Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Great Clean Up and Clean Out!

Making your home a gluten free zone is one way to make life a little bit easier when you are dealing with gluten and wheat intolerances or allergies.  It's what we've done here at our home. And for the most part it works really well. We even hosted a completely gluten free birthday party for our 3 year old twins twin's and it went very well!  Getting to this point has had it's ups and downs and one of the things that I have found helpful is doing a pantry purge and getting organized.  However, before we were able to start organizing, and after eliminating what we knew had gluten, we first went through a kitchen purge.  Even if your home is not completely gluten free and especially if it is not, clearing out the clutter and getting organized can help you to streamline your mealtime activities and reduce the potential for exposure via cross contamination if everything is in its place.

This is what we've done so far:

Round 1: This occurred after I learned that your cookware can harbor gluten no matter how meticulous you are. Things like wooden utensils and stoneware can harbor gluten forever that you just can't get out. That goes for plastic too. Especially colanders.  The next step, then , was to eliminate all cookware that was made of wood, stone or plastic. This included my cutting boards, colanders, stone bakeware, etc.  Afterward, we replaced a few essential items like my pizza stone, cutting boards and a stoneware baking dish.  (this was about 9 months ago)

Round 2: I went through cabinets and drawers and got rid of multiples of items that I don't need more of. Just how many garlic presses does one need anyway? Apparently we thought we needed 4 of them! Going through your gadget drawer can be an eye opening experience!  (this was a few months ago)

Round 3: This recently occurred when I got a cleaning bug and decided that we needed to decide what we needed to get rid of more "stuff" and only keep what we truly need.  Even after going through the above,  we STILL had coffee mugs in 4 different cabinets and one of those cabinets was a dedicated mug cabinet! (There are essentially only 2 grown adults in our home who drink coffee or tea on a regular basis)  So during this round I was able to clear out another 4 boxes of dishes, mugs, etc.  This included getting rid of our mismatched "everyday" dish collection and bringing my great aunt's china out of storage (the date on the newspaper was 1996) and using our somewhat nicer dishes for everyday and Great Aunt Ruth's china for special occasions. This also helped get one more box out of our basement which we are also cleaning out!(this was a month ago)

Round 4: This was the final gluten purge.  I pulled everything out of our pantry, wiped down shelves, and dumped everything that was obviously or questionably had gluten.  Some of the cereals and unopened products that were not also expired were sent to grandma's or the babysitter's house where gluten is served freely.  Everything else got composted and/or fed to the chickens.  Chickens really like Kashi! Then I tried to rearrange things  into categories like baking supplies, dinner supplies, tomato products, etc.  But, it's still not finished. (also about a month ago-I was on a roll!)

Then, life has gotten in the way. This past month has been sort of nuts at our house.  Along with August and July! I have been reading a great blog by Miss Minimalist as well as two of her e-books on minimalism.  And although they are inspirational and were a big part of why we started downsizing, I am now left with dealing with what I have left.  And it still really isn't "organized" if you want to be honest about it. <sigh>

So, that's why I was so excited to find this 14 week challenge on A Bowl Full Of Lemons! Each week a different room is tackled with all the steps listed to do that week. This week is the laundry room and that's where I am going to start.  Our laundry room also acts as an extension of our pantry at the moment.  But I intend on going through the whole house, so we won't just be gluten free we will be clutter free too!  I'll be going back at the end to do the first four weeks!

So tomorrow I will post before pics of my laundry room. That is, once I get up the courage to air my dirty laundry... hahaha...get it?   Ok, not a comedienne. Want to join me in this challenge?? I'd love the company!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Raspberry Beer Cake!

I just have to share this with you. This cake looks amazing and it will be top on my baking list as soon as it cools off and I feel like firing up the oven this fall. We have a bumper crop of raspberries this year. My only challenge will be finding the raspberry GF beer. But I will improvise if I need to!!

This blog is a great resource for your gluten free needs. Read about the gluten testing he's done. He's even got a gluten free magazine!  I hope you enjoy this Raspberry Beer Cake! :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Vitamix Tomato Soup

The tomatoes are starting to flow into the kitchen. Finally!! It felt like forever.  So, in honor of our tomatoes, I whipped up some tomato soup in the Vitamix today. How much do I love my Vitamix? Let me count the ways...

I didn't follow a "recipe" although I do think there is one in the Vitamix recipe book. In fact, I rarely follow other peoples recipes. I get too hung up n details when I do that. But anyway, here it is:

Take 2 medium-large tomatoes and chop into quarters
Place in Vitamix
add sea salt,  black pepper, celery leaf (or a stalk of fresh celery with leaves)
a bit of basil, preferably fresh
a dash of Frank's hot sauce (I used the extra hot stuff)
Turn Vitamix on, dial up to full speed then turn onto High.
Blend until hot.


Please note: this will NOT taste like your typical canned tomato soup. Salt it to taste. You can't get any fresher!

P.S. I love my Vitamix. It was the best purchase I have ever made. We bought it at the NYS State Fair, of all places, last summer and have been thrilled with the things we can make in it. On the right you will find a link to the Vitamix on Amazon. If you would like to purchase a Vitamix,  this is my affiliate link and I will receive a commission if you purchase it there.  You won't regret it! It will replace numerous appliances and makes the best from-scratch soups with minimal clean up. Can't beat that!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

De-Glutening the Kitchen

We decided to take the plunge and make our kitchen completely gluten free!  Why? Well, for a couple of reasons. You may or may not agree but, for us, this is working.

First, we often host dinners with friends and in an effort to accomodate them, we often allow them to bring non-GF bread or desserts into the house.  Sometimes we buy them our selves and serve them with a meal. However, a few weeks ago we hosted a friend for a cookout and DH bought non-GF hot dog and hamburger buns (just as an aside, good luck finding rolls without HFCS).  He plunked the bag down on the table and between the children reaching into the bags and touching who-knows-what and people serving themselves and touching who-knows-what on their plates and then returning the utensil to the larger bowl, I got exposed and broke out in hives before the meal was half over. Not cool.

Perhaps I should be more gracious and accommodating, but personally, I was really irked that not only was I going to suffer for the next week because we were trying to be nice to our guests (and oh, did I suffer...), but now I could not eat ANY of the leftovers because I had no idea what was safe or not safe anymore.  That just seemed so wasteful because there was no way the little ones and DH were going to eat all the leftovers before they spoiled.

Plus, home is supposed to be my sanctuary. My place of safety and security where I know I can eat without worrying about what touched what and whether everyone followed the rules.  We already went throught the process of replacing our cookware and most utensils because of possible gluten contamination. I don't want to go through the expense of doing that again!  I need peace when I am eating, not more anxiety about my food. I get enough of that whenever I have to dine out. I need to feel secure eating SOMEWHERE! (yeah, me, me, me...)

Then, there is the possibility of one of the girls also having Celiac disease.  I have not yet had them tested and for now I would rather err on the side of caution and limit the amount of gluten in their diets.  That way, I can better gauge what their reaction is to gluten on the rare instances when they eat some out of our home. I will be having them tested soon.

So how did I go about getting the lead out, so to speak?

First, I did what every decluttering article/blog/website Ive ever read said to do. I emptied the cabinets! Everything out! I didn't want to miss some ancient box of partially petrified cream of wheat or some other such remnant.

Then, everything and anything that contained wheat, barley, rye or non-certifed GF oats went into either the compost pile or the trash.  Bye bye Quaker Oats.  Bye bye Kashi.  Bye bye questionable mystery items repackaged in bags who knows how many years ago...  This was a no-holds-barred moment. The garbage and recycling bag were full when I go done and the compost pile had some more fuel! Who knew the chickens would go so crazy for Kashi cereal???

Next, I sorted through what was left and threw out anything outdated. It's kind of eye opening when you start reading the dates that are ever so lightly and microscopically stamped on your products.  2005, really? Ew.

Last, I reorganized what was left and put it all away. Not only did I now I have a nice gluten free pantry, the less is more esthetic really spoke to my new love of minimalism.  Bonus!  It felt just as good as seeing 6 car fulls of stuff leave our house this spring for the garage sale, never to return!!

Now, I can relax knowing that all is well in my Celiac safe kitchen and I can cook (and eat) in peace! Whew! :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A primer on how to feed your food allergic friends

***this is the post I have submitted to purely elizabeth  for their monthly newsletter! As always, this should not be considered medical advice as I am not your medical provider. I am an ambassador for purely elizabeth and they provided the cookie mix mentioned in this article, but it's actually one I use on a regular basis that I purchase myself. ***

After the question, “what can you eat?”, the second most common thing my friends and acquaintances want to know is how to feed me when I come to their homes.  And after a recent poll, this is the question they wanted me to write about next. 

            Recently, I attended a two separate parties at two different friends homes. Both bought gluten free goodies just for me because they are such great friends but in one case I got “glutened” and in the other I didn’t.  What happened? Well, the first friend bought a fruit and veggie tray and the dressing was GF.  I brought GF pretzels and she also bought some GF cookies from a local bakery so I could join in the festivities. Isn’t she so sweet?? I had a little bit of all of the above and had no issues. 

            The second friend bought some packaged GF crackers and chips but the dip she bought was actually from a buffet style service area at the grocery store and the snack mix which consisted of theoretically GF ingredients was also from a self serve granola bar.  Again I had some of everything but this time I had a reaction.  What happened?

            Well, the problem is that when you are dealing with food allergies or a disease such as celiac disease, contamination can be just as much of an issue as actually eating something that contains the offending ingredient.  So things such as bulk dispensers, while sometimes cheaper, pose a significant risk of contamination.  Most people are not aware of this and tongs get used from one item to another without thought to possible contamination.  Even bulk containers that empty at the bottom may be dangerous as they may not always contain the same item and may not be cleaned thoroughly in between.

            Another area of cross contamination occurs in the kitchen. It is always very kind when someone offers me gluten free pasta.  However, if you are using the same colander to drain both GF and regular pasta, it is likely being contaminated. Colanders are notorious for all of their little nooks and crannies, which make great hiding places for remnants of pastas past.  Plastic colanders are the worst.  Plastic and wood utensils are also great hiding places for gluten.  And stoneware baking pans can also harbor leftover gluten.  It can’t be baked away.

            So how do you cook for your friend with out causing them to break out, rash up, run to the bathroom, or turn blue??  First, your best bet is very well scrubbed stainless steel pots and pans and utensils.  And use a clean sponge when washing them!! Sponges harbor all kinds of stuff, including little bits of old food! (kinda gross really…I like to use a clean cloth each day) Plates washed in the dishwasher are fine or plates washed with a clean sponge work too.  New disposable plates and utensils are great, especially for outdoor affairs.

            The next area to pay attention to is the prep area.  The general rule of thumb is to start with a clean surface and prepare the allergen free food first.  This can largely eliminate the possibility of contamination when preparing different foods.  Placing a piece of parchment paper or saran wrap down on the counter can also lessen the chance of contamination.
            My biggest surprise was the coffee pot!  I have one friend who is so highly allergic to hazelnuts that I can’t make her a pot of coffee because I’ve made hazelnut coffee in my coffee maker and any trace of it will cause her to have an anaphylactic reaction.  Prior to my celiac days, I never would have considered that!

            Please also note, if you typically grill your buns or use sauces that contain wheat, such as regular soy sauce, don’t use your grill to cook for someone with wheat sensitivities or celiac disease without first placing at least one layer of tin foil between their food and the grill. 

            So now, what to serve them?  If your friend has celiac disease like me, they can’t have wheat, rye, barley and most oats.  Easy right? Not really because it’s the gluten that is the issue and gluten lurks in all kinds of products you would never suspect!  Canned beef broth? Yep, it’s in there! (my dad got me at Christmas with this one…)  Soy sauce? There too.  Ice cream?  Yes, unfortunately many of them contain gluten.  Flavored coffee?  Very likely.  Amazing isn’t it?

            Now that I’ve scared you, here’s a safe list for those with gluten “issues”(this list is NOT all inclusive):
All fruit
All veggies, including corn
All natural meats that do not contain injected broth, i.e., chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish
Plain rice-white, brown, black, red, etc.
Quinoa (keen-wah)
Plain spices, such as salt and pepper
Fresh herbs and most plain dried herbs (avoid mixes)
Dairy (but some also have lactose intolerance)
Gluten free crackers (such as Crunch Master)
Gluten free cookie mixes (such as purely elizabeth oatmeal cherry chocolate chip – my favorite!) baked on parchment paper

            Your best resources will be your friend and Google!  Ask if they have a favorite recipe they’d like to share. Or, if they are coming to a party, ask if they can bring a GF dish.  Check out the recipes on this website or you can Google your friend’s food sensitivity for a recipe to try.  There are a zillion resources out there.  Most of us are so thrilled that someone would try to accommodate them that we are grateful for all of your efforts.  Ultimately, it’s up to the person with the sensitivity to ensure that what they are eating is safe.  And if it’s a child, it’s the parent’s responsibility.   It does make going out much more pleasant though if others are willing to change what they do so you can enjoy a meal together! So thank you so very much for caring and making the effort to include us at mealtime and celebrations!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Just being honest: I'm a quitter...

So last week I started a 7-day cleanse using Arbonne's 7-day Body Cleanse product.  I've been using some of their other nutritional support products and have been happy with the results.  This time however, I found one product that doesn't seem to agree with me. :(

When I started the cleanse I mixed the product with a quart of water and drank it throughout the day as it directs.  The first day was fine but by the middle of day 2 I started getting some GI distress which lasted until the following night although I didn't even complete the second day's quart.

Then, I spoke with my area manager about it and she said that her experience was that she needed to drink a full glass of water with each glass of cleanse solution and then she didn't have any problems anymore.  That's what I tried starting yesterday.  But, like last weekend, it has had the same effect.

It may be because I, uh, don't really need to be "cleansed."  I had a colonoscopy this year so I was pretty well "cleansed" then.  ;) Having celiac disease, I don't exactly have a problem in this area.  If, however, you have a poor diet and your GI tract is sluggish because of it, this may be helpful in getting things kick started as you begin to change your eating habits.

In all fairness, I have always been somewhat sensitive to these types of things so I am not completely surprised.  The ingredients contain herbals,  like cascara, that are known to cause these types of symptoms in people who are sensitive to them.    I know others who can easily use this type of product without any difficulty.  God bless them...

I am a quitter. I give up. I've had a bellyache for the past 30 years or more. I don't need to purposefully give myself one, even if it is only quarterly.  The remaining nutritional line, including the Protein shakes, Digestive Wellness, Immunity Boost, Fiber Boost, and energy boosting Fizz tabs,  has been excellent, easy to use, tasty and very well tolerated by my irritable old gut.  If you'd like more info on a customized nutritional support program, email me at glutenfree np at yahoo and I will be happy to help!

Now I'm going to go locate my heating pad...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gluten, Karma and Full Disclosure...

Not so long ago I was one of those people who became annoyed with food allergies.  I'd think, "good grief, you're overreacting. Get over it. What's wrong with everyone?" I dated someone with a tree nut allergy and I just didn't get it. Peanuts were ok, but walnuts aren't? Huh? And I'm a nurse!

If you think I'm a jerk, you're probably right.  I just didn't understand food allergies.  And there are still a lot of people out there who don't either. Take my dad, for instance. This last year, after being diagnosed with Celiac disease and explaining to my parents why I couldn't eat the turkey that was stuffed with bread, and that I would make the gravy because my dad only knew how to make it with flour and please don't double dip into anything and contaminate it...uuuuuuuhhhhhhh <deep breath> dad takes his ladle of gravy and drags it through his pile of stuffing and says "like that?" and puts it back into to ONLY gravy boat. I guess it serves me right.

Karma. I don't believe in it. I believe that we reap what we sow in a biblical sense, not a buddhist one, or whatever religion karma belongs to.  But if there was karma, I guess you could say I am experiencing it.  You would think I'd have been more sensitive to other people since I've suffered with lactose intolerance, allergies to my pets, intolerance to chicken, shrimp, raw anything, and heck, at one point I couldn't even CHEW bread!  But I wasn't.  I was a jerk.  Kinda like Martha Stewart.  But we won't go there....

My food intolerance journey began after my son was born in 1994.  I'd always just had a stomach ache as a kid. Then, after C was born, I started finding myself running to the bathroom every time I ate. I was losing weight and people at school were asking me if I was ok.  I saw my doctor for a sinus infection and told him about it. He said it sounded like lactose intolerance and to stop eating dairy.  So I did. And the symptoms went away. Two years later, by the time I was pregnant with my daughter I could eat dairy again.

By then, however, I also found myself allergic to cats and dust and rabbits.  I thought it explained my chronic sinus infections.  A few years later I started being unable to eat anything without being doubled over in pain. So I would go all day at work eating only a small piece of chocolate and drinking coffee because, somehow, these were the only things I could eat without doubling over!  Then I'd go home, eat dinner, and suffer for hours until I finally could "use" the bathroom.   I gotta say that my boyfriend at the time was saintly about this because let me tell you, that ain't sexy!

I went back to my doctor who had been diagnosing me with "colitis" and GERD, IBS, and even an ulcer.  He immediately sent me to a gastroenterologist who saw me the next day.  A minimal exam later and he said it was IBS,  gave my a prescription for dicyclomine and sent me home with no real guidance on what to do.  Of course the meds didn't work.  Do they work for anyone? Ever?

Eventually I figured out that shrimp, milk, and  raw food were bothering me.  I cut them out and things got better.  Then my jaw tightened up and I couldn't chew.  I was told I had TMJ.  <sigh>  I know there will be someone reading this someday who completely understands how I was feeling right about then.  It gets better.

Forward a couple of years and suddenly I couldn't eat chicken without pain.  Chicken? What is life without hot wings?  How is anyone allergic to chicken?  So I didn't eat any poultry for 2 years.  Then one night I ate some duck and was fine. I did a happy dance and started hesitantly eating poultry again.  Hot wings were once again on the menu!

Things weren't great in the GI arena but they were sort of tolerable for a while. Running to the bathroom midway through a meal was pretty routine for me so I didn't sweat it anymore.  Then I became pregnant with my twins.  Any woman who has been pregnant knows what kind of trouble pregnancy can wreck on your GI system.  Not pretty.  But once the babies came, it took a few months, but things got back to "normal."

Last summer, however, I got a new job.  Sure I was nervous and I always considered myself to have a "nervous stomach" but it was getting ridiculous. I also couldn't understand why even though the babies were now sleeping through the night, I was feeling worse and worse.  Then I stumbled upon a chiropractor who gave me information on an anti-inflammatory diet that talked about wheat and gluten causing  the symptoms I was having.  And my new doc said she would test me for Celiac disease but that I should try an elimination diet first.  So I did. And the test was positive.

So as you can see, I kind of deserved this.  Perhaps God is trying to make me more sympathetic toward others with food allergies?  It is certainly an effective method of convicting you for being a jerk and straightening you out!  Score one (million) for God.  I was wrong.  I apologize.  In fact, I'd like to help.  Just please don't send me down to live with the pygmy's in Borneo. Ok?  Karma. Don't believe in it, but certainly living with it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

7-Day "Cleanse" Day 1

7-Day Body Cleanse and Arbonne water bottle

Arbonne has a 7-day cleanse which consists of diluting an individually bottled cleanse solution in a quart of water and drinking it throughout the day for 7 days.  A monthly or seasonal "cleanse" is supposed to help "alkalinize" your system and get the "lead" out.  The idea is not to spend a week in the bathroom but to help support your liver and kidneys and get them running in their most efficient state in order to help your body eliminate toxins that may build up in your system.

A cleanse is also supposed to be a great way to kick start a weight loss program and/or a change in eating habits. I am not looking to lose any more weight.  Going gluten free and avoiding processed foods and sugar helped me lose the "baby weight" and "grad school weight" faster than I could have imagined.  More weight loss would border on ridiculous for me.  I think women need SOME curves!

I have, however, changed my eating habits and would like to change them even more. I still have a weakness for the ginormous bag of M&M's in my pantry (thank you DH).  And stress tends to make me reach for an extra glass of wine rather than a nice soothing cup of herbal tea. Just being honest.  So I'm going to take this week to focus on my eating goals and see how far I get. Baby steps.

Giving up everything you know and (think you) love and going whole hog on a new eating adventure may work for some people, but not for most of us.  However, most of us can take a week long time-out and pay attention to what our bodies are telling us about our food choices so that we may then begin to make steps toward lasting change.  And that's my goal.

So a little product review before I go.  I diluted my concentrate in lukewarm water this morning and tried a few sips.  The directions are to dilute in a quart of cold water but I don't like water cold. So mine is room temp and sitting on the counter. The flavor is reminiscent of herbal prune juice.  And that's exactly what it looks like. Sorta greenish brown water.  It's not particularly sweet but not bitter either. I've been told that once you begin to become more alkaline it will taste sweeter.  You can add some stevia extract, or even lemon juice I suppose, if you need help with the taste.  Overall I don't find it unpleasant at all.

I am also using Immunity Boost, which is an antioxidant and vitamin concentrate.  Kind of along the lines of the energy "shots" except no artificial stuff. And I tried the Arbonne Chocolate Protein Shake for breakfast. The immunity boost is fruity and dark orange.  It goes down easily. The pleasant surprise is the protein shake.  This was mixed only with water and had not only a good consistency, which you can adjust by adding more or less water, but it also had a nice, not overly sweet, chocolate flavor with no weird aftertaste. And no bitterness whatsoever. That has been one of my biggest complaints about other protein shakes.  Strange chemical aftertastes and bitterness. In fact, when I received my container from Arbonne, I went through my cabinet and threw out 3 other brands I had tried that I had bought and tried but couldn't stand the taste of.

I will say that, in general, I don't think making a regular habit of replacing any meal with a shake is a good idea. I believe in REAL FOOD as medicine.  But if you are kick starting weight loss or tend to miss meals and end up overeating because you have starved yourself, then a shake makes sense and can help support your goals.

Later that day...
I finished my requisite quart of "cleanse" around 5.  No ill effects.  It certainly helps you remember to drink fluids which I am personally terrible at.  I did indulge in 2, yes 2, M&M's.  I also ate a regular dinner.  Lunch was popcorn.  So perhaps my eating habits need a bit more tweaking... :) I'll be sure to post about this again later this week.

Good night Gracie...

Disclaimer: I purchased all of these products on my own. I do not receive any incentive from Arbonne to advertise the products. I am an Independent Arbonne Consultant and am trying to see how Arbonne's nutritional supplements can fit into my gluten free lifestyle. This is in no way an endorsement of Arbonne's products as treatment for any medical condition. Before embarking on any weight loss program or cleanse please consult with your medical provider to ensure this is safe for you to do. Although I am a nurse practitioner, I am not YOUR nurse practitioner!  Please be aware that herbal supplements CAN and DO interact with prescription and OTC medications and may cause adverse events if not monitored properly.  And please don't sue me. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gluten Free Scallop Corn "Chowder"

Scallop Corn Chowder a la Liz

I love me some chowder.  However, I don't know if this really qualifies. It started with an idea. The idea was that I was hungry.  And I had scallops in the freezer that would defrost quickly. Oh and I had a bag of frozen corn from our garden.  And I just bought some cream.  So this is what I added:

1lb bay scallops
1 Vidalia onion chopped
About 1 cup corn
Dry sherry (1/2 cup?)
about 1/4 cup cream
sea salt, pepper, thyme, sage
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp celery leaves

1. Saute onions in butter and sherry. Cook until translucent.
2. Add scallops. Cook covered until opaque. Stir occasionally.
3. Add a little more sherry if running dry at any point. (I never really know how much I have used) You should have a decent amount of liquid in the pan if you are keeping it covered.
4. Add corn, cream, and parsley, celery and spices to taste. Stir to incorporate.
5. Allow to simmer about 10 minutes to rehydrate parsley and celery leaves. 
6. Optional-add tsp arrowroot powder dissolved in tsp water to thicken. I tried it both before and after. It was good both ways. If you want it more soupy, skip this step.

This served two of us with enough leftover for two more bowls. If it is the entire meal, it would probably feed 3 people. We had spinach on the side.

I usually cook by the seat of my pants. I get inspiration from reading recipes but I prefer to wing it.  In the past, I would try to follow recipes to a "T" and I would ruin everything because I got too hung up on the details. So I let my inner chef free and started experimenting.  It has made all the difference in the world.  Happy Cooking!

I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Afternoon and the Hot Dog Argument

Probably most people with celiac disease, wheat allergies, or any other food allergy live with someone else who doesn't have the same issue(s).  Some homes are allergy free, others coexist.  Hopefully if you live in a home that coexists, you have food rules that you follow.  Rules such as not double dipping into jars. Cleaning off countertops after preparing food. Not using stoneware, wood utensils, or cutting boards for allergens.  Keeping allergen containing foods in a separate cabinet below non-allergenic food. The list goes on. There are many ways in which you can arrange your kitchen to maintain safety.

In our home, my husband said "your disease is my disease" and we replaced all of my precious Pampered Chef stoneware that was blackened by age and perfect seasoning. We tossed all of the wooden utensils and called Pampered Chef again.  Out went to old cutting boards, wood or plastic and I bought new bamboo boards. I cleaned out cabinets and declared gluten free zones. I always try to clean as I cook, which makes after dinner clean up easier too. I also tossed the old plastic colanders and bought new stainless steel ones that can be scrubbed well.

But "my disease is your disease" does not, apparently, pertain to hotdog rolls.  My husband makes a valiant effort at looking at most labels to check for gluten ingredients or a gluten free label.  But he doesn't believe a hot dog can be served adequately on a plate and must be ensconced in bread. Wheat bread. The stuff that makes me break out in hives and destroys my intestines.  You know, the ENEMY.

So yesterday he wanted chili dogs. I bought grassfed, organic, uncured hotdogs and a can or organic vegetarian chili because it was the only gluten free soy free one available.  I didn't think about getting hot dog rolls until on the way home. I am programmed to not even think about buying bread so this was not on purpose.  I didn't make a second stop because I felt we could just put it on a plate. I was wrong.  My husband ate his hot dogs just fine but was decidedly disappointed. So disappointed that he stopped on his way home last night to buy Hormel chili (it's gluten free after all!), Bar S (yes, Bar S) hotdogs, Nathan's hotdogs (also labeled GF), and HOT DOG ROLLS (definitely NOT GF).  He said he had a "bachelor moment" and also bought a few cans of, God help me, Chef Boyardee ravioli.

It's not that I am even tempted by this stuff.  I get heartburn just thinking about eating it.  And the idea of sticking a Bar S hotdog in my mouth knowing what happens to those poor animals makes me gag.  It's the principle of it.  And the fact that "your disease is my disease" does not extend to something like a hotdog.  It rubbed me the wrong way. And then.

And then I came home from church this morning to the announcement that my husband had made chili dogs for everyone for breakfast. Ok. The kitchen was cleaned up and looked as good as I left it.  But when I went into the fridge to look for my own hot dog, I found the Bar S package in the same baggie as my beautiful grassfed, organic, uncured hotdogs. Pools of God-only-knows-what from the "other" hotdogs swirling about in the bottom of the bag, contaminating my potential meal. "Just wash it off."  Can you see the steam that came out of my ears??? If you are as vigilant about what you eat as I am, I'm sure you can. Especially if you can also imagine being hungry because you haven't eaten all morning and it's after noon.

If there is one thing I despise fighting about, it's food.  There are so many out there without access to ANY food, let alone healthy organic food, that it seems ridiculous to allow this to cause an argument.  But it did.  I suppose I could just give up eating hotdogs all together and then it wouldn't matter what is in the bag.  A hotdog is, after all, a hotdog.  No matter how it's raised, it's still mainly leftover bits. What doesn't become hotdogs becomes bologna.  I'd rather have a steak anyway.  But still.

Why share something like this? Because I figure if we go through this, other people must also.  I can't imagine there is anyone who has not fought some kind of food battle since being diagnosed with an allergy.  My husband has been able to embrace almost all of the changes in our diet since my diagnosis, especially because I do most of the cooking.  But we still argue over hotdogs. Some of your battles may be with the school snack policy, or in the workplace fridge, or, as in my case, in your home. But,  to me, the battles at home are the most personal because the people you live with, probably your family, should care the most. Right?  Or wrong?

What are your battles?

And no, I don't get any kick backs or any other kind of profit from mentioning any specific companies.  Names are used only to make my point! ( and hopefully I don't get sued...)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Autoimmune disease "relatives" and a little help from a friend

Ever wonder if autoimmune disease comes in "clusters" or how it relates to inflammation? Or what about comorbidities (ugly word for "things that go along with or affect your disease)?  Or how common is this stuff, really?

Well,  I was reading an online CME (continuing medical education) activity on psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis tonight and was struck by a few things. I thought I'd share a couple here.  And yes, there is something about celiac too!

First, psoriasis affects about 2% of the population in the US. It seems like more than that to me but I work in rheumatology so my view is a bit skewed.  The inservice I read said that about 70% of people are undertreated and only receive topical treatment for the disease.  Moderate to severe disease is related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders.  There is also a relationship between psoriasis and an increased risk of lymphoma, squamous cell skin cancer, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis and Type 2 diabetes.

The same mechanism for the development of psoriatic plaques (the scale-y stuff you see on someone's skin who has psoriasis) is also responsible for the development of atherosclerosis. T-cells in the lymph nodes travel to and adhere to blood vessels and produce chemicals called cytokines and chemokines that induce inflammation.  This results in plaque formation. Hmm. So inflammation=atherosclerotic plaques building up in your arteries contributing to cardiovascular disease. Well, what about cholesterol? (I think I'll talk about that elsewhere, but think about it.)

Next, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects approximately 1% of the US population. It too carries an increased risk of lymphoma.  Both are aggravated by stress, smoking and obesity. RA is also  inflammatory in nature and carries increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

So, how many people do you know with RA? And how many people do you know with psoriasis? Approximately 1% of the US population is believed to have celiac disease. That's the SAME AS RA and half the rate of psoriasis. How many people do you know with a diagnosis of celiac disease? Before my foray into being diagnosed with celiac disease last year and working in rheumatology I knew precious few people, maybe 1, with celiac disease but many many more with psoriasis and RA. That's because up to 70% of people with celiac disease are undiagnosed.  They are hanging around with a label such as irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, "colitis," depression, arthritis,  fibromyalgia, etc., when really what they have is undiagnosed celiac disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance.  And it carries what all of the other false diagnoses don't-and increased risk of lymphoma and osteoporosis, anemia and vitamin deficiency, and inflammatory damage to your gut!

My first thought was, wow, there are the same number of people with RA as there are with celiac disease.  And second thought is something like, if our rheumatology practice thrives on patients with RA, doesn't gastroenterology thrive on celiac patients? Based on my experience it does not. My first experience with a gastroenterologist 10 years ago gave me a diagnosis of IBS and sent me on my merry way. My second experience last fall gave me my diagnosis, but no follow up has been recommended.  I was essentially sent back to primary care who, in my case, was really not up to date or educated about celiac disease.

Luckily, I'm also a healthcare provider and a voracious reader. I could spend hours researching online.  I was able to settle into my new gluten free existence without too much fuss especially because I have been tweeking our eating habits for the past two years and going gluten free wasn't quite the hurdle it could have been.  But what about all of the "lay people" who get diagnosed? No one even recommended I see a dietician and the nutritionist I saw was completely unhelpful.  She just wanted me to take a bunch of supplements that conveniently she sells at her store. That didn't settle too well with me.

After months of consideration I've decided that I want to be the help and support for those newly diagnosed or those who think they may need to get diagnosed as well as those who have been doing this for a while and just want some more support working out the kinks.  Yes, I am an Arbonne consultant as well, but I'm not doing this to sell anyone anything other than my knowledge and experience.  I want to be a supporter, encourager and partner in your journey to gluten free-dom.  Need help? Contact me at  Let's see what we can do together for the "health" of it! :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why 80 Percent of People Worldwide Will Soon Stop Eating Wheat

I read this this morning and wanted to share. I've read all of this before but never all in one place and I think it's a good synopsis of reasons to avoid wheat products.  Many of my patients look at me like I have 4 heads when I recommend avoiding wheat (and sugar) for a while to see if their symptoms improve. They rarely follow through.  But the ones who do usually report feeling much better and lose weight as well. Your health is in your hands. Your healthcare provider can make all the recommendations in the world but if you don't follow through and do some of your own research, you won't get any better. Following a low carb, wheat free diet for a few months isn't going to hurt anybody and may, in fact, be the best thing you do for yourself!

Click on this link to read the full article on