Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Gluten-Free Challenge Recap

Well, the last month has really opened my eyes. The general public is becoming more aware of gluten intolerance, especially if they're avid food blog readers. What I couldn't have guessed before is that nearly everyone either knows someone who has Celiac disease or is a friend of a friend. It's amazing to me because it's almost the perverse new trend. With everything I've been reading about wheat and processed foods lately, I guess it shouldn't be too much of a shock.

Speaking of food intolerance, my April challenge is vegan recipes. Since I've started gearing up for that and winding down with gluten-free, I've never been so aware of the growing number of people with special dietary restrictions - both voluntary and not. It's made me so much more grateful that I decided to take this challenge in the first place. Word to the wise, if you don't know someone with a special diet now, you will. Soon. Now more than ever, there's a huge, delicious world of "alternative" recipes. Why don't you try out a few and pin them down so that next time, when it's actually necessary, you won't be the person to show up to dinner with some inedible health food that you thought might be okay for weird-eating people. You don't want that and neither do they. /off soapbox

This leads me in to thinking about flour. I love trying new kinds and have more than my fair share on my pantry shelf. However, most of the time I get stuck thinking about them as novelty items. This relegates them to once-in-a-while recipes that are "special" and further segregates them in my mind. What is even more amazing is that most of these flours have been around for a long time. Either they weren't big in my part of the world, or we forgot how to use them, or we've succumb to the brainwashing that is advertising, believing wheat is the only flour. So to help straighten my mind out, I've had to learn how to work with them. My major three were sorghum, brown rice, and buckwheat flour.

I find sorghum flour to be a bit mealy and it doesn't seem to hold moisture as well. Buckwheat has an almost dirt-like flavor (as you've guessed by my last posts), but seemed to grow on me. Brown rice is by far my favorite. It was versatile, moist, not too crumbly, and cheaper than some of the others I've seen. This is only a small sampling and I've got more to try. I can't wait.

Now, for those of you who wondered about me cheating: I did. After the first week and a half, I realized that I was about to throw away or give away perfectly good food just to do this challenge. That seems silly to me, especially on a stipend. It made me reassess why I did this in the first place. I was bored cooking the same types of things. I wanted to try new recipes. Bam. Let me eat my leftovers and bits in peace, but expand my horizons. This was a perfect balance for me and one I intend to carry into April.

Overall: This month was really rewarding. Even after a rocky start and a lot of frustration with eating out (free bread everywhere!), I started to get into the groove. I've got a growing list of gluten-free foods that are appetizing, satisfying, and easily adaptable to lots of food allergies. Plus, I've got a few more tricks up my sleeve than before. What more could I ask for?

If you'd like to venture on a similar journey or could use more sites to help you along, I recommend these, in no particular order:

Gluten Free Girl and The Chef
Gluten Free Goddess
Simply Gluten Free
Gluten Free Mommy

No comments: