Welcome to Busy Gluten-Free Mama. My oldest & youngest sons and I eat gluten-free while my husband, other son & daughter do not. My life is too busy to cook 2 separate meals multiple times per day! Feeding a “mixed” family like ours is a breeze; start reading and you will see how! My kids are normal kids who want normal, yummy food (not “strange” health-food!) — and I’m a mom who wants uncomplicated, not-gonna-break-the-bank solutions to feed them. You won’t find fancy or gourmet here — but you will find simple, scrumptious food! Happy cooking & happy eating!
My gluten-free journey began in early 2009. My mother had read about eating gluten-free, and she had determined that I would benefit from it. I resisted for months saying that I didn’t want to give up my bread, pasta, and crackers, but the unbearable pain in my neck, upper shoulders and back was so excruciating (untouched by medication) that I reluctantly agreed. What did I have to lose? I would eat gluten-free for a few weeks to appease her, and then after it didn’t work, I could go back to eating the way I liked. That was the plan.
The first few days were horrible; it felt like I couldn’t eat anything! But after 3 days of being gluten-free, a surprising result: my flatulence was gone! Yep! My whole life I had been a “gassy girl,” and sometimes this was extremely painful gas (not to mention embarrassing!). I just figured it was the way my body worked. I had no idea that something like gluten could cause painful gas.
I kept going with the gluten-free eating. The first few weeks were the hardest; it seemed like every time I wanted something (like a graham cracker with peanut butter or breaded chicken patty on a bun), I couldn’t have it. I quickly found myself searching for gluten-free alternatives for my cravings. And dinner for the family was a whole new experience. Unfortunately for them, I was the cook, so I decided what was for dinner. Old stand-by meals like Hamburger Helper® or frozen ravioli baked with spaghetti sauce topped with cheese were now a thing of the past because I couldn’t eat it. I didn’t have the time to cook two meals every night – one for me and one for the rest of the family.
At first I made easy changes like baking chicken with spaghetti sauce on top sprinkled with mozzarella cheese served over spaghetti (and I would just skip the spaghetti). Then I began researching online and reading books to find tips and recipes. I discovered RICE! Plain rice is gluten-free, and I could make lots of dishes and casseroles with rice. I felt like I was getting a handle on this gluten-free eating, and my chronic neck and back pain were decreasing too. Because I was seeing results, I decided to continue with this new eating lifestyle. It’s a good thing that I was figuring this out because my oldest son would soon be joining me on this journey.
Wesley was just a few months into his 5th grade year. At parent-teacher conferences, his teacher told us how well he was doing in his academics, but then she asked us a surprising question: “Is there something physically wrong with Wesley? Because after lunch, that boy can clear the room!” We knew that Wesley had a tendency to be gassy too, but we had no idea that some of his “friends” would call him their “gassy friend.” How embarrassing! My husband and I agreed very quickly that Wesley needed to go gluten-free to see if his intestinal problems would improve. I was so thankful that I had already gone on this journey and could easily help my 11-year-old do the same. He wouldn’t have to go through feeling like he couldn’t eat anything because I had already discovered lots of GF options that I could share with him.
Within just a few weeks, Wesley’s flatulence and intestinal issues cleared up dramatically. He’s now 15 years old, and I know that there are times he really wants to eat a regular doughnut or a piece of pizza at a friend’s house, but he also knows he may pay for it later if he does. Until recently, both he and I have eaten gluten-free while the other four members of our family consumed gluten. Interestingly enough, as I was finishing my GF cookbook, we decided to try a GF diet for our youngest son, Tyler. He was having tummy troubles and very loose stools. What did we have to lose? Why not try GF for a while and see what would happen? Sure enough, his digestive issues are almost completely gone. So now, we have 3 people who are gluten-free and 3 who are not.
My purpose in writing a GF cookbook (which I am working on publishing) is to help people who need simple, healthy, gluten-free meals. Families who are mixed like ours (some eating gluten and some not) will also find this book invaluable. Families are so busy today; they hardly have time to cook one meal to enjoy together much less two meals (one being a regular meal and another being a gluten-free meal)! And eating out is not only expensive but semi-risky when you have to eat gluten-free. Over the past 5 years I have developed many recipes that will work for the entire family – “normal” recipes that you would not know are gluten-free. And these recipes use mostly “normal ingredients” that don’t cost an arm and a leg and are fairly easy to make with minimal ingredients. Additionally, I am a bit of a health-nut. (Be forewarned!) I have shared nutritional products with people for over 15 years to help them lose weight, get healthier and gain energy. I have taught weight-loss and nutritional classes to hundreds of people, so I have a love for making sure people get enough protein, the right fats, and not too much sugar/carbs; many of my recipes will reflect this viewpoint. And I will be sharing many of these recipes with you, my followers!!!
Finally, neither my sons nor I have been formally diagnosed by a doctor to have any disorder (like Celiac), but with our own experimenting, we have determined that we are at the very least gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant. And this is the perspective from which I am writing this blog. I’m no expert. I’m just a mom who needed to figure out a workable way to feed herself and her family based on their varying dietary needs. I hope that this blog helps others simplify their gluten-free life too.
Each person who eats gluten-free (whether out of necessity like me and my sons, or out of choice for other reasons) must determine what their body can handle. For example, I recently heard of an unfortunate young lady who is so sensitive/allergic to gluten that gluten-containing foods cannot even be present on the table or she will have a reaction. Another case involves a young man who even if he breathes in the particles of flour, he goes into anaphylaxis shock. In these cases, some of the recipes and suggestions in this blog may need to be adjusted according to your situation, so use your judgment. And always consider a physician’s advice when adjusting your diet; the information in this blog is not meant to overrule any direction given by your doctor, so please use discretion and good judgment for your unique circumstances.