As a woman closing in on 60, you would think I’d know better than to assume any ailment I’m currently feeling is “Just Menopause” because I’ve been down that road before but it happened again. I didn’t want to go gluten-free!
I was recently hit with an autoimmune 1-2 punch that has had me down in some ways for a couple of years just not feeling my best, less energy, less enthusiasm for life and other long symptoms and then it flared up big time. I’d been told that as someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease I should be Gluten Free and I did try it for a few months but honestly didn’t feel better/different so just thought.. well… I’ll be Gluten Lite! Right! It sounds good but really it’s not the same thing at all. If you are going to hopefully get the health benefits that the gluten-free life promises to people with autoimmune conditions you have to really go for it so HERE I AM…. going for it.
I know a bit about Gluten-Free, celiac, crones disease and the like from friends and relatives that suffer but I just didn’t think I needed to be in that club. Denial. But now I REALLY need to know more so I’ve been pouring over books, website, asking in my favorite Facebook groups and I have to say people have been wonderfully supportive. I feel sorry for those that had to be GF years ago because there wasn’t nearly as much support and knowledge out there as there is now.
The first thing I did was to download a few iPhone apps that were suggested in my local Moms group.
Gluten-Free Scanner App (Only on iPhone & iPad) has been a Godsend!
This handy app will scan the barcodes of any foods and let you know if there is hidden gluten in there. All sorts of foods like pesto, ketchup, artichokes, mustard and pasta sauce have gluten in them. Why? Because it’s a cheap food filler and helps with textures of things to make them more palatable. So I went through first my refrigerator, then my inside freezer, all my cupboards and then the outside freezer. WOW! So many things that I wouldn’t have known had gluten in them if I hadn’t have had this hand scanner app. I recommend downloading it right away. I used it to grocery shop to replace things I had to throw out or gift to my family, friends and the local food bank.
Once the clear-out task was done it was time to take a look at what I still had to eat. Ok, I found out that some of my favorite brands of foods are already gluten-free so that was fantastic.
Gluten-Free Mexican Food Options
We are HUGE Mexican food lovers and use the 505 brands of green chili sauce and salsa and guess what, they are super clean products with no gluten and GMO-free.
I really can’t have eggs or make guacamole without this 505 Roasted Green Chili, you can choose from mild, medium or spicy.
In Colorado & New Mexico Green Chili is our native food so I use the 505 Green Chili Sauce to smother any of my enchilada bakes or smothered burrito recipes when I don’t have time or energy to make my buddy Paul’s green chili from scratch. You can find both of these in most grocery stores in the Southwest US, like Kroeger, Whole Foods, Sprouts and Safeway.
I know that corn tortillas and tortilla chips are Gluten Free… hey ok, I can still have Mexican food! Happy dance. I even found some gluten-free flour tortillas and wraps at King Soopers so maybe this won’t be as rough as I thought.
What about GF Italian though?
Italian food is all about pasta or pizza dough! I figured that was something I was just going to have to do without, but it turns out there are now SO many gluten-free options for pasta and frozen gluten-free pizzas. I know a ton of pizza joints do offer gluten-free crust so I guess that will be next, to see how it tastes! Any recommendations?
Luckily, my favorite jarred pasta sauces were in the gluten-free category and strolling down the pasta aisle I learned there are a TON of GF pasta to try. Classico Alfredo Sauces are Gluten Free. This is a go-to meal for me, cut up a rotisserie chicken, artichokes, mushrooms, tomatoes, and sauce. You are good to go!
Both Classico & 24 Prego’s red pasta sauces are Gluten Free as well. I am going to miss the crunchy garlic bread I always serve with pasta, I like something crunchy to eat with every meal it seems, any ideas for me?
Find Me Gluten Free
The next App I downloaded was Find Me Gluten Free. This app is a local restaurant guide that will pull up all the restaurants near you that have GF options. It gives you the ability to see what types of food they have that is gluten-free, location, phone number and then a review section where users can upload pictures of their food and write reviews about the establishment. One of my favorite spots was listed and people talked about the owner being celiac so she was particularly wonderful and in fact, most of the dishes on the menu were either GF or could be made that way.
With this Shopwell App, you create your food profile to learn how products match your needs, goals, and lifestyle. It will also warn you if something has gluten in it like the Find GF app. They also send you an informative newsletter with tips & tricks after you fill out your profile. You can always opt-out but so far it’s been good information.
My Favorite Fast Casual Food
Panera & Tokyo Joes are my go too “Fastish” food places that I know I can find a few items on the menu if I want to meet friends for lunch but it’s always good to know things ahead of time.
Panera has a list of gluten-free foods and how to adapt a few items to make something gluten-free. They do warn they are not celiac safe. I’m SO happy that my two favorite soups, Autumn Squash & Tomato (ask for no croutons) as well as my current favorite salad Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad with Chicken. They even have 2 desserts that are GF. The Coconut Macaroons and the Triple Chocolate Cookie with Walnuts.
Tokyo Joes has a PDF here of all their GF options and their recommendations. I was so sad to learn that their peanut sauce is NOT GF! I freaking LOVE that peanut sauce. I usually order their chicken skewers & spring rolls and dip in the peanut sauce. They do have several other sauces so I guess I’ll have to try them!
I honestly rarely go to any regular fast food joints anymore, I’m a former Taco Bell addict but it looks like that is the WORST of the drive-through joints for being GF. Reports say cross-contamination happens there more than any of your other options, so steer clear.
To find the GF menus of a restaurant online I just Google the name of the restaurant with Gluten-Free and the options pop right up. In gathering links for you for this I ran across an App called “My Symptoms” I currently keep this information in my notes section but this app looks like it might be handy and it has a way to share my information with my health professional. Has anyone used this one?
Please share your favorite sources, links to recipes and any GF tips and suggestions you have for me. I’m starting day 6 of my Gluten-Free Journey and am doing OK so far thanks to the input of friends & family.
Update: It’s May 18, 2020 and the Gluten Free thing is SO much easier than I imagined it would be and I feel SUCH a difference. No more stomach issues.. like ever!!Chrissy