Health · Uncategorized

How to enjoy a Gluten Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is celebrated by sitting around the family table with your extended family eating a huge, calorie laden dinner. It’s easy to eat until you’re bloated and too full/ tired to function but it’s a huge pain when you’re on a gluten free or any other restricted diet and need to avoid getting sick. You see the sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie and stuffing and already know you can’t eat those but what are your alternatives? Are there any other foods to watch out for?

Main Dish

The turkey (or ham) is the default with Thanksgiving. Make sure the seasoning is safe. If they use anything other than normal herbs and spices, it could have hidden gluten and not be safe. The gravy is another big no- unless you make it specifically yourself, you cannot be sure what it’s thickened with and it’s best to avoid.

The best ways to be safe are to make sure your turkey has no skin and no topping but spices. Keep away from gravy, or take some broth before it’s made into gravy and add your own ingredients to thicken it.

Sides

Stay away from stuffing, unless you get a gluten free bread or stuffing mix and make it your own. Stuffing is bread, so it’s obvious that it will not be safe traditionally.

Stick with normal veggies. You can ask about the ingredients in the sweet potato pie and there is a decent chance it’s safe, but is it worth the risk? To know you’re safe, stick with green beans, spinach or any other side that contains no additives. If that sweet potato pie only contains sweet potatoes, brown sugar, marshmallows and a few other items they can easily list (or show you) it’s safe. (Yes, sweet potato pie is my favorite dish)

Stuffing- gluten free version

Stuffing isn’t hard- take your favorite gluten free bread and tear it up, add it to broth (or gluten free gravy) and let it soak, then toss it with the celery, onions and anything else you use and wrap it in aluminum foil and bake it the way you normally bake your stuffing.

They also have gluten free stuffing mixes for people who don’t cook it totally from scratch- located in the gluten free section of the local grocer.

Hot Rolls

Rolls are another obvious issue- they are nothing but flour but there are gluten free options out there, more than other subs. You can find frozen gluten free rolls, normal rolls in the bread aisle and there are countless recipes out there for gluten free rolls, so you have many options. My personal favorite is to take a normal hot roll recipe and convert it- they taste almost the same and are a tried and true recipe.

Deserts

Pumpkin Pie

I think it’s safe to assume, the pumpkin pie is one of most peoples’ favorites. The pumpkin itself is fine- pumpkin, milk (or milk sub), cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/whatever other spices you use, sugar, eggs- all of that is gluten free. You can bake it all in a pan to make a pumpkin pie pudding type of dish or you can head to the local Kroger (it’s the only store around here that sells them) and pick up an extra gluten free frozen pie shell. (Wholly Wholesome makes a really good crust- but pay attention to the label because some of their crusts are whole grain- meaning wheat and they are usually together in the frozen coolers).

Pecan Pie

There are plenty of recipes out there to make gluten free pecan pie and I’m not sure, besides the crust how much needs to be avoided.

Use your other Wholly Wholesome pie shell and find one of the many pecan pie recipes and test it out

 

It may be a bit more time consuming on your end and you may end up offending family members by your “diet choices” but it is very possible to be included in the big family Thanksgiving meal while staying safe and not getting sick.

If this is your first year, it will be more challenging but just remember- your body won’t care if your aunt was offended by you not wolfing down her rolls. Your body won’t care that you had a moment of weakness and took a few bites of that pie or stuffing- your body will mind that you just put an ingredient in it that it cannot tolerate and your comfort is more important than someone’s feelings. If it’s store bought, always look for the gluten free label and if you’re in doubt, keep away.

 

Health · Uncategorized

Beginner’s Guide to Starting Gluten and Dairy Free

It took me a few months to fully adjust to the taste, texture (and price) differences between the gluten free and regular foods but now it comes second nature. I have been doing the gluten free thing for a while now.  I spent (and still spend) tons of times on forums for gluten free living as well as leafing through magazines, books and cook books as well as Pinterest boards and blogs. I did not just start this journey as a way to lose weight (I have lost, but it was a pleasant surprise when I was gearing up to gain). I started after getting the diagnosis of Hashimotos Thyroiditis and having the gluten free diet recommended in both support forums and by professionals. I did a simple four month elimination from June until November then retested gluten. The results were obvious- all my digestive problems cleared up and symptoms I didn’t realize I had went away. Those problems came back for the holidays, so on January 1 of this year, I made the switch to a fully gluten free lifestyle for life.

I was well researched by the time I committed, now it’s second nature but I still have some things I wish I had been prepared for going into it. It’s much more expensive (add in a toddler who has severe lactose intolerance- and put yourself on the lactose free diet as well- then end up having to be on it with her due to your minor intolerance getting worse) and you will end up doubling your food budget if you’re not careful. You don’t need all the replacements, but they are good to use when you’re getting used to eating gluten free.

Here is a small list of some things I consider either either essential or good to have on hand for a snack/meal (I’m a baker with a huge sweet tooth). As I’ve gotten further into getting used to the change, I have been not buying so many processed foods and baking more.

  • Several varieties of gluten free flour. Bob’s Redmill is good.  They have an all purpose flour that goes well with cakes, cookies and nearly anything else and you don’t have to mix. I did find white, brown rice and tapoica works well in a lot of baked (1/3 of each). Walmart’s generic brand gluten free all purpose, in my opinion, tastes like regular flour. I have gotten desserts mixed up using that flour.
  • Enjoy Life chocolate chips. I use the mini chips in chocolate chip cookies and mixed into my vanilla almond milk yogurt
  • Enjoy Life cookies/chocolate candy/etc- when you’re wanting chocolate candy, it’s great. They also go well with gluten free grahm crackers for s’mores.
  • Silk Almond milk vanilla yogurt- it’s a great go-to as a snack or breakfast if you don’t have time to make a proper breakfast. It’s gluten and dairy free
  • Katz makes really good gf/df doughnut holes- for when you’re craving a doughnut
  • Earth Balance makes vegan “butter” their butter spreads are both gluten free and vegan and one version is also soy free.

There are tons of resources online that can give you gluten and dairy free menu items from most restaurants and a lot have special menus now- if you ask. Thanks to gluten and dairy free being fad diets, there are more options than years ago. I personally check things on the Celiac.org support forums if I am questioning them. I’m not a member, but the boards are usually on the first page when you google any food to see if it’s gluten free.

One of the best ways to help adjust is to find good recipe books, magazines, Pinterest boards or other resources and test out recipes. Baking from scratch is the best bet- you can control what subs you use and all the ingredients. If you work a lot, a lot of people found batch cooking on a free day works wonders. You cook a large amount of food and freeze it in single portion sizes- that way you can heat it up like a microwavable meal when you’re rushed for time.

Holidays are the worst, same with family gatherings- it’s best to eat before you go.

 

Gluten Free Flours

!. Almond- Good to use while baking or breadcrumb alternative.

2. Buckwheat- Good to use for breads

3. Sorghum- Normally mixed with other flours or small amounts used due to being a heavier texture.

4. Amaranth-  use it to replace 25% or less of the regular flour in normal recipes but this flour works best mixed with other flours.

5. Arrowroot-  thickener or mixed with almond, coconut or tapioca in baked

6. Brown Rice- thicken sauces or bread foods, is often used to make noodles and combines well with other flours

7. Oat- gives a chewier texture, goes well in baked foods

8. Coconut- breads or baked desserts

9. Tapioca- thickener, mixes well with other flours

10. Cassava- Most similar to white flour, works well replacing all purpose flour

There are many more, but these are some of the easiest to find in most stores. Most grocers now carry a supply of gluten free products. You can get gf pasta almost as cheap as regular at Walmart and Aldi also has gluten free products. Around here for me, I have had more luck finding dairy free products at Kroger than anywhere else. They have Tofutti brand products. Tofutti has dairy free subs for sour cream, cream cheese and many other items.

The common items you’ll need to replace for dairy free

  1. Sour cream
  2. Whipped cream (there is a coconut whipped cream that is so much better tasting than any other whipped cream I have ever tried, it goes beautifully in flavored coffee)
  3. Milk- milks come in lots of varieties now. For baking, I prefer vanilla flavored almond and unflavored almond for anything else. My kids drink chocolate cashew, almond or soy or regular soy.
  4. There are a lot of flavored gf/df coffee creamers out now. Most of the International Delight flavored coffee creamers in stores have both the df and gf label.
  5. Cream
  6. Heavy whipping cream
  7. Evaporated milk
  8. Sweetened condensed milk
  9. Butter

There are great subs for all those items and if you need one and can’t find them, there are recipes for everything on Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

As soon as the Fourth of July passes

I start to feel the spirit of Halloween, then the whole holiday season ending with Christmas.

Maybe it’s because I work in retail or because I do Etsy and most of my stuff revolves around holidays, but I’ve been thinking about Halloween for the past few weeks. (starting to prepare my shop)

Anyone else feel like they think from one holiday to the next? My husband and dad both have birthdays, my and my husband’s anniversary, my mom’s birthday, back to school, Halloween, Nano starts, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, my daughter’s birthday, Christmas, New Years, my birthday, Valentine’s Day, my other daughter’s birthday, Easter, etc

Most of those involve fun decorations and I love the spirit from September through December- not to mention all the shopping, decorating and baking. (be prepared for tons of gluten/dairy free recipes around the holidays and I’ll be posting crafts.

I’m in the process of preparing my shop for the holidays and started Christmas shopping (since we have a birthday 3 weeks before Christmas) and that further got me in the mood.

What puts you in the holiday mood? Anyone else completely fine with seeing decorations and such come out in stores months in advance? I constantly hear people complain about how early stores start getting ready for Christmas, but since having kids I love it.

 

Health · Parenting · Uncategorized

These are a few of my favorite things

I’m wanting to step up my diet a bit more.

I have been strict gluten free for a year now, I’m almost fully dairy free but soy is my problem.

I think I’m going to fully take dairy out at home and out of home then work on soy.

Already- those homemade lattes I posted- just as good and cheaper than Starbucks doubleshots

Earth Balance instead of butter

20180702_2230432071125857565148264.jpg

Silk Almond milk for baking and for my kids (and me occasionally)

I use the nonflavored and unsweetened for cooking

Enjoy Life as a snack

 

It’s delicious and dairy, soy and gluten free- full winner

and you have to have salad dressings when you eat as much salad as I do

They aren’t perfect, they do have soy but I’ll phase soy out like I did dairy. I do use replacements for sour cream and cream cheese as well and I’m really liking Daiya cheese on sandwiches.

Other than that, I bake deserts from scratch- that way I can control what is in the cookies and cake and I try to always cook my lunch for work before I go. I’ll possibly do that for my younger daughter when she starts school since she’s restricted.

I’ll be posting more of my favorite gluten/dairy and/or soy free products as well as more recipe conversions and recipes as I make them.

Health · Uncategorized

Homemade Mocha Latte

I love mocha lattes from Starbucks and finally found a recipe for it a while back. It tastes just as good as the ones from there.I was able to make it Gluten/Dairy/Soy free

Fresh brewed coffee

Cocoa Powder

Sweetened Almond milk

Sugar

Brew your coffee then mix a spoon of cocoa powder, 2 spoons of sugar and add milk to your preference.

The alternative I found was to use chocolate almond milk and it works almost as well (not as good, but still good)

If you don’t need it to be dairy free, add some whipped cream on top and toss in a few df/gf/sf Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips on top.

Uncategorized

Day 6- your favorite recipe

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m gluten free and my 2 year old is dairy free. I have managed to find all the replacements we need for both of us and that includes a delicious gf baking flour that makes snacks that taste just like normal.

Gluten and dairy free Cowboy Cookies (oatmeal/chocolate chip) are my absolute favorites.

2 cups gf baking flour (I use Walmart generic- it’s the best I have found.)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup regular sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup crisco

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups steel cut gf oatmeal

1 cup gf/df chocolate chips (I use the Enjoy Life mini)

Preheat the oven to 350

Mix the 2 cups sugar with the crisco, add in the eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder and soda and a sprinkle of salt. Add in the oats and chocolate chips. Make small balls and grease a pan.

Bake for about 10 minutes

Health · Parenting · Uncategorized

Gluten and dairy free salmon pasta salad

I made this for dinner and it turned out great.
It’s a gluten and dairy free pasta salad.
I just threw it together, so I didnt measure things.

This will be an unprofessional recipe, but I made this tonight and only measure when it’s important

Gf/df pasta
2 tomatoes
1/2 package of celery
1/3 bunch of green onion
1-2 cups mayo
1 full sized shredded piece of cooked salmon (2 cans of tuna would go well as well)
Cook the salmon and boil the pasta
Shred salmon while cooking
Chop celery, tomato (chunks) and cut green onions and combine in a large bowl
Toss, add in salmon and drained noodles
Mix in mayo and serve

Cant tell you exactly how many servings it made either but it was fast and extremely easy- and my two year old had fun helping me mix.

Health · Uncategorized

EDS, post 30 can your body bounce back?

I know your metabolism takes a slight hit at 30, larger hit at 35 and every 5 years or so keeps shrinking. I’m still heavier than I was pre-kids and reality is hitting me. I knew I no longer had my pre-baby body, but will I be able to go back?

I accepted the fact that pregnancy made my hips more of a problem area than they already were. I only wore a larger size (11-13 in high school) for that reason, but had an hourglass figure. When I dropped to a 14, I tried on some 17s and couldn’t get them past my hips. That was when I read that juniors and adult sizes are made different (1,3,5, etc are juniors. 2,4,6, etc are adult). Juniors are made narrow in the hips where adult jeans are made wider in the hips.

I do know that with Ehlers Danlos, collagen is affected and where it makes your skin stretchy, it seems it may be harder to just bounce back. My scars fade but they still look strange when they heal. I don’t know much else about EDS but I do have an appointment, not only with a genetic specialist, but a specialist who lives with EDS herself. But that’s in a little bit. Right now, I’ve been researching trying to find foods that can help, workouts good enough to help lose weight and tone up but also safe for Osteo and loose joints and anything else that could help me with shrinking back down.

In the past 2 years, I’m down from 220 to about 170. I’m down from a size 20 to a size 14-16. I still have 40lbs left and hoping to get down to a 6ish or 8, maybe and I have 5 years in my mind to do it. If I can get down to my goal, fix what I need to fix diet wise and perfect my ingredient reading I should be able to maintain despite my Hashimotos. I’m seeing that even thyroid isn’t as much of an excuse as people use it. I dropped 20lbs in 4 months on a good dose of thyroid medication and cutting 1 ingredient out. I’m almost 1 month back to the normal (gluten free) lifestyle and finally feeling back to how I was feeling. I just had my thyroid levels tested again and they were perfect.

Right now, I’m trying to buy less processed foods. I have quit drinking Mello Yello (but I did switch to Diet coke for the time being), I’m eating 1 grain meal a day (if that) and the rest are cooked or salad. I do need to cut condiments and I still am drinking my Starbucks double shots (1 a day), I also started to notice my sugar drops when I eat potatoes so I’m switching to sweet potatoes.

The problem is when you have multiple diagnosis’s with several recomendations for diets. Where I have obvious issues with gluten, gluten free is needed (unless I want to spend all day cramping and in the bathroom), I had the diabetic low glycemic diet recommended to me for the reactive hypoglycemia. Cutting everything that was recommended to me feels restrictive. It also makes my OCD mind feel like I’ll be depriving myself and feels like it’s a black/white situation instead of- eat this way and you’ll feel great, eat that way and feel like crap.

I’m working on disassociating food with pleasure or anything related to emotions and trying to associate it with fueling my body and nothing more. Mindfulness helps that. Taking time to savor what I eat and pay attention to it is what I’m working on. Salad tastes great, so does fruit. Sugar and snacks that are heavily processed taste like chemicals but are an addiction- I’ve read all about sugar addiction and cold turkey is the way to go with kicking it. I’ve been thinking about trying a 1 month sugar free diet to try to break it. Just not sure if I have the will power currently. I will start it at the beginning of a month this year, though. Just have to build up and do further research into it to go in armed instead of half assing it.

In my picture, I was 18. I was constantly working out but didn’t know half of what I know now. I was also healthy.

I wasn’t skinny, but I was a good 30lbs smaller than I am now.

Health · Parenting · Uncategorized

We took my 2 year old to the ER a few weeks ago. 

We were told to keep her away from dairy and her diarrhea (reason we took her) was likely caused by a virus. Well, we took her off dairy and her diarrhea cleared up. We reintroduced it many times and the very last time my mom attempted to give her cows milk, she spit it out and didn’t want to drink it. Each time it has given her diarrhea. It’s lasted way more than 10 days (did test positive for a virus- this specific one lasts 10 days and it’s been well over that and she still gets diarrhea when she eats yogurt, most cheese, ice cream or milk. She’s also developing a taste for my gluten free snacks instead of normal. I have read picky eating can be a sign of a food intolerance. We are pretty sure lactose intolerance (I am) because the diarrhea has been a recurrent issue her whole life. We have an order to have her tested for Celiac due to my medical issues, her sisters gene and her symptoms. 

If she isn’t able to to back to cows milk, it’ll be all three of us women in the house who don’t drink it. Her older sister could easily live without dairy and I’m lactose intolerant myself. 

This is a whole lot of fun going through the tests, dealing with the diaper and trying to figure all this stuff out. Even with the medical help, it is still too long a process. 

Health · Uncategorized

Day 2 gluten free

I cut gluten out of my diet again. This time, I’m better educated than the first time (I’ve done 3 elimination diets over the years- all three times for different amounts of time and all 3 times I had benefits that were noticeable). This time, I’m doing it after being suggested by multiple professionals and even told to act like I have Celiac and avoid it.

The problem with not being diagnosed by a blood test, but being professionally diagnosed as having Gluten Intolerance is what to say when I am at a restaurant. I cross contaminated myself once by picking salad around the croutons, getting crumbs and ending up running back and forth to the bathroom all morning the next morning. I have read more than one example of people being purposely contaminated by self righteous waiters who assumed they were following the trend and giving them regular food instead of gluten free food so what am I supposed to say when a waiter or cashier asks why I’m wanting the gluten free menu? Do I lie and say I have Celiac? From what my doctor told me, what I did (eliminate it and readd) that’s enough for him to prescribe a gluten free diet to his patients since he has dealt with so many false positive and false negative Celiac blood screens, he no longer uses the tests to confirm or deny the results.

I did find major benefits when I cut it in the past (over the summer from July to November) and reverted back in November and December. Because of the results I got when I cut it in the past (lost 20lbs in 3 months, got rid of my IBS morning diarrhea, was able to drink coffee again with no issues, had more energy, felt better, 0 arthritis flares- just to name a few differences) my doctor told me to ignore the negative Celiac panel and live like I have Celiac Disease since I do have autoimmune issues and gluten itself does play a role (I went on a processed gluten free diet- to avoid feeling better due to eating healthier foods- I ate a ton of gluten free pasta and didn’t cut dairy)

I guess when I get myself into the full swing again, I need to look at other things. I ate a lunch of baked fish (no breading), baked potato and mixed vegetables and my blood sugar dropped within an hour of eating. I have been told to eat sweet potatoes instead of white and to avoid white everything (flour, bread, sugar, etc) due to my reactive hypoglycemia. I’ve also been advised to stay on the low glycemic diet as well as cutting gluten (and not by medical professionals, but due to self testing and elimination diets- diary. I haven’t been tested, but I did find out I’m lactose intolerant as well)

I really wish I could gain the self control to go on the Autoimmune Paleo diet. It’s only 30-60 days and would probably help more than this random trial and error I’ve been doing.

On the other side, my healthy daughter (2 years old) has just had a stool sample taken in and has an order for a full GI panel as well as the Celiac panel. She’s had diarrhea and we have eliminated dairy for the past 2 weeks. We have tried giving her regular milk (got diarrhea again) then we tried giving her cheese and other dairy items- once again, got diarrhea again so it does appear dairy at least is an issue but since we’ve been dealing with more diarrhea from her than just the past 2 weeks (and a rash that comes with it) and our older daughter had a positive gene test for the Celiac gene, it takes around 2 years for an autoimmune disease to start showing, I guess it’s time to get her screened for the first time. Our older daughter has to have the screening on a regular basis and she probably will as well. Once I get the gluten free diet fully down for myself, I may start looking into talking to the pediatrician and testing both of my girls (closer monitored to make sure they don’t miss anything needed)

 

I truly don’t understand why people want to go on this as a diet just to “lose weight” or “fit in” with other people. It’s more expensive, more restrictive and a huge pain when everyone around you is having cake and you’re having to say “no.” I kept re introducing it as a way of trying to convince myself I had no actual symptoms from it so I could go back to eating normal foods- unfortunately, I couldn’t ignore the symptoms and felt sick 100% of the time (even a few times I didn’t realize I ate it). I’m no longer eliminating it as a trial and am now avoiding it and doing the research to “live like I have Celiac” since that’s what my doctor told me to do.

I do have to wonder if beauty and hair products also count- I have Eczema on my hands and face and Seborrheic Dermatitis on my scalp. I’ve started using sensitive skin cleanser (Dermalogica) and moisturizing facial masks for the past few weeks and I LOVE Hand Food from Ulta (hand lotion and scrub) for my dry hands (thanks to the cold weather, Hashimotos and Eczema- fun combo)

The Seborrheic Dermatitis has been an embarrassment for years. I’ve had it since I was a child and it looks like I have dandruff or worse- but it’s just dead skin cells. When people get close enough they can see it’s dead skin but I’ve had 2 managers tell me I needed to get rid of it. If it was that easy, it would have been gone years ago.

I use T-Gel daily and that keeps it from itching, unless I start sweating. I was told it was SD but I’m pretty sure it’s Eczema since I get Eczema outbreaks on my hands and face anyways.

 

My featured image is from when I was 24, a new mom and the toddler was my oldest- who’s now almost 7.