Category Archives: Celiac Life

Eating With Friends: Layered Salad

As all celiacs can understand, I get nervous letting other people cook for me. I have a few close friends and family members that have been there with me since day 1 and know what precautions to take and what questions to ask to ensure a safe meal, but this past weekend we were invited over to a friends that we haven’t seen in a long time with his partner that we’d never met.

I didn’t want to be “that guy” and cause too much of a fuss (but as we know from my recent experience, not causing a fuss can lead to bad times). My husband was the one making the plans so I just asked him to casually mention, “Kelly has celiac disease so she’ll bring something she can eat too.” I try to mention this ahead of time to let them know of my dietary needs, but also to let them know they don’t need to worry about it – I’ll bring something safe so we can have a good time and not worry about the food side of it.

Turns out our friend’s partner is gluten intolerant so they’re used to cooking gluten-free. B even mentioned he makes a killer gluten-free beer battered fish…

Of course, this sends off all sorts of alarms for me. Gluten-intolerant can mean a lot of different things to different people. I thought it was a BBQ and I was kind of hoping to just bring something along and eat it safely without anyone noticing, but when people go out of their way to cook something special for me, I feel bad passing it up. (I know, I know, it’s my guts, but it’s still hard for me to be “that guy”.)

Luckily, it all worked out great! Not only was B’s partner gluten intolerant but her sister also has celiac disease, so they were more than aware of the difference. They are also good friends with the owner of the local gluten-free bakery who is also celiac, and they got the fish batter and some treats for dessert from there. The fish was amazing and best of all, I didn’t get sick and I didn’t have to be “that guy”. I did mention something to our friends about it being out of my comfort zone to eat at someone else’s house and they were more than willing to answer my questions and put me at ease. The next day our friend even texted my husband to ask how I was feeling. How sweet!

I did end up bringing something along for dinner. Something that would be a full meal for me if I didn’t feel safe, but that would also be of interest to everyone else. For me, that means my Mom’s good ol’ Layered Salad. I have no idea where this recipe came from but it has always been a hit throughout my life at potlucks and summer BBQs. And it was a hit again this time – our friends asked to keep the leftovers. Of course I didn’t mind. I made 2.

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As always, don’t feel forced to stick to the recipe. I don’t use exact measurements anymore but can just eyeball it based on the size of dish I end up using. But for the sake of sharing, here’s a recipe.

Layered Salad

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 – 1/2 red onion, diced finely
1/2 – 1 cup Miracle Whip (It has to be Miracle Whip. It just does. Apparently you can mix mayo with sugar, but that’s just not right, it has to be Miracle Whip.)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 slices bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
2-4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
dash of paprika to finish it all off

Choose a large tupperware or serving dish of your choice. It could be a rectangle baking dish, a trifle bowl – bonus points if you can see all the layers – or like I did, I used a large tupperware so that it was easy to transport and leave behind the leftovers without worrying about getting the dish back.

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Layer a thicker/larger portion of lettuce on the bottom, then layer the peppers, onions, and frozen peas. No need to defrost the peas, this salad is better after it sits so the peas will be defrosted by the time you eat it.

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Spoon dollops of Miracle Whip over the salad and gently spread it out until it covers the entire salad with a thin layer. This is kind of like icing a cake where you need to use enough Miracle Whip that it spreads across without picking up the ingredients from below. If your salad is longer/flatter you may need more dressing then if it is short/deep.

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Once the Miracle Whip is spread across, sprinkle the cheese and bacon over top. Lay out the sliced eggs, again the number of eggs will be determined by the size of your dish, and sprinkle with paprika. Let the salad sit for a few hours in the fridge before serving. With this salad lots of leftovers isn’t a bad thing because it stays good in the fridge for a few days.

The first scoop is always the hardest to get out – use a sturdy spoon and dig down deep and get all the veggies. Because as my brother pointed out: “Without the lettuce, it’s just dip”. 😉

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Baby Food Diet

Like most new moms, I have a few pounds to lose. I didn’t gain an inappropriate amount of weight when I was pregnant, and honestly, a few months after M was born I was feeling pretty good about my new mom body. I was going to stroller fit twice a week and eating well to fuel the small amount of milk I was able to produce for my son.

Then I stopped breast feeding. And I put on more pounds then I did when I was pregnant.

I know exactly what was to blame.

  1. Being able to drink alcohol again after 12+ months. Perhaps a little too much alcohol during our summer vacations… and July was pretty much an extended vacation for me with no job to go back to.
  2. Bad habits developed when pregnant and breast feeding. I lost a ton of weight pre-diagnosis so I gave myself a licence to put the pounds back on. Because of my restricted diet I allowed myself a splurge or two, because I could. But that continued when it shouldn’t. I no longer have an excuse to eat what I want (I’m not talking a cookie or two, I’m talking eating an entire container of gluten-free cookies and a bag of chips one night when I was pregnant… ok, maybe more then once). I’m not fuelling another human being anymore. Just myself. And I need to make better choices.

So, I’m going on a diet. What I’m calling, the Baby Food Diet.

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My baby eats healthier than me? Green beans, sweet potatoes and zucchini.

Wait. I know what you’re thinking. No, I’m not going to follow the ridiculous
celebrity diet craze and eat pureed baby food.

My son is eating solid foods now. And more then anything, he wants what you’re having. And I’ve caught myself, holding M in one arm, the other arm deep in a bag of potato chips (my number 1 pregnancy weakness and
hard to break habit), and saying to my son, “No baboo, chips aren’t for babies. They aren’t good for you.”

And it hit me. If it’s not good for my son, it’s not good for me. So that’s my new diet strategy. WWME. What Would M Eat?

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Veggie scramble with all the veggies I could find in my fridge. A slice of Kinnikinnick multigrain bread on the side.

I’m busy prepping homemade baby food. I’m choosing healthy new foods for my boy to expand his palette. We’re doing a mix of purees and baby led weaning so I make purees and small easy to chew chunks that he can feed himself. He gets distracted easily so this dual method works to keep him entertained and get in the calories my low weight, reflux baby needs. And I am again looking at his food and thinking, “My son eats better than me.”

So I’m making changes. I’m cutting back on the amount of wine I drink – empty calories. I’m back to prepping veggies for easy to grab lunches and snacks. I’m adding as many chopped veggies to my breakfast scrambles as I can find in my fridge. And I’m adding in some exercise every day, even if it’s only the 7-minute workout from the app I downloaded. How can I possibly say to myself that I don’t have 7 minutes? I can make 7 minutes.

I need to do this. Not just for my waist line, but to keep up with my growing, moving, standing and soon to be walking, boy. I want to be a good example, in my eating, activity and attitude.

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Glutened

Well, it’s official. I’ve been glutened. And I know for sure this time what got me and how. And it’s my own fault. And I’m pissed.

There have been a few times since I was diagnosed that I suspected a gluten reaction, but I could never prove it so I had to consider the fact that perhaps gluten wasn’t the culprit. I mean, all people get stomach aches. Even non-celiacs. So of course I could still feel sick for other reasons. And for nine months I was pregnant, so who was to say what was celiac and what was the changing body and growing baby of a pregnant lady. Well now I know. And I’m not impressed.

Last Thursday we ordered sushi. When I go to restaurants I am diligent about stating, “I have celiac disease and cannot have anything with gluten. Please let the kitchen know when placing my order.” At my ‘go-to’ restaurants this is always welcomed and responded to with great courtesy and respect for my food and my disease. But for some reason when I order over the phone, when I’m not looking someone in the eyes, this conversation feels less safe. And so I didn’t say anything. I just placed our group order.

BIG MISTAKE. HUGE MISTAKE.

I should have self advocated.
I should have stated my needs.
I should have requested the sushi to be made with clean gloves.
I should have asked for it to be cut with a clean knife.
I should have stated, “I have celiac disease.”

I should have….

But I didn’t. I sat down to my dinner and started to enjoy, when part way through I noticed it. A chunk of my friends tempura from her shrimp tempura roll was sitting hauntingly on my spicy tuna roll.

I stopped. I stared. I pouted. And I wondered what to do next. I’d already eaten some of it so I was going to get sick either way.

Or maybe I wouldn’t. I don’t know what my reaction is like. Maybe a little cross contamination isn’t enough to make me sick. Maybe I won’t get sick at all. I’ll just not eat the piece that touched the tempura. Everything else should be fine.

Right?

Wrong.

And now, four days later, I’m still sick.

So, people often ask – what happens when you eat gluten?

Within an hour my stomach started to hurt. Luckily I slept through the night o.k. but when I woke up I was still exhausted. The exhaustion continues, and the stomach ache got worse. A mix of nausea and straight up pain. Like knives moving around through my guts, stabbing and slicing as they go. I bloated like I’m 5 months pregnant again and am in and out of the washroom (I’ll leave those details out). And I got depressed. Irrationally cranky. Crying. A lot. Partially because I’m mad. Mad at myself, and mad at this disease. Mad that this can keep happening to me if/when I’m not careful. Mad that a little cross contamination does have major consequences. Mad that I was finally starting to relax and live normally again and now I’m terrified for the upcoming trips we have where I once again lose control of my food and am forced to play restaurant roulette with my guts. Again.

Oh. Did I mention this is the 3rd time I’ve been glutened in the past 6 weeks. Ya. Not impressed. Time to get vigilant again. And on that note, I should go research safe places to eat for next weekend…