Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Eating Gluten-free at Disney


This is the time of year that everyone is packing up and looking forward to getting away to some place sunny; Everyone...except US :/ I can't really complain, though.  Between the house, baby, new jobs (all wonderful things that we are very thankful for :) we don't have the time or money to go anywhere but the park down the road.  So instead of being bitter toward all of you headed out, I've been spending happy time in my mind thinking of memories of vacations past...aka crazy cabin fever behavior :)

I have to admit, since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease I haven't had much of a desire to do a "real" vacation - I mean, a vacation is all about letting-go, relaxing, and total enjoyment; Let's be honest, that just doesn't happen when you have to be gluten-free. Not only do all of the rules of safe gfree dining-out apply, now add to it the fact that you've never been to this place before and all the gluten-free'ers around town could be a bunch of crazies for all you know!

That's why most recently my favorite vacation was my last time to Disney World! I'm not sure it qualifies as a vacation because it was so short and running 26.2 miles in the blazing hot sun was involved...but that just tells you how awesome the rest of it was! I've been to Disney World a few times, but January 2013 was my first time gluten-free. 


My brother, mom and myself stayed at the Coronado resort.  The resort is geared more toward an adult crowd looking for a island-y tropical stay - there is a lake/bay of water lining the was beautiful. We ate breakfast at the main restaurant 2 of the 3 days.  We were so impressed after our first day that we could hardly wait to get back again - on the second day: pretty much picture two grown adults furiously scrambling to get to the restaurant and front of the line, tossing happy disney-minded kids aside in pursuit of another round of gluten-free pancakes, bacon, hashbrowns...the works!!! The only reason we didn't eat breakfast there all 3 days was because we had to be at the marathon site at some ridiculous time like 3am.  


We decided to make our one park day Hollywood Studios since we had never been before, and we ate lunch at the Sci-Fi cafe.  Again another WIN for was all around an awesome experience.  When my gluten-free Reuban sandwich, french fries and vanilla milkshake arrived I swear I heard a choir of 5,000 angels rejoicing! In all honesty, I was so in-love with my food I couldn't even tell you what my brother had! Not only was the food great, we were so happy to be able to take part in the whole atmosphere - we could eat and experience just like everyone else!!! The restaurant is set up like the yard of a vintage drive-in, complete with retro-convertables and cheesy old "scary" movies. To those of you with kids - it is fairly dim inside so keep that in mind. Also, the convertables seat two in the front side-by-side and the same in the back...but there are round umbrella tables to actually sit around in the back if you need those accomodations instead. 


Our last night we met my cousin and his family and ate at T-Rex in Downtown Disney (I read recently that they had a fish tank crack so they may not be open right now? I'd check that out before going any time soon). Its an interactive restaurant with moving dinosaurs and simulated rainstorms - fun for the kids. The sounds were pretty realistic and forceful so, again, just something to keep in mind.  Personally, I loved it.  I had the gluten-free salmon and it was perfectly cooked, delicious.  Mostly the reason we wanted to go in to Downtown Disney was to visit Babycakes bakery stand.  They are a gluten-free and vegan bakery that originated in NYC.  We stocked up on cupcakes for our post-marathon pig-out - now when I say 'stocked-up' and 'pig-out' I mean I ate 6 cupcakes immediatly after arriving back at our room and it was glorious!!! I specifically delight in the memories of the french toast cupcake, yum :) The hipster styling of the cupcakes and their packaging is cute...although Ricky could care less about that, he still loves the cupcakes.


It is very clear that Disney has their act together when it comes to gluten-free food service...of course...everything they do is magical! By the end of our short stay Ricky and I were trying to devise a plan as to how we could live in Disneyworld...telecommuting, finding "serious" work at one of the parks...yes, two grown adults, we aren't ashamed :) At every place we ate the chef/cook came out to talk with us specifically - this is how I train the restaurants I work with...I don't see how or why it should be done any other way! I recommend Disneyworld to all my friends and clients - especially if its your first time vacationing gfree.  Below is a checklist of the system we used that made our gluten-free trip to Disney a sucess.

Now all we need to do is get the Disney Aulani resort in Hawaii all set-up with gluten-free food and that will be my next vacation *sighs dreamily*... Last time I checked they were "in the process" of getting the other Disney landmarks up-to-date with their gfree food service - hoping that good news comes sooner rather than later :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

guilt-free gluten-free spaghetti & meatballs

This version of spaghetti and meatballs is better than the original for a couple of reasons! Not only is it easy to make, it's gluten-free and its healthier than the traditional version.  I know, I know - usually those things would mean 'not-as-good,' but even I was surprised how well this turned out!  

I really love a good heaping bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, but it poses a few problems for me:

1. I find it hard to serve a vegetable "along with" spaghetti.  The pasta fits so nicely in it's own bowl, so where do you put the vegetable?

2. I try to limit how often we have red meat so I usually save our red meat quota for a nice juicy steak.  Plus, the veal/pork/whatever the third meat in the meatball trifecta is supposed to be makes me feel sad - I'm a meat eater, but baby-anything is hard for me to get down

3. Gluten-free pasta can be annoying to prepare.  If anyone ever thought it was difficult to make "regular" pasta, I say "wah!" - because it's a cinch compared to making gfree pasta. 

So, this is how I fixed those problems:


1. I put the vegetable inside of the meatballs! Cauliflower meatballs...let me see you tootsie roll (I kept singing that to the beat of the Tootsie-Roll song that I used to jam out to at high school dances...and still today in my living room.) I used finely chopped cauliflower in place of bread crumbs, just a 1 for 1 exchange - gluten-free and better for you.  The cauliflower adds nutrition and moisture to the meatballs, plus a slight hint of fart to the kitchen which will keep your guests on their toes and out of your way :)

2. I used ground turkey which cuts a ton of the fat and calories (and i just baked them: saved the calories from pan-frying first, plus less dishes & less mess/clean-up!)

3. I use corn pasta - if you don't do corn you can substitute brown rice or whatever pasta you like, but I've found that corn pasta is the easiest to work with and provides the best "al dente" mouthfeel (that word makes me feel uncomfortable!). 

As you can see, I didn't use fancy ingredients.  I'm sure I'm committing some type of sin for not using a special cheese blend or something, but I used ingredients that I already had on hand at my house. Most nights what I make for dinner is based on a restaurant commercial I saw on TV that makes me angry hungry at which point I don't have the time or patience to get the 'right' ingredients. 

Angry Hungry:  when you see something that looks so good, but you can't have it - so now you are both hungry and angry.

So there you have it, guilt-free spaghetti and meatballs! Try it out, first, before you judge...if you still hate it after you've tried it, well, then that stinks :)


Saturday, March 8, 2014

New Gluten-free Product Review!


I'm always on the look out for new gluten-free products on the market.  My friend, Kasey, recently sent me a message about a new GF snack.  Pepperidge Farms has come out with a "gluten-free" version of Goldfish called 'Puffs.' Their package does say gluten-free but no gluten-free certification accompanies this label. I haven't seen the label myself, so I decided to contact the company to ask about their manufacturing process - you know, to check out the contamination issue!

I got on the Pepperidge Farms website for more info.  Well, thank you Pep Farms for providing no information on your website! It literally just says "...and they're gluten-free" at the end of a product description.  They don't even list the ingredients for the product - that just seems shady to me! They also don't provide any statement on how they deal with allergies and special dietary needs.  There's also no way to actually call them, you have to send one of those annoying message-things and wait to hear back from them and then they don't even answer your question.

So for now, I'd only recommend these little fishies to people who are choosing to not eat gluten or have a sensitivity/intolerance.  Since I have Celiac Disease, though, and I can't verify if these are safely free of gluten then I'll just have to wait until I can find out more! Hoping to have good news about these little fishies soon! If you have any info or see something on their website that I missed let me know!



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Scared Mom-to-Be, Let the Guilt Begin: A gluten-free pregnancy

These past 4 months have been amazing and overwhelming.  In October, my husband and I welcomed a baby girl in to our little family.  She is strong, active and loves to smile and sleep.  At this very moment she is snuggled in next to me, little shallow breaths, arms sprawled as she snoozes - I spend so much of my time just watching her, amazed at this little miracle.  I am thankful, every day, that she is such a happy and healthy girl.  I'd love to say that I enjoyed being pregnant, but honestly, I was worried and anxious quite a bit. 

I remember the night Austin and I found out I was pregnant - so much excitement, especially knowing that both Celiac and Thyroid diseases can cause infertility - I was relieved, but skeptical too.  Some not-so-morning sickness, extreme fatigue and one doctor's visit later I was convinced.  It wasn't long, though, before I found my feelings of "am I REALLY pregnant" had turned to scary thoughts and "what if's" about the baby's growth and health as I carried little him or her (we didn't find out :).  At first, it seemed normal that as a first time mom I would be concerned about the unknowns of this life-changing experience - but it went beyond that.  I battled anxiety throughout the entire pregnancy, mostly related to my autoimmune diseases and how they might effect that tiny person's health.  Before my pregnancy I felt confident in dealing with these diseases - but the thought that one of my mistakes (accidentally ingesting gluten or missing a dose or two of my synthroid) could harm the defenseless little-one became unbearable at times and consumed my thoughts most days. 

My anxiety was fueled when I decided to ask my OBgyn to check my thyroid levels - which had been on my mind for a few weeks beforehand, but with all that was going on I had forgotten to ask.  My levels came back way out of whack." Well, that was it - I was convinced our baby would suffer the consequences of my mistake and suddenly my anxiety was coupled with an equally overwhelming sense of guilt (I know, I'm a mom now, I should get used that feeling :).  I also found myself craving foods with gluten - not just a cheeseburger...a cheeseburger on a regular bun, a real pie crust, things I hadn't cared much about since those first couple months after going gluten-free.  I felt deprived but the last thing I was going to do was anything else that could potentially hurt our baby.  I felt selfish for even thinking about gluten foods...knowing that my body's reaction to them could do the baby harm.  Pregnancy, for me, wasn't difficult because of it's physical demands, but because of the emotional ones.  Of course, my roller-coaster thyroid hormones didn't help either!

What a lesson in faith it was the moment she was born - a healthy, alert and perfectly put together 6lb. 10oz. baby girl.  Since she's been with us I haven't cared much about gluten or anything else for that matter other than watching her grow and develop her charming little personality. Now I deal with a more "normal" level of anxiety as a new mom, and I'm already researching and planning how and when we are going to introduce gluten and monitor for Celiac Disease and Thyroid changes. 

Couldn't resist sharing some photos of her over these 4 great months.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Getting back to :)

                                         Living gluten-free can make you feel trapped :)

Well, It's been a long time coming...I've been out of the blogging game for a while (for good reason :) a post will be coming soon about all that!).  Lately, though I've gotten so many calls and emails from friends and family with questions, stories (some not so pleasant), about Celiac Disease and gluten-free - I hate to say it buuuut "I told ya so!!!" Well, not you, specifically, but more so the "world" haha.  I've been on my soap box for years now working on awareness about the gfree lifestyle and it seems like people are starting to wake up to it a bit more. Unfortunately, for all of us, the mis-information and confusion surrounding the whole topic is still a big problem for those trying to navigate this new way of life the right way.  

All this to say, I'm coming back :) I have a lot of experience and really fancy sounding accolades, but I want the new format to be more of a meeting place for people to come together, ask questions, share stories and find some reputable information - and of course I'll have my two cents (ya know, there are some cray-crays out there :).

You can be looking forward to posts about pooping dogs, angry dancing pregnant ladies, and some really good tasting gfree food :) Always a good combo!

                            Yeah, its a good thing this girl isn't gfree...cause I could just eat her up!

                                                     Even doggies need some gfree love!

Posts your questions and comments or just some fun words of encouragement and come back soon!!!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hello Friends - I don't know about you, but I have been in a wonderful mood these past couple of days...the weather has been perfect, renovations on our house are moving along and our little baby keeps me company 24/7 (especially now that Austin is working nights)! Over the past couple of weeks, well even months really, I haven't been in the best mood though - the stress of all these changes had really brought me down on more than one occasion.  During those times the last thing I wanted to do was be around positive people who were having wonderful days (kind of like how I'm feeling today)...but I'll admit - their positivity seemed to be contagious, and actually it IS! So yes, you've guessed it...this is one of those corny "turn your frown upside down" encouragement posts.  "But gosh darn it" (SNL reference!) sometimes we need these...especially when it comes to being our healthiest and best selves.

It is a fact that surrounding yourself with positive people, redirecting negative thoughts to positive ones and even just a simple smile can help to change your mood! Too many times the negative thoughts interrupt our best intentions - we feel unhappy so we polish off the entire bag of Sour Patch Kids, add the extra scoop of ice cream or watch the third re-run instead of getting out for a walk.  I've noticed that many of us with Celiac Disease turn to food during our not-so-good times. I know, for me, having to be gluten-free feels so restrictive at times that "treating" myself to 4 cookies instead of 1 seems like the best way to escape the negative thoughts.  But, bad days are bound to happen so be prepared for them! Know that they are inevitable, but that tomorrow is a new day and new days bring new opportunities to make better choices! Instead of letting today's bad mood fester and turn tomorrow in to round 2, CHOOSE to turn this day around - smile, call up one of your funniest friends just to say 'hi', get up and go for a 10 minute walk!

Check out the latest page I've added to the new blog, titled 'Nutrition' for some similar perspective on nutrition, wellness and health! All you have to be is better than you were yesterday!


Friday, June 28, 2013

A New Gluten-Free 'Bun in the Oven'

It has been a long couple of months since I've last blogged about my life with Celiac Disease. I've been anxious to get back to it, but so many things have had demanded my full attention lately.  To give you a quick update:

1. I've finished my Dietetic Internship - yay! *pat on the back* glad to be done!

2. We've moved! Actually, not just moved - we bought our first house.  Its definitely a fixer-upper and has demanded a lot of our attention and care!

3. And speaking of 'firsts' we found out a few months ago that we will adding our first baby to our family - bringing our gluten-free household from 2 members to 3 :)  We couldn't be more happy, even with all of the anxiety and frustration that comes along with being pregnant and having Celiac- and Graves Disease! (I have lots to share about my whole experience so be looking for those posts...and I'll be looking forward to hearing about your tips and experiences too!)

Not to worry, though...if you've enjoyed following my blog as much as I've loved writing it, then you'll be happy to know that it will be back and better than ever in no time! Having had some time to adjust to all the changes we've had recently, I am working on some updates to my blog that I'm excited about and hope you will be too.   Soon I'll be blogging about all things g-free - better than ever! Keep a look-out for updates on the blog relaunch and until then...happy gluten-free living!!!