29 Gluten Free Thoughts

So… something happened to February.  I’m not exactly sure WHAT happened to my February – but somehow it is gone and March, obviously, is here.  Hmmm.

Maybe the lack of blog posts helps explain my wickedly neat desk at work.  (Yea, babee!)

Or maybe my new obsession (Pinterest! – Feel free to follow, but really… I’m geeking out with teachery things…LOL)

However, the amazing thing about February though was the time to really think and plan the gluten-free thing.  We tried several pre-package GF foods, we spent a week without a bread crumb in sight, I budgeted, rebudgeted and menu-planned until I thought I was a lunch lady.  And you know what?  It taught me some great lessons.

And then I opened my email inbox and was floored by the fun things and new ideas.  Thank goodness!  I could obviously use the help with ideas for writing topics!  LOL

So…. here are my 29 thought-provoking (or not so much) GLUTEN FREE Thoughts, Inspirations or Lessons Learned from February.

1.  The next person who asks me if going gluten free will help them lose weight obviously needs to borrow my contacts or glasses.  Really.  Maybe it is about time the word “diet” because disassociated with weight-loss or hospital food and more associated with WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH and digest?    This thought brought me to a video clip shared with me by Gluten Free Steve via Facebook.  I’m sure we could all add a few tidbits and commentaries to make another video:

2.  Not eating gluten free bread makes for carb-craving for me.  It seems that everyone in my family can easily avoid bread – well, gluten free bread.  But I, for some reason, began to feel a serious hankering for peanut butter toast.  I caved and bought some Udi’s Bagels (for a cool $8 for one bag.  YIKES!)  And then I read the caloric count (don’t do it)… and the next week, I made my own bread again.

3.  After the power-outage, we had to toss/clean out the fridge/freezer.  Actually, this was a chore I didn’t mind so much.  (Probably should have given another geek warning here…ah well.)  It made me a bit ill to think of the money that I was literally tossing in the trash.  (Yes, our home owners insurance gave us money toward the costs of these lost foods – and thank goodness too!)  But it also made me highly aware of what we were consuming and what was languishing – especially in the freezer.  I guess it pays to take stock frequently.

4.  The Good News:  Sticking to a meal plan saved us about $100 a week in groceries/grabbing something quick.  YES!

5.  The Bad News:  I stick at menu planning – and after three weeks, I was bored.  My menu plan page looked like this:

Failed Menu Plan

6.  The Really Bad News:  This incomplete (aka #MenuPlanFail) made a complete high velocity impact on our monthly budget.  DANG IT.  Now I know.  I really, really have to be on top of it -AND- still allow myself room to breathe.

7.  Best Menu Planning Advice:  From Honesty H. on the Gluten Free Gobsmacked Facebook Page.  My Love said the same thing.  He starting flowing with ideas when I gave him the list of “things we have on hand”  (always my menu-planning starting point).  Seriously, next time I ask him, I am going to need the recorder on my phone to be on.  I think I literally ran for the pen and made him stop and repeat himself several times.  So what did I learn:  stock the shelves well – with ingredients that can be used to make “anything” and “everything” and then menu plan from there.

8.  Least successful Menu Planning Idea:  Plan meals on a cost-per-meal basis and using seasonal/on sale items.  WTH was I thinking?  Or “SMH” (Shaking My Head) as my students say.

9.  Some gluten free convenience products cost more money than I can possibly rationalize.  Carrying a $12 frozen pizza to the check-out counter made me wonder if I needed my home owner’s insurance policy to be revisited for coverage.  Unreal.    It’s nice to have a pizza in the freezer – just in case – but it’s definitely not a MUST HAVE.  Especially at that price!

10.  I have FIVE Celiac, THREE gluten intolerant, and TWO casein/lactose intolerant kids in my classes.  I think I might start a “gluten free/dairy free lunch club” and order in speciality foods for lunch in my classroom once a month.   (What do you think?  Good idea?)

11. Eating should be much like what the airlines suggest for  oxygen masks:  feed mom first.  Then everyone will actually get dinner in a somewhat presentable fashion.   I was so good about packing snacks and healthy stuff for the kids that I literally forgot to think about what I was packing for myself.  With only a 25 minute lunch period – I typically eat at my desk while grading papers or reading the news online.  Suddenly my lunches became a cup of yogurt or a half of a banana.  Not good.  Considering I’m awake about 5:00AM and pick up the kids about 4:00PM, then home/dinner, etc.  That much food just doesn’t carry me.  Now I’m packing a handful of nuts and a cheese stick for snack time.  (And yes, a healthier slightly bigger lunch.)

12.  Umm…Gluten Free Subway sandwiches?  Yeah, baby!  While I can positively assert that homemade bread always wins over store-bought bread (gluten free or not), the convenience of finding something quickly would be nice.  (Anyone have experience with eating Gluten Free at subway?)

13.  My girls may not join me in munching on a sandwich from Subway – if that chance ever arrives.  Truly, they are not bread eaters.  Well, at least not until their daddy makes them a toasted PB&J.  I’ve tried to seduce them with pancakes in the morning.  My chocolate pancakes worked.  BUT BY GOD – those girls were wearing chocolate ALL over!  Next time?  I will use those teeny-tiny mini-chips.

chocolate chip pancakes

14.  The best gluten free goods are still the ones that are not only inexpensive but also easy to make.  Case in point:  My butter and chive potato slices – topped with fresh parsley.  (Now…if only the eldest daughter would quit boycotting all green foods unless they are edamame or watermelon rinds….)

DSC_0179

15.  You too can pack some fabulous lunch boxes with a little kitchen twine, a kebab skewer and some fruit.  Make the gluten free beautiful for your kiddos.  (Tutorial to follow…LOL)

16.  While Chaitan Khosla continues to work on an enzyme drug to “treat Celiac Sprue”, I really am left wondering what’s worse:  a diet of gluten free foods or taking medication for a lifetime?  I still say I’m sticking with the natural foods route.  What about you?

17. I just read this article today.  “Pitting the Fad Diets Against Each Other”.  I’m still annoyed that the Gluten Free diet is even *ON* this list at all.  It does nothing to educate people about eating regimes nor why someone may need to be on a restrictive diet when some in the media portray it as “a fad diet”.

18.  When in doubt, make something new.  No matter how far in to the dreary month of February this happened, I love it when a good idea flows across and works.  Truly, I should just start taking pictures with my cell phone.  I rarely have my camera at hand when I have something i should share.  I did, however, catch one decent brain-storm in February:  Carrot Pupusas.  YUM.
Gluten Free:  Carrot Pupusas

19.  My Least Favorite Gluten Free Product:  chickpea flour.  I know. I know.  I’ve used it before.  And I still can’t get myself to enjoy it.

20.  My Favorite Gluten Free Flour:  Whole-grain Millet.

21.  The flour that most confuses me:  Mesquite flour.  (Just what am I to do with this??)

22.  Why do people say we are “suffering” with Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance or …??  Really.  I’ve seen people SUFFERING with cancer, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s Disease, HIV/AIDS,….. I don’t put my autoimmune disorder anywhere on the “suffering” scale.  (Although a reaction?  That is miserable.  But again.. it is what it is…)

23.This week Zoe and I have challenged each other to “eat a rainbow” daily.  (I”m trying to get her over her green-thing…).  So tomorrow?  I’m eating a red apple, orange organic cheddar stick, yellow and green corn and zuchini burrito leftovers, blueberries and some purple carrots with my sweet and sour pork loin.  And you?  What’s your rainbow meal plan?

24. When making super-easy, inexpensive and naturally gluten-free cabbage rolls, don’t overpack the pan.  You won’t have room for tomato sauce and your rice work cook all the way through either.  #lessonlearned

25.  Nutella not only proves the existence of God (it IS gluten free and it EXISTS) but also the possibility of Hell (as in…good luck just eating a little …. better to just leave it at the grocer).

26.  We tried these naturally GF noodles.  Umm… yeah.  I’m rather positive that they will not be making a regular appearance in our family rotation.  Despite the fact that I followed the directions, the noodles stay funky-crunchy.  What did I do wrong?  Anyone?
tofu noodles
27.  “No, you cannot kill gluten in your deep fryer.  It’s not a germ.  It’s a food protein.”  (Something I’ve said way to frequently when asking wait staff about their fryers.

28.  Dear newly-excited restaurant, marketer, corporation, etc:  We, the gluten free community, are truly happy to have you find a way to meet our needs.  But please, do us a favor:  Educate yourself.  And help the US finally APPROVE the Gluten Free Labeling Act so that your “gluten free” label really means something to us.

29.  No matter how long I am gluten free, I still have to remind myself to read the label.  Assumption can have a heavy price tag.  And honestly?  My “sick” days from work are used for the kids.  I just don’t have time to hover within proximity of the loo.  I just don’t.

What about you?  Have any GF Leap Year thoughts?

~Happy GF Living All – 
Kate

15 comments on “29 Gluten Free Thoughts
  1. Cara says:

    I love this! :)

  2. Betty says:

    Funny stuff. Yes, a pill would be welcome. Eating out would be something you could do without worry but I’d still eat healthy.
    As far as Subway, order a breakfast wrap but have them wrap the stuff in the egg. make sure they change gloves.
    Good luck with the meal planning. I found that if I have a list of things I like to eat and that everyone else will eat, it’s easier. Planning and trying to stick to it is hard if you don’t feel like tangerine beef on Tuesday, you can have a pork loin.

  3. Claire says:

    I love the idea of the school lunch club :) Your butter and chive potato slices and the Carrot Pupusas look yummy. Chapitis are good made from chickpea flour but that’s about it I’ve found (so far)

  4. Lee Barrilleaux says:

    Love it!!!!! The it’s a fad thing kills me. As I have told my family that still doesn’t get it. Why would I go without fried foods and bread living in New Orleans, and no I can’t cheat or eat just a little bit of bread…..UUGGHHHH.

  5. Sarah says:

    Wonderful stuff!!!
    Sadly, I must add 3 “stupid things people have said to this Celiac” to your list.

    From an Extension Agent. (with a Master’s in Public Health): “Why don’t you taste-test the menu items [for upcoming luncheon] to see if they’re okay with your funny diet?”
    From the owner of a health-food store: “This bread is made with sprouted wheat, so it’s okay for Celiacs.”
    From a Registered Dietician: [eyes rolling] “Oh, please. Like a little whole wheat ever really hurt anyone.”

    S * I G * H

    FYI: Subways in East Texas (Dallas to LA border) are test-marketing a gluten-free bun. It’s pretty good. The staff is very well trained in avoiding cross-contamination.

  6. KT says:

    I love the idea of eating a rainbow daily. And GF Subway? Really? I must check this out.

  7. This is good. I’m also working on learning how to be a menu planner. It doesn’t come naturally to me but I KNOW it will make my life less stressful and cost less. (Both very good things.)

  8. Deanne C. says:

    Aaaahhhhh…..to find a kindred spirit of gluten frustration, is indeed a gift of epic proportions!! Thank you for your candid & thoughtful observations!! I am the only gluten-intolerant soul in my household, so its a challenge to accomodate my family while not feeling like I’m the food pauper with my nose pressed against their “bountiful feast of glutenous delights” window. In the overall scheme of things, my family is eating gluten-free since I am the Master Chef in the house! lol. I’ll admit, this forced-adventure has really made me FEEL so much better then I did before I was diagnosed last year…(I spent 30 yrs. of ill-health, visiting emergency rooms to be rehydrated back to bodily functioning after severe “upheavals” (nicer sounding then what it really was!). And though I suggested to the doctors that perhaps I have some kind of serious food reactions, none of them ever took my instinct as a bonafide possibility, instead they just sent me for expensive and costly (radioactive) tests…NEVER did anyone suggest a good ol’ fashioned blood work up, until my recent “random” introduction to a fantastic naturopathic doctor through my new neighbor.) I have always been a “label reader” but now, I find that most of my education on the “crap” they put in packaged foods, comes in the form of my detailed observations on the food labels!! The chemical bombardment in processed food is overwhelming! So I think this gluten-intolerant situation has saved my life in more ways then one!

  9. Becca says:

    What a great post! I struggled for years with the meal plan. What has helped me the most is rather than having a detailed menu plan, I just pick main ingredients for each night then keep a well stocked pantry. So for us, that means than Monday is rice and beans night, Tuesday is something with ground beef or turkey, Weds is a chicken or roast, Thursday is something made with the leftover chicken/roast, Friday rotates between taco salad or homeade pizza, Saturday is Italian night and Sunday is soup night. Sounds boring, but in actuality it opens up to a lot of foods and fits in well with our CSA when it’s being delivered. For example, beans and rice night can be anything from black beans with salsa, chickpeas with kale and raisins, lentils with browned onions…you get the idea. For some reason just knowing that main ingredient/concept makes a huge difference in planning.

    Aren’t the short teacher lunches the worst?? I have the same problem. Keeping a smoothie to drink while I teach seems to help me over the hump before I get home.

  10. Erin says:

    Oh my gosh, thanks for posting that video. I raise a 2 daughters who have Celiac disease and I needed a laugh over the frustrating aspects of living with it.

  11. shirley says:

    Hello, please give Shirataki noodles another try.Double check the expiry date on the bag. They are great and have always worked for me. Rinse in colander, put into small pot of boiling water, stir, boil for 2 minutes, drain & eat as you would any other noodle or pasta. These are a wonderful low-carb option.

  12. Varenikje says:

    What a whirlwind this gluten free living has been for me! I also appreciate all that you do on this site to educate and encourage and all!
    I also roll my eyes a bit when someone says “You are so thin! You don’t need to be on a diet!” And I think I’m going to stop explaining that being thin isn’t the object here. Because I am single, I don’t have to worry about feeding a family (very often) and reading your posts makes that sound like a luxury (I do make meals for other people from time to time, but my regular meals are just me). I don’t know where you are and I also don’t know where Jimmy John’s is, but they make an “Unwich” that is all of the fillings of a sandwich wrapped in a lettuce leaf. I love those! Subway here only does a salad with the sandwich fillings on top. I like that, but not as much as an Unwich. If Subway does come through with a non-gluten bun, that would be great! So far, they are quite cooperative with my desire to take all of the sandwich innards and put them on one of their wrappers (paper) and then I bring my own bun and make a sandwich at my table. Godfather’s Pizza makes a nongluten pizza, but it is pretty pricey. It was good, but I think it was $12 or so. A luxury item, obviously. There are lots of bento ideas that work very well with nongluten meals. I have a couple of bento boxes myself! I love pupusas! I will have to check out your recipe! Did you notice that the advertisement at the bottom of your page is an ad for Cheese-its? he he.

    • Varenikje says:

      Okay, the Cheese-its thing may be a mistake. It was there and now I see it is gone. The story of my internet life.

  13. Janice says:

    I struggle with meal planning. I usually plan meals one or two days in advance. I use mesquite flour in corn bread and in my
    sourdough chocolate cake. Delicious! Next I plan to try it in chocolate chip cookies.

  14. Nadja Davidson says:

    Meal planning is key if you want to keep your sanity. My rough outline is to bake a loaf for the kids’ school lunches on Sundays (that ties me over until Wednesdays) with a hot meal at night Mondays through Wednesdays. Thursdays and Fridays is soup for lunch with a sandwich at night (fits our after school schedule). Double the soup batch and freeze, so you have some when you don’t have time to cook. Also, my slow cooker is a lifeline, again with plenty left over that can be frozen and reheated when you’re in a pinch, out of ideas or just plain fed up cooking from scratch :-)

Got a gluten free crumb to leave behind? Share your thoughts!