Talking to people newly suffering from a gluten-sensitivity, one major stressor I keep hearing about is that they don’t know how to cook or eat anymore. I totally get that, I used to be in that same exact situation. Trying to figure out how to cook gluten-free was a completely new ball game for me. Just the thought of having to cook for me and my kids who aren’t gluten-free was challenging and stressful. Especially in the beginning when I didn’t even know where gluten was hiding. I felt as though my food was going to be tasteless. I feared that whatever I had to eat, my kids would hate, and I refuse to cook two meals. Time and patience for that were just not in my cards. Trying to retrain my brain towards a gluten-free diet was very challenging. I needed to think outside the box, away from my daily habits for the past 30 years. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could say with lots of confidence, that gluten-free cooking is as easy as 1,2,3. So let me tell you that if I can do it so can you. The taste of food in my cooking and eating has never been compromised, if anything it has added value to the tastes of foods, I never thought possible. I have eaten better, healthier today than I have for most of my adult life. I feel amazing, I lost weight without trying and I can eat as much as I want, whenever I want, without sacrifices.
I never realized until my gluten-sensitivity how much bread-like foods I ate. I never realized that making my lifestyle “easier” with grabbing something processed such as a protein bar, cereal granola bar, candy bar, pretzels, cookies, pizza, the list could just go on, was not necessarily easier but most convenient for my lifestyle at the time. I thought these foods were healthy because the packaging screamed “healthy” it really was not though. At least not to me.
The changes I took upon for my gluten-sensitive lifestyle when it came to my cooking and eating skills, were actually quite simple. The number one thing I started to do when shopping was to read the labels, the key ingredients I was looking for gluten-containing foods or additives such as wheat, barley…as well as words I couldn’t read or knew what they were, plus sugar amounts and added sugars. The reason why I looked for sugar amounts and added sugars is because many times when things such as gluten or fat are being taken out of foods, the flavor will be added with sugar or sugar substances. In my case that is not such a good thing. Basically, for anything processed I am looking for simple and true ingredients such as simple peanuts and maybe some sea salt in my peanut butter. My motto is “if I can’t read it, I won’t eat it”.
When it comes to my cooking, whole foods is the way. Wholefoods are the foods that don’t require labels listing ingredients, where a pepper is a pepper an apple is an apple. I call these quiet foods. Quiet foods have become my best friend in my kitchen. Also, if I have the ability to buy them at the farm stand, they are also friendly to my wallet. I know whole foods can be expensive depending on where you live and where you buy your food. That’s why I like to go take advantage of my farm stands in my area. Sadly, in the winter here in Connecticut, I am not so fortunate to have farm stands available, so I buy organic at my wholefoods store. This is a bit more expensive, but I know that I get good quality foods without GMO’s or pesticides with glyphosate in them. When I buy from the store I also like to be focused on the clean 15 and the dirty dozen list for the year, which can save me some money as well.
Growing up in Germany gravy has always been a huge part of the meals I have eaten growing up, gravy is foods best friend in my book. The way I used to make gravy was by using flour as a binding product or use gravy packets and make my gravy that way as it was quick and easy, but that, of course, has become a big no, no since my gluten-free lifestyle came aboard.
Today I use organic cornstarch or rice flour, these two ingredients make a great binding product for gravy or anything that needs thickening. Instead of pasta I now use either Japanese rice noodles, quinoa noodles, rice, or potatoes (in all forms, such as mashed, fried, cooked grilled) my new favorite has been cauliflower rice as it is so easy to make and you can add never-ending flavors to it, making it however you like it.
Premade spice packets are out, I use all individual spices, make my own combinations of flavors for anything I cook, that luckily is something I have always done.
Going out to eat at restaurants, is a treat as I get to eat higher-quality foods than ever before, which if you think about it, that’s the way it should be anyway. Why go out and not treat yourself to a meal you want to enjoy and maybe don’t get at home! You are worth spoiling yourself with a good meal. Don’t give the restaurants who don’t put effort into their kitchen skills, buy using cheap and premade foods to serve you a meal at a high price. Pick restaurants that care about the quality of the foods they serve. I bet you can find meals on their menu where you don’t have to worry about miscommunications about ingredients, most of their foods will be naturally gluten-free.
It has taken me a long time to truly have a gluten-free mindset without suffering or feeling like an outsider, but truly enjoy my life as is, and accept that the changes I had to make are making me who I am today. Once I got out of the thinking process of “omg I have nothing to eat” things got much better. It just took me a while. Living my life today without GI issues is just wonderful. There are so many great foods out there that are naturally healthy and are a big part of keeping my gut in a happy place.
I hope that this helps you a bit and you will be able to retrain your brain towards a healthy gluten-free diet, as well. You are worth it, enjoy your life and enjoy your food.
That’s it for today, I hope this blog enlightens you a bit towards the things you can eat, and it will give you some hope that life and good food is far from over.
Thanks for stopping by! Till next time!