Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holidays, food and health

Tis the season for...sugar!  It seems like everywhere I go there are sweets!  And, that is my first inclination in terms of what to cook and eat, too.  I'm thinking about whether to make cookies or fudge or muffins.  The food blogs and Facebook posts right now are filled with cookie and treat recipes. My mom is making her standard set of holiday cookies to send to family and friends.  And, since many religions and groups have some sort of holiday this time of year, it is pervasive.

At the same time, I am trying to eat healthier.  This is not just a pre-New Year's resolution. This is not a "low-carb diet" idea. It is, however, an ongoing life decision and something that it hard to do, perhaps especially at this time of year.

I have made a commitment to myself to eat more fruits and veggies (especially veggies) each day.  Going gluten-free has often meant finding delicious and/or edible alternatives to all of these treats, sweets and grain-based staples of our American diet.  And certainly, as I have been blogging, I have found it important to try out new recipes and gluten-free ideas.  The emotional part that doesn't want to be "missing out" on normal holiday treats, will be trying some of these amazing recipes for treats.  But, I'm wanting to see if I can also make an effort to eat less grains, in general, and more lean proteins and veggies.

They are not mutually exclusive, of course, and as with many things this time of year, it may just be a matter of moderation in all things. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bread machines - part 2

I made some bread in our bread machine!!  I found the manual, which helped give me confidence and direction. :) And, I also used a mix, so it was pretty darn simple.   The mix I used was Inspiration Mixes Millet Oat bread.

I think it is pretty tasty, but it does suffer from the typical gf issues of heavy denseness.

As I've said before, bread really is the hardest thing to do gluten free when you are imagining a gluten-filled version.

I'm including two photos...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bread machines

Am I the only one intimidated by a bread machine?  I think they are a wonderful idea (put stuff in and have bread come out).  But, we can't seem to find the instruction book, and when I plugged it in and it started beeping, I immediately unplugged it and switched to a new project.  It is interesting because I don't think of myself as a techno-phobe.  And, in general, I like to just try buttons to make things happen.  But, this contraption without a manual is a bit overwhelming.

From a brief search on the internet, I learn two things 1) it is very common to lose manuals, and 2) I am not alone in my feelings. :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What to make...

I spontaneously have some time on my hands and am thinking of baking something that will suit this rainy and cold, but beautiful, Fall afternoon.  We still have a whole pumpkin we can do something with, and muffins are always good since they are an easy, quick breakfast.  Or, perhaps I'll take a nap (another rare thing).

I'm going to an interesting-sounding event tomorrow.  It is an event where there is a medical doctor/gluten-free specialist/singer-songwriter coming to Corvallis.  (Who says you can't do it all!)  Sound unique?  I heard about it from a friend at work, and we're going together.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Facebook, contests, and gluten-free goodies

Using Facebook is an amazing way to learn about gluten-free products, recipes, blogs.  It is also a way to meet others who are interested in the topic.  But, lately, it has also been a way for me to go a little crazy and enter into a bunch of contests for free bread, cookbooks and more.  I haven't won anything yet, but hope springs eternal!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

new bread to try

I had to work today, so I went to the Co-op on the way home to pick up some things for this week.  While there, I saw a new type of gluten-free bread in the bread section (rather than the freezer section), so I decided to try it out.  I believe this company had some samples at the Gluten Free Fair that I went to in Salem in September.

Anyway, I got the Gluten Free Multigrain Bread from Tarte Desserts & Bakery in Eugene.   I had it for dinner (toasted and with a bit of butter) with some chicken and rice soup that Geoff made.  It is good, and I like the poppy and other seeds they have used in it.  As is expected, it is a bit on the expensive side.

Local gf bread
Here's a picture of it to show you what I'm talking about. (I'm also making use of my cool new birthday present from my sweeties!).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cinnamon rolls for breakfast - Udi's-style

Udi's gluten-free cinnamon rolls were on sale at the Co-op, so I bought some.  Wow are they good!  Heated for about 20 seconds in the microwave, they are scrumptious!  They are not too sweet and have a great texture.  You can actually peel them apart just like the gluten-filled kind.

I didn't like their frosting very much, so I have been eating them "plain" (though they hardly taste plain with all that good cinnamon sugary stuff on the insides).  However, Geoff made me some delicious frosting for them to use this morning.  It was a great breakfast. :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spanish gluten free and other blogs

I just found a blogger after my own heart...someone who writes about gluten-free Catalan and Spanish food at The Sensitive Epicure. I haven't gone through all of her blog, but was enticed by her opening line in a post entitled A Sampling of Spanish Tapas where she writes "Yes, I miss Spain" and then goes on to talk about Barcelona and Catalunya, and some of the typical delicious dishes there (but made gluten-free!).  Apparently, there is even a Catalan Celiac Association.   I'll have to keep that in mind for my next trip (whenever that may be!)

It's amazing how fast you can go down the "rabbit hole" on the internet.  I was looking on Gluten Freeville's website because I clicked a link from their Facebook page yesterday about a Pesto Veggie Pizza.  Anyway, once I was on their website, I thought I'd check their recipe page for a quiche recipe, as I was in the mood to make a quiche, and there in the Appetizers section it listed a recipe for Tortilla Española with Spicy Aioli (gluten free, vegetarian) that had been posted by Erin Swing. That sounded even better, and I know how to make a tortilla espanola (thanks to my friend, Lucia), but wanted to check out her recipe and the spicy aioli part!  Hence, this is how I ended up on the Erin Swing's blog called The Sensitive Epicure.

I have really been enjoying emails and posts regarding savory, rather than sweet, gluten-free foods.  Last week, I got an email from Jules GF about Broccoli-Cauliflower Soup, which sounded good, too.  I got the ingredients and hope to make it tonight or early this week. Perhaps it is because it is Fall, or perhaps it is because I just started Weight Watchers at work, but I am more interested in the main courses rather than desserts right now.   Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a good gluten free dessert (especially with my birthday coming up), but it is not what I want to focus energy on right now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rudi's to the rescue!

So, as most of you know, I've been wheat-free for 8 1/2 years.  During that time, I discovered Rudi's spelt bread, which to my taste was the best, most delicious, "closest-to-real-bread" I found.  When I started going completely gluten-free this February, I realized that the hardest thing to create without gluten is actually bread. Imagine my excitement, then, when I learned that Rudi's started making a gluten-free line of breads in July.  I got some last weekend, and it is great!!  Great texture, flavor and it holds together well.   I'm soooooo happy!  And, they sell it here in Corvallis at the Co-op (and perhaps some other places).

Also, last Saturday I went to the Gluten Free Food Fair at a store called LifeSource Natural Foods in Salem.  I had some super great onion rings made with a mix called The Celiac Maniac Batter Mix.  It is so new that he didn't even have it in the store yet, but did sell me a bag he had with him.  I went with Cynthia, a friend from work, and her roommate, Sarah.  It was fun to see all these locally-made gluten-free products, and to get to taste them, too.  I heard about this store and fair as I was searching online to see where to get Authentic Foods flours, which had been recommended in a cookbook. They sell this flour in bulk, which is super, so I'll try it out and let you know.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Even the best laid plans...

So, I'm wondering if my container labeled "gluten-free" oats is actually not correctly labeled.  The muffins taste delicious, but something I ate yesterday is irritating my intestines.  Isn't it great to have such instant feedback?

At my parent's house yesterday, we realized that Goddess dressing has wheat!  Ugh.  I never thought to check that, so that could also be the culprit.

In any case, I'll take a break from the muffins and see if that helps.  Alexander can keep eating them, which was one of the main goals for making them in the first place.  I've discovered that it is really nice to have something easy and ready to go in the mornings for our breakfast.   Muffins freeze well, so I can make up a bunch and then unfreeze them as needed.  And, they are also great for travel and camping.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Banana muffins


I'm back to blogging.  I guess I just took the summer off.  It has been a very busy few months, so I haven't had a chance to do any posts.  But, I made some wonderful gf banana muffins today and wanted to let you know.

I wanted to make sure they were 100 % gluten free, so I took the recipe at and used 1 c. brown rice flour and 1/2 c. Bob's Red Mills' Mighty Tasty Hot cereal instead of oat flour and added 1 Tbls. of applesauce. I used Agave syrup instead of brown sugar and I also added about two tablespoons of flax seeds and my now "signature" few tablespoons of applesauce.

They turned out great!  And, Alexander LOVES them.  He's already had part of three of them today.

Hopefully, I'll be back soon.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Eating in Kansas City, MO

It has been a while since I've been able to blog, and it seems like in that time, I have heard of some great new resources and found out some more people I know may be gluten free.   I will try to post the resources as I can.

I'm in Kansas City right now at a NAFSA professional conference, and overall I have to say that it has been surprisingly easy to eat well.  I found a place in the Denver Airport that served rice bowls, and here I have gone to this great market near the Convention Center that has a salad bar.

The only glitches so far are:
1) I ate the seasoned potatoes at breakfast this morning before I thought to ask if they had wheat on them.  They did, but luckily I haven't felt any strong negative consequences today.  I did make sure to take a probiotic, so perhaps that helped.

2) At the KCISS reception tonight, I could only eat one of the appetizers they had at the buffet (some sort of meat kabobs).  I'm guessing that may be a problem the entire conference since caterers often have wheaty appetizers large group events.

Stay tuned!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Homemade bread!

I came home last night to still-warm gluten free bread. Mmmmmmmm.  There is something very comforting about warm bread (even without the gluten).

After all the experimenting I've been doing with trying different gf breads from bakeries and stores, we have come the conclusion that it is very expensive to eat this way.  And, in many cases, the stuff that we bought was just not very good (see April 11 post).  Eating gf if you don't want grains is pretty darn cheap, but who wants to do that?  It is not surprising that one of Alexander's words is "toast."  He knows the good stuff!

When I got three loaves of my favorite gf bread (the flax seed bread from the Living Earth bakery) this week and brought them home, Geoff started thinking.   Thus, the homemade bread.  :) He actually went and got a bread machine yesterday to do this, realizing that we will probably very quickly make up the cost by not buying so much of the other breads.  It turns out that even bread machines have gf settings these days!   Luckily, I had stocked up on some gf flours and supplies when we went up to Bob's Red Mill store over the Easter weekend, so it looks like he didn't have to buy that many supplies.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Toaster waffles and other morning thoughts

When we went up to Seattle and stay with my cousin, she and her kids had toaster waffles for breakfast.  Geoff had gotten us some of the Trader Joe's gluten free toaster waffles, so Alexander and I tried them when we got home.  A big hit!  Easy, tasty and fast...all good things in the morning.   I went this weekend to pick up some more, and they were out!  I guess I'm not the only one who thinks they're great!  But, the nice person I spoke with at TJs said she'll save three for me and call me when they get some in.

That's sort of a pattern for this past week.  I also went to the Living Earth bakery on Friday to get some of their flax bread.  They were also out, so I special ordered some to pick up on Wednesday. I also had to order three of them to do this.  It must be a magic number.  This means that after this morning I'm out of bread.  It's probably good for me to figure out more non-bread breakfasts.

It has been a while since I've been able to blog, so I have had a lot of thoughts running around my head.  Here are some thoughts for upcoming blogs...
  • Tips for eating more fruits and veggies (my new goal, and hopefully easier now that the spring is here!)
  • Millet - bird food or breakfast?
  • Other gf resources I've found/heard about
  • Do I feel better/notice a difference being completely gf?
  • Vitamins and supplements

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Loving feeling good!

So, I am still gluten free. I made it through the six-week trial period I set myself for being gluten free and not just wheat free. And, while I am not completely sure how different I feel, I feel good. I'm actually a bit nervous to try spelt again in case I like it but it makes me feel terrible.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The only hard part about going gf is...

BREAD! You may think I'm joking, but I am not. There are a lot of delicious gluten free foods out there, but the one that seems nearly impossible to make great is bread. As part of this weekend, we went to three gf bakeries (2 in Seattle and one in Portland). I had one of the best cupcakes ever at Cascadia Bakery in Portland, but the bread...bleh. I'm hoping that they just had a bad bread day.  The Flying Apron in Seattle's Freemont district also had some scrumptious treats, but I didn't see any bread. Perhaps they didn't have any that day? Then, this morning we went to Wheatless in Seattle. Amazingly good apricot cheese danishes and lemon bars, but the bread had all the telltale traits of gf breads (either it is light but falls apart easily or is dense and heavy, and in all cases it is expensive). I know it is hard to immitate gluten, but it seems to be most difficult to do in breads!  I have found that other baked goods are easier to make yummy so that the gluten isn't missed. But, bread is tough! I remember why I was so excited when I discovered Rudi's Spelt bread. It tastes and acts like wheat bread.  From all my research, I still think that the Millet bread at Living Earth Bakery is the best gf bread I've tried.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Eating in Seattle

We're on vacation for a long weekend in Seattle. It's been fun to explore the gf options here. Today we're at the Portage Bay Cafe, and they have two gf pancake options. Yesterday, Mike and I went to the Flying Apron Bakery, and tomorrow we hope to stop at Wheatless in Seattle.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Well, I have to say that this is not my favorite gf grain so far. I got some of the Maskal Teff, which is apparently an ancient grain from Ethiopia, from the Co-op and made some whole grain teff porridge a few days ago. On the positive side, one cup of dry teff to 3 cups of water makes a LOT of teff porridge! It is a very dense little grain. Alexander had a few spoonfuls, too. It was a bit dry, and thus hard for him to swallow. Perhaps I cooked it too long? I did it as directed, so perhaps this is just how it is.

Day 2: The second day, Alexander and I switched to eggs and gf toaster waffles.

Day 3: The third day, I tried heating it up the leftovers like little pancakes and eating it with syrup. The teff itself doesn't have a strong flavor, so this was okay.

Day 4: And, this morning, I've heated it up and added sesame butter for some additional flavor and moisture. This seems to be the best. It also may be one of those things where it is growing on me.

Day 5: ? There's still a little bit left, so I may have to get creative tomorrow.

On the recipe insert that came with the teff package, it suggests cooking the teff in combination with other grains (brown rice, millet, kasha, or corn meal). I think the cookbook also suggests mixing it with quinoa. Perhaps for another day...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two more new mixes!

I am certainly not feeling deprived for sweets!  In fact, I think my body is not sure what to do with all these treats all the time.  I may have to detox later, but I must continue these experiments of gluten-free mixes for now.  This is the 5th week of my six-week experiment. What I do in the name of science! :)

Judy, my mother-in-law, got us a sampling of the King Arthur Flour mixes to try.  Over the weekend, we decided to try their brownie mix and muffin mix.  They are both very good, and come the closest to my memory of the texture of wheat. The flavors are also really good.  As those of you following this blog can already guess, I added about two tablespoons of applesauce to each mix while preparing them.

The brownies came out moist, just the right texture, and super yummy.  I thought they tasted a little cake-like, but it could also be that they just had a more "wheat-like" texture and feel.  And, I know they're good when Geoff is also eating them, rather than "saving" them for me.   Geoff helped me with test the batter too, and said it was the best batter so far.  His comment was that "King Arthur's done their homework."

I also made the muffin mix.  Wow.  Really good.  They are nice and light.  Again, the texture reminds me of my memory of wheat.  Alexander also likes them, not surprisingly.  I added chocolate chips, to  make them more dessert-like.

Judy also got us some of the King Arthur's gf flour.  I'm planning to use it in my next gf recipe experiment. Thus, over the weekend, I also did the shopping prep for the Triple Ginger Tea Loaf listed in Annalise Robert's cookbook.   After all this research, I think that I may finally be getting over my fear of "the gums" (xantham gum, guar gum, etc.).  I realized that the Co-Op has xantham gum in bulk, so I don't have to commit to buying a lot at a time.  And, the one critique I continue to have of mixes (ALL mixes) is that I can't control the sweetness.  Mixes tend to be sweeter than I like, so that may also be moving me towards flours rather than mixes.

While at the co-op, I also got some Teff (a gf Ethiopian grain) so I can try the breakfast recipe in the Whole Life cookbook.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Work Functions With Food

This continues to be an issue in most cases. The good news is that people are often now aware it is an issue. And, the consistent gold standard for good gf options seems to be meetings where food is prepared by either University Housing and Dining Services or the Cultural Meals Program. Those groups tend to ask if there are dietary restrictions and provide gf options.

Our International Programs events are also getting better. Cindy and Amelia did a tamale luncheon fundraiser for the OSU annual food drive, and the tamales were homemade, gf, and delicious. Cindy and Marion just did a Stone Soup Fundraiser (also for the food drive) where both soups were gluten free and delicious. I brought in the gf cupcakes, so there were even desserts. And, there was also recently a taco bar luncheon and a baked potato bar luncheon, which are great for gf options. I think Rachel FM, Renee and Cindy were coordinating those ones.

It was an issue on Friday when there were bag lunches with sandwiches. I can take off the bread and add my own gf bread, but I am feeling the fact that the sandwich insides were touched by wheat!

And, it will be an issue again on Monday when a "pizza party" is being provided by an outside source. Pizza parties are such a standard American way of providing food to large groups. Pizza parties are also obviously problematic for people with lactose/casein intolerance. Though it was checked, there are no gf pizza options at 11 am in Corvallis.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Good looking Cookbooks

As I eat my rice cereal for breakfast, I am reading about much more interesting meals. I tried the Bob Red Mill's Creamy Rice hot cereal, and think perhaps I'm not a creamy rice cereal kind of girl. It's not that it's bad, but rather that even with yogurt and flax seeds, it's not very interesting.

I got two recommended cookbooks from the public library this week. They are:
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre (recommended by my cousin, Sarah), and
Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts (recommended on the GF RN's blog).

They both are filled with a lot of good sounding recipes. The Whole Life Nutrition one has gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free recipes. The Baking Classics is gluten-free but not vegan.

What is striking my fancy this morning are recipies like the Triple Ginger Tea Loaf, Lemon Poppyseed Tea Loaf, Lemon Squares, Biscotti (from the Baking Classics) and Grandma's Cinnamon Rolls (with whipped potatoes as well as rice flour! - from the Whole Life Nutrition). The Whole Life Nutrition book has a whole section on breakfast foods. In fact, one of their recipes inspired me to invent a salad smoothie this week (with lettuce, carrots, apples, a banana, and cranberry juice). It sounds a bit odd, but I wanted to use up some salad from the night before, and i was curious to see how it worked to purée lettuce. I think I need a more powerful blender to do it really well, but it was pretty good! The flavor was great even though the texture was a bit odd. They also have a recipe for teff porridge. Teff is a high-protein, high iron gf grain that Nadine recommended during her Intro to GF class, and I have been curious to see how it is

I'll have to plan ahead and try some of these things out!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stress, staying healthy, and still eating well

It's another long, stressful week at work, and it's only Wednesday morning. Times of stress mean, of course, that I need to be more intentional about eating well and eating healthy foods, not less. But, when it's stressful, it is easy to want to focus on ease, comfort, and treats. Monday was not so healthy, so yesterday I made an effort to bring fruits and veggies for lunch and snacks. I also left to go on a walk downtown at lunchtime. And, to fill that part that wants "treats," I stopped at the gf Living Earth bakery. I have to say that it is a wonderful thing to be able to walk to a bakery where I can eat anything in the store. In addition to some treats for this week, I also got their great flax & millet bread.

The walk was great, too. It was a beautiful Spring day-sunny, crisp, and blue skys. Walks always help to clear my head and put things in perspective. My friend Chelo and I call them "thinking walks" after a Winnie the Pooh magnet we found in London. I need to remember to do this all week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Starbucks has gotten on the gf bandwagon

I went out with my friend, Julie, to a Starbucks in Portland. Like her local Starbucks, this one had Lucy's gf cookies. The cinnamon ones were really good.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three gf mix reviews

It was Alexander's birthday and then a St. Patrick's day event at work,so I took this opportunity to try out three different mixes that we had at home. They were the WOW Gourmet Yellow Cake Mix (as cupcakes), the Arrowhead Mills gf Vanilla Cake Mix (as a two layer round cake), and Bob's Red Mill gf Chocolate Cake Mix (as cupcakes). I wanted to see how the first two were as directed on the box. I also made the Arrowhead Mills one vegan (no dairy) and low fat (1 egg, 1 egg white) so that my dad could have it. The WOW mix was not vegan or low fat, though I did add only two eggs plus egg whites rather than 6 whole eggs. With the Bob's Red Mill one, I made it as directed, but added the secret weapon, applesauce (around 3 tablespoons).

The Results:

The Arrowhead mills one had a very nice flavor, but it did have the gritty texture that rice flour can have. I would definitely use applesauce with this one if I made it again. I may also try adding hot water (110 degrees) instead of cold, as suggested on the Bob's Red Mill mix, to see if that helps reduce grittiness.

The WOW mix was preferred by those who had it at the birthday. The cupcakes were spongy and with a nice flavor. And, I'm sure the cream cheese frosting helped, too. They were a little heavy, however, so I would try applesauce with them, too.

The Bob's Red Mill ones were the biggest hit. The were light, flavorful, not gritty. And, since I did use applesauce with them, they weren't completely as directed, but did confirm the benefits of applesauce. :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

That was great pizza!

Geoff and I tried Papa's gf pizza last night to celebrate Alexander's 1 year birthday. That was very good pizza! Geoff, who does gluten, thought so, too. I got the one called Mt. Bachelor. It was definitely on the expensive side, but it is nice that the gf and "regular" pizzas cost the same amount there.

And, they deliver, so I got to feel like a "normal" person who can get pizza in a cardboard box from a delivery person. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gluten Free Pizza in Corvallis!

I just heard from Verona that Papa's Pizza in south town Corvallis has gluten free pizza. It's on their website, too! That certainly sounds like it's worth checking out. Pizza is one of those hard things to not have since so many people in the U.S. think of having pizza parties as a way to celebrate.

For pizza at home, I like Amy's rice crust pizza, especially if you add on toppings. :)

Blog comments

So, I just realized that a few of you have been leaving comments! Thanks so much! I didn't realize that they were there till now, and I've now set it up so that I should get notified when someone leaves one. Chalk it up to being new to blogs. :) For my continuing learning, when I leave a comment back, do you get notified?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Allergy or Intolerance? It is easy to test intolerances...

Is this problem I have with wheat and/or gluten an allergy or an intolerance, and why is this an important distinction?

An allergy is an "abnormal immune system reaction" that may cause hives, difficulty breathing, nausea, and in extreme cases, a life-threatening reaction such as anaphylaxis (according to the Mayo Clinic website). That is not what I have.

The way Dr. Hamman, the naturopathic doctor in San Francisco that helped me figure out my wheat problem initially in 2002, explained a wheat or gluten intolerance is still the definition that makes the most sense to me. And, it applies to any food intolerance. If it turns out that wheat is not a problem, but that you have a problem with corn, sugar, soy or dairy, the effects are the same or similar. What she said is that if you have a food intolerance, it means that your body cannot digest something. It's not like an allergy since the problem is in your body's ability to digest it, so it doesn't show up on allergy tests. But, when you eat something that your body cannot digest, the villi in your intestines get irritated in the process of trying to digest it, and since they are irritated, it prevents you from getting and absorbing the nutrients in ANYTHING you eat. This is why a lot of people with intolerances have vitamin deficiencies (such as anemia) and excessive weight gain or loss. If you're curious, her website is

From my perspective, this is an important difference, as well, because while I'm the first to admit that it is not easy to go on a no-wheat diet, it is also a very simple thing to test out. And it is something that you can do right away on your own. Dr. Hamman said that you can find out if you have a problem with any specific food if you cut it out of your diet for three weeks, then add it back in all at once. My experience with going off wheat was that I started feeling better pretty quickly, and it sounds like our family friends have had a similar experience (once they realized that there was a soy allergy, too). I didn't need three weeks to know that I felt better without wheat. And, it is a lot easier to do this now than in 2002! Even if you don't live in a place that has gluten-free items in the supermarket or a great local gluten-free bakery, you can order a bunch of gluten free food from or any of the other online sites that come up when you type in "gluten free" to google. Even Betty Crocker is now in the gluten free business ( :)

In fact, I didn't realize that you could diagnose gluten intolerance with a blood test until this year when our family friends were just diagnosed with Celiac disease that way. And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, as I learned in my case, the labs definitions of "normal" may not reflect true problems. Thus, people who go this route may be told they don't have a problem when they do.

There is a "Gluten Free RN" here in Corvallis that our family friends went to and really liked. Her name is Nadine Grzeskowiak, and she is a Registered Nurse who specializes in gluten intolerance and celiac disease. I went to her hour-long class a few weeks ago, and found it very interesting. Nadine has first-hand experience with this since she had some very serious health problems that were not diagnosed, and was finally diagnosed with celiac disease by a dermatologist she went to see because of her skin issues. She has more information and resources on her website at She gave me a link to a website of symptoms of gluten intolerance at For more information about gluten intolerance, you can also check out If you try going off gluten, feel better, and want to get an actual diagnosis, there are tests you can get. According to Nadine, the most accurate test to diagnose gluten intolerance is a stool sample test (that you send to Texas).

If you want to read more about wheat and gluten allergies, there is some interesting information at,, and

Long week, craving comfort food

Work has been really busy, so I haven't had much energy to blog lately. But, today I got home and really just wanted some warm comfort food for this rainy evening dinner. Tom gave us some gluten free pasta, Mrs. Leepers corn elbows, that they really like. He gets it at Whole Foods in Tigard. It was great! Light, flavorful but not a strong flavor and a great texture. Thanks, Tom!

P.S. Alexander loved it, too!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Make your own flours or get a mix?

Till now, I've been a "mix" girl. Adding together all of the gf flours and gums, and making sure I have them on hand, has seemed too complicated. It is more expensive, too, however, so if I decide to stay completely gf, it may be good to learn. During my wheat-free years, we have kept spelt flour and oat flour on hand, so I haven't needed to learn how to use xantham gum or guar gums. My main complaint about mixes so far is that they often use more sugar than I would like.

I asked my neighbor, Tom, a gf baker extraoridnaire, yesterday whether or not he uses mixes. He and Hillary, the master decorator, make their own. He mentioned that bean flours may also not be good for people who get migrane headaches.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New gf mixes from King Arthur Flours

My mother-in-law, Judy, just told me about King Arthur Flours getting into the gf business. She wrote:
"I think that King Arthur has good quality products and have long been on their mailing list.  I just got their announcement of a whole line of gluten free products and thought you might be interested in checking out their website."

Their site mentions that they have a dedicated gf facility, so it sounds like they are serious about this.

Thanks, Judy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gluten free vs. Wheat free

What's the difference?

I went to Java II, the coffee shop in the OSU Library, yesterday with a colleague. They had gluten free cookies on the counter, and I was naturally excited about that. I got one, and it was really good. I made a comment that this is certainly different than when I started 8 years ago. She said, "Oh, I thought you just started this." It made me realize that announcing that I'm "going gf" gives the impression that this is all new to me. I said that I've been mainly gluten free for more than 8 years now, but that perhaps it's easier to say I've been "wheat free" for 8 years.

So, if I've been doing this for 8 years, why the big deal now about going gf? It's a good question. Here's what I've come up with:

1. If you are gluten free you will, by definition, be wheat free, but if you are wheat free, you don't have to pay as much attention to the other grains with gluten. Thus, it is a higher level of paying attention! Here are typical foods that contain gluten (from
• Barley, including barley malt
• Bran
• Bulgur
• Couscous
• Farina
• Kamut
• Orzo
• Semolina
• Spelt
• Tabbouli
• Wheat
Of this list, the only ones I've eaten over these wheat-free years are barely and spelt.

2. It's an emotional difference. I haven't had to claim the label "gluten free." I have never been or wanted to be a "picky eater," and going completely gf feels like I am committing to be a "problem guest" and calling attention to my dietary restrictions forever. In reality, of course, it is not much different than how I've been for 8 years.

On another note, good news for other Corvallis area gf-ers, I just read that gf cupcakes are coming to the North Store Co-op on Thursday. (see

Monday, March 1, 2010

GF Rugelach Recipe

My friend, Jackie, at work sent me the following tip. She writes:
"I’m not sure if you bake, but I just read an enchanting, if off-beat little piece about rugelach (which I love) that was followed by a gluten-free recipe. Enjoy!"
From seeing the pictures and reading the ingredients, it certainly looks and sounds delicious! Thanks, Jackie!

If any of you make it before I get to it, let me know how it goes.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Closed on Sundays

It appears that gluten-free treat places are closed on Sundays. We came up to Portland to spend the afternoon with my in-laws. We got the great Co-op chocolate cake for Geoff and his parents, but couldn't find any pre-made gf cake for me there. I know Living Earth Bakery is closed on Sundays, so I thought we could go by Bob's Red Mill Store. I actually didn't think to check if they were open. We got there and they were closed. We thought perhaps we could go to Cascadia, the gf bakery in SE Portland, but decided to check first. So, we called Judy to see if she could go online and check. Yep, you guessed it. Closed on Sundays. It seems that gf folks still can't be spontaneous on Sundays.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The gf baker's secret weapon...

is applesauce!
aka "How to justify chocolate chip cookies for breakfast."

For Christmas, my in-laws gave me a bunch of gf mixes from Bob's Red Mill. A few weeks ago when they were down here, we made the shortbread cookies. While they tasted okay, they were very crumbly. On the mixes it often says: "Dough will look a little dry, but will combine when pressed together." The result was that the cookies were also a little dry, and crumbled easily.

But, applesauce, like gluten, has a glue-like effect on things. I know that recipes often suggest applesauce as a replacement for fat in recipes, and it appears to also work for gluten replacement, at least in some cases. In any case, it was the experiment of the morning to try making the Bob's Red Mill chocolate chip cookie mix. I added about a 1/3 cup of applesauce (made last Fall from our apples). The dough looked a lot more like what I expected cookie dough to look like, and while it was a bit more sticky, it worked like I expected, too.

I tasted the cookies to make sure they tasted okay, and I think they taste great. So, all in all, it was a good experiment.

If any of you try this in other recipes, let us know how it goes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Your suggestions and comments

Thanks so much to all of you who have been reading this and/or sending me feedback. Here are the suggestions and comments you have:

JHJ's hands-down favorite GF pasta is Tinkyada. They even make a lasagna noodle version. (I agree that it's great!)

JL.: Trader Joe's has organic brown rice pasta. (Good and usually cheaper!)

BW heard that that the glue used in some tea bags contains gluten. (Yikes!)

SB found the Whole-Life-Nutrition-Cookbook to be a great resource for menu ideas/recipes that are gluten free. She picked up my copy at New Season's. I use it all the time. Also has a good bit about food for babies, trying to prevent food allergies etc. (I've requested the book through the Corvallis Library.)

BN told me that you can get a child tested for anemia.

So, thanks again, for joining me on this journey and for all your great thoughts and support. Keep 'em coming...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Early morning thoughts

I love the quiet and newness of an early morning, especially if I've gotten enough sleep. We have been fighting a cold since the end of last week, but it seems like we're pulling out of it. First Alexander got it, then me. Luckily, it seems like Geoff's okay.

I've been thinking a lot about whether or not it is hard or easy to go gluten free, and have come to the conclusion that it's both and neither. Thinking about this in terms of hard or easy is not the best criteria with which to evaluate going gf since:
a) it doesn't get at why people do it in the first place,
b) it's too changeable- there are days that are harder or easier than others,
c) it's a subjective criteria. What is hard for me may be very easy for someone else, and vice versa.

That said, going gf seems hard for me when I
- am traveling and going to places where I will not have easy access to cooking and preparing my own food,
- am going out with people who want to have pizza or Italian,
- smell fresh "glutenous" baked goods like chocolate chip cookies or croissants,
- am trying to think of something quick to cook, eat, prepare for lunch,
- don't want to seem like a picky eater or be someone with "dietary needs."

Going gf is easy when I
- want to feel good and not have physical repercussions!!!!!
- eat healthy (enough green veggies, fruits, other grains, lean proteins, etc.)
- prepare in advance
- go out for asian food (generally)
- fill my carb cravings with a hot bowl of rice or some sort of potatoes
- stop by the gf bakery in Corvallis for a treat. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Listening to the body

I found out that someone I know at work has also been mainly gluten free, in her case for the past two years. She found that she had skin problems, and went to dermatologists and doctors who told her that there wasn't anything that she can do, and that diet didn't matter. She noticed, however, that when she ate wheat and gluten, her skin broke out. So, she has stopped eating it (except occasionally).

There seem to be some themes for people who go gf:
1) Listening to one's body seems to be a big part of this. Unfortunately, for some reason, my body was acting like it had eaten wheat starting yesterday afternoon. Very puzzling! Starting around 4 pm, I had all the normal symptoms for me of having eating something my body didn't like (bloating, intestinal discomfort, etc.). I cooked everything I ate yesterday (except for the carrots and gf ginger snaps from TJs). I also had a new type of tea from a bag. Was it something I ate or drank? Could it be dairy?

2) It is sometimes hard to know what your body is saying. Another theme of going gf seems to be testing, trial and error. Ahhh.... Another day of this experiment awaits.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Days 1 and 2

aka "There is a reason why gluten sounds like it means glue." I went to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary last night and found this:

Main Entry: glu·ten
Pronunciation: \ˈglü-tən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin glutin-, gluten glue — more at clay
Date: 1803
: a tenacious elastic protein substance especially of wheat flour that gives cohesiveness to dough
— glu·ten·ous \ˈglüt-nəs, ˈglü-tən-əs\ adjective

"gluten." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.
Merriam-Webster Online. 17 February 2010

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and official first day of this gluten-free time for me. I was reminded why I like spelt bread (which has gluten). We had turkey burgers last night for dinner (thanks to there now being a Trader Joe's in Corvallis so we can get them easily!). My bread for the "burger" part of the turkey burger did not stay together long enough for me to eat the burger. In fact, I realized that the trend to have lettuce wrapped burgers when you ask for "no bun" at restaurants makes a lot of sense. It has more of a solid structure to hold on to than gluten free bread.

This morning I am trying to expand my repetoire of gf breakfast foods so I am cooking gluten-free steel cut oats (Bob's Red Mill). I'll let you know how it goes.

For anyone who is also going gf, I definitely recommend Bob's Red Mill for getting gluten free grains and mixes. In December, my mother-in-law, Judy, and I went to the Bob's Red Mill outlet near Milwaukee, OR. They had a whole aisle filled with gf items!

And, no, I don't get any kick-back for recommending them...though there is some funny tab in this blog software that says I can "Monetize." Anyone know what that means??

Monday, February 15, 2010

Recommended book

Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D (Viking, New York, NY, 2009)

I don't know if any of you have heard of this book, but this is the second time in as many days that this book has been recommended to me. The first time was from Maggie, my godmother, who is fighting cancer right now. She said that it is good for anyone interested in making sure they have a healthy diet. Brodie, an acupuncturist and the qi gong teacher I've has for the past two years, wrote about it in her blog (see below).  I haven't read the book since I just heard about it, but it sounds worth checking out.  I have requested it throught the Corvallis Public Library, and am fifth in the queue.

Brodie writes:

"Recently, one of my patients recommended I read Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D (Viking, New York, NY, 2009). I am very grateful for her recommendation, as  it seems like the number of people I know, both personally and professionally who are dealing with this brutal disease -- and the harsh treatment it so often necessitates -- is way too high.  And yet, there are many things we can do to make our bodies far less hospitable to cancer.

Written by an M.D. who was diagnosed with a brain tumor 15 years ago and was dissatisfied with his oncologist's assessment that what he did wouldn't have any affect on his health, this book is highly readable, peppered with interesting scientific studies, and very practical advice. He considers what makes the ecosystem that is each human body conducive to cancer's growth? Turns out, food, chronic helplessness and other emotions, and toxins in the environment have a lot to do with it."

If you want to read more, you can read her blog "The one book I want everyone to read this year"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What to do about Alexander

One of the questions that has been coming up since I've decide to go gf is regarding our 11 month old son, Alexander.  Since gluten intolerance is hereditary, if I have it, he has a chance of having it, too.  Do we worry about him?  He's had already had wheat, and hasn't had any strong reactions.  But, according to the information from Nadine, the Gluten Free RN, not everyone exhibits symptoms like I have.  In fact, I didn't have the digestive problems until my mid-twenties.  But, looking back, I probably have had anemia my whole life.  Do we just wait and see if he is anemic, too?  So many questions, no good answers yet.

Friday, February 12, 2010

the beginning...

I've never blogged before, but I got this idea that I wanted to try it out for a finite period of time, so I am going gluten free (gf) and blogging about going gf for Lent (which is a period of about 6 weeks). From what I can tell, blogging seems to be a type of public journal, and I am making this one to be a journal of my journey as I go gluten-free. My main goal is to figure out if I feel better and/or different by cutting out all gluten from my diet. I also want to log any challenges I face, and any bonuses of doing this.

I've been told that I'm being very "Julie and Julia" by doing this. Perhaps that's true. For those of you who haven't seen the movie or read the book, it is about someone (Julie) who blogs about her experience cooking from Julia Child's cookbook. A cute movie, actually. Since we did see the movie within the past few months, that may have been what planted the seed in me to want to blog. I think what made me really want to try it now, however, was seeing OSU's Power Up campaign website ( in an email recently. I decided it would be interesting to blog about health issues. "Power up is a health and wellness event that challenges you to set a goal, strive for balance, and Power Up! Open to the entire OSU Community, the Power Up Challenge gives us all the opportunity to actively seek health, wellness, and balance." So, that's the plan.

"Gluten-free" (aka "gf") seems to have become a very popular thing lately. In fact, the first blog entry I read on the Power Up site was about someone going gluten free. This made me curious. I've had a diagnosed problem with wheat for more than 8 years. In my case, after a year and a half of seeing regular doctors to no avail, I saw a naturopathic doctor in January 2002 who, in one meeting, figured out that my intestinal discomfort and pain was likely due to a wheat intolerance. To test it out, I was supposed to go off wheat for three weeks and then add it back in. It didn't take 3 weeks for me to feel better. I didn't know what to eat for breakfast for those first three days, but I did begin to feel better. I can tell exactly when I eat wheat. I feel it go through my system, and it is not pleasant. I liken it to that Pepto Bismol commercial from a while ago where you can see the pink stuff go through the persons intestines. That is how wheat feels to me, irritating all the way through.

Why Go GF Now?
Good question. I have not been eating much gluten in these past 8 years, but I do eat spelt regularly. Spelt contains gluten (and tastes good).

There have been a few things that have made we want to explore this further now.
1) Some family friends got tested for gluten intolerance/celiac disease at their regular doctor's office. I didn't realize that you could do a blood test for this, but decided to try it out.
2) I've had small bumps on my legs that don't go away. I know that skin stuff (eczema, psoraisis, rashes, etc.) are often a symptom of gluten intolerance.
3) I still have slight anemia and tiredness. Granted, I also have an 11 month old baby who doesn't yet sleep through the night. But, that doesn't explain the anemia.

What have I done so far?
I got tested for gluten intolerance at my doctor's office.

I went to the hour long class offered by Nadine Grzeskowiak, the Gluten Free RN in downtown Corvallis.

I brought my test results into her class to see what the Gluten Free RN thought about them. Even though the lab considered my results "Normal," she questioned the results for my "Tissue Transgluteminase IGA." My results came back at 11EU. The lab considers normal to be anything under 20 EU. Nadine said that anything over 3 EU is likely showing a sensitivity to gluten.

So, in short, even though I don't eat much gluten now, I'm going to try going gf for the next six weeks (starting next Wednesday, February 17th). Feel free to join me in this journey.