What’s for dinner Wednesday: Gluten Free (and fat free and shellfish free)

2 Dec
Suddenly, we were adjusting to a member of our family who was now gluten free.

Suddenly, we were adjusting to a member of our family who was now following a gluten free diet. It was not our first time at the menu modification rodeo. I have a shellfish allergy, and my older daughter has an intolerance to fatty foods.

Happy December!

Have you missed me? It’s been two weeks (at least) since I last wrote, and what a busy two weeks it’s been!

My last post was a new muffin post for Peanut Butter Pumpkin muffins, and then…nothing! Well, a lot has been going on over here in the past weeks, and it’s taken me some time to process and organize it all, and to be able to share it with you.

First, Happy Thanksgiving! We had a great holiday and I hope you all did too! We got to visit with family and it was wonderful. I was a bit under the weather with a cold that did me in and took away my voice for much of that week, but overall it was a great holiday and a much needed school break.

The break provided us with some time to catch up a little bit. We slept a lot, we shopped very little, and we got ourselves organized at home a little bit too. We’d recently been told to try our youngest daughter on a gluten free diet as a trial, to see if it would alleviate her chronic stomach issues that had been plaguing her since the springtime. Normally, any stomach problems we’d encountered had responded to medication, but for the first time ever, adjusting her medications hadn’t done the trick. We spent the end of the school year and our entire summer, even as we criss-crossed the country on our Cross Country Adventure of 2015, trying to make heads or tails of her constant, chronic stomach pain. We could not alleviate it and we could not figure out the cause of it. Our oldest suffers from an intolerance to fatty foods, and we saw some similarities, but yet not exactly. All of our three have dealt with, and our youngest continues to deal with, abdominal migraines, but yet that didn’t seem to be it either, and the medications for it didn’t seem to be helping anymore.

When we returned from our trip she begged me to call the doctor again.

“I can’t go back to school like this,” she said. “I ended last year like this, I don’t want to start the new year like this.”

She was right, and so I placed another call to him and this time we went in. I explained that the last few things we had tried through the spring and summer weren’t working. He offered out a couple of new things to try, and each time we’d have a follow-up visit in three more weeks. Each time we’d go back with not much better news from whatever we’d tried over the three weeks. Finally, he handed me a meal plan to try with her, a “low FOD Maps” plan. You can explore that here, or google it for more information. As he handed it to me and we went through it, it mentioned gluten free items here and there, and he said, “Or, you can try gluten free, too.”

When I went home, it took me a few days to sit and look through the new diet and to consider my options. As I looked at the low FOD Maps list, there wasn’t a ton on it that she didn’t already do, and as I looked at the foods to avoid on the high FOD Maps list, there wasn’t a ton on there that she ate. It didn’t seem worth figuring out for such little change. I decided to explore the gluten free diet. I figured we’d try it for one week. I knew from past experience that if you didn’t feel a difference by then, you weren’t going to. And if it worked, you’d feel the difference even sooner.

My daughter and I went shopping and picked up just a few things to get us started. It was enough stuff for dinner that night, some breakfast, lunch and snack items for the next day.  That night for the first time in months and months, she went to bed without a stomachache after her first gluten free dinner. She woke up the next morning without a stomachache. I packed her a gluten free lunch, planned after school snacks that were gluten free, and off we went. Day two, still stomachache free. I couldn’t believe it. I had not expected it to work. We’d been down that path with my other daughter and had seen no difference in the two weeks we’d tried it. Each day or so I picked up a few new things in my travels and began to think ahead as well. Thanksgiving was a week away. Luckily, my sister-in-law was coming in to visit, and she was also on a gluten free diet, so my mom and dad had her dietary needs in mind, and they were hosting the holiday, so that would work for Alex too.

It’s now been two full weeks and she’s doing great. We visited the doctor the other day for our three week check-up and he gave us the okay to continue on the gluten free diet from here on in. We have since had a major holiday, we’ve eaten out, we’ve eaten in, and hosted a big event out of the house ourselves, and we’ve pretty easily incorporated her needs into all of our plans. Our next big event is Christmas, and looking for Christmas Cookie recipes or changing our own is obviously at the top of my list. They now need to be low in fat for one daughter and gluten free for another.

Keeping everything in one spot in our pantry so we don't have to go searching for the gluten free ingredients and snacks.

I’m keeping everything in one spot in our pantry so we don’t have to go searching for the gluten free ingredients and snacks.

In the weeks we’ve been doing this, I’ve already gotten to experiment and to organize our pantry and freezer a bit in order to make it easy for everyone to see what she can and can’t have, even if I’m not here, and I’ve tried out some great recipes and foods that she’s liked. We also have pantry shelves in our garage and we’ve allotted a section of that space for just gluten free foods too.

Over the next weeks and months, I’ll be posting what we’ve been up to on this new adventure, whenever I can, and as we go along I’ll be able to make more and more, and try out new things. I’ve taken lots of pictures of the foods we’ve bought and the foods she’s liked as well as the recipes I’ve had a chance to make. As always, and I welcome your ideas and comments as well!

This has been a great ingredient for our pantry. We've already used it for two different recipes.

This has been a great ingredient for our pantry. We’ve already used it for two different recipes.

For today, I’m starting at the beginning. One of the first dinners we had was a quick “breakfast for dinner” of pancakes with blueberry compote. The compote was homemade and you can find the recipe here. It was already gluten free. The pancakes are something we often make homemade, but on this night we were using a “just add water” boxed mix for our own, and that’s what I used for Alex’s too. I had already bought the gluten free Bisquick which had recipes on the side and back of the box for waffles, pancakes, biscuits and pizza dough. Bisquick is a familiar and trustworthy name in my opinion, and I thought it was a good first choice for my pantry. The recipe made enough pancakes that we could save some leftover for another day. By cooking for just one person, I’ve been able to make a lot at once and freeze ahead so that we can pull out what we need for her as we go, rather than starting from scratch every time. Alex liked these pancakes a lot, and had no problem having them again later in the week for breakfast.  The meal was a win-win for everyone.

Alex's pancakes looked just like ours and she said they tasted just as good.

Alex’s pancakes looked just like ours and she said they tasted just as good.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my first (of many, I’m sure) posts about eating and cooking for a gluten free diet. Do you or anyone in your family follow a gluten free diet? What kinds of tips and tricks can you share?

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