Archives for: May 2005
Thanks everyone who has expressed concern about my brother. So far there's been no diagnosis or improvement in his total retrograde amnesia. He still has his genius IQ and quick wit, but everyone is a complete stranger to him. Nobody knows what we can do, all I could think of was to bring him some gluten-free brownies yesterday, since the hospital selection of gluten-free food is atrocious. He liked the brownies.
Then we went to Biaggi's with my parents, and they got some take out dinner for him and his wife. That's a great Italian restaurant with a Gluten Free menu. It was a nice break in the day, and so refreshing to be able to order pasta and other food without worrying about getting sick from it.
Today is hard because I've gotten past my wonder and curiousity about it...it's not something you'd expect to happen to anybody you know. Now I'm just very sad and worried about it. It's been 4 days now with no real progress.
He and I weren't really close, for no real reason, there just was a lot of space there, a big difference in age and chaos tolerance, I guess you could say. He's more outgoing and has more chaos tolerance than I do, my life is pretty calm and boring compared to his. He has more pets, more kids, more work, more hobbies, more stuff, etc. Now he doesn't remember any of it, and I'm afraid it may all be quite overwhelming for him for a while.
On the other hand, I've always felt a kinship and familiarity with him. Of all my 5 siblings, he's the one I look most like (other than hair color and the usual gender differences). He and I both look a lot like my maternal grandmother, who I never knew but have always missed. He and I are so far the only gluten-free siblings, and he's a great cook, so I've been looking forward to the next family holiday with him. He's been a great and fun big brother, when we were young he was always the one to try to get his little sisters to eat bugs, and take pictures of them when their diapers sag or they have runny noses.
He has always been a very integral part of every aspect of his family life, involved in everyone and everything, so this is one of the hardest things that could ever happen to them as a family.
So, we're just hoping for a diagnosis and praying for a breakthrough. Hopefully I'll have some good news to report soon.
Oops, I did it again. I've got to just get rid of the milk from the fridge. My husband has agreed to go back to soymilk, so maybe I'll give the rest of the milk away. I was practically sweating bullets each time I walked by the fridge today, then eventually I gave in. It doesn't taste that good, but I would conclude that it is technically addictive to me. More lessons learned though...my ears hurt and my eyes feel dry and gummy, as used to be their tendency.
It's been a stressful day as my brother is very ill with mysterious retrograde amnesia. It's a cruel irony that the times when I'm stressed I handle avoids the poorest, but those are the days I crave them. I just hope the doctors can give him an accurate and helpful diagnosis.
Time to regain my monk-like attitude about food. If I don't expect anything more from food than health, fuel and nourishment, then I make good choices. When I want food to give me comfort or some sort of entitlement reward then I make choices that take all those things away from me.
I'm still appalled at how much milk I drank a few days ago, but I've kicked the habit, and feel much better. My rings slide on and off again, I'm breathing better though still getting rid of some phlegm (one Neti coming up), and my heartburn and leg cramps are gone again. Wow, to think how many of the symptoms I had during my first pregnancy were due to my past milk habit.
That's it for now...naptime!
First off, the good news. My heart palpitations are now pretty much gone. I can even handle a little maple syrup now without setting them off. I'm starting to wonder if cutting out the corn derivatives was the real key.
Then there's a new question...am I allergic to corn or am I allergic to sulfites? All corn derivatives, from corn starch on down, start with corn in a sulfite hot water bath. As I'm more sensitive to the derivatives than the whole corn (If I'm sensitive to that or not, I don't know)...perhaps it's really a sulfite allergy. All I dare do now during pregnancy is avoid both. I'll have to watch the grapes, I'm not a wine drinker so I don't really get a lot of exposure to sulfites except in processed foods.
So, what do I do to celebrate my lack of palpitations? I totally cheat. Not good, but I had a couple glasses of yummy organic milk yesterday. Of course, I paid the price with an intense but fleeting itch in the back of my throat, then the interesting reactions began. I suddenly started to feel totally pregnant, from stuffy constricted nose (almost had to use a breath-right last night), to heartburn, to leg cramps, to swollen fingers this morning. I hope that's all from the milk, not some coincidental turning point in my pregnancy, because I can avoid the milk...I hope! I had forgotten before I tried a small cup of it that milk can be somewhat addictive, like gluten, casein, if not digested properly, can cause opiates in the blood...according to a study on children with ADD I think it was. Mostly though, it just tasted good. Ah, no more.
Now is when I complain...I've been looking for a cheat I can get away with. I have to be so strict about so many parts of my diet that sometimes I need to let loose. Well, I'm not sure I've found such a cheat yet. So far, there are always consequences. I'll just continue my search for really tasty beneficials and neutrals.
Time to post some recipes, as I mentioned I made a brine roasted organic chicken a few days ago. Last night I turned the leftovers into chicken and dumplings. While it was a little carb-heavy for an O, it was a wonderful A-O family dinner, and one of the better dinnertimes we've had for some time. Everyone was happy, and happy with the food, even my son was able to sit still for a good while.
Click here for Brine Roasted Chicken recipe I left out the brown sugar and the jalapenos, though I'm sure they'd be good, it was fine without it. After a good long roasting time, the skin was nice and browned. I think the small organic chickens don't require as much water and salt, I just used enough water to cover, and there was some salt in the bottom when I pulled out the chicken to roast the next day.
After roasting, and letting it sit for 10 minutes, I carved it and got the bulk of it we couldn't eat right away in a shallow plate in the refrigerator to cool down. I made a broth from the carcass (after pounding it down a bit to break some of the bones) with some onions and herbs.
Then last night I sauteed an onion & 5 cloves of garlic in ghee, and added carrots, chopped chicken, broth and herbs to make the soup. Once the carrots were almost cooked through, I mixed up these dumplings:
1/2 Cup rice flour
1 Cup sweet rice flour
4 teaspoons baking powder (corn-free)
1 teaspoon sea salt
enough water to make a spoonable cookie-like dough. (about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup)
V.2 Modified 6-6-05
Drop by large spoonfulls onto top of simmering soup. Let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, cover and simmer 10 minutes more. The dough should stay on top of the soup. The ghee had risen to the surface so it made the dumplings very nice.
First off, I wanted to thank Kathy for emailing me this link for celiac information in Utah: www.gfutah.org They have great info on area celiac support groups and events, as well as restaurant reviews and shopping tips.
I am amazed and happy that most of my cooking endeavors this week have been successful. I must take after my mom
First off, it was buffalo week at grocery store in the valley. It's so nice to be able to buy fresh, not frozen, buffalo meat. It was a bit expensive for my current financial state, but I still bought some to cook through the week and a couple roasts to freeze for later. So, here is everything I've cooked over the last week or two:
Buffalo Pot Roast (browned in sweet rice flour and amaranth flour, salt & pepper, then roasted with onions and carrots in a cast iron skillet)...it was yummy, sweet and fork-tender.
Buffalo Chili browned stew meat in the same mixture with the addition of chili powder, added onions and spices, then added this to a pot of pinto beans and simmered for a good long while, then added tomatoes and more spices...also a success.
Buffalo Meat Loaf...oops, forgot to add salt or tomatoes to this, but it still worked ok. Used sweet rice flour, eggs and puffed amaranth as the binders, nori seaweed as the secret ingredient (that idea was in Cook Right I think...very good.)
Brine Roasted Whole Organic free-range Chicken...I swear free-range chickens are a whole different species from conventional chickens. The meat is darker, less rubbery, and just plain interesting in comparison. Soaking it in lemon/salt/herb brine overnight is a nice touch, and this was honestly my first roasted chicken I've been proud of. I mean, how can you compete with the additive-ridden birds at the deli? This goes above and beyond those.
Nonnie-Stuffed Shells see mother's day blog for these indulgences.
Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Corn-Free Additive-Free Bread Now how many people do you know who can make something like this that a 2 year old will eat half a loaf of?
I think that about covers it! I just had to brag a bit as I'm quite proud of my cooking accomplishments. I'm still trying to compensate for an insult to my cooking...hopefully this will make that person in my life a bit jealous that he lost his dinner invitation. I'd still invite them over for dinner, but now I'm afraid I'd get too stressed about impressing them, so I'll hold off for a while.
Oh, my macadamia milk ice cream didn't really work out. I'll put most of the blame on my ice cream maker, a layer of ice forms on the bottom where it should be stirring it, and the rest doesn't freeze. Also, I tried a recipe adding sugar to egg yolks to make a custard, but I substituted Agave nectar for the sugar and it curdled the yolks, so I left the yolks out. Oh well, it didn't really freeze anyway, so that doesn't matter. Maybe I'll melt it and use it for rice pudding sometime. The good news was that my soymilk maker did a fine job on the macadamia nuts, and the milk is somewhat reminiscent of coconut milk.
Happy mother's day! I'll pretend I'm on a news camera and shout out "Hi Mom!"
I think I'll enjoy Mother's Day more when I'm a grandma, or at least when my kids are older. My son has recently been having trouble sleeping through the night. It's 4AM now, I'm holding him, and I'm tired. Hopefully we'll sleep enough to make it to church. Something I ate yesterday made me itchy, so I wasn't sleeping well to begin with. Was it the Cranberry Drink Concentrate I mistook for Cranberry Juice Concentrate? (stupid label, not what I wanted to buy) Or was it the Amaranth Mini-Ridges with Safflower oil but no apparent allergy triggers? Don't know if I want to have either one again to learn the answer.
Yesterday I had a craving for stuffed pasta, so I pulled out my Tinkyada grand shells and set about finding a way to stuff them with something compliant. That something turned out to be ground buffalo risotto with plenty of nutritional yeast (the cheese). It seemed a bit strange to stuff rice shells with rice, but mine were quite heavy on the buffalo. They ended up being quite good! My husband said they were restaurant quality.
Nonnie-O Stuffed Shells
1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic (I was out so I added garlic powder later)
Oregano, thyme and basil (my oregano was fresh!, just added a bunch of each to taste)
-Saute all of the above until onions are soft-
1 cup arborio or medium grain rice
-Add to oil, saute until opacity changes-
2 cans (4 cups) chicken broth
-add broth to rice as needed over time until it is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
-start the tomato sauce now:
Olive oil with garlic and spices, saute till fragrant, add strained tomatoes and salt if needed. Simmer in saucepan as everything else cooks.
-start water boiling for shells
1-2 pounds ground buffalo (or and ground meat), browned with salt (...I added salt everywhere b/c my Shelton's chicken broth doesn't have much if any.)
-once risotto and meat are done (drain fat off if necessary), combine
add a little of the sauce to the risotto, keep on low until absorbed, if not thick or sticky enough add some sweet rice flour.
Add plenty of nutritional yeast (this is the cheese, be generous, I probably used a half cup total.
-meanwhile cook the shells, tinkyada grand shells for about 18 minutes, drain and add cool water to make them cool enough to handle.
Stuff the shells, top with sauce and more yeast, bake at 350 F for 10 minutes or more.
Yummy! A bit involved, but for that special craving, or that special day, it's good stuff.
I guess it's quite an accomplishment to have succeeded at a few corn free days. It is about 10X harder to get corn and all it's derivatives out of my diet than it was to get gluten out. (Natural Flavoring, artificial flavors, citric acid, ascorbic acid, xanthan gum, etc. etc.) The after-effects aren't as incapacitating as gluten, fortunately, but I do like to be able to sleep at night without itching all over, so it's worth the effort. If only I didn't have the same reaction to rosemary, sometimes I can't pin down what ingredient or product is causing the problem...was it the "spices" in that turkey stick, or was there rosemary in that chicken soup? I try to eat fewer than one processed food item each day, and it's come down mostly to Shelton's brand, so I'm starting to figure things out. I never think of checking on things until after business hours...drat.
Something in my crustless pumpkin pie was causing me trouble and I have yet to figure out what...I don't think my glycerine ever gives me trouble, could my molasses be corn-contaminated...could the canned pumpkin itself have traces of corn in it? One of the spices? I have lots of phone calls to make to figure that one out.
I finally mixed up some of my own baking powder, I used sweet rice flour as the moisture-absorber, along with the baking soda and cream of tartar (see previous post for formula). Then I proceeded to make some quinoa blueberry muffins from one of the mailing lists. They were a success. I had to use a little tahini in the first batch, as I didn't have enough almond butter, so the second batch was better. Also, I haven't found an almond extract that's both corn-free and gluten-free, so that will make it even better. Still, they are great as is. My son's GF muffins are expensive, so I figure making my own will help finance his organic apple juice. He loves the homemade ones, unfortunately so do I, but they aren't a problem for me as long as I show some constraint...but man oh man do they taste good plain or with agave-butter on them! I'm sure my fetish for them will fade with time and I'll leave most of them to my son. My husband even likes them, and he's picky when it comes to muffins. He still doesn't want to eat our food, but I tell him these are cheaper than the ones he buys too, so he might as well eat these!
Oh, I got some Buffalo meat at the neighborhood grocer's annual buffalo sale. The pot roast was delicious! I coated it with sweet rice flour and amaranth flour, browned it, then added onions, then carrots and rutabaga and baked covered for many hours. I like rutabagas better than turnips, but I'm not crazy about either of them. Next time I'll try sweet potatoes or celery or just onions and carrots. The eye of round steaks needed a bit more tenderizing, I just slapped them in my Foreman grill and chew chew chew. Not bad sliced thin with salad though.
Ok, I'm blogging while hungry...I'm going to go have a salad!
I went in for my 12 week appt yesterday and got to hear the baby's heartbeat. I was really anxious about it, and it was kind of hard when the doppler didn't pick it up at first. I got an ultrasound in the end, and got to see the baby moving around before we picked up the heartbeat. It's a great heartbeat, the baby was just hiding from the doppler. The baby looked great to me, and to the doctor. He/she looked quite comfortable and happy. I still think it's a girl though I won't know for two more months. Boys are so sweet too, I wouldn't mind getting another just like my son, but I can tell already this one is different from him in some way. I recorded the heartbeat with a digital recorder, and my son had to listen to it five or six times, to dance to it. I think he's going to be okay with a new little one in the house.
Ok, I promised you a flaming of that restaurant, but I finally talked to their manager and he's done everything he can to remedy the situation, so no flame today. I still wouldn't recommend it for celiacs, but now at least their staff also won't promise anything in that regard.
Here are my favorite restaurants in Utah:
Bombay House: the food is what it claims to be, no surprise ingredients. Great food and service, as well. Much of the food has milk in it, and the Mango Lassi is addictive, though I should avoid the yogurt, sometimes I still cheat on that. The rice is incredible, and chicken mushroom is very compliant. *Do check with everything, they're very helpful with ingredients. Some or all of their soups are not gluten free, but I guess celiacs are used to that!
Thai Chili Garden: They are helpful, and use mostly only rice noodles. The shrimp rolls have wheat, and most of the stir frys have soy sauce, but they are careful to help me order and eat safely. I avoid the fried spring rolls, since the fried shrimp rolls have wheat, but the unfried spring rolls are good.
Carrabba's: They have a gluten-free menu, and all the staff seem very knowledgable and helpful. Just ask them to leave off cheese (if you're an O), and you should be good with the GF menu. My son loves their chicken soup, just be sure they don't add pasta. Otherwise avoid Italian places, the only thing GF at most of them is the Pellegrino!
PF Chang's: also has a GF menu, gluten knowledge and helpful chef. More for celiac As, than nonnie Os, due to soy and corn starch. Make sure they use and give you the wheat free soy sauce. I haven't yet figured out something to order that's gluten-free, corn-free and soy-free...other than the rice and steamed veggies. They usually include fortune cookies, so if self-control is a problem, be sure to tell them not to give you any.
McDonald's: hey, at least they're consistent. A plain beef patty with onions is what I get when I'm out and hungry. That's pretty much it. I tried the fruit and walnut salad, but the walnuts are candied and have wheat starch on them (lucky I read the ingredients before opening those!) and the preservative on the fruit is bad news for those sensitive ones like myself. Also, there aren't enough grapes! Wendy's fruit cup seems to be a better bet. I believe their beef patties are also safe, but no pickles or the juice thereof, as they aren't GF.
**Car54 wrote and asked if I'm sure the McDonald's patties are not stretched with flour. I am sure of that, as they are definitely gluten free (as long as they don't try to give you a bun)...but they are probably stretched with some other interesting thing. Next time I get a chance I'll check to make sure they're corn-free, but I suspect they probably have some soy or something like that in them. Not the best BT choice I'm sure, but so far they've been consistently gluten-free.
Stockman's: 2 locations near Vernal, UT. Looks can be deceiving at this place. It's not a sophisticted atmosphere, very casual, but the steaks and seafood beat most restaurants I've ever been to in many big cities. The service is great, as they know and love the food they serve.
Not in Utah, but I was very impressed with The Top of The Rock in Tempe, AZ. Not cheap, but in this case, you get more than you pay for. The chefs really know their stuff, and will custom prepare anything they can for you.
A dud in Utah: Magleby's. It's more of a cafeteria with fancy restaurant prices. I explained everything to them, yet my steak still came out with onion rings on top, and I'm sure there was orzo in the rice pilaf, or something holding it together besides rice. Fortunately I was on guard and able to avoid the gluten, with the help of a decent fruit salad. That was no filet mignon, either. Way too tough. Stockman's sirloin is much better.
Then, of course, all Italian restaurants except Carrabba's are danger zones. Baggio's in SLC has a GF menu and apparently GF pasta on request, though I've never been there. Spaghetti Factory has GF pasta available, but when I called they said none of the sauces were gluten-free. That doesn't make sense, but I guess there's always butter. You'd still have to be brave there, I'd really worry about cross-contamination. Ottavio's no longer claims to be able to provide GF meals, except for maybe one of the low-carb chicken dishes.
I nearly forgot Romano's Macaroni Grill...with some instruction and attention to detail, they are a very good experience. They always send a manager or nutrition specialist to my table to help work it out. Look out for their boiled veggies and their broth. I've never had any trouble there, except the bread smells so good, not for the faint-hearted!
Just wanted to pop in and let everyone know I'm feeling better still. I picked up some acne and an eczema spot from the experience (I haven't had one of those in years), and I may have picked up the distinction of "least likely to be invited for dinner".
After feeling invalidated by the carelessness and thoughtlessness of a stranger, I've found time to reflect and reconsider my attitude. It is important to have a healing attitude about everything you do for your own health, and I'm trying to nurture mine. Some questions I have been mulling over in my mind are:
1. Do I deserve excellent health? And...Why do I deserve it more than others who don't consider themselves sick enough to try a drastic change to their diets.
2. Is it worth inconveniencing others to fight for my own health?
3. Do I deserve a long and full life?
4. Can life be fulfilling when it doesn't center around eating whatever I want?
5. How much of an occasional indulgence is worth its health costs?
6. Why does it have to be such a battle?
7. How badly do I want a long and full life?
Do I deserve excellent health? Well, yes, everyone deserves excellent health. If I had my way I'd make the choice for everyone, but I can only make the choice for myself and to some extent for my son.
Is it worth inconveniencing others to fight for my own health? This is a tough one, because I wish it weren't so inconvenient for others. I wish all food were safe though, and if that means inconveniencing everyone then that's what it takes. I do enjoy calling food manufacturers when their labelling is unclear, I like to nag and pester them. It's harder when it's closer to home though. Yet, I might as well give people the opportunity to help me in a unique way by learning what food is safe and good, and what is anything but.
Do I deserve a long and full life? I'm trying to take this beyond the realm of a rote affirmation into something that really means something to me personally. Maybe I deserve it simply because I'm willing to fight for it? Do others have to fight for it for me too, before I become deserving. Of course, we all deserve it, but what goes through your head when you doubt your own health-worthiness? You get a lot more affirmations of your health-worthiness when you're sick, but when your fighting the battle and winning, sometimes you lose track of it, you lose that affirmation from others. But, then, what good is the affirmation of health-worthiness do you if you're sick anyway. Better to be healthy and have doubt! I'd like it both ways, myself. My true affirmations sometimes are only what I get by putting beneficial foods in my mouth.
Can life be fulfilling when it doesn't center around eating whatever I want? Well, it certainly wasn't fulfilling when I did eat whatever. If the choice today is to be where I am now versus going back to 5 prescriptions and didn't really work plus various OTCs...I choose to be where I am now--in all my gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, sugar-free glory. My dinner plate isn't so sad...fresh wholesome ingredients showing off their true flavors. It tastes as it was meant to taste, not how food manufacturers want to convince me real food should taste. Some of it is better than anything I tasted before, and I actually know what the spirit and essence of a leaf of endive really tastes like. My son actually asks for and enjoys vegetables. Treats are what you make them, so nourish yourself with real food.
How much of an occasional indulgence is worth its health costs? I often take this on a case-by-case basis. It's not too hard to avoid foods that will make me emotional and grumpy, because I don't have time for that. Other foods, I occasionally give in to, and sometimes I don't totally regret it, even though I always move on.
Why does it have to be such a battle? Well, there's a lot at stake, and there aren't enough people fighting on our side, on my side. We're all outnumbered, but we're brave and we'll stick to it. We are fighting against marketing propaganda, strong emotions, and the status quo. None of those are easy to beat. For instance, today my enemy was a scented candle. Of all my chemical sensitivities, those are one of the worst, yet it's like battling chocolate, they are seen as a way to improve our environment and standard of living. Yet they give me asthma, gummy throat and eyelids, and a racing heartbeat. But hey, at least I have no reason to battle chocolate! This is one diet that allows it.
How badly do I want a long and full life? Do I want to outlive everybody around me? The few deaths of friends and family I have experienced have made me want to say "no" to this question. Then I consider the births and future births...I consider my son and child-to-be, nieces and nephews, and following generations. I would like to be around for them, both in good health in the present and in the future as I age and get wrinkly, even if I get a bit more stiff and sore.
I'll continue to ponder these questions, and if I think of better answers, I'll share.
If the restaurant that gave me the gluten doesn't resolve it for me tomorrow, I'll flame them here. So stay tuned! I had a wonderful experience at a restaurant this weekend though, Stockman's in Vernal Utah. It was so lovely! I forgot the ask the waitress for no croutons, but she thought of it on her own and she explained to me how the meat is cooked on it's own dedicated grill, etc. etc. I had steak and lobster, and it was heaven. The lobster had never been frozen...how they get that in Vernal, I don't know, but it was absolutely wonderful. If you're within driving distance, it's worth a drive to get there.