Part 2: Your Voice!

Your Voice

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 last week’s post, be sure to read everyone’s responses to “the challenges living with celiac” here!

The next topic of discussion was:

“When I get glutened, the one thing that helps most is _____.”

I received so many great, helpful responses! I did a post on this topic a while ago with my 10 helpful tips for gluten recovery. You can read my thoughts here! 

Now on to your responses!

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

  • Time+papaya enzymes
  • Water, water, water, my go to clean meal of grilled chicken, steamed broccoli and mighty rice. And then I drink water.
  • Lots of rest, water, and beef broth from our favorite pho restaurant.
  • Activated charcoal, water, fasting, sleep.
  • Charcoal pills, lots of water, hot water bottle, Epsom salt bath, beef broth ..and prayers…
  • Sleep! Plus water, coconut water, enzymes, Bio K probiotic, apple cider vinegar (I just take it like a shot), and broth. It’s all about purging & cleansing the system. It still takes 12-36 hours, but you do what you can.
  • Time. Water. Rest.
  • Baby wipes! Taking GlutenFlam (supplement that helps reduce the damage and inflammation if you take it ASAP); Upping the probiotics, vitamins C, D3, Zinc, liquid B12, and magnesium; Boiron’s Arsenicum Album – homeopathic pellets for symptoms of food poisoning; icing my abdomen; sleep; Alo brand Aloe Vera drink (the watermelon/ peach variety); Turmeric; chlorophyll; Traditional Medicinals Chamomile and lavender tea; Pepto Bismal caplets; bone broth and easily digested meals and ta GF version of the BRAT diet to slow things down (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast); Orgain’s vegan protein shake – the ready to go or powder mix; ginger and ginger ale; and finding something to watch or read that can make me laugh and take my mind off the pain. I’m SUPER sensitive and once glutened, easily get any flu bug or virus that I get exposed to when I’m in that vulnerable state. I literally will try anything safe for me, to feel better and heal! The symptoms last a minimum of three weeks for me!
  • An understanding husband that gives me a bucket and lots of space!
  • When I have gluten accidentally get into my diet, it not only gives me hundreds of tiny blisters on my palms and fingers that burst and then peels ( a total of 3 weeks to heal) but it creates havoc in my GI track , after 2 days it’s so very painful to have a bowel (because of the diarrhea , I have a prolapse rectum )that when anything passes I must immediately get into a scolding hot bathtub, it’s an instant relief and I only need to be there maybe 5 minutes but on bad days it’s as many as 10 times, now that I understand what causes it I can keep it from getting that bad. ( a dermatologist diagnosed it after seeing GI Dr’s for 8 yrs, 4 colon scopes and even blood transfusions because I was bleeding so bad from my rectum and when the blisters made my hands so raw, my whole problem was GLUTEN ) I’m finally on my way to feeling better !
  • I take Alka Seltzer Gold and lie down. I try to get as much rest as possible. I drink more water than usual over the course of the next few days. I try to avoid my family so my mood swings don’t get inflicted on them. I also try to figure out what I ate that might have done it, so I don’t do it again. Mostly I try to avoid eating out because being glutened is hell. If it happens at home, that’s harder to track down since for the most part we are gluten free at home. Recently I was having a lot of problems, and I figured out that it was the bird seeds for our pets. I try to be scrupulously careful washing my hands after I feed them, but if I get distracted, it doesn’t happen, and the probability of getting glutened goes up. It’s so easy to forget and then eat before I’ve washed my hands. I put post it notes on the food buckets and in the bathroom so I remember to wash my hands thoroughly. It helps me to remember that it isn’t always what I eat that affects me. What I touch can be just as bad. Ugh!
  • Nothing will take the pain & suffering away, but I’ve found I can lessen it by taking activated charcoal & digestive enzymes. And I use essential oils topically on my abdomen also.
  • When I get glutened, the one thing that helps me most is anything to control the nausea. Peppermint, ginger, nausea medications. Everything else I can’t really do anything about but the nausea I can at least minimise… a little!
  • Chicken broth, L-Glutamine and Probiotics….
  • Rest, lots of water and patience. Sometimes it can take weeks to feel better!
  • Bone broth, activated charcoal and epsom salt baths.
  • Lots and lots of water. Eat bland for a few days and avoid dairy for a few weeks.
  • Rest and bone broth. Explain to family that you’re not yourself while recovering… emotions get crazy! It’s okay, it’s not you it’s from getting sick.
  • Activated charcoal and sleep. Lots of sleep.
  • Bone broth and rest. Just give it time to pass.
  • Essential oils, lots of water and sleep.
  • Listen to your body. Rest, and don’t feel guilty about calling out sick from work or checking out at home until you feel better. Sleep heals.
  • Time. Drink water, bone broth and sleep!
  • Follow the BRATs diet for a while and lots of water.
  • Sleep!
  • Epsom salt baths, essential oils topically on stomach, lots of water and rest.
  • Nothing really makes you heal faster, just be patient and let it pass.
  • Mint tea, bone broth and lots of water.
  • Activated charcoal!!
  • Bone broth, eat simple foods with no seasonings, no dairy, and lots of sleep.
  • A supportive, loving family helps a great deal! Water, rest and trying to stay positive because that can be a challenge.
  • Warm baths, lots of water and sleep.
  • Heating pad, lots of water, rest and prayers.
  • Essential oils (I use doTERRA’s DigestZen) on stomach and lots of water. You have to flush it out.
  • Sleep and essential oils! There are so many symptoms and every time is different but oils have helped a lot like nothing else.

After reading though everyone’s responses, it made me realize many of you recommend the same types of things. It appears that liquids, sleep and activated charcoal (I’ve personally never tried activated charcoal but it was mentioned a lot!) are the most recommend tips!

This is a topic I asked my doctor when first diagnosed and people often ask at the celiac conference I attend each year. From my experiences, most of the time doctors just recommend allowing time to pass in order to feel better. I love that all of you with celiac/gluten senstivity shared REAL tips that help make you feel better!

*As always, I’m not a medical professional so please always consult with your doctor. 

Thank you SO much to everyone who shared tips on this topic and stay tuned for parts 3 & 4 throughout the month!

 

 

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Weekend Recap!

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! Recently I asked you what you want to see more of on MsModify and a surprising amount of you told me you want to see more of my personal life, so I thought I would add in weekend recaps (for when I do something worth sharing! ha).

Friday Erik and I both took the day off and took a day trip to La Jolla (San Diego, CA). The weather was a little gloomy, but it’s such a gorgeous location that nothing will ruin it.

There is a part of the beach known for where seals go to rest. There were so many of them (this pic doesn’t even show a fraction of them)!

It was so nice to have a day date with this guy! If you haven’t read it, you should read my interview with him!

After La Jolla, we headed to Carlsbad to my favorite Mexican restaurant. If you’re ever in the area you have to go to Casa de Bandini. Not only is it delicious but they understand gluten cross-contamination and have a separate kitchen area! Can you tell we love chips & salsa?!

Hello fajitas! 🙂 I always ask for veggies in place of beans and rice.

5 years ago on Cinco de Mayo I was diagnosed with celiac. What I thought was the worst day of my life turned out to be one of the best. Cheers to being healthy & feeling good!

Over the weekend we did a little DIY project! I was in charge of staining the wood!

I love having a handy hubby!

We made our own little gardening planter for our balcony! We also hung a basket with a strawberry plant and have a zucchini plant in a pot. If you have any gardening tips, please share!!

Then I just got ready for the week and did some grocery shopping. You guys, Sprouts is having a BIG sale on gluten free products! This sale is in all stores and goes through Wednesday!

My favorite gluten free flour (Cup4Cup) is on sale and is a great price!

The rest of the weekend included some family time with my parents, then just laundry, work emails and watching tv. We are OBSESSED with Homeland! I didn’t want to watch it at first, but Erik talked me into it and now I’m hooked!

I hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to tackle this week!

Questions: 

  • Did you do anything fun over the weekend?
  • We are almost caught up with Homeland… what should we binge next?!
  • Do you have gardening tips/tricks I should know?

 

 

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Friday Favorites: Cinco de Mayo Addition!

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! I still can’t believe we are in May… where is the time going?! I used to always do “Friday Favorites” posts where I would share some of my favorite things (sometimes they were random and other times I had a theme). I decided I want to bring this back from time to time (we will see how you like it and I may do it more or less depending on the feedback I get!).

Oh hey Cinco de Mayo! Today I celebrate 5 years of officially being diagnosed with celiac disease. Did you notice I said celebrate? Yup, that’s right! Cheers to 5 years of feeling healthy (for the most part!) and finally gaining control back of my life.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I would make it a theme today of some of my favorite Cinco de Mayo inspired things!… So here we go:

1. Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa

 

If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw I shared this yesterday. Mateo’s salsa is hands down the best store bought salsa I’ve tried! Sometimes I can find small jars at the grocery store, but occasionally Costco has this large one! You better believe I bought 2 (3..maybe 4!). It’s hit or miss at Costco, so if they don’t have it I buy it from Amazon. You need this in your life… trust me! (PS: It say’s “Gluten Free” right on the front!)

2. Chip & Dip Serving Tray

I saw this chip & dip serving tray and knew I had to have it! What a great idea that it comes with a lid! There is nothing worse than entertaining outside and flies are all over the food. The glass part comes out too, so it’s easy to clean.

3. Cactus Margarita Glasses

How cute are these glasses!

4. Cucumber Lime Margarita

Now these “Refreshing Cucumber Margaritas” via Tastes Lovely are the perfect match for the cactus glasses! I was searching Pinterest for skinny margarita recipes and this one sounds delicious! There are only three ingredients and no artificial ones in these. I’m sold!

5. Black Bean & Corn Dip

black bean and corn dip

This black bean & corn dip is a staple in our house any time we have a bbq! You can guarantee 100% I will be making this today!

6. Gluten Free Salsa List

Gluten Free Salsa List

Recently I made a list for you of gluten free salsa brands & flavors. Here you will find popular mainstream brands that are easy to find in any large grocery store. Make sure you take a look at it before you enjoy your chips and salsa today!

7. Gluten Free Alcohol Guide

MsModify Gluten Free Alcohol Guide Cover

If you’re gluten free I bet you always double check the food you eat and read labels, but do you check alcohol before you drink it? I’m not a big drinker, but I can tell you I have been sick from alcohol & it’s not because I drank too much… it was from the gluten! I made a detailed guide listing categories, brands and flavors. I also explain some of the controversial issues to help you make safe decisions when choosing which ones to consume. Included in the guide are ten of my favorite cocktail recipes made with gluten free alcohol and mixers!

Well there you go, some of my favorite Cinco de Mayo inspired things!

Question:

  • What’s your favorite type of Mexican food?

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

xo

 

Today I’m linking here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Part 1: Your Voice!

Your Voice

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!

The first week I asked you to fill in the blank:

“The most challenging aspect of living with celiac disease is ___.”

If I were to answer this question I would say for me personally the most challenging aspect of this disease are social situations. Even five years post-diagnosis I admit, sometimes before I head out to a party or other social events I feel anxious and maybe even get some tears in my eyes. Do I love packing my own food to take with me? Nope… Do I like when people ask me if I’m dieting? No… Do I like feeling anxious every time I order at a restaurant and hope they don’t mess up my order? Not a bit. Does it hurt my feelings when people say “I think you make it a bigger deal than it is… a few bites won’t hurt you”?  Absolutely.

Five years later I’m starting to learn to not care what others think and put my health first. A couple years ago I wrote an open letter to celiac and shared some of the challenges I felt. You can read that here if you’d like!

Now on to your responses!

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

  • Making sure my 8 year old son always feels special and not left out. It’s hard enough being a kid, but being a kid with celiac disease can be challenging.
  • Trying to tell people that this is a disease not a choice..like yes I’m dying to have that piece of cake or pizza but I can’t because it will hurt like hell. People just have to know the differences between people having a gluten free diet because they want to have a healthy lifestyle or because there is no other choice!!..i’m 23 years old, i’ve discovered that I have celiac a few month ago, and it’s so hard for me to fit in with all these things, and I’m tired of explaining myself to people who actually don’t understand or don’t care, because it’s not a well-known disease doesn’t make it less important.
  • Ensuring my daughter is in charge of her disease and not the disease is in charge of her. Diagnosed at 8 yrs, with history of illness, she will be the victor.
  • Travel. Long haul flights are tough. As is staying in places who aren’t aware of coeliac disease, especially if you don’t speak the language.
  • Trying to figure out what you can or can’t eat at a buffet and how difficult it sometimes is to track down a chef to help you out.
  • Planning ahead.
  • The anxiety of going out to eat.
  • What bugs me the most is that people treat this as a joke, and call it a fad, a diet. It’s a way of life, not a diet, and they can’t seem to grasp it. I am tired of restaurants and manufacturers jumping in on what they consider a craze. Their staffs are ill prepared to deal with us properly. There are restaurants I no longer eat at because I have been glutened too many times. So far I trust Five Guys and Outback. Red Robin and Chik-Fil-A have made me and my daughter-in-law ill too many times. I hate hearing that I can get gluten free pizza only to find out it is prepared in the same place and using the same equipment. It’s not all bad though. I have made lovely friends online that share my feelings, and we can vent or laugh. We laugh a lot, especially over doctors. I think one of us would know more about what celiac disease is and isn’t, than a trained physician would.
  • For me it’s the social aspect. Everything social revolves around food. It’s a hassle to have to make & pack food for myself & my son. I’m already incredibly busy & don’t need or want more work. I don’t look forward to or enjoy social stuff anymore. I used to really LOVE going to pot lucks & sampling all the foods. In all honesty I dread it now & will very often look for a way out if I can.
  • The most challenging (and frustrating) aspect of celiac disease for me has been the absence of finding good health care providers!!! Looking back, my body was out of sorts for years – but the last two yrs before a diagnosis were BAD! I lost a considerable amount of weight, suffered poor health and debilitating GI issues …. and after repeat visits to my physician and GI Dr – I was carelessly (repeatedly) sent away with “Its just IBS!” I KNEW that diagnosis was incorrect. I did my own research, approached my physician of 30+ years with the request for a celiac blood test! Positive! The endoscopy that followed confirmed my small intestine was extremely damaged due to celiac disease! Two doctors missed this – and one was a GI specialist! After 8 months on a GF diet, and still feeling pourly – MY research suggested a celiac should have thorough blood work! Again – I had to ask!!! MY Inquiry revealed I was VERY low in B, D-3 & folate which necessitated supplementation. The last two years, prior to a diagnosis, I suffered serious and repeat sinus infections which I feel was celiac/auto-immune related. This is ongoing. Repeat use of antibiotics is the last thing I want to do – but none of the doctors/specialists are willing to look at the celiac link. Where does a celiac sufferer find knowledgeable medical help and medical support (an informed physician!)? (Feedback welcome!!) Next struggle would be the social aspect – so many gatherings/relationships/social activity involve food! Along with that …. I have been hesitant to resume traveling with my friends and feeling confident I will find safe food! I think the celiac community would benefit from a support group – a place to share information and offer support and education! Thank you! Rant over! 
  • It impacts every aspect of your life! How you shop, how you look at food, how you cook, bake, etc. Also, meeting friends for drinks and a quick bite to eat is now strenuous. Every time I eat out, I am so scared that I was exposed to gluten and will get sick. Most people are understanding, but it’s hard to feel different and have to ask for special treatment…..
  • Hi the most challenging aspect prior to disgnosis was the neurological impact – the brain fog, dizziness, loss of concentration and profound fatigue – I truly thought I was dementing and didn’t feel safe to drive at times. Since diagnosis 2.5 years ago it’s been trying to heal and normalize my titres to no avail even though I am fanatic about no gluten or cross contamination. Now diagnosed as refractory celiac. Neurologically much better but travelling and social events at others’ homes or restaurants are challenging. Oh well life sucks sometimes and then you just move forward and learn to work with what you have.
  • The anxiety of going out to eat.
  • worrying about being able to eat when on business trips where it is harder to control where dinners are held. Bringing snacks or eating before/after draws attention from employees/prospective employees & takes the conversation away from my qualifications also, having celiac treated like a fad weight loss diet instead of a serious autoimmune disease.
  • Social situations
  • trusting the restaurant staff when they say “It’s gluten-free.”
  • Feeling sick from most gf food. I’ve been sick since I was a baby now I’m 33 and found out only two years ago I had Celiacs. Now I’m on a strict diet the rest of my life of paleo. Everything bloats me nauseates me and inflamed me. I don’t bother eating out or at anyone’s house.
  • Your food allergies becoming the topic of conversation at a dinner party because you can not eat most of the food. Then the host feels bad and it’s not their fault. Also my food allergies are the least interesting attribute of mine, but I feel that’s what most people know about me.
  • Feeling like an outcast at a cookout or dinner. I haven’t met many people with sensitivities to gluten or celiac disease in my community and I sometimes feel that I am looked at as strange and/or antisocial.
  • The way it ravished my body and took me from a size 16 to a size 1.. Depression hit me so hard, I couldn’t believe how much weight I lost.
  • I am 43 and have had celiac for 7 years. Sometimes it still amazes me how I can feel left out or sorry for myself bc I can’t just eat anything I want.
  • My 7 year old son was recently diagnosed. Thanks for doing this post. It’s so helpful to read other’s thoughts to understand what he is going through.
  • The social aspect of food is certainly challenging and heart breaking to see my four year old son feel left out. But, one of the most challenging parts for me is the panic and PTSD that I have when he complains about a tummy ache, leg/joint pain, or has loose stool. I automatically question if he got gluten and then often unnecessarily stress about where he potentially had cross contamination and what implications it has for him. I wish I could take it all away and go through it myself instead.
  • Having people say: is a little contamination really gonna matter? What’s actually going to happen?
  • Feeling “off” with fatigue and stomach ache often.
  • When people think I’m shady, not honest or flaky when I have to cancel plans, am running late, have to reschedule appointments or plans, or can’t show last minute because of the health issues. How many people REALLY want full details of what’s going on in the bathroom when my body is damaged and fighting itself?  It’s had a huge effect on my social life and work. Even when people know about health issues, many are still judgmental and completely lacking in tolerance, patience, understanding and sympathy for the daily challenges we face. It’s frustrating.
  • Challenges smelling freshly cooked bread and not eating it! Also having people and family around me trying to accommodate me….I don’t like that.i don’t want to be “that person” I can handle my gluten allergy just find.
  • as a 15 year old , the most challenging aspect of having celiacs is feeling left out at parties when there is cake or pizza. i also dislike having to ask places like Chipotle to change their gloves/utensils because i feel like i annoy them. The last thing that i feel is challenging is getting people to understand what celiacs is. Many people think i’m just going on a “common white girl gluten free diet” when in reality i have no choice but to be gluten free !
  • Being the one in total control of protecting my invisible insides from the scary invisible things in the foods that I eat. No pills, no prescriptions or creams, no antibiotics or bandages; just the best attempt to defend and protect my innards every single time I put something in my mouth.
  • Being in college and having celiac is hard. Sometimes I feel like I exclude myself from attending social events, but it’s the fear of getting sick that hold me back. Then there is also all the weird stares or mumbles about why I’m not eating or looking up things on my phone to see if it’s safe to eat or drink.
  • Having a child with celiac and seeing her struggle is the hardest thing. Trying not make it a big deal to bring attention to her, but making it a big enough deal that she can one day advocate for herself.
  • Dating is the most challenging thing. Deciding at what point to do I drop the celiac bomb on them and trying to make it so they don’t think I’m a freak. By the way… I can’t kiss you if you just had gluten…
  • Attending social events hands down is the hardest thing.
  • My family and friends think I’m crazy. I swear If I hear “one bite won’t kill you” again, I’m going to scream!
  • I worry about the future for my celiac child and the fear that he will develop another illness because he doesn’t take his gluten free diet serious.
  • Traveling. Now I have to plan out my entire tip based off where I can eat and pray I don’t get sick  and it ruins the trip.

After reading everyone’s responses it made me realize that although we all struggle in different ways, what we do have in common is that we all have challenges when it comes to living with celiac. Sometimes when I stress about certain things relating to this disease, I think “is it in my head?.. No one seems to get it.”…. but after seeing everyone’s responses it helps me feel that I’m not alone!

I want to truly thank everyone who contributed to this list and opened up because I know that can be scary sometimes!

Stay tuned for parts 2-4 throughout the month of May!

 

 

 

 

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Celiac Awareness Month

Happy May! Today kicks off the start of Celiac Awareness Month and it’s a month I always take to reflect on… the good and the bad that celiac has brought me! Not only is May celiac awareness but this year it also marks five years of me being diagnosed.

This journey has been quite the rollercoaster ride over the past five years for me. I’ve said this before, but after getting diagnosed I truly went through all the different stages of the grieving process. At times, it’s been hard…really hard… but overall I’m so blessed that this diagnosis saved my life and that I can say I’m a completely different (healthy) person today compared to five years ago!

A couple years ago I really was struggling to deal with celiac, and one day I decided to get all my thoughts out and write an open letter to the disease. I can remember that day like it was yesterday. I was sick in bed from getting glutened, computer on my lap and tears running down my face.

It took me a while to decide to share it with you all because I’ve never opened up like I did there… but I think it’s something we all can relate to at times.

Open Letter to Celiac Disease 

Open letter to celiac disease

I think I can honestly admit that it took me almost three years to face the fact that my life was never going to be the same and learn to deal with facing social events, vacations, etc. I’m not sure if I was in denial or if I just did a really bad job at following my diet because it felt like I was still always getting sick (it took me over a year to learn about cross-contamination). In year three something changed. It was as if I woke up one day and decided I had a choice… to either continue living how I was (getting sick and feeling sorry for myself) or to face celiac head on, make some changes and live my life fully.

Some of you may not know this, but I’m a Behavior Analyst. I literally analyze and change behavior for a living… but I couldn’t seem to change mine! 

It was then I decided to take control back of my life and learned to make modifications for everything I used to love and not miss out on life any longer… this is when MsModify was born! 🙂

So needless to say, last May (for Celiac Awareness Month) my post was very different than the open letter to celiac. I decided to share all of the reasons I’m grateful for the disease. When I sat back and thought about my life, suddenly I realized how blessed I truly am and that nothing is more important than having good health (or feeling great!).

10 Reasons I’m Grateful for Celiac Disease

10 Reasons I'm Grateful for Celiac Disease

For this month I’m really excited to share with you all the wonderful responses I received from the different questions I asked regarding living with celiac. YOUR voices matter and I love the community we’re building together! So stay tuned for those posts throughout the month!

Now…

I want to ask you all- What do you want to see from MsModify??

As I plan for the future of MsModify I want to know what you’re interested in! – Please take my poll!

What do you want to see from MsModify??

View Results

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I always want to make sure I create posts that you’re excited to read, so please let me know!! If there is something else you’d like to see that’s not listed, you can comment or email me (kristina@msmodify.com).

Also… don’t forget to keep up with me and my life on social media. Let’s be friends!

Instagram

Pinterest

Facebook

Twitter

 

 

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Part 4: I want to hear from YOU!

It’s that time again… I want to hear from YOU! Thanks to everyone who shared your thoughts on:

I’m excited to share with you everyone’s responses! As a reminder, Celiac disease awareness month is coming up in May, so I thought I would compile various answers from you and create different posts on a few topics relating to living with celiac disease.

I want YOU to share YOUR feelings about living with the disease… this way we can see we’re not alone!

The next thing I want to ask you is:

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

Your answers will be published in a blog post in May and will be anonymous, so if you’re uncomfortable leaving a comment here, please feel free to email me (kristina@msmodify.com).

I LOVE hearing from you and I know that your responses truly help others living with celiac!

Thanks for your help!

xo,

Kristina

 

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Interview with a Gluten Free Chef

interview with a gluten free chef

Eating out is hard when you’re gluten free due to celiac or gluten intolerance. End of story. It’s one thing for a restaurant to offer a gluten free menu, and it’s another thing for them to truly understand the severity of gluten cross-contamination. No matter how much they reassure you that they understand cross-contamination and take precautions, really there is always a risk of gluten exposure unless the kitchen is 100% gluten free.

100% gluten free restaurants are hard to come by, and most often they’re a bakery or a place to grab a quick bite (which we still love!). Needless to say I was ecstatic to discover a restaurant opened up near my house that’s 100% gluten free and fine dining! Not only is Oceans & Earth a dedicated gluten free kitchen, but they also have a farm and grow almost everything on their menu!

I had the pleasure of interviewing the owner and chef, Adam Navidi, where he provided me with so much insight on how he decided to open a dedicated gluten free restaurant and what goes into running it!

Give us a little bit of background info about yourself and your restaurant.

I’m never great talking about myself and at the end of the day it takes a team to make O&E happen! I don’t know of any other restaurant that is doing what we are, growing and producing a majority of our menu items! From our local aquaponic farm to gluten free bakery and dedicated gluten free upscale restaurant, it’s super labor intensive, a bit crazy but we love what we do, making people happy and healthy!

When did you first become aware of the need for gluten free options?

I’ve had a private catering company since 1998 where we cooked and done events for lots of elite clientele, from presidents to celebrities, many of which had different health issues and strict diets! In early 2000 several of our catering clients had gluten issues so I had to research and familiarize myself with cooking 100% gluten free! It seemed like everything had gluten in it, so we started by working and serving lots of fresh items like produce and grass feed beef on the menus! Then one of my clients begged me to do a breakfast and wanted items like pancakes and pastries so I started testing out flours and digging deeper into what items I could use and couldn’t use!

interview with gluten free chef

How did you become aware of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?

From some of the catering clients above! We had 1 client that couldn’t eat dairy or wheat and that really challenged me as a chef! At first, I thought he was the only person that had this rare disease I never heard of before, but they loved what I cooked and I passed their test (they didn’t get sick) and they kept asking me to come back and cook/cater for them! Then I learned they weren’t alone and more and more people started asking me to make them my signature breads!

 

What made you open a restaurant that’s 100% gluten free?

Over the years I’ve opened several restaurants and we always tried to do what we could for those with different sensitivities! But there was always a chance for cross-contamination and no matter how detailed and straightforward your training was cooks kept messing it up! So when we did catering events we would do all of the cooking on site at their homes! When we opened Oceans & Earth we were putting in new equipment and a clean slate so I felt why not just take the challenge and try to perfect gf baking! I felt if we could make a better gf product then we could buy from a non gf bakery then we could be successful and wouldn’t have to worry about contamination & we could sell our products at markets etc!

How do you ensure that there’s no cross-contamination in your kitchen/ restaurant?

We don’t bring in any products that contain gluten, all the food/products on our menu are gluten free!

Interview with a gluten free chef

Is you bar gluten free also?

We have gluten free beer and alcohol but we also have a lot of clients that will freak out if we don’t have what they drink so we carry some that are not gluten free!

We are working on creating some of our own beers etc and hopefully soon we can say our bar matches our food and is 100% dedicated gluten free!!

How do you train your staff to make them aware of cross-contamination?

We don’t allow any of our staff to bring anything in from outside, so we don’t have to worry about food since I buy everything myself and ensure it’s gf and we’ve had the same 2 bar staff making drinks since opening! They have separate bar equipment for making drinks! But we don’t get many orders for gf cocktails!

What was the hardest thing to master being gluten free? What was the process?

Hamburger buns have always been a work in progress! Every time I think we have perfected it we get a batch that doesn’t turn out perfectly risen and moist!

interview with gluten free chef

What’s your most popular item on the menu?

Flatbreads and crab bombs

What’s your favorite thing to make gluten free?

Fish n chips because I grow the fish and everyone tells me they love it and it’s hard to find gf!!

A big thank you to Chef Adam for taking the time to share your experiences with us and a bigger thank you for caring about the celiac community and offering such an incredible safe gluten free options for us! If you’re in the Orange County area, or anywhere in Southern California for that matter, make sure you take a trip to Yorba Linda and dine at Oceans & Earth… I promise you will have the best gluten free meal!

Don’t forget to check out my other interviews:

A Husband’s Perspective: What it’s like to be Married to Someone with Celiac

A Mother’s Perspective: What it’s like Raising a Child with Celiac 

*Images via Oceans & Earth

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Part 3: I want to hear from YOU!

Thanks to everyone who answered my first two questions about the biggest challenges living with celiac and your best tips for a quick recovery from gluten!  It’s so great to see this community we’re creating and I know for me personally, it’s a huge help to realize I’m not alone!

Celiac disease awareness month is coming up in May, so I thought I would compile various answers from you and create different posts on a few topics relating to living with celiac disease.

I want YOU to share YOUR feelings about living with the disease… this way we can see we’re not alone!

The third question:

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

The obvious for everyone is most likely FEELING BETTER! But, how about other ways it has impacted your life for the better? When I first got diagnosed, I couldn’t begin to imagine anything positive about celiac other than feeling better… but surprisingly there are many positives for me! Last year I shared “10 Reasons I’m Grateful for Celiac Disease”, so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Your answers will be published in a blog post in May and will be anonymous, so if you’re uncomfortable leaving a comment here, please feel free to email me (kristina@msmodify.com).

I LOVE hearing from you and I know that your responses truly help others living with celiac!

Thanks for your help!

xo,

Kristina

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{gluten free} Greek Easter Cookies “Koulourakia”

gluten free Greek Easter Cookies

Being Greek, there are many traditions we have and many of them involve food! Most are specific recipes we make for different holidays and they are passed down from generation to generation.

These Greek Easter Cookies called “Koulourakia” are something that I remember always making every Easter as a little girl with my yia yia (grandma). I’ve shared this recipe before, but since this is the first Easter without her here with us, I knew I had to share it again in honor of her.

Here my yia yia and I were making Koulourakia together a few years ago.

*side note: That was the first Easter after I was diagnosed with celiac disease, therefore I helped her make them but didn’t eat them. Little did I know I could get sick from the airborne flour and unfortunately I learned the hard way! So, if you’re gluten free…don’t help someone bake with regular flour!

The other night my mom came over and we baked them (gf of course!).

Since this was the first time making them without my yia yia, it was a little emotional for us but so special that we’re able to continue the tradition! We were laughing and reminiscing about how yia yia would always inspect them as we made them and if they weren’t up to her standard, she would take our dough and mash it together and tell us “no, you make them better”!

Traditionally, Koulourakia have an egg wash and sesame seed top but that’s not how I grew up with them, so I leave that part out. I included it in the recipe if you’d like to add it!

I hope you enjoy this traditional cookie as much as I do!

(Makes about 48 cookies depending on size)

Ingredients:

6 cups gluten free four (I always use Cup4Cup)
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs
½ cup orange juice
3 Tbsp vanilla

Optional:
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds

Instructions:

With a mixer, cream butter and then gradually add sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Beat in orange juice and vanilla. Combine the gluten free flour, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to mixture.

Dust working area and hands with gluten free flour; to prevent sticking. Roll dough into about 1 ¼ inch balls and then shape each into about 6 inches using your hands to roll. Fold in half and then twist twice. Place on baking sheet about 2 in apart.

Optional: Brush remaining egg on each cookie and top with sesame seeds.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

gluten free Greek Easter Cookies

If you like our Greek traditions, you may also enjoy:

{gluten free} Greek Christmas Cookies “Kourambiedes”

gluten free Kourambiedes - Greek Christmas Cookies

{gluten free} Lucky Greek New Year’s Cake “Vasilopita”

gluten free Vasilopita-Greek lucky New Year's Cake

*The winner of the Artisan Tropic giveaway is Sarah Spratlen! Congrats and please keep an eye out for an email from me so I can get those sent to you!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and Happy Easter!

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Part 2: I want to hear from YOU!

Thank you SO much to those of you who answered my first question about the challenges of living with celiac! I received many emails, comments, social media responses etc. It’s so wonderful to hear your thoughts and see how we can all relate! I can’t wait to share all the answers with you! If you didn’t answer last week’s question, you can do so here!

Celiac disease awareness month is coming up in May, so I thought I would compile various answers from you and create different posts on a few topics relating to living with celiac disease.

I want YOU to share YOUR feelings about living with the disease… this way we can see we’re not alone!

The second question:

“When I get glutened, the one thing that helps most is ______.”

Your answers will be published in a blog post in May and will be anonymous, so if you’re uncomfortable leaving a comment here, please feel free to email me (kristina@msmodify.com).

I LOVE hearing from you and I know that your responses truly help others living with celiac!

Thanks for your help!

xo,

Kristina

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