Gluten is Going, Going, Gone!

I confess…I am a gluten-aholic. I love bread and pasta, in just about any way, shape or form. I crave anything that you can buy in a bakery and I swear the smell of a fresh warm cinnamon bun would be a knock-out perfume. I can still remember the day I finally perfected my great-grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe and have intentionally not shared her recipe with anyone outside the family (at least, not exactly.)

When Jenna was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes several years ago, we cut way back on sweets to make it easier for her. She was never really big on desserts anyway, so it wasn’t a huge deal. I could still bake for special occasions (like holidays, birthdays, rainy days, days that ended with a “Y“) and could always count on a pb & j if I needed a quick fix.

Then we were given one more reason to hate Lyme disease.

We pretty much knew what to expect when we had our first LLMD visit — a picc line and strong antibiotics, lots of them. We weren’t even surprised when they also prescribed a full range of probiotics and vitamins. It wasn’t until they told us that Jenna had to go gluten-free that the room began to spin. No more bread, no more pasta, no more cakes or cookies…life as I loved it had ceased to exist.

Still in shock, we stopped at Martin’s on the way home and stocked up on anything labeled “gluten-free.” We soon found out that most of the goodies we bought should also have been labeled “flavor-free” and with the average price of a loaf of bread at $5, would have been better off investing in a small country.

One thing I really hate to do is back down from a challenge. I started researching substitutes for gluten and reading labels in search of the “otherwise known as gluten” ingredients. I pulled out my trusty Fanny Farmer cookbook and started looking for recipes that didn’t use large amounts of flour or ingredients that I could only order from who knows where for the price of a week of groceries.

Rice flour is our new best friend. We love rice flour – with a touch of xanthum gum. It can be substituted measure for measure in cobblers, crisps, and cookies like snickerdoodles and peanut butter crinkles. I have come to enjoy experimenting with different recipes to see if you can really tell it’s gluten-free.

For Jenna, giving up desserts was one thing, but taking away her pasta was quite another. We’ve tried just about all of the gluten-free brands and have found a couple varieties that are pretty good. We love Chex — especially since they are now making cinnamon and honey-nut flavors. Glutino pretzels and cheddar crackers are now staples in our pantry.  Ore-Ida french fries and Hamburger Helper’s new gluten-free varieties have been manna from Heaven on busy days. Not being able to grab a quick frozen dinner or run through the drive-thru have encouraged us to cook more with whole foods and to experiment with different cooking methods. 

I do have to commend Jenna for her determination to follow the doctor’s instructions. She has SO much more will power than I do. While I try to eat gluten-free with her as much as I can, I also freely admit that I cheat a lot more often than she does. I feel guilty about it, especially when Jenna catches me and I get the raised eyebrows (wonder where she learned that?!). I just recently read that it takes 30 days to make or break a habit; I guess since today is September 1st it’s as good a day as any to try to go completely gluten-free again. Maybe if I work at it, I can reincarnate Grandma’s sugar cookies.


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    You both continue to amaze us…your writing is so powerful and poignant. You really do paint the picture of what living with Lyme really is. Love you guys!

  2. 2

    Janice said,

    Ahhh. The smell of fresh-baked cookies really should be made into perfume, as I, too, could only wear it — not eat it!! Almond flour is also a lifesaver for those of us who are told, “NO FLOURS OF ANY KIND!” That means, no rice, potato, bean, etc. At least you can make a ‘cake’ (although it’s more like a really moist cracker). Keep up the good work, you guys!

    Also, one thing I’ve noticed is that my hypoglycemic episodes are now non-existent. This gluten-free, sugar-free, low-carb diet may have just saved me from Type 2 diabetes. And on the really hard days, I think about starving all those darn parasites and spirochetes to death. No meal on me, you devil-bugs!

  3. 3

    Isabella said,

    I’d also recommend almond flour because it has zero carbohydrates and tastes amazing. It’s perfect for everything. 🙂

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