Rethinking Being Gluten Free

When we had change Matthew’s diet to be gluten free (GF), it was a huge change. At least so I thought. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot to learn. But, it’s not as bad or as difficult as I initially thought. Unfortunately, for us, we found out that Matt was gluten sensitive late in the game. Fortunately, for us, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergies, Celiac Disease are now common knowledge. There are also people who are choosing to cut out gluten to live a healthier life style. So, chances are you know someone or have heard of someone being GF. There are GF items or even a section at most of the larger grocery stores. Because of this, we have some alternatives and it’s easier to pick out food that have the GF mark on it. We got lucky. But, there are still some things to learn. And not everyone understands what it really means to be GF.

There are some great articles out there of people tackling becoming GF. Search for those and read them. Everyone has great information to contribute.  I wanted to share the things I thought about and simplify them to make what seems like a huge mountain to tackle really a tiny hill.

Most of your time is dedicated to educating  yourself on what gluten is and what ingredients in processed foods are really gluten hidden in strange names. And understanding what you can and can’t have. Here are some great sources for understanding what it means to be gluten free:

Once you understand what it means, it makes things a lot easier. Here is a cheat sheet that can be printed, to carry it with you and review it at your leisure. I keep one in my wallet and one on the fridge. Hidden Sources of Gluten & Questionable items

The reality of understanding the list, is if you tend to purchase processed foods like, canned foods, boxed foods, pre-made items. Then the list above is important. Go to some of your favorite items and check the ingredient list. Next look for alternatives. So, for example, I make spaghetti sauce using canned tomatoes. I rarely make it from whole tomatoes unless I have time. Which is almost never now. I needed to find an alternative because the canned tomatoes I used weren’t GF or healthy. Start by finding alternatives to ingredients that you normally buy. And find alternatives to some of your favorite foods. The good thing about that is you get to taste test things.That’s also the bad thing. Not everything tastes good. But, don’t give up. You’ll start finding some really tasty things.

We normally cook most of our meals. We had to move away from using seasoned packages, premixed dinners and soy sauce. I’m filipino… No soy sauce? I almost had a mini heart attack. But, there are GF alternatives for those. Cooking things homemade gave me several great changes. It forced us to eat healthier as a family and it gives me an opportunity to teach my son how to cook for himself. He’s going to be on his own one day, so he has to understand how to cook GF.

We still have some issues going out to dinner. But, we are fixing that by finding the types of restaurants that have GF menus. It’s not perfect, but we’re working on it. And it’s not as terrible as I originally thought it would be or how it was the first few months. It gets easier! Perspective is truly the key. Instead of focusing on the things that you have to avoid. Try focusing and making it fun to find the things you can enjoy. And it doesn’t have to be always alternative to. So, he can’t have bread. He doesn’t like the GF bread, so guess what? We don’t buy bread or GF bread. He makes Rice, eggs and bacon for breakfast now. For me growing up, that was my normal breakfast.  If you focus on the cant’s you will be limited to many things. Once you think of what you can, your options are limitless. In reality most of the foods can be home made with bare minimum and raw tasty ingredients that are GF. Steak and potatoes or for me steak and rice. Roasted chicken with root veggies, break it down to good old classical homemade without canned this or boxed that and you have more GF options.

Now that we have a better understanding on what he can eat, we’re now moving on to the things he truly misses. Tortillas, pancakes, waffles and cookies.  I’m just glad we’ve been able to buy GF candies or an occasional GF (extremely yummy) cupcake from ConfeXion Cupcakes to replace the sweets he misses. Baking is a bit more complex. It’s the next thing we’re going to tackle!

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For the Love of An Americano

I have been a crazy coffee addict for a long time. I love coffee. Before Starbucks opened I could always be found at a local coffee shop. Equator in Pasadena, Ground Zero in Burbank (which no longer exists) or that one place in Melrose, which I can’t remember. But, coffee, I love it. When Starbucks started popping up all over the place, it was a love hate relationship. I loved that I could go to almost any corner and get a Starbucks coffee. Hated it cause I could go to almost any corner and get a Starbucks coffee. The little small coffee shops were starting to disappear. And honestly, as much as people love Starbucks, I’m not a fan of their coffee. It has a very burnt taste to it. I’ll take it if there’s nothing else around. But, I’ll prefer a little coffee shop compared to Starbucks any day. I have a higher possibility of getting coffee with a nice rich smooth flavor. 

Because of Starbucks I have learned to love Mochas, Lattes and anything and everything sweet filled to mask the their coffee taste, but still get the coffee that helps me function. The past several years I’ve become more sensitive to milk. I don’t purchase coffee as often because of it. I almost completely forgot about drip coffee. So, I started purchasing that recently and it’s been a nice nostalgic trip. Reminds me of the coffee shop days, filled with time and spoken word.

But, then recently, a friend suggested an Americano. What’s an Americano, you say? Well that’s a few shots of espresso with hot water. Almost like a brewed cup of coffee, except richer in flavor. And you can add the amount of milk to your liking. Which is a perfect alternative for me and a new addiction.  It’s now my go to. It’s left me wondering, why I never knew about this before?

There are a few great places in the Pasadena area to get a good cup of coffee.  But, only a few places with better milk alternatives, other than soy.

Places that carry Almond Milk. (Would be nice if more coffee shops offered this option.)

Other great Coffee Shops in Old Town Pasadena Area

  • Equator (They have remade themselves into an Asian Fusion Restaurant. But, you can still get an awesome cup of coffee from them as well. Happy Hour is also great!)
  • Intelligentsia
  • Copa Vida (They’re new and I’m still on the fence about them. I went there on Tuesday and got a mocha. Unfortunately, my cup had lots of coffee grounds in it along with something else that tasted really strange. It was all good till those little pieces of chewable strange bits were found. I’m hoping it was a bad day and I will try again)