Monday, November 15, 2010

Gluten-Free Gratitude

Needing to adopt an uncompromising gluten-free diet has redefined my relationship with food.

First, a confession: As much as I try to grow organic veggies in the garden, some years the soil is too acidic and the weather too hot and I planted too late and the yield is next to nil. As much as I want to eat local and in season, some days I'm doing good to get anything in my mouth at all. (Modern nursing is not kind to the nurse. Most of us have a workday diet of prepackaged refined carbs, sugar, salt, and caffeine, swallowed on the run). At the end of a shift on my feet, my culinary aspirations generally involve a microwave and paper plates. I have been known to eat for comfort, or for boredom. I had lost my passion for cooking in general. And I was seriously, unabashedly addicted to bread.

Not being able to eat at all for most of August and September changed my life. I was sick, in severe pain, and afraid I would end up on an operating table. I became angry, frustrated, and irritable. I lost 30 lbs far too quickly, and wondered if I would ever be able to tolerate more than clear liquids again. Two months is a long time to not eat.

I began to long for food...not for comfort or even to fill the growling void, but for sheer nourishment. I started to imagine the giddy energy that would course through my body if I could eat a handful of raw spinach leaves. I daydreamed about the delicate scent and taste of thinly slice almonds...and the sustenance from their protein. The juice of a crisp, cold, fresh apple could be the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

When at last I could begin to eat again, I savored the tastes, textures, and life in my food with a new perspective. I was so happy to be able to eat at all that I felt overjoyed at the abundance of real foods that was open to me. Instead of focusing on what I can't eat, I decided to have great adventures with what I can! In the process, I have found a new passion for creating in the kitchen. My body is healing. My skin is glowing. I taste each precious mouthful. For all of this, I am deeply, joyfully thankful.

Here's the Thanksgiving menu:

Turkey with GF gravy
Pureed roasted sweet potatoes with pecan praline topping
Green beans with almond, onion and a hint of bacon
Glazed baby carrots
Spinach salad
Cranberry-orange chutney
GF pumpkin pie

I'll try to post recipes soon.