Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Syne to 2009


and here's to a gluten-free 2010.

I won't ponder the past year here. I'm saving The best and the rest for 2009 for my product blog, Ging Recommends!


My New Year's Revolutions are really revelations about how I want to live my gluten-free life. Starting today, I vow:

1. To continue to support the gluten-free community through advocacy and information. That said, I will also NOT suffer fools (and fads) gladly, for I am wise (OK, with apologies to Paul and II Corinthians, what I mean is -- I will always try to correct a misconception, lie, or ruse because I devote an enormous amount of time to seeking the truth about gluten-free living and Celiac disease). And yes, I will eat blue cheese and Hershey candy and McDonald's French fries made in a dedicated fryer --GLADLY!

2. To support our gluten-free specialty vendors, rather than just the faddish ones, since they have been there for us all along. I've made some tremendous new friends this year, and I hope they have a wonderfully successful new year.

3. To explore healthier options for my favorite GF foods. First and foremost, I realize I have to start cooking a little more than I have been. And since my needs are both gluten- and sugar-free, low fiber foods.

4. To spend as much time as possible in fellowship with great gluten-free people I have come to love. That means regular get together with my Gluten-Free Gurlz, and more time on Twitter with Dee, Ginger North, Sandra, Kate, and especially JenniferGF. I am especially looking forward to a visit to Denver in August, where I'll get to visit my gf brother-from-another-mother, GF Steve, and the lovely folks at Udi's Gluten Free! (And GF Tiff and Gluten-Free Dee, too!) YAY!

5. And finally, to live my life to the fullest! When I look back at all the problems I had last year, I wonder what 2010 will bring. I hope to be in approximately the same shape I am this year on Dec. 31, 2010. Or better.

Tonight, we're having pizza for New Year's Eve -- mine is gluten-free using my favorite Udi's pizza crust! I've been promising this recipe for a while now -- I thought I was cool to call it "GF Spanako-pizza," but DAMN if Rachel Ray hadn't done it already.

But mine is better, and here's how I do it:

GF Spanako-Pizza a la Barefoot Contessa

2 Udi's gf pizza crust
1 cup shredded mozzerella parmesan mix cheese
(the rest of this is Ina Garten's recipe)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and minced
12 ounces (325g) fresh spinach, well-washed and towel dried
(or two packs frozen, thawed and squeezed dry)
salt and freshly-ground pepper
8-10 ounces (230-250g) feta cheese
2 tablespoons finely-chopped flat leaf parsley
1 large egg, at room temperature
lemon juice

Saute onion and spinach, then drain when cooked. It should be fairly dry. Season, and add feta cheese. Add parsley, egg and squeeze of lemon, mix and set aside.

Brush pizza crust with olive oil and mound filling on top of two crusts.
Top with mozzarella cheese mix. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and hot.

Modification: If you have an GF Alfredo Sauce hanging around, layer that on the bottom of the crust *as a sauce* then heap on spinach and cheese mixture.

Much love, and here's to days gone by.
Remember today is a gift -- that's why we call it THE PRESENT!

Ging

Monday, December 28, 2009

Please don't jump on the gluten-free bandwagon til you know what it means to be gluten free!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice, and early Kwanzaa. Santa was better to me than I deserved. So was the Hard Rock Cafe Casino today. But I digress.

Today's post is a cautionary tale fueled by three episodes in the last month (OK, since the day after Thanksgiving). It's a sign of the gluten-free times. And I'm in a bit of a tither about it.

As I write this, my head is throbbing with a migraine headache, and my stomach is bloated and aching. My wrists are creaking, my knees are swollen...I won't tell you about the gastric symptoms....

For tonight I was glutened by an item on a gluten-free menu at a restaurant that advertises its gluten-free menu. Yeah, yeah, I know. eating out is risky. And know what? It's getting worse.

I warn you. This isn't a nice post at all. The names have been held to protect the criminals involved -- trust me when I say I have contacted each one...

I've seen this coming for a while now. Someone famous wrote a book about celiac disease and made the term "gluten free" a status symbol. Suddenly, people all over the WORLD are going gluten free (or some alphabet-soup variation of it) and boasting about it because they're going to get back in bikini size by eating gluten free.

Yeah. Right. I find folks on Twitter all the time saying, "I'm starting my gluten free diet tomorrow....but first I'm going to finish this bag of Oreos." Right, snowflake.

IMHO there are four groups of people who need a gluten-free diet. 1. People with celiac disease. 2. People with ANY FORM of gluten or wheat intolerance or the symptoms that accompany this. 3. People who have anaphylactic responses to wheat and gluten. 4. People who believe it lessens the results of autism on a child.

Because these are the people who go on a gluten-free diet strictly and STICK TO IT AND DO NOT CHEAT.

It is not a fad, and dag-nabbit, society has started treating it that way.

OK, so here's my rant du jour. This interest in gluten-free eating has sparked a sea of restaurants and products labeling themselves gluten free WHEN THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT MEANS. And for those of us who suffer from the symptoms of an accidental glutening (as I do, with a vengeance,) this is UNFAIR! And I want you to stop.

PLEASE DON'T JUMP ON THE GLUTEN-FREE BANDWAGON TIL YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GLUTEN FREE!

Situation one: Day after Thanksgiving, we lunch at a BBQ place in the south with a big sign up about a gluten-free menu. I am happy. I order off same menu stressing NO BREAD SHALL TOUCH THE MEAT IN ANY WAY! Plate comes out with bread, which, when I protest, is plucked from the plate by waitress and handed to me. I explain the problem with this removal. She returns to the kitchen, and I'm pretty sure some guy on the line rinses it off and dunks it in sauce. Within 20 minutes of leaving, symptoms begin. I email twice, only to be told, "We just can't figure out how to notify the folks in back that it's gluten free." WTF? 2

PLEASE DON'T JUMP ON THE GLUTEN-FREE BANDWAGON TIL YOU (AND YOUR DESK STAFF)KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GLUTEN FREE!

2. I am at a wholesale outlet with a table of a vendor selling holiday candy and treats. BIG SIGN says gluten free on it. I look at one stack of products and it appears to be chocolate covered cookies. I walk around table and find a large package of CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS in the mix. Are these all gluten free? I ask. Yes, said demure woman trying to sell stuff. It can't be, I say, there is WHEAT FLOUR in this product right here. WELL, says demure woman, now getting testy with me, They're gluten free because that's what the sign says. Do you know what gluten free means? I ask. No, she said, I'm just telling you what they told me. Fine, says I, what is the phone number. And to them I shout,

PLEASE DON'T JUMP ON THE GLUTEN-FREE BANDWAGON TIL YOU (AND YOUR SALESWOMEN) KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GLUTEN FREE!

Cuz unless those pretzels are home made by me and hand dipped, there's no way....

3. Tonight. Been to this lovely Tampa establishment before. Jeffrey does not want beans with his tacos, so I ask for them on the side. They are clearly listed on GF menu I was presented. I have asked a million questions, our lovely server (really, it wasn't her fault at all) brings me beans and I eat three big bites. I TASTE BEER! I ask, do these pinto beans have beer in them? She says yes and removes them and we get a manager. He is VERY polite and lovely, and he understands the whole thing. But someone on his food line in the back DOES NOT get it, and he is the person I want to hurt right now (or make him hurt like I do). And I tell the very kind manager,

PLEASE DON'T JUMP ON THE GLUTEN-FREE BANDWAGON TIL YOU (ALL of YOU) KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GLUTEN FREE!

OK, seriously. Most people like to start new diets around the first of the year. On Jan. 1, or maybe Jan. 2, I bet hundreds of folks will decide for one reason or another to start a gluten-free diet. Please caution them all,

PLEASE DON'T JUMP ON THE GLUTEN-FREE BANDWAGON TIL YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GLUTEN FREE! And I mean REALLY all the time, 24/7, no cheating, no testing, no I'll start this tomorrow....

This ain't a casual fad. Please stop treating it that way. I'll love a restaurant and product much more for being HONEST. And for goodness sake, let's all say it together...

PLEASE DON'T JUMP ON THE GLUTEN-FREE BANDWAGON TIL YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GLUTEN FREE!


(stepping off soapbox).
Much love,
Ging

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Georgia Favorite Made GF/SF


I love Senator Russell Sweet Potatoes, a Georgia recipe for a sweet potato casserole with a dark, crumbly topping made with pecans, flour, brown sugar, and butter. I am not a marshmallow topping sweet potato casserole girl. I discovered this in 1985, but I'd had it before then -- It's named after Sen. Richard B. Russell, a Georgia hero and lawmaker.

When Mary suggested we have GF Honey-Baked Ham last night, I helped whip this up from memory.

I made two critical changes. One, I used brown sugar Splenda, since I am trying to watch my sweets. This does alter the flavor a little, but it isn't bitter.

Second, I used Pamela's Baking Mix instead of the flour. You could use plain on GF flour mix here too, without Xanthan gum. I think the Pamela's was perfect. It made a lovely crumbly top.

This would be easy to make casein free, and probably you could make it vegan if you had egg replacer. You could also use demerara dark sugar to make it organic.

It's that kind of casserole.

But here it is. And it was yummy!

Sen. Russell Sweet Potatoes, GF/SF style

3 c. sweet potato pulp
1/2 c. brown sugar Splenda (or the real thing is you're not SF)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. milk (any kind of milk will do)
1/4 c. butter

TOPPING:

1/2 c. brown sugar Splenda (or a cup of the real stuff is you're not SF)
1/2 c. Pamela's GF Baking Mix (or GF flour or the real stuff if you're not GF)
1/2 c. butter (you know the drill...)
1 c. chopped pecans.

Nuke or bake sweet potatoes with skins (we used five, I think). Skin and place in mixing bowl. Add other ingredients and mix.

Mix topping in a bowl and spread on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Use 9 x 9 inch baking dish.

Much love, and try it you'll love it!
Ging

Monday, December 14, 2009

Super quick gluten-free turtles


plus

plus

equals YUMMMMM


My friend Melinda Martin told me about this, and I thought gluten-free pretzels would make a nice base. And since gf pretzels are so toasted, you can do this in the microwave without hurting the pretzel.

Ingredients:
A bag of GF pretzels
Several rolls of Rolo candies
A can of toasted, salted pecans

Line a microwave-safe plate with a piece of parchment paper. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

If your pecans halves aren't toasted/roasted, toast lightly in a pan or oven for a few minutes. But really, it's easy to find them already roasted this time of year. They taste great with plain pecans, too.

1. Buy a bag of gluten-free pretzel twists. Lay the pretzels out on the plate in a batch of 8.

2. Take a roll of Rolo gf candy and separate pieces, placing on top of pretzels.There are 8 Rolos in each roll.

3. Microwave the plate for 15 seconds and check to see if the Rolos have softenend. If not, return in 5 second intervals until they're soft and melting (but not melted).

4, Remove from microwave and immediately press a toasted pecan half on top, smushing it down and covering the pretzel.

5. Set aside to harden (can refrigerate, but you don't have to).

Gently remove from paper when hardened and enjoy.

Alternatives:

1. ANY kind of pecan will do, from plain to roasted to sweet and spicy to praline. And if you want another kind of nut, you of course can.

I entered this recipe in a Twitter contest last week and won a prize for it! So for sure, I'm recommending it.

Try it, you'll enjoy it and your friends will too.

Much love, and happy holidays!
Ging

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guest Post: 10 Important Facts about Celiac Disease and a Gluten-Free Diet

I am proud to call Sandra Robins, The Gluten-Free Optimist, (aka @marylandceliac) my friend, even though we've only met through Twitter and our blogs. Sandra is also the D.C. Gluten-Free Examiner. It was she who gave me the tip about GF Food at Harrah's, Atlantic City.

Today, she wrote this post in response to the recent broadcast of the Dr. Oz Show that discussed Celiac Disease with a newly diagnosed celiac. At the end of the show. Dr. Oz made the statement that someone who suspects Celiac disease "should go on the diet for three weeks and see if it's better, then get tested."

Rightfully, a large portion of the Celiac community is upset with this comment, as well as certain opinions shared as facts by the additional guest. For the record, folks: Blue Cheese is gluten free in most instances -- when in doubt, READ THE LABEL or CALL THE COMPANY.

But I digress.

I asked permission to reprint this here to remind anyone who needs information the truth about celiac disease.

I reprint it verbatim. Thanks, Sandra, for all you do.
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

By The Gluten-Free Optimist:

10 Important Facts about Celiac Disease and a Gluten-Free Diet

1. Do not start a gluten-free diet until you have been tested for celiac disease (celiac panel blood test and endoscopy if necessary). Testing will not be accurate if you are already eating gluten-free. An endoscopy is necessary to confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease and sometimes to help interpret the results of the celiac panel blood test, which is not always accurate.

2. Many people who test negative for celiac disease are gluten sensitive and find that symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet.

3. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, not an allergy. It is not part of food allergy testing. Eating gluten damages the villi of the small intestine, preventing nutrients from being properly absorbed. If left untreated, celiac can lead to osteoporosis and cancer, among other things.

4. The only treatment for celiac disease is a 100% gluten-free diet.

5. Symptoms of celiac disease vary greatly and some people have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, like migraines or fatigue. Symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed as other conditions and there is a lot of misinformation about celiac disease. In fact, 97% of people with celiac disease don’t know they have it, and it can take years and many doctors for people to be correctly diagnosed.

6. Celiac disease is genetic. If one family member has it, others should be tested.

7. Gene testing for celiac disease does not tell you if you have celiac disease. If you do not have any of the genes associated with celiac disease, then you can rule out celiac disease. If you do have some of genes, all it means is that you may develop celiac, but many people with the genes never develop it.

8. While there are countless great gluten-free foods and many restaurants have gluten-free menus, cross-contamination is the biggest challenge for most people with celiac disease. Gluten crumbs in a condiment jar, a cooking utensil or serving spoon that has been used on gluten, and even airborne wheat flour, can all cause a person with celiac disease to have a severe reaction, which can last for days.

9. Eating gluten-free is not a weight loss diet. Many gluten-free breads and other baked goods are not only expensive, but high in fat and calories. Many people with celiac disease gain weight on a gluten-free diet as the body heals and begins properly absorbing nutrients. Eating foods that are naturally gluten-free is cheaper and healthier than processed gluten-free foods.

10. While wheat is a top eight allergen required to be listed on food labels in the United States, gluten is not. Gluten (wheat, rye, barley, and contaminated oats) is found in many products and some products are unsafe for people with celiac disease as a result of cross-contamination. Only oats that are certified gluten-free may be consumed on a gluten-free diet and some people with celiac disease are unable to even tolerate oats that are certified gluten-free.

Much love, and thanks for the guest post, Sandra!
Ging

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Whole Foods-Briarcliff Sampling/Gluten-Free Event THIS SATURDAY


If you're shopping for gluten-free products for your holiday meals, check out Whole Foods Market on Briarcliff and LaVista Roads this weekend.

Daniel Lyons (that's him above at the Atlanta GF Vendor Fair) will be sampling Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse products, as well as other gluten-free goodies as well. The event begins at 11 and will last until about 3 p.m.

Also, Dr. Karen Tedeschi (local Chiropractor/Health Practitioner) will also be here talking about maintaining a gluten free diet and signing folks up for a class that will take place at the store January 7th at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Tedeschi maintains a gluten free diet and is an avid Whole Foods Market customer.

If folks have questions they can call 404-634-7800 or e-mail kate.graham@wholefoods.com

Much love, And if you go, tell Daniel Ging said hey!

Ging

Sunday, December 6, 2009

An Important Gluten-Free Event

Note: Because of horrible winter weather in Colorado, the event has been postponed for one week.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 3, 2009

Contact: Dee Valdez 970-308-1062

Nationwide Movement To Get Gluten Free Food Into Food Banks Begins In Loveland Colorado

Loveland, CO, December 3, 2009 - “There is a great need to develop a systematic approach to establishing Gluten Free Food Banks across the nation,” says Dee Valdez, who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 17 years ago. About 15 years ago, Valdez remembers talking to a mother with a sick 7 year old who had Celiac Disease. The exasperated mom said she had to choose between feeding her whole family or just feeding her sick daughter the very expensive gluten free food she could find. The distraught mother said, referring to her Celiac daughter, “She’s just going to have to live with diarrhea. “

“I was devastated by her reality,” says Valdez, “so I gathered as much gluten free food as I could and left it on her doorstep. Unfortunately, my reality didn’t allow me to help parents like her again, until now.”
___________________________________________________________

Bread is plentiful in food banks across the county.
Gluten free bread is not.
___________________________________________________________
Loveland’s House of Neighborly Service will be the test site for the new program Valdez is designing to be implemented in communities across the country. There are scattered efforts to gather gluten free food for the holidays or offer a monthly gift card to help offset the extra expense of a gluten free diet. “What I see that is missing is a systematic approach to feeding gluten free families in need,” say Valdez. “If someone has Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance, they can become very ill in the short and long term if they eat gluten containing food because that is all they have.” Bread is plentiful in food banks across the country. Gluten free bread is not. Valdez, or Gluten Free Dee, as she is called, intends to change that.

Gluten free food donations are now being accepted at House of Neighborly Service, 565 N. Cleveland, Loveland, CO 80537. It is asked that the food be identified as such when dropped off. Anyone available to deliver their gluten free food Tuesday, December 8, between 4 – 6 pm can be part of an exclusive group dedicating the new gluten free section of the existing food bank with a Ribbon Cutting, Press Conference and Festivities.

“We are excited to be able to provide an option for people with gluten sensitivities who are financially struggling, especially considering the cost of a gluten free diet,” says Erin Becerra House of Neighborly Service (HNS) Food Program Manager.

HNS provides food baskets for an average of more than 500 Loveland/Berthoud area households each month. The mission of the food program is to provide wholesome food to nourish people who are food-insecure.
___________________________________________________________

Although only about 1% of the U.S. population
has Celiac disease…
12% of U.S. households want to eliminate
or reduce their gluten intake.
____________________________________________________________

Although only about 1% of the U.S. population has Celiac disease, new gluten free food manufacturer General Mills says its research shows about 12% of U.S. households want to eliminate or reduce their gluten intake. July 2, 2009 WSJ.com article For General Mills, Wheat-Free Items Are Tricky to Make, Cheap to Market

“I honestly don’t know how many additional people will come in for help knowing that we now have gluten free food available and how many of the families we are already serving will take advantage of this new option,” says Becerra. “I believe that we will be able to provide assistance with the help of our generous community, and the support of gluten free food manufacturers and retailers who are willing to donate products for those who cannot afford them.”

Families in need of gluten free food, who live in the Berthoud, Loveland areas served by House of Neighborly Service need to be screened for services Monday – Thursday. Please call 970-667-4939 to find out the appropriate paperwork to bring to determine eligibility.

"This is an opportunity to be part of a group setting a precedent that will spread nationwide,” says Valdez. “We can make a difference. We can change someone’s life."

###

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
4:00 – 6:00 pm
4:00 – 4:15 Music and Gluten Free Snacks
Tours of Gluten Free Pantry
Locals Bringing Donations
Interview Opportunities
4:15 - 4:45 Press Conference
Gluten Free Dee
House of Neighborly Service Officials
Celiac Sprue Association Representatives
4:45 – 5:00 Gluten Free Food Manufacturer Challenge to Donate
Rich Schneider, Product Developer
Gluten Free Sandwich Petals by Denver’s Raquelita’s Tortillas
5:00 – 5:15 Ribbon Cutting and Dedication
First Family Receives Gluten Free Food Basket
5:15 – 6:00 Music and Gluten Free Snacks
Tours of Gluten Free Pantry
Interview Opportunities

Please give us a tentative RSVP to Dee Valdez 970-308-1062 so we can reserve a parking spot in the overcrowded parking lot adjacent to House of Neighborly Service

Much Love, and congrats to Loveland and Gluten Free Dee for this accomplishment! I would love to see Atlanta do this.

Ginger

P.S. Look for a blog in a couple of days on Ging Recommends bout one of the GREAT vendors involved in this effort!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A friend to the Gluten Free



A few weeks ago, Randy and I went to Atlantic City for our anniversary. Before we went, I did a search for gluten-free dining establishments. Luckily, I'd read The DC Gluten-Free Examiner Site (written by my Twitter buddy Sandra "Maryland Celiac" Robins) and had seen this piece. I was delighted to find that there were gluten-free offerings at four of the restaurants at Harrah's, where we were staying.

This post is about that person -- James W. Harris II, the Chef. You GOTTA love a guy who has a NFCA GREAT certification on his card! (Gluten-Free Resource Education Awareness Training program)

I was thrilled. We went in search of him as dinner time approached. In the quaint Italian restaurant called Polistina (where Tony Bennett was dining at the same time, by the way!) we found a gluten-free diner's hero. For James brings in gluten-free food, on his own, from the specialty vendors, for diners who need it. He oversees the preparation, trains the staff and chefs in the ins-and-outs of things like cross contamination and preparation of items (they know how to read labels for gluten items!) And best of all, the hostesses of the restaurants IMMEDIATELY get Chef James when a gluten-free diner comes into the restaurant.

I like that. A lot. He's a role model for the gluten-free restaurant chef. And he made me feel incredibly special.

It's a level of treatment that I've received at only one other place, frankly, in more than two years. And it's a level of treatment that got me to eat three of my five meals in Atlantic City in his kitchens.

Imagine: Warm gluten-free bread with butter at dinner, and gnocchi with marinara. Or maybe some freshly made hollandaise sauce on fresh poached eggs and gluten-free toast. Or maybe some pierogis? Or lasagna? All gluten free? And these are the top-notch, top-of-the-line product out there, certified GF and prepared with enormous care.

I too up way too much of James Harris' time Friday and nights, talking about gluten free issues. He is first and foremost certified by the NFCA -- he participates in their cooking events. He got interested in cooking gluten free when we cooked at a restaurant where one of his managers couldn't eat the food because she had gluten issues. So he created the food she could eat.

He gets great support from his chefs, including Mike Laurenza of Polistina's and David Suscavage, the chef at the grand buffet on Saturday and Sunday. They, too, have learned about the seriousness of the gluten-free diet and are quick to help accommodate a gluten-free client. Mike was absolutely adorable and attentive, making sure everything on my plate was perfect. By the end of the night, he said, "You're part of the family now." So kind!

And Dave, well, he really scurried around for me at the buffet. He even called James at home to find the gluten-free bread he left out for me! A wonderful guy! We had a great time!

But James Harris -- well, I really can't say enough about this remarkable chef. When I told him I wanted to bring my Gluten-Free Girlz (Jennifer, Julie and Lori) back for a gluten-free weekend, he said he'd take us on a walking tour of Gluten-Free Philly while we were there. When I told him I couldn't get a certain Atlantic City Bakery bread (gluten free) here, he offered to send me a care package. I promised to send him the contacts of some of my favorite gluten free bread and desserts.

But I mostly want to say THANK YOU to James Harris. You see, it's caring, concerned people like you who make travel and dining safer for gluten-free people like me. You're a Celiac Hero. And I thank you from the bottom of my gluten-free heart.

Much love, and I hope to see you soon!
Ging

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Be wise this gluten-free ThanksLIVING**



**coined by my dear friend Carol Harrell. I love it!

Thanksgiving, that mine-field for the gluten free, is just a few days away. I've been to two TOTALLY gluten-free Thanksgiving dinners, for which I'm eternally thankful, this year, but both of them reminded me of a few things that bear remembering this holiday season. It all kinda starts creeping up on me this week, as the holiday season gets into full swing.

1. If in doubt, bring your own food. And smile a lot!

And if that thought annoys you, stay home. SERIOUSLY. If you're having 12 people over and I'm the only GF one at your table, I will bring my own plate of food or eat before I go. I don't mind, really. If asked, I might even contribute a GF casserole for everyone. I promise it doesn't hurt my feelings**, and I truly appreciate your trying to tell me what is GF. And if I'm in doubt, I'll discreetly bring my own.

(**The only time this DOES NOT APPLY is if you're related to me by birth or marriage. If you exclude me then, I'll just be upset and think I don't matter in your world. If you're my family and the roles were reversed, I'd do it for you.)

2. If someone goes the extra mile for you (or even a few extra feet!) Make sure they know how much you appreciate them and how THANKFUL you are for what they've done. Because it touches my heart every time a student or friend makes me gluten-free brownies, or when Mary and my Dad make sure the meal on the table is one I can eat, or when ANYONE make sure I can eat at a restaurant for safely. This is a time for thanks-giving, so be sure to give thanks to them!**

**Oh, and that said. If someone tries to make you something gluten free and you don't happen to enjoy that food, try to be polite. Your Mama raised you better than that.

3. Be a smart gluten-free diner, even when you know the dinner is GF. Don't automatically expect that something marked GF is the cause of your immediate (or long-term) gastric distress after a holiday meal. Seriously? If you filled your plate with a lot of GF food, don't you think THAT might make you feel like the proverbial stuffed turkey? What if you introduced a new GF food to your diet at that meal? That doesn't mean contamination -- it means there just might be something different triggering it.

For example. Yesterday and last Saturday I had delicious GF meals prepared at the Middle Georgia GIG and Atlanta Metro Celiacs gluten-free holiday lunches. I ate myself silly with a delightful assortment of guaranteed GF food. And honestly, I felt sick all night. I wasn't glutened -- I know that. In spite of my medicinal preparations, I just ate too much AND ate GLUTEN-FREE things I shouldn't have. But that was my choice.

Don't immediately jump to conclusions that a GF food is not GF if it causes a reaction. It might be that you're sensitive to it or ate too much.

3. There is no such thing as "just a little bit." No, you can't have the first slice of a gluten-stuffed turkey. It's filled with gluten! No, you can't take the crust off the pumpkin pie and eat it just this once**. And yes, Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup has gluten in it! So do some instant mashed potatoes. But plain mashed potatoes are ok -- as long as a fresh stick of butter was used with them. And homemade potato salad is ok, too -- as long as they used a new jar of mayo and pickles and mustard without knife crumbs in it. And coleslaw? Same.

And for those family members who insist you try "just a little bit" or who just don't get it? Show them this.

It's not worth it to ingest just a little gluten. You'll feel horrible for days. **That said, if it is killing you and you can't stand it and you're willing to suffer the consequences with a gluten item, you are able to make your own personal choice. But don't complain to me if that happens. You know?

4. Try to remember, as I have for the past three holiday seasons, that Thanksgiving is about more than food in its historical meaning -- and try to adopt that attitude. I love being with my friends and husband on Thanksgiving, and I love the penny-ante poker game after the meal. I either bring my own food or I eat before I arrive. They try to make sure I know what is gluten-free. And I make choices. But I have always had fun! So much love and fun in one room is worth it.

5. Finally, the resources for GF Thanksgiving items are endless. I've listed two for you here, and if you look down the side of my recipe file on the side, you'll fine more. I honestly can make ANY of my favorites GF. If I choose to cook, fine. If I don't, it's my choice, too. But I WILL eat totally gluten-free through the holidays.

Here is Celiac.Com's guide to a gluten-free Thanksgiving.

And here is Daniel and Shauna James Ahern's 2008 Thanksgiving menu.


The new site The Gling @thegling on Twitter has a new menuzine for Thanksgiving.

Oh, and I have a new GF recipe I'm testing that might be good for you this season. I'll report back...as it might work for the December and January holidays!

But I WILL be Thankful this ThanksLiving! I will. And I hope you will, too.

Much love, and happy ThanksLIVING!
Ging

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why I am thankful!

Jeffrey's First Guitar Solo Performance

Last Friday, Jeffrey performed his first-ever solo guitar performance at the Creative Expressions concert. The sniffling you hear in the background is me!

This is why I am thankful -- my son is being cared for and taught by loving, talented people like Katie Whipple and the wonderful people at the Life Enrichment Center in Milledgeville.

Much love, and go Jeffrey!

Ging

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving news from Butterball


This is truly a GF Turkey!


I believe the message below sent to me by Megan at Triumph Dining is important, so I'll post it here.

Hi Ginger-

We don’t normally reach out to our fellow bloggers with news (we don’t want to clog your inbox)… But this was really exciting, and I thought you might be interested to know! Butterball turkey now offers gluten-free gravy mixes with a bunch of their turkeys. I think this is super-cool because 1) Butterball is synonymous with turkey, and it’s exciting to see someone so mainstream do gluten-free, 2) as you know, gravy is almost never gluten-free, and 3) the GF gravy isn’t a specialty version, but it’s the default option for some turkeys.

It turns “gluten-free going mainstream” on its head! Instead of having specialty gluten-free options (like Betty Crocker mixes) alongside “regular” gluten-full options, this is a company that’s making the gluten-free option THE default option. Our wonderful blogger, Tiffany, uncovered this story. And we are super-excited about it, and thought you might be too. The full story is here (just in time for Thanksgiving!):

That’s it for us. Hope all is well with you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Kind regards,
Megan & the rest of the team at Triumph Dining

And Much Love from me!
Ging

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

There's a new post on Ging Recommends!


And it's a favorite!

Quiche me, Quick!

Sorry I've been out of touch for a week. I just hand thumb surgery. Typing is still iffy :-)

I have always loved a good quiche. It is one of the first foods I learned to cook -- summer of 1973, Dekalb Honors Program, French class. Since then I've made thousands of quiches. I've always loved them, especially when made with a store-bought frozen crust. I admit it -- I can't make pie crust to save my life.

Since going gluten-free, though, I haven't made as many quiches as I used to. But with the wonderful gluten-free pie crust at Whole Foods, there's no reason for this not to be a quick meal any more.

A week ago, I tried a combination I've never tried before. Here it is:

Italian Quiche

One GF pie crust
Six eggs
One cup milk (or half and half, or almond milk)
One cup Italian Mixed Cheese
One pound browned mild Italian sausage (bulk) GF, seasoned with a pinch of red pepper flakes if you want
Six sun dried tomatoes, snipped into strips (I used dry pack)
I large jar mushrooms (or one package, sliced, sauteed with the sausage)
One half small onion (sauteed with the sausage)
I t. Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb
1 t. Italian Seasoning (I used Penzeys Mural of Flavor)
1. t. salt and pepper

Sautee mushrooms, onions and sausage and drain, then place in bottom of crust. Top with cheese, sliced tomatoes, then top with mixed eggs, milk and spices. Pour over. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to one hour. You know it's done when the knife inserted in the custard comes out clean.

Here are the details on the Pie Crust:
Butter, sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, eggs, potato starch, water, lemon juice, salt, xanthan gum, baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate), evaporated cane juice.

Per serving (About 2oz/57g): 270 calories (130 from fat), 15 g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 2g protein, 31g total carbohydrate (less than 1g dietary fiber, 0g sugar), 70mg cholesterol, 280mg sodium. Servings per container: about 9

Slice and eat!

Much love, and quiche me, quick!
Ging

Sunday, November 1, 2009

There's a new post on Ging Recommends!


What can I say, I've been busy today

A GF/No Sugar Added Banana Nut Tea Bread


I don't know about you, but I've always got some bananas in an overripe state on my counter. Today I had three, which meant it was time to make Banana Nut Bread!

My friend Carly Harvey posted this on her blog, and I've tried it a couple of times as written, except I use my favorite "GF Bisquick," AKA Pamela's Baking and Pancacke Mix.
I also haven't tried to make it since I've had to cut back significantly and seriously on sugar and white carbs this summer.

So I spent a little time working with this, and I've adapted it for a GF/No added Sugar diet. One loaf makes about 8-10 slices. Note: While the sugar in this is natural sugar (from bananas) and from Splenda products, THERE ARE CARBS in here, folks. A lot of carbs. But they're good, fiber-filled carbs in this adaptation, not just empty white calories (and oh Lord, I do love empty white calories). I would say the fiber count in a slice of this is about 10 grams or so, with all that flax and all. So small slices, people. Small slices.

Here it is, for your holiday baking.

Carly Harvey's Meme’s Banana Bread, adapted to GF/No Sugar Added

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)_
2 cups Pamela's Baking Mix
1/3 cup ground flax seeds (I buy them ground and refrigerate them)
1/2 cup Splenda and 1/4 cup brown-sugar Splenda (or if you're not SF, use one cup sugar)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs (or equivalent egg substitute if you like. I have great free-range eggs, so I use eggs).
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts).

Beat all ingredients vigorously for 30 seconds. Bake 55-65 minutes.

Much love, and isn't that kid cute? I mean...you all know what banana nut bread looks like, right?
Ging

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10 thoughts in honor of Celiac Awareness Month



I remember distinctly the first time I donned a pink ribbon in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness: October of 1992. I was a new professor at Northeast Louisiana University, and I went to the Southern Living Showcase in Monroe with a colleague. Someone gave me a pink ribbon, and I made a vow to wear it every day thoughout the month of October.

I remember having to explain it a lot -- this wasn't long after we first donned red ribbons in honor and memory of those with HIV/Aids. It didn't take long to add other colors to ribbons -- there's a whole site devoted to the ribbon colors!

All this brings me to the idea of Celiac Awareness Month, which ends at the end of this week. Of course, for those with celiac disease, the month ends, but the disease does not. And our constant struggle to keep our food gluten-free and cross-contamination free is a constant vigil.

Constant.

Someone said last week that I sometimes come on a little too strong with my gluten-free issues. Good. I want people to know that it is a SERIOUS CONCERN for many people, and it cannot and should not be taken lightly.

I know I took the idea lightly until I realized what it meant.

But I gotta ask -- if this disease is believed to affect 1 in 133 people (I don't even know what the new number is) and gluten intolerance affects even more, HOW can we raise the awareness of this need in society to the level where it will no longer be looked at as merely a dietary choice, but a health and wellness necessity?

I have 10 thoughts:

1. When people ask you why you don't eat (pick your poison) buns, pasta, bread, etc., develop a talking point: I have celiac disease, and ingesting wheat destroys my intestines is a good one. No, you don't want to gross out your dinner companions, but Be FACTUAL.

2. When you hear about a gluten-free product/company/developer who is doing great things for our community, sing their praises in any way you can! People will sing the praises of a new Mocha Latte somewhere, so why can't we crow about a great soft gluten-free sandwich bread or a delicious battered fish? Honestly, these are products ANYONE in the family would like.

3. We must continue to try to raise awareness with mainstream producers that we appreciate their gluten-free products. I know my Christmas is going to feel a lot like Yules of Old this year because of one cereal producer. When they do good, let them know you noticed. When they fall short -- tell them so. For instance, the folks at Outback Steak House don't really like me much, because I never miss a chance to remind them they should be like the Outback on Crossville Road in Roswell, Georgia. I mean, if they can serve a gluten-free blooming onion, why WON'T YOU DO IT IN ALL STORES. (Yes, Julie, I did it again.)

4. And that said, we must not abandon our trusted gluten-free mainstream products. They're been here, struggling to establish themselves in our world. And we love them and should continue to support them.

5. For goodness sake, don't make light of the importance of celiac disease by dismissing it or dumbing it down -- we don't have a "wheat allergy," and it really IS NOT all right to try to arrange a gluten-free meal when we're expected to dine. I'm sorry if I seem like a zealot, but don't expect me to slink away and eat a salad (or fruit, or sliced veggies) while the rest of the folks are having chicken wings, or pizza, or a whole gourmet meal. I'm sorry, if your event serves food, and you expect me to attend, make sure I can eat without standing out.

6. That said, praise those who make your dining needs easier. We used to have a catering director at Georgia College who, once she found out I was gluten-free, ALWAYS made sure I had a delicious meal (or even snacks) available at gluten-filled events. I miss you, Linda Book.

7. We need a genuine Tipping Point in the gluten-free world, one that calls it like it is. This is not a fad. This is not for weight loss. This is no place to cheat. Why can't we have someone important say that with authority? I'm sorry, but I don't need celebrities being gluten-free for a fad or a cleanse or to get in a bikini.

8. The social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, are a terrific source for support. So are sites like Delphi Celiac Forum and Celiac.com. The Examiner sites (like this great one from my friend Jennifer D. Harris, JGF for short) have great information. Seek them out. Support them. While you're at it, if you've got a local support group, join it and support it. Here are two of my favorites: Middle Georgia GIG and the Atlanta Metro Celiacs. I'm smack dab in the middle of them and enjoy them both, though I rarely get to a meeting.

9. Love a gluten-free blogger. There's a list on the side of this blog of ones I frequent, all of them, like this blog, started because of a need for gluten-free information and a need to communicate about celiac disease and gluten intolerance. I don't blog for money (thought I do earn a small amount from BlogHer for its incredible sponsorship). I don't blog to get free stuff, though I do get samples from companies). I don't blog to be famous (goodness knows, I'm not famous). But I do this because I think every bit of new information shared is valuable, as long as it's factual. And I gotta say, i've made some tremendous friends in the gluten-free blogging world, and I've even gotten some new "adopted" gluten-free family members. Like Steve, And Kate. And Melanie. And JGF. And Ginger North. And Carrie. All their blogs are listed on my blog roll.

10. Finally, anyone up for a challenge this week? Spread the word. Can you wear light green on Thursday this week for Celiac Awareness Month? I am going to do it, and I hope you will too. Whether it's a green ribbon or a green shirt or tie, this is your chance to make a statement for Celiac Disease Awareness. And maybe you can help one person who's going through what YOU went through before your found the gluten-free diet.

Much love, and let's spread the word! And spread the gluten-free love!
Ging

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

There's a new post on Ging Recommends!


Dreaming of Schnitzel on Ging Recommends!

In Honor Of Breast Cancer Awareness Month


First, before I get to my official post: Last weekend's Atlanta Gluten-Free Vendor Fair, sponsored by the Atlanta Metro Celiacs and coordinated by that goddess of gluten-free living, Jennifer D. Harris, was a huge success. Check out my academically posed post on this at my school blog!

Quick: Make a list of all the people you know personally who've faced breast cancer.

I list both my grandmothers Josephine Redente and Katie Rudeseal, my sister Betty Swanson, my friend Gail Wilder, my friend Barbara Monnett, my friend Carol (who is going through treatment right now), my friend Amy H., my friend Don's ex-wife Gayle Davis, my friend Meldra Panchetti and Royanne Eakins, and my friend Jake Goldstein -- the list could get so long as I think about it. I also think about my dear dissertation committee member Barbara Shoemake, whom we lost in 1998 at the age of 34 to the ravages of the disease, and Leigh Swinger, one of my first friends in Milledgeville who died four years ago this month.

And I think of people like me who've had breast cancer scares along the years and who have thankfully escaped.

We all agree: Cancer sucks. And this is the month we can and should try to do something about it.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, MyBlogSpark has joined forces with the non-profit community on mySpace called Pink Together to create awareness and raise funds for breast cancer research and support. It costs you nothing to participate, but by doing so, you can help lift up someone fighting breast cancer or remember someone who has lost the valiant battle against this horrible disease. It's easy to do, too.

During this month, in additionto donating $2 million to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, General Mills
will also donate $1, up to $20,000, each time a comment of encouragement is posted, a virtual flower bouquet is sent, or a story is shared on
PinkTogether.com
through October 31st.

I added a flower to the bouquet of a beautiful young woman named Linsi, whose touching story really would resonate with many of my students. Here's her story:

The first thing you notice about Linsey is her smile. It’s the kind of smile that lights up a room. From the first minute you meet Linsey, you know this soft-spoken, thoughtful young woman is destined for great things. Her battle with breast cancer may have given her an insight on life that is beyond mature for such a young woman, but it’s done nothing to dampen her youthful joy. At the age of 23, Linsey was forced to make a decision no young woman should have to make. After a biopsy reveled she had breast cancer, Linsey chose to have a mastectomy of her left breast.Less then a year later, Linsey choose to have a precautionary mastectomy of her right breast, bringing her odds of ever having cancer again down to three percent.“In some ways, it feels as though breast cancer never happened to me. I have been able to move forward with my life. Still, the scars that remain from my surgeries are proof of what I've been through.”It was a struggle for Linsey to deal with something so serious at a time when others her age were studying and hanging out with their friends. That struggle was made even more difficult by the fact that there were no other young people she could turn to.“What I think about is how isolated I feel in being a 26-year-old breast cancer survivor. I've often read that women ages 40 and under are considered ‘young’ breast cancer patients. What does it mean to be 23 with breast cancer?”Until she found Pink Together, Linsey felt like she was alone in her fight, but now she has found a community of young women who understand what it means to be a breast cancer survivor.Linsey believes it's important for there to be more breast cancer awareness resources and educational tools that target young women. She fears that most women her age simply don’t realize they could be at risk.“I never fully understood that I was at risk, and for a while I ignored the lump I felt in my breast because I assumed it was nothing.”As the youngest ever Pink Together Survivor Ambassador, Linsey hopes her story will inspire young women across the country to become more active in the fight against breast cancer.



Through MyBlogSpark, I received a Inspiring Hope breast cancer awareness gift bag that I am donating to Zeta Tau Alpha at Georgia College & State University to use as part of their Breast Cancer Awareness Month Activities. All of the gift basket items are from ShopKomen.com, where 25 percent of the merchandise purchase price benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure® in the fight against breast cancer. I'm also donating the reader's prize to Zeta Tau Alpha to help spread awareness among college woman that breast cancer does not discriminate by age, sex, or race.

Most of all, I hope all of my readers who are fighting breast cancer in any way will go to the Pink Together site and post their story, so they may serve as an inspiration to others.

Much love to all of you,
Ging

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'll be there. I hope you will be, too!



Much love,
Ging

P.S. Find me at the Starfish Gluten-Free Breaded Fish table. No samples, but I will have coupons and wonderful little stress balls and information!

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm not sure how I feel about this...

New blogger rules will be food for thought, that's for sure.

Read the story here:

Much love,
Ging

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Great gluten-free tidbits!

October is going to be a great month to be gluten free!

•There will be a great lecture coming up, to be held at Harry's Farmer's Market in Atlanta. Here's the flyer:



•If you're in Atlanta (or within a couple of hours of it, like I am,) you want to mark your calendar for the upcoming Gluten-Free Vendor Fair! I attended (and helped out) last year, and I look forward to being a part of it again.

•Nature's Path and Rachel Ray are sponsoring an important contest about sustainable living. You can find details here.

•There's a new site out there called GLING! *for Gluten Free Living. and it's a great place to be if you're gluten free. Join up, folks. it's free. They're also on Twitter at @theGling. Follow along!

Much love, and hope you have a great week!
Ging

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A new podcast for the Gluten-Free Community


If you visit this site you'll hear a great podcast of a discussion about Celiac Disease and the gluten-free diet held for the public by the producers of RiceWorks snacks. Full disclosure: this site is filled with information about gluten-free life, and it is much more than a promotion for a product.

The podcast was sponsored by a gluten-free product, but what's more important -- this is a company that is listening to the gluten-free community. The Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance information was provided by international Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance expert Shelley Case. If you go to her personal website, you'll find an enormous wealth of information about CD and GF.

Whether you're new to gluten free or an old timer like me, this podcast is a great chance to listen to the expert on the subject. You will note if you listen that it is INFORMATIVE, not just a product pitch.

I thought it was impressive and important.

Much love, and hope you enjoy!
Ging

Monday, September 14, 2009

Celiac Awareness Day Activities, 2009

Yesterday, in honor of National Celiac Awareness Day 2009, I attended a day of special events at Harry's Farmers Market in Alpharetta, Georgia, sponsored by Harry's and the Atlanta Metro Celiac Association (and affiliated group of the Gluten Intolerance Groups of North America).

Harry's planned a fun afternoon of activities, from a "Gluten-Free Birthday Party" to food tasting to a special talk and store tour by Jennifer Harris, a good friend who is an officer in AMCA (and the gluten-free specialist at Return to Eden.

In honor of Samuel Gee, MD, father of modern celiac disease, National Celiac Day is celebrated on September 13 to bring light and awareness to this autoimmune disease. Harry's cheduled a gluten-free event on Sunday, September 13th from 12-5 to coincide with National Celiac Day. This is an annual event for Harry's that it is open to the public, features a number of events and is FREE. This is the only mainstream grocery chain in Georgia (that I know of) to put on such an event that reaches out to those who follow a gluten-free diet. (I'm quoting their press release there.)

It was a delightful afternoon, but most of all, I enjoyed the fellowship with others with Celiac Disease who are gluten free. In fact, one of the Moms who brought her daughters to the party said, "I really came for the exchange of information."

So exchange we did. We talked about products, procedures, even restaurants and menus. We talked label reading and cross contamination. We talked iPhone applications and shopping guides.

That's one thing I love about the Celiac/Gluten-Free Community. We share.

But, after all was said and done, I was disapointed. No, not at Harry's -- I admire them for doing this. but it was NATIONAL Celiac Awareness Day! I heard of NO OTHER PLACES in Atlanta having a similar event. NONE. Not even the other Harry's had an event.

And that troubles me. While it was a victory to raise awareness in honor of Celiac Awareness Day, there's still a long way to go.
I know that everyone who attended yesterday's event learned a lot, though. And that's a step in the right direction.

I'll have an extended post on some of the products available at the vendor demonstrations on Ging Recommends! later today.

Much love, and Happy Celiac Awareness!
Ging

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

One day last week, I found a new group of Twitter friends who also have gastroparesis. From one of them, Crystal, the GPAdvocate, I heard about a meme called "My Invisible Illness"

I was captivated because, you see, I have at least five (maybe seven?) invisible illnesses.

Type II Diabetes with insulin
Gastroparesis
Celiac Disease/Gluten-Intolerance
Pernicious Anemia
and
Fibromyalgia

AND if you believe my orthopedist, I also have DeQuairvain's Syndrome and Osteoporosis!

WHEW. That's a lot. That's why I am excited about next week. Read the press release HERE:

And then, perhaps you'll also want to complete this meme: I have decided to do this meme based on my "Bermuda Triangle" of illnesses, because they're what I most struggle with SO FAR.

30 Things About My Invisible IllnessES You May Not Know
1. The illnesses I live with is: Gastroparesis Type II Diabetes w/ insulin Celiac Disease/Gluten Intolerance
2. I was diagnosed with them in the years: 2005 1991/really 1982 and 2007 They all converged for the worst in late 2008.
3. But I had symptoms since: 1971.
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: How, when and what I can (and cannot) eat.
5. Most people assume: I'm OK because I am fat. If you've got all these problems, shouldn't you be skinny by now? I swear someone said that.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: Insulin shots and my Miralax cocktails.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: Grey's Anatomy, where sick people are sexy.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my computer?
9. The hardest part about nights are: Trying to keep my stomach empty and my blood sugar level. It's a delicate balance.
10. Each day I take 10-12 pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) AND seven shots.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: do participate in them, but they often don't work. Like high priced probiotics and enzymes...bleah.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: neither. Who wants to be sick?
13. Regarding working and career: It's always day to day with me. I choose life! And I want VIGOR.
14. People would be surprised to know: Some days it takes all I have to even get out of the freakin bed. And when I can sleep, I do -- and for HOURS.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: As much as I love food, food is killing me.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: give myself shots.
17. The commercials about my illness: HA. There are no commercials for GP and CD. Diabetes commercials make us all look fat and stupid.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Eating anything I want to eat. Any time. In any amount.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: Krystal Hamburgers, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Varsity Hot Dogs.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Blogging for the causes!
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: figure I better check the obits, because I'd probably be dead.
22. My illness has taught me: The old saying "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger" is a crock of bull.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Oh, you can have fruit (or a salad). When you put the CD and GP together, I really can't have either!
24. But I love it when people: try to make accommodations for me!
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: Could be worse. Could be raining.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Don't give up the ship! Yeah, it sucks, but you get where you can handle it.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: That I am actually living with them. I'm such a whiner.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Make me some gluten-free browniesand date nut treats and sent me get well cards when things were rough last Spring.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: Awareness is important, no matter what your II is. I take every opportunity to acknowledge and educate I can get my keyboard around.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Special to you. Now go do your own!
Find out more about National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and the 5-day free virtual conference with 20 speakers Sept 14-18, 2009 at www.invisibleillness.com

More on this later, my friends!

Much love,
Ging

Monday, September 7, 2009

New product news!



Be an angel and head on over to Ging Recommends! for a new product development.
Much love,
Ging

Middle Georgia GIG September meeting

If you live in the middle Georgia area, make plans now to attend the September 19 meeting of the Middle Georgia Gluten Intolerance Group.

Here's the scoop for the meeting:



I hope I'll see you there!

Much love,
Ging

Friday, September 4, 2009

Attention all baseball fans!

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is having a special day at the baseball game coming up Sept. 20 at Pittsburgh's PNC Park. It's Celiac Awareness Day!

Sunday, September 27, 2009
Game Time: 1:35 pm
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. LA Dodgers
Fan Appreciation Day at PNC Park


So if you're gluten free, this day's for you!


And, if you're an Atlanta Braves fan like I am, you'll be happy to know that Turner Field now has a gluten-free concession stand.

Check out my friend Jen's Examiner Page for more details!

It's a great time to be a gluten-free baseball fan, isn't it?

Much love, and Go Braves!
Ging

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Lattitudes

Listen along with Jimmy Buffett if you'd like to!

Over the last several months, I've been going through a lot of changes. Those of you who follow this blog know that I've recently had to add even more restrictions to my diet, and this has in turn caused me to move away from posting recipes and food information.

I realized how much I have enjoyed lately getting to know people who are gluten free, or who are producing gluten-free products for us. And I like writing about their products, too.

But that has created a sticky wicket.

You see, I'm honored and pleased to be a part of the BlogHer network, and it's an association I don't want to mess up. When I signed my contract with BlogHer, I agreed there would be no third-party product endorsements here on my blog.

So rather than cause issues with my BlogHer affiliation (I mean after all, who wouldn't want to be in the company of smart, savvy, women bloggers?) I have created a sister site called "Ging Recommends!"

And here's what I'll do. If I've got a product review for you to see at "Ging Recommends!" I will post a teaser here at this site and a link to the site. That way, all you have to do is click once and you're there. This protects my friends at BlogHer and allows me to stay within the legal parameters of my agreement with them.

But I've also decided to change things up around here, too. I'm going back to recipes! You see, I'm now facing a gluten-free life with LIMITED RICE PRODUCTS. Yes, that staple of the GF Diet causes me great gastric difficulty (it really slows my digestion, jacks up by blood sugar, and hurts the gastroparesis). So I've turned to my blogger and GF friends for advice.

First and foremost, join me in a journey to find a new flour mix that works with my messed-up gastric system and my now insulin-dependent lifestyle. I hope to offer at least one new recipe a week of some kind to show ways I'm cutting back on rice and adding new foods. In fact, the first post this week (coming soon!) will be about one of my recent creations.

In other words, I'm cooking and adapting again. I know some of you missed that -- one friend told me, point blank, that the other stuff was getting old.

But I'll show you how I'm getting by on a diet with limited to no carbs, no sugar, and gluten free. Maybe there's something there to help you, too.

Second, and perhaps the most important new change, I'm going to add a series called "This Gluten-Free Life". At least twice a month I'm going to offer a Q and A with someone who is living gluten free, or who has created a business that caters to gluten-free patrons. I hope to branch into podcasts sometime in the next several months....we'll see how that goes. I always did say I had the perfect face for radio!

And of course, I'll still post my gluten-free adventure stories, notices of events, and of course, my weird old stories.

With this site and "Ging Recommends," you'll have the best of the gluten-free world.

For a long time to come, I hope.

I'd like to thank you for your patience and understanding in this time of change. I'll be back in a day or two with a new post.

And when you see this icon

You'll know I have a new product post for you to check out!

Until then...

Much love, and happy September!
Ging

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In praise of the green pod



Quick, what's the first word that comes to mind when I say the word "okra"?

Yeah, I figured. I'd bet most of you out there would say "SLIME." But I'm here today to share with you a new recipe for the preparation of okra. And no, this isn't a joke.

There are three kinds of people in the world, you see. There are people who think okra should only be served fried. There are people who would rather eat ground glass than eat okra at all.

And then there are people like me, who love okra in all its incarnations.

Fried. Stewed. With corn and tomatoes. In a gumbo.

And now, roasted. Yep, I said roasted. You won't believe how good it can be!

Here's a little information on that wonderful veggie, courtesy of about.com

Okra comes from a large vegetable plant thought to be of African origin, and it was brought to the United States three centuries ago by African slaves. The word, derived from the West African nkruma, was in use by the late 1700s. Grown in tropical and warm temperate climates, it is in the same plant family as hibiscus and cotton.

Okra is usually available fresh year-round in the South, and from May to October in many other areas. You can also find okra frozen, pickled, and canned, and in some regions you might find frozen breaded okra for deep frying. When buying fresh okra, look for young pods free of bruises, tender but not soft, and no more than 4 inches long. Okra may be stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel in a perforated plastic bag for 2 to 3 days, or it may be frozen for up to 12 months after blanching whole for 2 minutes. Cooked okra can be stored (tightly covered) in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.


So here's the recipe for Roasted Okra

The recipe is simple: Wash, drain and sort okra, selecting small pinky-sized and medium pods from the big woody ones. If you're picking fresh okra at a market.

Lay the pods flat on a baking sheet so it doesn't overlap. Drizzle with olive oil (garlic flavored olive oil is great with this) and sprinkle with your best sea salt.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes until the pods are slightly collapsed and browned.

The outside is crunchy (like friend) and the inside is moist but not slimy. It's a delicious side dish!

Seriously.

I know, you'll either love it or hate it. You decided.

Much love, and try it!
Ging

Monday, August 24, 2009

This post has been moved.

At the polite request of the BlogHer network, this post has been moved to my class blog,
Bobcat PR.

If you're looking for the information on the special previously mentioned here, that's where it's now lives.

Much love,
John Peter Zenger

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oh So Sweet Treats -- Oh so gluten free!

I subscribe to the "A picture is worth a thousand words" school of communication. Just look at this amazing basket I won this summer at a GF Twitter Party!



I've owed Oh So Sweet Treats owner Ebony Richardson Jackson this post for a while, actually, but now that her bakery is also up and running, there are several ways to acquire her delicious gluten free goodies. I shared the brownies, blondies and cookies in the basket with friends and family, and NO ONE knew the gluten-free items were gluten free.

Oh, the blondies...crunchy and moist. Oh the brownies...chocolatey and fudgy, Oh the, OK, you get the picture.

Ebony's goal is authentic, scratch-baked goods with the finest ingredients. She has some of the finest baked goods I've tasted, and as a non-baker, you readers know how much I love a good treat. The cupcakes look amazing...I may just have to order some of them!

Best of all, Ebony is hoping to have all the treats in the bakery prepared with a gluten-free alternative. And yes, sensitive diners, she is ULTRA careful with the CC issues.

So if you're in the Manassas, Virginia, area, drop buy and buy a treat!

Stop by for a sweet treat at:
9411 Battle Street
Manassas, VA 20110

Hours:
Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. - pm


Much love, and enjoy!
Ging

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lobstah forevah!



I had an exceptional experience getting gluten-free food on vacation this year. Several, actually.

We're back from our massive vacation, and suffice it to say, I've decided I'm too old to live out of a suitcase for 12 days. We took a train, a subway, a shuttle, a ship, a boat, several taxis, three trains, and a plane to have our respite.

I won't bore you with highlights of the cruise (because there weren't any? Disappointing to say the least) but will say I had a lot of success eating gluten free on the Carnival Triumph, our first stop. While a waiter did serve me fully glutened French toast (while insisting YES, Gluten Free for you! You SPECIAL!) most everything else worked just fine on the cruise. I still commend the chefs on Carnival -- they do make sure gluten free people eat well. I had gluten-free pizza, molten chocolate cake, and Tiramisu cheesecake, plus French toast (GF) and eggplant parmesan and bread galore.

But the focus of my vacation this year was to eat as MUCH lobster, plain, no butter when I could, as I could possibly afford. And dang it, I did! The cholesterol in lobster, by the way, is the good kind, as long as you're careful with the butter...

Because, as we know, plain seafood in its freshest form, is naturally gluten free!

First I had lobster tails on the ship (with tiger shrimp -- two orders!) And in St. John, New Brunswick, at the lovely Steamers Cafe, I had lobster and mussels (steamed in water, not ale). A wonderful gluten-free lunch, with great entertainment from a crazy guy named Tim.




We also had wonderful lobster salad in Halifax at McElveys. They knew a lot about gluten free, and their lobster roll (sans the roll, of course) was delicious. Alas, I could find no beer at the irish Pub called The Triangle across the street. I also took a photo of a deck chair from the Titanic. I understand they rearrange it every day.

We spent one day in New York City, where I had a beautiful sweet corn arepas on the street, stuffed with mozzarella. The stand I bought it from was entirely corn based. I could have had an empanada, a tart, or more. Lovely. I also had a stack of pastrami at the Stage Deli (also served gluten free) and later, a platter of hummus, feta, and olives.

We also saw HAIR on Broadway. AWESOME doesn't begin to describe it. This is me with Gavin Creel, who plays Claude and was nominated for a Tony this year.




The gluten-free seafood mecca was Boston, site of the 2009 AEJMC convention. I have three distinct gluten-free recommendations in Boston.

•Jasper White's Summer Shack, in both Back Bay and Cambridge.

The servers and staff know what gluten free means, but more importantly, their seafood is so fresh and pure, it is naturally gluten free. I had a twin chix lobster (recently molted lobster, small and succulent) and some wonderful shrimp, and on my second trip, I had a grilled calamari salad and some steamed clams. For dessert, try to resist the burnt sugar ice cream, or the fresh peaches and blueberries with whipped cream. Oh, that's me with Chef Jasper White. Nice, nice guy!



•Paddy O's Irish Pub, Union Street

After a glance into the Ye Olde Union Oyster House (and shock at the price) we walked back to Paddy O's pub where I had a great lobster lunch for $13 -- this included the cole slaw. Pictures say more than words do, but trust me when I say this area is the place to go for lobster at lunch. It was cheaper than the McDonalds on the corner!



But the piece de resistance, the creme de la creme, the BEST gluten free restaurant experience I had, was at a lovely Italian place called Nebo. Located at 90 N. Washington Street (about a 10 buck can ride from Back Bay,) Nebo had something we gluten-free folks don't get too often -- Misto Fritto, cooked in a dedicated fryer. It was a delicious combination of calamari, fresh shrimp and smelt, and crispy crunchy with a corn-meal batter.



You have to LOVE a place that has the words "all precautions are taken to prevent cross contamination." I loved it, and my non-GF buddies and hubby enjoyed it, too. For an entree (which I DID NOT need but had anyway,) I had gluten-free pasta with a rich scallop sauce. They were out of the gluten-free lemon tart (bummer) but I had a lovely, lovely panna cotta with a mango sauce.

I found out about Nebo when the owners wrote me an email about the place. They wrote:
"About 4 yrs ago my sister Christine and I opened nebo restaurant at 90 N. Washington St. in Boston’s North End. Nebo is a traditional Italian restaurant offering dishes based on recipes that were passed down from our mother and grandmother. After being open for about a year, two of our closest friends were told they had Celiac disease. We then realized just how many people this disease has affected and the need for an alternative for their dining restrictions. Determined to serve our friends their favorites, we set upon making our menu available in a gluten free form. We are thrilled to say that we have now produced 90 percent of our menu with the same great taste as our regular menu. We don't think there has been an accomplishment that has brought us more pleasure.:

If you would like them to forward you a copy of their Gluten free menu please send a menu request to nebofunctions@gmail.com. They are proud of their gluten-free menu. They should be. It's terrific! I urge anyone gluten free or not to dine there.

That about sums up my gluten-free vacation. I have to say, Boston is one of the gluten-free friendliest cities I've visited. All I needed was a gluten-free cupcake...

Much love, and I'm back on the grid.
Ginger

Friday, July 24, 2009

I've got my swimsuit, and my flippity-floppies



I hoped to post two more reviews/stories before we left for vacation, but time, medicine, and a massive yard sale have all gotten in the way.

So...I'll be off the grid until at least August 10. During that time I'm be doing a lot of GF research on the Carnival Cruise Line, in New York, Hartford, and Boston. Thank GOD lobster is gluten free.

Anyway, I'll be back with a couple of new posts when I return. While I'm away, Jeffrey will have a vacation of his own at Papa and Mary's house. WOOHOO

Oh, before I go -- mark your calendars if you're in Middle Georgia. The middle Georgia GIG is meeting August 15.



Much love, and the alarm is set, the mail is held, the suitcases are packed, and we are outta here!
Ging