Monday, August 31, 2009

The hard part

I had a great weekend, but a much less celiac victorious one than last weekend (surprising, considering I was in nowhere New Hampshire last week, no?)

Friday night, Dan and I met some friends at Tommy Doyle's in Kendall Square. Pub type restaurants don't seem friendly to the gluten-free, so I ate beforehand. Which is good, because when I asked whether they could accommodate a gluten-free meal (just out of curiosity of course, not out of the desire for more food... um... yeah), our waitress said "um, no, I don't think we can". And then she walked off. There was no "let me ask the chef" or "let's take a look". I am always appreciative and pleasantly surprised when I find out that a restaurant either has gluten-free options or is willing to accommodate. So why did I find this so upsetting? It probably didn't help that I'd had a rough week at work and was pretty tired (could you please at least bring me my glass of wine a little faster??). Supposedly 1% of the population has Celiac disease, which between Boston and Cambridge alone means about 7,000 people. I don't expect every restaurant to be safe for us, but I guess with so many affected people I think that a restaurant should be aware of the problem and maybe a little more polite about it. But maybe that is just too much to ask.

On Sunday we went to Cape Cod for the day to celebrate my Grandmother's 95th birthday (wow, I hope I got the age gene from you, Grandma). When we arrived at the house, there was a big old box of meltaways sitting open on the counter. Do you know what a meltaway is? Well, let me show you.

Besides being all chewy, gooey, and melty, they smell darn good too. Now I know I am not supposed to be eating things like this anyway, you know what with the core and all, but for some reason it's just worse knowing that I couldn't cheat if I wanted to. So I sat in the living room with 7 other people happily munching away on these bad boys... and I ate a few pieces of fruit instead. So there.

Later we went for lunch at the Wayside Inn, which was fine. I got the spinach salad with chicken. The waitress checked with the chef to make sure the chicken wasn't marinated in anything bad. She was helpful and friendly. The food? Well, it was a spinach salad with cold chicken. Enough said.

To end the day, the group headed to the Chatham Candy Manor, which makes THE BEST fudge in the world. Bolt statement, I know... but really, this place rocks. It's been a summer staple for as long as I can remember. Summer trip to Chatham always meant a stop (or five) at the Candy Manor.
They have a little statement on gluten that you can read upon request, and while they list a few "these should be safe" items, they also clearly state that all of their chocolate uses shared equipment and they don't guarantee anything. Damn oreo fudge, you ruin it for everyone. I'm sad that this chocolate haven is a no-no for me from now on. At least I had a delicious Clif Twisted Fruit snack to satisfy my sweet craving.

That's all for now, less whining and more real recipes coming soon, I promise :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Racing and Fueling with Celiac (photos added!!)

On Sunday I had my first major race with Celiac Disease, it was a half ironman triathlon in New Hampshire. I had to switch up a lot of my carb loading, race fueling, and recovery food after I learned about my gluten problem, and this was the first time racing long distance with my new nutrition plan. I was nervous about this to say the least!! Besides the race day fueling, I wasn't sure if I would find the right stuff to eat for the 2 days leading up to the race since I was staying in a hotel and wasn't going to have access to a kitchen.

But hot dog, I found some good stuff!

Friday night called for a BIG dinner. I actually found an italian restaurant near our hotel with GF pasta, Fratello's, but they were packed to the brim with other athletes in town and the wait was way too long. So we headed over to Uno's, where they have a nice little GF menu. I had grilled rosemary chicken with rice and mashed potatoes. Yummmm!

Saturday morning means PANCAKES!! I was SO PSYCHED to find Heritage Farms Pancake House. It was incredible. They were an adorable little pancake place in the middle of nowhere. They had a great menu of pancake flavors and even let everyone choose 2 different types! For me, they had GF pancakes.... and they would even let me customize them!! I could have any of the flavors I wanted, and they would make them from scratch with a GF base. Wow. I was boring and went with chocolate chip, I was afraid something fun like pumpkin would cause some undesirable side effects on race morning :). Anyway, these pancakes were amazing. They didn't taste GF! And Tony of babyfelos even said his (non GF) pancakes were the best he'd ever had! I can't wait for a reason to be able to stop by this place again.

Heritage Farm (how CUTE is this place??):

My awesome GF pancakes:

Breakfast gang, minus Brian who was taking the photo:

The rest of the day I snacked on GF Rice Chex cereal, rice cakes, GF crackers, Tapioca Bread, and baked chips. For dinner we went back to Uno's and I had basically the same thing as Friday night, minus the rice. Not supposed to eat too much for this meal.

Race morning, I had my usual breakfast: lots o applesauce, a banana, a bottle of sports drink, and a protein shake. I had to switch my sports drink from PowerBar to Gatorade, as PowerBar drinks are not safe. I was lazy and had purchased one of the regular Gatorade bottles from the store, the purple kind, and it gave me heartburn for a little while. Next time I'll use the performance powder like I should have done!

Throughout the race, I ate Hammer Bars (chocolate chip are DELICIOUS!!) and PowerBar gels (double latte with 2x caffeine) on the bike, and Clif Shot Bloks on the run. Luckily this race offered Gatorate drinks on the course, so it was safe to drink from the aid stations. Otherwise I would have had to stick with water or bring more of my own drink mix (annoying!!).

For recovery food, I brought Hammer Recoverite since that has been working for me, but I completely forgot to have it after the race was over. Instead, I had some fruit, a Hammer Bar, and later some homemade GF peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that I had baked at home before heading to NH. They were delicious, I'll share the recipe soon.

And finally, we stopped (AGAIN) at Uno's on the way home where I had their GF pizza. So far, it's my favorite! Yum!!!

All in all, it was a great weekend and an amazing race for me. I can't even tell you how much better I am feeling these days! It was a PR for me by about 20 minutes!!!

Kudos to Kim and Tony for their great races too!!

Oh, in case you are wondering... I've abandoned the SCD diet. I will for sure still use their recipes, but it's just way to overwhelming right now. Regular old GF dieting seems to be working just fine.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's official

Biopsy results are in... Celiac it is. It's good to have a final answer and know that this diet isn't for nothing. Kind of a bummer to know that eating out will never be easy though.

So in celebration of good recipes to make from home... here is my Dad's famous teriyaki sauce. Use GF soy sauce, of course, my gluten-free friends.

We got this good looking hunk o beef this month from our CSA. Yummmm. There was so much food we had to call in backup. Thanks for sharing with us, Dave!! And I still had enough for 2 days worth of leftovers!! YUM!! It made a great lunch. Especially with the leftover sweet potatoes.

Uh huh, that looks good. Best to chop the meat up into hunks and marinade for a few hours at least. I let it go 24 hours, but a few hours will do.

Teriyaki sauce ready to go. Didn't notice a difference in flavor at all with the GF soy sauce.

1.5 cups low sodium (GLUTEN FREE, if your diet calls for it) soy sauce
3/4 cups Olive oil
2 or 3 Green Onions
Couple of cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon or 2 limes * (Dad's trick: heat the lemon in the microwave for 20 seconds
before juicing and they will release more juice. Works like a charm)
Heaping tablespoon honey or brown sugar
1/2 cup Ketchup, if you are making this for beef. Skip if you are using this for overnight.

Pour the soy sauce into a bowl and add the minced garlic, chopped scallions, lemon juice, brown sugar or honey and, if making beef, the ketchup. Mix the ingredients.

Add the olive oil in a slow trickle while whisking the mixture (or stir vigorously while adding the oil if you don't have a wire whisk). This will help the oil to incorporate with the other ingredients.

This was enough for the ~3lbs of meat we had. You can easily cut the recipe in half for more normal portions :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

The endoscopy

Ok, so normally I don't write about personal stuff on here. But, this relates to Celiac Disease, which directly affects my cooking (and eating...). And I've been getting a bunch of questions about it, so figured this would be the easiest way to share!

For those that don't know, there are a few ways to determine whether you have Celiac disease, but the only true way to tell is through a biopsy of the small intestine tissue. The reaction to gluten in Celiac patients damages the villi lining the small intestine. A blood test can determine whether your body produces a high level of the anti-tTG antibody and tell you that you PROBABLY have celiac, but only the biopsy can tell for certain. For this, they send a endoscope down your throat, through your stomach, and take a look at the small intestines.

So, after almost 2 months on a gluten-free diet, I was told to start eating gluten again to prepare for the biopsy. I was a little annoyed at the whole process, but oh well. I certainly got my fill of gluten products during the past month.

I was not looking forward to the biopsy. I had to fast for at least 6 hours with no water for the last 3 hours, and since it was scheduled for 3pm on a Wednesday, that meant 6 hours at work without food. Me without food = grumpy. Me without water = very thirsty and uncomfortable. Turns out (annoying fasting aside), that the whole experience was kind of fun. Getting wheeled around on a gurney, being hooked up to all kinds of machines... cool! I've never had anything like this done, closest thing would be getting my wisdom teeth yanked. But that doesn't count because I was in a dentist chair.

I was not going to be allowed to get myself home after the biopsy, so I had to arrange for someone to pick me up. Hello, Dan!! I drove myself to the office and parked the car, Dan would ride his bike over later. I knew I'd be given some intravenous sedation, and didn't know how out-of-it I would be after the procedure, so I texted Dan to let him know where the car was parked.

After getting checked in, I was quickly called back. An awesome nurse brought me to a hospital-y looking area with lots of beds. She told me to change into a gown and get on the wheely bed. After I did so, she started to take my vitals. A funny exchange while she was doing so:

nurse: "huh"
me: "what do you mean, huh??"
nurse: "are you a runner or something?"
me: "yes" (amongst other things)
nurse: "oh okay, phew"
me: "why??"
nurse: "your heart rate is just really low. lower than we're used to seeing. but that's okay, it means your heart is very efficient"

I would notice later that the monitor kept flashing red and beeping anytime my HR dropped below 50, which it kept doing (I was lying down!!).

After she finished and hooked me up to an IV, another nurse came to wheel me into the procedure room. I was very impressed how she was able to get that big bed around the narrow hallways so easily.

Once I was in there, they started to hook me up to more machines. They put 2 sticky monitor thingies on my chest and one on my side. They put a clip on my finger and oxygen in my nose. They sprayed the back of my throat with a gross foamy local anesthetic. Twice. After chatting with my super spunky and awesome GI doctor (thanks for the recommendation Nancy!!), a tiny little Romanian lady with crazy hair and clacky high heels, it was time to get started. The nurse who was assisting told me that she was going to start me on the sedatives, and that I'd feel the effects pretty quickly. And that I did! Weeeee!

After that... I don't remember much. At all. I vaguely remember them putting something in my mouth, to hold it open. I remember them telling me to roll on my side. And then, I remember starting to open my eyes, I was back in the staging area with all the beds, and I could see a bunch of nurses at the desk. I remember closing my eyes quickly, because I was really tired and I thought that if they saw me waking up they'd make me leave. I don't know how much time passed. Finally a nurse came and brought me some water and juice... shortly afterwards they brought me to go find Dan.

I don't even remember too much once they handed me over to Dan, I was way out of it! Good thing I told him where the car was :)

I don't have the results back yet, but the discharge form they handed me told me they took a biopsy, and that I need to go back on a gluten-free diet right away. Dan I and I decided to head out for dinner, for one last bread-filled dinner! We ended up at Bertucci's, the perfect place for the last meal ;)

Check out some photos they took while they were in there! Cool!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, a vacation from Gluten-Free living!

I was instructed to start eating gluten again in prep for a biopsy. I took full advantage! This is one awesome pineapple upside-down cake, courtesy of Cooks Illustrated. I love this recipe, it's an all-time favorite of mine.

After simmering the sugar and pineapples, collect the pineapple juice

Then cook the juice some more and then add a little butter to form the caramel topping

Pour the caramel in the prepared pan and set aside.

Get ready to put the pineapple in the pan!

Ta da! The pineapple topping is ready.

Cake batter... yum

Drop the cake batter onto the pineapple and carefully spread so that you don't disrupt the topping.

Ready to bake

Golden brown- done cooking!

Carefully, put a plate on top of the cake pan and invert. Remove the cake pan. I used a knife before inverting to loosen the sides of the cake.

Recipe, from Cooks Illustrated

Pineapple Topping
1 medium fresh pineapple (about 4 pounds), prepared according to illustrations below (about 4 cups prepared fruit)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (7 ounces)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
3/4 cup granulated sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 egg white at room temperature
1/3 cup whole milk at room temperature

1. Lightly spray 9-inch round, 2-inch deep cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. For the pineapple topping: Combine pineapple and brown sugar in 10-inch skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally during first 5 minutes, until pineapple is translucent and has light brown hue, 15 to 18 minutes. Empty fruit and juices into mesh strainer or colander set over medium bowl. Return juices to skillet, leaving pineapple in strainer (you should have about 2 cups cooked fruit). Simmer juices over medium heat until thickened, beginning to darken, and mixture forms large bubbles, 6 to 8 minutes, adding any more juices released by fruit to skillet after about 4 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla; pour caramel mixture into prepared cake pan. Set aside while preparing cake. (Pineapple will continue to release liquid as it sits; do not add this liquid to already-reduced juice mixture.)

3. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

4. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add vanilla, and beat to combine; one at a time, add whole eggs then egg white, beating well and scraping down bowl after each addition. Reduce speed to low; add about one-third of flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add half of milk and beat until incorporated; repeat, adding half of remaining flour mixture and remaining milk, and finish with remaining flour. Give final stir with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl to ensure that batter is combined. Batter will be thick.

5. To bake: Working quickly, distribute cooked pineapple in cake pan in even layer, gently pressing fruit into caramel. Using rubber spatula, drop mounds of batter over fruit, then spread batter over fruit and to sides of pan. Tap pan lightly against work surface to release any air bubbles. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack, then place inverted serving platter over cake pan. Invert cake pan and platter together; lift off cake pan. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours; then cut into pieces and serve.

To Prepare pineapple:
1. Slice 1 inch off top and bottom. Standing pineapple on one end, cut off strips of skin from top to bottom.
2. Quarter pineapple lengthwise. Place each quarter on its side and cut out light-colored piece of core.
3. Cut pineapple lengthwise into 3/4-inch strips. Turn 90 degrees and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, (or dice as recipe instructs).