The G Word…Gluten Free Cooking

February 2, 2011, I’m sitting at the doctor’s, waiting to hear why I’m continuously sick. She comes in and says “Good and bad news. I know why you’ve been sick for so long and you don’t have to take medication for it. The bad news, you’re going to have to give up bread…..you have a gluten sensitivity.”

A gluten sensitivity? What is that anyways?

As she explained, it is an autoimmune disorder that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.

There are more than 250 different symptoms of gluten sensitivity. The only way to confidently diagnose a Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is through a gluten free diet.

So all I have to do is change my diet…eat gluten free? “No big deal. I can do this.” So I went home and gave away all the food that contained gluten. However, being a college student that lives off cafeteria food, fast food runs, late night bowls of cereal, breakfast bars, and snack foods, finding foods to fit into my new lifestyle change proved to be difficult. The only thing that I could eat in the cafeteria now was a salad or unseasoned french fries. Fast food runs with friends went to me eating more salads or going after a soda. Bowls of cereal changed to trying to decided between cinnamon or honey nut Chex. And snack foods, oh, those just went straight out the window. They don’t make gluten free Goldfish or CheeseNips, the only thing that kept me sane during long days and nights of studying was gluten free pretzel sticks with peanut butter and carrots.

I grew up in a family that doesn’t eat out very often. Every meal was prepared by my stay-at-home mother who made everything by hand, without a recipe. We even had our own garden and she canned enough food to feed an army (which with four kids, we were her army). Our meats were either (bought) ground turkey or venison from hunting trips. And it just so happen, that there was never bread in our house, because either the loaf had gone bad, or mom just forgot to make it for dinner. So, coming from a homemaking household like that, I thought I could take the time out of my day, every day, while in college, trying to keep up with my studies and making it to work on time, to cook. It seemed to be more difficult than I thought. I ended up buying and eating a lot of frozen gluten free dinners, and gluten free pastas with a little bit of Ragu on top or some parmesan.

However, over the past eight months, I’ve found a 7 layer dip that I make as a snack, sharing with my roommates. I have also found a gluten free salmon that I’ll make with some green beans, broccoli, or mixed veggies. But it’s tiring eating the same thing every day. This is how I came to the decision that for a personal learning project, what better to learn than to cook the foods that I will be eating for the rest of my life. But how? I decided one day that I wanted to make ravioli, so like every other 22 year old college student, I get on Google and type in “gluten free ravioli recipe” and the first thing that popped up was a link for making homemade, gluten-free ravioli at 10 o’clock at night. I continued reading throughout this lady’s website and finding all these foods that I had missed and been dreaming of ever since February. So now, I’m going to learn to cook at least one breakfast, appetizer, dinner, dessert, and casserole dish all including a gf flour.

Now, I can cook for my body and find foods that not only I like but also for others who eat gluten will like too.

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