Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Celiac Sprue: Friend or Foe?
I chalk my latest and greatest disease up as a friend. So far, the pros far outweigh the cons. I praise the Lord that I am not craving gluten filled products (except for chicken nuggets, yum) as much as I had anticipated. The diet thus far has been incredibly manageable and simple (as long as we aren’t going to restaurants…that can get tricky unless it’s Mazaa or Noodles and co.). I have found new inspiration to cook and am having a great time trying to hone in on my non-existent inner chef skills.
OK. Here are the cons:
• Obviously, saying good-bye to most fried foods, all fast food, soy sauce (the GF version just isn’t the same), ravioli, flour tortillas, (soft, warm) cookies, ready-made pie crusts, monkey bread, Hawaiian sweet rolls, cookie dough, Chinese noodles, PB&Js, Zatarain’s, Crown burger, flat bread, naan, barley, so on and so forth.
• Needing Andy to baby-sit my foolish cooking ways. I am learning and trying really hard, but I still do stupid things like chop up the stalk of fennel instead of the root (whoops) or purchase the 16 oz can of diced tomatoes instead of the 28 oz can. I am thankful to have Andy here to fix my mistakes, but it’s so frustrating!! Also, I am a terror when it comes to other people offering guidance. I get stubborn and oppositional defiant…imagine a 25 year old child grabbing the knife and shouting, “NO!! I CAN DO IT!!” Disgustingly enough, that is me, the cook, in a nutshell.
• Reading labels. I am not good at this yet so I try to steer clear of mixes and spice packs. I mean, I know when a product says ‘wheat’ ‘barley’ or ‘rye’ it is usually out but it’s trickier than that. Thankfully, I have a friend who has offered me a crash course on label reading. What average person really knows what Triticum monoccum, L-cysteine, and rennet are? I hope to in the near future.
In-betweens (neither pro nor con…just me thinking on paper):
• Many GF substitutions are friggin’ nasty. I would rather stick with foods that are naturally devoid of gluten than start eating millet bread. Also, I tried my hand with some brown rice rotini…never again. I hear that rice tortillas are pretty good, but I am content with corn. I don’t see the necessity for substitutions. I can’t have bread anymore…ok. That doesn’t mean I need fake bread! I know, I just haven’t developed a taste for it, but still-- that fake pasta was super gross.
• Andy is a super good sport. He is the ultimate guinea pig and trusts me to not poison him inadvertently. He eats all of my concoctions (even if they suck) and tells me how good it is and how well I did. He has been a fantastic cheerleader. Also, when we eat at home, he’s gone mostly GF with me. We keep a loaf of bread in the fridge, but we’ve been on the same loaf for 4 weeks now. He was good enough to finish off my wheat thins for me (so I wouldn’t be tempted) and sticks to his gross triscuits (by which I am NOT tempted).
• Three weeks in and 8 lbs down. Completely unexpected and not too shabby! It’s amazing what happens when you become really picky about what you eat. I have been devouring fruit and almonds like they are going out of style. Since I’m down 8, I’m going to go ahead and hope for 15 more. :)
• I feel better! I guess this probably should have gone at the top of my list but frankly, I am more excited about losing weight. :) Who wouldn’t be? It will take a little longer for my intestine to heal but so far, so good!
• New recipes!!! I am compiling my own book of recipes that I know I can cook. If a recipe doesn’t work, I throw it away (or in one case, Andy makes it work). I have absolutely fallen in love with cooking lentils and quinoa. I have entered the wild world of cumin, coriander, and fresh garlic! I now use strange vegetables called bell peppers! I have never gone through so many onions in my life! So far, I have successfully made (among many other things) a Thai soup, Risotto, Mazaa’s spinach and lentil soup (not their recipe but it tastes exactly the same!), a zesty Mexican chicken and rice dish, and I anticipate my first roast this weekend. For now, I have no desire to bake. I don’t like baking; I have never liked baking. I always preferred to buy the pre-made dough and eat it raw. Mmm. This disease will make a cook out of me yet.
• Cheaper food bill per month. Andy and I were notorious for saying things like ‘we really need to stop eating out so much,’ stick with that cute idea for a week or so, and then continue our 4 or 5 meals out per week. This lovely little disease has made eating out somewhat difficult. I would rather cook and have to deal with waiters…isn’t that sick? Also, because I am cooking more, there are more leftovers to take for work lunches. Brilliant!
That’s my list so far. Celiac disease isn’t easy, but it’s WAY better than what I was anticipating. I appreciate all of the advice and suggestions given to me by my family and friends. I am doing great and learning a ton! Thanks for your support!