Right before I got diagnosed with Celiac we had bought pasta…a lot of pasta…and not the dried pasta that you get in the aisle with the pasta sauces, the kind that needs to be refrigerated. We had gotten then at a steep discount (thank you Safeway) and stuck them in our freezer. The first thing that needed to leave the house were those and bread and ice creams and soups and…well you get the drift. There are things that you never expected to have gluten that you have to start to avoid (thank you Doritos) and things that you totally expected to avoid that you can have (like Cheetoes for some random reason.) I’m not just talking about super processed food, but things like couscous. I never thought of couscous as anything bad for me, but there it is on all of the wheat lists. We had a lot of things like that, and they all went into the goodbye pile.
Then you come to things from the bulk bins. Bulk bins where you can get rice flour and oatmeal. Bulk bins that suffer from the same lack of consciousness of other people as salad bars. These are the cross contamination nightmares. Honestly, I think Celiacs should be more scared of bulk bins than they are of any processed foods. Processed food have to let you know that they’re made in a facility where someone might have possibly eaten a sandwich because that is part of the FDA rules. Bulk bins don’t have to tell you that they once contained flour or that Bob over there used the same scoop for the rice flour as he did for his whole wheat flour. Yup, they are the silent threat of double dipping, sneaking up on you, like in ninja. And therefore our wild rice and dates other such lovely things were also out.
We had a handy app (Gluten Free Food Finder that I mentioned a few weeks ago) that we used to scan everything in our pantry. My husband sifted through everything while I googled anything that we had no idea what it was. Things were dropping like flies. Cans of refried bean, in to goodbye pile. Canned soups…goodbye pile. Jars of pasta sauce…goodbye pile. It was also Girl Scout cookie season, so half eaten boxes of samosa and thin mints went to the goodbye pile (well they went to the husband pile because only a monster will give away half eaten boxes of cookies.) We got to pretty slim pickings in our pantry, and a large pile on our kitchen table. It was this Shrine of No. All of them sitting there, waiting for me to sacrifice my intestines to worship at their feet.
Yup, my relationship with food is really kind of abusive. Seriously abusive. Cheese and I have these cycles we go through where I get super clingy and it makes me feel terrible about myself. And I won’t even get into chips…oh boy. And here were all of these food that were literally poisoning me, sitting on the table taunting me. Staring at me and daring me to eat them. There were all of these things that I like to eat, things that made my life easy. There were the bases for comfort food or things that I ate when I was younger. There would be no more blue boxes of mac and cheese with ketchup (apparently it’s a Canadian thing I adopted somehow). No more yellow boxes of crackers with cheese and apples. No more red and white cans of tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches on snowy days. Yup, this was a Shrine to No in my new normal. A towering monument of negativity.
If that’s not enough to make someone cry…look at the sad Doctor in the rain.
Yup, it’s that sad.
I’m a pretty positive person normally, cynical yes, but I’m a positive cynical. That’s what I get for being born in that transition from Gen X to Millennial. I cannot rest in the doldrums at the foot of the Shrine of No, it’s just not in my nature. I also like to help people (I know it seems shocking coming from someone who is writing a blog to give all of the advice that she never got). So here’s my surefire way to beat those doldrums:
- Get a box.
- Put all of the food you cannot have into the box.
- Put the box in your car
- Drive to the closest food bank
- Donate that food.
Yup, give it to someone who can and will appreciate it. You’re not only getting that Shrine of No out of your house, but you’re giving it to people who can use it. I mean, we all give to food banks, but it’s always to stuff that we bought and don’t really want to eat. Now you can give them something that they might really appreciate. Yup, you get to be the nice person at the food bank that doesn’t just give dried beans or canned beets.
And, here’s the best part, now that you have all of that room in your pantry you get to fill it again! Besides you’re going to need room for all of the different flours that you need just to bake a damn loaf of bread. But there’s so many great foods out there that you can try, and should try. Don’t rest on your laurels! Sure you like the Sniders Gluten Free Pretzels, but if you don’t try the Trader Joe’s brand or the Gluteno band you won’t really know. And here’s a big secret. You know how all of the different brands of wheat flour is pretty much all the same (it’s ground wheat people), gluten free flour brands are all different. You get a GF AP from King Arthur, it’s different from the GF AP from Bob’s Red Mill. They each are a different mix of “alternative” flours. So you got to experiment with all of those to find what you like. And every GF cook has a brand that they like more than others.
You’ll also find yourself picking up things that you never liked just because there’s a gluten free version of it. Oh look, gluten free peanut butter cookies. I hate peanut butter, but I need to try this. So in the next few weeks you’ll be picking up things that you’ll eat a couple of, and discover that you don’t like. I still have a couple of those kinds of things in my pantry. I don’t know why, but I have an aversion to throwing out food.
I have no idea why…