Gluten is Latin for Glue

  1. Definition: The major protein in cereal grains, especially wheat; responsible for the elasticity in dough and the structure in baked bread.

Last week, I learned that I should no longer eat gluten or wheat containing foods, or so we think. I haven’t actually had a definitive test for celiac disease, but all the signs and symptoms point to gluten intolerance.

So, armed with this knowledge, I realize that going gluten-free is a fairly major lifestyle change. Planning ahead is key to living gluten-free. Whenever I have to make a big change, I always turn to books. I was recently at the Boulder Book Store and picked up a copy of The Gluten Free Girl by Shauna James Ahern. I’m really enjoying and appreciating Shauna’s book and love her writing. She is making this whole gluten-free living not into a challenge, but rather into an opportunity filled with delights and new tastes. She encourages those of use with gluten-intolerance to go boldly and courageously beyond gluten. In our world of super-processed foods, living gluten-free is an appealing option to eating close to the land and with simple but gourmet ingredients. She also encourages sourcing ingredients as locally as possible and getting to know the food sources and growers in your area. The Gluten Free Girl is my first book to read on gluten-free living and I’m so glad that I now have a copy of this book as I feel empowered and liberated to break free from the glue of gluten (literally and figuratively).

I also checked out several gluten-free cookbooks from the Library so I could see what recipes I could glean for this change. So far, I made gluten-free muffins, my husband made cornbread and tapioca pudding (vanilla and chocolate), and I’m planning to make coconut macaroons and Shauna’s recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cookies. I also just saw her recipe for Lemon-Pecan Biscotti, which I will definitely make ASAP. We already are eating whole foods and grains, so we just need to change our baked goods and a few other things such as essential ingredients. At first, when I was told I was most likely gluten-intolerant, I got very teary-eyed and anxious. But, after I started looking into the matter and finding cookbooks and recipes on gluten-free living, I’m really quite excited for the change. I’ve been long thinking about getting completely off of white sugar and white flour and this is the time!

What are some of the biggest challenges for me? Missing good old oatmeal chocolate chip raisin cookies, and feeling a bit bewildered at restaurants or being invited to dinner with friends.  We don’t eat out much anyway, and now I will just plan ahead and have a list of ‘safe’ restaurants and a list of ‘can do’s’ and ‘don’t dare’s’.  I also have made a list of safe foods and ones to avoid. I’ve already used that list a couple of times this week.  That will accompany us to the grocery store until we get a hang of this. I’m also eager for the Farmer’s Markets and CSA farm share to start up again. By purchasing and eating whole foods produced locally, and continuing to make a commitment to that, I know I’ll be ahead of the game. 5 years ago, we gave up a lot of processed foods. We stopped buying frozen dinners and things in packages. We started looking at everything we bought from the store and nearly stopped buying any pre-packaged food item. However, until I can learn to make gluten-free snacks and bars, I am relying on a few packaged gluten-free bars.  My plan ultimately is to make double or triple batches of homemade gluten-free snacks and baked goods to have on hand. I can carry them with me and always be prepared if I’m on the road or on the go.

With my birthday just around the corner, my husband always makes a very decadent dessert to celebrate with. He asked what I wanted this year and I said… flour-less chocolate cake! I’m really excited to celebrate this birthday without gluten.

So, here’s a list of cookbooks I’m reading and checking into. If you have other suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to post on this blog or send me an email at sarah[at]terracadence[dot]com.

Have you read or used any of these cookbooks? If so, what’s your favorite? If not on this list, please let me know your top gluten-free cookbooks or guidebooks. Thanks so much and here’s to living healthfully!

Please Note: I was a guest blogger for Edible Front Range on 2/25/10. Feel free to read that blog posting here.