Going Gluten Free

From Mrs. Cog's Corner

If I had been the first person in the family who needed to start eating gluten free (GF), I would have been upset and pouting. No more pizza deliveries, ice cream cones or pastries. No grilled reuben sandwiches on rye or pumpernickel bread, no slice of birthday cake when one is passed to you, or sitting down to pancake breakfasts at the local fund raiser. Oh the things we take for granted.

But it was a child unit, and a teen at that, who was first to run into gluten issues, so we immediately shifted into making lemonade out of lemons mode. Instead of focusing on what she couldn't have, we sat down and made extended lists of what she could eat and the lists were surprisingly long. In the beginning, we tackled this meal by meal.

For breakfast, there were still eggs and bacon and thank goodness for Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles cereals. Most Chex cereals including Honey Nut, Chocolate and Apple Cinnamon are GF as well. Later we were able to add in GF pancakes, bagels and toast as we discovered different recipes and various grocery stores with these items.

Lunches were easier and larger because packing for a teen with after school sports and other activities often meant packing a bag with ten hours of mostly healthy grazing foods. We included cheese and GF crackers, many baggies of fresh fruits like grapes, strawberries and blueberries, plenty of potato chips are gluten free, tupperware containers with small portions of dinner leftovers such as rice and meats or quinoa and chicken. We have found GF cheesy crackers and graham crackers to add, but also new healthy snacks like raw nuts and sunflower seeds that never would have been included otherwise.

Occasionally we bake GF bread for sandwiches, but our teen thinks (and many on the web agree) that it is better toasted, so we save that for sandwiches, like grilled cheese, at home.

Dinners in our home are pretty straight forward. There are many types of GF pasta available. We found the Barilla brand (pictured above) to be most similar to our regular pasta. Many items, such as this GF pasta, are not available at our local grocery store so we order it in bulk online. It stores well for over a year in the proper conditions like regular pastas. Otherwise, dinners are mostly meat and veggies. On hamburger nights we baked a big GF roll. Most types of Ore Ida french fries are GF too. Our burger nights blow away the typical restaurant food and we have the satisfaction of knowing what went into making them. For quick dinners we have canned many types of gluten free soups and often boil up some pasta or rice to add into them before serving.

It took a while but we have finally solved the pizza dilemma. While most pre-packaged GF pizza just don't get it done for the teen taste test, glutino pizza was found to be the most acceptable. THEN... Pillsbury came out with tubs of GF pizza dough and it simplified homemade pizza crust and empowered the teen to start creatively making her own pizza creations. Classico pizza sauce, shredded cheese and all the shredded bacon she wants... sometimes with pineapple. Oh to be young again (sigh).

Most recently we have started making our own homemade gluten free granola blobs (in small cupcake tins) with all wholesome ingredients including local honey, organic (and non GMO) oats and sometimes dark chocolate chips for good measure. The very act of searching for new gluten free healthy things to eat has changed the way we look at food in our household. It really is a journey I recommend everyone to explore.

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