Welcome to my blog...I am happy you are here! I hope this site will grow in time, and will be beneficial to you as you follow your own path to better health. Please feel free to relax a while and spend a few minutes with me as I share my gluten-free adventures with you!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Today's Tidbits

Well, I know it has been a few days and I didn’t exactly fulfill my promise to myself to write something every day, because life simply got in the way. But I did experience some things this week that I’d like to take time to share with you today. 

I was married to my first husband for 23 years, and that family made an indelible imprint on my heart and will always be family to me. So I attended the funeral of a “family” member, my ex-husband’s first cousin Tom, who passed away last week. I don’t particularly like going to funerals (does anyone?) so I was a little stressed by the time I got there. But when all was said and done, I was glad I was able to go and was so moved by the service! Tommy had taken care to plan his funeral himself so that the message of God’s love, mercy and grace would be ever clear. The message, the music (he even had one of his cousins sing “The Long Black Train”), everything was perfect and touched the hearts of each in attendance. Now, I have lost friends and family before, but it always hits hardest when death takes one so young. Tommy was only 52 years old, and his loss has reminded me of the tremendous importance of taking care of my health, and the responsibility I have to make sure that I tell those I care about that I love them. So remember today to treasure family ties, nurture friendships, say “I love you” (a lot!) and do what it takes to stay healthy.  It is never too late to start!

I took my mom to Sprout’s the other day so that both of us could restock our pantries with all things gluten-free. I have found that Sprout’s is the nearest and best store locally to find anything and everything I need from A-Z, including gluten-free shampoo and conditioner. I haven’t yet tried Whole Foods Market, because it is further away from me, but my sister loves that store. So…in the near future, I will be heading to Whole Foods to give them a try. Anyway, we took our time in the store and had a very pleasant shopping experience. While we were standing in line at the checkout counter, I noticed that the woman in front of me had a lot of the same items in her basket that I had in mine, so I figured that she has at least one of the same conditions I have and I struck up conversation with her. I saw a bag of “Vegan” shredded cheese among her purchases and since I have been looking for that product (but forgot to pick any up on this trip) I asked her if she minded if I read the label on her package. When I picked it up, I immediately noticed that it said “Lactose-Free” rather than “Dairy- Free”. Sure enough, when I looked through the ingredients, this particular shredded cheese had casein in it. I put it back and made the statement that I couldn’t have it because it wasn’t dairy-free, and the woman looked at me in a panic. She was purchasing the cheese for her daughter and thought because it claimed to be lactose-free that it was also dairy-free. She quickly made her way to the vegan section and picked up the correct shredded cheese, thanking me profusely for noticing the difference. But is there really a difference between being lactose intolerant and actually being allergic to the proteins in milk? The answer to that is a resounding YES! If you are allergic to dairy, you are allergic to anything that has that protein in it. So be sure to check your labels. Just because it says it is Vegan doesn’t mean it is dairy-free (though it should be, if I understand what Veganism is all about). If it is truly dairy-free, it must not contain whey, casein, butter, milk, or cheese. If it has anything to do with milk and you are allergic to the proteins in milk, be sure to avoid, avoid, avoid! According to LiveStrong.com, the ingredients I listed above are commonly found in many foods, including most margarine, some deli meats and even tuna (who knew that?). Another ingredient to be aware of is Lactic Acid Starter Culture. Although not definite, this ingredient could be derived from milk and is commonly found in processed and cured meats such as hot dogs, bacon and deli meats. If the package does not indicate that it is not milk derived, assume it is and avoid it. Even if you find that an item does not contain any milk ingredients, look on the front of the package for a kosher certification, which will be a "U" with a circle or various graphics with a "K." This symbol in combination with a “D” (Dairy) indicates that an item may have come in contact with some dairy product. If the item is kosher "Parve" or "Pareve," with no dairy symbol, this would help ensure that the item is not cross-contaminated with milk. So what’s the bottom line? READ, READ, and RE-READ your labels!


This is a picture of Gary and me,
Taken on our favorite cruiseline -
Royal Caribbean International
Gary and I love to travel and really enjoy going out to eat. When we were in California recently, though, we found that many restaurants didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked if they had a gluten-free menu. This made going out to eat frustrating and stressful because I never knew if I was eating food that was truly gluten and dairy free. Until there is more awareness about Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, the burden of responsibility for ensuring that I eat foods that are not contaminated rests on my shoulders. So I wondered if there were any tools that I could invest in that would be helpful…especially in restaurants where English is not their first language. As soon as we got home, I began a search on the internet and was delighted to find all kinds of helpful information and free restaurant cards in 51 languages at www.celiactravel.com. The cards explain what Celiac disease is and the importance of insuring that the food you order is not cooked or contaminated with gluten. Of course, if you also have dairy allergies, the cards will not be as beneficial to you, but those of you that only have Celiac or are gluten intolerant will, hopefully, find them very useful!

If you are like us and love to cruise, be sure to check with the cruiseline on which you are booked about 45 days before your cruise to let them know of your dietary needs. When my mom sailed with us on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, the dining staff was wonderful about meeting her gluten-free needs and watching over her to ensure that she didn't inadvertently ingest something that was harmful to her. Talk about being treated like royalty!

Speaking of eating out, I had a great experience at Saltgrass Steakhouse last night. I asked for and received a gluten-free menu and ordered a steak, steamed green beans and a plain house salad. The salad was fresh and delicious, and the steak arrived just as I was finishing the salad, which I considered to be perfect timing. Much to my dismay, there were fried onion rings on my plate, so I very tactfully told the waiter that I had to return my plate to the kitchen. Since the onion rings had touched the other items on the plate, the food was contaminated and I would have to request an entirely new meal. Of course, the waiter expressed his regrets and quickly left to start all over again. But I was left wondering if he had placed my order correctly. Had he noted on the order that the meal was to be gluten-free? Within minutes the manager was at my table expressing his sincere apologies for the cook’s error. He said that the order was clearly noted as gluten-free, that they have all been trained on what to do for their gluten-free patrons and the importance of avoiding cross-contamination; and that they would be bringing me a fresh steak shortly. Before I knew it, my dinner arrived, and it was nothing short of perfect. Needless to say, I will be returning to Saltgrass and I have no doubt that my meal will be totally gluten free. If there is an error, I have every confidence that they will make it right.

I finally got up the nerve and tried my hand at making crackers, and on my first try…BINGO! I made some fabulous crackers that hit the spot when I get the munchies. Who knew that there were so many delicious foods available that are gluten and dairy free? Check out my recipe on my “Favorite Recipes” page.

Well, that’s it for now. Have a wonderful, gluten-free day!

See you soon,

Kathie Lea

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Sis! I can't wait to try this cracker recipe. Yum!