Friday, April 08, 2011

G is for Going Gluten Free

My husband had a visit with our homeopath this week, and she suggested trying a gluten free diet for 30 days - just to see how he feels on day 31. She explained that Irish and Italians (that would be us) crave gluten, and it ends up taking over much of our meals. I can agree with that. They're staples in our house: pasta, bread, and more pasta and bread - not that I'm complaining. I guess gluten is not the best thing for our bodies. No, you're not going to die from it, but it's difficult for our systems to process it. Always up for a challenge, we've decided to try it. We'll clear out all the perishables first and then give it a go in a few days.

I looked around our kitchen yesterday and saw so much gluten: boxes of cereal, bagels, bread, pie crust, pizza, pancake mix, cookies, pasta boxes, croutons, cream of wheat. They make up so much of our diet. I was concerned about the cost of substituting other foods for these easy, cheap ones. Here's what I figured out though. On an average shopping trip, I spend:

$10.00 (on cereal)
$3.00 (bread)
$2.00 (bagels)
$5.00 (frozen pizza)
$2.00 (pancake mix/croutons, pie crust, etc.)
$3.00 (cookies)
$3.00 (pasta)

I realized I could take that money and spend it toward vegetables, fruit, rice, gluten free cereals (not even expensive ones, but rice-based would work), and maybe some gluten free breads if they're not too crazy. I plan on purchasing some rice/almond flour to keep it on hand for baking - especially for our cookies and banana bread. 

The hardest part will be adjusting our mindsets. We're used to throwing a few pieces of bread into the toaster for a quick snack...with lots of cream cheese and jam on top, of course. Now I'll have to figure out other easy meals. Sounds like an adventure!

Any suggestions from all the gluten-free folk? What are some of your favorite substitutions for gluten? Is oatmeal okay to eat? I'm reading conflicting sources. 

Share recipes, thoughts, ideas below!


Created2bholy said...

Wow I admire you. Dan and I actually tried that a month ago and I gave up on day 2! I don't think I was too serious about it though. Good luck!

Natalie said...

My sister Rose tried to avoid gluten as much as possible - she had major intestinal troubles for 2 years and ended up getting a colonoscopy at 19 - they couldn't find anything technically wrong with her, even though she was bleeding like crazy. She discovered on her own that even though she doesn't have celiac disease, etc., she still does much better when she avoids sugar and gluten. I'll ask her what tips she has! (BTW, Chex has several flavors that are completely gluten-free, and I'm sure you could find them in a generic brand cheaply enough.) My mom isn't gluten-free, but since she tried to avoid high-carb foods, she does end up substituting a lot of non-gluten things... coconut flour, for example... She has a lot of good gluten-free recipes, too. I'll ask her as well! I'm sure you'll have a vast collection in no time. :)

LuAnn said...

One yummy thing are some crackers called "nut thins" I think, and they're made of almonds, hazelnuts, and one other kind that escapes my fuzzy brain right now. :) They're seriously good and really comparable in price to wheat thins or triscuits. They give you that crunch that is so hard to do without when you're avoiding gluten, or even just carbs in general.

Natalie said...

YES!!! We tried the Nut Thins last month and the box was gone in a day! Fantastic. :)

You can also make your own rice flour, which is likely cheaper than buying it yourself. Check out your mom's Whole Foods for the Whole Family cookbook... the back section has a ton of info on roasting or grinding your own grains, which is much cheaper in the long run. There are also directions for substituting rice flour in certain recipes (like pancakes)... for example, you make the Buttermilk Pancakes recipe with rice flour instead of wheat flour, use 4 eggs instead of 3, and whip the whites separately before folding into the batter. I know there are lots of other wheat-free recipes as well...