When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease I attend a few local celiac support group meetings. The group was great for getting started with the diet, learning how to eat at restaurants, where to shop, etc. Sadly, the group was very somber, and I eventually stopped going because of the attitude of many of the other members. A lot of the group members were angry and bitter towards gluten. They were literally trying to punish gluten by refusing to let it in their homes or eat at restaurants that served it, and in some situations even cutting ties to family members who would serve gluten containing items at family gatherings. This attitude saddened me. First off, because retaliating against gluten and trying to hurt it’s feelings just isn’t going to happen. It’s a fruitless battle that will keep making you angry. Gluten does not have feelings to be hurt. The second reason I felt sad was because these people (and their families) were missing out on some great gluten free options (like dining out!) because of anger towards gluten.
Sure, I was upset when I initially found out I had celiac disease and was going through all of the lifestyle changes. Six years later, I am at terms with the gluten free diet. In fact, most days I don’t even remember that I have this food sensitivity to deal with! After living alone for a few years and having only gluten free food in the house, I got married last year. Steve, my husband, is not celiac and not gluten sensitive. Luckily, he will eat anything and has no complaints about eating gluten free – most of the time.
Let’s face it: gluten free flours CANNOT always seamlessly replace wheat flour. Let’s take pizza dough, for example. If you do any research on what makes a good pizza dough you will hear a lot about gluten. Gluten is what causes the pizza dough to be stretchy and have elasticity. We cannot recreate that exactly without gluten. I started to wonder why I was feeding both of us these somewhat mediocre, but very expensive, and sometimes difficult and time consuming to prepare gluten free foods. I began experimenting by making simple substitutions. For example: I would eat a tuna fish sandwich on GF bread and Steve would eat a sandwich on wheat bread. It took minimal effort to keep my food uncontaminated, we save a ton of money from not buying as much specialty gluten free food, and we were both totally satisfied with our meals! Cooking only a single serving of the meal gluten free was a winner!
You might be wondering if having gluten in the house is torture. Does it tempt me? Maybe some of you may struggle with resenting the people in your life who can eat gluten. All of those things can be true and can be frustrating. Making my health a priority helps me avoid temptation. Keeping my diet in perspective helps me to not resent family and friends who eat gluten. What I mean by that is that I remember that me and my GF diet are important, but not the center of the universe. I know people with other allergies and dietary restrictions, as I’m sure we all do. All food cannot cater to everyone! A GF meal might be bad for a lactose intolerant person and what works for someone with a shellfish allergy might be harmful to someone with an egg allergy. If we all eat what is right for us, we should all be happy an healthy. It turns out I feel a lot happier in general if I adopt that positive attitude, rather than feel super jealous whenever I see anyone eat Cheez-Its or Thin Mints.
Up until this point I have been posting naturally gluten free recipes on this blog. That makes up a significant portion of what I cook, and I will continue to post those recipes. However, this type of cooking is the real reason I started this blog. Like the people in that support group, I know there are celiacs out there who are nervous about letting gluten into their homes. Or, some people may want to be able to prepare GF and non-GF meals but aren’t sure exactly how to do it safely. If you have found this blog, I really hope these recipes will be blessing to you and your family!
I’ve created a new page on the blog dedication to cooking “portionally” gluten free. There you will find specific directions about how to safely prepare gluten free and non-gluten free foods simultaneously. I’ll also be posting these “portionally” gluten free (PGF) recipes on a regular basis. Check back on Thursday for a super simple PGF recipe that you will easily be able to safely prepare!