Gluten Free…..a marketer’s dream

Gluten Free…..a marketer’s dream

I’m a marketer.  I’m a food marketer at that, so I get it.  The people who CHOOSE to eat diet food are happy to pay a higher price.  Now, I could turn this blog into a 4000 word rant on the obesity issue and the cheapness of a quarter pounder, but I’ll refrain.  This is more about how I find my way around the high prices, since I didn’t CHOOSE celiac and this food is a necessity.

I knew going into this lifestyle change that our grocery bill would increase.  I am sure it is more costly for a company to open a certified gluten free facility.  I am positive there are fees associated with continuing to be certified, blah blah blah.  Long story short, I was prepared for the cost of bread to double.  Being prepared doesn’t mean I don’t want to scream every time I open that $5 loaf of bread, only to find half of the slices you would get in a “normal” loaf.  And it doesn’t mean I don’t find it SUPER annoying that my people, the genius food marketers of the world, love slapping that $5 price point on the bread bag.  This is why I spend most of my time eating gluten free by doing it naturally, and not with gluten free replacements.  BUT, I dare you to try to pack a 15 month old’s lunch every day with fresh veggies and protein.  Every now and then you need a good gluten free cracker and some sunbutter so he doesn’t starve to death.  I decided I needed to put my competitive nature to good….to find a way to defeat those sneaky food marketers and get a deal on gluten free goodies.

This morning while chatting with my husband I mentioned I needed to find out when Aldi’s opened….he laughed saying he never expected those words to come out of my mouth.  I guess I am a stuck up grocery shopper.  Or it could be that Aldi’s isn’t nearby, so I go to the store that is close, but let’s stick with the first reason.  I’ll admit I’m pretentious.  I decided today was the day I was going to give the weird “pay a quarter for a cart” store a try.  And I’m so glad I did.

The gluten free options, cheeses, produce, and soymilk prices almost made me fall on my face.  Yes the store’s display shelves leave something to the imagination, the aisles are narrow, and I had to bag my own groceries.  Yes I had to drive past my normal Publix, and another Publix before I could get to the Aldi’s. And I had to insert a quarter to get a cart.  But the fact of the matter is, those are the things that help to jack up prices at other grocery store chains.

After shopping for about twenty minutes and just finding more and more LiveGFree (the Aldi’s gluten free brand) items to try, we headed to the register.  The cashier completed ringing up the ridiculous amount of crackers, frozen items, bread, soymilk, looked up and said “That will be $74.12”.  $74.  All that for $74.  Inside of my loot below is a bag of chocolate covered pretzels, two bags of regular pretzels, frozen ravioli, gluten free pasta, bread, gluten free wraps and two things of milk….not to mention turkey breast, corn, and some fruit.  I feel like I pay $74 for milk at Publix. If you need gluten free items, you are crazy not to stop by Aldi’s.  It is absolutely worth it.

The Aldi's Loot
The Aldi’s Loot

In other news, the Tucker household has been crazy stressful the past few weeks.  Nathan was interviewing for a job that would move us to Charlotte, and at the same time I had been approached about a Director of Marketing position with a national bakery chain based in Nashville.  Thinking about moving had sent me down the crazy river, and I’m going to guess on several occasions Nathan thought moving without me sounded better than ever;)  In the end, the Charlotte move didn’t work out.  And you are reading the musings of the new Director of Marketing of a brand I’ll talk about soon;)  The best part…they sell gluten free items.  My mom said when they diagnosed Pierce that somehow gluten free would be a part of my next career move.  She might be a prophet!

Pierce continues to get better, which allows my crazy to shift to things like freaking out about moving:)  He is walking, blabbering all day, and his appetite is out of control.  Can you imagine how good food must taste now that it doesn’t make him sick every time?

Feeding himself breakfast
Feeding himself breakfast

Well, back to enjoying the two free hours of life called “nap time”.  Although today it shall be known as the two hours I will spend listening to Ford refuse to nap and instead, make up stories about super heroes.  And laugh at his own jokes.  A boy who takes after his mother:)

Adventures in Travel

Adventures in Travel

One of the things I have been most nervous about with Pierce is travel.  When we are home or he is in daycare, I have full control over all food provided to him.  I do believe a gluten free lifestyle can be pretty painless inside the four walls of our comfort zone, but venturing out to someone else’s home or on a trip is when you lose control.  We knew we’d make a trip to Kentucky over Memorial Day weekend to see family, my cousin and her kids would be in from St. Louis, and my parents would have opened the pool.  As soon as we nailed the trip down, my mom sent me a text:

Mom: Can you provide me easy ideas on what to feed Pierce?

Because I’m in the thick of the lifestyle every day, the answer to this question seems so easy.  But I’m sure, to everyone else it can seem daunting….you don’t want to risk the possibility of the child getting sick on your watch or in your home.

My #1 tip is to focus on the outside aisles of the grocery.  You’ll hear this a lot from people with celiac, but its easier to cook a meal without gluten than it is to find tasty gluten alternatives.  Meats, veggies, fruits are all game.  Spices, like oregano or cumin, are fine…watch out for spice blends.  Many spice blends include a non-caking agent which can be gluten so I always take the route of mixing my own. And because I tend to lots of Asian marinades, make sure your Soy sauce is gluten free or use Tamari sauce 🙂

Wheat is one of the top seven allergies in the nation so on USA nutritional panels, it is must be called out if contained within the product.  You’ll be able to easily identify wheat, but barley and rye can be a little trickier so if you aren’t living a gluten free lifestyle every day, its best to just not risk it.  If you question whether or not its in there, steer clear:) If you are dying for some good old pasta or bread, I like the corn/quinoa pasta, Udi’s hamburger buns and Kinnikinnick sandwich breads

There are several really helpful apps for iPhone and Androids to help lead to you gluten free products.  I personally love the ShopWell app.  Upon registration you enter what you are trying to avoid (gluten or sugars, fats, etc) and then you can scan the barcode of any product…you’ll immediately find out if the product is for you or not.

Lastly, just ask.  I would rather someone call me 40 times asking if particular foods are ok for PIerce than feed him something questionable.  No one wants to be around Pierce after he’s eaten gluten…you don’t sleep and the diapers are the most awful thing on the planet.  If you get nervous about a particular product or particular meal, ask.  Or google….lord knows I still google ” is XXXX gluten free?” about 10 times a day.

He did great in Lexington.  He played, laughed and ate up a storm!  We visited Gluten Free Miracles in Lexington….a fantastic gluten free bakery so if you live there, stop by and support them on Burt Road.  And have a lemonade cookie.  I dream about those things.  Or visit their website for delivery to your home www.glutenfreemiracles.com

Next stop, Holden Beach NC for a week in July.  I’m not as worried about the food since we are surrounded by fresh seafood and amazing produce stands, but cross contamination is the easiest way to get Pierce sick.  Little things like making him a sandwich on gluten free bread after making a sandwich for my mom….just wash up and use a different knife and cutting board. I certainly don’t want to force everyone around me to go gluten free, just force everyone to be a little more aware.  No one would want to make this face sick, right? 🙂

Happy As a Clam
Happy As a Clam
Playing at his great-grandmother's house
Playing at his great-grandmother’s house
Brothers in matching suits
Brothers in matching suits
If at first it tastes awful, try try again

If at first it tastes awful, try try again

Two blogs in, and I need to make a confession.  I have no patience, none at all.  My entire being is built around immediate gratification…it’s a character flaw that I acknowledge yet spend no time trying to fix.  Something I’ve learned over the past few days is there cannot be a baker on earth with this flaw.  Patience is the key to baking, especially bread.  You might wonder how I learned this.  Well wonder no more and take a gander at this “beauty”.  It ties in my book with brown rice bread for grossest thing I’ve tasted.  I should have saved it to use as a boat anchor.  It might have actually weighed more than Pierce.

This was supposed to be sandwich bread, not a sponge
This was supposed to be sandwich bread, not a sponge

Lesson learned: let the yeast due its thing.  I vow to try again soon, but I’m letting my pride heal first.

So, one failure in, but lots of great gluten free meals and treats have been had at the Tucker household.  I’m one of those cooks who doesn’t like “basic” meals, an issue I blame on Pinterest.  If I had never discovered this website, I know I’d be content eating sandwiches, tater tots, and chicken nuggets.  Stupid Stupid Pinterest. I should like basic meals….I have approximately 23 minutes to get food on the table before one of my children (husband included) erupts in a hangry fit.  But I always try to bring new flavors, new meals, and great looking dishes to the table.

I stressed when we went gluten free thinking we’ll just be eating basic meat and veggies every night, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  We’ve enjoyed roasted veggies (parsnips and carrots were delish), maple glazed salmon, bbq pork in the crock pot, Italian quinoa bites, gluten free tacos and many many other items.  All thanks to that stupid stupid Pinterest.  I do my best to “pin” new delicious ideas each week, so if you need any gluten free meals feel free to follow along:

https://www.pinterest.com/emilyjtucker/gluten-free-planning/

And the meals are working.  Pierce is growing like a weed.  He is still having to drink Elecare in place of milk (a prescription formula that will help him build up the walls of his intestines).  It is extremely expensive, but we are covered under insurance, at least for a little while.  His next GI evaluation is in August so fingers crossed at that point he can transition off the liquid gold. Although if it keeps him happy and healthy, I’ll pay for it until he’s 18.

I told Nathan the other day I truly think we forgot what his personality had been.  He spent so long being sick, it was almost normal for us to have a child that didn’t smile or play or want to interact.  It is an understatement to say we are thrilled to watch his personality return. Even teachers at daycare have raved about the thrill of seeing his smile and watching him play with other children.  The boy below is our boy and we are so happy to have him back!  Well off to another adventure in gluten-free life!  More bread baking horrors and life stories to come…..thanks for following along

Spending time with his big brother.
Spending time with his big brother.
Riding on his horse Benny....no fear Daddy is standing by:)
Riding on his horse Benny….no fear Daddy is standing by:)