My 2 year old son was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease. How do you transform your cooking life?
My cousin has celiac disease. Her biggest fear is processed foods. Even simple stuff such as tomato paste has had some wheat product in it. She lives in Turkey and unfortunately the ingredient lists on processed foods can't always be relied upon (such as as having very small amounts of wheat in it). Labeling standards are slightly stricter here in the US, and she has said that she can trust German labeling as well. I literally bring a suitcase full of gluten free items to her every time I visit.
There are some great (and not so great) prepackaged baked goods available now. Whole Foods carries a wide variety, and she's never had a problem with any of them, aside from not liking the taste. And I have found them quite tasty as well. One of her favorites is the brownie mix, but I can't remember the brand.
It may seem daunting now, but once you educate yourself about it, it won't be so hard. There is a lot of variety of gluten free products now, and better labeling, so it won't be too hard. Depending on where you live you can also find a few restaurants that can cater to a person with celiac disease. I know that Thomas Keller (French Laundry) can, and I promised my cousin that I'd take her there when she visited :)
I agree with the above, especially about processed food and cross contamination. Even when you get GF cheese at the store, you have to remember to ask them to wipe it down if they don't have a dedicated sicer. Stores are usually pretty good and many of them, including WF and Stop & Shop have GF lists .
Udi's bread is the best I've found so far. WF carries it. Pamela's mixes are good too.
I agree with the cookbook recommendations. While you're trying to get your footing, I highly recommend Food for Life gluten-free breads (http://www.foodforlife.com/procart_catalog/index.cfm?SubCategoryID=1&do=list) I used to like their black rice bread, which looks like it may not be available anymore, and the Bhutanese red rice bread. Though any of their breads are better than most others on the market.
Whatever you do, stay away from Ener-G breads. It's like eating a sponge. That said, homemade is best. And not that hard once you get used to it.
It is SO much easier to find gluten-free foods now than it was even 10 years ago. Nature's Path makes good cereals, and their gluten-free varieties are clearly marked. Foods like rice crackers and rice noodles are usually very easy to find in any "Asian" market. Bob's Red Mill has some very good gluten-free baking mixes with detailed recipes. Guar gum is a good gluten simulator in baked goods; try some gluten-free recipes that use it before trying to use it on your own, however.
If you don't have easy access to gluten-free foods, you can try the Gluten-Free Mall: http://www.glutenfreemall.com/ . Enjoy Life bagels (available on the site) are really pretty decent--way better than gluten-containing bagels I've had at some bagel chains (I'm looking at you, Einstein Bros. Bagels).
And yes, being diagnosed early is really a blessing; it will save him from all kinds of health challenges down the road.
If you are near a Whole Foods; they have (had) a hand out location directory of all items in the store that were Gluten free. The number of products is quite high. There are many gluten free breads, crackers, beers, (not for him yet!), prepared foods, pastas, etc. etc. Ask at the service dsesk and in each dept.
and you can find lots of cookbooks like this one on amazon:
Don't worry! You'll be fine. You are lucky your son was diagnosed early and you can raise him with healthy GF foods. Meat, beans, chicken, fish, veggies, rice, eggs, milk, yogurt, potatoes, etc...
Be sure to clean your kitchen and pantry well to get rid of crumbs or flour residue. Keep all regular bread/pasta (if you have to have it around for others) separate.
Learn to read labels carefully. Be very carefull with processed foods/condiments.
Good Luck and Take Care,
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND checking out www.glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com. Shauna was diagnosed with celiac a few years back and has been cooking GF for her family ever since. She also has a cookbook out of the same namesake. Check out her blog; she has an arsenal of GF recipes, many of them I have personally cooked from.
The first thing you need to do is get a hold of one or more of Bette Hagman's cookbooks for celiacs. She herself has celiac disease and these books have everything you need to know. The Gluten-Free Gourmet is the name of the series. Some of the older ones may be out of print, but do not let that deter you! While there are many more gluten free foods available now than when she first started this series, you will still find yourself needing to cook from scratch quite a bit of the time. You will just build that into your life.