Under Construction….

I’ve decided split my personal blogging from my blogging about living gluten-free, not that I’ve been doing much blogging to begin with. While there may be some overlap, and the new blog is barely functional, please bear with me as I get my life together, on the internet and in real time.

Check out my new page at

No Wheat? No Barley? No Rye? Oh, MY! 

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It’s been almost 2 months since I posted…

…and its the time of year to get sappy! After a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family, which my Mom did successfully gluten-free for the second year in  a row, it’s time to embrace the Christmas spirit.

Looking back on the past year and a half since my diagnosis, I never believed I could have been so blessed. My family has jumped into supporting me with my new lifestyle 110%, and being gluten-free has even given me some new opportunities. I didn’t want to post it and jinx it, but I am one of the new ambassadors for Udi’s and Glutino! I did my phone interview today, and was offered a position. I’m not quite sure what it will entail (the information packet is one it’s way), all I know is I am beyond excited to have this opportunity.

Like my Mom said, “You had more fun then anyone person should have when it comes to food.” (In reference to Appetite for Awareness). I love food! I am so excited to have the opportunity to work as a representative for the brands who made my transition into gluten-free eating easier. I’m beyond excited to attend events similar to Appetite for Awareness, though on a smaller scale, and bring some joy to others new to this Celiac, or simply gluten-free, lifestyle I have been forced to embrace.

Saying I have been forced to embrace seems negative. It has not been a negative experience; challenging, yes, negative, no. I still struggle day to day with food choices, especially when I’m out with friends. For example, last month, after telling a bartender I couldn’t have Bailey’s, she gave me a shot with Bailey’s in it. So, since I was going to be miserable anyway, I ate a McDonald’s Cheeseburger. McDonald’s may not be top of the line, but holy crap did I forget what real bread tasted like. I was so tempted to say F**** it all and abandon my gluten-free ways, and then it hit me. The days (lol, jk weeks!) of stomach cramping, bloating, unmentionable bathroom activities.

It was like “oh yeahhhhh, I’m gluten-free for a reason.” I hope this opportunity gives me a chance to show people that it’s not all bad being gluten-free. McDonald’s may be delicious, but so are Udi’s hamburger rolls!

I’m also lucky that my parents are who they are. Besides their support with my gluten-free lifestyle (which sometimes I think they feel guilty about since it IS a genetic disease), they have supported me in everything I’ve done in life. “You want to go to school in Rhode Island? Sure, go ahead! You want to transfer schools in RI? Sure, go ahead! Oh you want to move home from RI? Sure, go ahead! Oh you want to drop out of school? Sure, go ahead! Oh you want to go to Rowan? Sure, go ahead! Oh you want your own place, but don’t have the money? Sure, go ahead!” Seriously, they have been there through everything, and supported me through it all.

And they don’t even expect Christmas presents (though I partially feel that’s because they’d rather me not buy them Christmas presents, then for me to buy them then ask for money for my bills this month).

I know this is stuff more appropriate to New Years and all that jazz, but posts on Pinterest (silly I know) got me thinking. I really am lucky that this holiday season I have the people around me that I do. Though I may be single, I have the best family, including my two kitties, in the world.

In-case I don’t make it to another post before Christmas (since finals/the mall is ruining my life) and since Hanukkah has already started…Happy Non-Denominational Greetings to all!

Blue Snowflake Holiday Card Front

Enjoy Grumpy Cat in a Sleigh (I wish he were mine)

And Charlie with a tree (both are mine)

IMG_20121208_221252

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Surviving Hurricane Sandy

Okay, so we were lucky here in Glassboro and there wasn’t much survival needed. There seems to be very little damage to the town (though I haven’t left my apartment in a few days), and power never went out. However, huge portions of New Jersey were severely affected, and my thoughts and prayers go out to them. We were lucky here, and I am grateful for it.

The past couple weeks have been crazy, and I’m using my time off from school due to Sandy to catch up on a few things. My GRE is this Saturday and I’m in full-blown panic mode because of it. It’s also mid-term time at Rowan; Sandy bought me some time on my hardest mid-term thankfully. The only other mid-term I had I managed to get a 100% on!

It hasn’t been all studying though. Last week, the new boy and I went to the Philadelphia Art Museum for one of his classes. Afterwards, wandered around the Philadelphia Water Works enjoying the beautiful weather. I got some great pictures of Boat House Row, and it was nice to take a day off and just spend some time together.

After the museum we were starving, so I convinced him to drive over to Center City to go to Pure Tacos, a place I’ve been dying to go to since the Appetite for Awareness Event back in early September. Their nacho’s were one of my favorite dishes at Appetite for Awareness, and going there lived up to my expectations. I wound up getting the Classic Chicken Tacos, he got the beef, and then we got Chicken Bacon Ranch nachos to share. Despite being too much food, it was worth it. I really enjoyed walking into a place and not having to worry about ordering off a special menu, or if despite ordering off the “gluten-free” menu, getting sick anyways. Everything was delicious and messy and I will definitely be going back there again!

This weekend I gave myself a day off from studying to go to a Halloween party and a friend of mines house. The boy and I dressed up as peanut butter and jelly. I am proud to say my first attempt at making Halloween costumes, though frustrating, was a success!

Plus it was so much cheaper than buying the cheesy store made costumes, I think I’m going to have to make my costume every year now.

Thanksgiving is coming up and I told my mom that I would bring some gluten-free items so she doesn’t have to worry about doing all the baking/cooking for me. If anyone has any suggestions for items I can make that are cheap, and pretty easy, I’d appreciate it!

I hope everyone survived the storm as well as I did!

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School is ruining my life…

…but I love it!

I’ve been meaning to blog all week since there are so many things I forgot about Appetite for Awareness. Mainly Sweet Note Bakery and her amazing bagels. When I tried one the first words out of my mouth were “It tastes like a real bagel.” Best compliment you can give any one breaking into the gluten-free industry!

Also notable were Tonya’s gluten-free soft pretzels. Being a Philly native, I miss soft pretzels more than anything! It was such a treat to finally get to eat one again.

Back to school, I’m a few weeks in and my course load is killing me. The other day I had 4 tests in one day. I spent 15 hours studying the day before. Plus I got glutened because I wasn’t careful when I was out at the bar last weekend. So my memory was failing and I was trying to memorize criminal laws…not a great combo!

I keep telling myself that this semester is just prep work for next semester when I’m supposed to have 2 graduate level courses. I am so excited to not only be finishing my bachelors but to be starting my masters at the same time. I have never enjoyed school like I am right now.

The cats are their usual annoying selves, as I’m writing this Charlie (the fat one) is laying on my arms making typing very difficult. I’m amazed at the difference in him since I adopted him a few months ago. He is so much fun, has lost a little weight, and his coat is so silky now. Him and Miley have been getting along and they seem to actually enjoy each others company.

Sadly the Phillies season has ended, but despite some terrible football the Eagles are 3-1! GO BIRDS!

I’ve been trying to bake more lately. I’m currently in the process of testing Gluvana’s claim that you can use their flour 1 for 1 in recipes. I used a basic brownie recipe I found online as my first test and it yielded some pretty good results. I need to try something a little more complicated than brownies to really make a claim in either direction, but I promise to update once I do!

I also have just discovered Gluten Dude, a witty, insightful, and honest blog about living with Celiac disease. Thank you Pinterest for leading me to him, its rare to find someone so candid about the issues that come with Celiac, as well as the issues that persist even with the gluten-free diet.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Appetite for Awareness: A Gluten-Free Cooking Spree…

and one of the greatest days of my life! I’ve been thinking about this blog post since I got home from Appetite for Awareness, Sunday night, and I haven’t been able to get my thoughts together enough to write. I’m not even sure my thoughts are together enough now.

I went to A4A, camera in hand, ready to take pictures of everything to put on my blog. Within five minutes, I was so overwhelmed that I probably didn’t even know my own name. There were cookies, cakes, brownies, bread, Mexican food, Italian food, raw food, soups; I could go on forever. There was hard cider, and beer, and Cabot cheddar (a personal favorite). Needless to say, I did not get many pictures. I was too busy asking questions and stuffing my face.

While there were over 30 wonderful restaurants, there was a handful that stuck out to me:

Pure Tacos wins my vote for best food. They were serving chicken nachos with home-made tortilla chips, pico de gallo, cheese and shredded chicken. I’m not kidding when I say I went back for seconds and thirds of the nachos.

Jar Bar stuck out to me because they were the first raw food bar that I had ever heard of. The owner was one of the nicest women I’ve met, and truly dedicated to the cause. They had a chai drink made with home-made almond milk and spices. It was delicious; as was their chocolate mousse. I’ve never eaten a completely raw meal, but her dedication made me interested to go in and try.

Ristorante Panorama gets a shout out because they had seriously one of the most delicious pesto sauces I’ve ever had. My mom talked to the chef about his recipe it was so good.

Casona of Collingswood had a ceviche as their dish. I don’t do seafood, but my dad does, and he was raving about it. Collingswood is also pretty local for me, and their menu is huge. The best part is there is no need for a separate gluten-free menu. Everything that is gluten-free is marked already, and the chef knows which dishes are to be safe. I’m thinking about dragging my parents there for Sunday brunch one week. Breakfast is one of the hardest meals to eat out, I’ve found, and their Casona Breakfast with Cuban shredded beef and arepa sounds like something I need to try.

Last but without a doubt not least, there was Pasta Pomodoro. Located in Voorhees, NJ, I’ve eaten there and blogged about them before. It was great to finally meet the owner and dedicated chef of Pasta Pomodoro. My mom and I had eaten there about 3 weeks ago, and she’s been telling my dad they need to go back. It was great that he could try some of the options, even if he doesn’t have to eat gluten-free, before going to eat there. Naturally, Pasta Pomodoro won the fan favorite award at the event. Dining there is one of the best experiences you can have at a restaurant as a Celiac, and their dedication to gluten-free cooking made them deserving of the fan favorite award.

On to the sweets:

Sweet Freedom Bakery was there. They had both brownies and blondies that were delicious. It was cool to meet the people from Sweet Freedom after having watched them on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Ironically, I saw their episode before being diagnosed, and had no idea about gluten-free and what a challenge it was. Looking back, it’s awesome that a company refuses to change their ideals, especially when competing on a national stage.

Get Fresh Bakehouse may have been my favorite bakery. Their decadent brownies were heavenly, and I may have to make the trip up there. Jeff, the owner, was a great guy, and it was awesome to meet him.

Sweet Rubino’s gets a shout out for having pizzelles. A favorite in my family and a Christmas tradition, it was nice to have a real anise pizzelle. They also get kudos for their upcoming Sweet Noise benefit CD, from which 100% of the profits go toward research and awareness of Celiac Disease.

There were a ton of other bakeries, and I’m sorry that I’m forgetting some! One had these killer salted caramel brownies; I just can’t remember which place it was.

Obviously the beer and cider were a hit with my family. I didn’t realize that my dad had never tried Woodchuck Cider before and we had a blast sampling all the different flavors that they had brought with them. I also wound up winning a 12 pack of cider during the raffle! New Planet Beer was also there, and my dad seemed surprised that gluten-free beer could taste so much like real beer. Redbridge, a staple in the gluten-free beer world, rounded out the alcohol vendors.

Other exciting highlights included:

Meeting the developers of the Find Me Gluten Free app: I haven’t used the app yet, and I promise to review once I do, but the two guys who developed the app were just the nicest people. I also love the premise of the app, it’s going to make traveling much easier (once I can afford to do it) and it gives me options that I may not have previously thought of when looking to eat locally.

I also got the pleasure of meeting Whitney from Bakery on Main. I previously did a review of their oatmeal (still the best I’ve found that is gluten-free), and will hopefully be doing a review of their new Truebar’s soon. It was great to finally put a face to her name.

Finally, and this was possibly the highlight of my day, I got to meet Michael Savett of Gluten Free Philly and this year’s honoree at Appetite for Awareness. I was like a star struck little girl finally getting to meet him. His blog has made my journey, and I’m sure thousands of others, more bearable. His activism for gluten-free needs and his dedication to make Philly a safe city to eat in is admirable. There was no one more deserving of being this year’s honoree, and I am honored to have met him.

Appetite for Awareness made me aware, for the first time, how much community there really is in the Philly area for people who have Celiac Disease. It has made me slightly more confident going out, knowing that there are so many places that do cater to gluten-free dining. I have never felt more welcomed, and at home, surrounded by people who understand. I cannot thank the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness enough for hosting this event, the restaurants for coming out, and all the other vendors for just making this one of the best days I have ever had.

A thank you also goes to my parents for their support over the past year while I have struggled through diagnosis and taking control of my disease, and for paying for the tickets.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a million things, so expect lots of flashbacks over the next few weeks!

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Happy National Celiac Awareness Day!

I had no idea that there was a holiday celebrating Celiac awareness, but I’m alright with the idea. Being a typical college student my idea of celebration would be get drunk on lots of gluten-free beer and liquor with my friends, but I have to work tonight so that’s out. Oh, and I don’t have friends to do that with. So I guess I’ll settle for a quick blog post with a link to Wikipedia about Samuel Gee, the first person to publish a clinical description of Celiac Disease. He figured out it could be controlled by diet, but was very wrong as to what the diet was.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Gee

In my Google image search for a picture to throw at the bottom of the post I just found out that Celiac Awareness also has a month. It’s May, for those who didn’t know. We also have a ribbon like all other great causes, Google is showing it as a very pretty green.

Check out my awesome photoshop of Raul Ibanez (who is gluten intolerant) hitting bread out of the park, and Drew Brees (who has a gluten-allergy) throwing bread away!

 

I know, very skilled, and yes I used Ibanez in a Phillies jersey because the Yankees suck.

On a serious note, if you think you may have Celiac or a member of your family might, check out the symptoms list from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and always consult your doctor before going gluten-free.

http://www.celiaccentral.org/disease-symptoms-checklist/

Happy National Celiac Disease Awareness Day!

 

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The One Where I Contradict Myself…

I know I spent my last post complaining about the rise of gluten-free celebrities. Not the celebrities who have a genuine need to eat gluten-free, but the ones who do it for weight loss. Now I’m going to completely contradict myself.

I guess not completely, but as a self-proclaimed Food Network junkie, I am disappointed by the lack of a gluten-free focused show. Especially with the rise in people who are partaking in the diet, I would have thought that Food Network would have embraced the gluten-free trend. I love to cook, I still watch Food Network, but it’s not as enjoyable. I find myself sitting there trying to figure out how to make the recipes gluten-free.

They haven’t ignored it completely. Their show Cupcake Wars has repeatedly featured bakeries that specialize in gluten-free baking, including a bakery out of Philadelphia. They also do have recipes on their website that are gluten-free.

Learning to cook gluten-free has been an experience, to say the least. Google and the variety of blogs about gluten-free living have been a god-send. Sometimes, I just wish I had someone to personally explain to me. The first time I made my mom’s beef stew, and used cornstarch to thicken it, was a disaster. I got more of a soupy mess with balls of goo then a nice thick stew. I had no idea what I was doing, since previously I had always used flour as my thickener. Reading what to do it one thing, and I am grateful for the bloggers who have explored these realms before me, but being able to watch someone as they navigate the quirks of cooking gluten-free would be an invaluable resource.

On a slightly related note, last night I wanted to make biscuits. I’m poor; I can’t afford the 8 million different flours each person uses in all the recipes I found. I know I’ve said this before, and I know that the different amounts of each type flour can be beneficial depending on what you are making. For something as simple as biscuits, I thought having all-purpose flour would be fine. I found no recipes online that just said use all-purpose flour.

I took matters into my own hands. I cracked open the Betty Crocker cook book that my mother had gotten me and found the recipe for drop biscuits. I substituted out my flour blend for the traditional flour, and added a teaspoon of xanthan gum. They turned out quite yummy.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is: Why does everything in the gluten-free world have to be so complicated? I understand the need to use things like xanthan and guar gum to create the “gluten” texture or for fancy breads and cakes, the use of different blends of flours, but for everyday use is it really necessary?

And has Food Network really over looked the untapped potential of the gluten-free sector? I would kill for them to create a show that simplifies gluten-free or just covers gluten-free. Just create one show, even though the options for a gluten-free show are endless. They could do a show that is simple gluten-free, gourmet gluten-free, gluten-free baking, 20 minute gluten-free meals, adapt your favorite recipes so they are gluten-free, gluten-free Italian (we all miss Italian food), and the list goes on.

PS- Does anyone know a good recipe, or a place to find gluten-free graham crackers? Its fall weather out and I miss graham crackers to dip in my afternoon tea.

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