First, let me start off with the news of abundance - the kind that comes from the mere blooming of a gorgeous Orchid that I thought was loooong gone. Almost two years ago, my beautiful friend Nere from the Basque Country in Spain bought this orchid for me as a birthday gift. The color was this magnificent fuchsia that took your breath away and it was as lovely as Nere. The blooms faded and died off, but for some reason I left that Orchid in my kitchen windowsill and would intermittently water it, always wondering if it might bloom again. Because it was a special gift from my dear friend, I couldn't bare the though of just chucking it in the garbage...so I waited and watered...and watered and waited...and then low-and-behold, I noticed these two little buds beginning to form on the long stem - Eureka!! I was so excited I had to take a photo of this gorgeous new flower that has appeared. I guess patience really is a virtue. I thank Nere for this new bloom of fuchsia that is the focal point now in my kitchen and I think of her every morning when I see it sitting in the sunlight...the little things.
Now...I've been intending to sit down every evening for the past two weeks and post a new entry, but the time slips away...warm evenings have caused me to linger a bit too long in my backyard, but it's been worth it. In addition to this blog, as I mentioned last month, I've become an author on Celiac.com's website which is really exciting, but finding the time between working full-time, having a social life and exercising, and researching Celiac news, and ...well, you get the picture. I need like 8 more hours in each day, please!!
Receiving emails from newly diagnosed Celiacs has become the main source of the comments left for me to respond to. I'm amazed, though I shouldn't be, at the number of women...yes women vs. men who seem to have struggled for so many years and ultimately diagnosed with this disease. The majority who have written to me range in age from the early 40's - late 60's. My heart truly goes out to these folks who have been struggling for so long with no answers...until now. Now, I hope they can find a way to celebrate, even through the confusion because it does get better, and better and better. Not to say they won't have days of feeling completely overwhelmed with what their "new life" will ask of them, but as I've always said and believed, KNOWING is so much better than not knowing. Knowing, means you can face something head-on, with all of your strength and energy and resolve or learn to manage with ABUNDANCE...whatever it may be.
I have emailed back and forth with a woman in southern California who was also recently diagnosed and really struggling with finding safe restaurants to eat at, and with the whole concept of eating out at restaurants period, which can be quite daunting, intimidating and scary. It honestly takes a long time to feel confident walking into a new restaurant you have never visited before and being assertive about what you can and cannot eat as a Celiac, and making sure the server and chef go the message loud and clear. This is especially true when eating out with larger groups of friends, family or colleagues - you must press the issue for your own safety, regardless of how uncomfortable you might feel. Being clear and upfront about what you cannot eat, always beats the dread of two hours later knowing that you were poisoned and dealing with the inevitable 2-3 weeks of feeling "hung over"...at least that's how it is in my case!
So, this woman suggested that I begin talking about WHERE Celiacs can safely eat and which restaurants around our country not only are safe, but even promote their own gluten-free menus. I say Bravo! It's a great idea and one that will require much research on my part, but something I am excited and looking forward to doing - great suggestion, my Celiac friend. I have posted several GF restaurants on my blog from my travels and have had great success at these lovely eating establishments; however, it's important to find more "main-stream" places to eat that allow for a safe and enjoyable dining experience...actually, we would all just take the safe part of that sentence!
As I research these new restaurants and begin to delve into this new realm of information, I will continuously post my findings both on this blog and on my Celiac.com blog, in order to better-reach those reading and searching for some advice and answers. I will begin though, by listing some chain restaurants found nationwide that have their own gluten-free menus. Even when ordering off of these menus, please, please, please remind your server that your food must be prepared in a safe environment without any cross-contamination.
Also, if any of you find other GF restaurants PLEASE email me or submit a comment on one of my blogs so that we can add them to the ongoing list that's being created:
PF Changs China Bistro
Outback Steak House
Baja Fresh - just make sure you are eating CORN tortillas
Bristol Farms - they have a cafe in some locations
Whole Foods Market - their salad and soup bars are largely gluten-free
Eat safely. Eat well. Eat with abundance.