The first school day of our gluten free saga. I have to wake C up a little early to take his herbs. They need to be taken half an hour before breakfast, so I get up as soon as the alarm goes off and head to the kitchen to mix the herbs that I’ve ground in the pestle and mortar the night before with some yoghurt. This may seem like an easy task to most anyone else, but getting up when the alarm goes off has not been in my repertoire for a long time now. It feels as if I’ve woken up tired forever, since starting chemo over a year ago and so I’m super proud of myself that I’m up and preparing this stuff that is hopefully going to give me back my old happy go lucky son.
I wake C up and expect great protestations at having bitter herbs put into his mouth at this ungodly hour (7.15am), but he’s super sweet. He doesn’t complain and somehow gets the herbs down. I tell him that he can put his head back down and rest for a while until breakfast in half an hour.
He gets up and has breakfast – his new super healthy cornflakes, with yoghurt and is still so happy not to be taking his hated Miralax that he is really cooperative when it comes to getting ready and getting to school on time.
I’d packed the lunch box last night – turkey sandwich on spelt bread, some raw carrots and celery, some fruit and some corn tortilla chips. Having done my online research last night, I quickly whip out the spelt bread sandwich from his lunch box and replace it with one made out of the gluten free ‘hamburger buns’ that I’d bought at Wholefoods. I know he wasn’t over-enamored by the bread, but can’t really see an option, so pack him off with that and hope for the best.
It’s screamingly obvious that I need to go grocery shopping again… so with T(C’s 4 year brother) in tow, we troop off to Trader Joes. Before leaving I chat to a friend whose son is also on a gluten free diet. She tells me that Trader Joes has a gluten free grocery list available that I can get if I ask for it. She also suggests that I come over to her house after I’ve shopped and go through the food cupboards with her to get an idea of what she has that is gluten free that the kids actually like to eat. Great plan! Her son is T’s little buddy, so he is super excited about going there and doesn’t mind to much that he is about to be schlepped around the supermarket.
I usually fly around our local Trader Joes. I know where everything is and tend to buy pretty much the same stuff from there again and again. This time it’s different. I still manage to get through the fruit and veg section pretty quickly – that’s easy and with and already pretty full trolley begin to pour over labels for everything else. I’d forgotten about the gluten free list until pretty much done and then realized that it wasn’t something I could really use as reference right then anyway with a fidgety four year old in tow. I buy far more meat than I’ve bought for a long time (been trying to steer away from meat and eat a lot more fish since the whole cancer episode) and start planning a stream of good old home cooked meals, such as beef chili, chicken risotto, tomato soup, pea and mint soup etc. I’m going to be busy…
Over an hour later we leave with an overflowing shopping cart. This time $250 and it probably will keep us going for weeks. Won’t it???
We drive to my friends’ house and I download the tales of my thus far short-lived gluten free life. I’m feeling slightly obsessed by now, but am figuring that that’s probably a necessary evil. She begins to show me the gluten free contents of her kitchen and I take out my iphone and start photographing packages in the fashion of someone who could be seen to be having some strange food fetish. I figure that that way I can start creating a visual grocery list for myself. (Check out my products we love page)
It’s almost as if we’ve moved countries again and are faced with a whole host of meaning less country-specific brands. I taste the gluten free cookies and think they’re pretty good. I oo and ah over the gluten free fish sticks, knowing that they will probably go down pretty well. I look at all of the gluten free snack bars and wonder why I’d forgotten to buy those Berry Blast bars that the kids love on Saturday, as they are gluten free. Cale makes the fish sticks for the boys for lunch and makes some extras for me to take to C for a tasting. She also gives me a snack bar, some gluten free frozen pancakes, some cookies and some corn snacks. Armed with those we head off to collect C from school.
C is delighted that we have been on a big gluten free shopping spree in his honor. He woofs down the fish sticks (http://www.iansnaturalfoods.com). They are definitely going to be on the next shopping list. A perfect lunch box solution. We go home and C eats the corn snacks – they are deemed to be okayish. Mmm – maybe they won’t be on the next grocery list.
We get through the weeks homework without any complaint about being tired. Phew. I then allow the days ration of screen time (what would I do without screen time? Long live Lego.com, Club Penguin etc) while I prepare to go into the kitchen and cook up a gluten free storm.
Beef chili is on the menu tonight. I make it with a bit of a kick and know that C will like it, but am expecting the daily whine from little T (my four year old). He is very adamant that he doesn’t like spicy foods and always lets out an ‘eee yuk’ when I put food on the table, unless it’s turkey, meatballs or yoghurt and cereal. I decide to ignore that possibility for the time being and figure he is going to have to tag along on this home cooked gluten free ride, come what may.
I put dinner on the table with corn chips and get a ‘yummy’ exclamation from both boys. Wonders never cease. T spends about 15 minutes making sure that I understand that he doesn’t like spicy food, but all the while he is chowing down the chilli. Good. Weekly dinner menu number 1. Tick.
We read a story and the boys head to bed. All is calm. Sleep comes easily and I think to myself that being a g-free mom is not so bad after all.
G-free mom’s beef chilli:
1lb organic beef mince (try to avoid hormones like the plague)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes with green chillis
1 tin chilli beans (pinto and kidney bean mix)
A little oregano and additional chilli powder, if desired
The rest is easy:
1. Sear the onions, peppers and garlic.
2. Brown the mince
3. Add the beans and tomatoes, oregano and possibly more chilli
4. Simmer for about 20 mins.