Category Archives: Tips

DC Gluten Free News Round Up

1. Bier Baron now carrying Omission beer

After a glorious Michigan victory over Michigan State this weekend, I headed to Bier Baron in Dupont for a gluten free beer. Watching your friends drink beer all day at a bar while you have mixed drinks can sure make a girl thirsty!

I was psyched to see that Bier Baron now has Omission pale ale on their menu. However, they were out when I went 😦

But, our awesome waiter was kind enough to bring me all three of the other gluten free beers they have, on the house! After passing them around the table, my friends confirmed that the New Planet Off Grid is kind of funky. I’ve never been a fan of New Grist, but when you have them side-by-side, it actually tastes quite like the St. Peter’s (both are sorghum based and light beers, so it makes sense).

2. Vace Italian Deli in Cleveland Park has a crap ton of gluten free pasta

Even though I live about a five minute walk from Vace Italian Deli, I only went in once before since I only ever saw people buying pizza there. A reader tipped me off (thanks, Fede!) that they have a bunch of authentic Italian pastas that are gluten free!

They have corn riccioli, rice gigli, and one pasta made with squid ink (plus the naturally gluten free risotto). Pair one of these with a homemade sauce (they carry them fresh and frozen), and you’ve got yourself a meal! One more win for my neighborhood!

3. The Maryland crab soup at Clyde’s is gluten free

I went to the last game in the NLDS series (heartbreaker), and was freezing cold and standing up for about six hours. So when I got to Clyde’s in Chinatown and found out that their Maryland crab soup is gluten free, I was overjoyed. Two bowls later and I was feeling slightly better about the Nats losing, and much warmer.

Just a few things happening around this great city in the gluten free realm!

The worst things you can say to someone who’s gluten free

People who don’t know a lot (or anything) about Celiac disease can often say some hurtful, ignorant, or just plain annoying things when the topic comes up. So here are my top four things you should never say to someone who needs to eat gluten free, and four that you should say (or that I appreciate when they’re said to me).

Never say:

4. “How much weight have you lost?” or “Well no wonder you’re so skinny!”

3. “Come on, just one bite won’t hurt! This is so good!”

2. “Well have you gotten tested? How do you know you have it?”

1. “I could never do that. I love bread too much! (giggle)”

Okay to say:

4. “Wow, that sucks. But I’m glad you’re feeling better now!”

3. “You know, I just saw a new restaurant with a gluten free menu!”

2. “That’s good to know, thanks for telling me about it. I’ll make sure to have some gluten free snacks on hand next time you come over!”

1. “I don’t know much about Celiac disease. Can you tell me more?”

Any other things that people have said to you that were either helpful or hurtful (or made you just want to punch them in the nose)?

Gluten free good things

A few gluten free finds and things that made me happy lately.

1. This sign at Vic’s Bagel Bar in NYC. Their gluten free bagels are seriously drool-worthy, and they are serious about preventing cross contamination for those of us with Celiac disease. Props to them!

2. These cocoa pebbles treats are gluten free! They’re awful for you, but who doesn’t love a little Fred Flinstone-endorsed sugar high?

3. I was quoted in a CNBC article on the food allergy business based off of my blog post about the cost of eating gluten free where I estimated that I spend over a grand more on food than the average single woman my age. So exciting!

As always, sometimes it’s hard to find the bright spots in the world of Celiac disease, but you can always find a way 🙂

Celiac Disease in six words

SMITH magazine is asking readers to write a six word memoir on various topics, so I decided to create a few on Celiac Disease (the negative and the positive).

The Negative: 

No gluten ever, all your life

Your gut is a war zone

No wheat, rye, barley or fun

Headaches, cramping, and a smelly bathroom

The Positive: 

Eating whole foods is better anyway

Like your body – you get stronger!

You can still eat Snickers bars

Can’t eat entire box of Poptarts

 

Those are mine. What six words would you use to describe Celiac Disease? 

 

How to tell your co-workers you have Celiac Disease

Having to eat gluten free in the workplace can be tricky. I’ve been fortunate to have some very supportive coworkers over the years who have brought in gluten free snacks to meetings and made sure that I’ve had something I can eat at events. Recently I transitioned to a new team, however, and I was trying to think of a tactful way to let my new team members know that I have to follow a gluten free diet.

So I used National Celiac Awareness day as an “in” to broach the topic. I think that you could do this at other times too though (like as a nice gesture on a casual Friday, for example).

I sent out this email to my team:

Hi folks!

Some of you may know that I have Celiac Disease and have to eat a gluten free diet, but you probably didn’t know that today is National Celiac Awareness Day! For the occasion I got some apples from the farmer’s market, which are on the 2nd floor front desk (and are naturally gluten free, of course).

And in the spirit of spreading awareness, check out this checklist of symptoms to see if you or someone you know may have it (1 out of 133 people do, actually)! http://www.celiaccentral.org/disease-symptoms-checklist/

Best,

Anna

I had a few people tell me how much they appreciated the email (and the snack) – and one person even told me a story about her sister, who she thinks may have Celiacs as well.

Any other ideas for how you can tell your coworkers? 

Celiac confessions

Last night I went to Free Taco Thursdays at The Front Page in Dupont. The set up is a buffet-style taco bar with pulled pork, flour tortillas, and a variety of toppings (black beans, salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc.). At first I figured I’d just avoid the whole thing, but then I thought, “Well, I could just get black beans and lettuce and toppings and make my own taco salad-type dish.” Plus I figured I should eat something before starting on $2.75 whiskey drinks.

So, I stood in line for about 10 minutes – but when I got up to the table I realized that people were taking the spoons for the toppings and kind of mashing them into their flour tortillas. (I know, how rude). So, I knew there was cross-contamination going on.

And this is what went down. I considered leaving the line and abandoning my plate…but I didn’t. I ate the toppings anyway. 

Today I feel like Denver the guilty dog.

It was one of only a few times when I just said “to hell with it” and put myself at risk. Other similar situations are with something like a cheese platter where there are crackers on it and I just eat the cheese that’s farthest away from them, for example.

I felt like I needed to confess to someone about my indiscretion. And it’s also a reminder to myself and all of us celiacs that we make mistakes. We’re human. Next time I go I’ll eat before or bring something to munch on at the bar so I can avoid the tacastrophies (heehee).

Have you ever knowingly put yourself at risk for cross-contamination? What’s your celiac confession? 

Celiacs unite! My take on the gluten free community

I love the gluten free community – in person and online.

When I meet someone in person who has Celiac Disease we have an instant friendship and endless topics to discuss. It’s so refreshing to talk to someone who understands exactly what you’re talking about – someone to gripe with, to share tips with, ask for advice, and to try new gluten free foods with. As much as non-celiacs can try to empathize – really, they just can’t fully understand.

The online celiac community is such a great group of people. Some are experts in the kitchen, some are advocates for research, some review gluten free companies and products, and some just wax poetic about the trials of living gluten free. Every day I learn something new from the celiac community, and can’t imagine navigating this disease without the help of my fellow bloggers and tweeters.

I’ve got love for celiacs – but our community has also come under attack from many people. Those who think that we’re faking it – that Celiac Disease doesn’t need to be taken seriously. Companies that exploit the gluten free label to increase profits (I’m lookin’ at you – California Pizza Kitchen and Dominos!). Or celebrities who don’t realize that they are harming people with a legitimate disease when they casually adopt a gluten free diet in an attempt to lose weight.

So what can we do about it?

  1. Focus on Celiac Disease, not gluten-free eating.

While it’s much easier to talk in terms of “gluten free” foods – I think it’s really important for us to move toward a “Safe for Celiacs” mentality. If we can get greater recognition/understanding of Celiac Disease, and the difference between gluten intolerance and Celiac disease, I think that we will all be better off. While I believe there definitely is a spectrum of levels of gluten intolerance – if we can work toward making foods and restaurants safe for celiacs, then they will be safe for everyone eating gluten free!

  1. Don’t shut up.

I love seeing the celiac community united in fighting something that we feel is hurting us. I loved the flurry of tweets at Domino’s or the barrage of WTF blog posts on our latest celebrity “spokespeople”.  By making our voices heard, we can make sure that we’re letting them know that it’s not okay, and that we will not support them as a community. (While I’m on the topic – go sign the petition on the NFCA Amber Designation).

  1. Bring on the men!

While Celiac Disease is more present in women than men, I’d love to see some more celiac studs join our forces! I think in some ways “gluten free” has become too closely associated with girly bakeries (not that I’m not hopelessly devoted to Babycakes), complicated recipes, or general healthy-living/dieting. I think having a few more good men on our side would help diversify opinions and bring new perspectives. So – if you have a gluten dude of your own in your life – tell him to start a blog or join the Twittersphere!

What do you think the celiac community could benefit from? Where do we go from here?

GlutenAid – does it work?

I got glutened last night. And it was entirely my fault (hate when that happens).

What was it this time? A double chocolatey chip frappuccino from Starbucks. I’d never gotten one before (usually I stick to the “light” mocha or coffee ones since I know they are gluten free) – but my boyfriend said it was delicious so we decided to split one. I don’t know why I didn’t think to check before I started sipping, I guess I just assumed that because all of the other ones were this one would be too. *Kicks self in the butt*

After about five sips I knew something was up (we’ll call it my glutuition) and I quickly did a Google search on my phone. Of course – the chocolate chips contain gluten.

Then I moved into damage control mode, bracing for my stomach to start churning. After about 30 minutes I was dead tired and my stomach was getting bloated – but nothing too horrible. My boyfriend, wanting to help, started looking up all kinds of “what to do if you get glutened” information and said that a lot of people take Benadryl to reduce hives/rashes (which I’ve gotten before). I’d never tried it so I figured it couldn’t hurt, and we headed to CVS to pick some up. (Check out my usual post-glutening routine here).

CVS was out of Benadryl (must be allergy season), but he spotted something else in the same aisle… Glutenaid?!

There is zero information online about this stuff, but I figured that $14 is worth doing an experiment (plus the placebo effect can be pretty powerful).  The active ingredients are: protease, DPP-IV and amylase. The usage instructions say to “Take 1 capsule with the first bite of any meal containing gluten, or when food preparation is unknown.”

Hmm…I’m skeptical. Let’s see what they say it does:

“CVS/pharmacy GlutenAid is specially formulated for individuals who feel unwell after eating wheat or grain and thus may have an intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein that most often is found in grains such as barley, rye, wheat, and spelt. The enzyme DPP-IV is well known for its ability to break down gluten proteins, which may reduce the onset of symptoms associated with gluten intolerance. CVS/pharmacy GlutenAid is also formulated to assist in the digestion of the carbohydrate portion of grains (such as wheat) by means of the enzyme amylase. CVS/pharmacy GlutenAid works well in conjunction with restrictive diets such as gluten free/casein free and others. This product is not intended to replace a gluten free diet for those with Celiac Disease.

So, basically it will break down the gluten faster.

After looking into the ingredients and figuring that it couldn’t hurt me, I took one GlutenAid and three B-12 vitamins. Surprisingly, I didn’t find myself rushing to the bathroom 30 minutes – 1 hour after I had the drink like I expected to. I slept through the night with very minor symptoms.

Then this morning I woke up and it hit. Although not as bad as it has been. It seems like the GlutenAid might have actually done what it said it did, which was “reduce the onset of symptoms”.

Now, I’m in no way going to ever take this and intentionally ingest gluten. And I’m also in no way endorsing this product – all celiacs know that there is no cure and there is no way to find a loophole around a strict gluten free diet.

After this incident, and after every time I slip up and get glutened I will end up becoming super obsessively strict with my diet afterwards. But – if I do ever have a similar situation, I will take a GlutenAid again. Even if it was just the placebo effect, or if it only delayed/reduced my usual symptoms by a few hours, it certainly didn’t hurt. Next time I see my doctor I’m going to talk it over with him and see if he thinks there’s any validity to the formula.

Any one else try this stuff? Or anyone have any other home remedies after getting glutened? 

Best grits in DC

Going out to breakfast or brunch can be a challenge for celiacs. French toast, pancakes, English muffins – gluten seems to be the star of the show in most dishes. Nine times out of 10 I end up eating an omelette or some kind of eggs, which is mostly okay with me. Except for the fact that they usually come with hash browns or home fries, and I’m always skeptical of how they are made (they could be fried, put on a griddle next to the toast, come from a mix that has them coated in flour, etc.)

So when a restaurant has grits on the menu, they are always my go-to substitute. They’re creamy, cheesy, buttery, and good ole’ Southern cookin’.

These are my top three restaurants for grits that I’ve found in DC yet.

1. Ted’s Bulletin

Seriously amazing cheese grits. They’re like a finer, condensed macaroni and cheese.This isn’t the most colorful plate in the world, but so delicious.

2. Vinoteca

Nice and cheesy, just how I like ’em. These come with big pieces of cheddar on top. Try them with the smoked salmon omelette.

3. Art and Soul

I only had a taste of my friend’s grits here as a part of their shrimp and grits dish at dinner, but they serve them as a side dish at brunch as well. If Art Smith can’t make a good pot of grits, then I don’t know who can.

Any places I’m missing for good grits? Or anything else you substitute for toast while eating breakfast out? 

Gluten Free Grey Market DC: Second Edition

On my first trip to the DC Grey Market, I was slightly disappointed with the amount of gluten free options. Although I did have some amazing nut cookies from Sweet Nuttings.

This time, there were two vendors with gluten free products. First up was savory taro fritters from Noshables. I was a bit hesitant at first because I wasn’t a fan of poi or taro when I went to Hawaii, but I decided to give it a go.

It’s greasy, chewy, and unique tasting. Basically it’s ground or shredded taro, mixed with tapioca starch, sugar, and water – then rolled into balls and deep fried. A recipe for them can be found here.

I ate that while I walked around looking for something sweet, which I found at Whisking Through Life in the form of gluten free carrot cake.

Honestly I went against my better judgement in trying this cake because they had the samples of the carrot cake right on top of the regular samples, which indicates to me that the baker isn’t exactly stringent about cross contamination. But it looked so good, and the cake itself was separate from the other things, so I got a slice (and thankfully didn’t come to regret it).

That’s after I ate half of it. It was really good! Full of grated carrots, coconut, and raisins. And the slice was so big it took me three days to finish.

Next time hopefully my friend from Kate Bakes can get a spot at the Grey Market and up the representation of gluten free vendors!