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A Year Later; Thanksgiving 2008

Posted by little_c, 01 December 2008 · 143 views

I've been away from blogging and went in to check my entries today. I was surprised to see that my last blog was a year ago when I wrote about my first Thanksgiving after diagnosis. My, how time flies! Since this year's Thanksgiving has just ended, it's a good time to compare the experience a year later. It's been a crazy year of ups and downs in my personal life. Having to adapt to a new lifestyle added to the trauma. However, living with celiac has definitely gotten easier over the last year.

Thanksgiving poses special problems for celiacs because so much of the traditional menu has gluten ingredients. This year I felt like a seasoned pro and had no trouble with cooking the meal. I adapted what I could and made myself alternate items where appropriate. I had guests bring those items that I didn't want to deal with (like stuffing.) I didn't lament the loss of traditional foods, as my cravings for them have all but ceased. (I had a few instances over the past year where I accidentally ingested gluten and got very ill. The memory of that is enough to stop any urge to 'cheat' on the diet.)

I'm still sometimes making two versions of items (like gravy,) but have now starting creeping gluten-free foods into the mainstream menu. I didn't make a big deal about it, guests aren't the wiser and they loved the food. I've switched to using fresh turkey from the local butcher instead of frozen to avoid any burst gravy packets. I stuff it with onions and herbs. I've replaced certain baking dishes with new ones to avoid cross contamination. And, I use Whole Foods frozen gluten-free pie crusts for my pumpkin pies which are enjoyed by all. (I'd like to add here that I'm thankful to Whole Foods for operating their gluten-free bake house. I don't know what I'd do without it!) Overall, now that I've been gluten-free for more than a year, it just seems more natural to cook a gluten-free Thanksgiving meal and it's becoming second nature.

This year I'm even looking forward to doing some Christmas baking. Last year I was too distraught to try. Over this past summer I had success with a few gluten-free baked items and that's given me the courage to try to adapt my favorite cookie recipes to gluten-free. I use Authentic Foods featherlite rice flour blend which has a great flavor and comes out flaky. I'm still not an expert at it (it's taking me some time to figure out the right amount of xanthan gum to use,) but I think I know enough now to give full-blown holiday cookie baking a try.

The moral to my story is that learning to be gluten-free takes time. It's a complicated process that poses challenges every day. But, as time goes on, it becomes easier as you find your favorite sources for food and learn new cooking techniques. Even traditional favorites can still be enjoyed with a little creativity and adaptation. This year I'm thankful for my health and for all those businesses that produce gluten-free food!

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