Sunday, November 15, 2009

Man's Best Friend is Now Gluten Free

As a complete joke, I decided to look into the secret life of gluten free diets for your pet. I expected to find no such google search results.

But then I remembered we live in a society of reality tv, high heels for your crawling infant, Bradgalina and people that seem to enjoy John Mayer, so I was not too surprised when google yielded search results for "gluten free diet for your pet", when in Rome...

Your gluten free body is a wonderland

Why a gluten free diet for your pup you ask. Well it is simple really. Dog food, dog treats and yes, even some cleaning products you might use on your pup can contain gluten. If you are a celiac, you will know better than anyone how easily cross contamination can happen and the consequences that can follow.

Not as exciting as how a baby is made, but you get the idea

Now, I find it hard to believe that a person with celiacs (or most people for that matter) would use their hand to fill their dog's food bowl, and then without washing that hand, shove it into their mouth - thus carrying out the cross contamination. But, I guess shit happens.

I am not into people dressing their dogs, doggy hotels or bling for your pup, so I fall a little bit on the skeptical side of having to put your dog on a gluten free diet just because you are.

Adorable or horrible? Truly, I am conflicted.

HOWEVER, I have seen the evil side of gluten and what it can do. My friend Amy cannot go into a restaurant where she can see the kitchen - it freaks her out. Try to carry on a conversation with her with that kitchen in view - you can't. She is like a hawk waiting for Mr. Chef Man to touch a bun and then handle her lettuce - it literally makes her a paranoid woman. Not cool gluten! Because of this act of crazy (although, understandable) I can fall on the side of the fence that might consider making your pet gluten free. BUT YOU BETTER REALLY HAVE CELIACS CAUSE IF OPRAH TOLD YOU TO PUT YOUR PET ON A GLUTEN FREE DIET FOR NO REASON I SWEAR I AM COMING TO YOUR HOUSE TO BURN YOUR MAILBOX!!

I digress. There is also another reasonable reason to make your pet gluten free. Just like us complex and weak humans, pups can get sick from gluten. According to an article I found on, "dogs can get eosinophilic gastroenteritis (a chronic disease that disrupts the normal function of the intestines) and it is believed that gluten is the cause." How sad. Imagine if Turk was gf!

Holy crap, puppy Turk should really be illegal.

In conclusion, I learned something today. Sometimes something you think is an absurd idea can actually be beneficial to certain people. Theoretically, Amy COULD get glutened from feeding her dog - I don't see it happening, but then again I never envisioned Amy not being able to eat bread. I supposed it is something for her to take into consideration. Remember kids, gluten is a sneaky son of a bitch, it lives in places you never think to look. With that in mind, let us all try to keep man's best friend, man's friend that doesn't accidentally gluten their owner.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cheeseburger en Paraíso (menos el gluten)

Last night Amy read me something that was sent to her by a resort in Mexico. She, her husband, and in-laws will be visiting this resort soon and she emailed them to find out if they could accommodate her dietary needs. They could...and then some. Not only were they abundantly familiar with her needs and restrictions as a Celiac, they sent her this letter with the instructions to print multiple copies and bring them with her to present to the chef at every meal. The letter is written in both English and Spanish and perfectly summarizes the needs of a Celiac.

We were laughing as she read it because it seems so funny on paper, but in reality it is a perfect and concise letter. I think she should just bring it with her everywhere she goes indefinitely. Including giving it to friends and family members that may want to cook for her. It is definitely a good reminder of how serious Celiacs really is.

So remember kids, gluten doesn't just hurt people in English, it is equally dangerous in Spanish as well...probably even German. Not Japanese though. They just eat rice and sharks and puffer fish. That's probably not true. Sharks could be filled with gluten for all I know.

Be jealous. Be very jealous. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

F.O.C.U. Tip #6

Ok, so I have climbed down from my soap box and I am ready to resume my friendly, big-sister-with-advice-to-share tone. Today's lesson is about cooking for your gluten-free friends. Don't do it. OR, if you are absolutely hell-bent on cooking for your gf friend, there are a few simple rules you should follow: 

1. Trust no one. 
Not a website that tells you what is and is not gluten-free, not the grocery store "gluten-free" section,  not even the packaging on food. Only your gluten-free friend knows what he/she can eat and it came from trial and error, not a label. 
2. Plan the meal with your friend.
Surprises are lovely, but not when they involve hours curled up in the fetal position. 
3. Keep all the packaging from the food you used so your gf friend can inspect before eating.
See Natalie's story below
4. Trust no one. And you do not talk about fight club.

So this whole blog idea came from an experience I had a few weeks ago. I was on the Women's Health website looking up recipes. Their recipe looker-upper thing is pretty cool, you can filter down your search criteria to things like "cooking method," "occasion," and "dietary needs." Long story short, I decided to look up some gluten-free recipes that I might one day make for my gf bf Amy. 

Let's look at the first ingredient of the first item that popped up after I selected my filters, including "Wheat/Gluten Free":

Awesome. Luckily, I am a smart girl, and I am able to deduce that my wheat-gluten free friend cannot have whole-wheat pizza crust. For someone not as naturally gifted, this could lead to a disaster. Our friend Natalie is very smart too, she does Science. But even a Scientist is no match for the gluten-monster. What follows is her story.

Natalie's Semolina story. 
About a year ago our friend Natalie had the good intentions of cooking an awesome meal for Amy. Back then Natalie was pretty new to Glutenfreelandia, but she was determined to get it right. She went directly to the "gluten-free" section of her local supermarket and found the perfect noodle to make her gluten free vegetarian lasagna with....the semolina noodle. It was in the gluten-free section, near the rice noodles. It sounded gluten-free (never mind that there was a picture of wheat on the package). Back in my newbie days, I would have done the same thing. 

Amy loved the semolina lasagna. She loved it so much she had two large servings. Then we did what any good friends would do when their Celiac has just been glutened, we took her to a corn maze. Amy developed super-human powers that night, she was like a machine. She guided us through that corn maze as if God him/herself was whispering the directions in her ear. Left, then right, then right again, she was a woman on a mission.

one of us: "Hey, I think we should make a left here."
Amy: "No. It's a right. We are going right."

And it was a right. Amy survived the corn maze that night, but still suffered a gnarly glutening that she felt for the next few days. All because a supermarket put semolina noodles in the gluten-free section.

Moral of the story = trust no one. The end.


Do You Know The Gluten Free Muffin Man?

As a bf of a gf, it is important to me to make sure that I have options. Amy and I live a mere 2,402 miles apart, but when she comes to visit, I want to make sure we can go out to eat at least once. I did an extensive search throughout the bay area, noting gluten-free food here, potato vodka there and weird hippy shit everywhere (not necessarily gluten-free).

What I found is a celiac's baked good dream castle, Mariposa Bakery. Mariposa is strictly a gluten-free facility, which means no chance of cross contamination, which in turns means as a celiac, you can eat there stress (and gluten) free.

Mariposa has a wide selection of baked goods, from biscotti, brownies, coffee cake, cookies, bagels, tea loaves and even pizza crust.

Brownies, tea cake, coffee cake and biscotti - gluten free delights @ Mariposa

When Amy was visiting, she had the luck of visiting during Mariposa's anniversary party, which meant all the mentioned items above were free in sample size to the public (along with a gluten-free beer tasting next door). Amy was treated to items such as red velvet cupcakes, apricot pizza, lemon poppy seed cake and chocolate chip cookies. I mean, look at this spread:

Amy on the happiest day of her gluten-free life

Now, as a wheat-eater and a hard core dessert eater - I would not have been able to tell that any of these items were gluten free. In fact, I think I preferred many of the item to gluten filled desserts I have had (based solely on taste NOT as a diet or a trend).

Although Mariposa is located in Oakland, California, do not fret. They ship their goods all over the country priority (to make sure those goods are still good when they get to you) at a pretty reasonable price. Let's face it, gluten-free food is expensive, but once you try a garlic bagel from Mariposa, you'll happily throw down the $8.00 for a bag of them.

They also offer gift sets - come on, chrismahaukakwanzanewyearmas is coming up - think of all the food your gluten-free friend is going to miss out on, all i am saying, is give celiacs a chance!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Jenny, I got your number

Jenny McCarthy rant to supplement Laura's Oprah rant:
This woman has been on my “celebrities that need to shut the f-up” list for quite awhile. I’m not going to get into her whole ridiculous vaccines = autism crap because this soap box will not support my weight long enough for 2 rants. Today’s rant is about how Jenny McCarthy thinks that a gluten-free diet CURED HER SON’S AUTISM. Yes, you read that correctly.

I can’t ….I don’t even…..this HURTS MY SOUL. Now I am not a doctor (I am not even a Celiac for that matter) but isn’t this the equivalent of saying “Becoming a vegetarian cured my Dyslexia”? To make matters worse, I found this little nugget of awesome while doing blog research on none other than the “Living Without” website. “Living Without” is (I thought)  a respected publication for people with allergies and food sensitivities. Way to feed the celebrity I’m-going-to-give-you-uneducated-and-possibly-dangerous-medical-advice-because-I-am-famous-and-I-can machine. Is Jenny McCarthy really going to help your sales that much? Now desperate parents of autistic children are going to deprive their kids of an entire food group on the say-so of a moron. Shame on you Living Without! And to think I almost bought Amy a subscription for Christmas, screw that!

 yup, this person looks totally qualified to give medical 
and nutritional advice

According to the LW article, health expert Dr. McCarthy and her partner in crazy, Jim Carrey, are both gf as well. Funny, the gluten-free diet didn’t seem to do anything for their mental disabilities? 

is it just me or is Jim Carrey starting to look like "Killer Bob" from Twin Peaks?  

 I get it lady, you love your kid, you want the best for him blah, blah, blah. But how happy is your kid going to be when he gets older and realizes he is responsible for a generation of children that have contracted Measles and weren’t allowed to eat Oreos. I hope all this money you are making spouting your nonsense is enough to pay for the therapy your child is going to need.

maybe she does have Celiacs?

My Best Friend Is a Celiac and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Laura and I have decided that, in the light of the current financial environment, what people really need to do is buy stuff. Namely, stuff with clever sayings pertaining to gluten. This is our way of stimulating the economy and "giving back."

So soon there will be a cafe press store chock full of F.O.C.U. swag. I know what you're thinking, "Will it be up in time for Christmas/Chanukah?" Fear not wheat-eaters and is going to be a very gluten-free holiday!

Right now we are still in the brainstorming process and, since this is a collaborative organization, I thought I'd run some of our ideas past everyone. Please give us feedback, as well as any catchy slogans you may come up with that might look good on a t-shirt, mug, kerchief, etc.

"MY WHEAT DON'T STINK" (thanks Bryen)
"I SEE-LIAC YOU" (that one is pushing it, I know)

  this could be your boyfriend/brother/husband.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gluten-Free is the New Black

Watching the telly late one night, I saw a taco bell commercial stating 'taco is the new black". T.B. recently release a new "sexy" black taco, that I had to admit (if I hadn't sworn off taco bell almost a year ago) looks pretty damn good.

I started to reflect back on the days when Amy and I used to stuff our faces with nacho bell grande (tortilla chips, cheese and extra sour creme only) and let a single tear fall. My god how we loved taco bell and their caulk gun sour creme. How cruel that now Amy has serious food allergies and I can't poop for 12 days after eating taco bell. I had to seek justice for my celiac friend.

I went to and there, on their home page was the black jack taco. Look at that sour creme poking its head out, all white and majestic. My immediate reaction is to dry heave a little, but that subsides quickly and is replaced by me wanting to shove that taco down my throat without chewing.

I digress. I noticed that under that black stallion of a taco that there was a special pop up window that would list nutrition and allergies. Was taco bell feeling the financial loss from Laura and Amy not eating at taco bell? Had word of Amy's food allergies reached the president of taco bell him/herself? Is god trying to get me to eat taco bell again with Amy?

Long story short, the taco bell black jack IS gluten-free (as far as I can see, and according to the vagueness of what taco bell considers gluten-free (chances are the taco meat cannot be eaten due to the seasoning)).

I got excited for Amy and could imagine her sitting on the ledge of a fountain, water gently jumping behind her, the sun illuminating her like a halo, as she sits and enjoys her sexy black jack taco. She could be considered hip and cool, and perhaps as a human able to eat and digest all types of food.

I also thought about Amy's recent trip to the the San Francisco Bay Area, the land that has been home to paranoid hippies and over emotional vegans and vegetarians for over 40 years, thus the "food impaired" can eat at most restaurants and have more options at the grocery store. Amy was able to find a gluten free bakery, gluten-free beer tasting and a gluten-free pizzeria.

She took gluten-free to a whole new level of sexiness. By simply informing the waiter, or dude working at BevMo! that she was gluten-free, she received googly eyed looks, free beer, free gluten-free brownie desserts, and I am pretty sure she made the cashier dude at BevMo! mess up the order cause he insisted on continuing his conversation with Amy even after he was done serving her.

What am I trying to say here you might ask. I don't think it is a coincidence that taco bell put out the "gluten-free" (and yes, I do realize that no where do they claim it is "gluten-free") taco shortly after Amy got special treatment from strange men simply for being gluten-free. They saw that gluten-free was the new black, thus they made a black taco and claimed that taco is the new sexy.

And we have come full circle.