Gluten-Free Challenge: Interview with Brad Nitschke
Overall, going gluten-free has forced me into a better way of eating. ~ Brad Nitschke
Urban Acres member, Brad Nitschke, shares his experiences eating gluten-free. Brad grew up right here in North Oak Cliff, moved back after law school, and lives in Kings Highway Conservation District with a mildly neurotic Weimaraner named Bram. He (Brad, not Bram) is particularly glad that wine is naturally gluten-free.
Brad, tell us your gluten-free story…how and why did you start eating gluten-free? How long have you been gluten-free?
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about a year ago and have been pretty religiously gluten-free since then.
What have been the best parts about being gluten-free? The most difficult?
For a lot of people, Celiac primarily causes GI issues. For me, getting “glutened” primarily results in feeling like I spent the night before with the cast of Jersey Shore – migraines, fatigue, etc… So, the best part of being gluten-free has been not feeling awful anymore.
The two worst parts of going gluten-free (other than not being able to cheat without consequences) are not being able to drink normal beer and having to be “the guy who asks all the questions” at restaurants and social events where food is served. There are only a few gluten-free beers (typically brewed from sorghum) that are widely-available in the U.S., and even fewer in Texas (fortunately, Chelsmati’s, the new wine shop a few doors down from Urban Acres, stocks one of them, and Meddlesome Moth over in the Design District stocks another by the bottle).
How do you survive eating out?
Honestly, this hasn’t been as hard as I expected it would be, at least not when I’m eating out for dinner somewhere. More and more folks who run and work in restaurants in Dallas have taken it upon themselves to learn about gluten intolerance and how it fits with a particular menu. For me, the three keys to successfully eating out gluten-free are:
1) Learn about food. Know what gluten is, where it naturally occurs in food, and how and why it’s snuck into other food. For example, plenty of folks who aren’t gluten intolerant don’t know that wheat is a primary ingredient in most soy sauce that’s sold and served in the U.S., and that many processed foods are thickened, stabilized, or preserved with gluten or wheat-containing “food starch.”
2) Educate yourself before you go to a restaurant for the first time. Take a look at an online menu and Google the restaurant’s name with “gluten-free” to see if it’s been reviewed by one of the gluten-free food bloggers. If you can’t walk in knowing that they’ll serve something you can eat, eat a Larabar or a handful or two of nuts on the way so you aren’t forced into making a bad choice. Know that, with the exception of Fireside Pies (which offers gluten-free crusts and gluten-free beer), you will not be able to find anything safe at a pizza place, and that trendy TexMex places with loud music run by white guys typically doctor their corn tortillas with wheat flour.
3) Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As awareness of gluten sensitivity and intolerance spreads (the current data indicate that 1 in 133 folks in Western countries is gluten intolerant), restaurants have become more and more sensitive to the needs of diners who avoid gluten. So don’t be afraid to ask if the salad dressing was made in-house and what’s in it or if the pan sauce that comes with the chicken has flour in it.
How do you go about grocery shopping gluten-free?
I buy a few gluten-free staples – quinoa pasta, gluten-free pretzels, and gluten-free tamari, etc. Baked goods come from Wholesome Foods Bakery which is now at Urban Acres. The rest is mostly meat, dairy, and fruit/veggies, none of which pose a problem. Overall, going gluten-free has forced me into a better way of eating.
What are your favorite gluten-free products?
Glutino gluten-free pretzels – they’re better than wheat-based pretzels. Quinoa spaghetti. Wholesome Foods Bakery whole grain bread, cornbread, pizza crusts, and cookies. Larabars. Jules Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour (available online and a suitable substitute for all-purpose flour in baking and cooking applications).
Please share one of your favorite gluten-free recipes with us.
Shameless, but accurate, plug – Nitschke Natural Beef strip steak (which you can get at Urban Acres), thawed, rubbed with coarse salt and cracked pepper, and grilled quickly. Great with an Argentinian Malbec or a Bordeaux with some earth in it. Parsley potatoes. Arugula salad with a simple vinaigrette. Creme brulée.