I told Lee, my therapist, that I was going to spend the summer getting my gut in order, and I have done that. I called this "the summer of MEEEEEEEE." We also joined the YMCA, where I've met some wonderful people (not to mention gotten a great tan doing water aerobics with the lovelies Pam, Maggie, Ann, Cookie, and Connie).
Here are some of the things I had no idea about GF two months ago:
1) Ice Cream that has the "home made" label on it might have flour in it. You cannot trust that ice cream is gluten free. If you make your own and want to add flour, brown rice flour is a great 1-1 sub. But what about in a restaurant? I know that McDonalds and Dairy Queen are GF, and so is most Ben and Jerry's and Breyers. But you have to ask brands. Blue Bell, in some cases, and sadly, is not.
2) Salad dressing is a mine field. Avoid it if you're really sensitive. I make my own now, and who says there's anything wrong with a nice vinagrette? Hidden Valley Ranch? Uh uh. And watch out for blue cheese unless you make it yourself. And lots of Italian have modified food starch. If you're a dressing ho like I am, that can be a problem.
3) There is no substitute for a good health food store. I'm up the creek right now in Georgia, but in Tampa, I have the delightful Abbey's on Dale Mabry. It is right next to the delightful J. Christopher, where they really will make you three poached eggs all by themselves.
4) Don't eat Chinese food unless you make it yourself and know it has no soy sauce. Because soy sauce has wheat in it. It's fermented. This segues to my next advice
5) Most food servers don't know what's in a dish they're serving. For example, big pet peeve here: PF Chang's is one of my favorite places, and I love that they proudly announce they're GF. They have a menu and everything. BUT, as I found out Friday, you can't be assured anyone knows what that means. Tsk Tsk. I ordered the Singapore Street Noodles (GF on the menu, rice noodles and all) and it was dry. I asked for some wheat free soy sauce (they offer it, so I asked). The waiter asked if I wanted more "sauce" for my noodles. I said yes. Guess what kind they brought me? Saturday, I looked like a tick it caused such problems. I know, I need to complain to PF Chang's, not you. But it's a good warning. PF Chang's, you're so on my list.
6) GF doesn't mean "just remove the bun." Sorry, Outback, but you get no major points from me. What nerve! They actually suggest you ask them to leave off the bun if you want it gluten free. DUH.I did find out that the "Chocolate Thunder From Down Under" is flourless, but again, see item 1. What kind of ice cream is that? Outback, you're so on my list.
7) Oatmeal is seriously suspicious to most Celiacs (which I don't profess to be) and those with gluten insensitivity). Buy good oatmeal and cook it in your crock pot. It's better for you.
The recipe for steel cut oats in the crock pot is simple. 1 cup oatmeal, 4 cups water (or half milk if you want). 2 t. salt. Simmer high over night. Warm and crusty and tasty by morning (Joy and Julie, when your girls get to real oatmeal, you should try this!) Four cups of oatmeal works for me for four days at least, and because it's hearty, you can actually reheat it! Buy the steel cuts at a health food store.
6) This is a biggie: AVOID MODIFIED FOOD STARCH! See, I finally know why people have food allergies. Look at this recent Menu Foods pet food thing and you'll see why. Food needs additives to preserve shelf life. Additives can be expensive. Shortcuts are cheaper. Shortcuts cause problems. It costs more to make tuna casserole with flour, milk, butter, salt and pepper -- add modified food starch, whatever the heck THAT is (seriously, no one knows exactly what those ingredients are. In China, apparently, they can contain plastic. But I digress). SO when food was simpler, allergies were fewer. The more additives, the more problems. I'm not saying eat low on the food chain -- to quote Ron White, I didn't crawl this high up to live on carrots -- but I have discovered that made from scratch or with ingredients you can pronounce will help a lot. And guess what? It almost always eliminates gluten! I'm just saying....
This is my challenge.
much love for reading this!