I use to love food and every aspect of it. Planning meaningful meals around seasonal produce. I found an almost meditative experience simmering this and that on the stove while prepping produce and herbs in between stirring pots. It was an outlet for my creative process and one I enjoyed immensely. The smells, sounds, tastes and sharing with others was always something I looked forward to.
Some days, I hate food. I hate planning it. I hate prepping. I hate cooking. I even hate eating it because I have no mental or emotional energy left to even enjoy it. Some nights, I wish we could all swallow a single pill that would meet all our nutritional needs for the day and just leave it at that.
So what changed?
Over the last five years, I have slowly and grudgingly realized that my family is healthiest when not consuming dairy or gluten. Last year, we discovered gluten makes my kids not sleep. Dairy causes a whole host of other problems (the oldest has an epi pen for her dairy allergy!). This has sucked so much joy out of cooking for me. No more cream based sauces, pastas, sandwiches, toast (mmmm hot sourdough toast with salted butter), cheesy eggs, not to mention very little eating out.
These dietary restrictions and budgetary constraints pretty much decimated my cooking repertoire. I spend a lot of time combing the internet, looking for kid friendly and husband friendly meals. It is a lot of hit or miss. A lot of discouragement. We’ve tried eating gluten free vegan, paleo (minus the dairy) and everything else in between. Nothing seems to really work well for us.
When I step into my kitchen, I feel beat down, discouraged and deflated. I can’t bake cookies with the kids on a whim. It requires forethought and careful planning. Do I have the appropriate “flours”? Can I sub what the recipe requires for what I have in my pantry? If I don’t, is it worth the time to pile all the kids into the car to go to the store and can I justify the nutso prices for a recipe we may not even like? By that point, I’m too mentally tired to even try.
Don’t even get me started on sandwich bread.
I use to hold it together by telling myself that this is only a stage and as time passes, we’ll be able to go back to a more “traditional” diet. Then as more time passes, I realize that this is truly a new lifestyle and not just a life stage. Now, I feel like I’ve finally hit a turning point. I can’t live like this. No, I refuse to live the rest of my life with this attitude towards food. It’s not healthy.
Instead of trying to recreate former dishes or yearn for things that are now forbidden, I try to find new favorites. Trying new favorites right now is difficult because we truly are in a temporary stage. Having a tiny baby pretty much takes away any cooking options other than what’s quick and easy. In time, this will change. Hazel will grow and become more content to sit by herself and can I simmer this or that on the stove while chopping fresh produce. I won’t be so exhausted by having three young children that I will be able to take the time to make up my own flour mixes to facilitate experimenting with sandwich bread.
In the mean time, I will enjoy things like this delicious breakfast:
Simple eggs, fried in coconut oil, over black beans seasoned with cumin and salt, served with garden fresh tomatoes. I liked it so much that I had it again for lunch, only adding tapenade and sweet onion mustard to top the eggs. Amazing. It was practically a food party in my mouth!
Then, I discovered these cookies on Pinterest. Gluten and dairy free and needing ZERO strange flours. Peanut butter, an egg, sugar, cocoa powder. Chocolate chips (which I
ran walked to the corner store for!). That’s it. Again, amazing.
Slowly, I’m turning the corner. Some days, I do stomp my feet over meal planning or sigh in exasperation at the grocery store. Those moments are coming less frequently as time goes on. If I focus on what we can have, what we can enjoy, instead of zeroing in on what we can’t experience, it is just easier all around.
These are some places I go for gluten and dairy free inspiration. Not all recipes meet our dietary needs, but I can generally modify them with ease.
Gluten Free Girl. This is a brilliant, brilliant blog. Be sure to check out her Ratio Ralley for creating gluten free flour mixes. And please, PLEASE do yourself the favor of getting a food scale if you’re going to do GF baking from scratch. It will make your life so much simpler.
Roost: A Simple Life. I come here and take a deep, calming breath as I look at the pictures. There is something deeply calming about her writing style and images. The recipes are gloriously documented in stunning pictures and they are, for the most part, attainable by the basic cook. She bakes almost exclusively with almond flour, which makes it easy to stock the pantry. Not all of her recipes are dairy free.
Once A Month Mom. Freezer cooking at its finest! They provide a dairy and gluten free menu (for free!) once a month. I’ve found this to be a wonderful resource. Not everything has been a hit with my family but that’s to be expected. This really is gluten and dairy free cooking for the busy family. Spend one day cooking all the things and you’re set for the month.
Dallas Ann’s Pinterest Board . If you’re a Pinterest fanatic, take a look at my GF/DF pin board. I haven’t tried everything, so I can’t vouch for it, but it may trigger some inspiration for you.