Friday, April 23, 2010

Going Gluten Free?

I've been toying with making the (dis)Ordered Kitchen gluten free for a while now. As many long-time readers know, Sir Pickypants may just be picky about some things, but much of his pickyness comes from just having what I call a "delicate widdle tum-tum." He blamed red meat for bellyaches, so he stopped eating it. Over the years we have been together, I still saw him struggle with digestive issues.

Years ago he went to see a gastroenterologist who suggested he might have a problem with wheat. He took that to heart for a little while. He tried avoiding bread. We weren't married then, so I took him to the Trader Joe's in my neighborhood so he could buy the gluten-free pastas that weren't available in Forest Hills. (Yes, he actually cooked in his own kitchen before he met me.) It lasted a little while, but not long enough.

A couple of years ago I was reading an article on celiac disease and found it very enlightening. I looked at the long list of symptoms. Kevin seemed to suffer from most of them. Every single thing that has ever been wrong with him could probably be linked to gluten intolerance. I told him he should find out what tests are available for it and take them. He brushed it off. I don't blame him for not wanting to know. He's lived with these symptoms for years. He could continue to tolerate them and life would be that much easier. He could order a sandwich at the local deli and buy a cookie at any store or bakery without any fuss or special orders. A gluten-free lifestyle is hard. The man never met a starch he didn't like.

Then he was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease. It's an incurable condition that affects his hearing and sometimes his equilibrium. The doctors recommended a low-sodium diet, but there wasn't much else he could do - or could he?

I had been neglecting reading one of my favorite dessert porn blogs for a while. One day I decided to catch up with it and discovered that its author was another Meniere's sufferer. She was alleviating the problem not just with lowering her sodium intake, but also by reducing the gluten. I started looking this up on the web and found there is a connection with gluten intolerance and Meniere's.

Since then I have tried to cut back on gluten products in my kitchen. You may notice that some of my older posts showed meals with very traditional protein-veggie-starch components. Now I tend to just do a protein and a vegetable. I do make pasta, as he loves it so, but he also loves gluten-free potatoes, so that's a common starch for us. Unfortunately, we still eat a lot of bread on weekends as we are usually eating lunch on the road and sandwiches tend to be the easiest lunch.

He was having some really bad attacks of vertigo this week and I realized that it was time to take action. Maybe cutting the gluten isn't going to help, but it's time we found out. Maybe if he finds he really feels better without gluten, it will be easier to continue on a gluten-free path.

He said he would be afraid of it coming down to nuts and berries as his diet is limited already (remember he's lactose intolerant too), but I don't think it has to be. First, if we stick to fresh whole foods, we're likely to avoid a lot of gluten-added products. Second, he can still eat the proteins and vegetables he already eats. Third, there are plenty of gluten-free alternatives out there. We can buy commercially-made pasta and baked goods. I can bake with alternative flours. It may be a bit tough on the road, but if we plan well and learn to make choices, we can do it. Again, if he really feels better, it may be worth the trouble.

I don't have to follow a gluten-free diet, but I am trying to stand in solidarity with him. I could use a little cutback on the starches anyway. I can find all sorts of recipes online. I've been a fan of Simply Gluten Free for a while now as it's an entertaining blog with great recipes that I know my husband will adore.

So how are those gluten-free alternatives? Let's start with waffles.

I have wanted a waffle iron for years. I adore waffles. I always envied bloggers who were always cooking up creative waffles.

I finally received one for Christmas. As fate would have it, the gift came from my uncle and his wife who did not attend Christmas dinner. I didn't see them until Easter, which meant Easter was when I finally had my Christmas waffle iron in my hands. Here I am on the brink of going gluten-free and I finally have my waffle iron.

Never fear. There is such a thing as gluten-free waffles. I intend to find every gluten-free waffle recipe out there. In the mean time I decided to christen my waffle iron with this.

This has to be the most politically correct waffle mix out there. It contains no gluten and the recipe to make it uses no eggs and suggests rice milk as your liquid. Rice milk is a staple in our household as it is Kevin's preferred form of milk. The whole thing seemed bland, so I decided to make chocolate waffles by adding a 1/4 cup of cocao powder to the mix. I also added a splash of vanilla extract.

The resulting waffles weren't too bad. Taste-wise they could be richer. Texture-wise they were reasonably waffle-y, but not quite what I had hoped for. I served them with raspberry sauce on the side.

I am going to start buying alternative flours and researching some gluten-free waffle recipes for the future. I'm heading into a brave new world.


Susan @ SGCC said...

Kudos to you for going gluten free to help Sir Pickypants. I'm sure it will take some adjusting, but I know you can make it work. I'll be interested to see your new GF creations. We can all benefit from cutting some of the gluten out of our diets.

Melissa said...

I'm going to assume you know that there are a bunch of gluten free food blogs, and plenty of good baking ones. You have tons of good information - and recipes - out there and I know you'll be successful. Best of luck and I hope the changes help him!!

Sue said...

What a lucky guy to have you as his personal chef! Why are guys so hesitant to take care of themselves?!!

I also love Carol's Simply Gluten-Free blog. She's awesome and she has so many good resources.

Emily said...

A few months ago I thought about how awful it would be to live a gluten free lifestyle.

My opionion has completely changed. It's becoming easier and easier to go gf. You should try white rice flour in your baking! I really like it. I think it weights more than flour though.

Good luck! You guys can do it! I hope Kevin starts feeling better soon.

The Blonde Duck said...

Good luck. My sister in law just found out she has an intolerance to gluten.

The Blonde Duck said...

Just thought of this--Light and Tasty magazine from Taste of Home features a lot of gluten free recipes....check the site!

The Duo Dishes said...

It's a lifestyle change for sure for family members of those who must eat GF. Very supportive of you to adopt the same lifestyle! There are a ton of gluten free blogs and websites with new foods and products that look as tasty as their counterparts.

The Blonde Duck said...

Frank isn't what you're expecting...