny looks, but I know how much it has helped us and I believe in the power of food, so we're sticking with it.

I've actually enjoyed the challenge of finding ways to enjoy many of my favorites, but in a gluten-free way. We are now in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with Triple J Farms here in Georgetown....which we LOVE!!! We get our weekly share of beef, vegetables, and eggs, which keep us from doing much processed foods and the vegetables are used in our meals rather than filling our meals with a bunch of grains (which I did a lot before). So, now I'm always trying to alter recipes a tad to fit our diet. I find it pretty fun! When I do use grains, I try to use gluten-free alternatives, which can be found at Kroger or Meijer (I find Wal-Mart doesn't have much, but that's not surprising). It does cost more, but we find it to be a good sacrifice.

Gluten-free Simply Citrus Cream Cake

(used Betty Crocker's gluten-free cake mix. Delish!)

Carmelized Onion and Prosciutto Pizza

(Pioneer Woman recipe...used gluten-free pizza crust)

Turkey Asian Lettuce Wraps

We've also learned some other tricks, such as to use a block of cheese and shred it ourselves instead of using bagged, shredded cheese, try to not eat out much, use cornstarch as a thickening agent rather than flour, and we try to shop the "perimeter" of the grocery store.

I've added some new links to my site that include some of my favorite recipes (since I'm truly a "foodie" at heart) and I included a great one for finding recipes on gluten-free stuff called Gluten-Free Girl. Another link that I use for educating myself on the flours I can use for cooking is here.

Saying goodbye to gluten is a challenge and definite undertaking. I'm not trying to encourage anyone to do it themselves, I'm just letting everyone know what's going on in our little ole home in Gtown. Happy cooking!

1 comment:

Cameron said...

I think this is awesome!! I don't think it's weird or crazy at all! I've actually talked to several people recently who have either stopped eating Gluten or majorly cut back. I've thought about it. As Isis gets older, I can already tell a TON of things about our eating habits are going to change. Right now we are focusing on cutting out red meat (we did this before, but then I started eating it again when I got pregnant), eating organic, cooking at home, etc.

Share some recipes as you make stuff!! I'd love to try some Gluten-free stuff!