"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Wheatless in Chicago

I've known for some time that Garmin-Transitions professional cycling team, led by Chicago's own Christian Vande Velde, is wheat-free while training and racing. But when the team's blog referenced a Men's Journal article on the team's wheat-free nutrition, I read it with great interest. There is some good information in the comments section.

As faithful followers of this blog know, I too am wheat-free, since 2003, and even more vigilant when I became a bike racer in 2007. Here is some background on why I made this life-changing switch to my diet.

I originally shared the article via Google and on Facebook, and received some comments that prompted me to outline what exactly I do eat. Here was my response, typed this morning:

Lemme start of by mentioning, at the risk of TMI - that I avoid wheat because it constipates me horribly. Nothing ruins a ride or training - or just your ordinary day - more than not being able to take a big dump first thing in the morning. However, not being a pain in the ass when eating as a guest plays into this too. If it's pizza, I'll sometimes eat it, knowing I'll have to deal in the morning if it's not going to affect a big ride or something. And, like VDV, I drink beer. Moving on:

There are tons of options - actually more - without wheat for carbohydrate than with. It's just that wheat is so ubiquitous.

That said, some celiacs (I think) need to avoid ALL gluten, so that is a caveat. Gluten is found in most grains. However, for me and most non-celiacs who are sensitive, wheat-gluten is offending protein. I've found that other more primitive grains such as oats, buckwheat, or corn does not affect me.

There is rice of course, but it's so much more than just risotto. Brown, jasmine, white, etc. Brown rice pasta is widely available (outside of Jewel). Gnocchi has a bit of wheat flour in it but it's mostly potato so it doesn't bother me much.

There's oatmeal, cornmeal (polenta, tamales, tortillas for tacos and enchiladas), buckwheat (nope, no gluten...LOVE making pancakes out of this).

Potatoes, especially sweet potatoes are a great wheat-free option. Sweet potatoes, gram for gram, are the most nutritious food you can eat. Then of course less-starchy, higher-glycemic fruits and veggies. Nuts too.

Breakfast is typically oatmeal or a couple slices of wheat-free kosher black bread (available even at Jewel), with some peanut butter or nutella, a banana, some yogurt, and a hard-boiled egg.

Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner, but sometimes I'll make sandwich out of the wheat-free bread, or just eat a loaded salad, no croutons.

Dinner is almost always home-cooked, never out of a box, unless I eat out. Some sort of rice or potato, with plenty of variety to chose from, as I mentioned above, with either sauce - made from a simple can of crushed or stewed tomatoes, spice and some red wine or vinegar, stir fry, or with steamed veggies and beef or some chicken.

Speaking of which, I eat a lot of protein. Beef, chicken, fish, wild game, tofu and other soy, yogurt (I hate milk, tho) and of course lots of Clif.
That's it. The easiest way I avoid wheat is to cook for myself, using almost 100% fresh food. The grains I eat are mostly rice, but I have such a variety available to me that I never get bored.

As well, I am trying to become more of a "localvore" this year, eating seasonally and locally when possible, and documenting it in a new blog, "Big City, Little Plate." While not nearly wholly practical or even possible, adding local, seasonal and home-grown foods is something I hope will add much pleasure to my life and I am already beginning to enjoy the benefits. I despaired through January and February, save for the grass-fed beef I was buying at the desolate now-indoors Logan Square farmer's market. Even the much-hyped local and organic co-op Dill Pickle had nothing local, even potatoes.

But just this week, the Logan market had fresh apples available in a dizzying amount of variety. Most I'd never heard of (Northern Spy?) I bought two bags for $7, about 10 apples. Very tasty.

More to come...


CRG said...

After your mention of buckwheat, I happened to see some at the Dill Pickle Co-op, with a recipe for tabouli on the back.

So I bought all the ingredients and made it last night.

The buckwheat groats have a great texture for tabouli--though they are larger than the usual bulgur. The flavor is mild/neutral.

This was my first time cooking buckwheat, and I'm well pleased with the result.

brianfmorrissey said...

Awesome! Thanks for the tip. I love the slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture. I will try this.