Category Archives: Uncategorized

Everyone’s a Celiac Expert Now

Last weekend I met two guys in bars who said they were gluten free. A year ago I would have thought, “No way! SOULMATES!” Now I try to suppress the urge to roll my eyes, and then ask them something like, “Oh really? Do you have celiac disease? How long have you been gluten free?”

One guy’s response was, “Well, I’m gluten free…on Thursdays!

What are you even talking about, bro? Is that a joke?

Context: This guy was out at the bar for his high school reunion. Because the planning committee knew that he was “gluten free,” they actually brought Redbridge beer to the event for him. What was he drinking as he was blathering on about his “gluten free diet”? Bud Light.

So, that guy was obviously just a jerk. But, it’s an example of how nowadays it seems like everyone thinks that they’re an expert when it comes to celiac disease.

Typically I try not to make my celiac disease or diet a topic at bars or when meeting new people, because it’s kind of a downer and there are other things I’d like to talk about. But now that my job is all about food allergies, it usually gets brought up within the first five minutes of talking to someone, immediately following the “So, what do you do?” question.

Then I end up answering all kinds of questions about what I eat, what I can’t eat, when I was diagnosed, what I can drink, what I can’t drink, etc. Then I’m subject to whatever cliche or tired commentary this person wants to give me. News flash: just because you saw something on Dr. Oz doesn’t make you an expert.

Things like: “Did you know that Dominos has gluten free pizza now?”

Grr. That was like 9 months ago, and I would never eat it because of cross contamination. Thanks though…

Sometimes I think about what life will be like in 5-10 years. Will all of the trend eaters fade away and just let us live our celiac hermit lifestyle? Will so many people be gluten free that we can finally stop making it a topic of debate and bar conversation?

Until then I’m going to just grin and bear it, I guess.

Have you had any interactions with these gluten free wannabes? Dish!

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When Celiac really sucks

I’d say 90% of the time, I’m fine with having Celiac disease. Sure, it’s annoying and more difficult to eat out. Sure, I can’t partake in the Pop-Tart craze in my office. I can deal.

But there are those moments – those times when I just want to throw my hands up and say, “I give up! Just give me a feeding tube for the rest of my life and put an end to this whole ‘Eating’ thing.”

Case and point: 

Last week was a long one at work, and on top of that I offered to take a friend to the airport. At 4am. At BWI, which is an hour from my apartment and the opposite direction from my office. So I drive to the airport and figure I should just go right to the office – get in extra early and avoid driving through the city.

Hunger struck while I was driving at 5:30am like a freight train. I ran through the options in my head: try to find a 24 hour CVS, wait until the grocery store opened at 8am…

Then 30 minutes later I saw the beaming golden arches of a McDonald’s. I was getting frantic-hungry and knew they had coffee and orange juice, and maybe hash browns? Were they gluten free? I pulled into the drive thru and tried to look it up on my phone but couldn’t find an answer in time. I scanned the menu and didn’t see anything else I could get, so figured I’d just buy the hash browns and check before I ate them. At least I’d have coffee and orange juice – right?

The drive thru guy asks, “Would you like cream in your coffee? How many?” I say “Yes. Two.” I get my hash browns and drinks, and pull over to investigate the hash browns. According to McDonald’s ingredient list, the hash browns were not gluten free.

GRR.

I get my blood sugar up a bit with the juice, but my stomach is growling and not happy that it can’t have the hash browns. I pull into the office thinking I’ll just stick it out until I can go to the grocery store. I’ll drink my coffee and do some work, it’ll be fine.

No, not fine.

I take a sip of my “coffee” and it’s cold. And thick…

It was a FULL CUP OF CREAM.

No coffee. ALL CREAM.

cream

Fml.

Hungry. Not-caffeinated. Tired. Cold.

THIS is when Celiac really sucks.

When I just need food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, organic, or good for me. I just needed any kind of food at all and couldn’t find it.

In conclusion – McDonalds needs more gluten free options. Or there need to be more restaurants that open at 5am. And now I keep gluten free protein bars in my glove compartment, so I guess I learned my lesson.

Anyone else have a gluten-free horror story? What are your last-resort food options?

Seeing a Celiac specialist for the first time

Recently I decided that it was high time for me to get a check up on how my poor ole intestines and body are doing. The last time I got blood work /a physical done was about two years ago and it was normal, but I have never been to a Celiac specialist since my diagnosis in 2007, so I figured they would be much more helpful. Awhile back I decided to give up the majority of dairy products, which seems to have helped, but I have ongoing symptoms that I’m hoping this new doc can help with.

I went to the George Washington Medical Center, and my experience couldn’t have been better. The doctor (a gastroenterologist) was extremely knowledgable, and presented me with a few options for a course of treatment.

One option included eating gluten for two months to test my diagnosis. While it was tempting to have a doctor-approved gluten binge, I declined and went with the other option: a endoscopy and colonoscopy to see what damage there is to my intestines and if I have IBS or something else on top of my Celiac Disease.

celiac blood test results

Good news is I got my blood work back and the Celiac Disease Comprehensive was clean!

Bad news is (see above) I have to get an endoscopy/colonoscopy, which sounds like just about the least pleasant thing I can imagine. But, if there’s something I can do to get my health back in top form, I’ll just have to power through it.

I’d love tips/advice on my upcoming procedure – I plan on stocking up on jello and tea for the day of fasting, but any help is appreciated!

And a resource for those of you in the DC area – the DC Celiac Support Group keeps a list of favorite doctors in the area if you’re looking for one! Find it here.

Beanfields Chips: move over Doritos!

It’s a miracle that most Doritos are gluten free. They’re available everywhere, and bring you right back to pizza parties in the 3rd grade. However, no one feels great after eating a bag of Doritos. Your tongue turns bright orange and you haven’t eaten anything with nutritional value. 

But what if you could have a chip that tasted eerily similar to a Dorito, only made out of beans and rice? With a good dose of protein and fiber? AND they’re low in sodium, low in fat, and gluten free? 

Enter Beanfields!

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The good people at Beanfields sent me samples of all of their flavors to try, but I think that the Nacho or Pico De Gallo ones are my favorites. They’re light and crispy, and completely snackable. The Sea Salt and Unsalted are more suited to dipping in hummus or salsa and would make a great alternative to the less-healthy corn tortilla chips.

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The sad thing is that when i looked in this box I thought, “Wow! I have a lifetime supply of chips!” Then two weeks later they were all gone. 

Use the store locator on Beanfield’s website to find them at a store near you! 

Brunch at Estadio: go for the cheesecake

Last weekend I was hoping to take my dad to Birch and Barley for brunch, but after finding out there was a 45 minute wait we went with Estadio instead for some Spanish tapas.

I got the scallops with cauliflower and salbitxada. I originally wanted to get the halibut, but the waiter informed me that romesco tomato sauce has bread in it (?!) I guess they take normal tomato sauce and blend in some stale bread. It’s basically a landmine for celiacs. Tricky tricky…

 

I also got a side of mushrooms to share. Mmm fungus.

 

The entire point of this post is to tell you to go eat this manchego and pistachio cheesecake. It’s not advertised as being gluten free, but it is. And it’s amazing.

The crust is just sweetened pistachios, but the cake itself is so good. It’s not too sweet because of the manchego, and the caramel stuff on top is a bit salty. Such a special treat, and the closest thing I had to birthday cake this year.

 

Estadio
1520 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005

Another gluten free hangover cure

I already did a post about foods that are great for a hangover (jalapeno pizza with an egg on top and french fries). But I think I have determined that the preeminent gluten free hangover cure is…drumroll please…

Huevos rancheros! Bonus points if the tortillas are fried, and it comes with fried potatoes on the side like mine did this weekend.

This lovely artery-clogging meal was brought to me by Scion in Dupont. They have gluten free icons on their menu (incredibly helpful), as well as $13 bottomless mimosas and a free fruit buffet to replenish those vitamins.

Cheese = good. Salsa = good. Beans = good. Throw in a heavy dose of grease and you’ve got yourself a quality meal.

My other favorite fried thing at Scion is their hand-cut herbed fries. Dedicated fryer for the win.

 

Scion also has some healthier options, of course, but don’t ask me about those since apparently I only consume carbohydrates and grease when I go there.

Other gluten free items on their menu that would be great for soothing a hangover = potato nachos and lobster hash.

Scion
2100 P Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

Pip’s Place: THE Gluten Free Cakery

I was in New York City this weekend, and you know what that means – bakeries! When I get to the city I pretty much throw any health awareness out the window and consume only baked goods for at least one meal a day.

I’d been dying to go to Pip’s Place since they opened, so that was my first stop.

The interior was so cute. I think if I had a bakery of my own, this is exactly what it would look like. And the feeling of walking into a bakery where you can eat everything? Just pure elation.

After mulling it over and getting some recommendations from the friendly staff – I landed on a snickerdoodle cookie, a chocolate chip cookie, and a Heath layered bar.

They had a bunch of varieties of cookies, pecan pie, rye bread, banana chip bread – I could go there every day for a month and not get the same thing.

Quite a few things were dairy free as well, like these adorable lemon tarts.

But this guy. He was the star of the show. A shortbread cookie, topped with caramel, topped with a thick layer of chocolate, finished off with Heath bar crumbles on top.

Seriously, just one bite and I was beside myself. I had to ration it over two days so I could savor it longer.

I want to live in Pip’s Place and eat these bars for every meal. Or at least give the owner a giant hug for making them. Put this place on your gluten free bucket list.

Pip’s Place
1729-31 1st Ave
New York, NY