BBQ Season Opens with UDI’s Buns!

I can’t even remember the last time I ate a hamburger without a fork and knife.  Growing up hamburgers were always being made in our house.  A little ketchup, maybe a pickle on a nice bun – yum!  We’d hang out poolside eating and swimming, then eating more and swimming more.  Those were the days!

Fast forward to today … as I mentioned in my previous UDI’s post, it’s very hard to come by a good bread for anything, let alone a good bun.  Most of the ones I’ve either made at home or bought crumble in my hands before even making it to my mouth.  It’s like trying to pick up sandcastle!  It just can’t be done. 

This past weekend – yes, the weekend before Memorial Day, I had the privaledge of sampling UDI’s new hambuger buns!  The weather was great, and my sister-in-law was visiting (also GF), so I knew it was a great time to grill up some burgers and give them a go. 

Well … without sounding to gushing – they were fantastic.  Both of us cheers’d as we began to bite into our burgers – sans fork and knife – for the first time in ages.  The buns held up amazingly to the juice of the burger and the condiments.  They didn’t crumble, get soggy, or fall apart even as we progressed through dinner.  We didn’t even toast them either! 

The texture of the bun was great.  Unlike other brands I’ve tasted, UDIs buns are not grainy and hold up to their gluten-filled cousins.  The flavor was spot on as well.  It just tasted like a bun – nothing more to it, really.

So … in short, to all you summer-grilling, beach-going, crab salads eating folks out there – turn on the heat and let summer begin – and leave the forks and knives at home!

Life Happens…

So I had originally planned  a trip report from my recent trip to Washington DC; but life has gotten a little in the way.

As we said we would always be honest, so I will give you some information of what it going on.  I have not been feeling all that well lately so I went to the Dr. and subsequently ended up at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.  Well the truth of the matter is my gluten numbers are way too high and malabsorption is still occurring.  So I am having a biopsy on Friday to find out what is going on.  So I am very sorry that I did not have time to finish the post.  Jason will post on Thursday and I will have my trip report for you on next Tuesday…As I said “Life Happens”

To make up for it I thought I would share another picture from my friend Mark. This is the hat that President Lincoln was wearing the night that he was assassinated.  It was displayed in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Gotta Love New England

Was going to post a review of  “Gluten Free DC” today but due to flight delays getting into Boston, it didn’t really happen.  Sorry; it will be ready for Tuesday.  I will tell you about some of the great and not so great experiences that I had on my recent mini-vacation.

Picture courtesy of the great “Mark Hornbuckle”

Yes, Virginia, potatoes are gluten-free!

Recently, a relative of mine was so excited when I walked in the door, she blurted out – “I made gluten-free mashed potatoes for you!”  I really had to hold in my response – I didn’t want to spoil the moment.  Now, don’t get me wrong, when you are new to gluten free, you pretty much think everything has gluten in it, and assume you can’t eat anything, so it’s natural to think ALL starches mihave gluten.  Well … that’s just not true.  Potatoes, rice, tapioca, and buckwheat (not at all related to wheat) are all naturally gluten-free.  Of course, one reason to not eat any of these is if they may have been packaged in a facility that also packages glutenous items – it all depends on your level of sensitivity and caution.  Celiac.com has posted a list of gluten-free safe foods and ingredients which is worth keeping on hand should you be out at a grocery store and wonder  – “Can I have taro root?”.  (Potatoes, mashed or otherwise are on the list!)

So, eat all the potatoes you want.  Have a baked one with some Greek yogurt in place of sour cream – tastes delicious.  Going with the purest of packaging or growing some of the items yourself, the following are starches that are, in fact, gluten free:

  • Potatoes
  • Rice -white and brown
  • Oats (oats naturally don’t have gluten but are often processed in the same facilities as wheat, so use caution)
  • Corn
  • Tapioca
  • Millet
  • Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash – zucchini, yellow, acorn, etc.
  • Beans – string, garbanzo, white, kidney, lima, etc. 
  • Soy
  • Peas – technically a vegetable, but a starchy one at that
  • Carrots
  • Arrowroot
  • Chia – yes, as in the ‘pet’
  • Sorghum

So, when you grill up that steak, along with some great portobello mushrooms (just a drizzle of olive oil), serve it up with a side of anything from the above.  You’ll be just as full as if you ate a side os glutenous pasta or macaroni salad.  There’s plenty to enjoy that’s naturally gluten free, and many of these items are healthier choices to boot!

I choose number 2!!

(This has nothing to do with the previous post about the lack of fiber in my diet)

I had a much longer post that I was going to write today but I thought that I would give you a little update of what is going on my Celiac condition in hopes of helping people who may be in the same boat.

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease almost three months ago now.  Right after my diagnosis, and start of a very strict gluten free diet, I stated to feel much better.  I had more energy, more stamina, more focus; in other words I was feeling great!!

I wish I could say that it lasted, but it hasn’t.  Due to some other medical issues I was having, I have been to the doctor a few times over the last month.  The doctor decided to run a Celiac Panel to see how I was doing with my diet.  Now, I know I am being as strict as anyone can be, and not even thinking about cheating, and really try to stay away from things that may cross contaminate me, but I suppose he wanted to check anyway.

Even with being very strict, my Celiac panel is not where it should be.  It could mean that I am getting gluten somewhere (I can’t even fathom a guess).  It could also me that I have a different kind of Celiac that I had not heard about until yesterday called Refractory Celiac Disease.  RCD is a type of Celiac Disease that requires other interventions besides just a strict gluten free diet.

What these interventions are, I am not sure and neither was my doctor (understandable as he is general internist).  So I am in the process of either getting a referral from the hospital in which my doctor practices, or getting an appointment at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.  In the meantime, I am healthy, all my nutrient levels are up, just not where they should be.  I am and will be OK.

That last line is the reason I wrote this post.  I did not write the post for people to say “Poor me”; I did not write the post because I am feeling sorry for myself.  I did write the post because I wanted people to know that it isn’t always going to be easy and sometimes it sucks and you will not always get the news that you want.

At that point you have two choices; 1. to wallow in self-pity or 2.  get on…and move on and find out what is going on with your body and take care of it as soon as possible.

For the record, I choose number 2!!

People don’t eat grass…cows do!!

I am not a scientist, or a nutritionist, or a doctor; so I cannot tell you hard and fast facts about why gluten is bad.  I can only tell you why I think it is bad!

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  It is what makes pizza dough stretchy, gives bread is sponginess, and is what thickens soups and sauces.  You can’t see it; you can’t even find a picture of it on the internet.  It is just there! It is hidden in pizza, pasta, bread, wraps, rolls and most processed foods.  Gluten truly is a staple of the American diet.

Two reasons why we are so sensitive to gluten are:

1. The lack of genetic adaption to eat grasses, humans are not meant to eat grass, cows are!  Wheat was introduced in the middle ages in Europe and about 30 percent of people of European descent carry the gene for Celiac disease.  I guess I won the genetic lottery, being of Irish and English descent and all (NOT!!).

2. American strains of wheat are genetically modified to have a much higher gluten content.  That is why the bread we eat is so moist and fresh.  This “Super” Gluten is now part nearly all wheat strains grown in the United States.

The inability to digest wheat is an auto immune reaction - in some it may cause stomach issues, in others it may cause more serious auto immune diseases.  You can find plenty of research studies on the internet which link sensitivity to gluten to many things.  I am not going to list them all here but you can find a great list in the Elisabeth Hasselbeck book that I reviewed before.

For others, like myself, it is much more serious.  Our body looks at gluten like a foreign agent trying to invade the body.   When it invades, it flattens the villi in our small intestines causing malabsorbtion of nutrients.  This malabsorbtion can cause a load of other problems.  In my case in particular, all of my internal systems started to malfuction due to the fact I was so malnourished.

My internist said that when he looked at my vitamin D levels, he thought it had to be a mistake.  It is supposed to be in the hundreds…mine was 4!!  So as you can see in some cases it can be a little bad and in others like mine it can be very bad in some cases even deadly!!

But the reason I decided to write this post is far more personal.  My youngest son has had some of the same problems as me – he gets canker sores; he has some stomach issues; he can be quite pale; he has not grown as much as his brother did at his age, and he’s GROUCHY all the time.  So naturally we thought it was best to have him tested.

While we were waiting for the results, which take a while to return, we switched him to a gluten free diet.  Within a week he was not getting many, if any, cankers.  The color had come back into his face, and he was a pleasure to be around.  We were convinced that the test was going to come back positive.  Well we were wrong – all the tests came back negative; we know that there are false negatives and want to try to get a little more info from a gastroenterologist who understands the disease better than his regular pediatrician.  So for now he will stay on the diet…

But what is most confusing is the change in his health, if he is in fact not allergic, why is all this stuff getting better.  Which brought me to the conclusion that maybe gluten is just BAD for anyone.  After all “People don’t eat grass, cows do!”

Maybe everyone should cut down or cut gluten out of their diets to see if maybe, just maybe, what ails them may go away.

As I said, this is one yoda’s opinion, I am not a scientist or a doctor.   I do know, however, that cutting down or cutting out gluten is not easy and extremely frustrating.  I also know it can cause other problems due to the nutrional things that are missing in gluten free foods.  As avid readers of our blog know, I had a little problem caused by lack of fiber.

So I am not saying “do this now, throw out every bit of food with gluten in it”.  What I am saying is if you have an unexplained illness or are just feeling lousy all the time, maybe this may be an option that you want to explore.  But if you do decide to explore this option, do your research first and never do anything this extreme without checking with your healthcare provider first.

So, if you are looking for me, I will be celebrating Celiac awareness month by registering my new trademark – “People don’t eat grass … cows do!!”  Moo!

Celiac Awareness Month 2011

It seems nowadays that for every month of the year there are at least a dozen diseases or causes to be ‘aware’ of.  May is no exception, and it happens to be Celiac Awareness month.  So, what does it mean to be ‘aware’ of Celiac.   To us gluten free yodas it means the following:

Simply knowing that Celiac exists,

Being sensitive to those who have Celiac or maintain a gluten free diet,

Understanding that gluten free is not a fad and we aren’t doing it to be ‘cool’

Having Celiac disease isn’t a wish that someone makes while they are blowing out their birthday candles.  It’s not something that someone prays for like a kid wishing for a trip to Disney World.  However, it is a welcome diagnosis to those who have suffered in pain and extreme discomfort for many, many years.  It’s not a diagnosis one hopes for, but it is an explanation.  It’s a relief when it is determined.  I know this may seem like a stretch, but it’s about one’s own awareness of Celiac that brings to light a plan of attack, an escape.  Being aware opens up one’s options for moving forward, feeling better, and living.

Being aware of Celiac is being aware of gluten.  Gluten is an elastic protein that is found in many grains, such as wheat, rye, or barley.  It’s what we often see in bread dough making is stretch and stay together even as you continue to kneed it.  In Celiac, it is the gliadin portion of the gluten that causes an immune response resulting in damaged intestines, hence the malabsorption of nutrients the body needs to thrive.

When your body decides not to absorb nutrients, not to nourish itself, it can be difficult to see a way out.  The wonderful thing about the way out is that it is more often one of the most natural forms of treatment – diet.  A strict gluten free diet allows one’s body to rejuvenate, to grow and rebuild itself to become what it knows best to do – to thrive, absorb nutrients, and fuel the rest of the body.  Although a gluten free diet may be supplemented with additional vitamins and minerals, it’s a gluten free diet that is at the core of treatment.

Those of us with Celiac or gluten intolerance are already ‘aware’, so a month of Celiac awareness isn’t really about ‘us’ – it’s really about educating others on the disease and the diet.  So, how can we educate the public and others in our lives … well, here are some places to start:

  1. Celiac Disease Foundation - a wealth of information about the disease, treating it and further education
  2. Celiac.com - pretty much the oldest site out there dedicated to gluten free and celiac – everything from Q&A, rescipes, the shopping mall, to advice and forums
  3. Recognizing Celiac Disease - a very down to earth book explaining the disease, symptoms and how to treat them

In addition to the above, a new forum has been created as an expansion of GlutenFreeWorks.com called GlutenFreeNetWorks – join in the conversation here and you’ll learn a lot about what’s going on in the world of Celiac and gluten free.  We’ll see you there!

So, if you have Celiac, or gluten intolerance, take this month to bring more awareness of the disease to the world – start locally with a friend, or join in the online conversation.  You may just find that the person sitting next to you on the train is gluten free too, and looking for a good place to eat!

Copyright 2011 © Gluten Free Yodas