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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where I've been, where I am going. Happy Third Anniversay to my BLOG



I started this blog on August 1, 2007, after being gluten free all summer. IT HAS BEEN THREE YEARS SINCE I INTENTIONALLY INGESTED GLUTEN PRODUCTS.  My dedication was to bring souther GF adaptations to the gluten free world -- the GF Paula Deen.  Sometimes I vented, sometimes I laughed and cried. But I have made a lot of friends over the past three years, and I mark this anniversary this weekend with a few affirmations, facts, and updates for the future.

1.  I was inspired by blog by Shauna James Ahern and Karina Allrich.  I still find them most compelling. I begged both of them to add my to their blog roll. I think Karina did.  At first I begged a lot to be added.  My first GF bud was Ginger of the North, Fresh Ginger, and Karen Blue, Avoiding Milk protein. I grew. We all grew. I am thrilled to meet Monday my GF Brother from another Mother, GF Steve and the Artist.  Oh joy.  It is a dream come true.  I'll meet so many GF friends in Denver, and have a reunion with a dear cousin in Boulder.  This weekend will be a celebration of this blog.

For the record, I miss Krystal Hamburgers (just the slimy bread and beef juice steamed in stuff). I miss my favorite meal at The Varsity.  (thre Chili Dogs walking, all the way, with pepper, onions and mustard (no ketchup),  two onion rings orders) , a Big O with a refill or two, and a peach and apple pie.  No variations.) And I'd like to plow through a dozen Krispy Kreme originals when the hot light is on.

And I'd love a GF egg roll, for the record. And some GF dim sum.

2, My blog has changed and morphed with my medical conditions, but I have ostensibly not changed.  I am a gluten-free woman in her 50s with diabetes. I haven't tried to remake myself into something.  I've stayed true to my original mission, I think. It is my intention to continue this, but it has not been easy this summer with sickness, blindness and moving.  Sometimes, all I see is a blur. Sometimes, I have it at 200 points.

But I covert your considered support. And I love you my GF friends.  You know who you are. I hope.

3.  I tried to syndicate through BlogHer, a reputable organization, but it wasn't for me.I started and retired a food blog called Ging Recommends, but now I can go back to doing what I want here.  I owe a few people reviews for great products I've nibbled on this summer.

I now report local GF news (well, haven't much lately) for Examiner.Com too.  I hope after August 10 this will get back up and running.  In fact, I apologize to a few companies -- I owe you.  I want to write about Canyon Ranch Buns, about Enjoy Life Trail Mix, and Bakery on Main products.  I want to write about GF Adventure in NYC with the brilliant Jill Brack from Glow Gluten Free. I need a few vents.

A huge loss is that I can eat GF produced products in MINIMAL sparing amounts.  But sometimes a girl's gotta live. A little.

5.  As you know, I've been through some sickness here over the years-- first I had to give up sugar, had my ovaries out, thought I had cancer, then the whole insulin thing.  Now I'm fighting a horrible autoimmune disorder (4 out of 5 doctors agree) called  Giant Cell Arteritis.  Since March 28 I've gone blind in my right eye.  The future is squinty.  I am doing all I can to fight the ravages of Prednisone (my medication,) of which I am highly intolerant.  I look like Jabba the Hut.  I have gained 35 pounds in a year.  I have moon face and look like Quagmire from Family Guy. Prednisone has suppressed and destroyed my autoimmune system. I am going back and forth to the Mayo Clinic treatment.  Thanks for my SFAM/BFF Janet for taking me there.  Thanks to my Daddy and Mary for their spiritual and financial support.  And thanks to my friends for unlimited moral support.  XOXO

Here is really what I look like now.  I can't get used to the mumps-like swelling. It hurts. It makes me ugly.  I am not pleased.  I'm also a little plus bitchy. I rely on my iPhone because it is easier to read. Don't judge me, students.

Most of all, I am sicker than almost everyone thinks I am. Doctors -- multiple doctors -- are using words like "Medical Leave."  I am MUCH sicker than I thought.  And than I've let on.  And yes, I prepared two houses for a sale and move-in, fighting debilitating migraines and face swelling and soaring sugars and swelling all the time.  It had to be done right.  I was the woman for the job.  Bless all who helped in any way. I hope I'll find respite in the nest we've created in Milledgeville.  God Bless Nick Miller for all his help. 

I am being treated at the Mayo Clinic and in Atlanta (aggressively) and I hope we'll soon have a treatment that won't poison my system and kill me. Or make me go blind in the left eye.

I am petrified every time I get a headache that I will lose that vision.  I'm being treated with Avastin and Laser Surgery in the left eye to keep it sharp as possible.  I am a pin cushion of Insulin shots.
My right vision will never come back.  I'm blind in one eye. I can walk only about 15 minutes with sitting down, my back locking down. In spite of cherry Internet Chatter, it is a long-term disease with a treatment of 4-6 years, 

I am blessed to have Dr. Katy Gustavson-Roberts at the help of my care. She saves my life every day.  And Karen her nurse is a Godsend.  So is Dr. Charles McQuaig.   

But my classes will be challenge to me.  Fo sho.  I hope to continue to do as much as I can until I am forced to say No Mas.

6. The best thing that ever happened to me was having my son Jeffrey.  On the heels of that was marrying my soul mate, Sweet Randy, in 2005.  I am blessed and happy that he has successfully naviagted a full retirement from USF and now lives full time in our Milledgeville Manse, aka El Casa Del Whack. The goat boy adores him.  I adore him even if he can't figure out how to use a vacuum cleaner. Yet. 

He has a great retiree double dip job teaching at GSU in August. We sold the money pit. 

We are together under the same comfortable roof the first time after seven years  (almost to the date). It is our dream come true.

I am blessed. 

My hope for the next year of this blog is growth, knowledge, change, and a continued list of things good for the gluten-free dieter.  I will continue, I hope, to be just Ging.

And I thank you for caring and joining me along the way.

For tonight, I send, Much Love. 
I covet you peace and prayers.  And I hope I can repay the love some day.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Super veggie spaghetti pancake

This is my entry in the Amy's Kitchen and Lundberg Rice Pasta recipe contest. As many of you know, I've been moving and sick all summer.  So I'm sorry for the delay. (Update post coming tonight, promise.)

It's been percolating in my mind since I was invited to participate, but it has taken me a long time to get on the computer to write it up for you and for the sponsors.

But here it is, with the story attached.


One of my favorite cookbooks of all times is Jane Brody's Good Food Book, circa 1985.  I've recently been revisiting it, because the recipes are so easy to adapt to a gluten-free (and vegetarian) lifestyle.

I always liked her recipe for Spaghetti pie -- it's easy to cook, yummy to eat. And I thought I'd try this for once with gluten-free pasta.

I used one package, cooked, of Lundberg's Rice Pasta Spaghetti, and one jar of Amy's Family Marinara.

Super veggie spaghetti pancake
Serves Four generously

I package of Lundberg GF Spaghetti, cooked al dente and drained per package directions, cooled.
1 cup each yellow onion diced and baby bella mushrooms, sauteed in 1 T. olive oil, cooled.
-or- add 1/2 cup of
Three whole eggs (or equivalent of egg white substitute)
prepared pesto (your own or jarred and skip this step).
3 T. milk (I use almond, but any type unflavored will work)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (fresh shredded, or packaged in the dairy case preferred). Also good is the Italian mix, or mozzarella.)
Dash of cayenne pepper, 1/2 t. salt, and generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.

2 t. butter or margarine
One ball fresh mozzarella, sliced thin


One jar Amy's Family Marinara sauce
One 12 - 16 ounce jar of caponata (Eggplant salad). I use Trader Joe's brand
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese (I bought a bag of fresh grated/ 12 oz. and divided the use)

Saute the onion and mushrooms, seasoned to your taste (I add chopped fresh basil, fresh garlic, salt and pepper) and set aside. (OR skip this and add 1/2 cup prepared pesto into the egg mix).
Mix remaining ingredients and fold in cooled spaghetti, mushrooms, and onions.
Heat a well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron or oven-safe skillet and melt butter. Add mixture to pan and press down. Cook on stove top for about 8-10 minutes until bottom is brown. Top should be still moist and a little liquid.

Top with fresh mozzarella slices and place in oven on broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese bubbles.
Remove from oven and slide from pan onto serving platter. (If you do this in a cast-iron skillet, cut it into four pieces at this point and continue).

Top lightly with sauce, and then pass remaining sauce. Serve with a salad and crusty GF bread.

Much love, and enjoy! Thank you Fortune PR for this opportunity. I continue to be an avid support of Amy's gluten-free products.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Happy 28th Birthday Jeffrey

July 10, 1982 was a million years ago.

You've really grown and changed so much over the last year.  Sometimes I wonder if I'll be here for your next birthday...

But you are still -- and always will be -- the light of my life.

I am proud of you. I love you.

Much love, Mom!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

America Gra-Frutti Continues to Grow!

I am so excited for my dear friend Marilyn Santulli and the good things that continue to happen for her brand American Gra-Frutti. She's magnificent. Her products are magnificent.

Try them at a Whole Foods Market near you in the Southeast. OR, at Return to Eden, Life Grocery, or through The Website.

Contact: Marilyn Santulli, Founder and Chief Creative Officer

American Gra-Frutti gluten-free cakes now available in 18 southeast Whole Foods Markets

Two luscious gluten- and dairy-free cakes from Marietta, Ga., based American Gra-Frutti are now being sold across the southeast in Whole Foods Markets.

The “You Love Chocolate Chip” cake and cupcake, as well as the “They’ll Never Know” spice cake, flavored with carrots, squash and spinach, are now on sale at Whole Foods Markets in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina. Both cakes, topped with a decadent dairy-free frosting, can be purchased as a “grab and go” individual cupcake, a cupcake four pack, or a 5” two-layer cake.

All American Gra-Frutti products are produced in a dedicated, gluten-free facility by company Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Marilyn Santulli. The American Gra-Frutti bake shop is located in Marietta, Ga., and American Gra-Frutti products are sold around metro Atlanta including Whole Foods Markets, Harry’s Farmer’s Markets in East Cobb and Alpharetta , Turner Field, Return 2 Eden, and Life Grocery. American Gra-Frutti products are also sold at MOM’S Organic Markets in Maryland, and Abbey’s Health Food Store in Tampa, Fla.

“American Gra-Frutti’s explosion into the southeast region of Whole Foods Markets is a huge step for us,” Santulli said. “I am delighted to be able to serve the gluten free and dairy free community in these states, and I look forward to my continued relationship with Whole Foods Markets. We are excited to visit the stores outside of Georgia for in store demonstrations very soon!”

American Gra-Frutti was founded in 2007 by Santulli, who transitioned her traditional cake line to gluten free after she adopted the lifestyle in January 2008. Since then, American Gra-Frutti has become the source for decadent, nutritious and healthy gluten-free desserts with a universal appeal. Santulli, a skilled baker by trade, is passionate about her product and is devoted to making desserts that can be enjoyed by those with gluten and dairy intolerances, as well as those without. With American Gra-Frutti as her vehicle, Santulli is humbled and excited to participate with R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids), The Autism Society and the Children’s Hunger Fund.

“Once I became gluten free, I understood the need for a delicious, healthy dessert,” Santulli said. “I’m delighted that our customers think American Gra-Frutti fills that bill.”

American Gra-Frutti products also include the popular “Peachtree Pimento” spread, which is available in both regular and spicy flavors. Also available are the moist and delicious Coconut Drops in several flavors--Almond Angels, Peanut Butter and Peppermint Crème to name a few. Santulli also produces vegan cakes in assorted sizes and flavors by special order.

All products are available through mail order on the company’s website or by calling 404-304-9255.

For more information on American Gra-Frutti, contact Marilyn Santulli, founder and chief creative officer, at 404-304-9255. She can be reached at Or join the American Gra-Frutti fan page on Facebook, or follow American Gra-Frutti on Twitter at @agrafrutti.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

It's July already?

This is just a short, quick update. I have a slew of stories and pictures to post, but I've been on the road and pretty much off the computer since, well, since my last post.

I went to NYC and Tampa for two weeks, and I didn't take my laptop. I managed all my email from my phone. And I didn't post on this site or Examiner while I was gone.

I'll remedy that soon -- I promise. But it's a mere 17 days til we move Randy to the land of the Caramel Cake. On July 22, we leave Tampa and head here for good. Our household goods come in shortly afterward.

Next week I head to the Mayo Clinic for a consult. And there's Jeffrey's Birthday, Randy's Birthday, and my Milledgeville house yard sale in between.


Yes, I'm exhausted. But we're almost to the finish line.

Much love, and I'll post much more soon!