2014 Adventures in the Gluten Free Forest

I’ve been trying a gluten free diet for 6 days now. I don’t think I have a gluten intolerance, but as a dietitian I like to try to do what I ask my clients to do. My goal is to go 3-6 months and evaluate if I feel different/better. I bought $110 worth of groceries last night at Jewel. More than 60 minutes were spent scouring the aisles for new items I have previously ignored or passed by. The amount of produce in my cart was at least four times my typical purchase.

The selected veggies and fruits were: avocados, cauliflower, onion, garlic, bok choy, carrots, grape tomatoes, ginger root, parsnips (never tried this yet), kiwi, strawberries, apples, bananas, frozen peaches, dates (more on this later), and papaya. In 2013, I began eating mostly gluten free rice crackers (with cheese or cottage cheese) and cut down on bread consumption. This is a plus on my gluten free voyage because making too many diet changes at one time is difficult.

A main strategy for gluten-free success involves planning my meals ahead of time. When I buy soups from Panera (my eat-on-the-run “go to”) I love the piece of bread that goes with it. Bread has gluten and so do some of the soups, like chicken noodle (the noodles). My winter goal is to cook up a different soup each week at home. Today, Monday January 6, was a perfect day with the freezing weather outside and most of Chicago staying inside. My first soup included lentils. Lentils are an easy soup to make because lentils cook in 20 minutes and have a ton of nutrients and fiber.

Here is a photo of my pot when it first started to boil:

And here is a photo of my bowl of cooked soup:

I didn’t miss the bread because the contents were filling. I did a little calculating on this soup while eating it (because I am a math nerd at heart) and this is what I learned:

I made about 10 cups of soup for $13.77 worth of ingredients and a total of 1043 calories. My serving size is about 2 cups of soup and 209 calories. I put the ingredient list into the online MyFoodDiary.com program to analyze protein, fiber, vitamins/minerals. This website costs $9/month to track your food and activity, and compute nutrition information.

My recipe included 8 cups of Organic (free range chicken….because I want my chickens exercising before they sacrifice their lives for my soup stock) Chicken Broth. I added 6 carrots, 3 bok choy stems and the leafy green tops, one quarter onion, 2 cloves garlic, ¼ teaspoon red cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and 2 bay leaves. It took about an hour to prepare and cook. I have glass containers to divide up the soup in 4 cup batches. With this weather today, I had no problem cooling down the soup on my patio (worked like dry ice) before putting it in my fridge.

While I was adding up the caloric content of my lentil soup, I wanted something sweet. I’ve been reading about dates and the last I remembered about them was that while they tasted sweet, they looked yucky, all wrinkled and resembling a dead, brown cicada I’d find on the sidewalk this summer (I know, I know, not appetizing but neither were the cicadas that didn’t follow that 17 year rule!). While searching the produce department at Jewel, I saw a large display of dates from the Bard Valley, Natural Delights Brand. The ones that caught my eyes were the coconut covered ones. I read, “coconut-noix de coco” and thought it was saying that they were rolled in powdered cocoa and then coconut flakes….oohhh yummy! That would make a dead cicada taste better for sure.

Well, I was mistaken about the cocoa (there is none), but the coconut covered date pieces were delish. I’ve included a photo:

These sweet little treats are mighty tasty. Just pay attention because they are also 120 calories a piece and I just had 3 (ok, 5) pieces. That’s 600 calories darling and too much sugar for a sustainable snack, but “Live and Learn” is my motto and I’m NOT going to beat myself up for my accomplishments of making healthy comfort food (Lentil soup) and trying some new gluten-free food.

It’s 5 pm and I can do some yoga…………

If you are still reading this post and can stomach the next few pictures of cicadas,
I’d like to make my point about the whole cicada/date doppelganger:

A bowl of dates:

Live cicadas:

Cicadas have been eaten in China, Malaysia, Burma, Latin America, Germany, Thailand and in the United States. The wings are removed and the cicada is skewered, deep fried, or sitr fried as a delicacy…yum, not.

Cooked cicadas:

Even bacon wrapped cicadas:

Another photo of dates:

I rest my case. Please don’t be scared of trying some headless cicadas… I mean, dates.

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