Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adios 00's Bring on the 10's

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

Ten years ago I was 19 years old, a freshman in college, and home in Plymouth for Christmas break. My friends from home and I decided we'd make the trek into Boston for First Night. You just buy a first night pin for $30 and you get admission to all Boston has to offer for New Years Eve. Of course, at 19, all we cared about was drinking like fools and being ridiculous. We were so carefree and young and life was good.

Being born on a new decade year, each new decade brings a new phase of life. In 2000 I turned 20 and left my teens behind. I thought I had it all worked out. I met the love of my life, we talked about getting married, we played house in our tiny one bedroom apartment, I was on top of the world. Ohh how naive I was. The twenties have been the most defining years of my life so far. I fell in love, got my heart ripped out, spent years trying to mend it, got sick, got diagnosed, graduated college, went in a totally different career direction, and lost my job. Made new friends, lost old friends, lost loved ones, and watched the next generation being born. I've learned so many things about myself, and others, and life in general. And yet, I still feel like I have so much to learn. In less than 5 months I'll turn 30 but I can already feel the next phase of my life beginning. My health is good, my heart is happy, and my head is in a good place. I'm ready for whatever it is that 2010 has to give me. If I've learned one thing, it's that no matter what life throws at me, I can handle it.

So even though that beer isn't gluten free, just pretend that it is, and let's toast to saying adios to the 00's and hola to the 10's. Happy New Year everyone!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

Maggie Kate

Isn't she just precious??? I am so in love with my little niece Maggie. I can't wait to squeeze her tomorrow on her first Christmas! I have a bunch of food reviews to write and upload, sorry for the lack in posts here. Things are going well and I'm sticking with the gf/cf diet. My stomach is not perfect being off meds, but it's not horrible. I also just started montly B12 injections. I'm actually thinking that I will probably not argue when the doc asks me to go back on the meds. Being off of them for a few weeks and feeling the difference in my stomach, I realize that they really were working. We'll see what happens on January 5th I guess. I hope you are all doing well during this holiday season! Happy Holidays to you and yours!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'M AN AUNTIE!!!!!!

Maggie Kate

My BEAUTIFUL niece Maggie was born tonight, 12/19/09 at 8:09pm, 9lbs 13oz and 21 inches! She's perfection. Mommy, Daddy and Baby are all doing wonderfully. I am the proudest auntie in the whole world!!! I can't wait to get back to the hospital to hold her again! I was lucky to be in the room throughout her labor and it was the most amazing experience of my life. My sister is part of my soul and I am so thankful that we are so close. I'm overwhelmed with joy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Research on Immune System and Crohn's

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might have figured out by now that I whole-heartedly believe that the rapid increase of autoimmune disease among Americans is caused by environmental factors. I feel that it starts with a genetic pre-disposition but the trigger is the environment. The biggest factor being our diet. Processed foods with little to no nutritional value, scientifically altered food, lots of stuff that our bodies are not designed to recognize and therefore reject. Did you know that wheat is now scientifically altered to be 90% more glutenous than it was just 40 years ago? It's no wonder Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are rampant. Most doctors have not come around to this mode of thinking yet, but every now and then I come across new research, like this article, that shine a little light on this theory. It gets me so excited to read articles like this!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

So far, so good.

I'm finally getting my groove back after a rough week last week. My only misstep was on Saturday night. I went to a birthday party at my aunt and uncle's house and there was not much of anything I could eat. I had eaten plenty beforehand so that I wouldn't have to worry about it. My uncle had made chili and deemed it "safe" for me to eat. I wasn't actually going to eat anything but later in the evening I got hungry so dished myself up some chili. There was a flavor in it that I knew I recognized but couldn't place... four bites in I figured it out. BEER!! "Hey Mike? Is there beer in this chili?" "Oh... yeah, but it's lite beer! And there's only about 1/2 a cup in the whole pot!" I laughed it off and explained to him that no matter how much beer there is, it's inedible, and handed the bowl off to my Dad. I don't know if I reacted to it. I didn't feel anything until last night but I can't tell if it's not just anxiety. I also have done nothing but sit on my arse for the past few days so my hips are sore and I feel like I'm wasting away. I've got to get moving!! It's really nice out today so I'm going to just get out and get some all natural Vitamin D from the sun. I might even walk to the bank instead of driving.

In other news, today is my sister's due date! No baby yet.. she could go at any time, I can't wait to get the call!!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Not even apples are safe.

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I ate an apple the other day and had a pretty bad reaction to it. At first I thought that it was just because of the sugars, or too much fiber in the skin. Because when you have Crohn's, you are supposed to avoid indigestible foods, like apple skins. And too much fructose can cause a flare. But I wanted the darn apple. The funny thing is, I don't always react to apples. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Strange huh? Later in the day I'm reading through my blog reader and I come across this post by Dr. Wangen about the wax coating that is put on apples to give them shine before they go to the grocery store. This wax coating can be made of a few different sources, one of which is milk protein. Did you get all that? Let me break it down for you...

THERE IS CASEIN ON MY APPLES.

I am casein intolerant. WHY is their casein on my apples??? You think when you're buying fruit that you're doing your body good. Little did you know...

Thankfully organic apples do not have any synthetic coating, if they look or feel waxy, it's simply the natural wax produced by the apples themselves. Just another reason to go completely organic I guess! Boy was I blown away by this.

Photo Source

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A week of failures.

Frustration

What a week... This picture sums up my frustration this week. The other day, all I wanted was cornbread. Version one, Bob's Red Mill, was a failure. I had some various flours hanging around, so I decided last night to bake Carol Fenster's version. Failure #2. Yesterday, between breakfast and dinner, I ate nothing but an apple and Glutino pretzels. By dinner I was shaking so badly I thought I'd surely pass out. Today I am feeling achy and gurgly and just yucky. At lunch time I wanted something warm and savory. I found a package of Thai Kitchen Spring Noodles in the cabinet so I cooked them up, tasted them.. and they tasted funny. Looked at the package "best if used by November 2008" uhhhh.. oops. Next I found a package of rice, it's Carolina rice so automatically I think, safe. So I absentmindedly cook the rice and when the timer goes off twenty minutes later, I lift the lid to stir... this is not yellow saffron rice, this is rice pilaf. Unsafe. Defeated, I grab a bowl of Koala Crisps. Not what I was looking for, but safe and easy and it worked. I'm sorry to be a downer this week but even though I've been doing this on and off for 3 years, right now it feels like the first time. I know it will get better. Right now I'm going to make some meatloaf (I'm praying that my Gillian's bread crumbs are ok!) and that always helps!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tis the Season..

For giveaways! There are TONS of fantastic giveaways going on in blogland. Through Twitter and Blogs I've found tons of new blogs and people that are so fun to follow. One in particular is Amanada's Cookin. Check out her KitchenAid giveaway!!

The Job Situation

So, I'm still unemployed. It's been 3 and a half months. I've been interviewing at a company that I was referred to by a friend that works there. I've had three interviews and they all went very well. My recruiter says "everything looks great" but the group that I interviewed for doesn't have any spots in the upcoming training classes. I've been waiting for a month to hear about the January trainings. She called yesterday and said that the group I interviewed for didn't get any slots in the January classes but they haven't finalized it yet and she should know more in about two weeks. There is a February class, so maybe I'll get into that one... maybe. This job is a great opportunity, awesome benefits, close to home, same pay as I was making before... and it's in the medical technology field. It's a stable job. Can you read the lack of enthusiasm in my tone of type? I was pumped for this job when I first started interviewing for it. But now, this waiting game, is making me think. This is the time in my life where I have the opportunity to do something great. To do something meaningful. I was talking to my sister a few months ago about what I would do if I lost my job and I said I'd do something food related. I looked into going back to school for nutrition but it's too expensive and takes too long. I need to work full time. I've looked high and low at the jobs around here, I've sent in resume after resume and nothing. It's so competitive out there. It's all in who you know, getting in on referrals.

Anyway, so now that I know I'm looking at another couple of months of time off, it's making me think that maybe I should be thinking about other options. My biggest passion is helping people. I've done a lot of volunteering, with the homeless, people with disabilities, foundations for cancer research and lots of other things. I still work part-time as a fitness instructor which I love. I write this blog, which I also love. I am the assistant organizer of the Celiac meetup (which is unfortunately totally inactive at the moment). There has to be something that combines these things I love?? I thought about it a lot when I first got laid off, but then this other job came up so I basically dropped everything else to pursue this one. But now I'm feeling like I need to think again.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. What are you passionate about, and then, what do you do for a living? Are they different things? Are you happy? What would you do differently if you had the chance?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review: Kettle Cuisine Chili and Bob's Red Mill Cornbread

Chili and Cornbread

It's only been a few days since I switched back to a strictly gluten and dairy free diet. It's funny how when I was eating gluten for a while, people would ask me if I was reacting to it and I'd say "no, I feel fine" and I thought I did. Well the thing is, because I was on medication my immune system was suppressed, therefore not reacting as severly as usual to the bad foods. Immediately after going off the meds the painful cramping returned. I knew going gluten free was the answer, but I just didn't want to do it. It's like starting all over again. Then last night I was getting ready for bed and I realized... my stomach was totally calm. All day. No cramps, no bloating, no gas, no gurgles. Just quiet and calm... and wonderful. Then I started thinking back over the last 6 months or so that I was eating gluten and realized that the entire time I was experiencing all the symptoms I had in the beginning, just to a much lesser degree thanks to the meds. I was in denial!! Deep in the back of my mind though, I knew I should've stuck with the gf diet. I even voiced it a bunch of times. I'm glad that I had to get off the meds. It's exactly what I needed, a wakeup call if you will. Sigh. It's a learning curve...

Anyway, so since it's my first week back on the wagon, I am pretty low on groceries. I'm also pretty low on funds. Yesterday I went to the grocery store to grab a few things and it was lunch time so I was looking for something quick. I was at the GF section and saw the Kettle Cuisine soups, which I love, so I grabbed a new one for me, the Chili. And what goes with Chili? Cornbread of course! I knew I didn't have all the ingredients to make it from scratch and I saw they had the Bob's Red Mill mix so I picked it up. I have not been a fan of Bob's Red Mill mixes in the past but I was obviously in a haze of hunger confusion and bought this anyway.

I threw the mix together and put it in the oven for 30 minutes, and then put the chili in the microwave at the last few minutes. Easy.

The chili was very good, as far as frozen chili goes. I also am not really a chili expert and don't eat it that often, so for me it was delicious. The beef tasted great and the overall flavor was yummy, not too spicy but spicy enough. Kettle Cuisine wins me over once again.

The cornbread... I should've paid attention to that little voice in my head that said "don't do it!". It was horrible. Didn't even taste remotely like corn. Gritty, tasteless, blech.

Now I should say this, the individual flours that they sell are great. I also like the hot cereal. But the brownie mix and the cornbread have both been a big disappointment. I've heard that the pizza dough is good and I will give that a shot one of these days.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm a tech geek.

Google Chrome

My blogging life and my personal life tend to stay separate. Meaning that there are only a few people that know me personally that actually know my website address. Of course all of my friends and family know about my personal struggles with Crohn's and my dietary issues, but this website is more for those in the "community" if that makes any sense. So that means that on my Facebook page you won't find blog references and my friends list consists of family and friends and "real life" people. Not that you all aren't "real life" people, but do you understand what I'm saying? I also have multiple email addresses, two twitter accounts, and numerous other accounts that I manage online. I've been using Mozilla Firefox for years because it's far better than Internet Explorer. Yesterday I was thinking that it would be easier if I had two separate browsers, one for blogging stuff, one for personal stuff. Mainly because I have multiple gmail accounts and can't be logged into all of them at the same time. So I downloaded Google Chrome. This is now the browser I use for blogging. My bookmarks toolbar contains my blogger dashboard, my website, stat counter, flickr, twitter, bloglines reader, gluten-free faces and then a bookmarks folder for websites I want to save or blog about in the future. I love this browser, it's faster, cleaner, easy to use and nice to look at. I like that there's a little button at the top so I can open a new tab quickly and it brings up my most recent pages. That's the screenshot you see above. Now I'm actually thinking I'd like to use this browser for everything. Anyone know of a way to be signed in to multiple gmail email accounts at the same time? And Twitter accounts? My iPhone is all set up this way and I LOVE it. I can check all my email addresses at the same time, both my twitter accounts, etc. I need the same kind of platform on my computer.

I know this is completely unrelated, but I have nothing interesting to write today, so there you go. I am trying to figure out what to eat for dinner and I just had a great idea... meatloaf!!! That would be perfect today.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

French Meadow Bakery Gluten Free Bread

Eggs and GF Toast

This morning for breakfast I tried that new GF bread that I mentioned the other day. It's a new brand to me - French Meadow Gluten-Free Multigrain Bread. I really like this company's mission, they use "Earth- and Body-Friendly Ingredients". This bread is full of whole grains, nutrients, protein and fiber and it doesn't taste bad either! I only tasted a small bite of it plain and then ate the rest of it topped with my scrambled eggs. It's not crumbly, it toasts well and has a soft texture. Doesn't have that funky GF smell when toasting which is big for me, I hate that smell. It's expensive, but I think it's worth it for all the nutrition in it. Most GF breads that I've found are completely lacking in nutritional value. I definitely recommend it! They offer a lot of other GF products as well, I'd love to try the cinnamon raisin bread. Oh and their products are casein free as well!!! This bread is also very low in sugar, just a touch of honey. Love it!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sugar and Spice is a metaphor. Of course.

Day two without medication. Yesterday I had something of a revelation. All along I've been writing on this blog about diet as it pertains to health. And how ultimately I want to be med free and the only way to do that is to be gluten and dairy free and low in sugar. But the meds were working and I was feeling fine eating gluten every day so why would I stop?? Well because the meds worked temporarily and then went bad and that's what will keep happening if I go that route. So guess what. It's time to go gluten free... again. (are you totally sick of hearing this? yeah? sorry..)

The thing is, most of the food in my house is gluten free. The only thing I buy each week that contains gluten is a loaf of bread. But I eat it every day. And when I go out to eat I eat whatever I want. I don't go out to eat that often. Since I've been unemployed I've actually eaten quite well and that will continue. So what I'm saying is, this is not an earth shattering thing.

I found this new (to me) gf bread at the health food store yesterday that is chock full of whole grains. It's 150 calories per slice!!! Yeesh, but it is packed with nutrients. And it's expensive and there aren't many slices in the package. I bought it just to get me through. I eat a lot of eggs and toast and this will replace my regular bread. I only eat one slice at a time anyway. I'm looking forward to trying it and will give my review when I do.

Someone tweeted today about Big Mac sauce containing gluten, I very rarely eat at McDonald's but this prompted me to take a look at their allergy info. I know that some people think that their french fries are GF, but beware, they are definitely not. Not only that, they also contain dairy! Gross. But what's worse than that? Their grilled chicken breast contains gluten!! Their beef is 100% pure beef, yet their chicken contains all sorts of additives, including hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat proteins. Blech. I'm no fool, I know fast food restaurants serve gross food, but you don't even realize how gross until you read the ingredients lists. I know that if I were in a bind, and needed to go through the drive-thru, my instinct would be to get a plain chicken breast. Boy would I be wrong. I'd be better off getting a slab of beef... just don't put any Big Mac sauce on it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Med Free... for now.

I got a call last night from The Doc saying that my follow up bloodwork showed another decrease in my WBC count. He said on my voicemail to drop the dose in half and come back next week for another blood draw. Then he called again this morning and told me that he wants me to just stop the meds completely until I see him again in January and to go in for a blood draw in a couple weeks. So I guess I'm getting my wish, at least temporarily, to be med free. So now the question is, what do I do about my diet? Obviously staying dairy free is important and as low sugar as possible, but the big question is, do I go gluten free again? I just went grocery shopping so I have a loaf of bread and english muffins to go through but that's it. I have gf crackers and cereal in the house already. I'll probably finish up the regular stuff this week and just think about it for a few days. But basically, the plan is to eat as clean and healthy as possible. If it works out well and I feel good on January 5th I'm hoping to ask if I can try to stay off the meds for a while longer. The thing is, if I start this new job in January, I don't have time anymore to be running off to BIDMC to get blood work done and go in for docs visits. So I really just hope this works and I stay healthy and can continue this path.