I am so new, and confused. Does anyone have any good advice on how to start. Where to look for good info? I have read a lot of labels lately, and OMG!! I need something simple for a busy life style. I have three kids and am going through a depression now. I'm not sure if i'm ready for this, but ended up here all the same. I really wish it were accepted in more stores and restraunts. The idea of cooking from scratch is scarring me. I just need to think about dinner one day at a time, and something good for lunches. Food has been a challenge for me lately. I am hoping to see an improvement fast because i am feeling so bad. But everything has gluten in it. Anyone else out there?
Rebecca...A couple years ago, my wife went through a bad period where they did tests on her when she became quite ill. She was hospitalized four times in two months and for a long time they couldn't determine the cause. To make a long story short, they were finally able to diagnosis her problem as Microscopic Colitis.
Through the time when they didn't know her problem, they thought she might have a problem with gluten and placed her on a gluten free diet. I don't know what's available to you, where you live, but we have at least two stores that are "Health Food" type stores. They both stock all gluten free products. Some of the regular food stores may have a small section, but these stores have all types of products. In fact, one of the stores (the smaller of the two) stocks only gluten free products.
If I were you, I would start by going to a health food store and if they don't stock any products (some only have vitamins, etc.) ask if they know where you might find gluten free products.
There are gluten-free pre-packaged foods out there. They tend to be expensive. Very expensive. They also tend to be higher in fat/calories than their gluteny couterparts. I've also found that things like gluten-free "helper" products only make enough for 2 people, rather than the usual 4 that regular "helper" products do. So even more expensive. If money's not an issue, this might be your solution.
However, if you're like the rest of us, a steep learning curve and a bit of creativity will be required.
I'm sure you've made gluten-free meals for your family prior to this without even trying. Grilled chicken with rice and a salad. Pork chops with baked potatoes and steamed veggies. Very easy and relatively quick (if you do the potatoes in the microwave).
You can always pick up some gluten-free pasta and have spaghetti night. Serve with a salad. Just remember that the usual bread is a no-no now.
Learn to love your crock pot. Seriously. It's a life saver. Make large batches of chili, soups, stew, gluten-free meatballs, etc. and freeze some for later use.
Lunches can be a bit trickier. Instead of bread, use lettuce leaves to hold lunchmeat, cheese, etc to make roll ups. Granted, this doesn't work well for PB&J. My favorite roll up is an asian chicken filling using ginger, garlic, a little rice wine vinegar, some sesame oil, and gluten-free soy sauce. Add some sprouts, finely sliced red pepper, and maybe some almonds. Yum! Tuna salad with gf crackers, celery slices, and apples.
If nothing else, you and your family are going to learn to eat a lot healthier.
There are some gf cookbooks and recipe websites out there. It might be worth your while to check them out. Take some time each week to make a meal plan. It really simplifies shopping and meal preparation.
I just bought a gluten free cookbook. Its great! its called: GLUTEN-FREE, WHEAT-FREE, AND DAIRY-FREE RECIPIES and the author is Beth Cheetham.
My 12 yr old son and I are both on gluten, dairy, and sugar free diets for awhile. Its tough for the kids. I make turkey chili, and stews, roasts, things that have alot of leftovers, and send my son leftovers to school for his lunch. You can make lots and freeze it too. The gluten free bread Ive seen in health food stores is disgusting. IM going to make my own, I think.
I'm on the Gluten Free diet as well, and in the beginning it was very overwhelming and confusing! So I feel for you!!
As others have said there are stores that do carry GF (gluten free) products, even some "regular" super markets, like Shop Rite, are beginning to carry some GF pasta and stuff. Wegman's also has a decent selection of GF products. I get most of my GF foods at Whole Foods.. it happens to be the biggest health food store in my location and offers a very large variety. Price is an issue though. For example, a loaf of Whole Food's Gluten Free Bread is almost $6.00 and its smaller than a loaf of white bread you'd buy at Acme! They have a variety of brands that differ in price, but also differ in quality. That was a big challenge for me, finding GF products that were edible! (I've always had a strange "thing" with the texture of foods!) In the beginning you really just have to experiment with different products. I find that I can only eat any GF bread if it's been toasted!!
Because the speacialty foods are so high in price I only buy a few select items to have on hand when I need a variety. I mostly buy rice pastas (they're not too bad.. you can find some brands for about $1.99 or so) rice bread on occasion, Rice crackers, maybe some GF cookies for my sweet tooth, GF bagels or english muffins (they're pricey but also large, so I only eat one half at a time) and once in a while I'll "treat" myself to Amy's Rice crust Pizza. I'll also buy the GF baking mixes. There's a variety of GF flours, I just stick to Rice flour, to use for baking, or as a breading if I want to make nuggets or chicken parm!
Other than those few items I buy all my meat, veggies, starches, and fruits at Acme where it's cheaper and still GF. As another poster said, you've probably made GF meals before without realizing it! Watch out for sauces, gravies, marinades and dressing though. A lot of these things have wheat flour in them to thicken it up. So you still and will always have to read labels. You get used to it!! You start to learn how to pick out those key words pretty easily!
Gluten Free books are great.. they help give your diet some variety! So just do your online research and/or check out your local book store!
Rebecca, you sound scared and overwhelmed. Stop a minute and give yourself a break. You will find this easier and easier when you get a point of view that works FOR you.
I have been gluten free for about 5 months now, and it has been easy. I'll try to share a few secrets with you so it will be easier for you, too.
First, I focus on what I LIKE that happens to be gluten free. Breakfast: eggs, corn flakes, rice crispies, oat meal, fruit, sausage, bacon - you get the picture.
Focus on about four of your favorites for breakfast, four for lunch, four for dinner, and four for snacks, and make sure you have them on hand for when you need them.
Second, I think about who eats grains other than wheat as a natural part of their culture. The ones I like best so far - Hispanic foods made with corn flour, that you find in fast food places, and all the Asian foods that rely on rice for all the basics.
Third, I eat more of the good stuff - really good fruit, really good vegetables. Good nuts. I use fresh and frozen vegetables - sometimes you just need to pop something into the microwave to save time.
Fourth, I keep a pot of rice on hand all the time. I learned this from my niece who is Thai. We make brown rice in a ricemaker about every other day. It becomes the basis for the quick meal all the time, even snacks. It takes any sauce, goes into any soup, can be sweet, or salty, or pungent, all depending on what you want.
Last, I keep snacks around that really taste good, for when I am too tired and might grab for food that is wrong for us just because it is there. This includes bags of corn chips, potato chips, and the dips that go with them.