LIVING WHEAT FREE: Why + What I Eat
Seems like everyone these days is allergic to something. When I was growing up, every now and then you had the one kid in your class who was allergic to something, like strawberries. Don't get me wrong - I believe it. It makes total sense! With the way much of our food is processed and mass-produced, it's no wonder we're sicker than we used to be and our bodies are reacting differently. When I was little - I ate EVERYTHING! It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I started to notice a change. In 2013, I started getting migraines. Out of nowhere. I'd have to go lay down in a dark, quiet room until the awful headaches passed. I figured it must be stress or hormones. My mom suffers from chronic migraines, so the fact that I was now having them didn't surprise me. But, I noticed that when a headache came on, I also experienced terrible stomach pain that sometimes included nausea - which also didn't really surprise me because I have an extremely sensitive stomach which results in acid reflux ALL. THE. TIME. I couldn't take the headaches and stomach pain anymore so I was advised to try an elimination diet, starting with wheat. An elimination diet is when you cut out certain foods (ex: diary, wheat, eggs, peanuts, soy...) for about 4 weeks (sometimes less, sometimes more.) After 4 weeks, you can reintroduce those foods back into your diet. If you have the same reactions or side effects after eating, you'll know you have an allergy or sensitivity to that food.
I researched wheat-free foods and recipes to prepare myself for the change. I cut out all wheat based products such as bread, crackers, pasta, breaded/fried food, and flour. I know, seems like everything, right? But after 4 weeks, I felt better. NO headaches. NO stomachaches. My reflux even cleared up (except when I eat something really acidic like spaghetti or bbq sauce.) So I didn't even try to introduce wheat back into my diet to be sure. I've found what works and makes me feel good and I've been eating wheat-free for 4 years now. Now, I want to be clear: I do not have celiac disease. I know people who do and I am so thankful that my reaction to wheat is not as severe as theirs. I will not become violently ill or go into anaphylaxis if I eat wheat. However, after avoiding wheat I have since eaten something not knowing there was wheat in it and shortly after... you guessed it, migraine & sickness.
"So, what do you eat?"
Maintaining a wheat-free diet is actually very easy. I still eat all of my favorite things: fried chicken, pasta, pancakes, cookies... I could go on and on. These "treats" (as I call them) just take a little altering of your typical recipe. For example, I can't eat flour. So I LIVE for Gluten Free (GF) Bisquick when it comes to "frying" or making desserts. It's as close to the real thing as you can get and I say that because even my notoriously picky husband likes it. So, you KNOW it's got to be good! In fact, there are LOTS of gluten free products out there making it very easy to maintain. However, I don't buy many gluten-free products (like cookies, crackers, muffins) because they're still just has high in carbohydrates & sugar as the "real" thing. Other than that, living wheat-free is basically like following a low carb diet and my husband doesn't suffer from it by eating things he isn't crazy about. Here's a look at what I eat daily...
Breakfast: One over-easy egg on top of 1 slice of toasted Gluten Free bread + coffee with a splash of creamer. My favorite brand of GF bread happens to be Sam's Choice from Walmart. It's not frozen (like most GF bread products) and it's super "spongey" like regular bread. I'm a creature of habit and I eat the same thing every morning - except weekends when it's "Pancake Saturday" at our house.
Lunch: GF Turkey Wrap (with Lettuce, Tomato, & Mayo), 1/2 an apple, and 6oz of Suja Green Machine Juice. Mission is known for their tortillas and they make a great GF tortilla.
Dinner: A lean meat (chicken or Yellowfin tuna), a green veggie, and brown rice or sweet potato. Rice is grain like wheat, however the two are unrelated. Hence, most GF products are made with a rice or potato flour. Yep... all potatoes are safe to eat. Including french fries. Thank you, Jesus!
Dessert: Two Dove dark chocolate squares... and occasionally a little glass of red wine.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE GF PRODUCTS
Sam's Choice Gluten Free Multigrain Bread & Buns (Walmart), Mission Gluten Free Tortilla Wraps (these are more similar to a flour tortilla but ALL corn tortillas are wheat-free.), Gluten Free Bisquick, Great Value Gluten Free Spaghetti Noodles - for some reason, GF spaghetti has a tendency to stick together when cooking leaving you with thick, inedible noodles. This brand doesn't do that! Blue Diamond Nuthins Crackers, Red Bridge Sorghum Beer ('cause every now and then you just need a cold one with your burger.)
THE BEST (& EASIEST) GLUTEN FREE BANANA PUDDING
With lots of summer parties to attend this year, this banana pudding is a crowd pleaser plus it's SUPER easy... and I'll bet no one will be able to tell it's gluten free! *I like to make my pudding the night before so the cookies and bananas get really soggy.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 Box of Instant Vanilla Pudding (5.1 oz)
- 2 cups of 2% milk
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
- 12 oz of Cool Whip, defrosted.
- 5-6 ripe bananas, sliced.
- 2 bags of Schar Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies (I find these at Walmart on the GF aisle.)
WHAT TO DO
In a large mixing bowl, whisk pudding & milk for about 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Fold in cool whip until smooth. In a trifle, layer shortbread cookies, sliced bananas, and pudding mix. (I like to line some of my cookies around the trifle 'cause it makes it look "purdy"). Repeat layering 3-4 times until all ingredients have been used. Chill atleast 4hrs before serving.