Time to start preparing…

It is almost October, 2013. This October might be the best one so far (in my life). In the past, October has been my least favorite month: as a child it meant getting bronchitis and ear infections, in high school it meant my sister staying home from school with pneumonia while I still had to attend classes, my first senior year of high school marked the first month of constant pain from my 12-week long migraine, in undergrad I had to start classes, in adulthood it meant getting comfortable with a new job, new dog, or new boyfriend. No matter what, October meant change, usually for the worse!
I have hope and faith that this October will begin to mean a change for the better. I am looking forward to the GFAF Expo in Plano, TX at the end of the month. Along with working in a fabulously healthy, gluten free, vegan kitchen, I hope to make many memories with old and new work-friends. It’s always nice to have like-minded and health conscious friends! My landlord/housemate comes back to Texas in October too! I have missed her and her big dog so much! Friends like her are hard to find, and I am so thankful to have her in my life! My parents will arrive back from their European vacation as well, in October. I cannot wait to be able to FaceTime them every night!

**** Some things I learned this week:
1. Chopping onions without wearing gloves will make your hands stink like onions for at least a full 24 hours. ๐Ÿ™
2. Most of my coworkers think I have a nice butt. ๐Ÿ˜‰
3. Adding chia seeds to my protein and vitamin drink blends was a great idea. ๐Ÿ™‚
4. Not drinking my chia-infused drinks quickly was not a good idea as it led to a giant clump of chia on the bottom of my water bottle. ๐Ÿ™
5. I make a lot of faces throughout the day. Most of them make my boss and friends laugh. ๐Ÿ™‚
6. I need to pay more attention to the amount of gas in my car so I do t run out of gas again. ๐Ÿ™
7. My adrenals seem to finally be functioning! ๐Ÿ™‚
8. My guts are also happily functioning, with almost no inflammation, thanks to liquid grape seed extract! ๐Ÿ™‚
9. The best way to make a veggie mix is to “smash the love” into the potatoes. ๐Ÿ™‚
10. “Smashing the love into” food makes it look and taste better than “mashing the crap out of” food, especially sweet potatoes and white potatoes. (It also builds more arm strength and muscle.) ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great week!

Another GLUTEN FREE GUEST BLOG

One of my friends with Celiac Disease wrote this guest blog post for me. He’s pretty cool, and also chronically awesome like the rest of us. Anthony lives in Canada and is a Journalism student.
Please feel free to leave comments below. Enjoy!

Becoming a Gluten Free Gladiator
By Anthony Sicilia

This transition from wheat to non- wheat has not been an easy one. Itโ€™s been nearly three years since my first diagnosis. Even though I have gotten all the gluten out of my system, a ton of people still donโ€™t seem to get it. I live in a very strong willed Italian family. There food of choice is pasta, pasta and more pasta. How in the world can I survive in a family while they eat pasta? Easy corn pasta makes my stomach happy, mainly because Iโ€™m not running to the bathroom 10 minutes after I eat my supper. Most people without wheat allergies look at me as though Iโ€™m psychologically not right in the brain.

In all honesty though its my vili that has the real issues, and because of this when I come into contact with wheat, I canโ€™t digest my food.

Eating gluten free at first really was not a good experience. The food often felt like it had no taste or texture. As time went on, I became more accustom to eating food without wheat. I even enjoyed it. The only problem that I am faced it with now is that I often feel left out or like that one kid that gets picked last for everything in gym class.

Going into year two of being gluten free I was still finding it a bit difficult to choose foods that I would like and that my stomach would agree with. It was then I saw my saving grace in wheat free forms. Pastaโ€™s and breads made by Glutino Once I hopped on the Glutino train I rode it all the way home buying up breads, cookies, and whatever my hands could grab.

My first time shopping for Glutino products was like an entire supermarket sweep. I tried real hard to stretch the Canadian dollar as far as it would go that day. Even though, I was on a college budget there was no need for penny pinching that day. Each gluten free isle I walked down that, food was staring at me quietly claiming I should eat this, I should eat that. I was on cloud nine when I returned home with two months worth of groceries.

Some of the brands of gluten free products I enjoy include, Kettle, they made chips; I favour any type of corn pasta vs rice pasta. Rice pasta seems to get too watery and it doesnโ€™t have enough of a solid base. The pasta I enjoy eating is Pasta Del Oro. I like udiโ€™s bakery products.

My favourite cheat foods, are, Resse pieces peanut butter cups, frozen yogurt, snack packs and of course Greek yogurt. From time to time, I still do look recipes by Google or YouTube for anyone to use.

Pictures and a Little Rant…

First the rant, then the pictures!

After seeing the picture Gluten Dude posted on his website, to which I posted on my website, Facebook Page, and my personal Facebook, my buddies at Vegeria Vegan Restaurant posted it on their Facebook Page and have received mixed reviews about Celiac Disease. Of course, this really aggravates me because these select people are so sadly misinformed about Celiac Disease. I’m sure they would not be writing these same ignorant comments if they were affected by it. I hope they would not be writing these things if they had a family member affected by it too.
I’m one of the “lucky ones” surviving this and Hashimoto’s (and all my other food allergies and intolerances) on my own, with very little to no support from my family. I have learned that it is much easier to live away from them (three states or more), so I am not influenced by their ignorance and intolerance to my intolerances.
I have been a fighter for my health for most of my life. I learned to fight from my parents, and I know they do love me because they fought my twelve-week-long migraine during my first senior year of high school with me. I was tested for everything from Lyme to meningitis to brain and spinal cancer, just to be told “it’s just a migraine ” by numerous doctors of varying specialties. If only we knew about Celiac Disease then!
I have been on so many “migraine diets” since then and the only one that works is a Celiac (gluten free – ZERO ppm) lifestyle and completely omitting all my other allergens too.
When my thyroid finally tested hypothyroid, I was thankful that it wasn’t all in my head; that it was never “just a migraine.” When my birthday came around in 2012, I was even more thankful to have a Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosis. (If you have one auto-immune disease, it’s much easier to get another.) I know what gluten does to me. I know it’s capabilities on my weakened immune system. I choose to live as healthy as I can. I choose to love my allergen-filled and gluten-free life and my family just the same.

A whole lot of yumm’s for dinner… 20130506-120020.jpg

My buddy, Lauren, and Gluten Dude are who I thank for this recap of Gluten Free living and accurate information from HEB grocery store chain.
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You know I love Enjoy Life products…You can trust I love So Delicious EVERYTHING! But guess what I may love more than both of those, at least until I run out… Purely Elizabeth granola! It’s sweet from the blueberries and a little salty too: the perfect combination for a great breakfast cereal. Even better for a snacking granola, because the clusters stay in pretty big clumps, even in milk. 20130506-120107.jpg

Fred, at Vegeria Vegan Restaurant in San Antonio, TX, has seriously created the best bread rolls ever! 20130506-120122.jpg

Sometimes, a little can of Red Bull Blue (blueberry) has just enough taurine to help me through the first half of my workday. And wearing a Pretty Little Celiac wristband for Celiac Disease awareness makes everything better too! 20130506-120142.jpg

I like wine. I like hanging out with former NFL players. I love it when I can combine the two in a photo! 20130506-120156.jpg

Check out Pretty Little Celiac for your own Celiac Disease Awareness headband. And Red Apple Lipstick for awesome safe eyeshadow and lip colors. 20130506-120303.jpg

The Pseudo-Healthy Way to Stress Eat, according to me

In case it wasn’t super obvious, I LOVE food! I love snacks. I LOVE cookies. I love cookies so much, my big dog is named Cookie!
This week has been pretty rough, with random, wild and crazy stress in my personal and professional life. So, while at the grocery store yesterday, I picked up this box of cookies.

20130328-083823.jpg Before yesterday, I was not a fan of Mary’s Gone Crackers. I have only tried their crackers and really did not care for them: too much quinoa, or too crispy. I don’t know, I just knew I didn’t like them and they didn’t agree with me.
Now, however, I am in love with this box of Love Cookies! These chocolate chip cookies are everything I need, and have the crunch and flavor of everything I miss from not being able to eat traditional Tollhouse cookies. It was as if my mom made them and I was a kid again, sneaking into the cookie jar for one more cookie.
These Love Cookies are organic, Non-GMO Project, vegan (no egg, no milk in that chocolate), and contain chia (protein and vitamins). I love that these cookies were not crumbly, like gluten-free cookies tend to be, they were also not hard as a rock, like you would think of a “vegan” health-food cookie or biscuit would be. I guess you can tell I love Love Cookies and will be purchasing more in the near future! Mary’s Gone Crackers Love Cookies for the Gluten Free WIN!

Food from the last week

It wasn’t much, but I ate some stuff. Most of this was made at Vegeria Vegan Restaurant in San Antonio, TX. Thank you, Fred Anthony!

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The only thing I ate not from Vegeria: Special Order Veggie Gluten Free Sandwich (made in back of house with all fresh and new ingredients, no cross contamination) at Life Cafe (inside Lifetime Fitness 281/1604), San Antonio, TX on Udi’s bread!
I told the staff I was severely allergic and they totally accommodated me! Those guys are awesome!!! 20130324-043026.jpg

Now that’s a sandwich!! 20130324-043358.jpg

Expo West envy… SXSW wins…

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My Expo West envy began when I realized I had a new addiction to chia seeds, and everything that is good about chia: chia pets, chia powder, chia “boogers,” chia vitamins, chia omegas. So as soon as my dear friend Celiac and the Beast got to try a new Mamma Chia snack pouch at Expo West, I was on a mission to get anything and everything related to Mamma Chia! Lucky for me, there was a rep demo at the Austin, TX Whole Foods Flagship Store during my first night at SXSW! He hooked me up with some swag and a coupon I used that night! 20130311-185134.jpg

Before my chia addiction, there was an ice pop addiction. Yup, I love sugar (it’s glucose, not gluten), I love fruit, and apparently I love flowers mixed with mint! Good Pop is a locally owned business, based in Austin, TX. These guys created a brand in creating “good for you” ice pops. They are my favorite, and the Hibiscus Mint is what got me hooked on them a couple years ago at an in-store demo. This company is great too, every year they have a contest with Austin elementary school children to create a new flavor. This last year’s winning flavor was created by a group of children, I believe the flavor was blueberry lemonade. 20130311-184943.jpg

I saw this guy wandering 6th Street and he asked for a picture. All I could think of was a fellow blogger’s site, Breaking Up with Captain Crunch, so I had to take the picture for her, whether she knows who I am or not. 20130311-185018.jpg

I got to share a ride with my fabulous driver, Chuck Manley (yup, that is his real name), and with Nat Jones. Nat was super cool, a hilarious good guy, from the great state of Chicago – apparently Chicago is now a state within the state of Illinois. He has a great YouTube site as well, so check him out for cool new workout videos and reviews! 20130311-185809.jpg
I finally made my way to the food truck area of SXSW and found this great Houston-based Vietnamese food truck. Phamily Bites was able to accommodate my food allergies and made me a safe, gluten free, (although they didn’t have their vegan broth, and they had just run out of all the veggies), big bowl of phล. This hot bowl of soup was much needed on a cold night!
It was a cold night, but you know I love food, so I had to try everything that promised to be gluten free and delicious! So I stopped at Jeni’s Frozen Yogurt truck and got one scoop of each of their gluten free flavors: dark chocolate, lemon, and salty caramel. The other two were great together, but I could easily eat a gallon of lemon and not be sorry for it. It was that good! The great thing about Jeni’s is that they are local to Columbus, OH and can ship to all 50 states on a dry ice pack overnight. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me! You can count on me begging for “ice cream” all summer long in San Antonio, TX! 20130311-185046.jpg 20130311-185031.jpg

While driving around the city, I did get to see a couple cool things: The Texas State Capital building is really the prettiest building I’ve ever seen. I love the dome and the reddish color of the exterior. 20130311-185009.jpg

I’m pretty sure that guy in the crowd with the creamy white hat being interviewed is LL Cool J. Though I was far away, it was still kind of a highlight moment. 20130311-195947.jpg
That concludes my SXSW experience this time around. I’m sure to have a few more updates from the music portion of the event later.

Food and meals of the week…

Most of the foods I’ve eaten this last week are pictured below. All are clean, real, and safe.
Of course, I must start with all the delicious, fun, healthy desserts and “tacos” from Vegeria Vegan Restaurant in San Antonio, TX. I love this place! It’s my safe haven in my crazy gluten-filled life in San Antonio. All the recipes are so creative, fresh, and a delicious vegan and gluten free spin on the norm of Tex-Mex dining.
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-High-protein desserts to be jealous of: Sunbutter Energy Fudge, Almond Butter Fudge, Sunbutter Fudge with Coconut Creme Cupcake-20130309-225228.jpg

-The first hot meal I’ve had since Christmas Eve: Portabella Avocado Custom Creation “Open-Faced” Taco.-20130309-225237.jpg

-Custom Quick Veggie Taco-20130309-225312.jpg

-Strawberry Lavender and Lavender cupcakes-20130309-225510.jpg
-Lifetime Fitness has a restaurant inside, so I purchased a veggie sandwich on Udi’s Gluten-Free bread.-20130309-224637.jpg

-Raw Revolution has the best tasting raw energy bars. I picked up a bunch of samples at the GFAF Expo and am just now getting to eat them. They were worth the wait! I highly recommend them, all of them! If you can find them: Buy Them! If you have to mail-order, beg, borrow, or steal for them: Do It!- 20130309-224655.jpg

-Udi’s never let’s me down, never let’s me go hungry. Again, I am just going to say this package of mini chocolate muffins may or may not have been a meal this week. (If you’re following me on Instagram, you know the delicious truth.)-20130309-224744.jpg

-I’m not a huge fan of soy-and it’s not a huge fan of me either. If I was cool with eating a bunch of soy, I would surely recommend these No-Gi bars above all else, because they taste so good, the texture is pretty nice too.
Because I enjoy this flavor, I do want to recommend Better Batter’s Zion’s Bar. It’s consistency and flavor is actually better too: stronger mint and chocolate that resembles a certain thin, minty Girl Scout Cookie, with a slightly less-demanding crunchiness. And Better Batter’s bars won’t ever melt in your car or purse!-20130309-224830.jpg

-Enjoy Life’s version of the Crunch bar… My first candy bar after going gluten free over five years ago. This one has a special place in my heart and will ALWAYS be welcomed in my belly!-20130309-224939.jpg

-Tru-Bar, from Bakery On Main, is a great new thing! I love how they like to surprise me with chocolate chips mixed in with what otherwise would be called: allergy friendly trail mix in a bar. I have tried all the bars I picked up at the GFAF Expo now, and I honestly cannot pick a favorite! I am probably not going to be buying Bakery On Main’s granola anymore, because these portion-controlled bars have more flavor, ingredients, and nutrients.-20130309-225004.jpg

-Freedom Foods has these great cereals that are very appealing to parents and kids alike. These were my favorite from the GFAF Expo: Tropico’s. they are the allergy friendly version of the national branded fruit o’s. Although they do have non-GMO corn as a main ingredient, I did not have a bad reaction to this cereal. I attribute that to all natural plant and flower-based food coloring, and that these are vegan (no egg) too.-20130309-225042.jpg

-Olives! These olives are packaged in Morocco, super delicious and healthy. Another great go-to snack that is full of flavor!-20130309-225119.jpg

-My absolute favorite KIND Bar: Coconut Almond. This is my go-to emergency food, sold at every Wal-mart, so I know I can always get something in a bind, while traveling for work.-20130309-225200.jpg

-My love of foods in a squeeze pouch was mastered by Happy Family brand. This squeeze pouch was just perfect! A much needed snack to help me make it through the end of my work day. Taste and texture are always nice with everything Happy Family makes. My favorite thing is that they are simple- few fruits. They are always organic, always natural and always gluten free. I travel a lot in my car for work, between jobs, etc., so having fresh fruit for an afternoon sugar spike is not always an option, this makes it possible.-20130309-225020.jpg -Happy Safe Snacking!-

New Life in Texas

Well, it’s been a couple more birthday’s since I last wrote. A few more jobs, two more city moves, and two moves within one of those cities, so far. In addition to that, I finally have a medical diagnosis for my food issues: Celiac and Hashimoto’s.

I’ve been in San Antonio, Texas for almost two full years. I have a few friends and, aside from my dogs, no family here. It’s pretty much just how I left Tennessee.
San Antonio has given me the opportunity to have two jobs I enjoy very much. I finally got my dream job working “for” animals and conservation, as well as “with” food. My other regular job sometimes takes it’s toll on me, but has made me a stronger salesperson and I believe I am better in the business world for it. I have been loyal to this position with this company for over a year and a half: this beats every prior relationship and career choice.
Being a better businessperson has not really made me better at relationships, but I believe being a workaholic has. I have worked just about every day for the last year and 11 months. When I wasn’t working, I was looking for more work, asleep, or just hanging out with the dogs and my former boyfriend. – I don’t want to call him “my ex” because that makes it seem like he’s a bad person. He was the most understanding, accepting, tolerant boyfriend I could have ever desired. I know all my issues took a huge toll on him in the last year and two months. He taught me that I did not have to worry all the time: that life is in the present, not the mysterious future I always worried about. Although I miss him asking me: “How was your day?” I know that he is happier without being with me through my daily struggles. I am grateful to him to allow me to trust him. He changed his whole life to accommodate my issues with food and acceptance. I really am amazed someone would ever do that for me.
San Antonio has given me a great doctor as well. She was willing to run tests to find out what I am actually allergic to and diagnose my physical illnesses as mainly a thyroid disease. So now I know I am allergic to: gluten, peanuts, shrimp, sesame seeds, clams, and have self-diagnosed my allergy to corn. So, this big belly I have not been able to lose: it’s corn. No more corn tortillas and San Antonio’s famous breakfast tacos for me! ๐Ÿ™ Even with all these “new” allergies, I have been able to lightly introduce milk back in my life. – I’m not ready to risk real yogurt and cheese yet, but maybe one day I will. – Kangen (ionized, alkaline) water, liquid probiotics and Zipfizz (vitamin/energy/electrolyte drink) have really made a difference in my life over the last year. I am no longer malnourished, even though I am sure I still have a malabsorption issue. I’m still skin cancer free, even though I’ve had a few more procedures done since my last post. I also got a few more tattoos since then. I have a big yellow Texas star on my left foot, three small blue stars like the Tennessee flag, and still have my two pink Hollywood stars on my right foot.
Learning more about gluten and it’s emotional involvement with my life has really made me wonder about my extended family who also has suffered with bouts of depression. I am trying to not be a “Negative Nelly” all the time; it has always been a struggle for me. Just like stuttering: it’s a minute by minute thing to try to control and work through. There were fewer tears today, although more confusion regarding my future.
It’s my new life. Some days are much worse than others, however every day is a new start to something better. Maybe in this next year I will win the lottery. Who knows? I’ll keep you posted.