My journey to a gluten free life was a little different than the normal path. In 2003, I had a lot of complications following the birth of my son, and ended up with a nerve injury that affected my left leg. It was a pretty serious time medically, with a long hospital stay and an even longer recovery. As I was working on making my leg work again, I started to have somewhat diffuse, unrelated issues, including rashes, hives and a variety of "aches and pains" not necessarily tied to my leg. Like most people, my first attempt to figure out the problem was through the traditional medical system, seeing several allergists, being tested for different arthritic conditions, etc. I began to think that all of these symptoms were more consequences of my nerve injury and that I may have to put up with them forever. When I tried to convince the allergist that I wanted to figure out what I was reacting to, she plainly stated that in her opinion the possibilities were endless and I might never figure out the "mystery", so better to just take three different medications to treat the symptoms. After frustrations with this approach, I was lucky enough to seek the help of an accupuncturist who accurately diagnosed a wheat intolerance.
At this point, I was still in the "what is gluten" stage. Learning what foods to eat, let alone that gluten could be lurking in makeup, etc was really overwhelming. My husband was also really nervous, knowing that changing my diet would have a large impact on him as well. The thought of switching to gluten free bread struck fear in his heart. I was a big baker in our home, and made chocolate chip cookies about once a week (a very small batch just to eat a few warm cookies from the oven, I swear...). As it turned out, once I got the hang of it, our eating actually improved! Meals made from scratch, versus somewhat pre-made options, made all the difference in the world. It definitely took some planning (no more quick meals on the go), but the end product was well worth the extra work.
Although our savory meals were better than "pre-gluten free", my baked goods still left something to be desired. I was missing my Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. As fate would have it, I had a friend named Lexie Justice that was a culinary instructor specializing in pastries and breads. At every potluck we would cross paths, and I would have her taste my latest attempts. She would nod and give me suggestions, but we both knew I wasn't hitting the mark yet. Then, Lexie was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. Soon after, we were walking up the long path from the parking lot to the Red Rocks amphitheater for a concert, and Lexie was talking about the adjustments to her life this diagnosis was going to bring (career based on baking with gluten, etc, etc). An idea began to form.... her culinary knowledge and baking brilliance, my love of people and sharing ideas - a business opportunity just ripe for the picking. Needless to say, Cheatin' Wheat was born, right at the foot of Red Rocks (how about that for a Colorado company?). Now I am happy to say I have reclaimed my chocolate chip cookies (using our Cheatin' Wheat Gluten Free Flour I can make the recipe right on the bag!). Even so, I have to admit that working with a trained pastry instructor has expanded my "baking horizon", and chocolate chip cookies may have fallen off the top of my cookie list. Maybe replaced by pecan shortbread, soft gingersnaps, oatmeal tart cherry? The list goes on and on, not to mention brown butter pear tarts, blondie bars, raspberry cream cheese muffins....and all made with Cheatin' Wheat flour!
It has been a long time since 2003 and the options for a gluten free person have expanded exponentially. I have developed my favorites, most available through my local grocer, including Barilla Gluten Free Pasta (passes the husband test - no more making two pots of pasta). Even so, I have never found anything that gives me the freedom to search the web for my next favorite cookie recipe, instead of a gluten free cookbook, like our Cheatin' Wheat flour blend. I will always be grateful to Lexie Justice, and this company we created called Cheatin' Wheat, for bringing me back to baking! We can help you too! Just contact us and can provide recipe support, answer baking questions and do our best to make your gluten free foods the best they can be!