November 25, 2007

OUR FIRST GLUTEN-FREE THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving07.jpg

My dear husband had been having digestive difficulties for a few months. He had lost so much weight he now weighs what I do -- yikes! He was recently diagnosed with celiac disease.

We had never heard of it before, but it turns out to be not uncommon. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder that is triggered by eating the protein (gliadin) that is in wheat. The body puts out an attack on the gliadin, but ends up attacking itself in the small intestine; your ability to digest your food goes . . . well, right down the toilet . . . and you can end up malnourished. The only cure is to not ingest gliadin, which obviously means avoiding breads and pastas but also less obviously means avoiding all sorts of processed foods that contain wheat. Scott has discovered Whole Foods and we are eating more consciously.

So our Thanksgiving turkey went unstuffed this year. At one point I was going to make a rice stuffing for it, but one of those new recipes Scott had experimented with was a brown rice dish that has you saute carrots and zucchini and a small amount of fresh tomatoes, and mix that with cooked brown rice -- it's delicious! And I love every excuse to get more yellow vegetables into our diet, even in our pre-celiac disease days. So we had that rice dish as a side dish; along with asparagus, green salad, yams, and mashed potatoes. My eldest sister stepped up to the stove and made our first-ever cornstarch-thickened gravy, which was very tasty. (And I'll confess that the next day, for leftovers, I whirled the gravy through a blender and added some chicken stock to it -- no offense, DSis! -- and it was even tastier.)

Here are two foodie blogs I recommend, that are authored by women who have celiac disease:

Karina's Kitchen

and

Gluten-Free Girl

On a local note, roughly a decade ago, the "Gluten Free Girl" was teaching high school English and Scott's niece was in her class.

Also, locally, the Sunny Valley Wheat-Free bakery is next door to the Maple Valley Post Office, which is where I go daily to mail Two Swans packages.

After the initial shock of finding out that you can no longer tolerate gluten as you have been able to for the past, oh, 50-something years, we are finding foods that he can enjoy. We've discovered some gluten-free pastas and crackers that we like, and there's always fruits and vegetables, meats and eggs and fish -- and pass the brown rice, please!

Posted by Karen at November 25, 2007 12:55 PM
Comments

Karen: I quit eating sugar, processed foods and white flour/bread/pasta, etc. about 8 weeks ago and I've actually never felt better and I've lost a bunch of weight (although I know that's not Scott's goal). I guess my point is that you can have some really great meals without the wheat flour. I read an article recently that pointed out that raw wheat, some legumes and potatoes are actually toxic until they've been processed/cooked (http://www.paleodiet.com/). Hope Scott's starting to feel better! TMK

Posted by: TMK at November 25, 2007 04:26 PM

I'm so glad Scott is feeling better and that you were able to enjoy Thanksgiving. The turkey looks great!

Posted by: Jewel at November 25, 2007 06:03 PM

At least you know what was causing the problem and can go forward from here. Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving too!

Posted by: marti at November 25, 2007 07:13 PM

Hmmm, that looks like one delicious turkey! I'm glad that you found ways to plan a scrumptuous Thanksgiving meal even with the new dietary restrictions.

Posted by: Jen at November 26, 2007 11:42 AM

Food issues really can put a crimp in holiday cooking. My MIL has celiac disease. I hope my husband doesn't develop it as we already deal with his meat intolerance and my milk allergy.

It sounds like you did very well with the new regimen. Does your husband have a problem with all gluten, like that in oats or barley, or just wheat?

Posted by: KarenJoSeattle at November 27, 2007 12:02 AM

I know you were not asking for this, but these folks are located in WA, and have a huge range of products. http://www.ener-g.com/ Some of their stuff may be a bit pricey, because they have been in the market space since it was a small niche.

I do know one of the officers, so I can't say no affiliation. I have been one of the taste testers, and some of the snack items are fairly good. If you have a place more local for you, you are very lucky.

Good Luck with the changes, it can be a challenge.

Posted by: PICAdrienne at November 27, 2007 11:27 AM

Dear Karen and Scott: I'm not celiac but can't eat wheat and still feel good. I'm assuming you've researched it out and know that the no wheat extends to oats, barley and rye too. Whole Foods does indeed do some great no-wheat alternatives - especially since he doesn't have to give up sugar. Their wheat-free scones are tres fab, both plain and heated up. Go to my favorite Indian restaurant in Seattle, "Bombay Grill," owned by our friends Rajan and Anita Arora. Many of the appetizers are beaded with either lentil or chickpea flour. If you ever come to India it's so much easier to eat out - especially South India! Wishing Scott the best.

Linda "K"

Posted by: Linda "K" at November 29, 2007 03:48 AM

Uh, er, that was supposed to be BREADED with lentil or chickpea flour - beads on the brain.

Posted by: Linda "K" at November 29, 2007 03:49 AM

I'm Coeliac (UK spelling) and have never eaten 'real' bread in my life. I can tolerate oats which some coeliacs can't, but not wheat or barley. The best bread I have found is Juvela 'Fresh' which I can get on prescription in the UK - is it made from treated gluten-free wheat starch and is not vacuum-packed dust like many of the other kinds (though that type is very good for recipes needing breadcrumbs). I do all my sauces with cornflour. Good luck and here's hoping he feels loads better soon!

Posted by: weeza at November 29, 2007 05:21 AM

Hi Karen,

My mother was diagnosed with celiac disease last year. You and your husband might want to look into cornbread stuffing. There are some amazing recipes for gluten-free cornbread, and it is easy to cut up into cubes and add to a stuffing recipe! We've had it for major holidays and has been a big hit!

Posted by: Nicole at December 23, 2007 08:03 PM