Here’s Superhero Sandy’s latest gluten-free update. It seems it is possible to change and still enjoy food! Here are a few of her recent observations and recommendations. Thanks Sandy–we are all inspired by you!
Gluten free update: I’ve always been one to buy quality name brand products, not the generic store brand stuff that doesn’t taste as good. I’m known among close family and friends as a good cook, and it has always been my contention that good cooking starts with the choices you make in the store. I’m a picky shopper, favoring name brands and top quality fresh food; my motto is “if nobody eats it, it’s not a bargain,” so stay away from the cheap, generic stuff.
Anyway, while driving the four blocks to Kroger from my home one day about three months ago, my phone rang. It was the nurse at my doctor’s office telling me that my thyroid antibodies were sky-high and that I needed to get on a gluten-free diet as soon as possible. I also needed to start taking probiotics, selenium, and CoQ-10 to help combat the catastrophe that was taking place in my intestines and finding its way to my thyroid gland…and who knows where else…probably wherever I felt pain, including my arthritic knees. As I understand it, the antibody issue is separate from the TSH, T3, T4 markers for thyroid disease. This was something different, an autoimmune thing I had going on along with a underactive thyroid gland.
The nurse sounded serious. This wasn’t just a “why don’t you try this and see what happens” suggestion; it was an order. Oh, man. I had a lasagna pan full of semolina pasta covered in meat sauce, cheese, and sour cream…all ready to bake for my grandson and his friends who would be arriving in a couple of hours. I started doing an inventory of what I was planning for dinner that very night that I could and could not eat if I were to actually change my diet to gluten-free. Salad? Okay, yeah. Pasta? Not so much. Bread? Don’t make me laugh. First I panicked. And then I started to solve the problem.
I started changing my shopping practices on that very first trip. Luckily, I ran across some gluten-free pasta, so I bought it, scraped some sauce and cheese off the casserole, cooked up the new pasta, and mixed them together. Not bad. So far, so good. Everybody else ate the original casserole while I ate my gluten-free pasta version. And from that point on, my kitchen only contained gluten-free pasta. You literally couldn’t tell the difference…although you do have to be a bit more exact about cooking time.
Then I started doing research, shopping the out-of-the-way sections of the store: buying organic stuff, fresh fruits and vegetables. I also started going to the local meat market here in Greencastle, buying better, unsullied by hormones and antibiotics meat and milk and butter and eggs.
Now, less than three months later, I just returned from a grocery shopping expedition. I have completely changed, one or two items at a time, what I buy at the store. My shopping list is entirely different from it was not long ago. Here’s a partial list of what I buy now:
Trader’s Point milk (grass-fed, organic, not homogenized, the real stuff my Grandpa Hause used to carry in buckets from the barn to the house)
Kerrygold Irish butter (kind of like the stuff my Grandma churned from those buckets of milk)
Blue Sky free range eggs (I’ve tried several brands of eggs; these have the most golden yellows I’ve ever seen.)
Van’s gluten-free waffles…or pancakes…or whatever. These are better than Eggo. Trust me.
Rudi’s gluten-free “original” white bread (okay, so it’s not quite the same as what you usually buy…but it’s gluten-free and you can make a sandwich with it.)
Izze soda (instead of diet Coke…nothing but fruit juice and sparkling water)
Smucker’s Simply Fruit jelly…again, no sugar, no sweetener of any kind…doesn’t need it…just fruit juice.
Udi’s blueberry muffin tops (gluten, soy, wheat, and dairy free)
fresh produce from local suppliers, including some honey crisp apples from Anderson Orchard, which we picked up yesterday
heirloom tomatoes…don’t fall for vine ripe or Indiana tomatoes…heirloom are the best
100% grass-fed beef from local producers. If I can’t find grass-fed, I will still buy local. If I can’t find local, I buy organic…no hormones, no antibiotics. Sometimes this means there’s no chicken available today, so you have to buy pork instead or you can’t find the cut of beef you want. You have to be adaptable to eat well.
Kemp’s frozen yogurt (because my soul needs ice cream)
Talenti gelato (can’t eat much of this because it’s calorie-, fat-, and sugar-laden, but it is gluten-free, HFCS free, and oh, man, is it ever good!)
Simple Truth gluten-free animal crackers (a store brand, but good)
Quinn’s popcorn (although i don’t use the flavor packet that comes with it…I use the above mentioned Kerrygold Irish butter.)
Pamela’s chocolate chip gluten-free cookies
Glutino table crackers
Ronzoni gluten-free pasta
Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes (I already knew these were the best canned tomatoes and tomato sauces and spaghetti sauces around…been buying Muir Glen for a while now)
frozen corn, peas, green beans, broccoli…whatever I can’t find fresh, I buy frozen. Just the vegetables. Not the kind that come with sauces already in them. I love those ones that you can steam in the microwave.
Maple Hill creamery yogurt (full fat with the cream on top, just like the milk from grass-fed cows…and mostly I buy plain and mix in my own fruit and granola and sweeteners. Trader’s Point makes good yogurt too, but Maple Hill is thicker. I like it better.
organic blue agave syrup
real maple syrup
GiddyUpGo gluten-free granola
Nature’s Path corn flakes
Cheese…I don’t know about cheese. We still have a bunch I bought in Wisconsin last month. I can’t swear that what I have is organic and grass-fed. Probably some is and some isn’t. I’m working on that.
I try to buy things that are sugar-free, but you have to watch that. Most of the time “sugar-free” on a label means that they used aspartame or some other poison instead of sugar. Sugar isn’t good, it contributes to inflammation, but poison is worse. Sugar is also better than high fructose corn syrup.
That’s all I got for you now, but my list is ever-changing, and I still haven’t been able to explore Fresh Thyme as thoroughly as I want to. Look for more updates in the future on my gluten-free lifestyle. Oh, and I just got another blood test last week. My numbers are “a little bit better.” We’re making some adjustments. But I feel better all the time, am not sick as much as I used to be…I’m staying on top of this thyroid deal, and that seems to actually be helping with the arthritis issues too.