Today is National Gluten-Free Day, and to bring awareness to the issue, we thought we’d check in with our Director of Culinary, Amanda Haas, who has been gluten-free for six years, on what it’s like to live a G-free life.
“At least once a day I have someone ask me why I can’t have gluten,” she says.
Amanda’s documented her struggles—as well as her road to recovery—in The Anti-Inflammation Cookbook, out next month. It doesn’t just feature recipes with anti-inflammatory properties; the entire book also happens to be gluten-free.
Read on hear Amanda’s account about her struggles with gluten and how eliminating it has improved her health, as well as her biggest discoveries in gluten-free eating.
It took me nearly 20 years to figure out I was gluten intolerant.
After many hospitalizations with what appeared to be food poisoning, a chronic case of heartburn that refused to leave me after pregnancy, and never-ending stomach pain, I searched high and low for an answer. After several misdiagnoses and testing negative for Celiac disease, it was an allergist who identified my gluten intolerance. He didn’t even make me do the blood work. He just sent me home with very strict instructions: do not consume one bit of gluten and see what happens.
When I completely removed gluten from my diet, my symptoms disappeared overnight. I thought, “That’s all it took?” For someone who adores freshly baked bread and pastas more than the average person, I was shocked at how easy it was for me to give it up. I felt so much better that it didn’t feel like a sacrifice.
So I set out to learn how to live without gluten. Five years ago, it wasn’t quite as easy. Today, the gluten-free choices are endless. Even products that don’t typically have gluten in them now say “gluten-free” on the packaging, making it easy to spot what you and can’t have. Here are the four tips that have made living gluten-free easy for me.
1. Eat real foods. Truly, just cooking at home makes gluten-free living so much easier. Fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, legumes and many grains like brown rice and quinoa are big staples in my diet, so I’m never doubting what’s in my food.
2. Become a label reader. Gluten pops up in the craziest of products, as many use it as an enhancer in sauces, dressings, and sometimes even in things like potato chips. I always look to ensure the product was manufactured in a facility free of gluten or wheat processing.
3. Use gluten-free flours. When I’m craving a treat or I want to bake, I turn to the flours that are meant to replicate all-purpose flour. Cup4Cup flour has become my go-to for baking, and I also mix it with grated parmesan for the coating for our family’s favorite fish tacos.
4. Incorporate other grains and flours into your diet. I always joke that my gluten intolerance has made me a better cook! Instead of relying on regular pasta or flour, now I cook soba noodles made from gluten-free buckwheat as well as quinoa, and have learned to use almond flour, chickpea flour and brown rice flours. These flours don’t replicate all-purpose flour. They add amazing textures, flavors and health benefits to my cooking. Also, we recently developed a new take on Pad Thai using spiralized daikon radish in place of noodles. It was a hit in the Test Kitchen, and a recipe I know I’ll make again.