My situation is easier - I caught this before it became full-blown Celiac.
It's not as easy as you might think to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle and eat out. I thought I'd found an easy winner with a variety of Asian cuisines, only to find that wheat products are used as thickening agents in many sauces, sushi rice is sometimes soaked in a wheat-based vinegar...the list goes on and on.
And on top of that is the sheer expense. While I have found it easier to simply adopt different eating habits, and generally don't bother with gluten-free pasta or bread substitutes in my diet, doing so is very expensive. A loaf of gluten-free bread is $6.00 and is half the size of its wheat-based counterpart. The flours for making my own breads are equally expensive, typically 6-8 times the price of wheat flour.
I've adopted the approach that this is an opportunity to eat more healthy and less processed foods. Some of this is just mind over matter.
Andria, here are the things I've found that help without being complicated, especially when your meals are the family's meals.
1) Potatoes and rice are your friend for starchy substitutes.
2) Find a recipe for Southern-style cornbread - it uses no flour.
3) Potato flour makes a fine thickener for gravies and sauces, and so does cornstarch. (I still don't understand those Asian restaurants who don't use cornstarch...)
4) In baking with gluten-free flours, increase or add ingredients that can act as binding agents. Fresh and dried fruit is great in cakes and quick breads for holding in moisture. Applesauce is helpful as well. I'll often add an extra egg and typically increase the baking soda or powder by a half teaspoon. Homemade Gluten-free brownies totally rock.
5) When possible, live on whatever's freshly available from the local farmer's market (or at least the fresh vegetable section of the store).
6) As a Celiac sufferer, I'd advise you don't trust gluten-free versions of products in the local restaurants. Try as they might, there's too much opportunity for cross-contamination. ..and I'm not convinced they understand the problem. Salads, sauteed veggies and meat dishes, and stir-fried dishes will be safer options.
Hang in there. You will start feeling better, and if you move your family toward the same lifestyle, they're less at risk from developing problems later. I've tried to frame my mindset as this being a culinary adventure, and I make sure that I have plenty of things I like so that I belay any feelings of deprivation.
There's a little Sister Myotis in all of us, whether we're church-going or not. Can ya handle that thought?
By Leonard Gill
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