Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Taking it down a notch.

I've been checking out the blogs listed in that Coping with Crohn's article that I mentioned the other day and I came across Farty Girl. I can definitely relate to what she's going through and I like reading her blog. I was reading old entries this morning and I came across this little snippet and had to post it here because I love it.

"While I try to support my nutritional news with proof, it's hard to know what justifies as proof nowadays. Every day, journalists report different health trends. These trends all cancel each other out. Think back to the eighties, when nutritionists claimed that fat was causing Americans to become obese. Now, post-millenium nutritionists claim that fat is good, but bread is bad. We can argue anything and find proof for it.

A few posts ago, my IBS-BFF left a comment that has been reverberating in my guts. She said something along these lines: Listen to your body. Eat what makes you feel good. Don't diet. Work on making yourself feel better."


Listen to your body. Eat what makes you feel good. Don't diet. Work on making yourself feel better. Oh how I love that line. It made me breathe a little sigh of relief. I put so much pressure on myself about being gluten free and maybe casein free and perhaps I should be sugar free too? And what if I'm soy intolerant?? Because they say it's very close to gluten and casein so I must be right?!?!?! And geezus I've put on a lot of weight this year, should I start counting calories again? Even though you know you're not going to stick to it, be serious, you haven't lost weight via calorie reduction since 2002. It's not gonna happen girl, just give it up. Oh gosh for heaven's sake, relax already!!! You know what makes you feel bad and what doesn't. Listen to your body. Eat what makes you feel good. Don't diet. Work on making yourself feel better.

Here's to a healthier, happier, more relaxed 2009. Happy New Year's Eve Everyone!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Autoimmune Disease and Food Intolerance

As most of you know, I'm a firm believer that there is a significant link between autoimmune disease and food intolerance. Lately as I've been trying to decide how to proceed in my journey to find a doctor that agrees with me, I've been looking into what kinds of food intolerance testing is out there. After reading this story about ALCAT testing, I became curious. I had been looking at Enterolab before but the thought of giving more stool samples was not at all something I wanted to do. ALCAT is done by blood test. Well I'm an old pro at those! In fact, the phlebotomist at the lab that I go to weekly remarked about how good my arm looks after weeks and weeks of blood work.

Anyway, so I was on the ALCAT website today and I came across this pdf that is for understanding your test results. I downloaded it and read through it and discovered that it's quite helpful for anyone that is curious about food intolerance, so I thought I'd post the link so you can read it for yourself.

I'm hoping that I can find a doctor that supports this type of testing so that I can have it done through my insurance company, it's quite costly but seems to be the most comprehensive testing out there. I would really like to have it done.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Just a few more days til 2009

The past few days have been filled with family and friends and it's been great. Christmas was very nice, I got my new camera! It's a Canon Powershot A590 IS. I love it, I'm still getting used to the settings but I know already that it's going to be so much better than my old Nikon Coolpix. I also got an iPod shuffle for the gym which I had totally forgotten I wanted so that was a nice surprise. The rest of the weekend was spent with friends. My friend Neli is moving back to Bulgaria so Friday night we took her out for a "not goodbye, but see you later" dinner at Chili's. Saturday I went to kickboxing, had a great workout, and then some of us decided to go to iHop for lunch. (I know how ridiculous that sounds...) I had read recently that they put pancake batter in their omelets (why?!?!) so I was ready to be very cautious about what I ordered. I asked the waitress if they could make an omelet without the batter and she was all confused and said that the omelet mixture is premade and she didn't think they could change that. It didn't occur to me at that moment to ask her to ask the cooks to make an omelet with fresh eggs, she was already too confused, so I orderd two eggs over easy and when I told her I didn't want the toast or pancakes she got even more confused so I said, just send them over, I'll give them to someone else. Someone later made a comment about iHop being the Burger King of breakfast restaurants and I laughed, so true. I didn't expect much from them so I wasn't too bothered by the situation. I'm still learning to be more assertive at restaurants.
Last night, my cousin and I went to Uno's. I have been excited to try their GF pizza but as it turns out, my body needed protein so I ordered a steak instead. This was the most pleasant restaurant experience I've had so far. The waitress brought the gluten free menu right over and told me that she loves the pizza, she orders it all the time and that did I know they also have gluten free beer? (Redbridge) I was so happy and so comfortable knowing that I was having a safe meal and it was absolutely delicious. The steak was the right choice, it was excellent. I'll get pizza next time!

I also had some time this weekend to think about what I want to do with myself now that I'm getting so much healthier. I have been wanting for so long to do more yoga so when I was shopping I picked up the 2009 yoga magazine guide to getting into yoga at home. I can't afford to pay for classes and would prefer to practice at home anyway. The magazine was great, I've taken yoga classes before but I've always felt like the instructors never really explain exactly how your body should be alligned and all that stuff. The mag really walks you through all the steps. I'll be starting with sun salutations for a while to build up but then there are 9 other sequences to work on. This should keep me busy for a while!

I also dusted off my Clean Eating books by Tosca Reno. The cookbook is full of great recipes and many of them are already gluten free, clearly marked so, and the rest can be converted. I really want to work hard to get into optimum health and well being this year!

New Year's Resolutions...

I know that making New Year's Resolutions isn't the best idea since most of the time they are forgotten by the second week in January, but I've been setting some goals for myself that I'm hoping to achieve in 2009. This year was such a struggle and I really just waded my way through the sludge but I feel that now I have a clear mind and am ready to make next year the best ever. I started making a list of things that I would like to do but then changed it, I will...

I will get back into the shape I was in a year and a half ago, healthy and strong, lose the 20 pounds I gained this year.
I will do more volunteer work.
I will step it up and take charge at work and pull us out of this rut, make sure that we stay strong through these difficult financial times.
I will try to be less self centered and focus on others.
I will take advantage of the opportunities that come my way.
I will be more tolerant.
I will tell people how I feel instead of keeping it inside.
I will pay off my credit cards!!!!
I will not get new ones...
I will fix my car window and air conditioner and take better care of it in general.
I will be an advocate for Crohn's disease and other auto-immune diseases.

I could go on all day, but you get the idea. Just make 2009 better than all the years before. New Year's Resolutions may not always stick, but there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of the clean slate that January First brings.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve!!!

I'm all caught up and ready to head out for a nice long holiday weekend! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas or whatever holiday it is that you celebrate this time of year. I know posting has been light lately but I have found some new inspiration and should be back with a vengeance very soon. It's safe to say that 2008 was the most difficult year of my life so far, but at this point I'm feeling great and ready to take on 2009 with a positive outlook and make it the best and HEALTHIEST year ever!!!

Happy Holidays Everyone and Thank You for reading!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting the word out for Crohn's Disease.

I admit, I have WAY too many different email addresses: two yahoos, one gmail, one msn, photography email, two work emails, comcast... Needless to say, I am constantly missing out on emails. Last month I missed an evite to a party. My friend probably thinks I was just ignoring her, but I wasn't! My gmail account is supposed to forward to my yahoo account but apparently it drops the ball sometimes because today I found an email from last Wednesday that I really wish I had received! Kelly from Nursing Assistant Central sent me an email to let me know that I was included in this article: Coping with Crohn's Disease: 100 Helpful Resources and Communities. What a great resource for people dealing with Crohn's! Even though I'm one of the resources, I could totally use this list as well. I find that there's a ton of resources out there for Celiac but not so much for Crohn's. I think this is because with Celiac you're kind of left up to your own devices to figure out how to heal yourself, so people get out there and build up this community while with Crohn's you're told that the only way to feel better is to medicate, medicate, medicate so people just do what the doctors say and don't go too far outside the box. I hope that as more research comes out about autoimmune disease and the effects of diet, more people will be out there like me trying to find alternative healing methods.

This really makes me want to step up and be a better role model for the Crohn's community and the more public this blog gets, the more I want to work hard to take the best care of myself so that others will see that it's not all suffering when you have this nasty disease. Thank you Kelly for including me in your article and I will do everything I can to make this blog a great resource!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Working in a Winter Wonderland

Wally the Green Monster

Wally!! Last Wednesday night I volunteered at a Party for the Troops at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. I am a huge sports fan so this was pretty exciting for me. I hoped I might just bump into my favorite player - Mike Vrabel - but no such luck. I did get to see Joe Andruzzi though, that was cool. And I got to see Wally and snapped this quick pic of him. My friend Steve is also a photographer in his spare time and he was asked to do Santa photos and general photos at this event and he asked me to come and help him out. It was awesome. I hope I get to do it again next year!!

Since I have decided to go forward with a second opinion and new doctor, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to re-introduce gluten into my diet. Don't want the tests to be false negatives right? And all this time I'd been thinking of all the things I've been missing that I wanted to have, like real beer, and soft cushy delicious bread. Well let me tell you something. No warm dinner roll or frosty draft bud light is worth the pain that follows. I never thought I'd see the day that I wanted to eat gluten free bread, or that the thought of a simple little cupcake would make me gag.

Friday afternoon a massive snow storm hit us hard. I got out of work early and my roommate suggested going out on a snow adventure. We walked to the bar down the street and had nachos, spinach dip, and beers. I had two draft beers, nachos with breaded buffalo chicken, and spinach dip with pita chips. She's lucky she didn't have to carry me home. By the time we were finished I was practically asleep. When we got home, I laid down on the couch and almost instantly passed out. I felt horrible. I was supposed to bake those pumpkin chocolate chip bars again to take to the two Christmas parties I was going to on Saturday. I could barely muster the energy to put myself to bed, nevermind bake anything. I decided that this whole glutening for testing thing is NOT working out and I needed to go back to GF.

Saturday morning I got up, ate a good breakfast, dug myself out of the parking lot, still feeling like miserable crap and drove down to Plymouth for my family Christmas party. The weather was horrible at home but by the time I got down to Plymouth the roads were pretty clear. I stopped at Stop and Shop to pick up a dessert since I had not been able to bake the night before. I got a huge tray of cupcakes. Went to Mom's, sat around feeling like garbage all night, ate a little food as gluten free as possible, then headed up to my friends Abi and Alex's house. By the time I got back up to Brockton the roads were horrible and I was nervous about driving home but I figured I'd be fine as long as I drove very very slowly. Abi's was fun, I ate hardly anything, drank some cranberry juice, stayed til about midnight and headed home. The highways were covered in snow. It was the scariest drive of my life. I drove 20 miles an hour the whole way and practically kissed the ground when I got home!

Sunday I sat around all day. Rested, ate well, felt a lot better. Today I'm doing ok. So at this point, the plan is to stay gluten free until I get an appointment with a new doc, explain all that I've been going through, and then if they want me to have more tests, we'll go from there.

The woman that has photographed half my friends' weddings and will most definitely photograph mine someday has Celiac, which I found out in September at my cousin's wedding. I've always been very envious of her photography career and now, my aunt on Saturday hands me a baggie with cookies in it from the photographer, including a business card, she's now gotten into gluten free baking too! I am now even MORE envious! She sent me some peanut butter cookies and some chocolate chip cookies. They were great, tasted just like the regular gluten versions that Mom makes. I'm gonna email her and thank her for sending them to me. I also told her at the wedding that I'd send her the link to this blog but forgot, so now I'll do that too, so if you're reading this - Hi Jessica!! Thanks for the cookies!!!

I also had my last class of my graphic design certificate program last Thursday! I'm so excited to be done with that. It was a lot of fun but I'm really happy that I don't have any more long Mondays. Tonight I'll be finishing up my Christmas shopping. I can't believe it's only a few days away.

Also wanted to send a shout out to Sally, thanks for all the info on docs and everything, it's a big help!!

Ok it's lunch time now and so I must go. I have a few more holiday cards in the works this week but otherwise, the office is quiet. Hope you're all having a good Monday :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

Pardon the pictures.. I'm (hopefully!) getting a new point and shoot camera for Christmas which will allow for better 'at work' photos. I don't carry my DSLR with me at all times, although sometimes I wish I did.

Anyway, last week I was stuck without a lunch so I walked down to Whole Foods and picked up one of these frozen meals that I'd been curious about for a while:
Glutino Chicken Penne Alfredo Gluten Free

Just put it in the microwave and viola!

DSCN1874Glutino Chicken Penne Alfredo Gluten Free 2

I've eaten PLENTY of frozen meals in my life, thanks to Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine (yuuuuck). So I have a lot to compare these to and as far as food from a box goes, this was pretty good! The pasta didn't cook very evenly but the part that wasn't overcooked was very good and the chicken tasted like real chicken. Not those little squares of "chicken" that come in other frozen entrees. The sauce was typical, a little watery but if you let it sit long enough after cooking, it does thicken up. Tasty, quick and easy in a pinch. I'd eat this again if I didn't have a fresh alternative, I'd like to try some of the other varieties as well.

I bought another pack of Glutino bagels and I have to say, this pack isn't as fresh, light and delicious as the last pack I bought. They have more of that gluten free taste and smell. They're not horrible, just not as good. I'm curious as to the difference? Maybe they've just been in the freezer longer?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fun..

Thanks everyone so much for the comments on my last blog. You all said exactly what I thought you'd say and of course it's what I was hoping to hear. Especially my friend Diana who reads this blog and basically just said that I've already made up my mind so just do it! We're so good at telling each other how it is, cut right through the B.S. I love having a friend like that.

I've been thinking a lot and doing a lot of research, reading up on various doctors and checking into other people that have been tested by Enterolab. I'm pretty sure my first step is going to be making an appointment with someone at the Celiac center at Beth Israel. All my medical records are there so it will be easy for them to see what I've been going through and hopefully help me to take the next step. After that, I may or may not go ahead and have the tests done through Enterolab. More than anything, I want to have the DNA tests done.

I am keeping a food journal, it's actually a blog that's private. It works pretty well so far. I wish I had started it back in May but oh well. I can start now, better late than never. The biggest theme here is "trusting your gut".. literally.. which is something I'm learning to do. Also what some of you said is so true about cheating because I'm not officially diagnosed as Celiac or gluten-intolerant, even though I know for sure that it's better to be gluten free when you have Crohn's disease.

My next appointment with my current GI is January 6th. Until then, I think I'm just going to try to enjoy the holidays, keep eating healthy, exercising and taking care of myself and then after that appointment I'll make the other appointment with the Celiac center. Their website says they treat people with Celiac and other gluten-sensitive disorders so hopefully I'll get the help that I'm looking for!

Thanks again everyone for the words of encouragement, especially from the people that have not commented before, I really appreciate it!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I need your thoughts and advice.

Ok friends, I need your thoughts and advice so if you're a regular reader of this blog and know generally what I've been going through this year, I'm urging you to please drop a comment and let me know what you think.

As you know, I was diagnosed this past May with Crohn's disease after many many years of suffering. What prompted the diagnosis was actually my quest to be tested for Celiac disease because as soon as I found out what Celiac was, I was concvinced that it's what I have. The symptoms were all there and I did lots of research and talked to a lot of people and all signs pointed to Celiac. The Crohn's diagnosis was a bit of a surprise but I figured well I guess that's actually what's been making me so sick for so long, and went along with my doctor's diagnosis and treatment (you all know how that's been going....). My Celiac bloodwork has come back negative twice but I have never had a small bowel biopsy, which I know is important for an accurate diagnosis. Ever since I was diagnosed with Crohn's I've had this sticky feeling that there's more to it and that I should keep pushing for Celiac testing but after the past six months of misery on medication, and now feeling much better being taken off the meds, I had decided that I was not going to push any further. I would not ask for a biopsy, I would just go ahead with the gluten free diet because I know it works and why bother having a tube shoved down my throat, right?

Well here's the thing, I believe very strongly in signs and yesterday a few things happened that made me question again whether or not I should proceed with further testing for Celiac. I called my Mom this morning to talk to her about it and she said that she's been thinking recently that it might be best for me to get a second opinion and that she also feels strongly that Crohn's might not be all I'm dealing with here. My reactions to the back and forth with the gluten free diet strongly show that I react to gluten. There's no question about that. The biggest sign I recieved yesterday was a connection to a family link that brought me back to my cousin's health problems. She's been trying to get pregnant for a very long time and has succeeded more than once but can never carry longer than a few months. I've thought ever since I found out that Celiac can contribute to pregnancy issues that this may be something that she should look into and I mentioned it to her a while ago. She's one of the biggest reasons I had wanted to get tested in the past because if I do end up testing positive, I strongly feel that she may have it too. There is already one confirmed Celiac in the bloodline on that side of my family (my Mom's side).

So, I'm the type of person that needs that extra push sometimes and that's why I'm reaching out to you all. If you've been reading this blog and have ever thought to yourself that I should really keep pushing, please let me know. Or if you have any other thoughts on the subject, I'd really like to hear. I've relied heavily on this community of GF bloggers to help me through this time and I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful it's been to have you all around. Thank you so much for your support!!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finally getting into the Holiday Spirit : )

My Festive Desk 2

The Christmas music has been playing all day and so at lunch time I finally busted out the decorations. Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Not getting any work done...

Wise Potato Chips, Ridgies Sour Cream & Onion flavor are gluten free. I know this thanks to the handy little chart I found on their website. They're grossly unhealthy, but they tasted delicious this afternoon when I needed a salty snack. What's that I was saying about losing weight??

Monday, December 8, 2008

I hate to rush time, but is it January yet?

I can tell that if I didn't have my monthly visitor right now, I'd be feeling great!! What a way to start a blog huh? Sorry if it's TMI but that's just how I feel right now. I spent all day yesterday curled up in the fetal position on my couch watching tv. I wish I was doing the same thing today but it's Monday so I'm at work and then it's my weekly trip to BIDMC for blood work and then off to school until 10 so I won't find the comfort of my bed until around 11pm tonight. Next week is my last week of school!!!! I can't wait to be able to just go home after work on a Monday night. Of course I will be going to the gym, not just sitting on my bum, but still, I'll be home for dinner and bed at a reasonable hour.

Friday's visit with The Doc went easier than I thought it would. First thing he asked me is "what's new and exciting?" and I said "Well..." and told him about stopping the Pentasa and how much better I was feeling. He wasn't very happy about it and explained to me that if I have a major flare we will have to go back to the beginning, steroids, weight gain, etc. etc. I said, I'll take the risk. I am up to the full dose of the long term med now and it will take about 2-3 months for it to get up to speed and then I should be good to go. As long as I am very very good about my diet then I should make it through without a problem. He said ok, I can see I'm not going to convince you otherwise so let's try it. But if you have ANY problems, call me right away. WOOHOO!! So I'm down to one medication, taken once a day, at night before I go to bed. It comes with some risks but I've done my homework and the risks are slim and the day to day side effects are virtually nothing. Of course Friday is starred on my calendar as you-know-what-day of the month and oh boy am I like clockwork. But I'm kinda glad to get it out of the way now because it will allow me to really see how my body feels over the next four weeks before my next appointment. I just hope this feeling of my lower half being stuck in a vice goes away relatively quickly. Yesterday was the worst, today is much better, I should be in the clear by Wednesday, just in time for kickboxing.

Speaking of which, I did go to kickboxing on Saturday and was very glad that I did. It felt great, I had no trouble, no weakness, I'm a little rusty since I hadn't been going very consistently for awhile but that won't last. I even went in on Sunday for some cardio and strength but I only made it through 20 minutes of cardio before I had to stop and go home and submit to the couch. Isn't exercise supposed to help?! Not this weekend.

Saturday I went to a birthday party for my twin cousins and my Mom was asking how the docs visit went and she asked if I'm going to pursue more Celiac testing. I said at this point, no. I'm going gluten free regardless so what's the point? I know there are a lot of valid reasons to keep pushing the testing and get a final confirming yay or nay but I've been through so much this year already and I know how much better I feel off of gluten, why bother having a tube shoved down my throat? I know that gluten free is better for Crohn's too and that it's very likely that my Crohn's is a result of Celiac and that my other symptoms point to Celiac too (rashes, infections, etc) but at this point I'm done with testing. I'm ok with the medication regiment I'm on now. I have faith that I'm going to start getting a lot better at this point so let's just let it be. I'll be concerned when I have children but I'll watch them carefully and make sure they get the appropriate tests if needed. That's a long way off anyway. My uncle was asking me exactly what Crohn's is and he says "so have you got the gluten completely out of your system?" and I had to be honest and say no, but I'm kinda glad he called me out. I'm MUCH better than I was in April when I started this blog but it still sneaks in here and there. Today I haven't had any gluten in I don't know how many days, (a lot!) and I plan on keeping it that way.

I have four more weeks of bloodwork and then another meetup with the Doc on January 6th and then after that I go to once a month bloodwork and once every 3 months Doc visits for a year. I'm really looking forward to next year, this year has sucked royally. But it was all worth it because hopefully next year I'll feel better than I have in 15 years. I may still look into the holistic approach but for right now, I'm going to keep things as they are. I need to just give my mind and body a rest for a while!!

I was talking to Allie last week and she asked me if I had been noticing any patterns with my diet and how I feel. I was glad she made that point because yes, there are, and one of them is all the sugar I've been consuming. I blame the holidays but I'm going to try and stop doing so much baking and focus on more healthy foods. I'm sure I'll be posting a few sweet recipes here and there but for the most part I hope to be blogging more about healthy meal ideas and that sort of thing. Plus my journey back to fitness, I'm really looking forward to losing these 20 pounds and getting my shape back! The picture of me on the upper right corner was taken July of 07 and I was looking great then, I'm hoping to be back to that shape by my birthday, Memorial Day Weekend 09!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

#206

Wow, over 200 posts!! I posted a bunch of entries this evening so make sure you read them all!!

Chicken Soup for My Soul

Chicken Soup for My Soul

Not long ago I posted about my financial woes and how I'm trying very hard to plan meals and shop with a list. Well tonight was definitely one of those nights. I had some chicken stock and celery left over from Thanksgiving so I thought this would be the perfect time to try to make homemade chicken soup. The thing that I'm loving the most about being gluten free is cooking! Now that I'm actually forced to put the effort in, I'm finally starting to experiment with all the foods I've always wanted to try cooking. This soup was so basic, I just cut up celery, onion, boneless skinless chicken thighs, opened a bag of shredded carrots, threw it all into a pot, topped with some Bell's Seasoning, salt and pepper, put enough chicken stock in to cover the rest of the stuff and cooked until the chicken was done. No measuring, just toss it in and cook it. It came out pretty good, not a ton of flavor but for a first try with no real recipe, I'm pretty happy with it. I've got plenty of leftovers for the rest of the weekend, if it lasts that long!

As far as shopping goes, I went to the store with $35 to spend. I'm going to make chicken cacciatore with rice, pasta with meatballs and sauce, chicken soup (done) and hamburgers. I also got stuff for breakfasts and lunches. I spent $34.10 and went home with plenty of groceries to get me through the week. I got everything I needed, I was really worried I wouldn't have enough money to eat.. that's so stressful, but I should be good to go now!

Found It!!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars from Gluten Free is Life.

These were so yummy, gluten eaters will never know they're gluten free. I'll definitely make these again next year. Or maybe for Christmas, I have an extra can of pumpkin leftover from Thanksgiving.

Coffee Cake Muffins are my favorite.

Coffee Cake Muffins

Before going gluten free, I spent entirely too many mornings standing in line at Dunkin Donuts, waiting to order my favorite coffee cake muffin. Yes, I'm well aware of how gross it is to eat that many calories, sugar and fat for breakfast every day but I didn't care. After going gluten free I've struggled to find a decent replacement for breakfast and I really wanted to figure out how to make a gf version of those muffins at home. This was my first attempt. I used the recipe for muffins on the package of Pamela's baking mix and added the streusel topping. They are not quite the same as the original, I want to tweak the streusel topping a little bit, but they were very good.

Gluten Free Coffee Cake Muffins

Streusel Topping
1/2 C brown sugar
2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs cinnamon
2 Tbs melted butter

Mix all ingredients together and set aside.


Muffins
1 1/2 C Flour Mix (I used Pamela's)
2 Tbs baking powder
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C shortening
1/2 C milk
1 egg, beaten

Mix the dry ingredients together and then cut in the shortening.
In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, at this point I also took some of the streusel topping and folded it into the mix. (trying to mimic the DD's muffins)

Pour the mix into muffin cups in a muffin pan, top with streusel topping

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, makes 12 muffins.

Notes: I managed to get 11 muffins out of this mix and I couldn't really pour the mix because it was rather thick, so I used a spoonula. In the streusel topping I would add some white sugar and maybe use a little less brown sugar and less cinnamon. Next time...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Frenemies.

Whole Foods Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

When I did my Thanksgiving shopping at Whole Foods I picked up a box of gluten free chocolate chip cookie mix. I figured if I had enough time, I'd make them for Thanksgiving, but if I didn't, I'd just make them for myself. Sunday afternoon I made these and by Monday afternoon they were completely gone. I think my roommate might have eaten one of them.... but yeah, I ate the rest. The box calls for 5 Tbs of butter but I accidentally put in 7 which I think is what caused more spreading. I know others have said these are not usually so flat, but that's the way I prefer them anyway and if I buy this mix again, I'll do the same thing. I'm sure I'll be buying this mix again, it was awesome, so easy to make and not expensive. But next time I'll buy them only for a special occasion and share them because eating all of those cookies has made my stomach not so happy!!

I'm still feeling a lot better and not taking that anti-inflammatory medication, I am still taking the immune suppressant though, at least until I see the doc on Friday. I have very seriously considered coming off all of the meds and trying to manage this thing naturally with diet and exercise. I know my GI won't agree with that but what if my issue is not actually Crohn's but rather food intolerance? Or Crohn's as a result of intolerance? So many questions, I just hate to take medication for the rest of my life when I could be healthier without it. I read a long article yesterday about gluten intolerance and how it can take a long time to develop and may not show up on blood tests for years. I read somewhere that it takes an average of 7 years for a person to be diagnosed with Celiac or gluten intolerance. I know my body and I know how much my diet impacts how I feel, despite the doctor saying as long as I'm on medication I should be able to eat normally - that is just so incredibly wrong. Walk a mile in my shoes doc! Well, we'll see how it goes on Friday. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gluten Free Herbed Bread Stuffing

Stuffing

I wanted a stuffing that was as close to Stove Top as possible. This recipe is very basic but that's just the way I wanted it. I used Van's Waffles as the bread, but in the future I would try a loaf of gluten free bread instead. The texture was a little too soft for me, but the taste was perfect.

Herbed Bread Stuffing - Gluten Free

1 Box of 6 Gluten Free Waffles
1 Medium onion chopped
2 or 3 Ribs of celery chopped
3/4 tsp Bell's Seasoning
1/4 C unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
3/4 cup gluten free chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toast the waffles as dark as you like and set aside to cool. Once cooled, cut into cubes.

Cook the onions, celery and seasoning in butter in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened. About 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss together the waffles, veggies and chicken stock. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Enjoy!

Adapted from this recipe.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Recap

Ok, here it comes folks, this is gonna be a long one so settle in!

My first gluten free Thanksgiving was great. My mom did a wonderful job of adapting her traditional feast so that it was safe for me to eat, and eat I did. All day...
There were a few things that my mom wasn't going to adapt for me so I spent Wednesday afternoon and evening in my kitchen preparing them. The most important part of Thanksgiving for me is the stuffing so that was my main focus. I decided to use a pretty basic herb stuffing recipe with Van's waffles for the bread. It tasted great but the waffles didn't give me exactly the consistency that I was hoping for. I think the next time I make it I'll use bread instead. I'll post recipes in individual posts later, for now here are some photos and general commentary.

Stuffing
Stuffing! Once it found it's way to my plate and was lathered in gravy I was very happy with the result. I didn't get a shot of my plate before I devoured it. I thought I had room for more stuffing since I had made so much of it but I didn't. This was the aftermath. I brought some of the corn muffins I made a couple of weeks ago as my bread. They were great thawed and heated up in the microwave.
My Dinner

The guests arrived at 12:00 and we don't eat until almost 2 so there are always some foods to snack on. I made coffee cake muffins and brought some Glutino crackers for cheese and crackers. It worked out perfectly. I want to do some tweaking on the muffin recipe and I actually was a little short on the flour for these but they still tasted great.

Coffee Cake Muffins

And of course, you have to have desert! My favorite is apple pie but I didn't have time to make one so I bought this one at Whole Foods. It was delicious, but next year I'll make my own. Or maybe for Christmas I'll make one.

Apple Pie

I did make these pumpkin chocolate chip bars from a recipe that's floating around my bloglines feeder somewhere. I will give you credit once I figure out where I got this recipe from!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

These were delicious too, even though I don't love pumpkin. But they were a little too rich. I think I'd alter this recipe to make them less chocolatey. (did I really just say that?!?!)

I was actually kinda sick all day but it wasn't because of the food. I've been feeling miserable for a long time, weak and sick and tired and nauseated all the time and I couldn't figure out why. I thought it was the Crohn's or getting glutened but the problem wasn't with my stomach, it was everything else. I missed a couple of doses of my medication this week and noticed that I felt a lot better. So I just stopped taking it altogether and the difference is remarkable. I spent an hour and a half at the gym today. I haven't done that in months. I could've stayed longer and worked out harder too but thought better of it. I ran into my friend Nancy there and she said that when she ran into me last week and talked to me about taking the next session of kickboxing off she couldn't get over how different I seemed. She said I just wasn't myself and I seemed really out of sorts but she wasn't sure if she should say anything but that today I really looked and sounded so much better. I also have determined that I am NOT going to take any time off from kickboxing. I love that class and I'm good at it, and she said the same thing, she said "you can't quit! that would be crazy!" and she's so right. But I just haven't had the strength lately, it's been so bad that there have been days when I've barely made it through 15 minutes at the grocery store without feeling like I was going to pass out. I can't believe how much better I feel now that I've stopped taking that med. I am still on the other one but don't seem to be having any adverse reactions to it. I have my next appointment with The Doc on Friday. My cousin was talking with me on Thanksgiving because everyone could tell that I wasn't feeling well, and she suggested that I consider getting a second opinion as far as treatment options go. Clearly what's going on right now is not working, it's just making me worse. I'm not sure at this point what I'm going to do. I'm going to talk to my doctor on Friday, first things first. I'm just so glad that I'm feeling better. I was really starting to get very depressed and it was showing. I am so glad I ran into Nancy today and that she told me how concerned she's been about me lately. It was good to hear an outside perspective, I knew I wasn't myself but didn't realize just how much I'd changed since going through this over the past 6 months.

Last night I went out with the kickboxers for dinner and dancing and it was so much fun. I didn't realize how much I missed them all and now that I'm feeling better I'm really looking forward to getting back to class. Not only that, I'm really really looking forward to taking off this extra weight I've put on this year. I know it's not a huge gain but when you worked so hard to lose the weight and then putting it back on was beyond your control it's tough to handle. I finally feel like I have the control back and now I can get to work on getting back in shape!

Ok, well thanks for reading and I'll be updating later with those recipes!! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I've already seen some of your updates and they look great!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

Glutino English Muffins

I bought these Glutino English Muffins a couple weeks ago and forgot to blog about them. They are great, they toast up crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with plenty of nooks and crannies. I love them best with butter and jelly (earth balance and nature's promise strawberry). I've determined that it's not the taste of GF breads that turn me off, it's the smell while they're cooking. When I'm toasting one of these I need to stay out of the kitchen because I think it stinks but then eating them is no problem! Strange, I know.

I am sitting here at work, bored out of my mind with nothing to do but haven't received the green light to go home yet. It will be soon. My recipes are printed out, I do have to go pick up a few items at Stop & Shop that I've forgotten, but then it's off to the kitchen to bake and cook the day away! I can't wait. I'm making stuffing, pumpkin chocolate chip bars and maybe coffee cake muffins. We'll see how ambitious I feel this afternoon. It's going to be a challenge to avoid eating all of the stuffing tonight!! I looooooooove stuffing and I hope my new version made with waffles will come out ok. I am going to stop at Whole Foods on my way home to see if they have any GF apple pies left and if so, then I will pick one up.

I hope you all have a wonderful gluten-free Thanksgiving!! Can't wait to see all the re-caps!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I can't wait for turkey!!!

Thanksgiving

Saturday I went with my family to see the Plymouth Thanksgiving Parade. In all the years we've lived in Plymouth, none of us have ever gone to the parade. I've only been to see the rock because it's smack in the middle of downtown and you can't miss it. And I've been to the Plantation once on a high school field trip. It's funny how that works. I do love being from Plymouth though, and eventually I imagine I'll end up living there again but for now the commute to Boston is just too far and I like being near the city. Anyway, this is one of the 200 photos I took on Sunday.

Now, first things first, a HUGE THANK YOU to Marlow!!! I received a package full of goodies yesterday and that just really made my day so much better. I got Larabars, Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats, and some GF Pantry Flour. So excited! I have tried Larabars before and had a hard time getting used to them but I tried on yesterday and it was pretty good. My Dad grabbed one of the cashew ones and he loved it. I'm ready to give these another shot.

I opted to skip school and go home and get some groceries instead. I got all of the ingredients for the stuffing I'm going to make tomorrow night. I can't wait to see how it comes out, I'm using Van's waffles as the bread.

Also, Sunday night I used the Pread Crumbs from Shabtai Gourmet (Pread because they're made from potato starch). My roommate was going to shake and bake some chicken and she asked me if I wanted some plain and I decided to make my own shake and bake. It worked out pretty well! I added salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried parsley to the crumbs, rinsed the chicken in water, coated it in the crumb mixture and baked. It wasn't quite as crunchy as regular bread crumbs, and didn't get golden brown but the taste was great, so much better than plain old chicken! And I have lots of crumbs left for other things. I really want to try a baked mac & cheese soon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Um, did someone say it's the last week of November?

Chicken Burrito Bowl
This morning started out kinda rough. And by that I mean I spent the first hour of my workday sobbing to my Dad about the trials and tribulations of this life. I used to be one of those people that talked out loud to anyone that would listen, but over the past year or two I've started to internalize everything and that's just unhealthy. It all came gushing out this morning and my poor Dad was the one to take the wrath. Fortunately after letting it all out I felt better and now am trying to focus on getting done all that I need to get done before we close on Wednesday.

I wasn't feeling that well yesterday so I didn't get around to going grocery shopping. Today I had to buy my lunch and the pressure of finding something good to eat was weighing on me heavily. I figured I'd just hit Souper Salad again but I was really craving something warm so I wasn't too sure what to do. I could get a baked potato... but that sounded kind of boring. I walked in and you have to pass the wrap station to get to the salad bar and right there, sticking out of the glass counter top was a menu. First a look of shock came across my face and then a big smile, it was a gluten-free menu!! I was so excited, that I ordered the first thing that looked good - the chicken burrito in bowl. Woohooo! I loved every bite of that chicken "burrito" bowl.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I love me some dairy free chocolate!

Boom Choco Boom
I was wandering around Whole Foods yesterday trying to decide what to have for lunch when I spotted these babies. I grabbed this one and the plain rice milk bar to try. I love Nestle's Crunch and since they are not gluten-free I wondered if this Boom Choco Boom bar may be a good substitute. Well it's not exactly a Nestle's but it was pretty good. I am not a huge fan of dark chocolate and this tastes closer to that than regular milk chocolate but I still liked it. I saved the regular rice milk chocolate bar for today. They do also have a dark chocolate version if that's your sorta thing. I'm trying to stay away from chocolate in general but once in awhile you've just gotta have some! I think however that in the future if I want to indulge in some chocolate, I'll go for the real milk kind as long as it's GF. Since I don't eat it all that often, it's worth it to get the good stuff!

Happy Friday!!!

edited to add: this is not actually what I ate for lunch, rather what I ate after lunch :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Internet Happenings

If you've ever been a Dooce reader, and know her story, then jump over and checkout today's blog... I never thought I'd get choked up over a person I've never even met. Congratulations Heather and Jon!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's only Tuesday?!

Feels like this week has been going on forever but it's only Tuesday. I just did an ad for a customer and they didn't like my design. Well not really, they liked it but made a few changes. I loved it the way it was, of course. That's the tough part of being a designer, not letting your feelings get hurt when your designs get rejected. For the most part I don't, but this particular ad I thought looked great. It is for a high school girl though and the ad may have come across as show-off-ish to the other girls so I can understand why she was not in love with it. Anyway...

I picked up a box of Glutino Breadsticks last week, the sesame variety, and I really like them. They taste like saltine crackers. I love having crackers in my soup, especially when they get all mushy. These don't really get mushy so much but they still taste good as an accompaniment.

Well, that's about all I've got for today! Exciting... I know ;-)

Monday, November 17, 2008

And we're back at Monday...

Well I think my food review days are over. I totally binged on those sweet treats last week and spent the entire weekend so very sick. See the thing with Crohn's disease is, I don't just get sick from gluten, I get sick from chocolate, sugar, fat, etc. So Friday I finished off what I hadn't eaten on Thursday, didn't eat dinner, went out for the night with friends, had 2 drinks, woke up the next morning, went to my mom's, and proceeded to slide down the slippery slope of Crohn's disease Hell for the rest of the afternoon. I spent yesterday on the couch. All day. Today I'm feeling mostly better. At this point it turns into more of a psychological paranoia than anything else and I just have to hydrate my way out of it. When I get sick like I did on Sunday, I tend to wind up passing out and visiting the ER so you can understand my paranoia. But I'm fine, I'm going to be fine, everything is fine, no passing out this time!

Needless to say, this weekend was very uneventful. I have determined that one alcoholic drink for me is like 6 for a "normal" person and the illness the follows is not worth the few moments of pleasure. I may be officially giving up alcohol. I've been drinking less and less and now I'm at the point where it's just not worth it to me anymore. I just get dehydrated so very easily! Having this disease really really sucks sometimes but I know that having a positive attitude is probably the most important part of feeling well so that's what I'm trying to do.

The good news is, while I was at my mom's house we went over the Thanksgiving menu and she's going to make sure that everything is safe for me!!! Woohooo!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shabtai Gourmet - A Review

Last weekend I received an email from Andrew at Cinderella Sweets, the bakers of the Shabtai Gourmet Brand of Gluten Free Cakes & Cookies, asking me if I would like to sample some of their products and review them here. Um cakes & cookies?! BRING IT ON!! And that he did. I figured a small box of samples would arrive but yesterday Mr FedEx arrived with a big box and I opened it to find....

Shabtai Gourmet Gluten-Free Samples

WOW!!!! Thanks Andrew!! Of course I immediately dove in... after the quinoa debacle I was starving. What I didn't realize was that the foods were still a little too cold to enjoy so I ended up sampling things throughout the day. I also shared everything with my Dad and Brother (both gluten eaters) to see what they thought.

First I tried the Ring Tings:
Ring Tings
Kind of like a devil dog, shaped like a ring ding and covered in chocolate. YUM. Soft chocolate cake with a yummy cream center. They fall apart easy but that doesn't bother me at all. My brother loved these and would've eaten the whole box if I'd let him but I kept these for myself!

Next up are the Meltaway Cookies:
Meltaway Cookies
They are "streussel crumbs, artfuly crafted into scrumptious, finger friendly morsels." and they are pretty good. Ever since I started going gluten-free and have explained everything to my Dad, he's mentioned that he thinks he may also be gluten intolerant. These cookies are right up his alley because he loves nuts and they have pecans & chocolate chips. This morning he told me he had a couple cookies with his coffee and didn't experience the typical "food coma" that he usually does after eating gluten foods. He's always complaining about how after lunch he goes into a "lunch coma." I suspect he's gluten intolerant too. My brother is not a fan of these only because he doesn't like nuts.

And now we have the Brownie Bites:
Brownie Bites
They are kind of like cupcakes, are baked in cupcake wrappers and topped with chocolate. I really liked these too. I don't particularly think they taste like brownies as much as cupcakes though. My brother did manage to steal these though and he finished off the entire box. I guess he liked them!

The last thing I tried was the Raspberry Jelly Roll:
Rasberry Jelly Roll
None of us are big fans of Jelly rolls, but I would say that if I did like them, this would be pretty delicious. Nice moist cake, sweet rasberry filling, tasty coconut. I did eat a little bit of it and thought it was good but it will be donated to someone else that actually does like jelly rolls.

I also received a box of lady fingers and a container of "pread crumbs" made from potato starch. I plan on making some sort of cake or maybe I'll be brave and make tira misu. The crumbs will probably go into some meatballs, or coat some chicken or something. I'll let you know how that all goes when I get to it!

So all in all, I had a really good experience with Shabtai Gourmet snacks. Their foods are Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Casein Free, Soy Free and Dairy Free which is really great. They are baked in a dedicated bakery and are also certified Kosher Parve! They are also currently offering Free Shipping! Check them out here!

Thanks Andrew!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bob's Red Mill Might Tasty GF Hot Cereal is the new Oatmeal.

I have had this little sample packet of Bob's Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal in my kitchen cabinet since I got it at the gluten-free cooking spree. I've wanted to try it but it takes time to cook and I am always nervous about hot breakfasts because of my aversion to anything non-mushy-oatmeal-ish. Well thanks to Marilyn's comment I finally took a risk and cooked it up. I followed the instructions on the package, boil water and salt, add cereal, simmer for 10 minutes. Then I added some brown sugar and sat down to eat it, with a glass of milk on the side. The smell reminded me of the times when I was little and my Gram would make me plain oatmeal and serve it with sugar and milk. I loved it. I couldn't have been older than 3 or 4 at the time but the memory is clear.

After a few spoonfuls I realized that I had put too much sugar in it but that's ok. ThenI thought, why don't I put some milk in?? So I did. YUM. Just like Gram used to make. not oatmeal but close enough. This could work. Unfortunately it's not instant but I did save the leftovers and I'll be curious to see how well they reheat in the microwave.

The consistency kind of reminds me of a grainy version of cream of wheat. I haven't had that since I was little but I used to love it. I could definitely get used to this, it could very easily replace my beloved oatmeal. Thank you Marilyn for suggesting it!!

More about a hot breakfast

Knowing about my oatmeal struggles, my buddy Liz AKA The Good Eatah surprised me with a packet of instant quinoa! I have yet to try quinoa. I bought a bag of it a month or so ago and haven't been brave enough to cook it yet but this possible solution to my hot breakfast issue made me want to try it right away.

Instant Quinoa
Alti Plano Gold Instant Hot Quinoa Cereal; Spiced Apple Raisin
Instant Quinoa

Just add boiling water and it's ready to eat!

Instant Quinoa

Ok, I admit, I didn't like it! Quinoa is a very different taste and I think if I put a little effort into it, like I did with bananas, I'll eventually grow to like it. It's worth it, did you know quinoa is a complete protein? Liz warned me that I might not like it at first but I tried really hard to be open minded. I think I will keep at it though because it's definitely a good alternative to my beloved oatmeal. If you're interested in learning more about Alti Plano Gold instant quinoa you can find them here.

On another exciting note, I received my package from Shabtai Gourmet and I've already ripped into it and tried almost everything that they sent. Stay tuned for a review and photos either later today or tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pesky Barley Malt!

You're in a hurry, you're starving, you forgot to pack something to eat, you stop at the "convenience" store. You stand at the shelf where they have all those "nutrition" bars and try to decipher which is the safest. They don't have any of the ones that you know for sure are gluten-free so you read the labels and pick the one that looks safe. You get to work, google the bar you chose, and find out that it contains barley malt. What?! Nowhere on that label does it say barley malt! It does however say "natural flavors" which you know can be trouble, especially when it doesn't elaborate on what those natural flavors were made from. Apparently these natural flavors were made from barley malt. Malt is my worst enemy. Malt beverages make me break out in a rash. Not pleasant. Fortunately I'm not feeling anything since my barley malt consumption this morning but now I know that neither Clif bars, nor Luna bars are gluten-free. There may be one or two that are but for the most part they are not. Ok then. Moving on...
Luna-Bar

I printed out the dividers for my cookbook yesterday! You might notice that I used one or more of your photos for my divider pages, but fear not, this is just my own little personal project. I promise I'm not stealing all your photos and recipes to go make a cookbook that I'm going to sell and make millions of dollars off of. No, this is just my little bible that has already brought me so much happiness from making lots of yummy gluten-free foods thanks to all you gluten-free bloggers out there! The photos do not correspond to the section name because that would take forever, I just grabbed a few of my favorites and repeated them on every page. Now I just have to start formatting the recipes so they look pretty. Each one goes into a plastic sheet protector and then into the appropriate section. I love organization!
Cookbook Dividers

I also will be receiving some goodies to sample from Shabtai Gourmet hopefully tomorrow, so stay tuned for the reviews!!

Did I mention that I'm feeling really good? Really, really good. I actually am getting some of my stamina back too. I will definitely be going to kickboxing tonight!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Oatmeal Controversy

This morning I showered and dressed for work, feeling great, looking great in the new clothes I bought last weekend. Ate a corn muffin for breakfast, rode the train into the city, got to the office and was so happy to be feeling so, so good. I always eat something small before work and then have another small breakfast once I get to work. I've always been the type of person that needs to eat right after waking up and then every few hours throughout the day, otherwise I end up weak and nauseous. When I got to work I made some oatmeal... and it was all downhill from there. Let me tell you why. If you remember, not long ago I was wondering if there was any gluten-free instant oatmeal out there because I have trouble cooking the regular kind. I did some research and came across the website for McCann's Irish Oatmeal. It gave the same story about oats, didn't guarantee anything but for some reason I thought this might be more tolerable than Quaker Oats. Now let me back it up here, I've been eating instant oatmeal for a long time and to be honest, it's always caused somewhat of an adverse reaction in my stomach. But I get sick of Rice Chex or eggs and I love the taste of instant oatmeal. So I risked it. Now I have been otherwise totally gluten free every single day for a full week. (I know, shame on me, I've been so bad lately) I've been feeling so good as a result of that, but after I ate that oatmeal I instantly (ha..pardon the pun) had to visit the ladies' and my back cramped up like someone just took a taser to it.

I did some research and found out that McCann's Instant Oats had been tested and showed more than 200ppm of gluten. Not good at all. I am really sad, it tastes so good! I love oatmeal for breakfast. When will someone come up with gluten-free instant oatmeal?!?!?! Not to mention the box wasn't cheap and I still have almost a full one left.

The good news is, other than that I've been really sticking to it and I feel better than I have in a long time. Well, I did this morning. Right now my back is killing me. But that's ok, it'll be better soon and now I know what it was the caused the problem!

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's all about me...

I came across this little survey thingy on this new blog I just came across this morning. Since I don't have anything new to post since last night's muffin post, I thought I'd do this instead.

The ABC's of ME

A - Age: 28

B - Band listening to right now: I'm in love with Rhianna right now. Every song she makes is a great one.

C - Career future: something creative, that's for sure

D - Dad’s name: Jim

E - Easiest person to talk to: my sister, she just listens and I love her for that.

F - Favorite type of shoe: sneakers. That's so lame, I know...

G – Grapes or Grapefruit: I cannot have grapefruit, therefore, grapes.

H – Hometown: Plymouth, MA - America's Hometown!

I – Instrumental talent: piano and a little guitar

J – Juice of choice: OJ

K – Koala Bear or Panda Bear: koala

L - Longest car ride ever: Trip to Canada even though we stopped overnight.

M – Middle name: Lynn

N - Number of jobs you’ve had: McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Nursing Home, After School Care, College Center, YMCA x2, Bank, RTR, Clone - wow 10, and I'm probably forgetting at least one more

O- OCD traits: counting things, double and triple checking the knobs on the stove

P - Phobia[s]: heights

Q - Quote: "Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don't, and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it."

R - Reason to smile: I feel healthy!!!

T - Time you wake up: too early...

U - Unknown fact about me: I have two scars on my face, one on my chin from falling in 4th grade and one on my lower lip from falling when I was about 6 or 7.

V - Vegetable you hate: peas. Still can't get used to them.

W - Worst habit: Being a control freak

X - X-rays you’ve had: teeth, stomach, left elbow, right wrist,

Y - Yummiest food my belly likes: eggs. gosh I love them.

Z - Zodiac sign: Gemini

Now it's YOUR turn! Answer one of these questions in the comments or share your ABCs on your blog!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gluten Free Corn Muffins

Gluten Free Corn Muffins

Sunday has become food prep day. I'm finally starting to get it together when it comes to planning food for the week. Today I broke out the new cookbook I'm working on and pulled out a recipe to make. When I signed up with the Gluten Free Checklist, I opted in on the recipe emails that they send out. I've come across a lot of great recipes that use common grocery store ingredients. This corn muffin recipe is one of those. Fortunately Stop & Shop now carries Pamela's baking & pancake mix and that was the only ingredient I didn't have on hand. I'm also making tacos for dinner and pasta salad to have for the week.

This is the first time I'm making corn muffins since the good old Jiffy mix that I grew up with. This recipe was easy to make and tasted pretty good. Not as flavorful as most cornbread I've had before but I think I can fix that. I did not add the canned corn that the recipe mentioned but I might next time. I used muffin cups and they ended up sticking to the muffins so next time I might just spray the pan and put the batter right into the pan instead of using the cups.

Gluten Free Corn Muffins

Ingredients
1-1/4 C Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix (or your own flour mix)
1 C fine yellow cornmeal
1/3 C sugar or honey (I of course used sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten (for fluffier muffins use two eggs)
1 C milk (I used fat free lactaid)
2 Tbs melted butter

Mix all ingredients together and fill greased muffin tin 3/4 full. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Variation: Add 1 C drained canned corn and 2 Tbs diced green chiles to dough when mixing. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

To make corn bread instead of muffins, use two eggs instead of one and pour into a greased 8-inch square pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Busy Friday

My Dad took the day off, he totally deserves it, so my brother and I are here working the day away. Yesterday afternoon I was so swamped that I was afraid today was going to be a nightmare but fortunately it's been a pretty decent day.

I have been kicking ass this week keeping away from the gluten. I feel great. Well a lot better anyway. I've got a long road ahead of me before I reach greatness but I'm working really hard at getting there sooner rather than later. I've been saving lots of recipes from all the GF blogs that I read and I'm compiling my own little printed cookbook so that all of the recipes are easily accessible to me at home. It's a pretty fun project and it's gonna look great when it's all done. So keep posting those delicious recipes!!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Hump Day

Just got a call from my primary care physician and she said everything looks good. All of my blood work came back normal and all's well. The GI said that my white blood cell count is dropping (on purpose) and I'm at a level now where it shouldn't get too much lower but he still wants to double my dose of meds over the next two months. I don't see how we can double my meds and not see a significant decrease but I guess we'll see how it goes. So two more months of weekly blood work and more meds. Fabulous. The good news is I'm feeling pretty good right now. I've been eating very well, avoiding gluten at all costs, and as far as my stomach is concerned, things are getting better. The only thing I'm struggling with is the extreme fatigue. I'm definitely not getting enough sleep! I do need to step it up in the exercise department, I think that might help with the body aches. Anyway, things are getting better, I'm feeling a little more positive.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This past weekend I made another batch of the Oats & Honey Pancakes that I posted about before. This time I substituted sugar for the honey because I really don't like honey at all. They turned out much better! Taking out the honey though made the pancakes a little more dry so next time I might add more milk and see if that helps. I froze the extras and toasted some up last night for dinner, I think they were even better toasted! Yum.

I get out of work at 2 today so I can go see the doc and then go home, vote, and work at the Y until 10. I skipped school last night and went to bed at 9:30. I woke up naturally at 5:30 this morning. 8 lovely hours of sleep. I am starting to realize that part of the reason I'm tired all the time is that I'm not getting enough sleep. Typically on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays I don't get to sleep until 11pm or later and then I'm supposed to be up at 6? It never happens. I'm late every day and exhausted. I felt much better today after sleeping. I can't wait until school is over but then I still don't know what I'm going to do about working until 10 on Tuesdays. I'll re-evaluate at the end of December I guess.

Wow... this blog is really boring lately! Well I've been printing out recipes and putting them into a binder so I should be doing some more cooking soon and I'll be posting my results. Of course after my shopping spree last weekend, money's a little tight for the rest of the month so I might not be buying too many new or exciting ingredients. We'll see, I'm sure I'll come up with something!

Monday, November 3, 2008

What a nice way to start my week.

Bagels!!!
Today I ate a delicious bagel. A yummy, soft, bready, delicious bagel. I don't feel even a little bit guilty. So there. What kind of bagel was this, you ask? It was a Glutino bagel!! I found them at Roche Brothers last night. Yes the price tag of $7 for a bag of 5 (or 6? can't remember) threw me for a loop but it was so worth it. I was all about the comfort foods last night. I bought these bagels, Bell & Evans chicken nuggets and Ore Ida tater tots. Last night I had chicken (the real kind, not nuggets) and tots. I have leftovers for lunch. Sometimes you just need to eat like a kid, ya know? I ate so much chocolate this weekend... uuuugh. My stomach today is all growly and gurgely. I'm drinking a TON of water today. I need to regulate.

The bagels are pretty hefty in the calorie department and not exactly loaded with nutrition but so what. I definitely could've eaten just half and next time I probably will. I also lathered it up with peanut butter and jelly... but it was oh so worth it. I would totally use these over regular GF bread too. The texture was excellent.

So my weekend was good, unfortunately I don't have any fun pictures to share. I went to my cousin's house for a while on Friday night and helped hand out Halloween candy, then I went home and watched movies with the roommate. I was exhausted. Saturday I headed down to Plymouth to have lunch with the ladies (my mom, sister, aunt, grandmother, cousin and her two friends) and that was nice. Then I went shopping for an outfit and wound up spending a fortune on clothes but I needed them so desperately. I still haven't taken a good look at my budget to see how badly I cut into it. Later. Saturday night I went out dancing with friends as a last night out for my friend Steve before he goes away for almost a month. That was a good time. We found out at the last minute that it was a costume party but I didn't get dressed up. I was too pumped to wear my new outfit. Which I didn't take a picture of. We had fun though. Sunday I did the usual, watched a lot of tv, did laundry, grocery shopped, cooked some food for the week. And here we are at Monday again! Fun.

Oh yeah, I showed up at The Doc's on Friday only to find out that they'd screwed up and my appointment wasn't scheduled. So I have to go back tomorrow.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

Friday, October 31, 2008

HAPPY HALLOWEEN MY FRIENDS!!

Just got a text from the hostess that she's got a stomach bug and the party is cancelled. And I had just come up with a relatively not lame idea for a costume. Oh well.... scratch that, just got another text, party has been relocated.

In other news, I put my car in for new tires today, so glad about that. I have been stressing over it for a while! I also got an oil change at the same time. Nice.

I went to stop & shop last night and instead of buying real food I bought white sugar, brown sugar and baking soda. Apparently I have some plans to bake things. I need to go to Good Health and try to find some xanthan gum. I've got to make those oreo cookies soon!! I started making a list yesterday of the foods my mom usually makes on Thanksgiving, what I can eat, what I can't eat, and have printed out a bunch of substitute/alternate recipes. My mom is supportive but the one thing she won't do is not stuff the turkey. It's a little frustrating but what can I do? She doesn't understand the concept of cross contamination and although she's good about some things, if it really infringes on her ways, she won't budge. Fine, I'll buy some turkey breasts and cook them the night before so have turkey. The vegetables are all safe, I'm going to bake a corn bread and some sort of apple pie/crisp. I'm determined to make it work and not cheat. I've been trying really hard!! I get better every day.

I'm off to my next appt with The Doc in about 10 minutes.

Enjoy your Halloween everyone!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This is ridiculous.

Kids are getting kidney stones.

Even more proof that our diets are wreaking havoc on our bodies. It's a sad state of affairs when little kids are suffering from kidney stones. I remember a girl that I used to work with had to go to the hospital because of kidney stones and they told her she needs to change her diet. She explained this all to me as she chugged on a large soda and snacked on some gummy bears. Not that I can talk, I'm just as guilty as anyone else when it comes to eating too much junk food.

SHIT... So Happy It's Thurday

Ahhhh Thursdays! I love them. After 3 loooong days in a row I get to Thursday and at 5pm I can leave work and just go home and relax. Of course I haven't had time to do any dishes so I always get home to a sink full and that's usually one of the first things I do. Heaven forbid my roommate ever wash more than one dish at a time... Tonight will be no different. My brother called in "sick" to work today. It's so convenient that his girlfriend has the day off too. He's been moaning all week about how crappy he feels, setting us up for the inevitable. Fortunately I'm all caught up with my work so I can pick up the slack. My Dad and I work really well together so not having my brother here today shouldn't be much of an issue. Anywho, yesterday was my first visit with my new primary care physician. She was awesome. Clearly she had gone over my medical history before I arrived and she new everything that I was going through. Asked all the right questions, listened when I talked, very genuine, I like her a lot! I'm glad to have a female doc again too. Friday I go back to the gastro, he's just going to tell me to increase my meds again and keep coming in for blood work. Nothing new or exciting there.
I finally made it back to kickboxing last night and I'm glad I did. My hips are a little sore from all the leg lifts but that's not a bad thing! I am quickly falling out of shape and still gaining weight so I need to get back to it. It's not cool to be a fat fitness instructor. Not cool at all. I've been pretty good with food this week too and that helps a lot. I have been tagging a ton of blog entries lately of delicious recipes I want to try. I even found a new GF blog when I was searching for an oreo cookie recipe. Everyone's posting their results from the daring bakers pizza challenge and I am so in awe of all these delicious looking pizzas!!

Ok, tomorrow is Halloween and I have a party to go to and NO idea of what I'm going to wear...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's oh so quiet, it's oh so still.

Sorry for the quiet blog lately, things are good though. Nothing new or exciting to report. Getting excited for Halloween! Don't have a clue what I'm going to wear... any suggestions?

I have 2 docs appts this week so we'll see how things go. I'll have to up my meds again and I'm not sure if he'll take me off the other one yet. I've been really really fatigued and achy lately. It might be a side effect of one of the meds. Gonna talk to the docs about it this week.

Oh a word about following directions when you are baking. FOLLOW THEM TO THE LETTER! Otherwise your brownies will taste like crap. :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another week is over.

My Guitar

This is one of my favorite pictures. I posted it yesterday but didn't publish. This is the 3rd time I've attempted to write this entry! I had a painful week. Literally. But I'm feeling a lot better today. Physically and mentally, I feel a lot better today. It's 5pm on Saturday and I'm still in my pajamas. I didn't go to kickboxing for the 4th time in a row. Hopefully I'll have the motivation to go back on Wednesday. Right now I'm watching Almost Famous. I love this movie. It makes me want to be a rock star. Well not really but kinda. I love music, I wish I were better at playing this here guitar. Instead it just collects dust in my room. And I can't get my piano through the door here so it sits at my mom's house, collecting dust. I do have a keyboard that I play sometimes but it's just not the same as the real thing.

I have to admit that I've been pretty depressed lately. Just a lot of things weighing on my mind. But today I feel like things are finally starting to turn around. I feel good about food, I'm looking forward to the holidays, I'm ready to put in some effort to make things better. Ok, I'm gonna finish watching this movie. I'm also planning my menu for the week... finally ;-)

Thanks to everyone out there that reads this blog and to the people that comment, I couldn't be doing this without you. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Updated

Check out my gluten free blogroll. I finally updated it with all of the feeds in my bloglines reader. And I know there are even more GF blogs out there that I'm missing out on. If you're one of them, let me know!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mixes

I've discovered that making things from scratch/boxed mixes is cheaper than buying the finished product. For example, buying a six pack of frozen GF muffins at Good Health is about double the cost of a whole box of corn muffin mix and I get a lot more muffins out of the mix. I found some Whole Foods 365 Brand mixes and I'd like to try them. Anyone have any experiences with these mixes? I want to try the corn bread/muffin mix. I think it's only like $3 for the box but I'm not sure how many muffins it makes. I love corn bread and this would be a great breakfast for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Grocery Shopping with a Plan

Sunday night I went on my weekly grocery shopping trip, I had about $40 to spend. I went through the store with my shopping buddy and made it to the cash register with a good amount of stuff in my cart, grand totaling about $38. Nice work. So I check out and I head home and as I'm driving home I'm thinking to myself, what the heck did I just buy? And how is it going to feed me all week? Before I left for work yesterday I stood in the kitchen sadly trying to figure out what to eat. I ended up buying my lunch, which means I'm now over my budget. Today I pulled out the receipt from the grocery store and wrote down everything I bought, put the items into categories, and figured out where I went wrong. Week after week I go to the grocery store without any plan or ideas about what I'll eat for the week and then I end up buying my lunch all week long because I have no food. I spend a fortune on food. I know, I've already said this. Well I'm working through it now. Here is what I bought this weekend:

Drinks:
Bottled Water
OJ
Cranberry Juice

Proteins:
3 cans of tuna
a dozen eggs

Snacks:
Family Size bag of Tostitos (on sale for cheaper than the smaller size)
Bag of cheesy corn puffs

Breakfast Foods:
Van's Waffles
Rice Chex

Fruits:
5 apples
3 bananas

Vegetables:
2 tomatoes
a 5lb bag of potatoes
brussel sprouts

I do have some staples, various flours, starches, some rice, tinkyada pasta. I do not have any other proteins, no frozen meats to speak of. What on earth will I feed myself? I've already had tuna for lunch today, a girl can only eat so much tuna. I ate the bag of cheesy puffs in 2 sittings. I do not need two different types of snack foods, nor do I need two different types of fruit juice, especially when I have fresh fruits. I had been using a re-usable water bottle but found it a pain in the neck to wash all the time so I went back to buying bottles. I just had a genius idea, why not have 2 or 3 water bottles so that I don't have to wash the same one every day? Duh. Instead of spending a fortune ($156/year) on bottled water, shouldn't be wasting the plastic anyway! (I do recycle them of course)
Sorry to keep posting about money, I'm just trying to work it all out!

Any creative meal ideas from my list here?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oats & Honey Pancakes

This morning I tried a new recipe for pancakes, this is my first attempt at GF pancakes so I was excited to try them. I have that box of GF Oats that I've been trying to use up so I thought I'd give this recipe a try. I can't remember who's blog I got this from so if you read this and it's yours give me a shout so I can give you credit for it!

I've determined after making the sesame chicken last week and these pancakes that I do not like honey. At all. So going forward if there's honey in the recipe I will use sugar instead. I know it's healthier but I just don't like it. The crunch of the oats in these pancakes was not something I'm used to but I didn't mind it so much. I like the added nutrition. Here's the recipe and some photos.

Oats and Honey Pancakes

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup gluten free oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup milk (I used lactaid skim milk)

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in one bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, honey and oil. Then whisk in the milk.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Then you will have a bowl of this:
Oatmeal Pancakes 002

When you're almost done with the mix, start preheating your skillet.
When it's ready, pour in your mix:
Oatmeal Pancakes 004
I put some promise spread in the pan, but since it's non-stick I didn't really need it and it just ended up burning, I also had the pan too hot:
Oatmeal Pancakes 008
So I had another smaller pan on hand and I decided to use it to cook up some non-burnt pancakes:
Oatmeal Pancakes 010
And finally, the finished product:
Oatmeal Pancakes 009
Served on my Gramma's Pfalzgraff dishes of course!

They were yummy, accept for the hint of honey flavor, and I'll get used to the oatmeal crunch. But I think next time I'll just try regular pancakes. Now I'm off to get ready to go to another wedding! Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Leaves

Fall 1

Fall 3

Fall 2

Some New England fall pictures for you. I took these last weekend. I do love the fall.

I was going over my new budget today trying to figure out a plan to get myself on track with my groceries so I can stop cheating all the time. I took an average over the past nine weeks and I realized that I've been spending almost $100 per week on food, just for myself. That's ridiculous. And most of it has been on expensive takeout lunches, like Whole Foods. I really need to learn to plan and shop better. My budget for food is only $50 per week, think I can do it? Any tips? I could definitely use some help! I am a single girl, I work 2 jobs and go to school so I don't have a lot of time to cook so basically I need things that are cheap and easy. Ok, Grey's is on, gotta go for now!

Conjunctivitis.

I went to work at the Y last night to find my supervisor sitting at the desk with red puffy eyes. And I said Jack, what the hell is wrong with you? And he said, I think it might be poison ivy and I said, ummm it doesn't look like poison ivy, it looks like conjunctivitis. And if it is, you are highly contagious and I am highly receptive so please don't come near me. Of course he's sitting at the check-in desk. The hub of the fitness center. The place where I would be sitting in just a few short minutes. He left at 7 and I stayed until 9 to cover his shift. I swear I'm not a hypochondriac but the last time someone even looked at me with pink-eye I got it and I got it fierce. Awesome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feeling better.

All I have to do is read some GF blogs and I feel better. I love the new ones I found today: Gluten Free is Life and Lisa's blog. I should update my blogroll, there are a ton that I read that are not listed there. Someday when I have a little more time!!!
I had a delicious lunch of tuna salad with lettuce and tomato and some UTZ potato chips. I love UTZ chips!! Ok there is a lot of work I should be doing right now...

Staring at a blank screen, don't know what to write!

Coming off the steroids has been good and bad. The good is that the water in my legs is gone, the tooth sensitivity is much better, there's hardly any more cramping in my legs and feet. The bad news is the rash is coming back a little bit, and my skin is so dry I think it's going to peel off. I've lost about 2 pounds. The weight that I lost that first couple of days pretty much came right back. I am feeling a lot better than I was though, so that's good. The problem is, I feel pretty much the same as I did before diagnosis. I don't feel like the meds are helping at all, and let's be honest, I'm doing horribly at sticking to the gf diet. Well, not that horribly but still, not that good. It's hard when you have no time and no money. I know, excuses, excuses. I feel like if I did stick to it consistently I would feel better, I just haven't been able to do it yet. How do you stick to it? What works? I'm very frustrated these days! I packed my lunch today. It's a good start.

There are 11 weeks left in 2008. Last night I went over money for the rest of the year and started to plan a budget for next year. If I'm smart next year I can put up to $3,000 into savings and have my credit cards completely paid off by January 2010. How awesome would that be? So awesome. That's providing my roommate doesn't decide to move out. If she does, I doubt I will get another roommate and will have to find a one bedroom for myself. That will pretty much cut the savings out but my credit cards will still be paid off by the end of the year. Either way, it'll all work out, and that's really great. I've been busting my butt to get this debt paid off and to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel is really exciting.

I don't have much of anything exciting to say these days so the blog's been kind of quiet. I'm hoping it will pick up soon with lots of gluten-free success stories rather than sporadic confessions about my lack of success. The hardest part of my day is breakfast. Everything else is easy. I really wish they made gluten-free instant oatmeal packets, like Quaker Oats. That would make my life so much better...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thank goodness for auto-fill.

Blueberry Yogurt
I'm forcing myself to eat yogurt the same way I forced myself to eat bananas. Today is better than yesterday. Fortunately some yogurts are very low lactose, like this one, Chobani all natural Greek yogurt. Blueberry flavor. Lots of good bacteria in there. I have blueberries in my fridge, had I thought of it, I would've put some in the yogurt. I've been drinking gatorade when I feel dehydrated, but a big part of my problem is potassium deficiency and gatorade has lots of sodium and little potassium and that's not good for me. So no more gatorade. Lots of water and natural fruit juice, like orange juice, full of potassium and no sodium. Good stuff.

I couldn't think of a good blog title today and as I'm typing ideas the auto-fill is showing me that I already picked all of the titles that I could think of, so that's why this post is titled as it is.

I dragged my butt to kickboxing last night and as usual I was glad I did. I was feeling a little weakish this morning and I'm afraid it's because I didn't eat anything after class last night. I always eat something when I get home from kickboxing but last night I just didn't and this morning I felt it. So I ate right away and felt better. I'm determined to kick this weakness. I am determined to make it through an entire winter without passing out. Now that would be awesome.

It's a crappy rainy day here in Boston, I hope it brightens up for the weekend because I'd love to go take some photos.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hump Day already? Feels like Monday still...

I don't particularly love missing days of work. I can't help but feel guilty since it's only my Dad and Brother here holding down the fort when I'm gone. But sometimes a girl needs a couple days off. Yes I was sick but still. I can't wait until Christmas vacation. I'm just realizing that it's actually only a little over 2 months away. What?! Wow, where did 2008 go?? In fact, where did the entire 2000's go so far?? It feels like just yesterday we were all freaking out about Y2K and now we're staring down 2009. The good news is, I'm feeling much better today. Lots of water, a multivitamin, some orange juice. It's all good. I bought an excellent book about IBD called The New Eating Right For A Bad Gut by James Scala, Ph.D. I read the entire book yesterday. It was full of really great information about how Crohn's disease works and what foods are good/bad for you and how to keep inflammation away. What else is going on with me these days. Not much really. I'm looking forward to Columbus Day weekend. Yay for having Monday off without being sick.