“Read the Label” is the mantra of life for celiacs. Why would I ever put something in my shopping cart, a food product that I am expecting to eat no less, when I haven’t read the label? I do get lazy with the tried and true things like tuna fish or beans. But when something is new, it is pretty cheeky to just assume it’s gluten-free.
I made that mistake at Trader Joe’s last week. They were promoting Super Bowl foods and had a big display of turkey chili. It was a high of seventeen degrees out side and Thursday evenings are just horrible in my household since I am in and out of the car approximately every 45 minutes for basketball and swimming pick ups and drop offs, so I though this would be a great, quick supper for everyone. I dumped four cans into the cart and never even looked at the ingredients.
How long have I been a celiac? Long enough to know better! Thursday night I opened up the cans and warmed up the contents. I had garlic bread in the oven, and the whole house smelled like there was a hearty dinner cooking. As I stirred the chili, I realized that it had a nice, thick consistency. That “uh-oh” feeling of dread came over me as I reached for a can (meanwhile those cans had all been rinsed and thrown into recycling) and I finally read the ingredients for the first time.
“Wheat flour” was there as plain as day. In that pot, I had enough chili for six people. Two announced they wouldn’t eat it because “there’s beans” or “there’s green peppers” in it. Two of us now couldn’t eat it because it had wheat flour.
Dinner was a big let down. I had garlic bread and a couple of Clementine’s. I can’t remember what my celiac ate. My two picky eaters were quite happy with a bowl of cereal. My husband and daughter had the chili, but most of my quick dinner ended up in the garbage.
It could have been worse, we could have eaten it. As a seasoned veteran of gluten-free shopping and food preparation, I should have known better. I need to avoid gluten, so I need to read the labels. I won’t be making that mistake again anytime soon.