Olive Salad

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Olive Salad

I don’t know about you, but fresh salads in the summer are one of my favorite things. Now just because it isn’t that time of year just yet, doesn’t mean I have to live off of “comfy” foods that are usually associated with winter. This salad is super easy to prepare and a favorite of my family. If you’re having a party, the recipe can easily be doubled. Also, I usually slice the olives or even prepare the olive mixture a day before to save myself some time if I’m making a larger salad. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but it really does save time when you’re trying to get ready for a party!  Just do not slice the tomatoes ahead of time as they don’t hold up as well!

 

  • 1 cup pitted green and black olives, halved (or one can of each)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp mince garlic
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tomatoes
  1. Place balsamic vinegar (or vinaigrette if you don’t want it quite as strong) in a small saucepan over low heat and allow it to reduce by half.
  2. Allow vinegar to cool to room temperature.
  3. Slice olives in half lengthwise.
  4. Combine olives, parsley, capers, garlic, basil, and pepper in a large bowl.
  5. Pour olive oil over olive mixture and toss to coat well.
  6. Slice tomatoes and place on plate, slightly overlapping.
  7. Spoon olive mixture over the tomatoes and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar
  8. Serve immediately

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Maple Cupcakes

Pumpkins Spice Maple Cupcake

Given that it is that time of year again, my husband asked if I would bake a batch of pumpkin cupcakes for him. However, his new request was for a different frosting than I had used last time. His suggestion this round was for a maple frosting like he had seen at a coffee shop and was craving. Well, after a few tries at the frosting, I think we found a winner! I stuck with the same recipe I’ve used before for the cake, and I’m still a huge fan of using the gluten free yellow cake mixes. There’s no thinking involved in figuring out flour combinations so take advantage of it when you can!

Pumpkin Spice Cake:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (gluten free of course!)
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ tsp vanilla extract

If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand you can mix up a batch of your own! This will make 7 tsp of pumpkin pie spice so you will have a bit left over to use later!

  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line pans with your favorite cupcake liners
  3. Mix together cake mix, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon and set aside
  4. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, eggs, oil and vanilla extract until smooth
  5. Add cake mix/spice mixture slowly
  6. Fill cupcake liners to ¾ full and bake for 18-20 minutes. Keep a close eye on them though after 15 minutes to make sure they don’t burn!
  7. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting!

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened  (and no cheating with low fat versions here!)
  • 3 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1½  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½-¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar until smooth
  2. Add cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup
  3. Slowly add in heavy cream and continue to beat until stiff peaks begin to form
  4. Pipe onto cupcakes and enjoy!

enjoy!

XOXO

Review: Raw Generation Skinny Cleanse

IMG_3120.JPGI know I’ve been pretty MIA recently, but I have a fabulous excuse! I got married! Yay! Now, I’ll be honest here- I’ve been married now for a month. It’s been great, but it has completely taken a hit on my body! Between going out to eat and celebrating, not to mention being maid of honor in one of my best friend’s wedding last week, I haven’t been eating well at all. I’m pretty sure there has been a constant gluten exposure as well, but I haven’t quite figured out what the source has been. One of my friends recommended trying a juice cleanse for a few days and after researching a few, I decided to try the Raw Generation Skinny Cleanse. I honestly wasn’t planning on doing a cleanse after talking to my friend, but then suddenly came across a coupon code online. I figured this was a sign and, after all, it couldn’t hurt to try it. I have to admit though that I’m not very good with these diets. I’m from the Midwest and LOVE my meat and potatoes (and wine). Yeah, I use my nutribullet at home to make some yummy smoothies and “juice”, but not every day and certainly not for every meal.

 

Here’s the details on how this works! I decided to do a 5 day cleanse. They offer a 3 day one as well, but I decided if I was going to do this, I could make it for 5 days to get more benefit out of it. Now, there is also a 7, 10, and 14 day options as well for those more ambitious than I am. Could I make it 7 days? Probably, but I like to enjoy my weekends and having to keep the juice with me while running around with my friends does not sound fun and would probably not be worth it in the end for me. I know I would end up “cheating”and it would be a waste of money. I can behave Monday- Friday! 10 and 14 days? No way. Not gonna happen.

 

The plan requires you to drink 6 bottles of juice throughout the day and allows for you to eat fruit if you are hungry. The juices are named Jessica (which you drink 3 times/day), and Cecelia, Carolyn, and Elizabeth. It’s kinda cheesy but it’s better than reminding me what I’m drinking. The drinks are shipped to your house frozen so make sure you have room in the freezer to store them. I left mine in the freezer and took enough out for 1 day and put them in my “lunch box” for work. It says to eat them when they are very cold and after a few sips, I understand the biggest reason why. The can taste pretty nasty warm. Horrible. Eww. But when they are super cold they aren’t so bad!

 

  • Jessica: kale, spinach, colllards, apple, lemon
  • Cecelia: orange, carrot, ginger
  • Carolyn: carrot, apple, beet root, ginger
  • Elizabeth: cucumber, pineapple, & aloe vera

 

Day one:
Okay I will admit it was hard to drink them the first day. It took a bit to get used to the taste because I’m not a huge fan of all of the ingredients, but that comes with premade juices. By the time I got to the second serving of Jessica, though, it had started to grow on me. I did pretty good with Cecelia, but Carolyn and I are not friends. We never will be. I absolutely hate beet root. That being said, I pushed through it and managed to finish it. I usually had a glass of water along with the juice because it helped rinse the taste from my mouth (moreso with Carolyn than the others). I was hungry by the end of the day, but by no means was I starving. The six juices and extra water I had between servings had held me over until I got home from work. I did salivate a bit while my husband was making his own dinner, but I decided to take a hot shower and give myself a facial to distract myself. After a handful of grapes I was ready for bed.

 

Day two:
It was MUCH easier to make it through the day. Today Jessica didn’t seem so challenging and I was able to get through Cecelia and Elizabeth with no problems. Carolyn? Well, I finished most of it. I brought some fresh fruit to work to snack on since I was working late and when I finally went home I felt great. Not hungry at all and definitely still had some energy to do laundry. I should note that since the end of day one though I have been going to the bathroom like crazy. I swear I have to pee every 2 hours and today was no exception.

 

Day three:
Piece of cake! (Okay I wish there was cake, but at least the day is getting easier to get through). I didn’t feel hungry at all today and I managed to finish all of Carolyn today. It is important to remember when you are juicing or doing a cleanse, they are meant to have a nutritional benefit. They are NOT meant to fulfill your pleasure eating side of life. I will NEVER crave one of these drinks. Nope. I’ll save that for a vanilla milkshake. However, I could easily do these again. Today I haven’t had any sugar/salt cravings which I usually have after my midafternoon slump. I haven’t felt the highs/lows with my sugar during the day either. You don’t have to be diabetic for variations in sugar to start affecting your focus and energy level! It happens to everyone with their sugar highs! The higher you go, the harder you crash.

 

Day four:
I had the day off of work today which actually made the day go by faster because I had some errands to do. I’m not sure if it was the constant distraction of chores/grocery shopping/etc., but I didn’t feel hungry at all today. I some grapes for a snack after taking my dog for a walk, but otherwise the juices were pretty easy to get through (I’m even finishing all of Carolyn now, but I’m still on the fence about Elizabeth). I have to admit that I have noticed my pants are a little more comfortable lately (yeah the wedding celebrations may have made them a little more snug than they should have been!). I refuse to get on the scale though until I’m finished with all 5 days. I’d rather be driven by how I feel than by a number on the scale!

 

Day five:
Made it! Finally! Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. I definitely had more energy throughout the day and did not experience my midafternoon slump after day one. I’ve tried juicing on my own for a few days and given up due to the hassle of having to clean my juicer/nutribullet/whichevergadgetisclean, not to mention the hassle of picking up fresh fruits/veggies , etc. The juices are decent. Again, like I said, I’d prefer a vanilla shake, but these weren’t so bad. They are a little “gritty” but I didn’t mind it after the first day. I prefer my juices to be strained, but you do lose some of the nutrients that way (I’m not a fan of pulp in my OJ either so it is just a personal preference). That being said, I would absolutely do this cleanse again. In fact, I’m probably going to order another round after my honeymoon!

XOXO

Gluten Free Shredded Chicken Chili

20140304-135807.jpgChili is a fabulous comfort food, and, if done right, it can be pretty healthy. This recipe does not have a lot of extras and is pretty filling- so long as you don’t add sour cream and cheese to it! I usually make a pretty big batch because it freezes well. If you want, you can allow the chili to cool and store it in small pyrex containers and freeze them in single or double serving sizes! It makes for quick and healthy “frozen dinners.”
  • 16oz can black beans
  • 16oz can kidney beans (use two cans of black beans and two of kidney beans if you want to make a vegetarian chili)
  • 8oz tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 12oz corn
  • 28oz diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 2-3 chopped jalapeno or serrano peppers (depending on your desired level of heat!)
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free taco seasoning (check it out here)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 32oz boneless chicken breasts
  1. Place chopped onions, peppers, corn, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, taco seasoning, chili powder, and beans in a slow cooker and mix thoroughly.
  2. Place chicken breasts on top of mixture and cover pot.
  3. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or until chicken completely cooked.
  4. Remove chicken and shred into bite sized pieces.
  5. Add chicken back into slow cooker and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes to allow chicken to completely marinate.

You can top chili with cilantro, sour cream, or fresh queso fresco! Just be careful because the sour cream and cheese will add a lot of calories to your meal.  If you need to add a bit more bulk to your meal- try serving it on top of some rice! Delicious!

xoxo

Gluten Free Grown-Up Mac & Cheese

gluten free mac and cheeseMac and cheese was one of my favorite things to eat when I was growing up. I have to admit, I was a mac and cheese snob. That powdered cheese didn’t do it for me and I would ONLY eat the ones that came with the premade “gooey” cheese. Yeah- I know. Processed food is horrible, but at that time, I didn’t know any better.  That being said- I’m still a sucker for mac and cheese. Here is the recipe for my favorite homemade version. I refer to it as my “grown up mac and cheese” because of the various types of cheese added to it.  I usually make a little extra cheese when I’m making it and leave it in the refrigerator for a day or so- it’s great on nachos!

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup gluten free panko OR gluten free breadcrumbs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound gluten free elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat overn to 350 degrees
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Add gluten free panko (or gluten free breadcrumbs) and coat it butter, cook until slightly browning, then set aside.
  4. Heat milk in a medium saucepan.
  5. In a large skillet, melt 8 tablespoons of butter and, once hot, add flower, stirring until well incorporated (about 1 minute)
  6. Add hot milk into flour-butter mixture. Whisk consistently until the mixture thickens.
  7. Remove from heat and add sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg
  8. Add cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan cheese to mixture. Add cheese slowly to allow it to incorporate into sauce.
  9. Boil macaroni according to directions on box. Make sure you stop cooking a few minutes before the recommended time as you want your noodles to be undercooked.
  10. Drain in colander and rinse with cool water.
  11. Add pasta to cheese mixture and place in a casserole dish
  12. Top with buttered panko/breadcrumbs
  13. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until slightly browned on top.
  14. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

 

Enjoy!

xoxo

Review: Tone It Up Diet & Fitness Plan

Being gluten free is pretty darn challenging at times. Unfortunately, one of the challenges we don’t tend to think about are diet plans. Most people assume that having celiac disease means you are at normal weight or even underweight. However, many individuals are diagnosed while being considered obese. In addition, patients tend to GAIN wait once going gluten free. Why? Well sometimes they are taking in more calories than average to account for what is not be absorbed. Second, gluten free food tends to be heavy in fats and added sugars as I’ve mentioned before. 

I’ve tried a few diet plans in the past and I was a little skeptical about the Tone It Up program. I came across www.toneitup.com one day while looking up some exercise tips and found these two very bubbly girls, Karena and Katrina.  Both girls are amazingly gorgeous and have incredibly toned bodies. Combined with their personalities, they make their workouts fun and entertaining! You know when you watch workout DVDs and everyone is doing stuff in sync while you’re falling around your living room? Not here! The girls switch off between moves and talk you through each movement. AND they lose their balance. It’s great. While doing one video, I stood there balancing on one leg and trying to do an extension on the other without letting my toe touch the ground. Yeah. It’s a great core workout but it can be tricky. While watching the video I noticed that they wobbled slightly too. They aren’t afraid to show their imperfections and it really was a breaking point for me. If they aren’t perfect, why do I need to be disappointed in myself for having the same struggle with a move? Lesson? Keep on doing it. I’ll get there eventually. I hope.

As for the diet plan, you can purchase different versions, including a gluten free diet version (as well as vegan, vegetarian, gluten free vegetarian, & pescetarian). I LOVE THIS. Yeah I know what is gluten free and what is not. I know that bread and wraps are generally off limits, but when I have to go on a diet and figure out a different way of eating, I don’t want to have to figure out gluten free substitutions as I go along. They have taken all of the guess work out of the equation for you. 

The diet consists of a morning drink (I stick with the bombshell spell versus the meta d) and 5 meals/snacks during the day. They teach you what you need to eat at each meal and when to avoid certain foods. Their website is full of recipes they have posted as well as those posted by members of the Tone It Up Community. Yeah- there’s a “community” too. Think of it as a built in support system. You can check in during the day with each other, trade workout ideas, meals, and even meet people in your area to work out with! (I’ve actually met someone on the TIU plan that goes to the same gym I do and we now go to yoga class together occasionally). 

I highly recommend this diet to those looking for something fun and looking for a trainer as well as a nutritionist. One of the biggest selling points for this plan are the workouts. Once each week you are provided with a workout schedule. It changes from week to week so you are never bored. If you choose to just do the workouts, you can check out their website and follow along without paying any fees. There’s no pressure at all! If you decide to do the diet plan, it currently costs $150. That gives you access to download the program and all of the updates/challenges along the way.  I did the exercises for a few weeks before I finally decided to go ahead and spend my money on the diet plan. It’s a great way to see if you think that you will like the plan without having to make any financial commitment!

Hope this helps!

xoxo

Gluten Free Fig Cookies (Cuccidati)

Italian Fig CookiesCuccidati, or fig cookies as they are more often called, are one the popular treats that pop up around the holiday season.  A staple in Sicily, these yummy Christmastime cookies are filled with figs, dates, raisins, and a variety of spices! They are a bit time consuming to make, but worth the effort!

Filling

  • 2 cups dried figs
  • 1 cups dried dates
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ¾ cup chopped almonds
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¾ cup orange marmalade
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 1½  tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

Dough

  • 4 cups gluten free flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp. vanilla extract

Icing

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp water
  1. Finely chop walnuts and almonds using a food processor and place in a large bowel
  2. Remove hard tips from figs and pits from dates
  3. Grind dates, figs, and raisins in the food processor, until well blended. Add to large bowel.
  4. Place marmalade in food processor with honey, brandy, and spices and blend. This will also help chop up the marmalade a it so that it is a smooth consistency. Pour into bowl and mix well. Your mixture should be thick at this point.
  5. Cool for at least 4 hours, or overnight
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  7. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl
  8. Add butter to mixture and blend until well incorporated
  9. Whisk egg, milk and vanilla together then slowly add to dough mixture
  10. Divide dough in 4 sections, making a 18x3in rectangle (I use a pizza cutter to get straight edges once I roll it out. You can make longer rectangles but 12-18 inches is much easier to work with)
  11. Place filling in center of rectangle and roll dough over filling, pinching seam to close completely. Wet you fingers with water to help seal the dough
  12. Roll dough over so that the seam is facing downward, slice into 1 inch sectionsfig cookies
  13. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown
  14. Allow cookies to completely cool
  15. Whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, egg white and water. You may need to add additional water if it is too thick. Icing should be easy to spread and drip a bit down the sides of the cookies, but not watery
  16. Apply icing to cookies and decorate with colored sprinkles.

Enjoy!

xoxo

Lithuanian Kugelis

Gluten free kugelisIn my family, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without one of our favorite dishes- homemade kugelis. Kugelis is a traditional Lithuanian dish made of grated potatoes, eggs, and bacon. It’s probably one of my favorite things to eat and once you look over the recipe you will see why- there’s nothing healthy about it! It’s truly Lithuanian comfort food!  It can be a bit tedious to make but it is definitely worth the effort.

Just to note- the potatoes need to be grated. Most food processors just don’t cut it! The texture turns out pretty weird if it is not grated properly. When I was growing up we would use a hand grater and sit for hours grating potatoes for my grandmother. If you’re using a hand grater make sure that you use some vitamin C to keep the potatoes from turning brown. No one wants brown kugelis. Now I’m spoiled and, since I love making this dish, I invested in an electric potato grater. I can pretty well grate 5 pounds of potatoes in under 2 minutes. Gram would be jealous. Also, lots of versions of this recipe call for regular milk, but I grew up using carnation milk in our family recipe. Neither are wrong, but you can play with it and see which you prefer. I’ve heard that you can substitute 1 cup almond milk for the cows milk and it eliminates the dairy component, but I haven’t tried it myself. As for the egg component for you vegans- I tried using the substitutes and I just didn’t care for it as much. Sorry. I tried.

Kugelis is traditionally served with sour cream and/or applesauce so make sure you have some on hand. Some recipes you find will have you adding flour to the mixture but you can easily substitute potato or rice flour to make it gluten free. In this recipe I took one extra step and was able to skip the added flour all together. One of the pain in the butt steps of kugelis is straining the grated potatoes (please go get some cheesecloth and make your life easier). Once you have the excess liquid, aka potato juice, allow it to sit for a few minutes and drain off the liquid. There should be a nice thick white layer at the bottom of your dish- hello starch! Who needs extra flour? Not here! Just add that back into the recipe and tah-dah! Gluten free!

  •  5 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds bacon, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 6 eggs
  • 5 oz carnation milk
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Peel potatoes and place into cold water to keep from turning brown
  2. Chop bacon into small pieces and cook until brown throughout. Do not remove bacon from grease
  3. In a large bowl, beat 6 eggs
  4. Add 5 oz of carnation milk and mix well
  5. Grate onions and incorporate into egg and milk mixture
  6. Line a second large bowl with cheesecloth. Don’t do just one layer, I usually use double/triple layers to keep it all together.
  7. Using a hand grater, begin to grate potatoes. You may need to add crushed vitamin C to potatoes to keep from browning. If you’re using an electric grater, you can skip the vitamin C
  8. Squeeze potato mixture with the cheesecloth to drain liquid
  9. Add potatoes to egg mixture and and stir until well incorporated
  10. Allow liquid to rest (just a few minutes) and strain off the liquid, add the remaining starch back into the egg and potato mixture.
  11. Add bacon and ALL of the grease into the large pan and mix well. Yes. All. Of. The. Grease. I told you it wasn’t healthy
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste
  13. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray
  14. Pour mixture into dish
  15. Bake for 1 hour and 15minutes

Enjoy! (and please spend an extra few minutes in the gym after this one!)

xoxo

Gluten Free Parmesan Risotto

20131205-080543.jpgRisotto is a delicious Italian rice dish. Typically made with arborio rice, it is cooked to a cream consistency and served as a side dish, or alone!  Making risotto is takes some effort because you need to follow the steps carefully and be a slave to the process. It’s MUCH easier if you have everything with you by the stove so you don’t have to run around your kitchen. When I’m cooking risotto I usually premeasure everything and just grab and toss when needed (like on those cooking shows except I’m not nearly pretty when I’m cookingand there’s no camera crew in my house). I usually make double of this recipe and we have enough for a few days. Leftover risotto is just as good as a fresh batch! Yum!

  • 1 small onion,  chopped (that should yield about 4 oz of chopped onion)
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups boiling water
  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter and add onion, cooking until tender.
  2. Add rice, stirring to coat with butter
  3. Add white wine and simmer until liquid evaporates (1-2 minutes)
  4. Add boiling water, 1 cup at a time until nearly absorbed (depending on how high you have your stove set you may need to add more water. Ideally you shouldn’t have to, but if you’re out of water and its still crunchy toss in another cup and cover your pan)
  5. Cook until rice is tender but firm (your mixture should be creamy at this point)
  6. Remove from heat and add parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper
  7. Allow to cool slightly and serve immediately!

Enjoy!

xoxo

Celiac basics for patients & those that love us

So what IS celiac disease?

This is a question I answer all too frequently. Usually someone will interject that it is a food allergy. No, it isn’t. I’m not allergic in the same way that someone is allergic to bees or peanuts.  Celiac disease is considered to be an autoimmune disorder. Our small intestine normally has villi, small fingerlike projections that stick inward helping our body absorb what we eat. In celiac disease, our body begins to attack these villi, destroying them. Without these projections, we cannot absorb nutrients well. Untreated, celiac disease can lead to osteoporosis, infertility, and even cancer.  The tricky thing with celiac disease is that not everyone’s symptoms are the same. Yes, of course, there are the most common symptoms of abdominal cramping and diarrhea, but that does not mean every celiac patient has those symptoms!

Now you may have heard of gluten insensitivity and wheat allergies. They are not the same. However, celiac disease(CD), non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and wheat allergies all fall under the same umbrella term of “gluten intolerance.” The end result is the same- avoid gluten because it is doing some form of damage, however, the mechanism of damage is different for each. You may wonder “what difference does it make?” Well, ultimately it doesn’t when you are considering treatment- the gluten free diet is ideal for all three. However, the genetics of celiac disease and the associated illnesses apply to CELIAC DISEASE. This makes a huge difference when we are looking at long term prognosis and symptoms as well as what it means for our families due to genetics.

If you’re reading this blog, you either 1) have celiac disease, 2) love someone with celiac disease, 3) love the gluten free diet, or 4) are learning about celiac disease for other random purposes.  This post is directed to those who love us. If you have celiac disease- you get it. You know what happens. If you don’t have celiac disease, you have to work really hard to understand and learn “the rules.”  Trust me, my fiancé took a while to figure out what it would be like to date someone with celiac disease and 3 years later, he’s still learning. It can be daunting, but it’s doable! I’m going to try to keep this pretty straightforward so consider it your celiac disease 101. Eventually you’ll move up to the next course!

What happens if you eat gluten?

Well, like I said, everyone is different. It can range from abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, constipation, fatigue, etc. (here’s a list!)  Most commonly, your loved one will end up with abdominal cramps and diarrhea. It’s not pleasant. It can last a few hours, or a few days. Plus, its embarassing. I don’t want to tell anyone that I have diarrhea constantly- and they don’t want to hear about it either. Some people end up with rashes including dermatitis herpetiformis, psoriasis, eczema, and even with oral ulcers. This makes for very unhappy people!

What is the hardest part of the gluten free diet?

Oddly enough, at this point, I don’t think the diet is too hard. For ME, when I’m in control. See? There’s the catch.  I feel safe in my bubble, but we can’t all live in a bubble now can we? Now for me to give that control over to someone at a restaurant or, even more worse- at their own house, is pretty daunting. I’m usually confident that if the chef/waitress understand “gluten free” that they will be able to figure out what I can/cannot eat, especially if they are able to come up with substitutions without hesitating. My friends? Well, they are well meaning, but more often than not, unreliable. My close friends and family will usually run over the list of ingredients with me, but I feel bad sometimes asking people to securitize their labels.  This is usually when I’m just getting to know someone or I’m a guest of someone I’ve never really met.  That being said, I usually get over it pretty quickly though because I’m not willing to suffer for their benefit. (Okay unless it was my niece that tried really hard to share her birthday cake with me by removing all of the cake and giving me just frosting- full of cake crumbs. Yeah, I ate a bite. But she’s beyond adorable and how could I tell a 6 year old she didn’t do it right?)

Cross contamination is a real concern. I love my friends and family but sometimes they don’t get it either so don’t feel too bad. Gluten can hide in lots of places, you can’t just wipe off a pan used for gluten containing food and cook something gluten free. Same with the barbeque grill. In my house, we line everything with foil or parchment paper. This saves a ton of time worrying and aggravation when I realize something isn’t right just a little too late. I used to have a completely gluten free household, but since my fiancé moved in, cross contamination has become an issue.

Other than food, what else contains gluten?

Makeup, lotion, lipstick, shampoo, soaps, you name it. The list is long, and it’s hidden in a lot of different things. You don’t have to master it all. I usually recommend picking a few different things in each category.  Here’s a list of a few gluten free lotions. Are there more? Absolutely! But please don’t overwhelm yourself. I recommend my patient’s and families find a few go to items in each category. Once you’re comfortable, feel free to add to your own list, but remember to check ingredients with the companies because they can change without warning. Going gluten free isn’t just about sticking to a diet. It’s a lifestyle.

What can other’s do to keep celiacs safe?

It’s simple. Avoid cross contamination. Don’t eat off my plate with your fork if you’re eating gluten containing pasta. Can we share? Sure! Get a second set of silverware just for that when you’re out to eat! Don’t mess up my refrigerator. Seriously.  My fiancé would occasionally leave uncovered fried chicken on the top shelf and crumbs would tumble down onto other things. So ours is labeled carefully and he has specific places he can place food in there. Also, everything is labeled.  We buy condiments in 2’s. One is his, one is gluten free.  For example, we have two identical butter containers, one is his and one is mine. Mine is labeled and on a separate shelf. Anyone that is gluten free can use mine, otherwise, they have to use his.  I don’t want to worry about crumbs!

If you’re still worried or have questions- just ask! Trust me, I would rather have someone ask too many questions about what I can/cannot have than just assume something and put me at risk.  If you’re trying to learn about celiac disease because someone you love has it, there are plenty of resources out there! If you’re having trouble finding answers- shoot me a message and, hopefully, I can point you in the right direction!

Hope this helps get you started!

xoxo