Monday, June 29, 2009

Joy Turns to Pain ~

Two days after my last post, I was severely gluten poisoned AGAIN while eating out at an Italian restaurant who serves gluten-free pasta and professes to know what they are doing. That's all I can say for now, but the experience of being sick in bed for the past seven days-plus has caused me to seriously rethink how the world really views Celiac Disease and how dangerous it truly is to eat at restaurants, even when they "profess" to know what they are doing and have an understanding of eating "gluten-free"...I can tell you that most really don't have a clue. I don't mean to sound down-trodden and pessimistic, because I'm an optimist who loves to live large, but after the week and a half I've been living through due to the tremendous stupidity of a few, I feel my sentiments are justified.

What amazes me the most is the fact that our culture still doesn't get it. As Celiacs, we are so focused on finding new products, safe food, and "fun" things to eat, we become a bit consumed within our own world and on our own survival. What I'm finding out over the past twelve months, however, is that as aware of this disease as many of us are, or as knowledgeable as we can become from reading and research, this philosophy of understanding GF cooking does NOT translate well into a restaurant kitchen - it's truly a crap shoot every time you order out.

Something needs to change - I'm going to do something about this.

It's time.

Chances are, I will be out of commission for the next few weeks and not writing any new posts until I fully recover. If any of you have other restaurant experiences that you would like to share with this blog, please email me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gluten-free News and International Pasta Talk ~

I was perusing "Gluten-Free Girl's" blog today and was as usual, captivated by her writing style and knowledge of food, and after reading each of her posts I'm always left with hunger pangs and feelings of inspiration to cook and try new recipes.

In her (Shauna Ahern's) latest post, she links to a couple of terrific NPR Morning Edition stories, one of which she was interviewed for by heath reporter, Alison Aubrey. Have a listen - it's a very interesting story. And another story that ran earlier this week on NPR regarding Celiac Disease - How did we become so cool?

In my quest to stay informed on all-things-gluten-free, I signed up a while back for Google Alerts that pull an amazing amount of GF stories and articles each day, delivering them to my in-box. I strongly recommend you doing the same - you'll be amazed how tough it is to stay current with all the news that swirling around the gluten-free world...a world that's expanding by the day. This fact triggered a memory for me the other day and made me question (gratefully, of course) why it's taken the United States so long to catch up with the rest of the globe, when it comes to news and the labeling of gluten-free products.

My memories specifically reminded of the two trips I took to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil some six years ago - as I roamed through the markets of Ipanema I recall coming across many products that were specifically labeled for non-gluten eaters and remember standing in the aisle of this downtown grocery store in total awe of what I was reading and holding in my hand. Man, I wish that I had taken some photos! There were broths labeled as safe, and an interesting type of pasta that was really good, along with some various other crackers and products that most-likely didn't taste that great, but honestly six years ago to find a product safely labeled and shelved in Brazil, was a miracle to me and my taste buds were simply thrilled to be eating safe food.

The photo of today's pasta lunch leftovers (above) is a maiz/corn pasta that I bought in Italy a while back and have saved and savored, as it's now in short supply in my pantry. It's a lovely little shell-ish shaped pasta that holds its form and flavor quite well and has a really good taste.

For this quick, healthy meal I simply boiled some sliced zucchini with the pasta, added a bit of olive oil, sea salt, fresh tomatoes, a little bit of turkey, mozzarella, an egg on top and voila - Mangia time!

It's so easy to create such as simple, yet healthy, flavorful meal with fresh foods and in under 30 minutes - I really hope that our American culture will one day embrace this concept and that more and more children can eat real food.

How do you like to cook your GF pasta?

I would love to hear some suggestions and new recipes and where you have found your favorite GF pastas.

Cheers and Obrigada!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Birthday Fun for All ~ GF Cake and Pizza

So guess who turned 66 years old and guess which cake is gluten-free?

Well, the gluten-free mini vanilla cake with chocolate ganache frosting was all mine...and as for the big cake with the "66" candles on was in honor of my wonderful father's birthday last weekend, which was celebrated in San Diego with my brother and his family.

Whenever there's a family birthday celebration, I am always so blessed and appreciative of how everyone insists on making sure that I also have some sweet-treat to enjoy after the candles have been blown out and the regular cake cutting begins. Isn't that kind of them?

I think so.

This delicious little treat came, once again, from the Jimbo's Market in Carlsbad. They have a great GF baker on-site and she comes up with some yummy and tempting treats that never disappoint.

But what really touched my heart was how my sister-in-law and brother (and adorable nephew) were so concerned about making sure I could enjoy dessert during my dad's birthday dinner. They really went out of their way to find just the right dessert that was perfectly gluten-free and something that I would enjoy. I've learned through having Celiac Disease how those loved ones in your life truly step up to the plate, always ensuring that I never feel "left out" so to speak, when we are all either eating out or cooking at home. It's a good reminder for me to stop and say "thank you" for my family and friend's true kindness and consideration.

Food is a funny thing. We need it for survival, obviously, but the amount of pleasure and true joy that is derived from eating a deliciously prepared meal is unrivaled. In Europe, especially, the act of "eating" and preparing a meal is like no other and I truly admire the art and thought that goes into the age-old philosophy of cooking food that comes from the earth and is unprocessed and eaten just as God intended. I too, try to prepare most all of my meals in that old-world style, though I realize that from time to time I get seriously caught in a "food rut" and loose my creativity. Unfortunately I'm there now, and in real need of some inspiration and time to let my creative cooking juices flow and hunker back down with organic, fresh produce, homemade soups, and exploring new GF grains, etc.

I'm pretty certain this weekend could be the right opportunity to get back to my "roots" - my vegetable roots, that is and start cooking and feeding my body pure goodness. I've recently discovered that an old friend and I are both on a similar path regarding how we eat, and what we eat, due to our specific diseases. She's an amazing woman and will soon be appearing as a guest blogger on this site - so stay tuned. I know she'll bring along with her words, an abundance of wisdom and a delicious recipe or two, to boot.

Getting back to last weekend's San Diego trip, I also wanted to mention that when my family picked me up from the airport at 9 p.m. (due to an hour 1/2 delayed flight) I was greeted with a hot, fresh gluten-free pizza in a REAL pizza box! I swear just experiencing the joy of opening a "normal" pizza box was all I needed - then I proceeded to eat half of that little 8" round delight on the way to my brother's house. I had no shame nor control as we sped up the I-5!

I do, however, feel a bit guilty about the fact that I was in such euphoria over being presented with my own take-out pizza, I forgot to snap a photo of it for this blog- ooops!

Don't blame me, blame Borrelli's Pizza and Italian Food in Encinitas, CA for my altered state - and the next time your are visiting So. Cal - GO GET ONE for yourself.

Eat well - eat real food!