Sunday, December 11, 2011

Olive Garden, a Pop Tart, a Bad Reaction, and Kugel

It's been a very glutenous few days! I'll give some of the highlights. On Friday, started off by day by having something that everyone who knows me knows I have been wanting to try for quite some time. I was waiting for the right moment, and now..I will no longer be able to say during "2 truths and lie" that I've never...had a poptart!! I had one! I tried strawberry. Before eating, I made the mistake of peeping the nutrition facts. 410 calories?! What the heck?? People eat those like those are a casual snack! A chicken mcnugget mighty kids meal is 380 (100 for the kids fry, 280 for the nuggets). I only ate one, and it DID taste good..but I'm sorry...not 410 calories good.
I went to a potluck at work and ate a TON. It was just cool being able to eat whatever I wanted, without worrying about if it touched gluten. I probably took advantage of that a little bit TOO much.
 After that...I went to Olive Garden...gluten Mecca. At first, I really wasn't sure what to order. Everything looked awesome! Do you know how weird it is to go to a restaurant and be able to eat ANYTHING on the menu? I ended up going with the chicken parmesan. I started with the bread sticks which were yummy! Nothing gluten free tastes like that- bread is one of the things that really is different. As you can see though, I did not make much progress- that food is so rich!! I took home three bread sticks and probably half of my meal. The pasta though is also very different from gluten free pasta. It's a completely different texture. I'm not sure I liked the sauce though...It was pretty sweet.
Then, miss Sarah Garfinkel "made" me (with not much convincing needed) try the tiramisu. SO TASTY!!!! Again..couldn't even eat so much of it.  
Anyway..On the way home, I started to get a REALLY bad stomach ache. It ended up being a rough evening of stomach symptoms (I'll spare the details :-) ). It was my second bad reaction since the experiment started...but, I'm pretty sure that ANYONE who slept 3 hours in a night, and then ate a ton of food at a potuck, chicken parm, breadsticks and tiramisu, all before 3pm would have a stomach ache!!  SO I'm writing that one off as not Celiac :)
Last night, I went to a Hanukkah party that was amazing!! It was cool, again, to not worry about what was in all of the dishes. For sure, the highlight of my night was the kugel!!! AMAZING. Probably the best thing I've eaten. Most high fat things I'm turned off by, just because I know that it's bad for me but I did not care in the LEAST that kugel is probably the least healthy thing in the world. A gluten free person today told me that they have had gluten free kugel that tastes the same (shout out to rabbi Daniel!)..I have not. I have had potato kugel that is awesome (hi mom!), but not noodle kugel. I also tried sufganyot (well, sufganya)! Also good!
Thankfully, I have not yet gone up a pants size or anything due to all this craziness. I went to the gym a couple times this week to make sure I don't go too crazy...but I need to be going more if I keep it up! I'm going grocery shopping tonight for my first big grocery shopping trip since I haven't been scared to get too much gluten- I'm very excited to see how little money it will cost me.

Until next time...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gluten all the time

So it's been awhile since I posted, mostly because the novelty is wearing off A LITTLE bit. It's still kind of funny to be able to just eat things. I did have my first REAL sandwich that was made by someone other than me at Potbelly's in Hyde Park. I had a chicken salad it was pretty good..but when I'm used to eating chicken salad, I'm used to really tasting it..and I felt like on the sandwich, I mostly just tasted bread (I even got the kind with 1/3 less bread!). I think I'd actually prefer a chicken salad salad, with a side of that tasty bread.

But WOW, on Sunday morning, I had brunch with three of my favorite people and had toast from a GREAT bakery! This was my first time having bread from an Austrian bakery, it was was delicious- my favorite was the cranberry walnut toast. It was cool eating gluten with my sister!

I've eaten some other random things here and there..I really like s'mores chewy granola bars! I don't know why people don't love these. I also made my own creation today which was Nutella and Pumpkin Butter (from Tanner's!) on honey whole wheat..mmmm. Oh and I had potstickers again- this time from Friday's! YUM! And I joined their stripes club so now I get a free appetizer or dessert- any suggestions (I know I know...cup of dirt :) )...

So I've gotten some suggestions that I'll take into consideration. I've heard that I need to take more pictures. I will do that! I always forget. Also-- I want to give a shout out to all my Celiac readers (I've heard from people that they show their Celiac friends my blog). Leave me comments and tell me what you miss eating, and I'll eat it on your behalf! I have about a month left of this experiment. I need to keep in mind that even though I am not having symptoms, I still might test positive (could be causing damage). So what else should I try?? Some things that sound good are:

Pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli
Mongolian beef
Deep dish pizza
Kraft Mac n Cheese
Warm chocolate chip cookies

Any more??

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving, a wedding, and a sandwich!

Sorry- long time no update! I have been crazy busy. But..I have eaten a lot of gluten!! Let me see what I can remember...

The last I blogged it was the day before Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving morning, I tried fried matzah for the first time, made my the one and only fried matzah chef, Mark Le Vine. It was good!!!! WAY better than I expected! Dinner was traditional, gluten free and amazing. Dessert on the other hand....WOW! I tried my first apple pie which was SUPER FREAKIN GOOD...I had a small piece of the pumpkin pie, and bite of a cheesecake brownie- holy cow. I don't have a crazy sweet tooth, I'm learning, but small forkfulls of these things are so tasty! Grandma char was also very excited that I tried her mandel bread. After that, I went to a THIRD Thanksgiving stop, as usual, and tried just a little bit more dessert- a cookie, and a tiny bite of pecan pie. I did not eat ANYTHING bad on Thanksgiving :).
Saturday night...I went to a wedding and tried what has so far been one of my favorite things- a beef potsticker!!! Those do NOT taste at all like what I would have expected. I'm not sure what I expected exactly...but not all of that deliciousness. I also tried a little puff pastry thing with sundried tomato...not really my thing (but beautiful and classy, as was the rest of the wedding).
I'm not sure what else I ate but today's gluten was the best.....drum roll please....I had my first sandwich!!! Those of you who keep kosher..cover your ears/eyes....but I had a pinapple ham sandwich with provolone on a honey whole wheat sandwich thin. I'm not sure what was better..the taste of a sandwich on bread (a first)..or the fact that I, Jenny Mann, was eating whole wheat bread! I also got some other things when I went grocery shopping..including (but not limited to) those thin bagles (everything flavor), honey bunches of oats, and a chicken rice soup (that happens to have wheat in it). Again, I know everyone says to try more sweet things like brownies, far..I must say, I'm more of a savory fan. Aint nothin like an everything bagel, some gardetto's and a potsticker. Til next time....:)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cheez Its and Chicken McNuggets

It's been a few days since my last blog post so I'll try to remember my gluten adventures! It looks like that last I wrote, I had tried that delicious bread from Jim's Bistro and that was Sunday night.

Monday, if I recall correctly, I did not try any new gluten (BORING). I have continued, however, to love on those Honey n Oat granola bars! I think I've actually been losing some weight by skipping a big unhealthy snack and eating one of those per day instead. They're super good.

Tuesday, upon the FIRM recommendation of my sister, I tried a brownie with peppermint cake pop from Starbucks! That was pretty yummy!! I only ate half of it, because I just don't eat mass amounts of sweets, but that was pretty damn good. It was different than something gluten free in that it was much lighter (density wise, not calories!). I also had Cheez-its! Let me tell you...not what I expected. At the beginning, it tastes AWESOME..but what is up with that aftertaste? Not cool. I think goldfish might be better in the aftertaste department. I ALSO had a California Roll with mock crab meat that had wheat in it (zero difference between gluten free and gluten full mock crab meat).

Today, I had my VERY first Chicken McNugget Mighty Kids meal!! I did enjoy the taste of chicken nuggets...I would get them again. I WAS surprised by the little space between the meat and the floury one warned me about that! Also, I asked for honey, and they forgot to give it to me :( . They were pretty good though. You know what tastes the same or even a little BETTER?? Applegate Farms Organic Gluten Free chicken nuggets. I also had one of those sugar cookies with frosting- they were tasty but I could only eat about half! Also, much lighter than a gluten free cookie (most gluten free baked goods end up like rocks).

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I hope to try a few new things! So far, my thoughts are that gluten free food is actually not too shabby. I think that some gluten lovers might just have an unhealthy relationship with food ;-). So far, the only things that have WOW'ed me have been: Gardetto's, hot dinner rolls, and an everything bagel (Oh yeah...And the prices!!!!!).

Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!!!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blue Moon and [kind of] Pizza

Since I've blogged last, I've had some amazingness, and some not-so-amazingness. Friday night, I went out and figured it was about time to up my beer standards. I tried Blue Moon- man, that actually tastes good, a lot better than Miller Light!! I also tried Corona, also tasty. So far, I'd rank them in order of yumminess: Blue Moon, Corona, Bud Light Lime, gluten free beer, Miller Light.
Saturday, I toned it down again. I've been a little hesitant because I've been thinking about the possibility of long term consequences. I think I might call the doc and ask him if I should be taking it easy or going all out, before the test in January. I did eat another honey and oat nature valley bar- those are super good! I also..uhh tried a little bit of pizza (as pizza won the poll). However, it was Little Caeser's. I had a TINY bite of the crust, and then proceeded to just eat the cheese. FYI for the world- GLUTEN FREE PIZZA IS BETTER THAN LITTLE CAESERS! What in the world is that? I'm gonna go ahead and say I still haven't tried pizza. I also tried some Nacho Cheese doritos lat night (which I had actually tried before, by mistake)- those are pretty good.
Today though....I had part of a warm amazing dinner roll from Jim's Bistro in Peoria. Wow. That's not what gluten free tastes like. I can see why people like to eat 12 of those before dinner even starts. I also had a part of the cheesy bread there which was equally delic. I've always wanted to dip a roll in olive oil! I also had the pleasure of splitting a bag of goldfish with Michelle when she was in Peoria- those are yummy! Much better not stale :).

As of now, I'm proceeding with caution. I'm going to just try little bits of things assuming I don't get symptoms, until I hear otherwise from the doctor. Can't wait for Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

On the 7th Day: haMotzi lechem min ha'aretz

Ok, for those of you who read my blog that AREN'T Jewish (which I'm guessing is a small crowd), that title is the blessing over challah...which I said for the first time tonight. It was very good! It wasn't freshly baked so I still need to try one of those!! I want a nice, warm challah at some point before this experiment ends (I still have a funny feeling that I do, in fact, have Celiac...but it's a fun test!!)
Onto a ridiculous topic- BROWNIES!!!! Wow. Those of you who have told me that my gluten free brownies taste the same as regular ones: Thank you SO much for keeping up the lie for sooo many years. They absolutely do NOT taste the same, as glutenous brownies happen to be gooey and delicious (at least the ones from Harvest Bread Co). I think the closest though are Chocolate Truffle Brownies made by Gluten Free Pantry. I was only able to try about a fourth of a brownie because they are WAY too rich. But it was nice to be able to bring yummy treats to a meeting and be able to try them! I also tried a little piece of a Savannah Bar (blueberry deliciousness) from there, and a TINY sample of a pumpkin cinnamon roll. Annd my stomach is a little bit annoyed, not hurting, just gross, probably from sugar and carb OVERLOAD (those little tiny pieces add up, who knew...). Good thing I worked out this morning!! Rose's Gluten Free Bakery in Evanston, and Apple's Gluten Free Bakery in Peoria have similar items to the Savannah bar and actually taste very good.
I also tried a Honey and Oat Nature Valley bar today. Those are a very solid snack- tasty and a little bit satisfying (those also don't have wheat, rye or barley in them).
Anyway, I might take a gluten break tomorrow just because I'm eating too much probably! I've managed to not gain any weight this week, but I just have eaten lots of sweets, etc. Oh yeah, I tried a triscuit (sp?)-- Those aren't good. I decided to have my cheese sans cracker.
 I think I would still be very much OK with going back to a gluten free diet if I had to. Gluten is good, but the food is so heavy (no offense glutenvores!). I'm not done playing yet though! Going out now- I may stick to Woodchuck tonight, we'll see!

Day 6: Mac n Cheese, a Mini Wheat, and a Second Opinion

Today was kind of eventful! I didn't have any gluten for breakfast, besides a small handful of corn pops (some veggies and a g-free granola bar sufficed). For lunch though....they had a huge Thanksgiving lunch at work (which I missed because I was at a training..awesome)...but someone saved me a plate! I tried a bit of mac n cheese and a TINY bit of stuffing-yum! Super tasty. Not gonna lie...Amy's does a pretty good job on the mac n cheese front (the frozen one).  Pretty funny- the girl at work who made my plate said to me (in all seriousness), "The big orange thing is a sweet potato". I kindly informed her that I am not, in fact, an alien...and that I do know what foods look like. Nice gesture though.
I'm finding that gluten free food really isn't AS different as everyone says (aside from Gardetto's. Wow). I know, I know, I haven't had pizza or a biscuit yet. I tried little things here and there today...I tried part of a strawberry snack bar..pretty solid, and a tiny cheese cracker thing which was DISGUSTING. It tasted like Passover. I don't know what brand it was but they where little tiny chedder crackers with cheese between them (not the square kind in a six-pack, I'm sure those are good :-) ). Yo gluten eaters- yo food aint all that. I also tried one frosted mini wheat tonight- also not delicious. I seem to be missing the mark with some things!

Ok side note: I did seek out a second opinion on this whole thing. I e-mailed a different gastroenterologist (Aunt Melissa's dad, AKA the grandfather of the best e-mail writer ever), and he has a little bit of a different take. He reminded me of the possibility that this may be a time in my life that I am asymptomatic, but could develop some problems later. He suggested:

I actually am going to try and contact my old doctor just because it might he interesting to see if they would come up with the same diagnosis now that they know more about Celiac. My mom pointed out that she remembers there being some ambiguity about the diagnosis, before putting me on the gluten free diet.

For now, I think I'm going to keep sampling thoughts are that I don't think I can do TOO much long-term damage over the next two months (I am repeating the celiac test in January).

Sorry, kind of a boring post- I'll get better at blogging with time :)   OH! I decided that if I DO end up going back to g-free lifestyle, I'm going to make this into a blog about yummy gluten free things. But now, I need to sleep because Body Pump starts in four and a half hours! #tigerblood

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Baby Bagel and a Brewski

Thanks to Michelle, she reminded me that the last time I ate a bagel was also photographed! I should have known then that it was all a lie! It would be pretty cool if I knew how to photoshop a beer into the other hand :)

Tonight I tried beer! Beer lovers..prepare to shutter...My first beer was Bud Light Lime! I actually didn't hate it. I understand that it's not a fantastic beer, but it lacks that obnoxious after taste that EVERY gluten free beer has (Red Bridge, New Grist, Bard's, and a few others). It did not taste terrible. Miller light however- WOW that's absolutely disgusting!!! I had two sips I could not stand it. I will not say that I'll NEVER acquire a taste for it..but seriously? Are people just pretending that it tastes good or does it actually taste good? 
The Bud Light Lime actually got better as I sipped on it. Until it got warm, then it was gross. The bar tender's rationale for the Bud Light Lime: he said that if he gave me a "good" beer, I would probably hate beer forever, so he had to give me a really light one. I appreciate the effort he put into it. Anyway, those are my day 5 adventures! Still symptom free, by the way!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gluten Challenge Day 5: Bagel for Breakfast, Beer for Dinner

So, this morning, I had a bowl of oatmeal again! As it turns out, Quaker oatmeal might have been considered gluten free the whole time. Upon more research, they say, "Because oats are grown, stored, transported in bulk, they may contain trace amounts of wheat, rye and barley. USDA grain standards allow a certain percentage of other grains to be present in the oats. Therefore, gluten may be found in oats, even if very small amounts of these other grains are present." . So..."trace amounts"...meh..I'd probably eat these even if not on a gluten challenge.

Later though....I HAD A BAGEL!!!! I had an everything bagel thin with lox and cream cheese. When I ordered, I told them it was my first bagel, and they were in shock. They said, "Ever?! How can this be your first bagel EVER?!" They said they were happy I chose Einstein's; Not happy enough, however, to give me the bagel for free. If someone went to BubbleFast and told them it was their first time touching bubble packaging, I bet they'd give it for free (don't quote me on that!). 
Anyway, it was delicious. It did, again, taste like Glutino brand. I think I'll write them a letter. Everyone who says that gluten free stuff doesn't taste the same, you should probably go ahead and try Glutino. Only problem is, not a huge variety of gluten free bagel flavors. ALSO--- I noticed that a bagel at Einstein's is only $1.09 or something!!! You can get full, for $1?!?!?! There is nothing gluten free that you can get full from that is only ONE dollar.  Oh yeah by the way, there are capers in the picture. I took them off because capers are gross.  9 hours post-bagel and my stomach is feelin fine! I do have a headache, but my "female" intuition tells me it is caused by something else. Fellow GF peeps- how long does it take you to respond to gluten?

Tonight, I had Q'doba mexican gumbo which I eat all the time..but this time I had the tortilla strips. Not that special. But right now, I gotta go because it's $3 pitcher + free wings night! 

I'm alive!

Just wanted to give an update that I am alive after my gluten feast yesterday! I woke up a little groggy today after sleeping a ton, but that's pretty normal for me. MINOR headache, but nothing too crazy...sometimes I get that from sleeping too much (slept 9 hours). Woke up and had some corn pops and some oatmeal. Corn pops actually pulled a French Silk Ice Cream also! They were a childhood fav, and then they added gluten- and it tastes the same! Companies should stop doing this, don't they know gluten free is what's hot right now?

Anyway, I'm off to Einstein's to get a bagel thin with lox and cream cheese!!! I'm going by myself because everyone is at work :( . I'm going to get an employee to take a picture of my first bagel and I'll share it with you on my next post. A post about bagels and beer can be expected later today....:)

By the way- I have also been eating things that DON'T have gluten in them, but I figured you guys don't care so much about those. But for the record, I ate a sweet potato and clam chowder for dinner. They were gluten free and delicious.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gluten Challenge: Days 1-4

So, when the doctor told me to try gluten, I asked him, "well, what do you mean? how much gluten?". He said, "Eat a little goldfish cracker, then a few days later..try a saltine..then a dinner roll". Let me tell you..the THOUGHT of a dinner roll is terrifying. At first, I followed the regimen:
Day 1, 11/12
I tried gluten!! First time in 22 years. Thought on goldfish: I have a feeling Cheez-Its are better. They are pretty good, but this one happened to be stale. I'm willing to try them again, because I bet they are better than this one. Do whole grain goldfish taste the same as regular ones?

Day 2, 11/13
This day, I actually restrained myself and did not have any gluten. However, I notice that not only did I not DIE from the Goldfish...but I didn't even get a stomach ache. Hmmm......

Day 3, 11/14
Cracker day!! I was supposed to have a saltine...but I didn't have access to one. So I ate one of those Toppers crackers instead. I was seriously so nervous..I called my mom and said, "I CANT believe I'm about to eat a CRACKER on PURPOSE!" I put a piece of swiss cheese on it, because crackers are boring. It was pretty good tasted the SAME as Glutino crackers. The same.

During the day, I did actually have a bit of a stomach ache. However, I decided it might be due to stress. All I was doing was thinking, "hmmm, I wonder if this cracker has digested yet". 
So, after work, I decided, SCREW THE REGIMEN. I went to Wal Mart and bought all kind of yummy things. Things that really "look like gluten" still freaked me out. I would not buy bread, poptarts, pastries, or anything like that. But...later in day 3, I tried:
- Whoppers: Ummmm not very good. I tried 2, and I don't think I NEED another one. Ever. (point of clarification: candies, not hamburgers. Did you really think I ate two hamburgers?)
-Rice in a pouch..but this one had PASTA in it!! I ate like half the bag! Wooo! That was pretty good! It was perfect because it LOOKED like rice, so it didn't freak me out so much.

-Before I went to bed, I had a spoonful of Edy's French Silk Ice Cream..which USED to be my favorite flavor of ice cream until they randomly decided to add gluten to it my sophomore year of college. Let me tell you: It's still delicious..but it tastes the same! No need to add gluten, why would you do that?! 

Day 4, 11/15: 
11/15/11 will now be known as Balls to the Wall day. I woke up and had a bowl of Quaker instant oatmeal (apple cinnamon).  A solid breakfast. Everyone should eat this. Not too heavy, but delicious nonetheless. I HAVE had oatmeal with gluten free oats, but Quaker seems to do it right. My g-free oatmeal is good though. THEN....oh my God. I had reduced fat Gardetto's for a snack- THESE ARE FANTASIC!!!!!!!  Everyone should eat these ALL THE TIME!!! They have WHEAT, BARLEY, OATS, AND RYE in them (hence, balls to the wall). The only thing that would make them better would be some M&M's, so that they would have the whole sweet & savory thing going on. 

The best part about day 4: NO SYMPTOMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

More to come....I initially said I'd try a challah roll on Wednesday, but I am going to wait until Shabbat (and will say Ha Motzi, and Shehechayanu!!!). Not sure what's on the menu tomorrow...but I think I'll eat corn pops for breakfast!! Oh, and I'm trying beer tomorrow night. Cuz I've never had that. It wasn't legal when I was 2.

A Delicious Journey I've never really had a blog before. However, instead of clogging up all my beautiful Facebook friend's feed, I figured I would make a separate space to chronicle every time I eat a cracker (which aren't THAT good by the way..). So just to catch everyone up to speed, here is a [brief] timeline of the last 24 years:

1987: Born
1988-1989: Didn't gain weight
1989-1990: Diagnosed with Celiac after a million other tests
1990-2011: Spent a RIDICULOUS amount of money on gluten free food, was denied from health insurance companies due to having a preexisting condition, did not eat food at birthday parties, never had beer, challah, pizza, or any other equally delicious or important things.
11/11/11: Told there there is a 97% change I was misdiagnosed. The only way to tell will be to eat gluten for 2 months and see if I either a) get symptoms, or b)test positive for Celiac in January

And that brings us to the present. I will use this blog to talk about the different foods that I try over the next few months, give some reviews...and also share whether or not I am still alive.

PS: This is VERY weird for me. Imagine if someone told you for your WHOLE LIFE that something was poison and that you should not eat could KILL YOU..or at least give you AWFUL symptoms..and then they said, "eh...try it for awhile, why not?!"