Wednesday, February 9, 2011

You Can Take Your Gluten, And Shovel It

It's been a snowy winter to remember here in New York (and throughout much of the country!). One snowstorm after another has dropped feet upon feet of the white stuff. I, for one, am loving it. I can't get enough snow.

Most of my coworkers, family and friends in New York, on the other hand, have been less than enthused. They're tired of driving in it. They're tired of shoveling it. They're simply tired of it. Period.

Not me. Although I walk to work, each morning of a snowstorm I go out early and shovel around the car, so that Kelli and the girls can get out if they need to. When I come home from work, I shovel the back deck behind our house, partly to maintain access to the grill for cooking, but also because - this may sound crazy - I like shoveling snow. It's weird, I know. But true.

All winter long, I've been shoveling that snow into one giant pile. After the most recent snowfall, it was upwards of six feet tall, and probably 8 or more feet in diameter. A lot of folks would simply see it as a big old pile of snow, or as the byproduct of a lot of unpleasant manual labor. I saw it as a golden opportunity.

I took my metal avalanche shovel (the plastic snow shovel I'd been using wasn't strong enough to handle the densely compacted snow) and hollowed the mound of snow into a kind of igloo. Then it was time for fun, fun, fun. Marin loved it! (There's a connection to gluten here...hang with me...)

Sometimes, I think it's easy - especially when first diagnosed with a condition that warrants a gluten-free diet - to see going gluten-free as the unpleasant mound of snow. It's a negative, a liability. That's a shame, because going gluten-free is actually a super fun igloo.

Now keep in mind, I'm not talking about going gluten-free being some kind of silver lining, or a "glass is half full" situation, or a case of making lemonade from lemons. All of those metaphors assume a negative starting point, one from which you try to find the positive. I reject that idea. Being sick, with diminished quality of life, pre-gluten-free was the negative. Going gluten-free is inherently a positive thing. If pre-gluten-free was a dirty mound of snow, then going gluten-free is a gorgeous snowy igloo of fun. Know what I'm saying?

In fact, going gluten-free was just the entrance to the igloo, and inside, I found all sorts of cool things I wouldn't have if I had never looked at that mound of snow and decided to tunnel into it.

For example:

1. In abandoning gluten and the gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley, rye), I discovered an entirely new (to me) set of alternative gluten-free grains that have brought wonderful diversity to my cooking and baking...quinoa, millet, sorghum, amaranth.

2. The necessity of scrutinizing ingredients labels carefully has made me much more aware of what I'm putting in my body (and what I don't want to be putting into my body). As a result, I've purged high fructose corn syrup, refined processed foods, preservatives, artificial colors, and other "objectionables" from my diet.

3. Going gluten-free pushed us even more toward from-scratch cooking. This helped us to better preserve the food traditions of our families, passed down through generations, and also deepened our understanding of techniques and ingredients, and why they're used in certain recipes and how they function.

4. Us being gluten-free brought out a new aspect of the love of family and friends, who graciously and quite willingly adjusted their own cooking to accommodate our family's dietary restrictions.

5. Lastly, going gluten-free connected us to you, the amazing network that is the gluten-free community.

Of course, my list of 5 things is just the tip of the iceberg (or is it the tip of the igloo?). What wonderful and amazing discovery did you make in going gluten-free? Leave a comment and tell us about the gluten-free igloo you found hiding in your own gluten-ous pile of snow.

- Pete


Erin S. said...

Pete, this is such a fantastic post. I love how you took going gluten-free and put such a positive spin on it. Also, great title! :-)

Gluten-Free Fun

glutenfreetri said...

I totally agree! For me, being gluten free has turned into a wonderful igloo of health and new cooking opportunities : )

Dinah jo said...

Thanks for sharing. I love the whole igloo analogy.

Stephanie said...

I LOVE being gluten free! It has allowed me to have more excuses to play in the kitchen! Plus, I eat so much healthier, since I've stopped eating out on a regular basis! I've been able to develop a great appreciation for healthier foods, such as veggies!

I also love playing in snow (however, not so much a fan of living in it!). Thanks for sharing a fun post and pictures of your cute family!

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Fabulous post, Pete! I read this earlier and thought I'll come back and share, but really there is so much good that has come out of living gluten free for me, that it would take me forever to include in this comment. LOL, but true. Let's just say I couldn't agree more with you. Great photos of you guys!


Katieburst said...

Amen! This is truly a great way to look at it. It took me a few months to come around, but I to can see the many blessings in this MOUND OF SNOW! :)