Welcome to my world... living gluten-free in South Florida!
I've been on a gluten-free diet for a few years now and it has gotten much easier over time. When my doctor first said the words gluten-free diet, visions of my favorite foods that I would no longer be able to eat flashed through my mind. Donuts, egg rolls, pasta, garlic bread, and the list went on... I jumped on the internet to look for all of the information that I could find, including gluten-free replacements to all my favorite foods, and wondered how I was ever going to eat out at a restaurant again. I found a few websites that had a ton of information (www.celiac.com and www.celiac. org) and several with gluten-free products including Gluten Solutions. I also bought a few books. Many of the books out there were also filled with valuable information (what I could and couldn't eat) as well as great recipes. Being that I am just the average cook and not into gourmet cooking, some of the recipes were too elaborate for me. Two of my favorite books are Against the Grain and Wheat-Free Worry-Free. They covered everything about living without gluten, including supermarket basics, reading labels, eating out, traveling, nutrition, as well as the emotional aspect that comes with this new lifestyle. These 2 books are must-haves for anyone starting on a gluten-free diet! However, for those really into cooking, also check out The Gluten-Free Gourmet books.
I was very surprised how much information was out there and just how many gluten-free products were available. I initially bought a lot of my new food online as I began experimenting with different products. This quickly became expensive and I started to look for other options. Luckily, I have a Whole Foods close by that carries a large supply of gluten-free products (the selection continues to grow over the years). I also stop off at a few other health food stores nearby on occasion to buy items that I can't find anywhere else (Nutrition Smart and Tunie's). I even still buy a few items online once in a while (my favorite tapioca dinner rolls from Ener-G Foods). However, over the years I have changed my mindset somewhat from simply looking for "gluten-free" specialty products to eating simple and healthy. There are so many options that are naturally gluten-free, that the question is no longer what can't I eat, but rather what should I eat? Don't get me wrong, there are still a few gluten-free items on my shopping list each week (gluten-free pasta included), but I now buy most of my food in the regular grocery store. My weekly shopping list includes more fruits and vegetables, and a simple dinner may be grilled chicken and asparagus.
Every now and then, dessert consists of a special gluten-free treat. Last night was a chocolate cupcake I just discovered at Whole Foods!