I’ve never in my life felt better than I’ve felt the past two and a half weeks. I’m sleeping through the night, my skin is clear, my stomach is (relatively) flat, even the whites of my eyes are, well, whiter.
Why? I gave up gluten.
Gluten is all around us, and not just in our bread, pizza and cereal. It’s in our bottles of salad dressings, our boxes of chicken stock, our packets of chili spice mix, our bags of cookies, chips and treats we’ve grown to love in our processed-food culture. It’s even in our cosmetics.
But for me, it’s no longer in my system.
What started as an experiment after my stomach ballooned up alarmingly following an innocent bowl of cereal has turned into the beginning of a way of life. When faced with pizza emerging fresh from the oven at book club last week, I enjoyed the undeniably intoxicating whiffs I caught from my friends’ plates as I tucked into a giant green salad. In considering how to make the famous Zuni Café roast chicken with bread salad, I decided to experiment with roast potatoes instead.
I haven’t mastered, or even attempted, for that matter, the art of baking gluten-free bread. The store-bought example I had was inedible (I suspect, in the bread’s defense, I should have toasted it first). But other than bread, I’ve had cereal every morning (Rice Chex or Corn Chex) and enjoyed pizza and movie Friday nights with my family (thanks to Bob’s Red Mill pizza crust mix).
For lunch, I’ve relied on this salad, inspired by the original chopped salad at California Pizza Kitchen. With a mix of butter lettuce and Mesclun, sliced green scallions, julienned basil, handfuls of Italian parsley and a diced tomato, I’m easily getting more than my daily allowance of vegetables; I like my salads big. Add to that some chopped salami and leftover chicken, and you’ve got yourself a meal.
Even if you can’t pass the bread.
- 1 cup chopped butter lettuce
- 1 cup chopped Mesclun
- 2 scallions, chopped
- ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
- 3-4 fresh Basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
- 1 tomato, seeds removed, diced
- 1-2 ounces Genoa or Italian Dry salami, chopped
- 2 ounces cooked chicken or turkey breast, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- In a clean glass jar with a lid, combine all vinaigrette ingredients except the olive oil. Secure the lid and shake until all ingredients are combined.
- Pour in the olive oil, secure the lid and shake again. Taste, using a fresh salad leaf, and adjust the seasonings as needed: if it tastes bland, add salt; too oily, add vinegar; too sharp, add a teaspoon of oil: play around until you find a taste you like.
- Add the salad ingredients to a large glass or plastic storage container.
- Drizzle two tablespoons (more or less to taste) over the salad.
- Secure the lid and shake the salad so the dressing coats the entire salad.
- The key to a great chopped salad is ensuring an even coating of the dressing. Believe me, it makes all that chopping worth it.