Friday, August 17, 2012

To Be Or Not To Be…Gluten Free…

To Be Or Not To Be…Gluten Free…
Gluten-free walleye batter...yum
A call to action - I am going to begin today with a call to action, a disclaimer and then get to the good stuff. The call to action is this – if you like my blog, the stories, the recipes, the travel and food tips – then please pass them along to your friends and sign up to receive new releases on my blog by entering your e-mail address into the box on the left-hand side of this page under "follow by e-mail" – then you will receive each new post as it is fresh and available and not miss anything. The second call to action is to please check out my sponsors who support my blog. I have asked to have relevant and useful ads on my site and it would be great if you would visit them.
The disclaimer - Okay enough of the housekeeping – now the disclaimer. I am writing this food and travel blog from my own experiences, perspective and knowledge base which changes all the time. This is especially important as we venture into the gluten-free discussion. While a scientist by schooling and a social scientist by experience this discussion is based upon my own experiences and the guests that I have on the blog. Some of those guests may be from my family and friends and others I have just met, all of whom are experts about their own experiences. I have been surprised at the interest and the level of discussions that I end up involved with related to gluten-free eating. Now on to the good stuff…
The good stuff - To be or not to be gluten-free? I have a family that is motivated to live as fully and well as we possibly can – a no regrets philosophy permeates the entire fiber of our being. That means moving out of our comfort zones on a regular basis and

continually challenging ourselves to try to incorporate lifestyle choices to maximize our body, mind and soul. Meditation, reading, and yoga are some of the regular activities in our household as well as biking, jogging, walking and swimming (soon…more on the triathlon challenge later). Our family loves to play games, go boating and fishing and of course, travel and cook together (or at least eat together). Lest you stop reading because we sound like the Cleavers, let me assure you we are not without our challenges and weight is one of those challenges. It is a huge challenge and we are continually seeking alternative eating strategies to help control or at least get our weight to a point where we can more fully engage in our other activities. Now, some of us are more concerned than others because of the desire to eat all of the food that I love to cook and the on-going discussion about the weight of muscle mass that we accumulate when we bike and exercise as much as we do. But the reality is that most of the people in my family carry more weight than we would like and that we notice a lighter sense of being when we are eating healthily.

When we engage in a new “eating plan” or “change of eating lifestyle choice” we try to do it as an entire family, since it is easier to cook for the masses and have less “tempting” or “challenging” foods around in the house, plus there is a sense of camaraderie and team spirit and support that comes from working together. Sometimes the discussion about incorporating a different way of eating takes weeks and months before we land on a strategy for all of us to start together. Well, this lengthy processing did not take place this time; I was not going to incorporate gluten-free foods into my kitchen, lifestyle or life…period. No one in my family has celiac disease and I was not going to give up my pasta…I am Mama Caruso, pasta is my ultimate comfort food – my go to food and something that I just won’t give up, end of discussion…or not…

This entire discussion began in the late winter as we were putting together our training plan to ride our bikes 400 plus miles in a week across Iowa and my husband believed that if he was lighter that it would change his experience. I had just gotten back from a trip to Ghana and knew that long-distance travel is much easier without carrying around my own extra weight and so we decided to look at some food options that would not compromise our long-distance bike training and would maximize our lives. We looked at a number of options but the main criterion was that it needed to be something that was sustainable. We had been vegetarians for years when we lived in Boulder and were moving back in that direction when along came the book “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis and all collaboration ceased – my husband was going to go wheat gluten-free and I was not. The irony of that statement as I sit here 6 months later on family vacation munching on home-made gluten-free shortcake that is absolutely delicious is not lost on me. And, the gluten-free batter for the walleye was significantly better than the Shore Lunch we used for the other half of the family.

Fresh walleye ready for the
grill - a great addition to a
gluten-free menu
We have traveled to northern Minnesota for a family vacation filled with fishing, boating, playing and eating, eating, eating. We have 3 cabins and each family grouping in a cabin is responsible for cooking one meal for everyone during the week. There are currently 4 of the 11 of us who are living the wheat gluten-free lifestyle and in the next post, I will share the menus we have been cooking and the strategies that have been employed to support a gluten-free family vacation. I can tell you that we have been able to incorporate gluten-free family fun without compromising anyone’s desires – in fact, it was at last night’s murder mystery dinner party that we had the gluten-free strawberry shortcake…which was enjoyed by all! Next week, I will share some of the interviews from the people who rode RAGBRAI as gluten-free riders as well as share some of our own experiences…and if you have one of your own gluten-free story you would like me to share please contact me at or tweet me at @mamacaruso1 I look forward to hearing from you...from my table to yours.

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