Saturday, January 31, 2015

Can Gluten Affect Infertility and Pregnancy?

 I just read an article written by The Celiac Disease Foundation, September 17, 2014 called How Celiac Disease Affects Pregnancy? It got me thinking about my experiences and I began to wonder if I had been gluten-free when I was trying to get pregnant, would my life have turned out differently?

I can't imagine my life without my amazing daughter, who I love so very much. I wouldn't change one step in my life's journey but still I wonder if gluten is the reason I suffered so much back then. 


Gluten and Pregnancy: Photo by tapgene.com
Part of my life's journey was to experience infertility and all that brings with it. It was a painful and scary time in my life. For several years, I endured multiple visits to medical doctors. I was given so many medical tests that I began to feel like a human guinea pig. I was even one of the 1st patients to have an MRI. It took 12 doctors to read the results and even then they weren't sure of what they found.

When I finally started treatment for infertility, I was shot up with so many hormones that I became an emotional wreck. My poor husband, who was on this journey with me, now had to deal with this crazy woman.

I remember having to go to get shots on Saturday at the hospital. I would have to go through the basement area to access the elevator to the medical office floors, since they were closed on Saturday. I not only felt like a drug addict, I looked like one. I had so many needle marks on my arms that if I police officer had stopped me, I probably would have been arrested.  

The emotional havoc that infertility has is devastating, as anyone who has tried to get pregnant and is repeatedly disappointed knows. It is not like you can step away from it. Every month when I got my period, I knew all the drugs, etc. failed once again. I became more and more isolated and depressed. It started to drive a wedge between my husband and I.

One day my husband came home and said, why are we doing this, the doctors don't even know if a pregnancy will affect your health? That was a defining moment in our life! We let go of trying to get pregnant and decided to adopt. Adoption was the best decision we made. To read about our wonderful adoption experience, please read my blog post, My Journey to Parenthood.

If you are struggling with infertility, please try to find a doctor who will look at the whole picture and not just which drugs may help you. Best of luck!

References:
Celiac Disease Foundation
The original studies were reported by the NCBI.

Photo by: tapgenes.com

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Eating Gluten-Free in Sedona, AZ

My husband and I joined friends in Sedona for a glorious week of fun, relaxation, and food. We stayed in a condo equipped with a refrigerator, microwave and stove, allowing us the possibility of preparing our own food when we wanted to. Sedona has a full assortment of gluten-free products in all the grocery stores.  Our plan was to prepare our own food for breakfast and lunch and eat out for dinner.

For me, eating out is extremely stressful. Combined with my restricted diet (gluten, soy, and dairy), I have anaphylaxis food allergies to celery, mango, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pistachio nuts. 

Before going out to eat, I always do my homework. I go online and check out the options. I review the menu and then call the restaurant to ask questions. I make sure I call during off hours and speak to someone of authority. Once I feel assured that I can eat at the establishment, I make reservations.

Even with all my preparation, I ran into problems in 2 out of the 4 places we ate at.My experiences eating out in Sedona were exactly what those who deal with this issue would accept. Someplace where great, while other places were iffy. (being kind)



Sedona gluten-free style
Day 1: We went to Picazzo's which is known for it's gluten-free food. We went at 6pm and there was a 1 hour and 45 minute wait, so we left. Since we were with friends I decided to go along with them to a restaurant they recommended. I figured I eat a salad if I had to.

We went to a restaurant called Relics, known for its steaks. The decor fits the name perfectly. The main dining room was warm and romantic with fireplaces adding a soft glow of light. We were seated in the bar area because we didn't have reservations. The feeling in the bar was very rustic and transported us back to the wild, wild west days. As you can see from the picture below, it had an interesting theme.

Mr. Elk

My Elk stared at me throughout the meal. I should have realized that he was saying, watch out you are in for a surprise. I talked with the server in detail about my food needs. I ordered a potato encrusted salmon with steamed vegetables. She went in the back and spoke to the chef (the main chef was off that night).  She came back and told me all was good.

So imagine my surprise when she delivered everyone's gorgeous meals and I got a 14 inch plate with a piece of salmon on it. NOTHING ELSE.  The server informed me that the chef couldn't figure out how to make the potatoes or steam veggies without butter. I was very upset but stayed calm so I would not ruin everyone's meal. I asked for a salad and was brought a basic salad to go with my bland salmon.
(The owner came by after the meal and Richard told him what happened. He apologized and took 10% of the whole ticket.) Please note everyone else really enjoyed their meal. 

Day 2: OUR 5 STAR MEAL
We decided to have an early dinner so we could get into Picazzo's, which doesn't take reservations.  Much to my delight all the pasta dishes are gluten-free and so is the most fantastic GF Focaccia  bread. They were happy to make whatever we wanted GF and dairy-free. 
" Nearly every item on our menu as a gluten-free option available. In addition, all our pastas, breads, and croutons are gluten-free." Did I mention the food is organic also.


I had Spicy Thai Red Coconut Curry Vegan-Option-Icon ~ Fresh fusilli pasta, chicken, broccoli, green onion, mixed veggies and fresh basil, topped with almonds. 

 Richard ordered: Uncle Louie’s Favorite ~ Fresh fusilli pasta, Italian sausage, roasted red and yellow bell pepper, caramelized onion, free-range turkey Bolognese.



The food was outstanding. The focaccio bread is soft and delicious. The pasta was great and the texture was the best I have ever had.  It was a delightful meal. 

The icing on the cake was when the brought the dessert menu and we had options. We shared apple crisp with coconut ice cream. WOW

Day 3: Midday the 4 of us decided to check out Choca Tree for a treat. Choca Tree is known for: All of our menu items are homemade with 100% organic produce, free of dairy, soy, GMO's and processed sugar.  I had a Vegan double chocolate, gluten-free cake. I really enjoyed it. My friends were less excited about their faux coffee and vegan treats. I believe you have to known vegan food to appreciate it.


Day 3: Dinner  
Mexican fare was requested by the group. We were told to try El Rincon's. I called and spoke with the host, who in turn spoke with the manager and chef. I was most concerned with hidden celery in the food but was assured there would not be any problems. We made reservations for a 5 pm dinner so that I could be sure that the server would be able to focus on my concerns but when we got there it was packed. This always makes me nervous. The server didn't speak good English so I asked for the manager. After the manager spoke to the kitchen staff, I was told I could not eat the rice, beans or 3/4 of the menu due to celery. The other 1/4 had dairy or gluten, so they made me fish tacos on corn tortillas and a basic salad. I couldn't even eat the salsa or chips. Once again, I eat a boring, small meal while everyone else indulged in fabulous food. 

I started to feel sorry for myself, so I decided the next night (New Years Eve and my friend's birthday) I would not be going out with everyone else. I had already paid $25 for a piece of salmon with salt and pepper and $20 for 2 small fish tacos so the $135 price ticket for a News Year Eve meal I couldn't eat was just not flying with me. I tactfully shared this with my friends and asked them to please go enjoy themselves.

My dear friends came back to me and told me they wouldn't celebrate without Richard or I.  They decided we should order take out from Picazzo's and went to a mutual friends vacation home to celebrate. The food was once again great and the company was even better.
Picazzo's in Sedona Arizona

I would take the 7 1/2 hour drive to Sedona just to eat at Picazzo's again.

Photos for Picazzo Food: daretoblog.com

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Did You Know Quinoa Is Not Technically A Grain?

I have often been asked what quinoa is. Most people believe it is a grain when in truth it is a vegetable related to the beet, chard, and spinach. The industry calls it a "pseudo-cereal" which is "the name for foods that are cooked and eaten like grains and have a similar nutrient profile." (whfoods)

Grown in the Andes for over 5,000 years, quinoa is celebrated as one of the most nutritionally complete foods. "While no single food can supply all the essential life sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom." (Sergio Nunea de Arco)

Quinoa Growing in the Andes


Why eat quinoa?
1. Quinoa is gluten-free. 
2. It's one of the only plant foods that's a complete protein, offering all the essential amino acids in a healthy balance.
3. It has a high ratio of protein to carbohydrate.
4. Quinoa is also highest of all the whole grains in potassium.
5.  Did you know that over 120 varieties of quinoa grown though we only see the basic, red and black variety in the stores?

Check out the Whole Grains Council website for in-depth information about the nutritional value of quinoa. 

Cooking quinoa:
According to whfoods, "quinoa grows with a bitter coating, called saponin, that fends off pests and makes quinoa easy to grow without chemical pesticides."  This coating can leave a bitter aftertaste after it is cooked.  Simply soak the quinoa for 20 minutes in cold water before cooking it to help remove that bitter taste.

My favorite quinoa recipe is in the recipe section of this blog. There are many recipes on Pinterest and blog sites so have fun exploring.

Please share your favorite quinoa recipes!


References: 
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=142
From the above site: Thanks to Sergio Nunez de Arco of Andean Naturals for the photos and some of the information on this page.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pizza Hut Now Has Gluten-Free Options

Starting January 26, 2015, Pizza Hut will have gluten-free options in select stores. Pizza Hut will start this program in 2,400 stores nation wide. It will continue to expand to many other locations.  

 
Pizza Hut has Gluten-Free Options

"The Udi's® Certified Gluten-Free crust is stored in a separate container, on a separate shelf in our fridge. The cheese, marinara sauce and pepperoni are stored in a gluten-free designated kit, and every gluten-free pizza is freshly baked on designated parchment paper in our ovens.

In addition to these storage techniques, team members who make your gluten-free pizza wear gloves and even use a designated gluten-free pizza cutter to cut your pizza to perfection." 


Pizza Hut joined with Udi's and GiG (Gluten Intolerance Group) to develop a gluten-free program. As you read above this program has addressed store, preparation and baking issues we have seen and experienced in other food places.  

Pizza Hut has FAQ section to answer any of your questions:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Gluten-Free Girl Scout Cookies

Gluten-Free Girl Scout Cookies will now be sold throughout the country. They were tested in several states, including California last year with great success.
Yesterday, the Girls Scouts announced 2 new Gluten-free cookies: "The two new gluten-free offerings include: Toffee-tastic, buttery cookies with toffee bits,and Trios, made with real peanut butter, chocolate chips, and whole grain oats."To learn more about these gluten-free cookies go to: Meet the Cookies.

Toffee-tastic,
Trios
                                                                                                                                                                         


"The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest, most successful girl-led business in the world, and its power to teach girls business and financial skills that will serve them throughout their lives is unrivaled," said Anna Maria Ch├ívez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA...  One hundred percent of the net revenue raised through Girl Scout Cookie sales stays with local councils, and girls decide how their troop cookie money is spent.