So, it has been a little over a year since I’ve made the decision to go gluten-free. Now, before we get started, I want to be clear that this is written from the point of view of someone who is gluten intolerant–not Celiac. Now that we have that covered–let’s chat gluten-free.
If this is your first time reading my blog, then hello! I’m Grey. For over 3 years, I’ve been writing recipe reviews and product reviews. It wasn’t until last year that I changed my focus to gluten-free cooking after I’ve noticed extreme discomfort when consuming gluten-containing food. We’re talking bread, pasta, soy sauce, and all sorts of takeout. Over this last year, I’ve spent time learning how to cook gluten-free, which ingredients to look out for, and how to navigate going out to eat with gluten intolerance.
It has been an adventure, to say the least.
Around 10 years ago, I was asked to go on a gluten-free diet to help with inflammation caused by juvenile arthritis. I lost quite a bit of weight in a very short time. Why? I knew nothing about eating gluten-free and the bread was only remotely edible if it was toasted to hell. Even then, it was terrible!
Let’s just say…it’s so good to be gluten-free in 2022.
1. Gluten-Free Products Are A Lot More Accessible Now
Grocery stores are now offering more gluten-free products, which make cooking a lot easier and more enjoyable. And now–we’re not talking about obscure alternatives that completely change the intended flavor of the dish. Need soy sauce? We have gluten-free tamari and coconut aminos. Need fish sauce? There’s a gluten-free fish sauce! What about flour?! Don’t get me started. But actually–please do. Gluten-free flour has come a long way to where we are now at with 1:1 all-purpose gluten-free flour. I’ll be covering this a little bit more in another point below, but I just want to say that cooking with gluten-free flour has been fantastic.
Aside from the ingredients above, gluten-free groceries are a lot more interesting now! There are snacks, pre-made meals, and even bakery items. What was once a tiny section in a single aisle, is now found almost everywhere in grocery stores. If you’re shopping in gluten-free-specific stores, then your selection will be even greater. The point here is–we do not have to go out of the way to some obscure health store for gluten-free products. This is AMAZING.
And I hate to say it, but because many people decided to try a gluten-free diet as a diet and not a needed lifestyle change…it sure does seem like that has influenced the types of products that are now more readily available. Now don’t quote me on any of this–it’s simply an observation.
2. Bread Has Gotten BETTER!
One of my main protests with being gluten-free was my missing of delicious bread. Well, I’m not saying that it’s perfect now, but it certainly has gotten better. Some still have crumbly slices, but I think it comes down to the brand you’re enjoying. I’ve had gluten-free burger buns that could have fooled anyone. For example, the bakery I recently tried: Simple Kneads. From my first sampling, this bread does gluten-free RIGHT. The flavor of the sourdough is incredible. Frankly, it reminds me of the sourdough bread my parents used to buy at the Polish deli. Absolutely delicious!
So, even though I cannot enjoy all the bread I used to, it’s not that bad anymore. There are plenty of varieties of bread and other bakery products that can be found in grocery stores–fresh or frozen. With the availability of different types of flours, it’s an opportunity for me to finally give bread-baking an honest try! You simply can’t beat that delightful aroma of freshly baked bread in your home, right?
Believe me, once I try baking a loaf of bread, you will all hear about it first.
3. Don’t Feel The Need To Seek Out Gluten-Free ONLY Recipes
This has been my biggest point in trying out these recipes. When I first started my gluten-free diet, I looked for anything and everything that said GLUTEN-FREE in bold letters. I needed to make sure I was cooking everything that would be okay for me to eat. On top of that, I wanted what I tried to be delicious so I could share my finds as reviews, too.
I did that for a few months, then I got bored.
I think one of the coolest things that I’ve learned about gluten-free cooking would have to be understanding where gluten actually comes in. Once you understand each ingredient individually, working with them becomes much easier.
I’ve stopped searching for gluten-free specific recipes to point out that we don’t have to be restricted once you understand what you can and cannot work with.
4. People Will Still Not Be Sure What To Serve You…Be Patient 🙂
Being gluten-free in a family that doesn’t follow this lifestyle can be a bit comical. No one really understands what you can and cannot have. The simplest thing to say is that you can’t eat bread or anything that is made using flour. So that helps narrow down bread, cakes, and plenty of premade food. Once you start diving in deeper, it takes a little more time to get used to.
For example, my husband and his side of the family are Chinese-Vietnamese. As you can imagine, that means plenty of delicious Asian sauces. Like…? You guessed it. Soy sauce. It wasn’t until I started looking deeper into gluten-free food that I realized that I had to find alternatives for so many of the ingredients I use DAILY. Plus, it also meant being prepared to explain to my in-laws what this meant.
A year later, the table at Chinese New Year had many things that I could eat–even rice noodles that were used specifically because I can’t have regular noodles. I mean–I absolutely love my in-laws even more for that reason. Truly, it means a lot to me.
So, if you’re feeling frustrated for having to explain, or if you feel like you’re just being annoying to people–don’t. Just be patient, because people are just trying to understand what they can and cannot share with you.
After all–food is truly the magical thing that brings us all together.
5. Going Out To Eat While Gluten-Free? No Problem!
Aside from cooking, going out to dinner and traveling used to be extremely frustrating. When you’re thinking about gluten-free food and the possibility of cross-contamination–it can be stressful. As mentioned, being gluten-intolerant still requires you to pay attention to the menu a little more closely. Perhaps not as closely as those who are Celiac, but still close enough to avoid any discomfort.
Even though restaurants and cafes may not strictly say they are gluten-free, you shouldn’t feel limited as long as you know what their menu items are made with. For example? Coffee, Salads, etc. Once you can identify what food items include gluten, you can safely eliminate what you can and cannot have.
To be extra sure–never hesitate to ask your servers about what you can and cannot have.
All the restaurants that I have visited in the last year have been very knowledgable about gluten-free menus, which made me feel extremely comfortable ordering.
Traveling? Check out my reviews of some very gluten-free friendly restaurants!
- 2021 Seattle Food Guide (Gluten-Free Options Included)
- Gaijin (Chicago) – Gluten-Friendly Okonomiyaki!
- Big Jones (Chicago) – Gluten Friendly Southern Cooking