Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gluten Free Cooking - It's a way of life not a fad

For those with Celiac disease or non-Celiac gluten intolerance the gluten free diet is the only way to maintain their health.

I'm writing this blog while the butter softens and fruit thaws out for a recipe.  I started with that sentence because I want you to keep that in mind while reading the rest of this post.  This is now my life in the kitchen.  The days of making cookies in 20 minutes or kneading bread to remove frustration are gone.  Replaced are all day cookie recipes, bread that is more like cake batter and numerous non-traditional bags of flour.  Do I want to toss it all in the trash and go back to 3 types of flour? (all purpose, bread, cake)  You bet.  That's my comfort zone.  Will I? Absolutely not!

When I got married my husband told me that he was a Celiac.  I had not clue what that was and hadn't seen anything that he wouldn't eat besides pasta.  I knew what gluten was, there are times you want it, like making breads and pizza crust, and there are times you don't, like making pie crust.  It didn't effect or affect me.  I didn't make pasta for dinner.  Other than that I continued cooking as I had always done.  That would all change in about six months.

My husband had a health episode.  I call it an episode because I can't think of a better word for it.  He collapsed in the yard but I wouldn't find out for a week.  When I finally did find out I drug him to the doctor.  After a battery of blood work the results were in, he had a heart attack.  So off for EKG and stress test.  He passed both which made us all scratch our heads.  There was no heart damage, no blockage, and he beat the stress test with flying colors.  The only other things that could cause the blood work results, muscle damage, was MS or Lou Gehrig's disease.  My heart sank.  How was this happening?  My husband was a fit 41 year old man.  He didn't have any fat, he was muscular, he was active.  After a battery of tests he was diagnosed with extreme exhaustion and  dehydration.  I thought it was a bunch of bull.  There was something wrong with him.  So off to Google I went.

That's where I found the answer.  It was because his Celiac was uncontrolled.  So I started reading, studying, and learning.  About the time I was finding this out my husband told me, "I need to go back on the diet."  I had a lot of learning to do. So I'll flashback so you can learn what I did.

Celiac is an auto immune disorder.  IT IS NOT AN ALLERGY!  It's similar to diabetes.  Gluten is found in all kinds of things that people don't think about.  It takes an average of 13 years to get diagnosed after the first time you go to the doctor.  My husband was lucky it took 3 weeks.  95% of Americans that have Celiac are not diagnosed.  Celiac can lead to cancer and even death.  Joe C. part of Kid Rock's group died from it.  Symptoms very from person to person.  Here is a list of those symptoms.

So what is gluten?  The standard definition is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.  Oats are sometimes listed but they contaminated.  There are gluten free oats on the market.  I tell people that gluten is what makes bread and pizza chewy and yummy.  It's what holds cookies together.  It's what thickens soups and stews.

Here is a list of UNSAFE foods.  It's really more ingredients.  Look at it and then go look at a few things in your pantry.  I bet you find lots of gluten in things you never thought it was there.  It's not easy to start tossing out staples in your cooking.  No more cream of mushroom soup, no more soy sauce, no more bread crumbs, or crackers.  It took some adjusting and I'm still adjusting and working on it.

My big pet peeve is when people think this diet will be a cure all.  I'll be thinner, prettier, healthier, ect.  That's what makes the general public think this is a fad like no-carb diets.  It's not a fad.  This is a way of life without it people suffer.  There's no concrete proof that it helps any other issues.  Normally people gain weight on the diet.  There's no trying in this diet.  Gluten-free doesn't mean for the most part.  It's all or nothing.
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