Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gluten Free? Or "Mostly" Gluten Free?

I am pondering the gluten-freeness of a product I eat on a daily basis.

It is no secret that I may single-handedly cause the tuna fish to go extinct. I consume unnatural amounts on a day-to-day basis. At work I generally enjoy my delicious tuna on these rice crackers:

Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins. Now don't consider this a plug for these crackers. They are good and are sold at the Fry's grocery store across the street from my work. They hardly classify as UH-MAY-ZING, like for instance, these rice crackers:

Back to Nature White Cheddar Rice Thins. Hey, you--whatdaya say we get out of here and go do some....snacking? Eh?

I love these crackers. I have dreams where I run off into the sunset with these crackers. What can I say? I take my food seriously. I can only find these at specialty stores though, hence my settling for rice crackers that fall short on my amazing-meter.

I know what you're thinking. BFD, right? HERE is my pro-blem-o.

As I was munching on my typical lunch today, I got to looking at the Nut-Thins box. Right there on the front, Wheat and Gluten Free. Gee, that's nice of them. Oh, lookie there, they are "proud to support Celiac Disease Foundation." Neat. Doo-doo-doo---WTF??

"Each production run is sampled and tested to confirm gluten levels do not exceed 20 PPM."

I'm not sure how I feel about this, or what to think.

So I could potentially be ingesting 19.9 PPM of gluten per day? How can that be considered gluten free? Is that enough to equal my 1/48th of a piece of bread that is enough to cause damage to my intestines? I don't know about you, but I strive to be completely FREE of gluten, not just consume it in microscopic amounts. Shoot, if that was my intention, I'd just eat a donut really, really slowly.

What do you think? Should I stop eating these? What are the opinions of my fellow celiacs on products that contain less than 20 PPM of gluten?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday, Monday, Can't Trust That Day..

So, how is everyone's Monday?

I have celebrated this glorious day, my favorite day of the week (note: sarcasm), by being incredibly unproductive. Hooray!

In unrelated news, I have decided that once I finish getting my AAS degree in Medical Transcription and have launched my career, I will then begin the undertaking of a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition. Hey, neat-o!

Pretty excited about that little ditty.

That's all!

Friday, September 26, 2008

This Semester Is A Joke

I am so angry right now! I just got an email stating that one of my classes has been cancelled because the instructor is no longer able to teach it. WTF?? We are a MONTH into this semester! I have been doing the freaking homework and turning it in ON TIME. I bought the THREE required textbooks for this STUPID course, and now it's CANCELLED?? And, of course, now it is too late to sign up for any other classes for this semester. So this will potentially postpone my graduation from this dumb program (I only go part time). This semester might kill me. This stress is going to do me in.

On a lighter note, I have been having a fun day perusing other gluten free blogs (at work....oops).


I'm going home now to figure out how I am going to salvage this semester. Sorry for all the caps. I get very upset sometimes. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Finally, A Real Post!

Ok, I hope to tackle a lot of ground in this entry! It's been a while since I could give this blog the attention it deserves. YAY!

First things first. Two days ago was my beautiful, wonderful, oh-so-handsome boyfriend's 25th birthday. I had been planning his birthday surprise since May! It was torture to keep it from him, but I did, and he had no idea! I wouldn't even give him hints. I just told him not to make any plans for Monday morning because I had something planned!

My boy is very adventurous (and mischievious!) and definitely the risk taker of the two of us. He had mentioned in passing a couple of times that he thought it would be cool to get a pilot's license. So being the master googler that I am, I found an introductory flight for those interested in flight training! He was going to get to go up in a Cessna and actually fly the plane!

So I got him up really early and made him wear a blindfold while I drove us to the Chandler Airport. He was really familiar with the area, so I didn't want him to guess it before we got there. It was so silly and I was so excited that my plan was coming alive that I took a picture of him on the ride there!

He wasn't so sure about being at the airport when he removed his blindfold. He asked if we were going up in a plane, and I said, "YOU'RE gonna fly the plane!!" It was so much fun. This is him right after he found out.

Here he is standing outside of the plane. He was nervous!

Here is my boy in the pilot's seat before take off!

Here I am in the backseat of the plane, pretake off! I figured if we crashed and burned and all they found was my camera they would know we were excited for our death flight! Lol.

I couldn't get a lot of good pictures of B flying from the backseat, but here is a good one. He really is flying the plane here, you just can't tell.

View from out the window, lots of farm land!

Mountains in the distance. It was an amazing experience, even not flying the plane!

I can't get the video to work, but the pilot had B do a 60 degree bank. It was so cool! When you looked out the window, it was like looking straight at the ground practically! It was the only time my stomach flip flopped the whole time! It was fun!

Here he is with his birthday cake. He is the most amazing man I have ever met and I am SOOO happy that I could make one of his dreams come true this year!

The flight was absolutely amazing, and if anyone is in Arizona and interested in the information to the place, let me know! AWESOME experience!

I made gluten free oatmeal cookies for him for his birthday because they are his favorite!

I adapted the recipe from Quaker Oats to be gluten free, here it is:

Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) of butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I use Whole Foods brand and I LOVE it)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 cups certified gluten free oats (Bob's Red Mill)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg; mix well. Add oats; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 9 minutes.

I suggest letting the cookies cool a minute or two on the cookie sheet before removing them otherwise they will crumble and fall apart. They stay together after cooling, as long as you give them those few minutes! These make about 4 dozen cookies. I took a bunch into work and gave them away and everyone raved about them. They said they couldn't even tell they were gluten free! By the way, I didn't have any nutmeg on hand, so I just substituted with extra cinnamon.

I had an incredible weekend!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Getting rid of the dark cloud hanging over my blog...

I guess it's time for a not-so-depressing update! I'm feeling a lot better, thanks for everyone's concern. My blood tests all came back normal. I started taking some various vitamins, and everything has really, really improved. The headaches have gotten considerably better, which I am soo thankful for. I will probably go to a chiropractor (eventually) and see if that improves anything.

Onto my stomach problems, I think I am having a problem with dairy. I don't think that everytime my stomach hurts, it's because I've accidentally ingested gluten. Since going gluten free, I am really upped my dairy intake, which I honestly did not eat much of pre-gluten free. I make up for the lack of filling foods with cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. A lot of Celiacs have problems with dairy too, so I think that's where my problem lies. I've been suspecting it, but today that's what I narrowed it down to. I took some Lactaid and things improved. For now I think it's just lactose intolerance, I'm crossing my fingers that it's not a casein allergy. I couldn't handle that! I have been kicking around the idea of seeing an allergist, though. But as of right now, I think I am too chicken to find out if there's anything else I can't eat!

So as you can see, I changed my background to celebrate Fall! I am very excited that summer is coming to a close and cooler weather is in my future! I saw pumpkins in the grocery store today! I love it! This is my favorite time of year, despite living in Arizona, where it's technically not Fall, it's just hot and no-so-hot. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't wait to get into the kitchen and start some holiday baking! This will be my first full holiday season without gluten. I went through Christmas last year, and don't remember it being too much of a struggle. Thanksgiving though, may be tough. Gotta worry about gravies and what-nots! Last year I probably made 20 loaves of pumpkin bread, which I may or may not try to adapt to gluten free this year. Luckily I found a frozen, pre-made gluten free crust at Whole Foods the other day, so that'll make my annual pumpkin pie bake off easy!

Speaking of all this baking, I should probably work on getting that gym membership I've been meaning to sign up for....LOL!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Moment of Weakness

I feel like I am slowly falling apart. And I'm not sure what the cause is. Today is my 9-month anniversary of being gluten free. I am almost more confused by celiac disease than I was 9-months ago, or even 5 years ago when I was diagnosed!

I feel like this is a constant struggle. Sure, give up gluten and get better. But trying to figure out what has gotten you sick is rough. Is my stomach ache gluten related or is it a bigger problem? What is caused by something accidentally getting in my diet, and what is something that I should be asking doctors about??? It's so hard sometimes!

I find myself consumed with these thoughts. All I think about is food. What I've eaten, and what I am going to eat. I get sick and all I think about is the everything that has come in contact with my mouth in the past 3 days. What was it?? I don't know, I just know I feel like shit! I would say that 30% I figure out what glutened me. But the rest is just a mystery. I feel like I am walking up the wrong side of an escalator. Am I really making any progress?

I've had a terrible upset stomach and on and off stomach cramps for like 2 weeks now. So, I am obsessing. But how can I narrow it down? Sometimes symptoms from a glutening last for a day. Sometimes 3 days. Sometimes longer. How do I know that I didn't eat something 2 weeks ago and the symptoms just haven't gone away yet? How can I possibly narrow it down and remove it from my diet? And don't even get me started on cross contamination. Did something in the food get me, or did something that touched my food get me?? UGH!

It just seems impossible.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up. Not now, not ever. I'm am on the gluten-free train for life. I'm just really struggling right now because I am having new health problems pop up and don't quite know what to make of them yet.

I am having contant migraine headaches. I have fatigue that makes it hard to get motivated to do anything. I have weakness in my hands so bad that I have trouble opening a ketchup lid, or a jar that's already been opened. I can't focus or concentrate on anything. It's been like this for at least 2-3 months. Finally I made a doctor's appointment and got the brush off. Oh yeah, sure, we'll run some blood tests...but it's probably just rebound headaches from taking too much exedrine. I tried everything before making that stupid doctor's appointment, because I hate going in so much. I gave up caffeine (to make sure it wasn't triggering headaches), I started drinking water (to make sure it wasn't caused by dehydration), and stopped taking all pain medications (to eliminate possiblity of rebound headaches), and yet they still brush it off as if I am making a big deal out of nothing. I have a strong history of daily migraines that was a battle to figure out when I was still in high school. They went away and I just assumed they were caused by gluten consumption, pre-diagnosis. But now I am 9 months gluten free, and they have returned with a vengence. Shouldn't my history with this account for something??

The brush off at the doctor's office really has me second guessing myself. How do I know that there is some kind of hidden gluten getting into my system causing this? Could this be caused by vitamin deficiencies? Could an associated disease or disorder be presenting itself? Or, God forbid, could I have other food intolerances or allergies that are just now surfacing?

So I am waiting it out, just like the doctor suggested. I'm waiting to see if things get better or worse, and I am waiting to hear back on my blood tests. If the blood work doesn't show anything, I don't know what I am going to do. Switch doctors? Try elimination diets? Go to a chiropractor?

I'm not sure what to do. I am confused, discouraged, and tired of explaining that "I just don't feel well and I can't help it."

On a brighter note, I made gluten free chocolate cupcakes that I am going to go frost and enjoy.

Land O' Lakes

I just found out that the Land O' Lakes website has gluten free recipes. I went to check it out, and oh my, there are some really amazing looking recipes that I can't wait to try! Thought I'd give everyone a heads up. Just type in "gluten free" in the search and it'll bring them all up. I'll be trying several of these and let you know what I think!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Letter to my love

Dearest Chipotle,

Since that first day I that we met, when you wrapped me up in your loving guacamole, my life was changed. I know I was really resistant to your love. I don't typically like blind dates. But I was talked into giving you a try, and I am sure glad that I did. Your steak came off a bit the wrong way at first, but you reeled me in with your chicken. From the first chip I dipped into your guacamole, I knew we were meant to be. And your tacos were just a bonus!

It's been a whirlwind love affair ever since, and I wouldn't change a thing. I went gluten free and you stood right by me. I looked at you, ready to cry and tell you we had to part ways. I thought I had eaten my last chicken taco. Crunched my last chip. Licked the last bit of guacamole out of that little plastic container. But you, my pillar of strength, took me in, wiped away my tears, and gave me your hard tacos. You told me all your menu items were gluten free except for your tortillas for burritos and soft tacos, and your brown salsa! How did I get so lucky to have something like you in my life?

So I sit here today, completely full and satisfied after you filled me up with your love for lunch, and I can't help but feel blessed to be a part of this committed relationship that we share. I will love you until you can't make tacos anymore. I want to grow old eating your chips and guacamole. I want to give you baby tacos, or even burrito bowls! I look forward to our future together. Forever and ever. Till death do us part.



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pot Roast!

Sorry it's been a while. I've been moving. Eck.

Here is a recipe for pot roast to make up for it! I was bummed that Cambell's Cream of Mushroom soup was not gluten free because I'd thought I had lost pot roast forever. But alas, Heathly Valley's Cream of Mushroom is okay! Here's what it looks like so you can rush out and buy it. :)

Pot Roast

1 chuck roast

1 can Heath Valley Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix

Place the roast, soup, and onion soup mix in a crock pot. Cook on Low for 8 hours or so. That's it! It's so easy, I love it!