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The ups, downs, and runarounds of Celiac Disease and food sensitivities

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Fart Patio

If only these existed for those of us who can’t always control our digestive organs, raw food or no.

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Fox Files Celiac Disease Feature

Opens with grammatical error, otherwise an accurate depiction aligning with my own experience.

Food Purchases

Man I’m having a hard time reintroducing grain into my diet! I just forgot about it and the day has ended and I’m like OOPS. Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (GF) are the easiest to incorporate as I can make a big pot and keep them in the fridge for the week.

In other exciting food news, I discovered these black beans noodles which I am very excited to try at Integral Yoga the other day:

Ingredients: organic black beans, water

I also tried some of Annie Chung’s Seaweed Snacks in Sesame. Yeah, the canola oil is not the healthiest (other ingredients: seaweed, sesame oil, salt), but they sure do satisfy a craving much more guiltlessly than other packaged snacks! I’ve also been using nori sheets to make wraps with chicken and vegetables.

In other seaweed news, I purchased some kelp noodles over at Vitacost (free shipping deal going on with purchase of $49), which I’m also excited to try. Who knew of the existence of so many grain-free noodles!

I also sprang for some good deals on Bob’s Red Mill GF grains (buckwheat, millet, more steel cut oats) to get my 1/2 cup of grain every day.

Having started a calorie counter online (which tracks other nutritional levels and exercise), I’ve realized how bad coconut oil is- obviously it’s a fat, but I had no idea just how fat. Simply using it to saute meets one’s daily quota of fat and saturated fat. This led me to bust out the George Forman for an oil-less dinner (4 oz chicken breast, grilled zucchini with a dash of EVOO on top of a handful of baby spinach with pepper and chives). I was somehow still under my daily caloric needs, so I threw in a microwaved small sweet potato with cinnamon. This online system is much easier than the paper logs, and I like that you have options for portion size (oz, g, tbsp, etc.). I’ve found my paper chart of calorie content has a few odd measurements (e.g. if you’re not sure of the weight of what you’re eating), so the online system is less of a hassle. And, big surprise, the online system is much more comprehensive, though I still need to work out how to count portions of foods with multiple ingredients (e.g. chicken salad, coconut bread).

I’m feeling somewhat better than during the previous post, and must remind myself that my indulgences are really pretty healthy, even if they needed to be further spaced. Plus, food may not be the issue. If only leaky gut and candidiasis were easier/more reliably tested than thyroid and PCOS (both of which I plan to have tested).

Pizza

Friday yielded experimenting with 2 pizza crust recipes: one paleo, and one not. Both required very minimal, basic ingredients. I bake them in pans covered with parchment paper, but even so, the quinoa crust stuck to the paper in places. They were both edible! Both next time I will try to spread each one them thinner in the pans. Neither one can really be called guiltless, by any means (Lots of quinoa, lots of nuts), but they may not cause as much damage as the real thing, particularly since neither one requires added starch or greasy oils. The nice thing about these recipes is that they fill you up (unlike regular pizza, which I felt compelled to consume in larger quantities with less satisfaction but more fatigue/gross feelings afterwards. Of course it’s easy for me to diss regular pizza because of my food intolerance of the key ingredients… I kept it cheese-less to accommodate  my avoidance of casein, so the almond based pizza had a pesto-like sauce, whereas the quinoa one had sweet potato hummus (the pesto recipe under-yielded, so I had to dig in my memory for a fast sauce-like recipe), and both were topped with spinach, sprouts, red pepper, chicken, and avocado. I really should have taken pictures to post, but I was in the moment, and the moment was nom!

Celiac Resturant Review: Capital Alehouse

Capital Alehouse is somewhat of a local restaurant, in that it was founded in Richmond area and only exists in Virginia. The fifth restaurant in the small chain opened in Harrisonburg this year, and it’s doing quite well in the old Cally’s space. 100 beers, 2 bars, and an outdoor deck certainly add to the draw. And it’s quite allergen friendly! They generally have at least one gluten-free beer (not on tap, which is safer, anyhow), a few ciders, and wine. The waitstaff gladly verifies the ingredient status of any menu item with the chef. I went on $2 burger night, and was also there in time to benefit from the 180 minutes of 1/2 price drinks. So, a very cheap meal, but great taste! I had a bun-less cheeseburger (cheddar, which is very low in lactose, tomato & lettuce) and a glass of Barboursville (Virginia!) wine. What a pleasure to eat out with friends, and actually EAT!

Celiac Restaurant Review: The Local, Charlottesville, Va

The Local is tucked away in the little Belmont area of Charlottesville. The online menu stars items which can be made gluten-free, so with reassurance via email that cross contamination could be avoided in the kitchen, I made a reservation with high hopes. Unfortunately, I later discovered a negative review on Tripadvisor.com, suggesting that the staff did not fully understand the nature of severe gluten issues, and that the menu was not as amenable to gluten-free dishes as it would have you believe. I don’t eat grains, and I saw other items that seemed a bit more amenable to my diet than the burger and fries that the customer had ordered (though believe me, I would be pretty pissed if that item were listed as gluten-free, but in reality all you got was a beef pattie, no bun or fries, to make it such), so I decided against cancelling. Well, turns out the reviewer wasn’t so far off base with The Local as a whole. We ordered the cheese plate, which was great, particularly since most of the cheeses were low- to no-lactose, and there was swiss chard for me to use in place of crackers. The crackers that my table mate was served (separate plate) looked like Ritz crackers, though the menu listed bread, so negative points in that regard. When I ordered the pork chop with mashed potatoes and shoestring sweet potatoes, and gave my little gluten-free/Celiac Disease spiel, all seemed well. The server subsequently came to inform me that both of the potatoes contained gluten, and that the chef recommended substituting for asparagus. Asparagus is a high FODMAP, but at that point I was willing to go with the flow and suffer a tiny bit of gastric discomfort; however, am I wrong in thinking there should have been 2 substitutes for the 2 gluten-containing sides (btw, gluten in potatoes??), not just 1? Anyhow, I was psyched to taste some pork after several years worth of vegetarianism, but the cut was more than half unmasticatable fat, which I fleetingly and unceremoniously removed from my mouth after several minutes worth of cud-chewing. The sauce was tangy and spicy, but also a bit too sugary for my taste (though I may just be super sensitive to sugar now that I hardly eat it). So, meal completed, check paid, then I noticed we were overcharged by $13 and had to wait for a new check to be run.

Overall, The Local has a great atmosphere- exposed brick and wood, low lighting, long bar. And it’s menu and locally sourced ingredients sound delicious. But I wouldn’t go back, not just for the misleading gluten-free options, but also for the quality of the food. I really tried to like it, really I did!

Old and New

Back to my home city, but in a new residence! It is an efficiency, but a good-sized room, which I’ve divided in two with strategic furniture placement, and a separate kitchen WHICH WILL BE GLUTEN FREE AHAHAHA JOYJOYJOY! This is a big deal when one has to worry about how well plates/utensils were scrubbed, crumbs on counter tops/in drawers/in cupboards, and pots and pans that have ever seen the light of gluten (i.e. should not be used if Celiac). Plus eating a more or less paleo, gluten free diet requires LOTS of fridge/freezer space for fresh foods.

Vacation was great (to post pictures soon), but I am glad to be back in my safe-eating-zone bubble. Most days the breakfast buffet had nothing to offer me aside from an orange and banana. In the process of desperation tempered by an in-room kitchen (I brought pans, spatula, and a few other Celiac-must kitchen gear), I discovered that sauteed tomatoes, kale, and swiss cheese (LF) make a decent breakfast! I also had some great dining-out experiences in Charleston, SC, which I will detail with pictures subsequently.

So many blogs/books say that cravings for forsaken/forbidden foods die down after a period without. I still want real bread (haven’t had any since March), as in warm, fresh, melt-in-your-mouth white bread. I did cheat and eat some grains and dairy here and there (evil, addictive Blue Diamond nut crackers contain rice, butter, potato starch, and taste amazing but make me feel like a lump of laziness and lethargy; rice cakes; corn kernels I tried to pick out of a salad and soup), and I’m paying for it. I think I’ll have to make my paleo/FODMAPs diet a bit more exciting to ward of temptation, perhaps by whipping up some carrot muffins and pesto (sans garlic) to dress veggies.

My local (well, 1 hour away) Celiac Disease support group is up and running again! The founder (Celiac specialist MD) left just as I received my diagnosis, and all meetings were subsequently cancelled. The next (my first!) meeting is August 21, and I am so excited to talk to people about life with Celiac Disease and associated conditions (IN PERSON rather than through the internet or reading books). I also hope that this will serve as an outlet for my frustrations so that I can minimize my harrumph-this-has-gluten-or-has-touched-it and they-say-this-baked-good-is-gluten-free-but-it-was-made-in-a-gluten-containing-kitchen and do-not-offer-gluten-free-meals-if-you-don’t-know-what-gluten-is and do-you-know-you-are-helping-ruin-my-intestines-by-your-carelessness irrationally emotional rants to my friends and family.

Vacay, as they say

Good news- while my gluten antibody levels are higher than normal, they are lower than my previous levels! I have to keep reminding myself that it could take up to a year (or more) to get back to “normal” (have I EVER been gastrointestinally “normal”??).

So here I am, on vacation, but thankfully with a kitchen (and a supply of pans, a spatula, sponge, and tupperware that have never seen the likes of gluten- can’t travel light with Celiac!). I STILL have not eaten out in 4 weeks (holy crap! easier than you’d think!), and tonight I had local, fresh seafood noms, including scallops sauteed in coconut oil, steamed crab, and steamed shrimp, all prepared in the condo kitchen by my mom (with my gluten/grain/lactose/legume/-free, paleo paranoid guidance). Did I say NOM?! Otherwise I’ve been eating Perdue chicken and Laura’s Lean Beef (most grocery store meats have “natural flavoring” added… but Laura’s does not!) as my protein sources. I’m still attempting to reconcile my love of animals with a vegetarain-to-paleo transition. While soy is out of the question for the time being, I hope I am making the correct health decision to eat meat… (2 greats duke it out).

Gosh darn it I miss Larabars, but I’ve been better about carrying my own meat/fruit/veg now that I have a nice little cooler. The last vestiges of packaged food in my life include organic roasted chestnuts (Costco!) and the coconut flour in my previously-mentioned, paleo baked goods. I did cave in tonight and have a glass (or so…) of dry red wine (allowed on FODMAPs) after a month of no alcohol. Good thing I drove here and could pack a few different sized pants for such cave-ins (i.e. bloating and I-don’t-even-know-what-size-I-am-any-more).

Although the internet is a great source of information (HOW did Celiac people LIVE before??) on traveling and eating out, I can’t wait for the future, when (I hope!) people have posted about their experiences (did you spend the next 24-36 hours in bed?) at local restaurants. I may go upscale in Charleston to reward myself for such a long time without a meal not prepared/supervised by myself.

I’ve complained about the fattiness/utter lack of nutritional value of gluten-free products in supermarkets, and another complaint must be lodged against companies and websites that try to market dietary supplements for people with Celiac disease. Yeah, my skin’s elasticity sucks, I have perpetual scaly, dry skin on my right hand, but do I really need to purchase your supplement? Does it work? Is this a scam?

Fail

Do not try this recipe that I had posted earlier. BLECK! My microwave chocolate cake tastes better than this. Very dry. So now we know!

EDITEDITEDIT!!!!! So apparently what these brownies need is a night in a ziplock bag in the fridge! 100x more moist! I knew that baking gluten/grain free was a different beast, but was not expecting such a transformation! So try them, but do not eat until the second day and refrigeration!

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