A Day in the Life

Many people have been asking me what I eat on a certain day.  I’ve never thought anyone would find my meals interesting, but I suppose if you’re not used to watching what you eat it’s probably a wee bit unusual.  (One of the residents is from Ireland and the word wee is starting to catch on..)  I can never remember to take pictures of my food because I don’t think to do that.  But, after practicing my photography one day last week, a bowl of noodles I made looked particularly yummy, so I had to take a picture.  Although I made it at home (where I have more options for food) and not at school (where there are literally no options), here’s a picture of something I whipped together for lunch.

I can’t just put together a peanut butter and jelly (oh how I miss those!), so I usually eat something frozen or if I’m at school I eat a salad, fruits, veggies, potatoes, etc.  Sometimes, I get tired of that, so when I’m at home I love making pasta.  My favorite is with salt and butter or maybe some garlic olive oil.  When I made this though, we had a little bit of parmesan cheese, so I put that in the bottom of the dish with butter and garlic powder and dumped the hot noodles on top.  I used my favorite noodle brand: Schar.  I believe they are mostly made of corn, which I find way better than rice, brown rice or any other sort of grain.  They get nice and soft with a little bit of a bite.  Just how I like them. 🙂  But when you put all the cheesy and creamy goodness underneath and mix it up, it gets so gooey and delicious.  It tasted so good.  Here, maybe this will help.

Mmmmmmmm…

Here’s to gluten-free being easy and yummy.  Way better than a peanut butter sandwich, right?

Tomorrow I’m going to try to take a picture of my lunch at school to give you another look.  Cross your fingers I don’t forget!

Love always,

Kelsey

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My Life in Cupcakes

A few years ago I jumped on the cupcake bandwagon and I haven’t been able to get off ever since.  I go absolutely insane for anything cupcake-related.  My obsession reached an all-time high when I started working at a cupcake bakery.  I’m surrounded by cupcakes multiple times every week.  I get to smell them, make them, decorate them…it’s a dream come true in my eyes.  The strange thing is that apparently isn’t enough.  I feel the need to make cupcakes even on my days off.  So here is a little trip down memory lane through the past couple years of my cupcake making.

Spaghetti Cupcakes(yes, spaghetti!)

Okay, this is one of my favorite cupcakes I’ve made.  Now, I can’t take credit for the design, but I absolutely love how it turned out.  For most of my cakes, I use Betty Crocker’s gluten-free mix and then I like to amp it up and make it a little something more. 🙂  Here is just a beige tinted buttercream which I piped on in strands.  At first, I started being very neat with it but it wasn’t turning out right.  Then I thought, hello, it’s spaghetti.  whose spaghetti is perfect? and I went crazy.  The little “meatballs” are Ferrero Rocher chocolates which are not gluten-free but I couldn’t find truffles without wheat, so I just made a separate one for myself without a meatball.  The “sauce” is raspberry preserves dumped sloppily over the top.  And the creme de la creme, the “parmesan cheese” (my favorite part of spaghetti) is shaved white chocolate.  Voila!  Spaghetti and meatballs.  I took these to a labor day party a few years ago and they were a huge hit.

These next cupcakes were a bit of an experiment from something I had seen a while back.  These were for Easter a few years ago.  I don’t remember what sort of cake I used for these, so let’s focus on the tops.

Marshmallow Flowers

I took about five ziploc bags and put a tablespoon of sugar in each.  Then, I used a drop or two of food coloring and smushed the sugar around with the dye until it was all colored.  Since these were for Easter, I used less for more of a pastel color.  Then, I dipped mini marshmallows that were cut in half on a diagonal in the sugar and stuck them on the cupcake.  Start on the edge and go all the way towards the center.  Now, you have to be one hungry person to eat all of those marshmallows, the cake, and some frosting.  Beware.  But, they are cute nonetheless.

Poinsettia Cupcakes

Here’s another precious variation for a Christmas party I went to.  (Have you noticed the trend? Cupcakes everywhere I go.)  For these, I added a little bit of peppermint extract to the buttercream underneath the marshmallows and made the colored sugar a very bright red instead of pastel.  And for the little stamen-y looking things I piped some yellow buttercream.  These are actually one of my favorites because of how festive they were. 🙂
My absolute favorite though…..get ready..

Grillin’ Brownies

Brownies!  Okay, they’re not cupcakes, but they’re baked in cupcake wrappers, so that kinda counts right?  I got this idea from a website that I don’t remember anymore, but these were (again) for a Labor Day party.  The “chicken breasts” are caramel taffy that I molded and then painted with black food coloring I made.  The grill marks are probably the cutest part of the whole thing.  Then, the “hot dogs” are Mike n Ike’s (my favorite candy) and the “kebabs” are Dots that I chopped into random pieces.  The actual “grill” was a basic black icing.  And for some embers underneath, I used some leftovers of my orange-colored sugar.  So, so, so cute!

If you can’t tell, I love cupcakes that look like other foods.  It’s not obvious by the flowers, but there’s something that catches my eye and gets me excited when I see a food-themed cupcake.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to try them out!  Just let me know!

Prayers for the Brookfield Shooting

Even though this isn’t related in any way to gluten-free eating, I live too close to Brookfield to not say anything about this.

This morning a man went to Azana Spa in Brookfield and started shooting. Brookfield Square mall was put on lock down to protect those inside.  For hours, very little happened that was reported of.  As of about an hour ago, there were 7 people at the hospital, but none were in critical condition. Now, it has been confirmed that three of the seven involved injured have died. 😦  To make it even worse, the shooter is still on the loose and no one has any idea where he could possibly be.

I live about 5 minutes from the edge of Brookfield where this happened and I know someone who was on their way to Brookfield Square (right across the street from the spa, which was put on lock down) as the shooting happened. The Milwaukee area is going viral again but for a very bad reason. A couple of months ago, in August, a shooting took place at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, just outside of Milwaukee.

If anyone would like to read about the tragedy, here is the most updated story as of now.

I am hoping that no one else that was injured dies and that the shooter is caught and taken to jail as soon as possible.  Let’s hope no one else gets hurt by this man.  Please keep everybody in the area and the family and friends of the victims in your thoughts and prayers. ❤

Update: the shooter was found dead in the spa where the shooting took place.  Thank goodness no one else can be hurt by this man, but what is already done is done.

Wait…So What is Celiac Disease?

I’ve had this blog for a couple of weeks now and a thought just came to me.  What if people reading this don’t even know what Celiac is?  Maybe some of you reading are just starting your diet or are thinking you may have Celiac.  Well, it would probably make sense to explain what it is!

To start off, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease.  An autoimmune disorder is when your body “attacks” itself. It can’t tell the difference between something good (which gluten is supposed to be) and pathogens (invaders).  The way Celiac Disease works is after you eat anything containing gluten, your body reacts thinking it is an invader and damages your small intestines.  The little villi in your small intestines are what absorb nutrients, but when they are damaged, they can’t do their job properly.  This is why weight loss is a symptom of Celiac Disease.

You are automatically put at risk if you already have another autoimmune disorder or if you have relatives with any autoimmune disorders.  For example, my mom has Thyroid Disease, which is an AI disorder.  In the summer of 2007, my older brother and my younger brother were each diagnosed with an AI disorder.  They have Type 1 Diabetes and Crohn’s Disease respectively.  I got tested for Thyroid, Diabetes and Crohn’s and I was in the clear….so I thought.  1 year later, in the summer or 2008 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder of my own!  Strangely enough, my gastroenterologist at the time said I probably had Celiac for a year by the time I was diagnosed.  So, if I were to have been diagnosed right away, all 3 of us got our autoimmune disorders in the same year.  Bizarre, right?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Celiac Disease yet, but there is treatment.  The lovely gluten-free diet. 🙂 This means no barley, rye, malt, or wheat!

If you are having any symptoms like abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, or diarrhea, ask your doctor to get tested.  It’s a simple blood test to do.  It took me a few blood tests to figure it out.  I had symptoms like hair loss, fatigue, and abdominal pain.  My mom’s first thought was Thyroid Disease, but it turns out I had extreme anemia (which gave me hair loss and made me tired)  because of Celiac Disease!  There are so many people who go years without finding out the solution to their problems so please, please get tested!  Your poor intestines can only handle so much. 😦

But, on a lighter note, my parents went to my favorite pizza place tonight, Transfer Pizzeria, and they brought me back a pizza!!  Transfer has the absolute best pizza (gluten-free or not) and I highly recommend it to anyone in the Milwaukee area.  This is what they brought back for me!

 This beauty is the only kind of pizza I have had at Transfer and I haven’t had the guts (no pun intended) to try anything else because I love this one so much!  It’s a gluten-free crust with a white garlic (my favorite ingredient on anything) sauce instead of a red sauce, topped with roasted potatoes, chicken, and cheese.  I’m dying inside just remembering it’s in my fridge for tomorrow!  This comes in a non-gluten-free variety as well, so everyone go and try it!  It is the best pizza place that I have been to in my entire life.  Even before I ate gluten-free.  Try it.  You will thank me later.

Surrounded by Gluten

Everywhere I go there is gluten.  It’s out to get me and it never leaves me alone.  And there’s nothing I can do about it!

Last Friday I was at work standing behind the counter and I thought to myself, man…this sucks.  Look at all of these cupcakes around me and I can’t even eat one.  I just stared.  Chocolate cake there…nope can’t have that.  A cookie on top of that one…that one either.  The frosting, though.  The miles and miles of frosting are gluten-free 99% of the time and you better believe I take part in that.

Anyway, here is what I saw that day.

  Look at all that gluten lurking in there looking so delicious.  Sigh.  I suppose I could eat that one walnut on top?  That’s just depressing.

Gluten-ous cheesecakes, too.  Not to be confused with gluttonous.  On a side note, you have no idea how many times I get asked about being “glutton-free” or even “glucose-free.”  I know since they don’t have Celiac they don’t think about it the way/as much as I do, but really?  Gluttonous?  Thanks!

And here’s one more cupcake to round it out.  Looks good, doesn’t it?  We could have those little pecans on top…and maybe an 1/8th of an inch of that frosting that’s not touching cake.

Okay, okay, I’m not trying to be bitter but I feel like I have to sometimes, you know?  I have to get some of my rage out every now and then and I think this is the perfect place to do it!  With all of you lovely gluten-freers 🙂

So, even after 8 hours of staring at these deathly (alright, not deathly) beauties, I went out to dinner.  And of all places, I go to a fish fry.  I love fish so much.  Fortunately, I have found a brand of breaded fish that I really love.  I will get back to you on that once I remember it.  There was soup and bread and breaded things all around me!  Going to restaurants still puts me on edge a little bit sometimes, but I deal with it as I go.  I’m not an extremely sensitive person, so if I get a little cross contamination in my food, I’m not paying for it days later.  Some places I have figured out that their gluten-free situation is really not good and I try to steer clear of it, but that only comes with experience.  For example, my school’s dining room.  Disaster.  It’s tough because it’s usually my only option for food, but the workers are extremely uneducated and they do not understand that I’m not doing it as a fad and it’s okay if I eat noodles a couple of times a week.  Doesn’t work that way!  This disease chose me.

–Rant over–

On a happier note, here’s something to make you smile.  I know it did for me!


Awwww, how precious! That’s my little baby Kramer.  I love coming home on weekends because he greets me like I haven’t seen him in years.  And then I get to stare at this adorable face.

3 Sites You Must Go to Before You Die

Every once in a while, I go on these crazy gluten-free splurges online.  Well, my mom makes me.  She insists I have enough  fun things to eat just like anyone else.  Obviously, I’m glad to oblige.

Most online places have lots of more variety and cheaper prices than in actual stores.  Here I have my top 3 favorite websites for gluten-free things. 🙂

1. Vitacost.com–This place is awesome.  They do vitamins, supplements, beauty products, and fortunately, gluten-free things!  They have a lot to choose from with absolutely amaaaaazing prices.  The first time I went to their site, I found a ton of things I had never heard of before.  They also have sales on gluten-free things almost all the time.  For instance, right now everything is 15% off, but a few weeks ago I got everything at 30% off because of Celiac Awareness or something along those lines.  If you haven’t ever looked at this site or bought anything from them, you must!

2. Sillyyakbakery.com–I can’t even begin to express my love for this website.  I honestly can’t.  First of all, the name.  Silly Yak.  It took me years to figure it out, but now that I get it, I’m obsessed.  Anyway, they are based out of Madison, WI but they ship all over the Midwest.  Check out this page to see if they ship to your zip code.  There are so many different kinds of bakery to choose from- muffins, scones, donuts, cupcakes, bread, cookies…the list goes on.  But let me stop just to say these cookies are the best gluten-free cookies I have ever put in my face.  Oh my god, are they delicious.  I personally think they are even better than what I remember “normal” cookies tasting like!  Soft, chewy and delicious…ahh, my mouth is just watering just thinking about them.  If they ship to your area, ORDER FROM THEM  RIGHT NOW!  Order lots, and put a bunch in the freezer.  That’s what I do and everything still tastes amazing after being frozen.

I got a text a few weeks ago from my mom saying, “Package arrived. Come home to get it.”  Package? I didn’t order anything…I am absolutely the most impatient person on this planet and everything I order I track like a HOUND.  I didn’t remember ordering anything, but I did as I was told and came home to an unlabeled (HUGE) brown box.  I popped that sucker open and what did I find?  Mountains of bakery!  Mountains, I tell you.  4 different kinds of cookies, a doughnut, a loaf of bread, a coffee cake (!!) and so much more.  It was like Christmas in September.  It was such an amazing surprise to have yummy, yummy food.  One of the reasons I love my mommy. 🙂

3. Olivenation.com–This isn’t a special gluten-free site, but they do have some things to choose from.  I learned about them after my boss was searching for extracts for work, and he came across their gluten-free products.  We make gluten-free cupcakes at work and the previous flour we used absolutely sucked.  It was grainy and made the cakes dense and disgusting.  Then, we decided to try out Olive Nation’s flour and it made them taste so, so, so good!  My favorite blend of flours is rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch.  This flour has each of those, plus xanthan gum (!!).  It says on the site that you can swap regular flour right out and substitute this gluten-free blend.  We did that with our carrot cake recipe and it turned out so great!  Good gluten-free flours are really hard to come by, so if you’re still looking for one you like, please give this one a try!  I promise you won’t regret it. 🙂
Do you have any gluten-free sites that you swear by?

Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know Had Gluten

I remember sitting in the room with my dietitian and the other people in the Celiac class.  There were a grand total of 3 people including myself.  She went through a brief list of foods that we could no longer eat.  Muffins, cookies, pasta, licorice…

HOLD THE PRESSES! LICORICE?! 

Oh, don’t even go there.  Why in God’s name wouldn’t licorice be gluten-free?  Turns out it’s the second ingredient in most licorices.  I have not found a good or comparable gluten-free licorice to this day.  I kinda gave up.

Anyway, that was my biggest shocker.  Hard to believe, but I’m still finding things I didn’t know weren’t gluten-free.  Here is my top 10 list.

1.  Licorice.  You couldn’t tell that this one upset me, could you?  Wheat flour in licorice, come on…

2. Toothpaste.  You put it in your mouth so it should be pretty obvious, but for me it wasn’t.  Always check because even though you don’t swallow toothpaste (at least you shouldn’t be) it’s in your mouth.  There aren’t many that I’ve found, you should still check.

3. Make-up.  I just found this out last week. I haven’t had any problems with my make-up (that I know of), but the gluten still absorbs into you through the pores on your face.  Chapstick is a must to be gluten-free, as well.

4. Soy sauce.  Okay, am I the only one who was surprised how many different soy sauces have wheat in them!?  And do you know how many different things use soy sauce?  It’s ridiculous.  Gluten-free versions (natural or specially gluten-free) are out there, so don’t stress.  Just make sure you always read ingredients of premade things because they CAN contain soy sauce.

5. Imitation crab. Such a bummer, but this one is not gluten-free.  Real crab is gluten-free, though!  I know, I know, it’s not the same comparison, but it’s okay. 🙂

6. Barbecue potato chips.  Why only barbecue flavors?  I have no idea.  But, most, if not all barbecue varieties have wheat flour in their seasoning.  I have recently found that a few brands are, but they don’t say gluten-free right on the bag.  Always always always read the ingredient list on these.

7. French fries.  Now, french fries from restaurants are never trustworthy, but frozen french fries that are sneakily seasoned can and do have wheat.  Go for plain and simple fried potatoes and you’ll be in the clear.  Better yet, make your own!

8. Medicines.  If you haven’t checked this list, do it!  Gluten can sometimes be used as a binding agent in certain pills.  So check the list, find the medicines you use most often and toss out any that you can’t find on the list.  I swear.  RIGHT now.  You’ll regret it later when you’re trying to feel better and the medicine only makes you feel worse.  Or, if there are other people in the house, take a Sharpie and write on the bottle.

9.  Play dough.  I suppose this is only important if you have a small child with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, but I’m almost 20 and I still would like to play with play-doh every now and then.  It’s a good stress reliever, okay?

10.  Alcohol.  Obviously, beer: not a good thing for Celiacs.  But, many other alcoholic beverages are malt-based.  Do your research.  Lots of companies are coming out with gluten-free beers and ciders, so it’s getting better.  I’m not 21 until next year, so hopefully there will be some more options between now and then. 😉

Shut Up and Smile

This week has been one of those weeks, ya know?  So much homework…so much work…so little time.  I was listening to some music tonight to relax a little and this song came on.  Maybe we should all take a hint.

“All we need is love and gluten-free beer and old school metal and holiday cheer.”

Just like the song says, it’s not the end of the world.  It’s something we can all deal with (eating gluten-free I mean ;)).

Although I’m dying for a cure just as much as the next person, it’s not too bad.  I don’t have to take 5 shots of insulin a day like my older brother or sit for 2 1/2 hours every month and a half getting an infusion like my younger brother.  So we swap out some semolina spaghetti for corn spaghetti.  No biggie, right?

I think iTunes can tell that I’m writing a post right now.  The next thing that came on was this:

“They won’t leave me alone
There’s things they all want to know
I’m paranoid of all the people I meet
Why are they talking to me?
And why can’t anyone see?

I just want to live.”

This reminds me of my favorite thing I get asked.  “You can’t eat bread!? Oh my god, I would DIE.”  No, no. Trust me, you wouldn’t.  I’m still standing here alive talking to you, so I think you would be fine…

Hold the Gluten, Please.

This weekend I’m on a girl’s trip to Chicago.  Staying in hotels and being away from home always presents some issues, but I’ve learned to deal with eating out.

For dinner tonight we decided to go to Joe’s Crab Shack because I’ve never had real crab.  I always thought imitation crab counted…apparently not.  For that, you don’t have to bust out an apron and hand wipes.  This was some serious business.

They had a real gluten-free menu!  There weren’t that many choices on it, but the main things were the buckets and steampots, which I was dying to try.  Corn, potatoes, clarified butter.  Um, my name is written all over that.  I got the garlic and herb snow crab bucket.  I was a little bit of an amateur, but I was geared up and ready to go.

If you still aren’t ready venture out of the house and out to restaurants, my main piece of advice is make sure you tell them you have an allergy or a disease.  If you tell them gluten makes you sick, they will do the absolute best they can.  No restaurant wants to know they might make someone sick if they are able to prevent it.

There is always something that you can find that is gluten-free.  I usually stick to salads, but always ask about dressings and vinaigrettes.  My favorite restaurant, the Cheesecake Factory, only has a couple of gluten-free dressings, but hey, there’s at least one and that’s all I need!

So, I made sure the waitress knew I ate gluten-free, but she was asking if butter was gluten-free so I’m not real sure she was a reliable source…

It was so good. Here’s some proof:

If you’ve never gone to Joe’s Crab Shack, go! Besides great food, it was a fun place.  When Cotton Eyed Joe came on, all of the waiters and waitresses stopped their work and started dancing.   It’s a safe gluten-free place, so give it a try!

Makin’ it Work

All I wanna do is sit on my butt.  Seriously.

I work at the local cupcake store (that will be my only shameless advertisement, I promise.) and every single time, it never fails to drain me.  To make it even better, of course my busiest work days always fall in line with the days I have the most homework.  Funny how that works out, right?

I’m on my feet running back and forth, back and forth, kitchen to the counter, counter to kitchen, etc., etc., etc.  By the time I’m done at 7:30 I’m ready to call it quits.  I’m also starving…after smelling, making, and looking at cupcakes all night.  Who would complain, though?

Either way, once I plop down in my room, all I want is food.  Fast.  Here was my dinner of choice tonight:

Mmmmmm…potatoes.  I love anything having to do with a potato.  Why?  Couldn’t tell ya.  Broccoli, though? Eh, I could do without.  Smother it in a thick (flour-free), cheesy sauce and it’s got my name written all over it.  I was so, so SO happy to find another frozen thing I could pop in the microwave.  This thing isn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, but I’m not complaining.  It gets the job done.  (It’s on sale a lot, too ;))

I’d call that a success.