One mom's adventures through ADD, autism, chronic fatigue…and shiny things!

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Before I launch into any discussion of gluten-free diets, recipes, or experiences, I must confess that I have a scorching case of cooking PTSD. Not to scare anyone off of trying gluten-free diets–the story does have a happy ending.  But for me it’s been a long and winding road.

A combination of sloppy technique (remember the ADD!) and a super picky kid with an extraordinarily high rate of food refusal conspired to heap failure upon failure upon my zeal for cooking and baking. It was not fun. It was work and I suddenly sucked at something I had been pretty competent at before autism (BA).

I started the gluten-free journey for my son in 2001, 3 weeks after his diagnosis and the week before Thanksgiving. Yes, excellent timing, especially since we spent Thanksgiving in a hotel in Monterey. He pretty much only wanted to eat steamed rice and raisins anyway…

It was the Age of Vans Waffles and the Special Diets for Special Kid’s cookbook.

This was many years before Udi’s breads and muffins appeared and well before gluten-free pizza crust was available in actual, you know, restaurants. We muddled through. My kid ate 5 foods, as usual, but I was able to substitute a gluten-free version. Sheer will propelled me through. I certainly wasn’t inspired.

About a year later our DAN doctor strongly suggested we try the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It’s a brilliant diet for chronic bowel and digestive problems, but it backfired for us for 2 reasons:

  1. My kid had IgE-mediated allergies to just about every thing I fed him, but we didn’t know it. Nuts and eggs were particularly heinous. He was left with squash french fries and meatballs.
  2. I had to personally manufacture every morsel of food my kid ate.

The food allergy testing uncovered sooooo many allergies. Real IgE-mediated, histimine-inducing, eczema-triggering allergies. Let me put it this way–he wasn’t allergic to turkey, chicken, beef or chocolate. He’s allergic to some degree to everything else we tested on a 25+ item panel. (I’ll cover this in another post.)

I used to host dinner parties. I’d cook for my family. I’d bake. ALL the time. I was a cookie baker and a muffin baker and even a decent pie maker. (Crisco, ice water, handle as little as possible.)

And then suddenly I didn’t know what I was doing. I messed up recipe after recipe. I had no feel for the ingredients and no time or patience to develop one. They say there’s nothing like success to build self-esteem. So, yeah, think the complete opposite. I pretty much sucked, and if I made something exceptionally tasty, it was a fluke.

Coping with an undiagnosed it-looks-like-Chronic-Fatigue-but-who-knows kind of illness didn’t help. Brain fog, muscle aches, overwhelming fatigue…a party all the way around. Christmas dinners: a pot of chili and GF chicken nuggets. Easter dinner: Chipotle carry out.

It’s not a pretty picture, especially since my honey was a pretty enthusiastic foodie.

However, there is light, there is hope, and there are edible muffins in the house!

As I come out of the fog of Chronic Fatigue, I find I have a little more energy and brain power. I started following a couple of gluten-free bloggers and they have saved me! Thank you Elana of Elana’s Pantry and Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. My cooking mojo was resurrected for Easter dinner, appropriately.

Easter menu, thanks to Elana’s Pantry:

Roasted Chicken with Olives and Prunes

Asparagus Basil Salad
(This salad, BTW, is the BOMB!!!)

Plus sauteed broccoli, a packaged GF risotto from Trader Joe’s, and a kale and white bean casserole from my husband’s cousin from 101 Cookbooks that she adapted to be GF. Total yum!

Tonight I whipped up a batch of muffins that my oldest raved about:

Gluten Free Girl’s Whole Grain Muffins

So the moral of my story: Be not afraid. Follow these bloggers who have paved the way. I will highlight more as I experiment with other recipes.

(* I use the term PTSD because that’s how my post-autism diagnosis burn out, amped up vigilance, and hyper-reactivity was described to me by a physician.  Warrior moms have seriously high stress.)