The Ugly Truth

27 Sep

I recently overheard a woman telling another woman that she had lost a lot of weight by eliminating gluten from her diet. I am skeptical about such claims and I wanted to set the record straight. Also I am jealous and annoyed by people who lose weight easily by eliminating anything. And it appears that I have become the kind of person who enjoys bursting people’s bubbles. That’s what celiac disease has done to me. So here it is, the ugly truth: The gluten-free diet that people lose weight on is simply a no or low carb diet. I know I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating. To illustrate my point I present you with two meal plans. The first plan is for someone (me) who can never again eat gluten anything, ever; the second is for someone (not me) who wants to lose weight, and be cool ( gluten-free is a lot hipper than weight watchers).

my gluten-free diet plan:

The basis of my plan is this flourless chocolate cake. I made enough so that I could incorporate it into my meals during the week.

Breakfast: 2 pieces of flourless chocolate cake and on cup of strong black tea with lots of milk and honey

Lunch: 1 piece of flourless chocolate  cake and a V-8 juice

Dinner:  hashbrowns and a half a bottle of white wine (because it was the only GF thing around) and for dessert, you guessed it, flourless chocolate cake

Bed time snack: flourless chocolate cake

Someone else’s gluten-free diet plan:

The basis of this plan is eliminating all carbohydrates.

Breakfast: fruit and yogurt, instead of the usual bagel with cream cheese.

Lunch: A gigantic salad, instead of the usual Panini

Dinner: Chicken, asparagus and greens with lemon water, instead of the usual large pepperoni pizza

Dessert: ice chips

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

10 May

As a person with celiac disease I find that there is a fine line between things I want to know and things I don’t want to know. For example: I frequently eat at a local restaurant whose menu consists of paninis, soup and salad. They have a very yummy, naturally gluten-free tomato red pepper soup that I always order, but it’s still feels like a consolation prize when I look around at the buttery sandwiches oozing with cheese, onions and turkey.  One day when I couldn’t take it anymore I casually asked the chef if he would consider a gluten-free panini option. He replied that they could make any of the sandwiches with gluten- free bread. I asked him if this was something new. “No”, he said, “We’ve been doing it for several years”. “Does the menu say anything about this option?” I asked. The answer was no.  I don’t know why it took me so long to ask but why should I have to? Gluten-free, as far as know, and especially in Santa Cruz, is not on the down low. It seems like a small thing, but I find many of life’s greatest pleasures are simple; like the joy of looking at a menu and ordering from it without having to ask a zillion questions.

On the other hand, I was at another local restaurant where I asked if the French fries were gluten-free (I’ve taken to ordering fries before I even sit down so that I don’t have to watch my dining companions tear apart soft pieces of bread and dip them in oil or generously slather them in butter while I patiently wait for the main course. Maybe this is why I’ve also recently gained five pounds.) Anyway, the waitress went to check with the cook and came back to cheerfully tell me YES, they’re gluten-free…but they are fried in the same oil that we fry our breaded calamari in.  Here’s the thing, if I am going to eat at a restaurant I know there is a chance of “cross contamination” a fancy term for getting unintentionally “glutened”, a made up term, for accidentally eating gluten. The only way around this is not to think about it, because if I think about the fact that even one crumb of gluten that comes in contact with my small intestine will set off an auto-immune reaction in my body that may take weeks to repair, I will go crazy. Not the kind of crazy that I already am, the real kind of crazy.

Like She Said.

13 Mar

I just read a great article on Salon.com about eating gluten-free for fun (don’t you just love those people?).  It is called “Dilemmas of a Gluten-Free Convert” — you should check it out.  The author may be a symbol of everything I hate about, well, everyone who doesn’t have a celiac diagnosis, but I still loved her article.  I especially appreciate her observation about sticking to wine and dodging the appetizers at cocktail parties.

Ruth Reichl, you are my hero.

Daily Treat: A great, grown-up, spicy crispy chocolate thing, with pistachio nuts. Which I baked (even though ever since The Diagnosis I don’t tend to bake very much).  I would show you a photo of the crisps, except my family ate every single crumb and all I had left was the plate, which isn’t picturesque.  So instead I will (1) give you the recipe, and (2) provide you some visuals of the book (since as we know every blog post requires a photo, QED.)

The recipe is called Pistachio-Dark Chocolate Crisps, and it comes from the Gourmet Today cookbook (page 686), which to my surprise contains a luxurious selection of naturally gluten-free cookies and desserts.  I am looking forward to trying the Fruit and Nut Chocolate Chunks and the Crispy Chocolate Marshmallow Squares just as soon as my body stops gaining weight on water and roasted fennel (since that is all I eat).

If you looked, you would find  that the crisp recipe as it appears in the book is not completely, totally gluten-free, but it only calls for six tablespoons of flour, and that is close enough for me.  I just substituted gf flour, and then I doubled the curry powder…  If you read this blog for long, you will discover I fiddle with almost all my recipes.  No apologies; it’s my way.

Pistachio-Dark Chocolate Crisps   –   converted to gluten-free by ME!


1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (I used dark, because that was all I had)

6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used Terry’s gluten-free flour mix)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon curry powder (I used 1/4 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg white

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used double that, of course)

1/2 cup cup roasted  shelled pistachios, chopped

I wasn't sure if this would work with GF flour, but it did!

1. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Combine butter, brown sugar, flour, salt, curry powder, vanilla, and egg white in food processor and blend until smooth.

3.  Glue parchment to baking sheet with a dab of batter in each corner.

4. Spread remaining batter evenly into a 10 by 14 inch rectangle on parchment paper (yes, I did measure!), then scatter chocolate and nuts on top.

5.  Bake until firm and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.

6.  Transfer crisp, still on parchment, to a rack to cool completely.

7.  Remove crisp from paper, breaking into pieces.  Good for dessert.  Or breakfast.

Sushi, What’s the Point?

6 Mar

I used to love sushi. Not the raw fish sushi.  The kind that comes in a roll  covered in rice and avocado and macadamia nuts and tempura anything and sweet sauce.

Last night we ordered in from our favorite Japanese restaurant. At this point I would like to remind you (and myself) that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. “I’d like a nutty shrimp” I said to the man on the other end of the phone, my voice full of regret. “But instead of tempura shrimp I will just have ebi (steamed shrimp) and a yummy yam, but instead of the tempura yam, just steamed yam, oh, and can I have those made with brown rice?”

Thirty minutes later I was dipping rolls of sticky brown rice into my wheat-free tamari and wasabi mixture, coveting the eel soaked in a sweet gluteny sauce that my husband was enjoying.  My shrimp was chewy. Have you ever noticed that shrimp on its own as no flavor whatsoever? The yam was yummy, naturally sweet. And who doesn’t love a yam wrapped in brown rice?

This morning I woke up feeling nauseous. Maybe I was unintentionally glutened.  Or maybe it was intentional.  Either way it wasn’t worth it. I’m thinking of giving up on food all together.  Can’t I just take a pill for that? I would happily go for weekly intravenous meals.

When I’m feeling blue, I sometimes call a friend, or buy a lot of shoes, or search the internet. It was too early to call anyone and my bank account is on empty so I googled.  I searched gluten-free sushi just to see what somebody else had to say on the subject.

I found one blogger extolling the virtues of sushi when dinning with friends, “… I didn’t need to do as much research upfront and I knew there would be SOMETHING I could eat (even if it was just steamed edamam). ” http://aglutenfreeguide.com/eating-sushi-is-a-gluten-free-dream.html . This made me realize I have been setting the bar a little too high. If I only had her glass-half-full attitude why I could go to any restaurant knowing that at the very least I could have a plate of lettuce.

And then this from Gluten Free: The Celiac Site

“Every celiac should develop a taste for Sushi. Consider one blogger’s  suggestion:  “Once I was diagnosed with Celiac, sushi restaurants became a haven for my gluten free dining. It’s so much easier to ask someone if they want to go for sushi than look for other gluten free friendly dining establishments. I can just grab my bottle or packets of gluten free soy sauce and head to the restaurant.”

Wow, you make it sound so fun! But wait, there’s a catch…

“Sushi is gluten free, but (as always) there are cross contamination issues. This same blogger continues: “Unfortunately eating sushi gluten free is not completely care-free and there are still things you need to be wary of in order to eat safely. Ask for your fish to be cut with clean utensils on a clean surface. The rising popularity of tempura rolls has increased the chances for cross-contamination here. Tell your server no crab unless they can assure you it’s real, most fake crab meat used in sushi rolls is made with wheat. Most roe (fish eggs) used to top sushi has wheat as an ingredient. Also, ask for no sauce, albacore sashimi usually comes with a forbidden sauce and many white fish are sprinkled with a gluten containing culprit. Eel (unagi) comes soaked in a sweet sauce that is a definite no-no. Double-check the wasabi, ginger and rice to make sure that there are no suspect ingredients.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then more joyous news:

  • Even the sesame seeds that sometimes coat sushi rolls may be mixed with a wheat product. (WTF!)
  • And the sticky rice is sometimes soaked in vinegar containing gluten.  (now that’s just mean)

First, can we just all agree that gluten-free and carefree should not be used in the same paragraph?

Second, I am never going to utter these words in a restaurant, “please make sure my fish is cut with clean utensils on a clean surface” . It’s just not going to happen.

Third, I’ll just have a large sake.

This Tastes like Crap. And Such Small Portions.

29 Feb

Don’t you just hate it when you have a great idea, but it turns to crap right before your very eyes?

That’s what  happened yesterday with my husband’s oh-so-thoughtful Valentine’s Day present.  You may recall he gave me an entire year’s worth of gluten-free treats from the GFree Pantry.  Once a month, I am scheduled to receive a wonderful, inspiring cornucopia of delicious foods to make me forget I can no longer eat Devil’s Food Cake or drink bourbon.  Here’s what a sample box looks like on the website:

All bursting with g-free potential!

Here’s what arrived in the mail yesterday:

The fluffy green tissue paper obscures how very empty this box is. Just sayin'.

Eight small packets, in a large carton, surrounded by a lot of — presumably gluten-free — air.  For $23.00.  I got Caveman Crunch Mix (oddly fluffy, possibly from the space program, circa 1975); I got Caveman Chicken Jerky (more on that below).  And then, for a change of pace, I also got Paleopeople Cacao Nut Granola Clusters — which look, feel, and taste like a raisin that got stuck on the bottom of your boot during a  sandy (and possibly also muddy) hike in the rain.  At the very bottom of the box, I found a heavy block of something called a Macrobar, which is described as “A Big Picture Food”.

I can draw that picture right now, and it will not be pretty.

You may ask, “What do all these items have in common?” And I will tell you:  They are the kinds of things that, when you offer them to your children, they will say, “Mommy, please don’t make me eat that.”

Followed by, “It looks like a dog treat.”

I tried. Really I did.  I did everything I could to make the Caveman Foods Spicy BBQ Chicken Jerky seem appetizing.  Here are three tempting presentations:

Actually, the food artist for this plate was my hubby, who greeted me with this in the morning

Nothing worked.  The kids will not eat the jerky.  My husband will not eat the jerky.  I (obviously) will not eat the jerky.  Sarah, Sarah, where is our gluten-free spittoon when I need it?

But then I looked at Lulu.  And I looked at that horrible, unappetizing Spicy BBQ gluten-free meat product.

She was not enthusiastic, but she did eat it.  She is a living, breathing gluten-free spittoon.

Once upon a time, in 1987, in Marmaris Turkey, we met an Australian who didn’t like the eggplant appetizer.  He said, “This food is crappy.  And such small portions.”  That pretty much sums up my experience thus far with specialized gluten-free food products.  You want to know why I am a Gluten-Free bitch?  Look in the box.

I just cancelled my GFree Pantry subscription.  Now I’m going to go in the kitchen and eat a bag of chocolate chips.  Got the picture?

Mascara, It’s Not Just For Breakfast Anymore.

26 Feb

Every morning  after I eat a gluten-free breakfast, I take a shower, I dry my hair and put on my face.  I learned that women put on their faces from my grandmother. (Thanks, grandma!)

Until recently I didn’t  think about whether or not my make-up was gluten-free. This is due to the fact that it has never occurred to me to eat my make-up.  But the other day, my friend Paula, (who does not have gluten issues but is lucky enough to have not one but two friends who do and therefore is gluten-sensitive) made the following comment to me in passing.  “So you might know, but I didn’t know, that there’s such a thing as gluten-free mascara.” Whew. What a relief, especially for those of us who like to munch between meals and will just grab for the first thing that’s handy.” Upon hearing this comment I decided I had better do a little research on the subject. So I googled the question “Do women sometimes eat their mascara?” Google responded with several pages of “Why women can’t put on their mascara with their mouths closed”.  Another Women’s Issue I had never considered. However upon reflection, I realized that I always open my mouth while putting on my mascara.

So once again, google unintentionally answered my question.  Obviously what happens is that while women are putting their mascara on with their mouths open, tiny particles of gluten are falling off the brush or the eyelashes and into their open mouths. Women are unknowingly being glutened* while  putting on their faces.  For those of us who may  unconsciously open our mouths while applying our make-up or forget to carry a snack with us  there are many gluten-free make-up options available.

Here’s one:

http://www.maybelline.com/

*glutened is a word I picked up while searching the internet. It was used in the following sentence: “…you may end up getting unintentionally glutened.”

Today’s  Treat:  Pure pressed mineral foundation in caramel garnished with pure pressed blush in cotton candy and topped off with a spritz of  D2O hydrating Spray.  http://janeiredale.com

The Daily Bitch… I Love a Messy Counter

22 Feb

So, as I’ve mentioned, for Valentine’s Day my husband gave me a year’s worth of gluten-free treats from the GFree Pantry.   And my mother-in-law gave me a two-pound box of See’s Candies.  To be specific, she sent me a box of Bordeaux, half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate.  Bordeaux is my favorite candy in the world.  Absolute favorite.  And no, my mother-in-law is not taking applications for additional daughters.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?   All See’s Candies are gluten-free.  Every single glorious bite, but especially (and most importantly) Bordeaux.  Yum.

Legally speaking, the See’s candy is officially for the “family”, but everyone knows that whenever chocolate enters the house, no matter what it says on the card, it is really for “me”.  For the past five days, therefore, I have been expending a lot of energy hiding the Bordeaux from the girls.  It has been all over the house — I can’t tell you more because the girls read this blog and it could limit my options later.

But tonight they found the box.  I know that because, when I came downstairs, the kitchen counter was covered with those little rice-shaped chocolate sprinkles that cover a See’s Bordeaux.  They were everywhere.  This was not surprising.  I know — from eating many, many Bordeaux myself — that it is impossible to eat a Bordeaux without sending a little snowstorm of chocolate jimmies down all around you.

My girls will happily tell you that I am a bit obsessive about clean counters, and I will agree — up to a point. I don’t fold laundry, and I don’t really unload the dishwasher, but I do believe in a nice, crumb-free counter top.  (Don’t even get me going on the glutinous crumbs issue.)  But when I came into the kitchen just now and saw all those chocolate sprinkles on the butcher block, all I felt was happy.  Happy for the girls, because I knew what they were eating right then.  And happy for me, because I knew what I was going to be eating in just one second.

My box of Pirate’s Booty and gluten-free graham crackers hasn’t arrived yet, but right now I’m eating a Bordeaux.

Bye bye for now,

Enid

Today’s Treat:  Can you guess?  I had one for breakfast, with my tea.  I had one for lunch, with whatever else I was eating (I don’t remember).  I possibly had a few around 4:00.  And now I’m having more.  If you don’t live in California and therefore don’t have a Sees Candy store nearby, you can order Bordeaux (dark or milk chocolate) by the box, online.  http://www.sees.com.  

The Daily Bitch…It’s Not the Gluten, Dummy

21 Feb

I’m not a real doctor, but I am a real bitch and I feel more than qualified to take on the subject of gluten and weight.

And, I am so tired of gluten-free weight loss stories!

  • Do people who go on a “gluten-free” diet for weight loss check every label, grill every waiter, and try desperately to find a delicious substitution for their favorite chocolate cake? Do they cry in the middle of the supermarket isle? I think not. I think they cut out bread, pasta and cake, for a couple of weeks and call it gluten-free. And guess what-they lose weight. Big surprise! It’s not the gluten, dummy,  it’s the no carbs, it’s the fewer calories.

  • Some people who have celiac disease gain weight once they give up gluten. Yup. That’s right. No, that’s wrong and so unfair.  It’s the dirty little secret about celiac disease. No one wants to talk about it.  Once that digestive system starts working again, those little cilia start standing upright again and doing their job. You start absorbing nutrients again, You start absorbing more fat.  Maybe your cholesterol goes up maybe you gain ten pounds.
  • Am I bitter? Possibly. Yes.
  • Chapter 15 of Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book, The G Free Diet; A Gluten-Free Survival Guide, is entitled G-Free and Slim as Can Be.  I would like to slap her.  Also, she’s a republican.

  • Am I bitter?  Possibly. Yes.
  • On the up side, I could eat donuts, cookies, bread and pasta and lose those ten pounds in a jiffy. It’s called the gluten diet.
  • On the down side, there’s the whole destroying my small intestine thing.
  • Oh well.

Today’s Treat: Ask Enid.

The Daily Treat….Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Roses and chocolate and pink champagne are gluten-free!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 from the GFBs

Today’s Taste Test Challange: These pink champagne cupcakes look yummy, but so did that hempseed coconut cake. If someone wants to test them for us we would be oh so happy!

http://www.theculinarylife.com/2009/gluten-free-champagne-cupcakes/

I’m taking the day off from bitching.

14 Feb

Romance in a box.  Over the past 20 plus years, my husband and I have shared many lovely Valentine’s Days.  There was red wine.  There was chocolate (there was a lot of chocolate).  There was some lingerie.  There have been vases full of red roses. But this year takes the cake (pun intended).  What did he give me to celebrate our love today?  A year full of gluten-free treats.

That’s right.  Over the past few months, he’s been right there at my side, as I snivel and scowl through the supermarket, and our favorite Thai restaurant (“chicken satay with no sauce, please”), and Christmas (no persimmon pudding, no french toast, no Yorkshire pudding, yuck).  He even offered to go gluten-free with me, which I completed rejected.   I mean, really, it’s bad enough that I have to give up hamburgers; should he have to do it, too?

Basically, he has been a champ.  And now, on this day of love and romance, he comes through with the box of Pirate’s Booty, Glutino Pretzels, and Macrobars.  Plus — as he gleefully informed me when he got home from work tonight —this Valentine’s gift is deductible as a business expense!  Ahh… the romance of it.

It’s not too late.  If you are reading this blog as a way to support your Celiac Loved One, you can still go online and join the Gluten Free Tasting Club.  Or…possibly less emotionally complicated, you can buy it for yourself.  Here’s the link:  http://www.gfreepantry.com.  And here’s what they say:

GFreePantry makes gluten free dieting simple. Stop scouring the aisles for certified gluten free snacks. Subscribe to the gluten free tasting club and discover new tasty gluten free snacks each month. Discover your next favorite snack, learn a new recipe, share your own gluten free recipes with the GFree world.

I’ll keep you posted on what comes in the box, and whether  it tastes like… the box.

Bye bye for now,

Enid

Daily Treat:  Dinner out with my thoughtful hubby, where I will eat something gluten-free and (hopefully) good.  I know there will be a gluten-free choice on the prix-fixe menu because I called the restaurant in advance and asked.  Now, is that brutal or what?  Now I have to call ahead before I go on our romantic dinner.

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