Saturday, December 27, 2008

Crumbs are my nemesis

I'm becoming paranoid....I had to ask DH to wipe down the dining room table before I sat down because there were crumbs on it and I didn't know if they were gluten crumbs or gluten free crumbs. Probably they were gluten, because the kids and DH are still on gluten. I think that I've been glutened by DS before, because he wanders around eating crackers and then he wants me to kiss him or hug him and he's covered with crumbs. He's only 3 years old so he doesn't understand.

I guess the only solution is to ban gluten-containing products from the house.

If only DH realized just how sick I've been getting when I'm glutened, I think he'd be more willing to take the extreme steps of throwing away the remainder of our gluten-y foods and replacing the toaster, etc.

The gluten free diet and weight loss

It's been pointed out to me recently that gluten free flours, although they do not cause harm to my innards in the way that wheat flour would, still contain significant levels of carbohydrates and calories and will NOT be helpful in the pursuit of a skinnier me. In other words, gluten free pastas and breads, etc., should not be mainstays of your diet if you want to lose weight.

And yes, I do believe that this is true, at least for people like me, who do better on low carb diets. The only time I've ever lost a significant amount of weight (80+ pounds) was on the Atkins diet, which is very low carb and hence, naturally gluten free (or at least gluten-lite). I also felt better on that diet than I ever have in my life. I was on the Atkins diet for more than 3 years, and felt very healthy the whole time. My "IBS" went away (of course, since it was really celiac disease!). Also, my cholesterol numbers were WONDERFUL on the low carb diet.

But I was forced to abandon the low-carb lifestyle under extraordinary circumstances. I became very ill in 2004 with a mysterious case of non-viral hepatitis (cryptogenic hepatitis = they don't know what caused it). During my illness I couldn't eat meat, in fact, the foods that made me feel better were things like crackers and dry toast.

Of course, this was almost certainly the beginning of my autoimmune hepatitis, but I tested negative for the antibodies so I didn't receive that official diagnosis until June of this year.

In any case, once I began to feel better, I started to gain back the weight. I made a couple of abortive attempts to go back on Atkins but my system couldn't handle the high protein low carb regimen at that made me feel really sick. So, over the past few years, I've managed to gain back the 80 pounds I lost, plus another 10 pounds for good measure!

It gets worse: after the official diagnosis of AIH, the doctor put me on prednisone and Imuran. You may not be familiar with the charming side effects of prednisone, but it can cause you to gain A LOT of weight in a very short time, especially around your face and develop the famous prednisone "moon-face". So of course I've gained another 30 pounds since last June! Eeeeeek!!

The good news is that I seem to be able to follow a low carb diet now; the usual foods I would eat on Atkins, such as beef, chicken, fish and eggs plus low carb veggies don't seem to make me sick anymore.

SO....the bottom line is that DH and I have decided to start a gluten-free version of the Atkins diet after the holidays are over. This will be good for both of us....we will be gluten free AND low carb. And hopefully we will lose some weight!

P.S. Lots of people worry that the Atkins diet is not "healthy" for you. But if you think about it this way: the low carb diet in it's purest form is all about eating foods that are not PROCESSED. So strive to eat foods that are in their natural state....meat, eggs, fish, chicken, low-carb vegetables. Avoid fruit because of the high sugar content (although berries are fairly low carb). Avoid anything processed, such as cereals, breads, crackers, etc.; avoid starchy veggies such as potatoes and corn.

There's nothing "unhealthy" about it! :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Menu plan? Maybe not yet....

This isn't the week to start doing menu plans, because I'm still grading papers from the Math class I taught this semester! I've been taking it easy so far this week; on Sunday DH brought home Pei Wei food (they have a gluten free menu and I didn't get glutened!), and last night we simply had nachos for dinner (not the healthiest but fast!).

For Christmas Eve Paul's mother is coming over and I want to make something that she will like, so I think I'm making either chicken enchiladas or lasagna (gluten free of course). For Christmas Day breakfast I want to try a make-ahead, refrigerate-overnight gluten free cinnamon roll recipe I found on, while for dinner we will have honeybaked ham and turkey breast, garlic mashed potatos, rolls, green beans, mushrooms parmesan, cranberry sauce, and perhaps pumpkin cheesecake and cherry pie for dessert.

Recently one of the quickest meals I've made has been fish tacos: microwave two or three tilapia fillets (0r other mild white fish) with butter and lemon or lime pepper seasoning, quick-fry corn tortillas in a small amount of hot oil and bend them to form taco shells while still warm, serve with your favorite fish taco toppings, such as shredded cabbage, sour cream, tomatos, salsa, cheese, etc. Wonderful!!! We've had those a lot lately! :)

More soon on the topic of menus and meals.....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Keep it simple

I started this journey by buying EVERY gluten free flour in sight, all kinds of special gf products, some of which I ordered online and paid outrageous shipping fees for. I'm coming to the conclusion that this was not the best approach, and after talking to my daughter Robin (who runs her own gluten free house because her 4-year-old daughter has celiac disease), this has been confirmed.

Robin pointed out that it's better (and cheaper) to identify those things that you already like which are naturally gluten free, such as corn tortillas, AND which are readily available in the local grocery store, and build your menus around them. With corn tortillas you can make chicken enchiladas or fish tacos - many Mexican meals are gluten free.

Sure, at some point you probably want to buy some gluten free pasta, and that's fine. But try having a baked potato dinner; there are lots of things you could put in a baked potato, such as broccoli and cheese or chili....use your imagination! :)

If you want gluten free bread, you don't necessarily have to buy 6 different gluten free flours and bizarre things like xanthan gum; a good gluten free bread mix is made by Gluten Free Pantry, for example, their "Favorite Sandwich Bread". I made a loaf and it's quite fact it's REALLY good warm from the oven!

In any case, this diet doesn't have to be complicated. You can start slowly with a few simple meals that work for you, and build from there. Go easy on yourself.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm not alone!

I complained about my lack of a "real" diagnosis in one of the forums at, and got several replies that indicate that many, many people are in the same boat. For one reason or another, they do not have the "absolutely certain" diagnosis of celiac disease, but their doctors felt that all available signs pointed to celiac, and gave them that diagnosis anyway.

I guess that I can accept a less-than-certain diagnosis. After all, I have a granddaughter with celiac disease; I have the right genetics to develop celiac disease; I have the symptoms when I eat gluten; I already have MULTIPLE autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto's thyroiditis which is frequently associated with celiac; I have osteopenia and several nutritional deficiencies that show in my other words, I have all of the risk factors and indicators. I just don't have the antibodies or the villi damage! And that can be due to the prednisone I'm taking.

OK...I accept it. I do have celiac disease, confirmed by dietary response and other factors.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Am I a celiac? Or not?

Well, we just don't know for sure! And apparently we never will! :(

I saw my GI doctor this week, and he told me that my biopsy showed no damaged villi. Which is good, of course. And of course my earlier bloodwork was negative for celiac disease....they didn't find any antibodies.

BUT I do have one of the celiac genes (HLA DQ8), and the doctor explained that because I'm on high doses of prednisone and Imuran, he would expect the bloodwork and biopsy to be negative even if I do have celiac disease!

So after all of that, he can't definitively rule out celiac disease! Especially because of my dietary responses to being on gluten and the being off gluten. He says that I could be gluten intolerant and not celiac, but he suspects that I do have celiac disease, for several reasons, including my predisposition to develop all sorts of autoimmune diseases at the drop of a hat (celiac disease would be my 6th diagnosed autoimmune disease!).

In any case, it is absolutely certain that I must be gluten free, whether I'm gluten intolerant or have full-blown CD, because the treatment for both conditions is the same: STAY AWAY FROM GLUTEN!

I guess I'm disappointed because I wanted a "firm" diagnosis....this feels a bit "soft" around the edges.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meals and Meal Planning

I think I need to start actually planning my meals in advance and sticking to the plan. Lots of the bloggers I follow do this. It's just hard for me to commit to following a menu plan! Mostly because I never know exactly how I'll be feeling in the evening (fibromyalgia, etc.).

Well, here is a list of my recent meals...this isn't exactly a menu plan. I need to write this stuff down BEFORE I cook it! LOL! Oh, well. Maybe this is the first step.

Recent Meals:

  • Saturday: Breakfast was scrambled eggs, bacon and Pamela's gluten free pancakes with homemade syrup. We had broiled lamb chops, twice-baked potatos, and miscellaneous veggies for dinner.
  • Sunday: Pizza omelette for breakfast (marinara sauce, pepperoni, mozzerella, parmesan, mushrooms, garlic), and Mrs. Leeper's Gluten Free Chicken Alfredo plus salad for dinner.
  • Monday: Cottage cheese for breakfast, leftover Chicken Alfredo for lunch; dinner was grilled polish sausage and a baked potato.
  • Tuesday: Cottage cheese for both breakfast AND lunch, Mrs. Leeper's Gluten Free Beef Lasagna plus garlic peas and mushrooms for dinner.

By the way, Mrs. Leeper's is a brand sold at our local Whole Foods Market in the gluten free section. It's kind of like a gluten-free Hamburger (or Chicken or Tuna) Helper. It's not too bad, but I usually add things to it, like spices or herbs or Parmesan cheese or something to liven it up a little.

Clearly I've been taking it easy in the kitchen for the past few days. :)

I want to make a breakfast dinner, and some sort of crockpot dinner or two. We need nice warm comfort food; it's been COLD here...tonight we may get snow down to 1500 feet or even lower, which means that it may snow here in Glendora!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reality check

I have to admit that I'm a bit disappointed that ALL of my symptoms haven't magically disappeared in the nearly two weeks that I've been gluten free. I haven't popped up out of my wheelchair and walked a mile or two. In fact, some of the symptoms that initially were gone have returned (they aren't as bad as they used to be, though), such as the vertigo and headaches....I'm still experiencing these occasionally now.

I know that I have to be realistic, that it takes time to heal, and the time it takes is an individual thing. Others have posted their experiences, and although some have been MUCH better in a matter of weeks, many seem to take months or even years to see really significant changes in the way they feel. It's even possible to feel worse for a while after going gluten free, because you're going through a "withdrawal" period....gluten can act like a drug to some people.

Patience is not one of my primary personality characteristics, but I'm in this for the long haul, so I have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, so to speak. Whatever happens, happens!

I've thought a little bit about how I will feel if I don't end up entirely and completely well, even after a couple years on the diet. What if I still need a wheelchair at that point? But I've realized that any improvement in my health will be enough to keep me going. And I'm already experiencing some improvement, particularly in my energy levels and my neurological and gastric symptoms. So I really shouldn't complain, but rather count my blessings!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

OK, what have I been eating lately? Updates....

Well, over the weekend I made an AWESOME meal. I followed the recipe for a classic French dish called cassoulet from Erica's blogsite. It's a sort of country French stew made from meat (frequently both sausage and poultry, as in this version), vegetables and white beans. It made enough to feed an ARMY!

We ate it and then worked on the leftovers for three days, plus I took it to work for lunch. We still have a container in the freezer, enough for another meal! See below for a picture of the cassoulet (polish sausage, chicken, white beans, tomatos, carrots, onions, etc....YUM!).

On Wednesday this week I decided to eat at El Pollo Loco for lunch. I had corn tortillas and two small chicken breasts. Unfortunately I think I was glutened by the chicken....not because of any ingredients in the chicken itself but due to cross-contamination from the grill.

Wednesday night I made fish tacos: I microwaved tilapia fillets brushed with butter and sprinkled with a Key Lime flavored pepper blend, then broke the fillets into chunks and put them into freshly cooked corn tortillas (fried in a little oil) with salsa, cheese and sour cream. Those tacos were very good and very easy to make.

I woke up this morning (Thursday) with a severe headache, probably from being glutened on Wednesday by El Pollo Loco. I was exhausted all day and fell asleep in my office at one point.

In any case, when I got home today I decided to try making a gluten free pizza for dinner. Here is the recipe for the crust; I used Hormel pepperoni (which is supposed to be gluten free), bacon, mushrooms, green onion, mozzerella, Parmesan, and Newman's Own Marinara Sauce (gf of course). It was fabulous, if I do say so myself; the crust was very good. I doubled the crust recipe and used a medium-sized cookie sheet/jelly roll pan. I baked the crust at 425 degrees for 14 minutes, pulled it out and put the sauce and toppings on and baked for another 16 minutes or so at 350 degrees. The crust came out quite thick and crunchy on the edges....really nice! I think that next time I will either make 1 1/2 times the recipe so the crust is a bit thinner, or 3 times the recipe and make TWO pizzas.

How to liberate your kitchen from gluten...

As promised, here is at least a partial list of things that should be replaced along with things that will probably be OK; I borrowed part of this from the Gluten Free forum at and added to it:

  • Non-stick pans usually need to be replaced, as they often have scratches that could harbor gluten.
  • Same goes for plastic storage or utensils.
  • Wood cutting boards and spoons really should be replaced.
  • Toaster MUST be replaced.
  • There is some controversy as to whether stoneware or iron skillets can be cleaned sufficiently.
  • Plastic colanders and mixing bowls definitely should be replaced.
  • Sponges and scrubbers should be replaced. Dish towels and hot pads as well (I doubt that simply washing in the washing machine can really eliminate gluten completely)
  • Clean out your cupboards and wipe them down thoroughly. Throw out all gluten-containing products (or give them to neighbors/family).
  • Wipe down all kitchen counter space and clean the stove and oven very well.
  • Clean out the fridge and freezer and wipe down. Throw out all gluten-containing products (or give them to neighbors/family).
  • Stainless steel pots and pans are long as you clean them extra well.
  • Glass and corningware is fine.......same as above.
  • Cookie sheets and other metal pans can be covered in foil or parchment or silicon sheets if you don't want to replace them.
I have not actually done all of this yet, because DH wants to eat the gluten-containing foods himself (doesn't want to waste food). The only problem with that is that the longer gluten exists in my kitchen the more chances there are for me to be glutened accidently. And I suffer for days afterwards when I'm glutened.

I think I might start getting rid of things slowly anyway..... :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I seem to have been glutened...? Or maybe not.

I woke up this morning still feeling better in general than I have in a while. However, I'm experiencing some of the vertigo that I thought was gone! Is this a sign that I've been glutened or is it just the fibro acting up and maybe has nothing to do with what I've been eating?

I don't know if I should just be focusing on the big picture (that I feel better in general) or if I should pay attention to each and every little piddly symptom. I know that there is still a LOT of potential gluten contamination that I'm risking every time I cook in my kitchen, because I still haven't gotten rid of all gluten-containing foods (Paul doesn't want me to, he wants to eat them up himself so we're not "wasting food"), and therefore I still haven't replaced all of my kitchen utensils, small appliances, and pots and pans that need replacing.

I plan to post a list of all of the the things one is supposed to replace when going gluten was a real eye-opener when I read it!

Eating Out Gluten Free

We went to a restaurant Thursday evening for dinner; we were able to do this because the particular restaurant we chose (The Old Spaghetti Factory) has a Gluten Free menu.

I was a bit worried because there was so much gluten at the table. Everything ordered by Paul and Matthew was regular pasta, and there was regular bread at the table. Normally I would be feeding Emma bites of bread (she LOVES bread and carbs in general!), but Paul realized that I would be contaminating my fingers and risking glutening myself, so he took over the feeding of Emma without even being asked!

I tried to be very careful to avoid touching anyone else's plate or the bread tray.

My gluten free meal was a baked chicken breast with a side of gluten free rotini made from corn flour topped with their meat sauce. The only possibilities on the gluten free menu were either my meal or a plate of just the corn rotini with your choice of 5 different not a lot to choose from. However, it was nice just to have SOMETHING I could eat at a restaurant!

There are actually quite a few restaurants out there that offer gluten free menus. So I will be able to try this again. The experiment seems to have been successful, in that I ate out and didn't have any severe consequences the next day, so I must not have been glutened, at least not to any noticeable degree.

It was a very nice evening out with the family!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Staying gluten free while BUSY BUSY BUSY!

It's tough to stay away from gluten while you're very busy. I used to be able to swing through a fast food drive-in or call in a takeout order when things got crazy, but now I have to either cook ALL the time, or I have to cook extra food when I have the chance so that I have lots of leftovers to take with me.

Of course, I'm using the latter approach. I have no choice; there are some days when I'm gone for more than 14 hours straight. On Mondays and Wednesdays (when I teach) I might leave at 8:00am and not get home until 10:00pm.

So I've been mostly eating leftovers for the past couple of days: breakfast quiche in the morning, white chili, enchiladas, and leftover thanksgiving dishes for lunches and dinners. Although last night I made gluten free pasta (Tinkyada penne) with Prego sauce. I ate leftover pasta for dinner tonight. This morning I made gluten free chocolate chip cookies for a baby shower at work (for one of my bosses); they were FABULOUS! Here is a link to the recipe (it's in post #4 in this thread from the forum at

The effects from my accidental glutening linger on.....I thought that the headache was bad, but then the gassy bloated feeling came back and today I had the big D (you celiacs out there know what I'm talking about!). So I'm very aware of the consequences of slipping up and eating gluten. I've read that you tend to become more and more sensitive to gluten as time goes on, if you remain gluten free.

Well, it's after midnight now so I really have to go to bed. More soon!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Another day gluten free

Yesterday (Sunday) was tough. The headache I woke up with evolved into the Mother of all migraines and my fibromyalgia was very bad for most of the day. I'm now certain that this was due to my accidental glutening that occurred Saturday night. I did manage to avoid gluten though, and this morning I feel better.

I made a couple of recipes that I want to share; one is a breakfast quiche....a family favorite that I've adapted to be gluten free, the other is a naturally gluten free white chili, which can be made dairy free as well, if desired (chili recipe may be found on Sandra's blog, scroll down to September 15, 2008).

Breakfast Quiche
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
10 eggs
1/2 cup Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
1 lb cottage cheese
1 lb jack cheese, shredded

Melt butter. Whip eggs until fluffy, add flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, butter, & half of shredded jack cheese. Put in 9x13 pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with remaining cheese. Bake 400 for 15 min, then lower temp to 350 and bake for 20-30 more min (until lightly browned on top). NOTE: be careful to verify that the cottage cheese and non-stick spray are both gluten free!

Popular additions/substitutions for the quiche: 1 lb diced cooked gluten free breakfast sausage or bratwurst, 4 oz can diced green chilis, bell peppers, onions or dried onion flakes, cheddar cheese or mixed cheddar/jack instead of jack cheese...use your imagination! BTW, this is my SIL's recipe; I think that a whole stick of butter is a bit much, especially with all of the eggs and cheese in there, so I've used 1/2 a stick successfully.

Creamy White Chicken Chili (picture only, see links above for recipe)

NOTE: the picture of the chili below is BEFORE adding any dairy products; it can be eaten this way, which is much lower in fat and calories. But the additions of the sour cream and heavy cream do make it a real comfort food! :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving menu and recipes

As promised, here is the complete menu for our gluten-free Thanksgiving meal; I made everything myself (except for the rolls which were gluten free cream biscuits from Whole Foods Market), with a little help from DH, Paul, who sliced mushrooms, grated cheese, and generally helped to reach things on the top shelves (I'm 5'3" and he's 6'2"). I have a wheelchair with a seat that elevates several inches, which enabled me to cook while sitting down (still necessary, unfortunately).
  • Turkey, slow-roasted with bacon (recipe is in post #10 in this thread on, see picture of bird about to go into the oven, below)
  • Turkey gravy, made with pan drippings, brown rice flour, and chicken broth. Seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Note: next time use potato starch instead of brown rice flour.
  • Mushrooms Parmesan (one of my all-time favorite holiday dishes, converted to be gluten-free, recipe below)
  • Broccoli-Cheese Casserole (one of my all-time favorite holiday dishes, converted to be gluten-free, recipe below)
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping (gluten free, casein free, egg free, soy free, recipe below)
  • Homemade Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce (recipe on the bag of cranberries)
  • Jellied Cranberry Sauce from a can (for DH)
  • Stephanie's Crockpot Mashed Potatos
  • Erica's Sausage Apple Stuffing, with ~2 Cups chicken broth added, baked in a crockpot.
  • Cream Biscuits (gluten free, purchased from Whole Foods Market)
  • Stephanie's Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Cherry Streusel Pie (used Erica's gluten free piecrust from her apple tart recipe and the cornstarch streusel topping from Roben Ryberg's book "You Won't Believe It's Gluten Free" (page 432), see pictures below of the cherry streusel pie and the pumpkin cheesecake cooling in crockpot before I added the sour cream topping).

Mushrooms Parmesan

3 T. butter
1 1/2 lbs mushrooms
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 T. butter
3 T. brown rice flour
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
salt, pepper to taste
gluten free bread crumbs

Clean and slice the mushrooms (I like the slices fairly thick myself). Melt the first 3 T. butter in a large skillet and saute the mushrooms until wilted. Drain.

Make a roux with the second 3 T. of butter and brown rice flour by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and quickly blending in the flour to form a paste; cook briefly, do not burn it! Add the heavy cream and whisk to ensure no lumps; simmer and stir until it thickens, slowly add the milk and simmer and stir again until thick. If too thick add a bit more milk. Lastly add most of the Parmesan cheese (reserve a bit to put on top) and the nutmeg. The sauce should be quite thick at this point, almost like a thick batter, because the mushrooms will still retain and release some liquid, even though they've been drained, which will thin out the sauce when they are added.

Add the mushrooms to the sauce, stir well, pour into a casserole dish and top with reserved Parmesan, gluten free bread crumbs (we used gluten free pretzel crumbs) and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly and starting to brown slightly on top.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

2 lbs broccoli florets or 3 large heads of broccoli, cut up and steamed until tender
1 1/2 cups cream of mushroom soup, gluten free (not condensed)
2 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 lbs of cheddar cheese, grated
2 jars Kraft Old English Cheese Spread
1 cup diced chives or diced green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
garlic powder (1-2 tsp)
dill weed (a few pinches)
rosemary (a few pinches)
thyme (a few pinches)
1 tsp dry mustard

Whisk the cornstarch into the mushroom soup in a medium sized saucepan, heat and stir until it thickens. Add most of the grated cheese (reserve a bit for topping), the Kraft spread, the diced veggies and seasonings to taste. Cheese sauce should be thick; if not, take out a small amount of sauce, add more cornstarch to it then add it back to the saucepan. Whisk and stir until thick.

Combine steamed broccoli with the cheese sauce mixture, add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a casserole dish, top with cheese and crushed potato chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly around the edges.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Use two large cans of yams or sweet potatos, drain and reserve juice. Mash the yams in a large bowl, add brown sugar to taste, beginning with 1/2 cup. Add a shake or two of cinnamon and ginger, plus small amounts of juice from the can until it is the proper consistency (smooth but very thick). Scrape into a casserole dish; bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then add marshmallows and bake until golden brown on top.

Vacation is nearly over!

I have to go back to work tomorrow! I'm planning to make some gluten free meals in advance to make it easier on myself.

I woke up with a headache this morning. I suspect it may be due to the accidental glutening last night when I ate a bite of a red beans and rice dish that had gluten in it. Or maybe it's because we're having a mild Santa Ana condition right now and my nasal passages and sinuses are reacting to it.

In any case, I will be posting some more recipes as I make various meals, so that I have an archive of gluten free recipes that work. I should post my Thanksgiving recipes that I adapted, too, for posterity.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Learning as I go

Well, I've been gluten free for 4 days now, and I'm starting to get the hang of it already. Lessons learned thus far:

  1. Nearly ANYTHING can be made gluten free!
  2. Try to minimize cooking and serving foods with gluten in them because it's too easy to gluten yourself. I glutened myself tonight when I absent-mindedly took a small bite of red beans and rice that I was preparing for Paul and the kids from a pre-packaged mix. Beans and rice do NOT contain gluten, of course, but the seasonings in the package had wheat products in them. I suppose I can cook things like that, but it's safer to make them gluten free myself from scratch, that way I can eat them too!
  3. Don't use brown rice flour to make gravy (too gritty); use potato starch or something like that.
  4. When making broccoli-cheese casserole, if you must use cream of mushroom soup rather than condensed cream of mushroom soup, be sure to thicken the soup with cornstarch first.
  5. Gluten free foods can make you gain weight, too. Try to go low carb as well as gluten free to lose weight (lean meat and poultry, veggies, omelettes, etc.).
Anyway, it's been fun to try different things, and to look products up on the Internet and find out that they're gluten free, or not, as the case may be.

Tonight I made turkey enchilada casserole, New Mexico style (meaning layered, not rolled up). I cut up leftover turkey into cubes (about 3 or more cups of turkey), and shredded cheddar cheese (about 4-5 cups of cheese total). I used La Victoria (one large can) and La Palma (one small can) Green Enchildada sauces, because they both seem to be gluten free, from what I could find out on the Internet and from the ingredients. Plus that's what I happened to have in the pantry! :)

Green Turkey Enchilada Casserole

Mix in medium bowl:
Cubed leftover turkey (at least 3 cups)
2/3 of the shredded cheese (4-5 cups total)
most of a drained can of sliced olives (save some for on top)
1 1/2 cups green enchilada sauce

In a 13 x 9 pan, sprayed with non-stick spray:
Coat the bottom with 3/4 cup enchilada sauce, then lay corn tortillas on the bottom, overlapping. Tear a couple of the tortillas in half so that they have straight edges to go against the sides of the pan.

Put half of the turkey cheese mixture on the layer of tortillas and spread evenly all the way to the edges. Place another layer of corn tortillas on top, pour half the remaining sauce on the tortillas. Put the remainder of the turkey cheese mix on top and cover with another layer of corn tortillas. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top, garnish with remaining cheese and sliced olives. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until the edges are bubbling and cheese is melted on top. Makes 8 servings.

It's great that so many Mexican dishes are naturally gluten free!! :)

First post

I begin this blog with high hopes, not just because of the testimonials of so many people who have found relief and improved health with the gluten free diet, but because, in my limited previous experience with living GF, I too felt better!

Here's a list of the health problems that led me to try the gluten free diet: celiac disease, autoimmune hepatitis, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and psoriasis. I also have severe fibromyalgia (with allodynia). Currently I need a wheelchair to be able to go to work (and have been using one since Memorial Day 2008), because I can't walk very far anymore due to pain issues. Also (although I was overweight before being diagnosed with some of these diseases), since June, when I started taking Prednisone and Imuran, I've managed to gain about 30 pounds (much of it in my face - the famous prednisone "moon face"). Note that the picture of me in my profile is before prednisone!!

So despite the fact that it is the holiday season, I decided to go gluten free now after all, particularly since my GI doctor ordered me to do so. I began the GF diet on November 25th, just 4 days ago. Right before Thanksgiving!!

Nevertheless, I actually managed to make a completely GF Thanksgiving dinner, and my family enjoyed it, and I had a hard time telling that everything was gluten free! I'm proud of myself and really happy that I was able to do it so easily, using recipes from various blogs and GF forums on I adapted some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes to be gluten-free, but I also used Erica's recipe for sausage-apple stuffing (except I added chicken broth and cooked it in the crockpot a la Stephanie), and I used Stephanie's recipe for crockpot mashed potatoes.

I made a pumpkin cheesecake in the crockpot too (recipe from Stephanie) and it was FANTASTIC!! Below is a picture of the cheesecake while it was cooling in the crockpot, before I added the sour cream topping. See the picture on Stephanie's site for the finished product.

I adapted a recipe for cherry streusel pie to be GF, by using Erica's piecrust for her apple tart and the cornstarch streusel recipe from Roben Ryberg's book "You Won't Believe It's Gluten Free" (page 432).

The good news is that I'm actually feeling a little bit better already! My vertigo is (almost) gone, my hands don't tremble anymore, and my blurry vision seems to have gone away too. Not only that, but my overall pain levels have been noticeably less most of the time. I've only had a couple of fairly mild headaches, instead of the kind that feel like my head is going to blow apart.

So it seems that the neurological symptoms are starting to clear up on the GF diet. Which is VERY interesting; it probably means that the celiac disease is responsible directly for the neuro symptoms.

My fibro symptoms, like the lower back pain and stiff muscles that prevent me from walking or standing for any length of time are still with me. But I hope and pray that they will diminish.