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.