What a decade this has been. As the decade dubiously called the Decade with No Name draws to an end, an editorial in the Seattle Times noted that the American Public has rated it as the worst decade in 50 years.
We all remember the downs, so there is no need to recite them here. In addition to those, we have had our fair share of personal hard times starting with a heart-wrenching adoption process, then the ever sickening health of our now gluten free teen.
While challenging, the decade has actually ended on a high note for us. The boy from Guatemala who we feared would spend his young life as a homeless child is now sitting next to me playing Lego Star Wars on his DS. My once emaciated daughter who vomited so violently that she could actually throw it across the room, is now, well almost as tall as Mom, extremely healthy, bright and even adept at testing the boundaries (she convinced the Head of her very conservative private school to allow her to die a strip of her hair pink - minor to some, but definitely a statement in our world).
And if this decade has brought you into the gluten free life, then you are ending it on a good note as well. It is now easier than ever to live gluten free. So many of the myths about such everyday ingredients as vinegar and blue cheese have been revealed to be just that, myths! Both are safe for those on a gluten free diet. Yes, the diet is still challenging but there are so many actually good gluten free products on the market that one can scarcely feel deprived.
The following is a list of some of our best moments of 2009 - hardly extensive or all inclusive but let's focus on the positives for a while as we shepard in a new decade.
Favorite New Recipe of 2009
We have tried so many recipes, but our favorite has to be the crepes. They are so easy to make with a variety of fillings that they have been a twice a month staple for us.
Best New Gluten Free Foods
Bring on the Udi's!! Udi's White Sandwich and Whole Grain Bread
Upon tasting this bread you will not be able to tell that it is gluten free. Few gluten free products have excited us as much as Udi's bread. The first gluten free bread that you can leave on the counter top and eat without toasting. Looks, smells and has the texture of traditional wheat bread. Really it is that good. Just as satisfying are the Udi muffins and we hear they are making hot dog and hamburger buns which we are excited to try. There is sure to be more good products coming out of this company in the future.
Honorable Mentions to the following companies for bringing us some great gluten free products:
Lucy Sugar, Cinnamon Thin, Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Cookies I have yet to find someone who has not loved these cookies! They are crisp and crunchy with great flavor and oh so sweet. We love them all but the Cinnamon Thin are my favorite. You can buy these with confidence that you will love them.
Zero Grano Straight from Italy these are saltine-like crackers but actually much better! Light and crunchy with a hint of rosemary. Great with soup.
Zazzeri Pienza Gluten Free Pasta from Italy imported by PrimeSources International Another wonderful gluten free pasta from Italy. The shape and flavor is very satisfying. Not as hardy as Bi-Aglut but not starchy like some other pastas. I particularly like the different shapes. How fun to serve the family Chicken Noodle Soup with star shaped gluten free pasta noodles.
Food Should Taste Good chips are certified Gluten Free and processed on equipment that does not process any gluten ingredients, and they taste wonderful. Really a cross between a cracker and a chip. We love the the Sweet Potato chip dipped in hummus.
Zing Bar Surprisingly tasty gluten and soy free bars. I really like the chocolate and peanut butter flavored bar.
General Mills Honey Nut Chex General Mills now makes six gluten free cereals that you cannot beat if you are looking for mainstream everyday cereal.
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brownies, and Yellow and Devil's Food Cake Mix One of the latest mainstream food manufacturers to enter the world of gluten free living. These are reliable, readily available and easy to make gluten free mixes. Try Streusel Cake with the Betty Crocker Yellow Cake mix.
Favorite New Appliance
Last year I really wanted a pizza oven - I was really craving that crispy crust and burned-just-right-cheese on top that you get from a pizza oven. Not really having the funds or the space for such, I was resigned to live without until Jules Shepard introduced me to Presto 03430 Pizzazz Pizza Oven
We not only cook homemade pizza with it, but also focaccia bread and cheesy bread sticks. Okay, maybe not as good as a real pizza oven baked pizza but it produces a nice crunchy crust on the bottom and perfectly melted cheese on top. Moreover, it makes the chore of cooking dinner a lot more fun!!
Favorite Place to Eat Gluten Free
Hands down our favorite family dining place in Seattle is Romios Pizza and Pasta in the Greenwood neighborhood - whenever we walk in the door the theme song from Cheers replays in my head -
"Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name. "
That's the kind of neighborhood restaurant Romio's is. And it is true, it can be three months between visits and Don the waiter always greets us with a very warm welcome.
Of course, the gluten free food is great as well. This is a restaurant that actually works hard to make it's gluten free customers happy. At Romios you can enjoy the simple pleasure of eating a GF pizza while drinking a cold GF beer. They also serve GF grinders, subs and pannini. Recent additions include lasagna and ravioli.
Our absolute favorite is the GF pita bread with hummus. That with a bowl of artichoke soup is the perfect meal for mel. The gluten free teen loves the ravioli. They also have Lemon Pie for dessert, but we have always been so full by the end of the meal that we cannot eat dessert.
Favorite New Gluten Free Publication
With so many new people starting the gluten free diet, it is really great that Jules Dowler Shepard published a new book entitled The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. If you are new to the diet or know someone who is, this book is a great step by step guide that will get you started down the road to great health.
What are your favorites? Just for fun, I created a survey to collect some of your favorites. Results will be added to comments section: