Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner Success @Maggiano's

First off, bravo Maggiano's for not only making so many of your dishes naturally gluten-free but for making my family Thanksgiving fantastic and full of options. I cannot tell you how impressed I was with their staff cooperation and my meal.

The Thanksgiving menu was family style and I could eat multiple things from almost every course (minus dessert and bruschetta). Here's a quick snapshot of the menu:

I made a reservation through Open Table and put in the notes that we had a gluten-free diner. After that I proceeded to call them and talk to a sous chef who walked me through the Thanksgiving menu and made sure that I felt comfortable with their knowledge of gluten-free dining, I was surprised to find out that I had options beyond just the gluten-free pasta, whoo!

First course was salad and I could have both the Caesar and Italian salads with just the croutons removed. Since the family style allows you to choose two from each portion of the menu we got the Caesar with croutons on the side for me and the glutenous eaters got the Chopped salad.

Next course was the full-on Thanksgiving style meal, yes even Italian restaurants do it traditionally! The options for meats were turkey with gravy and stuffing, ham with mashed potatoes and tilapia. When the sous chef came out to talk me through it (awesome!!) he said that I could have both the ham and turkey meats and that they would simply make me a small plate of plain without the stuffing and gravy so there wouldn't be any cross-contamination. It came out on a HUGE plate and I even have some turkey leftovers. The family also got the tilapia which was breaded so that was out, but I was happy. In addition we got to choose two sides and two pastas. I could have the following: creamed corn, creamed spinach, mashed sweet potatoes and garlic mashed potatoes - we chose the creamed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes, yum! For the pastas they allowed my family to choose two and made me my own side of the gluten-free spaghetti and meat sauce. I could've also gotten gluten-free versions of the rigatoni, ziti or gnocchi.

I was so full by this point I wasn't even disappointed that I couldn't have the huge piece of chocolate cake or pumpkin cheesecake. My whole family was impressed with the food and it worked out so well that I could have a full meal and they could have their traditional Turkey Day food. So, bravo Maggiano's you did great!! I would definitely come back for Thanksgiving in the future and suggest it to all of my blog readers :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gluten-Free Family Visit to Austin

Although my family has been to visit me multiple times, it hasn't been much since I was diagnosed and definitely not all at the same time. However, tomorrow my brother, mom, dad and grandma will all be here for the Thanksgiving holidays, which means I'm playing hostess. While they are used to tradition, as you may know, I don't necessarily live life that way so we're doing things my way :) Gluten-free all the way! Here's the food agenda:

Wednesday - late lunch/dinner at original Salt Lick

Thursday (Thanksgiving!) - we have a reservation at Maggiano's Little Italy who is having a specific turkey meal, which allows me to have their gluten-free pasta and salads and my family to have turkey, stuffing, etc. which couldn't have happened in my small kitchen due to cross-contamination. So...even though it isn't a home-cooked meal my family can eat a "normal" meal while I feel safe with my Turkey Day feast too :)

Of course, I also had to get some snacks for all of the hanging out and family time we'll be enjoying, so I stopped by Natural Grocers and got some gluten-free Nut Thins, cheese cubes, hummus and carrots - healthier than most holidays but it'll work.

Friday - lunch in Fredericksburg (will have to do some research on that one, but there is always cheese...and a LOT of wine!) and then dinner at Trudy's for Tex-Mex

They are heading out Saturday but we might squeeze a quick lunch in at Abel's on the Lake for a great view.
I cannot WAIT for them to get here!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Off the Menu: Torchy's Tacos

Thanks to Brittany Neighbors, Director of Communication at Torchy's Tacos, I got their full gluten-free list. Torchy's is well-known in Austin for being amazing so I'm thrilled that I can eat at one of their multiple locations around the city. If you come visit or read because you live here, check them out!


Corn Tortillas

Jalapeno Sausage, Bacon, Pork, Barbacoa, Brisket

Tuna, Grilled Shrimp

Red Salsa, Green Salsa, Diablo

All cheeses, Queso, Egg

Rice, Beans, Escabeche, Pickled Onions, Guacamole, Pickled Jalapenos, Fajita Veggies, Pico, Fresh Avocados, Green Chilies, Potatoes, Mangos

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why get diagnosed?

So, there are a number of people who don't think about Celiac disease as a cause of their symptoms. On top of that, many who know a family member who has it don't want to get diagnosed for fear of losing their current lifestyle. However, there are some major long-term effects of untreated Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, including infertility, thyroid problems, cancer, etc. I found a good summary article that is outline below from -

Complications of Celiac Disease

If the symptoms of celiac disease go unrecognized and untreated, complications can develop.

Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
Celiac disease is a common digestive disorder. At one time, it was thought that celiac disease was a disease of childhood and that the most common symptoms were bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and failure to thrive. Now that blood tests can identify celiac disease in adults, we are realizing that it is much more common than once thought.
Celiac Disease: Why It Happens
Celiac disease, also called the "great mimic" disease, can cause many different symptoms and vary from person to person. It is therefore easy for celiac disease to be overlooked or misdiagnosed as another condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
"If you have celiac disease, it means that your immune system can't tolerate the protein in wheat, rye, or barley," says John Birk, MD, chief of gastroenterology at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. "This causes inflammation of your small intestine that decreases your ability to absorb essential nutrients in food. Over time, these nutrient deficits can lead to complications."
Celiac Disease Complications
In adults, the digestive symptoms may be less common and the signs or symptoms of celiac disease may be related to the long-term effects of poor absorption. Some of the more common complications include:
  • Malnutrition. Many people with celiac disease will have trouble maintaining a healthy weight and may complain of fatigue and weakness. Blood tests often show iron deficiency despite iron therapy. Vitamins may not be absorbed properly. This failure of the intestine to absorb nutrients is called "malabsorption."
  • Bone loss. "Failure to absorb nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D can contribute to poor bone density," notes Dr. Birk. This can lead to osteoporosis, bone pain, and bone weakness that may cause bones to break easily.
  • Lactose intolerance. "Lactose intolerance is more common if you have celiac disease but can also be a byproduct of inflammation caused by celiac disease," notes Birk. The inflammation in the lining of your intestine can keep you from producing the enzyme needed to break down lactose, which is the sugar in dairy products. Undigested lactose can cause gas and diarrhea.
  • Irritability and depression. Children with celiac disease are extremely irritable. In adults, celiac disease can cause symptoms of depression, lack of energy, and problems with memory and concentration. Research shows that these symptoms may be due to malabsorption of vitamin B6 and tryptophan. These are important nutrients you need to produce chemicals called "neurotransmitters" that stimulate nerve cells in your brain.
  • Lymphoma and bowel cancer. If celiac disease is left untreated, it can increase your risk for developing certain types of digestive system cancers. Lymphoma of the small intestine is a rare type of cancer but may be 30 times more common in people with celiac disease. Adenocarcinoma of the intestine and cancer of the esophagus are also more common. This increased risk of cancer is probably due to the irritation and inflammation in untreated celiac disease over a long period of time.
  • Low birth-weight babies. This is a common occurrence in women with uncontrolled celiac disease.
  • Dental defects. Permanent damage to the enamel of the teeth occurs due to malabsorption of calcium and other minerals.
"The good news is that in most cases the symptoms can be reversed and the complications prevented by a gluten-free diet," says Birk. In about 70 percent of cases, symptoms of celiac disease start to improve within a few weeks. It may take longer for some people, and it may take as long as two years for all the damage in the small intestine to be healed. The sooner you get a proper diagnosis and start a gluten-free diet, the better chance you have of avoiding complications.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Health Magazine: Gluten in cosmetics may pose hidden threat to Celiac patients

Found this article on CNN from Health magazine, very interesting information. Why wouldn't they use similar fillers and ingredients in make-up as some foods? I guess when you really think about it, it makes sense. I use MAC and haven't had any problems, but Neutrogena oil-free face wash gave me terrible itchiness and sneezing when I used it so I switched to Oil of Olay and haven't had any issues. The problem is that the ingredients aren't as easy to figure out! My rule of thumb is that I buy everything allergen and oil free and then purchase the sensitive formula if there is one...fragrance free detergent and lotions are a must as well. Here is some more information:

Gluten in cosmetics may pose hidden threat to celiac patients

People with celiac disease are accustomed to being on the lookout for gluten in their food, but they should also be aware of the gluten lurking in their cosmetics and toiletries, researchers warned Monday at a national meeting of gastroenterologists in Washington, D.C.
Food labels almost always say whether  a product contains gluten, a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and other grains. But the packaging of body lotions and other beauty products rarely provides that information, even though many such products contain substances derived from grain, says Pia Prakash, M.D., a resident in internal medicine at George Washington University.

"Lipsticks and powders and foundations are probably the ones we worry about most, and you really never see ingredient lists on those products," says Prakash, who helped conduct the research. She and her colleagues surveyed the websites of 10 leading makeup companies, Prakash says, and found that "none actually provided any information on products that contained gluten."
An estimated 2 million people in the United States have celiac disease. When these people consume gluten, their immune system attacks structures (known as villi) that line the small intestine and are crucial for absorbing nutrients from food.
Symptoms can include diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, fatigue, and joint pain. The only way to treat celiac disease is to avoid eating gluten.
At the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, Prakash and her colleagues presented a case report on a 28-year-old woman with celiac disease who had successfully controlled her symptoms for several years by restricting the amount of gluten in her diet.
After starting to use a new body lotion, however, the woman developed an itchy, blistering rash on her arms, as well as abdominal bloating and diarrhea - all of which disappeared once she stopped using the lotion.
Pretty much anyone who's sensitive to gluten could experience a similar reaction, says Marie Borum, M.D., the lead author of the study and a professor of medicine at George Washington University.
Gluten can't be absorbed through the skin, but people may accidentally ingest small quantities of lotion, lipstick, or other products if they have the product on their hands or use it around their mouth.
Health care providers and consumers alike need to be aware of the potential for this type of inadvertent gluten exposure, Borum says. "If you're just focusing on food intake, you may be missing something that's very important and could make a difference in someone's life."
So how can celiac patients avoid hidden gluten in toiletries and cosmetics?
A handful of companies do make gluten-free cosmetics, and consumers can also contact manufacturers directly to find out which of their products contain gluten. (An informal survey of online forums for celiac patients shows that many companies are forthcoming with this information.)
When products do list their ingredients, careful label reading is a must, but simply looking for the word "gluten" isn't sufficient, the researchers say. For instance, the vitamin E found in beauty products may be derived from wheat and contain gluten, even though the label just lists "vitamin E," Borum says.
Copyright Health Magazine 2011