Hey there, folks. It’s been awhile and I’ve missed you. Happy belated Halloween, Happy belated Thanksgiving, and now, Happy Holidays.
I do have my reasons for being away – a belated honeymoon in September, a rigorous month working in the ICU upon my return and then, at the very end of October, surgery. Totally unexpected, throw a wrench in all your plans, off work for
six seven weeks kind of surgery. The good news is that the surgery fixed the problem so theoretically, it should’ve been sailing from there on out, once I got my strength back. But it wasn’t. There was another issue. Back in June I found out I was iron deficient and anemic – a not so uncommon problem for women. I started taking iron supplements and things improved – my iron levels went up and my hemoglobin normalized. But my doctor wasn’t satisfied that we didn’t know why I was deficient in the first place. And so, when I saw her again while on medical leave for my surgery, the investigation began. Two days after getting a ton of lab tests drawn my doctor called to tell me that all the blood tests for Celiac disease were positive. I was referred to a gastroenterologist for an upper endoscopy to take a biopsy of my small bowel which confirmed the results. The treatment for Celiac disease? Gluten-free for life.
As someone who loves to bake, loves to eat and has so many favorite recipes that involve flour, you can imagine the thoughts that went through my head when I realized what this meant for me. My favorite scones? I’ll make them for others, but never eat one again. That awesome cake I make my brother every year? No more eating the crumbs while trimming the cake. Oh, and that lasagna that I love? Béchamel = flour = forget about it. The soup and bread combo that is one of my favorite meals? Never again, barley contains wheat. So, to sum it all up, when I first heard the words “gluten-free” it was pretty much a downward spiral of negative thoughts and an ever-growing list of the things I could never ever eat again. And that dream of visiting Paris one day solely to eat? As if that would be enjoyable now.
Alas, I only had so much energy to sustain the negativity and was getting pretty sick of myself for being such a downer. The Friday after receiving my diagnosis I met with a dietician. Boy, was she awesome. I left my appointment with a stack of papers containing gluten-free recipes, articles, grocery items, meal plans, even names of fancy gluten-free restaurants. In addition to seeing the nutritionist, I turned to the internet. As a food blog junkie, it didn’t take me long to populate a brand new section on my google reader of gluten-free blogs. I was even more excited to see some of my favorite bloggers already feature plenty of gluten-free recipes. It also helped that once I shared with family and friends my diagnosis, I received plenty of helpful articles via email, texts about nearby gluten-free bakeries and recipes torn out of magazines just for me.
And so, after just a short time of being totally bummed out, I started to get excited. I’m sure I could find a way to make those scones gluten free, right? That cake can totally be re-worked, once I find a good gluten-free chocolate cake recipes. And somebody has to have figured out gluten-free béchamel, yes? If not, I’m going to! Barley has plenty of substitutes and that whole Paris thing? Who am I kidding thinking all Paris has to offer is pastries?
Since this whole episode began I have been trying to figure out what this will mean for you, me, my kitchen and this little space we share on the internet. Obviously, there will be a shift to gluten-free baked goods including learning how to make a gluten-free flour blend. Dishes featuring wheat pasta will be tried again with rice or chickpea pasta. Risotto will make it’s comeback. Mexican, with all it’s corn tortilla and rice laden meals, will likely become a new favorite cuisine. My pantry will get a make over and I’ll likely be excited to share some of my favorite gluten-free (and dairy-free) grocery finds. (Can I just take a moment here to say: Thank you, Trader Joe’s?) Portable snacks and party treats will make their appearance, since my nutritionist did recommend I make sure to always have a gluten-free option available when attending celebrations.
It’s going to be a lot of work, a lot of adjusting but I’m starting to think it also might be a lot of fun. And I’d love to have you along for the ride.
Let’s do this.