When I was first diagnosed with celiac, and I realized I would never eat gluten again, I shouted out a big hooray. Finally, an end to the pain, the fatigue, the brain fog, and the always wondering what was wrong with me. Give up beer and bread and baked goods? No problem. Who needs those when I would finally be well? (And now I have all of those, gluten-free, except the beer. And that’s only because I’m pregnant.) I could feel it in my bones. This was my path.
Truth be told, there was only one food for which I longed. One food that eluded me, haunted my dreams, twisted me into melancholy many mornings, because I would never eat it again.
I know. I’m weird.
You see, I had gone on health kicks all my life, since I never felt well, and never knew why. Lose weight. Exercise rabidly. Eat more whole grains. Cut out cheese. Become a vegetarian. Watch all the fats. Walk every day. Worry incessantly if I was eating the right thing. Most of those commands to myself turned out to be driven by fear. They fell by the wayside, eventually. But my oatmeal habit stuck. For the two years before I was diagnosed, I ate oatmeal for breakfast every morning. (With the exception of the horrid spring of 2005 when I was down to eating baby food from jars before I finally figured out that the life-long feeling of lousiness was driven by gluten.) Topped with fresh blueberries, drizzled in maple syrup, sugared with dried mangoes, or made sweeter with strawberries in season — every bowl tasted like a new moment. Every morning, I eagerly anticipated the slow cooking to finish, the texture of the thick-cut oats done perfectly (no longer chewy, but not quite mush), and the steam that rose off the first bite on my spoon. Every day, I felt a tiny disappointment that the bowl of the day was done.
I know. I’m weird. (I can’t seem to persuade the Chef to like oatmeal. He’s mystified as to why I like it.)
Three years ago, when I first started living deliciously, there were no gluten-free oats, at least that I knew of then. Sad and learning acceptance, I posted this piece (oh so long ago) about hot-cereal alternatives for those of us who live gluten-free.
Now, I still love red quinoa with eggs, or brown rice cereal, and certain other kinds of hot cereal. However, everything changes in life, and sometimes it changes for the better. Gluten-free oats are available ubiquitously now.
I’ve written about this before, in this piece I did in December, with a recipe for oatmeal cookies. If you are new to gluten-free, and wondering why you can’t eat most oats, take a look there, and be sure to read the comments. I’m constantly astonished at how helpful we can be for each other in this community.
The gluten-free awareness is now so much more enormous than even three years ago that we have a plethora of oats choices for us. Here are just some of them:
I’m sure there are more. If you know of any other reliable growers, please let us all know in the comments.
But here’s the best part. Once we secure gluten-free oats, through the retailer that makes the most sense to us, we gluten-intolerant folks can just treat those oats like food again.
(Ahem. With this proviso. If you haven’t eaten oats in a long time, be sure to introduce them back to your body slowly. All that fiber can wreak havoc on your system, at first.)
Also, perhaps the rest of you can offer up a moment of gratitude for how blithely you can eat oats!
And since this is Monday, when I offer up ingredients and ask for your ideas, here’s my question for the day.
How do you like to work with oats, in any form?
p.s. For those of you in the Seattle area this weekend:
The Chef and I are teaching a gluten-free cooking class at the Sur la Table in Kirkland on Sunday, at 2 pm. We’re honored to be there, and we’re happy to be teaching together again. Since so many of you have been writing to me, asking where we’ll teaching, we thought we’d let you know here.
This will also be one of the last classes we’ll teach before Little Bean arrives. (LB arrives in seven weeks!) And then it will be many months again before we’ll venture out into demo kitchens.
We will be making shaved fennel salad, chicken thighs with pomegranate molasses, artichoke risotto, and fig cookies. The eating alone should be worth it.
So, if you’d like to see me hugely pregnant, or watch the two of us dance in the kitchen, bantering, please join us on Sunday. You can register by clicking here.