“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” -Victor Hugo
“Hello… it’s me,” the husky, lonely tones ring out from Adele’s new hit single, like an echoing wind across the empty, welsh countryside, that reverberates off an abandoned granite cottage on a darkening January afternoon. Maybe my husband and I are products of 25 years ago, cut out of dough, like little 1980’s gingerbread foot soldiers, but we rolled with laughter this week, as we realized every time Adele sings, “Hello,” we both mentally answer, “Is it me you’re looking for?” A warm nod to Lionel Richie, the original friendly, pining greeter.
With an overly full schedule this week, I desperately wanted time away to have a short, mental break. I finally had a few quiet minutes alone, which is about as rare as a steak on our grill, no matter how it’s cooked. Lol. Listen, financially, I had to choose steak or children and, while there are days where I want to say, “I change my mind; please pass the A1,” yeah, I overwhelmingly choose those lovable, send me to the nut house, hilarious children, who can be as demanding as a large litter of nursing, newborn calves. How’s that for a savory image?!
So, marvelously alone, I found a quiet corner in a cafe for a few minutes. At the register, I spoke with a server we have gotten to know. He’s just a guy in his 20s, a little rough around the edges in terms of his upbringing and choices but always kind to me. He’s fully tatted up, has a rough demeanor and not the sort of person I naturally express tender hearted things to. Operating on my belief that all people desire connection, love and belonging, and my natural inclination to behave a lot like a Golden Retriever seeing it’s owner after a week away 😜, I ordered my tea and oatmeal, looked him square in the eye and said, “I really like how you speak to people. You are straight forward and helpful.” It felt an awful lot like snuggling a pit bull but it kind of blurted out of my mouth, like spitting out a fruity lifesaver, before I could snatch it back. And, then, the most interesting thing happened! He melted. Right before my eyes, the Doberman went from slightly scary to a pink Care Bear, with pulsating hearts coming out his ears. I’d never seen anything like it! Oh good, warm fuzzies just before the holidays- how perfectly Hallmark Channel! No gagging all over your laptop please. 🙂
It hit me again that all people need love and that not everything is as it seems. Just as my brain automatically went to that Lionel Richie song, our immediate thoughts on a person’s exterior and how they will respond aren’t necessarily accurate. We obviously cannot go on some sort of hippy rampage, telling strangers we love them and to come draw muddy, henna hearts on our mid-drifts. Additionally, not everything can be solved by love because we humans have to choose to grow and receive it. However, it reaffirmed to me that often a little extra care, kindness, appreciation and notice at appropriate times goes a long way in this sometimes angry and hurting world.
Gluten Free Information and Product Ideas:
In a similar way, you’d never automatically imagine my Odysseus-like son, with traps the size of small, twin mammals sitting on his neck, as someone who couldn’t handle gluten. I mean, truly, many people believe having Celiac Disease is a white, first world, made up problem, embraced by girls who play tennis 3 hours a day and eat quinoa and kale salad daily at the club with men named Ned. I can assure you, as my son is reduced to a lover of all things porcelain and bowl-shaped for days every time he eats the stuff, it’s real! A friend asked me what products I use regularly to cook for my son with Celiac. Well, the hard news is I cook a lot from scratch, using simple, natural ingredients. But, don’t worry, I don’t stomp on grapes in an old barrel in my backyard creating juice for my kids. 😜 There are quite a few pre-made products that I use. For those of you avoiding gluten for health reasons, I have included lists of gluten ingredient words to watch out for below and I also listed some products that we really like. Additionally, I just heard that there is a great app called The Gluten Free Scanner FULL which costs $3.99. It allows you to scan in the bar code and it automatically tells you if it is gluten free.
Lists of Gluten Related Ingredients to Avoid:
Overlooked Sources of Gluten:
Ales, beers, lagers, breading, soy sauce, spices, cross contaminated oatmeal, brown rice syrup, coating mix, communion wafers, croutons, candy, luncheon meats, broth, pasta, roux, sauces, soup base, stuffing, self basting poultry, imitation bacon/seafood, marinades, thickeners, herbal supplements, prescription medications and over the counter medications, vitamin and mineral supplements, lipstick, gloss and balms, play doh (be careful to wash hands well after use and make sure children don’t eat) Any packaged food items need to be thoroughly checked. Every product should be researched for cross contamination too (to avoid instances when wheat products are prepared or processed in the same facility).
List of helpful gluten free products:
Double check every product you buy; remember, it seems like gluten is in almost everything these days (you’d be surprised if you started looking for it) and the closer the product is to its natural state, both the healthier and the less likelihood it has had gluten added. For Vibrant Life Diet followers, sometimes you will find GF products that work in small amounts for this diet too, such as a half cup of brown rice noodles with dinner.
Treats: GF Oreos (King Soopers), Trader Joes has a couple different cookie options, as well as pancake and quick bread in boxes. King Soopers has a brand called Udi that sells muffins. King Soopers has a lot of gluten free box mixes that we haven’t tried yet. I think the best tasting baked goods are those recipes that have come from someone else who has experimented and perfected them (online).
Bread: Our favorite and least expensive is a brand carried by Costco called Canyon Bakehouse in their fresh bread section.
For use in binding casseroles and making biscuits: gluten free Bisquick, pancake and baking mix.
For flour: Namaste gluten free organic flour blend
To thicken soups and sauces: Argo, corn starch mixed into a cup of cold water.
Chicken broth, base for soups and sauces: Kirkland brand, organic chicken broth (Costco).
BBQ Sauce: Hak’s BBQ Sauce (King Soopers, there are 4 different flavors). This is a less sugary BBQ sauce that we are able to use for the whole family. You can buy another one by Sweet Baby Ray’s that is higher in sugar and, so of course, more popular in many crowds.
Croutons: New York, Texas Toast, Gluten Free Croutons (King Soopers)
Sauces for Spaghetti and Chicken Alfredo: Any Classico sauce (King Soopers).
Cheapest (and decent) macaroni style noodles: Trader Joes brown rice macaroni noodles come in around $2
Our favorite noodles (considering only taste): any variety by Jovial (King Soopers).
Flour Tortillas: I haven’t found amazing GF flour tortillas, so I would recommend using corn based ones.
Chips and Snacks: These aren’t that hard to find. My favorite cracker is Crunchmaster Multigrain Crackers (Sams Club). And, my kids love the chips made by Boulder Canyon. We also love the Kirkland brand of corn tortilla chips.
Oils: I use a canola oil, coconut or olive (always double check the labels because soy is often added and is often processed in a facility with wheat).
Alcohol: This is actually a tough one to find. One wine that we have found that is GF is Moscato by Yellowtail (I just went to their website and they state all their wines are gluten free).