Anyone can be "the family chef". You just need good recipes and techniques! Chef Amy Fothergill shares her best recipes with you for quick and easy dishes with an emphasis on gluten-free.

Get information here about her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Why Gluten Free?

I recently (12 days to be exact) decided to try a gluten free diet. I teach gluten free classes. I cooked gluten free for my daughter for a year. There are people who don't have a choice, like those who have celiac disease. Some people have been told by their doctor to cut out gluten based on tests. Others have done elimination diets and found when gluten was reintroduced, their bodies rebelled. We hear about it more and more.

There is one story in particular that I always remembered in the back of my mind. A friend of a friend went gluten free (possibly by the recommendation of a doctor or she might have just done it on her own; that part I can't recall). She found that she felt much better. She had lived with her stomach being upset almost every day, thinking it was normal; until she cut out the gluten.

I have never had stomach pain to the point of needing a doctor, just a mild inconvenience/unsettling. Again, if I thought about it, I might notice it but most of the time, I didn't. It was enough to make me curious. Plus, I wanted to live in the shoes of someone who wasn't eating gluten.

During my gluten free classes, I have met so many people that have this condition or cook for someone who does. I wanted to try it and felt I had nothing to lose. So that's why I'm doing it. You might be wondering what has happened in those 12 days.

I have lost 3 lbs. I feel lighter. I notice less "gurgling" going on. Of course, this makes sense. I'm eating less carbs. I have to be more creative when I eat and cook. I'm eating more fruits, vegetables and protein (that seems like a good idea!). Although one friend couldn't understand why I was doing it, I think "why not"?

If you are considering it, you do need to do your research. Gluten is inherently in wheat, rye, barley and a few other grains (although I've been reading that the gluten in things like kamut and spelt is not as harsh as wheat). Because malt is derived from barley, it often has gluten. Check the labels of Rice Krispies and a few other cereals; they have gluten in them. Gluten is not in oats but, because oats are often processed on machines with wheat, rye and barley, it picks up the gluten. If you want oats, look for oats that are specifically gluten free.

If you have celiac, please consult a doctor or dietitian. You don't want to take any chances. And if you have an intolerance, you will soon learn whether that's a 100% intolerance or not. It all depends upon the side effects.

For now, I'm going to do this for another 3 weeks. After that time, I might try to reintroduce barley or kamut. Maybe it's just wheat that my body is sensitive to. Either way, I'm happy to feel better and maybe lose a few pounds along the way.


Now it's been almost a month and I'm still feeling good. I feel like I have more energy and just feel "level" most of the time. It's so hard to describe the before and after feeling.

I have eaten muffins with barley and oat flour. Although I felt a slight change in my gastric health, it was nothing serious. But I do think I know what the connection for me and gluten. It's nothing I can't live with but I'm still choosing to avoid it. Last night I did allow myself to have one piece of flatbread pizza and breaded calamari. I went to bed not feeling great but woke up with no adverse affects.

I'll continue to do updates and try my best to be mostly GF. For the cookbook, I'm including both regular recipes as well as the gluten free variation.

I'm teaching an Introduction to Gluten Free Eating and Cooking workshop in Half Moon Bay on May 30 from 10:00am - 12:00pm. If you are interested in learning more, visit my website. Thanks for listening!

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