...is the food. I know that sounds somewhat strange. Most people who know about my celiac diagnosis or who hear that I'm gluten-free are so sorry for me because of what I'm missing. They say things like "I could never do that" and look at me with pity for the absence of pasta in my life. Relatives check in and ask how it's going, managing my new diet.
Sometimes, just because it's what they want to hear, I'll mention a few of the things I'll never have again or talk about how eating in restaurants has become so complicated.
But the truth? I've never eaten so well. I don't miss anything so far. I've never paid so much attention to my food, where it came from, or how I combine things, and there's an unexpected joy in it.
I found the lists (which are a wonderful service, and I don't mean to denigrate them at all!) of GF and non-GF foods extremely overwhelming. It's so much simpler to buy whole, unprocessed foods - foods that are just one ingredient! - and not have to worry.
My local farmer's market is my favorite store - when I buy pork or beef (or elk!) - I have a conversation with the family (often parents and kids) who raised and took care of the animals that will become my meal. They tell me exactly what the cows ate and how they spent their days. I love the pork from one family farm and while I'm sad to learn there won't be more until October, I feel no qualms about enjoying the meat I just bought since I know that the reason there won't be more is that they're waiting til the animals are ready, following the cycles of nature.
The vegetables and fruits are the same way. And herbs! No need to worry if gluten, in one form or another was used to keep dried basil from sticking if I'm washing and chopping it fresh from a garden with the dirt still on it. Beyond the wonderful world of fresh herbs, some of my favorite discoveries are Pattipan Squash, Beetroot, and watermelon.
Well, ok, I'd definately had watermelon before, but I had no idea how good for me it was (increases amino acids free arginine and citruline, excellent source of vitamins A, B6, and C, and also has vitamin B1, beta-carotine, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, the potent antioxident lycopene-over 4x/serving vs. tomatoes!) or that juicing the whole thing (rind, seeds, and flesh) made a wonderful, thirst-quenching juice! In China, the seeds are apparently a common snack when roasted, as popular as sunflower seeds. I've got to try that! This morning I had a watermelon smoothie with breakfast. Yum.
Beets were a revelation. I hated them as a child, from the can, dying my mashed potatoes a horrid shade of fuschia and tasting like ... ugh. Fresh beets are a whole other thing. It's like a different vegetable-they can be juiced, sauted, and the greens too.
Pattipan is a squash, that looks like a small, pale acorn squash in shape and can be used like a zucchini. It tastes, to me, kind of like zucchini but more flavorful and slightly peppery. I've been stir-fying it in grapeseed oil with a Herbs en Provence style blend. Last night, I mixed in fresh peas, prosciutto (admittedly not local, but GF! with only 2 ingredients - the second being salt), sprouted mung beans, fresh basil, salt & pepper, and leftover brown rice. It made the best fried rice I've ever had.
I could go on and on - and I probably will here as I discover other foods. I'm still not healthy and it will probably be a while until I heal, but I feel better about what I'm eating than I ever did before going gluten-free. Being aware of what I eat (to be GF) has made me pay attention to food in a new way. I feel, paradoxically, set free by my 'restricted' diet. Food isn't just fuel, it's become a true pleasure.