For Suzanne and Tricia

“You can’t eat wheat or gluten*”

For a foodie this is a death sentence… or so it seems.  Favorite foods like chewy foccacia bread are taboo.  Comfort foods are no longer comfortable.  The first few weeks most newly diagnosed Celiacs (or those with gluten intolerance) spend their time trying to find alternatives to once loved foods.  It’s like learning to drink non-dairy milk.  I went through that nearly 20 years ago.  We try to pretend that these “fake” foods taste like the “real” thing.  Eventually we give up and realize that there are so many things out there that are naturally gluten free or the alternatives really are quite good.

The good news is that in recent years gluten free eating is much easier than it once was.  When I tried a gluten free diet 3 years ago I was so frustrated.  I bought every gluten free flour I could get my hands on and tried to make food taste “normal.”  The only problem was that I was trying to get pregnant at the time.   If you add the stress of a gluten free diet on top of the stress of an infertile trying to get pregnant it doesn’t make a good combination.  I gave up on both.  I spent the next 3 years shoveling bread, pasta, pizza and other gluteny goodness into my face.

When Mom died I got horribly sick.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention that.  Mom died on a Saturday and Monday morning I was at urgent care before they opened.  I had spent the previous night throwing up.  The doctor told me I was probably the sickest person she would see that day.  I don’t doubt it.  Three weeks later our family celebrated Easter and that night I went home nearly ready to throw up again.  The week before Mother’s Day I had dinner with the family and the next day I had to leave work early.  I missed out on The Head and The Heart concert that night.  When I came home from work Derek told me that I would be giving up gluten and dairy for good this time.  We knew what the problem was.  I’ve been gluten and dairy free since mid May.

What does all of this have to do with Suzanne or Tricia?  Suzanne mentioned that she’s hosting gluten-free people at her home next week.  Tricia will be too… me!

As a person who eats a gluten-free diet I’ve had the time to get used to my food situation.  My family is accommodating and our house is the safest place for me to eat.  My girlfriends do an awesome job of making sure there are snacks for me to eat at our regular girlfriends get-togethers.  I can only imagine what it’s like to be the friend of a celiac who is coming to stay with you.  My guess would be panic.

Don’t worry there’s no need to panic or go out and buy a cupboard full of gluten-free flours.  I’ll help a little bit.

When planning your meals take into consideration the individual ingredients that go into the preparation.  Even more, the ingredients in the ingredients.  There is a little thing called modified food starch that is in nearly everything.  Sometimes modified food starch is potato or corn based, but it usually is always wheat.  Don’t take chances.  It is in things like salad dressing, canned chicken and chips.  Bizarre.

Soy Sauce is also a no-no.  Tamari is the gluten-free stuff.

Remember fresh meat and veggies are always gluten free.  Simply grilled food is perfect for the Summer.

Most of all if you are hosting someone who is celiac, we understand.  It isn’t an easy diet to accommodate.  We understand.

If you really get into a bind here are a few of my favorites:

  • Quinoa Tabouleh
  • Quinoa Pasta (usually found in the health food section of the grocery) and fennel pesto
  • Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad
  • Fresh Salad Rolls (use the rice paper wrappers)
  • Fish Tacos with fresh salsa on corn tortillas (I make my own, but there are gluten-free ones out there)


Suzanne and Tricia… you can still eat wheat.  I promise.

10 Comment

  1. Thank you so much. I’m hosting two adults and four kids, so I am already freaking out about keeping hunger at bay. I fill my kids up with home-made bread, but that is not going to work for all my guests.

    I think we will have spaghetti with rice noodles one night, and tacos another night.

  2. They are very beloved cousins from afar, so we are rejoicing to host them — I just want to feed them properly.

  3. Tricia says: Reply

    LOL! Perfect timing is right. No worries, I’m not freaking out. I just want to be a good host and share a couple of nice meals with you so I’m glad you educated me a little bit more on “gluten-free” diets.

    Funny… I was thinking that our “going out” night should be fish tacos, since you’ll be in So Cal! We have a bunch of local places we can go. Are some corn torillas not gluten-free?

    The other night I was thinking salmon & rice pilaf; or chicken/steak/shrimp kabobs and grilled veggies. Can you eat rice?

    I need some dessert ideas since my typical party favorites are an ice cream bar (probably will still do this for the kids), fruit pie a la mode, or a fresh fruit cobbler. I guess for the cobbler I can substitute gluten-free flour for the crumble, along with the sugar & almonds. Let me know how I’m doing… !!!

  4. Elle says: Reply

    Suzanne, My fill ups are carrot sticks and snap peas at the moment. Or a bowl of berries from the garden.

    Tricia, It all sounds lovely. Throw basically anything on the grill and I’ll eat it. There is fantastic dairy-free ice cream out there. The coconut ice creams are the best by far. Bob’s Red Mill makes a great gluten free flour blend that you can basically sub 1 for 1 with regular flour. It comes in small quantities so you don’t have gobs leftover.

    Corn tortillas are supposed to be corn flour and water, but sometimes wheat flour is added. Traditionally they are gluten free though.

    Yes, I eat rice. Lots and lots of rice.

  5. mom says: Reply

    Ya gotta do, what ya gotta do, for your health. (and your beliefs) I find the most frustrating and insulting thing about abstaining from certain types of food, other people. Sounds like your friends are more then accepting of who and what you are! Lucky girl!

  6. Joel says: Reply

    I have found it amazing how simple it is to prep a gluten-free menu. It does take a concerted effort, but it’s not a pain. Having several celiacs in the friends group makes it normal. And I think we all eat better because of it too.

  7. alicia says: Reply

    An excellent post. Off to make some gluten-free chicken strips (hint for hostesses: rice flour, and rice chex is a great panko substitute if you are wanting crunch) for my crew. Yummmy.

  8. My MIL was diagnosed with Celiacs several years ago. I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking for her when she visits – at our family vacation at the beach this year she requested that I do the majority of the cooking. My main stress is that she always insists we go out to dinner at least once. Some restaurants are good about it but others aren’t and I find it nerve wracking that they will mess up her food and make her sick. I would rather just cook for her.

  9. Oh but the dairy part would throw me.

  10. Jenny says: Reply

    I have pretty much given up dairy except for lactose free cheeses/hard cheese and it has almost gotten rid of my reflux issues. Enjoy your meal. When I did gluten free last year I didn’t find it to hard, I just ended up eating loads of fritos!

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