A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

More Gluten Free Adventures

In sticking with the comic book theme from the previous gluten free post, once the introductions are made, the superhero has been gifted their new powers, perhaps even tested their new found powers or fought their first villain. It is then we see them return to ordinary life, take a job, and assume his alter ego, usually an unassuming, even boring occupation. In my case, I have assumed the identity of a non-mild mannered, opinionated, somewhat slackery accounting consultant. Be warned that the next accountant you meet, perhaps even the one doing your taxes this year, could in fact be a superhero's sidekick in disguise.

With 8 months or so of gluten free kitchen experimentation under my belt I now feel as though I have a wealth of wisdom, though surely that barely scratches the surface for people who have had gluten free diets for many years. Interestingly enough, diagnoses of Celiac Disease have only been brought to the forefront in the past few years. Whether doctors are better at understanding the complex and various manifestations of the disease, or simply the word has gotten out, incresing numbers of people are requiring gluten free diets. It is estimated that 1 in 133 people in the US have Celiac Disease, with higher concentrations in certain ethnic backgrounds (especially Irish).

Once you get past the foundation that just about everything has wheat in it, and many vegetarian and fake meat options (Morningstar fake chicken nuggets, Boca Burgers) all have gluten in them, you don't have a ton of choices of prepackaged prepared food. I still love the Morningstar fake chicken nuggets, patties, breakfast sausage links, and fake corn dogs, damn good the whole lot of them, but unfortunately Super Gluten Free Gal can't have them anymore. What you end up doing is preparing a lot of things from scratch or purchasing specialty gluten free items from Whole Foods or an equivalent specialty grocer. This unfortunately can get quite spendy. Whole Foods has a delicious gluten free herb bread that costs $9. Yeah, that's right $9 for an average sized loaf of bread. It's damn tasty bread, almost worth the price, but unfortunately with the dual handicap of girlfriend being a grad student and me having a bad attitude about working, it just ain't gonna happen on a regular basis. On the plus side, it makes great stocking stuffers. Many a gluten free food item was given on Christmas to rave reviews.

The two most difficult ingredients to deal with are probably soy sauce and malted barley, both of which are a no-no for a Celiac. Soy sauce is in literally everything, just about every Asian, Vietnamese, or Thai dish with a sauce component has soy sauce in it somewhere. This makes going out to eat at these types of restaurants difficult, not only because so many menu items are off limits, but also because communicating special dietary needs to servers is, well let's just call it "problematic". And malted barley is in almost every mainstream cereal and packaged baked good. So far the only cold breakfast cereal that we've been able to find are puffed rice (uggh) and gluten free corn flakes from Whole Foods (very tasty). Luckily Soggy Rice Pasta Boy is there most mornings to make a delicious hot breakfast for our superhero, eliminating her longing for those breakfast cereals which she cannot have.

The other big bummer is oatmeal. Oatmeal is intrinsically gluten free but either processed in the same facility as wheat, transported in the same trucks, or even grown in a field near wheat, so conventional oats are not guaranteed to be gluten free. So now due to cross contamination issues you've also eliminated all oats from your diet as well. This did not sit well with Super Gluten Free Gal since her upbringing on the wild North Dakota frontier had taught her to appreciate hot breakfast cereals, and sadly oatmeal was one of the few remaining options. There are a few place that offer certified gluten free oatmeal that has been tested and determined to have zero/insignificant amounts of gluten. Gluten Free Oats offers 2 pound, 9 oz bags for $10, plus a few more dollars for shipping and handling, but well worth it so Super Gluten Free Gal can have oatmeal again.

Next on the list donuts.....but you'll have to wait for that.

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