Today’s blog is a guest post from Confident Wellness Chief Operating Officer, and my darling husband Cris Graffa.
I love food. I love grocery shopping; whether meandering around a farmer’s market and relishing in the sights, smells, and sounds of the local fresh produce and meat stands or shopping at grocery stores looking for food sales and new items. I love to cook it—Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Asian, Greek, Mexican, Latin, Italian cuisines, et. al. Most of all, I love to eat it. I joke that I’ll eat just about anything as long as it’s not moving. Am I clear about how I feel about food?
I describe myself as a decent home cook but I’m definitely not interested in cooking as a profession. Clearly, Barbara is appreciative that I both enjoy and take care of the household food-related tasks. Although she typically makes her own breakfasts and lunches, I prepare around 90% of all dinners and meals when we entertain friends and family. We eat out the remaining 10% of the time!
Throughout our marriage of 18 years, Barb has always been very passionate about the connection between food, body, and mind and has researched that connection avidly for many years. Based on this research, Barbara decided to go gluten-free after understanding that it may result in reduced inflammation and pain. Frankly, I was skeptical that it would help Barbara’s chronic pain. Nonetheless, I agreed to give it a try reasoning that she could focus more on everyday life rather than pain.
Here’s what I encountered and the solutions that were implemented:
- First we both learned to decipher food labels and understand that gluten is in wheat, barley, and rye. We went through our cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer and gave away gluten products such as pasta, flour, and various canned and boxed goods.
- As an Asian American, it wasn’t customary for me to have bread with all meals. So, eliminating bread wasn’t a problem. However, I use soy sauce in many dishes. Many of the soy sauces available (I use Kikkoman) have wheat in them to aid the distilling process. However, I found a wheat-free soy sauce at the local Asian store. Not quite the same taste as Kikkoman, but doable.
- I started buying gluten-free pasta. Some of it was horrible! Recently, we tried one that used both quinoa and corn flour that was very tasty. It was a winner; pasta problem solved!
- I was chagrinned to find that there was gluten in some cream of mushroom soup as I often use it when making sauces. Without much more effort, I found it very easy to make my own cream of mushroom soup that is tastier, chemical- and gluten-free, and less expensive. Please don’t ask for recipes. I rarely use them.
- It’s not necessary for everyone in the household to be gluten-free. I still have my beloved Kikkoman soy sauce in the refrigerator and I still make sandwiches with (usually) 12-grain bread. Nonetheless, I’m mindful about cross-contamination and will use separate utensils, cutting boards, knives, and pots and pans when not making a completely gluten-free meal.
- As part of my cooking, I often dredged protein in flour. Now, I use either tapioca or arrowroot flour. I don’t notice a taste difference. Likewise, I’ll use them and/or cornstarch as thickeners.
- Most of what I cook rarely contains canned or boxed foods. It has made gluten-free cooking much easier.
- I thought that buying gluten-free products was going to be extremely expensive. Well, it is! However, there are many items such as gluten-free bread, soups, and other foods that can be made inexpensively and without adding a lot of time to overall food preparation. As an aside, Barb pointed out that the additional expense of gluten-free products would be more than offset by reducing doctor visits, prescription drug costs, and her overall well-being.
- I still need to find a good solution for some foods such deep-fry batters. I had found a recipe for a gluten-free tempura batter that can be used for fried chicken and fish and chips. I’ll have to give it a try. We rarely eat deep fried foods but I consider it an occasional treat.
At first I thought shopping and cooking gluten free was going to be extremely difficult. After many months of being gluten free, we’re still experimenting with different gluten-free products to find those most palatable to us. As it turns out, the change hasn’t been overly difficult. One only has to practice mindful food shopping and cooking.
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