Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gluten Free Challenge Finished!

Husband and I dove into the 14 day Gluten Free Challenge the day after we received our box of gluten free goodies from Udi’s Gluten Free. Thanks to Udi’s bread, muffin, pizza crust, and granola samples, I did not have to do extra shopping for gluten free food until our regular monthly or so grocery shopping trip.



I was happily surprised too. Cooking from scratch with unprocessed ingredients (except things such as pasta) helped immensely. Although finding out gluten is in, unmarked, or added to our staple items such as plain oatmeal, lunch meats and hot dogs (fortunately, I already buy brands that are gluten, lactose, and nitrate free when the urge strikes), some spices, and health and beauty items like toothpaste. The thing that killed me because I use it for everything is discovering gluten is in distilled vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is gluten free but not an ingredient in any of our mustard collection. Bummer.



I have a thing for flavored mustard. Husband has a thing for hot sauce. Don’t judge.


The Good

  • Since I am lactose intolerant, I thought it would make the gluten free challenge harder but in many ways, it made it easier. All of the Udi’s samples they sent were lactose free (check the labels, a few of Udi’s items contain milk), and being lactose free means many items aren’t an issue because I make my own to avoid lactose like olive oil based salad dressing for my lunch salads

I made my part a cheeseless pizza by skipping the cheese on our gluten free pizza
 made with an Udi's Gluten Free pizza crust. The pizza crust is lactose free too!


  • Not buying vegetables and meats made with sauces, breading, or convenience foods worked in our favor. It was easy to grill fish and serve it with sides of brown rice and fresh (or plain frozen) vegetables like we normally do for example.

  • Being budget foodies also worked in our favor. While some gluten free food is a little more expensive to buy (like gluten free soy sauce), buying it in our mom and pop International grocery stores was not the budget buster as it would be if we bought it in a traditional grocery store. I substituted rice noodles and bean threads ($.99) for gluten free pasta (crazy money with no coupon in sight) and we always buy our rice at the Asian market in bulk.  Our normal high low shopping strategy (buying what we use on sale and in season to save money on those things we buy that don't go on sale) meant we didn't spend more money than usual on groceries during the challenge.

I spent $28 at the Asian market. Everything is gluten free with the exception of Husband's Chinese hot sauce that I don't eat anyway.

  • Margaritas are gluten free so are martinis and most mixed drinks – we tested them because the world needs to know.

  • We experimented with new recipes and ingredients that we will rotate into our diet no matter what because they taste good. I developed a gluten free apple crisp that won raves at a pot luck. Win.


Gluten free apple crisp hot from the oven. Recipe coming soon!


  • We added some convenience foods back into rotation because most of the gluten free food we purchased also fell into our no transfat, no hydrogenated oil, or high fructose corn syrup personal food rules. We gave up on frozen bagels (morning time crunch folks, K?) long ago because of the ingredients. I was happy to find Udi’s whole wheat frozen bagels didn’t contain any of those ingredients and we will add them into our food rotation. I also learned Udi’s products do not contain any GMO ingredients, which is nice to know too.

The Bad

  • Eating away from home gluten free was hard especially if our only option was fast food/cheaper eats. The only cheat I did was on the second day of the challenge. Husband and I wanted something quick and cheap for lunch because we wanted to make sure we got to a panel at our convention center.  There wasn’t a gluten free option other than soda.  On another night, Husband and I wanted to grab something for a he worked late/TGIF/tomorrow we need to hit the grocery store dinner and it took some thinking to come up with a cheaper eats place that served gluten free options and even then, they only had one dish I could eat.  
My gluten and lactose free Mexican dinner. 
You may have already seen this if you follow me on Foodspotting @condoblues


  • I couldn’t bake our bread because gluten free breads are extremely difficult to make at home. Reader Anne was so amazingly generous to give me her bread maker when my bread maker died. She wouldn’t even let me pay her for shipping because she wanted us to put our money toward Blitzkrieg’s cancer care. Every loaf of bread I make seems a bit special now because it is a reminder of the love and support you gave us during the most difficult and horrible time in our lives. I missed it.

  • I missed dark bread like ryes and pumpernickels (one of the reasons I make our bread) and dark stout and porter craft beers – which I like because they drink like dark rye or pumpernickel bread. Notice the connection to the point above?

The Results

The big question is how did I feel during the gluten free challenge and what happened once I ate gluten afterward.

I didn’t experience much change the first week of the challenge. When I finished my antibiotics on Day 5, I felt normal and less draggy but still a bit draggy like I do. By the last two days of the challenge, I didn’t feel draggy and had more energy. The real test came after I started eating gluten again.

The following day, I jumped off the gluten free bandwagon at a friend’s apartment painting party with morning doughnuts, many slices of pan pizza, and washed it down with a nice dark stout. Rare and happy tummy treats!

I didn’t have any digestive issues the next day but I felt draggy again. In fact I’ve been feeling a little bit draggy ever since I started eating gluten again.

I’m not sure if I will go cold turkey on gluten because it is such a pain when I leave the bubble of my own kitchen. I will add the Udi’s bagels into our rotation because I miss the convenience of a frozen bagel and am happy to find one without crap ingredients. I will experiment with gluten free recipes and work up to baking gluten free bread because I like the challenge and felt better when I was gluten free.

For now, I plan to cut down on how much gluten I eat and if a gluten free food option is available as long as it is lactose free, I’ll go for it.   

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Disclosure: Udi's Gluten Free provided me with samples and discount coupons to facilitate this challenge. This did not influence my opinion. All opinions are my own and long time reader know I can be highly opinionated.