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!)
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:
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.
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….)
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.
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?
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 -