U can’t catch it but U can catch on

Asian sauces can be found gluten free, because gluten is an issue world wide.

Asian sauces can be found gluten free, because gluten is an issue world wide.

When I first realized that I was going to have to eat without wheat (my favorite meal: pasta), barley (a favorite soup), rye (my favorite toast) I was overwhelmed by the ‘No’ in my head. My mind became a filtration system as I immediately focused on what eating gluten free would deny me. It brought me right back to when I found out that I was allergic to dairy, I mean seriously every single meal I ate before that diagnosis involved dairy of one sort or another. I didn’t know how to start my day without cereal with milk or toast with butter or cheese, so maybe I was already thinking that gluten and dairy free foods go hand in hand. Was I being sentenced to living on rice crackers and almond butter?  I lived through that phase when I was Microbiotic for 13 years, hummm, which was the only time I felt comfortable in my own body. OK I’m going to jump into gluten, dairy and sugar free with a full commitment to feeling good.

It’s very weird to think that your immune system is attacking your body from the inside out when you eat food that is considered normal, I felt like an alien on my own planet as I began to filter the foods that I could no longer depend on. “Stop IT!” “YOU KNOW BETTER!!” I coached myself.  I snapped out of it and came to realize that these ‘familiar and convenient’ foods had little nutritional value and were a far cry from what I knew to be healthy. I came to understand that what I eat is ‘better’: better flavor, better health and probably better for everyone!

My full understanding of my allergy to milk (which Asians don’t use in liquid or cheese form, OK except for the condensed milk in Thai iced tea and coffee) brought me to see that we aren’t made to drink milk our entire life anymore than I think that we’re supposed to cross-species-nurse so I started to think about processed flour and how far a cry it is from a grain.

Rice Vinegar and fresh lime juice made the creamy peanut butter and sesame paste thin enough to pour.

Rice Vinegar and fresh lime juice made the creamy peanut butter and sesame paste thin enough to pour.grain. My continued research has proven that the grain that is grown has been altered to best suit the industrialization of making bread, I remember standing in front of the first flour factory in Florence, Italy and thinking about the home cooks that had to process their flour until that factory proceeded to make one of the wealthiest families in history a major influence on the Renaissance, change the world indeed.

In my minds adjustment I came to look into ethnic cooking and ingredients, pre-gluten invasion, pre-Milk Board (until WWII animal milk was only available in the spring). I started with Asian, because macrobiotic cooking is country cooking Japanese style, I was comfortable with cooking that way and had some of the ingredients were already staples in my kitchen. Caught onto gluten free soy and fish sauce and I was off and running, and in a matter of days I realized just how much of my diet contained gluten. Integrating into family meals would be a challenge, I began with making my expensive gluten-free pasta separate, but I began making foods that everyone would appreciate that happened to be gluten, diary and sugar free.

Check the ingredients, but there are a large variety of rice noodles from Thailand.

Check the ingredients, but there are a large variety of rice noodles from Thailand.

Like cold sesame noodles, they’re a classic Chinese dish that are easy to make gluten, dairy and sugar free. Peanut butter as well as peanut and bean sprouts are always in my refrigerator, as are rice noodles from Thailand.

The first time the kids would taste it . “The spaghetti smells like peanut butter” said Picky Princess, age 3 who’s always in the kitchen if I’m in there. “Very good that you could smell that peanut butter because there is peanut butter in the noodles. You like peanut butter and you like noodles, so you’ll like this, try it!”
“But when I eat peanut butter and jelly, I really like the jelly; can I have jelly noodles?”

As I was thinking about a reasonable reply, I realized that her logic made total sense. Why not? What’s the difference? Peanut Butter Noodles.. yum, Jelly Noodles… yuck!

“Not a good idea” I told her, she went to her seat at the table. hummm no elaborate explanation necessary for a 3 year old, maybe the idea didn’t appeal to her as she thought about it either. I add a little glop of honey to the cold sesame noodles in place of the sugar, I’ve found that aside from being healthier, honey and agave are easier to cook with than refined sugars any way.

Fresh bean sprouts are a wonderful addition of crisp to Cold Sesame Noodles.

Fresh bean sprouts are a wonderful addition of crisp to Cold Sesame Noodles.

There are thin rules in culinary execution, (does sweet noodles fall into one?) and bending those rules has been the basis of all my original recipe successes. Most of my original recipe ideas have been met with ‘don’t do it’ by my assistants and friends that cook. They are then shocked and amazed at the delicious results, a fact that makes me gloat. Yes, I can imagine the combination of flavors before I commit, first with my nose and then with a little spoon.

Why isn’t Jelly and Pasta appealing to me? Classic Thai cuisine combines sweet sauces with noodles in Mee Krop, maybe it works because it includes adding bean sprouts and dried shrimp, adding a little heat with chili peppers, some salty in the fish sauce. Yes, a very successful and delicate balance of flavor profiles and textures. I have Jalapeno Jelly that I picked up at a farmer’s market that I haven’t been inspired to use yet. Maybe add that Jalapeno Jelly to gluten free corn pasta, which is not my favorite because of the texture, but maybe if I add a creamed avocado sauce and top it with the jalapeno Jelly. Maybe add some chicken or shrimp.  I think I’ll just have to give that a go.

Add crisp cubed tofu, left over chicken or shrimp.

Add crisp cubed tofu, left over chicken or shrimp.

Today I executed a fried banana base for a shrimp in hot sauce dish. Used my Hercajun spice on it. I did three different versions of the bananas, narrowed it down to two that worked, one sweeter than the other, both crisp and today I’m going to try it with plantains. Look for that fried banana and shrimp recipe on the Hercajun page of the website as soon as it’s perfect. Jelly Noodles to come, especially because she did try the Cold Sesame Noodles, she told me that ‘the chicken in peanut butter isn’t a good idea.’ She’s picky but as long as she’s willing to taste things her palate will be developed beyond food that comes through a window in a box.
Finish with a squirt of Shiracha hot sauce and fresh cilantro.

Finish with a squirt of Shiracha hot sauce and fresh cilantro.

How do we get over our expectations of what should and should not be eaten? I think it’s social pressure to fit in. How long did it take for Sushi (raw fish!!!) to be widely accepted outside of Japan? And does Escargot prove that we will eat just about anything drenched in enough butter and garlic? I think you stand a better chance of eating these things if you’re with people who are eating them than not. I think that everyone talking to their waiter about their food allergies when eating out has brought the gluten crisis into the attention of the general public and to the media.
Now, it is so easy for me to focus on what I can eat and made easier because the world has finally caught up with me. Gluten Free has become the butt of jokes, and used as a point if they add Lactose Intolerant with it, when I add that I also eat no sugar and salt I’m met with crinkled faces and “I’d rather die!” well, not if you knew how close it is to killing you!
Being made fun of is actually a good sign because it has been my experience that the next socially acceptable thing is what we are currently making fun of. Dumb blonde jokes opened the door just before women started having political careers along the side of men, not after the ERA wasn’t passed. Poland broke away from the Communist Block shortly after Polish Jokes were fashionable. So joke on you people that think this is a trend, because I don’t believe we were born this way, I think what ‘they’ have done to our food is the culprit, and I believe the rest of the world has already caught on as gluten free products are produced and labeled as such world wide. That’s right, it’s not contagious, you can’t catch it but you can catch on and that’s why it’s trending.

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