GF LIFE HACKS

GF Life Hack #7

One of the great things about becoming gluten free is the discovery of your favorite new gluten free bread. (I understand that if you didn’t have to live gluten free you wouldn’t have to find a “favorite new gluten free bread”, but the fun is in the discovery.). The bread that you can make sandwiches with, and take for lunch to work or school so you almost feel normal. Something to toast for breakfast or make garlic bread with on Italian dinner night.

I have discovered my new favorite several times since I’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Each time there have been very similar downsides to my the new favorite. I have found that most gluten free breads either dry out quickly or can mold just as quickly. It is so frustrating to spend extra money to eat gluten free just to throw it away.  It has caused me years of trying to figure out a solution. Some breads freeze well, but then you have to think ahead to thaw it out. Another problem with freezing besides planning ahead is that unless it’s completely thawed out the bread breaks apart and is no longer big enough for your sandwiches.

So I came up with an idea that I am completely excited about and I can’t believe it took me so long to think of! It’s so simple it’s ridiculous. My gluten free hack for dealing with gluten free bread is to package serving sizes in ziplock bags. What I love about this is when I need bread for my lunch I just grab a ziplock baggie out, throw it my lunch box with my sandwich fixings and make my sandwich at work.


I’m sure you probably already came up with this hack- but just in case you didn’t…

And yes- my new favorite is Franz gluten free bread! 😊

GF LIFE HACKS

GF Life Hack #6

There are so many things to think about when you go from eating gluten to living gluten free. Even more so if it is because you have an; allergy, intolerance or straight up celiac disease. Once you enter one of this realms it becomes necessary to be concerned about cross-contamination. And it is in that vein that the topic from this hack comes from.

#6. When turning from a life of gluten to gluten free- wood utensils and cutting boards are NOT your friend.

In other words do not use a wooden spoon you used to use to stir gluten containing macaroni in your pot of Annie’s GLUTEN FREE macaroni. This fun fact we learned during our “conversion period” was mind blowing to me. Wood opens up when heated and contracts when cold, sealing in anything that got in the wood when heated- like gluten. So then when you use that same utensil the next time the wood opens back up and releases whatever it was holding on to until it’s cold again making whatever you are currently making have an unintended effect on the gluten intolerant.

Now if you do not have severe issues with gluten this is not a problem. But if you do, or if you cook for someone who might- avoid wooden spoons, rolling pins and cutting boards if at all possible. We actually got rid of all of ours and bought some new.  For most things we decided to use plastic or metal rather than wooden.  At my mom’s house she has a wooden spoon marked clearly gluten free so we know which one to use when there. So there are different options, do whatever makes sense for you and your situation. We do it several different ways at the different houses we eat at- just make sure to be clear about what you need to be able to eat when not doing it yourself. 

GF LIFE HACKS

GF Life Hack #5

This is a quick one that goes along with the theme so far of eating out (or somewhere other than your own house).

#5 Don’t be afraid to take food to someone else’s house if it enables you to eat or have a similar meal.

When I first got diagnosed I hated feeling different or having to go through to get my food first- I just felt uncomfortable. Often I would eat before or wait to get home if we went to visit friends or family- but this brought up the same attention I was trying to avoid.

Here’s some thing I’ve figured out about going to other people’s houses during meal time.

  1. Talk to your host about the menu
  2. Offer to bring your own food along the same lines as the menu to help out and be polite.
  3. Offer to bring food that would make your meal as similar to the rest of the group as possible.

An example of the last item; I offered to make guacamole and bring chips that I knew were gluten-free to share. Again as long as you are gracious and understanding of whatever the host asks you to bring or not bring these steps usually ensure a smooth mealtime for everyone! 😊

GF LIFE HACKS

GF Life Hack #3

So this may seem redundant- but I feel it is vital to share again- perhaps in a different context.

#4. You are your only advocate that will always be with you- you have to become a fierce advocate for yourself!

This hack is very similar to hack number 1, but with some slight and important differences.  The first being that you have to be ok with sending food back if it is incorrect- and be explicit with what is wrong with it. I’m not advocating that we give a dressing down to every waiter and/or chef that ever makes a mistake. On the contrary if you keep hack number 2 in mind you can still be thankful and firm that something is not right with your meal.

Part of the importance of this hack is remembering there isn’t anything wrong about firmly asking for what you need, you don’t need to apologize for it. I find often I am uncomfortable with being so firm and try to soften my requests for safe food- I have paid for that mistake. You have a right to safe food and if someone can’t provide it for you it is ok to decline to eat or walk out of the restaurant if that is where you are. [Just a side note, I have never had trouble at this particular restaurant!  I’ll share more about that later!]

One of the other aspects of this hack is that while it is important to have someone who supports your diet they can’t do everything for you. When I first got diagnosed with celiac disease my husband jumped in with both feet. He began doing research and reading labels like a pro. He also became my voice at family functions and restaurants. It wasn’t until I went out with some friends without him that I realized I needed to be more comfortable doing these things on my own. Another hard lesson learned- and still learning. 😉

GF LIFE HACKS

GF life hack #4

This hack is new to me, but goes along so well with hacks #1 ,2, and 3 I just have to share it now.

#4. Don’t be afraid to ask for something not listed on the menu. Most places are all too happy to help out if you request is;

  1. Reasonable
  2. Politely asked
  3. And the answer is graciously accepted

Again some of these early hacks may seem like common sense, but sometimes these common courtesies can be easy to rush past when you’re concerned about getting things taken care of correctly.

I was excited to be able to use this hack a couple of times while on vacation recently. Once was for my son (2nd pickiest eater only to me), and again later for myself. Luckily my son does not have to eat gluten free, but I’ve found it’s almost harder to get accommodations done for non-dietary conditions. The people I was working with at Disneyland were awesome. We were ordering lunch for everyone else and I had just about decided to dig out a protein bar for the kid when I noticed that the kids meal options included a turkey and cheese sandwich. While my kiddo would pass on the turkey he does like grilled cheese.  So I politely asked if they would be able to make a substitution and requested the grilled cheese. They checked with the chef and said they’d be able to do that for us. I thanked them for helping us out and they shared they were happy to do it.

At another quick service restaurant later the same trip I discovered they had gluten free hot dogs and buns- new information to me. However they did not have gluten free sides. When I asked if they could sell me the hot dogs separately from the meals they had listed they said they would have to charge me for the full meal price weather I took the sides or not. Even though this was not the answer I wanted to hear and I may have been little disgusted I still made sure to thank them. I thanked them for taking the time to talk to me and for letting me know that there was another option for me to be able to eat. I feel that it’s important to always be gracious- again the way we treat people who serve us will reflect not just on us but on everyone who comes after you with the same questions or dietary needs. You don’t want them to say in the kitchen-” we have another gluten free person trying to order something”. I’d rather they look on serving the group of us as a whole as a challenge and perhaps even fun.  I did have a chef say that on this trip- it was so awesome to work with him. For more of that story check out my “Disneyland snacks I recommend” page. 😊

*** Edited later to add:  We recently returned for a quick trip to Disneyland and we returned to the same Hot Dog quick service restaurant.  They now have gluten free sides-not fries, but its nice to get a little more with your meal when you are paying for it anyway.  I asked them when/why they had made the sides available and they shared that that the sides options had been requested by the people with dietary concerns.  It works!