Monday, July 26, 2010

Cleaning off gluten

Making sure gluten from something like this is wiped from the face of the earth.
Or at least the face of our kitchens.

Some facts, as I understand them.

1. Some proteins are more stable than others. This is why peanuts - with a stable protein - will still cause an allergic reaction after cooking. The allergen (protein) doesn't get destroyed much during exposure to the levels of heat we use.

2. Gluten is a storage protein, and the part of it that Celiacs react to is oh, so stable. Stupid stable proteins (I think I want a lot less stability, like right on the verge of a gluten divorce.).

3. Since these proteins are stable, they laugh in the face of cooking.

What does this mean?
It means that when we are trying to clean off gluten, it's a pain in the behind. It also means that since it's a stable protein, like the stable protein in peanuts, using information from a Johns Hopkins Study on cleaning and peanut allergens is probably as close to a cleaning guide as we celiacs are going to get for a while (We don't have a study of our own. Darn it).

The quick rundown on cleaning up peanut allergens

  • Hand cleaning - Hand wipes, liquid soap, and bar soap cleaned hands well. Water left a small residue. Hand sanitzer left a small residue on half the cases.
  • Table cleaning - Plain water, Formula 409 cleaner, Lysol sanitizing wipes and Target brand cleaner with bleach cleaned tables well. Dishwashing liquid left a small residue in a little less than half the cases.
  • Dish cleaning - Nothing was used to wash dishes, because obviously the researchers aren't housewives who have to wash about five trillion times more dishes than they do table-tops.

Details about the study that we should consider

1. How did people wash their hands? Was there a set time and way for each person to wash their hands, or did each person wash their hands in their own way? This could affect what the results were. What kind of liquid soap was used? For Celiacs, some of this stuff is NOT gluten free, so that would have been nice to know.

2. Same question for tables: a standard way to clean, or people just cleaned any way they wanted?

3. Hand soap vs. dishwashing soap. Was the dishwashing soap washed off, or was the table cleaned with soapy water where soap residue remained behind? Considering that when we wash our hands, we rinse off all residue, it makes me wonder if rinsing might explain the differing results between hand washing and table washing, when it comes to soap. Or dishwashing soap is just a sad shadow of the studlier hand soap.

What this means for Celiacs
It's pretty much up to us to decide how much this applies to our situation. I think the main thing to note for us is that hand sanitizer wasn't a reliable way to get a protein cleaned off our hands.

I also think we have an issue that the peanut allergic folks don't: many cleansers and soaps have gluten. I'm assuming some wipes might as well, but I've never checked. However, as an informative tidbit on what cleaners are gluten free, a MikeM at GlutenZap tested quite a few products with the EZ Gluten testing strips (sensitive to 10ppm) in June 2009, and the following three cleaners tested negative for gluten.

  • 409
  • Mr. Clean Multi-Surface Cleaner
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (brand not listed)

He didn't list cleaners that might have failed, if any did. His list is worth checking out for the other products he tested as well, for those interested: MikeM's list. Although as usual, ingredients change, processing changes, so be careful out there.

Have fun cleaning the castle!

Avoiding gluten: part I

One thing I wonder about periodically, as a Celiac, is how easy is it, exactly, to get cross contaminated by gluten? Where does it pop up in our food? How hard is this stuff to clean off in our houses? How easy is it to spread from touch?

Some people will pick a cruton off their salad and assume it's safe. Some people won't touch anything that's even been processed in the same room as wheat (raises hand.). careful do we really need to be? I am on a quest to find out, and I'll keep you all updated as I go. To start off, though, here's a little information for the Celiac just starting out.

In the Beginning, there was wheat, and boy do we miss it.

For anyone who is new to the disease, there's a lot to think about. You hear that you have to avoid gluten, and at first, that doesn't seem so bad. Oh, wait, sorry, was I supposed to be telling the truth in this blog? Let me rephrase this then.

At first, it feels like someone just knocked the bottom out of your happy little eating world, stomped on the pieces and then laughed at you while you had to give a speech in front of the school, naked. Loss and frustration and confusion and, when the wrong sort of digestive moment hits, embarrassment and upset. Sounds about right.

After all, it means no more cakes, cookies, bread, dumplings, fried foods, brownies, crackers (that's the first thought, yes?). It sucks. It DOES seem bad. But it doesn't seem hard to avoid, that's more to the point. Really, how much could gluten actually BE in?

We all find out pretty quick that the answer is: nearly anything. It's not as prevalent as corn, to give corn allergy sufferers their props, but gluten is in foods that, to our minds, it shouldn't be. Sausage? Oh, that can have gluten. And chips. And luncheon meat. And broth, candy, fast food, salad dressings, drinks, the list is nearly endless. So we learn our first lesson, and life gets a little crazy for a while as we try to learn the rest.

Lesson 1: Read all Labels -
Learn the ingredients that ARE gluten or are made from gluten and still have some of that nasty stuff left in it (a good ingredients-to-avoid-list is here.). Then read your little heart out every time you buy something. And don't forget to read the labels again the next time you buy the same products, because those sneaky little companies can change their ingredients and suppliers without even consulting us. Terribly unfair, I know, but there you go. We only get to control our own kitchens. Darn.

Lesson 2: Cross-Contamination -
(or Don't Trust the Labels you just spent all that !#*$& time Reading)
Again, this seems even more unfair than changing ingredients, but cross-contamination is the bane of all Celiacs. It's happened to many of us in the 'early days.' You find a food with no gluten ingredients, you clap your hands gleefully and beams of light surround you on your way to the cash register to purchase the food that only took you enough label reading to have earned you a PhD in Ingredient Law School. You get home, you eat it, and WHAM - sick as a dog, cursing the food to the depths of the pit. A quick Google search finds other Celiacs with the same problem because, lucky you, your 'gluten free' food happens to be processed right next to some wheat-heavy mixer that poofs wheat flour into the air 24/7 and spreads it all over your nice, previously gluten free yummy and every other food processed in the same room.

Cross-contamination - it's not just a bad day in the CDC Hibola lab anymore.

So every label that you examined for gluten ingredients still requires a call or an email or a quick check on-line to make sure that it doesn't have hidden sources of gluten where it's processed, or on its machines, or where it's mixed. Except for, of course, the Holy Grail of labels: the Gluten Free Label. Those you can trust to be Gluten Free and go right ahead and eat them. Right?

Let me pause while I wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes. Gimme a sec.

Lesson 3: Gluten Free does not mean 'Gluten Free' -
[Edited to reflect current information]
Currently, the FDA, which regulates most of the food labeling in the United States, has no legal definition of what it means for a food to be labeled 'Gluten Free.'* And what does that mean for us? It means that you can't completely trust a gluten free label. Most companies selling their products in the US aim for 20ppm (parts per million) or less. However, they can pick whatever amount of gluten they want to as their definition for 'Gluten Free.' Although they'd face legal repercussions if they, say, sold normal wheat bread under a Gluten free label.

Sucks to be us, huh?

And just to make it more confusing? Anything from Europe that you might get at, say, an import store has to contain 20ppm of gluten or less to carry a gluten free label. However, their old standard used to be 200ppm of gluten or less, and compliance with the new 20ppm standard isn't required until 2012, so you may still find gluten free European products with higher levels of gluten.

On top of that, there's gluten free beer, which in the USA is regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, not the FDA. Thankfully, as of last August, they made a ruling that gluten free alcohol has to conform to FDA standards in what it will take to be gluten free. And trust me, as a layman? That was confusing as heck to read about, as many of the GF beer aficionados began talking about how they know now what the standard is: 20 ppm.

I thought for a while that this meant the standard had been decided on, but turns out it was wishful thinking. Still no definition.

And even if there WAS a definition and it was 20ppm? Some Celiacs, including yours truly, seem to react to less gluten than 20ppm, so many GF foods will lay us out flat. So my thoughts on the GF label are this: protect yourself, trust yourself, and remember Lesson 1, when you had that big list of ingredients of what to avoid. Some people, and companies, might have more gluten than expected, they might simply make a mistake about what contains too much gluten, but either way, it will affect YOU, not them.

And some people are, let's be honest, idiots, and you've gotta have more information than they do, so you can know when they are spouting off about something they know nothing about. Like those who claim that ancient strains of wheat will not hurt Celiacs, because the grains are lower in gluten, or their gluten is different, or their gluten is so ancient it's too tired to bother you anymore and is just gonna sit on your couch and watch soap operas for a few days, instead. These strains of wheat may be easier for the gluten intolerant, and a very few people who have wheat allergies seem to be able to try a few of these varieties, but Celiacs? Ancient wheat will still kick our butts.

Curiously, when this ancient wheat was still NEW wheat, in ancient Rome, is when we have some of the first recorded cases of what we now call Celiac Disease. So, yeah, I'm thinking that ancient wheat is still plenty spry enough to be a problem. Grrr. And let us not forget what I blogged about recently, that many naturally gluten free grains seem to be contaminated with gluten, too.

* The other agency that controls labeling is the USDA, which is in charge of labeling things like meat and poultry.

So, what's a Celiac to do to get through all this?

Stay current and stay careful.
(And relax, once you've figured this all out.)

1. Find a good Celiac site with the latest research and news about Celiac disease, foods, and gluten, and read it periodically. and are both pretty current. One thing you will discover is that there are two organizations that are currently certifying products as GF, if a manufacturer is willing to go through their process. The Gluten Free Certification Organization GF seal certifies that a product contains 10ppm of gluten or less. The
CSA Seal of Recognition certifies that a product contains 5 ppm of gluten or less.

2. Look out for hidden sources of gluten in your foods, and contact the companies or Google for people who have, and see what the response was. Many will say their food 'contains no gluten ingredients' but that's not telling you about cross-contamination. Sometimes, you gotta push for more information, and if they balk, you may have to say goodbye to the food until you know it's safe.^

3. Be aware of the food around you in a public setting. If gluten-filled plates are being carried over the food you're about to eat, spoons are being used on both GF and non-GF dishes, fruit is cut on a shared a cutting board with the bread pieces, then you're not in a Celiac safe food place. Might be a good time to pass on the buffet and get something GF out of your purse.

4. If you are unsure about a food, especially a flour or grain that is supposed to be naturally GF, there are home test kits that you can purchase on-line to test the levels of gluten. You can Google these kits and they'll pop right up. I am also going to be purchasing a few of these and trying them out on various flours, so whenever I get some results, I'll pass along whatever I find out!

^ A tip when searching for information that other celiacs have put on-line: make sure their information is current (remember that 'changing ingredients' issue?) and that it's aimed at YOUR country. Different countries have different definitions of what is GF. Also, companies have different ingredients lists for the same food, sold in different countries. So sometimes, something that is gluten free in the UK is not GF in the USA. Don't ask me why, as it makes no sense to me, but I'm sure they have their reasons...possibly.

And that's all the lessons we have to cope with for today, anyway. Next time, I'll try to look at avoiding gluten in our own home, and some of the WEIRD places it can hid.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Today was a hard day.

There was a part of me that wanted something I didn't even realize I wanted. Maybe I just persuaded myself that I didn't. Or ignored it, hoping that it wouldn't be an issue. Or maybe I can lie to myself just that well. But today, quite frankly, sucked.

Since about January, my life has been pretty limited. I go out to the store. I go outside. I go visit a friends for an hour or so maybe once a month. And I've been to the movies maybe five times. That's it. I don't go to talks, concerts, restaurants, social gatherings, nothing. Too many places have coffee or other things I react to. Even the places I DO go, I can't stay too long, even with mask in place, because I'll feel too sick. But I've managed. I like the outdoors and I can go there as often as I like. I spend time with my family. I have friends over. I focus on what I HAVE rather than what I have NOT.

However, over the last couple of months, my reactions have been slowly lessening, and so today, I tried something new: a meeting. It was in a restaurant, but it's a private room, and I was planning to go only until the food was served and then leave at that point. I wore my mask. I picked a time to go when the speaker was one I would be fine not seeing. I'll just leave in a couple hours, no big deal, I thought.

They have iced tea and chips and salsa on side tables, but that's it. Or I thought that was it.

I managed five minutes before I started getting a massive headache. I couldn't figure it out. It got worse, and worse, and suddenly I look down and there's a cup of starbucks on the table. I look over and the table against the wall has rows of cups and a few carafes.

"Do you know if that's tea or coffee?"

I don't know why I asked. I was having a migraine coming on, starting to feel shaky and dizzy, and part of me KNEW it was coffee. And it was. I had to leave before the speaker even started talking.

The reaction faded after about 15 minutes outside in the parking lot, everything dulling to a muted ache and flu-like symptoms. My throat didn't even swell up that much, just the headache and other symptoms. That's progress, actually a lot of progress, really.

But still, I find myself SO upset when I think of it. I really thought this would work, and it didn't, and it was something so SMALL. It was nothing more than walking into a building to listen to someone speak, and I couldn't even manage that.

I think about the fact that unless this improves, I can't fly on a plane again. Ever.

I look to Thanksgiving and Christmas, holidays that are all about groups and food and travel, and I have no idea how I'm going to participate in them at all.

I try and imagine meeting other writers and parents, but every time they get together it's at coffee shops and potlucks and I simply can't participate in that.

None of this was on my mind this morning when I went to the meeting, but it is now. It's all sort of crashed down on me in a big landslide of horrible 'what if's.'

I know tomorrow I'll probably be over this. How can I not? Moving on is the only thing you can do, really, and I might as well enjoy what I have or what's the point? But for the moment...I think I'm grieving for what I've lost, and what I might never get back.

Just...a bad day.

Here's hoping that tomorrow will be a much, much better one.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A lovely day

Food my kids can actually eat, that I didn't make!
Note the holy light shining around this miracle.

This morning, I got a call from my husband. "There's a new farmer's market on the corner. You and the kids should check it out today."

Now, you have to understand. When my husband says 'on the corner' he means The Corner. There is only one corner out here that counts, about a mile away, where our gas station/corner store/lending library/deli is. There's one restaurant down the street from it - which shocks me because I have a hard time imagining how it gets enough business - and a hair salon. We just got in a hardware store.

We have lots of people, mind you, over 800, but no real stores. So the farmer's market sounded awesome! There were 6 stalls, but I was giddy, as one had organic produce, two had at least least 1 gluten free offering, and the gal selling gluten-death goodies had a great recommendation for where to find bulk whole grains, although they are whole sale only. I'll have to see if they might be willing to make a deal.

Still, we were able to buy mangos for the kids and an amaranth granola-like bar that was free of all the kids' bad foods. It was so lovely. Well, it was 'okay,' according to the children. Who wouldn't have had to cook it, so I'm ignoring that. I'm calling it awesome. And everyone there is talking about organics and interesting foods - like a little welcome home mat, LOL.

Best of all, as it was outside, with not too many stalls, I was able to go and not wear my mask. That was such a wonderful thing, I can't even express. Every time I meet someone new now, it's usually inside, and I have to have on my silly looking dental paper mask. I'm used to it, but I know it affects how people interact with me.

And frankly? It's freaking hot. I live in a desert. Wearing a mask in the desert feels like being parboiled.

In any case, this has been a great start to the day, finding something unexpected and wonderful when it was just normal and tough a few minutes before. Just lovely. Reminds me to keep going. Never know what's going to be around the next corner!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gluten Free Alternative Grains NOT gluten free?


We're puttering along, feeling safe with our quinoa and rice flour and chickpea flour pizza crust we just made today - which tasted all right, I understand - when I come across this:

Some gluten-free whole grains and flours are gluten contaminated


During tests of other grains, quite a number, it seems, are gluten contaminated. Hey, most of them never claimed otherwise, although the FDA is considering automatically listing them as GF, just because they are not wheat. Yet again, I feel safer than ever that my government is looking out for me. Kinda. Sort of. Not.

I did not need this today! Ugh. None of us celiac and gluten sensitive folks did. Let me list what I consider the most important information from the testing, for avoidance purposes:

The worst offenders included soy flour, which had 2,925 parts per million of gluten, sorghum flour, which was contaminated with 234 parts per million of gluten, and two different brands of millet flour, which contained up to 327 parts per million of gluten. Millet whole grain, buckwheat flour and white rice flour also contained detectable levels of gluten.
I had just been thinking that I had no interest in those Home Gluten test kits, but now? I think I'm going to need to find some, just to see if the brands of flour and grains we're using might be of concern.

I'll post what the results are when we get 'em. There's a lot of brands of test kits, so we may have to search a while. Likely, though, we'll use the the EZ Gluten® Test Kit. That seems to be recommended highly by many gluten free bloggers, and I figure the community tends to be concerned with its own health, so that's a good place to start.

Gosh darn it, though. Just when you think it's safe to eat again. Grrrr.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Food - Always keeping me humble

Today, we thought we weren't doing very badly. We were eating foods that we thought were safe, the kids were doing okay.

Then we let my son have some tea - cammomile tea. Loose leaf, so no gluten issues with the tea bags, but after the tea, my midget starts having a case of the crazies. Terribly upset for no reason, won't sleep, angst driven - the exact opposite response you might hope for from tea.

And after a quick check for ingredients, we find out it contains oatstraw. Also known as groats. Also a possible gluten contamination issue that no one seems to be able to agree on, especially if you react to oats. We don't know if he does yet or not, as we haven't let them have oats yet.
Poor dear. I feel so guilty! Darn it.

Honestly, I wish we had more information. What little I could find was very contradictory and leaves me feeling, as I often do, like I'm going to have to abandon the food until I can figure out what the real story is over the ingredient. Another research project, here we come.

Sigh, guess it's another one for the 'live and learn' column. Somehow, I wasn't expecting such a long column over the last year. :-P

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gluten free, Dairy free, Egg free, Corn free Ingredient list

Before I had my son, I don't think I ever thought about how difficult it was to figure out if something contains an allergen. Truly, why would I? Why would any of us? We all have so much to do, who has time to learn something that you are not going to use in your daily life? But I learned what ingredients to avoid so that my son didn't come into contact with dairy. His reactions were mild, overall, so we didn't have to be quite as strict as we probably should have.

Then we got the celiac disease diagnosis, and strict is the new word of the day.

My mother has asked more than once for the list of what foods we avoid like the plague, so that she could see if there are ANY snacks she could buy for the kids. So, mom, this blog's for you. Or rather, this is for you, dad, to print out for mom, since we both know that the world will end before she actually touches that computer you bought her.

I hope you have a lot of paper

For a gluten free, dairy free, egg free, and corn free diet, these are the ingredients that we have to avoid, to my knowledge. Strangely enough, I am still not a doctor, so any advice and information are strictly from a layman's perspective and not from an official expert. Some foods listed are those that require a phone call to check the safety based on the source ingredients, additives, or processing specifics.
  • Artificial color
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Albumin
  • Alcohol
  • Atta flour
  • Baking Powder (corn starch varieties)
  • Barley
  • Barley grass
  • Barley hordeum vulgare
  • Barley malt
  • Beer
  • Bleached flour
  • Bran
  • Bread flour
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Brown flour
  • Brown Sugar – look for use of Caramel color.
  • Bulgur, Bulgur wheat
  • Butter
  • Buttermilk
  • Butter flavoring
  • Calcium Citrate
  • Caramel
  • Caramel color
  • Caramel flavoring
  • Casein
  • Caseinate
  • Cellulose
  • Cereal Binding
  • cheese
  • Chilton
  • Citrate Forms of Citrate include: Calcium Citrate, Magnesium Citrate, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, and more.
  • Citric Acid
  • Clarifying agent
  • Club wheat
  • Cookie crumbs
  • Cookie dough
  • Corn
  • Corn Meal
  • Corn Starch – in most over the counter medicines that come in a dry pill form.
  • Corn Syrup
  • Cous cous
  • Cream
  • Crisped Rice
  • Curds
  • Decyl Glucoside
  • Dextrin, Maltodextrin
  • Dextrimaltose
  • Dextrose (glucose)
  • Dinkle
  • Disodium wheat germamido
  • Dried egg
  • Dry milk solids
  • Dry roasted nuts
  • Durum wheat
  • Edible coatings
  • Edible films
  • Edible starch
  • Egg
  • Egg solids
  • Egg white
  • Egg white solids
  • Egg yolk
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Emulsifiers
  • Enzymes
  • Ethanol
  • Farina
  • Farro
  • Fat replacers
  • Ferrous Gluconate
  • Filler
  • Flavoring - Artificial or "Natural Flavors"
  • Food starch
  • Food starch, modified
  • Fu
  • Germ
  • Ghee
  • Globulin
  • Glucose Syrup
  • Golden Syrup
  • Graham Flour
  • Gravy cubes
  • Groats
  • Ground spices - typically spice 'mixtures' are the biggest risk
  • Hard Wheat
  • Heeng
  • Hing
  • Honey - May contain corn syrup
  • Hordeum vulgare extract
  • HPP
  • HVP
  • Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate
  • Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP)
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
  • Hydrolyzed wheat gluten
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Hydrolyzed wheat starch
  • Hydroxypropylated starch
  • Iodized Salt
  • Kamut
  • Kecap manis (soy sauce)
  • Ketjap manis (soy sauce)
  • Kiwi (This is just for my daughter's kiwi allergy)
  • Kluski pasta
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactate
  • Lactic Acid
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactose
  • Lauryl Glucoside
  • Livetin
  • Lysozime
  • Macha wheat
  • Magnesium Citrate
  • Magnesium Stearate
  • Maida
  • Malic Acid
  • Malt
  • Malted barley flour
  • Malted milk
  • Malt extract
  • Malt Flavoring
  • Malt syrup
  • Malt vinegar
  • Maltitol - (also known as Maltisorb and Maltisweet)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Mannitol
  • Matza
  • Matzah
  • Matso
  • Matso semolina
  • meripro 711
  • Meringue
  • Methyl Gluceth
  • Milk
  • Milk protein
  • Mir
  • Miso
  • Mixed Trocopherols
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Modified Starch
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Natural flavoring
  • Natural flavors
  • Natural juices
  • Nishasta
  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Non-fat dry milk
  • Nougat
  • Oat straw
  • Opta
  • Oriental Wheat
  • Orzo pasta
  • Ovalbumin
  • Ovoglobulin
  • Ovomucin
  • Ovomucoid
  • Ovotransferrin
  • Ovovitella
  • Ovovitellin
  • Pasta
  • Pearl Barley
  • Pectin
  • Persian wheat
  • Perungayam
  • Polish wheat
  • Polylactic Acid (PLA)
  • Polysorbates
  • Potassium Citrate
  • Poulard wheat
  • Powdered Egg
  • Powdered Sugar - contains corn starch
  • Pregelatinized starch
  • Protein hydrolysates
  • Rice malt
  • Roux
  • Rusk
  • Rye
  • Saccharin
  • Seafood analogs
  • Seasonings
  • Seitan
  • Semolina
  • Shot wheat
  • Silici albuminate
  • Simplesse
  • sirimi
  • Smoke flavoring
  • Soba noodles - check, some are pure buckwheat, which is safe for us
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Sorbitan Monostearate
  • Sorbitol
  • Sour cream
  • Sour milk
  • Soy sauce
  • Soy sauce solids
  • Spelt
  • Sphingolipids
  • Spirits - check source ingredients and additives
  • Sprouted wheat or barley
  • Stabilizers
  • Starch
  • Stock cubes
  • Strong flour
  • Sucralose
  • Suet
  • Sweet’N Low
  • Tabbouleh
  • Tabouli
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Timopheevi wheat
  • Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
  • Triticale
  • Triticum vulgare (all varieties)
  • Udon
  • Unbleached flour
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Vavilovi wheat
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetable gum
  • Vegetable protein
  • Vegetable starch
  • Vinegar, Distilled White
  • Vitamins
  • Vitellin
  • Wheat amino acids
  • Wheat and Whole Wheat (Buckwheat is NOT wheat)
  • Wheat bran extract
  • Wheat germ extract
  • Wheat germ glycerides
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Wheat grass
  • Wheat nuts
  • Wheat protein
  • Wheat starch
  • Whey
  • Whole Egg
  • Whole meal flour
  • Wild einkorn
  • Wild Emmer
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Xylitol
  • Yogurt
  • Zein
Corn free list is from: Live Corn Free
Gluten free list is from:
Dairy free list is from:
Egg free list is from:

I think that looking at this list, most people could understand why shopping can take a long, loooong time. Cooking from scratch looks easy by comparison sometimes, eh?

Interesting research for Auto-Immune Disorders

I thought this was a very interesting bit of information, about how studying Celiac Disease is showing information about other auto-immune disorders.

The basic discovery is this. They are beginning to think that all auto-immune disorders have three things in common.

1.There needs to be a genetic issue involved - the gene that carries the flaw for the disorder.
2. There needs to be an environmental trigger that sets off the disease.
3. Auto-immune folks seem to have a gut that is more permeable than most.

Reading this, it makes me think of autism, where so many parents noticed a change in their children after vaccines (a trigger?), or how many Celiacs have food issues (permeable gut?) or how many sufferers of MS seem to do better on a GFCF diet (again, the gut?).

Makes one think.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Homemade Vanilla

To make sure we got a corn free, gluten free vanilla extract, we decided to make our own. Only sad thing is that it's not organic. Darn. We mixed it up today, though, 750 ml worth, and it should be done in ...a month? Two months? Something to that effect.

We used this link that I've mentioned in a previous post, then realized how many variations the site contained and how lazy I am and just threw it together to see what I could come up with that might work.

Homemade Vanilla Extract, GF, corn free

What we used:
Chopin brand vodka (potato based), 750 ml, WAY too expensive ($35 a bottle, on sale). Ouch.
2 vanilla beans

What we did:
1. Split the two McCormick vanilla beans open, which was the entire bottle. One whole bottle of vanilla beans only contained TWO BEANS. Pretty sad, really. But I gathered these precious brown things in my hands, scraped the inside a little, and mixed the scrapings and the beans into the bottle of Chopin vodka. Most recipes I saw had you pour the vodka into another container, because it's easier to retrieve the beans later for use in something else, like vanilla bean ice cream. I assume I'll not do that this time and so used the vodka bottle, partly because it was prettier.

2. Then, we put the bottle in a cupboard, out of the sun. Every other day or so, I'm supposed to take it out and shake it up and down for 20-30 seconds.

7/11/10 - By the second day, you could already see it starting to take on a brown color. A little over a week, and it looks like this:

Now we just wait a few weeks and sample it to see how it turns out!

- Do your research on the vodka if you need one that is gluten free - it was amazing how few vodkas we could find that were not grain based. It took a lot of super googling skills, and usually the companies themselves were no help at all, web-wise. For whatever reason, they seem to guard the source of their alcohol as though it were the Holy Grail and everyone is out to steal it away.

I'll let you know how it turns out. I am thinking that we may need to track down more beans to really get a good vanilla flavor with this much vodka, but we'll see.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Power of Belief

The Power of Belief from the Evil Alternate Universe, complete with mustache.

The Power of belief can be good, or really, really bad.

I have heard of people whose belief was the only thing that kept them going in circumstances that seemed utterly hopeless. Trapped in the mountains during a blizzard, a POW for months, if not years, on end. Belief is a powerful force. I really believe that.

It's something I cling to right now. I believe that my health will improve, if I keep working towards that goal. I believe that we have found the answer to what's going wrong in my body, or at least most of it. I believe that this diet is better for my children.

But sometimes, opinion and desire have shaped my belief into something that is, well, stupid as a box of hair.

My brain's IQ today

Take my reactions. It's been 10 months now. I KNOW what happens. If I stay away from the foods that make me react (like, everything), then I slowly improve. I stop reacting as severely to the foods that cause problems. I don't lose weight. My reactions decrease to the point that my throat stops swelling up, even if I might feel bad, say, the next day.

But that's part of the problem. The reactions get better. And when they start to improve, when my throat isn't swelling up willy-nilly, the doubts creep in. Because to everyone, including various doctors I've seen, this makes no sense. I shouldn't react to these foods, especially if I'm not allergic to them. Heck, how would someone even LIVE if their body is really like this? And I don't like this diet. I want other foods, even more when I make good tasting food for my family.

So I start to use the power of belief for evil.

Maybe...maybe I have just been so nervous about all these foods that I had some psychosomatic thing going on. Maybe I haven't been reacting quite as bad as I think. So I eat something that I'm not supposed to, and nothing much happens.

Oooh, maybe it WAS all in my head! So I'll eat another thing, and it's okay. And then the next day I don't feel so hot, but hey, that could be coincidence, right? So I eat another 'bad' food, just a bite or two. And again.

And then two-three days down the road, all of a sudden my throat starts swelling up on me all over again to everything and ruins the hard work that I've been doing for weeks up to that point. I start inhaling and having trouble with foods nearby. It's so darn stupid.

I need to have more faith in myself and my own observations, rather than faith in what the generic population around me thinks is happening. Although I truly wonder how much my desire for more food shapes this. I don't want to be this way, so I want to believe I'm NOT this way, and thus do something stupid to prove I'm not. And simply prove that I am this way, only now I'm in pain, too.

I'm so brilliant I hurt my eyes. Seriously.