Today we began “Gluten Free Month” at mi casa. It’s nothing dramatically new for me; I’ve been largely wheat-free for a couple of years now, excepting breading on chicken nuggets (yum!) and the hidden wheat in some other products.
This time, though, I’m taking the whole family with me on the journey. The idea started a few years ago when I noticed a red rash on my daughter’s arms and back. It just never seemed to go away. The pediatrician wasn’t at all worried about it, but I could not bring myself to equate “persistent red bumps” with “healthy skin.”
So I started thinking about it, and I realized I needed to give her a full month to “detox” the wheat out of her system and see how she reacted. She didn’t want to. She flat out didn’t want to know that wheat might be hurting her because she loves all things wheat. She told me she would rather not know and that the bumps really didn’t bother her, so why should they bother me? Typical teenager.
So I sweetened the deal. “If you do a month without wheat, a gluten free month, I will pay for the acting camp you want to go to.”
Signed, sealed, and delivered. I had a convert.
Now I just needed to get the other two family members on board.
My other daughter was very much of the “What’s in it for me?” mindset. I don’t blame her. Her sister was getting $150 worth of fun for one month of change. I got her to agree to do it with us, but I still need to come up with a reward for solidarity.
My husband looked at me, looked down at the table, looked at me, and said, “Okay.” But behind his eyes, his thoughts were racing. I knew better than to ask in front of the girls. After they’d gone off to get dressed, he said, “Ok, I’ll be gluten free at home, but you know I love bread. I’m not promising to stick to this while I’m at work.”
That, I assured him, would be fine. All I needed was solidarity in front of the kids. He’s a grown-up. He can make his own decisions. I just didn’t want to have the food around the house that would be tempting to a wheat-starving teenager.
Then came the de-wheat-ifying the pantry and refrigerator. We pretty much had a wheat bonanza this past week, trying to eat up and get rid of all the wheat foods. The biggest culprits were crackers, Pop Tarts, pasta, Girl Scout cookies, and breakfast cereal. I took anything unopened and packed it away out of sight. I tried to share all of the opened items among friends and family. Yesterday, I dumped everything open on the table and told the teenagers to eat anything they wanted from that pile. I know that gorging on wheat the day before will make it take longer to get it out of her system, but it was also a symbolic “going away” party. It showed her what items are going to be literally off the table for the next month and allowed her to satiate any last desire to eat them.
Yesterday, we went to wander through Wal-Mart, an infrequent shopping trip for us, and I snagged a box of Hungry Jack gluten free “funfetti” pancake mix, on the premise that it would be easier to get teenager buy-in to this month if I did go a little out of my way to replace familiar products with alternative versions.
When the kids were ready for breakfast today, they thought this stuff smelled AMAZING. They were actually excited to try it. Now, for those of you cooking it for the first time, it’s going to need a little finessing. It doesn’t cook as quickly through the middle as the pancakes you’re used to making from wheat flour mixes. However, it does cook quickly on each side, so you need to reduce your heat and cook longer to get it cooked all the way through.
The taste was good, the texture was a little grainy, but overall, it was a win. My husband even remarked that when he was done with his test pancake, he went searching for the second (nonexistant) pancake and was disappointed when there weren’t any more.
We played board games and relaxed until lunch time (it was a lazy Saturday, after all), and then I opened up the new-to-me George Foreman Grill my friend had sent my way. I had some chicken that needed to be used up, so onto the grill it went.
Then came the “Oh, crap!” moment when I realized I hadn’t made any vegetables, and the chicken was nearly done. Off to the refrigerator I went, quickly picking out the ones my kids would likely eat raw: shredded carrots and sliced cucumbers. I then called on one of my kids to whip up some minute rice while I was otherwise occupied cranking open a can of green beans. Minute Rice had become their favorite guilty pleasure. Again, easing into the month was my goal. So this is what I presented to the teenager to eat for lunch: Prefectly grilled chicken breast, green beans, shredded carrot, sliced cucumber, and a bowl of rice.
How’d it go over? Yep, you guessed it. Teenage outrage. “WHY did you have to give me so much FOOD?” And, “I can’t eat this much CHICKEN!” I love teenager logic.
If it had been chicken nuggets, she could’ve devoured an entire plate full.
If it had been 700 calories in cheese pizza from Costco, there would be no problem.
But a meal weighing in at around 300 calories, rather well balanced in its macronutrients AND vitamins? Oh, that’s too much.
Anyhow, it eventually got eaten. She didn’t die from an overdose of vegetables.
My husband was awesome when he went to the store today to get some things he needed; he picked up a loaf of gluten-free bread that looked appealing to him.
Tonight, my teen will have her first self-control trial. She got invited over to a friend’s house to go swimming right around dinner time. I let the friend know that she was going gluten-free, and I told her we would send some food with to make it easier on everyone.
Day 1 is almost in the books. Everyone is grudgingly on board.