On Healthy Eating

Transitioning to Gluten Free

Most likely by now you know someone who is gluten free. I had my doubts about this fad for years, mostly because, hello, what could be wrong with bread, the most basic component of our American diet?

But one of my close friends recently became gluten and sugar free and told me it helped her in her effort to go off of her OCD medicine. Since I have known her for years, I knew that this was a big deal. Now this “fad” had my attention.

I spoke with my friend this past January, and the next day I overheard a woman on her phone at the elementary school, saying, “Yeah! So the doctor told him to go off of gluten, and he did, and then it went away. So I guess it worked. That was that.” I didn’t even know what she was talking about, but going off of gluten healed someone of something, and that got my attention again. Then I heard the same thing two or three more times from different people with different symptoms. What the heck was going on with gluten?

What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is what makes dough stretchy and sauces glue-y.

One doctor writes, “Gluten as a protein is indigestible due to its odd composition of high amounts of the amino acids proline and glutamine. The composition or sequencing of these amino acids literally is unrecognizable to our enzymes such that we (all humans, not just those of us who are intolerant to gluten) are unable to digest it properly”Vikki Petersen, Ph.D.

So the reason it could cause problems with our health is because, since it cannot be digested, gluten can leak out of our intestines into other parts of our bodies. This can cause headaches, migraines, food allergies, auto-immune disease, cancer, stroke, and so many other things. See this post for more info.

I decided to give gluten-free a try. At first, it was merely because I wanted to feel more energetic, get better sleep, and live longer. I wanted to keep my family healthy. But then, God gave me a better reason to try going gluten free. I got pregnant. Again. And I hoped and prayed that staying off of gluten would help me with my insane morning sickness.

It helped a lot. This is the first pregnancy that I have not felt like I’ve been poisoned. I remember the last two pregnancies, I stayed awake most of the night during the first trimester, feeling like I had poison in my stomach. The second pregnancy I threw up so much throughout the night that I had to go on anti-vomiting medicine. My first pregnancy I threw up every day of the pregnancy and probably about ten times during labor and delivery.

It could be because this is my fifth pregnancy. It does get easier each time. But I had a piece of a pretzel yesterday, just to see what would happen, and almost instantly, I had a terrible stomachache that lasted for hours.

So far, transitioning to gluten free has been so much easier than I thought!

This avocado salad from El Pollo Loco has been a really yummy, quick, gluten-free lunch this pregnancy!

Salads, meats, fish, eggs, oatmeal, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, rice, potatoes, quinoa, soup, corn tortillas, ice cream, chocolate-covered strawberries–we could still eat mostly every single thing on our regular menu. The only foods I needed to buy “gluten free” were pasta noodles, pancake mix, brownie mix, and cold cereal. The gluten-free versions contain rice, oats, soy, or corn instead of wheat.

No more real bread for our sandwiches. No more flour tortillas. No more croutons. No more bread bowls. No more buns with our burgers. No more couscous. No more cake, cookies, etc. (unless they are made with gluten-free flour.) No more easy pizza! That’s going to be a hard one.

So it’s been really good and the kids have been fine with it. I still let them have cupcakes at parties; I don’t obsess, since they don’t have any allergic reaction to gluten.  Right now I am just trying it out, taking notes, seeing if it’s feasible, and, for the most part, loving the results.

Are you gluten free? Why or why not? What is your opinion on whether or not a gluten free diet will make a difference? Please leave a comment and please share your best gluten-free recipes with me!

Look at what I just found: Gluten-free pizza crust recipe. This looks yummy!

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Recipe

You want your pizza batter to be a thick batter – about the same as a good pancake recipe. You can add more coconut flour to thicken it up, and more water to thin it down. You can use one large (9-12 inch) cast iron skillet, or like me, use a small pan (I used both my 6 inch and my 7 inch pans) to make individual sized pizzas. It makes about 1 large pizza, or three small pizzas.

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 cup of water warm
  • 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar, kombucha, kombucha vinegar or other live culture addition
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour (not homemade flour)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Heat safe oil or fat of choice (I used ghee) for pan
1. 12-24 hours before baking, combine the quinoa, warm water, and live culture addition. Cover, and leave in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 450F degrees, placing the cast iron pan (or pans) in the oven in the top third of the oven to preheat as well.
3. Drain the quinoa well in a fine sieve and then rinse well (this helps remove any bitterness from the quinoa). Combine in a blender with the rest of the ingredients, except the olive oil. Blend until very well combined. Add the oil and blend just enough to combine.
4. Take the pans out of the oven and drop enough fat or oil in the pan to completely coat the bottom. Add some (or all) of the batter, depending on size of pan. Spread out with a heat safe utensil, evenly. Place back in oven. Cook for about 7 minutes for smaller size crust, or ten minutes for larger, or until the bottom of the crust is browned. Flip and cook for another couple of minutes.
5. Remove pans from ovens * and put desired toppings on. Return to oven to heat through (and melt cheese).
6. Serve right away.
* At this point, you can also save the crusts to use later.

Chelsea Rotunno is the author of Goodnight to My Thoughts of You, a novel about life as a Christian teen searching for true love.

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