As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy interacting with others in the gluten-free community, especially those who are close to my age. Recently, I received an email from Alice of the website Gluten Free Allies, who was diagnosed with celiac disease during her first week of college! I love Alice’s blog because it has the perfect combination of knowledge about the disease, anecdotes and product reviews and recommendations! Alice and I began to brainstorm about ways we could spread awareness of celiac disease together, and decided that we each would come up with some questions that we could answer and feature on our blogs! I’m looking forward to collaborating more with Alice in the future! Make sure to check out her blog, and enjoy the answers to her questions below!
1. Aside from gluten, how has your diet changed since you were diagnosed with celiac disease?
For around seven or eight years pre-celiac and even two years post-diagnosis, I was a staunch vegetarian and subsisted on a lot of “whole grain” gluten, fruits and vegetables and low fat dairy. Aside from an entirely beans, rice and lentils phase in college, since going gluten free I’ve gradually been making the shift to a more “real food” diet, which I attribute to reading Nourishing Traditions over the holidays one year. It started with eating full fat dairy, then I started eating meat regularly (I’d never purchased non pre-cooked meat for myself before January of this year!) and now I’m tinkering around with the grains that I do and don’t eat. It’s taken me a while to break free of the Standard American Diet, but I think it’s been worth it. I’m a much better and more creative cook, I enjoy knowing what goes into my body and this way of eating meshes pretty well with my moral and political beliefs.
2. Current gluten free snack of choice?
It’s summer, so I’ve been opting for frozen treats lately. This sometimes means frozen yogurt or gelato, but my real summer indulgence is frozen muffins, which I swear are just as delicious as any other frozen treat. My recent recipe of choice has been amazing gluten free (and paleo!) chocolate chip zucchini muffins. They’ve been so popular with my housemates that I got an ALL CAPS text message of praise after I’d slipped a muffin into my housemate’s lunch bag. Frozen or fresh, I’m all about muffins these days – portable, delicious, and easy to pack with goodies (I made pumpkin pecan ones that were also a big hit).
3. Who is your greatest gluten free ally / support person?
My mom has been nothing short of amazing in terms of the whole gluten and celiac thing. After being diagnosed, she didn’t miss a beat and quickly developed the best cross contamination radar of anyone I know (myself included). When I’d come home from college for the holidays, she would always have some new recipe up her sleeve and I think she’s more up on the best gluten free brands than I am. I love spending time in the kitchen with her and will get some of her excellent recipes up on the blog some time soon.
I know she thinks I’m a little bit of a nutrition radical (she calls kombucha my “hideous brew”), but she’s been nothing but supportive no matter what I’ve tried. I do think I’m winning her over though…she hasn’t been eating a lot of gluten recently.
4. What is your favorite restaurant to eat out at that not only serves gluten-free options, but makes you feel safe and secure while eating there?
I have two: a higher end entirely gluten free restaurant in Asheville, NC called Posana and the little coffee shop next to my yoga studio in West Philly called Milk and Honey Market .
Dining at Posana is a real treat. Celiacs can have anything on the menu, lots of the ingredients are local, the servers are knowledgeable and polite and I have yet to have a dish or drink that wasn’t exquisite. I’ve only been there a few times (twice for supper and once for breakfast), but I make a point to go every time I’m in the area.
Milk and Honey is a café / mini market with gourmet and local foods. The market is too expensive for the likes of me, but they have gluten free Udis bagels, which are amazing with eggs and cheese after an early morning yoga class. They know what’s up with cross contamination and the coffee is excellent there as well. It’s not the fanciest place out there, but I love that it’s nearby and reliably tasty.
5. What’s your favorite gluten-free dish or dessert to make at home?
Anything involving eggs! Quiches, frittata, egg muffins, fried rice with eggs – I eat probably a dozen eggs a week and never get sick of them. A standard breakfast for me is two over easy eggs over roasted vegetables, rice cakes or gluten free toast with a piece of fruit on the side. Even though quiche, soufflé and frittata seem like they’d be hard dishes to cook, they’re really not! I’ll be posting two egg dish recipes in the next month, both of which are incredibly easy to make but look and sound impressive.
6. What resources did you first use when you were diagnosed with celiac disease?
I sort of fended for myself in the beginning. I didn’t know anyone else who was gluten free when I was diagnosed, so I just poked around on the internet for a bit. I used to read Gluten Free Goddess in the beginning and remember eating whatever kind of gluten free products I could find (that old Schar bread was awful). I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I messed up a lot in the beginning; I once ate spelt for an entire summer because I didn’t double check someone’s promise that it was gluten free. If I could do that part over again, I would a) not hang onto my vegetarianism so devoutly and b) buy and read more nutrition books and cook books.
7. Is there a moment or particular experience that helped you learn to embrace celiac disease?
I lived in the south of France for a few months and had a dreadful time finding enough to eat. My host parents were not good cooks (though they were lovely people) and gluten free products over there were scare, kind of icky and very expensive. Basically, I ate a lot of rice cakes. At most restaurants, salade niçoise was the only safe bet for me and I hate tuna fish, which meant I was pretty malnourished by the time I got back to the states.
It took that really awful experience for me to take my diet into my own hands. I came back with a better idea of what I needed to eat to be healthy and happy and began to try to better understand the science behind nutrition and celiac disease. For gluten free newbies or even people who have been gluten free for a long time, I think that is such an important step. Education is really empowering.
8. In one haiku, what is the best piece of advice you would give someone who has just been diagnosed with celiac disease?
fret not. road to health
is paved with fruit & veg. bread-like
snacks shall not be missed.