My menu plan last week was a breeze. I’d ‘adopted’ Wendy at Celiacs in the House and had cherry picked the recipes that I thought my family would like best. I then wrote myself a shopping list, and hey presto, it didn’t even really feel like I spent that much time in the kitchen, as I enjoyed discovering new gluten-free meals that my kids loved so much.
This week I’m back on my own. Heather of Celiac Family is our hostess for the gluten-free menu plan swap this week. Her chosen theme is celery. We love celery and eat a ton of it each week. It’s a lunch box staple for the boys and they love to crunch on sticks of it after school as a snack. Whenever I try to add it into a cooked meal, however, they go on strike. They are not cooked celery kind of boys. So my contribution to the theme of the week is raw celery with my homemade hummus. It’s delicious dipped in almond butter too!
A close friends daughter has just been diagnosed as gluten intolerant. Although it’s less than a year ago that we started on this path, it made me realize that it’s amazing how quickly a gluten-free diet can become your norm. I remember my first trip to the supermarket, piling just about everything that I could find labeled ‘gluten-free’ into my cart, with that blind panic of “how are we going to do this and boy it’s expensive” in my eyes. I quickly learned that although there is an amazing selection of gluten-free products out there – and it seems like there are more every day – buying product upon product is not the only way to go. Once you have your staples of things like gluten-free soy sauce and a stash of gluten-free pasta in the pantry and you’ve understood what to look out for and what to avoid, it’s really not as difficult as it first seems.
The big initial stumbling block is undoubtedly bread and baked goods. I’ve become so accustomed to that hurdle now, that it’s no longer a big deal for us. We have our favorite gluten-free sandwich bread that we buy for ease of making the odd lunchbox sandwich or egg with toast and we have our favorite gluten-free bakery with several local outlets. There is so much on offer that my initial determination to bake gluten-free bread daily has kind of fizzled out. But, I used to love baking bread and so with this I will decree to bake bread again – at some point. I’ll be doing a review of our local Bay Area Mariposa bakery in the next couple of weeks and will also post my own product review on the array of gluten-free sandwich breads available in the supermarkets.
Sweet treats is another thing entirely. I was never a big cake or cookie baker, but there tends to be a yummy gluten-free sweet treat baking in my oven at least once a week these days. I even managed cupcakes this weekend – a big newbie for me. I used the chocolate cupcake recipe from Elena’s Pantry. The recipe was phenomenal and healthy – and so easy to make. I highly recommend it.
The big aha moment for me with our gluten-free diet is that a lot of real food is naturally gluten-free and that so many dishes are not that difficult to make. Our consumption of packaged processed foods has dwindled dramatically and our half empty trash cans at the end of the week are a testament to that. Meanwhile the compost is happy. ;-). With these weekly gluten-free menu plans, I hope to help navigate weekly family meals, gluten-free, without that feeling that life has suddenly become a lot more complicated on the food front and that you’ve been forced to consume overpriced gluten-free products in the supermarket.
The week of family dinners will look something like this:
Monday: The sun has graced us with it’s presence today, so I’ll do a summer buffet-style dinner of homemade hummus, melon topped with cured ham, vegetable crudites and chickpea flour bread bought at the farmers market yesterday.
Tuesday: Tuscan bean soup (this contains some well hidden cooked celery), from the Avoca Café Cookbook (the Avoca Café’s are a must-do if you ever visit Ireland).
Wednesday: Fennel risotto.
Thursday: Goulash, from the Williams-Sonoma Soup & Stew book.
Friday: Either left-overs (highly likely) or Gluten-free pizza night. I have a WholeFoods 365 Gluten-free pizza crust mix to try out and will top it with tomato sauce and salami for the boys and some smoked salmon, spinach and goats cheese for me & M.