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!