I fully own being a creature of habit….
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I am adventurous, but I also like the tried and true (read rut). Often these two parts of me can clash, especially when it comes to food. As of late, I am forcing myself to try foods that I normally would have written off unless they came camouflaged say in the form of a dip (yes artichokes, I am looking at you). Why am I breaking out of my food rut? Well it is never too late to start investing in one’s health, add to that I had to cut out a group of foods due to an allergy and viola a food adventure of exploring new options of foods to eat. Fortunately, the degree of my allergy does not force me to be overly militant and take a strict stance, I just have to restrict the foods that contain the allergen to a small part of my diet. Easier said than done when the allergy is wheat.
When I was 18, I had to go through second round of allergy testing when asthma came back with a vengeance. One of the items they tested for was wheat. It turned out that I was allergic to it. Not brutally, but enough for the doctor to mention it. I did not want to believe it. I was a college kid who’s diet consisted of bagels for breakfast and either pizza or pasta for dinner, if left to my own devices. I asked if the allergy shots would help with the wheat allergy and the doctor said maybe, but the best way was to take care of it was to restrict to a small portion of my diet. Years past and I did not think much about it until recently when I could not shake the last remnants of a cold. My current doctor said it could be allergies and knowing my history, he made a passing suggestion that maybe I should test out the previous doctor’s suggestion about removing almost all wheat from my diet. Tired of being sick, I agreed. Once the wheat was scaled back to only a small, and I mean really small, portion of my food intake, my symptoms disappeared. So feeling much better I was left with a new quandary…. WHAT THE HECK WAS I GOING TO EAT???
Yes, I know there is a world of food options out there waiting for me…. and this is where my food rut comes into play. Prior to seeing my doctor, I had already decided to reduce my sugar intake. Being mindful of all the hidden place that sugar hides, I started making changes. Reducing the sugar in my coffee (I had already cured myself of the artificial sweetener habit), making pasta sauce from scratch, swapping out my peanut butter (for the record breaking my JIF peanut butter habit was very hard). But now I had to eliminate a whole other area of comfort food: wheat products.
I love flour tortilla, can’t stand the corn ones, I have found ones made from oats and flax that are acceptable. I love pasta, fortunately I do like the pasta made from quinoa. Bread…. well for wheat free options that is a vast wasteland of choices, but I had found some good brown rice bread.
After fretting for a bit… I accepted that I was going to have to get out of my food rut and explore new options. I knew a lot of those new options would be found in the produce aisle. So for the first time in my adult life, I found myself stopping and considering vegetables I had never glanced at before . I tried artichoke hearts, passable maybe I will grow to love them. Celery root, well it is kind of looks like jicama (at least in my mind, shhhh don’t dissuade me of this notion or I will put it back on the shelf) plus I have seen it used on the Food Network. Then there was kale. oh kale, that now trendy vegetable that seemed to be in everything from chips to green smoothies. I had a kale chip once and the texture reminded me of dried seaweed, yeah I passed on anymore of those chips. As for green smoothies, I am still working on getting used to smoothies, let alone green ones. I had always thought of kale as the decoration to cover the ice that some restaurants used on salad bars, but never thought to actually eat it. Somehow I convinced myself to pick up a small bushel, the smallest one I could find, and believe me I rummaged through the whole offering of kale in the produce aisle. Yes, people stared, why the store had to put all the kale on the highest produce shelf was beyond me. So armed with a recipe for sautéed kale (how could one go wrong with olive oil and garlic?) I tackled a portion of my small bushel really hoping for a positive outcome.
The kale rounded out a meal of polenta, chicken and chorizo sausage (I love spicy sausage, I am still on a quest to find good hot Italian sausage in the DC area… but that is for a post for another day). Why did I select those items? Well I figured if the kale was going to have a fair chance it needed to be paired with items I already liked. The outcome, I am thinking I am not a kale fan. I may be open to trying it one more time, but I am not going out of my way to do it.
I have been asked what I miss the most by extremely limiting my wheat consumption? BAGELS, I really miss bagels. Yes, I have tried the wheat free ones and if I ever need of a quick substitute for a hockey puck, I know exactly what to use.