me to feel “unwell” – I finally got the blood test for Celiac done. This was after my boyfriend, who is a family doctor, came into the doctor’s office with me and insisted I be tested for Celiac to rule it out. The test came back a few days later showing that I had a high number of gluten antibodies.
I spent the next month and a half waiting to get a biopsy done to confirm Celiac disease. I spent that time filling up on all my favourite glutenous things. Perogies (my number one comfort food), Lucky Charms and cocoa puffs, Panago pizza every Friday, French bread, yummy pastas and the list goes on. Needless to say, I didn’t feel well while gorging on all these treats, but I had to make sure the biopsy was based on my regular diet, right?!
After the biopsy showed that my intestines were crying for help and that I had probably developed Celiac disease years ago, I took a few more days and then started on the gluten free diet. This was in March of 2009, right before my boyfriend and I were planning on moving to Kelowna, BC.
It was all very overwhelming at first. I spent the first few weeks very hungry as I wandered through grocery aisles reading every label of all the foods I normally ate.
Luckily, I was living in downtown Edmonton and there was a great natural foods store that carried gluten free goods – the cereal itself helped me feel hopeful – as well as a complete gluten free store, Kinnikinnick Foods, which makes all kinds of Celiac-friendly foods and all kinds of flours.
In the first few months of being on the gluten free diet, I was quite stressed with the way it was affecting my life and my boyfriend’s habits as well. That, coupled with the stress of moving to a new city and taking four months to find a job, really did a number on my health. I struggled with anxiety and depression and it took months before I started feeling better.
A few months in, I read “Gluten Free Girl” by Shauna James Ahern, who also has a blog. This was a girl who had been sick like me, and now she’s living and thriving and loving life, gf. She gave me hope.
Now, seven months into my “life as a Celiac”, I’m doing a lot better. I feel a lot better although my iron levels are still taking time to stabilize so I’m still tired a lot of the time. I seem to get some sort of gluten “sickness” every week or few weeks, so I’ve sworn off eating out for a while since a lot of times it was after eating at a restaurant. I’m learning more everyday about hidden sources of gluten and cross contamination. And I finally feel like I can handle living a gluten free lifestyle. It’s not always easy and I sometimes feel like crying when I’m out with friends and am relegated to eating my cold leftovers instead of yummy albeit glutenous food, but I’ve finally coming to terms with the fact that I’ll never quite be the same again. I’ll never have the carefree attitude about what I eat because I’ll always have to ensure that it’s truly gluten free. My boyfriend has been a source of support for me this whole time and hasn’t complained once about having to do all his “gluten” preparation in one tiny corner of the kitchen.
Now this brings me to the important part related to this blog. Finding out that I have Celiac disease has forced me to learn… how to cook.
Yes, I admit it – although I lied to myself for many years – I’ve always been a bad cook. It took a few years of dating before my boyfriend taught me the importance of following a recipe exactly how it’s laid out and even still, it’s hard for me to crank out a decent meal with out a) setting off the fire alarm, b) using every dish and utensil in the house, c) having it turn out looking like a pile of mush, d) having it taste awful, or e) all of the above.
I would like to say that this is an exaggeration, but sadly, it’s not.
So, after swearing off gluten free bread for the most part, I decided that I was going to have to learn to cook like a pro if I wanted to eat on a daily basis.
I’m not there yet.
I started with making all of the things my boyfriend and I had always made, but in a gluten free style. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. I experimented with things that I hadn’t tried before like risotto (love it) and polenta (hate it!) And I tried to concentrate on making things that were naturally gluten free for the most part, like chili and stir-fries.
Seven months into it, I finally have a few meals down that I can do well, but they mostly stem from my beloved slow cooker – it’s hard to mess things up when cooked in a slow cooker. But now that we’ve kind of fallen into a food rut (not unlike my pre-Celiac eating habits), I’ve decided it’s time to step it up a notch and learn how to cook, once and for all.
I had a eureka moment when I realized that my bad cooking came partly from a lack of skill and know-how (not to mention how everything changes with gluten free flours), but also out of pure old laziness. I loved eating great food, but I always lacked the patience (and the time) to make decent meals.
Now that I’ve vowed to become a great gluten free cook, I’ve decided to start a blog so that others like me, who balk at the sight of gf recipes with waaaaaayy too many ingredients, can learn that good gf food can be easy, yummy and healthy. (Not that I won’t ever feature yummy and unhealthy recipes).
I’ll be posting recipes of my own creations (okay, often with the help of my boyfriend who’s an annoyingly good cook), recipes I find elsewhere, originally gf or not, and recipes I’ll adapt for the lazy cook, like me.
I’ll vow that as much as I can, these recipes:
- Won’t have more than one kind of flour – who needs it, I used “all-purpose Celiac flour” for everything!
- Won’t have excessive amounts of ingredients – who has the time, or all the ingredients?!
- Won’t take hours to make. That just takes all the fun out of it. And those multi-step and timing-is-important recipes are just too tricky to keep up with for the lazy chef.
- Won’t have hard to find ingredients that you can only get at real specialty stores, or in the US. I read a lot great gf recipe blogs but I a lot of times I can’t find all the ingredients in a recipe.
- Will be crock pot heavy. I’ve started “Crock Pot” Sunday in my house and it’s genus. Crock pot cooking is simple, tasty, great to warm up with in the winter and always make your house smell yummy. And with Crock Pot Sunday, I always have multiple meals to give me a break from cooking nightly during the week.
I hope you like my blog and feel free to comment with feedback, ideas for inspiration and of course, links to your own lazy chef recipes!