Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Five ways to handle going gluten free

So it's been a while since I went gluten free, and I've gotten used to it enough that most of the time I don't cheat anymore (except that PB&J I had this afternoon because I was STARVING and everything else took effort). Here's five tricks I've learned for surviving without sweet sweet glutens.

1. Everything makes a decent taco
Anything that can be eaten on a sandwich can be put into a corn tortilla, and some things--BLTs or Cheese Steak, for instance--are actually really good in taco form, or as a roll-up. Use corn tortillas. The best are made at home, and it's actually kind of fun to do it at home, but if you're going to do it a lot, a tortilla press makes it  so much easier. If you get the ones from the store, they're basically undercooked, so make sure you sear them off a little in a dry pan until they get some delicious scorchy black bits on them, So much better.

2. Avoid fast food restaurants like the plague
Seriously. Unless it's going to be Chinese food or Mexican or something like that variety of fast food, it's gonna all be ad for you. I eat mostly salads or baked potatoes when I can't avoid going to Wendy's or something, but it's unfair for everyone else to be having chicken nuggets and burgers when I can't, and it makes me sad even when the salad is delicious. Bojangles or Popeye's are the worst--so many biscuits I can't have! Better to avoid them entirely.

3. Stuff on rice
The same way anything can go on a taco, anything can go on a bowl of rice. I eat a lot of rice, so I've started getting fancy--I have short grain, long grain, brown, white, red, basmati, jasmine. And I've got rice-like things like quinoa and other grains around. And even when I'm just making regular white rice, I have bullion cubes, herbs, jars of chopped garlic, Sazon and Jamon and Adobo, so the rice can always taste like something that matches whatever I'm eating on it.

Burgers and cheese steak and basically any sandwich stuff goes really well on rice, especially if there's already a sauce involved, or the food is good and fatty or juicy to spread the flavor around.

4. Eat things that never had gluten
The best GF foods are the ones that never had gluten to begin with, so there's nothing missing from them. Asian foods are generally good--Indian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese that doesn't have noodles unless they're rice noodles. Hispanic-diaspora foods are good, too, because of the rice-basis of the meals. Plus, Mexican is usually pretty cheap and easy to make!

I miss pizza like it was a physical part of me, and the GF pizzas are all expensive and very limited, but I love this reason to eat more Indian and Japanese and Korean and Mexican!

5. Change your perceptions
Basically, you're cutting out a big part of the previous style of eating, and the idea of replacing things that taste the same, act the same, and don't have gluten is pointless, from my experience. GF foods are wildly more expensive, or they're vague tasteless approximations that ruin the experience, or they're similar in function but don't taste the same at all. There's some stuff that is good, and by all means, use that stuff so you don't feel deprived! But it's much more satisfying to shift instead to looking forward to the stuff you can have--all those meals that are naturally GF, all the icecream instead of cake, all the actually good foods that are not problematic and don't require so much effort to try to make it the same as your old diet.

And if you're definitely going to eat all those expensive approximations, shift your thinking so that you accept that they're going to be different, because there's no way they can be the same. You're looking for close-enough, rather than exactly the same.

How do you handle being disallowed a large portion of American food?
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