There's fairly significant marketing campaign out there about an on-line Gluten Summit taking place the week of November 11 - 17th. There are some excellent speakers lined up, including Dr. Alessio Fasano and Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD. There are also some interesting and possibly controversial speakers on the line up, including Wheat Belly author William Davis, MD. Signing up is free, and the replays will be available for free during a 24-hour on-line replay period. The organzer of the event, Dr. Tom O'Brien, will package and sell the recording of the summit afterwards if you are interested. I participate in webinars like this with some regularity -- do know that they will have your email address and won't be afraid to use it! I have not had any trouble getting myself removed from lists after the fact, but just be aware. Click here for more info and to register.
I am right on track in my recovery from surgery. I have another three weeks to heal before I can resume my former activity level. It has been interesting for me to discover how restless I can become in a fairly stress-free, exercise-free environment, so today I gave myself a list of low-key, 15-minute-or-less tasks to keep me energized and engaged. One of the tasks was to create something cool from a remarkable-looking leaf that my 9-year-old son Scott found yesterday. I had fun thinking about where to take the pic and imagining the possible sources of quotes that might fit how I'm feeling and that would work with the leaf. I settled on a brick background and a Richard Bach quote. He was a big favorite with my dad, and thus a big favorite of mine.
Below is my creation. I share it with you for a couple of reasons.
1) Why not? It's kinda fun and I offer the sentiment to you as you need to hear it. It's from Bach's book Illusions. I wrote a paper about it (and Jonathan Livingston Seagull and A Gift of Wings) for my high school AP English class, and I re-read it every couple of years.
2) Steal the idea! Keep an eye out for hidden treasures and photograph them. I pretty much guarantee that if you look for cool stuff, you will find it. (That's the "allowing" part.) Share your creations with others. It'll make you happy. Or at least, happier.
Okay, maybe it's cake without icing. I made this really good... ah... item this morning. I thought about doing it in muffin form. I like muffins. But we're out of the nice foil muffin cups that I prefer. I've found that gf baked items tend to stick to paper muffin cups (especially since I usually cut the amount of butter or oil in the recipes I borrow from.) I've been planning on buying some silicone muffin cup things, but I just haven't yet. Anyway, I decided to do it in a loaf pan. I don't really like the word loaf to describe something that was as light and fluffy and moist and sweet and tasty as this was. So I'm going with "bread." Truth be told, it's probably cake. Whatever. Totally delicious, whatever you call it.
Orange Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Bread
1 3/4 gluten-free flour blend (I'm still liking Arrowhead Mills the best -- it comes preloaded with xanthan gum)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (if your flour blend doesn't have it, like Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup mandarin oranges, drained (save the juice)
1/4 of the juice from the mandarin oranges
3/4 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla flavored because we accidentally bought the wrong kind and it's what was in the fridge)
1 stick melted butter
1/4 cup fresh cranberries
6 Xocai Omega squares broken into pieces, or approx 1/3 cup dark chocolate in chip or chunk format (the Omega Squares, in addition to their dark chocolatey goodness, have an orangy thing going on, so they are the perfect pairing for this cake-bread. So good. No lie.)
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 5 X 9 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Thoroughly combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a blender, combine the mandarin oranges and juice, almond milk, melted butter, eggs, and cranberries and blend until smooth and a little frothy, (my blender did it in about 5 short-to-medium pulse bursts.). The cranberries and oranges should fairly obliterated. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Don't over mix -- the batter is really sticky and will only get more so. Fold in the chocolate. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan (this bread was pretty puffy going into the pan and didn't rise much, so you could use any pan that could fit the batter, just keep an eye on it while baking.) Bake for 40 - 50 minutes, until the top is browned and springs back when lightly touched. Remove from the oven and let stand 15-20 minutes. Enjoy it warm. Then enjoy it again later at room temperature. Grudgingly share it with your loved ones, even the ones that don't have to eat gluten-free, because you love them so much. Wish you'd made more so that you could have it with your lunch the next day.
My LAVH surgery (hysterectomy) last week was by all appearances a success: My uterus and cervix are no longer with me, but my ovaries are, which means that menopause will come at its own sweet pace. I'm not in a rush for that!
I learned that morphine gives me a wanging headache and nausea. I have learned that I am not alone with these side effects. Why, oh why haven't they come up with some different pain med to start with?
I also learned that distraction, meditation and sleep are darned effective pain management techniques themselves. Whew!
The day after surgery, I felt pretty lousy. Abdominal pain, headache, nausea. I knew I'd feel better at home. The requirements for getting released? 1) Walk; 2) Pee; 3) Eat solid food and keep it down. I figured I could handle #1 and #2, but #3 was going to be a challenge, both from a physical point of view and a logistics point of view. From my pre-hospitalization research, I knew that most of my friends and acquaintances with celiac advised that I not trust the hospital food service to not cross contaminate. I learned from the dietitian at the hospital that they (think they) have pre-packaged gluten-free breads, chips, and cookies, plus they could steam vegetables, etc, and that they would be willing to go to great lengths to bring me whatever would be suitable. That sounded promising, but I decided to not trust them anyway, and I brought a pureed pumpkin soup and a pureed squash soup from Trader Joe's and a microwave-safe bowl so that if I wanted it, my partner Jenn or a nurse or aide on the floor could nuke it for me. I still felt pretty queasy, but I thought I could manage the soup long enough to get out of the hospital. By this time I had been off the morphine for about 12 hours, and I was loaded with anti-nausea medication, so I figured I had a 50-50 shot at success. Unfortunately the nurse ruled that pureed soup didn't count as solid food and that I'd need something more.
Argh! Should have brought some gluten-free crackers! The hospital's food service machine was invoked to see what might be on hand. I was actually quite surprised that in less than half an hour a gluten-free vegetarian tray of solid food appeared. The broccoli and green beans were WAY overcooked, so I'm guessing that they didn't boil 'em up special for me, increasing the possibility of cross-contamination. They did bring packaged and clearly marked potato chips and cookies, which turned out to be my ticket home.
So, my advice to you for your next hospitalization: Like me, you may not be interested in food at all, but take something just in case. I had a gf clear broth that Jenn brought for my liquid diet day, and comforting sounding soups for my solid food day. I wish I had packed some mild gf crackers, since hospitals and nurses seem to understand that crackers = solid food. I think that hospital food service will get more responsive over time, but the distance between the room and the kitchen is a very wide gulf and there is no real way to reassure a gluten-intolerant patient that food handling procedures are safe. I'd actually suggest to any hospital listening that they do like the airlines and get hermetically sealed microwavable gluten-free meals to increase the consumer's confidence in the product.
My surgery +5 day postscript is that I am amazingly uninterested in food. I'm not hungry and nothing sounds good. Coffee is gross. Sleep, meditation, distraction and pain meds are very popular with me right now. I know this is temporary, so I'm trying to appreciate the gift of enforced rest and all of the warm wishes from family and friends.