|Feeling all alone in your GF world?
Ever notice how everyone cringes when you mention that you eat gluten-free? The thought of giving up their bread/pizza/buns/pasta, fill in the blank, makes them automatically scrunch up their faces in a grimace.
“I could never do that!” they spit out. “I feel sorry for you.”
My favorite is…”What do you eat?” as if there is nothing else out there but pizza, bread and bagels.
When I first realized I would be gluten free for the rest of my life, I did feel that way for a moment. Being vegetarian for 25 years meant that I had already given up a huge portion of the menu and now, going gluten free meant I was giving up another 1/4, leaving just about 1/4 to 1/8 of any menu available to me. Asking questions became a necessity, ordering special meals became an everyday occurrence.
A few tips of the trade, and a few great websites to visit would have made things easier. I found the gfvegetarian yahoo group first and they were amazing. All my questions were answered and I felt as if I were not as alone as I feared. Great ideas, recipes and support helped me get through the toughest beginning stage. I found our local Phoenix Celiac list group on yahoo groups also and that made a huge difference, and meeting them at a restaurant helped even more to get a closer connection. I have made wonderful friends who understand (and I’m not the only one at the table asking for GF anymore.)
Check the right side of this blog for websites I recommend and search for new sites. There are new ones popping up every day. Look for organizations in your area, etc.
Oh yeah, the $25 that I mentioned up at the beginning (you didn’t think I forgot, did you?) My very good friend and fellow blogger, Sara at savingforsomeday, graciously handed over a $25 gift card from Fry’s, which celebrated the grand opening of the new Tatum and Shea Super Duper store with valet parking, covered parking, organic section, wine bar, gluten-free section, etc. If you’re just starting out or an old pro at GF eating, this will come in handy for sure. How, you may ask, can you get your hands on this? Simple-leave a comment below with your best tips and insights for the anyone starting out a GF diet. Let’s help out the beginners with things we wish we had known up front.
If you are not GF or just happened to stumble upon this site, welcome! Although the recipes on this site are GF and vegetarian, they are also tasty and fabulous and can be enjoyed by even the pickiest meat eater and wheat eater. I’m sure you know someone who is GF. Tell me what you know or want to know about eating GF and I’ll try to address it here. I’ll use Random.org to choose a winner from the comments and contact you for your mailing address. Simple.
Finally, let me say that this is in no way supported by Fry’s. It’s my way of saying thanks for reading and supporting this blog, and for following each week with ideas and comments.
My eating GF tips:
1. Read labels. Do not eat anything that has a label without reading it first. And even if you’ve read it before, read it again. Companies have a tendency to change their processing without telling anyone. Don’t trust anyone.
2. Look for hidden gluten. Soy sauce, TVP, semolina, etc. Find a list at Celiac.com and follow it.
3. Find support. You can’t do this alone. There are organizations in every city these days. Even if you just connect on the Internet, it really does help. Let people tell you where they’ve been before heading out.
4. Get used to cooking for yourself. Even though I loved to cook before, I cook even more now that I have gluten to worry about. I feel safe when I cook for myself. Mistakes can happen wherever you go, be prepared.
5. Speak up. Don’t worry about offending people, most of them are very understanding. If you’re not sure about something and don’t want to speak up…don’t eat it! Why risk it? It’s only food, not the end of the world. I’ve gone through an entire dinner with an iced tea and side salad. Nothing else. Eat when you get home, you’ll be proud of yourself. Any hostess would rather you not eat than get sick. If you can, tell them before the event. If you’re really confident, bring your own food.
6. Don’t cheat! Too many people feel as if they can cheat and in reality…it’s just not an option. Tell yourself…it’s just food. Is that pizza really important to you? Why do you have to taste that guy’s breaded calamari? You can’t live without it? Of course you can, you did before you got there and you will when you leave. Let it go.
7. Don’t go overboard on all that fabulous GF food that is now offered. It usually means there is more sugar and other ingredients to pump up the flavor. Just because something is GF doesn’t mean it’s good for you. There are zillions of GF cookies, cakes, buns, etc. to keep you going for a long time. Don’t get sucked in.
8. My favorite GF items, after picking through the losers, are as follows: (remember, you’ll probably have to do your own taste test since everyone is different)
*Bread: Udi’s everything. They have the best bagels, sandwich bread, whole grain bread and muffins. Closer to the real thing than any other I’ve tried. Most other breads have to be toasted to get close to “normal.” The only other bread that comes close is French Meadow. Udi’s is at Whole Foods and Sprouts, French Meadow is at Sunflower.
* Cookies: Kinnikinnik makes K-Toos that are so close to Oreo’s that they’ve fooled the wheat eaters I know. They make a great vanilla one too.
* Donuts: Kinnikinnik has little cinnamon donuts that are so much like those wonderful cake donuts that we used to love dunking in coffee. Also, Gluten Free Creations, a wonderful shop in the Phoenix area, makes their own donuts that are fluffly and light.
* Veggie burger: Sunshine Burgers rock the vegetarian/gluten-free burger market. They are organic and use just a few ingredients. If you eat cheese, I recommend it highly. Use a crispy lettuce bun and you’re in heaven. (I recommend the Garden Herb, but try them all and decide for yourself.)
These are just a few tips. I have hundreds, and I’ll update and add more each day. Let’s hear what you’ve got-and good luck!