Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I get by with a little ... support

I walked into our local HyVee a few days ago looking for a few of my gluten-free favorites. One of the staff dieticians was in the Health Food department passing out samples of gluten-free snack bars and chocolate water--that's right, I said "chocolate water"--and she invited me to their Gluten-Free Support Group. I put the event on my calendar, and last night I attended my first meeting.

We met in HyVee's cooking classroom, seated so that we could watch the evening's guest chef, a representative of Udi's/Glutino. She prepared a fresh pesto sauce and spread it on paninis made of Udi's whole grain bread, DiLusso chicken breast (deli meat), and Havarti cheese. Delicious! She also made cheese quesidillas using Udi's gluten free tortillas, and she served a Birdseye pepper mix (from the store's freezer section) on the side. I was especially excited to discover the tortillas, which I will soon be using to prepare chicken enchiladas.

We discussed the need to use dedicated kitchen equipment in our homes to avoid cross-contamination with food prepared by the non-gluten-free members of our family. It is more urgent to replace or purchase some kitchen utensils, such as toasters or wooden spoons, than others, such as stainless steel pots and pans. The Udi's rep, herself a celiac, brought her own panini press to prepare our meal.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the dietician passed out samples and free products available in the store. Some of the attendees also shared their experiences with local bakeries and restaurants with gluten-free offerings. I learned that a bakery called Gigi's (on Republic Road) has GF products on Friday mornings, and that Scotty's Biscotti has GF items at the Greater Ozarks Farmers Market.

Since my diagnosis a couple of years ago, I've read everything about celiac disease that I can get my hands on. Many of those sources extol the benefits of attending a support group, and now I understand why. The instruction, advice, recipes, freebies, and samples were wonderful, but the greatest benefit, in my opinion, was meeting other people who are learning to cope with--thrive, even, in spite of--this "inconvenient" disease.

If you are in or near Springfield, Missouri, I encourage you to check out the HyVee Gluten-Free Support Group. It meets on the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. Email kristen.white@hy-vee.com to RSVP.