We’re finally here: Stage Three! It took me about eight years to get here and it may take you less or more time, but eventually, I think you will arrive here. I spent the most time in Stage One and the least amount of time in Stage Two. This stage, however, is one that I feel will last me for the rest of my life.
I have been making about 90% of what eat every day from scratch since about 2015. From dressings to bread, and everything in between, I know every ingredient that is in my food, which means I know it is safe and will never make me feel sick. And, the best part is that I know it will be delicious and satisfy all my cravings.
In stage three, you say goodbye (usually with glee) to most processed foods and start to make your own versions. You will find that your food tastes better and more importantly, makes you feel better. You have learned about flavor and gained new cooking techniques along the way and that makes cooking much easier, and more fun.
To keep moving forward and thriving, don’t lose your desire to learn new flavors, techniques, and ingredients. If you do, you may find that cooking becomes a chore. Well, you may have moments like that anyway, as they will come and go. Cooking EVERYTHING you eat can be exhausting at times. Here are some things that can make it a bit easier:
- If you can find a cooking partner, secure that person, immediately! Cooking with others is fun and lessens the burden for you. They may not help all the time, but even a few nights a week can be helpful. A spouse or child is a great choice. They may not have all your cooking skills but they can help you prep, stir, remove things from the oven, etc. And, it helps them to understand the work that goes into creating delicious meals.
- Recipes, recipes, and more recipes. Always be looking for new ways to cook the foods you love. In stage three, seek out NON-gluten-free recipes. Yes, leave the gluten-free-specific recipes behind. You have the skills now to convert just about any recipe to gluten-free and branching out to conventional recipes will give you a much larger library. I tend to gravitate towards recipes from Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, NY Times, etc. since I want more of a challenge. However, there are so many wonderful cooking blogs/sites with terrific recipes. You literally will never run out of options!
- Branch out into new cuisines. I have always liked Asian flavors but had it in my head that I did not understand them. I stopped that thinking and jumped in. Now I not only cook Asian dishes regularly, I find myself creating my own recipes because I really do understand the flavors and techniques. I still have a ton to learn but diving into a new cuisine is fun and keeps me excited about cooking.
- Keep working through your “won’t eat” list. If you are like me, most likely there are ingredients on that list that you really have never tried before but just thought you would not like. Try it once, at least. If you hate it, well, then you know. But if you don’t hate it, well, you have a new ingredient to cook and enjoy.
- Cook the same ingredients in different ways. I love potato salad. I have a core recipe I usually make but decided I wanted to branch out and make as many different recipes for potato salad that I could. I am up to six that I now regularly make and love. I have done the same with coleslaw and many other dishes.
- Similarly, pick an ingredient to focus on and find different ways to cook it. Potatoes and veggies are great for this. I know I was in a rut when it came to both veggies and potatoes until I ventured out intentionally looking for recipes for both. Now, my side dish game is amazing and not boring like it was.
As you probably surmised by now, gluten-free eating in Stage Three is not a destination, but a continuation of the journey. The more you venture into this stage, you will find new joy and love for ingredients, dishes, and cuisines.
Think back to before you went gluten-free. Did you have this amount of variety in your eating? Did you really enjoy food as much as you are now? If you are well into Stage Three, the answer is probably, no.
I always say that going gluten-free is one of the best things that ever happened to me.
- I have a more varied and interesting food life
- I eat ingredients, dishes, and cuisines I never did before
- My food choices are healthier and more sustainable long term
- I found a new love (cooking) and a new venture (this website)
- And, most importantly, I am in control of my food life and can keep myself safe from sickness
If you read all of this blog series, thank you!!! I hope that you have gained the knowledge and motivation to take your gluten-free food life to the next level.
discover. cook. enjoy.