So I recently discovered Justin’s Nut Butter, Chocolate Hazlenut flavor and man is it good! This stuff I can just spoon it out and eat it! I recently started making toast and putting it on it and it resembles a recees cup. The nice thing about putting it on hot toast is that it melts into the bread. I recommend putting it on Udi’s Gluten Free Bread.
First of all, it still seems really weird to say I have “Celiac Disease.” It still seems completely intangible that I have such a serious disease, despite all the symptoms that are gone now, how much I feel better and how awful I feel if I get even the tiniest bit of gluten. My hopes for writing this post is that it helps someone out there ask the right questions and get diagnosed easier and faster than I did.
The Book That Changed My Life and our Family
In March of 2011, after having 3 kids, like most mom’s out there, I wanted to get back, or close to, my pre-pregnancy weight. I had gotten there before getting pregnant with our 3rd child, but this time it was even harder so I looked for something new while trying not to use just a ‘fad’ diet. After researching a lot on the Internet, I kept running across the same theme. That it’s easy to lose weight if you control your insulin and the easiest way to do that is to control your carbs. I don’t even remember how, but I stumbled upon the book The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. I had just gotten a Kindle for Christmas so I was very much into reading books again so I thought I’d give it a try.
I found that this book was so easy to read and really spoke to my Engineering mind on why you should control your insulin levels, why you should avoid processed foods, why you should exercise regularly, etc.
I was able to quickly adapt the guidelines in the book and I immediately stopped eating so many processed foods. In particular, I stopped eating a lot of processed carbohydrates. After a few weeks of eating less carbs and less processed foods in general, I noticed my constant Allergies were getting better, my Asthma was also getting better. I was immediately losing about 1-3 pounds a week. About a month later, I was able to start weaning myself off of my Allergy meds and Asthma meds! This was amazing since I was on over $400 worth of meds a month across 4 different types of meds!
Mark’s philosophy is very realistic. He realizes that you can’t be perfect 100% of the time when eating. He mentions many times that as long as you eat properly 80% of the time or more, you will get a lot of benefits of not eating processed foods. It also is good for you mentally to not have to worry 100% of the time on what you eat. For example if you go to a party, he doesn’t want you to stress about what you eat, but still eat reasonably. As long as you follow the 80%+ rule you will see great benefits.
So what I did was every Friday I’d treat myself to a local Italian sandwich shop. I’d get my favorite sandwich for lunch every Friday. The more and more I ate properly the other days of the week, the more it was apparent that I felt terrible after lunch on Fridays and I slept almost all weekend and general felt like I had the flu, including ‘bathroom issues’ all weekend. My sinuses would also clog up as well all weekend.
This combined with any other time I had something with wheat in it, I had the same issues. It became apparent that every time I ate wheat, I felt really sick. As I naturally do, I started researching what might cause this. I don’t even remember specifically coming across Celiac disease but I did and started to get suspicious. I had never noticed issues when eating wheat before, but I had never been not eating wheat. I had it regularly, every day, sometimes multiple times a day.
Trying to get a Diagnosis the First Time
A few months after I had stopped eating wheat, I brought this to my Doctor and she had me get a blood test for gluten intolerance. Unfortunately, I was probably 90% gluten free at this point and my blood tests came back negative. I still suspected something as I just knew how badly I felt when I ate wheat. She suggested if it did bother me, that I naturally shouldn’t eat it, but she didn’t think I had Celiac’s disease since my tests were negative.
A few months later I visited my Allergist and let him know that I was able to go off all Allergy and Asthma medicines. His breathing tests confirmed it. We decided to do food allergy testing and everything came back negative. He decided that I had an intolerance to wheat.
Getting Fed up with Still getting Sick
Probably 6 months later after my food allergy testing, I was getting fed up with still getting sick and not sure why since I was avoiding all wheat. I decided one Sunday at lunch in January of 2012 to eat Barley soup. I was determined to figure out if it was wheat, or all gluten. After several bites, my stomach started hurting, I kept eating though just in case I was imagining it. I stopped before I ate 1/2 a bowl. I just couldn’t eat any more.
I seemed OK at first other than my stomach not feeling well. A few hours later I started throwing up and having violent diarrhea. (Sorry if that’s TMI!) I was sick for about 3 days after this. It took what seemed like forever to stop feeling bad.
I considered this might be a one time thing, or that I might have just been getting sick already. But I decided to start eating everything gluten free just incase. I had less and less ‘random’ issues once going completely gluten free. Every time I had digestive issues, I would go back and look at what I ate and the ingredients and find that they had a hidden gluten in them or they had gluten and I didn’t know it. One weekend it was simply mini Milky-ways! Who would have thought that they have malt flavoring in them!
How it Changed our Family
Since I was finding I was so sensitive to gluten, even a tiny crumb of bread would set me off, I discussed this with the children’s pediatrician. We decided that it made sense to get blood tests for all three of them since gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease runs in families. To our surprise in November 2012, our oldest tested positive for gluten antibodies! Keep in mind the kids really only ate gluten at Lunch at this point since breakfast and dinner was gluten free usually because of me. He did not have positive ‘anti-self’ antibodies, so it wasn’t clear yet if he had Celiac Disease or not. Apparently Children’s immune systems are not mature enough yet sometimes to start producing the anti-self antibodies (which is a higher indication of Celiac Disease, rather than just gluten intolerance).
Having him test positive for gluten antibodies helped diagnose me further since that showed it may run in the family. In December 2012, we went to a Gastroenterologist who diagnosed me with Celiac Disease simply from my symptoms alone. He wanted to do an endoscope test on our oldest, but we had to put him back on gluten first. He had been off of it for about 1 month at this point. We found though that every time he ate a small amount of gluten, that he had ‘bathroom’ issues as well! He previously had no noticeable symptoms before.
We decided as a family that since he had symptoms when eating it, to not put him through that procedure since it was apparent that gluten was making him sick as well.
I was so thankful that I figured out my issues so we could get our oldest diagnosed a lot earlier in life! Now we are both healing and both feeling SO much better! Read below about our symptoms and why our home is now gluten free!
Our oldest didn’t have any symptoms at the time of testing for Celiac disease. It was a complete surprise that he tested positive for gluten antibodies.
Symptoms He No Longer Has
- Weak Fingernails
- Yellowing teeth
Symptoms He Has Less Often (usually only when he gets gluten)
- Stomach Pains
For him, his symptoms were more apparent after we took him off gluten. The two main issues he had were cavities and weak fingernails! I lost track of how many cavities he’s had. Looking back, it makes more sense now since both are a sign of malnutrition, which is a major side effect of Celiac Disease. We just thought he had weak teeth in general and that his weak, pealing nails were just normal for him.
About 3 months after he was gluten free, he was trying to cut his fingernails and had to ask for help. It was only then that I realized how strong they now were and that eating gluten had effected them so much! Previously he was able to cut them with baby fingernail clippers. Now he can’t! They don’t bend, they don’t peal. It’s amazing and exciting to see this outward and visible sign of his healing!
I also had worried previously about how yellow his adult teeth were. Now that he’s off gluten they are whitening up! I knew adult teeth were not as bright white as baby teeth, but his looked more yellow than they should. This was another exciting revolution.
Now also when he eats gluten, he gets stomach pains and has what we call ‘bad poops.’ It also seems to trigger headaches as well. He gets migraines too like me sometimes unfortunately. I’m hoping the longer he’s off gluten the less frequent they become like they did with me.
My Celiac Symptoms that I didn’t know I had
I started losing track of everything that’s either completely gone now or 80%+ better, so I wrote down a list. I couldn’t believe how long it was! I created this before I got officially diagnosed in December of 2012 so I could have a list, if needed, for the Gastroenterologist.
I hope me listing this helps someone put the pieces of the puzzle together!
Symptoms Completely Gone (as long as I don’t get gluten)
- Ringing Ears
- Full ears
- Crackling Ears
- Stomach Bloat
- Stomach Noise
- Ear Infections
- Sinus Infections
- Brain Fog
- Weak Nails
- Sinus Rhinitus
- Numbness in Fingers and Toes
- Uncontrollable Irritability
Symptoms 80%+ Better
- Sensitive Teeth
- Blisters on Nose
- Frequently ill
The year or two before I figured out I had Celiac Disease, and then later diagnosed, one really noticeable symptom I had was I had started loosing a lot of hair. My hair dresser noticed as well and kept asking if I was stressed. I really didn’t feel like I was more stressed than usual. It was amazing to see how quickly I stopped losing hair after being just weeks off gluten.
As you can see, there were many ‘symptoms’ that were not obvious that they were related to Celiac Disease until you put them all together and until I went off gluten.
I have had these bar cookies that I’ve made since High School that everyone loves. When I learned of my gluten issues, I stopped making them. Problem is they have graham crackers in them. I finally found a great Gluten Free Graham Cracker Crumbs by Kinnikinnick so I can make these cookies again!
- 1.5 cups Gluten Free Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 1 stick of butter (I like to get the real kind with minimal ingredients)
- 1 – 12ozPackage Gluten Free Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I have found success with Ghirardelli )
- 1/2 bag Reeces Peanut Butter Chips
- 1 – 14 oz Can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
Preheat oven to 350. While oven is heating, cut up butter in a 9×13 pyrex pan and melt butter in the oven. Once butter is melted, evenly layer the Gluten Free Graham Cracker Crumbs on butter. Next layer the Sweetened Condensed Milk followed by the semi-sweet chips and peanut butter chips. Lightly press down. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are bubbly and slightly golden brown. Let fully cool before cutting!
These are so good and rich be careful eating too many at once!! Enjoy!
This is a great one to prepare in the crock pot and have at a pot-luck! It’s also great to do at home. Feel free to change the aromatics to your liking.
- Gluten Free Chicken or Turkey – About 2-3 pounds
- 1/2 Box Taste of Thai Rice Noodles
- 2-3 Not Chick-n Bullion Cubes
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1-2 Tbs Celery Flakes (or equivalent fresh if you have it)
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
- Chopped Carrots (optional)
- 6 cups Water
Put water, bullion cubes, onion, celery, salt and pepper and Turkey or Chicken in crock pot. Cook on low until meat is done (about 4-6 hours, you can cook longer if you need to leave it all day while at work). Once meat is cooked, shred or cut up meat. Add rice noodles about 5-10 minutes before you are ready to serve. You can leave them in longer but they will soak up all the juices! That’s it! Simple, tasty and easy for pot-lucks or at home on a busy school night!
Follow directions above but put all ingredients in a large pot. I like to cut up the raw chicken or turkey so that it cooks faster. This method can be done in about 20-30 minutes!
Today I tried to make my Grandmother’s Fried Chicken gluten free and it was a great success! You couldn’t even tell the difference! It came out very crispy and juicy on the inside.
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All purpose Flour
- Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
- Butter or oil
- Chicken Legs
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
Mix about 1/2 gluten free flour and 1/2 gluten free bread crumbs in a flat bowl for coating the chicken. Salt and Pepper the chicken and dip into the flour mixture. When the chicken is all coated, heat butter in a non-stick pan on medium low. Place chicken in once hot. Cover and fry, turning every 4-5 minutes. Add extra butter if necessary. Cook about 20 minutes until done and not pink in the middle. Drain on paper towels. That’s it! The key to crispy chicken is to keep the heat hot enough that the butter doesn’t get absorbed too much, but not so hot that the butter burns.
So when our oldest had his Birthday in January, I was determined to find a way to get him a great cake that was also gluten free. Our great friends at Larry’s Dawg House of Athens Ohio was very kind to let me look at all of the ingredients in all of the items they put into their ice cream cake. To my joy, the only thing I knew that had gluten in it was the cookie crumbs they put in the middle. All the other items like the ice cream and cold fudge didn’t have any suspicious ingredients in it. They were great to substitute the cookie crumbs for Heath bar crumbs instead.
What was the result? A completely awesome ice cream cake! It tasted better than the original. It was like eating a Heath blizzard in cake form! I had several slices and didn’t get sick and neither did he. I’ve just recently found out one of his classmates who also can’t eat gluten had it as her ice cream cake for her birthday and she had no issues either!
So just talk to the great Guys and Gals at Larry’s Dawg House and ask them to substitute in Heath bar instead! You may want to double check the ingredients in each item each time just in case their supplier changed ingredients or in case they changed suppliers. I’m so happy though to be able to get a safe ice cream cake for us!
Here’s a picture of a recent cake they made for us Gluten Free!
When we run out of Udi’s Pizza Crusts, or are running low on time, making Pizza Bread in the toaster oven is super quick and simple! If you don’t have a toaster oven you could finish it off in the regular oven. I love having a toaster oven though for when you want to bake something small and don’t want to waste the energy heating up your big oven.
The key to Pizza Bread is to first Toast the bread on a light-medium setting. I like to use Udi’s Gluten Free Bread for this. You want it crispy but not too dark since you’ll be baking it later. While it’s toasting, get any toppings out you want. Once toasted, spread with gluten free Pizza Sauce (I like Mid’s and have never had a reaction with it), top with Cheese and any other toppings. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. That’s it!