Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Posts tagged ‘glutten’

Fine Dining – Sans the Gluten

When you go to a really nice restaurant, you can usually expect that the food isn’t all going to be deep fried and off limits for Celiacs. But that doesn’t mean they won’t use flour to beef up their sauces or garnish their food with gourmet fried onions. So it’s nice to be able to go to a high-end restaurant, like Roy’s, and be presented with the prettiest gluten-free menu I’ve ever seen.

Naturally I expected a place like Roy’s, which I went to and loved prior to my dietary awakening, to hyper aware of the needs of its food-restricted patrons, regardless of whether the food on the menu is naturally gluten-free.  Roy’s takes steps to make parts of its kitchen completely free of the risks of cross-contamination, and knowing that makes a huge difference in the dining experience.

Another great aspect of the GF menu was that it was available in prix fixe format, so I got an appetizer, an entree and a dessert at a slightly reduced price from what it would be if ordered separately, and  I got to choose from anything on the gluten-free menu.

Roy’s is known for its pacific rim-style fare, so or my appetizer I ordered their version of a California roll, which I was delighted to have because cali rolls (one of my favorites) are usually off limits due to the fake crab (krab) used at many sushi restaurants. No filler here! Just sweet, succulent crab complemented by delicious and creamy avocado.

I stuck with the theme for my entree, ordering pan seared mahi mahi  with sweet corn, shiitakes, English peas, cherry tomatoes, and a Dijon lemon sauce.  It was light, summery, perfect.

Last was a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate souffle that burnt off the top of my mouth as I dug into its molten center with my spoon. It was a little rich compare to the rest of the meal, but I’ll take souffle any day.

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Roy’s has many locations throughout the country now, and you can find out on the website if the one nearest you offers the GF menu. I would highly recommend it for any special occasion.

Happy eating!




Celiac Disease Causes Canker Sores

Did you know canker sores are a symptom of Celiac Disease? Me neither. When I found out (earlier today while reading an article about other dental issues caused by CD and continuing to procrastinate making that dentist appointment), I couldn’t make myself be surprised. Canker sores have long been a nuisance in my life. I mean, like most people I like to eat, so pretty much any time I get a canker sore (which is all the time lately), it’s a huge pain. (Really though, they hurt!)

But enough parenthetical remarks. says canker sores might be the sole symptom of about 1 in 20 people with CD, so it’s worth getting tested or trying the GF diet just to see, especially because the people who participated in the study didn’t respond to canker sore medications.

And I know that those little monsters, which I’ve had a lot of lately, can also be caused by too much citrus and too much stress, both of which I’ve also had a lot of in my life lately. But I also wonder if my recurring canker sores are a sign that I may be glutening myself more than I know. So I’m trying my own elimination diet.

Eliminate the citrus? Done.

Eliminate the stress? Working on it.

If the inside of my mouth is still full of these burning white mounds of evil (okay, it’s just two a time, but still)  by my Master’s graduation on Friday, it’s time to stop eating out for a while.

We shall see!


Spaghetti Squash Carbonara with Veggies and (you guessed it!) Bacon

Squashghetti Carbonara

If you follow this blog at all, you  may know that I’ve become a big proponent of bacon lately.  This is largely due to my friend Dennis, who bought bacon for a seafood dish a few weeks ago and has been striving to use it up ever since.  The other night he hit a home run in bacon and gluten-free pasta alternatives in his creation of spaghetti squash carbonara, which I gobbled up, the butter and egg and bacon filling my tummy faster than you can say Alex Trebek.

(We often watch Jeopardy during dinner like septogenarians).

And it only took about 5 ingredients.

What you’ll need:

-1 spaghetti squash

– 3-4 strips of bacon

-assorted vegetables of your choice (we used broccoli)

– 1 egg, beaten with a whisk or fork

-2 tbsp. butter

What you’ll do:

Preheat your oven to 375

-Poke holes into the spaghetti squash all around so it doesn’t burst while baking.  You need only to make little notches in the skin of the squash to accomplish this.

-Bake the spaghetti squash for 1 hour.

-Remove spaghetti squash from oven and let cool for a few minutes.  Gently cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon.  Use a fork to to remove the spaghetti-like flesh and set aside.

For the carbonara:

-Crisp up the bacon to your liking, and remove excess grease (as much or as little as you want . The rest of this dish is all veggie so live a little!).

– Steam the veggies any way you like (if you’re like me,  and by that I mean cheap and resourceful,  you put it in a saute pan with a little  bit of water and slap a pot cover on top of it)

– Add the spaghetti and veggies to the bacon and stir it around, making sure to coat that stuff with bacon grease. Go ahead and add a tbsp. of butter and salt/pepper to taste.

– Then, when everything is done, turn off the heat and stir the beaten egg quickly as you pour it slowly.  The residual heat will cook it some, so no need to worry about raw egg issues.  But if you are worried, you can put it on low head and leave it on after stirring for a little while.  The egg, along with a little EVOO and butter, serves as the sauce for this dish, and boy is it tasty.


Food Labels Clearer but not Standardized

I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise.  I defended my Master’s Project (which involves this very blog!) on Monday, meaning I get to graduate from J-School here at UF in just a few short weeks. It’s amazing how an event like that can suck the motivation out of you right quick and replace it with an acute but bearable sense of panic.

Aaaanyway, after a couple days of relaxing and job searching and seemingly endless grading, I’m back in happy blogger mode.

First, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out the 1 in 133 campaign – aiming to standardize food labels once and for all. And since we’re on the subject of food labels, I thought I’d share an article I read from the Bellingham Herald in Bellingham, Wash. (home of the formerly fantastic indie band Death Cab for Cutie).  The original article ran in the Detroit Free Press, which I actually thought had folded. More good news!

The article approaches the topic of labeling laws in a way that we haven’t seen a lot lately, reminding us that labels are actually a lot clearer than  they used to be.

Food labeling is becoming more understandable, partly because federal law now mandates that the most common allergens be clearly listed.

The reporter, Robin Erb brings up the point that such clear labels are good for business, essentially saying, the bigger the “Gluten-free” banner, the more likely we are to buy. I can’t tell you how many friends and family members have called or texted to tell me they saw the big “gluten-free” wordage on the front of a box of Chex. On one hand it’d be great if all gluten-free foods were so loud because I (more importantly, anyone cooking for me) wouldn’t have to peer so closely down the aisles to find them. On the other hand, I’d be getting a lot more calls and texts.

But if only good comes out of these clear labels,  then why the snail’s pace when it comes to standardizing them? A string of instances in the news recently about bakers falsely labeling their products as gluten-free as me on edge as to who I can trust. Even Chex accidentally sneaks in a “Wheat” morsel from time to time.

So yes, it’s great that so many products are clearly labeled as gluten-free or, more importantly, not.  Now we need the legislation to ensure that what claims to be safe for Celiacs actually is.


Huffington Post Talks Gluten-free Diet

Celiac Disease has been on a pretty serious media tour lately, with the New York Times, Nightline and the Today Show all running features about it and its kid brother, gluten intolerance.  But you know CD has really hit the big time when Arianna and her gang over at the Huff Post put their own spin on in, opting to tackle the “Is gluten-free really healthier” argument.  (By the way, numerous organizations have beat them to the punch and concluded that “no, it is not” for people without gluten issues.)

I’m a fan of the Huffington Post and its often controversial/snarky/decidedly liberal fare, but I found nothing new in this article.  I realize it would be hard for someone who considers herself to be somewhat of an expert on a subject to find something new, but what I mean is, it offered nothing I haven’t heard from the other aforementioned outlets.

Maybe they’re toning down as a result of that AOL buyout.

Here was the one bit of information I found intriguing, as I’ve heard many people who try the GF diet out of curiosity attest to feeling better, but it’s not for the reason they think:

Many who go on a gluten-free diet may lose weight and feel better, but it has nothing to do with avoiding gluten. Just cutting out starchy, processed forms of carbohydrate or limiting carbohydrate intake helps with lowering insulin resistance, which leads to weight loss and improved energy.

Let’s all let out a collective, “Ohhh.”

Writer Susan B. Dopart concludes, “For the rest of us, there’s no need to follow the trends of what is currently in vogue with food manufacturers. Eating simple, unprocessed foods according to what your body can tolerate is the best way of eating.”

I, for one, hope that GF stays “in vogue” with food manufacturers for years to come, lest I go back to eating rice cakes every meal of every day.  I’ve always hated rice cakes.


Eating My Way Through Gluten-free New Orleans Part 1

I have returned from New Orleans safe and sound and enriched and enlightened.  I can say I was on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras and, to be honest, it was tamer than people build it up to be.  The food is another story.  It is out of control.

My first NOLa meal was far from stereotypical creole food.  Fat Tuesday is a legit holiday in the city, so many businesses were closed.  But after some exploring, we stumbled upon a Middle Eastern place in the Garden District – Mona’s Cafe.  (There’s actually one of these downtown on Frenchman St. too).

We’d skipped dinner the night before, so we pretty much ordered every appetizer on the menu as soon as we sat down, and nothing disappointed.  Now I know a hungry palate is a lenient one, but the stuffed grape leaves at this place were truly divine.  As a bonus, I found out our waitress followed a gluten-free diet, so I knew what I was getting would be safe.  I got the falafel plate.

After lunch, we drove through the Garden District, which is a beautiful part of New Orleans, street upon oak-lined street  of centuries-old houses with wrap-around porches and sprawling gardens.  Tulane University is here, and we quickly noticed students around our age walking toward a particular destination.  We parked and got out  followed, and there, along St. Charles Street, we found the Truck Parade, Mardi Gras tradition:

Nine hours, a day parade, thousands of beads, an hour of traffic and a cab ride later we were starving again, and everywhere seemed packed.  A sprawling cafe in the heart of the French Quarter with live music and a wait staff that seemed eager to join the party was our saving grace, and there we tasted our first authentic New Orleans food.  Po’Boys, Etouffee, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice – we got it all that night.  I was told that the etouffee was the only one of the above non-sandwich dishes made with a roux (a combo of butter and flour), but other places use a roux for their gumbo, so it’s always a good idea to ask.

Our bellies full of spice and Hurricanes, we headed over to Bourbon…you know what, let’s just fast forward to the next day.

To be continued…


An Interview with: The Prego Celiac

Although I’m 24 and single, my mind does occasionally wander to a time when I have children (of the non-cat variety.)  I think every girl thinks about baby names long before the time comes to choose one, just as she thinks of her future wedding day, where it will be, what the cake will be like, long before she meets her future husband.  When I was diagnosed with Celiac, it wasn’t long before my musings of the future drifted in the direction of my new gluten-free life.  What would my gluten-free wedding cake be like?  And then, more seriously, what would being pregnant be like if I couldn’t give in to the often-glutenful cravings of the typical pregnant woman?  Would my children be limited to a gluten-free diet, too?

The books I perused, Celiac Disease for Dummies and The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free, offered brief paragraphs, mostly about how un-diagnosed Celiac can cause infertility and an increased risk of miscarriage.  That was weird, I thought, since those reading these books would most likely already be diagnosed.   The forums gave a little bit of true insight, but the comments seemed to conflict with each other.   Eventually, I gave up the search, figuring I’d learn all I needed to know when the time came, years down the road.

Then, last year, a friend of a friend, Jennifer DeLuca, who happens to have Celiac Disease, became pregnant.  She being one of the only other people in Gainesville I knew to be gluten-free, we struck up somewhat of a digital friendship in the midst of our mutual plight–we were both new to the GF lifestyle.  Naturally, I saw her pregnancy as the opportunity to hound her about all those questions I’d asked myself those first few gluten-free months.

Jenny is about 2 weeks from having a little girl, and was kind enough to let me interview her about celiac pregnancy and beyond.

Jennifer DeLuca, gluten-free mommy to be

Are there any risks associated with Celiac Disease and pregnancy?

There’s actually a larger risk of miscarriage if you don’t know you have Celiac Disease, but having managed Celiac Disease is usually not an issue.  I researched a little when we first found out we were pregnant, and the articles I found said that it was safe for most people to conceive if they had been following the gluten free diet for a year or longer to give your intestines time to heal and absorb nutrients properly.

For me, the biggest concern I’ve had is eating enough when I’m busy – most gluten free “fast food” is pretty low in calories and gluten free cereals aren’t fortified like mainstream cereals are.  In the first trimester, it was a struggle to eat enough fiber and whole grains.

What are some tips your doctor gave you – eating even though you’re nauseous and things like that? Do you have to take extra vitamins?

In the first trimester, eating even when you’re nauseous was a recommendation, but the doctor would tell me things like keep Saltine crackers by my bed.  I haven’t found a gluten free cracker that I like enough to eat on it’s own, so I had to make my husband make me a lot of toast with peanut butter and I ate a lot of rice cakes.

I take a prenatal vitamin – New Chapter Organic Perfect Prenatal.  The bottle says it’s gluten-free, but it does contain oats.  I have felt so much better from taking it that my little sister has started taking it to help with her Celiac Disease and she’s seen improvement as well.

The only other thing I have to watch out for is exercising enough and eating a healthy diet.  It’s easy for someone with Celiac Disease to go a few days eating nothing but ice cream and fruit.

Are there special precautions you have to take, other than the usual – staying away from gluten, cross contamination, etc.

I have had trouble gaining weight consistently throughout the pregnancy.  For example, during one five-week period I gained 12 pounds, but the next three weeks I only gained 2 and the subsequent three weeks I gained nothing.  Because of that, my doctor sent me to see a nutritionist last week.  I have this huge list of foods, and I am supposed to eat a protein, a healthy fat and a fiber at every meal.  I’m also supposed to eat every three hours and eat a second dinner right before bed since I keep waking up hungry at 5 a.m.  Other than eating as much as possible, I just have to do the usual gluten avoiding things.

There was one other thing that made me nervous.  I have Rh- blood, and they wanted me to take a shot called Rhogam.  My husband follows a much more natural lifestyle than I do, so he didn’t want me to take it just because he doesn’t like using medicine as a precaution, and when I researched it there was some mention of immunity issues.  After a discussion with my OB/GYN she called a local gastroenterologist to check if Rhogam had any special adverse side effects for Celiac Disease patients, and he said there weren’t any problems.  As a result, I finally have a GI Doctor that I feel like knows more about Celiac Disease than I do!

What are some of your favorite gluten-free craving busters? I can imagine sometimes you just want a big slice of pizza or a huge piece of cake.

I live across a courtyard from a pizza place and have been to so many weddings since pregnancy that those are two major problems!

I actually bring cookies or some other dessert to weddings and parties so I don’t get sad about the cake, and I have to make a lot of food I wouldn’t normally bother making.  The pregnancy cravings for me are more about being easily influenced by what other people are eating or what I see on commercials.  So after an IHOP commercial I have to get out the expensive King Arthur GF pancake mix and I spent an entire weekend trying unsuccessfully to replicate corn nuggets after a visit to a southern BBQ restaurant.

On a regular basis, I keep Bora Bora bars, walnuts mixed with craisins, apples, and/or little chocolates in my purse to help ward off hunger.

Has your doctor told you the likelihood of your child also having Celiac? If so, what are your immediate plans for dealing with that?

The risk of my daughter having Celiac Disease is 1 in 22, according to  At home, we eat almost completely gluten-free already; my husband only has his own cereals and occasionally cookies.

I did use Celiac Disease as a way to help interview potential pediatricians.  My first question was, “What do you know about Celiac Disease and how to test for it in young children?”  We’re going to treat it like any other possible allergen.  After we start her eating other solid foods, we’re going to introduce wheat cereal and watch her closely for about a week without introducing any other new foods.

If she seems to stay the same we’ll continue her on wheat.  If she has any problems, we’ll stop and I might try again when she’s older so that she can have the blood test done and we’ll know for sure.

Now that I can stop wondering about events that haven’t even begun to begin to take place, I can turn my attention to more immediate worries, like what to have for lunch!


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