Monday, July 28, 2008

Cause of Celiac Disease Uncovered?

There's some important news that was just published on July 24th in MedlinePlus, the National Library of Medicine's consumer health web site. The gist of it is that researchers believe they have finally answered a basic question about the cause of Celiac Disease -- where in the body does the wheat protein gluten enter one's system?
Note:(*this news item will not be available after 10/22/2008).

I've been keenly interested in learning more about Dr. Alessio Fasano, medical director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He's an integral part of this research and of this study just released. He's from Naples, Italy and is now practicing in the States. I just read a great article about him in the June/July issue of Living Without, and I highly recommend you doing the same. The more we all know about the research being done on our behalf, the more supportive we can be of the process.

Enjoy this article and share it with every Celiac you know. A special thanks to Kerry Seymour, (a noted Nutritionist in the Reno area), who is also the leader of our Sierra Nevada Celiac Group.

Information is key for us all!

On one other note, I just finished reading Gluten-Free Girl's latest blog post regarding the birth of her baby girl, born last Monday. My heart and prayers go out to Shauna, The Chef, and especially to baby Lucy - for a full recovery and many, many deep breaths.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Slowly Coming Back to Life ~ The Gluten Hangover

This delightful bowl you see above has become my new "best friend." It's an Italian remedy/recipe to use when one's stomach is causing them great grief and a bit too much time in the bathroom - I also call it, my gluten hangover recipe.

Since I haven't been able to consume much more than Brown Cow non-fat vanilla yogurt, a banana here and there, and rice, since consuming gluten on July 3rd, this recipe has come in handy and at least been tolerable by my poor stomach that's been SO compromised. The recipe may not sound that great, but it does seem to help and provides a bit of nutrients:

1/2 - 1 Cup of steamed Jasmine rice

1 Slice of organic, salted butter

1/2 Lemon - squeeze the entire lemon over the rice, including some of the pulp

1 Tbsp. of grated Parmigiana cheese

Salt to taste

The next time (though I wish this on no one!) you are suffering from the same gluten "side affects," give this little number a try.

Another little dish I created out of desperation to eat something with protein, was a similar type rice-bowl but with some added flavor and freshness.

1 Cup of steamed Jasmine rice

1 Slice of organic butter

1 Handful of cherry tomatoes

1 Handful of fresh Ciliegine Mozzarella

1 Tbsp. Drizzle Fig Balsamic Vinegar - to taste

Salt to taste

Mangia Mangia!

Thankfully, my severe brain-fog and exhaustion have semi-lifted and now I'm left with the challenge of being able to give my body some nutrition. The difficult part for me comes from dealing with a stomach that takes nearly a month to get back to normal...whatever "normal" really is for a Celiac. I'm not sure if others of you out there deal with this, but after I consume gluten, my poor stomach can be nauseous for weeks, so eating is quite a challenge.

I did manage to venture out from my house this past Saturday though, and headed to my local farmer's market where I picked up some delicious tomatoes (pictured above), some local honey, and a bottle of this yummy Fig Balsamic Vinegar that is starting to make me very happy. It's what I used to flavor the above recipe, but it can be used in so many different ways, and when I'm finally back to eating lettuce again, you can be sure I'll use this vinegar to create several dressings.

The line of balsamic vinegars is from a business in Napa, CA that has created some wonderful flavors of oil and vinegars that are all gluten-free, I am told. I called their headquarters to double-check! I think the bottles and packaging are also clever and look good sitting on your kitchen counter - ha!

In addition, I also managed to venture out to the Gluten-free tour that the Reno Whole Foods offered last Wednesday night. There was a good turn-out for the event, with nearly 20 Celiacs on-hand to learn all of what the store has to offer. Some of the products I am already using on a regular basis, but I did learn from the guide and from chatting with other Celiacs, of a Thai food line that's completely GF and everyone seemed to rave about them. The line is Thai Kitchen Products

I picked up my first bottle of their Pad Thai Sauce and as soon as I'm recovered, I'm chomping at the bit to try out this exciting product and create my own Thai dishes!

One other tid-bit that I would be remiss in not mentioning - in the middle of my gluten poisoning, I have received two acupuncture treatments from the amazing Dr. John Diamond. He's such a blessing. He tried to actually de-sensitize me via acupuncture to gluten, due to my body being so toxic. It's a work in progress, but I will say that the treatments definitely calmed down my adrenal system and at least "calmed" some of my symptoms.

Let me just say that if you happen to be a Celiac and live in Northern Nevada, this man should be on your support list of doctors.

Thanks Dr. Diamond!!

Well, that's all the energy I could muster up for this post but I do hope some of this information is helpful.

Be safe.

Be well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Painful Mistakes with Gluten ~

I've been sick...I mean really sick from consuming some form of hidden gluten last Wednesday afternoon at lunch. In spite of being super careful and aware all the time when I eat out, and usually hitting my same haunts that I know to be safe, I still fell victim to the miscommunication and oversight that happens sometimes for Celiacs.

Here's the abridged version of the story. Last Wednesday I met my mom for lunch at the new Reno Whole Foods; it's fantastic and 52,000 SF of glistening goodness and tons of gluten-free products. I was so caught up in the excitement of all the perfectly poised salad bar items and the gorgeous prepared foods area, that I became a bit mesmerized and not as careful as I obviously should have been. I was pulled to the Mexican taco bar area, enticed by the delicious looking chicken and beans and rice and ...mmmmm. I told myself, "okay, just be super careful and ask questions and you'll be fine"...yah.

I went with the "plain" cubed chicken breast, a small portion of the sauteed peppers prepared with olive oil, salt and pepper, no tortillas (just to be super safe) and a small scoop of their famous mashed potatoes...okay, I didn't exactly order a traditional Mexican-style plate, but I was trying to be so cautious and safe, omitting the corn tortillas juuuust in case. I was just about the walk away with my steaming plate of fiesta-fun when I hesitated and asked for a small scoop of GUACAMOLE...da da da daaaaaaa. I asked the server if it was gluten-free, but knowing English was not her first language, I should have taken it upon myself to have either asked another employee to be certain, or just passed on the green-goodness...because something about the look of it set off my intuition.

That's all I should need to know, but I still ate it hoping that the server was correct and I was good to go.

We were both very wrong.

Within two hours of going back to my office I sensed that tenderness that hits the small intestine when its been compromised with gluten. I knew I was in trouble...and eight days later, I'm still dealing with the inability to eat very many solid foods (or food at all) and feeling so exhausted and nauseous. I know the symptoms are different for everyone, but these are some of mine.

I'm just going to say that I LOVE Whole Foods for many reasons and at this point I'm even trying to partner with our local WF marketing person to create even more Celiac awareness in our region with classes, tours, etc. They are great about creating awareness for their customers. But what I did learn today, is that the "prepared foods" section of the Reno store is not by an stretch, a gluten- free environment, hence the cross-contamination or added gluten (food starch) in some form, in the guacamole I ate. I didn't know this - now I do and my sole message today is for all of you to triple check where you shop and purchase prepared foods, or check at your own Whole Foods, because each location is different. I also learned that the Reno location has a "scratch" bakery on site and next to the prepared foods section, so there's definitely some flour flying around. I was told by the WF employee that they cannot even guarantee the salad bar area to be 100% GF - so eat at your own risk in those parts of the store. Seriously.

On a much happier note, I did find out that the Reno store is offering a Celiac/Gluten-Free product tour next Thursday, July 17th at 6 p.m.. Call the store for more details: Whole Foods Market -5695 S Virginia St, Reno -(775) 829-8666. Don't miss this opportunity to tour the store and learn more and more about what a Celiac can and cannot eat.

Stay tuned for more news from Whole Foods, as I hopefully get the opportunity to assist with their Celiac awareness programs in the near future!

I do hope that this post will help some of you with making good food choices when eating out. I know it's helped me realize that no matter matter how busy or how many customers you hold up, or how much extra time it takes for an employee to research what you are asking them about gluten, it's always, always the correct way to go.

It's our safety and our quality of life at stake.

One last thing - it always takes me at least two-three weeks to heal after I get poisoned, and knowing that everyone is so unique, I would be very interested to know how long it takes others of you out there to heal when this happens to you?

Be well~

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happiness ~

This past week was filled with delicious food, little surprises and the beautiful San Francisco Bay. But before I get to all of that AND to mentioning some restaurants that you won't want to miss, I needed to post an update from last week's risotto story...and this enlightened clarification comes straight from the mouth of a real Roman in Roma. So here goes...classic Italian style:

1)"Risotto is a classic Italian side dish that uses short grain rice (one variety is basmati) that releases lots of starch during cooking so the finished dish is very creamy and rich."

"Nop, risotto is a main dish."

2)"If you order risotto and they serve you farro in Italy you are allowed to bring them to the court. Risotto is not farro!"

Classic response.

Now on to other happy tales. Visiting my hometown of San Francisco is always a true pleasure - the beautiful fog that rolls in and out over the shores creates this "heavy" air that is so wonderful and just envelopes all in its path. Happiness comes to me from the smell of the Bay and the salt water, the profound beauty of such a unique skyline and the indulgent pleasure that comes from eating at some of the City's wonderful restaurants, and doing so safely.

A dear friend and I escaped to SF last weekend and found ourselves dining at one of our favorite Basque restaurants, Piperade, which I've mentioned before on this blog. It's so exciting to eat out at a restaurant that completely understands gluten-free eating and takes great care in ensuring that your meal is perfect and without sacrificing any of the flavor. It's hard to believe that it's possible to indulge in such deliciousness, but this weekend in SF I felt as though I was so safe and able to dine with abandon, which is a rarity, to say the least.

Listen to what we ate...Pequillo peppers with cream cheese and raisins, ham Bayonnese with this amazing goat cheese, a Halibut entree that melted in my mouth with pleasure and delight AND...the famous Piperade "koka"...a scrumptious flan-like dessert with a texture that's "out of this world," as my friend described it...she was so right!


The other restaurant I must mention, for any of you ever visiting the City by the Bay, is the well-known, Slanted Door. It's located in the northeast corner of the wonderful Ferry Building.

"The Slanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that showcases the abundance of produce as well as ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry found at farms around the San Francisco Bay Area."

I couldn't have said it any better! So not only did we have the most amazing and attentive waiters assisting us throughout the meal, but each new exactly what I could and could NOT eat and literally went through the entire menu with me, helping to choose all of our courses - they essentially planned an entire gluten-free meal for me, on the fly! How amazing is that?! Honestly, after my order was carefully crafted, I didn't even care how the food tasted...I was simply so floored and excited to be in such a civilized and informed eating establishment, filled with a caring and enlightened staff.

The meal was quite simply - F A N T A S T I C ! I asked my friend, who had eaten at the restaurant several times before, "do you notice an absence of flavor without the soy sauce?"...of course I was feeling a bit badly about her possibly missing out on a fusion of flavors...she kind of snickered at me and responded, "are you kidding me...this is amazing. NOTHING is missing!" First we devoured this green papaya/tofu salad that caused us to both roll our eyes and dream of a bottomless bowl of this goodness. Then came the Halibut and its accompaniments that were too mind-boggling to even try and describe - Just order it for yourself and be the judge! And last, but certainly not least...the cellophane Asian noodles with chunks of my best pal William says, "it was a party in my mouth." Celiacs...Eat at this restaurant. You will experience safe abundance and happiness here.


So since I was on such a GF roll last week (and as I'm writing this I am really realizing how true that was)it's my great pleasure to announce the grand opening of the Reno Whole Foods! A total of 52,000 SF of perfectly lined shelves, a pretty delicious looking bakery, a coffee bar, pizza bar, a culinary center...shall I continue? Yes, I shall...because the best part of that entire store is of course, ALL of the fabulous gluten free products lining shelf after shelf after shelf. If you live in Reno, you must check this new store out.

These little delights that I found inside the "Gluten-Free" freezer at Whole Foods were and are the reason for me racing to work every morning lately. NO, not to check email...but to pop one of these SWEET Azna Gluten Free Cinnamon ROLLS into the oven and stand there watching the frosting melt, just dreaming of how each sweet, chewy, gooey bite is going to taste. There's only one problem...they are too small. So I try to slowly eat each swirly layer, one bite at a time -


See you at Whole Foods and truly take in and enjoy the fact that in 2008, those of us who are Celiacs are truly blessed to have the variety and volume of products NOW that we do. Ten years ago...heck, three years ago the shelves of our favorite and progressive markets and grocery stores looked nothing like they do today. For this fact, I am ever-increasingly grateful and excited. Keep demanding (in a smiley way) that these products are created and that the knowledge and abundance keeps growing, keeps flowing.

Happy shopping.

Happy eating.

Happiness to you all ~