November 30, 2013

Thanksglutenfree (and dairy free) 2013: How I Survived My First Thanksgiving with Celiac's Disease

After a bout with severe anemia, several blood tests, visits to my endocrinologist, a hematologist, my gastroenterologist and two separate colonoscopies within a 24 hour period (something I wouldn't wish even on Satan himself), I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in May of this year.  Ever since I started having health problems, I remember saying that I would just die if I had Celiac's.  It would be the end of the world.  Of the universe.  After the twin colonoscopies, I had a different perspective.  I was just relieved to have an answer, even if that answer sucked.

There's no way around it.  Celiac Disease sucks.  And just like Kim Kardashian to Kanye West, lactose intolerance is never far behind Celiac's.  I found that out about a month into my gluten free diet.  It helped a lot, yet it made eating even harder.  I admit, I became depressed.  It's frustrating.  Eating is an expression of who we are.  It's a pleasure.  It's survival.  Disturbing the rhythm of something so primal really upset me.  I underestimated how emotional this made me.  I'm prone to depression as it is (thank you, Hashimoto's) so taking my happy food away messed me up.

Over the past few months, it has gotten better.  I've found a new rhythm and it's going well.  I even went to Disney World for a week last month and didn't die!  However, there was a new threat on the horizon . . . Thanksgiving.

My favorite dish at Thanksgiving is my mom's homemade rolls.  Obviously, that was no longer an option.  The biggest weapon against FDD (food deprivation depression: I just made that up.) is planning.  Planning and preparation.  I started planning two weeks in advance.  My mom is the main cook at Thankgiving and we worked together.  Here's the menu we came up with:

Glutino stuffing
Mashed potatoes (made with GF chicken broth and Earth Balance)
Gravy (made with cornstarch)
Brown sugar carrots (made with Earth Balance instead of butter)
Bob's Red Mill Bread Mix Rolls
Gluten Free Apple Crisp with Almond Dream Praline Crunch

My mom was amazing and took over most of this.  She followed the Glutino recipe on the back sans onions (my stomach can't take them) and eggs (my mom said eggs in stuffing are gross).  I loved it!  I'm actually not a big stuffing fan but I really loved this stuffing!  I think I'll get it again to make a chicken and stuffing casserole!
She also made the carrots, gravy and mashed potatoes.  She just took bits of it aside before the gluten ingredients and tweaked them for me.  Whatta mom!  Everything tasted great and I didn't feel deprived at all.  If anything, it tasted lighter in a good way.  The Earth Balance Soy Free spread rocks my world.  It tastes great, honestly.  My mom (a butter enthusiast) likes it and is impressed with how closely it tastes like butter.

I've been gluten free for awhile now and I know there is no substitute for good old fashioned wheat bread.  My motto is, "Different, but not bad."  I did not expect a gluten free bread mix to taste just like my mom's rolls.  I did expect for it to be edible.  I was wrong.

The first thing I noticed about the mix when I started to use it was how rank it smelled.  It was awful.  There are plenty of foods that stink but taste good (cheese, shrimp, Ramen) so I soldiered on.  I was pleasantly surprised when they came out of the oven nice and puffy.  They still smelled slightly funky but I went ahead and took a bite.  It tasted like it smelled.  It tasted like graveyard dirt.  It tasted like a mouthful of dank, mossy death.  I slathered some Earth Balance on the second bite.  I had to spit it out.  Even my beloved fake butter couldn't make the corpse roll taste any better.  It was that bad.  I checked the date on the packaging; it wasn't old.  It was just nasty and completely wrong.

Even though the rolls were a complete disaster, dessert was a triumph.  I made myself a small apple crisp using this recipe.

I was too lazy to grind up almonds so I skipped the almond meal.  I also like lots of topping so I doubled the topping (you will thank me later).  This was the best apple crisp I've ever had.  Really!  It was actually crispy and stayed nice and crunchy the next day.  I paired it with Almond Dream's AMAZING Praline Crunch "ice cream."

It's made from almonds and it is DELICIOUS.  Lest the all caps words haven't persuaded you, go try it.  It tastes like real ice cream and it's super low in fat compared to the real thing.  Not to mention, it has all natural ingredients (the mint chocolate chip is really good too!).  It was sooo good with the apple crisp.  Ahhh.  Life is good.

I hope this helps others out there like me.  Soldier on, friends!

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