In this study of diet and dietary restrictions, I had a hard time choosing which diet I wanted to try out. I didn’t want to do a super restrictive diet, such as Paleo, because I often forget exactly what I am and am not supposed to eat. I thought of doing vegetarian or vegan, but, well, whenever I’ve tried that in the past, I tend to mess up right away and eat meat because I always forget that I’m not supposed to until after the meal. To succeed in this endeavour, I needed something simple, but still tough.
I landed on a gluten-free diet. This is the newest of the fad diets, with people eschewing the devil that is gluten for “healthier” carbs. I must admit, I tend to mock people who are gluten-free without any medical reason to, and my joke is that my favourite bread is gluten. So, I knew that while forgoing gluten is fairly simple (and easier to remember!), it would be tough for me. Running over what I typically eat, I can already see a few things that I will have to give up until next week. Like my favourite meal at work – a delicious goat cheese puck, unfortunately covered with panko, a.k.a. the pariah that is gluten.
Day 0.5: So, today was kind of the first day of this gluten-free diet. Kind of, in that I started it at dinner. Please note that I ate 2 dinners tonight because I had something on at around dinner time, and didn’t want to be hungry, so I had two smaller meals.
Dinner 1: Oatmeal yogurt pancakes (Oats were used instead of AP Flour)
Dinner 2: A selection of fish from my culinary lab + an apple
Snack: Chocolate Covered Blueberries + Banana
Day 1: Today made me realize why following a gluten-free diet would cause someone to lose weight. Why? Because all the delicious things in the world contain gluten! There were 5 times at work today when I was about to eat something delicious (and sinful), only to realize that it contained gluten. Twice, I already had it in my mouth before I remembered and I had to spit it out. That made me sad. Of course, there are a lot of things that are gluten-free that are also decadent (flourless chocolate cake, I’m looking at you!), but for the most part, the typical cakes and treats are off-limits to those following a gluten-free diet.
Breakfast: Chocolate Banana Oatmeal + Coffee
Snack: Apple + Caramel
Lunch: Goat Cheese and Beet Salad
Snack: Roasted Mushroom Salad
Dinner: Beef Rib + some fries
Snack: Banana + Peanut Butter + Chocolate Covered Blueberries
Day 2: I actually had to scrape the filling out of a sandwich today. I felt like some weird person who had some sort of anti-gluten compulsion. But, I did cheat a little bit today – I was making cookies for a party and had to taste test them, all in the name of research! I’m realizing how more thought I have to put into every meal, now that I can’t go with the default gluten option.
Breakfast: Chocolate Oats + Coffee (This is my usual breakfast, not anything to do with the challenge)
Lunch: The filling of a smoked salmon sandwich + Mackerel Escabeche
Snack: Tarro Chips + Ostrich Meat + Beet Chips + Apple
Dinner: Blue Cheese Salmon Risotto (Recipe to follow)
Snack: Baked Banana + Chocolate Blueberries
Day 3: So today was my cheat day. I always knew it was going to be, because I had this day marked off for a potluck for a few months, and I had already planned on bring noodles. But, other than for dinner (and the odd cookie research), I stayed away from gluten! It wasn’t too hard, considering that my breakfast is always gluten-free, and I was just able to snack around for lunch.
Breakfast: Same Old Oats
Lunch: A variety of things, none of which gad gluten
Dinner: A lot of meat, some noodles, too many things to list
Day 4: Oops, I did it again. I ate gluten, without knowing it.
Yes, that is correct. Today at dinner, I had already eaten half my piece of garlic bread before realizing that I was eating the forbidden gluten. So, I slipped up once again. And again earlier in the day, when I ate some cupcakes. But, I did follow the gluten-embargo at brunch, when I didn’t eat the bun that came with my peameal sandwich. I have zero idea how I keep forgetting that I am following literally the simplest of diets….
Brunch: Peameal Sandwich + Fries
Dinner: Chicken + Greek Salad + Potatoes + Garlic Bread
Day 5: I didn’t eat any gluten today! I really, really was going to cheat and have pasta for dinner, but instead found some delicious vermicelli, which satisfied those cravings. I also managed to stay away from the GBC café scones, which are filled with gluten, but pretty delicious.
Breakfast: Chocolate Banana Oatmeal + Coffee
Snack: Apple + Proscuitto
Lunch: Goat Cheese and Beet Salad + Banana + Blue Cheese
Snack: 2 Eggs with Onion
Dinner: Vermicelli Stir Fry
Dessert: Coconut Rice
Day 6: Today marks the last official day of this diet, and I wanted to make it count. Despite the fact that I really wanted some gluten, I persevered (it might have helped that there was flourless chocolate cake at hand!). I definitely had to put more thought into my meals, but the end result was pure deliciousness.
Snack: Lab Food (Beets, eggplant, miso soup, etc.)
Lunch: An INSANE salad – think potatoes, onions, pickled fish, goat cheese, yummy!
Snack: Flourless Chocolate Cake
Dinner: Burger on a Salad + Roasted Mushrooms
Snack: Peanut Butter + Banana
Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this diet. Even though there were times when it sucked, this mostly involved me not being allowed cookies, which perhaps isn’t the worst thing to ever happen. In fact, it made me realize that I tend to be a mindless eater. The amount of times I unwittingly almost ate gluten astounded me! It also took me so much longer to make dinner for myself, when I couldn’t go to my defaults – aka bread, pasta, etc. I actually liked how I was forced to expand my meals past what I was usually eating, and I would even go so far as to say that trying out this diet brought me out of the food rut I was in. While I’m not sure that I will continue this diet, I am going to try to keep the mindset that I had while trying it out, and not just fall back into only eating lazy meals, like eggs, pasta and toast.
Here’s one example of a new recipe that I tried out this past week. I have always loved risotto, and this is my version of a “kitchen-sink” version of it. While the blue cheese aspect of this might turn some people off, this is truly a delicious meal, and the cheese just enhances the creaminess of the dish.
Blue Cheese Bacon Salmon Risotto
Adapted from SkinnyTaste.com
- 3 ounce salmon, cut into small pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 slice bacon, cut into small pieces
- ½ cups arborio rice
- 3 tsp butter
- 2 shallots, minced
- ¼ cup white wine
- 3 cups stock
- salt and pepper
- 2 oz. blue cheese
Put the stock in a pot, and heat up. You likely won’t use all of it, but I like how the flavour intensifies after it has heated for a while.
In a separate small pot, melt the butter until just browned. Add the shallots, and cook for a minute or two, until clear and soft. Add the rice, and stir for a few minutes, until they become pearl-like – clear on the edges and white in the center. Add the wine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine reduces and has been absorbed by the rice. This will probably take a few minutes. Add salt.
Ladle in about ¼ cup of the stock (until it just covers the rice), and stir occasionally until the top of the rice has been exposed. Repeat until the rice has been soft. You have to stir occasionally, but I like to let it cook a little bit without any stirring to speed up the process a little bit.
Meanwhile, while this happening, heat up a pan. Cook the bacon to your taste. Take out the bacon, and without draining the pan, add the salmon, and cook until slightly browned on both sides. Side aside until needed.
When the risotto has cooked, add the cheese, stirring until incorporated. Add the bacon and salmon, and adjust the seasonings. Enjoy!