Always a critic

Lately there have been a lot of articles written that are anti gluten free or anti any “free”:  dairy free, etc.  People saying that it’s all in our heads and that the incidences of these conditions aren’t real.

A New York Times author, I won’t say his name because he doesn’t deserve the recognition, just wrote an article on how a restaurant overseas blatantly said on its menu that it doesn’t have anything gluten free and then the writer went on his “everyone is faking it” rant.

First, I’m glad that the owner put that on his menu.  It makes it easier for me to not go to that restaurant.  I don’t waste my time or waste the owner/manager/server’s time by asking questions.

Second, it’s his prerogative to not serve anything gluten free.  It’s what he wants to do and I will NEVER piss and moan because someone makes that their choice.  I know it’s gotta be a pain to stock foods that you aren’t sure if you will ever use and to try to keep cross contamination to a minimum.

Third, if you don’t get it, don’t talk about it.  This writer has never eaten something and then been cramping for days on end, lived in the bathroom, couldn’t think clearly, etc. because the smallest particle of gluten affected him.  He thinks it’s all in my head and, this is evil, but I wish people who write about things like this could live in my shoes for a month.

I bet he wouldn’t be poking fun.

So until you get it, don’t write about it.  Knowledge is power, don’t be a jerk because you don’t get it.

The Great Cheerio Debate

Earlier this year Cheerios came out saying that they would start making their products gluten free and the whole gluten free community was excited…until they came out.  We found out that their testing methods weren’t the best, that batches were tested together, etc.  If you want to read all about it check out my Facebook page or to go the Gluten Free Watchdog‘s website.  They are on it.

This evening I saw that Fox News had reported on it and had posted it on their Facebook page.  I wanted to know what people were saying about it but wish I hadn’t.  I started reading comments and was first angry, then hurt.  People are on there making fun of people with “made up” gluten allergies, saying it’s a fad that everyone is now jumping on, etc., etc.  “Give me the extra gluten” and more comments like that.  Even making fun of a little girl that has a service dog that detects gluten and keeps her safe (yes, it’s a real thing and I think it’s cool).

I think the thing that irritates me the most are the people who have NO idea what it is like to live in my shoes and others with Celiac Disease as well as gluten intolerance and wheat allergies.  Celiac isn’t funny.  Celiac almost cost my dad his life.  Celiac disease made me super sick for years and I should have just eaten my meals in the bathroom.  That is the honest truth.  It pisses me off that people make fun of something that they no NOTHING about.

Maybe I shouldn’t get so worked up but this is my life and this is something that is important to me.  I work hard to bring awareness to this disease and then a bunch of idiots comment on Facebook and I feel like I’ve been set back and all of my work is for nothing.

All this over a box of cereal.

This is what I want to say to all of them:

Review: Ace’s Pumpkin Cider

I have a confession:  I am not a big pumpkin eater.  My best friend, Shawna, loves this time of year because EVERYTHING is pumpkin.  EVERYTHING.  It’s crazy what they put pumpkin in.  I am American though so around Thanksgiving I do have a piece of pumpkin pie, because I probably should.

Anyway, I went to a liquor store to buy a bottle of wine and found myself in the hard cider section.  They really are next to each other so it wasn’t much of a stretch.  I was a little surprised at the variety of hard ciders available.  Many different types of apple hard cider, a berry cider, ciders with hops, and on and on.  The one that caught my eye was the pumpkin cider.

I’ve never tried Ace’s Premium Craft Ciders although I’ve heard it’s good.  The packaging was clearly marked “Gluten Free” and is also certified Gluten Free.  Since I had looked at a few hard ciders that weren’t marked, this made my day.  I decided to take a chance to buy the pumpkin hard cider.  I told Shawna that she would have to try it with me because, in my mind, if I didn’t like it I knew she probably would.

I finally had my chance to try it.  I was expecting a super pumpkin-y taste but was very pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t.  It has a good cider base but you could taste the hint of pumpkin pie:  nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.  Not overwhelming at all, very refreshing.  It was also very smooth and I could see sitting outside on a fall day next to a fire and having one of these to welcome the fall chill in.

I have to say that I will be buying more of this this fall since it is a seasonal item.  Thank, Ace, it’s a winner!

Pumpkin Cider

Never forget

I haven’t forgotten, I just didn’t know what to write quite yet.  It’s a day that we can’t get out of our heads and even when 9/11 appears in one of it’s many forms, we think back to that day.

When asked where you were on 9/11/01, every one of you in the US can remember.  So many stories, so many feelings.  Each one of them valid, each one of them real.

Here is my story:  on 9/10 my brother had left with two of his friends to move to Seattle from Sioux Falls, SD.  My brother and I had lived there for years and it was hard to say good bye to him (especially after seeing the rattle trap van they bought for $500 for a cross country trek…but I digress).  That was before we had cell phones attached to us 24/7.  There really was no way to know where he was at any point unless he called.

The next day I had the day off from the pawn shop I worked at and had an interview scheduled with one of the local radio stations.  I got up, turned the TV on and, as I watched, I saw a plane hit a building.  My initial thought was “I wonder what movie this is for” only to realize a few seconds later that it wasn’t a movie, it was real life.  I was as stunned as the morning crew at Good Morning America, only they were on TV and I wasn’t.

I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a phone so quickly in my life.  I called my mom.  That’s who you want when everything is going wrong in the world and this was exactly that instance.  She and I sat on the phone for a while, watching another plane hit the second building and then the footage from the Pentagon.  We had no idea what was going on, no idea where my brother was and no idea if they would attack again.  It was a scary, scary feeling.

I got ready for my interview, went to the pawn shop and hung out with the guys there, they were the family I needed at that time.  At my interview, all of us had problems concentrating.  TVs were on everywhere and, honestly, who could think about a job at this time?  After my interview I went back to the pawn shop for a couple hours and then home.  Only there the only thing on TV was the terrorist attack and we kept reliving it.

The skies became silent as airports were shut down, we were told to stay away from malls and places where large groups congregate.  Fear was in the air.  Fear and anger.  How dare they?  Why did they?  Who are they?

Slowly we had answers but it wasn’t the comfort that people wanted to have.  It’s still not comforting as we are threatened every day, although it’s not spoken.

The only good thing, if something good can be taken from something like 9/11, was that it brought our country together.  Men and women, young and old, skin of every color, they all came together to comfort, to offer hope, to bring strength to each other and to our nation.  Something that has fallen by the wayside, something we’ve forgotten.

Let’s remember those who died heroically, those that died tragically and those that sacrificed that day and many days after.  Let’s never forget, always remember.

Drink up!

A few weeks ago I got a text from my brother, who is a graphic designer primarily for breweries and distilleries.  He works with a company that has developed an amazing hard cider and I figured that they were up to another project.  His question to me was about how large to put “naturally gluten free” on the label and placement of that statement.  I told him that if someone is gluten free, they will look for that statement or the “GF” logo on any product.

That brings me to my most recent trip to the liquor store.  I was putting together a “at home date night” kit for a co worker of mine that got married over the weekend and was looking for a nice bottle of wine.  In the process, I wandered to the cider area of the store.  Now, this is a store that I don’t frequent often but it was handy so…I wanted to do some looking.  Their cider selection was CRAZY.  Pumpkin cider, blueberry cider and so many more.  Can you say heaven?  But I got to looking and some of the bottles weren’t labeled gluten free.  Really?  Cider should be, technically, gluten free.  I’m not one to take chances.  It surprised me that a graphic designer didn’t have the forethought to say “hey guys, is this cider gluten free and, if so, we need to label it”.  I don’t buy something that I can’t read the ingredient or doesn’t say plainly “gluten free”.  The funny thing is that two of the bottles I chose back to back weren’t labeled.  (I turned to the single bottles so I could try a couple new ones).  And too bad…they sounded delish!

I turned around and lo and behold, I saw this:

Tito's

Now, THAT’S the way to label a product!

I will never say that a product HAS to be labeled, that is up to the company.  But it makes it easier for those of us that are gluten free to know what is safe.  Plus, if you do have a product that is gluten free, I am more apt to buy it!

By the way, I’m not a huge pumpkin person but my friend Shawna is so when I saw this, I thought “Well, it’s fall and something different so I’ll try it”.  I will let you know what I think!

Ace Pumpkin Cider

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You’re Ruining Everything

Most of my friends really get why I’m gluten free.  They know that eating anything with gluten can make me sick and sick is not where I want to be.  They really don’t want me to be there either, I’m a hot mess when I ingest gluten.  I start cramping up and then my tummy hates me and I end up either in the bathroom for long periods of time (I will let your imagination go and it probably would be accurate) or curled up on my bed because the stomach cramps are so horrible.  Women, just take the “that time of the month” cramps and ramp it up.  Men, imagine getting kicked hard in the you know where…and I’m pretty sure you know the pain I go through.

I still have people in my life that, from statements made, think I’m overreacting.  The other day I posted a story about there being a lot of gluten free restaurants in Italy on my personal Facebook profile.  I had a friend say “you people are ruining everything”.  Ruining everything?  How?  By being excited that I can go out and eat?

I wasn’t sure if this person was joking or not, it’s hard to tell via social media sometimes, so I made light of it and said that I wasn’t looking for a constitutional amendment and it was each restaurants right to have a gluten free menu or not.

I guess I’m still puzzled as to why “us people” are ruining things.  Anyone that isn’t gluten free can still get beer and get it at a fraction of what I pay for beer.  Anyone that isn’t gluten free can go anywhere and eat whatever they please.  I guess I don’t get it.  I’ve never said that I am going to make every restaurant have a separate kitchen for gluten free because it’s my right.  (It isn’t, don’t take that wrong).  And, even if a restaurant doesn’t have anything I can eat, I will still go there with my friends because I’m a social person.

Yes, I do get excited when I read that Europe is very gluten friendly and that, someday, when I get to go there I will be able to eat and eat well.  Better bring my stretchy pants!  And I do get excited when a new item hits the shelves and I can have egg rolls again.

The thing is that people really don’t know what they miss…until they can’t have it anymore.

I would challenge my friends that thing that gluten free is easy to go one week gluten free.  Read the labels, eliminate all wheat, barley and rye from your diet and see how “easy” it is…I’m sure you’d be more than surprised.

Reno Work Trip: Take 2!

A couple of weeks ago I headed back to Reno for a work trip.  It was an exciting trip as we were getting training on a system that I was already familiar with, and love, so I was looking forward to it.

After getting up at 3:30am to catch our flight and a few hours in the air, we arrived at the Peppermill Resort.  The Peppermill is a Vegas style casino and resort although we found out that it didn’t start that way.  The resort actually started as a coffee shop and restaurant and the rest has been built around it.  Very impressive.  They were kind and allowed us early check in as our meeting started at 11:30am.  This gave us a chance to freshen up and get to our meeting in time.  Our rooms were spacious with a great view of the city.

Peppermill Tower Room

Peppermill Tower Room

I had contacted the Peppermill in advance to talk to them about my gluten free needs.  I got a response from the head of the catering department explaining that they would cater to my needs.  I sent an email back thanking him and got another response saying that he had already talked to the person in charge of our group’s catering and that they would be watching out for me.  Holy smokes…I was impressed.

We arrived, changed and went to our lunch.  As promised, they were waiting for me and had food ready.  At our dinner that night, the same thing.  This time is was super amazing since I got both fish and chicken…everyone else got prime rib.  I do like prime rib but everyone said that mine looked better!  The next evening at dinner I had my choice of fish or chicken again and went with the Mahi Mahi.  It was cooked to perfection with jasmine rice and veggies.  Way better than the pizza everyone else had!  I would say that the Peppermill did amazing on the food for me!

Of course, we had to hit In N Out Burger.  I love the protein style burgers, the natural fries and the fact that everything is fresh.

In N Out Protein Style Burger

We also hit up PF Chang’s so I could get my Chinese fix.  We started out with lettuce wraps.  As they came out, I asked if they were gluten free, as I always do.  The server took one look at them, took them off of the table and returned them to the kitchen.  Soon she returned, apologized but said that she was also gluten free and knew how important it was to not serve the wrong food.  I was impressed with their attention to detail.  The egg drop soup was amazing (and it is always gluten free) and the GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken with brown rice.  All of it was amazing.  We also got the Chocolate Dome, a flourless cake.  It was an amazing experience.  A day later this article came out explaining a lawsuit against PF Chang’s.  It’s ridiculous and I feel that PF Chang’s does an amazing job with their gluten free, even a separate area for prepping foods.

GF Chang's Spicy Chicken and Brown Rice PF Chang's Egg Drop Soup

All in all, it was another successful trip to Reno!  Thanks for the gluten free hospitality!

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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Tired

I’ve been tired for about a month.  Exhausted tired.  The kind where you could fall asleep anywhere, anytime and if you just closed your eyes, you’d be out.  Going to bed at 8:30pm and you’ve fought to stay awake that long.

I can check WebMD and so much more to self diagnose (I’m every doctor’s nightmare, really) but I did the right thing and finally went to the doc.  We ran a CBC with an iron test, checked my thyroid and did a metabolic panel.  All came back normal.  Normal…sigh…

So then I go to things like “Are my meds gluten free?”  “Am I accidently getting glutened?”  “Is it the weather?”  And all kinds of other questions.

It has been a crazy year with the changes at work, taking on more with Lions, writing more and so much more.  I know for the last six months I haven’t been sleeping well because my neighbors weren’t the quietest people.  They are moved out so I’m sleeping better.

Or maybe this is my body’s way of saying “slow down, take it easy”.  I’ve been trying to listen, to go to bed even if it’s early, to step back from things if I have to.  To say “no”.  Our bodies tell us when it’s time to take a rest, to fix ourselves and to just take it easy.

I think it’s that time.