Gluten & Cross-Contamination

Gluten &Cross-Contamination

I would say being aware and avoiding cross-contamination is one of the hardest aspects of having celiac disease. Not only do you need to be informed on where your food is coming from, but what it comes in contact with along the way.

Your thinking now needs to change. You not only have to be an advocate for yourself, but also an investigator. You might feel strange about it at first, but asking a million questions regarding anything that goes into your mouth needs to become part of your routine. Over time I promise this becomes second nature.

I’m so passionate about educating those on a gluten free diet about the importance of understanding cross-contamination, because unfortunately it’s something I learned the hard way. I was gluten free for almost a year before I learned the term “cross-contamination”, let alone understood how to truly avoid it.

What is it cross-contamination?

Cross-contamination is when your gluten free food comes in contact with enough gluten that will make you sick. This can happen at any time along the way from the fields all the way to your mouth. Cross-contamination can occur where the food is manufactured, packaged or prepared. It’s one thing to read labels and make sure your gluten free item is not prepared in a facility with wheat, rye or barley, but it’s another thing to be aware of your food preparation before it enters your mouth.

Why is it important to understand cross-contamination?

Even just a microscopic amount of gluten can cause a reaction and damage to the intestines for individuals with celiac disease. This could mean a crumb of wheat bread falls into the butter from double dipping the knife, or a trace of wheat flour on manufacturing equipment.

Where can cross-contamination occur?

  • Your kitchen
  • In someone else’s kitchen (Be careful attending parties)
  • On the grill
  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream shops
  • Bakeries
  • Bars (be sure they use a clean shot glass or do a free pour when making mixed drinks)
  • In packaged goods not certified gluten free
  • In the bathroom (cosmetics, oral care products, etc)

Basic Tips on Avoiding Cross-Contamination:

  • Have separate kitchen utensils. Everything from wooden spoons to cutting boards should be dedicated gluten free.
  • Clearly label all gluten free products in your kitchen.
  • Have a dedicated gluten free toaster.
  • Make sure large appliances are thoroughly cleaned after gluten was inside (i.e oven).
  • Keep gluten free and gluten containing products away from each other in the pantry.
  • If at a restaurant or someone’s house, ask questions on how the food was prepared.
  • If possible, oversee food preparation.
  • Read labels carefully to see if they were produced in a facility with wheat, rye or barley.
  • Educate your friends and family about cross-contamination and explain how you can get very sick from the smallest contact with gluten.
  • Avoiding purchasing products in bulk bins that share the same scoop.
  • Ask if french fries have been fried in the same oil as battered foods (i.e onion rings).
  • Avoid ice cream from an ice cream shop, because they typically use the same scooper in all flavors and some, like cookies n’ cream contain gluten.
  • Avoid buffets because you don’t know if someone used the same utensil in all items.
  • Buy gluten free grains that are certified gluten free to ensure cross-contamination didn’t occur during processing.

Posts you might find helpful:

How to Make your Kitchen Gluten Free

Avoiding Gluten Cross-Contamination at Parties

10 Surprising Items that Contain Gluten

Tips for Eating at Restaurants If You’re Gluten Free

How to Avoid Gluten when Staying at Someone’s House

As always, if you’re unsure if cross-contamination occurred follow my motto “when in doubt, go without”!

If you’re new to the gluten free diet or are struggling with it, please don’t hesitate to ask me questions in the comments section or email me (kristina@msmodify.com) and I’d be SO happy to help you!

 

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Gluten Free Ketchup List

Gluten Free Ketchup List

Ketchup is one of the most popular condiments out there and with summer around the corner, that means lots of hamburgers & hot dogs to lather it on! Did you know that in the US more than 10 billion ounces of ketchup are sold each year?!

In the US most ketchup is gluten free (less than 20 parts per million) however when I previously created my gluten free condiments list many people wanted more specific info about companies… so here you go!

Heinz: They report their ketchup is distilled from vinegar made from corn, not gluten containing grains.

  • Original
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Hot & Spicy
  • No Salt
  • Organic
  • Real Jalapeno
  • Reduced Sugar
  • Simply Heinz Tomato Ketchup

Hunts: According to the company, their ketchup does not contain added gluten, however they do not test for gluten. They also use vinegar distilled that can be derived from gluten containing grains.

Del Monte: According to their website, the following products do not contain wheat, oats, rye or barley/malt ingredients.

  • Original Ketchup
  • Quick Squeeze Ketchup

French’s: They report their ketchup is gluten free (testing to less than 20 parts per million), however the vinegar they use can be distilled from wheat, so if you’re sensitive to distillation even if it tests less than 20 ppm I would avoid this brand.

  • Classic Ketchup

Annie’s Naturals: According to the company, they test to 20 parts per million and the vinegar used in their ketchup is derived from corn or beets, not wheat.

  • Organic Ketchup

Organicville: All their products are USDA certified organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and made with agave nectar.

  • Organic Ketchup

Sir Kensington’s: According to the company “Our facilities have processes in place to prevent cross contamination of products. All of our condiments undergo routine gluten testing and are tested at under 10 ppm.”

  • Classic Ketchup
  • Spicy Ketchup

Tessemae’s: This ketchup is Dairy Free, has No Added Sugar, Vegan, Gluten Free, Non GMO, and Whole30 compliant. The vinegar in their ketchup is apple cider vinegar.

  • Organic Ketchup

**This list is for the US. If you’re in another country, please contact the manufacturer first.

Question:

  • What’s the one thing you have to put ketchup on?!
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Friday Favorites: Meal Prep

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! June gloom is officially here in Southern California, so I’m looking forward to the warmer weather we’re supposed to have this weekend. I don’t know about you, but waking up to the sun out instantly starts my day off right! 🙂

I hope you all had a wonderful week and have an even better weekend! Now on to some of my favorite things…

Do you meal prep??! I’m fairly new to it and let me tell you… it’s been life changing!! Having celiac (as many of you can relate to)… I bring my food everywhere with me! Sometimes this can be challenging when I’m in a hurry and need to pack my lunchbox with me!

1. Meal Prep Lunches

These are some lunch meal preps I’ve done lately that have been a hit! Erik and I decided we don’t like to eat the same thing every day of the week, so I typically will prep 3 lunches for each of us and then the other two days I’ll pack us leftovers from dinner.

On my Instagram I asked for meal prep tips since I’m a newbie at it and many people recommended roasting a big pan of different veggies (separated), a protein and then make rice/quinoa/salad. This way you can put some veggies on rice with protein, different veggies and protein on quinoa and then some over a salad. I haven’t tried this yet, but think it’s a great idea!

2. Meal Prep Containers 

I’m obsessed with my Bento Meal Prep containers. I have the single container, but they also have ones with 2 or 3 compartments. I personally like how I can personalize the single compartment for days I make a salad but if you don’t like your food touching, then I recommend the multiple compartments!

3. Meal Prep Snacks

I also prep snacks! I buy the mini snack size bags and put different things in them like this trail mix and fruit chips. I bought a clear shoe box from target (for like $0.99!), put it in my pantry and put all my snack bags in them. I do the same in my fridge with snack bags filled with carrots and celery. I love the mini Wholly Guacamole containers from Costco so in the morning we can just grab one, a bag of veggies, a snack bag from the pantry and our meal prep lunch container! It makes mornings SO easy! I also love how snack prepping is portion control for when I snack at home!

4. Weekly Meal Planner

I don’t meal prep our dinners, however I do plan what I cook all week! I found this handy meal planning notebook at TJ Maxx but this one is similar! I typically sit down the end of each week and plan for the following week so I have my grocery list over the weekend. I highly recommend this!

5. Pinterest Meal Prep Board 

If you’re on Pinterest be sure to follow my Meal Prep Board for great ideas!

There you have it, my meal prep tips!

Question:

  • Do you meal prep? If so, please share your tips!

 

Today I’m linking here! 

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{gluten free} Almond Joy Poke Cake

If Almond Joy candy bars are a favorite of yours, then this cake is meant for you! Chocolate, coconut and almonds all wrapped into one gluten free cake!

Gluten Free Almond Joy Poke Cake

When my husband told me to surprise him with any cake for his birthday last week, I instantly knew I wanted to make an Almond Joy inspired cake.

Although you wouldn’t think so based off this cake, we do eat really healthy at home and never have candy in the house, so I thought it would be a fun surprise for Erik to have this cake since Almond Joy is one of his favorites.

Let me tell you… this did not disappoint! I’m not a huge chocolate fan and even I devoured my piece! 🙂

Side note: Our non-gf-eating friends were over and couldn’t believe this was gluten free!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box gluten free chocolate cake mix (& everything you need to make it)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp coconut milk, plus more as needed
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (7 oz) package shredded coconut 
  • ½ cup chopped almonds

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13” pan and set aside.

Prepare cake mix according to box instructions, pour into your prepared pan and bake 28-30 mins or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into cake.

Remove cake from oven and immediately poke holes throughout cake with the back of a wooden spoon or fork (for smaller holes).

Pour ½ cup coconut milk all over cake.

Set cake aside to cool to room temperature.

Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until creamy.

Add coconut milk and vanilla, continue beating.

Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth.

Stir in shredded coconut.

Spread frosting over cake and top with chopped almonds.

Refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Gluten Free Almond Joy Poke Cake

Enjoy!

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Part 4: Your Voice!

Your Voice

It’s that time again! I asked and you answered! In honor of May being Celiac Awareness Month, rather than me just share my experiences living with the disease… this year I want to hear from YOU!

Each week last month I asked a different question about living with celiac disease and the responses I got were incredible! It makes me so proud to be a part of such a strong community and really helps me believe that I’m not alone in this struggle!

If you missed the previous posts, be sure to read everyone’s responses to:

The next (and last) topic of discussion was:

“The best advice for someone newly diagnosed with celiac is _______.”

I wrote a post on this a while ago that I called “Gluten Free… Now What?!”

Five years post-diagnosis I’ve learned a lot and sometimes I’ve learned the hard way. Knowing what I know now and everything I’ve experienced, I would say the best advice I could give someone newly diagnosed with celiac is to relax, learn everything you can on cross-contamination and stay positive!

Now on to your responses!

(I’m keeping all answers anonymous to respect everyone’s privacy)

  • I was diagnosed several years ago and didn’t know anyone else who had celiac disease and it all seemed so overwhelming and taxing. Once I sat down and got my thoughts together I realized that I was pretty much eating gluten free most of the time anyway because I was doing it unconsciously. So my advice would be that it will seem overwhelming but it is totally doable. And labels are so much better than they used to be. And it’s ok to be sad, to mourn the loss of those gluten filled foods. It can be a grieving process. But know there are alternatives and you will feel so much better and be eating healthier. Watch out for the overly processed, nutrient lacking, gluten free foods. Especially if you battle type 1 diabetes. Those processes gluten free foods have a lot of carbs in them, sometimes more than their gluten free counterparts and probably because they are now made with rice flour etc. learn to read your labels and listen to your body. You can be gluten free and feel good and be happy.
  • I was diagnosed last August, so I’m still learning .
  • Buy a new toaster. Don’t “google” too much. Focus on the foods you CAN eat. Find your support system. Count your blessings and be so grateful your “disease” is treated with healthy food.
  • … is relax. Its way more easy than it sounds. We can eat delicious food. Really. Learn all the rules and don’t break them. It’s not worth it. Search for bloggers and people with gluten free diet. Breath. You’ll be just fine. 😉
  • Most gas stations have string cheese if you need an emergency dinner.
  • Never trust someone that something is gluten free of they don’t know what celiac is. When I was first diagnosed I was sick a lot going out and going to friends and parties people assumed it was a fad or diet choice. Though many are aware of what celiac is some still don’t completely understand. I always carry nuts and gluten free snacks just in case. And I would also tell them this isn’t the end of the world good still tastes good intact I think a lot of it is better
  • I was at first it’s a little easier now getting use to reading labels but basically eating lots of veggies went through a period early on where I missed certain foods and sort of was in denial but actually I feel better than I ever have pain free belly is good 😊
  • It’s overwhelming but try to focus on being grateful that celiac is a disease that can be managed with food instead of medicine.
  • Cross contamination at restaurants is REAL!! even if u think u are ordering GF.
  • Be your kids biggest ally. Advocate for them so they can learn to advocate for themselves…this will be a lifelong battle
  • Educate yourself! I read as much as I could about my diagnosis. I found that not only did I need to worry about gluten in my food, I needed to beware of it in my medications as well. Many OTC and prescription medications contain gluten as a filler. Also, items such as shampoo, deodorant, and make up can contain gluten as well. I was thankful that there were so many ways to find useful information for a situation that seemed so overwhelming at the time, but knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you can advocate for yourself!
  • To this day I still research things about celiac/gluten. The best way to take care of yourself is to become knowledgeable do your research! Gluten is EVERYWHERE and the best way to take care of yourself is to learn as much as you can. Its an ongoing process
  • Don’t be tempted to cheat on the diet!
  • Do not search the internet-you will find conflicting information or people’s personal comments that may not be accurate. Ask your physician for trusted sites. If not, it will add to the craziness of navigating this new way of life!
  • What would I tell a newly diagnosed celiac? Your doctor’s ability to help you probably ended with the diagnosis, unless he/she or a family member has celiac. It is hard enough to get that diagnosis in the first place. You are one of the lucky ones if you were diagnosed in under two or three years. Learn to read labels, subscribe to a site like this one, buy books, educate yourself, and get into the kitchen. There are tons of recipes online. There are lots of companies making gluten free products. My personal favorite is King Arthur. Their mixes are fabulous when you don’t have the time or the ingredients to bake something at the last minute. Glutino is also a great company. Read reviews of products at Amazon. If something is good or bad, they will tell you! Be prepared to spend more money, because gluten free products cost more. Make your own food. Meat, vegetables, fish, and fruits are naturally gluten free. Processed food often is not, and it doesn’t taste as good as homemade. It might even be worth the effort to find a gluten free support group in your area. Educating yourself is extremely important, and a top priority. A support group or an online site can tell you what you need to know. In some ways, being gluten free is like keeping kosher must be! You may need your own utensils, condiments, pots and pans, small appliances etc. When I was living with my daughter, I had to replace my waffle iron because she used it to make regular waffles. Unless everyone is gluten free, you need a separate toaster, Most importantly, it’s okay to be grumpy and feel sorry for yourself because your life is changing. It’s a lot to take in and none of us learned everything we know overnight. What isn’t okay is giving up and eating what you can’t eat. It isn’t okay to cheat because it will affect you and the more you cheat, the more damage there is to your intestines. The way I look at it is that I am serving a life sentence, I am not on a diet. Diets end, celiac doesn’t. I probably eat more healthily than people who don’t have celiac. I make better food for my family than if I relied on frozen foods and takeout. It is a lot to get used to, but you can do it. It takes time, patience, and effort, but you can do it, and you’re not alone. We are always here for you. There are so many resources and products that weren’t available thirty five years ago. That was truly the dark ages! Read the archives on this site. There are lists of different products that you can and can’t eat. I consult them frequently, and find them very helpful.
  • Learn about cross contamination. In the beginning I hadn’t even heard of this & my whole first year I kept getting sick & wasn’t understanding why. It’s also the biggest thing friend’s & family members need to be educated on. And food service people as well.

There are so many great tips here and words of wisdom from people living with celiac disease. As today rounds out celiac awareness month, I want to thank everyone that participated in these posts and shared insight on living with this disease!

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Friday Favorites: Memorial Day Addition!

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! I hope you all have had a wonderful week! How is this weekend Memorial Day already?! Is it me, or did May fly by??! In honor of the holiday weekend, I’d thought I’d share some of my favorite things if you’re hosting or attending a BBQ.

1. Tips for Avoiding Gluten on the Grill

Avoiding Gluten on the Grill

Cross-contamination on the grill is a BIG DEAL! If you’re attending a BBQ this weekend, be sure you read my tips so you don’t get sick!

2. Greek Chicken Kabobs

These Greek Chicken Kabobs are our go-to for BBQs at our house. They’re simple to make and always a big hit!

3. Greek Potato Salad 

We are not mayo fans in my house, so traditional potato salad isn’t something I’d ever make. This is a Greek twist on potato salad and has become a favorite of ours!

4. Beanfields Chips 

If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw I posted this picture yesterday of Beanfields Chips. These chips are certified gluten free, Non-GMO and higher in protein & fiber than your average corn chips. They also come in other great flavors!

5. Easy Flag Fruit Dessert via Family Fresh Meals 

How cute is this?! I was searching Pinterest for healthy festive desserts to make for this weekend and came across this! You can easily make this gluten free & no one will ever know! Just use these Glutino Yogurt Covered Pretzels.

6. Gluten Free Alcohol Guide

MsModify Gluten Free Alcohol Guide Cover

Before you head out to your BBQ this weekend make sure you know which alcohol is gluten free!

There you have it, some of my favorite things for your Memorial Day weekend! I hope you all have a great holiday and take a moment to celebrate, honor and remember everyone who has sacrificed for our freedom!

 

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Gluten Free Mixer List

Gluten free mixer list

If you’re gluten free, then you know not only do you need to read labels and be careful with what you eat… but also with what you drink.

I’ve shared with you a list of some popular gluten free alcohol brands, so now I thought you’d want to know about gluten free mixers to go with your alcohol!

Recently I was at a restaurant and was going to order a Bloody Mary, so I asked the bartender if it was gluten free and she said yes. Call it an instinct, but I just didn’t feel right about it so I asked to see the mixer bottle. Sure enough when I was reading through the label it said “wheat”! Good thing I doubled checked

Here are some popular brands that are gluten free.

To see a complete list be sure to get The Gluten Free Alcohol Guide where you will find over 40 pages of alcohol categories, brands, flavors and mixers that are gluten free!

TGI Friday’s:

  • Long Island Ice Tea
  • Margarita
  • Mudslide
  • On The Rocks
  • Pina Colada
  • Strawberry Daiquiri.
  • TGI Friday’s Club Cocktails
  • Manhattan

Canada Dry: (*all Canada Dry products are gluten free- here are some of the most popular)

    • Club Soda
    • Ginger Ale
      • Original
      • Cranberry
      • Diet
      • Diet Sparkling Green Tea
      • Sparkling Green Tea
    • Seltzer
      • Cheerful Cherry
      • Cranberry Lime Light
      • Lemon Lime Twist
      • Mandarin Orange
      • Original
    • Tonic Water

Clamato Brand:

  • Tomato Cocktail- The Original
  • Tomato Cocktail- Clamato Picante
  • Tomato Cocktail- Clamato Limon
  • Tomato Cocktail- Clamato Preparado

Jose Cuervo:

  • Margarita Mix
  • All Jose Cuervo Blenders

Master of Mixes Brand:

  • Collins Mix
  • Whiskey Sour Mix
  • Strawberry Daiquiri/Margarita Mix
  • Sweet n’ Sour Mixer
  • Margarita Mix
  • Pina Colada Mix
  • Classic Bloody Mary Mix
  • 5 Pepper Extra Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
  • Mojito Mix
  • Mango Daiquiri/Margarita Mix
  • Cosmopolitan Mix
  • Sour Apple Martini Mix
  • Manhattan Mix
  • Mai Tai Mix
  • Old Fashion Mix
  • Red Sangria
  • White Sangria
  • Watermelon Daiquiri/Margarita Mix
  • White Peach Daiquiri/Margarita Mix

Mr & Mrs T:

  • Bloody Mary Mix
  • Bold & Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
  • Fiery Pepper Bloody Mary Mix
  • Light Margarita Mix
  • Mai Tai Mix
  • Manhattan Mix
  • Margarita
  • Old Fashioned Mix
  • Pina Colada Mix
  • Strawberry Daiquiri
  • Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Tom Collins Mix
  • Whiskey Sour Mix

Daily’s Cocktails:

  • Bar Syrup
  • Grenadine Syrup
  • Lime Juice
  • Mango Mix
  • Margarita Mix
  • Mojito Mix
  • Original Bloody Mary Mix
  • Peach Mix
  • Pina Colada Mix
  • Raspberry Mix
  • Strawberry Mix
  • Sweet & Sour Mix
  • Thick ‘n Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
  • Triple Sec

For a more detailed list, you can purchase the complete Gluten Free Alcohol Guide.

MsModify Gluten Free Alcohol Guide Cover

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{no sugar added} Slow Cooker Applesauce

This naturally sweet slow cooker applesauce has no added sugar, is made with only 4 ingredients and is the perfect healthy treat for the entire family!

no sugar added slow cooker applesauce

I love apples all year long! I don’t know about you, but we buy the containers of apples from Costco and then we have so many we can’t eat them fast enough before they lose their crispness. This happened to me one time and rather than tossing them out (because they were still good, just not as crisp as we like them), I decided to make applesauce.

You guys, this is seriously SO easy and delicious! I will never buy store bought applesauce again. An added bonus is that while your apples are cooking, your entire house smells amazing!

I bought mini jam jars and stored all the applesauce in them. We enjoyed this (naturally) sweet treat all week!

Ingredients:

  • 12 apples
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup water

Instructions:

  1. Peel, core and cut apples into pieces (I cut them in fourths).
  2. Place apples in slow cooker.
  3. Add lemon juice and cinnamon. Stir so evenly coated.
  4. Add in water.
  5. Cover with lid and cook on high 3-4 hours (or until apples are very soft).
  6. Using a potato masher or immersion blender, mash/blend to your desired consistency.
  7. Store remaining applesauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

no sugar added slow cooker applesauce

Enjoy!

 

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Part 3: Your Voice!

Your Voice

It’s that time again! I asked and you answered! In honor of May being Celiac Awareness Month, rather than me just share my experiences living with the disease… this year I want to hear from YOU! Each week last month I asked a different question about living with celiac disease and the responses I got were incredible! It makes me so proud to be a part of such a strong community and really helps me believe that I’m not alone in this struggle!

If you missed the previous posts, be sure to read everyone’s responses to “the challenges living with celiac” here! And “Tips for when you get glutened” here! 

The next topic of discussion was:

“Something positive that came out of my celiac diagnosis is _____ .”

Getting diagnosed with an autoimmune disease is not something you typically would be grateful for. However, I believe strongly in the power of positivity and taking a bad situation and finding the good in it. I wrote a post a while ago where I shared 10 reasons I’m grateful for celiac. You can read my thoughts here!

postive aspects of celiac

Now on to your responses!

(I’m keeping all answers anonymous to respect everyone’s privacy)

  • My overall mental health, and my body doesn’t ache anymore and I truly feel better inside and out.
  • Definitely a healthy diet. I consider what I put into my body so much more!
  • I sleep better and have lots more energy.
  • I am healthier than I’ve ever been, eat a really balanced diet, and feel more sociable as I can be included more readily in food-related outings. I’d love to say I’m feeling 100%, and I’m certainly no longer ill, but I feel because I was born with it and undiagnosed for so long, my digestive system is still super sensitive. My hair has thinned over the years, which I am told is because of nutritional deficiency, and I am still prone to swelling and cramps when I am totally gluten free. I sticking to the diet for 14 years but I’m not there yet! Sorry there is still some negativity from me!
  • So I’m going to be honest. I didn’t think having my diagnosis would have changed my life as much as it had. Prior to my diagnosis, I was always sick. Whether it was a migraine, stomach issues, or just not feeling right. Because of all of this, I was almost always miserable. I had mood swings, joint pain and I just was not happy overall. After my diagnosis and being consistently gluten free, I noticed a change in my personality. Nothing major, it was just that I was feeling healthy and good which made me happier. It really was the best thing to happen to me. Yes, having to be gluten free and missing out on some of your favorite foods really sucks. But I would never trade a batch of grandma’s brownies for my overall health and happiness. I hope to see improvements for a long time! It’s only been about three years for me. Thanks for making me think about this! I don’t think I realized all of the positivity that came out of my diagnosis. It’s nice to have focused on that for this post!
  • A diagnosis takes you out of the limbo of pain and suffering and wondering what is going on, and into a place of awareness. I would rather have answers and be able to address an issue than just have to keep suffering and trying everything and anything to feel well again. For so many of us, it’s not just the Celiac Disease, and we don’t feel better until all the root causes are uncovered. It’s frustrating to hear “you’ll feel so much better in a few months after cutting out gluten and healing”, and then still struggle because of additional autoimmune diseases that are caused by Celiac, the effects of living undiagnosed for years, and the havoc it wreaks on the body. I’m still trying to find the right doctors and plan for wellness that helps me get back to a place where I can thrive. It gets better with each health mystery that gets solved, and I am thankful for the medical journals, research, doctors and people in my life that listen and care, and the increased awareness that there is for food allergies and autoimmune diseases. Knowledge is power, and education is how we empower each other and create a climate of understanding.
  • My diagnosis did change the way I eat obviously, but it changed the way I grocery shop, the way I cook, the way I feel, the way I sleep, the way my brain even works! My diagnosis came later in life when I was 43. I don’t like bringing attention to my disease, especially when out with a group because there is always someone who has a few comments to make or does the  eye roll when I say I’m gluten free.
  • Because of my diagnosis of celiac disease, I have learned so much more about my body and why I have to take better care of it. I make informed decisions about my overall health not just nutritionally but concerning physical fitness, sleep, mental health and also my spirituality. I will always miss the spontaneity of being free to eat anything and anywhere, but I feel blessed that I have a chance to have my next 50 years be healthier because of celiac disease.
  • Because of my diagnosis, my daughter was diagnosed. She was not growing and no signs of puberty at 15, with all the social issues that go with that . Soon as I diagnosed, I did research and realized that her delayed growth was a symptom. We took her off Gluten and she began to develop in 3 months. It was amazing. Today she is normal in all ways.
  • Something positive that came out of my celiac diagnosis was learning to take care of my body and to promote awareness to others who don’t know much about it! And to receive amazing support from family and friends!!
  • something positive that came out of my celiac diagnosis was meeting other girls my age that also have celiacs and being able to automatically connect and become close friends. i also feel i have grown to take care of my body and really focus on what i eat to keep myself healthy.
  • Because of my diagnosis my mom and brother were diagnosed, I am no longer depressed, my hair is not falling out, and I feel like myself. I always told people that I didn’t feel like myself, that I was somehow possessed or felt just… off. It’s a strange thing to try to describe, but now I know what it means to feel normal & whole, and that is the best part of all.
  • This has been the most challenging time in my life – it has impacted every area of my life. One positive thing is learning about what is actually in every single bite of food I put into my mouth.
  • Well, since starting this account I’ve met a great community of other celiacs and gluten sensitive folk who share their safe places and recipes with one another! It’s really quite an amazing thing
  • I have two gorgeous little girls. I’m off all prescription drugs and live a way better life than I did before!
  • Before my celiac diagnosis I struggled with infertility and miscarriages. I now have a miracle baby that I never thought I would have. Thanks to learning about my celiac and healing my body.
  • I used to suffer from anxiety and depression. Ever since going gluten free and getting my health back on track, that all went away!
  • Before my diagnosis I was on sleeping pills and still never felt rested. Now I sleep through the night practically every night without any medication.
  • I was tested for and learned I already had osteoporosis At 47. Therefore, I was able to start getting treatment to avoid serious breaks.
  • After my diagnosis and sharing my experience with others, 3 people I know then got diagnosed. Without my diagnosis I think they all would still be struggling with their health.
  • I listen more to what my body is trying to tell me. If I eat something that disagrees with me, I don’t eat it again. Not being able to eat gluten has also made it easier not to ingest other things that I can’t have. Starches and most grains are hard on my system so I don’t eat them very often anymore.
  • The biggest positive for me is that as soon as I was diagnosed (& I wasn’t properly diagnosed until age 40) I knew what was wrong with my son. He’d had digestive issues since infanthood & had stopped growing & doctors continued to brush us off. Thankfully my son won’t have to suffer & endure the same fate I did.
  • I was diagnosed with Celiac at 18, a few months before leaving home for college. After living with the pain and discomfort of Celiac for almost two years at that point, I was honestly just not in a good place. I felt sick all the time, so I ate whatever I wanted to try and feel better (mostly ice cream, if we’re being honest). I was gaining weight and losing the motivation to fix my issues. I was always in a bad mood, and had lost friends, my boyfriend, and myself along the way. I didn’t even care about going to college anymore.
  • Finding out I had Celiac forced me to focus on myself without guilt. I found a passion for cooking gluten free meals, and spent the last few months before college eating well and enjoying this new hobby. When I left for school, I was in a much better place. I lost weight and was happy with my body, I’d found motivation again to improve my circumstances, and I’d had the opportunity to listen to myself and love myself. It’s hard to explain, but there is something so therapeutic about just knowing yourself, and I think that Celiac facilitated my own journey of self-love. It’s an annoying disease, but in the end I’m actually glad that I have it. I’m not me without Celiac!

After reading through all your responses, it made me realize that we really do have a lot to be grateful for! Thank you again to everyone who opened up (I know it can be scary) and shared your thoughts!

Stay tuned for part 4 later this month!

 

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{gluten free} Spanakopita Bites

Modifying a classic Greek favorite, without the need to spend time making gluten free phyllo dough… these spanakopita bites are the perfect finger food!

gluten free spanakopita bites

Being Greek, food is a big deal to us! Our family get-togethers center around food, as do holidays and even many of my phone conversations with my mom (“what are you making tonight?”… “Oh, I’m making __”… “How do you make __?”). Food is just a way of life for us! Needless to say, I’m glad that many traditional Greek dishes are naturally gluten free. However, some are not.

Spanakopita (spinach pie) is something I miss dearly since becoming gluten free. I have tried many alternatives to phyllo dough and so far I haven’t been happy with any of them. Enter Brazi Bites! I have an obsession with these little Brazilian cheese bread balls. I decided to take my yia yia’s spanakopita recipe and modify it by using Brazi Bites in place of the phyllo… and guess what?! It was a HUGE success! I left out garlic from the recipe since I used the garlic asiago Brazi Bites (I recommend you use these too!).

gluten free spanakopita bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 (11.5 oz) bag of Garlic Asiago Brazi Bites, thawed
  • 7 cups baby spinach, stems removed & chopped
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 ½ Tbsp dill, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp mint, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup feta cheese, finely crumbled
  • ⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • Gluten free flour, for dusting surface

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Drizzle olive oil in pan over medium heat, add in onion and sauté for about 3-4 mins.
  3. Add chopped spinach to pan and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes, or until there is no liquid remaining. Add in salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Transfer spinach to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  5. In another bowl, whisk egg and then add your herbs and cheese.
  6. Add spinach to egg mixture and stir everything together.
  7. Sprinkle work surface with gluten free flour (to prevent sticking) and flatten out one defrosted Brazi Bite. Use the palm of your hand to flatten it out on your work space (turning it over and dusting with flour as needed).
  8. Place flattened Brazi Bite into mini muffin tin and form a cup.
  9. Scoop mixture into cup.
  10. Repeat this process until you’ve used all Brazi Bites.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes.

Gluten free Spanakopita bites

Enjoy!

*This post is sponsored by Brazi Bites, however my opinions & the recipe are my own!

 

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