Monday, November 25, 2013

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

As you all know now, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  Suddenly, our lives and our diets had to change dramatically.  Fortunately, Cliff and I both enjoy experimenting with new recipes and we found ways to make eating gluten free pleasant, however it was a bit more of a challenge getting our son on board.  However, he is coming around slowly but surely! Then it hit us....The first Thanksgiving since I was diagnosed was coming quick! We needed to find some gluten-free recipes for one of the most important dinners all year!  My parents came over for Thanksgiving dinner and my Mom made the turkey, and I cooked everything else.  Here are a few of the ways I prepared a gluten-free feast that everybody enjoyed!

1) Replace flour with corn starch as a thickener for the gravy. Corn starch is fairly inexpensive, and you can use about half the amount of corn starch as you would wheat flour to get the same consistency.  Comes out great!

2) Use stale gluten-free bread to make stuffing. This is one place where you don’t need to have the most tasty gluten-free bread to make a good dish. Just like regular bread, gluten-free bread can be found on day-old sales. When we found out I had Celiac we began stock up and freeze bits of inexpensive gluten-free bread for a couple weeks prior to Thanksgiving. Then we have all we need to make a great stuffing everyone can enjoy.

3) Make your green bean casserole from scratch.  Start by frying your own onion rings.  Cut onions and dip in a mixture of buttermilk and corn flour.  Flash fry.  Then drain and set aside.  This can be done a day or two in advance if necessary.  Next prepare your own cream sauce the way you would to make scalloped potatoes from scratch.  Add fresh, sliced mushrooms while the sauce is reducing.  Pour this over fresh or frozen green beans.

4) We also enjoy a crustless pumpkin pie.  Rather than using a pie crust, we simply mix the ingredients for the custard, pour it into a glass pie pan and bake as directed.  Really simple, still delicious!

Going gluten free certainly presents challenges.  Use these tips, and no one in your family will miss gluten at all this Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

-Tiff and Cliff

Saturday, November 2, 2013

News about Tiffany

Hi everybody!  I just wanted to make a quick announcement here this morning.  I recently have been having some health issues and have been going to the my doctor to try and figure it out.  I have been having horrible stomach pains amongst other symptoms and the results of all my testing is that I have Celiac Disease.  For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten.  Celiac disease can affect both adults and children.  Although the exact cause of the disease is not known, it often runs in families, causing the body's immune system to overact when foods containing gluten are eaten.  There is no cure for the disease, but carefully following a gluten free diet will manage the symptoms.

Here are some things my doctor told me to help start managing Celiac Disease:

A dietitian can help you plan a nourishing diet that is free of ingredients that contain gluten. It's important that people with celiac disease avoid foods that include wheat, barley, spelt, triticale, rye, semolina, graham flour, bulger, durum, and farina.

The new gluten free diet may seem overwhelming to the person shopping and preparing meals that will not cause the disease to flare up.  It's important to read labels, especially for processed foods.  It's not enough to look for ingredients that contain gluten.  Unless the label specifically states that the product is gluten free, it may have been contaminated during the manufacturing process.

There is no need for a person following a special diet to control celiac disease to feel deprived.  Gluten-Free pasta, cakes, cookies, and breads can be found on the shelves of most grocery stores.  Even gluten free pizza crust is available (THANK GOODNESS!).  If your local market does not carry the items, search at a health food store.  If you don't see what you are looking for, ask if the item can be special ordered.

It's important that everyone in the home understand celiac disease and the importance of following a gluten free diet.  Our son is old enough to understand most of this but he still doesn’t grasp the whole concept of it and is having a little bit of a difficult time with the adjustment of foods in our house.  Because gluten free products are usually more expensive than those containing gluten, it may not be practical to use the alternatives to feed the whole family.  It's important that the items containing the gluten be clearly identified so they are not able to contaminate the safe food products. If the disease is present in a child, (we are going to have our son get tested to see if he has this as well, crossing our fingers he does not!) it is critical that information is understood so than cookies and cakes aren't snacked on in a friend's home or at school.

Celiac disease is diagnosed more often than it was in the past. This, combined with the fact that an increasing number of people are adopting a gluten free lifestyle means that nutritious and tasty gluten free substitutes are becoming less expensive and easier to find!  I am very optimistic about this as its not something that isn’t manageable, and I have a great support system in Cliff and our families.  I know that some days will be more of a challenge than others, but this isn’t going to be something that is going to control me or limit me!

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you and for those of you who also have this please feel free to comment and share your stories, recipes, and ways of dealing with this!

-Tiff and Cliff