The Gluten-Free Diet: More than Just Lettuce and Water

Although it does seem like that often, there are plenty of choices out there.  I live on campus and eat in the dining hall, so my options are even more limited, but even within those boundaries, there is always something to eat!

For example, this was my dinner last night:

Looks good, right?  It’s not the best food in the world, but at least I have something.  I got roasted carrots, risotto (there is always some kind of rice–very good option because you can add things into it), honeydew melon (always some sort of fruit available–yum yum), roasted jerk chicken (love when they don’t batter their chicken) and a, yes a slice of beet.  I forgot what beets tasted like so I gave one a try.  I forgot I didn’t like them very much.

Often times, the main line doesn’t have something that I can call an entree, so the salad bar is almost always my second choice.  I load up my salad with carrots, cucumbers, a little bit of cheese, sesame seeds, etc.  For a while I was even on a soybean kick!  There are so many things you can eat if you keep your mind open.  Your meals probably won’t be the same basic components as they used to be, and that’s okay.  Fill up on vegetables, some fruit, a grain of some sort, maybe some meat or fish and call it a day.

I absolutely hate when people see my plate of food on a bad day (aka my only choices are a salad, carrots and dip, fruit and maybe some ice cream).  They think I’m anorexic, vegetarian or some other absurd thing.  No, I swear I’m not starving myself.  Let me explain!  That is how most of my meals go.

I’ll try to keep taking pictures of what I eat to show that your options are plentiful.  And to dispel my favorite line:

“You eat gluten-free?  You can’t eat bread?  I would die!”

4 years and I’m still kickin’…I’d say I’m alright.

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

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. 😉

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!

Doesn’t say gluten-free? Look again.

One of the most important things I learned was that even if a product isn’t plastered with the words “Gluten-Free!” it doesn’t mean that it absolutely is not.  Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this for a while.  Since gluten isn’t one of the top 8 allergens, it isn’t listed at the end of the ingredients list.  Wheat is, which automatically rules things out.  But of course, things have to be made even more difficult.  Isn’t that always how it works?  Even when wheat isn’t listed at the end, sometimes barley, malt or rye can be hiding there, so don’t be fooled.

But, if you take the time to read every single ingredient, you can find some great things that you never knew were normally gluten-free.  My grocery trips went from an hour to an hour and a half once I started eating gluten-free just because of all of those labels!  It definitely goes faster once you can recognize right away what’s you can and can’t eat.

So, here is my list of things that aren’t marked gluten-free, or they are but you never would have thought to look at them. 🙂

DISCLAIMER: Some of the items I post may contain oats!  My doctor approved me eating oats, but some people aren’t.  So if you’re not sure if oats are good for you, ask your doctor to see if you’re recovered enough to start adding oats back in to your diet!

Here is one of my favorite new things to eat for breakfast:

Living on campus makes eating breakfast a very complicated task.  Well, I suppose I could wake up early enough to eat breakfast in the cafeteria, but that’s not really a logical option in my mind…add in the fact that it must be gluten-free and it’s a bit of a handful.  So, a couple weeks ago as I was perusing the cereal aisle, I found this guy!  All you need is this box and some milk.  You can even bring it along with you.  I like that.  I read the ingredient list and all it really is is milk, inulin (fiber), cocoa and lots of different nutrients.  Tons of potassium, protein and fiber.  It’s like a dream come true for a college student.  Just make sure when you’re looking in stores that you do not buy the Malted Milk variety.  Obviously, malt is not gluten-free.  One more variety you can’t buy (I promise it’s just one) are the pre-made versions.  For some reason (why!?) they include barley in these.  But don’t worry, you can still choose from plenty other kinds. 🙂  Also, the Carnation website isn’t updated and it lists wheat starch at the end of all of the powder mixes.  On the box I have, wheat starch is no longer listed in the ingredients.  So, drink up!

Here’s another thing I am so, so, SO glad I found:

This is an amazingly delicious, simple frozen meal.  I almost jumped up and down with joy when I found this beauty.  (The way to find new things is honestly just to spend forever in the grocery store reading the backs of things to see if it’s gluten-free. Sad, but true.)  On the nights that I work at my local cupcake store, I get back too late for dinner so I really need something quick (because I’m starving after work) and yummy.  All it takes is a couple of minutes in the microwave and you get a nice, easy beef and potatoes meal with an AMAZINGLY (I know, I said it again, but it’s the best word I can think of) yummy sauce.  A plus is that it’s only 220 calories.  It’s not loaded with sodium like lots of other prepackaged things.  I really recommend giving this one a try.  Here’s the ingredient list if you want to make sure 😉

 I have a few more things I like to eat that aren’t listed as gluten-free, but I’ll save those for another time. 🙂