Friday, October 28, 2011

New Job!

In case you haven't already heard, I have a new JOB! It's kinda crazy because I wasn't looking for a "new" job... I have had my own business for about 3 years and really enjoyed that! However, the opportunity presented itself and I took it! I am continuing to do what I love, which is event planning, with The Happy Catering company. I have been there about 3 weeks and am thoroughly enjoying it.
Now that I have been diagnosed and have started a GF diet, I have A LOT more energy than I think I have ever had... However, I am still not 100%....wondering when that will happen (after the extra 1000 units of B-12 every day for a year?). Anyway, working from home was great when I was sick and didn't have much energy- now, working all day, everyday- although a little draining (normal)- is very enjoyable!

I did go back to the doctor for my 3 month check up and he put me on an iron supplement and extra b-12 vitamins on top of my daily vitamins. Like I said, I'm still not completely 100% full of energy- i could totally take a nap every day. BUT working all day makes for a good nights sleep! My mom and I have been discussing how different life could have been if the UAB Hematologist that I saw when I was 18 would have searched for a REASON I was iron-deficient instead of just give me an iron transfusion and daily supplements and send them on my way. Not sure if Celiac would have shown up then, but who knows. Always trust your gut when seeing a doctor- its our new motto. If you have more questions and aren't satisfied with what they say, then seek out other options.

Hopefully I will post more often- I am super excited about helping with the Great Gluten Free Expo that is coming to Birmingham in February! If anyone wants to volunteer, let me know!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I've been eating a lot of potatoes! HA. I am bad about getting on a kick with something in particular and wearing it out. Baked potatoes are great because you can put basically anything on them. A bag of about 12 was 3.99 at Publix last week. I also never cooked them in the microwave, until now. If I am planning ahead I will bake them in the oven (it takes an hour and heats up my house), but if I'm in a hurry, I don't mind them in the microwave. Of course cheese, sour cream, and butter are always good- but I usually add broccoli, or mushrooms and onions- peppers, tomatoes- Chicken! ANYTHING. Also, I went to Purple Onion and got the Veggie Baker ( and took it in to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch football, because they have absolutely nothing gluten free besides lettuce). It was DELICIOUS. (probably fattening, but yummy!). A good change from a salad.

I just looked up the nutritional facts of a baked potato and it has some interesting information: Potatoes are a great source of potassium, folate, and vitamin c- which are all non-absorbed nutrients when you have Celiac disease and aren't on a GF diet.
So if you load it down with some yummy veggies (cooked in light oil or steamed), and some I can't believe its not Butter, and light Sour Cream- and just a little shredded cheese- You are looking at a pretty good meal!

I also chopped some up and roasted them with a little rosemary and oil- and they were delicious- even for breakfast the next morning with some cheese and ketchup (smothered, covered?)!

I have also made Potato skins! YUMMY. Great snack for a football party or app for a dinner party. I love these.

I also love a sweet potato. I can't wait to make sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving! This year I will substitute corn chex for the corn flakes that go on top!

Sweet potato fries are the next best thing. I haven't completely perfected homemade ones, but I will. They are my favorite!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Away From Home

Last weekend, I was in my friends Katey and Jules's wedding in Charleston, South Carolina. I absolutely love Charleston- in fact, I almost moved there back in 2009...Anyway, I have been there about 6 times I believe, and just love going to visit Katey there. Not only is the city beautiful because its surrounded by water, but its old town charm and history is intriguing as well. Not to mention the culinary aspect of the town too! I wish we had had more time to explore the restaurants this time...but that will have to be another trip!

Traveling is definitely challenging on a GF diet...but not impossible, I have found out. A few weeks ago, we went to Orlando for the bachelorette party--we took a lot of our own food and I stocked up on my GF snacks- apples, cereal, protein bars, Udi's blueberry muffins! We had dinner out on Saturday night and I was able to get plain grilled chicken and veggies. I did have to endure everyone eating some fried goodness for apps, but I made it through with my Pinot Grigio in hand =) I was overwhelmed by how helpful they were at Disneyworld when we went to get lunch. We found a place that offered a taco salad (which is usually a go-to at most restaurants), and I quickly found someone who knew allergen info and was able to special order my meal- I got nachos instead- the tostito chips came in a separate package with a cup of the taco meat. He had showed me the ingredients in the taco seasoning- and they looked ok to me (however Im not so sure afterwards)- Then you could add your toppings at the bar- I found some cheese and sour cream. He had told me that their salsa was NOT GF, which was weird, but whatever- I trusted him. Anyway, I may not have eaten exactly the right thing, but the fact that they were so helpful really made me feel so much better.

I appreciate my friends for being accommodating and helpful during that experience!!

This past weekend was a little different considering I had most of my meals provided for me. I took a basket of snacks and I definitely ate most of what I brought! Saturday night's after rehearsal dinner was a buffet and I was able to eat a few things- at least I didn't starve. Sunday, we were at the wedding venue all day, so they provided lunch for everyone. Again, I could have cheese and fruit (not starving again!). The pimento cheese sandwiches looked very good though.
Since we were at the house while the caterer's were prepping in the kitchen, I was able to ask them some questions! By wedding time, I was very hungry- but luckily was able to par-take in the sliced steak and mini stuffed potatoes! I also had some salad, and sauteed shrimp. Everyone's plates with the yummy mac and cheese and BBQ looked sooooooo good. I guess I'm just going to have to think differently from now on!

My advice on travelling is just be prepared! Take stuff with you and eat before you go places. Also, ask questions! I almost ate grit cakes that she said may not be ok- which I thought was strange, but oh well.
All in all-- good experience and I'm feeling much better about eating away from home.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What I know now...

6 weeks in... I'm still not feeling completely well (do I even know what that feels like?), but I do have more energy- thank you super awesome vitamins. I do feel like i'm hungry more often probably because i'm just not eating enough or not eating the right thing at the right time. I have a hard time because I have absolutely no particular either busy all day or at home all day. If I don't have time to make a meal, I will just grab something, and thats not so easy anymore. Apples, string cheese, baked lays, honey chex cereal are those go to options. Other than that, I have to actually cook something on the stove or oven and that can take up to 30 minutes. Days at home are nice because I can do that. Pretty soon I'm going to get more into making new recipes... I just have found a ton that I like that don't call for some odd ingredient that I don't have in my pantry. I make a lot of quesadillas, stir fry, nachos, salads, and just overall veggies.

I think i'm finally figuring out that I really do have to be very strict on knowing whether the food is safe or not. The past few weeks I have been a little lax on that and I think a lot of the food I THOUGHT was ok, isn't. Mostly because of the issue of cross-contamination. The ingredients can all be ok, but if it isn't made in a "safe" environment, then it could be contaminated. And with Celiacs, that actually is an issue because any trace of gluten can either make you sick or delay healing of the small intestine. I've read that people can be more or less sensitive and you just have to test different foods out to see. Publix has a list on their website with their gluten free items from the publix brand... And "mini caramel rice cakes" are listed, so I just bought them thinking they are fine! 2 bags later I read the back of the bag and it says "may be processed in an environment that also produces milk, soy, peanut, and wheat products.".....No wonder I wasn't feeling better those first 2 weeks! So that goes to show, that you really can't trust anything that says "GLUTEN FREE". You have to know for sure! Its basically just safer to go with foods that you know are naturally gluten free like veggies and fruits and dairy. I am lucky I can still eat dairy- love me some cheese! I know some people are GF, and dairy free for health purposes, but I just don't think I could do it. (but hey, didn't think I could do GF either...)

The cross-contamination issue goes further than just manufacturing plants...If you are cooking in a NON GF kitchen, you have to be extremely careful that you don't contaminate the GF item you are making! Say you are making a chicken salad and you dip your spoon in the mayonnaise jar--that mayo could be contaminated because before you made a sandwich and dipped your knife in that same jar, and oops dipped it again, therefore contaminating that jar. Or say you are buttering a pan to bake your GF cake in and you cut butter off the stick but the time before that it was used for buttering bread or a muffin.... Or the knife you are using was used to cut a sandwich right before...There are just many ways that you can contaminate that GF treat, making it not GF at all and potentially making a Celiac very sick.

Restaurants are also a HUGE cross contamination zone. Eating out is just about miserable. There are certain places I have been that have been great, and others not so much. That is for another blog post!
Chain places are easy to find allergen info and gluten free options online, but others are not that easy.
Say you want french fries...they're potatoes, they're GF, right? WRONG. Not if they are fried in the same oil as chicken battered with flour for fried chicken! Most restaurants only have one fryer so they fry everything in the same thing... fast food is a little different. Chick-fil-a fries their potatoes separate than the chicken, so fries and hashbrowns are ok! I also contacted Milo's and they also fry their potatoes separate! YAY. However, I still haven't eaten any french fries yet.
OK, so you think you are safe with a salad. Most of the time, you are. WITHOUT CROUTONS of course. But you have to be careful with your salad dressings. At any "nice"restaurant I will always just ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar and make my own...but if they don't have that you might as well eat the salad dry because salad dressings are very iffy. OR you can bring your own. And look so cute pulling your bottle of wish-bone (which are all GF) out of your purse! =)

Anyway, more about that later. Time for a salad for lunch!

***PS. Thank you to my sweet friends who made GF things for supper club the other night! I appreciate the gesture of making me feel more comfortable. Natalie made bean dip with fritos and Elaine made some chocolate and peanut butter cookies!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A new friend!

Tonight, a weird thing happened to me. I answered the phone at Dodiyos and this girl was asking me all about what was on the menu, taking up time on the phone when there was a line standing in front of me at the hostess stand...anyway, she finally asked if something was Gluten free and I was like..."No, and I know for sure because I eat gluten free as well..." And the conversation went from there....she ended up coming in right before I left to get something to eat (even though I told her that there wasn't much...) and we talked even more. She had just found out yesterday that she had Celiac and was so overwhelmed. It felt so good to sit there and just talk to her about it and let her know it was going to be ok and that its not as scary as it seems the first day. I gave her my number and email address and told her to call me or email me and we could get together and I could email her some information. I told her tomorrow was going to be busy because I was getting ready for a wedding this weekend, and she was like "Oh my gosh, I want to be an event planner and work with weddings, or catering or a planner or something!" So that was cool that we have that in common as well! I don't know much about her yet, but I'm sure she will be in touch with me and I can see something good coming out of this-- maybe my desire to help others that are going through this or just being able to talk about it with someone (I don't know anyone else with Celiac, personally!). Good feelings in my heart tonight. And I hope Casey found something good to eat at doidyos that didn't make her sick =)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The first few days...

The first few days were hard. Really hard. Not only did I not know a lot about Celiac and eating gluten-free, but no one around me did either. My mom and I were able to go to Whole Food's Gluten Free day, the Saturday after I was diagnosed. (perfect timing, or what?) We took a tour around and there was a nutritionist to answer some questions. At that point I still didn't have a clue really. I was reading all over the internet and getting false information. I read Elizabeth Hasselbeck's book "The G-Free Diet" and it helped me TREMENDOUSLY. I highly recommend this if you want to learn more. And I will probably be quoting her a lot on this blog. Its good to know that there is a "celebrity" or at least someone of influence, speaking out on this issue that affects so many.

Anyway, its been about 5 weeks and I feel like I'm getting better at knowing what is ok to eat and what is not. And I also think that I am getting a little better, and noticing more when I eat something wrong. Eating out is hard. I am pretty much trying to avoid it whenever I can. However, I have had 2 delicious meals at Highlands and Bottega (thanks to the boyfriend) and felt confident that those were prepared properly.

I think the hardest part about this whole thing is that no one really understands unless they have to go through it....which is about the same as any life-changing situation. We all at some points in our life will go through something and feel completely alone and think no one knows how we feel. But in fact 1 in every 133 people know how I feel. Celiac disease is actually very common- however either people are not diagnosed (because they went gluten-free before getting a test), or they haven't had any symptoms yet. Unfortunately, I've been dealing with my symptoms for about 2 1/2 years. I remember everyone telling me, "It's just stress", which technically, yes that is probably what "triggered" my allergy. But Celiac is genetic, and you are born with it. Which leads to the question, "why me?".

I still feel alone, in that I have to do this on my own- prepare every meal and make plans for when I have dinners out, etc. Thankfully, my mom has been eating gluten free (and low sodium) for some other reasons (thats for another post), but she will always feed me if I'm starving =) (which is very often).


Welcome to my new blog. Although I'm not new at the blog world, I am a newbie to the Gluten-free world. After many weeks of internet searches I am having a hard time finding a blog that I just LOVE. One that relates to my life-- a social southern girl who has always enjoyed the parties, restaurants, bars, and just food in general. Cheesburgers. French fries. Beer. Fried green tomatoes. Pizza. Vodka. Chocolate chip cookies. Wedding cake. Fried chicken. All of which are delicious things I have enjoyed (at one time), but are now poison to me.

As many of you know, I have been going through a life-change. At 27 years old, I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. It's been about 4 weeks since I had the testing and found out my diagnosis. And its been a rough 4 weeks.
The second week, I started writing down thoughts, foods I ate, how I felt, etc so I could look back and hopefully see progress. I have always liked to write and talk about my feelings, but for some reason, it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. There have also been some days that I couldn't even open my computer- either I was too busy, or I was too lazy.
I am going to be very vulnerable here and explain to those who want to read, my feelings as I'm going through this life change. I hope that not only my friends, but strangers even can understand how Celiac disease can affect your life. I have never been one to be this open about everything, but I feel that maybe in some sense it will be an outlet and I will get to feeling better.

I am blessed that there is so much information out there on the web where I can learn more and more everyday. And that is what I'm trying to do. And since most of you aren't out there searching "is ____ gluten free?" for everything that you put in your mouth, I will try to give you as much info as you need. You never know who you will come in contact with that has this disease- you could be hosting a party and invite a guest who is GF, you may be eating with a group at a restaurant and someone in that group is GF, your child may be in a class with another child who is GF...who knows, but I believe it is important for people to understand how this disease is affecting their life.

I hope that this blog will be informative and interesting, but if anything a way for me to let people close to me know what is going on in my life!