by Kimber Bennett
So, we finally get a diagnosis for what ails my darling hubby, causing incredible fatigue, kinda scary weight loss and tummy trouble. It took testing of several different body substances (not all of them fluids, if you know what I mean) to finally determine my man is allergic to gluten and casein (milk protein) – you know, the basic building blocks of the Western diet. Sigh…but at least we know what to avoid. Armed with this new info, I kicked it into Wonder Woman mode. Dum-da-da-dum! Never fear – I’ll just start learning how to cook delicious meals free of that pesky gluten and casein. I. Was. Clueless.
When you go gluten-free, ain’t nothin’ free about it.
Hubs had to eat an incredibly limited diet initially, to help “cleanse and detox” his system and let his immune system stand down from red alert mode. Incredibly limited translated to no legumes, no soy, most grains were verboten (some of them permanently), and the higher-sugar fruits were a no-no. Just about the time we’d adjusted to this diet, he had to go vegan for a week. This is not a good thing for a picky eater who likes very few veggies in the first place. You really don’t wanna know what happened to ye olde grocery bill, either; add the word “free” to a product and I’ll guarantee you the price goes up almost exponentially.
Fresh produce is great for your body, but it’s also very quickly digested, so prepare to buy it in bulk. The hubster would be hungry again an hour after a meal and was constantly grazing. I started to feel like a zookeeper, shoveling enough greens to feed Jumbo Elephant. (On the plus side, Mr. Picky decided to try several veggies he’d refused to eat in the past. Man cannot live by salad alone, heh.) To help with his between-meals noshing, I learned how to make some pretty tasty fruit smoothies: frozen fruit, almond milk and a non-soy protein powder. (I kid you not, it’s hemp-based. We half-joke about whether he could pass a random drug test.) I almost killed my poor little kitchen blender; it just wasn’t tough enough for the job. We bought a high-powered blender – I think it’ll go from 0 to 60 in 30 seconds, and I can’t resist saying, “Gentlemen, start your engines” every time I use it. Awesome, but cha-ching. And I just giggle maniacally when someone complains about the cost of a gallon of milk, because that’s about how much a half-gallon of almond milk costs. I’ll let you guess who’s a cereal-for-breakfast kinda guy who can easily blow through a gallon of almond milk per week. Cha-ching.
Now we must discuss gluten-free pasta. I gotta be honest: most of it’s over-priced (about triple the price of wheat pasta, cha-ching) and under-tasty, which is ironic given that the main ingredient is usually rice flour. I wonder what they do to rice that gives it that sawdust/glue taste. I just decided to skip the middleman and the cutesy pasta shapes and went with rice noodles. They cook faster than wheat pasta, so if you overcook them, they’ll turn to mush. Don’t despair if this happens – the mush can be fashioned into a lovely papier-mâché sculpture or a sturdy piñata. Olé!
There are also a couple of hidden costs that I’d never considered: the cost of a pair of bifocals and the cost of your time. Why, you ask? Because most product ingredient lists are rendered in itty-bitty, teeny-tiny print, all of which you have to read every freakin’ time. And yes, I mean every freakin’ time, because just when you think you know which products are safe, a manufacturer may switch to a different vendor or packaging/production facility, and then all bets are off. Or maybe they use one facility to produce one version of their product, but use a different facility for a different product size. So you gotta play it safe and squint at that print…a lot.
I really shouldn’t complain; my family’s been living the gluten-free life for about 8 months now and we’ve all reaped some benefits, including having a happier, healthier “man of the house” in residence. (Men are such wusses when they don’t feel good. Oy.) When all is said and done and we do our cost/benefit analysis, that’s a priceless benefit, and I’m sure it’s cheaper over the long term than medication (though I’m betting my walking sweet-tooth of a husband would gladly swallow a pill that would allow him to eat a gluten-licious chocolate-chip cookie). So I just adjust my bifocals and schlep on over to the grocery store – home away from home – with only a half-hearted grumble. Bon appétit!
I’m a book lover, a wannabe novelist, a wife, a mother and a tennis fiend; I’m addicted to Zumba and I teach a class I created, called Belly Babes. (Shakira, eat your heart out. Heh.) I have a potty mouth and a deep love for bawdy jokes and locker-room humor. I’ve reached middle-age, which I guess is good, (means I should live to be damned near 100, right?), and I certainly have the attitude to back it up. Hypocrites and prudes should just keep on movin’; like-minded wenches, c’mon in and relax while I whip up some margaritas. You can follow me @dirtyoldbroad and catch up on more of my writing at Dirty Old Broad Blog.