Recently, my brother and his fiancé had an engagement party at my parents’ house. It was a potluck dinner and several people brought delicious desserts, including a Boston Cream Cake that looked delectable. It was an absolute dream for anyone with a sweet tooth…

Unless you’re intolerant to gluten.

Whether you suffer from Celiac’s disease, have an allergy to gluten (like myself), or simply avoid it for the sake of health, missing out on fluffy, carb-loaded food is a constant bummer. I spent most of that evening pining after the cakes and pies that I knew would make my stomach churn, roil and cramp for days if I ate them.

I only recently developed an intolerance to gluten and it’s been a hard transition. Luckily, the internet is full of modified ways to cook gluten-free dishes. My local H-E-B even has half an aisle dedicated to gluten-free food items. At first, that was a big comfort to me. I figured things wouldn’t be much different as far as my diet went. It only took a few days to find out that, despite all the valiant attempts of different brands, most food still tastes gluten-free!

In other words — more like cardboard than carbs.

The hardest thing has been the bread. My family had burgers while camping one evening and I brought my own gluten-free buns. The burgers looked juicy and smelled incredible, but when I bit in, all I could taste was the bland, dense, paper-like “bread.” I ended up cutting the buns into thin slices that were more for utility than taste. I didn’t take seconds.

Recently, I made some chocolate chip cookies. I had been craving cookie dough for days and finally bought enough butter to make my favorite recipe. I figured I could substitute the white flour with a gluten-free flour mixture and it would still taste almost exactly the same.  

It was a big disappointment.

The dough was grainier than I was used to and had a weird taste because of the different flour. I hoped that refrigerating it for a day would at least help solve the problem of texture. It didn’t.

I can still remember how chocolate chip cookies made with white flour taste. I remember attending parties and actually getting to eat the desserts. I remember cooking dinner every night and not worrying about whether or not the can of soup I was opening had gluten in it as a thickener.

I was getting tired of being disappointed time and again.

Then, I found a new chocolate chip cookie recipe. Unlike my old one, this one was created using gluten-free ingredients. The first time I made them I was wary, but they were actually delicious. Yes, they were different from normal chocolate chip cookies, but they weren’t different in a bad way. In fact, I actually liked them a little better! Part of what helped is that I wasn’t trying to make them taste like regular chocolate chip cookies. It was just like trying out a new recipe for a new dessert.  

Recipes like the chocolate chip cookies have convinced me that gluten-free doesn’t have to mean disappointing or bland. I continue to find recipes that surprise me with how easy and tasty they are. Yes, I still try to remake some of my favorite meals, and sometimes it works out. But what I’m continually seeing is that recipes created specifically for the gluten intolerant taste so much better than modified recipes. And they are easy to find. You can Google recipes for gluten-free casseroles, pastas, soups and, most importantly, desserts that aren’t trying to mimic something else.

Recipes like these have made life much easier for this recent convert.