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Category Archives: Emotional Issues

Cook to Eat/ Crisis Management

Paleo Update Saturday, my father-in-law was released into hospice care to begin his end of life days. When these times of intensity happen in life, it throws us into a different dimension of activity outside our normal routine. “Regular” life stops for a bit to be replaced by weird schedules, by unusual demands and activities only needing to be done a few times throughout a whole lifetime. How many times does a non medical professional order a hospital bed, empty a catheter bag, etc.

I am learning a few key survival skills for times of intensity or crisis, especially if you are on a “true” Celiac diet, which is no grain whatsoever, ever:

1. Keep safe snacks on hand and packed in a “to go” bag that you can grab at a moment’s notice. You never know when you will get a chance to eat or find a restaurant or store where you can get safe food when jumping in the car to be by a loved one’s side. (I like bags of plain plantain chips, Trader Joe’s marcona almonds, and an apple as a bare minimum. If I have more time, I make a meal-salad in a mason jar, Paleo chocolate cookies, and a shaker jar with a scoop of Paleo friendly protein powder, and little snack baggies of each meal’s vitamin supplements.)

2. Do not skimp on good nutritious foods. Make yourself drink that veggie or protein drink, even if it is the last thing you want to do. Your body will keep you going in good form throughout the duration of intense stress because of it. (Do not cheat on the diet. It will only weaken your ability to handle the stress. The stress is making your body work overtime already.)

3. Get fully presentable (shower, wash hair, make-up, etc) every morning. You may have to go to a group gathering at a moment’s notice where you would be embarrassed in schlocky sweats and ratty T shirt.

4. Keep the gas tank of your car full at all times.

5. Bring enough water bottles to get through a 12 hour period. Hospitals and emergency agencies hide the water; I swear. Plus, even though you are doing essentially nothing–at least nothing physical—when sitting by a sick person’s bed, time disappears. Your thirst can rage. Your blood sugar can drop.

6. Try to get a good amount of sleep.

7. Try to keep up with your exercise routines. (I must admit; this is the one that I let slide most often. Sleep always seems to win over exercise.)

If you can keep on top of just these foundational things, it will help you manage the unusual time and activity demands in fairly good form, relatively speaking, until normal life can be resumed. This post is for all those attending last days of loved ones, attending births, or going through any of a myriad of life’s intense once-in-a-lifetime moments.

Below is the recipe to one of my favorite Paleo cookie recipes. This recipe by Carol Lovett is from her cookbook, The Grain-free Snacker. Check out her blog, Ditch the Wheat.


Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

2/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil

2 large eggs

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons sifted coconut flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2  cup dark chocolate chips, (I use Enjoy Life big chunky chocolate bits, because there is no soy, no dairy, no grain. Plus, who doesn’t love a big chunk of chocolate in their cookies.)

Yields 14 cookies

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350* F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Using a mixing machine, mix together the sugar and coconut oil.

3. Slowly add one egg at a time to the mixture. Add the cocoa powder, coconut flour and vanilla, and mix until incorporated. Lastly, stir in chocolate chips.

4. Drop the cookies by spoonfuls onto the baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart.

5. Bake for 12 minutes.

6. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving them to a wire rack to cool.

Note: Check out her blog or cookbook to get the extra notes for the prep of these cookies. I just included the basic directions. She gives more detail in her official recipe.

My Directions: In all honesty, I melt the coconut oil in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave; throw the rest of the ingredients sans the chocolate chips in a big Tupperware bowl; then add the oil when melted; stir like crazy with a wooden spoon; add two handfuls of chocolate chips; stir; plop on the parchment paper and bake. They always turn out great (except the time I used an egg substitute for my grandson who is allergic to eggs. Flat as a pancake that time.)

As you can tell, I usually cook without recipes. When I use them, I rarely follow directions completely, which does not always make for great baking success, but these cookies turn out in spite of my cavalier ways. (The Naked Chef, Jaimie Oliver, epitomizes my style of cooking. Love when he says in his cookbooks or on his show…”pour in a couple of glugs” of the designated liquid, but I digress.)   Seriously, these cookies have become my Paleo comfort food during times of stress. I recommend always having a batch on hand. I know I do. They freeze well, too.

Hats off to Carol Lovett and this yummy recipe!

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Monthly Wine Writing Challenge Entry/ Subject-Fear

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Madman on the Loose, I Could Die Today

On a sunny bucolic vacation day, The Bam, bam bambambam of an automatic weapon splintered the birdsong and rustle of the breeze through the treetops.  “Wait! Were those real gunshots?  Was it someone target practicing? Should I be worried?” we sat on the deck in the sunshine, pondering.  “It is a bit countryish with huge lots in this little seaside enclave of vacation and retiree homes. People could target practice here, I guess. And yet…”

In the twenty years we had been coming to that cabin for a women’s retreat week, we had never heard anything like this.  After all, it is Cleone, a tiny community where the grocery store, post office, and gas pump are rolled into one, where the one restaurant (with consistently awesome Mexican food) opens whenever the owners feel inclined to cook or do business, where the community’s one claim to fame is MacKerricher State Park, a CA north coast refuge for sea otters, birds, tide pool creatures, plus a great place for whale watching on the spectacular headlands.  Cleone is a bedroom community of Mendocino and Fort Bragg.  We have always loved its reclusive air, a great place to get away, kick back, from the intensity of the Bay Area, where the population consists mostly of dog walkers, birders, cliffs-meet-the-sea nature-lovers.

“So what were those gunshots?”  Not hearing more, two of us decided to go for a walk out on the headlands.  However, when we got about 25 feet down the road, we saw two sheriffs with guns out, peering into the huge row of brambles and pine trees that separated our street from the one behind.  “Um, maybe we’ll head back to the cabin. That doesn’t look good.”

As soon as we got back and ushered our other friend off the back deck that faced the bramble patch, we heard Bam, bam, bambambam, again.  Next came the shouts, “Clear! Look to the north.”

“Oh s__t! We are directly north of the gunshot sounds!”  A  911 call to find out what was going on, had us sheltering in place with the knowledge that the sheriffs were trying to locate two suspects on the loose.  Just “knowing the suspects were in the brambles and could come out shooting at any time” was a surreal NCIS moment.

One of my friends said, “I know it is bad when they send up choppers to look for people, so we are probably okay, because none are in the air.”  Two seconds later, whomp, whomp whomps shook the windows of the cabin…for the next five hours, many times hovering directly over the cabin’s backyard. “Good times!”

We were at the point of fear where something inside the body changes.  Each of us tried to think strategically and find items in the room to protect ourselves, should we live through gunfire and actually encounter gunmen: cans of tuna to throw at the perps, fireplace poker to brandish in their direction, wine bottles to crack over their heads. Yes, we were gee-whizzes in a crisis!

A quick text from my husband admonished us to stay away from the windows.  Hard to do in a cabin filled with bay windows.  When the numbness of too much adrenaline set in,  one of my friends pulled out a deck a cards, said to sit down at the dinette table (in front of a bay window, of course)…she was going to teach us a really fun game.  I pulled out a bottle of wine from the previous day’s wine tasting in the Anderson Valley and three glasses, and said, “If I’m going down, I am going down happy.”  The other friend found the salty snacks, then the chocolate, and said, “Well, we need something to go with the wine.”  By the end of the five hours, three bottles of excellent wine had been drunk and every piece of junk food we could lay our hands on had been eaten. I can’t tell you the name of the card game we played at least 20 or 30 times, but it was fun in a crazy, I-am-going-to-enjoy-my-potential-last-moments haze.

True story.

Epilogue, there was only one gunman. During one of the volleys of gunfire, he killed a well respected sheriff in the community.  During another volley, the actual gunman was shot, but able to crawl away, into the brambles, where he died.  All of this took place one street over from our cabin. Part of me is still not “over” this senseless, horrifying event. The fact that two people were killed less than 250 yards from us is unfathomable.

On a brighter note- My recommendations when visiting the Mendocino Coast Area
Do stop and visit the wineries of the Anderson Valley.  Their terroir and weather is allowing them to produce some amazing Pinot Noirs.  This trip we discovered Drew Winery and their phenomenal 2010 Pinot. Hard to find now, because it sold out so quickly.
The Little River Inn is a great place to stay (just south of Mendocino) with vast panoramic ocean views and a good restaurant.
Try Wild Fish Restaurant near the Little River Inn for scrumptious fresh fish and a staff knowledgeable on adapting their menu for gluten intolerant Celiacs, like me.  Make reservations, because there are only eight tables.  Go just before sunset and catch the color splash over the ocean as the sun sets.

Phase 2 of a Gluten-free Life

This blog post is dedicated to all Celiac and gluten intolerants, who are successfully navigating through the normal gluten-free diet, blissfully unaware that there may be a Phase 2 to your intestinal saga.  (Just a little something to keep at the back of your mind, but will hopefully never need.)

–          After rolling along for 15 years, getting healthier on my gluten-free diet, exercising more, enjoying more stamina, getting fewer flues and colds, feeling like “I got this down,” my body morphed, yet again.   Two months ago, my intestines started the cramping of old, before I got diagnosed with Celiac disease.

–          After re checking all my foods, vitamins, cosmetic products to make sure the manufacturers had not changed their formulas, I started playing with food groups.  Maybe raw foods or dairy were bothering me.  I eliminated known allergy groups, one at a time; then tried adding each back.  No pattern developed.  The intestinal pain increased.

Coincidences

Randomly, in a new hair salon, I met a gal who was just four months into the Celiac diet.  She asked to go to lunch to tap my 15 year experience with the cooking, cosmetics, etc.  Off we went.  However, my knowledge about particular products seemed minimal to the vast knowledge of new research she had acquired about the disease.  Comfortable with my diet and continual improvement in health, I had stopped keeping up on the latest research.

–          Who knew that all grain, including the ones deemed safe, like rice, corn, buckwheat, did in fact have minimal bits of gluten?

–          Who knew that the chemical structure of legumes is so similar to the gluten molecule that many Celiac patients’ bodies cannot distinguish the difference and treat it as gluten?

–          Who knew that when the biopsies are done to determine gluten intolerance, most doctors and lab technicians only report a positive diagnosis for Celiac when the villi in the intestines are completely flat…basically destroyed and not functioning.  At that stage of the disease, a person is literally starving to death from malabsorption.  (I was at that stage 15 years ago, and systems in my body were shutting down.)

–          Who knew that any damage less than total failure of the villi in the intestines is given a clean bill of health, i.e. a false negative for Celiac.  (That would explain my daughter’s false negative diagnosis when tested; when, in fact, she does have the disease.)

The answer for now…the Paleo Diet.

I got the name of one of the premiere Celiac specialists in the nation from my new acquaintance, now friend.  I have an appointment for mid January to find out the particulars of my intestines’ gyrations.  (I will keep you posted on the outcomes of that.)  However, the increasing pain I have been experiencing caused me to jump into the Paleo Diet just to see if I could get some relief.

Emotional consequences

Needless to say, having nearly died from this disease once, opening the door of eliminating even more food in order to stay healthy triggered a bit of an emotional storm.  My husband wonders if by the time I am 80, I will be a breatharian.  He may not be too far off.   Pain drives action, so I opened the fridge, tossed, trashed, and cried my way through the purging of even more types of food.  Yep, I am down to fruit, veggies, and meat.  Even commercial mayonnaise has soy (a legume) in it.

Physical result

Six days into the Paleo diet and my intestinal pain is gone.  I still have too much flatulence, so just did a purge of my vitamin cabinet.  Most of my gluten-free vitamins had a base of rice flour, a now forbidden grain.  (Hope that organic produce has all the vitamins I need!)

Benefits

-I have lost two pounds.

-My clothes are fitting better.

-My skin is less dry.

-My energy is amazing.  My husband and I went for a 7 mile bike ride on Saturday, up a hill the cycle clubs call Cardiac Hill.  The very next day, we got back on the bikes and rode 8 miles on a fairly flat scenic trail.  I have never had the stamina to exercise that much back to back.  Granted, after the Cardiac Hill ride I could only raise my leg ¾ of the height I needed to get off my bike.  My husband had to come over and lift my leg the rest of the way.  (But hey, I could still walk, once I got my legs under me. And on mile 6 of yesterday’s ride, an in-line skater passed me.  Yes, I was going that slowly.)  Then, this morning, I was able to pop out of bed and do my regular morning workout.  My husband is now looking at me with a “who is this new you” look.  I love these new benefits of the Paleo diet.  (So far, I am not loving the new food restrictions, though.)

Challenges

We live in CA, in a small wine region, where almost everyone is a foodie of some sort.  I am struggling with how to make truly delicious, memorable, enjoyable food on this very limited repertoire.  Luckily, there are tons of cookbooks out there for the Paleo diet. I need to do a little research and to get my kitchen completely stocked and purged so my creative cooking can find its way down this new path.  I am usually up for a challenge, but I am a bit resistant at the moment.  Once I get all the transition “stuff” done, I know my normal enthusiasm will emerge.  Right now, I am vacillating between an “I can conquer this new diet” day and a “this is really hard and not fun” down day.

Support

My husband rocks!  The first thing he said when I told him about this twist in my journey with Celiac disease was, “I’ll go on the diet with you!”  Who is lucky enough to have a spouse like that?  When I dipped into doldrums during the weekend, he would think of a creative meal or snack that would actually have me looking forward to that next meal.  (The background here is that our weekends have always been the time to splurge on fun, gourmet meals that we cook together, pairing them with the right wine, gluten free for me, of course.)

Below is one of the recipes we came up with over our first weekend on the Paleo diet.

J & J’s Shrimp-Stuffed Mushroom Caps (a la Paleo)

(My husband came up with the idea of these Thai flavored shrimp-stuffed mushrooms.  I just filled in the bits to make the idea come to life.)  Try making this with one person gathering and prepping each ingredient, like shelling and cleaning the shrimp, and another person at the chopping block ready to mince everything in sight.

Some MUSTS, of course, are lovely background music, cool aprons, and two glasses of dry, well-balanced Sauvignon Blanc or Champagne to accompany the cooking process.  A fun cooking-date will ensue.

Ingredients:

24 medium white or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and de-stemmed

½ lb. USA wild caught, if possible, fresh large shrimp (less shells to remove with larger shrimp)  shelled, cleaned and finely minced

12 mushroom stems, cleaned and minced

¼ cup pancetta  (I used Trader Joe’s pre-cut brand)

1 shallot, minced

1 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 handful of fresh Italian parsley, minced or a small handful of dried parsley from your spice rack

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, de-stemmed

4 giant cloves garlic, minced or 8 regular sized garlic cloves (we do have to support our neighbor town, Gilroy—garlic capital of the world)

2 Tbsp. thick pasty part of the can of coconut milk

1-2 heaping tsp. Red Curry Paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)

2 Tbsp. almond meal (instead of bread crumbs, a Paleo diet concession)

1-2 Tbsp. unsweetened coconut

¼ – ½ cup Sauvignon Blanc or other gluten-free white wine, like Riesling, Pinot Grigio, or even champagne

Salt and pepper

Instructions:

Heat oven to 450*.

Grease baking pan with coconut oil. Line pan with mushroom caps.  Pour a bit of whatever white gf wine you have opened over each cap to keep them from turning pink, while you prepare the stuffing.

Clean and mince all ingredients indicated from above.

Sauté shallots, ginger, mushroom stems, shrimp, and pancetta until shallots and mushroom caps are softened and pancetta and shrimp are cooked.  Throw in parsley, garlic, and thyme leaves and sauté another 30 seconds or so.  Do not over cook the garlic, or it will turn bitter.

Add the red curry paste and the coconut milk paste and stir until all is combined.  (Could add a few dribbles of white wine as well.)

Throw in enough of the almond meal and unsweetened coconut to thicken and hold mixture together. (These ingredients take the place of gf bread crumbs.)

Taste.  Salt and pepper to bring out flavors.  Add more curry paste for more heat, etc.

When the consistency and taste are the way you want it, take off the heat and stuff each mushroom cap with the mixture.  (We made them heaping full.)  Sprinkle a few more bits of coconut on top.  You can fill the pan with ¼- ½ inch white wine for added flavor.

Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes, checking for doneness at 10 minutes.  I like cooking them at the higher temperature because the mushroom caps hold their shape better when serving and do not get mushy.

(This was a lot of cleaning and chopping, but who cares on a Friday night with a glass of wine in hand and with lovely camaraderie to accompany it!)

As always…Enjoy!

My Glutenfree Salon Experience

The Package Is You, A Complete Makeover Experience

IT started in her smile, rose to her eyes, and then floated like soft smoke around the tiny room.  Past the striking artwork, over the antique writing desk, and amid the fresh, bright yellow daffodils, IT slid into my body on a sip of tea served from a proper English teacup, infiltrating the tension I carried within me.  As the “aah” of relaxation cracked through mDSCN0452y stress, I looked back up at her gratefully.  There IT was in her face…that warm, open, healing love of compassion.  It was like getting a big, gentle hug from your mother or grandmother.  I knew the next hour or so would be extraordinary. It was.

Don’t get me wrong with all this oohing and aahing, Karen Lane is a no nonsense biologist/artist, who has mastered her crafts.  Working for years as a scientist in the medical field left her feeling not quite satisfied.  The tug of creativity, art, and beauty called.  With a career change to cosmology, she not only finds herself owning and operating her own makeover salon, but teaching theory, anatomy, and science in the Cosmology Department at San Jose City College.  For 22 years now, she has found a perfect venue to balance art and science.

Karen has taken the posh salon experience and ratcheted the standard up a notch.  Walking into her salon, you will not hear three or four blow dryers or smell any nasty chemicals.  No, hers is a private salon.  You will be her sole client.  She will devote 100% of her attention to you for the allotted time.  How often in our electronically pinged lives do we get to experience peaceful, refreshing, devoted attention?  What a powerful gift.

An added bonus is Karen’s devoted commitment to designing a nontoxic, allergy free program of products and services to fit your specific needs, be it gluten intolerance, scalp issues, or other allergic sensitivities.  Special attention is given to Gluten Free products, due to her own gluten sensitivity.  For the first time, ever, I had a cut and color without an adverse reaction the next day.  My reactions to the harsh chemicals, even when gluten free, in hair salons were so severe that I knew not to schedule anything important the day after an appointment.

Appreciative of the organic, eco, GF products, I was skeptical of how effective the color treatment would be.  “How would it hold up?” I wondered.  I happily report after five weeks and counting, I have not noticed any loss of color, shine, or intensity.  Tools for the sensitive person are a consideration, too. Unlike industry standard brushes, Karen applies color with a rubber bristled brush, which does not prick the scalp, opening the skin to minute absorption.

Because the products do not contain the harsh chemicals that drive the color, shampoo, and conditioners quickly into the hair, she allows the non toxic products to have a little extra time on the follicles.  For example, she leaves the conditioner on for a full 20 minutes.  However, for a bit of extra money, she will give you a mini facial during that time.  Of course I opted for that! Covered with a “healing” quilt, I relaxed to her feather fingertip massage on my face.  My head wanted to flop down when she tried to lift it indicating that the facial/conditioning experience was over.  “You have to hold your own head up now,” she had to gently whisper in my ear.  I had relaxed into a wet-noodle state.

“Okay,” I was thinking, “This woman certainly has the nurturing gene, but can she cut hair?”  I like a haircut where the cut speaks for itself with very little intervention on my part.  My normal hair dresser is a master at a stylish cut.  With my skepticism in full bloom, I sat in the hair dresser’s chair ready to receive a mediocre haircut for the cause of a blogging review.

As we discussed what would look good on with my facial structure, I knew she had been sincere when claiming to be an artist with people as her canvas.  Thus, her other services: make-overs, personal color analysis, ward robe redos. To help people try to safely be comfortable in their bodies and more authentically themselves is her mission statement.  If the compliments by family, friends, store clerks are anything to go by, I got a great haircut.  Is there any aspect of this business at which this woman does not excel?

For one and a half hours I was steeped in soothing music and nurturing and pampered with wicked expertise the likes of which I had never experienced.

GO! Go to Karen, not only if you are gluten intolerant, allergic, or scalp challenged, just to be wrapped in her MAGIC!

Practical considerations:  organicallycoloringyourhair.com

Address:   The Package Is You

501 N. Santa Cruz Ave. Ste C

Los Gatos, CA 95030

Office 408-395-6927,   cell 408-204-8945

Rates: Cut & color: $140.00

Just color: $70.00

Weaves: $40.00+

Mini facials: $20.00

 

 

Eating out When Traveling

 “How do you handle it when you’re glutened on vacation?” asked a fellow Celiac blogger.

The answer: questions, lots and lots of questions and a bottle of charcoal tablets to relieve the “food baby” bloating.  I have a running list of questions in my head developed over years of traveling that need asking at the three major types of restaurants: fast food and big chains, sports bars, and fine dining.

My husband and I have the travel itch running in our veins.  After only six weeks of eating solely at home when I was first diagnosed with Celiac disease, we were going a little stir crazy.  I was literally afraid to eat out and to risk getting a gluten reaction:  “glutenated, glutenized, glutened,” etc.  My husband, bless his heart,  thoroughly researched  the foods served at a Mother’s Day brunch at a local restaurant,  so I could dip my toe gently back into eating out.  I was so scared of the eighth month pregnancy bloat and ensuing gas pains  from accidentally ingesting a contaminated food that I stuck to cheese and fresh fruit that day with a shockingly okay experience.  (Whew!  Big milestone!)  Since then, I have traveled extensively with him with surprisingly few reactions.

Here are the most basic of basic things I learned, and they work in almost any country:

fast food is nearly always contaminated as a general rule;

bar food and happy hour food is nearly impossible, except for the occasional steamed mussels or plain salad with a plain grilled chicken breast on top;

fine dining with trained chefs is by far the safest way to go, but buckets of money are required.

Big Mom PurseOther practical coping strategies when eating out are carry a big Mom purse that you can stuff with emergency GF protein bars,  GF salad dressing, GF crackers or a crust of GF bread, and those little packages of GF soy sauce.   There is nothing worse than being left out of an otherwise safe hors d’oeuvre, because you have forgotten to pack a baggie of a few GF crackers or a bit of GF bread or baguette to dip in that great olive oil in Italy, for example.  I also hate eating plain sushi without the soy sauce/wasabi dip.  Somehow the joy is sucked right out of that dining experience without it, so bring those GF soy sauce packets.

When you do get stuck at a sports bar, stick with a dressing-less salad with a plain grilled chicken breast.  Put the GF salad dressing from your purse on it or ask for lemon wedges you can squeeze over it.  Anything else in a sports bar gets me a wild reaction.  Can’t quite figure out how they cross contaminate a bun-less plain burger, but they do. Can I tell you how sick I am of 15 years of salad with a flavorless chicken breast on top!  Just the thought of this meal makes my whole body want to gag. Those are the times I have to kick my inner self with the thought, “I am here to enjoy the company of my friends/family.”   If that doesn’t work, I go to the mantra, “It could be worse. At least I am mobile, have my sight,  my hearing, etc.”

Since we live in wine country, eating great food (homemade or from restaurants) and drinking fine wines are hobbies of pretty much…everyone.  Luckily,  after a few key questions (ok, maybe a lot) at restaurants with trained chefs, who understand where glutens hide in meal  preparation, eating out is not a problem.

Yes, my GF diet is expensive, but if I adhere rigorously to these guidelines, I can travel almost anywhere in the world and find something safe to eat.  (My husband always jokes that my Celiac foods and my requirement to eat at fine dining restaurants when traveling are the equivalent of a Beamer, Mercedes, or Tesla car payment.  Of course, he quickly follows that statement with “but you are worth it.”)

I concede that I do not always get to eat what I would really like, but safety must be the first priority with Celiac disease.  I understand, first hand, that “safety must come first”  from having Celiac disease damage not only my intestines but my whole immune system.  I just don’t go to “the cheat”  zone, after crawling slowly back from a nearly non-functioning body.

Just yesterday when discussing with a gluten sensitive person the myriad of questions  I ask wait staff and sometimes the actual chef, I heard the plea,  “But I don’t KNOW what questions to ask! Could you please list them on your blog?”

So, I will be starting a series of blog posts sharing the running list of restaurant questions I have amassed over the last 15 years of eating out.  If I can eat out safely, so can you…with a little attention to detail and a lot of questions!

Dedications and credits:

Today’s entry is dedicated to Karen for her blog post requests, and to Amanda’s post called Glutened on the First Day of Vacation, from her blog,  Celiac and Allergy Adventures,  celiacandallergyadventrues.wordpress.com.  The first quoted sentence and the words “food baby,” ” glutenated, glutenized, and glutened” in this post come from Glutened on the First Day of Vacation.

Travel Mysteries

Last weekend, my husband and I escaped to a bed and breakfast inn.  Aaah!  How we love California!  Cloudless 65* weather that felt like 80* made us feel like we were on a Hawaii vacation rather than a northern California Thanksgiving weekend.  (Clearly, I had packed the wrong clothes expecting colder weather.)

Waves literally crashed 30-40 feet from our second story balcony window at The Cyprus Inn.   At high tide, the only thing separating us from the incoming froth was the one-lane road directly below.

What I love about a November getaway is the sun sets just about the time you pour a glass of wine and tuck into a few pre-dinner snacks.  Honestly, I marvel at our luck with the weather, because that first night the sunset flamed every shade of red/coral on the horizon, the likes of which I have only seen recently on the blog, www.CanadianHikingPhotography.com.

Enough about the setting, though.  What I wanted to tell you is how after all these years of trying so hard to be conscientious about preventing gluten from entering my body, I sometimes still have problems when I travel, and I simply can’t fathom where I’ve ingested gluten.  It’s crazy.

Upon arriving in Half Moon Bay, we ate a huge, late lunch at that wonderful Italian restaurant called Mezza Luna.  After fighting bumper to bumper traffic for the last 15 miles, we decided to make that meal our dinner.  I had a wonderful Caprese Salad with a red wine vinegar dressing (a safe bet), followed by a vegetable-stuffed grilled chicken breast with a tomato-based, unfloured sauce (the sauce had the appropriately thin GF consistency.)  A safe iced tea was my beverage.  All safe, right?

At sunset on the balcony, we cracked open a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, (one I’d had many times with no reaction), and some raw crudités from the happy hour offerings of the B & B (safe again) with some TJ’s GF rice crackers and their GF humus.

Then…in the middle of the night, the gluten rash’s itching woke me out of sound sleep.  I just couldn’t believe it and couldn’t fathom where I got gluten, at least not in my food.  The only thing I did differently was use a bit of the B & B’s lotion before going to bed.  Even a gluten-filled cosmetic, as you read from past entries, is not a guarantee of a gluten reaction.  And yet…I was having one, albeit without the stomach cramps (thank goodness), nor the tiredness the next day.

Saturday brought more crazy, fabulous weather!  After a breakfast on plain scrambled eggs, plain chopped, fried potatoes with melted cheese on top and my normal cup of coffee (I know…it’s a bit of a food  sin that makes life simply great, doesn’t it? Thank goodness it’s GF), we took a two mile walk on Miramar beach followed by a simple lunch of GF humus and  GF crackers and fruit. (That should have been safe.)  Because we didn’t want to fight the horrendous traffic again, we walked to the Miramar Restaurant five properties down for dinner.  They even had a gluten free menu.  (How cool was that?)  Everything I ordered was off the GF menu, except for the Mai Tai “I needed” to complete the feeling of being in Hawaii.  (Love, love, love Hawaii.) Because Mai Tais are just fruit juices and different types of rum, I usually don’t have a reaction.  (Oh,  and it was GOOOOD!)

Dun, da-dun dun dun…the 2am itch and cramps set in!  (Seriously? This is getting sooo old!)  I am more careful and conscientious about this GF diet than any other Celiac or gluten intolerant I have ever met.  I am annoyingly careful. (Just ask any relative or friend that has ever shared a meal with me.)  And still…I have these reactions.  Honestly, sometimes, I just don’t know what else to do.  I need to be free to travel, because I was born with the travel bug in my veins, but sometimes…

I don’t know if it was an accumulation of miniscule bits of unidentifiable gluten or what, but Sunday morning I woke up with “the debilitating” tiredness, the kind where I drag myself around like a heavy sack of potatoes.  With that, comes an inability to smile…a moroseness.  It just feels like too much effort.  (I really hate that part, because normally I have a sunny disposition.)  Not wanting to ruin my husband’s joy in the getaway, I gave myself a mental shake and planted a fake smile on my face (which he saw through, of course, and felt badly for my discomfort.) I told him in an overly chipper voice, “No it’s okay.  We are just riding home today, anyway.  I will enjoy the heck out of the beautiful coastline on Highway 1 down to Santa Cruz and Hecker Pass.”

And I did…giving thanks the overwhelming tiredness waited until the last day of our escape weekend.  The headlands with the crashing surf were shrouded in a bit of mist, a precursor to the dense fog bank hanging farther out to sea.  An Irish kind of day. Thank goodness I was able to sit quietly in the car and soak in the beauty of the day as we made our way home.

The only possible culprits for the reaction—

Something in the Mai Tai

Something in the lotion

Something on a cooking utensil that cross contaminated the restaurant food.

Honestly, I would like to know if this happens to any of the rest of you gluten sensitive people out there?

This entry is dedicated to my father-in-law, who is starting to realize that my journey through life is vastly different from what he thought.  Thank you for your compassionate concern.

History Lives On

Just when you get used to the limitations of the living gluten free;

just when you realize that in the grand scheme of your life, the dietary limitations are a small thing, especially in the face of millions who can’t see, hear, walk, think clearly;

just when you figure out which parental bloodline the Celiac disease came from;

just when you  release the irrational guilt of being the DNA carrier that passed the disease to your daughter,

you find out her 17 month old son has the genetic marker for Celiac disease.

History lives on.

Honestly, every time the gene I carry gets transferred through my family, I literally feel like a horse has just kicked me, hard, in the stomach.  The angst and sorrow I felt as the one who caused and would continue to cause my daughter extra hardship in her life lived in me like a continual flagellating whip for months. Because of this disease, I watched her lose nine inches of her colon in a desperate last ditch surgery to find out why she was so sick and in so much pain.   (No mother wants to hear the word MASS from the surgeon after a surgery has taken twice as long as he estimated.)  Then, I watched her go through a horrific two year recovery process of not being able to eat much followed by a scary I-am-starving weight loss.  Guilt, guilt, guilt.  Gradually, as she recovered and regained not only weight, but her normal happy disposition and an ability to handle the gluten free diet and lifestyle with a sense of ease, I let go of my guilt.  I finally realized that no family gene structure is perfect.

“Hey, we all have genes, right?” to put it more glibly.

Now, this.  My grandson, a tiny, laughter-filled, run-around-the-house-screaming-with-delight-over-just-about-everything innocent has this disease overlaid on his journey through life.  It saddens me.

And yet…the world is much more aware of gluten in foods and the environment than 15 years ago when I was diagnosed.  The grocery stores carry more GF products than ever before.  Most restaurants have gluten free  options, if not a whole gluten free menu.  The government has recognized gluten as an official food allergen.  Food labeling will reflect this new status.  So…this delightful little boy is coming into a world where it is much easier to navigate through a gluten free lifestyle. Plus, when he comes to visit Grandma, he will be entering a no gluten zone, a worry-free environment.  Everyone, gluten free or not, gets gluten free food here.

I make it my pledge, here and now, to help and support his GF journey in any way I am capable.

Entry is dedicated to my youngest daughter.