Friday, April 30, 2010

May is National Celiac Awarness Month ~

So, tomorrow is already the month of May - wow, which is National Celiac Awareness Month, in case you didn't know...which means there will be a lot of news throughout the month of May, helping keep the ball rolling on awareness, new products, and research, etc.

I've put together a list of news items and information that I found useful and interesting and hope you do, as well. I'm very open to gathering new information from my readers and would love to hear from you with your suggestions, thoughts and updates that we can share on this's all about community and teaching one another!

In honor of National Celiac Month, I came across this story on celebrates the month and explores the history of Celiac Disease. Some interesting information that I had not read before, tracing all the way back to Europe in the 19th century.

The Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) is celebrating their 20th Anniversary Conference & Food Faire-CA in LA this month on Saturday, May 15th. I've always wanted to attend this conference and hoping to make it next year. This year, Peter H.R. Green, MD Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University is one of the keynote speakers and I sure will be a wealth of information and knowledge.

On another foodie note, famed chef and entrepreneur Jaime Oliver's show, "Food Revolution" on ABC TV is a real hit. Have any of you watched this on Friday nights? It's great and whether you enjoy Jaime's never-ending zest for life or not, the message he's sending is solid, so important and not that different from us Celiac advocates and our mission. It's all about educating the public on how to eat healthily and with some sense and most importantly, how to educate children in an effort to battle the rapid growth of childhood obesity and diabetes that's taking over this Nation. Tune in and click here to support Jaime's efforts. You can also click on the badge posted on my blog and help support the Food Revolution!

If you live in Reno, the Great Harvest Bread Company is now offering more gluten-free baked items on Mondays. They do four kinds of bread: sandwich bread, sandwich bread from brown rice flour and tapioca flour, cinnamon raisin bread, pumpkin spice bread and pumpkin spice with chocolate chips...yum. They are located in the Plum Gate Shopping Center at: 530 W. Plumb Lane in Reno. They suggest that you call ahead to reserve your loaf @ 775-323-7733. I know where I'll be on Mondays from now on!

Speaking of Sweet Treats...Just a friendly reminder that Tia's Sweet Treats Gluten-free, organic Macaroons is accepting custom orders any time and are also sold full-time at the Hub Coffee Co. on Cheney St. We are currently working on a new summer flavor as well as some other delicious treats that will expand our menu! We hope to hear from you and please pick up a copy of the Edible Reno-Tahoe Magazine Summer 2010 issue on stands June 7th - Tia's Sweet Treats are being featured with an article and photos!

And finally...something fun that hit the blog/cyber world earlier today in preparation for this weekend's Reno Rock-n-River Half Marathon. The RSCVA put together a fun listing of favorite places that local runners will be carbo-loading before they hit the trail...and not to be left out, they came to me for some gluten-free carb locations that are sure to satisfy the Celiac marathoner, as well...and keep that tummy happy...though I can't promise anything after running that many miles!

Get out there and enjoy the month of May, spread the word about Celiac awareness and eat macaroons...Tia's, that is. :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Safe Places to Eat in Reno ~

Whenever I find another safe and enjoyable restaurant I tend to write about it on this blog - I always feel so grateful to discover new or old favorites that have updated their menu to include delicious gluten-free items and mostly to meet staff members who "have a clue" about what it truly means to eat safely in a restaurant. I can see all of your heads nodding in I right?

In the past month I've had the pleasure of rediscovering a few lovely restaurants in Reno who are very hip now to gluten-free dining...and what a joy eating at all locations truly was.

The first stop was, 4th Street Bistro, owned by Chef Natalie Sellers and partner, General Manager Carol Wilson (who recently went gluten-free), and have been in operation since June of 2000. They serve contemporary cuisine and feature fresh, sustainable and local organically grown food on their menu. In addition, the restaurant is quaint and comfortable with a hint of European decor and a nice view of the Truckee River.

The brunch that we recently enjoyed at 4th Street Bistro was really delicious and when I looked over the menu to find nearly ten items marked gluten-free (GF) I almost started crying...not kidding...because this is such a rarity and honestly, I was a bit overwhelmed for a few minutes! After speaking extensively with Carol, the co-owner who now eats sans gluten, I was really delighted to see the effort that she has put towards bringing a complete dining experience to those who don't eat wheat.

Upon noticing that they offered a fresh basket of gluten-free breads I looked up in awe at the server asking, "can this be true...are you sure, really?"....It was true and the goodies you see blow are proof. The sweet rolls, fresh banana bread and scones were so yummy that my dad ordered a second basket for me to take home! How sweet. When the appetizer arrived, I was handed my own side plate of rice crackers in three different varieties, Glutino, Blue Diamond and Mary's Gone Crackers. Delightful.

Being totally perplexed as to what I would order, since I was now being offered legitimate choices, I went for this amazing poached egg dish served over a bed of wilted spinach with a pork-potato con-fit...Heaven. Then I easily convinced my father to order the Tortilla Espanola (a family favorite) so that we could share!

Sneaky, huh? As I've always noted on this blog, my family and friends are amazingly supportive of my diet and much so that most everyone I know and love now eats rice crackers and many other gluten-free food items! The true power of positive influence.

Love it.

The brunch was delicious and everyone raved about their meal, the freshness, taste and quality. I am pretty sure that I was the happiest person in the entire restaurant and can't wait to go back!

My mom's birthday was this month and we decided to take her to La Famiglia Ristorante for some delicious Italian food and wanted to check out their beautiful new downtown location, as well. I hadn't eaten there in a few years, not for any other reason that the downturn in the economy and the fact that I've been cooking so much more at my home, so it was at treat to go back and discover that in a few years La Famiglia and its staff have embraced serving more gluten-free items safely and deliciously.

To start, I ordered their Insalata di Frutta - a delightful bed of greens, fresh pear, Gorgonzola and candied walnuts with a balsamic drizzle of dressing. Very tasty.

My entree choice was fresh halibut prepared with a lemon butter glaze, pine nuts and olives, and substituted the pasta with some fresh polenta and vegetables. I spoke with the waiter extensively about this meal and he was very confident about how they would prepare it for me separately, in a new pan, and served with fresh polenta that was certain to not contain any gluten. I have to admit that I was a little nervous, but I asked as many questions as possible and was very assertive with exactly HOW my meal needed to be prepared. Trusting my intuition and the fact that our server did seem very versed with gluten-free, I chose to trust and enjoy.

Not wanting to miss out on the birthday celebration at the end of our meal, I was able to eat their flan-like-custard dessert. It was very good and served with fresh whipped cream.

Overall, the meal experience was very good and the new location inside an industrial-type beautiful brick building, just across from the Pioneer Theater was very nice and I'll definitely go back again. Buon appetito!

My last recommendation is Cafe de Thai, located in south Reno. I've written about them before but have been back several times lately and I can honestly say this...I'm in love with their gluten-free Pad Thai and fresh Spring Rolls! Could eat 'em every day.

They also offer gluten-free dipping sauces that are wonderful and some of the best and most fun drink concoctions in town. You will NOT be disappointed.

This weekend, give one of these lovely restaurants and try and tell them that Gluten Free Bowl of Soul sent you.

Enjoy safe food~

4th Street Bistro
3065 West 4th Street
Reno, NV 89523-8808
(775) 323-3200

La Famiglia Ristorante

180 East 1st Street
Reno, NV 89501-1602
(775) 324-1414

Cafe De Thai
7499 Longley Lane
Reno, NV 89511-1208
(775) 829-8424

Friday, April 9, 2010

Good Stuff to Know and Eat ~

Happy Friday everyone!

I am beat after a very busy and productive week, but wanted to share a few interesting tid-bits that I found in several magazines and on-line news outlets that I subscribe to. I love magazines, books and reading. Some of my favorite subscriptions are to: the legendary, Sunset Magazine, along with Living Without and Travel and Leisure, to name a few.

March's issue of Sunset Magazine (which hopefully you own or can view on line) had a fun photo layout under "The West at its Best - Hot Plants," that featured some new greens, yummy beans and a photo of some gluten-free crops. Yeah Sunset! The accompanying brief read: "Protein-rich, gluten-free seeds like quinoa, millet, and amaranth are finally sexy, thanks to rising wheat intolerance. How easy it is: Quinoa is a snap (it's drought-tolerant and maintenance-free), but harvest is laborious. Start in early spring (maturity takes 90-130 days), then prepare to thresh and winnow." in case you want to grow your own, there you go!

Instead of growing my own crop of quinoa, I prefer to purchase it at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's - there are several good brands and gluten-free choices at both locations.

The new spring issue of Living Without is on newsstands now. It's got a darling cover that makes us all want to bake more and a particularly interesting article about food labeling titled, "A Closer Look at Labeling"...something that should be of great importance and interest to every Celiac. As the gluten-free industry continues to explode, this serious and sometimes controversial topic will be getting more and more press and hopefully, FDA attention.

And finally, this story popped up in my Google Alerts and I thought it was worth sharing. It's titled, "Gluten Sensitivity Beyond the Gut," and deals with mounting evidence now linking gluten sensitivity with problems in the nervous system (neurological disorders)— even in people without intestinal symptoms.

As a Celiac, I find that it's so important to educate myself and try to stay on top of all the information and studies that are out there now. It's truly amazing to see the sheer volume of news that's now dedicated to this disease and to living gluten-free...with abundance, of course!

Have a great weekend - Stay tuned next week for a yummy restaurant review!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter and the Power of Renewal ~

It's Good Friday already and the 2nd of April. How did this happen so quickly? I mean, wasn't it seriously just Christmas or Valentine's Day? The year of 2010 is already through its first quarter and as I sit here today gazing outside at a powerful "winter" storm blowing in, I'm reflective and thankful for my life...especially knowing how fast time really does pass us by.

I'm a practicing Catholic and always have been by choice, so Easter of course, is the most important holiday of our faith. It's a time to really look around at the budding flowers, the snow falling (in our case today!) and all of nature's beauty that's about to give birth to new life and hope. Whether you practice a religion, or believe at's hard to deny the power of Spring and the gifts that flourish because of its arrival.

April is a special month for me for another important reason - Ten years ago this month, in 2000, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac Disease after nine long and difficult years of searching for a diagnosis. It was also in that same month (April 2000) when I almost died. You see, shortly after my unexpected diagnosis by a family physician friend in Oakland, CA, I was admitted to a hospital for a serious injection of liquid Iron, due to my body being completely and utterly empty of the stuff! My Ferritin levels were at "1" and it was not looking so good for me. A body can really only take so much after so many years of struggling.

However, I happened to fall into the statistic that "1 out of like every 60,000 people" would have a reaction of any kind to an iron injection. Long story short, after the test dose was administered, I became faint and began to go into anaphalactic shock. The good news was, 1) I was already in the hospital and 2) My doctor was standing next to me, along with two nurses who were able to reverse the iron effects and stabilize me without me going into cardiac arrest. Thanks to God. That day had a happy ending and shorty thereafter, I began taking iron supplements, having learned the hard way that my body was just too traumatized to handle anything as invasive as an infusion.

A very long story short, I can say this: You haven't truly lived, until you've nearly died. At least that's been my motto every since that day in April 2000. I was actually given a powerful gift of insight that takes you out of "the norm" of life and creates an entirely new perspective that few share...but that's okay. It is all exactly how it should be and I seriously wouldn't change a thing.

I can say that initially, after my diagnosis of Celiac Disease, I felt that I had been cursed and how unfair this all was. How could I be the only one in my family with this affliction? But after working through a few years of experimenting with foods (though I honestly do not remember what I ate or was able to buy five - ten years ago!), finding so much support from family and loved ones, and renewing my bodily strength and stamina, I began to see the abundance and sheer blessings that have been given to me because of living this life and living as a Celiac. Though I certainly do NOT see this disease as a debilitation any longer, I also do not define myself by its parameters. No one should. We are given what we are given or perhaps bring upon ourselves, but if you choose to find the hidden blessings within every difficult situation, you will become a far more enlightened and grateful person.

Because of my diagnosis, I have found myself.

I have discovered a way to share my knowledge with others, and hopefully enrich someone else's life, offering them some tiny bit of guidance along the way, as so many others have done for me.

I have become an even more voracious researcher, reader and inspired writer.

I have grown into a teacher, in a sense, and learning to be my own powerful advocate in life.

Having Celiac has also inspired me to start a little baking business with my mother and give some folks the chance to taste something sweet, delicious and safe.

So during this spring and season of Easter joy I am truly grateful for the abundant life I have found as a Celiac, and for the sense of community it has inspired in my life. I celebrate these past ten years, though definitely filled with months of setbacks and challenges, they have primarily been years defined by moments of love, happiness and growth.

I am truly grateful.

If any of you feel so compelled, please share your diagnosis story with me, and in turn...with us...I would love to post some of your journeys.

In the meantime, go eat a gluten-free chocolate bunny or egg or Peeps this weekend and say a prayer in thanks for all of the gluten-free abundance in your life.

God Bless ~