Giving Up Wheat–What Will I Eat?

Salad for breakfast. Ben and Jerry’s for supper last night. You could call it a balanced diet.

Seriously, I am looking for a way to fit comfortably into the Pants of Truth. I’ve worn them a few times, but I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit I was holding my breath.

I’m big, and that’s fine, but the past few years I have gone past my health and comfort level. Desperate for a way to get my weight under control, I downloaded the book Wheat Belly to my Kindle. It’s written by an actual doctor. Big deal. Doctors can be twits. Rand Paul is a doctor. But I tried cutting out wheat and lost 5 pounds. I think the key is cutting down on junk carbs. Wheat flour is the pasty white concrete of which junk food is built, from Krispy Kreme to Domino’s [we brag about using cheese, instead of candlewax] Pizza.

I never had a problem with wheat. I live down the street from Seven Stars, a world-class bread bakery. When I stop there for coffee the line is just as long for their baked goods as ever, and I cannot believe that a beautiful crusty loaf ever did anyone harm. Cheetos is another story. But somehow cutting wheat was a discipline I could stick to when all else had failed. So I looked for wheat substitutes.

Bread is a great thing to put stuff on. You miss that.

I learned to make pancakes. Stop and Shop is now carrying Hodgson Mill and Indian markets sell flour made from various grains, lentils, chick peas. Throwing together breakfast and bag lunch, early in the morning before work, none of my pancakes came out all that bad. I substituted water for milk, and left out the baking soda–no problem. I got a big, flat, non-stick pan. I think I proved that you can’t mess up a pancake no matter what you do.

Davis Market, the only place left in my neighborhood that sells lox bits and whitefish salad, supplies my protein craving step-down. Pigs= too smart to eat, and cows= too nice. Davis sells Paskesz Rice Cakes outa Brooklyn, NY. They are thin. About 20 calories each. Could use more salt, in my opinion, but if you heap one up with what you really want to eat, you do not find yourself chewing on a large boring rice cake with 3x the calories and carbs.

Potato chips are not made from wheat, but they are about 200 calories per handful. Papadam is a salty and crunchy appetizer you can get at Indian restaurants. Recently the New York Times Magazine food section reported that papadam can be bought in Indian markets and prepared at home. I live near Not Just Spices. Coincidence? I think not.

Excellent Snack Food

Excellent Snack Food


    Don’t let your kids see you do this.

    Papadam needs to be toasted to reach its fulfillment as as snack. You can toast it in the oven or microwave, but the faster and more exciting way is to turn on your gas burner and rotate the cardboard-thin papadam wafer over a low flame till it turns pale, pebbled and almost singed. WHEN IT CATCHES FIRE turn off the burner and blow it out. You left it on the flame too long. You have to develop technique. You don’t have your smoke alarm in your kitchen, do you? If so, maybe the microwave is better. Pyrotechnics and a sense of risk add to the exotic thrill of these spicy chickpea wafers.

    But there’s more! I noticed a tiny logo on the scary rabbit plastic wrapper of the papadam–

    Global Sisterhood

    Global Sisterhood

    These snacks are made by a women’s collective, Lijat Papad that was founded in 1959.

    Lijjat Papad, registered as a public corporation, is a familiar name to Indian women, especially in the cities, and the pancakes are sold at most grocery stores. Mrs. Popat, who is the organization’s secretary, said the emphasis on quality had helped Lijjat capture 75 percent of the market nationwide; $2.5 million of 1983 earnings represented earnings from exports. Indian stores and restaurants abroad, a large number in the United States, are the main overseas buyers.

    The organization is almost entirely managed and staffed by women: they are responsible for the preparation of the dough, the rolling of the papads, packaging and accounts. Male employees are largely clerks, loaders, drivers and cleaners. One of the few men holding influential posts is Ramnik Nathwani, the advertising manager. ”Lijjat is a place where women can work with dignity and honor, where they are in charge,” he said.

    How cool is that? My search for a way to fit the Pants of Truth led me to a history and geography lesson and a way to move my dollar from Food Inc. to a local market with global connections.

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4 Responses to Giving Up Wheat–What Will I Eat?

  1. Kiersten Marek says:

    Yay! Great post, Nancy! I will have to try the papadam…

  2. mgradymg says:

    what’s with the pink rabbit? too scary for me! the roasting over open flames, is very appealing though!

  3. Ninjanurse says:

    It’s nice and crispy, like an Indian potato chip. You can order it in restaurants but it’s super cheap at the market.

  4. emmawolf says:

    I’m trying to cut out or at least down on my wheat too. I started over the summer and have lost 30 pounds since. (I’m also cutting out rice and potatoes, but that is less difficult.) Not having a gas stove, I toast my papadam in the microwave. One of these days I really want to try making chocolate covered papadam. It will be just the right amount of sweet and spicy and crunchy!

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