Vacation – Cancun – gluten free – HEAVEN!

I just got back from Cancun – celebrating 30 years of marriage to my best friend!  We had an AMAZING time… and I have nothing but high praise for this resort… they made sure that I had a wonderful selection of gluten free food (probably too much!) to choose from.  I was there for 6 days and didn’t get sick at ALL.  The staff, the chef, everyone was wonderful.  I was so super nervous about this trip, I even packed a suitcase full of protein bars and snacks… the first 2 days I ate very carefully, mostly plain grilled meat and fresh fruit… just to be super safe… but by the end I was letting them make me gluten free pancakes, muffins, desserts… just WOW… and the best part… I had a wonderful time, celebrating all of our hard work and dedication to make this marriage a success over the last 30 years.

I am blessed more then words can express!

We went to Dreams Resort – Riviera Maya – Cancun – nothing but high high praise!  here is the website:  http://www.dreamsresorts.com/riviera-cancun

we upgraded a bit to the preferred level – that let us have a special concierge, access to the preferred bar and appetizers – was totally worth it (I drank a lot of Malibu MaiTai’s – yummy!)

If you ever decide to go to one of these sunny, beautiful resorts, let me know and I’ll give you the 411 (plus the name of the BEST sunscreen ever!)

Take care my friends!

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Educate Educate Educate! Its your health, take charge!

The only way to know for sure if you have Celiac vs NCGS (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity) is to have tests run.  I will tell you my blood work showed up negative for Celiac, but when my GI doctor did a biopsy of my small intestine, my villi were pretty much completely flat – a sure sign of Celiac Disease.  I knew I was feeling better a bit better most days on my gluten free diet (well… I thought I was going gluten free anyway – more on that later!) but was still having symptoms and pain.  My doctor made me go back on a gluten rich diet for 2 weeks before my test (and since I hadn’t really been avoiding gluten like I thought I had been) and I didn’t feel that much different, I was sure gluten wasn’t my problem… but I did it, had the endoscopy and colonoscopy done and sure enough… BINGO.  While I was relieved to finally, after more then 20 years, have a diagnosis for my pain and symptoms, I didn’t like the idea of being labeled….  Plus as I stated earlier, I thought I had already gone gluten free months before, and still had trouble.  My doctor gave me some educational literature, and I bought several books and spent hours searching the internet and starting educating myself.  Boy… was I wrong about going gluten free.  I had been poisoning myself on a near daily basis without knowing it – that’s why my symptoms, while a bit improved, hadn’t gone away.  I was still ingesting Teriyaki sauce, salad dressings, taking the toppings off a pizza prepared on a gluten filled crust… eating around noodles from dinner, taking croutons off salads, using gluten filled lipsticks.   My idea of gluten free eating was not eating the bread… I didn’t understand cross contamination or where gluten was hiding.

No one can do this work for you, it is up to you to become educated.  Get involved in online support groups, read books, watch webinars, talk to a nutritionist.  Find out where gluten hides… you’ll be surprised!    Lean about cross contamination.  Just because you don’t see a gluten containing ingredient in the food… if it was processed on a line that also processing a gluten food… it could make you sick!

Here is a list of great resources that have helped me – dive in and feel free to ask me questions!

I try to re-post a lot of good information on my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/thetwistedceliac so feel free to like my page.

http://celiac.org/

http://www.gfreediet.com/

http://www.theceliacdiva.com/

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/celiac-disease-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html

Dr. O’Bryan’s Latest

http://theglutenfreeprofessor.com/

http://www.gfreefoodie.com/

many of these resources have facebook pages as well, but I do try to repost on my facebook page, so if you follow me you’ll kind of get one stop shopping on a lot of these!

This is a great smart phone app for finding somewhere to eat when you are out and about, I use it all the time, but it is always best to call ahead (during non-busy hours) and talk to the manager and make sure they can accommodate you, if they don’t make you feel comfortable, or they aren’t well informed on gluten free eating… stay away!!!

http://www.findmeglutenfree.com/

Remember, these are things that have worked for me, you need to figure out what works for you!

Have a great, healthy, and pain free weekend!

xoxoxxo The Twisted Celiac

Recipe Change up – Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love to bake… I’ve always loved to bake.  But I don’t do it often since I also love to eat… a LOT!  I had made this recipe with regular flour for my family and for the high school youth group that I host on Wednesday’s and they were a HUGE hit… it makes a nice, soft, study cookie.  I made another huge batch of these this weekend for their mission trip meeting today – again another huge hit…. So I wanted to try to tweak the recipe for me (since I couldn’t even taste the batter which is really my favorite part).  I know the mouth feel of gluten free flour isn’t always the same – I started off trying the recipe with an almond flour blend… the texture was right on, but the taste… well, it tasted “floury” – and while good, not quite right.  So then I tried it with the Trader Joe’s gluten free flour blend.  Now I know some of you gluten free bakers are all about making your own flour blend based on what you are baking.  More power to you, but I just haven’t gotten into that yet… I try not to eat too much of this substitute stuff as I do feel better when I avoid it – but c’mon – a girls gotta have a good home made (and by that I mean – eat the raw cookie dough as we bake3) cookie.   So anyway – back to the cookie at hand… I used this recipe and quartered the batch (the original recipe makes a TON of cookies… great for a party – a church group – a meeting – but not great for a girl trying not to eat herself into a sugar induced coma) – I tweaked the recipe a bit since like I said before, what I find “off” about most gluten free recipes is the mouth feel… enter instant pudding… it really helps the mouth feel AND makes these a great sturdy, light, fluffy, cookie (and yes, the dough is the BOMB… and for purposes of CYA… do not eat raw or undercooked cookie dough – you do this at your own risk… as do I!)  so by quartering this recipe and holding back a smidge on the flour and adding a little more instant pudding… I ended up with one amazing chocolate chip cookie – even my hubby had to ask me if I’d handed him a gluten free cookie to try or the regular wheat flour cookie.. its that good!!!

So my fellow gluten avoiders… try it – you will NOT be sorry (and unless you want over 100 cookies on your hands…. or in your tummies) make a smaller batch – because they will be eaten… oh yes, they will be eaten..

Original Recipe from All Recipes… just use my tweak (oh… and I use Mexican vanilla… I haven’t been able to confirm its  gluten free, but I can tell you I have NEVER had a reaction to it… and I put it in most things I bake – but not fudge… it doesn’t work with fudge!)

If you need help cutting the recipe down just leave a comment and I’ll be glad to help you out.  Oh… I also baked at 325 for about 15 minutes instead… of 350, I think gfree flour is happier at a wee lower temperature and by quartering the recipe I got about 2 dozen cookies after I was done tasting the batter and licking the beaters.

Happy Gfree baking! – excuse me while I go clean the chocolate off my face!

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/award-winning-soft-chocolate-chip-cookies/

The Twisted Celiac’s Beginning….

I had “tummy trouble” most of my life… had my first upper GI series at the age of 10.  The Pediatrician diagnosed me with a “nervous stomach” and told my mom to send me back to school and not coddle me.  OK!  I would do fine for awhile and then be back in the bathroom with pain, diarrhea, bloating.  Then do fine again.  As I got older, the problems became more severe, but still sporadic.  More good days then bad days.  Experienced  a miscarriage with my first pregnancy, discovered I had endometrosis.  Was able to have 3 beautiful kids, then in mid-30’s had a hysterectomy due to severe adhesions and pain.  Things got better for a short time, but the pain and symptoms returned with a vengeance – more surgeries, medical intervention, medications, fibromyalgia diagnosis, then 3 years ago my good days pretty much vanished and everyday was a struggle, pain, bathroom issues, migraines, extreme illness.  Back and forth through so many doctors and zero answers until a friend recommend I see a GI specialist that she knew in another town.  What a blessing.  He suspected very quickly that I had Celiac disease (what?) and ordered testing and a biopsy.  Within 2 weeks I had a name for my pain and a treatment plan in place.  It is one of those “simple but not easy” things… I have never looked back, never intentionally ingested gluten since that day, and while I won’t say I’m 100% well (seriously who is!?), my life has improved beyond measure!  This is my story and my attempt to help others through this journey, never give up, and let you know that there is still hope!