Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mashed potatoes

For a while, I thought that good mashed potatoes were a thing of the past. I mean with no butter, no milk... what's a girl to do?

But I found some products or two and heard about a way to make mashed potatoes that just turned out,for lack of a better word, perfect.

I don't feel that too much writing is necessary, as the potatoes will speak for themselves. If you do make these, enjoy them!!! They are absolutely delicious! (And try not to think too much about what you've put in them....)

My Fabulous Mashed Potatoes

yukon gold potatoes, peeled (this really depends on how many people you are making for)Chop them, and add them to water and stock. I usually do half and half.

As the potatoes are cooking, make a roux. I discovered this great stuff called ghee, which is lactose free and casein free butter. It's actually cow's butter, but clarified, and it absolutely delicious.

Equal amounts of butter and flour. ( I used potato starch, although you could use any flour you want)
After this melts in the pan, add milk. (I used rice milk to avoid using regular cow's milk, but if you are tolerant, go for it! I did a 2:2 ratio with flour and butter, and I used somewhere around 2 to 2 1/2 cups of milk)

Here's where it gets good: This is going to become a cheese sauce. So, pick whatever kind of cheese you want to OD on, and dump about a cup of it into the sauce. It will melt pretty quickly.

About this time, your potatoes should be done. After you drain them, dump the sauce on the top. And mash away. I use a regular old potato masher, because I do like my potatoes to have a thicker consistency, but the mashing part is definitely a matter of choice. Salt and pepper to taste!

As a side note: I also added a few slices of cooked bacon to the sauce. I mean, bacon tastes good with anything.

(Who knew you could make spectacular gluten free, casein free, lactose free potatoes?)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gluten free pizza

Ok, so I try not to make this blog too geographically specific, but recently, one of our local pizza places started making gluten-free pizza. So we finally made our way to Lillys Pizza tonight to participate in my first pizza outing in a year. It was pretty exciting.

Well, I had forgotten what a pizza parlor smelled like. But it is good. I was happy the moment I walked in the door. They also started carrying Redbridge to accompany their gluten free pizza. You can't beat pizza and beer. You just can't.

So, we ordered two gluten-free pizzas, cause they're kind of small. They arrived and we just dug right in. There were no formalities at our table. I think that I had an idea that the pizza would taste like regular pizza, only with substitutes that made it gluten-free. So, I was disappointed for a split second. Then I realized that you can never think that a "substitute" could be interchangeable with the "real" thing. My disappointment quickly changed to happiness.

The crust is thin, and it's definitely a rice crust. I'm pretty sure there is no yeast in it, so all of you who have problems with yeast can eat happily. The sauce was pretty tasty, and who can go wrong with a boatload of melted cheese. I know, I'll probably pay for the cheese indulgance, but so far, I'm feeling no pain! I do know, though, that it is possible to go veggie there, so soy cheese is probably an option. You should check on that to be sure.

Either way, I think Lillys has passed the test. It's been about two hours, and I'm feeling pretty good. If you don't count the discomfort of eating a little too much pizza for dinner. If you are in Raleigh, or ever find yourself here, do yourself a favor and check out Lillys. The best thing is that the gluten-free pizza is the same price as the regular. How often does that happen?

Friday, November 21, 2008

The problem with dairy

What I find is that most people understand the gluten free thing. Gluten intolerance as a term is becoming much more widely known and people are coming to some sort of understanding. But then tell them that you cannot eat dairy, and they assume you are lactose intolerant.

And I get that. In fact, somewhere around 50% of diagnosed celiacs are lactose intolerant, at least when they are diagnosed. The enzyme that breaks down lactose, lactase, is produced at the tips of the villi. And when the villi are destroyed because of undiagnosed celiac disease, lactose intolerance usually follows. After a person has been following the gluten free diet for a few months to a year, they, theoretically, should be able to eat dairy products again.

This has not been the case for me. My doctor and I are in discussions about whether I'm lactose intolerant, casein intolerant(which is the protein found in cow's milk), or just plain allergic to dairy. We've pretty much ruled out lactose intolerance, but it would kind of be nice to know. Dairy gives me reflux horribly, as does my other allergy: egg whites.

The casein protein in dairy is similar in structure to gluten, so it's quite possible that I'm intolerant to it. It seems that once you have a food that you cannot eat, others follow. When I initially started the gluten free diet, I thought it was just gluten. I thought that somehow, I'd gotten off easy. Yeah, right! A few months later, I was feeling better, but still having some stomach pains and nausea. Narrowed it down to dairy... then I ate a gluten free pizza with soy cheese and I was sick again. So, soy seems to be making the list, too.

That would be the three, the classic celiac three. No gluten, dairy or soy. At this point, I'm not sure which is harder to stay free from.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Testing gluten free foods

It's getting better.

Good news from WebMD. It seems that scientiests based in the UK and Spain have created a test for gliadin (that evil part of the gluten protein) that is very efficient. You see, the current test takes about eight hours to complete, and as I would think, would put some manufacturers off from using it to declare their foods gluten free. What's even better, is that this new ninety minute test is just as sensitive as it's eight hour counterpart. As if that's not enough, they are trying to make it even faster! Hooray!!

To me this means a few things: of them the foremost is that more companies will be willing to use this test in order to declare more things gluten free. This will be a huge help to us, since we're constantly worrying about those all too vague words: "natural flavoring", "spices", and the like.

This also makes me wonder if the researchers are going to improve the sensitivity of the test. While it's pretty effective, if the testing could go even lower than the standard of 20ppm (which is about the equivalent of one tiny breadcrumb of an entire loaf of bread), that would help a large group of celiacs. You see, some react to even the tiniest amount.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Aloe Vera

It's not just for sunburn.

Recently, I was in a local health food store, and there was a woman there sampling her company's flavored aloe vera juice. It was touted as being 100% natural, organic, cold pressed aloe vera juice. We bought it. My husband said he overall felt better, but I am so sporadic with taking stuff like that, I can't really give an honest opinion.

I DO know, however, that aloe vera juice is regarded as not only a topical healer, but also a digestive aid and internal healer. It's pretty well known that if you suffer with the BIG C (or constipation), aloe vera juice can help to resolve that. Ironically, if you have diarrhea, it will help with that, too. So I guess it's kind of a cure-all.

It has naturally soothing properties, so if you feel "inflammed", and any of you who suffer with any sort of GI disorders know that feeling, start out with about a tablespoon of pure aloe vera juice. I don't recommend going higher than that on the dosage to start with until you know exactly how your body is going to react to it. Generally, people need somewhere around 1/4 cup, but you know yourself, so gauge it accordingly.

Aloe vera would be appropriate for most GI disorders, providing you don't have an intolerance to it. This would include, but not limited to, colitis, ulcerative colitis, constipation, diarrhea, Crohn's Disease, celiac disease, and ulcers.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I know most of you have heard of them. Either acidophilus or bifidobacterium... it's what makes yogurt, well, yogurt.

But why the bacteria? Don't we live in an anti-bacterial society?

What most of us do know is that we always have bacteria in our bodies. But here's some reasons why good bacteria is so important.
  • They help to fight off any bad bacteria that does happen to make it through your stomach. You see, stomach acid deteriorates most live bacteria, so if you get some bad in, it's taken care of way before it gets to your intestines. Probiotics can actually withstand this process.
  • Because they fight bad bacteria, your immune systems is free to do what it does best: look for invaders.
  • If you are taking antibiotics, probiotics are especially helpful in keeping your GI system on track. There's a reason why mom was always shoving yogurt down your throat when you were sick.
  • It's also helpful to take probiotics after traveling abroad, because of exposure to foreign bacterium.
  • Studies have found that probiotics may improve nutrient bioavailability for B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and phosphorus, among others.
  • Parents have reported a 25 percent decrease in diaper rash among babies drinking formula containing probiotics.
  • Probiotics and active bacteria culture may improve lactose intolerance. The bacterial strain commonly used in yogurt can produce lactase enzymes. Therefore, people with lactose intolerance and children suffering from intestinal infection can usually tolerate yogurt with an active culture.
  • Some studies have shown that by regulating intestinal transit time, probiotics ease constipation.
  • Other studies have shown that probiotics, especially acidophilus, promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and reduce the conversion of bile into carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
  • Some studies have found that probiotics may enhance immunity by regulating lymphocytes and antibodies.

Now that you're convinced about the wonderful properties of probiotics, you're wondering where you can get them, right? We've already gone over yogurt, you can also find a yogurt type drink called kefir in the dairy case. Some drinks have it added, but what you're looking for specifically is the term "live, active cultures".

If you're like me and can't really do so much dairy products, you can find them in a capsule form at nearly every pharmacy. They are available OTC and have different brand names; a few that I've seen are Culturelle and Align. Just make sure they have a high amount of cultures, somewhere around a billion. And remember to make sure they're gluten free!!!

The info was taken from the following newspaper article and the Digestive Health Smart Brief published by the American College of Gastroenterology.

Click here for the article.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Coconut milk products...

YUM!!! That's all I can say.

Not being able to tolerate dairy has been more challenging than giving up the gluten. I know it sounds crazy, but giving up gluten was a cakewalk compared to this.

But I've recently come across coconut milk yogurt and coconut milk ice cream. Sounds strange, I know. It's made by this wonderful company called Turtle Mountain, but you'll see it marketed as So Delicious. The yogurt is available in vanilla, blueberry, raspberry, and maybe another flavor or two. My yogurt craving has finally been satisfied.

On to the good stuff though! On my short trip to Whole Foods the other day, I grabbed a pint of cookie dough coconut milk ice cream. I expected it to be great, but oh WOW! It is fantastic. And if you've tried soy ice cream and didn't so much like the texture, this is the answer. It's nice and creamy just like regular ice cream. But the kicker is the cookie dough. Absolutely amazing. I can truly say I never thought I would have cookie dough ice cream again.

So if you need something other than dairy, or you just want to try something new, grab some of this stuff. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today's events

Well, I went to the doctor. We had a nice discussion about the things I could do to further celiac awareness, etc.

When he sat down to talk to me, he started off by saying, "You know, when I was in school, the only time we talked about celiac disease was during the pediatric rotation. Because it was believed to be a childhood disease. And then, while I was doing my gastrointestinal rotations, we still only talked about it during the pediatric rotation."

I don't know why, but actually hearing that come out of his mouth took me by surprise. Perhaps because I wanted to believe otherwise, but maybe more so because he actually admitted it to me. Either way, I had no idea the meaning that his words were about to take on.

So, on the way home, I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up a few things that I can seem to find only there. The gluten-free aisle and frozen section of Whole Foods is always hopping, no matter what time of day. So as usual, there were people milling about the frozen gf section. Among which was an older woman, probably 70, if I had to guess. She had just been diagnosed TODAY with celiac. And as I stood there talking to her, my doctor's words came back to me. Whoever diagnosed her had given her about as much information as they probably learned in med school, and never bothered to learn more.

Twenty minutes later, we parted company. I helped this woman only as much as I could in 20 minutes. But really, what if we got all medical advice from random strangers down the Whole Foods aisles?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pitching the Idea...

So tomorrow I go for my regular appointment with my GI. He's a great doc, I'm very happy that I found him.

But I'll be going with my own agenda. As I mentioned in my very first post, there are far too many people who have gastrointestinal disorders and either have no clue that they need to alter their diet, or have no idea what to include or exclude. So, I'll be pitching my idea that he needs to hire yours truly to do just that. I have found an online Nutritional Consultant program that I am going to present to him, just to get his professional opinion on, and then tell him every reason why he should hire me.

Sure does sound simple enough, hope it works out that way. Truth is, I love food!! And to be able to put that to work for me would just about be my dream job. I'll keep you all updated!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How common is Celiac Disease?

Probably a lot more than you think.

It is estimated that there are 3 million people in the US alone who have celiac Disease. Of that number, only about about 3% are diagnosed. How's this for comparison: celiac is more common that Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis (MS), parkinson's disease AND cystic fibrosis combined. So then why is it so underdiagnosed?

For starters, the list of symptoms is 250 and counting. My worst symptoms were headaches, fatigue and nausea. For someone else it may be mouth sores and joint pain; for another, fibromyalgia. The problem is that doctors aren't even testing for celiac in most patients because it is still considered by many to be "rare". But you know, rare is kind of self-fulfilling, isn't it? For a more exhaustive list of symptoms, check out

And then there's the testing for celiac disease. If it's not administered correctly (again, the whole rare thing coming in to play), it's pretty unreliable. The truth is, no matter how sick I ever got, I would never have shown up on a standard issue celiac panel blood test. And that is why it takes an average of 11 years for a patient to be diagnosed with celiac after they begin to experience symptoms. I guess I should be happy it only took me 2 and a half, huh?

So, if you have some strange symptoms and no one can figure out what's up, ask your doc to do a simple celiac panel. It will only hurt a little.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why no grains?

So, all the time we hear about how great whole grains are for us. But to those of us doing or considering the SCD, they are off limits.

It's really pretty simple. When someone has Celiac, or any other sort of intestinal disorder, the enzymes that would normally break down food molecules are severely damaged, impairing the intestines ability to do what it is made to do: digest. And complex carbohydrates, such as those found in grains, are difficult to digest. With a less than perfect intestinal tract in place, it becomes nearly impossible. What happens then?

When the carbohydrates aren't digested properly, they just kind of sit. The harmful bacteria that normally stays in check in our guts then have a feast. So they feed on the undigested carbs, and then produce by products that just make things worse. Thus goes the cycle. Undigested carbs become food for harmful bacteria, harmful bacteria produce harmful by products which damage the intestines more and so on. From there you go to malabsorption, which causes fatigue and all other sorts of things.

The ideal behind the SCD is getting the bad bacteria under control by limiting the amount of carbs and eating easily digestible food. Once the bad bacteria are under control and the good bacteria are back to normal, often grains can be reintroduced into the diet.

So far, I can tell a difference when I eat grains and when I don't. This is definitely going to take some practice, it's definitely harder than just being gluten-free.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm SCDing

I think.

So I've decided to try this alarmingly cult-like diet called the SCD, which stands for Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I figure I will stick to it at least a month, although the guidebook suggests at least 6 months to a year. That's a long time to commit to, ya know.

So the basic principle behind this diet is that those of us with intestinal drama, and you all know who you are, have an imbalance of gut flora and that this specific diet will help to put things all back into balance again. Here's the hard part: No sugar, no grain, no alcohol. Does anyone understand this??? NO chocolate or wine... you see why I'm not committing for even six months. But, if this helps me return to my normal self, then I guess I'll live.

Essentially, if you have celiac, colitis, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's, you can be sure that your intestines are NOT in good shape. But with the help of food, and I do believe a lot can be cured by the very things we choose or do not choose to put into our mouths, we can help to get our intestines healthy again and therefore return our bodies to a normal state of health.

So I started last night with dinner. Chicken sauteed with some mint leaves and salt, and Spinach Dal, which is lentils with garlic and onions, some sauteed spinach, cilantro and some cumin and tumeric on top. YUM! So far so good, but we'll see what happens when I want to bake cookies or something. I have a feeling that I may have to have the "occasional cheat".

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Can someone explain this genetic link?

Not the missing link... the genetic link that predisposes someone to Celiac Disease.

And just for the record, I had to actually do some research before writing this. Eeek! But that's ok, I've learned my one new thing for today.

So here's what I know so far: I have double copies of the HLA DQA1*05-DQB1*0201 gene. To those of you who know what that means, I am totally impressed. To those who don't, it means a lot. Mostly, that I carry two copies of the genes that put someone at risk for Celiac Disease (thanks Mom and Dad!) and am therefore at a 31x higher risk than the general population.

Translation please! Ok... so HLA stands for Human Leukocyte Antigens. These antigens are found on the surface of pretty much every cell in the body, but particularly on lymphocytes, which are the white blood cells of the immune system. HLA antigens do a very important work- they roam through the immune system and determine if other cells are "self" or "nonself". They are found on inflammatory cells throughout the lining of the intestine as a part of its constant seek and find.

Since we have two parents, we inherit two slightly different versions of these proteins. And they determine what sort of reaction we have to different foreign substances. So enter the Celiac/genetic link. These antigens are also believed to be a part in the development of genetically predisposed diseases, such as diabetes, and my good friend Celiac Disease.

Which brings up back around to the DQ genes. They encode particular HLA proteins that are on the cell surface. These genes are referred to as HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8. The DQ2 or DQ8 proteins on the surface of lymphocytes have a groove that interacts with and binds to the gliadin fragment (the toxic portion of gluten). So to put it very simply, the immune cells are genetically geared to react to gluten.

The interesting part of this all is that somewhere around 30% of the population carries the genes. But not all of these people will have Celiac, they're merely predisposed. It's amazing what the study of genetics has taught us.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eating Out

It's like playing Russian roulette. Seriously.

There are a few chains that have gone out of their way to create a gluten free menu. And this is a wonderful thing. But honestly, I'm not much of a chain person. So this has created a bit of a dilemma for me. There are a ton of great restaurants here in Raleigh, but I'm pretty skeptical about a lot of them.

My husband and I went to one of the premier restaurants around here... got sick. It was partially my fault, as our waitress didn't know what gluten was. You live and learn. I do better going to Chipotle; never gotten sick there. But yesterday, I didn't take my lunch to work, and so I went next door to a local chain to get a salad. I've eaten it a few times, no ill effects. I was actually pretty excited that I found something different that caused zero reaction in my body.

Yesterday was the day the bullet went off. And I was out from yesterday afternoon until mid afternoon today. It's midnight, and I'm still feeling a little wanky. Yes, wanky. So, what may in itself be a safe food, becomes dangerous because a piece of bread was transported over it and sprinkled some crumbs, or the person handling the food didn't change their gloves, or whatever other possibility you can think of in a busy restaurant.

And that, my friends, is the hardest part of this life. Planning every single thing that you eat, for fear that you get sick. Always worrying when someone else prepares your food that they are being careless.