A Bit About Sushi


I love, love, LOVE sushi! And, Sushi is actually pretty safe to eat GFCF. Of course, SF is a whole 'nother thing, but it's possible, I promise! I still eat it all the time! Seriously! It is one of the easiest things to eat out since it is prepared fresh and to-order, so you can easily customize it!

Sushi rice, nori (seaweed paper that sushi is wrapped in) and of course the raw rish are all naturally GFCFSF.

Here are some things you have to watch for:

Dairy:

  • The only dairy stuff that I can think of off the top of my head that is usually in sushi is cream cheese - so, if a roll I want comes with it, I just ask that they replace it with avocado or cucumber or something, it's usually not a problem.
Gluten/Soy (I'm combining these two because pretty much anything with soy sauce could have wheat in it):
  • If only GF: Anything "tempura," fried, or labeled as "crunchy" - those all are done with wheat flakes
  • If only GF: Avoid crabsticks. They almost always have wheat in them. You can ask if they use real crab or imitation. Real crab is fine. Imitation is not. They should be able to tell you if it is real crab or not - it's a fairly common question.
  • If GF and/or SF: Soy sauce with wheat in it - so if you are both GF/SF, you'll have to deal with no sauce whatsoever or bring a bit of fish sauce. If you are only GF, not SF, bring your own wheat free soy sauce but still ask that they do not put ANY sauce on any of your sushi. I cannot emphasize this enough the waiter/waitress! Just so you know, some rolls don't say that they have sauce on them on the menu, but it arrives with a sauce on them! So, be very, very clear. This might get you a weird look - "No sauce?" "No sweet sauce?" "No soy sauce?" Just keep nodding - yes, NO sauce of ANY kind. They all most likely have soy in them and could have wheat in them.
  • If GF and/or SF: Anything with eel because it almost always comes with soy on it or was marinated in soy

Here are some other words to watch for - most will not show up in your sushi menu, but they may be in entrees (if your sushi place offers other entrees) or in the appetizers:
  • GF only: ramen, soba, udon, gyoza, panko, tempura, miso (this is soy based and can have wheat added in sometimes), dashi, salad dressing and marinades (of course all sauces can have wheat in them), tamago (an omelet that has soy sauce in it), flavored roe, fish cake, soy sauce, teriyaki, sweet soy, sweet sauce
  • SF only: gyoza, miso, dashi, salad dressing and marinades (of course all sauces can have wheat in them), tamago (an omelet that has soy sauce in it), flavored roe, soy sauce, teriyaki, sweet soy, sweet sauce

Some safe options:
  • Sashimi: all it is - literally - is slices of raw fish. So, you'd get a plate full of little pieces of raw fish. You could ask for a bowl of rice to come with it, but it won't have the "sushi" flavor because sushi rice has vinegar and some other stuff in it. You could ask for a bowl of sushi rice, but it depends on the place if they'll do that.
  • If you can eat soy, a good appetizer is Edamame (salted and steamed soybeans)
  • California Roll or Rainbow Roll - if GF: replace crabstick with shrimp
  • Alaskan or Philadelphia Roll - if DF: replace cream cheese with avocado
  • Any Nigri sushi (this is just a pillow of sushi rice, sometimes with a dab of wasabi and then the fish on top - no sauce, no veggies, nothing to worry about here - just don't order the eel one or tamgo if your GF or SF!)
I hope that helps out a bit! Sushi can be very safe, you just have to know what to ask for. Oh, and if you are in the Southern Maryland area, my two favorite sushi places (out of the ones that I have tried so far) are Niowana Hana and Wasabi Zen. When I'm in Northern Virgina, I really like Yokos. It's gotten mixed reviews, but me and my Sister really enjoy it! I've also heard that Tachibana is really good, though I've never been there myself.

Enjoy!

Clara's Avocado Sesame Salad




Okay, so Hubby and I tried a new sushi restaurant the other day. We usually go to this one, but we decided to try this one to switch things up a bit!

I noticed an avocado salad on the menu. I love avocados, so I asked the lady what was in it. She said it had iceberg lettuce, avocado, sesame seeds, miso dressing and topped with tempura flakes. So, it was soy and wheat filled! :( I politely declined but thought, ooooo, that sounds super good and I bet I can make a safe version at home!

So, this is what I came up with:
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Clara's Avocado Sesame Salad

Ingredients:
3 romaine lettuce leaves
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced the long way and mediumly sliced the short way (hope that makes sense! Basically, you want bite size pieces)
1 slice of red onion (Cut vertically so you'll get several little skinny pieces, not a ring)
2-3 heavy sprinkles of toasted black sesame seeds
1 light sprinkle of toasted white sesame seeds
4-5 tsp of My Favorite Dressing
1/2 handful or so of Rice Chex (check to make sure it's GF)

Directions:
Roughly chop the lettuce leaves, place them on the plate

Place the avocado randomly on top of the lettuce

Spread the onion pieces around on top of the avocado and lettuce

Sprinkle both the sesame seeds on top

Drizzle on the dressing

Crush the Rice Chex in your hands and sprinkle over the whole salad
----------

Oh! So this is SO good! Really, very, super good! Try this ... TODAY!!! I mean, not only is it amazingly good, but avocados are so good for you!

The black sesame seeds really give the salad a deep flavor that is also a bit nutty, the dressing lends that vinegary/sour flavor, the avocado is creamy and also a bit nutty and then the lettuce, sesame seeds and Rice Chex give you that crunch! It's a flavor explosion and a textural sensation!

Oh my!! Yum yum! And, completely GDSYWP-free! :D Life is good.

Enjoy!

First Celiac Appointment

So, I went to go see Dr. Alessio Fasano yesterday. Overall, I'd say it was good appointment. I gave them a run-down of my history (which is basically a summary of this post and this post). It took a while to go through all that with the nurse - about 20-30 minutes or so, and then I actually met with Dr. Fasano for all of like 5 minutes! Keep in mind that we waited for like an hour before we even saw the nurse! Crazy, huh? I was there from a bit before noon until nearly 2!!

Anyway! What it boils down to is that they took my blood to run the Celiac gene test on me. The results will be back in 10-14 days. If it comes back negative, I only have a 5% chance of having Celiac. If it comes back as positive, it means that I carry the gene for Celiac, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I actually have Celiac. If it is positive, I would then have to decide if I want to do a gluten challenge - which basically means that I'd have to go back on gluten continually for a month or so. I was told it would not have to be much (in their opinion!) - I was told 1 slice of bread, 1 cookie or even a couple crackers would be enough. Then, after a month, I would come back in for a biopsy or antibody blood test and see where to go from there.

It's sort of a Catch-22 for me. I mean, I want the gene test to come back positive because I really believe that I, and some of my family members, have Celiac. But, I don't want it to be positive because I am scared to death of having to go back on gluten. I know I'll be so run-down, need lots of naps, be irritable, have lots of headaches, etc. I know the doctors think 1 slice of bread, 1 cookie or a couple crackers isn't much, but we all know differently, don't we?

So, we'll see. I'll update you guys when I hear back about the test. For now, I'm sitting on pins and needles!

Non-Quote Tuesday


Yep. Sorry, no quote on this particular Tuesday.

Today, I'm going to share something much more personal, a bit scary but hopefully a bit exciting!

I am going to go to the University of Maryland Celiac Center today.

I am going to request that they will give me a Celiac genetic test. I know that it won't diagnoise me for sure as Celiac since I've already gone GF and can't have the blood test or biopsy, but it can rule out for sure if I don't have Celiac. You can read a bit more about it here.

I'm pretty emotional about it all. Like, on one hand, I KNOW that gluten is POISON to my body - I don't need medical confirmation of that - but, there are some benefits to having an official diagnosis:
1) I've been trying to get my family to get tested but they won't because they don't think there is a problem. If I test as carrying the Celiac gene, I hope that it will make them realize that it is imporant!
2) Kind of in-line with number 1, but I want to know how great the risks are of my future children having gluten intolerance. If I carry the Celiac gene, I know to get them checked as soon as I can, but if I don't, then I know just to be careful of and watch for gluten intolerance.
3)It would be nice to have a note of diagnosis to prove that I need my special food. Like, not to friends or anything like that, but more like to officials. Like, when I travel or go to a function that does not allow outside food brought in, I have read/heard that if you have a letter of diagnosis stating that you need special food, then you are sometimes allowed to bring food in. This would help immensely!
4) Just knowing what's going on with my body. Like, I know that gluten (among other things) hurt my body, but I sure would like to know why. I think it would help me just understand myself and my body a bit more.

I'll be meeting with Dr. Alessio Fasano, a doctor internationally recognized for his work with Celiac disease. I figure if anyone would be able to diagnose me with Celiac after over a year free of gluten, it would be him! So, here's hoping!

So, I'm not sure exactly what will happen or what I'll find out, but please cross your fingers for me, I need all the help that I can get! I know I'll be a wreck all day!

I'll be back soon to discuss the visit!

Pantry Meals

So, after the recent post on Bulk Meals, I started thinking about how much I love Pantry Meals, as in dishes that are be made from items that can be kept in your pantry. I love them for several reasons:
1) I am able to keep ingredients on hand for however long and use them whenever I need to whip up a quick meal!
2) They're also economical! I also like being able to stock up on canned goods when they're on sale and know that I can use them in the future. Our pantry foods, and pantry meals, have saved our budget lots of times in the past!
3) They're easy to double or triple for when you have surprise guests, or to just make bulk meals!

So, I thought I'd share my favorite Pantry Meals - you'll notice several of them are also on the Bulk Meals list, sorry for the cross-over, but I wanted to point out how the two really intermingle! Anyway, as usual, this list is by no means complete, and I'm sure to update it from time-to-time. When I do, I'll be sure to put an "updated" date on it so you'll always know how recent it is.

Carries Creamy Clam Chowder
Curry
Pantry Casserole -- no recipe - I just throw whatever veggies/beans that I have in the pantry into a casserole dish with whatever meat I have on hand, add some canned soup (or not!) whatever spices look good and cook!
Seafood Pasta
Shepards Pie - this does require some ground meat, but other than that, it's pantry! I make mine with ground beef, cooked and drained canned (drained) corn, carrots, green beans, all mixed together with either tomato soup or beef broth, pour into a casserole dish and mix up, top with instant mashed potatoes and bake until meat mixture is boiling and the potatoes start to brown.
Spanish Rice
Tuna Salad -- I know there are lots of recipes for this, mine is just a mixture of diced onions, diced celery (including the leafy tops), mayo, yellow, mustard, Old Bay spice and dill relish.
Chili
Spaghetti - brown rice pasta, a jar of spaghetti sauce and a can of beans - all things easily kept in the pantry! Of course, if you have some ground turkey/beef/chicken or some sausage in the fridge to add, that's even better! :D


Enjoy!

Quote Tuesdays

“Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of those pieces” ~Judith Viorst

This sure does take some strength - more than I have!! I am seriously addicted to chocolate. I need a piece (or 10! ;) ) at least once a day! I do have some days when I am able to fight it off, but most days I cannot. My Naturopath had originally listed it on my list foods that I was intolerant to. But, I tell ya, I only lasted like 5 or 6 months without it! I very well may be intolerant to it, (thus explaining my "need" to have it everyday) but I just cannot live without it! Those months without it were very hard! Since I don't really feel any affects on it, I have obviously let it back into my diet. I know that you don't have to feel affects for something to be affecting you, but I just couldn't do it! A life with no chocolate? Ack! I tell ya, it sure does take some strength to not eat more than I do!

Bulk Cooking

So, I'm sure I've mentioned in the past that I really like to make foods in bulk and freeze them. It's great for a few of reasons:
1) It's economical - frozen GDSYWP-free foods are expensive!
2) I can only handle eating so many leftovers before getting tired of them, this makes sure that I don't throw away a bunch of perfectly good food
3) It's convenient! I can just grab it and take it to lunch or grab it when we're going to someone elses house so I know that if they don't have something safe for me to eat, I am prepared!

So, what are you waiting for? You should do some bulk cooking yourself! :D

I thought I'd compile my favorite bulk cooking recipes for your use. This list is by no means complete, and I'm sure to update it from time-to-time. When I do, I'll be sure to put an "updated" date on it so you'll always know how recent it is.

Updated: 2/16/09

Stove-Top
Chili (to switch this up, you can put it on top of hot dogs for Chili Dogs or you can put it on top of a salad to make Taco Salad)
Spanish Rice (you can add ground turkey/beef to this and/or whatever veggies you have on hand to make it more of a main dish)
Curry
Turkey or Chicken Veggie soup (I take a roasted turkey or chicken carcass, boil it out to make a broth, add any leftover chicken pieces, along with chopped celery onions and drained canned green beans, corn and carrots. Yum!)
Pancakes and Waffles!
Carries Creamy Clam Chowder

Oven:
Easy Light Cassoulet
Roasted meat (I love to make a large roast, then freeze the leftover, cooked meat to use later in a recipe or to defrost and eat with sides later)

Crock Pot:
Pizza Soup
Pasta Fagioli
Burger Heaven Casserole

Things that do NOT freeze well:
GF Pasta (the Pasta Fagioli and Pizza Soup recipes above call for GF Pasta. You can tackle this 2 ways - 1: just deal with soggy, broken up pasta - which is what I usually do - or 2: make and freeze the soup without the pasta and make fresh stuff and add it when you're ready to eat the soup)

Enjoy!

Quote Tuesdays

“Americans have more food to eat than any other people and more diets to keep them from eating it” ~Unknown

Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, South Beach, Low-Salt, High-Fiber, High-Protein, Various food allergies ... we Americans are so concerned with diets! And yet, we are also a nation of obese people! I think we, as a society, need to focus more on whole, natural, unprocessed foods and less on diets.

That's what I have been trying to do for the last year - eating naturally GF foods that are tasty and healthy. I rarely buy mixes or premade foods. Of course, I do still purchase some for convience purposes, but it is drastically less than before!

I certainly haven't lost weight this way yet, but then, I'm also healthier and feel better than I ever have!

Quote Tuesdays

"Life is not a continuum of pleasant choices, but of inevitable problems that call for strength, determination, and hard work” ~Indian Proverb

I think this quote is especially appropriate for my anniversary week.

With a lot of strength, determination and hard work, I was able to make it a whole year GDSYWP-free. Well, that and the support of my darling Hubby!

I think, for me, when it started getting really hard, I just had to make the choice. I had to decide that I would make a major change in my life. I was determined to live my life and not feel pain or be sick all the time. I had to commit to being GDSYWP-free. I had to stick with it because I knew, deep down, regardless of what other people said, that I am better without all those things.

Now, more than ever, I am determined to live each day, one day at a time, eating safely and taking care of my body.

A Year of GDSYWP-Free Living!

What a difference a year can make.

Today, I have lived one year of my life Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Yeast, Walnut and Pork free. Happy Anniversary to me!

I can not even begin to explain to you all the ways my life has changed in a year. I feel like a completely new and different person. I have gone through a metamorphosis. All the things that I thought were "normal" for my body, I am now realizing were all signals from my body. My body was trying to tell me something was wrong all along, but I just didn't know how to read the signs. This journey hasn't been easy. I won't lie or sugar coat it for you. There have been times when I wanted to give up. There were times that I thought I was the crazy one. I've cried. I've yelled. I've been frustrated. I've been angry. But, I've also felt happy, calm, joyous, renewed, educated and proud. In one single year I have learned so much more about food, about my body and about myself.

I have learned:
That I'm stronger than I think
That my Husband is the most supportive, caring and loving man I've ever known
That I know my body better than anyone else - including doctors
That I need to listen to my body more closely
To trust myself
That 99% of food manufacturing companies are all about money - they could care less about their consumers health and they prove it by all the junk that they put into their products
That Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Yeast, Walnuts and Pork are all POISON to my body
That our country needs to be more aware and educated about food allergies, food in general and how food affects the body.

In one year, I feel the best I've ever felt. I have a whole laundry list of symptoms that are GONE! I was nervous about sharing this as it is a bit personal, detailed and graphic, but I think it's important to note so you'll understand just how far I've come. Here they are:

Physical:
Alternating diarrhea and constipation - I've had this as long as I can remember
Mucous in my stool - I had this for the past 10 years in varying degrees
Floating stools - I've had this as long as I can remember
Eye twitching (mostly the left eye) - I had this on/off for about 10 years
Constant sinus problems - This had plagued me for the last 8 years, resulting in 1-2 sinus infections per year!
Abdominal pain ranging from uncomfortable to excruciating - I've had this as long as I can remember
Joint pain in my knees, mostly the left - This started about 8 years ago
An itchy rash on my elbows and buttocks (which I now think was dermatitis herpetiformis) - This was my most recent reaction, beginning about 3 years ago
Itchy bumps on my legs that cause scarring (maybe also dermatitis herpetiformis?) - I've had this as long as I can remember

Mental:
Bouts of extreme fatigue, sometimes "napping" for 4-5 hours - This started about 5 years ago
Severe mood swings/irritability - I've had this since puberty, but it has only gotten worse and worse through the years
Brain Fog - Forgetting details of an event, confusing one event with another, forgetting things easily

These are symptoms that I had that were fixed in other ways so I can't gauge if the food change helped, but I would bet that they would have:
Menstrual irregularities - I had this so badly as a teenager that I was put on birth control to regulate my body and I have been on them ever since
Nosebleeds - I had these as a kid - I would sneeze or blow my nose and my nose would start bleeding or I wake up in the middle of the night with blood flowing from my nose. It only stopped when my parents had a vein in my nose cauterized

So, when people tell me that they can't believe that changing my diet can make me feel better, I laugh on the inside. ALL of these symptoms were gone within 6-8 months of changing my diet. And they haven't returned. If it's not the food, what is it? A miracle? That happened at the same time that I started this new lifestyle? Come on.

This journey has really allowed some people in my life to shine and has brought me to some new, amazing people and I'd like to say a few "thank yous."

First and foremost, my husband. He has supported me in ways that I can't begin to describe. I will never be able to thank him enough.

Darlene Betsill, the Naturopath from Georgia who discovered these ailments and told me that I could do it.

Dr. Mayer Green, my Chiropractor who heals my spine, generally cares about me (and all his patients!), gives me advice and has fixed shoulder problems that have plagued me since my teenage years!

My friend, Kristen M., who has some food intolerances herself and was one of the first people I called when I found out. She lets me vent and encourages me.

My Vegan friend, Kristen W. who understands my on-going search for safe foods and the hardships of restaurant eating!

My new online friends and supporters, all the bloggers and fellow Yahoo Group Members that provide me with recipes, advice and support, especially my dear friend, Carrie.

Lastly, my family. For trying to understand and for loving me regardless.

This is only the beginning! I can't wait to see what year two has in store for me! Stay tuned ...
:D


Disclaimer

The opinions and thoughts expressed here are purely my own and are not coerced, swayed or influenced by a company, organization or other person. The information contained here is to the best of my knowledge at the date posted. I am NOT an expert and am NOT responsible for anything that you do with this information. Please do your own research, seek out professionals and read all ingredients yourself in order to ensure that the choices you make are right for your lifestyle.

Comments on this website may not represent the views of the blog owner and their claims, advice, etc. are the sole responsibility of their original writers, NOT the blog owner.

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