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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pantry Purging

I always feel more in control if I have my house - and my life - organized.  Last week, I spent several hours purging my pantry, fridge and freezer, removing nearly all of the gluten products.  I couldn't believe how many products that entailed.  Any unopened gluten products went to our local food pantry whereas half-opened boxes and jars headed next-door to our neighbor's house.  We've had new next-door neighbors ever since this past summer, when Ring, Pocket and Posies moved about seven minutes away.  We love our new neighbors - they are a Christian family with three young children ranging from ages five to 15 months.

(Oh my lands, y'all, does she have her hands full.)

(And yes, I'm still trying to decide on their blog nicknames.)

(I'm taking suggestions.)

Anyways, half-opened boxes and jars headed to our new neighbor's house; unopened boxes and jars are going to the local food bank.  I'm talking breads, baked goods, pastas, soy sauces, canned fruits, breadcrumbs, many condiments, flour and Bisquik, crackers, cereals, cookies, canned creamed vegetables, stuffings and dressings, dumplings (dumplings, y'all!), sausage, blue cheese, baked beans, canned soups (even organic), most salad dressings, hot cocoa, curry powder, white pepper, anything containing brown rice syrup, bouillon cubes, some yeasts, most packaged seasonings, trail mixes, Panko breadcrumbs, instant and herbal teas, gravy and cheese sauces which use flour as a thickening agent, most margarine, most low-fat sour cream, most low-fat cream cheese, teriyaki sauce, anything made with malt vinegar, croutons, anything with MSG made outside of the United States, Rice Dream, puddings, many processed meats (even those purchased at the deli counter), most candies and any ice cream with crunchy ingredients.

(Is your head spinning yet?  Cuz mine totally was.)

(I mean, even cornbread contains wheat flour.  CORNbread, y'all.)

(The mind boggles.)

It felt good to remove the bulk of the Stuff Squirt Cannot Eat.  We still have a few gluten-filled crackers, cereals and pastas, mostly for the Tongginator and the Husband.  Since I'm with Squirt almost 24/7, I'm pretty much going completely gluten-free, except, of course, for my beloved coffee (new studies now suggest that coffee! contains! gluten!) and the odd piece of bread I sneak while Squirt's napping.  The Tongginator and the Husband are mostly gluten-free, but I often pack gluten products in their lunches since they don't typically eat that meal in front of Squirt.

We're still discovering what gluten-free products we love and loathe, so the pantry is looking pretty bare.  Plus, my gluten-free flours have yet to arrive from Amazon.com (woo! hoo! for the free shipping that comes with prime membership).  I've been supplementing Squirt's diet with processed gluten-free products like Glutino breakfast bars while I start figuring out how to make more wholesome foods.  But all in all, the pantry is looking pretty darn bare at the moment.

I'm learning there is a huge difference between someone who needs to minimize gluten in his or her diet, and someone like Squirt who probably shouldn't even TOUCH gluten.  And how do I know this?  I know because - even if Squirt tests negative for celiac - there are still some forms of non-celiac gluten-intolerance that effect the immune system.  Based on everything we've seen with Squirt - she's one of them.  It may be celiac, it may not be.  Regardless, she's severely effected or she wouldn't have had seizures, or gone from perfectly healthy to nearly septic in four days, or... well... y'all get the picture.  Cooking with regular flour is pretty much out for us, not only because Squirt can't eat the finished product, but also because I can't keep my kitchen 100% gluten-free if I'm baking with regular flour. We're making the switch to flours made from brown rice, white rice or almonds.  We're also incorporating more potatoes, rice and quinoa into our weekly diet.

This week I'm focusing on replenishing our pantry and fridge with gluten-free versions of soy sauce and salad dressings.  I'll probably pick one or two items each week for... well... for awhile.  It's expensive, so I'm trying to spread out the costs.  This past Sunday, I also purchased new cookie sheets, baking tins, a toaster and all manner of other kitchen items that are difficult to decontaminate.

I also need to start reading the labels of non-food items like lotion, sunscreen, make-up (mine), lip balm, soaps and shampoos, and even some of my household cleaners.  We've already made the switch to California Baby soaps and shampoos, and we are loving Kiss My Face lotions (thanks, Marcie!).  But we still have a long, long way to go.

Like I said, y'all - the mind boggles.


Aus said...

OK - things I just started learning - I failed to consider the presence of stuff like gluten in lotions / soaps etc. And your skin is the largest "organ" in your body....ya'd think after all the WMD stuff I've studied I'd have thought skin...wow... But Che* passes the gluten free test? Cool - you get snack food anyway!! ;) Proud of you guys - and is this intolerence / allergy something that Squirt can "grow into / out of" or is it too early to tell? I've notice with one of our girls and her lactose intolerence that as she started into "secondary development" she is able to tolerate more "hidden" lactose (yeah - it's in tons of stuff too - including many medicines as the "binder" for the tablet). At least this is manageable with dietary supplements.

hugs - aus and co.

Theresa Luciano said...

You are the best mom! I love your blog and have followed it for some time now! I am learning that I too have a gluten intolerance and it is a hard life style change but an important one to make. I love reading all of your posts but now I am really into the gluten free posts. Cant wait to get some recipes from you! hint hint :)

autumnesf said...

Its a crazy ride but doable. Also remember that if Squirt is that sensitive kissing someone that just ate gluten could make her sick also. Should help come dating time to keep the boys at bay but doesn't do anything for relatives that want to do kissy face when they visit.

Casa Bicicleta said...

Hey TM, I found this blog when I started cooking with a slowcooker and found that most (all?) of her recipes are Gluten free.
Check it out.
You are amazing, I know you are going to get tired of hearing this but I have to keep saying it. You just stun me with the work you are doing for your family. You are a true Mamma hero.

Victoria said...

Oh TM, I'm so glad you came back to us just as I was concluding reading every.single.one. of your older posts. Obsessive? maybe, but you are such a wonderful Mom and such a silly writer. The smart politics I started reading for are now really just a bonus.

here are a few gluten free tips (something I'm sure you have no shortage of, but here goes anyway)-
1- Faina- I like dishes that are just gluten free, no substitution necessary. Nothing to compare it to that way. This is an Argentinian dish that Argentinians (like me and my family) slice and put on top of our pizza. I love it plain as a quick yummy snack, no pizza necessary. http://southamericanfood.about.com/od/snacksstreetfood/r/Faina.htm

2- Mama K's play clay-play doughs that are aromatic which is dreamy for me since I'm SPD and I seek smells like your Tongginator and they are gluten free for Squirt's little hands.

Briana's Mom said...

My mind is totally spinning! But if it helps your girl to fully function, then it is all worth it!

Tricia said...

I understand the mind boggling spinning effect. My A was getting blisters that looked like acid burns on her skin and we just learned all she is allergic to. Nickel and cobalt which means all metal alloys. Think canned foods, flatware, jewelry, buttons on jeans, etc. Chamomile, sunflower oil, and several other products found commonly in food, cleaning products, and hygiene products. Avoiding all the things she is allergic to is overwhelmingly hard. I have been working on eliminating these things from our lives since February and I am still finding them hidden in some products. Take care of you and I will be praying for you and the baby girl to find balance. Blessings.

Gillian said...

Check out http://www.chowstalker.com. These are mostly paleo recipes, but they sometimes have stuff like cornbread, and it's all gluten-free. I don't see why you couldn't add rice or corn or quinoa to many of the dishes.

Debby said...

Wow, you are really going after this. Good for you. Gluten can be almost everywhere.
About the free shipping with Amazon.......did you know that Prime will cost you $70 . I just thought I was getting free shipping until I got charged that fee.
Good luck. My husband eats what I do and it's not too bad.....just expensive.

AmFam said...

Recently, I read something about gf food being tax deductible as a medical expense. I don't remember where I read it, bit if it is, it could help a little with the cost.

The Drinkwaters said...

It CAN be overwhelming, but it seems like a good plan to purge and then replace one step at a time. We are doing something similar, but with dairy. Our oldest is showing that she is having difficulty with dairy products, and at first I thought "no bog deal" but it amazes me how much dairy (ie. modified milk products) are in so many things. But like you, where can you go but forward. Have fun experimenting with all the new products!

The Gang's Momma! said...

Wow. I just am in awe of all that you have to consider.


But I wanted to be sure to really encourage you that not only is this gonna be so good for Squirt and such a great change for you all when it gets good for her BUT... I have the sense while reading these last two or three posts specifically about the gluten stuff that it's gonna really bless and minister to someone else. God didn't give her this hurdle to handle but He certainly is gonna use it. I just feel strongly that you won't even KNOW how it's used to touch others.

Hugs to you. And enjoy the clean pantry. I LOVE me some organized clean storage spaces.