When Dr. Roo Changizi at Beijing United (BJU) suggested I try a gluten free diet, I said why not. Then I went home and looked up gluten online. I’m still not entirely sure what gluten actually is, but apparently it is what makes food taste good. I say that because it is in so many things that are delicious to eat. Here is just a smattering of items that are no longer on the menu for me: bread, in all of its splendiferous forms, pastries, cakes, cookies, anything breaded and fried, pancakes, pasta, jiaozi, and you get the bleak picture. Basically, most of the world’s grain supply is off the table except for rice and a few others. That might actually be good news for me though because it just might actually help me loose the last ounce of fat on my boney body.
Seriously though, back in my home state of Oregon, I could find gluten-free substitutes for just about anything and dairy-free too. The variety I saw the last time we visited the USA made me weep at the lack of selection here in Beijing. But there are options here and the list is growing. Fortunately for the bread and pancake lover in me, Bob’s Red Mill has loads of gluten-free options (seems Bob himself is gluten intolerant) and it can usually be found on the shelves of any Jenny Wang or Jenny Lou shop. The pancake mix tastes great and the multi grain bread is my go to choice. For pastas and the like, you can search on Taobao where you can also acquire quinoa, the wheat substitute of choice that is hard to find in grocery stores here.
Dining out is a bit more problematic. It is rare that something cannot be found that I can eat, but often I’m left ordering a salad instead of a tasty pasta or sandwich. Fortunately I can deal with the amount of gluten in soy sauce and other seasonings, so Chinese food is very accessible compared to those who suffer from celiac disease.
One bright spot on the otherwise desolate dessert scene is Café Flat White where they have two gluten-free cakes to choose from, though usually only one is available at a time. The cakes are moist, filling, delicious and go great with their signature coffee.
Photo courtesy of @joefoodie (Flickr)