A couple of issues ago I wrote about the trend in gluten free diets. Yes, we need whole grains. The tragedy is that a gluten free diet prohibits them. The conclusion is that unless you are intolerant of gluten or have celiac disease, a diet sans gluten is not recommended.
Intolerance of gluten and the myriad symptoms that come along with the ailment can range from slight discomfort to pretty severe. The only way to test for gluten intolerance is by abstaining from gluten for a few weeks then returning to a pasta sandwich on whole wheat bread with a Budweiser. You will probably not feel that great no matter what the result of that experiment is, but your body will let you know if you need to stay away.
There are times when I eat something and immediately feel bad. The problem is I unashamedly eat everything. I couldn’t pinpoint a food malady in my everyday lifestyle if said lifestyle depended on it. There are just too many variables to contend with. But I decided if I was going to write about a gluten free diet I should at least give it a try. There are perils. There are hardships. But for the most part after a week and a half I do feel like I have a little more pep in my step.
The first part of losing the gluten was immediately noticing how hard this really is. It seems it’s everywhere. If you are going gluten free your menu options are severely limited. Cooking is a bit difficult, too. I had to exclude almost any Cajun recipe from my diet. That’s a tough one for me. But pretty soon I got the hang of it. White flour became rice flour. Cornstarch can be used to thicken sauces. Backed into a corner, I began to find avenues out.
Shopping takes some planning. Pro tip: a lot of gluten free products can be found on the ethnic foods aisle. There are so many crackers that will blow your mind. I must say I will continue to buy some of these on a regular diet. Almond crackers are really thin and sturdy. Rice crackers are a little more brittle. Different brands pair with different cheese and all is right with the world.
Another problem with the diet is that I became ill after a couple of days. Not ill as in sick. I mean ill as in pill. I was not easy to be around. It was exactly like giving up smoking, but on a smaller scale. Once I got over that hump I felt fine. It was a moderate level of irritability, and if I snapped at you in those couple of days please accept my apology.
I must say the thing I miss the most is beer. Sorghum beer is pretty good. Ciders are sometimes gluten free but are in no way a replacement for beer. Wine and vodka are grand libations. But when it comes to a man like me, I need a beer with my crawfish, a beer with my Super Bowl wings, a beer with my raw oysters and a beer with my old man.
So to walk a mile in the shoes of our gluten free friends, I decided to replicate a dish I claim to have invented. It’s basically chicken pot pie filling over pasta rather than in the shell. This dish contains a roux, chicken broth, and pasta. The broth I made from chicken thighs. The roux was butter and rice flour. The pasta was gluten free. Enjoy!
2 cups cooked, dark meat chicken, shredded
Homemade chicken broth
1 stick of butter
½ cup of rice flour
1 cup of white onion chopped
½ cup of chopped bell pepper
1 Tablespoon of garlic
½ cup of chopped carrots, boiled until soft
½ cup of canned sweet peas
Cooked gluten free pasta
Fresh grated parmesan cheese
In a large Dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the onions and bell pepper until soft. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Season it with Creole seasoning. Add the flour and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until a blonde roux forms.
Add chicken broth one cup at a time until a soupy but thick mixture is produced. This is usually between two and three cups but start thick. You can always add a little more. It’s more difficult to take the broth out.
At this point add the chicken, carrots and sweet peas. Let the mixture cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally.
Serve this over cooked pasta with grated parmesan. My results were far better than I had hoped. I did not miss the regular flour or pasta. It tasted like home to me! Experiment with different cheese or throw in some Conecuh sausage for a bite. The only thing missing from this was a beer.
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