Gluten-free? Me? When I first began to notice that breaking bread (and other wheat- and gluten-rich foods) was making me sick to my stomach, I had my doctor check me for celiac disease, a genetic digestive disorder affecting 1 in 133 Americans. For them, gluten-containing food can bring on a host of physical symptoms that range from weight loss to rashes to abdominal cramping. Continuing to eat gluten (a combination of two proteins found in wheat and some other grains) can invite the chance of an autoimmune disease that damages the small intestines. Thankfully, I tested negative for celiac, but my doctor determined that I do suffer from gluten intolerance and advised me to go gluten-free. My friends and family reacted with shock and pity. Together we ticked off in elaborate detail the wheat-based favorites that were now forbidden; I expected to feel waves of sadness over the loss. Never happened.
Call it the law of diminishing returns: The consequences of the cheesy pizza slice, the golden French toast and the crunchy graham crackers had been making me so miserable (if I may understate)—with bloating, cramping, nausea and migraines—that the instant taste gratification was not worth another nibble of noodle. I happily refined my menu, and nearly six years later, I still don't feel like I'm missing out. So what do I dig into now? Here are the top five delicious gluten-free foods in my diet.
Gluten-Free Food #1: Nuts
My bag, my kitchen and my desk are never without nuts, either raw or home-toasted (350 degrees for just 12 minutes). I can't be sure of finding gluten-free snacks everywhere I go, so I am always prepared if hunger strikes by keeping a Ziploc in my purse and at my desk. Having a stash around also means I have a great addition to meals and snacks. Mix nuts with some dried blueberries or dried cherries and yogurt, and voila: I have breakfast or a heartier snack. Make the same berry-nuts-yogurt mixture a topping for a baked sweet potato or squash, and there's lunch or dinner. Nuts tossed with chopped gluten-free chocolate and dried berries make up my favorite deliciously decadent antioxidant-rich treat.
MORE: Learn which nuts are healthiest.