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Schar Sandwich Bread

This is just a quick note to say we have a new favorite gluten-free everyday bread at our house. Schar Classic White Bread:

Schar Bread This bread surprised us for two reasons. The first being that the second ingredient listed is sour dough, made with rice flour and water. When I bought the bread I had only looked at the area that says “contains: soy” to see if it contained dairy and or eggs, so I happily bought it when I saw that it didn’t. I had no idea I was buying a sourdough bread! But as soon as I tasted it I could taste the sour dough and was so excited~ a dairy free, egg free gluten-free, sourdough sandwich bread is something we haven’t had since….well, ever, actually. We are eating a lot of sandwiches these days.

The second reason this loaf surprised me was because it isn’t in the normal spot where I shop for bread at the Whole Foods I frequent. I imagine this is one of those things probably debated among store employees, vendors, brokers, and merchandisers. At the Whole Foods I go to there is a dedicated gluten-free aisle, but there are also gluten-free items throughout the store. Normally when I buy bread, I go to where all the bread is and pick up a loaf or a bag of bagels or rolls. Schar bread is not there. It is only in the aisle dedicated to gluten-free items and by the time I hit that aisle my cart is usually already filled with bread products I got from the bread area. Hm. I know it is difficult to set up a store, I’ve worked in several myself, so I’m curious what people think…Do you like your store to have the gluten-free items mixed in with the other food, or do like it all in one specified space? Or mixed, with a dedicated gluten-free area but with other gluten-free items mixed with the other food in all the other aisles?

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Redmond Market

Redmond Market Flowers

Aren’t these flowers just the prettiest? I got them at the Redmond Farmers Market last Saturday and they are still going strong in our front windows. These aren’t what I went to the Redmond Market intending to buy, but I couldn’t help myself, especially since they had such an inviting price ($5). The Redmond Market, located right next to the Redmond Town Center, is a Saturday tradition from May-October and the gluten-free options there are abundant. If you are hungry you can order a gluten-free crepe (made where the other crepes are so do be careful)at Anita’s crepes or enjoy a tamale just down the way at Hermosa Mexican Foods’ booth which is my son’s favorite thing about the market by far. Wildflour Gluten Free bakery has a booth there and when I get there early enough I buy two of their baguettes, but they sell out fast! Many of their items are dairy free but not all, and most have eggs in them, but all are gluten-free and there is a nice variety at her booth. It is delicious fun to buy a pint of fresh berries and sit down with a baguette and snack while watching some live music that rotates through there all summer. Another gluten-free bakery that has a booth there is Fancy Free bakery which touts a much longer list of ‘free-of’ ingredients~ no peanuts, eggs, dairy, etc, so pretty much anyone could find a treat there, and they will not be disappointed. I bought sourdough bread there and it is truly sour-ly awesome. I heard two other vendors discussing with near rapture the lemon bars they bought there but when I went to check them out myself I was too late…definitely getting to the market earlier next Saturday. There are of course plenty of produce farmers, jewelry makers, planted pots venders, much more there, but I personally adore the fact that there are so many gluten-free finds. I just wish it lasted all year-long, but I guess that just makes it all the more special. Now if only I could wake up and get going on Saturdays earlier to fully take advantage of it…Hm, maybe by August I’ll get that part down. At least I managed to get flowers last week. They are lovely.

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New Research on Gluten and Brain fog

This is the worst part when I accidentally ingest gluten and absolutely the hardest thing to explain to people who don’t have a gluten issue~ the ‘brain fog’. This article adds to growing research into an often cited but hard to study complaint of brain fog in celiacs and those gluten intolerant. They liken the brain fog to a .05 blood alcohol level, which is an interesting attempt to try to wrap some definition around something as hard to grasp as ‘fog’ but I would classify it as that feeling when you are getting sick and feverish and your brain just feels like it needs a nap before computing, but maybe that’s because gluten makes me tired, oh so tired, and so all I think about are naps. Probably everyone experiences it a bit differently, but it certainly points to early detection being more and more important if we want our children to have the best experience as possible in school. The article notes that they are still not sure why that happens since one theory was a lack of micronutrients making it to the brain when the digestive system is impaired, but that did not in fact seem to be the case. Another theory has to do with the gut bacteria, always super important when talking about brain health, but it could also be the gluten itself. Whatever it is, I’m just glad enough people have cited the issued that it’s being studied.

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Gluten Free in Louisville, KY

Photo Credit: Ray Schuhmann
Photo Credit: Ray Schuhmann

Part of the reason I haven’t written much lately has to do with a trip to see my family in Louisville, KY, which turned out to be a very easy place to visit with multiple food intolerances in our crew. The other reason is the sheer craziness of summer with two high-energy boys~ it takes some time to adjust from school year days to summer days and honestly, I’m still adjusting. But, here’s what you will find in Louisville if you head that way (maybe in May…?) It is the Derby City after all.

Annie May’s Sweet Café is a gluten and nut free place that also has a large selection of vegan items. We went there for lunch and immediately regretted having not gone earlier in the trip. My son thought their vegan cream of broccoli soup was ‘epic’ and three of us got sandwiches we very much enjoyed and I was the only one of the three who is even gluten intolerant. The desserts we ate were delicious~ mostly cookies with cream in the middle, some vegan and some not depending on the person. My sons and I had the vegan kind which were dipped in chocolate too and probably the most decadent thing I’ve had in years. I don’t know what the vegan cream was in the middle but it definitely tasted like the real thing and I did not ask because if I knew how to make those things I might never leave my kitchen again.

Just down the road is Bluegrass Burgers which advertises on its sign outside, “Gluten free buns and beers” but it isn’t just buns and beers actually because I asked about the veggie patty and the black bean patty (they have both!) and those were also gluten-free and vegan. They were nice and patient about my questions, something that can be hard to find at restaurants where the going trend is to hate on people with food intolerances. They were extremely friendly and their food was great but there is one warning, their fries are way too good. Seriously, if you don’t want to eat a ton of them, just say no because once you start it’s all over~ they are seasoned to perfection and more addictive than chocolate covered cashews. Highly recommend this place. (And chocolate covered cashews for that matter.)

And of course there’s pizza. There are several places that have gluten-free options, but we chose Blaze Pizza because they have vegan cheese, all the pizza pies are individual size, and they cook them quickly in a wood fire so there (theoretically) isn’t much wait time. I was impressed that when I ordered the gluten-free crusts and vegan cheeses that they asked me if they needed to change gloves when handling those pizzas. They knew what they were doing when it came to allergies and I felt quite safe feeding their food to my kids and eating it myself. We liked the taste but it kind of reminded me of Chuck E. Cheese pizza, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, something about it was just similar…the thinner crust, snappier cheese, slightly sweet tomato sauce. But if that isn’t to your taste, there are plenty of other pizza places that have gluten-free crust options, such as Mellow Mushroom, Impellizzeris, Puccini’s, Uncle Maddio’s, and Cottage Inn Pizza, so basically wherever you are in Louisville you are never far from gluten-free crust.

Something else you are never far from in Louisville are natural foods stores, so in a pinch you can always find allergy free food at Whole Foods, Lucky’s Market, or shop local and visit Rainbow Blossom at one of their five locations.

A surprising amount of allergy-friendly food can be found at the most unusual place of all, and I say that mostly because the town’s name is Santa Claus but also because the amusement park there, Holiday World, is, well, an amusement park (and water park) which generally aren’t hubs of allergy free dining.

Photo credit: Santa's Little Helper
Photo credit: Santa’s Little Helper

This place is about 70 miles from Louisville and well worth the trip if you are traveling with kids or just like rides, water parks, and Christmas music in July. Just check out this list of allergy-free foods that you can get there and you’ll be adding Santa Claus, Indiana to your must-do list. The only thing I caution is to have the list handy with you before you go in to order because the people behind the counter weren’t always up-to-date on the offerings. There seemed to be one person in charge who handled the allergic folks and the rest of them waved her down to deal with us. That was fine with me, as long as there was one person dedicated to keeping us safe I was thoroughly impressed. We also had to wait extra time for the allergy free food so another caution is to go before your four-year old is in low-sugar-sunburnt-over-tired-and-hungry-tantrum-mode, but really it wasn’t too long of a wait, 15 minutes maybe. Of course 15 minutes with a hungry child is a lot longer than 15 minutes with just yourself to worry about, so you’ve been forewarned. But both my sons said the place was better than Disney Land, so check it out.

I’m sure there are plenty of other restaurants that accommodate gluten intolerant people but I just want to highlight one more because their menu is very clear with calling out gluten-free items, along with vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and whatever other kind of ~ian you want to call yourself, they’ve heard it all before. Ramsi’s Café will fill your worldly cravings when you’ve tried all the gluten-free pizza (impossible!) and eaten all the burgers on gluten-free buns that you can handle. Kids are welcome but if you are going to leave them behind for an evening out with your significant other, this is the place to go. When you are finished with dinner be sure to walk up and down Bardstown Road for some fun shopping and people watching, or grab a movie at the nearby Baxter Avenue Theaters. Enjoy!

 

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Gluten Intolerant Symptoms

Schar just shared this infographic on their Facebook page. If you don’t already follow them, I heartily recommend doing so if you like nice visuals along with your gluten-free tidbits. And if you are planning a visit to Italy, this is definitely a company to know because as I understand it, they have played a major role in making the land of pasta a safe place for Celiacs and the like.  As far as the picture below goes, I can check off more than half those symptoms myself~ how about you?

schar

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Adjusting to a Gluten-Free Diet

There are many guides to help newly diagnosed celiacs and gluten intolerant people but I know when you are first figuring it all out it feels like you are the only person in the world changing your diet and lifestyle. There will most likely be favorite meals you are giving up, familiar restaurants, and things like weekly meet-ups and dinner parties need to be rethought. Things you never had to think about before suddenly need attention, everyday habits, social rituals, and even the chores of shopping and cooking scream for a revamp. It’s a lot, and it can be overwhelming, but hopefully it will help to know that many people have been there, with their miner’s lamps on before you, walking through the dark and leaving notes. First of all, make a list of all the things you can eat. It’s so easy to focus on the food/foods that need to be eliminated and feel like everything is off-limits, but in reality there will always be a lot more food on the OK list than on the ‘must avoid’ list. It is important to figure out where the hidden gluten might be, like soy sauce, fake meat products like soy hotdogs, and oat products, but it is equally important to understand there are things like wheat free tamaritamari

gluten free faux meats bistro burger,

and safe oat products gluten free oats. (Unless you react to the similar protein that is found in oats the same way you react to gluten. Some people can eat certified gluten-free oat products just fine, while others cannot.) Beyond the products that are made to be gluten-free, of which you will find just about anything you can think of, there are foods that are naturally gluten-free and they are still there for you, so go ahead and eat all the French fries and corn tortillas you want. Most natural foods stores, like Whole Foods, would be happy to have a knowledgeable employee walk around with you to show you the gluten-free items and they will also know which are the best sellers, so if you don’t know which bread to try first just ask what the most popular brand is and start with that one. Calling ahead to find out when the best time to come in for some personal attention would be advised and you might even be able to do that at a regular grocery store~ depends on the place. A local Co-op here has monthly(?) food tours around their stores to highlight gluten-free things, or sometimes there are other themes, but the point is you might find something similar in your own local store. Speaking of that local co-op, it is called PCC and they have a webpage dedicated to gluten-free info and so does Whole Foods. Both of those places have many recipes that are labeled gluten-free and are a great place to find healthy foods in general. Trader Joe’s also has a gluten free list and other special diet lists and I recommend you look at your local favorite store’s website to see what they have available. Also check out  Urban Spoon for information on restaurants and bakeries that are gluten-free friendly and find some places to visit sooner rather than later so when the inevitable time arrives when someone asks to meet for lunch you will have a place to suggest.  Delicious living, a magazine you may have at some point seen in a natural foods store, has a guide for gluten-free living and there are several magazines dedicated to food allergies, but Living Without is the most popular one. There are blogs, social media groups, and online gluten-free stores to also offer assistance and advice, recipes and in some cases, coupons. In short, you aren’t alone and once you get into a gluten-free groove, it’s really not all that hard and you will find the amount you feel better outweighs any missing of old foods by so much that you truly don’t miss them.

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Broccoli and Tofu

You can’t really ever go wrong with tofu and broccoli, at least in my oldest son’s opinion. His favorite way to eat that healthy combination used to be wrapped in a spelt tortilla with garlic sauce. He even wrote an essay about that dish in third grade when asked about his favorite thing to eat, but sadly, he can’t eat spelt anymore and corn tortillas are just not the same. They are great for soft tacos, quesadillas, and ‘beandillas’, (a quesadilla made with refried beans instead of cheese) but corn tortillas just do not complement the broccoli and tofu like the spelt did. He missed that dish terribly, along with countless others, once his gluten intolerance was discovered, but now he’s found a new favorite way to enjoy broccoli and tofu. Here’s the recipe:

broccoli and tofu with pasta

Ingredients:

1 package brown rice fusilli

½ yellow onion

2 crushed cloves of garlic

3-4 cups broccoli, cut into bite size pieces

1 package extra firm tofu, drained and wrapped in paper towels to get out extra water

Approx. 2 T. olive oil (1 for the stir fry and 1 for the pot of pasta)

1 T. balsamic vinegar (or to taste)

1 T. gluten free Tamari

Dried basil and oregano to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

For this dish, I start the water boiling for the pasta as I begin the cutting up process. Pour in at least one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan, and then add the onions, cooking until translucent. Next the garlic should be added in, with the broccoli following. Pour the vinegar over the broccoli while stirring the veggies. Add the tofu then cover the tofu with the tamari. While cooking, stir in the herbs, salt, and pepper, and cook until the broccoli is bright green and the tofu is warm throughout with a bit of browning. Meanwhile, make the fusilli according to the package directions, and when all is done combine into approximately 4 bowls. This is one pasta dish that doesn’t require parmesan, but feel free to add it if you prefer, or if you like just drizzle on a bit more olive oil. For my son and I, we do not add anything but our forks.

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Brain on Gluten cont.~ News from Living Without Magazine

Neurologic Effects of Celiac Disease 
A study featured at the International Celiac Disease  Symposium looked at neurological dysfunction in celiac disease. More  than half of the study’s 73 participants—newly diagnosed  adults at a celiac clinic in the U.K.—had neurological symptoms.  These included frequent and intractable headaches, balance problems and  sensory symptoms. White matter abnormalities were spotted in the brain  scans of a number of these participants and some had TG6 antibodies.  (TG6 antibodies have been linked to neurological dysfunction in celiac  disease.) Findings suggest that neurological dysfunction is common in  newly diagnosed celiacs, write researchers.
A U.S. study, also featured at ICDS, found that  neurocognitive effects like brain fog are common after exposure to  gluten in those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity  alike. A whopping 89 percent of celiacs and 95 percent of those with  non-celiac gluten sensitivity reported experiencing neurocognitive  effects due to gluten, specifically, difficulty concentrating,  forgetfulness, grogginess, detachment and mental confusion. Symptoms  often began 30 minutes to an hour after gluten exposure and lasted  several days. Results were based on a preliminary online survey  completed by 1,143 individuals with celiac disease and 253 with  non-celiac gluten sensitivity. More work is planned.

This is the exact article I found in my email box this morning from Living Without. Fascinating.

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Brain on Gluten

This is an interesting article about one neurologist’s belief that gluten and carbs are responsible for many brain ailments, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADD and such. He talks about inflammation being caused by carbs which in turn is the root of many brain diseases, with gluten being especially damaging because of blood brain barrier issues. The part I found most personally verifiable is where he says many gluten intolerant symptoms are not felt in the digestive track at all, but in other parts of the body, and I can readily attest to that. Other foods majorly affect my stomach and such, but when I eat gluten I feel it almost immediately in my head. I had a low-grade headache from childhood until my 20s when I began to figure out the wheat connection. It is like clockwork, eat something with gluten and I start to feel ‘off’, like maybe I’m coming down with something and need to sleep it off, but then I slowly realize it isn’t just fatigue, but the a headache that is different from a normal headache, which incidentally I rarely get now that I don’t eat gluten. My whole body feels fatigued, I feel slightly depressed, and my head hurts for 3 days, and then it all fades into feeling good again. Very predictable. As for Doctor Perlmutter’s assertion that gluten and carbs are innately bad for us, I tend to disagree. It seems he’s stumbled upon some truths, (carbs cause inflammation, inflammation is bad for our brains, gluten causes the worst problems, etc) but he made some suppositions that go to far. There has long been a link between brain and gut health~ this has been long-established and shows up in products such as MindLinx, a probiotic that emphasizes the link between a healthy intestinal tract and the mind, hence the name, and before gluten intolerance was recognized it was thought that all carbs were equally responsible for digestive troubles. People have singled out gluten, sugar, PH balance (remember that craze?), blood type, fat, and many other things as the be-all-end-all deciding factor in health, always just until the next thing comes up. Granted, they usually have at least a nugget of truth in them, but they are never the golden nugget that they are made out to be. If you look at the world’s healthiest populations with the least amounts of disease you find communities that focus on whole foods~ fruits and vegetables, grains and vegetable fats, with small amounts of meat/fish/poultry. A fantastic book (with recipes!) about these healthiest cultures and their diets is The Jungle Effect by Dr.Daphne Miller. Real food, despite valiant efforts, could not be improved, and in fact has only deteriorated in nutrition and taste since the industrial revolution. We live in an age of amazing medical technology and knowledge, and goodness knows I’m happy to not be living in the middle ages with leaches being the latest and greatest, but sometimes the old ways, the jungle ways, can teach us more than any doctor.

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KISS

caterpillarI’ve heard a certain expression all my life and never realized the acronym was k.i.s.s. until I just recently put it together. It was one of those moments when I thought, “does everyone already know this?” Anyway, if you’re like me and a little late to the party I’m talking about the expression, “keep it simple, stupid”. That line goes through my head a lot because I have a natural aversion to complications, which is a bit of handicap in this quickly complicating world. That is probably my least favorite part about our family’s food intolerances~ it adds a layer of complexity to what seemingly should be a very simple, straight to the point thing~ eating. When you add in eating while out, or eating while on vacation, the complications add up and complications mean stressers and stress and sometimes I just feel like saying, “let’s just eat whatever we want, shall we?” Actually, I know quite a few families who operate like that~ their children stay away from wheat and/or dairy while at home, but if they are at school and there is trigger food, they can eat it, or if they go out and there is not an easy option to avoiding it, they will just eat it and deal with the consequences. I can see doing that with my own kids once they have been off their trigger foods for a good year so it is totally out of their system and then maybe the bits will help to desensitize them, but for now it just isn’t worth it. They are so much healthier now, with better skin, brighter eyes, more energy, and happier outlooks it’s hard to imagine just letting them slide back into the funkiness of food intolerance~ I should know because I was funky for decades before realizing my own intolerances. It makes a huge difference, and in a way, it has it’s own simplification aspects that I appreciate~ the more natural the ingredients and the fewer the ingredients, the better. This time of year we hear a lot about food and diet programs, Paleo this and cleanse that, and again the idea of ‘keep it simple, stupid’ comes to mind. If something feels drastic, and difficult, and not doable for the long haul, it’s probably not the best option. I’m all for a cleanse every once in a while, as long as it involves real foods and helps to reset healthy eating habits, but it’s far more important to eat real food, mindfully, every day. I’ve mentioned how picky my youngest is, and in an effort in reinforcing healthy food choices we’ve started a sticker chart for him~ if he tries a new food he gets one sticker, if he eats the whole serving he earns another sticker. Once he reaches 50 stickers then I give him $10. So far it’s helped him with the trying part, though less so with the whole serving part~ but it’s a start, and this is a good time of year for new starts. Good luck with your own New Year’s resolutions, and remember to check in regularly with yourself and make sure you are being ‘kissable’.