Kathleen Clary Miller has written 300+ columns and stories for periodicals both local and national, and has authored three books (www.amazon.com/author/millerkathleenclary). She lives in the woods of the Ninemile Valley, thirty miles west of Missoula.
“MILLET!” the e-mail from my friend Sharon read. She has been seeking the guidance of a naturopath to accompany the physician we both see who has diagnosed us with the very beginnings of osteoporosis. “We are supposed to eat millet for breakfast because it’s packed with nutrition…and best of all, it’s gluten free!” she wrote as if announcing that it was drizzled with hot fudge sauce.
Isn’t millet birdseed? I think to myself but do not type as I recall that I did once own a parakeet that lived forever. As far as going gluten free, my daughter Kate and I both tried it, as an experiment to see what the hubbub is about. We wondered if our holistic lives might be transformed, even though we have no medical reason for the sacrifice. After going gluten free for a month, my heart goes out to those suffering from Celiac Disease who have no option but to eliminate it from their diet.
Like adopting any new trend, at first it felt like a healthy adventure. Like January 2 of a New Year’s resolution, eliminating pancakes, pasta, and piecrust was invigorating and saintly. But by the time Kate came home a month later for a visit I felt myself shutting out all thoughts of pizza, a downward spiral that could lead to the need for counseling. Before anti-depressants we had mashed potatoes.
My sister contributed to the gathering a ten-pound assortment of our favorite See’s Candy, which Kate and I devoured like wild bears just out of hibernation between guilt-free bites of gluten-free bread that tasted like a damp sponge and holier-than-thou chips that barely crunched. One downfall leads to another and so I promptly baked Hollywood’s Monastery of the Angels Pumpkin Bread, loaded with luscious flour.
“I tried eating gluten-free for a month, and I just don’t feel any different!” Kate announced, the corner of her mouth dusted with crumbs from her winning simultaneous combination of blessed bread and sinful dark chocolate nougat. “That’s because you don’t have Celiac Disease,” I pointed out. Neither do the rest of us who find ourselves thinking we are supposed to suffer anyway.
After she returned to her home in Pennsylvania, Kate Skyped to display a bag of Trader Joe’s rolls while reading the ingredients. Chia, flax, millet, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame—you name the seed, it was present, with flour being the last item on the list. “Do you think this much flour could hurt me?” she asked while watching her mother gnaw on a thick slab of sourdough. I told her she will probably live as long as my parakeet.