May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. It’s a time when the Celiac community comes together to improve understanding of this difficult disease. It also places a spotlight on recent research and highlight questions yet to be answered.
My family recently went on a 2,000 mile road trip. On paper, this eight state tour looked like a serious culinary challenge. After all, I’m naturally particular about fast food fare and convenience products, and two members of my family of four have celiac disease, which means that very little is “fast” and just about nothing is “convenient.” Unless, of course, you make it that way. Whether you are tackling a big road trip, spending too many hours at a hotel, or checking into a hotel for a week, you can eat well while you’re traveling and at your destination too.
People often ask for me for guidance on how to spot gluten-free foods that are good (better or best!) for them. For some, the transition to gluten-free foods feels like a move toward foods that are more processed or less healthful. I am quick to highlight the many fresh and naturally gluten-free foods that our found throughout the produce, meat, seafood and dairy departments. Shop in these departments and you are likely to find many healthful items.
I LOVE making pancakes (waffles too). Always did. Not just pancakes but wild blueberry banana pancakes. It is true that it is the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure and making wild blueberry banana pancakes with my daughter on a weekend morning is top of the list.
So several years ago when the need to go off gluten threatened the morning breakfast-making ritual, I needed solutions!
I went Gluten-Free while troubleshooting a health related issue. As it turns out, gluten was not the culprit although it took almost six months to determine this (the issue has since resolved itself). At the time I was faced with the prospect that so many people with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance deal with on a daily basis. And I slowly began to discover just how much of my typical diet would be affected – hint: this was not just about bread. So many of our processed and unprocessed foods contain gluten. Eating out became a huge challenge and suddenly those trips down to Brooklyn, NY to visit friends and family could no longer include side-foodie fave trips for pizza, bagels and falafel – ouch!
Worst of all – I soon realized that pancakes (and waffles) were also off the table – the ultimate blow. I became relentlessly committed to finding a Gluten-Free alternative to get them back on the table.
While Gluten-Free products have improved over the years I wasn’t having much luck finding a mix that didn’t turn pancakes into stonecakes (do not use as a flotation device) despite working with different ratios of mix to eggs to milk or water. A random discovery lead me to of all places 30 miles west of Portland, Maine—to Gramma Mills of Steep Falls. Gramma Mills’ products are available in health food stores and some healthy food sections of the supermarket. A registered nurse, the company owner started exploring different mixes after her son became gluten intolerant in 2004. While hesitant to get my hopes up based on past mix experiences I decided to give it a try…