Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great news in the world of grocery shopping!

I have been a little behind with posts, but the two pieces of info I have to share with you this morning will hopefully make up for it.  I will start out again advocating for online shopping... especially if you have an amazon prime account.  On Monday, I bought what I thought was just a larger tub of protein powder than what I usually get... It looked different in the picture...  Scott usually gets the 1 lb tub of it for me at Sprouts, since he works so far NW and Sprouts is at Oracle and Magee.  If you are desperate for some and don't have time to order it online or go to Sprouts, I think they might sell it at New Life.  Anyway, when he gets it at Sprouts, which is usually well- priced in their gluten free products, he pays about $20 for a 1 lb tub.  OUTRAGEOUS!  Through Amazon prime, there is no shipping, it got here on Wednesday (two days after I ordered it), and it was a 3 lb tub for $30.95!  I'd like to say I knew it was going to be that big when I ordered it, but I didn't... I just knew I needed a new tub before my half marathon this weekend.  What a deal!!!
Pic of the GIANT tub of protein powder I got through Amazon Prime:
This is a gluten, dairy and soy free protein powder that I put in my fruit smoothies.  I also mix it with Coconut milk for a post- run shake.  I have had a lot of people ask me for the kind of protein powder I use, and I usually reluctantly say this one... It's tough because I have had the delicious regular protein powders (a long time ago), and it's hard sometimes to adjust to this one.  But, since there really aren't any other options that I know of, I go with this one.  It blends great and tastes great in a fruit smoothie... it's a little more funky when just with Coconut milk, but it does the job in terms of delivering protein and nutrients.  

If that wasn't enough, I must tell my Rita Ranch Cottonwood friends about my experience at Fry's yesterday.  I was rushing in to get an emergency Diet Mountain Dew for Scott, and to get a few other things, and it seemed like there were a lot of extra workers around the aisles of the "nutrition"section.  Interestingly, I always call it the organic section, but yesterday I discovered that I was mistaken.  In a moment of boldness, I asked one lady if she does the ordering for that section.  She said "no", but she directed me to a lady who does.  So... I went to that lady, introduced myself, told her I'm the one that has left her thank you notes from time to time, and tried my best to make friends with her.  I then swooped in with the question... I asked her if she had heard of Udi's or Rudy's gluten free bread, and asked what the chances were that she might be able to order that bread for our Fry's.  Her answer made me so happy!  She said that they had just ordered some and it would be in on Friday... Here comes the sneaky and unfortunate catch though.  She said that Fry's corporate hasn't approved it for use in the nutrition section, so they don't really have a place to put it.  She directed me to go talk to Maria in the bakery section, as she might be able to tell me where it will be.  So... I continued my wild goose chase through the store, wandering through tables of croissants, donuts, fresh baked bread and cakes, and asked for Maria.  Well Maria was on break.  Perfect!  I'm in a Diet Mountain Dew rush and Maria isn't even there!  I'm so close at this point, I decide to do the rest of my shopping and then come back to make a second trip into my LEAST favorite section of the store.  When I returned to the bakery section, I asked for Maria, who still wasn't actually there, I didn't get to see or meet her, but the lady I talked to asked Mysterious Maria about the Udi's bread.  She came back and said it would be out Friday.  I again asked "where might I find it?" and she told me it would be in the freezer case.  Well.... there's only one freezer case in that section, and it holds the ice cream cakes.  So I took this as an opportunity to do a small amount of gluten free education/ advocacy.  Call me a nerd, but it's what I do!  I'm a special education teacher always working to include and make school more universally designed, so why not do that in the grocery store?  Anyway, I shared with her that Safeway is storing their Gfree bread in the regular freezer case with the frozen french bread and frozen dough.  She looked a little bewildered, so I decided to tone it down a bit, and I just suggested alternate places they could put it.  I also asked if Maria would be available to meet with me on Friday.  She will :)  I'm going Friday morning, hopefully will get bread, and I will write a post with the details of the outcome!  Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fascinating study on Gluten Sensitivity published in The Wall Street Journal

Good afternoon!  I just found this article and it is fascinating!  To all of my friends who I have talked to about a gluten free diet possibly helping with the relief of various different health ailments, check this article and study out.

"For the first time, we have scientific evidence that indeed, gluten sensitivity not only exists, but is very different from celiac disease," says lead author Alessio Fasano, medical director of the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research.  (from article)

"Although much remains unknown, it is clear that gluten—a staple of human diets for 10,000 years—triggers an immune response like an enemy invader in some modern humans."  (from article)
***Particularly interesting is the last line of the article... a direct quote from Ms. Kupper.  Oh how I wish I could send this to some people to broaden the awareness!  (ie, doctors and their offices who made me feel like I was going nuts) 

I'm not going to copy and paste that quote because I want you to read the  line from the article itself.  
Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Trust the Bike"

Well, here's where the "anecdotes" part comes in... This story doesn't really relate to my allergies and food, other than the fact that if I hadn't sorted out the whole food/ health thing, there would be no way I would have been able to do this today!  This time last year I was going to the doctor all the time, taking a bunch of different supplements, and was still feeling void of any energy and flat out sick.  But... here I am now, a year later, not eating the foods that make me sick (taking a few medications) and feeling like I HAVE to take advantage of it.  So... after a trip to the gym, Scott and I went on a bike ride through Fantasy Island!  Yup, I had just been riding in the wash area behind our house, but I have graduated to Fantasy Island!  We did the easy paths, which you enter via the Valencia entrance, but it was great.  I had a great time, didn't fall, and didn't get frustrated at all.  I will be honest and say I may or may not have walked my bike through 2 huge (in my opinion) dips...  Anyway, the lesson I learned today comes from Scott... "trust the bike".  I must learn to trust it so I can graduate to more challenging paths... and I need to try to stop being as afraid when going through the dips.  But oh well, today was an improvement, and we had a great time!  (Notice the bikes on the rack in the background... this was after our ride, hence the helmet head)

Top 10 New and Noteworthy Gluten Free products!

This is great news!  Udi's is now making hamburger and hot dog buns!  For any of you who eat gluten free, you know the hot dog bun selection is less than acceptable.  Wohoo!

These are the things that get me excited!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tonight's dinner, yesterday's muffins, and a Christmas pie

Tonight's dinner: Cheeseburger and french fries
Clearly a healthy one tonight... but sometimes you just want a burger... I can't help it!  But, let me tell you, if you're going to have a burger, take my advice.  I've had some yucky ones in the past... for the first year I ate gluten free I didn't even eat burgers with buns because I couldn't find one that didn't make me want to gag.  There are some tricks to making the perfect bun... but first let me give you a summary of all the brands.  

First, the meat was ground beef from Trader Joe's, 96% lean (so that's good), the bun was a Kinnikinnick English Muffin (Why?  Because most stores for some reason are NOT selling the hamburger buns... I was mildly outraged until I realized the english muffins have the exact same nutrition facts, and I swear they are the same recipe), the french fries were Alexia organic french fries (which I just realized has a warning saying it's manufactured in the same facility as wheat, so I need to call them to ask about that), and the ketchup is Annie's organic Ketchup.  

The key with the bun is this...  From frozen, put it in the microwave on defrost for 30 seconds, then slice it.  I then put Earth Balance Soy Free butter spread on both sides, and then sprinkle gluten free garlic salt on both sides.  Then, Scott puts it on the grill of the bbq when the burgers are about half done.  The key with the bun is to toast it, but not in the toaster... if you're not bbq'ing, a grill pan on the stove also works.  The bonus is that if you're also cooking for a person who eats gluten, everything is the same except the bun!  Just butter their bun (so they don't feel left out), put garlic on it and cook it on the bbq far away from the gluten free one.  And keep the bbq utensils separate!  Then enjoy, and don't feel guilty because in Tucson at least, we can't go out for a burger on a bun anywhere!  
Yesterday's breakfast:  Blueberry muffins
Here's the recipe:
One morning, I really wanted a quick blueberry muffin recipe... I didn't want to mix a billion flours together, dirtying a full dishwasher of dishes just to get a few muffins.  So, I googled "gluten free blueberry muffins" and discovered this recipe!  I was so excited to find it was not only on the Food Network (which I am obsessed with), but it's by Erin Mckenna, author of my favorite cookbook Babycakes.  She owns a bakery in NYC, and she bakes gluten free and vegan, which works out for me because I can't have milk, and I am still undecided on whether or not I can/ should be eating eggs.  She also uses agave nectar in recipes (which is good for someone who is being careful about blood sugar because it doesn't elevate the glucose levels as fast as granulated sugar).  If that wasn't enough, her recipes call for coconut oil, which gives it a rich and flavorful taste, and coconut oil is the heart- healthiest oil you can have.  Basically I want to be her new best friend.  

This recipe is DELICIOUS and EASY.  I've tried a bunch, but this is it.  No sifting, mixing of a billion different dry ingredients, no use of egg replacer... it's really good and fast.  Also, it makes a difference to use fresh blueberries.  They are best fresh out of the oven, but if you're eating them a few days later, zap them in the microwave to warm them.  Put them in the fridge after 3 days to get them to last longer, or you can freeze them in ziploc freezer bags.    

Christmas pie

Speaking of Babycakes, while I was uploading the pictures above, I found this wonder I had completely forgotten about.  PIE!!!  At Christmas, I really really wanted a tasty dessert.  Sooo... I consulted my Babycakes cookbook after randomly buying a frozen pie crust at Sprouts (Brand was Gluten Not Included).  I just have to insert a quick story... sometimes when Scott and I got to Carrabba's to take advantage of their gluten free menu, we stop at Sprout's for some shopping after... gotta love grocery shopping on date night, but we always have a great time, so whatever.  Anyway, back to the pie... I got the crust home, now on a mission to make a good pie.  I found an apple pie recipe in the Babycakes book that I modified a bit so I could eat it.  I followed the apple filling part of the recipe, but I used my frozen crust instead of hers.  Then... I got a bit creative.  I used the vanilla cupcake recipe (made the cupcakes) and broke the cupcakes up, put cinnamon and extra oil in it, and crumbled it on the top of the pie to make my own Dutch apple pie.  It was sinful!  Sooo good.  I highly recommend it.  The hardest part is cutting up the apples for the filling, but if you recruit help like I did, it turns into a fun project.  

I hope you try at least one of these recipes sometime soon, and please let me know how you like it, and let me know if you have any questions!

Happy Monday… 3 things to be happy about…

1.  So… In my excitement to post my first entry, I forgot to share how I came up with the name for my blog.  I couldn’t believe it… this story should have been in the first post!  But when I found a good background and finally figured out fonts and colors, I was so excited to just get started that I forgot!  Anyway, one day at work, I was about to grab my food out of my fridge, plug in my toaster (for my GF bread), and sit down for a breather, and I checked my phone.  I had a text from Scott saying he thought of a name for my blog, but if I didn’t like it he wouldn’t be upset.  Then I looked at the next text… Allergies and Anecdotes.  I knew immediately that was it!  It’s like him to be thinking about my diet or searching the internet for new food choices, but to finally think of a name for my blog I was so excited!  That’s what the hold up was for the start of this blog… I couldn’t start it without a name or an address, so thank you Scott!

2. Buying gluten free groceries online...
Okay, so I promise to be mostly positive in my blog, but when you eat a diet free of such common items, there are times when you can’t help but be frustrated.  Last weekend Scott and I set out for our grocery shopping adventure, which usually means at least 3 stores, and we got to Sunflower, and they were out of half of what I needed.  When you can eat one kind of yogurt, one kind of oatmeal, etc… you come to rely on the one store that carries it.  But nope.  They were out.  I was trying to shop according to the food I needed for on the go snacks for the work week, so it became really upsetting to not find the things I was looking for.  When I asked when they would get more, the man couldn’t tell me, and he went on to say that they don’t restock items until they are completely out of them.  Let’s just say I almost blew my top.  We left, with a few things, and when we got to the car I was a smidge outraged and vowed to never put myself in that situation again… as I continued ranting, I came to the realization I must start looking into buying my stuff online, so that I am not having to rely on grocery stores so that I can eat.   

Well let me tell you… that evolved into a great day.  I went home, and that night I placed a $200 order with Amazon.   A couple days later, cases of my favorite groceries started arriving at my door.  Here’s what I got: a case of pasta, a case of oatmeal packets, a case of nut free trail mix, a three pack of my special SLS free soap, a case of my sunflower seed butter, one bottle of my special lotion, and a 6 pack of my SLS free toothpaste… and I think that’s it.  Anyway, lots of savings, and zero frustration.  Clearly the way to go.  I’m going to place a few more orders online this week, so I’ll let you know how that goes.  Also going to start a spreadsheet to organize what I buy from which website, so hopefully one of my blog savvy friends can help me figure out how to share that too.

3.  Costco sells gluten free bread!  We usually get all of our paper goods at Costco, along with the bulk bags of frozen fruit for smoothies, but as we were wandering the aisles/ dodging the crazy people and their carts, I spotted Rudi’s gluten free bread in the freezer case!!!  Hooray!  A twin pack of bread I can eat for $7!  I was pretty excited, but had to remember to not get TOO excited, since silly Costco changes their food often… ie. Stops carrying really important items.  But I got a pack, thought it couldn’t be as bad as some of the other breads I’ve tried, got it home, and it was great!  Even better than Udi’s gluten free bread.  And best of all, they sell it at Safeway and often give out coupons for it.  Hooray!

Be on the lookout for today's recipe...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Post... Welcome!!!

First of all, I just have to say... wohoo!  This is my first post to the blog I have been talking about doing for a really long time.  And now... Here it is!  With SO many things I could talk about, I have to start with saying that the purpose of my blog is for me to share tips, tricks, funny stories, recipes, knowledge, and probably many other things related to living a life with a unique diet and a TON of food allergies.  I welcome you to my blog and thank you for reading it.

I have been eating a diet free of gluten and dairy for about 2 and a half years now.  I am also allergic to soy, nuts, bananas, some raw vegetables, avocados, and most tropical fruits.  I have some other random allergies, but I'll share about those later.  I have had to learn to think creatively when planning my meals, and I am looking forward to sharing all that I have learned with you.  When I first started eating gluten free, I was really quite devastated.  I couldn't figure out what to buy, what to eat, how to cook it, let alone how to pay for it.

But, what I have learned in that time is that the radical lifestyle change I have gone through in the last 2 and a half years has really been a positive thing.  Not to get too cheesy, but I have had the chance to see a really kind side of some of the people I am closest to.  For one, Scott, my boyfriend, is always coming home with new groceries he found at Sprouts for me to try, or he is researching gluten free stuff on Twitter... he is on a mission to make me a delicious gluten free beer also!  He also has cooked many meals for me when I haven't felt well, and he is my gluten free advocate when we go out to eat.  I have also been fortunate to have my family and friends be so caring... my sister Melissa has recently collected a bunch of coupons for gluten free stuff at Safeway, my sister Chrissy (who also eats gluten free) lets me know of new things around town, and my mom has now made many holiday dinners that were both delicious and didn't make me sick- which is not an easy thing to accomplish.

I look forward to sharing more with you very soon!