Most-wanted gadget

V’s annual Celiac blood panel was done recently, and results are not great. Four years after diagnosis and her antibodies are still positive. Worse yet, the numbers crept up a little from last year. Last year things were heading in the right direction and her doctor was hopeful that with this blood work result everything would be in the negative. Not the case.

I’m really frustrated. What are we doing wrong? Obviously somewhere, somehow, V gets exposed to gluten. But where? Is there cross-contamination at home? We are not 100% gluten-free. We keep regular bread and bagels, cereal, some pre-packaged snacks, and that’s about it. All meals we make are gluten-free. We are extremely careful about cross-contamination. We have a dedicated toaster oven and a cutting board. But perhaps it’s not enough and we need to go completely gluten-free at home?

Or is the problem with restaurants where we eat? Once again, we found a few that we consider safe. However, because V does not typically have any reaction to gluten that she can feel or we can see, we have no way of telling if what she is eating is actually safe.

Or perhaps the issue was during the cruise, where getting a safe gluten-free meal proved to be rather a frustrating challenge? Since we did the blood work shortly after we returned, it may be reflective of possible cross-contamination there?

How I would love to know for sure. And guess what? There is actually a gadget out there that could help us. Nima Sensor will analyze a food sample and tell you if it contains any gluten. If we bite the bullet and go 100% gluten-free at home, we can test food at restaurants and maybe finally track down the source of cross-contamination.

There is one little glitch. The price of Nima Sensor is a cool $275. And that’s just for a starter kit. Since each food sample requires a new capsule, those will run you more. The website recommends a subscription of 12 capsules per month at a cool price of $60 per month. If we don’t do subscription, we have to pony up $72 for 12 capsules. Those capsules will go quickly if we want to test V’s meals when we dine out, even though we don’t normally eat out more than once a week.

So here I am, staring at this cool gadget, really wanting it. But it is simply too expensive.

What do we do? I have no idea. If you are reading this post and you have Celiac, I’d love for you to weigh in. I’m also curious if it’s a reasonable expectation for tests to be negative. It is really possible? Would you eat a product that, according to the label, was made on equipment shared with wheat, or is that a no-no? What about a product that is made in a facility that also processes wheat? It is unreasonable for us to think that we can live a normal life where we don’t wrap V in a bubble, allow her to eat at places other than home, and don’t have to be on edge about everything she puts in her mouth?

We are going back to the GI doctor later in the summer to discuss all this. Perhaps we can squeeze in another round of blood work just to rule out vacation cross-contamination. Aside from that, I’m at a loss.

As safe as it gets: samples that we got at the Gluten-Free Expo

 

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Gluten-Free Expo Review

Disclosure: The Gluten-Free Media Group provided me with a complimentary admission to Gluten-Free Expo. All opinions are my own.

Gluten-Free expo was amazing. So many different products to explore! I was quite familiar with some products and approached those vendors as a true fangirl. And there were many more that were either new to me or that I have not had a chance to sample in the past.

All the swag! All the vendors!

Without further ado, I present to you some of my favorites.

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Everything by BFree. Like, everything. Breads, bagels, pita bread (yes, GF pita bread exists), breadsticks – everything is so good! I’ve heard of the brand before but this was my first time sampling it. A+

 

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These things are like crack. Seriously, you can’t eat just one. Very tasty and make great appetizers/party food.

 

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So many yummy things by this company that was completely new to me. See that chocolate cake mix? Tried it. Tastes amazing.

 

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So Delicious is so delicious. Also so blurry, sorry. Why yogurt, you ask? Isn’t yogurt normally GF anyway? Well, yes. I loved this for my own selfish reason. In my early twenties I developed mild lactose tolerance. A few years ago it got worse. Thank goodness I can still have cheese and most processed dairy products, as well as just a little bit of milk/cream. But I had to say good bye to yogurts and ice cream altogether, because doubling over in pain is so not worth it. So Delicious makes yummy coconut milk based yogurts and ice-creams. Trust me, I tried many and it’s not that easy to pull it off.

 

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Using the swag I brought back, I assembled V’s lunch later that day: a sandwich with BFree bread roll, So Delicious yogurt, and sun butter.

 

The following day I decided to bring V along. It felt great to be able to tell her that she could eat everything. How often does that happen? Almost never.

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Some of V’s favorites were Sun Butter and Milton’s chips. Yum!

So it’s lovely when everything is GF and I could say yes to everything. Except that stupid diabetes thing that did not agree with all of the sampling V had. We tried to estimate carbs best we could but ended up severely underestimating.

 

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Oops! We fixed it, using mainly insulin. For bonus points tell me at what time we arrived to the Expo? How were you able to tell?

 

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V was excited to assemble her lunch for the following day, using some of her favorite products.

 

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Last but not least, we got to try Keli’s Sauces. Sweet N Sour sauce was hands-down favorite. Not only is it delicious, it’s also pretty low in carbs, at 5 g per 1 TBS. V dips everything into it. It’s taken an honorable place alongside ketchup and it’s a place hard-earned.

I can’t wait to go to the Expo next year and if I’m lucky I’ll make it to other Expos. I highly recommend you do the same. If you go, I have a pro tip for you: go hungry or else you won’t be able to get through even a fraction of samples. Also,  you may not need another meal that day. Or ever.

Giveaway Results!

I feel like Oprah. You get a ticket, and you get a ticket, EVERYONE GETS A TICKET!

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Image Credit: Giphy

Everyone who commented on my last post gets one free ticket to the Gluten Free Expo in San Diego! Please email me using the Contact tab and I’ll give you the code.

Missed the giveaway? I have a 20% off coupon for you!

1. Visi ticketing page: http://ow.ly/t0j7306YzeQ
2. Enter promotional code ADVANCE at the top & click apply
3. Select the ticket(s) you want and & click order now

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Gluten-Free Expo, At Last!

And I’m doing my first ever giveaway! Just keep reading 🙂

I’ve heard about various gluten-free expos. I’ve read other peoples’ experiences about attending. I was ware that there was at least one big expo right here were we live. I’ve been wanting to go for-freaking-ever, but something always came up. Not any more. Move over diabetes, I’m giving Celiac some well-deserved time in the spotlight.

Because really, sometimes Celiac is even more annoying than Diabetes. Yes, really. For example, V was going on a field trip to the ice-skating rink with her class a few weeks ago. Afterwards they were going to have pizza and snacks. My very first question was, could they get GF pizza for her? Because if they could not, V would have to bring her own lunch. Not fun. And traveling while maintaining a gluten-free diet can present another set of challenges. For starters, wherever we go, we have to stay in a place that has at least a fridge and microwave, so that we can either bring food with us or buy it at a store. Finding a restaurant with gluten-free options is not always possible, so we always have to be prepared to supply V’s food on our own.

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No trip to Target is complete without stocking up on some of our GF favorites

Random fun fact #1: when we find some gluten-free products on sale, we buy them up in ridiculous quantities. Like this:

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When our favorite GF bread is on sale…

 

Anyway, I’m really excited to finally attend a Gluten-Free expo here in San Diego on February 12-13. (Random fun fact #2: Gluten Free Media Group – the company that puts together the expos – is also the same company that’s behind Find Me Gluten Free app and website. This app is a life-saver for us when we are traveling and I’ve found amazing GF restaurants with its help.)

While I know of many GF products, there are many more that I’m not aware of, and I can’t wait to explore the wonderful GF world at the expo. I am going to be  on a particular lookout for products that are GF AND diabetes-friendly. I’m also hoping to discover more local restaurants, stores, and other businesses that cater to Celiac community. And perhaps I can learn something new about GF living.

Want to join me at the expo? I have….DRUMROLL….a GIVEAWAY!

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I have five tickets that are good for FREE admission to one day of the event (Saturday 2/11 or Sunday 2/12). Comment on this post by Saturday 1/14/17 telling me what your favorite gluten-free product is and why you love it so. I will select five people randomly on Sunday 1/15/17. 

 

 

New Flavors of Arctic Zero

Disclosure: I received free samples for review. All opinions are my own.

I’ve reviewed Arctic Zero frozen treats last year in this post. We like them because they have lots of great-tasting gluten-free flavors and are much lower in carbs than regular ice-cream. In the beginning of this year, the company unveiled new flavors and gave us an opportunity to preview and taste them.

First, I have to give it to Arctic Zero for presentation. It’s so exciting when the box arrives beautifully packaged. IMG_2836

If you don’t live near a store that carries Arctic Zero or does not have flavors you want, you can order online and they will ship it to you, too. Pro tip: don’t touch dry ice. Not even though a bag. Because OMG OUCH!

We sampled the following gluten-free flavors: Cake Batter, Banana Pudding and Poppin’ Pomegranate.

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And we liked them all! As usual, everyone had their favorites. I didn’t think I’d like Cake Batter much but it turned out to be my favorite. V loved Banana Pudding the best. She was reluctant to try Pomegranate but liked it, too! Again, it’s helpful to remember that Arctic Zero treats are not like ice-cream. In their consistency they are more like less sweet sorbet.

Arctic Zero treats taste best when you allow them to warm up and soften for about 15-20 minutes. Also, V made up an easy smoothie/milk shake recipe that works great with either flavor:

Take half a cup of milk, half a cup of Arctic Zero, and half a cup of your fruit of choice, chopped. (We are partial to strawberries in our smoothies.) Blend everythig together in a blender for a couple of minutes and enjoy! You get a glass-full of a treat that is delicious and low in carbs (about 18 g. for the whole thing; compared to over 20 g. of carbs for half a cup of regular ice-cream.)

Cheers!

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Random, with a chance of foul language

No, not T1D, though it can definitely be that way…

My hubby asked me the other day if I was running out of ideas for this blog. Nope, plenty of ideas, but little time or energy to organize them. But then I thought, why not use this post as a giant dump of all some things T1D and gluten-free that have been occupying my head space for a while? So her we go, in no particular order.

Parental distress and T1D

In regards to the findings of this research study, which was the topic of another Insulin Nation article (not written by me): no shit Sherlock, T1D parents are stressed out. I think healthcare professionals forget about it so much that we need to have research from Yale to show them that it’s a real thing. But some parents were up in arms about the 33.5% average of people who reported distress. Only 33.5%?!

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An average can be rather useless. (Quick demo: you take a test and get a 10; I take same test and get a 90; our average is 50.) The researchers pulled and aggregated data from various studies that used widely different measurements of distress, from general parental distress to PTSD and clinical depression/anxiety. And the prevalence ranged from 10% to 74%. Most likely 74% reflects prevalence of more common and general distress, while the 10% is a figure more reflective of a clinical diagnosis. So the 33.5% means nothing, so let’s please not focus on it and instead focus on how to help T1D parents find the support they need, OK?

A recent gluten-free find that made me insanely happy:

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Refrigerated cookies ready to bake. Take them out, lay them on a cookie sheet, bake for 12-15 minutes. Perfect, easy, and so unbelievably good. Available at our local supermarket.

I made them for our fabulous New Year’s Eve celebration.

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I was going to take better pictures of these beauties but by the time I got around to it they were all gone. Eaten. Devoured. I got to inhale a few crumbs. Also, I’m too lazy to get off my chair now to look in the freezer, where we have a small stash, and look up the carb count. It doesn’t matter anyway, they are carb-worthy.

(Speaking of things that are gone… Remember my love letter to Trader Joe’s meat sticks? They had issues with supplier and no longer carry them, and may never ever again carry them. Which makes me really sad. Good thing we have these wonderful cookies to cheer me up.)

When there is a real problem with the pump

Like, when you put more air than insulin in the pod, and the pod does not realize it, and it keeps thinking it’s delivering insulin whereas in reality it’s delivering insulin-flavored air, this happens:

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Fortunately we caught on quickly enough and rectified the problem within hours. It involved changing the pod AND doing an old-school injection to speed up insulin delivery.

Ted Cruz, you are an asshole

And an ignorant one, at it. Let me be more specific: I am referring to his promise to remove gluten-free food from military, because it is just PC or a social experiment. Of course gluten-free is just a fad and the US military is trying to keep up with the Joneses. Headdesk. Facepalm. OMGWTFBBQ.

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He had me at cross-contamination…

As we arrived to the restaurant for our first breakfast aboard Disney Wonder cruise ship, I surveyed the buffet and asked for assistance. At Disney, they don’t mess around with food allergies. This became clear to us as soon as we boarded the day before, as the staff were very attentive, knowledgeable and helpful. I’ve heard from other people that gluten-free dining on Disney cruises was wonderful, and our first day was certainly great. But now we were confronted with the abundance of choices of a buffet. How do we safely navigate it? At once, they summoned the chef. I explained to him that my daughter needs gluten-free food, and could he please show us what items in the buffet were gluten-free.

“I can certainly show you gluten-free items in the buffet. However, with the buffet you always risk cross-contamination. If you tell me what she wants to eat, I’ll be happy to make it for her.”

Please excuse me while I pick up my jaw from the floor. In fact, I am getting a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic: gluten-free foods are neither healthier nor low-carb. Discuss.

After I recovered from the shock, I wanted to hug him. And after he told V that yes, in fact they DO have gluten-free doughnuts, I think she wanted to hug him too. It’s not often that you come across someone in the restaurant industry who really gets Celiac, someone who understands that cross-contamination IS a big deal and that no, you can’t just take the croutons off of the salad. Our love with Ralf, chef-extraordinaire, was at the first sight. Or perhaps at the first mention of cross-contamination.

Half-way into our breakfast, Ralf came back to check on V. We started talking about all things gluten-free. He asked V if there was anything particular she really wanted to eat, something that perhaps was hard to find or make. She mentioned lasagna. Ralf started to enthusiastically think out-loud about possible ways to make it happen. “You are having dinner in my restaurant tomorrow? I’ll see what I can do.”

The following day, he presented V with this masterpiece: Lasagna made from egg batter, cheese and bolognese sauce. It was to die for. And because it did not contain pasta, it was on a lower-carb side to boot.

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We ate breakfast at Ralf’s restaurant every single day. He came out to say hi to us, brought V more gluten-free doughnuts and treated her as a princess.

Meanwhile, I decide to check every single restaurant and cafe onboard. I was determined to find a place that did not accommodate a gluten-free diet. (Nor did I expect that every dining venue would be able to do so.) Alas, my mission was a total bust. Gluten-free pizza? Sure. We just have to make sure the chef is back from break to make it. (It appears that only head chefs are allowed to deal with food allergies.) Gluten-free sandwiches? Absolutely. Gluten-free desserts? We got plenty. The only thing that they did not seem to have was gluten-free cones for the soft-serve ice-cream. Or maybe they did not have them out on the deck for everyone? Since V was managing perfectly well without I did not bother to ask.

By the way, this is what happened when V asked for a tuna sandwich with fries and fruit for lunch one day:

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On our last night, Chef Ralf prepared a surprise dinner for V: coconut crusted chicken strips. It was finger-licking good. Trust me, I am generally no fan of coconut, but it was so amazing I’d gladly gobble up the entire plate if it were mine.

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It’s been two months since our cruise but our memories are still fresh and vivid. Thank you Disney Cruise Line for providing an amazing gluten-free dining experience. Thank you for taking food allergies seriously and educating and training staff to provide guests with safe and wonderful dining experience. And a special thank you to Chef Ralf who went above and beyond to make V’s experience extra special.

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