I’ve always been a snacker. I would rather graze than have three big meals a day, but that’s a lot harder when you’re gluten free. There are plenty of naturally gluten free snacks, but a lot of them take preparation. That’s not always feasible for people on the go, or people who don’t have a lot of energy. So, while tossing a quick salad is ideal, if you’re out on the road running errands, it’s just ot possible.
I love cupcakes. It’s weird, because I never really liked sweets until I was diagnosed with celiac disease and couldn’t really have them any time I wanted anymore. Now, even if there are gluten free sweets available, they’re either cross-contaminated or just plain gross. The only time I get sweets is when my mom makes them, or if I make my own. When I saw a recipe for Chai Latte cupcakes on the Betty Crocker website, I knew I had to have some. Obviously, I had to adapt them a little bit to make them my own, and to make them gluten free.
This is actually a really common recipe, and I have a feeling it’s not very Russian at all. Still, my Grandmother has been serving up “Russian tea” for the grandkids on any particularly cold day for as long as I can remember. I wasn’t a fan when I was little- and surprisingly, my grandmother has never liked this tea- but now, I can’t wait for a glass. These days, I only get it when she’s made some for my younger cousin, so I have to arrive just before his school bus does. But that’s enough about me, let’s get to the star of this blog post.
Anyone who knows me well is aware of two of my great loves in the edible arena: tea and tomatoes. Iced tea, sweet tea, hot tea, tea lattes, I’ll drink them. Coffee, hot cocoa, and lemonade hold a close second in my heart, but my first true drinkable love is tea. As for food, anything savory, salty, local, and fresh is good. But if you throw in some tomatoes- and not those white, gritty store bought ones that you find at most supermarkets- I’m in love.
All of that comes down to this: if you’re ever near Lititz, Pennsylvania, do not miss Tomato Pie Café. It’s going to be packed. You may have to park a few streets over and walk because the parking in front of it is taken. You may have to wait for a seat. But if you miss out, you’re going to regret it.
When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I wasn’t given too much information on it. They told me to stop eating gluten, and sent me off into the world to figure it out on my own. Now, over two years later, I’ve learned a lot from other bloggers, people at gluten free conventions, and good old trial and error. There’s a lot I wish I’d known starting out, but I can boil most of it down to five little lessons.
1. It’s Harder Than You Think
I understood that I would have to look for gluten, in all of its sneaky names, in any kind of food. What I didn’t expect was to have to search down gluten in drinks, hair products, makeup, hand soap, body wash…pretty much everything I come in contact with. It’s a hassle to search for that sneaky wheat protein even in things you wouldn’t think about. After my diagnosis, I kept getting sick and had no clue why! Turns out that my shampoo and makeup were poisoning me. Whodathunkit??
As much as I love my ereader, it just can’t replace the feel of a good, old-fashioned hardback in my hands. The Kobo and Kindle are easier on my weak wrists, and I can download any book, any time. But let’s face it. There’s something missing when you use your ereader. I don’t know if it’s the new book smell, the crisp feel of pages between your fingers, or the ability to go back to any page, at any time, without worrying about buttons or batteries. Whatever it is, sometimes you just want your book in print form.
Sure, you could run to Barnes and Noble, or you could check the book out at the local library, but there’s always something really satisfying about a visit to your local indie bookstore. That’s why I was so excited to see BookmanBookwoman when we were browsing a row of shops in Nashville, near Vanderbilt.
As you know, I spent the past two days wandering around Nashville. Other than getting a new diagnosis- myasthenia gravis- I also got to see some sights, meet my friend Lauren in person, and eat some delicious gluten free food.
When I told Lauren I would be visiting Nashville, she suggested that we have lunch. I was excited, because I love meeting my chronically ill friends in person, and my mom was worried that Lauren was going to be the next Craigslist Killer. Since I’m writing this, I obviously survived the meeting, so we can only assume that she is not, in fact, a serial killer. She does, however, have some killer taste in food.
For Justin’s birthday, we got a gift card to P.F. Chang’s. This was awesome, because we love P.F. Chang’s, and not awesome, because we’re never near the P.F. Chang’s in our area. Yesterday, after a particularly stressful day and a mishap involving some homemade beef stew, we decided to treat ourselves and head on out to the mall area for some delicious gluten-free Chinese food.
Now, I hadn’t eaten at P.F. Chang’s since going gluten free, but I had heard a lot about it from other gluten free friends and bloggers. Considering all the good reviews and our $25 gift card, I figured it was worth a shot.
When Justin and I get into something, we don’t do it by halves. When Justin decided he wanted to learn Spanish after having his wisdom teeth out, he sat down with Rosetta Stone. Now he teaches ESL to Spanish-speakers at a local school. When I decided I wanted to live more minimally, I sat down and set a timeline (which we’re actually following, go us!), a budget, and a daily schedule- with daily plans for the next six months. When Justin decided he wanted to be a coffee connoisseur, we wound up with at least four different coffee preparation mechanisms in our kitchen, and I’m fairly sure there are a few I’m forgetting.
Justin and I have issues with too much caffeine. For me it’s tachycardia. For him, it’s a general crankiness that happens after he drinks one too many cups of coffee. So, we’ve been looking for things we like other than coffee. I drink a lot of water, but that gets boring, and you don’t want to serve it warm. The obvious solution was tea.
Fall foods are, undoubtedly, the best foods. Sure, summer has salads and tomatoes, and winter has eggnog, but fall- fall is special. From pumpkin spice everything to butternut squash and chai latte, from chili to apples to pears, fall is the best time to be hungry. It’s cool enough for a hearty meal, but still warm enough to enjoy a bowl of ice cream in a seasonal flavor. Seriously, if you can’t tell, fall is my favorite time of the year.
Unfortunately, not all fall foods are celiac friendly. The funnel cakes and apple cider donuts of autumn fairs shall never pass my lips again. Pumpkin pie must be made without a crust. Even your seasonal coffees have to be checked for hidden traces of gluten. It’s a pain. Fall starts to feel cold and lonely.
Luckily, there is hope! Plenty of fall snacks are perfectly acceptable for the average celiac. Here are five of my favorites.