My Gluten Free Journey

Over the past year or so this site has morphed into a gluten-free (GF) recipe haven. I started with all kinds of categories, as well as all kinds of hopes and dreams. What really calls to me, however, is gluten-free cooking. Why? Gluten hates me. Or rather, my body hates gluten.

I am frequently asked if I am gluten intolerant, have a gluten allergy, or if I have Celiac disease. Answer is, I truthfully do not know. I haven’t had the opportunity (or healthcare) to be formally tested. I am living gluten-free because I have tried everything else in my attempt to find relief from crippling symptoms and this has been the only thing that has worked.

A few years ago I was plagued with horrific intestinal cramping, plenty of tummy troubles, and was gaining weight. I thought initially I may have some sort of flu, then it was “maybe it is a parasite” (said one clinician at a school clinic). One clinician suggested I was merely stressed and should try yoga. Finally, someone suggested that I try cutting certain allergens out of my diet. First it was dairy (that sucked), then soy, then nuts, then finally gluten. I actually had never considered gluten as an allergen since I often gorged myself on pizza, bread, pasta, etc. The person who told me to try cutting out gluten explained to me that my symptoms sounded very much like a gluten intolerance, but that testing was expensive and if I felt better once I cut it out of my diet then I may be able to cut a break.

Well, after one week of no gluten I was starving, deprived, and beyond frustrated. I had no idea how people lived like this, nor did I even want to consider it an option. However, I did notice I wasn’t experiences such painful bouts of intestinal pain and I noticed I wasn’t as inexplicably fatigued as I had been. I was luckily very supported and my family and friends were constantly on the lookout for GF products and food options. I discovered GF soy sauce, and that nearly saved my life … Well, my sanity. Then it was GF pastas, bread mixes, and snacks. There was hope.

Not only did I have a fabulous support system attempting to improve my morale, I was feeling so much better that I wondered if there was some validity in this depressing gluten predicament. Within the first month of cutting out ALL gluten – not even cheating one bit – I was regaining color to my face, I had lost bloat weight, I had a normal digestive schedule, and I wasn’t fatigued constantly. I felt that it was nothing short of miraculous considering how crippling my issues had been for so long.

I was just beginning to mentally and emotionally accept that I could no longer have all of my favorite comfort foods as I had known them when my mom and I planned a graduation trip to New Orleans. What was I most excited about? Trying the beignets, of course. Well, not only do they have wheat flour, but barley flour as well – a double gluten whammy. My mom was on a mission to find something that could allow some sort of culinary enjoyment while on our trip. What she found was an enzyme pill called GlutenEase. These pills allowed me to enjoy the delicious fried dough morsels that called us to New Orleans in the first place. It wasn’t until after our trip that I learned about the consequences of cheating, though.

Surprise, if you are Celiac or intolerant and cheat it can have serious long-term effects. Your intestinal lining is affected, you have a higher chance of developing intestinal cancer, and so on. Horrid. Even with the enzyme pills I had bloating, joint pain, my mouth peeled, and some cramping. It was then that I decided to start my crusade in search of GF food and recipes that not only tasted good, but were easy and accessible as well.

Among some of the first recipes I found were flours I had never heard of and lists of hard-to-find ingredients. Did I feel like trying any of those recipes? No way. Instead, I braved the grocery store and bought a few GF flours (like white rice and brown rice flour) and tried subbing those into my “regular” recipes. Some of them eventually worked with some tweaking. I made gravy with rice flour, then biscuits, then cookies. I tried numerous bread mixes, cake mixes, and baking mixes. Most of them tasted “off” to me, so I continued experimenting.

Three years later I think I’ve finally got a good handle on what to use, how to use it, and what the outcome will be when I’m in the kitchen. Before any of this I was an avid baker. Now, I am in the kitchen every chance I get. I have a goof handle on my eating-out paranoia as well. The same company that makes GlutenEase makes an enzyme pill called Digest Spectrum, which claims to battle nearly most allergies. I find this to be extremely helpful in questionable situations and would confidently suggest it to anyone paralyzed with a gluten fear.

I am always looking for new resources, guides, information, recipes, and friends, so feel free to contact me with cool info at kali@urbanwifery.com!

For a list of all of the products I love and use, check out my pantry here.

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