The Gluten Free Challenge Pt 1: Days 1-4

*Eye roll* Why are you jumping on the gluten free bandwagon?

Back in August, I started having trouble with my left leg going numb when I laid down to sleep at night. Within a few weeks, it started happening at odd intervals throughout the day as well. After about a month, it spread to my left arm, then my right arm. About a week and a half ago, my arms stopped going numb and I started having constant, searing pain. I’ve quit smoking, started seeing a doctor, started seeing a neurologist, had 3 MRIs in 4 weeks (I should have the results on the last one soon!), and still don’t know anything.

Another blogger suggested that it may be gluten ataxia, which you can read more about here, or just go Google crazy–there’s a lot of information out there to sort through.

I started out what I thought would be a one-week challenge, however, based on my research, it can take months to get gluten out of your system and heal enough to feel any kind of relief.  So, I’m probably going to be eating like this for a while, depending on what the doctor says. I’ve decided to document the first week of this insanity here.

Day 1: This can’t be that difficult, right?

I tried browsing recipes on Allrecipes.com, my go to site for food….but filtering for gluten-free foods was a bit tricky. It was much easier on eatingwell.com. This is the part of the show where I started to obsess over cake and bread and crackers. Good grief, when did crackers become the enemy? I finally decided that coming up with a full week’s worth of dinners was too hard when I really didn’t know very much about gluten, so I just came up with two meals: Quiche and Enchiladas.

After work, I hopped over to WalMart to grab a few supplies. Cue the nightmare music.

Hummus is universally safe apparently and there were lots to choose from. Just try finding a cracker to have it on. I googled “gluten free crackers walmart” on my phone and came up with a brand, but couldn’t find it in the store.

I very easily found a gluten-free cake mix. For $4.64. I can get a regular cake mix for $1 at Aldi! I seemed to recall an episode of The Biggest Loser where Chef Rocco Dispirito made something with chickpea flour. That’s what I need! Alternative flour! I went up and down the baking aisle 4 times before I finally found a tiny little bag of soy flour. For $2.08. It was the only alternative flour I could find. I grabbed it, complaining all the way. At least there was a bread recipe on the back. Easy peasy.

When I got home, I saw that the bread recipe called for wheat flour. This is going to be a long week, isn’t it?

Day 2: Brought to you by the number “5!”

I sat down and made out a week-long gluten free meal plan and Scott and I went to Aldi to pick up a few additional provisions for the week. Aldi has gotten some good reviews for their prominent labeling of gluten free foods, so that helped a lot, but it was still confusing. Why is a can of pinto beans gluten free but refried beans aren’t? Why did someone have to put wheat in the beans just to mash them?

We got just about everything we needed there, and then we decided to check out the west side WalMart (I went to the store on the east side of town the night before) and see what kind of gluten free products we could find. I bought a bag of cookies and a box of cookie mix. The already-made cookies weren’t bad.

After WalMart, we headed to Natural Grocers, a store Scott has wanted to check out for a while, but not I. I can’t go to Natural Grocers! I don’t do yoga, I don’t drive a Prius, and I don’t hate chemicals. I love chemicals. Ammonia and bleach are some of my favorites.

Despite not wearing skinny jeans or a peasant skirt, I found Natural Grocers to be quite accessible. I was able to find gluten free everything. Noodles, bread, flour, condensed soups. I picked out a loaf of tapioca bread to try out, partially because Scott thought tapioca would be the yummiest, but mostly because it was the cheapest.

Here’s the financial impact: everywhere we went, there was a common theme: A gluten free item was right about 5 times what I would pay for the same item with gluten.

That evening, I made truly homemade enchiladas. I even made the sauce from scratch. The corn tortillas were store bought, but I was still proud. After 2+ hours in the kitchen, I had prepared a feast of enchiladas, mexican rice and refried beans–all homemade, all gluten free. I greatly prefer flour tortillas to corn, but I can adjust. The beans were great and the rice was magnificent!

Day 3: No Problem

I skipped breakfast and ate leftover enchiladas for lunch and supper. Man, I love going on autopilot.

Day 4: Adventures in Bread

I can eat my potato soup!

A few weeks ago, I started making my own soups and freezing them in individual bowls rather than buying canned soup for lunch every day.

Unfortunately, I have an affection for noodles and dumplings that is just uncanny. (Hehe, un-can-ny! Get it?)

Fortunately, I started using instant potato flakes as a thickener for soups instead of flour, so my potato soup is safe!

I packed a bowl of potato soup in my lunch and a sandwich made with the Tapioca loaf I purchased at Natural Grocer. The slices are tiny, but whatevs. I need to eat lighter anyway. It’s a little dry, but so what? Well, it’s kinda rubbery. It’s kind of…

EXACTLY LIKE EATING A DIRTY OLD SPONGE FROM THE KITCHEN!!!

I tried to dip it in the soup and let it soak, but it was no good. I was eating a dirty old kitchen sponge sandwich. Tiny as it was, I couldn’t finish it. It was too horrible. So, I ended up spending 3$ on a tiny loaf of bread I can’t even eat. I guess I’ll never get the ol’ budget under control.

On the way home, I stopped at WalMart to do some more hunting and found gluten free Bisquick! Finally, a lucky break! It just costs more than twice as much as regular Bisquick for a box half the size (I’m sure it’s meant to even out to 5x the price per biscuit) but it’s Bisquick! I can have biscuits and dumplings and pancakes and waffles and pot pies!!! Woot!

Had it really only been 4 days since I had bread? It seemed like it had been much longer. The mix looked legit, but the directions were a tad bit different. It called for shortening to be mixed in with it. Wha??? Whatever, I did it. For good measure, I also mixed in some cheddar cheese, parsley and garlic powder. Mmmmmm, garlic cheddar biscuits! I love it!

They looked amazing! Amazing! But the true test is taste, right? The taste was…different. The texture was perfect, but all I could taste was the shortening. Maybe margarine next time? (I detest butter–margarine all the way!!!) When I dipped the biscuit in the broth from my soup, it tasted just like a biscuit!

So, in the battle of the bread, we have one major failure and one victory. I’m excited to experiment more with the biscuits, but as much as they cost, they may be only an occasional treat. Based on my research, that may be the rule for all breads.

So Far…

I learned a lot in just a few days. Maybe 2 days after I bought that bag of soy flour, I realized what a ridiculous thing it was to do. So far, I haven’t starved, but we’ll see. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of my gluten free week. If there is a conclusion.

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Categories: Eat Better, Everything Else | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Gluten Free Challenge Pt 1: Days 1-4

  1. This is fantastic–thanks so much for sharing your trials and tribulations. I’d be interested to know how you’re feeling now–has the numbness started to subside? Are you feeling healthier?

    • Thanks for stopping by! I feel…different. I have had less numbness, but much more pain. I’m not ready to call it yet. I’m also trying to get more vitamins via supplements and breakfast smoothies–I’ll be a health nut before you know it!

      By the way, I’ve been browsing your blog and I’m loving it! The “Sacredness of the Body” post was just amazing! I may need to reblog. 🙂

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