10.25.2009

Brief responses to specific questions & issues

*What About Traveling?

Yes, I can wander. Europe was pretty easy, especially when staying in places with kitchens or with friends (who fed me so generously & carefully). Some hotels are fantastic for celiacs. (I never wanted to leave Casa Camper in Barcelona.) I went to the farmer's markets and bought local ingredients. With the exception of Barcelona, I almost never ate in restaurants due to healthy suspicion.

I hear Japan and China are really, really hard and I haven't tried yet.

My advice to others--If you haven't really become adept with spotting gluten in all its guises and feeding yourself well, consider waiting until you've mastered basic celiac skills. For most of us, being diagnosed brings up all kinds of emotional history related to love, grief, and, obviously, food. Finding oneself lost and hungry in a foreign place is one of the harder ways of encountering one's psychic wounds. Emotions like sadness, shame, anger or self-doubt can make it complicated to explain what one needs in a foreign tongue or make it difficult to say no to questionable foods. If possible, give yourself some time to experience and adjust to a new emotional landscape before venturing into unknown lands.

*Does the Joyful Celiac eat at restaurants?

Rarely and with research, communication, & great care. I will eat at restaurants that have no gluten on their entire menu. There is a local raw chain that does not use gluten in their food at all. It is a blessing to be able to walk into restaurant and to be able to eat everything on the menu without anxiety or negotiation with the staff. And the food is rich in taste & nutrition. Wallow in the desserts.

I will also eat at places that source their ingredients carefully and have a separate gluten-free menu. (In the Bay Area Dosa & Millennium.) These are pricey places to eat, and for me getting sick is far more expensive. Missed work, missed life. Recently Samovar opened in a place very convenient to me and after checking on their tamari and miso, I began eating there three times a month. (Jook with tofu or the tea soup with tofu.) I realized last week that I haven't asked them recently whether their ingredients have changed. I haven't had symptoms associated with meals there, but I also haven't been antibody tested in a while.

*How do you eat with other people?

I make something they'll eat with me or we choose to eat different things. Maybe we go to restaurant on the list above. If someone wants to meet somewhere I can't eat & I feel like doing that, then I eat very well before I go and then I have San Pellagrino. (Italian mineral water feels festive to me.) My dearest friends eat gluten-free when they're with me and are vigilant about feeding me. I am moved by their devotion.

*You're so disciplined--Real people can't eat the way you do.

I'm a grateful real person. I spent more than thirty years being ill and I won't willingly give up one minute of feeling fabulous. When I am locked in the loo, exhausted, anxious, and mentally foggy, I don't feel very available to others. For me, eating a high-nutrient, no-gluten diet is loving my life and by extension serving others.

Let's also be clear: celiac disease is a disease and it can be lethal. My maternal grandmother died before she was seventy, of complications related to treating a celiac-related colon cancer after a sixty years of eating wheat.

I'm not disciplined--I am motivated, organized and willing to prioritize time and money on eating well.

*You're so slender--Is that because you can't eat anything?

No. I eat lots of things--just not the same things that gluten-eaters eat. I eat calorie dense foods many times a day including cheese, chocolate, and nuts. My body size is a genetic fluke, possibly the result of being celiac. I could probably live on coconut milk ice cream and remain thin. My father's side of the family is tall and skinny and my mother's side is celiac.

*You're so slender--I wish I had celiac disease.

No, you don't.

Breakfast!

During the week I usually eat homemade cereal and cashew milk.

Happy Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Granola-ish Cereal

I make this with my dehydrator. I usually end up with enough for ten breakfasts. All ingredients are raw and unprocessed. It's not that I'm particularly into raw foods (though there are many good raw recipes which are gluten-free, yummy, and nutrient dense) but rather processed nuts are often rancid, have canola oil on them and are salted. I think all that tastes bad so I don't use them.

6 to 8 Apples and/or pears
3 or 4 figs or dates (pit your dates)
1 cup sunflower seeds (raw, unsalted)
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped some other nut
fresh nutmeg (with one of those metal grater thingies, like you see in caf├ęs)
fresh cinnamon (grind in the coffee grinder dedicated for spices)
1/3 teaspoon salt

Maybe:

1/2 cup raw cacao nibs or powder
1/2 cup goji berries or golden inca berries
2 handfuls raw coconut shavings
1 vanilla bean (grind it)


Put all your dry ingredients in a big bowl and mix them thoroughly

Take your figs and/or dates and whirl them in your food processor or blender until they're smooth-ish. Remove what you can from the blender in put into big bowl with the dry ingredients.

Chop up your apples and/or pears and then blend/process in small batches. Don't turn them liquid--just blend until the chunks aren't too big--until it's like a slurry. Put the slurry in the big bowl, too.

Mix everything up together. If the mixture is runny add some more dry stuff--chopped nuts and seeds--until it's a bit chunkier. Then spread the mixture on paraflex sheets on the dehydrator trays. Spread it out to the edges of the trays.

Dehydrate at about 150 degrees for five or seven hours. Your house will begin to smell of warm cinnamon and pears. When the cereal is dry enough, take it off the paraflex sheets and put it onto the mesh trays to dry faster. Dehydrate at about 130 for another five to seven hours. The granola chunks may still seem a bit moist while they're warm. They should be crunchy when they cool down.

Cashew Milk

One cup raw cashews
Three cups water

If you like add a dash of salt or some fresh vanilla

Put into highspeed blender and blender on high for about two minutes. Keep in a mason jar in the fridge and drink with three days.

Quick treat with cashew milk:

In a big mug, brew strong black (con caffeine) or red (sin caffeine) chai from Zhena's Gypsy Tea bags leaving half an inch or more of room at the top of your mug. Add a splosh maple syrup and finish with cashew milk to the top. Happily, Ms. Zhena certifies her teas are GF!

Another Breakfast

One and half cups of full-fat Strauss yogurt, generous smattering of frozen blueberries, small handful raw nuts, garnish of raw cacao nibs. If really craving sweets add a dash maple syrup.

How to make lunch



I have a To-Go Ware tiffin. I just use one tier of a two-tier tiffin most days.

I cook red quinoa & medium length rose rice together in a rice cooker and keep left-overs in the fridge for use at any time. I put about a cup of the grains in the bottom of the tiffin.

Then I put in about two handfuls of dark green leafy vegetables. (Spin the leaves dry before putting them in.) It may look as if your tiffin is now overloaded but the greenleafies will tamp down as you add more things.

I cut up a tomato and/or an apple (or pear) and add that. Then I sprinkle pink salt lightly over everything. (I know--salt is bad for you! Actually, it's not. High quality salt has nice trace minerals in it and the body needs some dietary salt. Yes, food naturally has salt in it but you can add some too. If you're not eating manufactured or restaurant food or pre-made sauces then you can salt your food and still eat less than the RDA's maximum.) Put some freshly cracked pepper in.

Now put about two tablespoons of raw hempseeds over everything. Hempseed is nutty and has lots of good, brain-loving fats (EFAs) in it. Keep your hempseeds in the fridge.

That's the base for almost all my lunches.

On top of that I might put:

*chevre, walnuts, and slivers of fig
*raw sauerkraut, seaweeds, and walnuts
*cheddar chunks and pecans
*goat's cheese, date slivers, and rosemary
*roasted eggplant chunks and mushroom slices

Everything is made in advance so I just assemble lunch in my tiffin before I go work in the morning. It takes about ten minutes. I carry a wooden spoon and hashi (chop-sticks) with me. Eating off of metal with metal utensils is noisy and gives me a nails-on-chalkboard shiver.

Today at the farmer's market

One box of figs from Capay Valley
Various baby bitter greens from Fifth Crow Farm
Three kinds of heirloom apples from Sabastopol--last week of Mutsu apples this season

All of these will become sumptuous lunches for the week.

10.24.2009

Dedicated gluten-free kitchen tools

*Coffee grinder just for grinding spices
*Mortar & pestle
*High speed blender
*Bamboo cutting boards
*Dehydrator
*Sharp Japanese vegetable cleaver
*Rice cooker (for quinoa, amaranth & rice)
*Two iron skillets (one eight inch, and one 12 or 14 inch) Yes they are heavy! Lift with with your core muscles and get some iron with all your meals! Plus, if you take basic care of them the don't stick at all. Non-stick cookware coating doesn't seem too safe to me. There's been lots of mainstream press about the dangers of Teflon.

Microwaves seem creepy to me and I don't use them ever. I have a superstition that they destroy nutrients by cooking food from the inside out. Smart people tell me this is the opposite of true, but I don't seem to believe them. I like toaster ovens--just be careful not to share crumbs with your beloved gluten-eaters.

The Weekly Grocery List

At the farmer's market:

*Ten to fourteen servings of something dark green and leafy [spinach, various kales, even purpley-dark lettuce]
*Seven to fourteen servings of one or two in-season vegetables [eggplants, tomatoes, radishes]
*Something else that would be good in salad [figs, apples, pears]
*Five servings of two kinds of mushrooms [usually shiitakes and oysters--sometimes the mushroom man offers me free samples of lion's mane or enokis]
*Pound or two of fruit
*Sometimes potatos

At the Co-op:

Frozen Oregon blueberries, plus cranberries or blackberries
Cashews for making cashew milk
Pecans and walnuts
Green onions
Eggs
Yogurt
Kefir
Raw Sauerkraut with sea vegetables
Fancy cheeses (preferably raw milk, sheep, and/or goat)
Lightly salted butter

In the cupboard already:

Grey, pink, and brown salt
Whole black and white peppercorns
Many spices
Extra virgin olive oil
Quinoa
Four or five kinds of rice
Amaranth
Five kinds of seaweed
Mary's Gone Crackers


In the fridge:

Three kinds of miso*
Tahini
Bee pollen
Hemp seeds
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds

*Make sure to get gluten-free miso. Some miso is made with barley.

Gluten Free Products

I am frequently asked for information about gluten-free products. I am not too interested products because I'm really into food which happens to be by its very nature gluten-free. But when I thought a little more I realized that I do eat a few things which are gluten-free versions of foods traditionally made with wheat.

I guess I evaluate food on a kind of pleasure-to-nutrient-density x/y axis. Gluten free copies of product foods tend to be high-pleasure/low-nutrient foods (for example, crackers, cookies, pancakes, biscuits) and I minimize those kinds of foods. There are delicious high-nutrient foods out there and I build my eating around combining those. I believe eating this improves way my overall sense of energy and vibrancy.

Also, I have Type II diabetes on both sides of my family so why tempt fate?


Costs $8-9 a loaf. This is not that sad rice "bread" that crumbles into tasteless bits of disappointment. This is bread like my Scots peasant grandmothers would have relished. Nutritionally dense (high ratio of good stuff to weight/calories) and yummy. Toasts well. Tastes almost like German Rye.

Eat smothered with: Humboldt Fog, and/or Strauss salted butter. If you're dairy-free, make a sundried tomato spread or za'taar.*


Tastes good, not sticky, and can tolerate over-cooking. Makes good lasagna noodles and the shells and spirals that hold lots of sauce.

I am not a frequent eater of pasta. I minimize simple carbohydrates most of the time. That means I don't often eat sugars and refined flours. Rice flour hikes the blood sugar so I eat Tinkyada pasta when I am making a simple meal with my housemates. I combine it with a nice portion of fat (e.g. olive oil, pine nuts and/or cheese) to buffer the glycemic rise.


[Note this mix contains dairy.] This is a reliable tool for making all-pleasure treats. I make blueberry corn bread, blueberry pancakes, and blueberry muffins from this mix. The blueberries are to provide some kind of nutritional value as well as yumminess.

*Ingredients:
2 tsps dried thyme
1 tsp ground sumac
1 tbsp sesame seeds
4-6 tbsps olive oil
a pinch of salt

Grind all ingredients together.