Friday, May 29, 2009

The Gluten Free Guest

WG is entering the age of the Birthday Party. Parties are magical and intriguing things to her right now. She has been planning her own party since February. She wants a strawberry cake with green, yellow, and chocolate frosting. Hmmmm...

Parties present a challenge when you must eat gluten free. WG understands that she eats differently than other people and she is okay with that for now (knock on wood!). It is important to us that she be able to take part in social events and we don't want her to feel out of place because of her food. We are used to packing our own food by now. When there is a party I try to find out the menu ahead of time so that I can try to come up with something similar for WG to take. She loves rice cakes with peanut butter but that would not be an acceptable alternative when the other guests are eating pepperoni pizza.

We never expect the host to accommodate her dietary restrictions. It's touching when they do, but we never assume that there will be something safe for her to eat. We always pack our own.

The rule of offering something better definately applies here, too. Party food should be appealing to the child who has to eat it.

It should also be appealing to their friends who don't have to eat it.

Think about it. If you send food that looks and smells weird to the other kids they will tell your child and your child will be more likely to reject what you've sent and try to cheat. If you send something with real appeal, like a cupcake with a ton of swirly frosting and M&M's, suddenly your child has a hot commodity and eating gluten free just got a little bit more desirable.

This rule applies to your own child's birthday party, too. An ice-cream sundae bar with all sorts of toppings or an ice cream "cake" (without the cake) are safer choices than a gluten free cake. Even if everyone you know LOVES your GF cake, it only takes one young guest to declare it weird for things to go downhill fast. Save the cake for the family celebration.

DIY Gluten Free Trial

Whoa... This is post #101! And I'm warning you, it's a long one. I've had a few people ask me about doing a gluten free trial. This is an email I have sent to a few friends and I decided to post it here for easy reference.

First off, If you suspect that you or your child have Celiac Disease, it is important to be tested while you are still eating gluten. The blood test used in the first phase of diagnosing Celiac Disease is not effective once you stop eating gluten.

Always remember to check ingredients for yourself because brands change their formulations quite often.

Gluten is in wheat, rye, barley, malt, and some oats. I think the easiest way to do a GF trial without experiencing grocery bloat is to try to eat mostly "normal" food that also happens to be GF. The more you can stick with single ingredient foods, the better.

Some brands say "Gluten Free" right on the label. More and more grocery stores are labeling items on the shelf as gluten free. A few (Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are two) list all their gluten free products on their website. Also, I am not a huge fan of Walmart, but they label their store brand items when they are gluten free.

Random "Okay" foods:
All fruits in their natural state
All veggies in their natural state (be wary of seasoned veggies)
Most cheese and yogurt (Yoplait is labeled gluten free)
Hormel Pepperoni (also labeled gluten free)
"real" meat like chicken breasts, ground chuck, etc. (Be wary of lunchmeat and hotdogs. Unless you can verify with the manufacturer that they are GF, assume they have gluten.)
Corn tortillas
Rice cakes, including most of the flavored ones (check for "contains wheat")
Rice Chex cereal
Corn Chex cereal (newly gluten free. Check the box because some stores are still selling off their old stock.)
All varieties of plain, unseasoned rice

The main things to look out for on labels are: wheat, rye, oats, barley, malt, modified food starch where the starch isn't clearly identified, "spice", and "flavorings." Manufacturers are required to clearly ID the "big 8" food allergens, so wheat is pretty easy to ID.

Here are some meal ideas that use regular food:

Breakfast: Rice chex, yogurt, cheese, fruit, eggs, plain oatmeal with various additions (WG can tolerate the plain oats in a canister but not the flavored packets. Bob's Red Mill makes certified GF oats.), fruit with peanut butter, cottage cheese, dinner leftovers, crustless pumpkin pie, grits, smoothies.

Lunch: quesadillas on corn tortillas, baked beans (check the label carefully), nachos (corn chips, refried beans, whatever veggies I have to throw on, and cheese), peanut butter on rice cakes, peanut butter on fruit, any of the breakfast options, dinner leftovers, lettuce wraps, stir-fried whatever (watch the soy sauce. Use La Choi or wheat free tamari).

Snacks: rice cakes, fruit, cottage cheese, cut up veggies with ranch dressing (check the label), trail mix with rice chex, raisins, nuts and a few chocolate chips, yogurt, deviled eggs, jello, pudding, hummus and veggies or rice crackers.

Junk food: cool ranch doritos, nacho cheese doritos are newly GF (check the label for barley), cheetos, fritos, plain potato chips, some varieties of flavored potato chips, some varieties of microwave popcorn, McDonald's french fries (they generally have a dedicated FF fryer. Other places fry their chicken nuggets with the fries.), McDonalds cheeseburger without the bun, some ice cream, snickers bars, hershey kisses, skittles, 3 musketeers, M&M's.... There's a lot more. It's scary how much junk you can still eat!

Dinner: This is the easiest meal for me because it doesn't traditionally center around wheat. Watch out for "cream of" soups and soy sauce (La Choy is GF). Also, full fat dairy is a safer bet than reduced fat or fat free dairy. Potatoes are a good stand-in for a lot of things. You can make pizza potatoes with baked potatoes, pepperoni, sauce, and cheese. Things that normally go on noodles can usually go on rice, too. Cornbread made from scratch with only cornmeal is also good, and makes a good breakfast / lunch food, too. I use Pamela's Baking Mix for most of my flour needs. It's $$$ but worth it.

Here are a few GF blogs. The first is that crockpot lady I've posted about on the board. Her daughter has celiac, so even though it's not specifically a GF blog all the recipes are GF. The second I just found, but it seems like she is also cooking for someone who cannot eat gluten.  The third is where I go when I want a great baking recipe.  I'm not a huge fan of Better Batter Flour, but I'm slowly warming up to it.

We saw results with WG in about a week. Her behavior started to improve almost immediately. She still tantrumed, but it was more reasonable. On gluten she would melt down several times within the course of an hour and off gluten she was able to hold herself together much easier. Our first clue now that she's been glutened is that she starts going nuts. The physical symptoms come a day or so later.

If you decide to do a GF trial, I'd make a special place in the cabinet / fridge for all the GF food, "regular" or not. Mark it somehow, a big red GF or something, so that you know no one will make a mistake. It's up to you if the whole family goes GF or not. If Tim and I could eat gluten, I think I'd probably make sure our dinners were GF and not worry too much about breakfast and lunch.

If you decide to just take one child off gluten, make sure you have some junk / treats around that are GF. Think of how sad you would be to see all your siblings having a cookie while you ate an apple. Having something better is key to compliance. I think we were so successful transitioning WG to the GF diet because I made sure to buy junk food every time I went to the store for the first few months. Giving up goldfish crackers and cookies is not so bad when you get to have cheetos and snickers mini's! My strategy was to substitute something better and then gradually cut the junk out altogether.

Udi's GF bread is the only GF bread worth buying IMO.  It holds together for a sandwich, smells, looks, and tastes normal.  You can find it at Trader Joe's and also at some regular grocery stores in the frozen section.  You can also make sandwiches on rice cakes.

I hope this is helpful. Going GF is tough, but you get the hang of it. It's not a cure-all for everyone or every ailment, but you don't have anything to lose by trying.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Frozen Banana Bread

Katy + too much dairy = migraine. It's not pretty. If I have much more than a serving of dairy a day I suffer. I rarely drink milk anymore because I would rather eat cheese, yogurt or ice cream. I'm not a fan of soy milk. I recently discovered almond milk and was thrilled to find a brand that is gluten free and that has calcium. Still, I don't particularly like to drink it straight. I do use it in smoothies, though.

Here is my favorite drink of the moment. To me it tastes like banana bread in a glass.

Frozen Banana Bread
1/2 frozen banana
8 - 10 oz unsweetened almond milk
a swig of vanilla syrup (like Da Vinci)(be conservative with your swig. The syrup can overpower everything else.)

Blend together. Enjoy!


(WG trying to walk across the studio without tripping over her craft supplies which were strewn all over the floor): "Boy, this is some rocky terrain!"


What I said: "WG, you can't check any videos out until we get back into a library routine. The fines are killing me."

What WG heard: "blah blah blah blah library martini blah blah blah..."

What WG said: "Mom, can I have a library martini?"

Monday, May 4, 2009

4 going on 14

(In the car on the way home from the hardware store.)

WG: I need a ride to Aiden's house tomorrow morning at 6:45.

Parents: ?

WG: We have rehearsal.

Parents: ?

WG: He has a band and he asked me to be in it with him.

Parents: ?!.... 6:45 is awfully early, WG.

WG: But we have a gig. Aiden said so.

Parents: !.... What do you play in the band?

WG: Music. That's what bands play. (I could feel her eyes rolling at my stupid question.)

Parents: No, what instrument? Or do you sing?

WG: I sing AND play the violin.

Parents: And what does Aiden do?

WG: He's the drummer.

WG did not get to go to Aiden's house. I don't know where he lives or what his last name is. WG was NOT happy with me. She told me I was breaking up the band.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Accidental Christian

Tim and WG were in a car accident today. They are both okay, the car is even drivable although a bit crumpled. It's got more character now, for sure. WG wasn't terribly upset about the crash. Tim says that as soon as the car came to a stop she said she was hungry.

Here is what happened after the accident.

(Tim narrating)
Traffic slowed down to the left of me on the interstate and suddenly a buick popped out without looking and stopped in my lane. And the rest is physics. The lady who I hit (her fault to be sure) offered to pray for me as I rested my head on the steering wheel... thinking, "please don't tell me about accepting Jesus Christ as my savior right after you F'ed up my car." Her adult son kept offering his left hand through the window and I looked at him funny (my head was spinning from the jolt) and she said that he is mute and it was his way of saying he is sorry. The lady mistook my disorientation with my being angry with her. She said something to the effect of "are you angry with me? you shouldn't be angry with me. It's just a car."

Almost makes me wish I had been there.