Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gluten Free Living

I know I've touched on here a couple of times about the fact that I am on a gluten free diet. My blood tests recently came back and I do not have celiac disease. However, everything on my body feels horrible after I have gluten - especially my hands and anywhere else my disease feels like hitting that day.

I started this back in September and October, and I feel as though the boyfriend and I have learned a lot about how to live GF. Well, he still has gluten, but not as much. Anyway, I felt like it was a good idea to share with y'all, mostly because I keep seeing questions from people on tips for GF living.

First, get a stand mixer. The bf's mom got us a beautiful kitchen aid for Christmas and it has really helped our recipes turn out better - and saved our hands!

Second, learn how to make GF breads and pastries. This could be the best thing you've ever done. I missed eating pizza, cake, cookies, and everything. But now I just experiment with delicious GF versions. If you'd rather, Betty Crocker (I've found so far anyway) makes the best GF cake mix. Otherwise, there are a ton of mixes you can find if you look for them. This is true not only for cakes, but cookies, breads, and even (YES) cinnamon rolls.

Now, baking bread with GF flours is pretty easy. It's getting the mixing right that's tricky. Again, get a stand mixer. Also, it doesn't mix together like 'normal' dough. It's supposed to, instead, look more like spackle. The rules are a little different. Why?

Gluten acts as a bonding agent. It holds breads and things together. When you don't have gluten, you have to use another bonding agent - usually xanthan gum. Because of this, the chemistry gets thrown off. So just watch yourself! And if you don't get a recipe right the first time, please try again!

PLEASE READ LABELS!

Seriously. Things you expect to be gluten free might not be, mostly because of seasonings. Arthritis Ashley recently had some nuts that for some horrible reason had gluten in it. She was lucky and was able to not really eat the food, but sometimes that gets really tricky.

Also, sometimes gluten tends to hide. The FDA made it necessary to list wheat in the ingredients on things, but gluten isn't just found in wheat - it's also found in things like barley, rye, spelt, etc. Learn the other hidden ways gluten can pop into your diet by familiarizing yourself with the hidden sources of gluten in your foods. I have found this site helpful for that.

For example, I have a potato problem. I love fries, crisps, jojos, wedges, baked tatoes, tater tots - pretty much all things potato... except au gratin. Ew.

Anyway, you have to be really careful, because a lot of fries - which you expect to be not gluten-ful - do have seasonings and things that make them so. Again, please, please, please read labels!

Get rid of all your seasonings and condiments that have gluten in them, even if there are people who can handle gluten in the house. There are still some things in our apartment that have gluten in them, but it's pretty much limited to when my boyfriend gets pizza from the not GF places or his regular bread.

Make friends with other people who ditch the gluten, whether it's online or in person. That way you can swap recipes and experiment with foods as a team!

Speaking of, here are some of my favorite GF recipes:

Maple Cornmeal Pancakes - These are HEAVEN. I'm not even kidding you. It's like a mouth-gasm. They're SO filling that having sides isn't even needed. Seriously, you need to make these, like yesterday.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - My mom makes killer CCC. They've always been the most delicious things I've ever tasted, in the fields of cookies. When I realized gluten was making me want to die, I immediately knew I was going to miss these cookies. Alton Brown sir, you are a saint!

Pizza Dough - Okay, Spelt has gluten, so don't use spelt. But once you learn more about GF flours, you can modify this recipe. We usually use all purpose GF flours and such.

Mmmm lasagna. Enough said.

Cinnamon Bread - We've found that it works better if you put about half the topping in the mix right away, and then put the rest on the top about 10 minutes before it's done.

Cornbread - Mmmm.

There are a ton more recipes out there, so start looking!

And here are a couple of my favorite GF brands.

Envirokidz - Not only it is Nature's Path's answer to GF, it's geared towards kids so they have freaking adorable animals like koalas and lemurs. And they taste amazing. They have cereals and breakfast/snack bars.

Glutino - The entire company is gluten free. Bread crumbs. Yogurt covered pretzels. All purpose flour. Bread. Oh, and FREAKING FREEZER PIZZA. The feta is the best by the way.

Pamela's Products - Sometimes you want delicious things like cookies but don't want to have to put dough in the fridge for HOURS. So I reach for these awesome lil guys. Chunky chocolate chip is the best, especially with vanilla soy milk.

Lundberg - GF couscous, and now super awesome pasta. Mmmm.

Annie's - Mac & Cheese and fruit snacks. Heaven!

Amy's Kitchen - GF soups and chilis and all sorts of goodies.

Like I said, there are a TON of options available. Going GF isn't as hard as it used to be. It doesn't just mean eating veggies and fruits. You can enjoy normal foods, with a little twist.

If you have questions about going gluten free, or about the kinds of recipes and foods to try, please shoot me a message!

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