Roll Your Own: Want to know the best thing about our gluten and dairy-free diet?

01.20.11: Leo's 32nd Month

making summer rolls zoe article.jpg

So giving up wheat, dairy and sugar for January has been…grainy. Quinoa for breakfast. Buckwheat for lunch. And rice rice rice! We’re definitely eating better as a result of these restrictions: we have to be more deliberate and prepare more of our food at home (something we’ve valued for a long time). And it feels like a project that Aaron and I are united in. It also may be the reason Aaron hasn’t had many headaches this month, so possibly we’re really going to learn something.

In the meantime, we’re scrounging around for snacks and ways to satisfy our sweet teeth, while we’re watching Leo scarf cream cheese and jelly on toast with slight envy. Last weekend, we went home to Aaron’s family, where suddenly we weren’t scrounging. There was plenty to eat. Brown rice, quinoa, hummus, baked apples, lovely salads… Everyone was very accommodating of our month-long diet, and because Aaron’s Dad has celiac disease at his house we were greeted with an entire cabinet full of gluten-free snacks, breads and pastas. It was so fun to be able to eat bread again for the weekend.

For the drive down to DC I scanned the contents of our fridge, remembered wistfully how easy things were when I could just make three sandwiches and be done, then got to work. Leo got a hummus sandwich and raw carrots and peppers, which he’s into these days. For me and Aaron, I pulled down a package of summer roll wrappers I’d used once last summer, along with a bottle of sesame dressing, some tofu, a can of baby corn (a childhood obsession I have nostalgia for!) and the contents of the crisper. Why wait till summer to make summer rolls? They’re super easy to pack and they allow you to turn a salad into something you can eat with your hands. I packed up our rolls bento box style with pineapple for dessert, and we really enjoyed them in the car.

The four-plus hour drives went quite well (Leo did a lot of drawing until he pointed out that it was quite dark and he couldn’t see!). The visit with family was lovely. And we stopped at our food coop on the way back so that we arrived home with plenty of food. And oh man is it good to be back! Leo commenced building train tracks with great enthusiasm and Aaron and I have been stir-frying, simmering soups and making pilafs.

For all the convenience of eating yummy meals that were cooked for us, and the thrill of all that gluten-free replacement food, being home with a fridge full of beautiful ingredients and cooking again feels great. That’s the main reason I’m doing this diet. Giving up dairy and wheat hasn’t solved all my problems (still need to lose weight, still have dry skin and allergies), yet it feels totally worth it just in terms of the healthy cooking we’re doing. It’s been a great way to start off 2011. Now if only Leo would eat something other than…wheat and dairy.

Recipe: “Portable Salad” Summer Rolls with Sesame Dip

Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.