The chefs at the A Kitchen, two of whom are gluten-free, whipped up this nice plate of sauteed veggies for me for a work lunch last week. I had called a couple of days before after perusing the menu and not seeing anything that particularly screamed gluten-free and vegetarian. The woman on the phone gave me the "Oh yeah, there's plenty on the menu that you can eat." It wasn't true and I knew it, since I was looking at their menu online. But it was a work lunch and I had to go and I figured I'd just make them work that much harder when I arrived. Or I'd get a salad.
So I told the server when we arrived that I needed a gluten-free vegetarian dining experience. She was the one who told me that two of the chefs were gluten-free and she asked me enough questions about my needs to make me feel reassured that they knew what they were talking about and how to prepare the food. A Kitchen has an open design, so if I'd wanted to go watch the food being prepared, I could have. In the end I got a plate of sauteed veggies that they had on hand for their menu items -- carrots, mushrooms, ramps, yellow beets, broccoli rabe, and maybe some asparagus -- with a side salad. For the table we got two orders of fried potatoes, one of which we asked they make gluten-free. In all the food was fresh and delicious though not earth-shattering. My colleagues reported that the gluten and non-gluten spuds were similar in flavor, though those dusted in flour were apparently a little crunchier. Despite not being an "OMG that was the best!" sort of experience, it is so nice to have a reassuring dining experience from the server to the chef, whom I thanked for a nice gluten-free experience on my way out. I liked his answer: "My pleasure! I'm gluten-free too!" Or maybe he said, "No problem! I've got celiac too!" I can't quite recall. Whatever he said, it was just the right thing.
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I recently had a econversation with a Facebook friend and follower about slow recovery even on a gluten-free diet. I compiled a collection of other possible food sensitivities that may contribute to non-responsiveness. Since my presenting symptom was anemia which hasn’t significantly improved even though I’ve been gluten-free for nearly two years, I have done some reading and research on what else might be going on. I know that many people with celiac are dealing with multiple food
sensitivities. I’ve listed some below.
*Lactose intolerance: Excerpted from http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/symptomsofceliacdisease/a/Lactose.htm: Lactose intolerance is very common in people with celiac disease, but lactose intolerance in celiac disease often improves after patients have been on a gluten-free diet for awhile. Several studies have shown that untreated celiac patients have high rates of lactose intolerance. As their intestines heal on the gluten-free diet, however, their lactase-producing cells begin to function again and their tolerance for lactose-containing foods improves. In fact, some researchers recommend that patients who are lactose intolerant when they are first diagnosed with celiac disease should be retested for the condition after they’ve been gluten-free for a year. The gluten-free diet may have helped improve their lactase production to the point where they no longer need to avoid dairy products.
*Fructose malabsorption: Some fruits, vegetables and legumes that contain FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) could be the culprit. Here’s a very readable article about it, and what foods to avoid. http://www.celiaccentral.org/celiac-disease-in-the-news/Celiac-in-the-News/161/month--201004/search--FODMAPs/vobid--2556/
*Nightshade vegetables: Nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant) can be a problem especially for folks who had undiagnosed celiac for a long time. Here’s a blog post with an additional link for more info:
http://healthygf.blogspot.com/2010/03/trouble-with-nightshades.html This one would be a huge challenge for me, especially given all the salsa I eat!
*Lectins: There are also some indications that lectins are the problem. Lectins are proteins found in ALL foods, but more so in all grains (not just wheat), nightshades, dairy and legumes. Yikes! Here’s an article that tells more: http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html
*Coffee: Apparently there is a protein in coffee that cross-reacts with gluten: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/gluten-issues-or-celiac-dont-drink-coffee/
This is a lot, I know. Besides waiting and seeing how well you heal on the gf diet, it could be that the best way to proceed is to do an elimination diet. Get advise from your doctor, of course, but I like the info on Livestrong.com, so here are their suggestions: http://www.livestrong.com/article/283008-elimination-diet-instructions/
In my ecookbooklet and elsewhere in my blog I talk about a 14 day detox/cleanse from PEERtrainer that I thought was pretty helpful. It suggests eliminating foods that tend to create health challenges: Gluten (of course), soy, eggs, corn and peanuts. Most folks connect this sort of thing with weight loss, but I think it could also help with restoring good gut health. http://www.kickstartcart.com/app/?Clk=4653136
I guess the real moral to the story is that our bodies are whole systems and that there may be no one single solution to finding our ways to optimal health. Because my numbers and my recent endoscopy and colonoscopy indicate that my GI system has healed, I don’t think my anemia situation is related to the above issues, so my investigation continues (Next stop, the gynacologist. Promises to be as much fun as the GI doc!)
Anyone out there with stories and a about slow healing even on a strict gf diet?
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My boys (not average, I've been informed, but I think typical is accurate)
recently sampled two gluten free frozen pizzas. They were nearly identical in
size -- about 10 inches across -- despite Udi's larger box. Three Bakers claimed
that their pizza was 3 servings at 250 calories each, Udi's said their pizza was
2 servings at 320 each. Either way, this is no diet food. I read ingredients
more closely at the end and discovered that Three Bakers contains gelatin,
making it not a vegetarian food, and frankly, if I had realized that at the
outset, it wouldn't have been part of the taste test. But I didn't, and I did,
and so there you have it.
While I don't want to spoil the ending on the taste test, I will say that both pizzas were way better than Amy's gf vegan pizza, whose crust was a little too thin and easy to overcook, and with the vegan cheese just not very tasty. It's not really comparing apples to apples in that case, but I think my experience with Amy's helped me decide that I'd need to relax how strict I am with cheese. Any pretty much the only dairy I eat these days is cheese on pizza, and now and then some Greek yogurt on my
brother's recommendation as a possible solution to staving off my propencity for snacking in the evening.
But I digress. On with the taste-test!
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The Philadelphia Gluten-Free Potluck Meetup Group joined with the Greater Berks County Gluten Free Social and Support group (and unofficially the Gluten-free in Delaware County Meetup group, since we have three crossover members!) for lunch at Tomato Bistro at 102 Rector Street Philadelphia's Manyunk neighborhood (19127) for pizza and fun yesterday. We had a good time as always, laughing, sharing and talking about FOOD! Thanks to Jessie and Cathy for organizing, and thanks to Cathy for always remembering to take pics (and I'm sorry I didn't remember to offer to take one with her in it again this time.)
Corley came along (he LOVES pizza), and even though he got his very own whole gluteny pie, I did ask him on camera what he thought of the gf white pizza. Short and sweet, here it is.
I enjoyed the pizza, and it was fun being with a group of gf folks so we could order a bunch of different kinds and all get to try them. The pies are decidedly gourmet. The one that I didn't try had duck on it, and we had a fig and bacon sans the bacon, a margarita pizza, a veggie pie that we made up (asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, onions and some other stuff) and a fancy white pizza. It was all very good, but I especially appeciated the care they took in preparing and serving it to avoid cross-contamination with glutenous pies. They even brought out never-been-used-before disposable pizza cutters for us to us (I brought one home, so maybe not so disposable.) Oh, and the salad was delish!
One challenge my family has is deciding where to eat out as a family. The boys' favorite place is Olive Garden because of the endless breadsticks and salad in addition to a big serving of cheesy pasta. Olive Garden does have a gf menu, but frankly their gf vegetarian pasta options are nothing I want to spend $10 on, and so when we go there I eat copious salad with dressing on the side and wish I had better gf options. Corley allowed that Tomato Bistro would definitely be a place he would be open to going out to eat at with the family (Jules Thin Crust Pizza most definitely DID NOT get that vote -- the pizzas were too skimpy and fancy for my voracious and basic pizza eating kids), so that is truly a ringing endorsement.
A final word is that I actually like the crust at Seasons and Uno's Chicago Grill better, but family experiences at both weren't that great and they didn't get the "Best Place to Take a Mixed Gluten Requirement Family Award." I'm not sure Tomato Bistro will get that award either (eating with a family in Manyunk has challenges that are not related to Tomato Bistro at all, like crowds and parking), but it's definitely still in the running. All in all, a nice and delicious outing at a place that really knows how to take care of its celiac and gluten intolerant customers. [Oh, and Sunday Nights are Gluten Free Nights at TB -- I'll have to check it out sometime!]
[May is Celiac Awareness Month, and I’m giving away copies of my ecookbooklet: So What CAN You Eat? Gluten-free Paleo Vegan (mostly) Recipes for Health and Weight Loss, to all who join the mailing list. Visit the homepage here. 19 fast, easy recipes!]
Another gluten-free product review. Scott does like a nice bowl of granola, so here he samples Bakery On Main's Fiber Power granola and Udi's Original Granola. I paid about the same amount for them at Martindale's, but Udi's typically runs a bit less. Scott was definitive in his choice, but I have to admit that I disagree with him. I liked the other one MUCH BETTER. Watch and see what pleases an 8-year-old. And say hi to our dog Bugsy.