Monday, October 25, 2010

Gluten-Free Halloween ~

The spookiest day of the year is just around the corner, Halloween - isn't that hard to believe? I have such fond memories of trick-o-treating through our Northern California neighborhood as a kid, buckets bursting over the top with candy as my friends and I safely made our way up and down every street in our neighborhood...ahh, the good old days.

That was long before I was diagnosed with Celiac and wouldn't have had the slightest clue about all of the ingredients wrapped up inside each piece of candy. At that time, it was our parent's job to search for opened wrappers or something that looked "suspicious"...but gluten, heck, that was the least of our worries. Come to think of it, I didn't even know what gluten was!

Oh how times have rapidly changed. Now Halloween for a Celiac child or even us big kids means diligently reading wrappers and ingredient listings to ensure that no trace amount of gluten sneaks in. I've found some fun and information articles about safe Halloween candies, some tips for enjoying this holiday safely and gluten-free, along with some fun homemade recipes sure to please the most particular goblin or Superman.

- Gluten-Free Safe Candy List

- Five Tips for Enjoying Halloween Safely

- Ten Gluten-Free Yummy Candy Recipes

- Fun Gluten-Free Halloween Foods

Have a safe and fun Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fresh Start...

I'm on my way back from the dark depths of gluten intoxication, having not eaten much for a solid week...but greatly looking forward to some solid and substantive nourishment. Slowly but surely, I'm reintroducing some protein back into the old diet and soon I hope to be eating some fresh veggies and salad, my main staple.

The sun is shining again this week (literally) after a deluge of rain that lasted for days giving the fauna and flora a greatly deserved and needed dose of moisture. It seemed that the darkened sky was reflecting my state of being and health, but honestly, I didn't mind the thunder and downpours...what I did mind was the debilitating brain fog, stomach pains and nausea. I'll be happy when all three decide to move, on like the passing of a storm.

The week before I dared sip a virgin Bloody Mary, I had ventured to my hometown of San Francisco for the weekend with my mom to hit the Farmer's Market and visit some dear friends. I was delighted to discover Mariposa's new kiosk in the market packed with delicious gluten-free sweets, cookies, and breads - Yeah! I bought some yummy Russian tea-type cookies and two loaves of their brown rice loafed bread that I had been using to make some bruschetta.

Flavorful Bruschetta -

- Just toast the sliced pieces of bread, drizzle with olive oil, toss on some baby Roma tomatoes, add fresh Basil, and drizzle some Balsamic vinegar...then it's mangia mangia time!

This other pretty salad is a fall staple for me - and I love throwing on some fresh walnuts, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and eating up this season's fantastic tomatoes - how lucky we are to taste such little morels of nature just bursting with flavor and zest.

If you are looking for a quick and nutritious lunch or addition to your dinner entree, whip up this fall salad and enjoy:

Fall Salad: Serves 2

- Red Butter lettuce, half head washed and separated

- Fresh-roasted Chicken - cut into pieces and use as desired

- Ripe avocado - I just use half for myself (serve amount desired)

- Feta Cheese - Sprinkle 1/2 cup over lettuce

- Baby Tomatoes - Halve, distribute over salad - I'm in love with the orange ones!

- Nuts - I like to sprinkle 1/2 cup of walnuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds on the salad for extra crunch and nutrition

- Dried Cranberries - Use 1/4 cup - sprinkle over lettuce

- 2 Tbsp. Olive oil - Drizzle over salad

- 4 Tbsp. Fig Balsamic - Drizzle over salad (I use this stuff on everything!)

- Salt and pepper to taste

- This is also a perfect time to slice a few pieces of your Mariposa bread, toast and drizzle with olive oil

Enjoy and keep an umbrella handy - it is fall, you know.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Struggle...

I'm definitely riding the ebb and flow of life's waves each and every day, bringing sunshine and brilliance at times, while other moments or days, struggle and darkness. This is one of those days. I could blame it on the rain and damp air, but that wouldn't be at all fair to Mother Nature who has gifted us with this abundance of moisture. No, it's the damn gluten's fault...and I'm angry and struggling to find the peace within that normally accompanies my daily journey as a Celiac - except on days like this one, when my body is fighting to make heads or tails of the enemy within.

Last night was one of excitement, laughter and joy. I haven't laughed as hard as I did in a long time during Anthony Bourdain's appearance at the Lake Tahoe Food and Wine event at Harrah's. It felt great to belly laugh, and being a huge fan of his, along with my good friend and mother who were also in attendance, it was such an exciting treat to see this man in person spouting out his true gift of lingo, humor and wit...along with his insane knowledge of travel and food.

Leading up to this fun night out, we ladies met for dinner before the show. As my friend and I bellied up to the bar before our meal, our drink of choice turned out to be virgin Bloody Mary's. My dear friend is pregnant, so I decided to accompany her choice of beverage, not ever being able to drink a Bloody Mary before due to its main, non-virgin ingredient, Vodka. We discussed the ingredients of a Bloody Mary sans alcohol, and some tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper with a twist of lime, some olive and an onion seemed harmless enough and a welcome treat. This is the part where I can plead no-contest, or fall back on my naivety, seriously not realizing or knowing that Bloody Mary's most likely consist of and come from a MIX in a fricken bottle that's well, full of crap ingredients. So after about four sips of this tasty drink I started to worry, believing for a moment that "this tastes too good and flavorful to be safe, is this possible?" Little did I know that 15 minutes into my non-alcoholic drink the damage had already been done. We asked the bartender at that point to clarify what was in this drink - As he handed me the bottle my eyes were immediately transfixed on the list of over 20 ingredients (and not all good, let me tell you) with the second to last being "wheat - soy" and immediately below that, an allergy listing calling out "wheat." In an instant, my heart sank far below my bar stool and a wave of panic reverberated throughout my body as I began to pray that the large amount of ice in the glass had diluted or aided my gut in some way. I immediately slid the drink away and could see the fright in the bar tender's eyes as I politely demanded a glass of red wine, which in the past has at least tempered the immediate affects of the gluten's drastic hold on my innards.

Here's where my anger has entered in today - What the hell? I mean, they put gluten/soy sauce in a simple tomato mix and after only a few sips, I loose yet another day on the calendar to being holed up in my house, reeling from an accident. This is not my pity party, it's just me being really pissed off about the pathetic lack of education in our country regarding additives and adding wheat to every product known to man, and we the Celiacs having to fight the good fight each and every second, still being accidentally poisoned while constantly on-guard. I'm just really tired of the basic garbage that is added, filled, mixed and used in the vast majority of American food products and the obscene lack of knowledge that every restaurant in this great country possesses when it comes to not killing a Celiac!

Okay, I'm ranting and allowing my emotions to write the majority of this post, but come on, aren't any of you out there feeling a similar level of disdain?! The other issue coming in to play here is that I'm frightened. After a record 14 months of zero gluten poisoning incidents, my streak has sadly ended and I am again reminded that it only takes a tiny amount of ingested gluten to send my body into a state of confusion and pain. God forbid I even encounter a large accidental dose. I'm pretty sure that would equal lights out for me.

I could summarize some thoughtful anecdote about how at least I don't have cancer or have to deal with a myriad of other horrible illnesses and that is very true, but today I'm not going there. I'm just mad. I hope you understand.

At this point I'm thinking of taking Tony Bourdain's advice...and just doing shots!