Posted in The Basics

OMG! I’ve Been Glutened!! Now What?

It’s gonna happen, no matter how safe you’ve tried to be.  You have accidentally ingested something with hidden gluten or has been cross contaminated and now you are sick.  Ugggh!  Woulda, coulda, shoulda……………yeah………we know……..but it’s done…….now what?

We all have different rituals to heal and feel better and you will have to figure out what works best for you.  Also, don’t forget everyone is different as to how long it takes to get back up and running.  One time I was been better after a day of yuck, another time it took me more than a week!  Depending on what your symptoms are, here are a few ideas to help deal until you can get back to “normal”:

First off, don’t beat yourself up about this.  It happens to all of us and probably won’t be the last time.  It is important to figure out where the gluten came from and make a mental note so that you can steer clear of whatever it is in the future.

Drink lots of water.   It is important to stay hydrated.

Sooth your tummy with some tea.  Pick one or a combo of:  Ginger, peppermint, fennel or chamomile.  Fresh is great, if not dried/teabags will work too.  All of these are great for calming the tummy, relaxing you and helping to relieve spasms, aches and gas.

Ginger – I keep candied ginger around just because and just in case.  Ginger is a wonderful little root that has all sorts of benefits like relief from inflammation, heart burn, nausea, stomach spasms and aids in digestion. Of course if you have fresh ginger and want to use that for your tea or in your food that is even better! 

Eat less and be bland! Sick to foods that are easy to digest, mashed potatoes, rice, soup, smoothies…….  Your tummy is already fighting the gluten, don’t make it work harder by trying to digest dairy, spicy or high fiber foods too.  Give it a day or three of feeling good before you start your regular eating again.

Get in a little exercise.  Key word here…….a little.  Don’t go crazy, but do some stretching or yoga.  Exercise will give you a little more energy and actually helps to detoxify your body.

Activated charcoal can help to alleviate diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation, abdominal pain, etc.  When ingested, the activated charcoal adsorbs toxins and takes them out of the body before they can be absorbed.  Keep in mind that charcoal will absorb EVERYTHING, including medicines and vitamins you take and move it out before it gets a chance to absorb.  So you do not want to take this for days on end because while you are eliminating the toxins you are also eliminating all of the good stuff too!

Probiotics.  If you are not taking them already, now is the time to take some.  You gut is out of balance.  The “good bacteria” will help to get things back in order.  If you are not on them regularly, then take them till you feel better and keep them on hand.  If you are already taking them, up your dose for a few days.  Personally, I use FLORAJEN which for me works much better than the other ones I’ve tried.

Bentyl.  Before I realized that I was gluten intolerant, Bentyl was prescribed to me for stomach spasms.  Since being gluten free, I keep it on hand and take it when I’ve been glutened and my tummy is not cooperating.  It does not take away spasms 100%, but makes them MUCH more tolerable.

GlutenAid – This is a product at CVS that claims “CVS/pharmacy GlutenAid is specially formulated for individuals who feel unwell after eating wheat or grain and thus may have an intolerance to gluten.”  I HAVE NOT TRIED THIS.  But if you CLICK HERE there is another gluten free blogger that tried it and you can read what she experienced.  Please know that there is no cure for celiac or gluten intolerance.  The only way you can be symptom free is to completely avoid gluten.  This pill may or may not help with symptoms if you’ve been accidentally glutened and is absolutely NOT a pill to take so that you can purposely ingest gluten.  You will need to determine for yourself if you think this is worth it.

Digestive enzymes.  These help to breakdown different foods so that they can be absorbed/processed by the body.  Different enzymes help with different foods.  Some people have found this helps when they have been glutened.  Personally I have not tried this so I cannot say yay or nay.  But I will say again – if you are celiac or even gluten intolerant, this is not something that will “allow” you to eat gluten.

Ibuprofen. This can help to reduce the inflammation.  Please be sure that your brand of ibuprofen is gluten free!

I hope something in this list will help you!  Keep in mind, this too shall pass…….

Live and LOVE Gluten Free!!

Posted in The Basics

What Does Gluten DO to me?

Well lets start with the fact that gluten has NO nutritional benefits.  So by removing gluten from your diet, you will not be missing out on something important.  There are many people who have no issues at all with gluten and this post is NOT about them.  This post is for the 15% of U.S. population who have gluten sensitivity in some form.

Those with some form of gluten sensitivity can experience many problems such as hives, difficulty breathing, and digestive issues; in serious cases, a person can experience anaphylaxis, a sudden and severe reaction that can be life-threatening.  Gluten can also cause damage and inflammation in the small intestine, bloating, weight loss, joint pain, weight gain, fatigue and headaches.

For those of you who might like a little more detailed description of what it does in your body: you have small hair-like projections on the intestinal wall which are called villi.  Their function is to absorb the nutrients and vitamins as food passes through the intestines and help break it down. Gluten attacks the villi, wearing them down so that they can no longer function as they should (no longer absorbs nutrients and vitamins) which leaves you malnourished.

Sometimes, tiny holes are created in the intestinal lining, which lets food particles leak into your bloodstream rather than being broken down and absorbed normally. Your body’s natural defense system will fight these “foreign invaders” and attack the body.  You may see symptoms like skin rashes, eczema, bloating, mouth sores, and headaches and more.

Both Celiac disease and gluten intolerance create inflammation throughout the body, with 200-300 possible effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract and more. It can be the single cause behind many different “diseases.”

Re-read that part……….TWO to THREE HUNDRED possible symptoms!  That is crazy! No wonder why it is so often mis-diagnosed.  Different organs can be affected by different types of gluten sensitivity and it can affect more than one area, again complicating diagnosis.  

When damage takes place in the cerebellum, the balance center of the brain that controls coordination and complex movements like walking, speaking and swallowing.   This is called Gluten Ataxia and is a neurologic condition characterized by the loss of balance and coordination. However it can also affect fingers, hands, arms, legs, speech and even eye movements. Typical symptoms include difficulty walking or walking with a wide gait, frequent falls, difficulty judging distances or position, visual disturbances and tremor.

When it affects your skin it is dermatitis herpetiformis.   This is a chronic blistering skin condition, characterized by blisters filled with a watery fluid.

When gluten affects the small bowel, this is celiac disease.  

The Gluten Free Network had some interesting points on Celiac disease vs. gluten intolerance:

Celiac disease is an immune reaction, a severe sudden onset allergic reaction, to the protein called gluten. While celiac disease is initially an auto-immune disorder, it is also a disease of malabsorption, because essential nutrients are not absorbed.  If you imagine a continuum of gluten intolerance symptoms, celiac disease is usually at the most extreme end with immediate autoimmune reactions.

Gluten intolerance often has a slower onset than celiac disease, and may be hard to diagnose due to the broad range of symptoms and causes.  Undiagnosed for long periods of time, food intolerance have been found to contribute to diabetes, bowel cancer, anemia and osteoporosis.

A partial list from Celiac.com shows signs and symptoms of malabsorption, malnutrition, vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies associated with Celiac Disease to be:

Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating; Anemia; Diarrhea; Easy bruising; Epistaxis (nose bleeding); Fatigue or general weakness; Flatulence; Fluid retention; Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily; Gastrointestinal symptoms; Gastrointestinal hemorrhage; Infertility; Iron deficiency anemia; lymphocytic gastritis; Muscle weakness; Muscle wasting; Nausea; Panic Attacks; Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage); Stunted growth in children; Vertigo; Vitamin B12 deficiency; Vitamin D deficiency; Vitamin K deficiency; Vomiting; Voracious appetite; Weight loss or Obesity.

Celiac.com also shares a list of disorders and conditions that may have a connection to gluten intolerance:

Addison’s Disease; Anemia; Arthritis; Ataxia, Nerve Disease, Neuropathy, Brain Damage; Attention Deficit Disorder; Autism; Bacterial Overgrowth; Casein / Cows Milk Intolerance; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Cognitive Impairment; Crohn’s Disease; Depression; Diabetes; Down Syndrome; Dyspepsia, Acid Reflux; Epilepsy; Fertility, Pregnancy, Miscarriage; Fibromyalgia; Flatulence (Gas); Gall Bladder Disease; Gastrointestinal Bleeding; Infertility, Impotency; Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Intestinal Permeability; Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Kidney Disease; Liver Disease; Migraine Headaches; Multiple Sclerosis; Obesity, Overweight & Celiac Disease; Osteoporosis, Osteomalacia, Bone Density; Psoriasis; Refractory Celiac Disease & Collagenous Sprue; Sarcoidosis; Schizophrenia / Mental Problems; Sepsis; Sjogrens Syndrome; Skin Problems and Thyroid & Pancreatic Disorders.

THIS IS NO JOKE PEOPLE!

I would like to be clear here………….this does NOT mean that everyone with depression or an autoimmune disease or any of the above mentioned symptoms/disorders/conditions has gluten sensitivity.

What it DOES mean is that if you have any chronic illness, or one or more of the above listed issues and do not seem to experience relief from what the doctor prescribed, perhaps you should consider the cause could be gluten sensitivity.

How can you correct this?  You need to treat the cause not just the symptoms.

Eliminate gluten-from their diet – not just “cut back” on it.

This information only scratches the surface of what is available. Please check WebMd, Celiac.org, Celiac.com and many other sites for more detailed info.  I hope that this has given you a little insight as to the seriousness of gluten intolerance.

Live and LOVE gluten free!

Posted in The Basics

Gluten-free, booze and me!

OK, the reality is when I realized that I need to be gluten-free to be healthy…….one of the first things that worried me was if I could still have an occasional drink!  Silly, I know, but I really do enjoy having wine with dinner or something fun at a party.  So I did some research and here is what I found:

Almost all wines are naturally gluten-free, but watch out for wine coolers where they might add “barley malt”…..which is not gluten-free.

Traditional beers, ales and lagers are not gluten-free.  However, there is a growing number of gluten-free beers available.  In my neck of the woods, Redbridge (made by Budweiser) is readily available at liquor stores and even at my Walmart.  If you are a beer drinker, really check into this (google gluten-free beers), I found reference to almost 30 different ones.

Almost all unflavored spirits are considered gluten-free!  Yes, even those that are distilled from gluten-containing grains, like wheat-and-barley-based vodka.  So yes to vodka, gin, brandy, whisky, tequila etc……

How can it be gluten-free if some of these things are made from wheat?  Distillation removes the gluten.

Read, read, read all labels.  Sometimes they add flavors after distillation.  These additions could have gluten.  If you can’t figure it out by reading the label, check with the manufacturer.

Live, LOVE (and drink) the gluten-free life!

Posted in Product Reviews, Snacks

Wellaby’s Crackers – Classic Cheese

Wellaby’s Web site

I am rating this product ♥♥ with a score of 14 out of 20.

Appearance:  These hexagonal shaped crackers are large, measuring almost 2 ½ inches at the widest point.  Good size for appetizers.  They come in a plastic tray with two sections, surrounded by a silver sleeve in a cardboard box.  Despite all this packing, there were still quite a few broken crackers.

Flavor:  This cracker has a very mild cheese flavor.  My first thought when I tasted this was – Cheese-its, which were one of my favorites before going gluten-free.  These crackers have a similar flavor, but not nearly as intense.  Much like my beloved and missed Cheese-its, these also leave an after taste if you are eating them by themselves. 😉

Texture:  Thin, crisp, lightly salted and crunchy.  This cracker is sturdy, it would easily hold up to your favorite dip.  These also do not crumble into small pieces after taking a bite.  Being large and crunchy makes it perfect to top with spreads, meats, cheeses etc.

Price:  Average for a gluten-free product.  I bought these at my local Jewel store.  They were $3.59 for a 3.9 oz box, but I caught a sale and got them for $2.99.  If you were buying these for party appetizers you would certainly need two boxes.  In quantity comparison, a box of Carr’s® Table Water® Crackers is 4.25 oz.

My thoughts:  I was surprised by the flavor of this cracker.  It was subtle, cheesy but not over done.  I checked the label and it indicates Edam cheese.  On their Web site, I see that they have mini-crackers which I would imagine would be a great substitute for my Cheese-its!  A very nice selection of flavors to choose from as well – Feta, oregano & olive oil, parmesan & sun-dried tomato and rosemary & onion.

The cost of this product would prevent me from keeping my pantry full of these; however, I would most definitely buy them for appetizer dishes when having company.  Overall, a really good cracker, I look forward to trying the other flavors and products.

Great facts:  Family run company.  No risk of cross-contamination with these as all their products are made in a dedicated facility that solely produces and develops gluten free products.

Live and LOVE gluten-free!

My disclaimer in case you are wondering:  I do not receive any money from the manufacturers for my product reviews.  Some of these products I’ve received a sample direct from them to try them out and give my opinion. Others I’ve purchased myself in local stores to satisfy my curiosity in finding good and tasty gluten-free foods.  I will try to remain neutral, informative and will always be truthful, although you may notice I tend to get a little carried away when I really like something……..

Posted in Appetizers, Gluten Free Recipes

Basil and Roasted Pepper Bites

Makes 25 Appetizers

1 package (2.5 ounces) thinly sliced ham
3 tablespoons garden vegetable cream cheese spread (from 8-ounce container)
1 package (2/3 ounce) fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup roasted red bell peppers (from 12-ounce jar), patted dry
5 pieces (5 1/2 inches long) string cheese

Stack 2 slices ham on work surface; pat dry with paper towel. Spread evenly with 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cream cheese. Top with basil leaves to within 1 inch of top edge. Cut pepper into 1-inch strips; cut to fit width of ham. Place pepper strips across bottom edge of ham. Place cheese piece above pepper on basil leaves; trim to fit.

Beginning at bottom, roll up securely. Wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 5 rolls. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Unwrap rolls; place seam sides down. Cut each roll into 5 pieces with sharp serrated knife. If desired, pierce each roll with 5 evenly spaced toothpicks before cutting.

Note:  Please make sure your ham and your cheese are gluten-free. I do not use packaged ham, I get my ham from the deli, a brand that I know is gluten-free and sliced on a different slicer.

I found this gem on Glutenfreely.com.

Posted in Gluten Free Recipes

Grilled Chile-Lime Chicken

2  teaspoons grated lime peel
1/4  cup lime juice
2  tablespoons olive or canola oil
2  tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2  teaspoon sugar
1/2  teaspoon salt
1  small jalapeño chile, seeded, finely chopped
1  clove garlic, finely chopped
4  boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 1/4 lb)

To make marinade, in shallow glass or plastic dish, or resealable food-storage plastic bag, mix all ingredients except chicken.

Between pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper, place each chicken breast smooth side down; gently pound with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/4 inch thick. Add chicken to marinade; turn to coat. Cover dish or seal bag; refrigerate at least 30 minutes but no longer than 24 hours.

Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Cover and grill chicken over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F).

NOTE:  Because everything is fresh, it is naturally gluten free.  This is an excellent dish that you can marinate and freeze, for a quick meal later on.

I found this recipe on Tablespoon.com by Eat Better America.  Yummm!

Posted in Drinks, Gluten Free Recipes

Blueberry Hard Lemonade

2 tablespoons fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 fresh mint leaves
Ice cubes
2 tablespoons gin (1 oz)
1/2 cup gluten-free ginger ale or lemon-lime soda
Lemon wedges, blueberries on a beverage pick, fresh mint, if desired

In a highball glass, muddle blueberries, lemon juice and mint.

Fill glass to rim with ice cubes. Add gin. Top with ginger ale; stir gently.

Garnish as desired.

I found this recipe on Glutenfreely.com.  This will be a refreshing summer drink!!

Posted in Candy, Product Reviews

Black Ace Red Licorice

Since going gluten-free one of the biggest things I miss is LICORICE, specifically Twizzlers – sorry all you Red Vine fans, Twizzlers was where it was at!  Sadly since the very first ingredient is wheat, I can have them no more.  😦

Gluten-free licorice is not easy to find in stores and I have been on the hunt for a GOOD replacement.

I am rating it ♥♥ with a score of 13 out of 20.  In all fairness, the price significantly reduced its overall rating.

Appearance/size:  The small, bite-sized drops (about the size of a dime) make them very easy to eat.  They are in a bag, inside a cute little box.  It would be nice if the bag was resealable so if you were being strong, you could seal them up without worrying about them getting stale.

Flavor:  Wonderful flavor that gets stronger and fruitier as you chew!  Taste comparison – a little nugget of Hawaiian punch in your mouth.  Yummmmm!  🙂

Texture: Extremely chewy, sticking to every possible crevice in my teeth.  Uggh!  Think taffy or worse.  I suppose you can look at it this way – it kept me from eating a whole box in one sitting, so good for my diet!

Price:  I bought this 5 oz box at a local candy store for $6.50.  Expensive!

Overall, this would not be my choice for a licorice fix.  Flavor was great; texture just didn’t work for me.   I’ve had this box for about 3 weeks now and there are still a few left……..this is unheard of for a sweet-tooth like me!

The hunt continues………..in the mean time Live and LOVE gluten-free!

Posted in The Basics

What the Heck is Gluten and WHERE do I find it?

Simply put, gluten is the one of the proteins found in certain grains like wheat, barley, rye, durum, spelt, farro, graham, kamut, and semolina. 

It is the “glue” (get it? GLUEten, lol) that makes dough stretchy, makes it rise and adds that texture that is often enjoyed in regular bread.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to check your labels* each and every time you buy anything BECAUSE:

It is in the obvious foods – breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, croutons, couscous, graham crackers, pasta, pizza, stuffing, pretzels etc…

It is used as a thickener and stabilizing agent – Asian sauces, BBQ sauce, canned baked beans, canned chili, canned soup, gravy, ice cream, ketchup, mustard, pie fillings, puddings, salad dressings, sherbet, soy sauces, soup etc….

It is a flavor enhancer and flow agent so you might find it in baking powder, beer, bouillon, coated popcorn or chips, cocoa mix, dairy products, dry roasted nuts, instant flavored coffees, packaged rice mixes, seasoning packets, spice blends,  etc…

Watch out for processed foods because you can find it in cheese, fast food, hot dogs, inexpensive cold cuts, pate, ready-made foods, reduced-fat foods, sausage, self-basting poultry, soy protein meat substitutes, etc…

Bet you didn’t think you could find it in: blue cheese, candy (especially licorice), canned meats, cheese sauce, chewing gum, curry powder, extracts, frozen french fries (it’s in the coating), imitation fish (like those crab sticks),  “malt”, pickled products, shredded cheese, sour cream,  etc…

Are you shocked yet?  

Here are a few more things to think about:  body wash, body lotion, hair care products, make up, laundry detergent, lipstick, prescription medications, tea bags, toothpaste and vitamin supplements.  

How about this:  your toaster, wooden cutting board, lickable envelopes or stamps, the inside of latex or rubber gloves, paint, clay, play dough and glue!

WHY why why is it in everything?  Simple answer for most – because it is cheap.  Think about this……….what is the best way to stretch a pot of chili?  Add beans.  What is the best way for manufacturers to use less of the quality ingredient and make more product (and more money)?  Add gluten, because is cheap.

Moral of this story – READ ALL LABELS!

It was my goal to make an impact so that you can see that gluten can be found in the obvious places and not so obvious places.  If you want to feel better you will need to remove gluten completely and to do this you need to investigate anything and everything that you put IN or ON your body.  Do not be overwhelmed by this large (but partial) listing. Once you start reading every label, it will quickly become second nature to you to be able to figure out what you can and can’t have.  Don’t despair – there are gluten-free products available for most items listed above!

The biggest and most important tip I can give you is to read, read, read every label – EVERY TIME YOU BUY IT (manufacturers often change their formulas with no warning or indication).  If you can’t tell from the label, contact the manufacturer, toll-free numbers are readily available on the internet.   If after all of this you still are not sure………don’t!

NOTES:  You will notice that I did not include OATS in this listing.  It is not an oversight – there seems to be some question as to IF it has gluten.  Naturally they do not and even though it is a different protein than wheat, some Celiacs might have a problem with oats.

One of the biggest concerns is from possible cross-contamination in the growing and  processing of oats – they might be grown in fields next to wheat and barley and/or processed in the same facilities.

It is suggested that if you want to try oatmeal that you find a product that is grown in gluten-free fields and processed in gluten-free processing plants.  Bob’s Red Mill is one of these companies that make gluten-free oats, there are others – check online.

Something else to think about:  Doctors say that Celiac and gluten-intolerance is from ingested gluten – but there are so many people out there (myself included) who have problems using products with gluten on their skin, hair etc. you may want to make your own choice based on your level of sensitivity.  Personally I steer away from anything that has it!

Live and LOVE gluten-free!

When checking your labels, they will not list “gluten” as an ingredient.  You will need to learn what names to look for that have gluten.  I will be posting additional blogs on what to look for on a label.  For now a quick tip, after the ingredients you might see a bolded line that says “Allergen Information” or “Contains”.  This will be followed by a list of potential allergens.  If you see WHEAT then you know for sure to stay away!   

Posted in Gluten Free Recipes, Sweets

Banana Nutella Muffins

This recipe is FABULOUS!

Original muffins:

My gluten-free version:

 

2 cups GLUTEN-FREE flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 very ripe bananas, soft, darkly speckled, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon GLUTEN-FREE vanilla extract
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Nutella

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl mix mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Lightly fold banana mixture into dry ingredients with rubber spatula until just combined and batter looks thick and chunky. Fold in hazelnuts.

Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups.  Place 1 teaspoon of Nutella on top of each muffin. Swirl with a toothpick. Bake until golden and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and serve.

NOTES:  Baking soda is naturally gluten-free.  Nutella is gluten-free!  Yogurt is naturally gluten-free, but because of additives, please check the label.  PLEASE CHECK your vanilla, not all extract is gluten-free – McCormicks is good, I use Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract which is gluten-free but a little pricey.  I really like Pamela’s Baking mix for all of my sweet baking and have found that I can use it as a cup for cup exchange in all of my old tried and true recipes.  Also check your non-stick cooking spray – not all are gluten-free!

In this gluten-free version……..I did not swirl in the nutella.  The muffin has a banana bread texture…a bit heavier but very moist.  I use very dark bananas so the batter is darker than usual.  This muffin was excellent and I will be making this again!

A big shout out to Diane Krejci Sullivan who found this recipe at Sweet Pea’s Kitchen (http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/).  I modified it to make it gluten-free.  Thank you Christina for an amazing recipe.