Eating "Out of the Box"
As “The GAL,” I am thrilled to join Yankee-Belle and share what I know about living a Gluten-free, Allergy-challenged Life. Everyone has been so welcoming, even Virginia’s mixer, “Edna,” though she knows I won’t be baking much, a harsh reality for this biscuit-loving Southern girl. For those who must vigilantly protect their allergy-challenged children or face severe health challenges if they don’t give up gluten containing meals, the world is a scary place. I hope my posts will make it a little less scary and more enjoyable. I look forward to sharing recipes, short-cuts and resources for those who must or just want to live “clean.” Oh, and I will be sharing how you can adapt many of the other Yankee-Belle recipes!
Over ten years ago, I was extremely fatigued after eating chocolate kisses and spaghetti. Diabetes runs in my family so I ran to my doctor. She did fasting glucose and allergy testing. I had allergic reactions to wheat, corn and beef! Why beef? It’s corn fed. Plus, I am gluten-sensitive but tests for celiac disease are negative, as they often are for the one in every 132 people who have celiac disease.
Sniff, I miss convenience food.
No problem. I could give up bread even if it meant not baking my beloved wheat rolls. I could give up popcorn. But, wait! Corn-based products are in everything. No soda, regular or diet. No cereal. No casseroles with canned soup, Hamburger Helper, frozen anything and not many gluten-free products because many use corn as a substitute. I had teens and a husband to feed. Stores weren’t as sensitive to their gluten-free and allergic clients. Don’t get me started on early versions of rice pasta. Ick!
Gradually, I discovered I felt better when I stuck to my diet. I went to the farmer’s market to reacquaint myself with fresh fruits and veggies. I devoted time to pre-staging meals for the week. I cut my budget in other areas to put money into good food. I even discovered confectioner’s sugar made with tapioca, rather than corn, starch! If I could make frosting, I can survive anything and so could my family. My kids made the excuse of going to college to get away from our new food lifestyle and things got easier with just Man O around. But I remember those days.
Gluten-free is a bonanza for the food industry, highway robbery for the consumer.
GF Bisquick is double the price!
Today's quick tips on thriving in a restricted food environment:
1) No expectations. If you expect that recipe to perfectly recreate a gluten/allergy free version of your favorite food, you will be disappointed. If you just want a yummy substitute, you will be fine.
Evoke the essence of your favorites. Yes, pizza crust is great but it is the toppings and sauce that make it pizza. I will be sharing a gluten-free english muffin that makes a good base for pepperoni. And it has fewer carbs!
2) Don’t break the bank. Living without preservatives and ready-made ingredients on a budget is a challenge. Don’t let the grocery stores, health-food or neighborhood, hold you hostage.
Seek out new resources. I discovered one of my local Target stores is the gluten and allergy-free hub for our area. The prices are more than $2 cheaper for bags of almond flour or pancake mix. Find other folks who are willing to divide bulk ingredients and order on-line. Talk to your grocery store manager about carrying items.
Finally, the hardest thing of all:
3) Look at your relationship with food. For me, the hardest part was giving up comfort foods I had depended on for ages: M&Ms, pizza, warm yeast rolls straight from the oven. I learned foods we are allergic to often produce a “high” before the bloating, sneezing and throat closing set in! It is perfectly okay to mourn the loss of your grandmother’s chocolate pie made with corn syrup. But remember, it is not the only memory you have of your grandmother.
So give me your ideas for posts, whether you suffer allergies, are celiac or just want to live “outside of the box.” Hopefully, I can ease some unsettled minds and growling tummies in future posts.