Thursday, October 2, 2008

Going Gluten Free

For some time we have been concerned with N's bowels. Around his birthday in March, things started to get pretty bad, with lots of gas pain that had him in tears. I took lactose out of his diet, and that seemed to help, although everything wasn't perfect. Then in August things started to get worse again, and it was almost like his body wasn't absorbing anything, and food was going straight through him. I thought that maybe gluten could be the culprit, so one day I just stopped giving it to him. I went out to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and bought GF cookies, pretzels, cereals, and various mixes for cookies, bread, pizza dough, waffles and other baked goods. He was such a good boy when I introduced this new diet restriction on him. I explained that in addition to his "special" milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream, he would now have "special" cereal, cookies, snacks and bread. He has never complained. He eats whatever substitution I have made, and does so cheerfully. I am just so thankful for this! I know that the Lord has his hand in it.

Anyway, within 5 days I noticed a difference, and we have never looked back. N's bowels are "normal" for the first time that I can ever remember, and it is such a blessing. Naturally, we went to the pediatrician for a consultation (coincidentally the same day Ed was in the ER for his own issues). N had a blood test taken, which came back negative for celiac disease. I actually didn't think he had celiac because his symptoms weren't that drastic, but I do believe he has a gluten sensitivity. It is the only thing that can explain this remarkable turn around.

But his not having celiac gives me a little leeway in preparing his food. True gluten intolerance calls for separate cooking utensils, pots, and bowls, as well as complete gluten removal from the diet, including trace amounts in things like vanilla extract, baking powder and other things you wouldn't neccesarily consider having gluten. It would turn our lives upside-down, and I truly feel for those families who bear the full weight of this disease. Instead, I avoid giving him things that blatantly have gluten (wheat based products), but don't worry so much about the smaller quantities in other things. Anyway, things were gong fine with just N having the GF diet. The food was more expensive, but I didn't have to buy large quantities since he is still a small boy, and I could easily prepare a small GF portion of whatever we were eating and still make dinner as usual.

But now we have decided to try out a GF diet for Ed, and things are a little more complicated, and a lot more expensive. The cost difference between GF and "normal" is quite staggering. For example, a regular 5 lb bag of flour is easily under $5. I went online to buy flour through a recommendation of a friend, and was astounded that it cost $15 for 5lbs, plus $11 shipping- that is $26, people!! I bought it because I wanted to try it out, but I am still suffering sticker shock! And that is how it is across the board- anything GF will be significantly more expensive than it's normal counterpart. It's also been harder fixing dinners that Ed and N can eat, now that I have to do a large portion of it, if not all, GF. But it seems like it is working for Ed too. He says the pain in his side is almost completely gone, and he feels normal again. Now that could be normal healing, or the effects of eating GF. We won't know for sure until he sees a specialist at the end of the month.

All of this is to say, we are still trying to figure everything out, and how eating GF is going to work in our family. Fortunately there are a lot of resources online, and many GF products available in stores in my area (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Wegman's). I am currently working on finding meals that I can easily make that are GF. For dinner tonight I didn't know what to make, and Ed suggested waffles. GF waffles do have a different taste, and I wanted something a little more substantial, although many times we do just have waffles for dinner. I found a recipe online for chicken and waffles (I thought the chicken sauce would mask any difference in waffle taste), and I thought I would try it out. I made some changes, and I had to make 2 separate batches of waffles, but it turned out really well, and it was delicious! The kids all loved it, and practically licked their plates when they were finished! Here is the recipe, with my changes in it.

Waffles with Creamed Chicken

2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 small onion minced
1 glove of garlic, minced/pressed
*1 small can of cream of celery soup with 1/2 can of milk
1 tablespoon Madeira or dry Sherry
waffles (see below)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic about 3 minutes, add chicken and sauté until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add Madeira and simmer about 2 minutes. Add cream of celery, put on lid, and stove on lowest setting. Periodically stir chicken as you make waffles.

Start making waffles. The original recipe called for frozen waffles for convenience, and I like to make my own. But this time, to speed up the process, I used a mix for both regular and GF. In both mixes, to make them taste more home-made I used butter instead of oil, and buttermilk instead of regular, and it made a huge difference.

Once waffles are done, arrange 2 waffles on each plate; top with creamed chicken.

* I realize that cream of celery does have some wheat to thicken it, but it wasn't enough to bother my guys. For those of you who can't have any gluten, here is the substitute:
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons GF flour- Bob's Red Mill, or Better Batter would work

1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 c of chopped celery
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth and cream. Add celery. Bring to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer sauce 1 minute.


Becky said...

wow, Daisy, that's rough. Regular groceries are expensive enough these days without having to add in special dietary needs. I'll be praying for you all as you work through this.

EEEEMommy said...

Not fun! But it sounds like you're handling it with grace and creativity. Chicken & Waffles was a favorite in Chris' family growing up; maybe I should give it a try.
I wonder if you could find a food co-op. There are a group of women from our local homeschool group who place a bulk order every couple of months from Something Better Natural Foods. I know of other natural food co-ops in our area who buy together to get discounts. I would think you guys would have something similar. A lot of homeschoolers are into natural foods, maybe if you contact the local homeschool group you might find someone who knows something...

sanityseeker said...

Daisy, I agree that your attitude is pretty great. I hope that things help. I went gluten free for a bit when my blood tested "slightly positive" for one of six tests. I found that it really helped, but I ended up going NUTS with all the restrictions. I felt like I ended up being so obsessed with food that it was unhealthy. And this was about 4 years ago, and I am amazed at how many more products are available now. Thoughts and prayers are with you with meal planning, patience, creativity, and persistence!

Amy from Occupation: Mommy said...

You may want to check out the following blog:

She made a New Year's resolution to use the crock pot every day this year. She makes a different recipe every. single. day. And she is GF/CF. You should be able to get some good tips!

I am glad that it seems to be helping your guys.

Amy from Occupation: Mommy said...

OK, she's not CF. Still lots of ideas.

Bala Waxworks said...

While I was trying to medically confirm the cause for being so anemic over the summer, I was tested for celiac as well. I was truely hoping not to find that I had celiac disease just knowing the difficulties that are associated with needing a GF diet. Fortunately, the test came back negative for celiac, and I didn't have to change my diet- other than to try and lose a few more lbs for health reasons only. I commend you for your determination and efforts to help your guys in this fashion! luv, L

chaps said...

Amanda went gluten free this past year and I believe they have just simplified their diet, and eat basic meals of grilled meats and veggies. Isn't Katherine Johnson also gf?
By the way, great job sleuthing Daisy! You are truly your family's nutritionist!
By the way, PF Chang's has a gf menu! Yum!

words and streets said...

thanks for the recipe and glad to find that link to the crockpot a day blog. that's cool. you know my prediction: that most of us will be gluten free in 25 years, so I guess I better start cranking it out now! glad ed and N are feeling better.

words and streets said...

O and I tried to make pie crust with better batter.... yuck! then again, I'm not good at making a regular pie crust, either!