healthy gluten-free

I still remember the happiness of eating this dish under the cherry tree in our backyard — friends around us, sun filtering through the leaves — even though we ate this dish two years ago. Quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes from our garden, ripe figs, blueberries, pecans, and a champagne vinaigrette. Danny threw it together based on the food that was on the kitchen counter the afternoon of that picnic. Everyone there made satisfied noises after eating it.

Before Danny met me, he had never heard of quinoa. Before I went gluten-free, I had never heard of it either. Now, we always have a big container of it in the kitchen. A few months ago, on Twitter, a friend teased me that Danny, Lu, and I were going to turn into quinoa and kale, since we were eating so much of it for breakfast that week. True. Then we switched to millet. I throw teff flour into the muffins and quick breads I make. We’ve both lost our taste for white rice, which is stripped of almost all nutrition. We eat more vegetables than I ever dreamed possible before I stopped eating gluten. When we get the email update from our favorite farmstands, we are goofy dorks, shouting about the first rhubarb of the season or asparagus finally coming in.

We eat well around here. We eat good food. We eat happily.

I am much, much healthier than when I ate gluten. And it’s not just because I don’t have gluten in my system anymore.

When you find out you have to go gluten-free, you have two options: think this is the worst thing that has ever happened to you or have a party. (I wrote about that choice here.)

Throw a party.

Having your health? No longer suffering from rashes or intestinal upsets or fibromyalgia or debilitating depression or infertility or brain fog? What piece of bread could be worth that? (If you have the time, or any wonderings about whether or not gluten might affect you this way, please read the comments on this post. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing, everyone.)

You have an answer.

However, here’s something else to consider. When you go gluten-free, you could focus on finding replacement foods for all your favorite dishes, but with gluten-free flours instead. Or, you could embrace all the food that’s out there, finding ingredients you never knew existed, and learn to bake for yourself with whole grains.

Guess which way we have chosen in this house.

(By the way, that’s grilled salmon with pickled rhubarb sauce, roasted asparagus, and deviled eggs up there. That’s all gluten-free food.)

I’m thrilled that there are so many gluten-free options out there as compared to the options six years ago. Forget that — think about 20 years ago. A barren desert. So it’s wonderful joy that so many companies understand the desire for (and money-making possibilities in) gluten-free foods.

However, I have to say, I’m also pretty sad that there are so many gluten-free packaged foods now. Why?

Because packaged food, with a few stellar exceptions, isn’t that good. Food made in your kitchen is always going to taste better. And if you use the right ingredients, it’s going to be better for you, too.

Sometimes I hear from readers of this site who ask me: “Living gluten-free is so much more expensive than gluten. What do I do?”

The first thing I say? Stop buying so many packaged foods.

And focus first on the foods that are naturally gluten-free. Up there? Smoked salmon, figs with goat cheese and truffle honey, and broiled plums with lavender butter. And gluten-free blackberry breakfast bars.

It’s all gluten-free. This was also taken last summer, so everything was in season. Figs in season aren’t that expensive. Neither are plums. The lavender butter? It’s butter whipped with lavender buds, which grow all over here in the summer. It sounds all fancy. It’s really not.

And that entire brunch menu was less expensive than a loaf of gluten-free bread in the freezer section, a pancake mix, and a box of gluten-free doughnuts.

Just saying.

Before I went gluten-free, I didn’t eat that well. I enjoyed my food. Oh yes. But eating was a pleasure or guilt. I didn’t think of eating as a way of healing my body, as a means to nourish myself. I tried every diet in the culture, cut out meat, cut out dairy, stopped drinking, and ate a lot of whole wheat in an attempt to make myself feel well. Food was either pure hedonistic pleasure or wholesome obligation.

I also didn’t eat that many vegetables. When I was a vegetarian, I thought the point was to avoid meat, not to celebrate vegetables. (Or fresh fruit. Whole grains. And good sources of protein.)

Sadly, I think a lot of people are doing that with gluten-free food too: avoid the gluten and everything is fine.

It’s not that simple.

It really is all about the vegetables. Most of the time around here, we design meals around the vegetables that are in season. If you start with that, then everything else falls into place.

Asparagus is gluten-free. So are tomatoes, arugula, lemons, mushrooms, and avocadoes.

You know all those super foods that dieticians and magazine articles cajole you into eating? Blueberries, sweet potatoes, salmon, kiwi, carrots, pecans, chard, artichokes, yogurt, peppers. With the exception of a few of them, those super foods are always gluten-free.

A few times, I’ve heard complaints from people about our cookbook: it’s not gluten-free enough. That’s okay. You can’t please everyone. However, Danny and I both believe that’s a narrow view. So many of the gluten-free cookbooks that are being published now are nothing but baked goods. We’ll show you how to replace your favorite foods so you won’t feel like your life is any different! We promise you — with our flour mix, no one can tell it’s gluten-free!

I understand that impetus. However, there seems to be an assumption that we just need to know how to make English muffins and cupcakes, and the rest just stays the same.

Going gluten-free is a gift in part because it gives us the chance to look at everything we eat. What foods have you never tried before? If they don’t have gluten in them, try some. The more kinds of foods we eat, the better. The new vegetables we try or smoked salmon or Indian meals or Thai dishes or any kind of food that’s out of our comfort zone? That’s more choices.

You don’t miss gluten so much if you eat from foods all around the world. Become an explorer of new foods. Push your boundaries.

Just eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast every morning, even if it is gluten-free cereal, isn’t that great for you.

Can we broaden our definition of gluten-free, please?

Of course, it’s all a journey.

When I started this website, and my newfound food life, I was excited about discovering amaranth leaves at the farmers’ market. I also wanted to make crisp with the apricots and cherries I found there too.

I didn’t bake for quite awhile. And then I started using mixes. And then I started mixing my own flours. And, at first, like everyone else does at first, I used rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum to do everything I could to mimic the effects of gluten.

You know what I say now? The hell with gluten. And the hell with all those starches. White stuff isn’t good for our bodies, whether it has gluten in it or not.

Everything we bake now is with our whole-grain flour mix. (What I love about that mix is that it’s not our gluten-free mix so much. Rather, it’s a list of percentages and flours you can use. You make it your own.) Not only does it make the baked goods healthier, but the high proteins of those flours hold the baked goods together well. You don’t need xanthan gum or guar gum. You don’t need preservatives. You don’t need gluten. And  you don’t need to buy it out of a package.

(Even when we splurge on something “unhealthy” once in awhile, like the homemade corn dogs we made last week, we use our whole-grain flour mix.)

Lately, we’ve been playing with using alternative sweeteners like sucanat or brown rice syrup or honey (that’s a huckleberry cake with honey up there). And eating fewer sweets. The longer I am off gluten, the less I am interested in sweets. My body doesn’t seem to crave those carbs anymore.

I’m still learning. And I hope I always will be.

In that process, we hope that by sharing our story, we can convince you to look at everything you eat, and not just the hole where gluten used to be.

 

Please share some of the foods you have come to love after going gluten-free. Or stories of how your diet improved after giving up gluten. Or what you have learned about food after letting go of gluten. We can all learn from each other here.

p.s. Danny, Lu, and I are leaving tonight for Washington DC. I’m honored to be speaking at the Eat Write Retreat. We’ll be back on Tuesday with more posts about living gluten-free, including how to eat safely in a restaurant, how to convert beloved recipes, some of the myths of gluten-free, and some of our favorite gluten-free products. We’ll see you next week.

 

95 comments on “healthy gluten-free

  1. Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing

    Thank you so much for this reflection. I wholeheartedly agree; whole, real foods are better for us — period. I can’t believe how much better I feel now that I’m not eating “processed” gluten-free foods. It’s such a joy to explore cooking and baking gluten-free — it is a true liberation after being sick for so long, not a restriction, as most imagine. And I have never eaten so healthy in all my life. Cheers to gluten-free, real food!

  2. Cinderella's Pear

    Shauna,

    Thank you so much for this. I find that I don’t even have the time I want to learn all of the different cuisines that I want to. There is so much good food out there. Thanks for highlighting this.

  3. Carla

    My grandaughter was found to be gluten-egg-dairy intolerant two years ago. She is 11 years old now. She says that she was so lucky to have to go gluten-free because she now has the best food in the whole world. Her mom and dad – and this grandma and grandpa – were also diagnosed the same. So the entire family is on the diet rules.

    I for one am healthier than I have been in years. No fibromyalgia, no migraines, no more intestinal disruptions. Like my grandaughter, I am a fortunate woman! And like you, we all eat real food from the amazing variety the world has to offer.

    1. J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)

      This is such a good reminder that even if you are not Celiac, you may be gluten intolerant without digestive symptoms. I believe that gluten intolerance can manifest as many symptoms that most people–and doctors–would never link to gluten. Gluten is inflammatory and I have heard so many testimonials of people without digestive problems feeling infinitely better in other ways after removing gluten from their diet. My husband has ADD and hopes that going gluten-free will relieve his symptoms. I’m hoping so, too. 🙂

  4. Kathryn

    Such wonderful advice. Thankfully we were well on our way to healthy eating when I found I had to remove gluten from our diet. It made trying a lot of the tasteless (so I hear) processed gf products mute. It’s been over six years now and we’re all so much healthier eating naturally gluten free. Your site is such an inspiration.

  5. Johnna

    I purchased your first book the day I was diagnosed. That book and a doctor with an amazing can-do attitude helped me to not panic, to know living gluten-free was not just going to be okay, it was going to be GRAND!

    And so it is. The last two years have been the most amazing food journey for me. I eat more whole foods than ever in my life. While I was already vegetarian back in the gluten-full days, carbotarian was probably a better term. I wasn’t eating the most healthy mix of vegetables. Now I eat every vegetable at the market, crave the huge bags of greens from the CSA and have found a new way of eating that would have been a much healthier choice for me all along, gluten-free or not. Thank you for being part of my healthy solution to loving food that loves me back!

    Excited to meet you at Eat, Write, Retreat!

  6. G.

    I love quinoa. I use it for everything. I especially love it for breakfast with coconut milk, mashed banana, a dollop of nut butter, and a drizzle of honey. I eat veggies all of the time. I honestly, don’t really miss bread all that much. I really thought I would. It was torture at first but, now I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This may sound cliche’ but, I really feel like I have my life back. Thanks for all you do for the gluten-free community. 🙂

  7. Laura

    This was a beautifully written post. I went off gluten over 6 months ago, per the recommendation of my nutritionist. I live in San Francisco and find it a very accommodating place to live gluten free with the abundance of farmers markets and progressive farm to table restaurants. I’ve noticed, personally, far less bloating and better recovery from workouts.

    I find myself building my weekly meals around vegetables in season too, and protein. I kind of enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to use new gluten free ingredients.

    Cheers!

  8. Liz

    I live in New York, so I am surrounded by green grocers who sell a HUGE variety of fresh vegetables for a fraction of what you’d pay in a regular market. My boyfriend and I will try literally anything we can get our hands on. Turnip fries? Why not? Radish greens? Don’t mind if I do! Garlic scapes? Sounds divine! We’ll try anything. So far, we’ve loved it all. Can’t wait for all the summer fruit to be in season!

    1. Liz

      I should mention that we’re also growing tomatoes off of our fire escape in a very attractive homemade topsy-turvy planter. We’ve also covered the tops of the planters with basil seeds. I’m really looking forward to July and August.

  9. Becky D

    When we found out our 5 yr. old had a gluten and corn intolerance, and also needed to avoid refined sugar, our very wise Naturopath (who knew his penchant for big words) sat down with him, and looked him in the eye, and told him that he was going to have the greatest opportunity to become a very Cosmopolitan Eater. His eyes got big with the excitement of the words! I then told him that this new way of eating was going to be our Family Adventure – and what an adventure it has been! By taking this adventure, we discovered that my little guy’s gluten intolerance? Um, yeah, he got that from me. Who would’ve guessed that my migraines, joint and muscle aches, brain fog, and constant bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia were caused by gluten?

    As a family, we’ve discovered a love for Thai and Indian Foods (never would have tried it before) and all sorts of veggies and fruits that we’d never eaten before. Balsamic roasted brussel sprouts! Kale chips! Steamed artichokes with garlic butter! Spaghetti Squash! We HAVE become cosmopolitan eaters, and it HAS been an adventure. Saying goodbye to Gluten has been the best thing that ever happened to us!

    1. Erika

      what an amazing attitude!!!!! I agree with everything you said and this is how I try to teach in my nutrition classes. Its an adventure- you don’t need all that gluten!!!!!-Erika

    2. Dr. Sarah Cimperman

      What a great way to explain it to a child! As a naturopathic doctor myself, I know that restrictive diets can be a hard sell to kids. It helps when the whole family is eating that way, but it helps even more when children are excited about it.

    3. Sylvia Darling

      Becky, THANK YOU!
      Today I discovered that all the symptoms I have had since childhood are caused by gluten and as that settled in my spirit I was shaken to my core like never before. I have a friend who was diagnosed many years ago and I know it has been a struggle for her does not help that she is type 1 diabetic. I have never responded to such news with such emotion in my life, not the Fibro not the PCOS, nothing. I felt numb. Thank you for putting it in positive terms, since my fiance is from South Africa and we plan to travel, I will take your Cosmopolitan view as my own and embrace it! Again Thank You.

  10. Courtney

    “You know all those super foods that dieticians and magazine articles cajole you into eating? Blueberries, sweet potatoes, salmon, kiwi, carrots, pecans, chard, artichokes, yogurt, peppers. With the exception of a few of them, those super foods are always gluten-free.”

    So which ones in this list aren’t gluten-free?

    Great post as always!

    1. shauna

      Those are all gluten-free. Sometimes I’ll see things like wheat berries or barley on superfoods list. No thanks!

  11. Lisa Rogers

    Thank you for this post Shauna. You are helping to expand our views! So worth it! I too am finding I am eating more nutrient dense foods, cannot wait for the farmer’s market to get into full swing and all the fabulous new glorious foods to try to create with. I have so many I love it is hard to pick any single. I do notice though that I tend to want more fish and chicken than I ever used to, and I love quinoa and am still learning new neat things to do with it.
    And as I make friends across the globe who are celiac or gluten sensitive it is wonderful to share traditional recipes with them and perhaps show them how even some small adjustments can be made to make them without gluten and perhaps taste even better. I am fully loving this new world. Although I have to laugh, the husband is still adapting and not always sure about my new “experiments” as he puts them. He’s a comfort food zone kinda guy, but has his issues with gluten and wheat. 🙂

    Thank you again for your caring and enthusiasm to share with us.

  12. Wayfaring Wanderer

    I’m surprised that I lasted until the end of this post, but I’m glad that I felt compelled to keep reading.

    My household is getting ready to undergo some major dietary changes, not necessarily a gluten-free diet, but one that doesn’t have any sugar or dairy products.

    This is an inspiring message you are spreading that makes me want to start sooner than we are planning to! Thanks for the encouragement 😀

    WW

  13. Michelle

    This is inspirational for everyone, we can eat better, feel better and be better humans by taking control of what we eat. Thank you so much for your positive and encouraging words!

  14. annelise

    Ooh I live in DC! Have a great time! And let me know if you are coming to Capitol Hill…I can give good restaurant recommendations 🙂

  15. Julie Lenger

    Fifteen years ago when I was diagnosed it was all about what I could “not” eat. It was about no’s and can’t(s).
    Well – becoming a chef and a woman who wants to feed myself well and those that I love well has taught me how to live and thrive within restrictions. We not longer say can’t around here – because there are just SO MANY MORE CAN’S!
    And yes – for heavens sake – just because it’s gf does not mean you should put it in your body. Eat a whole food for heavens sake.

  16. Susan

    I absolutely agree, Shauna! And you put it oh so elegantly. Going gluten free made me try so many foods that I would not have tried otherwise. Vietnamese food is now my favorite food in the world. Who knew flax seeds weren’t just good for you, they actually taste pretty good! And quinoa is such an awesome alternative to rice, and brown rice comes in so many varieties now. I can’t wait to try your sweet potatoes and cilantro recipe from the other day, as I’ve come to crave them – baked for thier own sweetness and not all covered in brown sugar and butter.

    When we travel, my boyfriend and I enjoy finding resturants that have food choices for me. The places we find are usually off the beaten path and bring us so much more joy than the typical burger joint (though I’ve learn to eat at those places, too.) It adds to the adventure of it all, and pushes our boundaries every where we go!

    I’ve been GF for 20 plus years now (gluten sensitivity), but your posts this week have been very inspiring even after all this time. I’ve enjoyed reading other peoples reactions and experiences to this lifestyle – for so many years I felt very alone. It really feels like a party now!

    Good health to all, and thanks to Shauna, your blogs are always so down to earth and uplifting at the same time!

  17. Megan

    One thing that my doc mentioned….when he told me to go gluten free bc of my issues he also warned me to “take precautions” as several of his patients got pregnant unexpectedly after going gluten free (after being told that they would never be able to have kids)!!! So many people have no symptons or at at least no GI symptons but would be shocked at the other problems gluten could be causing them. If everyone tried going GFree for 30 days, I think they would be amazed. I honestly believe everyone would do much better to not consume Gluten…it’s cheap and easy to grab, but it generally takes the place of much healthier foods in people’s diets.

    1. Sarah

      Both times my sister-in-law has gone grain-, dairy-, and sugar-free for a month or so she has gotten pregnant immediately! And she has PCOS and was told it would be Very difficult for her to ever get pregnant.

      1. Megan

        That’s what I hear happens! PCOS is very challenging and most people with PCOS do much better on a paleo/low carb/gf diet or so I hear…sounds like it worked that way for your sister!

  18. Celia

    I agree 100%. When I first went gluten-free I made a whole bunch of muffins because I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t “missing out.” Now I bake either with almond flour (most of the time) or your whole grain mix. I use teff now. And amaranth (which I love!), and buckwheat.

    We’ve started trying to stay away from sugar and use alternatives when we do eat treats. Namely dates processed into a paste. 🙂 I’m actually losing my sweet tooth now.

    I don’t like the processed GF products most of the time because the a) taste like crap, and b) have loads of sugar and refined starches. I didn’t eat like that when I ate wheat, why start now? (Besides, I have a feeling that’d have made me feel worse again.)

    Thank you for these last few posts!! They’ve been so helpful.

  19. Kiri

    I love cupcakes, and I eat them about once a week. I also love waffles. I have a rose-flavoured biscuit recipe that was my signature sweet, and I still make that GF.

    Other than that, the things that I used to eat that had gluten in them are things that I only rarely want. Sometimes I want a grilled cheese sandwich or some quinoa pasta. (I really kind of hate rice pasta except when other people cook it. I get bored and it turns to mush.)

    I do buy Udi’s bread because I don’t want bread often enough to make it–a loaf of fresh bread would go bad before I ever ate it all. Mostly I make the occasional grilled cheese sandwich, and often I just have the cheese on a corn tortilla instead.

    Mostly I eat veggies, fruit, meat, fish and nuts. I eat a lot of salads. I eat cheese and butter when I feel like it, which isn’t as often as it used to be.

    I plan to do more with grains. Eventually. But I so rarely miss them. I have rice once in a while with Asian food, I use corn tortillas to wrap things, and I sometimes have quinoa pasta. But I’m way more interested in apples, pears, asparagus, tomatoes, raspberries…

  20. Kirsty

    For me it’s something simple…

    Before becoming GF I hadn’t ever had a Macaron but now they are often the only thing I can have in the cafe’s around Adelaide and they are such a special little treat. That’s what I’ve found and I love them.

    The other thing – a pancake mix that I make with millet flour. It just tastes so… organic and real. Like they’ve been made down on the farm.

    Love.

  21. Terry

    Great post, Shauna! I often tell my husband: We eat such delicious food! None of it has gluten in it. We love shopping the Farmer’s Market and GF packaged food has never really appealed to me. Our journey has led us to try interesting colorful vegetables we would’ve passed over before cutting out the gluten. I thought everybody felt bloated after eating pizza or pasta. I thought everybody’s face felt numb after drinking a bottle of beer. I had no idea that gluten caused the fatigue, headaches and rashes. I don’t miss it one bit but am still somewhat embarrassed to try to explain it to people. I’ve had people tell me that it’s in vogue now and trendy and ask if I’m really sure?
    However, coming here helps so much because you are so inspiring and encouraging. I look forward to the future posts you mention.

    1. Bethington

      Ugh, I hate it when people assume I’m just being trendy, or on a weight loss diet. No, I never went for an expensive, intrusive biopsy. I no longer spend several days a month on the couch because of migraines, either. That should be good enough. My friends get pouty because I’m pickier. They should be glad I’m no longer canceling plans because of pain or throwing up in their cars because of migraines (Yes, it did happen. Yes, it was the perfect storm of monthly hormones and a the gluten bomb that is biscuits and gravy).

      1. Terry

        Not willing to eat gluten again to find out if I shouldn’t be eating gluten. So–no blood test or any other test, just evidence that truly points to the path that I need to follow. Isn’t it great to have the headaches gone? And the rashes? And the fatigue? And all the rest of it?

  22. Sara

    Shauna, I so appreciate your posts over the last few days on a gluten-free lifestyle. I cut most gluten and dairy out of my diet some time ago after reading a book entitled “Eat Right for Your Blood Type.” I believe now that I am gluten sensitive….going off it resolved some serious joint pain and weight issues I had been having. The danger for me is that I don’t have a major reaction to a bit of gluten…I can be about 85 to 90 percent gluten free and feel really well…..but because of that it has been easy to let it slip back in here and there. Over the past few months due to stress I have gotten a bit off track. On Monday I started a cleanse to help me have a period of ridding my body of toxins….and to get me back on track. Your posts have really encouraged me about how worth it is to eat this way….even if it does take more work and planning and money….and even if others often do not understand! Thank you for all the effort you put into your writing….you truly are an encourager and inspirer!!

    btw….I have type O blood….another type O friend of mine has also experience radically better health after cutting gluten and dairy!!

  23. Anna

    I can’t think of anything better than celebrating the good foods that grow around us. I love the joy that comes from eating well, putting some time into making things from scratch and trying new things. From the farm, to the cooking to the sharing at the table it is a true celebration of life!

  24. Megan

    Going gluten free has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. Before eliminating gluten from my diet I would have considered myself a picky eater. I ate what I ate and that was that. After going gluten free my eyes were opened to a whole world of foods and tastes that I would never had tried if I wasn’t forced to try new foods. I ate Indian food for the first time, licked up Thai food, devoured Ethiopian food, tried sashimi, incorporated more vegetables in my daily meals, and the list has not ended there. Perhaps the best thing about the whole process though is how much of a better cook I have become from it. I pay more attention to the subtle flavors and nuances of food. The pleasure I get from spending a day in my kitchen is greater than I would have ever expected and it has all come from one simple change in my life. I consumed considerably less processed food, if any for that matter these day, know where my food is coming from, and I know exactly what is in most dishes I eat. Sure, I still have days where I miss the robust flavor of a good stout but I know my life is so much richer (and tastier) without it.

  25. Susan

    Shauna, you give me hope. I am not celiac, but I should NOT eat wheat. I try and try, and then I fall off the wagon and go back to my old ways. Your posts give me hope and inspire me that yes I can do this. You truly help me to feel that I am not alone. Quite honestly after every post I read I just want to cry with hope. And this post says it all, it is about so much more than just gluten. Keep it up girl!

  26. Becky

    I definitely started eating more fruits and veggies when I started eating gluten free, and for most processed items I buy, try to find the least processed I can. (Yogurt shouldn’t have 10 ingredients, for example.) BUT. Some days I forget to bring my lunch to work, or I’m just too wiped out to cook at the end of the day. So I keep a gluten free burrito in the freezer at work, and a box of gluten free mac and cheese in the pantry. I know these are not exactly good eats, but they’re better than the most likely alternative, which would be eating out or having a Snickers and Diet Coke from the vending machine at lunch. So friends, don’t be too hard on yourselves if you sometimes need to rely on GF convenience foods to get through the day!

    1. i-geek

      Yep. My convenience pantry standbys are cans of Progresso lentil, black bean and split pea soups. Progresso is great about clearly labeling Gluten Free under the ingredients list, but check the labels carefully as the company makes two types of split pea soup. One has the words Gluten Free under the ingredients list, the other has malted barley flour in the ingredients. Nearly learned that one the hard way.

  27. Caryn

    When we first learned that we needed to get rid of gluten, our go-to staple was quinoa. Loved its versatility! (Your first photo in this post had me salivating – the figs and pecans in the quinoa salad – oh my gosh.) Unfortunately, we just found out a couple months ago that we are also allergic to quinoa (say it isn’t so!). Because so many grains are troublesome for my husband, we really have learned to “celebrate vegetables”, as you’ve mentioned! We can’t get enough of all the various yams (japanese are my particular favorite), beets, and brussels sprouts (who knew?! I absolutely hated them when I was a kid…I’m glad my tastebuds grew up).

  28. jen @ the baked life

    Hi Shauna,

    I’ve been reading your posts over the past few days and I see so much of what you went through 6 years ago going on with me right now. I’ve spend the past 3 years trying to get answers from various doctors and to not avail. My last visit to a gastrointerologist, after a year and a half of waiting to see him god bless the Canadian health system. I was sent for a gastroscopy to test for Celiac, I thought FINALLY I’m going to hear something. But 3 weeks after the test I was told there are no signs of Celiac. I’m so frustrated, I’m sick of being told that I need to eat more fiber and exercise more. All I eat is fiber and I exercise everyday. I’m sick of feeling bloated, feeling hungry yet un-able to eat, feeling tired, skin is a horrible mess, I just want a freaking answer. At what point did you realize that you needed to remove gluten from your diet?

    Sorry about the rant and subsequent vent, I’m just very sick of being sick and doctors making me feel like it’s all in my head.

    1. Beth R.

      Jen..
      You don’t need a doctor’s diagnosis to remove gluten from your diet. Try it. IF it works, and you feel better.. don’t go back. You could have a sensitivity to gluten that wouldn’t show up on that test anyhow. Good luck!

    2. Merideth

      I went through that too. My kids were both diagnosed as gluten intolerant and I was sick as a dog and had been for years, so I thought “At last! That must be what it is!” But no. I am only mildly gluten intolerant, not enough to cause the severe symptoms I was having (though my kids are gluten free and I do feel much better eating that way too- could it be all those amazing vegetables and whole grains are part of that equation?) For me, it turned out that I had picked up a parasite at some point in my travels, was chock full of lead and mercury, and had a condition called SIBO. By the grace of God, we had just moved to Atlanta, where a well known GI lives, and she is who figured all this out. After two rounds of a nasty anti-parasitic and then 6 month of medicine getting rid of the heavy metals, I am finally not sick. Not sick! Keep on pressing, researching on your own, and trying new docs if you must. I hate that “it’s all in your head” thing. Ugh. It isn’t. They just say that when they can’t figure something out because their ego won’t let them admit that they are stumped.

  29. Caneel

    Thank you for this great post and reminder, Shauna! (And you all have a blast at Eat, Write, Retreat!!)

    You hit something for me. We eat so much better since we’ve been gluten-free, and a lot of it is new food we didn’t normally eat or had never tried – but I need to do better. I need to do MUCH better at using seasonal ingredients. It’s kind of hard to get fresh and local in our regular stores b/c of where we live, but we do have a growing farmer’s market and we’ve got a good garden in our backyard this year. In a few weeks, we’ll be harvesting more and I can’t wait. The last few summers I focused on tomatoes (I LOVE tomatoes) and squash and cucumbers with a few herbs. We’ve expanded, big time, and are growing all sorts of yummy things. Thank you for the reminder that I need to focus planning the meal AROUND the vegetables and fruits, and not the other way around. We don’t eat meat every night by any means, but I’m sure we’d eat it even less if I’d focus on more vegetables and preparing things around those as the stars.

    I was such a baker before going GF that I have tried very hard to recreate many of our previously loved treats in a GF form, but I’ve enjoyed expanding our horizon with all the great grains available. And I haven’t made a really good quinoa salad with fresh vegetables in a few months at least – it’s on the menu now. 🙂

  30. Michelle

    After ten years of being misdiagnosed with Celiac DH has been g-free for 1 1/2 years. We ate out for almost every meal. We ate at home more once the kids were born but not healthy by any means. Now, we eat at home for all meals. I have very little packaged food and we eat a ton of veggies compared to what we did eat. We are not at the point that I want to be at YET! but for my hubby to eat asparagus and squash and love it is HUGH for me. I will slowly wean us off white rice to a much more healthy choice but for now we are taking baby steps. Being G-free has helped in soooo many ways. Most days hubby has the energy back that he had 15 years ago, but he has to maintain his food intake differently then before. But I am so proud of him… Being a Celiac has saved his life too. He is no longer in the same heart catagory as his Dad and never will be again.. That makes me sleep better at night too. We only worry about travel which we have not done much lately. We are so scared of crosscontamination. How do you guys do it??? 🙂 thank you for your wonderful blog…

  31. Lydia

    Awesome Post!! Thank you Shauna. The eating of all the processed foods was what my physicians and pediatricians were worried about. They were hesitant for our family to try going gluten free because they envisioned us switching from whole wheat to tapioca & potato starch. I had to let them know the only packaged and processed items in our house are condiments, worcestershire, tabasco and A-1. I now make my own mayo and ketchup, however the latter isn’t child approved . . . yet. An excellent source for learning what foods are healthy and the best way to prepare them is “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon. I think you’ll love this book.

    Thanks again for all your work!!
    Lydia

  32. Laura

    Excellent post! Although I do enjoy baking, I get frustrated by the over-proliferation of gluten-free baked goods holding court over the gluten-free world… most of these still use some kind of sugar, which I am more and more sensitive to the more I get off it, so they don’t really appeal to me anyway.

    It’s been 4 years since I’ve been gluten-free, and I’ve gone through so many stages on this journey already, venturing through raw foods and macrobiotics before finally coming into some kind balance of healthy, intuitive eating.

    It’s hard to remember that there was time before I ate all of these foods that I love so much now: hazelnut milk, almond butter, sorrel, handmade tortillas and freshly made guacamole, teff pancakes (no sweetener needed), rice cooked with turmeric, daikon, turnips steamed with their greens, the amazing variety of different dates, dairy-free pesto and cashew cheese pizza, flaxseed meal, lacinato kale, tatsoi and all of the other greens that I don’t even know the names for, wakame, arame, freshly cooked beans (and all of the variety of those, too)….

  33. Meghan

    It was very difficult transitioning to a GF diet. However, the more I realize how much pain gluten causes me, the less I want to fool around with it. Crab rangoon? Not worth it.

    Before going GF I liked most veggies, but didn’t really know how to cook them. I knew I could grill asparagus and roast winter veg, and that’s about it. I have fallen in love with kale, and now I ask the farmers at the farmer’s market about the veggies they are selling and how they like to cook them, instead of just walking by to something more comfortable.

    When I stick to fruits, veg, and meat, I feel clean inside. Although, there are those days when I must have a grilled cheese with GF sourdough. 🙂

  34. April

    My story’s a little different from your other readers. See, my dad was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance when he was about 28, and I was very little. Now, when he’d go on business trips mom would make us chili-mac or even let us have fish sticks. But by and large we ate gluten free family meals every day.

    Gluten free in Texas in the 80s meant steak and potatoes, enchiladas, tacos and corn tortillas, carne guisada, carnitas, boiled shrimp, pot roast, okra, zucchini and chicken fried in cornmeal, and cornstarch gravy on mashed potatoes. For dad’s birthday we ate lemon meringue pie with a cornflake (instead of graham cracker) crust.

    When my son had to give up gluten at age 5, I figured my number was up. Sure enough, the year I turned 30, I got sick. Fatigue, bloating, brain fog, anemia, muscle weakness, weight gain… And then there was the bad vertigo I’d get every time I had a beer.

    These days, I’ve added Thai, Indian, and Japanese food to my extensive Tex-Mex repitoire. When I can fudge on the roux, I love Cajun and Creole. But there are a few concessions I make to the kiddo. We’re lucky enough to have a gluten-free bakery in our town. And so he get’s a real birthday cake instead of dad’s pie. He also gets PB&J sandwiches in his lunchbox, and a cookie once a week after speech therapy. Since he’ll eat every veggie in our CSA box except for zucchini, I figure we’ve got a pretty good thing goin.

  35. Molly Stoltz

    I want to run around screaming “YES!” to everything you said here. I was just in a bookstore the other day and was frustrated by all of the cookbooks out there tooting their horns as “gluten-free” cookbooks. They were all about baking cookies and cakes. Excuse me, my diet does not revolve around cookies and cakes!

    I feel so much better now that I have begun to explore whole grains and organic produce. Frankly, I don’t have the money to spend on those gluten-free packaged foods at the grocery store. I’d rather invest my food money into my CSA, and into my own health- yoga classes, acupuncture, new parts for my bicycle.

    Thank you for this post. I’m sharing it with everyone I know who thinks they need to pity me because I’m gluten-free. No need for pity, I’m perfectly happy!

  36. Adina

    Wonderful post!

    Just the other day I found myself if a wonderful natural market with a huge selection of packaged gluten free foods and for the first time, I didn’t want to buy up the whole store. I’m getting close to my 2 year mark of going gluten free and while at first cooking at home gluten free was a bit scary, so I clung to packaged mixes, I’m now comfortable experimenting and creating goodies from scratc at home. And oh, how much more tasty they are!

  37. Melissa Prado Little

    Hello Shauna,

    I’m new to your website but I’m really enjoying it. I’m working from an Ayurvedic perspective and my body type doesn’t do well with gluten in general. I’m excited to read more about your journey. I think the hardest part to incorporate a diet will be convincing my family. My kids are not on board at all. We are healthy eaters in general but taking wheat out will be hard fought. So, thanks for the education and general encouragement.

    xo,
    Melissa

  38. animasolaarts

    While I often hit the gluten-free blogs looking for baked goods, I just as often go in search of a soup or a casserole or maybe just looking for something to do with a bunch of leftover celery. Sometimes I just need some inspiration as to how I can rework a gluten-filled recipe I thought I could never have again. It’s not just about bread for me; it’s about finding the balance between living to eat and eating to live. The Celiac diagnosis for me was a reminder that my body is a temple. I eat mostly whole foods, I joined a CSA and I get regular exercise. I cannot argue with the convenience of processed foods, but I know that I have greater control over ingredients, taste, texture and cost savings when I make these items at home.

    P.S. I must confess I was one of those people very resistant to baking by weight. Desperate for scones last week, I tried out a recipe from the Gluten Free Rally and broke out my food scale. Much to my surprise, I had the best time.

  39. Maggi

    Roasted Vegetables (Broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, asparagus, peppers, whatever is in season) are my new favorite food. I love trying different spice combinations on the vegetables so I never get bored. Mys husband took a mental of how much vegetables I was roasting up and eating in a typical week and he estimates that I eat over 28 cups of roasted veggies. I wish I could say I ate that many my whole life…

    Dates. My goodness! Sweet little nuggets of delight. Oh! and Korean Kimchi. Oh yum. The ultimate fast-food in my house has become kimchi and rice. We always have brown rice frozen in my freezer and jars of kimchi in the fridge. One minute in the microwave and I have hot rice and cool Kimchi and dinner is served. From what I hear, fermented veggies are super good for our gut too!

  40. Ghetta

    Hi!!! I m Ghetta, i´m from Argentina and i´m celiac too!!
    sorry for my english! your blog it´s great, i love yours recipes

  41. Kate @ Fit for Real Life

    YES YES YES YES!!! Excellent article Shauna!! As a gluten free performance coach, I’m constantly teaching people about how you really can eat really tasty food that is gluten free. That’s its not a death sentence, that life is actually much more FULL without the gluten than with. You hone your craft of cooking, you bond over food w/ family, you really THINK about what goes into your body….it’s wonderful!

  42. herrad

    Hi Shauna,
    Thanks for your post, I often wonder whether a gluten free diet would be better for me with MS.
    Love,
    Herrad

  43. christy

    Like most people I went GF due to health issues. I was a horribly picky eater and would NEVER branch out. After going GF and dairy free I will try just about anything and I eat SOOOO much better. I have come to love veggies, herbs, fish etc. I love nuts and rice pasta and all kinds of things. Now I still love my GF muffins and cupcakes on occasion but thats OK too. 🙂

  44. i-geek

    Oh, we eat so much better now than we ever did pre-gluten free. I had to cut out the processed stuff so that my gut could heal, and we just kept going with the fresh meats, seasonal produce, whole GF grains, etc. I’ve gotten really sick on Thai curry in two different restaurants, two different continents, both dishes that were “safe” so instead, we make our own Thai curries. Yum! My paternal grandparents were from Mexico, so I’ve been cooking more of the standard fare from our culture as well, rather than going to restaurants to eat it. Thank heaven that beans, rice, and corn tortillas are all safe, not to mention avocados. I’d never tried quinoa or millet before. Delicious!

    I’ve also always been a baker, and was afraid at first that I’d be resigned to baking dry, crumbly things full of starches and weird, expensive gums. Now that Shauna has kindly shared with all of us the secrets of baking by weight with real flours and without the gums, my baking is actually better than it ever was before going gluten-free. Lemon cake with lemon buttercream and strawberries (Easter dessert)? Yes. Kahlua mudslide brownies and lemon bars for a friend’s wedding? Oh yes. (Those goodies disappeared before the gluten cupcakes from a bakery.) Gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chip cookies for my dairy-allergic, wheat-intolerant best friend who hadn’t had homemade cookies in years? Yes. (She called me the next day to tell me that she enjoyed them so much, she froze the rest to keep from eating them all at once.) My great-grandfather was a professional baker. I’m starting to entertain the idea that maybe I could follow in his footsteps. I never would have thought this before.

    Oh, we’re so much better off now. I can feel that I’m in the best health of my adult life. And strangely enough, after our kitchen went gluten-free (except for husband’s beer brewing supplies), my husband discovered that his life-long rashes/eczema and GI problems were caused by wheat. Not gluten in his case, as barley and rye beers give him no problems, but we’re guessing that he’s had a life-long wheat allergy. Go figure. So long, wheat. Good riddance.

  45. Karen

    Hi Shauna,
    I totally agree with everything you say about a healthier way to eat & I get that you are coming from a GF perspective but everything you say here applies to everyone – not just celiacs & gulten-sensitive individuals. Look around our supermarkets full of unhealthy, processed foods. Take a look at “normal” (and by that I mean non-gluten-intolerant) folks; sick, stressed & many suffer from obesity. Everyone should be eating this way regardless of their allergies & intolerances. I live abroad & we go to the market once a week to stock up on fresh fruits & veggies. What we eat is dictated by the season, by what’s fresh and available & we love it. I read your website because although I am not celiac but I try to stay away from too much gluten. I love your whole-grain bread & muffins. But simple, fresh, inexpensive, healthy food, your message today is inspirational to everyone!

  46. Victoria

    We Americans, sadly, just want food in 30 minutes or less. It seems to be the ideal for either delivery or the max time in the kitchen. Why roast your own chicken (for half the price) when you can buy one already roasted? Cooking is considered “hard”. A chore. Something that is not worth the time.

    It is sad… out in suburbia, I see people at the chain supermarkets with entire carts full of nothing but processed, packaged foods (even frozen veggies packaged with a sauce). Hundreds of dollars a week on that junk. Sadly, some people would rather just spend more on gluten free labels rather than go through the process of learning it is not hard to make stuff from scratch.

  47. Gretchen O'Byrne

    Right on! Yes…I have never felt better or know more veggies than I do now. I have become a lover of all things green and am experimenting with sea vegetables. As a native of the midwest, I didn’t know there was such a thing or that you actually “EAT” the green stuff growing in the ocean! Anyway…I think being forced to find other foods to fill me up during the day naturally moved to more veggies and my body and mind is oh so grateful. The weight is pouring off without work. I had no idea how messed up my system was! I appreciate your cookbooks because I’m not trying to replace everything with a gluten free option. I’m trying to change my relationship with food!

  48. Mollie

    After going gluten-free the main food group I fell in love with was legumes. I now adore lentils, pintos, chickpeas, black beans and all sizes of white beans. Beans have so much more fiber and protein than wheat products – I am so much better off with a serving of dal for lunch instead of a sandwich.

    I have to agree with your message in this post Shauna – it is of utmost importance to embrace health (and produce) in struggling to go gluten-free. But not everyone is ready to change everything about their old way of eating immediately just because a doctor told them to. Readiness is a very difficult thing to cultivate, and those products are on the shelves for people who need time in their transition. Those products are also there for us, when our energy wanes. Every time I have a store-bought gluten-free processed product I am reminded of 1) how lucky I am that I can rely on something convenient AND 2) how much better it would be if I made it myself. Both realities can exist at the same time.

    I guess I’m feeling like I need to carve out room in your message for those times when eating healthfully is not always a reality. Right now I am 8 weeks pregnant, and I am struggling to eat healthily when vegetables and beans and anything with herbs have all taken on a revolting character to my hormone-addled system. It is really hard, because I know how to eat healthfully; I am a total dork when it comes to nutrition and I truly enjoy cooking healthy meals. That is, I did. Now I can’t even face the tiny bits of food in the sink drain without serious nausea. I know I’ll get that all back and have the opportunity to teach my child how to eat well (you’ve set such an amazing example for me in this area!). But I think it’s important to remember that even the best of us will regress from time to time.

    I will keep reading your strong message and your encouragement to eat as best I can, and I am grateful that I know where to go for this encouragement. But maybe we need a post on what to do on those days and in those times when we truly don’t have the energy to be in the kitchen. Your (and your readers’) advice on that would be priceless.

    1. suzan

      I hear you. As the mother of a 10 year old on the autism spectrum who has now been GF for 4 years and a 2 year old in preschool who I keep pretty GF just in case – there are times I rely on pre-made foods. It took some time to find them. I still get excited when I find something GF that is premade with good ingredients that my kids really enjoy. I would love to do it all myself. I do prepare much of it myself. I have to find a balance, though, so as not to wear myself down. They both have great breakfasts – nothing packaged there – but then I have to send them out the door with 2 snacks and a lunch each. That is 6 GF meals/snacks walking out my door everyday. They both eat different things. The ten year old is super self conscious as it is. He knows he’s differerent. We help him embrace it, but sometimes he just wants to blend in. This is where premade cookies and GF chips or Pirate Booty come in. A Glutino fruit and cereal bar and a cheese stick – yay – one snack covered. Udi’s over the last year and 4 months – what a God send. A PB&J or a turkey and cheese sandwich was not even an option for the first 2 1/2 years of this journey. Sandwiches in his lunches came to a screeching halt. His eyes lit up the first time he saw a sandwich on bread that did not have to be toasted (after 2 1/2 years), and I breathed a huge sigh of relief that there were two days a week that I didn’t have to give his lunch quite so much thought. The two year old doesn’t eat sandwiches so a lot of prep goes into his daily food. I really could go on and on about what works and what doesn’t with kid food. My ten year old Aspie started out life eating all the glutenous things that most kids eat. He was the challenge. Switching a six year olds diet is HUGE – especially when they are on the spectrum and have come to expect things a certain way. The two year old knows no other way – and I’m thankful. Doing the switcheroo for the other has given me a lot of insight into the difficulty of doing it for kids, though. I do know this insight helps when I encourage other parents to give it a shot. Transition time is all about keeping it as close to what it was for awhile – then slipping in stuff that you make that is yummy and better for them as you go. There is going to be resistance – but it will be less if you keep it familiar. Everyone has a better chance with follow through and keeping it permanent this way. I went GF for a full 3 months before switching my kiddo. I spent a lot of money figuring out what could substitute what and wasn’t just expensive crap in a box. Meanwhile I experimented with baking on the side – figuring out what mixes didn’t work – what flours didn’t work. I was amazed with what people were getting away with selling by just stamping GF on it. I was a single Mom doing this on an extreme budget. Luckily, I love to cook and bake, and I kept trying. I also had a man courting me who tried winning me with new GF products for my child to try. He’d bring these from the city once or twice a week. It worked. He’s now my husband and the father of my two year old.

      The willingness to try, support, patience, a variety of products and recipes, and creativity. It takes it all to make it work. And man – it is so worth it in the end.

      Food is great!

      Life is great!

  49. nikki

    a few days ago i had a plate with strawberries, a little bit of heavy cream, and some honey, and my sweetie and I ate slowly and decadently… the focus on food is crucial, but it can be celebrated. I love your stories about falling even further in love with Danny when the first blueberries in your yard bloomed, him proposing because of a meal, and the one quote I hear in my mind as I learn to eat and love.
    “he kissed me for a full five minutes after the first bite”
    when you did the puff pastry 🙂 I remember things like stories a lot (if only it went to useful information as well..), and that right there described the food, the passion for both food and each other, and very much how i hope to live my life. If we cant dance with the first organic juicy strawberries of the season…..well, we need to go hang out with two year olds a bit more often 🙂
    I’m loving rediscovering foods I already loved completely differently. I ate only nonfat dairy products before, but I started drinking local.. and it was totally different! I dont make chocolate milk with it… now its so yummy, I wouldnt waste it on chocolate milk. blueberry crisp with honey and oats and tons of fresh fruit? Worth the cream.
    your article on creme fraiche inspired me to do more research, and i found out how to make yogurt, and frozen yogurt, and I started talking to people who live closer to home (closer to their homes anyway), like I do, because its not super super safe for me out there with foods. Or perfumes, or dental floss, or deodorant. Corn is becoming an epidemic as well, and I can say some days (ok, every day, but it changes from hour to the next), that living corn, wheat, nut and LOTS of fruit-free is a PAIN IN THE BUTT. I’m remembering the same things from my switch off of gluten, and people say I look more alive. This article couldnt have come at a better time. eat local, eat green, love it all! I found some great produce-cleaning tips recently, and cant wait to see if I taste even more flavor.
    SPRAY
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon baking soda
    1 cup water

    SOAK
    1/4 cup vinegar
    2 tablespoons salt

    http://www.food.com/recipe/homemade-vegetable-wash-preserver-that-works-spray-or-soak-300387
    have a great time in DC!

  50. Julia Sarver @ Glow Health

    Can I get an AMEN!?! Shauna, I LOVE this post. It drives me nuts when my friends think gluten free has to mean a box of brownies. So much food is naturally gluten free, and as long as you focus on a whole foods diet, eating with allergies is a cinch. Thanks for posting – it’s been fun to watch your journey. I’m so thrilled that you are using whole grain flours and skipping the gums. I’ve learned that food tastes best when it’s closest to it’s natural state.

    For the newly gluten free, ask yourself when buying processed GF items: would I normally be buying this back when I ate gluten? So many of my clients end up gaining weight after going GF because they start eating pretzels, cookies, donuts and other foods they wouldn’t normally eat just because they are gluten free. Gluten free living doesn’t mean deprived living – there’s so much out there that’s actually FOOD and not ultra processed, HFCS and trans fat filled junk.

    The quinoa salad looks scrumptious – never would have thought to throw figs in mine, but I’ll have to give that a try.

  51. Erica

    While this may not be the case for larger families, my partner and I have noticed that without all the cans and boxes of processed food around that we don’t really need our big North-American sized fridge anymore. We eat mostly vegetables, shop frequently at our farmer’s market, and grow as much as we can in the backyard during the summer.
    Strangest discovery? I love asparagus! Who knew?

  52. Lizzy

    I’m making your Saigon Cinnamon Creme Brulee for a dear friend coming to visit me and I am a little confused on how much sugar to whisk in. The recipe calls for 1-1/4 cups of sugar. Under “Whisking the eggs” it says to whisk three-quarters of the sugar into the eggs. Would that be 3/4 cups of sugar or three-quarters of the 1-1/4 cups of sugar which would make that how much? Creme brulee is her favorite dessert but this one sounds even more fabulous, cant wait to make it for her.

  53. The Healthy Apple

    YOU are amazing. I love this post. I agree completely. I eat pure, naturally gluten-free foods and feel so good. It’s amazing how delicious Clean Eating can be and how your taste buds become accustomed to their naturally sweet taste.
    Loved this post, Shauna. Thank you for sharing this with us, Shauna. It’s great to connect to a like-minded gluten-free blogger as yourself.
    xoxo
    Hope you had a fabulous weekend at the foodie conference. Chat soon.
    xo

  54. Gretchen

    We eat so much better now and it’s not just the obvious issue of not eating any gluten or foods we’re allergic to — we also make almost everything from scratch, shop locally at the farmers market and lovely local grocery stories, and otherwise have shifted the entire way we deal with food. Before I got sick we ate mostly at restaurants and from boxes, so this is a very radical change!

    My husband is now off almost all of his blood pressure medication, and I’m hoping he’ll get the rest of the way off this year. We feast like hobbits on seasonal food and have learned to make so many new things. I even bake occasionally now.

  55. Jackie Worley

    For years I had no idea. I was in my early thirties and had always been overweight but for the most part I could do anything I wanted. I was strong and active, then my joints started hurting. I brushed it off for years. It got to the point that I was limping all the time. My girlfriend at the time had food allergies, and I just started a new job where I taught kids with Autism. Between the two, it opened my eyes. Maybe I had some of the same issues. It has taken me years to narrow it down, but my joints swell when I eat wheat. The older I get, the worse the reaction. I have been wheat free for 9 days now. My last straw? When I ate a quesadilla for lunch then had trouble walking for the rest of the day. It was my students prom and I wanted to enjoy them enjoying themselves. I have vowed to stay wheat free. I think most of it is out of my system, and I feel so much better. Its not easy, and I have found myself fascinated by people’s stories that show me that I am not alone in my confusion or my struggle. Thank you to all that have and will share. I hope my story does the same for someone else.

  56. marisa

    I haven’t seen your books, but I wish someone would put you on TV more often so you could tell my friends who get all their info from Oprah, that food and food “products” are two totally different things and you should only want to eat FOOD. They nod and then go spend tons of cash at WF on whatever the box of the day is. Drives me BATTY.
    Have you been on Rachel Ray or Dr. Oz or something? You should be!

  57. Carly

    I have started hearing about a celiac vaccine they are working on. How do you feel about this?

  58. Kim(Cook It Allergy Free)

    Shauna, this was a great post about how important it is to understand that by eating whole real foods, we are already naturally eating gluten free. I have a hard time understanding why someone would say that your book is not gluten-free enough. I think the point of your book is showing people that eating gluten free naturally is really not any kind of “special diet” at all. Living gluten free can simply be beautiful meals full of fresh wholesome foods.

    I know you mentioned the basis of a lot of the new baking gluten-free cookbooks out there. I do have to say that I think Elana Amsterdam’s new cookbook, Gluten Free Cupcakes, does an amazing job of showing people that baking gluten free can actually be really healthy by focusing on grain-free flours such as Almond flour and Coconut flour. My gluten-eating friends were completely amazed that the strawberry ones that I served them this weekend from her book were gluten-free. Nothing makes me happier than to hear those words…especially when one of those people uttering them was my father-in-law, who I am certain also has Celiac Disease but is in total denial because he thinks gluten-free equates to deprivation. Sigh…

  59. Danielle Apken

    Shauna- I don’t know if you read all of the comments that are written but your book changed my life. I have been dealing with symptoms for 8 years with so many different drs- but your story really inspired me to take control of my diagnosis.The transition has often brought me to tears feeling limited- Thankfully I live in Seattle- and have access to so many incredible stores and markets. Also access to amazing blogs- I take the advice you give and really use it. I just wanted to thank you and let you know you are an inspiration.

  60. Janelle

    As I transitioned to GF I found that I’ve discovered a few new favorites (spaghetti squash!), but mostly that I look at familiar foods differently. I used to love portobella burgers, now the portobella is my bun on burger night. I’ve embraced bib lettuce as wraps, crispy potatoes as toast, and roasted nuts & seeds as granola. The possibilities are truly endless!

  61. Becky Benson-Flannery

    I have loved the farmer’s market for a long time. Long before I knew my body detested gluten, I celebrated the veggies I found, the colors I piled high into my bag to take home. Most often, I bought too much:) I have always placed vegetables at the center of my meals (except when chocolate is involved)! That said, I eat far healthier now than I ever did when eating gluten.

    I have always liked to try new foods, but amaranth, quinoa, millet are simply not foods you find served at most restaurants. I have trouble finding them at Whole Foods, let alone Giant. My diagnosis pushed me to search out foods that people have long ignored because they were the foods I could eat.

    I also learned about what food is–what ingredients tend to make up certain dishes. Without such knowledge, eating out would feel far more treacherous to me. Often, I dine out at the restaurants I know will feed me well. But, I want to try new places as well. Knowing more about food has enabled me to ask the questions I need to ask of the servers to discover whether gluten lurks or no.

    I mourned my diagnosis when I first heard it (especially since even with the positive results in her hand, my internist still insisted my only problem was anorexia), I mourned the farmer’s market bread that finally prompted me to begin excising gluten products from my diet because I felt better without them (before I even knew). Now, I celebrate that I eat more mindfully and I hold so much more knowledge about how to nourish my and my family’s bodies.

    Thank you for the beautiful post.

  62. Sheila Z

    I find the gluten free cookbooks are a frustrating waste of my time. The focus is almost exclusively on baking. Being a diabetic that has problems handling gluten means I need to eat real food not refined grains bound together with sugar, fats and gums. Baked goods are mostly a whole lot of unneeded and unwanted empty calories.

    Luckily I now belong to a CSA and am eating mostly seasonal whole foods along with locally raised beef, pork, lamb, poultry, eggs, etc. The only thing I don’t have is a local source for dairy, but I’m still looking. The cookbooks and online sites I’m using the most are the ones that focus on fresh seasonal eating. I just skip or modify the recipes that use refined flours (with or without gluten) or high concentrations of sugar.

  63. Lisa

    I love eating foods from all over the world – Indian, Thai, Mexican… YUM! Before going GF those were all consumed at a resturant. Now, I am experimenting in the kitchen, making wonderful dishes, blending flavours and cultures into dishes my body loves.
    Always a baker, baking GF has been a wonderful challenge. Not always resulting in a successful baked good but always a successful learning experience.
    GF has meant for me, to slow down and taste the food, to eat for enjoyment, not to simply take away the hunger in my belly, to feed my soul and to celebrate life.

  64. bento

    Food is all about sharing and it’s that I miss the most because I’m the only GF in my group of foodie family and friends. It would be great if you could talk a bit about how you manage when eating out with non-GF folk.

  65. SASKIA

    You know what I love most about our son being a Coeliac? it that it makes us ALL eat better.

    It’s dinner time here, and I am making salmon patties with sweet potato, peas, spinach and a four bean salad with beetroot. Yum.

    What is also nice is that it limits your choice of foods when you go out, now for some people, that may be a bad thing, but most of the time I find its a good thing. It stops us from eating glutinous, processed junk and instead searching for something fresh and simple to eat instead.. And if he can’t eat it, then none of us do, so we are all better off!

    When we first went GF a year ago it was quite scary, but now it’s quite easy and normal and I am almost never frustrated by it!

    Plus, the fact that he is healthy and happy sure help too.

    Sas x

  66. Shannon

    Yes, Yes and YES to this post! Amongst my circle of friends, I have been known as “the baker” – baker of mouth-watering brownies, towering trifles, and an EPIC banana cake with chocolate ganache. When I first learned that I could not longer consume gluten, my heart dropped, and with that, my gumption to continue baking. How was I ever to bake goodies that tasted the same, or had the same consistency (i.e. light and fluffy)? I did the same as others, simply replace cake flour with GF flour, and EW did my goodies not taste the same (grainy, thick, dense, hard to swallow…). Then I quickly learned that I am very sensitive to the gums – oh boy what a tummyache!! – and I had a heart-to-heart with myself. Despite that I’ve loved baking for years, does this action define me? Certainly not. When I stopped huffing and puffing about all the things I could NOT eat, I began to relish in the things I could, and if I do say so myself, there are A LOT of delicous things to eat!! I don’t really miss the cakes and cookies anymore, and really do not crave the sweet stuff, unless it is a juicy piece of fruit, or the occasional piece of dark chocolate. I think that I will get back to baking sometime in the future, but for now I am loving eating foods in their simplest forms.

    My favorites? A gigantic salad filled with kale, jicama, carrots, celery, radishes, cherry tomato, avocado, dried cherries or cranberries, slivered almonds, grilled salmon and a lemon mustard vinegarette. Other favorites include fresh figs with blue cheese, greek yogurt with almonds and honey, any roasted vegetable (especially beets, turnips, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts), heirloom tomatoes with basil and mozzarella, and roasted chicken Hamersly’s Bistro-style… Mmmm, now I am hungry :).

  67. Brenda

    Excellent post Shauna,
    Thank you for touching on the explosion of packaged gluten-free products. My husband and I feel the same way you guys do in terms of cooking real food vs buying so many packaged foods. Sure it takes more planning and thought, but it’s such a great opportunity to grow and experience new food.
    -Brenda

  68. Paula

    AMEN! To all ‘o that! I’m thrilled to have found your whole grain flour mix. I had a hard time reconciling my need to go low glycemic AND gluten free. All the pre-made gluten free stuff really is too starchy and negatively impacts my blood sugar. You are right! White stuff isn’t good for our bodies and the hell with gluten! I love that your cookbook focuses more on the best things for us to eat, vegetables & fruit, which are naturally gluten-free (amazing! who-woulda-thunk) instead of gluten-free imitations of glutenous foods. Thank you!

  69. Iris

    Oh yes, there are so many foods I eat now that I had no idea existed before! Sometimes I’m surprised to think of how limited my food was, and I didn’t eat the standard American diet. I ate my parents healthy hippie food, but even so, most of our carbs were wheat based. Now, I eat quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat and more! And you’re right. It’s not just about baked goods. The longer I’m gluten-free, the more daring I get in the kitchen, and I love trying new foods and knowing I’m learning to make foods at home that taste just as good as foods I get at a restaurant (and are healthier).

  70. Riki Shore

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful reflection. I couldn’t agree more about the processed food industry. Whether they’re gluten-free or not, those processed cookies, brownies, granola bars, cereals, and cupcakes just aren’t healthy. We try to follow a rule in our house: sweets only on celebration days, and then we make them ourselves with whole foods, no chemicals, and a lot less sweeteners than commercially produced sweets. Thanks for the work you do, gluten-free girl!

  71. Lau@Corridorkitchen

    I cannot thank you enough for this post!

    I identify with everything you’ve written here. I was a vegetarian for 10 years and it’s the same principle. It wasn’t about substitution for me, I didn’t even really miss meat because I found so many amazing, nourishing things to eat. It taught me how to cook. It taught me how to be creative.

    I’ve been eating meat again for over a year now and my diet isn’t terrible, but it’s very limited and not particularly varied. My problem has always been relying too heavily on pasta/rice/noodles/breads and I thought that would change once I added meat to my diet. Now I eat less carbs but I also eat les veggies.

    You’ve inspired me to rethick the way I eat…

  72. In the kitchen

    What I have come to love after going GF — What has changed the most in my life? Cooking in the morning. Enjoying cooking in the morning as my time in the kitchen — quiet, fresh, sunny mornings spent doing what I love the most. Before going GF, breakfast was always quick and cold. Cooking was something I did in the evenings or on the weekends. Now I love my morning time in the kitchen. So much so that I have shifted almost all of my cooking time to morning — a good breakfast, and a vegetable preparation ready and on standby for lunch. Dinner is now the light meal. This has been the most profound outcome of going GF. And it has been a joy. Who knew cooking in the morning could be so lovely? And it frees me up completely for the rest of the day — everyday — knowing I have great GF food already prepared and waiting at home. Plus I love cooking more than anything in the world, so it is nice to get time in the kitchen first thing. It’s like a morning meditation. Before the house erupts with everyone stumbling out of bed for their coffee.

    Shauna, I love your blog.

  73. Jessica

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve always felt vaguely this way about a gluten-free life, but you’ve articulated it so well! We’re experimenting with going gluten and dairy free here at our house for the next few months because I think there could be a link to some behavioral issues and fatigue in my kids, as well as some other issues. I’m so grateful I found your blog, and this post pretty much sums up why!

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