My name is Carrie and I am the writer of the blog GingerLemonGirl.com. Erin has graciously allowed me the privilege to write a short series of guest posts for $5 Dinners! I am very excited to share my thoughts on gluten free living with you! I hope I can share some helpful and frugal information for cooking and baking gluten free for your family.
I started a gluten free diet in August 2007. I decided to go gluten free because I thought it would cure or at least reduce the terrible migraine headaches that I had been living with. I have had migraines as long as I can remember. Between migraines, panic attacks, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal distress…I was not living well. My life was not healthy nor fun.
In July of 2007 I discovered Shauna at her blog, Gluten Free Girl. After reading her beautiful thoughts on how she truly began to live after becoming gluten free I was inspired and intrigued. I was willing to try anything to get rid of my migraines and simply feel better in general. I thought going gluten free could possibly help me. Thankfully it has! Tremendously. While my migraines did not go away completely until I began therapy for high blood pressure, I realized how incredibly sensitive I was to certain foods! Namely any foods with gluten, soy, and most recently casein and/or dairy.
I am not diagnosed with celiac disease. But I am very thankful to be on the gluten free diet. Going gluten free taught me to discover how my body reacts to food. Certain foods cause reactions when I eat them and now I am fully aware of foods that make my body healthy and foods that hurt me.
Going gluten free is a process. I am continually learning new things and changing my diet to help my body to become healthy. In this journey I have discovered many things:
- I love to cook!
- I love learning about food chemistry and how it works in gluten free baking!
- That there are many, many foods out there I had not yet tried or had the joy of eating! I now LOVE trying new things!
- That my body reacts in several ways to all forms of gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, and due to cross-contamination, oats. I get nasal/sinus congestion along with gastrointestinal issues.
- That my body severely reacts to any form of soy protein.
- That my body also reacts to certain dairy/casein products.
- That my body treats most simple carbohydrates as a “drug” and I have to avoid simple sugars/carbohydrates, white gluten free , starches, etc…
- A vast amount of foods are already beautifully, simply, and naturally gluten free!
I have found that for me following a gluten free diet is easiest when you eat simple, naturally gluten free foods. As much as I enjoy baking, I don’t often have the time it takes to do so, nor it is necessarily good for me due to the carbohydrates in gluten free flours. Meal preparations at our home have to be fast, quick, and healthy due to our work schedules. Our meals are usually based around fresh vegetables, a lean protein, and a small portion of complex carbohydrates such as whole grain brown rice, sweet potatoes, or black or red beans.
Here are some examples of naturally gluten free meal choices that are frugal and healthy and in our meal rotations:
Naturally Gluten Free Breakfast Options:
- eggs, boiled, scrambled, etc…
- breakfast meat such as turkey bacon, sausage, etc…
- fresh fruit
- certified gluten free oatmeal -or- grits
- breakfast wraps with scrambled eggs, a few tablespoons of salsa, and green onions wrapped in a warmed corn tortilla
- naturally gluten free cereal such as Rice Chex
- green smoothies made with fresh greens such as kale and spinach, plus fresh fruits added in along with hemp milk
Naturally Gluten Free Lunch Options:
- fresh homemade salads with homemade dressing
- sliced vegetables such as avocados, grape tomatoes, celery, green peppers, carrots, etc… with homemade dressing
- fresh apple slices with natural peanut butter -or- almond butter
- lettuce wraps with ham or turkey slices with sliced green peppers, mushrooms, etc…
- boiled eggs
- hummus with celery sticks and carrot sticks
Naturally Gluten Free Dinner Options:
- simple grilled or baked chicken with freshly steamed broccoli and baked sweet potatoes
- homemade caesar salad with grilled salmon -or- boneless pork chops served with steamed carrots
- super easy stir-fry using frozen vegetables and chicken or beef served over steamed brown rice
- easy homemade marinara sauce served over freshly roasted spaghetti squash with green beans
- simple crustless quiche served with a garden salad and roasted red pototoes
- quick ground beef tacos or taco salads using corn tortillas served with black beans and corn
One of the best things about following a naturally gluten free diet is learning the vast array of foods that you CAN eat! Take a simple walk around the perimeter of your favorite grocery store and search out new vegetables you have not tried before, try different grains, try new cuts of meat, learn how to oven-roast vegetables so that they caramelize in the oven. There are SO many wonderful food choices that are available to you!
Being gluten free has been a true joy for me and my family. We have learned how to cook and enjoy real, whole, and nourishing foods! In the next few weeks I will be sharing very simple, naturally gluten free, budget-friendly meals with you! Being gluten free does not mean that you will need to spend a fortune on food, you will simply need to learn what foods to buy that are safe and healthy for your family!
Here’s to a healthy gluten free body!
Carrie is an eastern NC resident with a passion for frugal gluten-free cooking and baking. She loves helping people with food intolerances. You can email Carrie at firstname.lastname@example.org and read her blog at http://www.gingerlemongirl.com.
Note: This post is a testimony with ideas and tips for starting and maintaining a gluten free lifestyle. It is not meant to be used as medical advice. If you are interested in trying the diet, please discuss it with your physician and/or a nutritionist.
Photo Credit: kkeaveny