Thursday

Happy New Year 2014! Gluten Free Expo is coming to Vancouver





Hello there wheatless wonders and a Happy New Year 2014 to you all! I know, it's been ages since my last post! Lately I read (somewhere) that Vancouver is one of the top cities to live in if you have to be gluten free. And to think that I'm still hard pressed when someone asks me where to go for a meal. There are still only a few establishments on my radar like Wallflower Modern Diner where we can bliss out on a burger and fries with out having to worry about cross contamination. There are a few vegetarian, gluten free places as well. Personally I still enjoy eating meat. However, I can't digest ANY dairy. I'm starting to realize what a huge downer this is when I'm out at a regular establishment and the gluten free items they have on offer have dairy in them.

We seem to have a plethora of gluten free bakeries, which is wonderful (especially if you are in a position to shed some of those heavy dollars) In my opinion Gluten Free Epicurean is still numero uno. East Village Bakery is wonderful if you can digest dairy, if not the choices become even more limited. But the larger issue is still the search for a meal, not necessarily something sweet.

At the end of this month something exciting is happening. The event Gluten Free Expo is coming to Vancouver *PNE Forum. The number of attendees has been off the Richter scale for each consecutive event. This fact alone is very telling if you're interested in knowing about the growing number of Canadians who are affected with gluten intolerance issues. At the event, vendors offer samples of their products.

I'll be there and happily reporting back to you on Twitter from @beandar so keep in touch!


Kessel&March
1701 Powell St. Vancouver BC.

This is a fresh and lovely new eatery in what I'm pretty sure will be named the distillery district at some point in the near future. This is not your mother's East Van, this is a new version. In this East Van where the spaces that used to be forlorn and quite forgotten are viewed through the eye of potential & affordability. Well, by Vancouver standards anyways.

Kessel&March is in the ARC building, in a space that can only be described as odd. Only someone with a great vision could have performed the necessary contortions to make this space feel as warm and welcoming as Kessel&March has.

A chef and an interior designer have carved this unique cave into a den of delectables. (Yes I just pluralized delectable, live with it.) The space is, dare I say, romantic. Each dish is well thought out and prepared to order in the tiny, immaculate, open kitchen. This is classy dining in a casual but elegant environment. Dishes are served on local social enterprise Just Potters ceramics and select pieces are available for sale too, and why not? This is the ARC building, where art lives and breathes.



Tell them you are gluten intolerant and then don't worry your pretty little head, just sit back and enjoy the meal.




Tuesday

Two Daughters Bakeshop & It's To Die For Banana Bread

Hello my friends, I'm giving my Wheatless In Vancouver blog a little up-do. Every now and again I'll feature a local business who dedicates their service to gluten free peeps like myself, (and you!)

Today's feature business is Two Daughters Bakeshop in North Vancouver BC. and as happenstance would have it, I'm also featuring Erin Ireland and her It's To Die For banana bread.

 I first came across Two Daughters Bakeshop by stopping at a booth at the North Shore Green Markets, a fun, nighttime market at Shipbuilder's Plaza in North Vancouver. More recently I saw a tweet by Erin Ireland for her It's To Die For Banana Bread. She's now selling a gluten free version of her legendary banana bread and was producing a batch at Two Daughters Bakeshop, which I didn't even know was now an actual shop. Planning on visiting a few vendor friends at the market nearby, I decided to stop into the bakeshop first, to see what was available. 

As we arrived and parked the car on the street above the shop I actually smelled banana bread in the air. No I'm not kidding. We had a hard time finding the entrance to the shop and I was wandering around like a dog, sniffing the air, convinced I could find it by smell alone. We did finally find the shop, with it's entrance in the back, off of a lane way. And sure enough, there was Erin was still hard at work on her gluten free banana bread loaf baking! She was just as surprised to see me there too. I got to sample some while it was still warm. It's not overpoweringly banana, it's a nice balance of ingredients. A more mature version than what we're used to. I have to admit, that unfortunately I'm not a huge banana fan, but this stuff is really good! I'm looking forward to when she introduces her It's To Die For Lemon Loaf! Hopefully it will be just as moist and outstanding as the banana bread.

An exhausted Erin Ireland nearing the end of her epic 11 hour baking session.

The Two Daughters Bakeshop story:
Lisa is a mom of-- you guessed it -- two daughters. The younger of which has Celiac disease. She had been baking with wheat for years until the diagnosis of her youngest child changed that life recipe. Experimenting with different gluten free flours for months until she finally got the texture the way she wanted it; moist and spongy, not dry and crumbly. I'm happy to report she's got it right! The brownies are moist and rich and the "Oreo" is gooey and sweet. With her own gluten free, egg free and dairy free recipe she's now branching out, offering her own flour mix for sale and by expanding the business. Soon there will be a covered porch in the back to enjoy her baked goodies and coffee too. Thanks Lisa! Nice to chat with you and your little helper too.



Lisa Reichelt. Owner/proprietor of Two Daughters Bakeshop.



Sunday

Make it yummy & healthy!

For anyone who thinks gluten free meals mean tasteless meals I have this to say to you:

Pulled pork (corn) tacos.
Fried meat & onions with polenta & veggies.
Quinoa corn pasta spaghetti or penne in veggie or meat sauce.
Home made 'Zza on gf flatbreads.


Honey garlic chicken wings with brown rice or red potatoes.
Meat loaf served with coconut mash potatoes.
BBQ Hamburgers on Udi's gluten free buns with Daiya and pickles and Pan fried sweet potato fries.
Lentil soup
Corn Chowder
Stewed beef slow cooked with carrots, potatoes, onions and everything but the kitchen sink.
Quinoa & rice salad with chopped veggies, apples, nuts & cranberries.
Tuna salad on a bed of spinach with diced apples and nuts & sesame dressing.

Okay, I'll stop so you can run to the fridge.

Raw carrots dipped in hummus.
Gfree tortilla chips dipped in guacamole.
Coconut 'iced cream' (non dairy Luna & Larry's) with broken up bits of g-free/ dairy free chocolate chip cookies. 
Ohyeah and fruit... if you like that sort of thing ;]

Eat well, be well. Just do your best and enjoy your good times!





Thursday

03/13/13 Experimenting with change.

Just when you least expect it, change happens. I recently moved into a larger space and what a joy it's been to break into those boxes of kitchen gadgets art works and art supplies that I haven't seen for 4+ years. Stuff is just stuff but sometimes it says 'home'.

A few weeks ago I went to my favourite gluten free bakery here in Vancouver and inquired about the chicken pot pies. The customer service person was a little distracted, trying to train someone and answer my questions too, but did look up the recipe for me in the big binder to see if there was any dairy in the pies. When the pie was heating up at home, it smelled amazing. I was really ready for something special. I took a few bites and thought; This is too good to be dairy free but I kept eating it. When I was about halfway through, I got a bit scared and so I went on the Gluten Free Epicurean Facebook page to make an inquiry about the pie. Within 40 minutes I learned that not only are the pie shells for the meat pies made with dairy (margarine) but also there is whole milk IN the pie! By that time I had enjoyed every morcel of that amazing meal and decided that what ever would be, I would not regret having eaten it, because THIS pie was the best thing I've eaten in ages!

Later that evening as I braced myself for symptoms, I found instead that I had no immediate reaction. The next morning things were running a bit slow, if you know what I mean and I thought; Hey, if that's all that happens I'm definitely taking note.

Because I could not get that beautiful pie off my mind, I decided to experiment. This past weekend I gathered up my courage to try another dairy-laden chicken pot pie because -- holy moly, if I can eat these pies I'll be a happy camper! Well guess what? Aside from some (normal for me) upper digestive outbursts.... I CAN EAT THIS STUFF!

What's going on? (don't ask me.) I'm assuming that my hormones, body chemicals, (what ever) have changed in some way and or my gut has healed enough from my abstinence of gluten eating, I'm going to embark on a longer experiment of eating things that "may contain traces of milk" to actually eating things WITH dairy in them and see how this goes. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going out to eat a bunch of ice cream or eat cheese cake quite yet. I'll take it one step at a time. It's been more than 10 years since I regularly ate things with dairy in them so this is pretty momentous. This is a new chapter in my life so it's nice to be able to mark it with a dietary change as well.

Cheers all! Eat mindfully and be healthy.

July 2013: Just an update on the re-introduction of dairy... it was a fail. Although I seemed to be able to digest the dairy with out too much discomfort, I later had 48+ hour migraines as the pay back.
This happened at each attempt so I gave it up. So sad. Oh well.  


 





Friday

The Biochemistry of a gluten free body

Ever think about it? Example: We are what we eat. Each day we try and respond to our body's needs by thinking and feeling and decision making. What might I be needing? While at the same time; What might I enjoy eating? Normally I would say I do a fairly good job at interpreting my physical and mental needs. How do I know? Because normally afterward, I feel nourished and fortified. 

I'm proud of my self nurturing, that is, except,  I can't really say I remember eating any *ohmygawdwhatishappeningtomenow!?* recently.
The last couple of days my brain seems to be reacting to some major rewiring after an event of off-the-chart anxiety, coupled together with a little paranoia and self hatred. W-H-A-T? Where did this come from? I've read my share of articles about the effects of gluten on the body and brain to know that there is way more going on with biochemical interactions than is generally recognized.

We're exposed to hundreds of chemicals a day from the fire retardants in our blankets, mattresses and rugs we walk across to the 20 or so household and personal care products we use every day on our skin and in the air we breathe. We drink water that's been pretreated with chemicals to protect us from natural things. It's really impossible to control our personal environment. All we can do is make the right decisions according to the messages our bodies are giving us and (the labels we try so hard to read) on our foods. It's been more than a few years since I read that newborn babies are found to have over 200 chemicals already in their body. Egads.

I guess we can just expect to feel 'weird' sometimes. We're lucky to be here, alive and with our friends and family. I guess it's just another reminder to enjoy the moment. 

Happy Healthy 2013 folks!

Tuesday

Pain is just 'gonna happen'

Everyone suffering with any kind of food intolerance knows that no matter how hard we try to avoid the foods that cause ill symptoms, it's just gonna happen. You can buy all your own foods, eat at home, have your own toaster, cutting board and pans and do everything in your power to avoid contamination but we all know, sooner or later it's just going to happen.

Pain has become a regular part of our lives, and as with most of us, something we simply must accept. It sucks, that's for sure, but I just want to remind you all not to identify with this pain. This pain and illness does NOT define who we are. Not in the least. Even when we do outreach like our blogs and Twitter, sharing articles with our Celiac/ gluten intolerant community, we have to admit there is a LOT more to our lives than this. Right?

So I just wanted to take a moment before the holidays to remind you to focus on who you really are:
Strong, loving, generous, kind, artistic, industrious, creative, nature loving, pet adoring, city hopping, athletic or couch potato. (ha-ha) We all are the sum of our greatest gifts. People love us for WHO we are.

So when we have our down moments, when fear and anxiety seem to encompass our every thought, lets try to remind ourselves that there's so much more to life. The moments of pain and fatigue will pass. There is usually a tomorrow to try again. Let's support one another, reach out and keep a positive attitude.

Wishing you all good health. Do your best and remember that acceptance is easier than denial. Focus on what is important.

Ⓗ  ⓟ  ⓨ   Ⓗ  Ⓛ  ⓓ  ⓨ  !!

Friday

Just yummy stuff

Because sometimes, it's all about eating yummy things. Some good for you, some not so much. This cake was made from a Pamela's Products cake mix. I added AlterEco dark chocolate, quinoa flour, coconut oil, olive oil, tapioca starch and almond 'milk' I guess I got lucky because it's mind blowingly good.
I've shared a lot of food photo's on this blog but seldom do I share recipes. That's because, as much as I enjoy cooking meals and making random kitchen messes, I am terrible at following recipes. I had learned to cook and bake in professional kitchens many years ago but I escaped from that institution and I've learned how to break all the rules but make it work. 

Never stay between the lines! Adventure is always outside the lines.
Here's a few more food shots to get your appetite going.

Experiment away!

Tuesday

We're all owned.

Lets face it, we're owned by the food industry. Most of us are NOT growing our own food from seeds that we personally cultivated. We're not all eating the 100 mile diet. Heck, most of us can't even afford to buy organics all the time.  We all make the best choices for our own individual economic realities while trying to keep it as healthy as possible but it's nearly impossible to avoid GMO and the chemical engineering of many foods in our diet. Well, here comes a story that really brings this to light. 
We already know that wheat was modified at some point to create a hybrid that produces a higher percentage of gluten once processed.  We know that our bodies have had a difficult time breaking down this high powered gluten and I personally have never heard of anyone, anywhere in the world, who is growing the older version of wheat. Ever asked yourself why not? Who owns those old wheat seeds? Who owns (the patent) on MOST of our foods? Monsanto. Don't be shocked, the patenting of living organisms dates back to at least 1873.  But don't for one minute think that just anyone can grow their own foods from their own seeds, because in fact, seed saving can be against the law!
Conspiracy theorists will love this scenario: To coincide with the growing numbers of gluten-intolerant people in our current population (and to bypass the convoluted pharmaceutical route) "BIO-ENGINEERED" wheat with Celiac friendly gluten will be introduced in a few years. 
OH -Yippie-Kai-Yay! Call me paranoid but... this all sounds like a financial plan to me.
What?-you haven't seen Food Inc yet? Well, pop up some genetically modified corn, put some genetically modified canola oil margarine on it and sit down with the DVD. What are you waiting for? Here's a teaser. Be afraid-- be very afraid!
Some more food for thought: " many people in the United States want food that approximates – in so far as possible – the food their forebears ate. Whole communities such as the Amish mandate this of their members. This powerful instinct will always exist among certain groups, regardless of scientific advances and safety analyses. "
http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/yes-labels-on-gm-foods
And lastly another article about seeds:
http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/the-four-steps-required-to-keep-monsanto-out-of-your-garden/
 
 

Friday

Moderation and observation

With new reports and various studies coming out all the time on how certain foods are adversely affecting our health, it almost seems as though we have to become more and more discerning about what to put in our bodies. After all, we aren't all nutritionists and biologists, how do we juggle all this constant information and make the wisest choices for our diet?

Every living body is different from the next. Everybody experiences different reactions to basic foods, everyone is exposed to their environment in different ways. With so many variables to consider, there's a daily dance we have to perform according to our body's own needs and the messages we receive.

There are the basics, like being thirsty means we should drink water. Being tired indicates a need for sleep but what about all the smaller messages our brains are signalling? Can we hear those precious messages too? How are we to respond when we don't 'speak the language' of biochemistry?

We're all amazingly talented in that we multitask constantly with our minds. Whether we're aware of it or not, there is a constant stream of signals going on in our mind and in our body that we are responding to. Even now as you read this your body is telling you something really important.

Everyone needs to take time out during the day to listen to these messages and respond. Our body can't just leave us and go food shopping for what it needs. It's up to us to listen and try our best to supply what our body needs. It's a constant juggling act. This is a huge responsibility we have every day and the more attention we pay to our inner messages, the more effort we must put into this relationship. This is not something we can put off. Our everyday physical and mental health depends entirely upon us behaving as responsible adults to our own bodies. Be your own best mom, listen and respond.




 

Monday

How I survived the Evil Cupcake of Gluten-doom.

Well, this should be an interesting study in the least. Late afternoon yesterday I mistook a vegan cupcake for a gluten free and vegan one. I devoured it with abandon before realizing in horror what just happened.
I haven't made a mistake like this in a really long time.
I stood there, re-reading the signage, eyes darting back & forth between "gluten free" on one side of the counter and "vegan" on the other, mere inches from one another, I allowed the reality to set in.
Outside the shop I released my emotional response. Tears, sobbing, anxiety over what will unfold, wondering; should purge? (-would this even guarantee that nothing would remain?) I weighed the on-the-fly analysis and decided to see how my body would react, using this experience as a lesson. I'll do a personal case study. See what will ensue.

So here I am, day 1. Morning.
I asked myself; Do I have Any symptoms yet? I'm a bit light headed but that is all. Last night I had a bit of indigestion after dinner but nothing painful. This a.m. things 'seem' normal thus far but I know how long it takes to move things through this body of mine. It's easy to determine when you eat black Quinoa on a Friday and on Sunday and Monday you still see evidence of it.

Normally, after a contamination has occurred (which happens regularly on a much smaller scale) I can get a whole array of symptoms: Stomach pain, nausea, head ache, dizziness, bloating and back-ups, then a lot of pain and flushing out. Weight loss, fatigue, irritability, random sadness and lowered self esteem, lack of energy and motivation, loss of ability to concentrate, skin rashes and itchy skin areas. I'm probably forgetting some symptoms. This has been my life for years, even while avoiding dairy and gluten to the best of my ability. But right now-- I'm okay.
Weird!

Day 2. Hour 40-something.

OW-- Some sharp lower abdominal pain coupled together with more than a few unpleasant visits to the small room and a bit light headed. hmmm....

Day 2. Hour 48-ish:
RAVENOUS! Gotta be a good sign, right? Filling that empty space back up now.

*NOTE* On the first night I took some digestive herbs. In this case it was called Gaia which is by Aboca, an Italian company. The ingredients are Vegetable Charcoal, Cumin, Chamomile, Anise, Lemon Balm, Fennel and Peppermint.
Every time I've taken this product it has reduced gas and bloating almost immediately and then the next day my intestinal tract feels good.
To me this stuff is amazing.

Day 3 and 4.
Is this headache really a migraine? My eyes feel strained too and  I'm also a bit moody. Could this be an 'after effect' of the gluten contamination? I wonder. 













Gluten free aint easy!

Living gluten free is seldom easy. It's been over 4 years of re-learning how to shop and what to cook or prepare and I still experience moments of hunger filled anxiety.
Once in a while a delicious and fortifying meal comes along and in these moments I can honestly say I understand the terms "emotional eating'. I fall into a blissful state of gratitude. Happiness embraces my mind and body and I remember it for days, sometimes weeks and occasionally months afterward.

The thing is to be able to mix your diet up for variety. Variety is most definitely the spice of life. By the way I'm still enjoying avocado with nut butters and ajvar on Udi's gluten free toast in the a.m. Sometimes I boil a free range egg, just right, slightly runny... mmmm. Lunch and dinner are usually more diverse though.

Today I read that Lady Gaga is going on a gluten free diet to lose weight. Because I respect her I'll refrain from spouting off. Hopefully the press is the reason it's being called a gluten free diet and maybe she personally understands that being a celebrity of her stature has an immense and rippling affect in the world and this is a volatile subject.

More people need to understand that there are quite a lot of us suffering from gluten intolerance and Celiac disease. It's not to be taken lightly. Celiac is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine triggered by eating gluten. It's a painful condition and with a whole entourage of symptoms from abdominal pain and bloating to joint aches and infections in the intestinal track, cognitive malfunctions and a whole slew of skin conditions from head to toe. There are over 200 signs and symptoms of this disease. The immune system is taxed and thus the stress on the body is widespread. 

As you can imagine-- this is tiring! And depressing, and it's also taxing on our relationships as well. It's not easy to live with. 

As much as I love talking about food, (heck I'll admit I'm obsessed with food) and I love to remain positive because it's the same amount of energy to stay positive as it is to whine about it, only it feels a heck of a lot better to be positive but don't mistake this for the easy life. It aint easy.


So when you hear about someone "dieting" by going gluten free, do us a favour... help educate them a little?


Until next time, take care of yourself and the people around you. 
Cheers!










Tuesday

#20 A good stretch of weather.

The weather's been awesome around here. Coffee in the morning and dinner in the evening are happening on the tiny balcony. The birds are singing and doing their birdie dances together. Bees of different varieties are checking out our little potted plants. Strawberry, Forget-Me-Nots, Oxalis are adding colour to our little outdoor space.
Our friends M & M brought us a whole bunch of organic Avocados and we've been enjoying those with every meal. Who would've thought of making an Onion salad in half an avocado?! I definitely recommend this and eating them outside. I have no complaints about a Spring that feels like Summer, hell no, bring it on.

Armadillo Mangoes!


I hope you're finding all the gluten free foods that you love to eat these days. The markets seem flooded with gf and df foods now. If you're new to the scene, just read labels, look up ingredients and be diligent when you're out. It's really getting easier!

Short of ideas? You might want to refer to this #5 Food List! from an earlier post of mine.

Be well and enjoy your Spring!




Wednesday

#19 Nuts to you!

I'm a little embarrassed that I'm already scraping at the sides of the jar of "Nuts To You" Cashew butter I bought a couple of weeks ago. And what's more is how I've been eating this, and the Almond 'butter' as well, in combination with --- (please don't "ew" me!) -cucumber, Ajvar and avocado. All this on Udi's toast.
I JUST CAN'T STOP! It's so good.
It must be something my body needs, compelling me eat this every day as breakfast, right? Today I also grated a clove of garlic onto the toast with Olive oil as the first layer. I guess the ritual of this whole act is also part of the allure. Layering the foods onto the toast one by one, gives my body warning that it's coming down the pipe. This is SO much better than just eating cereal. I feel that every meal is important for our body, why treat breakfast so poorly?




I admit, that as much as I try and eat the foods I think will nourish my body, and avoid processed foods, drink filtered water and keep my coffee and dark chocolate habits in check, (two coffee drinks per day is my limit, and not after 3pm usually.) I don't consume very many sweets and I aim for 8 hours sleep per night (getting this amount is another matter) I am still working really hard to stay healthy all the time! I wish I didn't have to work this hard to keep my brain clear and my body "balanced" but for me, this is how it works. If I don't sleep enough I can't seem to function at my optimal level and when I don't eat right I feel lousy. Life by 'trial and error'.

I'm jealous of all the people I know who can eat what ever they want, when ever they want and not suffer any dire consequences. Be grateful and enjoy it! Try and understand though, that not everyone has it as good as you. I often feel a lack of understanding and empathy from people when they observe my lifestyle. It's not by choice that I live within these boundaries, believe me. I'm so extremely grateful for my friends and acquaintances who embrace the challenge of preparing foods with out gluten or dairy. I can't believe how lucky I am to have you in my life! (You know who you are) ;D

Following is an example of such a blessing, which took the form of a baking lesson with a certain cook, baker, butcher and food blogger whom I revere.

Coconut Creme BruleThis, my friends, existed ONLY in my imagination (and sugar-lust thoughts) until ... it was made... a reality. Thank you Kari! ♡ I don't know that I will have the patience to do this very often but I will not soon forget that you took time out of your busy life to show me how to make this, my day dream, into a reality!



Well, thanks again everyone for the read. Let me know what you think by checking the points boxes below or commenting and as always..... feel free to share this blog (on any of your social network of choice) with anyone you think might benefit or enjoy.

-Cheers!


Sunday

#18 Avocado the wonder food. I wonder why I'm eating this!

When I was living in California I didn't appreciate the glorious Avocado. Ridiculous considering their health benefits and that they were literally growing on trees near to us! How could anyone not love these amazing fruits? Now I have some avocado almost every day when economically viable. That is I'm not prepared to spend more than a dollar and a half on a good sized fruit. I've seen the prices bounce from 99c - 1.69 each! that's just crazy.

I love mixing weird foods together. At first I had made some Hommus, so I put a little avocado on top, then I tried it with just the Tahini, then Sunflower butter, and then I went for it, I actually put it on peanut butter, it was amazing! Yeah I got a weird look, but do you think I care? Hells no! The nutty texture and flavour goes perfectly well with the mild avocado. I like it on top of eggs too,  and it's great with Ajvar or eggplant spread. I'm not a big eggplant eater, but the spread is a wonderful combination of garlic, onion and red pepper. Love it! Also great in my Food For Life brown rice tortilla wraps. Mmmm!

I feel like it's good brain food. When I'm recovering from a mild gluten contamination, (seemingly unavoidable) I feel like the avocado is good nourishment. Another food I find myself attracted to is the cashew. When I'm attracted to certain foods over a long period of time I think there is a message there. This is my body telling me what I need. I'm not talking about sugar cravings, although maybe there is something to having a little sweet in your day, besides kisses from your lovely that is ;) 


Here's a website that supports my food views. If you don't 'buy it', don't try it, but it works for me!
Avocado http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5#healthbenefits and 
Cashew  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=98

Oh! by the way, I found that putting a light layer of Olive oil on the avocado before storing it for later use, stops the browning of the fruit! This one was in the fridge for a day after slicing into it.  It was just a hunch I had and it works!
-Enjoy!


Friday

#17 Two words: Food fear

If you just read those two words and you understood my meaning immediately, then you know what I'm about to speak of. Maybe you're in the same boat? It seems like the more I learn about foods; i.e. how they're grown and processed and how they're broken down (or not broken down) in our bodies when ingested, the more my fears are cultivated about eating the wrong ones.
I mean to say that the things I've learned about food in the last couple of years are exacerbating my already existing anxieties. I've learned that most of the world's seeds are GMO'd, (genetically modified), soil is depleted from over planting and mass production, plants are sprayed with pesticides that can potentially cause numerous diseases and hormonal disruptions later in the life, then the processing is changing the very nature and structure of the foods as well as adding even more questionable chemicals with all the possibilities of cross reactions.

We're all just in a giant, food industry experiment. We're all lab rats. Run for your lives!

Sometimes I think about the people I know who have spoken of their various physical ailments, from recurring indigestion to bloating, burping, constipation and migraines, and many never knowing the cause, and others who have suffered for their entire lives with no definitive answers. I also think of people who have died from curious diseases and I wonder, could their problem have stemmed from gluten intolerance?  I've learned that gluten alone can cause over 200 symptoms in people with Celiac or gluten sensitivities and many of these symptoms and diseases can eventually be deadly in people that don't realize they even have the problem. I don't even know exactly what my own problems are from. It's really hard to know because the testing is very specific to a localized area of the body. For example, I've had the thought many times that there is a hole (if you can pardon such a pun) in the intestinal biopsy test. because they take a tissue sample from only one or two areas. That leaves a lot of room for error. Too many people are going around undiagnosed. The medical industry has learned much in a short time about gluten intolerance problems and education of doctors is paramount for the future of people suffering from gluten related illnesses. They don't have all the answers and they know the variety of variables they are up against in this mystery.

But back to the food question. What to eat that is easily digested and best absorbed for maximum nutrition? How am I to know? How is anyone to know what is best for their own very individual body and brain? We can do our own studies where we begin with fasting and drinking only water, introducing one food back into our system at a time for short periods, or elimination diets where we simply remove one food type at a time, (like all dairy for example). But we are not all scientists and doctors and there is so much to know about what goes on in the body. It's astounding!
Not everything is immediate either. People think that what they ate yesterday, magically disappears from their body when they haven't eliminated that much, and then they blame their lunch for the problems they have before dinner. Hello?! Elimination takes time, and it all doesn't just come out in two forms you know. Skin is another huge organ people forget about. Toxins are eliminated in many ways. What do you think that itchy skin is all about? What do you think break out is all about? (It's not always just blocked pores).

Personally I think we all need to pay a lot of attention to how our bodies are reacting to foods, think about what we're feeding our brains, and pay attention to the small signals. We need to behave intelligently and be grown up about what we put into our bodies.

Still, I'm pretty scared. When I have a 'good day' I ponder what could it be? The avocado? The dark chocolate? The vitamin? That I had lots of water? The green tea or (other 'antioxidant' flavour of the month) I introduced? Or maybe it was that I got a good amount of undisturbed sleep for a day.

Too many variables! I guess the lesson is always the same. Do the best we can, while maintaining some mindfulness about it.

Wishing you a happy Friday the 13th of January 2012.
-Cheers!

☟ Points plz :)

#16 Survival!

Well, I survived the holidays and all it's torturous treats passing under my nose. I did succumb to a siren of Sourdough Spelt, singing virtues of not being wheat. Let's just say I fell under it's spell(t) haha. It was so good while the denial lasted. But there was much food to be had that was gluten free and I stayed between the lines for the most part. It really was a great holiday, one of the best in memory. Local extended family and friends, meals and socializing all added up to boost me up into January. I'm still feeling pretty good from it all.

I've made quite a few good meals and managed to avoid being 'contaminated' for the most part, which isn't to say things have been all rosy posy, there always seems to be something lurking somewhere in the shadows to wreak havoc on my well being. It's all part of life, right? if it's not one thing, it's another.

It's a challenge, but we have no choice other than to do our best an hope for good health and for good times to follow. 



Cheers. Here's to 2012! Let's see what adventures will reveal themselves.
 

Monday

#15 -I can't believe I just committed SPELT-icide

Friends came over for a pre-holiday, casual dinner and they were so excited to bring this delicious, amazing Spelt sourdough style bread. I'd had it once before at their place with out putting too much thought into it I decided to go for it. Dipping that delicious spongy bread through the olive oil and balsamic was just amazing after such a long of a time away from this experience. I simply decided to suspend my anxiety and beliefs and enjoy the moment. Afterward I continued the denial and I did such a good job with it that I can't even pin-point when things started to go awry.

I had a rough few days last week, not as bad as some weeks in fresh memory but certainly not stellar. Now, I've done it again. And for the second time in 12 hours because they generously left me this bread to enjoy. *sigh* I must forgive myself for this sin committed to my body and hope for the best. The bare facts are that I'm never 100% sure about why stuff happens or even what it IS that is happening inside me and it's extremely difficult to avoid gluten regardless, because it's a hidden ingredient in much of the foods out there, be it bottled, bagged, and or in what ever form. Sauces, even meats can have it. SO I rarely even get to enjoy a 'clear' week with out experiencing some form of disruption. Contamination can include a whole host of symptoms for days and get the immune system in an uproar as well as mood alterations. It sucks.

Now I'm going to try and fend off the misery by remaining focused on some projects. There are some seeds of hope sprouting around me so *fingers crossed* for a positive outlook.


Happy holiday times to anyone reading and good luck with staying on track for health.  


I want to apologize for my blog always looking so bare-bones. I'm not the most techie individual and don't know how to make it look pretty. Maybe I should change my name to Wilma Flintstone or something. 

Thursday

#13 Halloween candy. Also; Weird yummy food combinations.

Here comes my favourite holiday, Halloween! I'm a fan of costuming, what can I say? But all the roll out tables at the stores laden with sugary, gluteny, dairy filled treats that I can't eat.. THIS I'm NOT a fan of. There ought to be a law against this kind of torture! Okay, maybe not a law, but I really want a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup. No, not just one, I want a bag full.  I also want some Turtles or Rolo's....  KitKat or any cheap-ass chocolate bar. I want gratification! Sometimes while waiting in line at the grocery store I leer at the cheap, chocolate bars and fantasize ripping into the packages like a wild thing. I'm drooling right now thinking about it. All main-stream chocolate bars seem to have gluten & dairy in them. It's sad, but true. Hell, even red Liquorice has wheat!

Here's a 2013 list of gluten free candies:  list
But for people who are also allergic to dairy, that includes Lactose, Whey and Casein, this list becomes even more limited. We still have Zazubean or Alter Eco's delightful dark chocolate with Quinoa, or Mint and a few other choice flavours and new to the scene is Justin's organic. Dark chocolate (non dairy), (non gluten) Nut Butter cups. These are an awesome substitute that we've been waiting a long time for.
*note* Much less expensive in the U.S.
Don't take any chances this holiday, treat your self well and don't be tricked into eating the wrong thing & paying for it afterward.
Cheers! Happy Halloween!





#14  I love weird food!
It's late and I didn't really have any dinner. The fridge looks looks abandoned except for some leftover rice, some Adams natural peanut butter and an avocado. Hey d'you know what tastes really good? These items eaten together. Yes I'm serious. I've had this combination more than once and it's actually delicious! I love weird food combinations. Anything that tastes good and your body gravitates to it is probably a good thing except when it's all about the sugar.

Last week I actually baked. Yeah me. I baked a chocolate banana bread. Gluten free, dairy free and consequentially egg free. I went off eggs for a week to see if some of these continuing issues could be more allergies. Well the bread turned out great! Everyone who tried it said that you could not even tell it lacked those key ingredients. Yay me! This has inspired me to try more baking (when I have the energy.)
I took the recipe from http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/ It was actually an older one that I used, and I combined my own non gluten flour mix. Coconut Flour, Urad (chick pea), Tapioca and potato starch and a bit of Buckwheat (which is NOT wheat at all btw.) plus all other ingredients in her recipe, with the addition of coconut because I had no walnuts. (mmm... now I want walnuts.)




This is a good reminder to not give up, even when you think you're miserable at something, like me with baking. Eat what you see, just eat it YOUR way.

If I don't get to blogging again for a while I will say it now: Happy Holidays and keep on your right track!    Remain healthy friends ♡ and thanks for reading.

Feel free to comment or add points ☟

Monday

#12 You are not alone!

The other day I ordered a cappuccino from (a notably thin) barista. I asked if they had anything gluten free/dairy free. He regretted that they didn't have anything like that to offer, (which I think is ridiculous) and told me how he himself is finding that he can no longer tolerate gluten and is thinking of experimenting on some gf baked goods and that with any luck he would like to bring them into the shop. I encouraged him to do that. Baking gluten free and dairy free is a real challenge that takes a lot of practice. I'm no baker, I'm the first to admit. Cooking is more suited to me because you can change things up. Baking requires adhering to recipes which I'm not a fan of. I love to throw in a little of this, a little of that.

In my daily travels I've come across a surprising number of gluten free people and while I'm always delighted to meet them at the same time I feel so alarmed at the growing numbers. When I meet someone like the aforementioned barista, just beginning their gluten free journey,  I really feel for them because I know how difficult it is to adhere to the diet. We know, that once we jump that ship, there is no going back. I've now printed out a little card with my blog and Yelp lists to give to people I meet, because I know how hard it was for me to find the best places for food shopping and meals out. I try to encourage new gf-ers to stay on track and focus on regaining their health because it's worth the hardship. There are bonuses on the way! This weekend I visited a new gf bakery on the north shore. I love the sign on the pastry window;  "Everything is Gluten Free" Hah! Everything is so beautiful and yummy looking so if you're looking for a typical over-produced wheaty glutenous treat, you're S.O.L. welcome to the flip side, my friends!

If you know anyone who might benefit from the lists, please pass it on to them or FB my blog and share it. It's not just for me that I write this out you know :)

my glutenfree Yelp
Thanks again for reading and feel free to give me some points ☟

Tuesday

#11 How I became a gluten free labeling activist.

I'm on a bit of a campaign right now to get Save-On-Foods to upgrade their gluten free labeling system. I was so excited early in the Summer when I first spotted the orange and white Gluten Free signs sticking out off the shelves like little flags. But after I accidentally consumed a product that had gluten in it that was found right behind the sign, I realized that I had rejoiced too soon. This made me mad. I thought; why would they have these signs right on the shelves and not make it perfectly clear as to which product was indeed gluten free? They needed some education.
So, I have made an extra effort to speak to as many employees of Save-On-Foods as I come into contact with, to bring this issue forward and today I was pretty impressed. I was asking an assistant manager about the signs when the Manager of Operations came over, recognizing me from our last conversation and said that he was just discussing this subject this morning and bringing my idea of better labeling back to the table. Awesome! I look forward to progress with this.

This past Summer much of the food industry labeling has come under scrutiny and it appears that some very important changes are on the table. The problem is the beer industry seems to be putting a lot of money into fighting the changes. I don't understand yet why, but they are lobbying to block the changes. I really hope something can be worked out to satisfy all parties. I would love to see more clear labeling, and the sooner the better- I'm hungry!

Here is the petition, if you'd like to sign. We must show our numbers. Please sign and pass it along to other concerned consumers.  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/whatsinyourbeer/

Thursday

# 10 The good, and the bad hair day.

Every once in a while, when I think I've said enough about being gluten free and that I have nothing new to add, someone comes along and thanks me personally for my lists and for sharing my story. This gives me the incentive to reach out again and say 'Hello there friends and wheatless people!'

It's been a grand summer of networking, connecting and brainstorming. Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a number of Fringe Festival shows and review them for PLANKmagazine
This put me on Granville Island where the bulk of the playhouses and BYOV's are. Being on the 'island' (which of course is not an island at all, but more of a peninsula), and being gluten free and hungry are a bad combination. I was sorrily disappointed by the lack of options I found there. I used to think you could go to the Public Market and find just about any kind of food, whether it be prepared or ingredients for your own meal at home. There are few actual restaurants, bars and cafes there after all. This was a stark reminder of how we should always plan ahead for our meals. I do recommend Agro Cafe on Railspur Alley if you have the time and cash to spend, as the chef there was super kind once and made me a special gluten free dish.

Another not so great surprise was my visit to the Pan Pacific hotel Cascades Lounge. At first I was really happy to hear that they have a non-dairy substitute for the espresso beverages, (especially because I love a good cappuccino!) but upon closer inspection, I saw Barley extract on the ingredients list. The poor bar tender/barista, he was so nice, he went out of his way to retrieve the Soy beverage, and then I (almost screamed) wait! STOP!
Overall it was a tough afternoon, my mother's birthday included a complimentary Chocolate Ganache cake, which she and my step dad ate in front of me, while moaning how good it was. #notagoodmoment . Once again, there I was having only breakfast in my belly and no afternoon coffee to stave off the monster inside and having to deal with this scene . Some days are just 'bad hair' days.

Later, to celebrate, we went to dinner at a place called Transylvania Flavour where they had considerately prepared a separate chicken dish just for me, but my mother had neglected to tell them that on top of being Celiac, I am also dairy intolerant.  The dish was bathed in butter, so I then had to watch as everyone else ate their droolicious looking meals laden with gluten, while I waited for them to prepare me another dish. Yup, just a bad hair day.

Onward-ho!
Because I'd hate to end this excerpt on a low note, (although the sky is grey, it's raining, summer is over and I'm still unemployed...) I will say this. Thanks for all the great comments and 'likes' on FB, and for re-tweeting my Tweets. Please share this blog with anyone you think could use it or be mildly entertained.
*Pictured above, these "muffins" at Panne Rizzo are both gluten and dairy free. Beyond that they are also only 2.99 each! Downside: I live on the other end of town.  

Wednesday

#9. GF is not a diet fad, people!

I just caught an ABC news report about the gluten free diet. It talked about how Hollywood stars are going gluten free and alluded to it being some kind of glamour diet fad. One thing we find abhorrent is when it's touted as some kind of weight-loss plan. It down plays the impact of the disease to an offending point. The effect of which is that people don't take it as seriously as they need to. With no exaggeration I can tell you that having gluten intolerance and Celiac disease is both painful and emotionally challenging. It's no walk in the park.

While I'm thrilled to have so many more choices of foods now than what used to be available and I'm happy to take advantage of the 'buzz' for more gf products to be marketed, I really want Celiac disease and gluten intolerance to be discussed in a more educational tone. 

I know that it won't be long before the wheat board starts fighting back and things get really ugly. I imagine that they'll be telling people how 'dangerous' it is not to eat wheat, as sales are inevitably affected by the numbers of people turning away from their cereal breakfasts and sandwich lunches.  I feel like there is only a small window of time left to educate people about what is really happening to so many people before the tide starts turning around.

I really hope that people will take the time to really learn about these illnesses and try to understand the importance of eating the right foods for their bodies.

As for it being a diet, the people I've met who are on the gf and dairy free diets are far more concerned with putting weight on than loosing it. I'm very happy to say that I've gained some of my weight back recently that was lost while I made this radical change. That's gotta be good!
 Bon App├ętit!

Tuesday

#8 Lead us not to temptation.

You know what? Sometimes temptation actually leads us to a new discovery. Like the time I poked my nose into the cupcake shop and found gluten free/ dairy free cupcakes! I'm pretty sure I shed a tear of joy. This weekend I followed my nose to a food truck and found gluten free hot dogs  -and not just gluten free, but made with locally sourced meat too. Okay, I know this is not exactly viewed as healthy eating, but you know what? We have to indulge sometimes. Once again I'm torn between the two emotions, thrilled, (for selfish reasons) and appalled. I'm alarmed that there are so many of us non-glute's that it's becoming a common thing to find gluten free food to go.

Gluten free street food!
One of my favourite things to do is to connect small businesses and people together. My latest personal accomplishments have included my attempt to connect a gluten free freelance baker http://www.glutenfreeepicurean.ca/ with the nearby cafe Delany's next to the library on Vancouver's north shore. A small upscale organic grocery store, with a local coffee roaster http://twitter.com/#!/rocanini and thirdly I tried to connect a local artisan who makes tile work, with a small gift shop. I love connecting people ! If only I could make a living at the things I'm enjoying now.
Open to suggestions.

Thanks for reading and always enjoy what you eat, and eat what you enjoy.

Saturday

#7 A gluten free cornucopia

Lately I've been enjoying a 'harvest' of blessings in the form of good food and fortune coming my way. Friends have treated me to meals, two restaurants comped my meals, and I've just learned that I won a gift certificate for a meal of "sustainable cuisine" at The Refinery from Ethical Deal which I'm totally stoked about :)   



It seems to me that there has been an influx of gluten free products filling the shelves and labeling has become clearer. Even large local grocery chains have gf labeling going up. Here in Vancouver we even have a couple of gluten free dedicated shops. This is both exciting and alarming because it really shows how many people are affected by gluten.


 I'll keep this blog short today and offer you these words of encouragement: You are not alone! Reach out, find the support you need and know that it does get better. We will always have our setbacks and bad days, but as you go forward you will find that avoiding the pitfalls becomes easier. Be strong willed, practice gratitude and eat well.



 Here's another blogger's excerpt about the new changes in labeling. http://glutenfreepdx.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/the-fda-gluten-free-labeling/
This is what you get when you do a local search on Yelp for gluten free. http://www.yelp.ca/search?find_desc=gluten+free&find_loc=Vancouver%2C+BC%2C+Canada