Sunday, December 2, 2012
This is a tough time of year, and after almost 4 years of being gluten-free, there will still be times every now and then, it can get frustrating. I mean, I am pretty cool with the fact that when I go to someone's house, a holiday craft show, or an open house, it is pretty likely that I won't be able to eat anything. I will make sure I eat something before I go, and If there is wine, I am fine. I may even have a piece of cheese, if it is on a plate on its own and not next to bread and crackers. Of course, I always try and bring something, so at least I know I can have one one thing.
Sometimes I feel like I am a broken record when people ask why I can't just eat around the offending gluten, or give me a look like I am being overly paranoid. Sometimes, I just want to not have to explain myself. Yes, it is difficult, yes, there is not much available in these situations, and yes, it can suck. But, it is just food, and I will eat when I get home. Sometimes I worry it bothers other people more than it bothers me.
And then the worst part, is when people will say casually something is gluten-free, yet, but I don't feel like asking a hundred of questions about asking to see the label, or how it was cooked, and honestly, I don't wish to spend the next several hours being sick, so please don't be offended if I just choose not to try it.
I know people have the best intentions, especially my great group of friends. And I really do miss the days I could be like everyone else, and just eat what I see, no questions asked. But now that I know what the outcome is when I do get sick, I won't risk it. No matter what it is.
I have been to a couple of parties lately that were as usual full of lovely gluten. I don't expect to eat anything, so I am really not bothered or upset. Then a friend will tell me they made something that is gluten-free, and it is next to all the lovely gluten-filled treats. I am so appreciative, but it fills me with such anxiety, I just don't feel comfortable to eat it.
I do appreciate when people go out of their way to provide something that is gluten-free, but if I feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, I won't eat it, and then I feel awful about possibly offending them. But frankly, I will say no, before I risk getting sick.
So, while I feel more comfortable in social situations, because I am used to the fact that I can't eat all those lovely goodies, I wish people were more comfortable about me not being able to eat.
How do you handle social situations during the holidays?
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup gluten-free flour (I like using Pamela's in this recipe)
3 T. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 stick of butter
2-3 T. brown sugar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees;
Mix first 6 ingredients (slightly lumpy);
Melt butter in 12" porcelain quiche dish or 13 x 9 baking pan in the oven;
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
But, sometimes we don't have the choice on whether to host. I have eaten away from home on Thanksgiving, so it is definitely doable. Here are some tips on how to make eating a Thanksgiving meal in a non-gluten-free home a little more relaxed and enjoyable in a post I wrote for Applegate Farms: 8 Tips for Being a Gluten-Free Guest on Thanksgiving.
Happy Turkey, or Happy un-Turkey, day!
Monday, November 19, 2012
This recipe is in fact, simple, easy and quick.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
1 Tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1-inch cubes
4-5 cups of chopped broccoli
6 cups of veggie (or chicken) broth
1/4 cup half & half
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
fresh ground pepper to taste
Melt butter in a stockpot at medium heat;
Add onions and sauté until translucent;
Add the potatoes, stir and cook 1 minute;
Add the broth, and bring to a boil;
Turn down to a simmer, and add the broccoli;
Return to a boil, and then simmer, covered for 20 minutes or until potatoes and broccoli are tender;
In batches, blend soup in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender in stockpot;
Return soup to pot, stir in half & half, nutmeg and pepper.
This would be great with crusty, gluten-free rolls like the new Udi's French dinner rolls. I didn't have any on hand and it was great and satisfying on its own.
I would have posted a picture, but I inhaled my soup so fast, I didn't have a chance.
I am looking forward to my leftovers tomorrow!
Sunday, November 18, 2012
I have to admit, I have been ignorant on the ways of pumpkin crisp until this past week. My daughter's class had a formal Thanksgiving feast this past Friday. All the families were invited, and it was pot luck style with all of the traditional Thanksgiving Day foods. Let's not even get started on how this can suck for someone who is gluten-free, but that is not the point of this post. As I was eating away at my safe plate of mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes (which I made), I was eyeing this dessert dish labeled pumpkin crisp. I had never heard of it before, but everyone seemed to be going crazy about it, and saying it was amazing. I knew I couldn't eat it, but I knew I could go home and recreate it.
As soon as I got home that afternoon, I went online and searched "pumpkin crisp", and I kept finding blog posts referencing a recipe from Southern Living (November, 2005), which coincidentally is one of my favorite magazines. Of course the recipe was not gluten-free, but really...is that going to stop me? No. And, I just happened to have some leftover pumpkin from a pumpkin pie I made earlier in the week.
I made this yesterday for friends and I can't stop eating the leftovers. And it is so easy to make! It is more like a pumpkin cake rather than what I would think of as a crisp (thinking apple or berry crisp), but has the right amount of cake and crispy texture on top.
A word of warning, this is not low fat.
Here is my version. The recipe calls for pecans on top, and since I am not crazy about nuts in my food, I have left that out, and made a couple of other small changes (less sugar, and gluten-free cake mix).
2 cups fresh, roasted pumpkin (a 15 oz. can of pumpkin will also work)
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 package of yellow cake mix, I used Betty Crocker, gluten-free yellow cake mix
1 cup melted butter
1. Preheat over to 350'
2. Stir together pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon;
3. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish;
4. Pour the pumpkin mix into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture;
5. Drizzle butter evenly over cake mix;
4. Bake at 350' for an hour or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream if desired.
This is so sinfully delicious and easy, this may be my new go-to dessert for the holidays. I am even thinking of replacing my traditional pumpkin pie with this. I don't think you will be disappointed.
It seems that my countless hours of volunteering for my daughter's school (namely being PTA Co-President this year - what was I on when I thought that was a good idea?), and the community have taken up a lot of my time. But it doesn't mean that I have any less thoughts, recipes and gluten-free experiences.
Right now I am getting ready to host 9 people for a Thanksgiving feast...just 4 days away. Gosh, it seems like it was just Halloween. I have been planning my menu, writing shopping lists and deciding if I have enough dishes and pans to hold all of these dishes. From roasted Brussels sprouts to classic mashed potatoes.
What is your favorite dish to cook and/or eat on Thanksgiving?
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
We have a lovely pizza place in our cozy neighborhood, that is walking distance, has a gorgeous patio and is the place to hang out and see friendly faces and socialize, but unfortunately, the only thing I have when I go there is wine. Well, maybe that is not so unfortaunte, but seriously, I get to sit next to everyone else and smell their pizza, while I sip my wine.
So, when I went to the Twitter community and asked for suggestions for gluten-free pizza places that were kid-friendly, Uncle Maddio's was mentioned.
I was thrilled, it has a Chipotle-style format, so you go through a line, and decide on what topping you want for your personal pizza. They were very helpful in telling me how they prepare the gluten-free pizzas and that it is on a separate dish than the gluten-filled crusts. It is quick, it is clean and it is yummy. And honestly, I think my crust looked tastier than the gluten-filled alternative, but then...what do I know?
Uncle Maddio's put out a PR release today with a quote from me, announcing kid-sized gluten-free pizzas. Check it out.
I look forward to going back soon.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Case in point... I am going to keep the company's name anonymous for the time being. A new bakery-type place opened up not far from me in Intown Atlanta. They are hip, cool and the latest thing, and I have heard nothing but rave reviews (from my gluten-able friends). Someone mentions to me a couple of weeks ago that they will soon be serving gluten-free items. Of course hearing that gives me hope. I decide to call them last weekend to see if by some small miracle they have already introduced them. I was told no, but that they were working on a recipe and they should have them soon, and that they had lots of people looking forward to it. I believe I was speaking to the owner as they seemed to know what they were talking about. I asked them how this item would be prepared....Onsite? In a separate area? At a separate time of the day? Using separate pans?
I was then told, that they would be prepared onsite, in the same area, and for this one particular item...in the same fryer! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Obviously this person is not educated on what it means to be gluten-free. I attempted to nicely explain that this is not gluten-free. Once an item like a gluten-free chip or fries are fried with something breaded or containing flour, this negates all gluten-freeness. The owner went on to tell me that her items are not really going to be meant for people who have to be gluten-free out of necessity, and that those people should really not be eating in a bakery in the first place (gasp!). And that her new gluten-free items would only be for people who were gluten-free to live a more healthy lifestyle.
Deep breathe here.
I get that for someone with celiac to eat at any place with a shared kitchen (which is about 99.9% of eateries out there) we assume some kind of risk, and it is up to us to judge, for ourselves, what is acceptable. But, when you put something in a shared fryer that is not just accidental cross-contamination, that is deliberate. That is not gluten-free. You can not advertise something that is in a shared fryer as gluten-free.
There are many bakeries I feel comfortable at, and I know they are knowledgeable and take precautions to assure everything is as safe as possible. Two places in particular are Swirlz cupcakes in Chicago, and BabyCakes.
I also had to mention that people who choose to eat gluten-free in order to live a more healthy lifestyle are most likely not eating these very fattening items anyway. Those people are not looking for replacement items, period. It is those with celiac that want to eat gluten-free versions of tasty treats everyone else gets to enjoy.
Not to mention, this could easily backfire on them. Because, as we who are gluten-free know, when a company introduces something that is gluten-free, and people come in from all over just to have it, only to discover it really is not gluten-free....well, that is going to spread like wildfire throughout the gluten-free community and be no good for anyone.
In the end, I hope I was able to make a difference, and this place will either A) just not offer them; or B) educate themselves as to what really is gluten-free, and make them properly. I really hope this unnamed company will get their act together.
How would you feel if a company started introducing something that you were really looking forward to, only to find out it really wasn't gluten-free after all?
Monday, July 9, 2012
On a plus side, they did have gluten-free soy sauce on hand.
That was a close one! Always remember to ask when you order something steamed or boiled that it is not being steamed or boiled in the same water as something gluten-filled.
My public service announcement for the day.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
And in those 7 years, I have enjoyed my time, more than words can say, with my little Z, but because of the PTSD, we only have our one daughter. Whenever I feel closer and closer to being able to give into that fear and just go for it, I get gripped with the horror of feeling claustrophobic and of going through the same experience I had last time, or even worse, of Z loosing her mom, just because I tried to expand our family and give her a sibling. It is a feeling of panic that is difficult to explain. When most people feel joy at the thought of pregnancy, I feel like it is an illness. I see pregnancy as a life-threatening 9-month illness, and my mind can't get away from that.
I have been to a specialist for high risk pregnancies in Chicago, and here in Atlanta, and both times they basically said the same thing. There is a risk it will happen again, about 30%, and a risk I could be on hospital bed-rest with a premature baby. At the same time they also said if I want another I should go for it. Then I ask them what they would say if I was their wife, or their daughter and they said the same thing. The last specialist to tell me that was exactly a year ago.
Well, now I am 39. Six months away from big 4-0. Looming over my head life a freaking black cloud. I used to joke with M that when I was 37 the "shop" would be closed for business, and then it was 38, and now...40? I am so terrified at the thought of being pregnant, yet, I don't want it to be over. I have saved every bit of Z's clothing, and all her toys. I want to use it again. I love the newborn stage and crave to do it again. I want to watch a child of mine grow from a helpless baby to someone with real thoughts and opinions. Why do I have to be so damn scared? Why can I not let go? Why can I not flip a switch? I know so many people who tell me, they know someone, who knows someone who had pre-eclampsia with one and then went on to have a perfectly normal pregnancy. Well, lucky for them!
So, today lucky me, I have my annual girlie check-up. Not one of my highlights for the year. The thought of going to the girlie Dr. brings back terrible memories of my pre-eclampsia/HELLP ordeal, and I will spend all morning in a panic. And of course I walk in the office this morning and the waiting room is full of pregnant women..all except me. Since I am pretty new to Atlanta, this is only my second time to this practice, and last time I felt like the doctor was a little cold, so I decided to try a different one this time around. Maybe not the best decision.
This doctor did her routine check-up, and then I mentioned how I am still not sure I am done, and I still really want another, and then she looks at me like I have two heads and says she would not recommend I get pregnant again. That because of my age and my history, it would not be wise. That I would have a high risk of not only a repeat of the pre-eclampsia and HELLP, but also of having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities and my own possible issues with infertility. And then she says this winning gem: "You should have done this five years ago." The tears started forming as the sentence came out of her mouth. How could she say this to someone? Instead, she gave me the card of a therapist to talk to about the PTSD, and my appointment was done. It was the mental equivalent of a one-night stand.
Wow. Yeah five years ago. I should have. But I didn't, and I can't change that now!!! If I got pregnant 5 years ago, I probably would have had to of been taken away in a stretcher because of major anxiety. What can I even say to this? I have made mistakes, but I can't go back in time.
"You should have done this five years ago."
I also have to think, this doctor who I saw today, while she might be the head of the practice, she is not a high-risk doctor, and she has not seen my detailed records as the specialists have. But at the same time, I am going to be 40, and that number can't be disguised. I can't get rid of it, it is standing there like a huge tollbooth that I must pass to cross the bridge into the next phase of my life, and leaving my child-bearing, fertile, young years behind. The specialists may have had more optimism, but I was also a year younger, and I know there is fact to back up with what today's doctor said so eloquently to me, but did she have to be so callous? And there is a good chance that, on my own, I would choose not to have another, because I know I cannot handle the pregnancy part of it. Which is such a shame, because what is nine months compared to a lifetime of having family. But then I guess nine months is a pretty big deal when I risk my life for it. But I just didn't want the decision to be made for me. I wanted to have that little sliver of hope left that just maybe.
"You should have done this five years ago."
It just hurts so damn much to see siblings interact and play with each other, and know that my little girl will never have that experience. She won't have a sibling to love, and I won't have another baby to raise. When my friends get pregnant with their 2nd, 3rd even 5th child I am happy, I really am, but there is a part of me that feels so sad and evious too. Ok, maybe I don't want a 4th, but I would just love a 2nd. I want that experience of having a slightly bigger family.
"You should have done this five years ago."
At the same time, I know how extremely lucky I am to have my one. And I know a lot of women who suffered from pre-eclampsia and HELLP were not so lucky. Many of them have had to leave the hospitals without a baby in their arms, and in some cases their husbands have left without their wives and babies. Z and I really are one of the lucky ones, and I am forever grateful. So why does it seem so unfair when women can have easy-breezy home births, they can have multiple children and be happy and carefree the entire time without a thought of complications. Sometimes I really wish I was one of them. Someone who when I saw that positive pregnancy test would be ecstatic, and that feeling would continue for 9 months. Why does it hurt so much?
"You should have done this five years ago."
People will ask me why we don't adopt, or have a surrogate. And the answer is simple. Money. I would absolutely adopt in a second if I could. It doesn't seem fair does it, with so many children around the world without parents because of war or famine, even in our own country. Yet to give one of these children a loving home we have to have the money to get through the bureaucracy of if to make it happen. Though if I was willing to get pregnant, we would be able to have one for free...well, it would not be free after it was born, but you get my drift.
So, basically today just sucked. I was happy to have an uneventful appointment, but I left there feeling empty, confused and hurt. I still feel like I am 20, how did I get to be almost 40? I am not ready to leave this phase of life, the "childbearing" years behind. Time goes by too damn quickly.
As said on Parenthood this week, 40s are not the new 30s when it comes to your ovaries.
I hope someday there is a cure for pre-eclampsia and HELLP, so others don't have to go through the same experience.
Whoa...I apologize for the heaviness of this post.
I think the words: "You should have done this five years ago," will haunt me for way too long.