Category Archives: Sprue Stories

A declaration of gluten independence

In honor of tomorrow’s Independence Day here in the good USA, I took a break from imagining gluten as my evil ex-boyfriend and personified him instead as the evil ex-king of England. If you too have declared independence from gluten, I hope you’ll join me in signing this important document.

Declaration-of-independence-broadside-cropped

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for a People to dissolve the bands which have connected them with a Protein, and to assume among the eaters of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nurture entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Something Else That I Would Remember Were It Not For the Brain Fog.

That whenever any Way of Eating becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Eaters to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Diet, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing their meals in such form, as to them seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Eating Habits long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the foods to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Inflammation, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such a Diet, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of this Body; and such is now the necessity which constrains it to alter its former Systems of Nourishment. The history of Gluten is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these Guts. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Gluten has refused its Assent to the absorption of Nutrients, the most wholesome and necessary for the body’s good.

It has forbidden the Intestines to pass Gases of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended till their Force and Odor be overpowering.

It has called bodies to the lavatory at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of its preferred-ply toilet paper, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with its peristalsis.

It has dissolved Intestinal Barriers repeatedly, for opposing with leak-free firmness its invasions on the rest of the body.

It has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause other tight junctions to be generated, whereby the Digestive Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the Body at large for their exercise; the Organs remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

It has endeavoured to prevent the population of the Toilet; for that purpose obstructing the bowel’s Naturalization of Movement; refusing to pass stools to encourage their migrations to the bowl.

It has sent hither swarms of Antibodies to harass our small intestines and eat out their tiny hairlike structures.

It has kept among us, in times of pizza, Standing Armies of Antibodies without the Consent of our bodies.

It has affected to render the Immune System independent of and antagonistic to the rest of the body.

It has combined with others to subject us to food intolerances foreign to our constitution; giving its Assent to Acts of pretended Immune Regulation:

For quartering large antibodies against tissue transglutaminase among us:

For protecting them from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Villi of these Guts:

For imposing Taxes on our energy without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Denial of Fury:

For abolishing the gluten-free System of Eating in neighbouring Restaurants, establishing therein a Standard American Diet, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render them at once examples and fit instruments for introducing the same foods into these Bodies

For taking away our Appetites, abolishing our most valuable Vitamins, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Excrements:

Gluten has abdicated Nourishment here, by waging War against us.

It has plundered our teeth, ravaged our skin, burnt our hearts, and destroyed our bowels.

It is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Proteins to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy a Food in a civilized nation.

It has constrained our fellow Cells taken Captive to bear Arms against our Villi.

It has excited digestive insurrections within us, and has endeavoured to bring on the merciless Celiac Disease whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Recovery in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Protein, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the staple food of a people.

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our Oaten brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their fellow grains to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement away from gluten. We have appealed to their native soluble fibers, and we have conjured them to disavow these usurpations, which would, inevitably, interrupt our consumption and enjoyment of them. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of grainkind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the celiac Guts of America, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the gluten-free Bodies, solemnly publish and declare,

That these united Bodies are, and of Right ought to be Gluten-Free and Independent Bodies; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to Wheat, Barley, and Rye, and that all connection between them and Gluten is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent Guts, they have full Power to levy War on Gluten, conclude Peace with Villi, not contract additional Diseases, establish Commerce with Companies Providing Gluten-Free Baked Goods, and to do all other Acts and Things which Gluten-Independent Bodies may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of FDA regulations, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Recipes and our sacred Honor.

Signed by
Molly Cavanaugh (and you, if you’d like, in the comments)

let gluten-freedom ring

Happy 4th to my fellow Americans, and to everyone else, a happy gluten independence day. I plan to drink these red, white, and blue “sparklers” and wish I were motivated (and air-conditioned) enough to make patriotic GF cake pops too. 

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If You Give a (Celiac) Mouse a Cookie . . . She’ll Ask If It’s Gluten-Free

I’m starting to get a bit loopy because I still can’t sleep, and it’s been a while since my last sprue redo. So, here’s a children’s book for our generation of rapidly proliferating food allergies and gluten-related disorders—in honor of the one month of the year when we celiac types feel just a bit more comfortable making demands (uh, requests). Enjoy!

If you give a celiac mouse a cookie, she’ll ask if it’s gluten-free.

if-you-give-a-mouse-cookieIf you give her a gluten-free cookie, she’ll gobble it down and ask for a cup of milk.

If you give her a cup of milk, she’ll ask if it’s lactose-free, because her villi are still healing so she can’t produce lactase.

If you give her a new cup of soy milk, she’ll ask if you’re SURE the cookie was gluten-free, because she’s starting to feel a bit glutened.

If you show her the package label, she’ll ask for a mirror so she can check whether her dermatitis herpetiformis is flaring.

When she remembers she never had DH in the first place, she’ll scratch herself all over and say, “But I do feel itchy. Maybe it’s the soy.”

Then she’ll ask for a place to lie down because she feels fatigued. Then pester you for a bedtime story because now that she’s in bed the insomnia’s come on. Then finally drift off and sleep for about, oh, three days.

When she wakes up, if she’s not the smartest celiac mouse, she’ll ask for another cookie.

And since you don’t particularly want any gluten-free cookies yourself, you’ll give her one.*

And here are some cute kids reading the real thing and wondering why the mouse is so demanding. Photo © Matthew Hauck | Flickr

Here are some real kids reading the real book and apparently wondering why the mouse is so darn demanding. (Photo © Matthew Hauck | Flickr)

*No offense intended to the many bakers and manufacturers of delicious gluten-free cookies. In fact, I could go for a delicious gluten-free cookie right now. Couldn’t you?

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Passover vs. Easter: A Gluten-Free Showdown

Much fuss is made about how gluten-free-friendly Passover is. Grain-free foods line the grocery shelves more at this than any other time of year. Macaroons and gluten-free matzo everywhere. It’s great.

But . . . the holiday story is all about bread. Sure, there’s some stuff about plague, tyrants, blood of lambs, eldest sons, escape from persecution, miraculous divisions of seas, and so forth, but at heart the holiday comes down to unleavened bread. And while, with its dry, crumbly, not-quite breadiness, matzo certainly calls to mind gluten-free bread, it does usually contain gluten—just no yeast, or enough time for gluten to do its thing (since, in the story, there was no time to wait for bread to rise before fleeing Egypt).

In fact, according to many authorities, matzo must be made from wheat, rye, barley, spelt, or oats, the “five grains” mentioned in the Torah, all of which contain gluten, besides oats (though that’s debatable). Some authorities don’t even believe gluten-free matzoh should be allowed at the Passover Seder! Not so friendly, after all.

Passover s'mores made with matzo

Pastel-colored matzo s’mores, though remarkable, are also not entirely canonical.
Photo © Jasmin Fine | Flickr

Easter, on the other hand—that’s a real gluten-free holiday, and I’ll tell you why: Jesus is well known to have been a big bread eater. He consumed so much of the stuff he actually considered his body to be made of it! The very night before his death, he broke bread with his disciples and told them he was giving it up. I won’t speculate on what symptoms may have led him to that decision, but no matter—it was too little, too late.

As the story goes, Jesus died because a bunch of angry people nailed him to a cross (and because it was foretold), not because he ate too much wheat. Fair. But then, after three days in a tomb with no bread, he regained his energy to the point that he actually came back to life! Miracle from god, or miraculous gluten detox?

Unfortunately, the moment the stone rolled back from his tomb, Jesus proved old habits die harder than deities’ sons. His proof to his disciples that it was really him, alive again, was, in fact, “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).

the Last Supper - Jesus breaking the bread

“Don’t eat it, Jesus! The doctor said…!”
Sigh. No one ever listens to the apostles.
Photo courtesy Waiting for the Word | Flickr

Soon enough, all that bread weakened Jesus again, enough that he had to be carried up to heaven, where he planned to sit (at his father’s right hand) for eternity. That sounds like some serious fatigue!

So you see, though manufacturers may not exactly be rushing to produce egg- and bunny-shaped Easter treats on separate lines the way they’ve stepped up to the Kosher for Passover plate, the Easter story is way more sprue. And as celiac celebs go, it doesn’t get much better than Jesus.

Naturally, the entire argument falls apart if you consider that the Easter story contains a commandment to eat bread in memory, just like the Passover story, and how unlikely it is that God would have sent his only son to Earth and then saddled him with a not-yet-discovered autoimmune disease. Classic literary criticism.

By the way, for anyone wondering—based on my reduced posting of late—whether I too have died, fear not: I live, and my posts shall come again next week, provided neither the Old nor the New Testament God smites me for blaspheming first. I know what you’re thinking, so I’ll say it for you: hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.

Regardless of which holiday you’re celebrating this year, I hope it’s a happy one! And if you’re celebrating neither, I’d wish you a happy spring, except that here in New York, it too seems to have died. Here’s hoping for a speedy resurrection.

happy Easter to our Christian friends, happy Passover to our Jewish friends, to our atheist friends...good luck

Thank you, Marsmettn Tallahassee of Flickr. You’re too kind.

For more blasphemy from me, read this oldie but goodie about sin. Alternatively, for more on why Passover actually is pretty cool for those with GRDs, try this article or this list of products to try, or just Google “Passover gluten-free,” because, seriously, the entire Internet has something to say about it. 

Do you stock up on Kosher for Passover gluten-free products? Will you be celebrating with friends or family this weekend? And what, in your opinion, is the best gluten-free holiday?

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Sprue Stories: The Oscars 2014 Edition (86th Academy Awards nominees gone gluten-free, with viewing party menu ideas)

Roll out the red carpet, because it’s time for a new Academy Award! The Oscars are this weekend, and I’ve been anticipating them with all the fervor you’d expect from someone who has only seen three of the nine Best Picture nominees (plus the animated shorts) and would be hard pressed to name one out of every twenty gown- or tux-clad stars walking that carpet on Sunday . . . but loves any opportunity to make a ton of themed snacks.

Oscars red carpet and stairs

Lovely, though my celiac-induced eyesight problems seem to be acting up again. (Yeah, it’s really a thing, though probably not for me.)
Photo © Rachel | Flickr

By the way, I’m a bit disappointed with the blogosphere this year. I didn’t expect much—only enough gluten-free, vegetarian, not-too-hard recipes inspired by the Oscars 2014 nominees to fill out my menu without me having to come up with anything brilliant on my own—but alas, everyone must be busy, I don’t know, watching movies. (I did find a punny list on Chowhound, and a not-very-special-diet-friendly set of menus on Epicurious.)

I don’t have a full menu plan for you either, but I do have what I’m sure you’ve been anticipating as eagerly as those incredibly overengineered and overpriced envelopes: the first annual Academy Award for Best Gluten-Free Picture.

The award, of course, recognizes the film best suited to being stuffed full of celiac in-jokes in a parody on my blog. It’s an honor few filmmakers will receive in the course of their career, primarily because I don’t watch enough movies.

The nominees, coincidentally, are identical to the Best Picture nominees. Cue the elaborate montage sequence, and let’s take a look. [Note: Light spoilers throughout.]


American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street, so far as I can tell from trailers, are the exact same movie. The lead characters in each would likely find their glitzy lifestyles somewhat curtailed by a celiac diagnosis. In other news, Jennifer Lawrence—nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in American Hustle—probably doesn’t have celiac disease, because her upper-intestine endoscopy came back clear, but she does get an award for being the celebrity most forthcoming about her bowel issues (with Tyra Banks as a close runner-up).


Gravity doesn’t have much to do with food—though as much as we gluten-free people may complain about our food options, they’re surely better than what astronauts get stuck with—but if you want to escape cross-contamination for good, your options are pretty limited to outer space.


Nebraska, I have a feeling, would be much more cheery if the main character had given up alcohol (and gluten) to take care of stomach problems earlier in life. He’d be happy enough to stay in his own state with gluten-free corn aplenty, and most of the movie would probably never have happened. 

[3/1 Edit: I started watching Nebraska last night and realized my skimming of the plot summary put me off track. The father’s not from Nebraka, but rather trying to escape his wheat-growing state of Montana to find refuge in the Cornhusk State. This would make the movie a neater fit for GF Best Picture, except that I disliked it so much I didn’t watch more than twenty minutes.]


Dallas Buyers Club focuses on AIDS, and although heavy, is certainly also “darkly humorous,” which is how I’m convincing myself it’s okay to include it in my roundup. In a GF rendition, Matthew McConaughey’s character would be told he had at least 14,600 days left to live, but 0 gluten left to eat. Facing the food options available to the gluten-free community in the eighties, he just might get involved in a risky scheme to smuggle gluten-free baked goods into the country from more enlightened locales. His desperate celiac fellows would literally eat it up.


Philomena is all about Ireland, and—as I’ve previously discussed—celiac disease is often (wrongly?) associated with the Emerald Isle. AIDS makes an appearance in this movie, too, but I am not about to compare celiac disease to AIDS, even if they are both autoimmune. However, if Phil’s son had turned out to have celiac disease instead, our plucky protagonist would have had a somewhat less exciting human interest story, and the movie a much happier ending.


12 Years a Slave—I haven’t seen this, but I know it’s another sad one. In the one food scene I’ve heard about, the main character Northup eats meat, johnnycake, and blackberries—and since johnnycake is often made entirely of cornmeal, that’s a naturally gluten-free meal. (Epicurious came through with a menu inspired by this scene, though with wheat flour in the johnnycakes. Way to ruin everything.)


Captain Phillips had a pretty tough time during the 2009 hijacking of his ship by Somali pirates. That said, like most things, getting kidnapped by pirates would definitely be even worse with celiac disease. Along with being terrified, wounded, and disoriented, you’d probably have a bad stomachache from the food scraps they gave you.


Her is my favorite for the win. I’ve seen it, for one thing, and for another, it’s obvious that the real reason Theodore and Catherine divorced was food. Theo went gluten-free, Catherine didn’t, and they grew apart. Happens all. The. Time. (All those sad, lonely meals we watch him eat in his living room? My celiac heart totally went out.)

Luckily, computers don’t need to eat, so Theodore was able to skip over the Gluten Free Singles stage of his life and start dating someone who suited him immediately. Yes, yes, I know there’s a scene where Samantha—his “girlfriend”—makes him get a slice of pizza, but come on. She’s an operating system. If anyone knows where to find wheat-free pizza by the slice, it’s her.


And the Oscar goes to . . . you tell me! Which of the Best Picture nominees have you seen, and which was your favorite?

large gold Oscars/Academy Awards statue on truck

This Oscars statue is recovering from a rather bad glutening. Hope he’ll be ready for the festivities.
Photo © Rachel | Flickr

Menuwise, Sprue Jr. and I are leaning towards a black and white theme (as in tuxedos, which make an appearance in several of the nominated films, not to mention in the live audience at the ceremony).

We’ll have chocolate-drizzled popcorn, black bean dip with white chips, white bean dip with black chips, and whatever else the spirit moves us to make—including, possibly, gluten-free black and white cookies a la Lisa Horel’s Nosh on This and my mom. I also really, really want to make these “evil nun” cake pops in honor of Philomena, but sis says they’d be too hard.

Are you hosting or attending a viewing party? What are you making?

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