Bottoms up!

So after a pretty rough week at work (okay it’s technically only Wednesday but it’s been a REALLY rough week) it is safe to say that I’m already looking forward to going home tonight an enjoying an adult beverage. Or two. Maybe three.   During my BCD (before celiac disease) days, I never gave much thought to going out with friends and ordering a drink. However, thanks to Mr. Gluten, I had to do a little extra thinking, read a few (okay tons) of labels, and ask the bartenders way too many questions for their liking. When I was first diagnosed, the gluten-free world was a little narrower, less defined, and definitely less user-friendly. My go-to drink had always been a half and half (Guinness/Harp for those not familiar with lager) but suddenly it was no longer an option.  I was never a big mixed drink kind of girl so needless to say I was a bit frustrated.  Thanks to some awesome friends, I was introduced to the world of gluten free beer.  I don’t want to sound too judgmental here, but let’s just say it was a world I wasn’t too crazy about.  New Grist, Bards, and Redbridge were the three that were most readily available and they just weren’t doing it for me. Now I wouldn’t say that they were bad, in fact, I would occasionally pick up a six pack.  They just weren’t for me. (Though Redbridge is a surprisingly good lager, but again, you have to like lagers to appreciate this!)  I know, what you’re thinking. Yeah there are plenty of delicious fruity drinks mixed drinks that I could try, and I did. Most were fabulous just like me, but let’s face it, I’m a Midwestern girl.  Holding a vodka soda during a football game just won’t do!  Oddly enough, Irish pubs though were always a great option for finding a suitable substitute- cider! I’m not talking about the apple cider you drank as a kid. I’m talking about the grown up version- hard apple cider.

Over the past two years, I have noticed an increase in different brands on the market. It has become my go-to-drink when I’m out with friends since most places have at least one cider on their drink list.  Woodchuck is one of my favorites. There are PLENTY of different flavors to choose from, including raspberry and pear. Of course they also make seasonal blends and, since its fall, PUMPKIN! I know it sounds *interesting* but it’s actually pretty tasty.  Another fabulous brand is Angry Orchard.  They also have different flavors including crisp apple, traditional dry, green apple, and apple ginger. Likewise, they have seasonal blends too! So this fall, if Woodchuck’s pumpkin doesn’t do it for ya, try Angry Orchard’s Cinnful Apple!  

In case you’re wondering, this weekend while I’m cheering on my Chicago Bears, I’ll be enjoying my favorite cider- Angry Orchard Crisp Apple. Yum!  Bottoms up!


The sub hub

Well as I eluded to in my last blog, the gluten free world has pretty well exploded! You can find GF certified foods in just about any supermarket and there are plenty of GF substitutes out there. From pasta, to bread, to pizza, if you can dream it, I’m pretty sure you can find it!

That being said, there’s a caveat that you should know! Gluten is a great thing. If you ignore what it does to those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity it is wonderful- its found in wheat, rye, spelt and loads of other sources and its what gives bread a nice fluffy texture. Now, yes you can buy gluten free breads and some of them are pretty tasty (I said SOME, not ALL- unless you like cardboard). The problem with a lot of these gluten free world substitutes is that they generally have more things added to them to make them seem like the “real” thing. In most cases, this means more fat, more sugar, and, in the end, more calories. Lesson here? Eat responsibly.

Speaking of eating responsibly- do you remember when you would get excited to make cookies at home with mom? If you were really good you got to eat some of the raw cookie dough (or sneak some of the raw cookie dough if mom was yelling about the dangers of raw eggs!) When I was in college I realized that pillsbury also sold premade cookie dough where you just needed to break off a chunk and toss it in the oven (or my mouth). Wouldn’t you know it, I recently discovered the gluten free version?!?! Pillsbury now sells the same thing in small tubs in the refrigerated section of my local grocery store. Of course there’s the infamous “Do not eat raw dough” label, but I may *occasionally* ignore it. Just don’t tell my mom.

Looking at the plate half full

I think one of the hardest parts of celiac disease is learning to navigate the gluten free diet. I’ll admit, the first month after my diagnosis I had the same thing every day: scrambled eggs for breakfast, a salad for lunch (with no dressing because I was scared), and grilled chicken with avocado and rice for dinner. Everyday. Every. Single. Day.

Finally I decided to tackle the diet head on. One of my dietician friends had explained that it would be a “roadmap” for me to navigate. Umm, hello!?!? I felt like a needed a GPS to find my way! I decided I needed a new outlook on the GFD (that’s gluten free diet- I can’t help it, I’m a doctor- we like the alphabet soup abbreviations). I had been mourning the loss of the foods I couldn’t eat- cakes/cookies *doh*, pasta *eek*, deep dish Chicago pizza *OMG*. Instead, I had to change my outlook and appreciate the foods that I could enjoy and that I loved- tacos (corn tortillas of course), steak *yum*, chocolate *double yum*, and… wine! Score!

And, truth be told, after the first month or two, I stopped missing my gluten goodies. In fact, I felt so good that I realized it really wasn’t worth it. Not only did I have all these amazing foods that I could enjoy, but I felt fabulous! Plus, the gluten free world is expanding so quickly that gluten free substitutes are popping out everywhere you look!  Need a GF cake? No problem! Pasta? Absolutely!  Now, not only is my plate half full, its practically overflowing…