Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Even before  I went GF, I loved Asian supermarkets.  Asian food is great for gluten-free diets because, with the exception of questionable wheat-filled sauces, many meals are naturally gluten-free.  Sure, the amalgamation of unidentified smells may overwhelm as you first walk in, but as you browse the aisles of countless brands of soy sauce and rice noodle, the smell dissipates and you’re free to enjoy the unbeatable prices these places have to offer.

Quail eggs are a good example.  I once purchased a dozen quail eggs for the price of a dozen regular organic eggs.

Another example is pork belly. I don’t even know if my regular grocery store sells pork belly (which, if you’re not familiar, is basically thick-cut, extra delicious, not-as-salty bacon), but my local Asian market had it.  In large quantities.  For not that much money.  And because you wouldn’t want to eat very much pork belly at any one time (it goes well on top of a burger, say), a little belly goes a long way.

So naturally, my trip to the Asian supermarket led to an Asian-inspired meal the next day.  A simple but filling breakfast-for-dinner: rice seasoned with sesame seed,salt and sugar (a $2 seasoning from the market!), and a pork belly-stuffed egg, with a side of edamame.  Delicious and protein-packed, it was a a satisfying little mid-week meal.

So be adventurous.  Go check out your local Asian supermarket – every city has at least one.

-Taylor

While in West Palm for a wedding this past weekend, I visited an old friend of mine. This friend and I hadn’t seen each other in years due to an impromptu falling out.  I simply couldn’t tolerate this friend anymore, and I feared our relationship was irreparable. Well guys, I ‘m happy to report that this friend has changed his ways -in a big way. This friend is none other than California Pizza Kitchen (affectionately known as CPK), and it was long ago a favorite restaurant of mine. But this weekend, as I resigned myself to a salad lunch at a restaurant not of my choosing, I found myself pleasantly surprised.

Not only does CPK now have a complete GF menu, including GF crust available on all but two of their specialty pizzas, but the regular menu has a classy little GF next to each salad, soup or appetizer that comes naturally gluten-free. No fuss, no muss.

A friend and I opted to share the white pizza with applewood smoked bacon.  I scarfed two pieces down  before I remembered to photograph:

The very next day, another close friend of mine (this one human) drove up from Boca Raton to meet me for lunch. She wanted CPK. I didn’t complain.  This time we had the Jamaican Jerk, sans bacon. This time, I forgot to photograph at all.

-Taylor

Salad is one of the most versatile foods around. Appetizer or full meal, a nice salad can be filling and healthful or filling and super fatty, depending on the toppings.   We’ve been having a lot of fun with salad lately. Topping it with bacon and hard boiled eggs, or chopped roasted chicken from the store.  Even fresh CSA-provided blackberries make a delicious topping.

I know many people with Celiac refrain from making salad at home because it is so often the go-to meal at unaccommodating restaurants. But I’m of the belief that salads at restaurants are overpriced and underflavored.  Often we have to order them sans dressing to be extra careful, and there are few things less satisfying  than a dry salad. To make things easier, there’s even a list online of gluten-free salad dressings.

Just look at that rainbow of a salad (above) to see how tasty, nutritious, beautiful, and fun homemade salads can be.  Fruit and nuts? Extra veggies? You can even make your own GF croutons.

Think of the plate as a blank canvas and the many farm fresh fruits and veggies that are currently in season as your palette and get chopping!

 

-Taylor

Earlier this year, I posted a recipe for homemade gluten-free girl scout cookies, Trefoils to be exact, that didn’t really taste like the real thing, but were an admittedly delicious substitute.  Yet all the while I was thinking of how nice and convenient it would be to bring home a box of real gluten-free girl scout cookies, along with some Thin Mints and Tagalongs for my gluten friendly pals.

Now, a troop mother in Long Island is looking to make that happen.  Her daughter, Elle, has celiac disease, and though she has sold numerous boxes of the annual treats, she’s never tasted one herself.

[Stacy] Malinow said, “When my daughter is asked what’s your favorite cookie, she has a tough time with that, because she can’t answer that. She generally says Thin Mints, because she knows she likes mint, but she’s never had the cookies.”

I think she should start answering honestly – that no cookie is her favorite because the organization doesn’t feel like there’s enough demand.  If that doesn’t tug at your heartstrings as you stand there buying cookies from a girl who’s never had them, you don’t deserve them.
Malinow estimates that 131,000 girl scouts have food allergies that prevent them from eating the cookies that fund their girl scout troops activities.  Malinow has started a petition to prove the demand is there.  You can sign it here.
-Taylor

The Wall Street Journal called him “the world’s best athlete of 2011.”  He’s beaten Nadal four times straight.  His first name sounds like a last name.

His name is Novak Djokovic and if you’ve heard of him you’re at least one of the following:

1. A dude.

2. A dude who watches ESPN exclusively even when the “good” sports are off-season.

3. Rich.

4. Over 40.

If you haven’t, you’ll hear of him soon because he’s unstoppable on the tennis court. And I’m thinking his nutritionist got a big raise

See, Djokovic’s nutritionist discovered last year that he has a gluten allergy, and since he dropped it from his diet, his life on and off court has taken a turn. Says the journal,

Djokovic’s serve, sloppy as recently as last season, is now precise, fluid and, at times, devastating. His forehand used to break down in tense moments; now he hits winners that seem to subscribe to undiscovered laws of physics. His backhand, always solid, is now impenetrable, even with Nadal’s famously high-bouncing forehand.

The one change in his life? Deleting the wheat.

Even if Djokovic’s newfound confidence stems from going gluten-free only because he told himself it’s the cause (as the WSJ article suggests), one can’t deny the results.  Or the good press for GF dieters and undiagnosed celiacs everywhere–especially the dudes.  The more men who hear the words “gluten-free” and “gluten intolerance” and see the positive effects the diet can have, the more likely they’ll be to get diagnosed, instead of toughing it out in favor of “appearing weak.”

Results may vary.  Going gluten-free may not make you Superman, or the best tennis player the world has ever seen, but it will make you feel better.

-Taylor

People always tell me I’m lucky to be gluten-free because I’m perpetually on a no-carb diet, or because I’m not tempted to consume high-calorie snacks when I’m out running errands.  For the most part that’s true, although I think people tend to forget the calorie-content of sugary coffee drinks, a GF guilty pleasure of mine.

But I’ve been hearing a lot recently about a glutenful snack that contains more than just calories – it contains melatonin, a supplement popular in the 90s for its supposed calming power.  Most popularly called Lazy Cakes, these OTC pot-brownie substitutes have been popping up here in Gainesville and, apparently, everywhere else.

The danger lies in the fact that melatonin, if taken at all, should be taken in small doses and, like any drug, not when you plan to operate heavy machinery – like a car.  But by being encased in chocolate and marketed as a snack, people are all but being encouraged to gobble the stuff up just for the opportunity to relax in our fast-paced world.

That’s one product I can walk by at Walgreen’s without one little pang of jealousy.

-Taylor

Finding a full-time job is tough and a little bit soul-sucking.  I apologize for my continued lack of tri-weekly updating.  I plan to get back into at least bi-weekly posts next week. I’ve also been spending a lot of my time on my second project.  Click it. Click it!

Onward…

About six months ago, my mom picked up and presented me with two packages of “soup mix” she’d found at one of those specialty shops in small historic  towns.  I was skeptical.  It just looked like dried herbs and corn, and the packaging was a little cheesy.

Then one Sunday night I was super lazy and tried one of them.  I added a pound of ground beef and some soup stock (as well as a couple of other required ingredients) and like 30 minutes later – Goulash.  The brand was Frontier Soups and it was delicious. And simple.

So even though they run at about $6 a pop, I tracked them down at my local Fresh Market and picked up some more.  This time I added bay scallops, shrimp and cream to the “Florida Sunshine” Red Pepper and Corn Chowder and we gobbled it down, briefly pondering how excellent the addition of BACON would have been.

And if you think $6 is a lot for a soup mix, think about the fact that it serves 4-6, which lasts me about a solid week when I don’t feel like sharing.  Plus if it’s not available in your area you can order directly from the site.  Win.

-Taylor

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