Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrating 6 years Gluten-Free!

6 years ago today I had the most significant ah ha moment of my life!  The moment when I knew in my heart of hearts - and yes, in my gut, that it was time to live gluten-free.  If it didn't work, so be it - but I had to give it a try because I could no longer stand the constant pain and dragging my way through each day.  

The first few weeks - and months - were an enormous struggle, but I stumbled through it (and it got easier) I made a conscious choice to focus on what was working. I focused on the good moments, new food finds, connections, knowledge gleaned - and the slowly decreasing headaches. I put my focus on the successes, and celebrated the abundance and joy that it was bringing, and not the deprivation or what (I thought) I was missing.
That choice made all the difference.

Flash forward 6 years, I am running regularly, getting out of bed with energy, thinking clearly, am relatively pain free... headaches on occasion, migraines are rare, bone pain is gone!  This is worth repeating - the bone pain is gone and migraines are rare!!  I am no longer a just list of aches, pains, problems and auto-immune disorders.  It is a wonderful place to be. 
Today I stand strong in a place of deep gratitude, and tonight we feast in celebration! The abundant menu includes: butternut squash soup, garlic and cheese pizza bites, and sausage with peppers and onions.
Looking forward to many healthy, vibrant years to come!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Choice and Taking Control with Gluten-Free Living



Seems to be a new expression around... "I am gluten-free, but not by choice."  I keep hearing and reading that phrase and it irks me.

It sounds like an apology. Like, "it's not my fault so don't blame me for being gluten-free." Understandable to a certain degree as I read the never ending stream of articles written criticizing gluten-free people... "fad diets, trendy, picky eaters, blah blah blah." The problem is the person who says "not my choice" has handed control of their body over to an outside source and given in to the naysayers.  In essence they have given away their power. 
Their power to heal. 
And they could end up missing the opporutnity to take positive control of their health.

Think about it... if you choose gluten-free based on tests, reactions, recommendations, etc you will keep making good choices because you are in control, and you know what ingesting the wrong thing can do to you. And, so you find good substitutes, get creative, and maybe start cooking and experimenting... and as a result you feel SO much better and can do the things you dream of doing!
But, if someone is telling you that you must eat a restricted, difficult diet (their words, not mine!) then it may be approached begrudgingly and cheating can happen - and then you are cheated of healing and vitality!

The point is none of us chose ill health, gluten intolerance or celiac disease. I sure didn't.  But, I did choose gluten-free eating (against recommendations).  And, it turned my health around.
Completely turned my health around!  and rid me of 30+ years of agonizing migraines. 

So if that is what you are working/dealing/struggling with, then gluten free living is the answer. And it should never be an apology.  No one should be denied good, vibrant health. 

And, certainly no one should have to apologize for wanting and striving for good health and quality of life.

"I choose it, and by choosing it I have power and control over my body."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tapioca - friend or foe?


I may not be a doctor, or scientist or medical expert, but what I am is an expert in my own body and what works and what doesn't.

About a year ago it became apparent that I was eating something that I was reacting to - it was interfering with proper digestion and stripping me of vitamins and minerals (again) and reducing the effectiveness of my thyroid medication.

So I started experimenting with food elimination (I should write a book "Everything I learned I have learned from Elimination Diets") and started to pare down what I was eating in 1 week blocks.  By eating only super safe food within a controlled amount of time, I could introduce possible culprits, and gauge the reactions or lack thereof.  After a year of experimenting and eliminating and re-introducing - I found tapioca, and quinoa (a story for another day) were creating problems for me.

Ah, tapioca... in SO many gluten-free baked goods and flour mixes. So many lovely breads - that my family still enjoys, that I have learned to do without.
Which quite honestly, is fine by me - I prefer to feel good over All Else. Yes, I rather feel good than eat the cupcake!

Luckily I found the The Practical Paleo cookbook and PaleOMG and the amazing muffins and cakes that can be made without flours - and without tapioca!

It just makes me wonder how many celiacs and gluten-free intolerants who are still having issues, would improve with the removal of tapioca?
Is tapioca or your friend or foe?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Growing fresh scallions through the winter


January in New Jersey is kind of a colorless time. Everything is awash in a murky shade of gray. Lots and lots of grays and washed out browns.  Not very inspiring for my color seeking eyes!

But, now I have vegetables growing in my kitchen through the dead of the winter!  Bringing life, light and bright color into the house - not to mention saving a few dollars. 
A simple trick I learned from my fabulous sister-in-law.  

Trim scallions about 2" up from their roots. 


Place them root down in a glass or jar with about an 1" of water.
(I change the water every few days to keep it fresh)
Keep them in a bright or sunny spot.


shoots after about 2 weeks in water

Watch new green shoots grow!
Chop, cook, enjoy!!  


Friday, January 10, 2014

A Gluten-Free Blessing





I grew up with the old Irish Blessing, “May the Road Rise to Meet You...” in the foyer of our home, and as I learned to read, I practiced it each day on my way in and out of the house.
As I grew I continued to read it daily out of habit and always found it reassuring.
We moved during my preteen years and it was a very challenging transition for me.  Among many adjustments, the new house just didn’t feel like home.

My parents hung the blessing in the entrance of our new home… and seeing it there every day helped me as I adjusted.
I have now created my own adaptation to hang in our home, for comfort of another kind.  By changing my diet, which was not an easy transition, I  had come home again. 
Corny as it may sound... I was now truly home... home in a healthy and vibrant body.  I had returned to myself! 



The Blessing hangs in our kitchen as a joyful and supportive reminder of the journey I continue to take.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Moo Shu Pork and the GF Princess

Last week was the annual book fair at school and after circling dozens of books in the promo flyer, my daughter walked the fair and narrowed her choices down to a wish list of 5.
3 of which were cookbooks.
Her #1 pick was The Disney Princess Cookbook. And she was consumed by the idea of this book. So excited about the opportunity to make Tiana's Gumbo- "we can make it for real, not like in a video game!!"
So, I bought the Princess cookbook for my little foodie, figuring I could convert just about anything to a gluten-free version. I am always up for that challenge!

The first recipe that enticed her was Moo Shu's Pork... easy enough to adapt with GF San-J Tamari sauce, and I even made a killer housin sauce if I do say so myself!  (I used a recipe from Food.com but used Tamari in place of soy sauce, cashew butter in place of peanut butter, and maple syrup instead of honey - and fresh ground ginger!).

"Ginger sketches" watercolor & ink on paper, copyright Erin Rogers Pickering

My husband and I were anxious to sit down to eat, but the little princess took one look and her face fell. "What is that?" she asked.  "It doesn't look right."

We assured her it would taste great, but instead of sitting she went to get the cookbook to show me how it was "supposed to look!"  She was devastated that it didn't match the full page, glossy, color enhanced, picture perfect culinary photo masterpiece.  (when does it ever?!)

Ah, but, the taste - it was perfection!
When hunger won out, and she was ready to taste it - she was sold!  and plowed through a few wraps (Udi's tortillas) with her Moo Shu pork. 
And, We all ate like royalty!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Love Affair with Lettuce


It's no secret among my friends and family know how I feel about lettuce!  I can eat it, in fact I love a good salad - but, touching it has been an issue since High School.
Yes. Touching it!
For almost as long as I can remember touching lettuce - with my hands - has made me gag. 
Literally.
Yes. It's weird.
Touching it. Cleaning it. Cutting it. 
All a major problem.
I was so happy when bagged, washed lettuce came on the scene.  I could have salads at home with a minimum of interaction with my hands.
I got used to people looking at me sideways when I couldn't touch the leaves - and never found any explanation (until recently).  Romaine and Iceberg were at the top of my list of Please-don't-make-me-touch-them.
Happy with my dark leafy greens in the bag I ate salads at home all the time.

Then, along came my gluten-free life, (now pretty much grain free)... and I was out of sandwich and bun options.
Until I happened upon a burger wrapped in iceberg lettuce.
Fantastic!  
Then I discovered the beauty of the lettuce wraps at PF Changs. And, romaine lettuce as a wrap with tuna salad, chicken salad, scrambled eggs... the possibilities are endless!  
But, obviously for these purposes the lettuce had to be touched to be eaten. And I was touching them - without triggering the reaction I had gotten for decades! 
Decades!

Recently an occupational therapist we know explained that my reaction to touching lettuce sounded like a sensory issue.  
A sensory issue that has faded the longer I am gluten-free.
So bring on the romaine!! And let the salad games begin!

Check out this yummy recipe I found for grilled romaine at The Daily Apple... might have to make this tonight!