Gluten Free at the One Month Mark

We’re about a month into the great Gluten Free Period, so here’s an update.

First of all, the official diagnosis has been downgraded from “Celiac” to “Unknown”. Even with this new information (or lack thereof), we’re sticking with a gluten free diet for now until we get more information. More tests coming…you know how it goes.

As I expected we’ve been eating a lot more at home, which means I’ve been doing a lot more cooking. I don’t mind cooking, in fact I actually like it quite a bit. But I’m a lazy, lazy man so we wind up ordering in and going out far more than we should. As a public service to anyone reading this who is eating (or trying to eat) gluten free, here are a few of the better recipes that I’ve come across and have made:

Garlic Shrimp With Asparagus and Lemon
Mustard and Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon
Shrimp and Scallop Risotto (note: this is not actually risotto)
Spaghetti with Green Olives and Tomatoes

They’re all pretty basic a relatively quick since even though I’ve enjoyed getting back to cooking, I don’t really have any interest in making anything too involved after work. They’re also all relatively healthy. Lots of people are going gluten free by choice thinking that it’s a healthier way to eat. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s a ton of gluten free junk food out there, but it does actually seem easier to eat gluten free and healthy at the same time. Follow the old advice: only shop on the edges of the supermarket.

Going out has been a bit trickier. Fortunately there’s a ton of information online about how different restaurants handle serving gluten free meals. OpenTable even has a devoted page. Anytime we’ve gone to a restaurant I’ve been sure to contact them in advance, let them know what I was looking for, and confirmed that they could accommodate. Here’s where we’ve been, and here’s how they do gluten free:

Arami – They have a gluten free menu if you ask for it, their sushi rice is made with rice vinegar (so it’s safe, not all sushi rice is), and they’ll substitute tamari for soy sauce for dipping. Overall they’re very aware of what can cause issues and have been super helpful and accommodating.
Little Goat – They also have a gluten free menu if you ask for it. It’s actually a pretty large menu with tons of good stuff.
Nico – If you ignore the pastas, there’s actually some gluten free food on the menu. Crudo, risotto, all excellent.
Vera – Most of the menu is already gluten free.
Tanta – Like Vera, quite a bit of the menu is already gluten free. Our server though was pretty well versed in what would work and what wouldn’t (and when he wasn’t sure he always got a clear answer from the kitchen).
Lou Manati’s – They make a gluten free thin crust that’s really good. Marissa actually likes it better than their regular thin crust.

So going out is pretty much what I thought it would be. A little more advance research/communication, a little more quizzing of our servers. Note that I haven’t even gotten into issues of cross-contamination. This is a huge issue for those with a true celiac diagnosis. If you do have celiac and you’re reading this, please don’t take my list as absolute gospel for safe places to eat.

Like I said at the beginning, we may not need to stick to this for much longer. Obviously if we don’t that will make life easier. But if we do, I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far and we’ll continue to learn. And that’s been the positive aspect to to this, it’s been a great learning experience. Not just about celiac itself, but how people live with it and about how the rest of the world is adapting and catching up. I’d also add that sometimes in “foodie culture” there can be a dismissive attitude towards some food allergies. Sometimes this is well deserved, especially given the fad nature of some dietary restrictions. Unfortunately gluten free has become one of these fads, and my fear is that it will lead people to take the needs of those with celiac less seriously. Please don’t. Celiac is serious business. It literally erodes your intestines. When people with celiac get “glutened” it causes intense and unpleasant issues that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. So on the one hand, don’t dismiss allergies without doing your research. But on the other hand, please don’t go gluten free because you think all the cool kids are doing it. See a doctor, see a dietitian, do what’s right for your body.

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