Tag Archives: xanthan gum

Why I Celebrate Celiac, and you should, too (plus: giveaway!)

In my last entry, I asked how I should celebrate my newly low antibodies. (The response was nearly unanimously in favor of alcohol—but I’ve kept my perch on the wagon for now, thanks very much.) This post is about celebrating something just a little different: celiac, itself.

When I got my first-ever celiac bloodwork results back in January and started sharing the news (one relative or friend at a time, shyly, haltingly—prior to my Internet-overshare era), the reactions were generally positive, along the lines of:

“I hope that’s it, so you’ll have an answer,”
or, “Awesome, you’ll finally feel better now!”
or, “Just wheat, rye, and barley? That doesn’t sound so bad.”

Then I’d start rambling about cross-contamination, and strict diet for life, and six months to two years to feel better, and I watched the faces slip and fall. The replies changed to:

“Maybe I don’t hope you have it after all,”
and, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry,”
and, “That’s terrible.”

Which is correct?

Well…obviously the best, most celebration-worthy thing would have been to never get sick in the first place (or—if you believe those insufferable “no sunshine without rain” folks—to get sick, be miraculously cured, and live the rest of my life with a renewed appreciation of my own good health). Being sick is not, you know, preferred.

But, as a second choice, a disease with a relatively foolproof cure—even an excruciatingly slow-motion, longterm cure—is way, way better than a disease or syndrome with no known cure. As long as I’m a good little gluten-free girl, my health is (knock on wood) far more likely to improve than worsen. That’s something to celebrate.

Of course, since I’m not feeling tiptop yet, it can be tough to get my celebratory feelings going. For inspiration, I can always visit the smart and often funny posts around the blogosphere on the “good side” of celiac (like this one, this one, and this one). If you’ll indulge me in jumping on the bandwagon, though, here are the top three tangible things I celebrate about celiac:

1) Community. I know everyone has said it already, but that’s because it’s true. The online celiac and gluten-free community is super supportive and full of passionate, intelligent, interesting voices. As a resident of New York City, land of “hate thy neighbor” and “not here to make friends,” I sometimes feel a bit community-spirit-starved. Sharing my thoughts and hearing all of yours is a real treat.

2) New adventures. This blog, the gluten-free grocery aisle, fascinating followup tests…all previously uncharted territory, all kinda neat. (Yes, even the tests. Spending a morning blowing into a balloon every twenty minutes to measure gut bacteria is something that everyone should experience at least once, preferably preceded by fasting.) If I hadn’t gotten celiac disease, there’s a strong possibility I would still have no idea that buckwheat groats are, like, the best grainlike substance ever. I would also probably not have a bag of xanthan gum in my pantry, as I do now (albeit, I must shamefacedly confess, an unopened one).

3) Savings. What? Gluten-free food is expensive? Okay, yes, some of it is. I too have had those six-dollar mini-muffins and air-filled bags of chips. But you know what else is expensive? Eating out in New York. And you know who doesn’t do that? Baby celiacs. This is why my student loan collectors also celebrate celiac.

Add all that to the prospect of—any day now, fingers crossed—my fully restored health and vigor, and you’ve got yourself something to, at the very least, tolerate and, on a good day, celebrate. But how (besides the obvious, you buncha lushes) to celebrate?

That’s easy. Come to the New York City Celebrate Celiac event! Hosted by Gluten Free Calendar, it’s happening on Saturday, July 13th, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel in Astor Hall. I’ll be there to meet any of you who can make it, and I’ll be unveiling some fun new blog-related stuff while I’m at it. Here’s some extra info on the event at the NYC Celiac Meetup page. If you live in the area, mosey on down for performances, activities, vendors, collective effervescence, and, most importantly, my autograph.

Kidding! But I really would love to say hi face to face. That’s why I’m pleased to be giving away 10 tickets to the event. At $5 a pop (or $4, if you buy online here), they’re pretty affordable as is, but if you, like me, have been blowing through your I-don’t-eat-out-at-restaurants-anymore fund, every little bit helps. And, hey, that’s five more dollars you can spend on merch. Not that that’s what blogging’s all about.

To win a ticket, just comment on this post letting me know what you celebrate (or what you don’t celebrate, if you insist on being mopey) about celiac. Considering the scant probability of my having more than ten readers in the New York metro area, you probably won’t face stiff competition, but you’re still welcome to follow me and share the giveaway on Twitter to get extra entries and to celebrate our community here in the Big Gluten-Free Apple (don’t forget to include @spruestory so I’ll know).

For everyone outside of the area who’s read to the end of this post, I hope you’ll still join me, virtually, in celebrating celiac…if only because things could be a whole lot worse.

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Happy hump day!

Photo © blue_quartz | Flickr

Photo © blue_quartz | Flickr

Wednesdays after a vacation are so much harder than other Wednesdays. I had a great visit with my parents last week, then hosted my sister over the weekend, and then had a half day yesterday because of my doctor’s appointment. All of this means I should be well rested and bright-eyed as I tackle the rest of my week, but instead, I’m dragging. (I blame my lack of nutrient absorption; what’s your excuse?)

To keep my enthusiasm up, I’m focusing on a few small pre-hump triumphs:

1. I had my first dinner party since going gluten-free. Hello, amaranth-polenta-stuffed peppers! Did you know amaranth is rich in, like, everything holy? Protein (including lysine), fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, B vitamins…all that stuff veg-heads and gluten-freebies crave. I am not the first to compare it to manna. I’m eating my way through the leftovers and still have half a package left to use in another recipe. Thanks again, Mom, Dad, and Bob!

2. I made the Bob’s Red Mill brownies for my writing workshop and they were widely agreed to be delicious (by the same pals who said terrible, terrible things about the chocolate chip cookies). I filled them with about three times the recommended amount of chocolate chips (1/4 cup? Really?) and frosted them with Betty Crocker fudgy chocolate frosting (a bit sacrilegious for a girl whose parents would always opt for homemade ganache, but hey, they’re the ones who bought me a baking mix). They were even better the next day after chilling out in the fridge. Thanks, everyone, for recommending the brownies.

3. My new doctor is great. She listened to my concerns, she ordered a few more tests, she reassured me that everything takes time. She also felt my ankles and said, “You really run a lot, don’t you?” I have no idea if those two things were connected, but it amused me.

4. While at the doctor’s, I picked up a copy of the latest edition of Columbia’s Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Living (the linked edition is not the most recent, but I’m not sure the 2012 printing edition can be found online). It’s pocket-sized (if you are a man—if you’re a woman, you know the only thing pocket-sized is lip balm) and packed full of goodies. I read a lot of books, articles, and blogs about celiac disease and gluten-free living and often find the same information over and over again, but the little kernels of new knowledge make it worthwhile. This book lists a whole bunch of gluten-free brands I can check out and also highlighted Montina (Indian ricegrass), which is a new grain on me. I think it’s similar to Kamut (not gluten-free), in that the name is a registered trademark and it seems to be produced by one company only. On a less happy note, it also seems tough to find. Anyone tried it or know where to buy it?

5. I also found it adorable that the guide included the misspelling xantham gumSeriously, it’s so much cuter that way.

6. Plus, it included one of those dining cards you are supposed to give to baffled waiters at restaurants. Do you carry one of these? I’m hoping I won’t mistake it for a business card—not that I give out many of those anyway.

7. Finally, when I pulled out the book I triggered an awkward but pleasant subway interaction with the guy sitting next to me. He told me he has a friend who needs to eat gluten-free, and I mentioned I was vegetarian as well, so we talked about soy. It was the first time I have ever heard someone say the word phthalate out loud. I looked back down at the book after a bit and he got up at the next stop, whether because it was actually his stop or because I made him feel unwelcome, I do not know. I hope it was the former. Although I don’t handle stranger banter all that well, I do love these chats because they remind me that the other people on the train are real people with interiority, not strange cyborg commuting machines, which also reminds me that I too am real.

What’s helping you remember you’re real this Wednesday? (Lots and lots of coffee? Oh, me too. Me, too.)

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Dispatches from Bob’s

Remember the $50 gift card I received from the best parents in the world? No? You don’t? Why doesn’t anybody pay as much attention to the minutiae of my life as I do?

Anyway, Mom and Dad sent me a gift card (along with the infamous baking mixes) to help me restock my gluten-bare cupboards, and I put together an order in record time. When my box arrived, it was a time of great anticipation and anxiety. I’d switched out items in my cart so many times—trying to get the total as close to $50 without going over, agonizingly making my way down from $53.78 to $51.12 to $50.03 (“Come on! Can’t I get a break on the pennies?”)—that I couldn’t recall what I wound up ordering.

Here’s me opening my box:

Photo on 2-28-13 at 1.59 PM

Yes, that’s how I look on Christmas day, too. Except with even worse bedhead, if you can believe it. And yes, I took these pictures at work. Hey, you take your lunch break your way, I’ll take mine my way.

Even though I picked all of the items myself, I still felt the packing list read like the contents of an interplanetary dispatch from Mars:

Organic raw buckwheat groats
Organic amaranth grain
Flaxseed meal
Xanthan gum
GF mighty tasty hot cereal
TVP (textured veg protein)

I guess that’s what comes of being not only intestinally challenged but also a wannabe-gan.

The buckwheat groats, which I’d never seen raw before, did not look anywhere near as appealing as that buckwheat pilaf from Quintessence I had in mind when I ordered them. But, you know, I’ll make it work. You will never, ever see those pictures, though, because a) the only camera I have access to is the one on my computer at work, and b) buckwheat groats pilaf is just one of those things that tastes better than it either looks or sounds.

After taking the totally candid photo above and setting aside pesky questions like, “What the heck was I planning to do with 16 ounces of flaxseed meal?,” I moved on to more important ones like, “Are packing peanuts gluten-free?”

Photo on 2-28-13 at 2.04 PM #5

I sure hope so!

By the way, the nice folks at Bob’s recalculated my shipping after I placed the order and the total plummeted to $47.08. Darn! I could’ve bought the teff flour after all. Or even more flaxseed. Anyway, the total might as well have stayed where it was, because I will never, ever remember to use that $2.92 on a future order.

Are you an online/bulk orderer? Where do you buy your gluten-free Martian ingredients? And what the heck am I going to do with all that flaxseed?

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