Going home from the doctor’s appointment after my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease I simply felt overwhelmed. All I could think was now what? On one hand I was feeling blessed that the “only” thing wrong with this little lady was celiac and it could be controlled with diet.On The other had I had no freaking clue what this all meant and I was frustrated and feeling guilty that I could do not more fast enough to make M all better.
Finding information online was a bit challenging at the time (this was 1998) and I was forced to rely upon people at the health food store and a few pamphlets from the doctor before our appointment with the nutritionist at Boston Children’s Hospital a few weeks out from that time. The doctor also informed me at the end of our appointment that my daughter would need to temporarily follow a dairy free diet to allow her gut to heal for at least 6 months. So for 6 months my 18 lb 15 month old child was gluten and dairy free and miserable that she could not have a cookie like her siblings or chicken nuggets. The other kids were frustrated because they were forced to eat their snacks or nuggets in stealth mode, and I was frustrated because this whole gluten free thing was so much harder than I imagined.
The simple question was …what do I feed this child? I tried all the baking mixes available in the store and most were terrible. The muffins tasted like sand, the bread was terribly complicated to make (I was a newbie) and my daughter did not want to eat any of it. There were some gems…Foods by George had pre made frozen pizza and brownies that tasted pretty good, Gorilla Munch cereal was a great replacement and the good news was the other children in the family were willing to eat it as well. We had a start, and then I realized that there was plenty of foods we eat that are naturally gluten free including popcorn and hence M’s love affair with popcorn began. We were starting to navigate the waters of eating GF and while it was still tough it was definitely getting easier.
Getting involved with the Celiac Support Group at Children’s Hospital in Boston definitely was a step int he right direction for us as a family. We learned about mail order specialty food companies that sold better foods than the ones available at retail and there were people who tried the products and gave advice.
Today theer are more options since gluten free eating seems to be a much more mainstream issue. The number of available foods has exploded and there is loads of information available on the internet. However nothing really replaces that moment when someone says I have been there and let me help you out.
Today I have to admit all of my hard work paid off. I have learned to adapt recipes using GF ingredients and really wish my darling daughter would be a bit more adventurous but I get it…there comes a point when you realize you are a master at reading food labels, you think constantly about how you can make that recipe gluten free. I have a great idea of foods that kids will eat and not eat, what brand of GF pretzels are the best, how to make breadcrumb toppings from potato chips, GF pretzels and stale GF bread. I can make a darn good pizza and even use those pizza crusts to make cinnamon sticks (like the ones advertised by big food chains) or garlic bread sticks…I can make crust out of crushed cookies and make a great pie.
By the way the picture at the top of the post is a box of French Macarons that we bought at Lauderee` patisserie inside Harrods in London earlier this year. It was AMAZING to be able to get a GF treat like this. M loved these so much that we went back to Harrods before we left for Heathrow and our flight to Dublin with little time to spare. I will post about our adventures in London another day…but in the meantime I am on the hunt to get a great macaron recipe so I can repeat that great experience…
Until next time…Happy eating