Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Energy ...

I can remember back - most days it seems way back - when I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, when I first removed all the gluten out of my diet - then basically eating very simply (as I knew so little about gluten, what it was, how much it is a part of our daily food intake) - meats & veggies, rice - not much else.  I remember how my body felt in that first initial start of cleansing my system from gluten - how I had this "energy" to spare, felt ready to "tackle" anything, motivated, clear-headed - my emotional state felt more stable, and even for the first time in a long time felt simply - strong, of body, spirit and mind.  My goal is to find my way back to that state ~ for it seems I have so much more yet to learn about this disease, my body and life.  I am amazed daily at the connection of food & system (entire - mental, physical, spiritual) and how this directs our every action in life.

It has been three years of living - of ups and downs - of slowly learning and changing things to get myself back to that first "blush" of becoming gluten free.  Life has been full of constant change, many disappointments, new joys, and a lot of stress in varying levels.  Stress is harmful to immune systems - it is a fact that stress plays havoc with the systems of those with gluten intolerance, celiac disease, anyone with intestinal and stomach issues - and even that stress is one of the major "activators" as it were of Celiac Disease and full-scale symptoms.

Over the last three years I have been doing a lot of researching, reading, learning about Celiac Disease - I have had some major "downs" when being exposed to "gluten" - and I am still amazed at the long lasting negative effects something that could be in such a small amount - a mere micro-organism can create a for lack of better term "crash" of my entire system, not for hours, days or weeks even but the inflammation/auto immune reaction can depress my system for months, and during that time it is a struggle to keep that "goal" of total health in mind and a priority.  It boggles me, and at times frustrates me to a point where I doubt I can do both - live - live the way I want to - exploring life and food in and outside the confines of my "safe home" and still be healthy and happy.

Lack of energy and motivation:  an energy "crisis" as well put by Gluten Free Chickie
I appreciated her tip about being patient and gentle with and to ourselves ~ especially when we are exposed to gluten and suffering the reaction to our entire systems.

I find I struggle being patient with my body, and the lack of energy and motivation - knowing how I could feel and how I want to feel, all I would like to accomplish and become frustrated and yes - let's say the word - "depressed" in spirit that I can't "force" myself to be well and happy.  I have much I want to do, to live, to accomplish ~ and I "selfishly" want to feel well enough to do it - NOW!  :)

I started my blog - my living gluten free blog - because I was motivated by the amazing men and women out there that are food bloggers especially ones that write about gluten free living - people like me who like to "weirdly" take pictures of their food and food experiences and write about it.  I appreciate when they also write about ALL of it - the upside and downside of living life gluten free - of living life as someone who has Celiac Disease. 

So I need to give a shout out today to a few amazing bloggers - and thank them, and there will be more shout outs in the future - because we only all benefit by staying connected to all the information and viewpoints out there!!  :)

So THANK YOU - and keep on blogging because we are out here reading and being inspired :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dreams ...

"If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again." ~ Flavia Weedn

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Udi's ... loving the options :)

And the taste ...

I seriously have so many posts I want to write - from products we have tried to restaurants - some revisited some new ones visited ~ even one I never should have visited ~ to more info on traveling in Jasper, some more great memories ... so awesome to be able to travel safely.  :)

I am going to start with an Udi's Gluten Free Foods  product post - I even have a few of these ~ I truly have come to appreciate the quality and taste of Udi's products.  This post is about making an easy peasy pizza!!  On their pizza/flat bread crust ~ we were shopping in a local Save On Foods and I actually came across this product in the bakery section in a cooler, separate from all the gluten containing breads.

Along with the pizza crusts we picked up some Hunts tomato paste, Grimms sausage - ham and garlic sausage and the ham sausage rounds, some lactose free cheese and some fresh mushrooms. 

Threw them together:

Baked for about 8-12 mins at 350 degrees -

And ta da - a quick supper, or awesome side, and actually the next morning cold a great breakfast treat!  The Udi's pizza / flat bread crust is a thinner crust - would make awesome pizza bread sticks also - has a slightly chewy and pleasing texture and is delicious!!

The Udi's Brand has some great products - and with more being researched and baked up all the time -GLUTEN FREE - and for us even better Lactose free - the best of both!  I love the consistency of the Udi's products - the crusts on their breads, pizza crusts and buns are slightly chewy.  Their products do not crumble away in your hands as I have found with some other brands, hold quite well when adding cheese and condiments to burgers and such and have a delicious taste I have yet to find something comparable to.

A definite thumbs up for Udi's Gluten Free Foods and for the Pizza/flatbread.  :) 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

RE: Trip to Jasper - in Nov 2010

RE:  Our trip to Jasper - November 2010

Our trip to Jasper was lovely - too short ~ but lovely to get completely away, the mountains are always a good for my soul experience, for I find them so majestic, awe inspiring ~ I am a nature lover anyway, nothing pleases me more than to go for a walk down by the river valley or on some forest (or mountain) path and just take in all that is around me. The weather in Jasper was not that great - actually a blizzard on our way in on Friday night, cold and wet for the most part ~ but when we went for our jaunt to Athabasca Falls on Saturday the weather cleared for a few hours and it was so beautiful. Really humbles a person and trully makes you thankful for the simple beauties we have around us, we are very blessed to live in a place where there is so much natural beauty and breathtaking views a few hours away.

Eating in Jasper - or I should say eating out in Jasper gluten free was a 50/50 crap shoot this trip - the first lunch we had at a restaurant called Papa George's (it was on the internet as a gluten free choice) unfortunately the staff on that day were not as careful (?) or knowledgable (?) to gluten free eating ~ and both of us were a bit unwell after our meal. Surprisingly my guy (not a diagnosed celiac but we believe definitely has a Gluten sensitivity - and an already known Lactose intolerance) even more than I. So we were a bit skittish when it came to choosing a supper place, we were tired and cold from our few hours out in the beautiful fresh air, so we took a chance ~ went and talked to the front desk at our Hotel (The Amethyst) and they said the restaurant in the hotel (Anthony's) was very aware of gluten free eating and would be accomodating. So we went to our room and made the choice to stay in the hotel and eat ~ and it was lovely. They were more than accomodating, felt very safe in the knowledge of the staff and the chef ~ our meals were delicious and we felt no ill effects at all afterwards - I would go back and eat there anytime - no matter where we would be staying. So the get away was lovely ~ did have a few ups and downs but then doesn't everything?

ADD:  I am looking forward to going back to Jasper - they did have more options for dining out that I would be interested in trying, as well as there is a  Nutter's in the town that had some great options for gluten free snacks AND items for cooking or preparing (if you had a kitchenette or were camping).  I think as this was one of our first trips as a couple away and having to find options eating gluten free - it did not go too badly ~ and look forward to going back - Jasper is a beautiful area.  :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Somedays I just get tired ...

This past year and a bit has seemed to be a tough one _ in the living and feeling healthy being gluten free world, for me at least, but it also has been a time of some momentous changes in the world and definitely a lot happening in the Celiac/Gluten sensitive community.   My thoughts are a bit scattered today ... I am not having a good day ... for all my efforts with last nights supper something did not sit right with my system and my body is talking ... no shouting at times ... that whatever it was is not good.  Some days on days like today I feel incredibly tired ... tired of being a Celiac, tired of having a disease that while at the same time dealing with it has improved my life and was like a huge breath of fresh air has also seemed to open up a whole can of problems, of issues ... of "things" "foods" "stuff" that seem to hurt my body ... some days like today I just want to sit down and cry "make it stop" ... and I feel frustrated at life and my inability to heal myself. 

I think one of the hardest things to explain to people is how "food" really affects our systems, we spend most of our lives learning that food satisfies hunger, when you are hungry you find something to eat.  Now we all know that let's say certain foods are not the best for you - that a high fat diet can lead to serious complications, a bad diet to obesity ~ but do we really really stop to think how food affects our systems - in it's entirety?  People with Celiac disease do, people with gluten sensitivity do. 

It can be exhausting and frustrating how much time and effort goes into food and the study of what food/s do to the body, mind and spirit.  And that is just one part of a busy life ~ yet for many of us - it's one huge important part that plays a part in everything else in life - our health, our relationships, our work, our play - every interaction or avoided interaction is linked to what we put in our mouths, what we consume, even what we may use to wash our hair or brush our teeth with, from the moment we wake till we lay our heads down at night - it's there with us.  Knowledge that we can not stop gluten from affecting every aspect of our lives, we can only have a small control in how much it does ~ and continue to "try" to do what we need to do everyday to stay healthy and sometimes I think just plain sane.

The world has been a place of upheaval lately - seems we all look around us and there seems to be more sadness and turmoil and strife ~ and not as much peace.  Some days this weighs heavier than others ... I know in my own family there is all sorts of issues that are in various stages to be looked at ... to be dealt with.  Leaves me feeling overwhelmed ... leaves me feeling lost.  When you add the stresses of health and diet on top of that ... well that is just not the best day.  So I read ... I get on the computer and search and research and read some more ... forums, facebook pages, articles, etc.  and I look to be informed, and to feel a part of something - connect and communicate, learn and share.

I have found lately more and more I have turned again and again to the celiac/gluten sensitive community ~ that I have a growing need to be more involved, to be connected and to be a part of the growing community that is shouting out to be heard ~ We want the basics just like many gluten eating folk ;)  We want to be happy, we want to be healthy and we WANT to be safe.  It's hard to explain the feeling that comes over you when you actually eat or drink something that is not only tasty and filling - but that you don't react to it in a negative manner - that you actually feel great!  I am working on this feeling to happen more often ~ it's a work in progress.  Some days I get tired ...

BUT tomorrow or even the rest of today has yet to be lived and experienced ... so maybe just maybe I can work on that for now ...  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Matahari - sadly closed

This evening I had a craving for Asian or Vietnamese dining - After taking a look at a couple gluten free reviews on-line - I decided we were going to try out Matahari restaurant on 124th street.  When we walked in I immediately loved the ambiance - the cement fish pond with the koi fish added something unique - the seats that were set in a wooden boat - cool - and the fact that you could reserve a private room and area was a nice add as well.

I do get my first "food" impression when I look at the menu ~ and as a celiac I look for how they have accommodated allergies or sensitivities on the menu.  I was pleased to see that the menu included (did not need a separate menu) celiac safe choices, and the fact that they used the word celiac instead of just gluten free was great also.  I was excited to see that in each category from appetizers, soups to entrees they had choices under each heading that were celiac "friendly" - I was excited to order and dig in.

Though my son does not eat gluten free he joined us (my partner and I) in having a couple appetizers - I chose the Pork Satay and the Shrimp Rice Wraps - both came with sauces on the side.  The Pork Satay was cooked just right, and the seasoning on it was very tasty, I would like to try the other choices in the future - the beef and chicken.  :)  The Shrimp Rice Wraps - was like a little shrimp salad wrapped in a bundle, it came with a slightly sweet sauce for dipping that was a very nice light add.

My man decided to have the Vietnamese Vermicelli
(lemongrass grilled pork and beef, Vietnamese spring roll, rice vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, julienne carrots and lettuce, crushed peanuts, and green onion oil)
- The vermicelli noodles were very nicely cooked - and the pork and beef were nicely spiced - green onion oil was a nice light flavorful touch on the dish.  He gave it a thumbs up.

My son had the Cashew Nut Chicken - and though it was not marked on the menu as celiac friendly ~ and he didn't order it so, she did ask him if he wanted it that way ~ this made me realize that they were very accommodating to whatever you wanted to order off the menu - that most dishes could have substitutes added or things removed to make it safe to eat.  Nevertheless - I didn't try anything off his dish as it was not a celiac friendly dish - but he really enjoyed it and said it was another thumbs up.

I decided to try the Sambal Prawn dish -
(shrimps in an exotic Malaysian style shrimp paste blend sauteed with onions and shallots – served with coconut rice, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber)
- Very tasty - the waitress asked both my son and I how much spice we wanted, he said mild for himself and I said not spicy please.  The dish still had a touch of a bite to it, obviously the Malaysian flavor requires a bit - but it was delicious.  I loved the add of the tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber that touch of salad really helped offset the richness of the sauce on the shrimp - the onions and shallots were sweet, the shrimp cooked just right.  I really was impressed with the amount of the good sized shrimp in the dish, the servings were filling and delicious and we left satisfied and full.

I look forward to our next visit and trying a few more things off of the varied menu.  The bill for the three of us (we had ice tea and sodas for drinks) came to just over $60 - which I found more than reasonable.

Good food, great service and awesome people to be sharing it with.  Matahari is a thumbs up.  :)  

Matahari - South East Asian Restaurant
10108B - 124 Street
Edmonton, AB
Ph: (780) 452-8262

Ample parking at the rear of the building.  :)  With an entrance to the restaurant in the back and the front.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August long weekend ... festival city and more ...

Well I really do admire bloggers that can get on and update post regularly - I look at other blogs and I sometimes get lost in all you can do and share on a blog ... really it could be a full time job!  ha ha - sigh maybe one day I can turn my passion of health, gluten free life, good eating and love of life and where I live and turn it into something ... for now I work a full time job, live between two homes and kitchens, and just have the drive to get this all going.

I love my city and the fact that it comes alive with it's festivals - especially all the activities during the late spring to early fall months - a weekend with two of my favorite events just passed us by - The Taste of Edmonton and Heritage Days -

I was cautiously optimistic in attending Taste of Edmonton this year - An event where a taste of a generous handful of restaurants prepare two or three small dishes for the public to basically "sample" what they are about - It was exciting in the fact that the Taste Of Edmonton had a celiac approved menu - that was posted on line that you could print off before you even attended the event - there seemed to be a good sampling of different dishes so we were prepared to give it a try.

Side note: (It does make it a little more tricky as we are also lactose intolerant - sometimes frustrating that more restaurants do not have a wider span of knowledge on celiac disease or the fact that a lot of people who have celiac disease or even a severe gluten intolerance often have lactose intolerance as well - in my case I was so hoping that once my villa was restored and my intestines on the way to health from gluten damage - that I would once again be able to tolerate dairy / lactose - no such luck.)

We did notice (we went on the last day of this event) that there were booths that though originally on the list that they had celiac friendly dishes - had crossed this out, I can imagine with the cross contamination issue being so high at an event like this - there were some that decided that the risk was too great and took their items off.  

Restaurants and the dishes we tried:

Zinc - Alberta Beef Petit Tender w/Blue Cheese Potatoes - The beef was extremely tender and very tasty - and the Blue cheese potatoes a very nice accompaniment - this dish was a fair size for the cost and was so delicious we went back for seconds.  :)

It's All Greek to Me - Chicken Souvlaki - Simple meat on a stick (without the break accompaniment of course) - tasty.

That's Aroma! - both their items on the menu were listed as celiac friendly - Chicken Satay and Garlic Tomato Salad - we just tried the Chicken Satay (left the garlic for another day ;)  It was very tasty and I am looking to give this restaurant a visit soon - I also heard that they run the odd gluten free cooking class out of the Sorrentino's restaurant groups - I would love to give this a try one day.

The Canadian Brewhouse - Steak Bites - these were delicious - another go back and get another helping - spiced to perfection and tender, looked to be a very popular addition by the line up.

Taste of Ukraine - Cabbage Rolls (Holubtsi) - we had them plain without the sour cream and bacon offered - which she understood as soon as we said celiac - and they were ok.  I am not sure as a celiac how much we could eat at the actual restaurant, but I intend to check it out, being a Ukrainian girl.  :)

Lit Italian Wine Bar - Again both the items on the menu were celiac friendly - Basil stuffed Bocconcini w/ Prosciutto Wrap and the Seared Galliano Crusted Ahi Tuna Salad -  We tried the Ahi Tuna Salad and really enjoyed it - a mixed organic greens with a delightful light and tasty dressing and the Tuna was seared and spiced just right - enjoyed this dish.  Looking at their site - another restaurant I am putting down to try soon, always a good sign when you see gluten free this and that right on the main menu online.

Enjoyed the opportunity to take part in the Taste of Edmonton - and it was good to see the restaurants that made the effort to accommodate therefore encouraging to us to put their establishments on our list of restaurants to research and give them our business.

Heritage Days - was a bit more difficult - we did try a few things from different cultural booths - it is a lot more confusing and a bit of a try and dare situation - you are really taking a risk in eating there - I think maybe some more research would be better for next year, but then again I think the cross contamination risk is very high at this event.

Will post pictures of the dishes at the Taste of Edmonton soon - but for now - I think the foray into gluten free eating at this event a tentative success, and looking forward to next year and maybe taking in a few more dishes.  :)

Cheers :)