When I was diagnosed with Celiac in 2004, there were very limited options of gluten free food and a lack of knowledge of Celiac Disease and what it meant to be gluten free. I would travel to restaurants with my own pasta noodles and ask that they boil them in a separate pot and put some marinara and meat sauce on them so I could eat with the rest of my family/friends. Sandwich bread was crumbly, small and very dense. There was no such thing as gluten free all-purpose flour, so if I wanted to make anything using gluten-free flour, I had to make everything from scratch – using a combination of corn flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xanthan gum, and the list goes on! I had 10 bags of different gluten free flours opened at a time. Every day I would figure out what I could NOT eat, and there was nothing being added to my COULD eat list. My options were limited and were not healthy alternatives to its gluten-filled substitute. It was very frustrating to say the least.
Years later, “gluten free” started to become well known. Heck, people started eating gluten free because of potential health benefits. More and more people were going on gluten free diets. More companies were making gluten free foods, and GOOD food. I can now guarantee that there will be Udi’s gluten free bread in almost any grocery store, restaurants have gluten free pizza options with Udi’s gluten free crusts, and menus have a separate gluten free section. No longer did I need to bring my own gluten free noodles! All-purpose gluten free flours, like Glutino’s, were made, so I could now use this to substitute 1:1 into recipes that called for flour.
Despite the increased awareness of Celiac and “gluten free,” the biggest thing I still have to worry about is the cross-contamination in restaurants. Everyone ‘knows’ what gluten free is, but do they? And how well do restaurants clean their counters and pots for good gluten free cooking. I still like to talk directly to the chef if I am able and talk specifics to others if they are preparing gluten free meals. It is still an ongoing education for me as well, because I still find new things that potentially have gluten in them that I didn’t know before. Unfortunately gluten is hidden in a lot of things. However, I am thankful that companies like Udi’s and Glutino are certified gluten free and make delicious products! The availability and quality of gluten free products have come a long ways in 12 years!