Monday, February 25, 2013

Celiac Disease & IBS

Celiac Disease has many symptoms. Let's face it, Gluten can do terrible things to, not just our gut, but our entire body. It shows up in skin problems, migraines, and the big one diarrhea.

In the beginning, before Celiac was ever mentioned, the doc labeled my tummy issues as IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My only thought to this was, "I know it's irritated! Now tell me why?"
The doctor shrugged. I went home and did some research.

The list of answers was never ending.
~Keep a food diary to find out what's bothering you. (On my list; everything!)
~Remove those top allergens; milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat. (Yes, all of the above!)
~Eat smaller meals throughout the day. (that resulted in getting the big D more often through the day)
~Take probiotics. (Minimal help, issues still there)
~Avoid sulfates. (no help there!)
~Eat one macaroon a day. (Really? Um, no, no help.)
~Candida. (back to the probiotic issue-still suffering_

The list went on. Navigating the Internet on a subject like diarrhea and IBS and you are deluged with information. Some I tried, some I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

When the doc finally said Celiac but refused to test me and told me to go gluten free I was just desperate and uninformed enough to try it.

The IBS still followed me, however a lot of the other symptoms resolved. The pains in my gut that felt like someone had left a block of cement in there, gone. Skin, cleared. IBS came and went with no apparent reason. I often wondered if my gut was just so damaged that it was something I'd have to live with for the rest of my life. Then I read about Caltrate. Before we go any further I just want to be clear that I have no interest in this product outside of the fact that it has practically cured my IBS. I found this information in an IBS forum here.

I take half a tablet with breakfast and half with lunch. (Or dinner if I forget lunch) As long as I remember to do this the IBS is gone. Also gone is that loose queasy feeling down low in my abdomen.

I don't know why this works but read in this forum where someone thinks they can explain it.  Are they right? Who knows? It kinda makes sense but I've taken other calcium supplements before and they have not relieved my IBS. This one, the Caltrate in the purple bottle is the one that works for me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Vegan Veggies: Choosing the Best

Vegan's and Vegetarians eat more vegetables over all and so I've been doing my research on how to get the best bang for  my buck. I think if I'm going with this vegetable lifestyle I need to be better versed in types of veggies and what I can do with them to make them tastier. The first step would be to pick the best of the crop.  (I'm still not locked into this lifestyle but I'm ready to give it a go. I just don't know if I'm going pure Vegan or Vegetarian. Anyone else make this decision? How did you decide?)  I'm not even sure if this is the optimum diet for a Celiac and because of this I'm thinking of keeping a food diary and documenting how I feel along with any changes.

Since there are so many veggies in the world, this is only round one in veggie research. 

Choosing fruits and vegetables at their freshest can be a challenge for even the best cook. The entire meal tastes better when the green beans are crisp, the asparagus firm and that apple pie is cooked to perfection. Here’s some quick pointers I found for bringing the best of nature’s bounty to our table.
 Sweet potatoes: The sweet potato should be firm with smooth skin. Chose the ones with as few eyes as possible. The outer jacket can range from tan to rosy-orange. Avoid bruised, split or ones with soft spots.
 Peas: Pea pods should be well filled, not bulging. They should be firm to the touch. Avoid soft, yellowed, spotted or dried pods.
 Carrots: Choose carrots with a deep, orange color for higher beta-carotene. They should be firm and not bend easily. The skin should be smooth and blemish free. I avoid baby carrots as they are treated with chemicals which can cause digestive upsets. Buy the regular ones and skin them yourself for a healthier snack.
Cucumbers: Pick the long, slender cucumber with dark to medium green coloring. Be sure the skin is smooth and without soft spots.Cucumbers turn yellow when over ripe.
 Ice Berg Lettuce: Head should be heavy and solid. Leaves should be green without any brown spots.
Romaine Lettuce: Tightly packed heads with bright green leaves are your best choice. Avoid brown or wilting leaves.
 Green Beans: The perfect bean is crisp and smooth without imperfections. Avoid beans with brown spots or dried out edges.
 Asparagus: The Asparagus stalk should be tender yet firm. The tips should be close and compact. For the more tender asparagus, pick the ones with very little white.
 Strawberries: A summer favorite, these berries should be plump and solid with bright red coloring. Strawberries without the green cap may be too ripe.
 Blueberries: Full of antioxidants, the blueberry is best chosen when it’s firm with a uniform blue hue. Shake the container. If they stick together they may be old. When they move freely they are probably fresher and free of moisture and mold. I always keep berries in the refrigerator drawer.
 Apples: No matter what kind of apple you choose it should be firm with rich coloring. Yellow or green apples with a slight blush are the best. Avoid apples that are bruised or dented. Apples stay fresher in the refrigerator but if your family eat them fairly quickly you can leave the on the counter.
 Bananas: Check to be sure the bananas are firm, but not too hard. Stems and tips should be intact. Avoid bananas with bruises or splits. Green bananas will need a day or two on the counter to ripen.On an experiment I put half my bunch in the refrigerator and left half on the counter. Although the skin of the bananas in the refrigerator turned dark, the fruit inside didn't seem to age much at all. It was still firm. Much firmer than the ones left on the counter that were getting softer with each day. Try this experiment yourself and maybe your bananas will last longer.
 Oranges: Uniform coloring is not as important as a smooth textured skin. The fruit should be firm and heavy. Smaller oranges and those that have thinner skin tend to be juicier than others.
 Cantaloupe: First tap the cantaloupe with your palm and listen for a hollow sound. The fruit should be heavy and the rind under the netting should be changed from green to yellow-cream. Take a sniff, the cantaloupe should have a pleasant, sweet aroma. 
 Well, that's it for today! Tomorrow I'm going to start researching easy recipes for a lazy Vegan cook.  
Happy gluten free eating!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Free ebook for Dog Lovers

Free Book!
Taking a break from my usual Celiac notes I'd like to offer a chance to download a FREE copy of my book, Soul Mates, (A different kind of love story).

This book follows the tale of a woman who makes a deal with God to be reincarnated to bring the message of God''s unconditional love to the world. She's in for a big surprise when she finds herself back on earth, reincarnated as one of the smallest dogs on the planet!

Soul Mates follows the ups and downs of this pup story as she seeks to find her way in a world where she has little control.
Happy reading!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Healthy & Gluten Free - What to Eat

My Celiac Disease was undiagnosed for most of my life and I believe this put a major dent in my health. I've been gluten free for 10 years now and I have a never ending quest to make the best choices for my food. I try not to chose foods that are overly processed (very hard to remember in our hurry-up society) and I buy a lot of books on the subject. I ate wheat for my whole stupid life and it was killing me! Who knew? Now I want to know the who, what, and why of what goes in my body.

What to Eat by Marion Nestle is something I picked up a few years ago but I want to review it today as it is one of the best books out there on food.

Marion Nestle answers questions about organic foods, fats, bottled water and more. She goes in depth on good and bad food and explains why. She explains, in plain speak, about the scientific studies and all the pros and cons of foods like soy milk, margarine, and high fructose corn syrup. She even includes a section on Baby food.

My confession; I didn't sit down and read this book cover to cover. I read it in bites. I flipped from section to section because once I started questions started popping up in my mind and I wanted to investigate different subjects. I drink bottled water over tap water and I wanted to know if I was making a good choice or just wasting my time. I found out bottled water has the chlorine and fluoride removed. If not, they have to put it on the label. I always wondered about the fluoride issue since I think we ingest too much of it. As I thought of things when reading this book, I'd jump to the index to find what I needed. I've had this book for a few years and still pull it out from time to time to look things up.

If you want to know what's in your food and want the information to make healthy choices for you and your family, I'd definitely recommend What to Eat.  I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gluten Free Kitchen Safety

Staying gluten free and safe on a Celiac diet, isn't hard but takes practice. It's especially challenging when others in your home consume gluten. My husband is, what I like to call, a Glutenator. Someone who consumes gluten. When I was first diagnosed I told my husband it was okay that he eat gluten containing foods in front of me. I knew how much he loved bread and felt bad that he was giving these things up for me.   However, that didn't mean I wanted gluten spread all over my kitchen.

Step 1. Segregate the gluten! Designate a separate area for gluten containing food. My husband has the small counter space on the other side of the stove and the drawer beneath it for his snack food. I have a drawer on the my side of the kitchen for gluten free snacks. He prepares glutenous food only on his designated counter space.

Step 2. Bowls and dishes. Things like plastic ware and Teflon can hold onto gluten and release it back into the next food that's served from it. If you stored a bunch of bread in your Tupperware, washed it, and then thought it would be a good place to store your gluten free cereal, think again. Plastic ware, like Teflon, is porous and scratches you can't see can contaminate your food. Be safe, get separate plastic ware for your gluten free food. Wash and store plastic ware separately from gluten containing dishes. Use stainless steel cookware and glass or ceramic dishes.

Step 3. No plastic spatulas unless you can absolutely keep them separate from all gluten. Be sure they are never used for cooking or stirring anything containing gluten. The rule for plastic ware extends to utensils because they are just as porous and open to scratches that can catch gluten and contaminate the food.

Step 4. Buy a Sharpie marker. When we were first faced with condiments getting contaminated by a careless swipe of the knife or spoon we started marking them with a big "G". This way if hubby accidentally spreads the jelly on his toast and sticks the knife back in the butter and- CONTAMINATION! Now if he does this he whips out the Sharpie and smacks that big black "G" on it and I know not to eat it. Whew! Saved by a Sharpie!

Step 5. Get a new toaster! This was one of the last things I ever did and should have been one of the first. Putting a piece of glutenous bread into a toaster contaminates it. I got a pretty red toaster for my side of the kitchen and gave the old one to the hubby side of the kitchen. One last thing on the toaster? If you have overnight guests hide your Gluten Free toaster so they don't put gluten in it before you get up in the morning! This happened to me and I had to get a new toaster. It's impossible to clean gluten out of a toaster.

Those are the 5 big ones. I'm sure I'll think of more. I've been GF (gluten free) for 10 years so I'm sure there are things I'm doing but not realizing it. If there's anything I missed please feel free to leave a comment.
Be happy, be gluten free! I hope this helps. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gluten Free Review

The gluten free diet can be a challenge at times but companies like Glutino make it easier for Celiac's everywhere. Today I'd like to review a couple of their products.

Glutino's Gluten Free Crackers are a family favorite. These crackers are good alone or in soup. They've got enough of a crunch without being dry or hard.  They can be enjoyed straight out of the box or with a topping like peanut butter or humus. These gluten free crackers come in several flavors. My favorites are the Vegetable and Cheddar. I often take them as a snack to work, on airplanes or put them out with sliced cheese for company. There are two bags of crackers in each box, giving ample bang for your buck.

 I purchased Glutino's Gluten Free Chocolate Covered Pretzels when i need antlers for  my reindeer cupcakes this past Christmas and was pleasantly surprised. These crunchy little delights were the hit of the party. The chocolate covering is creamy, chocolatey, and ready to melt in your mouth. I ate my way through half the bag while decorating my reindeers and had to swat away my kitchen helpers from stealing them or my reindeers would have been antler-less.
Portion size for your dollar is good as gluten free products go.

Lately I've been finding both these products on the shelves at Stop & Shop, Shop Rite and Pathmark. I've seen them down south at Publix, too. You can find a store near you on Glutino's site. They also have coupons on the site!

We have a joke in our household that goes; Gluten free? Five dollars! Meaning almost every gluten free product is priced at five dollars. Considering some products I've come across don't seem worth what we pay for them, Glutino gives a fairly good portion compared to other gluten free companies. I give both these products 5 out of 5 stars and almost always have them stocked on my shelves. I just have to restrain myself around the Pretzels or I'll eat the whole bag in one sitting! Yum!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Vegan Diet, Gluten and Celiac Disease

I've often thought about going Vegan. I've read a lot about a plant based diet and all the reviews are good. Juicing is getting decent reviews too. I'm thinking about doing a day of that just to see how it would feel. (More on Juicing another day)

Back to the Vegan diet. I know I feel better when my diet is heavy on salads and fruit. I have times when I think, "I need a salad." However I'm a lazy cook and I worry I wouldn't be up to making Vegan food that tastes good. I purchased the book, Forks Over Knives for recipes and it's smaller volume, Forks Over Knives How to Companion. The how-to information explained more for the beginning Vegan. There are other books on how to go Vegan but a lot of them are heavy on animal cruelty. I know about that, what I don't know is how to be a successful and happy Vegan. Step into any book store or check out Amazon and you'll find lots of Vegan/Vegetarian cookbooks. I watched the Forks Over Knives video so I decided I'd start with that book.

I worry about protein levels. (Am I going to have to do math?) and the vitamin B12.

From what I'm understanding protein isn't really a problem is you incorporate beans, legumes, nuts into your meal plan. Forks Over Knives tells me that plant food has lots of protein and getting a good level of protein on a Vegan diet is easy.

I don't really worry about B12 but most people should. I have a B12 deficiency. I don't absorb it from my food anyway. Is this due to the Celiac damage? Or is it just genetic? Who knows. I go for B12 shots every two weeks to keep my levels up. All other Vegans should take a B12 supplement.

The difference between Vegan and Vegetarian is Vegans consume no animal products. No dairy, eggs, or (of course,) meat. Vegetarians sometimes consume either dairy or eggs. They describe these as Lacto or Ovo vegetarians.

I recently went to the restaurant, Loving Hut and was really impressed with the food. Each gluten free item on the menu was marked with a little heart. We ordered a few things and shared. First was the Summer Rolls with a miso-honey mustard sauce. This was made with tofu carrots & seasonal veggies and all wrapped with a thin layer of rice paper. They gave you 8 rolls and I could order this appetizer for a meal. Next was the Garlic Seaweed Salad, it wasn't my favorite so I let my dining companion have that dish. I've never been a fan of seaweed. My companion ordered a Chickpea-mushroom soup that was also very good. There was a rice noodle dish with mushrooms and tofu that was also very good. They gave generous portions and we had to ask for a doggie bag. And then there was the gluten free chocolate cake. OMG! Luckily we got the last piece.

After my experience at Loving Hut Vegan-ism is tasting a lot better. So I'm thinking of trying it. My doctor didn't think there was any problem with this diet.
Are you Vegan? Have you ever tried it? Got any advice?

Warning: when eating out anywhere always explain gluten to your server. Make sure they understand this is a major health issue. I also ask again when the food is delivered to make sure they did it right. You can never be too careful. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Gluten Free Celiac Code

 I have a code I live by:

Love many
Trust few
Always paddle
Your own canoe

Basically it means I don't trust any product unless I've discovered for sure it's gluten free. When I eat gluten I'm sick for 3 days. It feels like I have a giant lump of cement in my gut. Every nerve ending feels like its moaning in commiseration with my tummy and all I want to do is lay down and suffer. However, in this dog eat dog world we know sometimes you just have to carry on. 

So this means if I don't see "Gluten Free" on the label I run the other way. I won't let it touch my lips until I can prove it's free of that nasty little protein in wheat, rye, barley, or (sometimes) oats: gluten. If its something I really want then I reach out to the people who make it.

Here is the response from Twinings Tea. I love flavored teas so I'm doing the happy dance!

Thank you for taking the time to contact Twinings.

All teas are inherently gluten free regardless of where the tea is sourced, our ingredient listing states “black tea” or “green tea” in additional to other ingredients a particular tea may contain.  None of these added ingredients contain gluten, so therefore our teas are gluten free.  Please note, however, that Twinings at this time does not utilize an outside agency to certify our teas as gluten free.

 Thank You,
Consumer Relations
 Twinings North America