Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My GF lasgena...and man, it's goooooood!

I had posted a blog about my making a lasgena and gf boston creme cake and never thought of posting the recipes for them. So I decided to post my GF lasgena recipe now:
P.S. I just adapted it from the one I grew up eating that my mom made and then, as I got older, I learned to make.

Ingredients
1 box of gf lasgena (I use Tinkyada GF lasgena)
One can or jar of pasta sauce
Kraft cheese slices (between 6 and 8 slices)
GF bread crumbs
Cheddar (grated)
Ground chicken
Tomatoes (diced)
Italian seasoning
Oregano
Pepper
Sea salt

Instructions
Boil large pot of water. Put noodles in to cook (I cook them as the water boils, usually once the water is boiled, the noodles are done). Add oil to prevent noodles from sticking. Noodles are done when they are soft.
At the same time, brown ground chicken in pan.
Drain water from noodles and add in cold water to cool the noodles off quicker because you have to handle them with your hands.
Get a large rectangular casserole dish or lasgena pan. Start the layers.
First layer-lasgena noodles (I usually get four across), sauce (I don't bother heating up the sauce first), seasonings, ground chicken. Make sure the noodles are well covered in sauce to ensure that the noodles don't dry out.
Second layer-noodles, sauce, cheese slices (I lay these side by side, they add a nice creaminess) and diced tomatoes.
Third and final layer-noodles, sauce, seasonings, cheddar and GF bread crumbs sprinkled on top.
Put in oven, preheated to 375 F and cook for 30-45 mins. It's done when the cheese starts browning on top.
Enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nuts and Bolts, GF style

One of my best friends, Lyndsie, has always been a lot like me in that when Christmas time comes, she wants to bake and make lots of fun nibbles. She's also a full time working mom of one (and another on the way) and so the fact that she even made something that I could eat for her Christmas party we went to this past weekend, was a huge thing! I know how little time I have to make stuff...ok, so the time I do have I usually try to nap...but I do make plans to do stuff sometimes and sometimes I even succeed!
Anyway, long story short, when we got to her Christmas party, she started showing me the gluten free things she had MADE for me! And true to Lyndsie form, she had put some out but even more importantly, she had set aside a bunch for me to take home. Bless her!! She made me gf brownies with M&M's and this gf rice chex nuts and bolts mixture.
Here's my connection to Nuts and Bolts. Growing up, every Christmas Eve was always spent with my Dad's family at my Nana and Grampy's house and Nana ALWAYS made Nuts & Bolts which consisted of pretzels, cheerios, shreddies and peanuts. When I moved to Ontario at 16, I missed that tradition and after one disastrous time of making it myself, I called Nana and got her recipe and proceeded to make it every Christmas for my family and friends when we had them over for our annual Christmas party. Everyone loved it and I got to nibble on it too. Then, when I got Celiac, I stopped making it because I couldn't justify making something that if it didn't get all eaten, I was stuck with a ton of this awesome nuts and bolts I COULDN'T EAT. So I just didn't. Sure, I've seen recipes since then, but honestly, I just didn't want to start all over again, never knowing if it would taste good or not. But then...I had Lyndsie's mix...and I was converted to the dark side! After taking a handful and eating it (gluten free pretzels, peanuts, gf rice chex, and various seasonings) and going "OMG!", I immediately asked for the recipe. When she showed it to me, I thought about trying to write it all down and knowing I would lose it, I did the next best thing, I took a picture of it with my Blackberry so I could refer to it later. So I know now that I have the recipe and hopefully over the holidays, I can find a little time to make them myself! Yeah!! Success! Thanks again Lyndsie!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Trying to bake Gluten free

I love being so aware of all the options out here for me now. I just found a new place in Mississauga, called Healthy Planet, that is a big health food store, with LOTS of gluten free options. They will learn to know me well! I am excited when I see new products coming down the pipeline. Working for a restaurant magazine, I am seeing more and more showing up in the pages about companies adding gluten free products, restaurants offering gluten free options and more and more gluten free companies entering the game. Despite the fact that it still costs a fair bit to eat my GF stuff, I am really happy to see all this new stuff and get to sample it. Is it any wonder I'm in danger of busting my jeans? Crap...
I've always had a sweet tooth and because of my grandmother and my mom, I developed a love of baking from an early age. Making things from scratch was something I was always good at...plus with a single mom, it was more cost effective too. I learned pretty quick how to substitute when we didn't have an ingredient and what to add when the mixture in the bowl did NOT look like it was supposed to. Baking at Christmas was especially fun for me. No boundaries, no restrictions, just bake what I could with what I had before Christmas. I was in heaven and people who came to our house over the holidays were always happy to see my Nuts & Bolts, Chocolate Chubbie cookies, decorated sugar cookies, homemade donuts, fudge, spice cake, banana chocolate chip bread, etc. But then when Celiac changed my life, I lost my passion for it.
I hated not just being able to buy a massive bag of flour and go to town. Since I loved eating the sweets as much as my family and friends, I looked at the new situation as "what's the point anymore?" If I couldn't even EAT my desserts and yummies, why bother? So, truthfully, I gave up. As the market for gluten free products improved, I turned to mixes. For a baker, it kind of feels like a cop out. But when faced with having to purchase 8 different flours, starches and xantham gum (waaaay too expensive for this bargain shopper!), I looked at a cake mix ringing in at $4 and took the easy way out. I got the flavour I wanted but I didn't feel very "proud" of my accomplishments as I used to with all my "baking from scratch" successes. I felt like I was cheating, taking shortcuts. Then I had a child...yeah, time suddenly became something that I had when my baby was sleeping...and that wasn't much. Between her, working, my husband and sleep, I suddenly found baking with a mix not only necessary (if I wanted yummy treats) but way less stressful. So I succumbed.
Since then, I have found something that has made me feel like less of a failure, a GF all purpose flour mix...essentially giving me back my freedom of tossing the flour into my recipe and going for it. No complicated math equations to figure out what percentage of each flour and starch was needed to give me the correct "dough" like texture I required.
And here's another secret I found. I had cookbooks filled with recipes that had stains on them, well turned corners on the pages and flour marks on them from years of successful bakes. I didn't really want to give those books up. They held such great memories for me. But what to do with them? I had also received a few GF cookbooks but again, by having me mixing several types of flour and starches, along with a particular gum, I truthfully hadn't really used the books. So I thought about it and realized that if I had a good GF flour, I could still make those tried and tested recipes...and they would still be good.
My baking life became much more happy when I realized that I could enjoy the process again.
So, even though I know I won't have much time for a lot of Christmas baking, I plan to do at least a few things from scratch so that as my little two year old grows up, she will learn how to make a "bowl" or "well" with the dry ingredients, mix in the wet ingredients, use a beater (I even used a MANUAL in my day!), knead dough with her hands, make icing, use a fork to crimp a pie crust, and maybe she'll even enjoy it and can pass it on to her kids someday. She'll still know how to use mixes for baking but I love that I can have my old baker self, mix it in with my new GF baker self and find a peace somewhere in the middle. Now where did I put my pastry cutter?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Eating out GF

Eating at home is easy, comfortable, cheaper...and boring. Sometimes it's nice not to have to agonize over what to cook, then make the necessary mess and then have to clean it all up after. But man, sometimes, eating out is MORE stressful!
My husband doesn't have celiac so he's good to go anywhere. Me? I can't go anywhere because truthfully, despite more and more people understanding how to deal with allergies, I still seem to end up with the dum dums who don't know and I get sick.
But there are a few places I eat and don't fear being glutened. Boston Pizza (with their super yummy...albeit small pizza), Milestones (I could die a happy death eating their gf tomato basil spaghettini!) and that's about it. I have a bone to pick with all these restaurants offering "gluten free options". Wow, thanks for letting me know I can safely eat all the different kinds of sauce for wings...but NOT the wings. So what the heck am I supposed to put the sauce on? My fingers? And telling me I can eat the salad but like none of the dressings? I went to Kelsey's and asked for their allergen menu...wow, was THAT ever disappointing! Pretty much my only option was a steak and potato. In fact, all I ever eat when I go out is either a plain chicken breast with a potato or a steak with a potato. Joy! Grr...
Would it be so hard to keep a small stash of gluten free stuff to make for us poor pathetic Celiacs? A loaf of bread for garlic bread? Some dry gf pasta for dinner? One dessert other than plain vanilla ice cream? An appetizer? I know small restaurants can't do that...not enough space...but these big chains have massive kitchens, counter space, ovens, grills, etc. It really wouldn't be that hard. I do it in my kitchen...juggle gf and regular food and it's just a matter of proper storage and a few supplies kept together and a clean surface...heck, let me in there for 10 minutes and I can make my own damn supper...ok, probably defeating the purpose of eating out...but I want savory, exciting meals again! I pay $18 for a plain steak and potato...it sucks! I'd rather have a yummy bowl of gf pasta, some oven toasted cheesy gf garlic bread and a apple crumble for dessert...is that TOO much to ask for? Sigh...now I'm hungry...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One kick ass gluten free meal


Last night I was motivated...to cook...yep, I made dinner AND dessert. I decided to make my homemade lasgena, which is good for us and usually lasts us two to three days (by which point we're done eating it anyway!) and I had seen in the Sobey's flyer this Boston Cream Cake and I was totally drooling and thought "I want to eat that!" Then I thought, "Why don't I MAKE that?" So I bought a gluten free cake mix (Betty Crocker), a jar of icing, a box of Jello Instant pudding (vanilla) and made the pudding, baked the cake, cooled it, sliced it in half and smeared on the pudding put the top half on and slathered it in chocolate icing. It's pretty darn good and I'm proud of it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Don't gluten me please!

I went to a concert last week at Ontario Place (Def Leppard with Heart-beyond amazing fyi!) and though I knew I would have trouble finding something to eat, my friends and I hit up the Lakeside Grille and I hoped for the best (it was either that or Pizza Pizza or Chicken Chicken or vendors). I got a plain cheesburger with no bun but after handing me one WITH a bun (though I told both the cashier AND the server), they FINALLY got me a plain burger. I loaded it up with ketchup and cut up and ate my burger (I swear I'm gonna start carrying gf buns with me!). It wasn't fabulous but it filled the hunger gap better than a bag of chips. I was fine most of the night but just in case the beef hurt me, I popped in two Tums, hoping to alleviate any gurgling. I got home, went to bed and two hours later, woke up curled into a ball and in agony. I made it to the bathroom and proceeded to curse out the food for the rest of the night. I got up only to drop off Abby at daycare (cause I sure as heck couldn't take care of a rambuctious toddler while dealing with being sick like this) and crawled back into bed. I managed to get some tea and dry cereal in me and by 3 p.m., managed to finish off my gluten attack. After being prodded by a chef and good friend, I emailed Ontario Place and expressed my disappointment in both lack of food options for those of us with food allergies and lack of awareness of how to treat it (the server looked at me like I was high on crack!). I got a response saying they took it "very seriously" and told me to bring my own food in a cooler and store it there. Thanks for your comments and please come again. Yeah, screw you! No offering me a free pass or voucher or anything. Just thanks for your comments and we'll do what we can. Pish posh...I hate being tossed aside. You think I asked to be like this? That I enjoy going to places that treat me like I have the plague and just want me to go away? Grrr...I lost a day of work, respect for an establishment and who knows what my insides are looking like? I do my best to be careful...but it's like no matter how hard I try, I get sick and then back to square one...I wish I could just give this up like it was a sucky diet...guess not huh?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our numbers are growing...we're coming to take you out!

Last week, I was in Chapters looking for a specific book about dealing with cognitive behaviour therapy (check my other blog for more about me and my therapy!) and ended up in the recipe books section. Yeah, I can't follow that logic either...but anyway...I did my usual scan for gluten free cookbooks (even though I don't buy them cause I just tweak all my recipes to make them gluten free) and couldn't believe how MANY there were. I swear when I was first diagnosed, there were TWO. Yes, TWO...and they were both by the same author. Cooking GF and Baking GF. Now, I found three SHELVES of gluten free (and other allergy free ones as well) cookbooks. My jaw hit the ground (I'm still bruised). I couldn't believe it. GF cookies, GF cakes, GF meals, GF...well, you get the point...it was damn impressive! I still didn't buy any but I stayed there for a little bit just taking it in and feeling pride that my "disease" was finally getting more recognition. In other news, I now have two other family members with Celiac (my dad's sister and my grandmother, his mom) and at least four friends with either diagnosed Celiacs (two-Rachel and Sarah) and two friends who eat gluten free because they feel better (Kelly and Natalie). In addition, one of my coworkers is Celiac and my boss is gluten intolerant. Sadly, this makes me happy. Not to see them suffer or watch as they struggle to find food but to have other people that understand EXACTLY what I am going through is like validation that I'm not just doing this to piss people off or being picky. I can bemoan the cost of food to them, share in the excitement of a new gluten free product that doesn't taste like a lump of sawdust, swap recipes, give each other tips on great places to eat or foods to try. When I go to eat at their house, I can relax knowing they aren't going to send me to the bathroom. When I was diagnosed 5 years ago, I knew NO ONE with my issues...now, I'm forming an army! Oh yeah!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Expanding my culinary horizons

It's funny when I think back to before I had Celiac. I've always been a "picky" eater. I don't really like veggies and I like my junk food too much. I know...time to shoot me huh? I know the arguments, I know I need to eat healthier...but well, I suck at it. But once I was diagnosed with Celiac, suddenly I had to rethink my entire food philosophy. A lot of things I had tried over the years (not usually of my own accord and I usually fought it kicking and screaming...I'm really sorry Mom!) but being an adult, I could choose to just not eat it or even buy it and who would ever know. But having to change a lot of my foods, I suddenly floundered to find ways to make my gf stuff taste relatively good. I delved into the world of seasonings. I experimented with new flavours and discovered something cool. I wasn't actually doing TOO badly. It forced me out of my comfort zone of food and suddenly I was eating roasted red pepper and tomato soup (cause I can no longer eat just plain tomato soup), I was eating spinach and four cheese pizza (instead of pepperoni or ham and cheese), I was dicing tomatoes and eating them in my pasta to give it more flavour, cooking stuff with chopped up onions, red and green peppers (even though I don't eat the peppers, I ate sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and even tried asparagus...I'm working on it people!!) and making fruit smoothies with flax seeds and tons of fruit. I've even bought the V8 Fusion juice for Abby and drink it myself...because it's a sneaky way to get the veggies in me! And having Abby, I'm very conscious of how my hang ups can become hers. So I've always given her a variety of fruits and veggies...she's eaten cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, asparagus, as well as the common peas, carrots, corn, beans, etc. When I was feeding her the jarred stuff, I forced myself to take a bite (or mouthful) of whatever she was eating just to make myself aware of what was going into her mouth...fyi...pasty veggies NOT good! LOL
Now, whenever I cook, I try to reach for something different for different flavours. I keep onions in my fridge all the time, as well as carrots, tomatoes and tons of fruit. If I won't eat it straight up, I mince, dice, chop, cook or blend it to make it more palatable for my picky little tastebuds. I think I've even impressed my mom and aunt when they see what I'm eating...especially my poor mom who tried her darnedest to get veggies in my tightly closed mouth many many MANY times! She's very proud...I asked. I hope Abby doesn't share my aversion for veggies but I hope to be a good role model for trying stuff at least. I won't force it on her but if I can at least try a bite, so can she. If we don't like it, we don't eat it. But if she or I (or Clayton) likes it, I will make sure that it's something I keep in the house for us. Cause tastebuds can develop and change as we grow up. I still like my junk food but I enjoy a good mixed spring mix (with arugula, romaine, spinach-when before it was iceberg or nothing) salad, with grilled chicken, hard boiled eggs chopped up, cheese, tomatoes and topped off with honey dijon dressing. I actually crave it! So even us picky eaters can be taught...even if it takes us 33 years to get there! But if I eat at your house and don't eat your veggies (yes, I'm talking about you Lyndsie!!!) I still love you for trying but my lips and mouth are firmly closed...give me time, I might eventually get there...just as long as you have a damn good dessert! Gluten free of course!

Monday, July 4, 2011

You know you are a Celiac if...

I had read this eons ago when I was first diagnosed but a lot is still true today!

YOU KNOW YOU ARE A CELIAC IF...

...you've ever had to give a doctor a crash course in Celiac 101.
...you weep at picnics, parties, receptions, and breakfast, lunch, dinner.
...you've "brown bagged it" to an elegant dinner
...a 7 course meal is a 1 course meal for you -Lettuce.
...you've installed bookcases in your bathroom.
...you've driven more than 40 miles to buy a cookie.
...it takes you 4 hours to grocery shop and your eyesight is ruined.
...you hold your breath through the bakery section.
...you feel like you need a loan to pay the grocery bill.
...your bread weighs more than a moon rock and just happens to resemble one as well.
...you've disinherited loved ones for putting their knife in your mayo.
...you've brought a suitcase full of food with you on an over night trip
...your family thinks you're crazy for not tasting their new chocolate chip cookie recipe, because surely a little nibble couldn't hurt right?
...you can spell transglutaminase and dermatitis herpetiformis.
...you show up at the annual church pancake breakfast with a mask and lettuce rollups
...having solid poop is the highlight of your day.
...you have actually doodled a new cartoon dog on your notes named "Sprue"
...you have actually considered using a gluten-free bagel for a hockey puck
...you've mastered saying "I actually enjoy MY food" (without your face twitching)
... you hide the gluten-free cookies when guests come over, so they don't eat them.
...you read the ingredient label on green tea - plain green tea.
...you pay relatives back east exorbitant shipping rates to send you a $12 six pack of gluten-free beer.
...you cried when you saw your usually careful significant other or family member brushing the crumbs off their hands (from making a gluten-containing sandwich) RIGHT OVER the open utensil drawer
...you hear of a new health food store opening in a city close by and get ridiculously excited only to drive there, spend 2 hours walking around, reading labels, only to leave empty handed (hahahaha...sob sob...yep!)
...you take a list of safe drinks to the bar with you, and actually consult the bartender before you order a drink.
...it drives you crazy when someone says they completely understand your diet, they did Atkins.
...people roll their eyes at you when you say "no thank you" to someone's gluten filled dessert
.....your friend invites you over for your birthday and want to make you a gluten free birthday cake, but you plead with them not to, because although you're trying to seem like you don't want to put them through the hassle, you're secretly terrified of cross contamination.
...your 'favorites' sites are mostly celiac sites
...you've mastered the art of lying when other people ask you if you're hungry.
...you go to a potluck at a friends place and your dish is gluten-free -you dive into it first so that you get something to eat before others contaminate it. (yep!)
...you long to look at the contents of other people's fridges and pantries just to see if you can eat anything (yep, at my mom's and friend's house)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gluten Free energy bar that doesn't look and taste like cat litter

So I recently found this Gluten Free energy bar at Superstore...this will sound funny but Abby actually found it. I was in the organic/gluten free section at Superstore and she was just down the aisle, playing with the energy bars (she was taking them out of their display box and putting them back in...and then carrying the box down to me). Ok, don't judge...we cleaned it all up and she was entertained...at least she wasn't trying to eat them! So, as we were leaving to go pay, she goes by the section again and swipes a bar out of the box. I glance at it and say "Thank you Abby but Momma probably can't eat this." Then I went to put it back and realized it said "Gluten Free" right on it...hmm...so I looked at the ingredients and then the "flavour" and the 50% sticker on it and decided to give it a try. It's called "Bumble Bar." I tried the Chocolate Crisp (are you shocked? LOL) and surprisingly, it was super yummy (even if at $2.49 a pop regular price, was a little more than a traditional bar would be). I actually bought two this week and they are perfect for me to nibble on during my drive into work...I have to eat something on my drive or I may fall asleep...AND bonus? Tastes great with my morning commute tea! So I highly recommend these bars...especially if they go on sale. I'm still skeptical of other energy bars, which always look and taste like flavoured chalk (gluten free or not), but I was brave enough to try this one and it was good...maybe some day, I'll try some of the other ones...maybe...or I'll just keep eating these until I'm sick of them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eating La Vida Loca...

If you are eating gluten free, you already know that it's a complicated lifestyle. I swear I spend more time sorting my cupboards and figuring out foods then I spend commuting (and I commute a lot!). Our cupboards have an invisible line down them...one side is all my gluten free booty and the other side is the gluten infested stuff that my husband and baby girl survive on. Some stuff has merged, such as pasta and well, pasta, but the rest is still divided. After almost four years of living with a Celiac, if I write GF on something, my husband knows not to eat it out of fear of getting stabbed with a butter knife. I have my own peanut butter, jam, soy sauce, butter and mayonnaise (until we use this stuff up and get back to the squeezeable variety). In face, squeezeable ketchups, mustard, relish and mayo are WAY easier in our lives! I don't have my own toaster (yet, but soon), but we have a four slice toaster and the right side is only for my toast. My husband has learned to keep my stuff separate, not to use utensils that have touched gluten to touch my stuff. Yep, sometimes it's exhausting!
But thanks to my very accommodating husband, we make it work. Going out, that's a different story! But I have to say that since I've been diagnosed, most of the people in my life have been fabulous about my "condition," I've been known to get sappy over a special cheesecake set aside just for me that has no graham crust, which means I too can enjoy a homemade dessert with everyone. Another friend, my best friend, is always on the look out for yummy gluten free treats and knows how hard it is to find stuff!
But even the best intentions, people still don't really understand my disease and how double dipping a knife in butter or putting my toast in the toaster oven AFTER regular toast has been prepared can be such a danger to me. Sometimes I get so tired of explaining why gluten can be in so many things that don't make sense, like lipstick, or toothpaste, or seasonings, or soy sauce, or bacon...some days, I just want to wake up and not look at a single label and just eat whatever the heck I feel like...so what happens if I feel like Tim Hortons Timbits?

Monday, June 13, 2011

After the diagnosis...

So after I was diagnosed, back in 2007, I had very little information and everyone I knew was completely baffled about what to do with me. I wasn't known as being a super adventurous eater to begin with but I definitely enjoyed eating out and had no problems eating at other people's homes...now? BIG difference...huge!
I went from being just that girl who didn't eat her veggies to "holy-crap-what-do-we-feed-her" girl? Going out for food at a restaurant and going to other people's homes to eat were now something I dreaded. How could they hope to understand what I was dealing with if I barely understood it?
Those early days, I admit, I didn't go out much to eat. In order to order food, I now had to spend at least 10-15 minutes trying to find something on the menu and then another 5-10 minutes explaining to the waitress what gluten was and why I couldn't eat it. Truthfully, I was embarrassed about being Celiac. I used to laugh at those portrayed in movies asking for "no wheat, no seasonings, no sugar, this on the side, that on the side, hold the ketchup, hold the bun, hold the phone...now I was supposed to say all that stuff...I fully expected them to spit in my food and throw invisible darts at my head. I would never be welcome in a restaurant again!
Suddenly, my favourite restaurants (East Side Mario's, Boston Pizza, etc) became the WORST places for me to go! But luckily for me, I had a friend who had family members who also had Celiac and I knew that I COULD eat at Swiss Chalet...yep, I was sick of that place VERY quickly since it was the ONLY place I knew I could eat at safely.
After I cleaned out my cupboards of everything that I couldn't eat and my fiance (we had gotten engaged along this journey) didn't like and my mom got a ton of food for HER cupboards, I now had very little to work with. So I tackled my first main hurdle...the grocery store. I used to LOVE grocery shopping! Finding yummy snacks, planning meals, it was fun...now? I dreaded what I couldn't have and knew that it was going to take me eons to find anything I could eat.
That first grocery store run could have been a marathon. I'm not admitting to how long I was there...and my eyes were worn out from reading labels. If you've never done this...let me tell you, you would be SURPRISED to know what's in your favourite foods...I know I was. Wandering down the aisles hoping for something, anything that would give me hope, I finally stumbled (and yes, at this point I was probably stumbling) onto the last two aisles...the organic section. Typically I blew past these two aisles, carrying my Poptarts, sugary cereal and wheat pasta, but suddenly I thought "what if?" I wandered down the first aisle and nearly jumped into the freezer in pure joy when I saw the words "gluten free" written on not just one but SEVERAL items...I think I bought half of what they had there. The next aisle, the "dry" aisle, had cereals, flours (don't get me started on THAT whole section!) and snacks. I was in heaven...if heaven could BE in hell! I bought way too much but I had accomplished a lot in that one trip. I learned a lot and managed to find out that places DID know about gluten free and that it was possible to eat more than fruits and veggies. Now, what to do with all this information swilling in my brain?? Hmmm...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blogging Gluten Free!

I decided to branch out and talk about what my brain is full of...no, not that...gluten free living. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease five years ago and I went from knowing absolutely NOTHING about gluten, Celiac disease or gluten free foods to well, I'm a hoarder of gluten free knowledge now and decided I need to pass it on. Let's start with the basics about me.
I grew up in a single parent family, with lots of cereal, pasta, bread and eating whatever I wanted. I had stomach issues as a kid but nothing that could be linked to one thing. When I was sick, my mom gave me dry toast, soda crackers and chicken noodle soup. I lived on grilled cheese sandwiches, peanut butter slathered on bread and every kind of cereal I could get my hands on. I loved cookies, adored snack crackers and pizza. Until I was in my mid 20's, I did just fine. Then I started getting tired all the time. I'd wake up in the middle of the night with insane stomach cramps that would have me huddled in a ball unable to sleep. When I was 27, I mentioned all that to my doctor, who suggested we do some blood work to see what the issue was. I got a bunch of blood taken and came back and discovered that everything was fine...except my transglutaminase levels were higher than normal. Normal levels were under 20, mine were 25...not enough to be alarmed but high enough to follow up on it. She threw some possibilities around and then mentioned Celiac disease...I went "Huh?" I had never even HEARD of Celiac!! So I went home, Googled it and thought "No way I want THAT!" We followed up a few months later with an appointment to see a gastroenterologist and then had a colonscopy and endoscopy and awaited the results...I was still in denial. Then I had the follow up appointment and found out what I had been dreading for months. I had Celiac disease. Suddenly, I had no idea what I was supposed to eat. A meeting with a dietician assured me that I could still eat chocolate so I didn't have to jump off a bridge...thank GOODNESS! But suddenly my world was due to be completely different...and my boyfriend's...forever. There is NO cure for Celiac, just lifelong avoidance of gluten. I knew nothing about gluten (which I know now is a protein that is present in all wheat, oats, rye, barley and their counterparts) and didn't even know there was more types of flour than just FLOUR. I had a LOT to learn. Luckily, I'm an info junkie so learning wasn't a concern...but the diet? That was a different story!