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Food & Drink

Gluten plenty

Living life gluten-free is a huge paradigm shift

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Seriously, last week I paid seven bucks for a box of gluten-free graham crackers. I grumbled but forked it over because it's important for my kid to stay off gluten so he can possibly, hopefully, outgrow the sensitivity and avoid developing celiac. But also because I don't want him to be a gluten-free freak, having to watch as all the other kids gorge on s'mores. As an underemployed single mother, however, this is not a splurge I can afford to make often; nor can I routinely pay $4 for gluten-free pasta or $5 for a miniature loaf of no-wheat bread.

So, inspired as much by pissed-off-ness as economic necessity, I pondered how to do an end-run around the gluten-free aisle and its astronomical prices. The big payoff came when I realized that most Asian cuisines don't often utilize wheat. At Asian food markets, staple foods – noodles, dumplings, soy sauce – are gluten-free as a matter of course, and lack hyperinflated price tags. They also carry alterna-flours – rice, potato, sorghum, tapioca – for much lower prices than ye olde Bob's Red Mill aisle at your local grocery.

We are now 16 months into living la vida sin gluten. Cole will always be a high-energy guy, but these days he's proud of his ability to hang reasonably tight during kindergarten circle time. Now that he is off wheat I can definitely tell when he's had some: He gets antsy and cranky and easily frustrated. During the gluten-free diet learning curve I myself felt, at times, cranky and frustrated, but a calmer, happier kid is so worth it.

Oh – and it turns out you can make a pretty decent roux using rice flour.

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