Some Candid Thoughts on Lady Gaga

I was going to start out ranting and raving about Lady Gaga using a gluten-free diet for weight loss, but before I do that I feel the need to link to this horribly misinformed article from the Huffington Post about Miley Cyrus, and her impossible to have wheat allergy. Since when are wheat allergies impossible? This article is just terrible and downplays not only Celiac Disease but non-Celiac gluten-sensitivity, and completely discredits having a gluten or wheat allergy. It also notes that people may be only perceiving that they have a gluten issue because of the power of suggestion from celebrities. Just read and be thoroughly confused as I am…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/miley-cyrus-gluten-free-diet-weight-loss_n_1414641.html

Like seriously, what the what?

Back to the whole reason I was even looking at gluten-free celebrities; Lady Gaga. First off she may be terrifying to look at but the woman does not need to lose ten pounds. Maybe if she stopped dressing in meat, and starting dressing in clothes that flatter her body she would learn to accept her body for what it is.

All joking aside here’s a quote from her choreographer and creative director about Lady Gaga’s diet:

“Everything’s just healthy It’s like gluten-free, tuna, protein. There’s no M&M’s, there’s no gummy bears. There’s cheese, there’s water, there’s fruit, there’s vegetables – the only indulgence might be the cheese and grape platter. But other than that, it’s like wheat crisps.”

Wheat crisps? Seriously? And she’s claiming to go gluten-free? This is why celebrities create a bad name for people who must follow a gluten-free diet. It is beneficial, to a point, for celebrities to be embracing the gluten-free diet. In today’s society, where celebrities are our version of royalty, any celeb’s movement is highly tracked and reported on. Gluten-free awareness will rise with people like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and other big names embracing the diet.

However, in my opinion, it is really more of a curse then a blessing. As Tom McAllister discusses in his post On Being Accidentally TrendyI now feel the need to explain myself at restaurants. Yes, they may be more aware of gluten-free eating, and celebrities going gluten-free may be the only reason they are aware, but I don’t like the look from people that says “oh you’re on a diet.” As McAllister gracefully puts it “fuck you, celebrity, for glomming onto a real disease and using it as a means to get yourself on the cover of Weight Loss Weekly or Crazy Sex Tips Quarterly or whatever magazine it is.”

No, I am not eating gluten-free to lose weight. I am eating gluten-free because if I don’t I will get disgustingly skinny from the fact that I can’t keep any sort of food down and I absorb no nutrients because my body is too busy attacking itself to do the things it is supposed to. No I don’t eat gluten-free to get a more “svelte” body (not sure what they mean by this but it’s a phrase that has come up in multiple articles about celebs eating gluten-free); I eat gluten-free so I can function, not sleep 23 hours a day, and spend the other hour of the day hugging my toilet.

The other issue that celebs using gluten-free as a weight loss technique is it can cause restaurants to be careless. I’ve worked in food service since I was 16, I’ve never held a job anywhere else. I also have some school from Johnson and Wales University in restaurant management, and used to be certified in food safety. Restaurants are not clean places. Cross-contamination is everywhere! To a point it is the fault of the cooks, but to a point it cannot be helped when you are creating 30 different dishes at one time, to have a little cross-contamination. If the kitchen is only viewing gluten-free as a fad diet, and not a serious health concern, they are going to be careless in the way they prepare the food. If cross-contamination happens, they will send the dish out anyways because they believe the customer is eating that way for weight-loss, and not because they will get incredibly sick. I’ve found myself telling servers that I have a gluten-allergy. “Allergy” is a term restaurants can understand, “Celiac Disease” is not. I also find myself telling people when I first meet them and they offer to buy me a beer at a bar that I have an “allergy” since the minute they hear “disease” most give me a look like “can I catch your disease?”

Oh and the other funny thing about a gluten-free diet: IT DOESN’T HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT! Look here, here, here, and here. What most people don’t seem to understand is that the gluten-free substitutes for every day products such as bread, pasta, cookies, and the like, are actually higher in calories for smaller portions. For example, two Udi’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies is 210 calories with 10 grams of fat, three Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies is 160 calories with 8 grams of fat.

Personally, I have struggled with my weight since I was diagnosed. In August of 2011 when I first found out that I would have to be gluten-free for the rest of my life, I weight 108 pounds. At 5 foot 3, that was a little too skinny, but when you are only eating a yogurt, some apple slices, and copious amounts of RedBull to stay awake, a day, it can be expected. After diagnosis, at first I was hesitant to eat anything after spending so much time being sick from everything I ate. Once I discovered that these gluten-free foods wouldn’t make me sick, and some of them were actually quite tasty, I started eating again. The lack of nutritional value in my diet lead to new problems. My weight steadily climbed while I tried to figure out what foods it was worth spending the money on for the gluten-free varieties, what foods had any nutritional value, and what foods genuinely taste good.

At my heaviest, earlier this year, I weighed 132 pounds. While that may not seem like a lot, I felt huge. So I started cutting out the gluten-free breads, eating less of the gluten-free pastas, and eating more sautéed veggies for dinner instead. Once I moved into my own apartment and stopped getting cross-contaminated by careless roommates, I lost a few pounds because I was no longer bloating all the time, but I also started to lose weight because I learned how to eat correctly. My weight has stabilized at a very healthy 120 pounds.

The mistake I was making in that first year was that I was so desperate to eat the same foods that I used to that I was eating all of these empty calories in the gluten-free substitutes. While, every once in a while, I will buy myself a pack of rolls to bring back to my parents for a BBQ, and I do have a stash of gluten-free pasta because sometimes all you want is a big bowl of pasta for dinner; for the most part I stay away from the substitutions. I eat a lot of what ever is in season vegetable and fruit wise. I eat a lot of protein, a huge source being the Chobani yogurt which have 12 grams each, and I stick with naturally gluten-free starches, such as rice and quinoa.

Basically, what I am trying to say, is don’t jump on the gluten-free bandwagon because your favorite celebrity is doing it. If you want to lose weight eat healthy, and going gluten-free if you can digest gluten is not the way to do it. Check out your local farm stands for locally grown, fresh produce, eat smaller portions, eat lots of protein, eat whole grains, and make sure you eat your fiber (which a lot of gluten-free foods are low in, and I will spare you the details of what THAT does to your digestive system)!

Check out these facts and fictions about eating gluten-free: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/08/24/op-ed-going-gluten-free-may-not-be-greatest-thing-sliced-bread

On a side note in my research of gluten-free celebs I did find some interesting ones. Drew Brees, of New Orleans’ Saints fame, has not only a gluten allergy, but an allergy to eggs, nuts, and dairy. Raul Ibanez, currently a Yankee (formerly a Phillie), was also diagnosed with a gluten-allergy back in 2011.

In all seriousness, if you think you may have an issue with gluten, Celiac or sensitivity, don’t go gluten-free without consulting a doctor. If you do have Celiac Disease, the tests will come up negative if you have already cut gluten from your diet.

If do think you have Celiac Disease, check out this symptoms checklist from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

If you are already diagnoses don’t forget to get your tickets for Appetite for Awareness happening Sunday, September 23rd, at the Historic Strawbridge Building in Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased here!

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I Finally Finished Summer School…

..but regular classes start in a week. Due to lack of funds (it’s the end of the month and my bills are due) I will not be doing anything exciting in my week-long summer vacation. I’m okay with that though. Even though I spend an unhealthy amount of time on my couch, it will be nice to be sitting here with no homework hanging over my head.

I do have to say I’m excited for classes to start. I’ve been only doing online classes for the past month or so. I miss sitting in a classroom, in front of a real teacher. The online class had lectures up and it just didn’t compare. There’s nothing like sitting in class and taking notes. It may be boring at times to sit in class but online classes lack the discussions that occur in the classroom. I wasn’t able to ask questions, voice ideas. It may surprise you to learn, but I am a very vocal person in the classroom. (sarcasm)

Enough about school, I’m supposed to be taking a week long break. Except I really don’t have anything to write about. The only thing I can say is for the first time since I moved into my apartment I have food! I normally only buy the essentials; milk, eggs, yogurt. Besides that I eat off of my stores of gluten-free pasta and the 10 pound bag of rice my mom bought me. Now I actually have some food to actually cook! I even indulged and bought myself some ice cream (it was on sale). I probably shouldn’t have spent as much money as I did, but it is a nice change from eating rice every meal.

Tomorrow night is my first meeting for graduate school! Eeep! It’s scary to think I’m graduating in the spring, let alone considering graduate school. I’d be staying at Rowan to complete a Masters in Criminal Justice. If I apply tomorrow night to the program the $65 application fee is waived, so I figure whats the harm. I take my GRE’s in November, once I find out how I do it will have more of a bearing on whether or not I apply to more schools.

In happy news the Phillies swept the Nationals this week and Jayson Werth struck out A LOT. Dom Brown also managed to live up to some of the hype. Check out the Dom Brown Hose Report on ZoowithRoy. That throw to the plate in the GIF is incredible!

Hope everyone enjoys the last official week of summer!

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This Week I Had My First Philly Cheese Steak in Over a Year…

…and it was delicious! Had I known my diagnosis last summer was going to come back to be Celiac Disease, a real Philly cheese steak is number one on my list of foods I would have indulged in. A cheese steak, some good Chinese food, cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, Oreo’s, a fresh hot bagel, a few different craft beers; if I keep going my resolve will disappear and I will purposely break my diet for the first time in a year.

Unfortunately, I was placed on this gluten-free diet, and I did not get a chance to binge eat gluten before I was diagnosed. Thankfully, in response to the disaster that was Celiac Awareness night at the Phillies, Aramark decided to make more gluten-free options available at Citizens Bank Park. Besides cheese steaks, pizza is also now available, which I haven’t tried but is on my list of foods for my next Phillies game. The cheese steak was as good as I remember them, and while my mother may have had to choke down the roll, I don’t remember what real bread tastes like and it was as good as gluten-free rolls get.

In other exciting gluten-free news, Hops and Grapes, my local liquor store, has placed all three New Planet Beers on the shelf where you can buy single bottles. I was pretty excited to be able to try the Off Grid Pale Ale and the Tread Lightly Ale without committing myself to buying a four pack.

Both beers were delicious. The Off Grid Pale Ale was a nice dark amber color, but it had a really strong sorghum after taste. It was the first gluten-free beer where there was a strong hop flavor, at least of the beers I’ve tried. It was a very heavy beer, great to have one or two, but not something I would drink if I was going to be drinking all night.

The Tread Lightly Ale was paler in color, and had a great bright flavor that made it very drinkable. I will definitely be buying this in the 4-pack and it would be a great beer to have at a BBQ.

In other beer news, Dogfish Head has brewed Tweason’ale once again, and it should be available at your local liquor stores. Remember they only brew this 4 times a year, so get it while you can!

I’m finally down to my last 2 days of summer class then I have a whole week until the regular semester starts. It will be nice to have, even if its only for a week, no homework hanging over my head.

And don’t forget, if you’re a local reader, to get your Appetite for Awareness tickets! Its happening Sunday, September 23rd, at the Strawbridge Building on 8th and Market. Tickets can be purchased here. Being honored this year is another local blogger and avid Phillies fan, writer of  Gluten Free Philly, a resource I use on a regular basis.

As a bonus here’s a picture of Charlie helping me study last week…

And the sunset from the Phillies game Tuesday night…

 

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Next Attempt at Gluten-Free Baking!

Nothing big to write about but I’m stealing another one of Gluten Free Betty’s recipes to make Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars!

Check out the recipe! http://glutenfreebetty.blogspot.com/2011/07/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-oatmeal-bars.html

I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures and let everyone know how it goes!

UPDATE: OMG THEY ARE THE MOST DELICIOUS THINGS EVER!! Definitely need to give this recipe a try if you are not oat sensitive! I’m still using the King Arthur Flour Blend, I used Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Oats, and Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. The recipe also doesn’t specify what type of brown sugar to use, I had dark brown so that’s what went in. My lack of a mixer wasn’t an issue either, I’m beginning to think that buying one would just be a waste of money. If you try this recipe out yourself or have any recommendations of recipes for me to try feel free to contact me! I’m really liking this baking thing, the only problem is what to do with all the excess food I now have!

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Gluten-Free Grocery Guide

A few weeks ago Triumph Dining asked me if I would be interested in reviewing either their Gluten-Free Grocery Guide or their Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide. My first thought was “hell yeah, free stuff!” Then I had to make a decision, which one to get?

As much as I would have loved the restaurant guide, being on a broke college student’s budget, and being single, it would have done me little good. I don’t eat out often, and honestly, I’m terrified of eating out. I hate that uncertainty that when you go to a restaurant and order off their “gluten-free” menu. Will my meal be cross-contaminated? How educated is their staff on gluten-free dining? Do they have a separate gluten-free prep area? I know these are all questions you can ask the staff, but will they have the right response, or will their response lead to me walking away hungry? Unfortunately, you can’t tour the kitchen of every restaurant you go out to eat at, so these questions will always be in the back of my mind.

So I did the practical thing and asked for the Gluten-Free Grocery Guide…and it’s great! The beginning has a guide to choosing your grocery store, what areas in the grocery store to avoid to avoid cross-contamination, and even a guide to what the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act covers. They even have a symbol bank for what they use to label things with potential cross-contamination, companies who test for gluten levels in their foods, companies who use a gluten-free process, or a dedicated facility, and finally a symbol for companies that do not regularly update their gluten-free information.

From there they break everything down by grocery aisle; dairy, bread, baking, beverages. They include everything from condiments to beer! They have a fantastic section on candy, which is a weakness of mine. There’s a fairly comprehensive list of other snack foods, which always seems to be the hardest thing for me to buy.

My favorite thing about the book is the quick reference guide in the back. We’ve all been there reading labels, come across something we’re not sure about, and stood in the grocery store while we quickly tried to Google the product or specific ingredient to see if it was safe. This gives a list of safe ingredients that we may not recognize, or be sure about when we first read them.

I definitely am grateful that Triumph Dining thought highly enough of my blog to send me a copy of their book to review. I suggest going out and buying one as a great quick reference guide. I’m tempted to go buy the restaurant guide, maybe it will give me less anxiety about eating out.

Also, check out their other cool products! They have two different baking guides, as well as these nifty little gluten-free dining cards. The dining cards have specific instructions on what is and is not gluten-free, as well as a warning about cross-contamination. The cards are available in laminated cards that cater to 10 different cuisine types, or disposable cards that are written in English and Spanish, and are focuses on American Cuisine.

You can buy all of Triumph’s Products and check out their blog at the link below!

http://www.triumphdining.com/glutenfree/shop.php#guidesandbooks

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Canoe Carnival Came and went…

and we won first prize in our group for our Adams Family themed float!

This year, due to our small group size, they decided to take it simple on the building, use people on the float and just have fun with it. All their hard work really paid off. The float looked great!

My brother of Das Ale Haus and his girlfriend were a perfect Morticia and Gomez

We even had an Uncle Fester and Cousin It!

My sister’s birthday, much to her dismay, always falls on or around Canoe Carnival weekend. This year she turned 18! I still see her as my 13 year old kid sister, though this year she is off to Juniata in Pennsylvania to do her freshman year. It makes me feel so old to think my baby sister is a freshman in college. For her birthday my mom made a Pride Rock Cake, catering to her lifetime love (or obsession) with the Lion King! It was very cool, and unfortunately not gluten-free. My cookies and BBQ beef were both gluten-free and a big hit at Canoe Carnival. I guess I will have to start trying to bake more often!

Now that the weekend is over its back to my usual; work, school work, and the internship. Today in an effort to procrastinate doing anything productive I spent the majority of the day looking at graduate schools and law schools. Graduate school is something I am definitely interested in. I would love to do some sort of research focusing around criminal behavior and the mindset behind it. Law school is something that I may have an interest down the line in, but not right away. I think it would be cool to become a defense attorney, or maybe even a prosecutor when I grow up. For now I’m just considering entering Rowan’s 1 year M.A. program in Criminal Justice. I think I have a good chance of getting into the program, and I could do a thesis-track where outside of 3 or 4 research classes, I choose what to do my other 6 credit hours in. If I wind up staying at my internship after graduation, I have an easy way to do research in community corrections, I would just have to figure out which aspect I wanted to focus on. This is all future stuff, right now I’m just concerned about finishing my bachelors, but if I do Rowan’s program I would like to enter it right away, so I would need to start the application process soon.

Hopefully I’ll have time to update again later this week, its a busy one! This weekend one of my best friends is coming home to visit and I can’t wait, but it also means I have a lot of cleaning to do before she gets here! I can’t let her see what a slob I really am.

Until next time here’s a clip of our float launching Saturday night!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guU0bhsRs0g&feature=share

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My First Foray into Gluten-Free Baking

With only an online class left, one day at my internship, and 3 days if I’m lucky at the paying job, I have way too much free time on my hand. So instead of spending my time reading crap pseudo-porn novels (jk I’ve read 50 Shades of Grey twice now), I decided to bake cookies!

I’ve been afraid to try to make cookies, or any type of baked good, since I was diagnosed a year ago. It’s crazy to think that it’s been a year on Saturday since I got my official diagnosis, it seems like I’ve been doing this my whole life. Sometimes I get cravings for gluten-filled foods, especially real beer and bread, but for the most part being healthy is much more satisfying than an ice-cold beer. When I’ve spent a long time without getting glutened, I have those “psshhhh just one beer wouldn’t kill me moments” but then without fail I get poisoned some how and I’m like “omg this is death why would I ever consider doing this to myself on purpose.”

Anyways back to the baking, I pulled a recipe from Gluten Free Betty for her Favorite Sugar Cookies. I liked her recipe because it just said “gluten-free flour mix” where as a lot of other recipes had specific amounts of types of flour. I’m poor, I don’t have the money to spend on Almond Flour, Potato Flour, and 8 million other types of flour that your recipe specifies. My mom bought the King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour last year, so that’s what I had to use.

Her recipe is only for a few cookies, so I tripled it and went to work. Lacking a mixer, which is imperative to baking, I improvised. I used an immersion blender, also stolen from my mom, to cream the butter and sugar. Then I added the eggs and vanilla, and hit it with the immersion blender again. From there I added my dry ingredients by hand. It was slow going, especially as the batter thickened, but I think that the mixer actually over works the flour which can lead to that nasty gluten-free texture.

I took a little piece of the dough and baked off half a dozen cookies for Tuesday night. I had a friend coming down and wanted her opinion, she loved them! The rest of the dough got refrigerated over night. The next day I went to work rolling out the dough and cutting out cookies. It took forever! I don’t have a rolling-pin, and only have one half-size cookie sheet. Eventually I baked off all the cookies, and let them cool.

Here’s the process, I discovered very quickly that the dough MUST be cold for it to be workable, so in between each batch I popped the dough in the freezer to keep it that way. If not it stuck to everything, and didn’t want to let me cut it into my pretty stars.

So many cookies! I let them sit over night and decorated them today. I used Gluten-Free Betty’s recipe for icing for about half the cookies, then I dipped some in white chocolate, and then others I dipped in white chocolate then sprinkled with coconut. They look super pretty, and I think they are delicious. Hopefully everyone else agrees!

These are the finished product! I’m pretty proud of myself considering its been a year since I’ve baked anything, and I’ve never baked anything gluten-free. This positive experience has given me a little more confidence, and I’m going to attempt more baking. Next on my list is a chocolate cake! Betty Crocker makes a pretty good Devil’s food cake that is gluten-free, but I think I can do it better!

 

 

In other news the Phillies have actually won 2 games in a row against the Nationals *gasp* I’m still sad that Victorino and Pence left but Victorino did one of the classiest things I’ve ever seen from a traded player. He took out a full-page advertisement to thank the fans in Philadelphia for all the love and support over the years. You can see the ad here. It is nice to see a player recognize that it is his time to go, and to do it in such a tasteful way.

I also may be visiting the FBI and the DEA headquarters in 2 weeks, as long as I get approved. I hope I do! I think it would be so cool to get to tour the headquarters of both operations, and it may give me an idea of where I want to head in the future. The FBI doesn’t hold much appeal, but the DEA definitely does!

This weekend is Canoe Carnival, I hope to get some good pictures to share with you! It’s an event my home town does every year, where we build parade floats strung between 2 canoes. It’s really cool and an excuse for everyone to get together and eat drink and be merry! I’m bringing my newly completed cookies as well as cooking a roast in the Crock Pot (another acquisition from my mother) and I’m going to pull it and smother it in BBQ sauce. Last time I did this it was amazing, hopefully it will turn as good if not better!

Hopefully I’ll have time to post on Monday, I plan on using my new-found free time to keep this updated a little better. Have a great weekend and enjoy this picture of my babies! They are getting along a little better now, I think it’s only time before they are the best of friends!

 

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