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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

American Gra-Frutti hits a home run at Turner Field GF Concessions

Take me out to the ball game
Take me to Turner Field
Buy me some Gluten Free Caramel Crunch
I just know I could eat a whole bunch

So it's root, root root for the Brav-os
They will win, first not last!
And with GF Food from American Gra-Frutti
It'll be a BLAST!!

(with apologies....or not!)

American Gra-Frutti hits a home run at Turner Field gluten-free stand

Beginning this week, American Gra-Frutti LLC products will be in the starting lineup for a second year at the gluten-free concession stand at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves.

Seven new American Gra-Frutti products will join last season’s favorites, Gluten- and dairy-free cupcakes  in American Gra-Frutti’s Signature flavors,   “You Love Chocolate Chip” and “They’ll Never Know,” a carrot-spice style flavor. This year’s roster – seasoned veterans in the gluten-free community -- includes:

• Wholesome White hot dog and hamburger rolls, which are gluten, dairy, soy and nut free;

• Gluten-free Caramel Crunch Snack Mix, crunchier and more addictive than that tried-and-true ballpark favorite;
• Gluten-, dairy- and soy-free muffins in three flavors--apple cinnamon, blueberry and sweet potato; and

• Gluten-free Chunkie Chocolate Chip Cookies.

The “You Love Chocolate Chip” cupcake, as well as the “They’ll Never Know” spice cake flavored with carrots, squash and spinach, were a staple at Turner Field last year, and 
creator Marilyn Santulli is delighted that additional products will be available for gluten-free guests this year.

“We are honored to be recognized by the management of the concessions at Turner Field as a quality supplier of gluten-free products,” Santulli said.  “The new chef at Turner Field is gluten free.  We see this opportunity as the beginning of a beautiful relationship with America’s Team.

The new products are available during this week’s exhibition games but will make a season-opening splash when the Braves return to Atlanta April 8 for their home opener vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.  The gluten-free concession stand is located at aisle 106, and Santulli is hoping the products will also soon be available to fans who dine in Club 755.

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 the southeast at Whole Foods Markets, and are sold in metro Atlanta at the Georgia Dome,
Shepherd Center, Harry’s Farmer’s Markets in East Cobb and Alpharetta, Return 2 Eden, Life Grocery.  The American Gra-Frutti products are also sold at MOM’S chain in Maryland,Goodwells Natural Foods, Detroit,  Mi., Natural Market Place, Jasper, Ga., and Abby’s Health Food Store in Tampa, Fla.,

American Gra-Frutti’s expansion into the gluten-free concession area at Turner Field is a huge step for us,” Santulli said.  “I am delighted to be able to serve the gluten-free community who want a safe dining experience at the ballpark.  I look forward to our continued relationship with Turner Field. We can’t wait to visit the ballpark for a good ol’ gluten-free hot dog and caramel crunch to much while cheering on new manager Fredi Gonzales and the rest of this year’s Atlanta Braves team!”

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 other intolerances, as well as those without.  With American Gra-Frutti as her vehicle, Santulli is also proud to participate with R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids), Children’s Hunger Fund, Sydney’s School House, Tampa, Fl. and the Autism Society.  Her products are also sold at Whole Foods Markets around the southeast.

“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” pimento cheese spread, which is available in both regular and spicy flavors.  Both are made with pure cheese—no mayo, cream cheese or sour cream.   Also available are the moist and delicious Coconut Drops, Almond Angels and Peppermint Crème.  Santulli also produces vegan cakes in assorted sizes and flavors by special order. American Gra-Frutti’s products are made without any preservatives or artificial colorings or flavorings.

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.

Much love, and GO BRAVES!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Yoplait Giveaway from MyBlogSpark

I am a devoted participant in MyBlogSpark, as they represent some great companies.

My recent illness(es) however caused me to put aside a Spark from Yoplait Yogurt.

Free to a lucky reader of my blog -- this gift provided by MyBlogSpark and Yoplait Yogurt.

Please comment by Wednesday, April 7 at 5 p.m. to win.

With hectic schedules and many things to keep track of, consuming a sufficient amount of calcium may not always be our top priority. 
Luckily, Yoplait is committed to making it easier for women to add more calcium to their diet every day with the newly reformulated Yoplait Original style yogurt.

Now with two times the amount of calcium of the leading yogurt, that’s 50 percent of the Daily Value in one convenient 6-ounce cup, Yoplait Original yogurt provides women with an easy and delicious way to get the calcium they need. Yoplait Original also contains 50 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin D, which helps with the absorption of calcium. Yoplait is committed to women’s health and is proud to offer a product that has even more of the calcium and vitamin D they need for strong, healthy bodies.

In an effort to further educate women about the importance of maintaining strong, healthy bones through an active lifestyle and a diet rich in calcium, Yoplait is partnering with TV host and celebrity mom Nancy O’Dell on a one million cup giveaway of Yoplait Original yogurt, beginning December 13th. VisitYoplait on Facebook to sign up for your free cup and make a personal commitment to meeting your calcium needs each day. While you’re there, take a moment to enjoy daily calcium tips from Registered Dietitian Katherine Brooking and healthy lifestyle advice from Nancy O’Dell.

Yoplait Original Style yogurt is available in 4-cup packs and easy-to-store 8-cup fridge packs in 23 delicious flavors including Strawberry, French Vanilla, Harvest Peach, and Blackberry Pomegranate.

If you would like to participate in this Spark, YOU COULD WIN a Yoplait Original yogurt gift pack that includes a *VIP Coupon for a free sample of Yoplait Original yogurt, as well as a duffel bag, speed rope, water bottle and sport towel. (I donated mine as a door prize at a recent special event.  I did keep the water bottle, though, as I need to drink lots more water!)

Visit Yoplait on Facebook to “Like” the brand, and get your free cup of Yoplait Original yogurt by pledging your commitment to consuming more of the calcium you need. Also, be sure to “Follow” Yoplait on Twitter to keep up with the latest news from Yoplait.

*This coupon offer for Yoplait yogurt is not valid in some states, including California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota and Tennessee. 

Come on, and Much Love!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Bunderful Contest

OK folks, this is short and oh so sweet!

The fine folks at Katz Gluten Free have given me a dozen of their new -- and BUNDERFUL -- hamburger buns to give away to a lucky reader of this blog.

I've tried these buns in a number of contexts -- toasted, soft, with sloppy joes on top.  They are very delicious,and I feel certain you'll enjoy them.  (It took me a long time to try them because I'm so carb restricted, but they were very worth it.  And the gluten eater (aka Randy) liked them too...

(And I just keep loving Katz Gluten Free more and more...)

So for once, it's not about disease and blindness -- it's about FUN and GOOD TASTE.

Post a comment between now and April 1, and I'll randomly pick the winner of the buns.

So get your, ahem, buns in motion.  Post a comment!  and WIN WIN WIN!

Much love, Ging

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How it feels to go blind.

This post has been weighing heavily on my heart for a month, but I decided that tonight should be the night I should write it.  I post it at the beginning of No Boundaries Week at Georgia College, and I post it after the beginning of a new phase of treatment of my medical struggle.

It serves as an update to my friends -- whom I cherish and treasure.  To those who wish to continue to use my illness against me, I document the truth here.

But it also serves as a reminder that I am approaching the one-year anniversary of this chronic illness that caused me to lose my right eye vision. Sometime around March 26 last year I lost my vision to Temporal/Giant Cell Arteritis that deadened the top optic nerve in my right eye and left me unable to see much more than a small sliver of light at the top of my eye. For this I've been treated with Prednisone and Methotrexate, a chemo drug, since April 20 and August 27, respectively, by a doctor at the Mayo Clinic.

I take those meds with all the medications it takes to fight the infections I catch because I'm two immunosupressants, the insulin I must take daily, and the other pills that fight the effects of the Prednisone.

I hate it all. Every minute of every day.

Honestly? Eleven months into this, I am more tired of this than you are tired of hearing about it and caring about it.  And very few of you know the real story and how it has changed since February. But I assure you, just because I'm not talking about it doesn't mean I'm not feeling a lot of pain, stress and anguish every day.

But I sure know you're tired of hearing about it.  I can tell by the way people, well, avoid me.  Except for a small core of friends, I won't even give most people a true update. But I am sad to see my zeal and zest for life disappearing.

But in the last month, things have not been fine, and I have had a rough time.

Here's what happened, and here's where we are:

On Wednesday, Feb. 2, while talking to friends at a GCSU basketball game, I had a parade of black floaters go across my left eye, then my vision blurred.  A few seconds later, everything in my left eye was turned orange.  Looking through my only seeing eye, my left eye, I saw something just like this:

I remember trying to walk the wall of the Centennial Center to get to a room where I could sit down and call my doctor.  I called him. I called Randy.  I called Lori to get the prayer chain going. Then i prayed,

My eye doctor (who knows I lack vision in my right eye from Giant Cell/Temporal Arteritis, responded to my emergency call and scheduled a meeting the next morning.  My friend Patti drove me and Jeffrey home, and I proceeded to stumble around my house seeing....nothing. Orange and a small arc of light, but no faces, no shapes, no numbers, no televisions, no Randy, no Jeffrey, nothing.

That night, for a few hours, I knew what it felt like to be blind, and I knew what my life would be like if I should go fully blind in my future. I took meds to sleep, and when I woke up at 4 a.m., my eye was filled with black floaters that covered the front of my eye.

I'd had a vitreous hemorrhage.  It is a byproduct, in my left eye, of my ongoing, more than 20-year fight with diabetes. Ironically, it came at a time when my A1C had dropped into the 6 range and my daily blood sugar control had been its most accurate. I'd also lost 25 pounds since October.

Two eye doctor's appointments and three weeks later, and I found I had to begin to undergo something called Pan Retinal Photocoagulation. It looks something like this. It HURT like someone was poking me in the a couple of hundred times with a sharp stick.  And I have to repeat the treatment a few more times, perhaps more. My next treatment is March 18, the first day of Spring break.  The treatments won't improve my vision (I still have the nasty floaters) BUT my doctor hopes I'll keep from throwing another vitreous hemorrhage.  Here's what the treatment looks like.

OK, so what's the point of this?  In losing my vision Feb. 2, I saw my future.  I don't like it. And I probably can't do anything about it. I mean, seriously.  The damage to my left eye continues to occur in spite of the fact that I've done all I've been instructed to do by my doctor at the Mayo Clinic (I mean, what kind of idiot goes on a diet and loses 25 pounds while on Prednisone, fighting a Thyroid disorder, and taking a large self-injected chemo shot once a week?) I continue to teach my classes, try to serve my students and their organizations, and try not to let my family and loved ones down. I am blessed to be treated by the greatest doctor in the world, Dr. Katy Gustafson Roberts, and her current brilliant nurse Christy (and her brilliantt former nurse Karen).  She treats me with respect and honestly, but I have been on nine rounds of antibiotics since August 15 AND am in the office at least once a week for some kind of bloodwork.

And I am still in an awkward place. I have two eye disorders, one autoimmune, one caused by diabetic retinopathy, still fighting against each other. The treatment of the crap in the right impacts the behavior of the crap in the left.  The lady? or the Tiger?

And either way, I fear my days of seeing things AT ALL are numbered. And that saddens and scares me immensely at the same time.  I feel like Scrooge did when he saw the ghost of Christmas future -- except I wasn't asleep -- I was wide awake and scared to death from that moment until right now.

I want to say I continue to appreciate and covet your concern, karma, prayer and care, and I appreciate your patience with me right now.  As I've been reminded several times lately, I'm not a very good friend or good company any more. I even understand those of you who don't have a clue WHAT to do or say (that happened to me last year -- a dear friend had a car accident that caused her enormous medical problems.  I had no clue WHAT to do, so I became the worst friend ever. Other than pray, I did nothing.  Suddenly, I get that.)  Randy is a trooper.

I appreciate those of you who understand that is beyond my control. And I especially appreciate those of you who don't tell me "feel better soon," or "Cheer up," because face it, it ain't gonna happen. The longer this goes on, the longer I fear it will drag on.

Until the day comes that I lose my vision permanently.

Last week, finally, I read something someone posted on Twitter.  It was called "The Spoon Theory" and it was about dealing with Chronic Illness.  This person has lupus, which is different from my chronic illnesses, but the theory applies.  And I beautifully describes my life every day.

Read The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino Here: 

I send you all much love and thanks.