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Does anyone really enjoy a gluten free life?

Seriously.  No more of this?

bread in oil 3

Or this?

grilled cheese

So get off my gluten free back!  This is not fun!

People do this to “lose weight”?  News articles call this a “fad diet”?


I am 2 1/2 years gluten free.  (My confessions can be found here and here.)  Why?  After 1.5 days without it, I discovered that my midsection had been under siege for years.  Slow unhappiness had become a battle ground in the gut without my knowing it.  Once gluten was removed, I could once again tuck a shirt in.  Really!  It was that bad!

I had the testing done, and I am not celiac, but the gastro doctor insisted on some genetic blood work.  It turns out that I am genetically pre-disposed to becoming celiac.  (Click here for an article by an author who, like me, has the genetic mapping, but not the physical symptoms of the disease.  Oddly, the author calls himself celiac with only the genetic markings, but then continues on to criticize anyone who is gluten free by choice.  Huh?  Like himself?)


My mom still doesn’t really get it either.  When I go home to visit, she invariably has meatballs and pasta.  When I look for an alternative meal, she interprets that as being vegetarian.  (Mom – there are breadcrumbs in your meatballs!)  I have mentioned that my genetic pre-disposition implicates one or both parents, but they have chosen to ignore that inevitability.  (What you don’t know?)

Surprisingly I have found that a gluten free lifestyle is, for the most part, an extremely healthy lifestyle.  What foods contain gluten?  Mostly processed and pre-packaged meals.  When you avoid processed and pre-packaged, you end up with real cooking: proteins, starches, vegetables, dairy – all non-offensive.  When you cook clean, you don’t suffer.

Gluten free living is really about preparing foods from their [mostly] original state.  Initially this was a difficult adjustment in our household.  Chinese take out cannot work for me, but it still does for the rest of the family.  You develop back-up plans, gluten free snacks you can travel with, or go-to meals in a pinch.  I have homemade gluten free English muffins that travel with me most times I board a plane, as well as a homemade gluten free granola mix.

What the critics really pan is the ever-increasing gluten free aisle at the local supermarket.  What shoppers should understand, if gluten free living is working for them, is that selective shopping in that aisle is best.  When you go gluten free, you have to decide what critical items are most lacking.  For me, I most miss an occasional piece of bread (gluten free muffins referenced above, but they do not dredge through oil well as an appetizer) and COOKIES (gluten free chocolate chip cookies and/or biscotti available from the the Gluten Free Bakery in Hudson, NY and carried by some local Price Chopper stores).  Fritos are naturally gluten free, but then you have to mentally wrangle with the idea of GMOs.  (Let’s not start that conversation right now.)  Assess what is most missing from your normal diet, and how can you supplement it in the gluten free aisle.  Then walk away.

It ain’t fun, but it ain’t cancer.  Gluten free living is manageable, and even enjoyable, with the occasional gluten free biscotti thrown in for pleasure.

Tonight’s gluten free wine recommendation?  Oh, wait!  Wine is naturally gluten free!  Yippee!

Look for this spectacular Greek wine for the summer: 2014 Troupis Fteri Moschofilero (click here).  It is crisp and summery for all of your clean and gluten free barbecues!  Price point is amazing for the quality of the wine.



About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!

One comment

  1. There are some really good GF beers out there as well. My favorite (not because I am GF, but based solely on the name) is Glutenburg. And guests say it’s delicious!

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