Gluten-Free Blues

arc_arthritis_month_fbbannerThe frozen bagel rolled out of the bag and wobbled before crashing down onto the counter. Bits of ice clung to the exterior. I picked it up and put it on the cutting board – its rigid body struck the hard plastic like a jackknife hitting cement. I sighed, wondering why all the gluten-free breads had to be frozen; most of them crumbled easily and none seemed to have the capacity to generate a sandwich.

I stared at the bagel’s frozen exterior, trying to come up with the best strategy to cut it in half before toasting. I pulled out a sharp knife, held the frozen bagel in one hand and placed the edge of the knife along the seam. I cut around the outside and arrived back to the place I started. I tried to pull it apart only to realize the blade had not cut through the bread – I had only succeeded  in tracing a line around the outside of the bagel, but nothing more. I picked up the knife and tried again. Little beads of sweat broke out on my forehead. My muscles grew tired with the effort, but I tried to talk myself through it – “This is good, you are making an effort to change your diet to reduce the flares of the old lady”.

The knife blade wobbled and bent, but nothing would cut through the bagel. I pulled out another knife and tried again – still no success. I pulled out another knife and another – after ten minutes, my counter was covered in knives, tiny bits of frozen bread crumbs and soggy ice chips. My bagel resembled a victim of Jack the Ripper. I grabbed another bagel and tried again; still, I ended up with nothing but crumbs and cold sore hands; I was about to give up, when I turned around and caught sight of my microwave…

I happily spread cream cheese over my newly toasted, gluten-free bagel. I gleefully took my first bite, but my victory was slightly diminished when I set my eyes on the tiny war zone that was once my counter.

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  1. wovensongs on September 16, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    After three years of trying various breads… We’ve landed on Glutino English Muffins. We order a case at a time from our local store. Use them for sandwiches, breakfast, hamburger buns. Toasted and cooled to pack in a lunch or toasted and hot with butter and cream cheese, or peanut butter. They are yummy.

    Also use the Glutino bread mixes and the bread machine to make good rolls and pizza crust and a fair slicing bread.

    A friend just tried Luce’s Gluten Free Artisan Bread Mix (sourdough) and texted me the photos – it looked amazing, and his report was very positive. It’s certified GF, but I’ll wait a couple of days to see if he has a gluten response, then I’ll order some, too!

    Good luck with your search for the perfect GF bread.

    If you find a bagel worth eating… I grew up before bagels became fast food, noshing on St. Louis and New York bagels – brought by visiting relatives. So, nothing I’ve tried in the GF world satisfies. I think it’s better to have the memory!

    Hope you are well.

  2. J.G. Chayko on September 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I’ve found Glutino to be a wonderful product. I will be sure to hunt down the English muffins. And yes, I’m sure it would be very hard to find a gluten-free bagel to match the wonderful flavour of a New York bagel – but I’ll keep looking 🙂

  3. shannon on September 17, 2013 at 6:26 am

    I’ve found Joan’s GF Great Bakes bagels and bialys to be very authentic.
    I’ve also sampled Luce’s bread, and while I am not celiac or highly sensitive to gluten, I can attest to the artisan quality. I tried Luce’s sourdough and buckwheat at a tradeshow, and they were both delish.

    • J.G. Chayko on September 17, 2013 at 7:29 am

      Thanks for the suggestions Shannon. I will check those ones out. Stay well.

  4. Wren on September 17, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Oh, my … (laughing) I could just see you fighting that silly bagel, JGC! I’m glad you finally figured out how to get it thawed enough to cut and toast without losing any blood in the process, though. How long have you banned gluten from your diet? Have you felt any difference? Is the old lady paying attention?

    Here’s hoping the weather is staying nice where you live and that the autumn will be gentle and beautiful. Sending warmth and a hug your way. 😉

    • wovensongs on September 20, 2013 at 4:19 am

      Hi Wren,

      I’ve lurked around your blog quite a bit the past three years, so I feel like I know you 🙂

      I’m gluten free because of celiac and dermatitis herepitiformis (celiac of the skin).

      When I accidentally get cross contact with gluten, not only do the celiac symptoms flare, but the RA symptoms do as well. I’m convinced that, for me at least, the two go hand in hand.

      It might be an interesting (although possibly daunting) experiment for you to go gluten free for a month and see what happens.

      Good luck!

  5. J.G. Chayko on September 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Wren, I have noticed a difference cutting gluten out of my diet. My flares are reduced, and the severity of them are much less; I also don’t feel as bloated as I used to, so my digestive system is much happier. I don’t say it works for everyone, but certainly, it has helped me feel better.

    And Autumn is coming in gently, it’s still warm and beautiful over here.

  6. arthritis diet on September 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I have experimented with diet and supplements starting in January 2010 and have seen great results with my rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis as well as my psoriasis. Gluten is one of the things I avoid and I gave up on gluten free bread because of what you describe plus it falls apart in the toaster. Instead of bread these days I eat rice biscuits.

  7. Maz on October 7, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I really enjoy your writing and humor. I can completely imagine this whole scene playing out in your kitchen. Going gluten free is difficult to adjust to. I hope it makes a difference and you feel better.

    • J.G. Chayko on October 8, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Thank you. It has made a difference.

  8. Kev on October 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Microwaves are good tools for defrosting. 😉

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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.