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.
I had dinner at HipCityVeg, 127 S. 18th in Center City Philadelphia. The place is tiny, maybe 4 small tables plus window seating - zoned for takeout only, so no bathroom. A hostess-type person was there to answer my questions. I think her primary role is to help keep things moving along when it's busy, but it was not crowded at 5 pm so she was able to talk me through the menu at length. By 5:30, there was a line out the door.
The hostess was VERY up on issues regarding cross-contamination, steering me away from fried items since they do not have a dedicated gluten-free fryer and accurately naming gluteny items that would need substitutions or omissions. They did not have a gf-dedicated menu, but there were probably 6 or more items either gluten-free as listed or easily modifiable.
I had the curry tofu not-wrap served on a bed of spinach with sprouts, tomato, cilantro-white bean purée & cucumber raita. Delicious. It was a big serving and a great value for $8.00. All of the packaging is compostable too. Bonus!
I will return! Maybe not at peak meal hours since the little place really filled up. But there is a lot of menu there left for me to explore.
Adding greens to smoothies is, as I'm sure you've heard already, a great way to increase your consumption of those health miracle greens. I drink a green smoothie just about every morning. One version I invented is savory and uses spicy V8 juice. I like berries immensely and they make a delicious and refreshing drink. I've done a bit of experimenting with random ingredients (not a big fan of raw beets or romaine lettuce in my blender breakfast, by the way.) In my opinion, to make a tasty smoothie, you need something frozen and something with a little fat in it to make it creamy. Avocado or nuts can be good creamy ingredient for savory shakes. Banana is great for sweet ones. Until yesterday, I had never used peaches. I'm so glad a bag of the frozen beauties snuck their way into my freezer! I'm happy to share this recipe with you.
This recipe comes with three warnings:
1) If you've never used kale in a smoothie, substitute spinach instead. Kale is very good for you, but I have to admit the first time I put it in a smoothie I likened the experience to glurping down grass clippings. Yes, glurping. No lie. Spinach is also quite healthy and it liquifies in the blender. Kale just gets littler and littler. I recommend easing into the green smoothie experience with spinach, a more blender-friendly green.
2) If you have never used protein powder before, don't start with this recipe. I mean, you can, but I'd hate for you to decide that my green smoothies have a gritty or chalky taste as a function of their greenness. I started using a protein powder about a year ago to boost my, well, protein. Duh, right? I read somewhere about balance between the macronutrients of protein, carbs and fats and decided as a nearly vegan vegetarian that I could use some more grams of protein. After trying probably half a dozen varieties, I have decided I like the unflavored Garden of Life Raw Protein powder. I prefer it because it does not have artificial sweeteners or added sugar (which means I can put it in sweet and savory smoothies), it doesn't contain dairy, it has 17 grams of protein per serving, and it is of course gluten-free. It's also loaded with other good stuff that I liken to taking a nutritional supplement. Those good points don't change the inherent nature that makes protein powder a rather distinctive and to many, unpleasant, beverage additive. I think the taste is tolerable and the health benefits trump my tastebuds. You can easily leave it out of this recipe.
3) I do not really measure my smoothie ingredients. I usually make them early in the morning. I throw ingredients at the blender and see what happens. Quantities below are estimates. Please don't get mad if it's a little off. Always adjust to your own tastes. Start with less greens if they make you nervous. Use more almond milk if you prefer a thinner beverage. Experimenting can be fun. Let me know what you came up with!
1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
1 cup frozen kale
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1 medium banana
1 teaspoon of toasted flaxseeds (the ones from Trader Joe's are delicious!)
1 scoop of protein powder
Pour the almond milk and kale into the blender. Pulse and blend on high until it's a liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients a little at a time, blending after each addition. Once everything is in the blender and moving, keep blending for a 90 seconds or 2 minutes (this will feel like forever, especially if you are blending in the pre-dawn hours and everyone else in your house is still sleeping.)
Pour the contents into a glass. Drink it through a straw. Feel very satisfied and secretly nutritionally morally superior to people eating Corn Chex. Take a picture and post it on Facebook.
We had a combined Meet-up of Gluten-free Delaware County, Philadelphia Gluten-free Potlucks, and Gluten-free Philadelphia recently at Sazon, 941 Spring Garden Street, 19123 in Philadelphia. Nearly a dozen of us met for Sunday brunch and the owners Robert and Judith were prepared for us and made additional adjustments to their already plentiful gluten-free options. The fare at Sazon is Venezuelan, and while one might (rightly) think steak, they also had many vegetarian options to choose from. My sandwich, pictured at the right, was the La Selva, a "Grilled Veggie Delight: portabella mushrooms, eggplant, green pepper, tomatoes, onion and spinach infused with cilantro pesto" for $9.00. It was a towering scupture of food, impossible to eat without dissassembly. I LOVE getting a lot of food for my order! The arepa, the corn "bun" that it was served on, was an excellent delivery vehicle for these freshly grilled veggies.
And of course I ordered flan. On the recommendation of the server, I got the coconut flan. Most fabulous! Smooth, creamy, caramelly. Loved it. I also ordered a churo with chocolate sauce to take home to Jenn, who was holding down the household while I went on my gluten-free excursion. The churro, a fried dough sort of affair sprinkied with cinnamon and powdered sugar, is also gluten-free, made from yucca flour. Doughnutty delicious! I don't eat chocolate, but Sazon is known for theirs, made from actual Venezuelan cocoa beans. It smelled heavenly. Jenn liked the chocolate WITH the churro, but frankly admits that it is best appreciated with just a spoon.
I highly recommend Sazon for safe and tasty gluten-free dining! Check 'em out.
Before I got the celiac diagnosis, Seven Stones was one of those places I was pleased to have discovered and I introduced a number of friends and family to it. After diagnosis, I worried that I couldn't eat there, and frankly I didn't for more than a year. They don't appear in UrbanSpoon as gluten-free friendly, they aren't on the restaurant list of Gluten Free Philly, and so the only thing that gave me hope was their own blog/web post about their gluten free spinach and cheese quiche with corn tortillas for a crust from December 2011. Intrigued, I called them up the day before I wanted to go. I didn't want to get there only to discover that it was a seasonal thing that they didn't have any more. On the contrary, the woman who answered the phone confirmed that they not only have the gf quiche, but they also have gf soups and can make any of their sandwiches on gf bagels or bread.
Eureka! I invited my friend Lori to join me for lunch/brunch the next day, a Sunday. The day was quite rainy and their albeit dining room was packed, though we did eventually get a table. I did my usual gf inquiry/interogation of the people behind the counter. Since they make the sandwiches in the back where I can't watch, I asked if they are familiar with techniques for avoiding cross-contamination. The counter person helping me seemed a little stumped, but a man who had been in the back overheard the question and confirmed that they do indeed keep and prepare the gf sandwich fixin's in a separate location. [The place looks fairly small back there, and my confidence wasn't that high regarding the segregation of gluten from non, so those of you who are extremely sensitive will want to evaluate it for yourself or steer clear until more canaries go down the mine.] I eventually decided to try the lentil soup for right then -- the weather that day totally called for soup -- and I ordered a piece of the quiche to go.
I was pleased with the soups (Lori graciously let me take he picture with food AND she let me try her veggie soup too) -- warm and comforting and filling and very much like soup I would make. Not amazing, but tasty nevertheless. I split the quiche from my partner later in the day (my half with salad pictured below). She knew it was gf but not that it was a corn tortilla. We both liked the quiche (and I liked that it came with a generous portion of green salad), and my only suggestion for modification would be to play up the tortilla thing and give it some Mexican spices and maybe throw in some pepper and tomatoes. Since I totally plan on trying the tortilla-as-quiche-crust thing, I know that's what I'll do.
So YAY! for an inexpensive, low-key, drop-in sort of place for gf fare in Media! I am happy to be able to reclaim it as one of my favorite places to go. Thanks Lori!