These last few weeks

It’s been a crazy week and few days and I’m sorry I haven’t written.  I have some blog posts ready to go but these last few weeks have been something else… I love cats and most recently (April 2016) adopted … Continue reading

The Salad is Gluten Free

Today I went to a luncheon at a local restaurant.  As a group, we had checked to see if they would have gluten free items for us at lunch.  We were told (twice, by the way) that there would be a gluten free option.  When I arrived, I spoke to the owner and asked about gluten free options and the answer was “The salad is gluten free”.

Now, if I had a dime for every time I heard that, I would be pretty well off.  Lettuce is gluten free.  What a concept.  I bet next you’ll be telling me that carrots are.

The problem was that it was so non chalant, like I didn’t matter as a consumer.  I explained to him that two of our membership had inquired so that we could make sure anyone that needed to be gluten free would be taken care of.  He responded that there were gluten free menu items but only the lettuce salad would be gluten free so I asked about the dressing, which was.

My issues were as follows:  1.  If you tell a group that there will be gluten free options, please stick by that.  I realize that salad is easy but it’s not the lunch I pay for.  2.  Don’t be non chalant about it.  This is something real, not something that I choose to do, and would much rather eat like a normal person.

All in all, this isn’t the first time I’ve had a run in with this place and will try to go there as little as possible.

Review: Mission Tortilla

There are things that I really have missed being gluten free.  Egg rolls, although Feel Good Foods make them and I can’t get them in Western Colorado.  Good bread but there is decent bread out there, just not the same as regular bread.  Burritos and the like…because there was no good tortilla.  Until Mission Tortilla.

My parents had found Mission Tortilla’s when they visited Washington, I believe.  They brought a package home for me.  They were delicious.  Then they went to Arizona and found more and brought me a package…and then a drought.  Nothing in Grand Junction and I checked every time I went to any grocery store.  Then, behold, one day they were at my local City Market.  Goodness, I was happy.  Fajitas were on the menu that night!

The thing about these tortillas is that they are like the real deal.  Soft, foldable…so tasty too.  Of course, like any gluten free item, they price point is up there but it’s worth it even though there are only six in a pack.

If you miss tortillas I would highly recommend that you try these!

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Taking Time

There are times in life when we are forced to slow down.  This was one of those weeks.

Monday I woke up, didn’t feel great and took my temp:  102.  I called in sick to work, a friend recommended that I go to the doc and by the time I got to the doctor, my temp was over 103.  The flu.  Whee!

So I was down and out for three full days.  My temp would go down during the day and then I’d wake up with a temp, Wednesday was the worst with 104.  Thursday my temp was gone when I woke up, I was on the mend.

I went to work on Friday and lasted half a day.  My body is spent from fighting this thing.  It was such a nice afternoon on Friday that I got a chair outside in my backyard and sat in the sun, breathing in fresh air.  I just sat.  I listened.  I closed my eyes and soaked the sun in.  I was forced to take time. My body was forcing me to slow down, take a breather and remember that I’m not invincible and that taking it slow isn’t a bad thing.

You see, we are always in such a hurry, always scurrying from one place to another, one thing to another, filling every minute of our day.  Because if we aren’t filling it, what are we missing?  Did I forget something?  That’s always my fear.  And it shouldn’t be something feared, it should be something that makes us happy, to have time.

Time to stop, wash some windows, trim a shrub and then sit and watch the world go by.

The Thin Blue Line

This has been a tough week in our community.  Early this week a Sheriff’s Deputy was killed in the line of duty, the first time this has happened in Mesa County in over 100 years.

We don’t have things like that happen here.  We are a close knit community where everyone knows everyone.  Sometimes this is a bad thing but when things like this happen, we REALLY band together.

It was a sad situation.  A 17 year old who has been on the run and had a warrant out for his arrest.  When Deputy Geer attempted to detain him, this 17 year old shot him.  Deputy Geer leaves behind a wife and two children who will grow up without a father.  A wife who, in a few seconds, was left a widow.  He was strong in the community, so many people had known him for years, his dedication to his country and his community are being commended.

I didn’t know Deputy Geer but I know people who did.  Again, it’s thrown out community out of sorts, as it should.  People are showing support by putting blue lines on their cars, flying flags at half mast and more.  Monday we will line our streets as Deputy Geer’s body is taken to Canyon View Vineyard Church for a memorial.  Then we will line again as he is taken to his final resting place.

It is sad, it has struck me more than I thought.  It makes me sad that such evil and misguided people are out there.  This week nearly 10 police were killed and I wonder how those with loved ones in those positions handle situations like this.

I pray for those who are on the streets protecting us, I pray for the responders and for those defending our country.

 

Getting Glutened

For those of you who aren’t Celiac, gluten intolerant or have a wheat allergy, you are probably saying “what is glutened”?

It’s a term that means that we were, essentially, poisoned.  We accidently ingested something with gluten and have exited the building.  If you are anything like me, it leaves you curled up in a ball with pain like someone has taken your intestines and just yanked on them.  A lot.  Hard.  You can’t stand up straight and it’s PAINFUL.

I hadn’t been glutened, at least to this degree, for a long time but it happened on New Year’s Eve.  Yup, way to bring in the new year.  Glutened.  Anyway, before I went to the party where I was to spend the rest of the evening, I stopped to have a beer with two of my friends:  Don and Craig.

Now, I hang out with those two guys a lot.  We talk politics, sports and anything else.  So, when I walked in, Craig orders himself a Bud Light and me an Angry Orchard.  Gotta love friends who know what you drink!  The server brings the beer and typically I take a sniff because Angry Orchard has a sweet smell to it.  This was the one time I didn’t do that.  I was deep in conversation or distracted  or something but all I know is that I took a sip.  ONE sip.  It wasn’t Angry Orchard.  It was Bud Light.

Two thoughts ran through my head:  1.  Oh crap.  2.  How did I used to drink this stuff?

I put the beer down, said “This is NOT Angry Orchard”.  Craig got a hold of the server, told her that it wasn’t the drink I ordered and she brought me my correct drink.  Don recognized that it was an issue and I was grateful for an opportunity to tell him what happens when I’m glutened.  I should have spoken to the server and/or manager but it was so busy and…I missed an opportunity.  An opportunity to educate, to help someone realize that it wasn’t just a simple mistake.

I got sick.  It was more gradual than it had been in the past.  Usually it takes about 15 minutes to an hour and then, BAM!, you won’t see me for a while.  This time it took a few hours, I kept getting more and more bloated and ended up going home late that night.  I slept all night but the next day I just sat on the couch.  I was tired, lethargic and didn’t want to do anything.

I guess the moral of the story is that when things like this happen, when I KNOW that a mistake has been made, to educate.  To use the opportunity.

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Recipe: Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake

When it comes to holidays, we don’t do much tradition for meals.  Yes, for Thanksgiving we have turkey and stuffing but then it kind of varies.  For Christmas we don’t do ham or turkey (or rarely do turkey), we do things like shrimp scampi or steak or something like that.  For Christmas Eve this year we ordered in pizza from Chicago’s Pizza in, where else, Chicago.  I can’t even tell you how excited I am about that!

So when it comes to dessert, I usually take it on.  I LOVE baking and for a holiday is no different.  I want to do something that is unusual, last year for Thanksgiving I did tiramisu.  This year I found a recipe that will remain close to my heart:  Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake.  Anytime you have whiskey in the title, you have my attention.  The only issue was that this wasn’t a gluten free recipe and, if you have tried converting recipes in the past, sometimes you have luck and sometimes you just throw it away.  This one turned out SO good!  I have to share and, maybe for Christmas, this will be your dessert.  Also, I found this recipe at www.loveandoil.com, I want to give credit where it’s due!

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Yield: 12 servings

Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup decent quality Tennessee whiskey or bourbon (I used Pendleton)

For Caramel:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (I ended up using light cream, that’s what I get for shopping the night before Thanksgiving)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter a standard (12-cup) bundt pan. Dust with 1 tablespoon each flour and cocoa powder, and tap and turn until pan is completely coated. Dump out excess.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until dry ingredients are almost incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add warm water and whiskey and mix until just combined and no dry ingredients remain (do not overmix). Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then gently invert onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.
  4. To prepare caramel, place sugar and cream of tartar in a medium, high-sided saucepan set over medium-high heat. Pour water around edges. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 2 minutes (the steam buildup will help dissolve any stray sugar crystals on the sides). Remove cover and continue to boil, without stirring, until sugar caramelizes to a light amber color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch it carefully, as it can go from golden brown to burnt in no time if left unattended.
  5. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in cream and butter (mixture bubbles a lot, this is normal), then return to low heat and whisk until completely smooth. It may seem like it is seizing, but keep whisking and most of the hard caramel chunks should dissolve.  I had a few left and strained them out. Remove from heat and let cool for about 2 minutes, then stir in whiskey. Transfer to a heat-proof container and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, or until thickened yet still pourable.
  6. Pour about half of the caramel over the top of cake, letting it drip down the edges and pool at the base. Slice and serve and drizzle with additional caramel as desired. Cake will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake
For a gluten free cake, this kept SO well.  I’m talking that it was still moist after four days, which is unusual.  This is a recipe I WILL make again…and why not?  It’s amazing!

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Recipe: Gluten Free Rhubarb Coffee Cake

A few years ago I bought my mom a couple rhubarb plants for Mother’s Day.  In the Dakotas it was a plant that was everywhere so we made everything with it:  coffee cake, rhubarb desserts and so much more.  But rhubarb plants produce a ton and so you end up freezing it so you can make things with it in the fall and winter.  Mom and dad were on vacation so I helped myself to some of it and then thought “now what?  What should I make?”  That sent me on an internet search for something yummy that I could share with my co workers.

When I saw this recipe, I thought “this can’t be this easy” but it really is!  Here is the recipe, courtesy of www.faithfullyglutenfree.com and with my slight modifications.

Gluten-free Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Author: Jeanine Friesen
Ingredients for Coffee Cake
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups Flour Mix, I use Jules GF Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
Topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Jules GF Flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix margarine and sugar together; beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. Mix in dry ingredients followed by milk, then finely chopped rhubarb.
  4. Combine topping ingredients & set aside.
  5. Grease a 9×13-inch pan, pour batter in pan and top with topping.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. When a toothpick is inserted, it should come out clean.

This cake was moist for days after I baked it.  It was AMAZING and I WILL be making this again…

Review: Feel Good Foods Egg Rolls

Heaven…I’m in Heaven…

Yes, that song is dancing through my head tonight.  You see, last week my parents went through Fort Collins and, finding that there was a Whole Foods there, asked them to stop by.  Why?  Because they carry Feel Good Foods brand and I was hoping that they would carry their egg rolls.

While Feel Good Foods is carried here in Grand Junction, they only have the Vegetable Dumplings at the locations where this brand is carried.  I’ve requested the egg rolls but…no luck yet.  I’m pretty persistent so it won’t be long but I wanted to try them anyway.

I held off for a week.  Between my schedule and wanting to pair the egg rolls with an actual meal, it took until tonight for me to try them.

They are much easier to make than the dumplings.  You can do the oven version (bake for 20-24 minutes) or nuke them in the microwave which makes me cringe.  Maybe they are ok that way but I feel like it’s disrespecting the egg roll.  Yup, the egg roll has a hierarchy.

I decided to make the egg rolls with a chicken and veggie stir fry which is one of my co to foods.  It’s easy and fast and healthy.  Until I pair the egg rolls with them.

I had the chicken and vegetable as well as the vegetable egg rolls.  I made the chicken and veggie ones.  The egg rolls were AMAZING.  Just like the real deal.  They were light and flavorful and turned a beautiful brown.  I savored every bite and wasn’t sad that I ate two of them.  I still have 2 1/2 boxes in my freezer and, sorry fellow Grand Junction GF peeps, I won’t be sharing.  I will be savoring them!

Feel Good Foods Chicken and Veggie Egg Rolls

Feel Good Foods Chicken and Veggie Egg Rolls

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The Struggle is Real

I’ve been putting off writing on this topic for a while.  I mean, who wants to talk about depression, being sad and struggling?  No one.  When someone on the street, in the store, in your social group says “How are you?”  they really don’t want to know for the most part.  What would they do if you said “Actually, I’m going through a rough patch, am struggling with depression and don’t know how to pull myself out of it.”  Eyes would get huge and they would probably stumble through a “I’m sorry you’re going through that” and find the nearest exit.  And who can blame them?

At the beginning of the year, there were a lot of changes in my life.  We had major change at work that resulted in a lot of stress at work and with that came a bit of depression.  I started researching the Celiac-Depression connection at that time.  Then quit researching and from time to time have gone back to the research.  For some reason, now is the time to write about it.

Because I promised myself, and my readers, transparency I’m going to write things super honestly in this starting with the fact that I’ve struggled with depression on and off throughout most of my life.  Most people who know me, if you ask them to describe me, will say that I’m an outgoing and happy person.  Which I am most of the time but there are times, sometimes weeks where I struggle to even pretend that things are ok.  In fact, there are few friends, when I’m like that, that can pull me out of my shell where I’m hiding.

In my research I found some interesting things.  The first is that there is a strong connection between Celiac Disease and Depression.  People without Celiac do get depressed but there was a higher incidence with those with the disease.  In fact, a 1998 study showed that there was a 31% higher chance of an adolescent with Celiac having depression, compared to 7% in an adolescent without Celiac. (Carta, Hardoy, Usai, Carpinello, and Angst, 2003).  A survey of 177 women (yes, I know that’s a small pool) with Celiac showed that 37% of them met the diagnosis of depression.  (Arigo, Anskis, and Smyth, 2011).  Now that is a HUGE number!  And yes, women with Celiac are more likely than men with Celiac to be diagnosed with depression.  I am assuming that this is because more women than men have the disease.

So WHY?  Why the connection?  There are a few ideas on why.  Some say that it’s a B vitamin deficiency, that because of the malabsorption of this vitamin, there is a link to depression.  Others say that the malabsorption of tryptophan (which is needed for production of serotonin and helps with moods) is a cause.  Another reason could be that, even though you’ve gone gluten free, you are still getting “glutened” and that is a cause for depression.

I think one of the biggest reasons is the gluten free diet all together.  All of  sudden you can’t eat the things you love, when you go out you are “that person” asking for a gluten free menu and modifications to your meal.  When you go to a friend’s house you have to ask about EVERYTHING on the table or be left out or bring your own food which leads to odd conversations.  Nothing is normal anymore because all social events revolve around food.  The birthday cake in your office is off-limits and you have to explain why even a little piece could hurt you.  All of a sudden you feel like an outcast…and it’s painful sometimes.

So sometimes the easiest thing is to hole yourself up in your house and not go out because you know that you’re safe in your own kitchen.

This has been a long, emotional journey to get me to write this.  I honestly sit here writing and crying and thinking about a couple people I’ve been talking to the last couple weeks who are struggling with the isolation and my heart hurts for them.  My heart breaks all of the people who deal with this because I understand how hard it can be and I hate that we have to live like this but the struggle is real, folks.  And you’re not the only ones going through this.  Just KNOW you are not alone.

If you are struggling with depression, get help.  Find someone to talk to, have friends who can sense that something is going on and that you need someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on.  Have people in your life that you know you can go to.  If it’s advanced, PLEASE seek medical help.  While the world is a tough one, there is SO much good in it.  Let’s find the good…

My hope and prayer in writing these blogs is to help people.  To see the good in the world despite the fact that we have to eat differently.  To become stronger despite the fact that we are different.  Together we can make a difference it the world, I believe it.

By the way, there is a lot more research out there on the Celiac-Depression connection.  I’d be happy to share it with you if you are wanting to know more.