Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Celentano gluten free ravioli

I love pasta. Almost any type of pasta. When we were in Italy last summer, one of my favorite meals was at a hole in the wall restaurant where the only word we recognized on the menu was ravioli. So delicious!

But having to eat gluten free has changed my ability to eat just any pasta, so I am on the lookout for good alternatives. Celentano makes a gluten free ravioli that I tried tonight with the Classico sauce I like. Cosi delizioso!

Monday, July 28, 2014


Today was a grazing day through gluten-free eating, and being prepared was critical. My lunch buddies were all otherwise occupied, so I grazed rather than having a proper meal today.

Grapes, almonds, granola, Progresso chicken and rice soup, banana, yogurt with blueberries, popcorn (finished!), and bacon and Swiss sandwich sans bread.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cinnamon roll fail

I tried the Udi's cinnamon rolls this morning. I followed the directions for preparing them from frozen, but they were too dry and I didn't like them. There are two more in the freezer so I will try them soon after thawing them first and following the thawed instructions. I don't expect them to be much better.

Breakfast: oatmeal with milk

Lunch: Peppers Mexican. Chicken fajitas without tortillas and chips brought from home.

Dinner: Corn chex with blueberries and milk

Snacks: cola cake with light vanilla ice cream, popcorn

I will be glad when I finish the popcorn because it is so good that I need it out of my house!

Saturday, July 26, 2014


My friend reminded me last week that I would never be able to have the Coca-cola Cake that the Cracker Barrel makes. While that's true, I have a recipe from the side of an old Betty Crocker's Devils Food cake mix that I've made occasionally.

I bought a gluten free cake mix this week so I tried the recipe today. It turned out pretty well. Definitely not the same as a regular one, but if you picked this dessert off a buffet with no preconceived idea of how it would taste, you would not be disappointed.

To make it, I followed the directions on the package except I substituted 1 cup Pepsi for the 1 cup of water.  While the cake baked, I made the icing.  In a small sauce pan, bring 1/2 c. Butter, 1/3 cup cola, and 1/4 cup cocoa to a slight boil.  Pour over 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, stirring until smoothe. Add 1/4 tsp. almond extract if desired. You can also add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts.  Let cool to lukewarm, about 20 minutes.  When the cake is done, pour the icing over the cake and let cool for about an hour before serving.

The lumps in picture are powdered sugar that didn't get smoothed out.  No nuts on ours because one of the boys don't like nuts and I wanted him to try the cake.  We also think it would be better with vanilla ice cream!

Breakfast: Van's gluten free waffles, orange juice

Dinner: rice, carrots

Snacks: cake! And popcorn.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lunch Outback

With no specific plans for lunch, I packed a can of Progresso chicken and rice soup, some yogurt with frozen blueberries, and a few other snacks so I would have safe food on hand for the day. So when my lunch buddies wanted to go out, I told them to pick the place because in knew if there wasn't safe food for me there, I could always crack open the soup when we got back.

Because I am still so early in, they decided to go somewhere I could eat, so off we went to the Outback which happens to be where I went for my 50th birthday lunch. They have a soup and salad for $6.99 but none of the soups are gluten free, and a salad / small entree combination for $7.99. We all got salad and cheeseburgers. Mine came with no croutons and no bun, and when they hesitated to get the bread for the table, I ordered it for them. If I were dieting, that would have been hard to watch the others eating the bread, but today it didn't bother me.

So I had a delicious lunch and now have an emergency can of soup on the shelf at work.

Breakfast: egg white omelet and OJ

Lunch: salad and cheeseburger, no bun

Dinner: yogurt and blueberries, rice crackers

Snacks: Udi's cookies and popcorn

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Self advocating

I had a dream last night that reminded me that last week when we went to Moe's, the salad I had was at risk for cross contamination. You see, the person who puts the lettuce in the bowl is also the person handling the tortillas and salad shells, and they grab a handful of lettuce to make a bed for the rest of the salad. Last Thursday was my first day of eating gluten free and I thought I was being so careful by reading the menu online and knowing not to get the chips because of other things cooked in the same oil.

So when we decided to go back today, I knew I would need to say something to have the person change their gloves before handling my lettuce. I rehearsed a few different ways to say it.

"I need to eat gluten free. Could you please use new gloves for my salad?"

"I can't have gluten, so can you please change your gloves?"

I don't want to be the educator, and I don't want to hold up the line, but I do want to advocate for myself and not unnecessarily expose myself to gluten. After all, I am trying to get my insides healed and working properly. I mentioned to my lunch companions that I needed to address this, so please bear with me.

"Welcome to Moe's!"

There was only one person ahead of us in line and no one immediately behind us. Relieved that I would have a little time, I placed my order for the Close Talker, no shell, and then said, "I have Celiac's." Before I could even speak another word, the wonderful young man said, "ah! Let me change my gloves!" I was thrilled that he knew exactly how to handle, literally, my order. He took my order all the way down the line since he had the clean gloves on, and he mentioned to me that while the chips don't have gluten in them themselves, they are cooked in the same oil that other things are. I appreciated his knowledge of the limitations of Celiac's and his accommodation of my needs.

I only wish more places were as informed, but I know there are many initiatives that are educating food services on how to keep their customers who suddenly find themselves with a need to adjust their diet so drastically.

Breakfast: Chex corn cereal with blueberries and milk. OJ.

Lunch: salad at Moe's and gf tortilla chips brought from home.

Snacks: granola, cherries, almonds

Dinner: to be decided

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gluten free oatmeal

I was surprised when I first started reading about what foods are gluten-free to find that oatmeal is not considered gluten-free. Well, technically oatmeal is gluten-free but is often processed around wheat and other grains that have gluten in them. Because of the high risk of cross-contamination, most oatmeal is not considered gluten-free.

I have a giant sized box of Quaker quick cooking oats. While I don't make oatmeal very often during the summer, oatmeal is a staple for breakfast during the cooler months. Thankfully I was able to find eggs gluten free quick cooking oatmeal. Bob's Red Mill brand has gluten-free oats. They also have non-gluten-free oats, so if you are shopping for gluten-free oats specifically, be sure to read the labels.

Breakfast: gluten-free oatmeal. It took a few seconds longer to cook in the microwave than the Quaker oatmeal does. The consistency is good and the oatmeal tastes just fine. I had milk and orange juice as well.

Lunch: we dined with the old people at Ruby Tuesday's today. I had the same lunch as last week; sliced sirloin, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes. All listed as gluten-free on their menu.

Dinner: reheated gluten-free pizza from Uncle Maddio's from yesterday.

Snacks: almonds, grapes, a few gluten-free white cheddar rice crackers. I am not crazy about these crackers, so only a few at a time will do. I will not buy this flavor again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Uncle Maddio's (gluten free) Pizza Joint

Tuesday is pizza night around our house which means DH brings home Domino's pizza for the boys. I rarely have any because they have eaten most of it before I even get home from work. As it turns out, this has been a positive thing because it's that much less gluten I was eating before I knew what it was doing to my body.

But it is still Tuesday, and while I know eating GF means changes, I am determined to not let it dictate everything. Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint is a perfect solution! We haven't been in a while, but they offer GF pizza crusts and their pizza prep avoids cross contamination. Don't believe it? You get to watch them assemble your pizza using separate ingredients including sauce and toppings than those on the main bar. Just be sure to tell them you need the GF pizza and watch them go to work.

The pizza costs $2 more for GF but is quite tasty and an individual size is really too much. The crust is crisp and doesn't taste like cardboard. In fact, it was delicious. But once the pizza cools off, it's not quite as good, but a quick heat at home will fix things if you have leftovers.

Breakfast: egg whites with cheese, orange juice

Lunch: because we were going out for dinner, I brought food to graze throughout the day. Cherries, almonds, frozen blueberries with vanilla yogurt, and granola.

Dinner: pizza

Snacks: S'mores dip, gf graham cracker, popcorn

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quinoa pasta

Today's Gluten Free challenge is brought to you by Costco. Or at least by a product carried by our local warehouse store.

Costco carries a variety of natural, organic, and/or gluten free products. I found some quinoa, corn and rice blend penne, made in Italy, labeled gluten free right on the package. Sweet! A friend had mentioned trying quinoa pasta and enjoyed it.

But when I turned the bag around, there was an allergen warning that it was processed in a plant that also processes wheat. Sad face. So even though the products used to make the pasta were gluten free, there was the possibility of cross contamination.

Breakfast: egg white omelet, orange juice

Lunch: Sonny's BBQ sliced pork (no sauce), plain baked potato. The only difference between today's order and my usual order is that I ordered the sandwich without bread. Little did I know when I had the garlic bread last Monday that it would be the last time. I guess I am glad I had it; I never dreamed I couldn't again.

Snacks: TJ's granola, almonds, fresh cherries

Dinner: I was planning to make a pasta but instead opened a bag of Chicago Mix popcorn (certified gluten free on the bag, ingredients checked). Chicago mix means caramel corn and cheddar cheese corn. Surprisingly tasty together.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gluten Free restaurant menus are no guarantee

Today was Day 4 in this gluten-free life I am living. I know at some point I will stop counting days, but this is not the day. This is the day I faced my first challenge to avoid gluten in spite of my planning.

On Sundays, I typically bake some frozen biscuits or canned cinnamon rolls for the family.  It's been a tradition for over 15 years. I get up about 30 minutes before the children awaken, get the food ready, then let them know breakfast is ready. It's the only day of the week I make breakfast for them.  We eat, then get ready for a morning of Bible study and worship, and then we go out for Sunday lunch.  As the kids became teenagers, they preferred to not join us for lunch, so we took advantage of the time to meet friends or just enjoy a meal on our own.  Usually at a local Mexican restaurant.

Little did I know that as I munched on chips and salsa and ate chicken fajitas last Sunday, those would be my last flour tortillas, my last "chips and salsa" from places I can't guarantee don't use the chip oil for other, flour based crisping.  I have yet to make a safe plan for Mexican restaurants besides chains like Moe's which I don't really count as "Mexican" because everyone who works at Moe's is a fresh scrubbed high school or college student, while the folks at our preferred Mexican restaurants are actually from Mexico. But I will get there, just not today.

Since today was Customer Appreciation Day at our local Beef O'Brady's, I checked the internet and found their gluten free menu items. Cool, the pub chips that I like were included on the menu along with the burgers sans buns and grilled chicken. I decided on a grilled chicken basket with the pub chips because they were listed on the corporate site's gluten free menu.  Before ordering, I asked the server if they had a gluten free menu I could look at as the one on my phone was really small.  She said they didn't have anything gluten free that she knew of, so I showed her what was on the website, and I ordered my food.  The manager, who we talk with every time we are there, came by to visit.  I told him I was told this week I have to eat gluten free and showed him the website, too. It was news to him. Then I asked my most important question: is anything else fried in the same oil vat as the pub chips. Thank goodness he told me that while they are not supposed to, if the kitchen gets backed up, they may very well drop a basket of breaded chicken tenders in the same fryer.  Cross contamination alert!  This was exactly what the doctor cautioned us about when he gave us my diagnosis.

Because the food had not yet come out, I was able to change the pub chips to carrot and celery sticks, definitely better for me even though they were not what I wanted. So gluten avoided!

Breakfast: Van's waffles with Mrs. Butterworth's syrup and fresh cherries and a banana. The waffles were already sweet but dry, so the syrup helped. Of course there isn't much that Mrs. Butterworth can't fix.

Lunch: Grilled chicken, plain, with carrot and celery sticks.

Snacks: Trader Joe's cranberry and maple nut granola, raspberry/vanilla ice cream bar

Dinner: Homemade BBQ ground beef on Udi's white bread, Lay's potato chips

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekend day 1

Weekends have always been a dietary challenge for me when trying to lose weight, so I was curious about how things might go today as it's Saturday. Our family typically goes out for an early lunch, so I knew I needed to be prepared for the outing.

A friend invited me to walk this morning, so I went 2 1/2 miles around the neighborhood pond. Later in the day, the same friend took me to both Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to see what gluten free products they offered. I bought a few to try which you will see referenced in my food logs over the next few days, and I was able to find the gluten free graham crackers I wanted to have before making a S'Mores dip recipe with chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Breakfast: Banana, two slices of Rudi's gluten free cinnamon raisin bread, toasted.

Lunch: Red Elephant's Southwestern Chicken Salad without the tortilla strips. This is what I usually order only I usually have the tortilla strips.

Snacks: fresh cherries, handful of Trader Joe's GF Cranberries and Maple Nut Granola, and a Raspberry Vanilla Ice Cream treat, also from Trader Joe's

Dinner: leftover gf spaghetti with Classico sauce. I wondered how the pasta would reheat and found it to be ok, but it needed more sauce than when freshly cooked.

I would say overall that today was a good day in taking care of myself and getting some things ready for the work week ahead. Planning is key so I won't be caught with nothing safe to eat.

Do you have a favorite gluten-free product from Whole a Foods or Trader Joe's? Share them with me in the comments.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Second day

Having a variety of GF foods in the house made things a little less fretful today. I wasn't sure what we might have for lunch as we go out nearly every day, so I packed some safe food in case I needed it. I told my lunch buddies that it is more about the company and the break in the day than the food, so I still want to go out and will find something that will work for me, and if not, I will have a stash of SF (safe food) to rely on.

Breakfast: Corn Chex with fresh blueberries and skim milk

Lunch: Ruby Tuesday with their GF menu in hand (plus a coupon). I had their sliced sirloin petite plate, nothing on the meat when cooked, steamed plain broccoli, and mashed potatoes. The garlic cheese biscuits stayed on the other end of the table.

Snacks: Nabisco GF rice crackers with Peter Pan crunchy pb and Welch's grape jelly. I don't like the crackers plain, but one of my boys watched a YouTube about gluten recently and remembered peanut butter was a safe food (of course I verified the specific one we had on the shelf). Frozen blueberries with vanilla yogurt. A handful of Blue Diamond almonds (the Emerald ones have possibility of cross contamination so I had to buy new almonds for me), and a few Lay's original chips. And a fresh cherry.

Dinner: Mueller's GF spaghetti with Classico sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Food log, Day 1

I have lots of experience in tracking what I have eaten in a day, so paying attention isn't a new concept for me. But I am paying attention to ingredients this time much more so than in my weight loss efforts of times past. Logging my food will help me keep focused on GF foods and monitor what I like and don't like.

Day 1 had to start with what I already had on hand as I had not been shopping yet, what with the whole post-procedure sedation and all that. I went to the grocery store after work and took some time to read labels, look for the GF symbols, and check prices. I also bought food for my family, so my cart looked like an oxymoron. Don't judge, ok?

Breakfast: egg and shredded cheese omelet, orange juice

Lunch: Moe's - Close Talker salad (streaker) - no shell, ground beef, romaine lettuce,shredded cheese, pico, tomatoes, and sour cream. No chips because they share the oil with flour tortillas.

Dinner: Uncle Ben's original rice

Snacks: frozen blueberries with Publix vanilla yogurt, a few GF crackers (various brands as a taste test). Udi's oatmeal raisin cookie and chocolate bite (courtesy of my thoughtful coworker).

Lunch was the same as I always get at Moe's with the exception of chips. Dinner was similar to other late evening arrival at home.

Diagnosis: Celiac's Disease

I know there are a bazillion blogs about living with Celiac's disease and / or about maintaining a gluten-free diet, but being newly diagnosed myself, I need a place to process this and I hope that I can "pay it forward" with what I learn and try so someone else will have a head start on changing their diet.

My diagnosis was the result of a casual mention of chronic iron deficiency when I went to the pre-colonoscopy appointment my health plan sent me to because I turned 50 this year. I had been tracking the iron deficiency under the care of both my primary doctor and hematologist. The GI's office suggested some specific blood tests, one of which was the ttg-iga. My results were so high that there was no question I needed to have it confirmed by endoscopy. The results came in on Tuesday and my already scheduled GI appointment was on Wednesday, so the GI doc did the endoscopy while I was already there and prepped. No question about it... Celiac's.

What I didn't know was that one way Celiac's manifests itself is through iron deficiency. Makes sense if you think about it. My body wasn't doing what it should to absorb nutrients, and one common thing that is easily screened for is iron levels.

So now what? My mom has been living gluten-free for several years now although her symptoms were drastically different than mine. A coworker has children in her family that have to eat gluten-free. Several online friends also follow GF diets. All of these folks have offered hugs and recommendations for GF products and meal ideas to get me started. One friend even shopped at the grocery store with me (well, virtually, because I would text pictures of ingredients if I wasn't sure something was GF and she would tell me yay or nay. I found an app for that today).

So here we go...