The Politics Of A Dinner Party Invite …And The Need To Eat Gluten-Free

If eating in a restaurant feels challenging, how does it feel to be invited to someone’s house for dinner, and how do you end up with a meal that is gluten-free?  How can this feat be accomplished politely?  How can it be actualized at all if the person does not understand your disease?  Many hurdles are presented when eating at another’s table.  Food related as well as socially related challenges pop up with regard to the etiquette of conveying your needs for ‘safe’ food.

I am lucky to have caring friends and even some family members that go all out to provide a gluten-free meal for me.

Sometimes though, I will cross paths with a person that believes that my diet is a fad, or just not that big of a deal if I just have a little bit of flour.   I love that during these times, when I am left speechless, my husband steps in to explain, “if someone is allergic to shell-fish, or nuts, that person can not tolerate just a little bit of shellfish or nuts, that person gets  very ill from the minute exposure, celiac disease is very similar”.  It is a very strong point that he makes, and usually people can relate to his analogy.

I suppose that there are a couple of ways to handle dining in someone else’s house safely. And please feel free to share the ways that you have smoothly negotiated the transaction of dining as a guest in a new setting with the need to be 100% gluten-free!

Often times, depending on who the host is, I  tell my friends or family that I will bring my own food.  I must disclose here, that many times people would attempt to make a gluten-free meal for me, and later, I would discover that they accidentally had added some ingredient that had hidden gluten within it (like soy sauce for example); so, it just seemed easier to suggest that I bring my own dish.  If the person hosting the dinner insisted on making something gluten-free for me, I would ask for a salad with balsamic vinegar, and gently remind them to leave out the croutons.

One way to approach the dilemma,  I would explain, or depending on the situation, perhaps insist, that it would just be easier for us both if they would let me bring a contribution to the meal that I knew was safe for me to eat.  I often take the blame for not knowing exactly how to explain the hidden ingredients that contain gluten, explaining also; how guilty I feel for putting them out of their way for my special diet: blame it on me, but let me bring some gluten-free food.

Another way to handle eating at someone’s home;  it is not beyond me to pack a small lunch; like and apple and maybe a condiment size peanut butter, perhaps a pack of nuts, and have it in my purse, a back up plan that can be eaten in hiding, or on the drive home, again, depending on the host. I don’t enjoy being hungry!  And, I consider myself quite the foodie, so believe me when I say that I relate to the disappointment of eating another salad whilst everyone else is feasting!  But, let’s face it;  eating at someone’s house can be stressful; depending on the situation, the host, and the level of gluten-free knowledge the host possess.  By the way, I don’t want to put down salads!  I have learned to make some really delicious varieties of salads, that are very fulfilling.

Recently, a kind friend invited me to dinner.  She asked what to avoid in making a meat centered dinner; I let her know: flour, soy sauce, soup broth etc…  She made a lovely meal, and right before we sat to eat, she mentioned that she had added beer to the meat.  I didn’t say a word, I just ate salad, and vegetables.  What to do?  We can’t let it ruin our night, or quit socializing because of our diet!

Gradually, many friends and family members have educated themselves about cooking gluten-free.  My in-laws come up with some of the best new gluten-free breads and gluten-free deserts.  More than a few people are becoming ‘certifiable’ gluten-free chefs in my circle of friends and family!  Just give it time, and it will happen for you too!

I can say on average; that most dinners that I am invited to, I insist on bringing a gluten-free dish.  Or, sometimes; I say nothing and bring it anyways!  Hey, a girl’s got to eat!  When appropriate, I call the host ahead of time and I say something like: “I have a very difficult and tricky diet.  I am grateful for the invitation, and look forward to coming, I would like to bring something for myself to eat that is gluten-free, I was thinking of a quinoa salad, would you like me to make it as a side dish for everyone?  Or, is there something else that better compliments your meal that I could make instead?  I feel like this is an easier solution than asking the host, to learn a new nutritional chapter in gluten-free diets in the next few days! Hee Hee.  What do you think as the host?”

For the record, I do not go to many formal dinner parties, so with that in mind, I think the recommendations here work well with most host’s.  I understand that there will be circumstances (formal dinner party, a host that we don’t know, or barely know) where bringing quinoa salad to the dinner party is out of the question.  Even in this instance, it depends on the host.  On an occasion that I found myself in this position, I called a friend of the  host, explained that I was a celiac disease sufferer and that I was very limited on my dining choices.  Could she please clue me in to the menu, and if it was not gluten-free, that I would come to the party on a full stomach.  The friend understood that I was just trying to be the least amount of trouble and made and effort to discover the menu plan for the evening.

It gets easier as time goes on.  You get better at knowing what to say and ask.  Your friends and family get better at working with you.  And, you will get better at packing a secret lunch for those dinner parties that you must attend, but are not gluten-free friendly!

Please take a moment to check out the dinner party that I was invited to recently:  (I told my friend that I would bring my own food and she insisted  “No way, I am making a gluten-free pasta dish, no cross contamination, no problem!”, thanks my friend!  Look what she did for me!

Gluten-Free  Pasta Dinner before baking.

Asparagus Sans Gluten

Gluten-Free Pasta After Baking!  Mmmmmm

The Dish-Up Of My Gluten-Free Pasta Dinner!  And, It Was Delicious!

The Dinner Party (Mine Is Gluten-Free)

Gluten-Free Desert

May I take a minute to give a shout out to the people in my life, friends, family, neighbors, that make an effort to feed me gluten-free!  Thank you, THANK YOU!

Gluten Free Shampoo

Acure Organics shampoo rocks!  I really am falling in love with this company.  They have so many positives, they are eco-conscious, organic, fair trade, they plant trees, use solar and wind power in their facilities, grant microloans, recycle, use green packaging, biodegradable product ingredients, support many worthy causes, their kindness goes on and on…and on! But, do you know what I really love about them?  Their products rock!  One more thing:

“GLUTEN FREE–Each of our products is free of wheat ingredients except for our facial cleansers.” (I copied that directly from their website)

When you buy their products, you are doing your skin, and scalp a favor, and you are doing the earth a favor.  Doesn’t that feel good?

Today, I went to Tall Grass Spa, Evergreen, CO for a hair appointment with Jessie.  Yes, it is a plug for Jessie, because, I happen to think that Jessie and Tall Grass Spa are pretty awesome. Tall Grass Spa is an Aveda Salon, and nothing against Aveda, but their products are full of gluten.  With that said, Jessie does not mind a bit that I bring my gluten-free hair products along with me, she understands my need to have gluten-free hair products.  If you live in the area, this Spa ranks very high, part of the Denver A list for Day Spa’s; number one, I believe, and for good reason.

I took my Acure conditioner and shampoo with me to the appointment, Jessie thought that it smelled great, and felt nice, quality and rich were words that she used.  The end result: my hair is very shiny and soft.  It was only my second use of the Acure shampoo, but I think that I love this shampoo!  It did not weigh my hair down, and the shine is something else.  You already know from an earlier post that I love the Acure Conditioner don’t you?  Thanks Acure and thanks Jessie.

A Few Tried-And-True Gluten-Free Restaurants

I know that my  focus is aimed on gluten-free body care products, but many people ask me for food recommendations…so from time to time, I have to put in a good find!

For those of you that are gluten-free and live in the Denver area how lucky are you?  VERY!  I travel quite a bit and I have to say that the Denver area abounds with Gluten-Free Options.

For those of you that are not from this area, I will include some safe gluten-free chain restaurants.

As always, I am open to suggestions to share with others, so please add a restaurant anytime!

The Bistro at Marshdale in the Evergreen, CO area is ridiculously delicious!  It gets 5 out of 4 stars.  Yes, 5 out of 4 stars.  I have never had a mediocre meal there.  For sure, they know gluten-free.  They know the difference between gluten intolerence and celiac disease.  They have delicious gluten-free bread and they will pour your dipping oil out of a separate, gluten-free oil container (meaning; no contaminates got into the oil.)  You are safe here.  Beyond being safe, I can not say enough about the menu.  Diverse and yummy are two words for now.  Also, dear Chef Brian; I am begging you to put the Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Mousse on the desert menu full-time! Please?!  Also, they have a lot of specials, like March Madness that cost about $36.00 and you got to eat three courses for that price. I did; twice!

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill  Chain, also found in Denver, CO area.  Fresh, inexpensive, delicious, good for  you, and you guessed it: gluten-free.  It is considered to be fast food and a chain.  They have little GF labels on their food and the staff seems well-educated on gluten-free.  They serve falafel, hummus, shwarma etc.  The falafel is delicious, not dried out and nasty like some that I have tried in the freezer section.  I pray regularly that you open a restaurant near me! Thanks!

Tokyo Joe’s  Chain, also found in Denver, CO area.  Fresh, inexpensive, delicious, good for you and many gluten-free options.  Fast Food, Japanese fare, with gluten-free soy sauce (tamari), gluten-free teriaki, gluten-free curry sauce, the list goes on and on and on and on for gluten-free options.  The staff is well-educated on gluten-free and they always have a friendly, helpful attitude.  I love you Tokyo Joes!

Here is a picture of the Alfresco dining at Tokyo Joe’s;  I was so excited to eat, I ate the food before it dawned on me to take a picture!

Blue Sky Cafe  Denver, CO.   I will let a few menu items sell this place: gluten-free pancakes made of corn or sweet potatoes, gluten-free crepes, gluten-free english muffins and other gluten-free bread items, gluten-free soups, sauces, dressings!  You can almost eat anything on their menu without gluten!!!  This is one of my top go-to breakfast place.  Comfort food.  Delicious.  Not expensive, but not inexpensive either.

Wild-Flower Cafe, Evergreen, CO.  Lunch or Breakfast?  Either.  They understand gluten-free, and the staff adds character to your meal, you will want to go there just for their company!  But, they have gluten-free french fries on Thursday, the best turkey reuben ever, of course sans gluten, and they have gluten-free bread, waffles and other breakfast fare that is gluten-free.  Inexpensive and delicious. Fun staff.

Mccormick and Schmick’s A delicious nationwide chain.  It can be pricey, but when I travel, this is a reliable gluten-free chain.  They may not have gluten-free bread for you, but they will keep the gluten out of your food.  I have never had a bad meal here!  Reliably delicious would sum this up!

Sullivan’s Steakhouse A reliable (no gluten in your food) good nationwide chain.  Also, nationwide, also a bit pricey, but good food.  Same as above, no gluten-free bread for you, but the staff reliably understands gluten-free food.

In-N-Out Burger  Chain…various locations throughout the nation.  As always, use caution, state your gluten-free issue when ordering.  After reading, calling the company and actually eating at In-N-Out Burger repeatedly, I believe this chain to be safe for celiac’s disease sufferer’s.  Currently, the special sauce is said to be gluten-free, if you are concerned, skip it.  The french fries are just fresh-cut potatoes, fried in their own fryer that is used for nothing else.  You order your burger “protein style” and it comes wrapped in lettuce, they do a nice job with it.  The only gluten in the restaurant are the buns.  So, to be extra, extra sure, ask for a clean spatula to be used, and ask for the sauce in a to-go packet.  I have never gotten sick here.

I will update this list periodically.  Also, please feel free to comment with restaurant suggestions, anywhere in the country and world would be appreciated!

Body Scrub – Sugar Scrub – Gluten Free And Tailor To YOUR Needs!

Are you looking for a way to moisturize your skin naturally?  It is really easy to make a body scrub, and tailor the scrub to your needs and desires.

I take an empty container, add organic sugar (about 1/2 of the container), then I add a splash or two of Vanilla. (Vanilla will ‘sweeten’ and enhance the essential oils that you will add.)  I use a combination of Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and sometimes Sesame Oil.  As far as essential oils are concerned, you may use a scent that  you like, maybe lavender, or if you have eczema, you may chose something like German camomile to help with your condition.  I like to use a mix of Clary Sage & Ylang  Ylang which is supposed to help with balancing hormones.  There is no way to ‘mess’ this up!  You can scent it as strong as you like, or not at all.

Be creative, you can really help your body in numerous ways with this oil treatment.  Essential Oils, can be added to support an emotional mood, or try to combat eczema, aromatherapy, or just because you like the smell!  Young Living has a place on their website that suggest oils and oil blends for various purposes (calming, hormone balance, sleep enhancement etc.)  Here is another place to read about the uses for essential oils:   Aromatherapy Essential Oils Profile  & Natures Gift.   I purchase my oils from Young Living, Julia Rose or Vita Cost, they are gluten-free friendly places to shop.

Next, have you read about ayurvedic massage?  I was tought by an ayurvedic doctor to do a massage daily if possible.  The benefits are endless (improved circulation, radiant skin, toxin release, nourish joints), take a minute to check out this blog about AYURVEDIC Massage for the many reasons that you should add this oil/massage to your shower or daily routine!  People have different dosha’s (different body make-up/conditions) and that is why different oils are used.  Again, you really can’t mess up your oil recipe, but if it helps to use the ones that are best matched to your body type, then why not?  Just take a few minutes to take a dosha quiz and you will have an idea of which oils are best for you!  I take a few minutes at the end of my shower to do a quick massage, my skins is softer and maybe I have done myself a dozen other favors with the massage (i.e. circulation, exfoliation, detox, etc.); then, rinse off  the sugar, the oil stays and your soft skin!

As you can see by my picture of the ingredients, I try to use pure, organic, gluten-free products.  It is all edible…which is what your skin wants and needs!  Remember, you skin is your largest organ, and it ‘eats’ what you put on it!  So chose your ingredients wisely!  Also, if you don’t want to add the sugar ingredient;  that is, you do not want a scrub, then leave it out and you will have a nice oil (which is better for the massage).  Keep in mind that if you live in a colder place, like I do, your coconut oil will be solid white (see picture below), no worries, I put my oil on the heat/register or run it under my shower water and it quickly melts.

If you have any ideas or favorite oil/scrub recipes, I would love to hear about them!

Traveling To A Foreign Country…How To Eat Gluten-Free

¿Cómo se dice   GLUTEN-FREE   en español?

I travel for a living, therefore, I eat in many restaurants, and I do it often in foreign countries.

First, In languages that I can get my tongue around, like French or Spanish, I learn how to say “I am allergic to gluten”.  I like the website Google Translate.  This is what Google Translate translated when I wrote: “I am allergic to gluten” to Spanish: Soy alérgico al gluten.  But, after discussing this with a native speaker, they advised me to say that I am allergic to wheat and flour (Soy alérgico al trigo y la harina).  The native Columbian-Spanish speaker advised this because in many rural parts, gluten is not a known word.  I like this advice, what is the point of saying that I am allergic to something that does not translate?

Before leaving to a non-English speaking destination, I do research at home on google translate.  I translate a few gluten-free phrases for eating out, and then print what I think represents what I am trying to say.  (Things like: Do you have a gluten-free menu?  Do you have gluten-free options?  I am allergic to Gluten. etc,)  Next, there is always someone in a hotel or tourism office that can help you to pronounce the phrase as well as advise  you on your best approach as exactly what to say.  Sometimes the person helping is willing to write my questions in their language, on a piece of paper.  This person is usually familiar with the local customs and level of understanding celiac disease/gluten-free.  Let me be clear here, the translator may not understand what gluten-free or celiac disease is, but, they will usually understand the comprehension level of the population that I am visiting, with regards to the population knowing what gluten is, or not.

I was in Brugge, and absolutely stood no chance of pronouncing anything correctly in Flemish.  So, I went to the tourism office, explained what I needed and the representative was kind enough to write my allergies on a piece of paper which I presented at restaurants.  People have been very kind in helping me with this eating out, gluten-free issue in a foreign country.  It is really very simple, just make sure that the person helping you understands that they must convey (on your behalf) that you have zero tolerance for your ‘allergen’.  And if you are in Brugge, go to that delicious french fry stand (there are two, and both are awesome) in the main square, french fries ONLY in their fryer.  And by the way, this is where fries originated.  Yum!  (And, another by-the-way, gluten-free Belgium Beer, gluten-free moules and gluten-free fries, why aren’t you planning your trip right now???)  Or dine in a restaurant there with ease, satisfactorily eating gluten-free fries and of course moules!

If you feel uncomfortable, as usual, there is always fruit and a salad, but do not forget about the grocery stores, many stores in Europe and some of the big cities in South America have gluten-free options.  And, don’t forget to look up the translation for “gluten-free” so that you can look for it in a foreign language on the label!  Often the store will have gluten-free items in one area, thank you nice store people!

I would like to emphasize that the google translator is not always exactly what you need, but it is a good starting point.  Print the translation and then ask a person that is educated in both languages if it makes sense.

Bon Voyage!

Here are two gluten-free guide books:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/128174495584/

http://www.glutenfreeguidebook.com/tag/europe/

I have only poked around on these sites a limited amount due to the fact, that I do pretty well on my own.  But, I thought that I would include them if you are newer to achieving gluten-free in a foreign tongue.  Good luck!

My Latest Gluten-Free Conditioner

I like to change my shampoo and conditioner somewhat frequently.  Lucky for me, there are more and more quality products becoming available to us gluten-free people.  I would definitely buy this product again, it is by Acure and I tried the Pure Mint.  Mint would not be my first fragrance choice for hair care, but I chose it because it seemed to be the perfect match for my needs.  (My hair is fine, but I have lots of it, it tends to be oily while at the same time having dry ends, and it is color treated.)  The conditioner felt nice and rich going in, I thought that it might weigh my hair down…but it did not!  My results were: it was as if I used a heavy conditioner that corrected my dryness, but it rinsed out and left my hair light and manageable.  It left no weight/film behind.

It is Gluten-free, fair trade certified, vegan, sulfate, paraben, phthalate and cruelty free!  (They use Quinoa Protein to keep in a quality conditioning agent and still  keeping it gluten-free)   It is also filled with many organic ingredients.  Try it, enjoy nice hair and no itchy scalp….because it is gluten-free!

One more thing, the price is nice.  I got it at VitaCost for under $10.00.  I used their gluten-free search to find it.

Gluten Free Soap

I just bought “Kiss My Face” brand soap, I tried the following: Olive & Aloe, Pure Olive Oil, and Olive & Green Tea.  I like everything about the soap, the price is much lower than other soaps of this high quality, the ingredients are gluten-free, no phthalates, no artificial color, biodegradable, no animal ingredients, and not animal testing!  It is a nice, clean, healthy, earth friendly soap!  …and it is very nice to my skin.  (Other “flavors” are available.)

These soaps are all based on the ingredient: Olive Oil; which is a very nice quality gluten-free ingredient.  For more beauty and body care ideas; check out this blog The Olive Oil Source to learn of the awesomeness of Olive Oil for your skin!

You will not be surprised to learn that I purchased this gluten-free natural soap at The Vitamin Cottage .  I shop there quite a bit because they are a gluten-free friendly shopping destination.

Look at the gluten-free ingredients!  And all the other nice features of this soap!

Celiacs Disease And Tendonitis

In the past, I have experienced problems with my shoulder involving soft tissue.   Meanwhile, I have tarsal tunnel, a tendon problem in my ankle.  Now, I am experiencing tennis elbow.  What gives?

The physical therapist suggested a link between Celiac’s and my soft tissue issues.  She recommended that I check out this book: “Performance Without Pain” by: Kathryn Pirtle (who also has a blog), and I will!

Many people write in to blogs complaining of joint pain that they believe corresponds to celiac’s disease.  Here is a blog that helps in general with cooling inflammation: http://coolinginflammation.blogspot.com/2009/05/cure-acne-back-pain-tendonitis.html .  There is also a plethora of information of the correlation between eating a gluten-free diet and reducing inflammation.

After some quick research, I have found that there is not a lot of published information documenting the correlation between Celiac’s and tendonitis coming from the medical community.  There is information about rheumatoid arthritis, but not this exact subject, to my knowledge.

I am just letting you know what two different physical therapists have suggested to me, in case you are having a similar experience.  If you have any more information, please share it with me!

For now, I am going to check out the book, do a spring cleanse and see how I feel!

Living Without Magazine

The magazine Living Without is a magazine that is beyond gluten free, it is for people with allergies and food sensitivites.

This magazine is recipe Intensive.  And, if you are lactose intolerant, this magazine is an extra help to you as Living Without has a narrower focus than just gluten-free recipes.  Keep in mind;  this may be a good magazine for you, as many newly diagnosed celiac’s can not tolerate dairy.  If you are interested in reading more about dairy intolerance, here is a link to an article on About.com .

Enjoy!  And, if you find a gluten-free recipe that you can not live without, please let me know and I will share it with others.

Good Gluten-Free Baguette Has Been Found!

Finally, I have found a gluten-free Baguette that is pretty dang good.  It does not exactly taste like I just walked out of a hotel in Paris and grabbed a Baguette from the local boulangerie, tucked it under my arm and headed to the Tour Eiffel, but, broil it and throw some garlic and olive oil on it, and you are going to be happy, I swear.  It is crunchy, and crusty and yummy!  What about making some gluten-free bruschetta?  Mmmmm.

Check it out, the brand is Against The Grain .  I bought mine at the Vitamin Cottage and I paid about $6.75 for two gluten-free baguette’s.  I cut them in half, then into thirds and throw them back into the freezer; then at dinner time, they are easy to pull out and make a sandwich or some garlic bread. Enjoy!

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