For those of you who know me, you know that I like to eat. Correction: love to eat. But more than I love to eat, I enjoy the process of making food; not just cooking, but reading cookbooks and blogs, researching recipes and ingredients, understanding what goes into something and why. I'm fascinated by the culinary narrative of cultures (I even managed to turn that interest into an interior design thesis). For example: last week at work, I had an okra moment in the kitchen with my Japanese and Indian coworkers. One of them had brought stewed okra for lunch, and all three of us thought that our culture (mine being Southern, obviously…. Californians aren't big on okra, the best that I can tell) was the only one that cooked with that little slimy vegetable. It was a brief moment of connection that food can inspire. I love those moments.
You can imagine the panic I felt when a doctor I saw in September suggested I give up gluten and dairy. I have a friend who is gluten free, and I used to look at her and think, "I could never do that." A life without biscuits?? I'm pretty sure I'd rather suffer the consequences of eating the evil gluten. But when faced with being told that one day I may have to choose between gluten and having babies, suddenly I felt a little different about the matter. While I'm gathering other opinions, it certainly got me thinking about how I take care of my body and the consequences of what I eat. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wouldn't hurt to change my eating habits a bit. I was basically a walking bowl of pasta. So, I made the decision to try eating gluten free Monday- Friday; rather than beat myself up for falling off the wagon, I gave myself Saturday and Sunday as a mattress in case I couldn't take it. And you know what? It hasn't been bad at all. In fact, I'm not really using my "cheat days" (confession: I do occasionally have a taste of a gluten-y treat at work-- hello, Krispy Kreme donut, I'm looking at you-- I'm definitely not perfect). I am here to tell you that life without gluten is not as terrifying as it initially seems. I feel very lucky that I don't have celiac disease or some other severe food intolerance. It helps to know that I can eat pasta if I want to, but I am making the choice to try something different for my body. I may not eat like this forever-- in fact, I hope one day I'll be able to incorporate some of my favorite wheat-tastic foods (only the good stuff though) back into my diet for special occasions while still focusing on keeping myself healthy. It's worth mentioning that I like how I feel these days-- more energy, less sluggish. It's a definite bonus*.
So, now that you have the background of where this is coming from, I present to you one of my new gluten-free, dairy-free recipes- chilled Swiss oatmeal. It's great for breakfast and open to endless variations with the toppings and stir-ins. Enjoy!
*Full disclosure: I'm struggling more with the dairy part of the bargain. Apparently my priorities currently ordered: cheese, babies, gluten, other dairy products. I'm weak in the face of a salty Parmesan or a wine-soaked Gouda. Oh well. One step at a time.
Chilled Swiss Oatmeal
In a mason jar, combine 1 C. of gluten-free oats with enough unsweetend, plain almond milk to almost-but-not-quite cover. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
The next morning, combine two heaping spoonfuls of oat mixture with two heaping spoonfuls of vanilla coconut yogurt. Stir in diced apples, bananas, raisins, or any other fruit you've got around, and top with toasted almonds. Enjoy!
(other topping ideas: strawberries & blueberries, strawberries & bananas, or a spoonful of apricot jam…)
Note: Vanilla coconut yogurt is pretty sweet. If you choose to make this with say, unsweetened almond yogurt, you may want to sprinkle 1/4 tsp. of raw sugar on top to add a little sweetness.