Saturday, May 22, 2010

What is an Allergy?

Every day I like to log on the the New York Times Website and read the latest articles in the Health section. It doesn't matter if it's about nutrition r fitness, I just love to read up on the latest studies, findings and theories. One that really caught my eye last week was an article about allergies and how common (or rather, uncommon, they actually are).
While I personally don't have a gluten ALLERGY, my intolerance, and the effectiveness of a gluten free diet, are very real. The symptoms are undeniable, and I just feel all around more healthy without gluten. I also have come to find that eating unprocessed foods is the best route. Although there are times I can't deny certain gluten free brownies, for the vast majority of the time I really try to eat whole, unprocessed foods.
So while allergies may not be statistically "real" for people based on blood tests, the benefits of eating whole, unprocessed foods, and acknowledging an intolerance to food is largely beneficial to anyone and their health.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Want to eat Breakfast?

One of the most difficult things for me when I first was adjusting to my gluten and dairy free diet, was making breakfast. I grew up in a cereal or bagel house. Every morning my brothers and I can choose from tons of cereal, or, it we had tons of time, we'd eat bagels with butter or cream cheese. Both of these options were immediately out for me.
Fortunately, at least at the beginning, it was summer and I had more time to figure some cooking out. I remember the first morning I ate fried eggs, not realizing that scrambled eggs didn't need to have milk in them. For the first couple of weeks I probably ate eggs every morning. This habit, however, could not persist. Apart from the high cholesterol associated with eggs, I simply wouldn't have the time to make them every morning.
After A LOT of studying, I decided that the questionable oats would be okay for me to eat. I still don't get instant rolled oats, I need to get the Irish oats, but they have become an absolute lifesaver.
My first time cooking them was a stressful experience, with several phone calls to my mom, but now that I've gotten the hang of it, I can't imagine my mornings without beloved oatmeal.
Typically on Saturday or Sunday I'll make a big batch of the Irish oats, and then keep it refrigerated so that in the morning I can just pop it in the microwave. The oats get a strange consistency in the fridge, so it's important to combine them with liquid and mix it up so that they're more like traditional oatmeal after reheated. I like to add some almond milk with mine, and stick it in the microwave for about 90 seconds.
Here are a couple of combinations I've put together with my oatmeal to make it extra tasty every morning!

1. Banana and Peanut Butter Oats
After I reheat my oats with the almond milk, I add in:
- 1 mashed banana (mashing it up makes it easier to mix in all the way with the oats and it releases a great sweet flavor that's my favorite!)
- 2 teaspoons of flaxseed meal (flax seed meal is an AMAZING source of fiber, which is very important with breakfast, also, the flaxseed adds a nutty taste that combines really well with the peanut butter)
- 1 teaspoon of peanut butter (I firmly believe that peanut butter makes EVERYTHING more delicious :) )
Mix all the ingredients together and it makes for an ABSOLUTELY delicious breakfast!

2. Applesauce Oats
This one is a little more involved if you want to make the applesauce from scratch. Normally what I've done is I make the applesauce when the oats are cooking.
To Make Applesauce:
- Cut up as many apples as you want (I normally do about 4) and put in a casserole dish
- Cover apples with almond, soy, or rice milk
- sprinkle cinnamon over the apples and milk
Then put the dish in the oven at 375 or 400 degrees, depending on your oven, for about 35 minutes, or until the apples are softened.
you can mix the applesauce with your oats and it is amazing! This was one of my favorites in the fall!

3. Honey & Raisin Oats
This one is my dad's favorite. It's really easy, and can even be cooked into the oats when you initially make them so that you can just reheat and eat thereafter.
What I usually do is reheat the oats with almond milk and add:
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- 2 tablespoons of raisins (or as many as you want)
Even though its easy, it's still really good!!

These are obviously just suggestions for what have worked for me, but it's so nice to have "cereal" back in my life! It may take about 90 seconds longer than just pouring a bowl with milk, but it definitely is still tasty and easy, which is important when you're on the go and don't want a huge clean up afterward!

I think I'm off for some banana and PB!

Monday, May 10, 2010


In this first post I've decided to include some details about how my gluten and dairy free diet came into my life, how I've adapted, and my inspiration for writing this blog.

1. Gluten Filled Life
This time last year I was living in Paris, eating lavish amounts of freshly baked baguettes and brie cheese. I also did some traveling to Italy, where I had pasta, pizza, and gelato. Needless to say, I very closely followed Elizabeth Gilbert's "no carb left behind" diet while traveling around Europe, much to my body's dismay.
When I returned from Europe I was EXTREMELY tired. Initially I thought it was jet lag, then maybe Paris withdrawl, but after a month of persisting exhaustion, along with the inability to lose weight (despite abandoning my rich diet and introducing a serious exercise regimen into my life), among other symptoms, I visited the doctor. Fortunately for me, my doctor treats patients very progressively, chiefly working to find cures through nutrition rather than introduction of drugs and supplements. It was at this meeting that I was first introduced to the word "gluten."

2. Weaning myself off of Gluten and Dairy
After an entire summer's worth of blood tests, elimination tests, and other hospital tests, my doctor and I came to the conclusion that gluten and casein was the source of my discomfort and therefore should no longer be in my diet.
While it may seem cut and dry, I by no means have had an easy time with my diagnosis. Chief among my frustration is the fact that while my body is intolerant of gluten and dairy in terms of how it is able to process food, I don't immediately feel sick after eating a bread crumb. Sickly, I am envious of people who do have such severe and definitive reactions.
I've also certainly had my "falling off the wagon." In February a friend and I traveled to New Orleans. I decided to have a "diet free" weekend (i.e. gluten and dairy filled, complete with King Cake, Po'boys, Fried Chicken, and Pizza) This is when I learned my lesson and had my intolerance re-affirmed.
Ultimately, I am grateful for this experience because it really showed me that I am, in fact, intolerant of gluten and dairy, and I really do feel better without either of these things in my system.

3. Inspiration for writing this blog
After my diagnosis last summer, I was desperate for any and all information. I spent countless hours googling "gluten" "dairy" "restaurants", etc., checked out every book there was on gluten from the library (I believe there were 6), and spoke to anyone who had ever even heard the word "gluten" before. Although I did learn A LOT, I still felt starved for information about being gluten AND dairy free. All of the research I did left me to discover that people who can't eat gluten eat copious amounts of dairy, and vice versa. I couldn't find any blogs about people with a similar experience, and all the information I found when searching "gluten and casein free" came up with information on Autism Spectrum Disorder (which I will talk about at some point in this blog). What I really wanted to learn was:
a.) Basic recipes that were gluten and dairy free
b.) Information on how to eat out
c.) How to go grocery shopping
d.) How I could go grocery shopping without spending exorbitant amounts of money, or feeling like I had to buy specialty products.
Mostly, I had to learn all of this on my own. Having been through the experience, and still learning every day, I want to share the information I have acquired.

Some facts that may inspire you to follow my example (I hope!)
a.) I have found (and made up) TONS of recipes that are really simple, delicious, and nutritious
b.) I am able to eat out regularly with my friends and let them choose the restaurants. Sometimes I run into problems, and oftentimes I don't have a large variety from which to choose, but I have even travelled to Istanbul, Turkey, and Cancun, Mexico (where I can't communicate my allergy) and have been successful in finding something to eat.
c. + d.) I easily go grocery shopping every week (I love it!), spend roughly $25 to $30 a week (which is relatively cheap), and, after many hours of studying ingredients, can quickly buy different delicious items with no problems!

*note - in my blog I use casein and dairy interchangeably. I'm still trying to figure out the distinction, but have been told by eliminating cow's milk, I escape my risk of consuming any casein.