Friday, May 21, 2010

GF Coping Strategies

Going gluten free hasn't been easy around here.  I've had to make lots of adjustments, but, by the grace of God, I am finding ways to make it work.  I thought I'd share a few of these helps in case there are others making this change.  So here are a few tips from a newby GF family:

1 - GF mixes.  Yes, they are more expensive than buying individual GF flours and mixing them, but in the beginning, it's nice to have them ready to go.  I wont buy alot of prepackaged GF foods, but these mixes make it easier to make my own.  Two that I like especially are Pamela's Baking Mix and Kinnikinnik Bread Mix.  We made hamburger buns with the latter and they turned out great.

2 - GF pasta.  My kids don't like it!  I buy Tinkyada Brand because that's the best we've tried (and I like the name :) but my kids still say "Oh, it's gluten free pasta" in a not-too enthused tone.  But!  I discovered that if I put the pasta, dry, in the crockpot with sauce and some water and let it cook 4-6 hours, nobody complains.  Doing it that way, the pasta absorbs the flavors of the sauce and you don't get that GF flavor that my kids are not used to   yet.

3 - Variety.  When we went GF we discovered just how often the kids had toast for breakfast.  I knew it was alot,  we were going through tons of bread.  We haven't found a GF bread we like that well, so we came up with a rotating breakfast menu.  There is no toast on it but the kids are doing great with it.  Here are a few of the items we've been eating more of - with pictures even!

~ Eggs. Boiled, scrambled or fried.  We are eating alot more eggs around here.  Builder really doesn't like eggs.  I understand, because as a child I didn't either.  But I found a simple way to make it bearable for him.  We call them "starry eggs".  They are just scrambled eggs, cooked inside a cookie cutter in the pan, with melted cheese on top. He still doesn't LOVE them, but he complains less. Here's a picture:

~ Waffles!  We actually won a waffle maker at a recent school fundraiser we attended and it gets used alot.  Pamela's mix comes to the rescue here. Social Butterfly has become the official waffle maker and she does a great job!  I buy real maple syrup, and the kids gobble them up!

~ The other thing we've been eating more of is granola.  I've always enjoyed making granola, and making it GF is really no big deal.  My breakfast kitchen helper, Builder, enjoys making it too.  Lots of "cups of this and cups of that" to add to the big bowl and mix!  Here, builder is spreading a batch out on clean towels to cool:

4.  Chicken Strips.  This was a tough one.  My kids love chicken strips, especially Jetter.  He judges a restaurant by how good the chicken strips are.  He's a real connoisseur of chicken strips, let me tell you!
My husband's cousin, who has a son on the GF diet, taught me to make them at home though, and it's so easy!  We actually purchased a fryer for this purpose.  I've always avoided fryers because I thought that was such an unhealthy way of preparing food.  But if my kids are going to order fried chicken strips in restaurants, or if I'm going to buy frozen strips so they can eat them at home, what's the difference?  Actually, they probably eat them less now because I have to fry them.  To make them, simply cut up raw chicken breast, dip it in GF flour, then egg, then cornmeal mixed with salt and pepper.  Into the fryer they go until they are done.  Yum!

5.  Special Treats.  I really want my kids to know that just because we are eating GF, it doesn't mean that food has to be boring.  There are all kinds of prepackaged GF treats out there, and occassionally I buy them.  I'm much happier when we are eating something homemade though.  The baking mixes mentioned above are really helpful for this.  The Pamela's Baking Mix makes some pretty good chocolate chip cookies! We've also found that some of our old favorites are actually gluten free, like "No Bake Cookies"!  (Just check the oats to make sure they are gluten free.) 
Recently, a neighbor gave us some rhubarb.  I've never cooked anything with rhubarb, but with the help of Pamela's mix and my new cookbook, my morning kitchen helper and I made this rhubarb crisp for breakfast.  It was a great way to try something new.  (Note: Simply in Season is not a GF cookbook.  I just adjust the recipes.)

As I find more ways to cope with this new diet, I will add them to the blog.   If you have some GF tips put them in the comment box and I'll post them!

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