Welcome to Daily Forage

… I’m Connie. This is my story.

That was a horrible day … January 12, 2010. That day I left the doctor’s office with my 15-year-old son. We’d just been given the news. He had to go gluten-free and dairy-free. I thought it was going to be a relief to finally know why my son had been so sick for so many years. I thought it was going to be a relief that he didn’t have a life-threatening illness (of course it was!). I thought it was going to be a relief to know that he was going to feel better simply by changing his diet and taking some nutritional supplements. And initially it was a relief. For about 20 minutes in the doctor’s office.

Then we left the doctor’s office … out into the real world. And all I could see was the look on my son’s face of overwhelming devastation. All I could think was, “What the hell is gluten?????????”

I wanted to be optimistic, to take on this new challenge with determination and hope. We headed straight to the store the doctor had recommended where he knew gluten-free, dairy-free products were sold. We walked in, and all I could see were boxes of products that were unfamiliar and had strange ingredients, and my hope faded so quickly it was like someone had pulled my extension cord. I could have crumbled right then and there … if I hadn’t needed to stay strong for my son. As bad as it was for me, it was worse for him. So much worse.

Reality Starts Sinking In …

Suddenly my thoughts caught up to where my teenage son’s thoughts had already taken him. All of a sudden there would be no more foods that he’d depended on for years (even though we didn’t know they were slowly poisoning him). No pizza. No bagels with cream cheese. No chocolate shakes or ice cream slathered with hot fudge. No burgers with tender buns. No pretzels. No chocolate. Oh my. Oh my. My thoughts had finally synched with reality! How in the world are we going to do this?

But in that store we met some very friendly people who listened to our saga, who truly felt our pain (because they’d walked the same path), and who offered up sage, loving, empathetic advice.

We left the store with a little bit of knowledge, some resources to check out, a bag of pretzels, three bags of chocolate chips, a package of cookies, and a bag of gluten-free all-purpose flour (with ingredients that have never been listed on my Gold Medal flour bag). Okay … breathe. Okay … smile. Okay … my poor kid!

Image courtesy of Glutino

 

Image courtesy of Enjoy Life Foods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Begin the Journey Too …

At the time, the doctor didn’t suggest I go gluten and dairy free as well, just my son was put on this new plan. But when I looked at his face, oh my gosh his face, I couldn’t bare the anguish that he was clearly experiencing. So I committed to doing it with him. Support, you know? We could get through anything together. We were determined to be completely free of gluten and dairy for one month, until the next doctor’s appointment. We had to prove that this wasn’t going to be the answer (because it was going to be just too damn difficult to do this forever – we knew that already).

We got home and shared the news with Mr. DF (aka my wonderful husband). I honestly don’t remember his reaction because I was so engrossed in trying to figure out what I was going to feed this kid for lunch. And dinner. And breakfast. And all the snacking that he did to keep himself filled up.

I’d been a baker for years. Not professionally. Not trained. But a pretty damn good baker, if I do say so myself. But I couldn’t just whip out my recipes and bake up cookies. Now I had to figure out how to use these “special” ingredients.

I remember clearly on night three of this one-month endeavor bolting awake out of a sound sleep with a brand new recipe in my head for gluten-free, dairy-free waffles. Where it came from I’ll never know … well, really I do know … it was a gift. From above. The next morning I made those waffles … and they were really, really good. Just as good as our regular ones. Could it be? Did I truly just make something that tasted good and was safe to eat? Yes, I had. Alleluia!!!!! (And my son loved  so much, he proceeded to eat them for the next two years nearly everyday for breakfast … even though I’d created many other safe and delicious choices during that time.)

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Waffles created from scratch by me.

The first weeks went by, slowly. I was finding some products that were successful, like the pretzels and chocolate chips we picked up on the first day. The flour and cookies, yeah, not so much. They actually ended up in the trash. Some things began to start making a little more sense to me – like the emotional roller coaster that my son was experiencing by having his entire life turned upside down all due to food changes.  But I read that this is normal. That one really does go through the grieving process when such a major life change occurs. We were fully in this.

Other things happened that my son had anticipated as potential challenges but that I had not yet fully grasped the brevity of: School parties. Hanging out at the local restaurant for a bite to eat with the Pep Band after the school game. Going over to a friend’s house for dinner and video games. These were the upcoming struggles I’d seen in my son’s eyes on that first day  .

But we learned to work through those too. Until we knew whether we were in this for the long haul, or if one month would prove to us that this wasn’t really the right answer to the health troubles (even though we really wanted and needed those answers), we didn’t say anything to friends. We simply had everyone come to our house … where I could control the food. That worked. Yay, one successful teen-gathering down, potentially two and half years of high school get-togethers to manage.

One Month Later…

When the month was done, and the doc asked my son how things had gone, I honestly didn’t know what he was going to say. I tried not to anticipate. I tried not to sit on the edge of my chair. I tried not to fill in any answers to questions for him. Then I heard my son say how much he was starting to feel better, (though he’d never admitted this to me yet). How this was the hardest thing he’d ever done in his life. How he would never eat gluten or dairy again.

And there was my answer. And we’ve gone forward ever since.

My son has stuck to his word. He’s never intentionally consumed any item with gluten or dairy since that first day. Yes, there have been some cross-contamination issues, but he’s been steadfast in knowing this is the right journey for him. And I do and will continue to support him fully forever.

My Own Journey to Health …

It took me a bit (months) longer to become so convinced for myself. Because I’d started this journey in full support of my son, but not really thinking it had any relevance to my personal health, I wandered easily off the “safe food” path often. I would cheat when he wasn’t around, then I’d not feel so well physically and emotionally afterward. Though I’d been plagued with not the best health all my life, I still hadn’t made the connection (wow, I can be hard-headed sometimes). My son would politely point out how my ailments, i.e. chronic headaches, gut issues, mild joint discomfort, would always resurface when I strayed.

So I started paying more attention to how I felt when I stayed true to the GF-DF lifestyle. It was good. I started feeling really good. I finally buckled down to a dedicated gluten-free, dairy-free journey for myself, and I found that all of my health issues were eliminated as well. Now I too will never return to a “free range” lifestyle of eating gluten- and dairy-filled foods. Though he and I never were tested for Celiac Disease (it would have been too damaging to his health to have him reintroduce gluten and dairy for testing purposes), we live this healthy lifestyle by necessity, not by fad or trendy choice. It is our “normal” now, and we’re good with that (with the exception of an occasional longing).

Cooking Green Beans by dailyforage.com

Daily Forage Debuts …

As I shared earlier, our journey started in January 2010. Daily Forage was born in May 2011 after my son convinced me that I had a story to tell and people just like us to help. We’d been through it all and have come out better on the other side. I created Daily Forage to help others make that transition from “normal” to a new “normal” with less struggles, questions, confusion, and better health.

How did I decide on the name Daily Forage for this website? The Oxford Dictionary defines forage as:

Forage – (of a person or animal) Search widely for food or provisions. This seems right. We are constantly searching, researching, and discovering safe foods and products that will enrich our lives. It seemed only fitting that this be our mantra.

In addition to living a gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle, I am also peanut-free (oh the migraines), and truly allergic (in the anaphylaxis sense) to shellfish and iodine, and am very sensitive to soy and eggs. My son is free of gluten, dairy, peanuts, sunflower seeds, xanthan gum, papaya, and most recently baking soda. So you can see, we have diversity in our lives.

Nearly nine years have passed by since that life-changing day. We are no longer intimidated by food or social gatherings. I love celebrating with friends and family. My life has truly been enriched by this journey. I even love cycling, hiking, and playing Pickleball – all things I struggled to enjoy (never even pursued) due to poor energy, health, and just the simple zest for life before this lifestyle paradigm shift. And I’ve been kept constantly entertained, and grounded, by my Better Half since we found each other in 1994 and married in ’95.

 

 

 

 

I’d love to be a part of your journey and I hope you’ll be a part of mine. I don’t really believe that we’re ever done growing, which means I might have questions along the way, and so will you. Please ask them. That’s what I‘m here for – to make your journey … your daily forage … easier, safe, less confusing – and more delicious!

 

 

 

 

…So, Welcome to Daily Forage. Let me show you around.

Daily Forage has so much to offer, I’d hate for you to miss a thing. For this reason, I designed this page to highlight the key sections.

What makes Daily Forage tick?

Providing solutions to the gluten-free, dairy-free (GF-DF) journey is what I’m all about. We all begin somewhere but where that journey takes us will most likely be different for each of us. And since we’re all on different journeys, our stage in that journey may be different as well. Regardless of where you’re at, I’m here to help make your journey delicious, safe, and easier to navigate.

Why include dairy-free choices on a gluten-free website? Because these two often go hand-in-hand. For some, dairy triggers reactions, allergen/intolerance effects, gut destruction and immunological deterioration on the body very similar to gluten. For this reason, and because I’m dairy intolerant, all Daily Forage recipes are dairy-free. If you can tolerate dairy, no need to worry. With some simple dairy-ingredient substitutions, and a bit of trial (and hopefully few errors), most recipes should give delicious results. Many of my recipes were actually adapted to dairy-free from previous dairy-loving days.

Initially Daily Forage was a GF-DF site offering recipes that simply make life “normal”. A place to learn how to create the foods that you’re used to and have loved all your life … but making them gluten-free and dairy-free, but now it has grown into so much more throughout my journey.

For the newly diagnosed, or those just beginning a gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle …

you’ll find recipes for foods such as pizza, breads and tortillas, pasta dishes, baked desserts, creamy soups, smooth white sauce, luscious and creamy “milk” shakes, etc.

Gluten-free Dairy-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars by dailyforage.com

Gluten-free Dairy-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These are recipes for the transitional period, while you’re most likely simply looking for real, carb-filled, sugar-full, no-apologies-needed desserts and dishes that will help you continue to feel “normal”. I still have these sometimes too – and I love sharing them with you.

Gluten-free Dairy-free Creamy Homemade Tomato Soup

Gluten-free Dairy-free Creamy Homemade Tomato Soup

As time has passed, I’ve discovered that because I feel so much better in this new gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle, I have become more interested in healthier food choices. I like tinkering with my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe to see if I can minimize the sugar and add in some extra protein and nutritional benefits. I like experimenting with green protein shakes and juicing whole, organic fruits and veggies. I’m taking my health and GF-DF lifestyle to a new level of wellness.

When you’re ready to transition your foods and recipes deeper into whole food choices with greater nutritional benefits …

you’ll find recipes to take you on that continued journey as well. For example, if you’re ready to begin juicing, or you wish to incorporate protein shakes and green smoothies into your healthy food choices, or you’ve heard so much about kale, there are plenty of recipes to help you go forward with whole food approaches.

Macadamia Coffee Green Smoothie by dailyforage.com

Gluten-free Dairy-free Macadamia Coffee Green Smoothie

All Recipes on Daily Forage include “free from” allergen symbols. I include labels on every recipe of the top allergens (gluten, dairy/casein, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, corn, eggs, fish, shellfish) that are not included, as well as marking the recipe as meat-free, paleo, or vegan when applicable. This way you know at a glance whether that recipe is safe for your personal needs.

Daily Forage Allergen Free Symbols

Yet, there’s so much more than recipes on Daily Forage.

The Getting Started Pantry Guide shares many common gluten-free and/or dairy-free pantry items and staples that you might not realize are safe. This directory makes grocery shopping easier, less stressful, and much less time-consuming. It is updated on a regular basis with new products, so be sure to check back often.

Be sure to check out my Products Reviews for products that have been reviewed in the Daily Forage kitchen. These are hands-on assessments of products where I tell you if it is an item I’d use in my kitchen. If it doesn’t meet my expectations, I clearly let you know. In addition to the product review, at the bottom of each review post I provide a link to an ingredients list post for that product. I include all the ingredients listed by the producer as well as allergen statements. Here’s an example from the bottom of my Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks product review:

Ingredients Example

Again, all this is done to make it as easy as possible for you. This way you can see if the product is safe for you and whether it is something beneficial for you to place on your “open to purchase” list.

Basic Knowledge is so important to staying healthy, yet can be quite confusing in the beginning, so be sure to visit this section for answers to your questions, such as “So You’re Gluten-free … Now What?”,How Long Does It Take?”, and Gluten and Cross Contamination Issues. In this section you’ll also find vegan, dairy-free, and/or gluten-free cookbook reviews, health and industry news, and tips regarding cooking, lifestyle, and nutrition..

The Blog is a chronological feed of all posts on Daily Forage. This is the easiest way to find the most recent articles. If you’re looking for something more specific, there are a few of ways to search or navigate through Daily Forage. To look for a chocolate chip cookie recipe, for example, simply use the search button at the top of any page.

If you’d prefer to browse the cookie “aisle”, click on the “category” tag (as circled here), on a similar recipe.

Category Search

You can also easily use the menu bar and choose from the drop-down menus at the top of any page.

With so much going on here at Daily Forage, I hope you’ll visit often.

I look forward to taking this journey with you. If you’d like to receive email updates when new posts are shared, please be sure to subscribe. I will never, ever share your info with anyone else. If you ever have questions that you’d rather not leave in the comments section of a post, please feel free to email me personally at info@DailyForage.com. If I cannot answer your question, I’ll try my best to connect you to the right resource.

Connie

Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™

2 Comments

  1. How do I find gluten-free or allergen-free expo?
    masingu@ link to planning.uonbi.ac.ke

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