My Midwestern adventure has supplied me with the answer of years of medical intrigue. I like answers and having one is great. Although, I’d prefer it not include eliminating a big chunk of my diet. But I digress. The adventure this answer brings is relearning how to eat. Realizing that I have to plan my meals carefully beforehand. Eating whatever, whenever at the drop of a hat is not going to work anymore. The good news is that I have found that it is not all that hard to eat gluten-free. As long as you eat at home. Restaurants are challenging, no matter what, but that is a post for another day.
As for eating at home, I received the best piece of advice from a friend (who was also a former professor of mine) who has been a Celiac all is life, practically. He told me, don’t try to find gluten-free substitutes for the foods you love. He is right, they are almost always disappointing. With that in mind, my strategy has been to find ways to eat interesting food done simply and healthy. So here are some of my recent examples of gluten-free love at home.
I love cobbler. My Mommy and Auntie M make cobbler that is life altering. My favorite is blackberry. So I won’t try blackberry. However, peach cobbler has never been my favorite, although I won’t turn it down. So, I decided that I would make gluten-free peach cobbler. The idea of experimenting with different kinds of gluten-free flour to see what works makes me cringe. So rather than try to make the cobbler dough from scratch and inevitably become annoyed I used gluten-free pancake/waffle mix. Because I have become lactose intolerant from the Celiac I can’t use cow’s milk so I sub my new favorite – coconut milk. I prefer unsweetened original (although I am sure sweetened vanilla would taste great). Also, I was too lazy to go to the farmer’s market or fruit stand so I used canned peaches (gasp, wail).
You should know that despite my normal obsession with rule following I do not cook according to rules or recipes. I pinch and toss ingredients and see what happens. Usually it works, occasionally it doesn’t. I learned it from my Mommy and every other Southern woman I’ve every seen cook . . . at little of this and cook it at about this temperature until you just know it’s ready. As far as I’ve seen recipes are merely suggestions.
Two cans of peaches with a little of the juice, a pinch of cinnamon, and a squirt of agave syrup go into a pyrex dish. Stir. The mixed up pancake mix goes on top of the peaches in no particular way. Bake at 325 or so until the pancake mix browns a bit on top and the peaches are bubbly. I serve it warm with some milk (coconut or almond) poured over it (just like my Daddy taught me). In my opinion, it tastes better than gluten-tainted peach cobbler.
This lovely cobbler experiment followed a gluten-free dinner of barbecue chicken baked in the oven and salad salsa. Barbecue, you say, yes, barbecue. Stubb’s barbecue sauce is naturally gluten-free! I bake the chicken for 15 minutes at 350 covered in aluminum foil. Then I take it out and coat it with Stubb’s and bake it for another 10 or 15 minutes until it is firm to the touch. Super juicy and tasty.
The salad salsa is awesome . . . fresh garden tomatoes, half an avocado, one jalapeno, onion, cilantro, and green pepper, one can each of black beans (washed), chickpeas, and corn. Combine with salt, pepper, and the juice of one lime. I vary the ingredients depending on what is in the fridge, freezer, or pantry. I serve the mixture over iceberg or romaine lettuce with a tablespoon or so of Annie’s Cowgirl Ranch gluten-free, organic salad dressing. It is spicy, tasty, and good for you. Oh, and it also tastes great with corn chips.