You have a whole new reason to dread the holidays

www-gifcreator-me_birjwjIf you hadn’t noticed, Christmas is coming. I know it’s a total surprise. With Christmas there are family gatherings. I don’t know about you, but I’m already getting the regular holiday meal questions. It feels a little like a Doge meme.

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We’re doing both the hosting and the visiting this year. With a new house, everyone is curious about it, so people want to come over. At the same time Christmas is finally on a weekend, meaning I can honestly get time off from my job to visit family over the holiday. With this comes the all of the normal pitfalls of not eating in your own home. To say I’m a little stressed, is an understatement.

Part of being a Celiac is the need to control your environment, and when you go to someone else’s house there is no control. You have no idea what the last 5 things cut on the cutting board were. Or if someone used that butter to make toast that morning. And the difference between going to a restaurant and to your family or friend’s house is the potential to offend. You can give a server a big tip when you put them through their paces, but bringing your own food to Christmas dinner and someone might be upset for the year to come. Personally, if you have to deal with the cooking for a family as large as my extended family, it’s better to not have to deal with all of the individual dietary restrictions, and we have a lot. To compound it with my needs to control every spoon transfer and keeping wheat away from every article. I’m just cooking something for myself to make it less stressful on you.

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Then you add to it the family members that just want to help…oh the possibility to offend someone is VERY HIGH! Is this going to keep me from going, heck no, I want to see my family. Am I going to go to the bathroom and wash my hands all day long…you bet. I’ll also keep an eye on my cups and drinks and wipe off my plates and pretty much anything else that I can do to keep from getting sick over the weekend.

The weekend of New Years, we’re hosting Christmas for my husband’s family at out house. They have one big tradition for Christmas, and that’s Christmas cookies, gluteny glcookie-theroyuteny Christmas cookies. We bring gluten into the house sometimes, but those are controlled moments and my husband does all of the clean up. These Christmas cookies get left out all weekend, because my husband’s family likes to graze. That means grab a cookie and eat and move around the house and touch things. So, another weekend, I will need to just make sure that I wash my hands a lot and clean the house really well afterwards.

And you better believe I’m going to be making all of the GF cookies to eat that weekend and they’re getting stored in the fridge.

Not having navigated through this before (last year was a Christmas at home and a trip to my Celia-Sissy and brother-in-law’s house)  I have no idea what lessons I’m going to learn going out to visit our family members. My mom is…excited…(I think) to try and accommodate me. Or maybe it’s more of the making sure her baby is not being left out. Still, it’s a couple of weekends of experimenting. The husband keeps reminding me that all of the questions are good, because she’s trying to understand and make sure that I’ll be safe. I know she’ll do a good job, it’s just a learning experience. She has to learn a whole new allergy (of sorts) and something that she hasn’t had to do before.

You know, all of this sounded so much less experimental and scary months ago when we made the plans. As it’s approaching, I’m startling to look at the details of what it’s going to entail, and I think I need more planning. Can we push Christmas back a couple of weeks like to maybe next year? I think I’ll be ready by then.

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A good gluten-free bakery is like a unicorn, magical and special

First off, today is a pretty historic day. Today our fellow Celitariats, the non-celiac gluten welcome-to-the-club-meme-5538sensitive, have been verified as having a digestive issues from eating wheat! It’s a step in the right direction to get all of the right and privileges that celiac’s have (yeah I’m still trying to figure out what those are too.) But it’s a step towards recognized medical diagnosis and away from the “wheat-belly” it’s all in your head gluten intolerance. So, that’s good. The study was reported today on celiac.com, but the actual study was been published since July 25th.

So, what does this have to do with my post today, well it was brought to my attention from one of my favorite GF bakeries. They posted the study on Facebook this morning. It’s not their normal thing, usually it’s about their season menus, but this was something that they wanted to celebrate. So let’s celebrate them back a little.

There are a couple of big gluten free bakeries out there. We all know about them Udi’s is probably the biggest, but now they’re more of a gluten free food line than anything else. There’s a lot of bigger regional bakeries. Out here in the NW we have W.O.W. (Without Wheat) which is out of Kent, Washington and makes one amazing oatmeal cookie. You can usually find these two in the gluten free section of your grocery store. Then there’s the small neighborhood bakeries. These you can sometimes find in the bakery section or freezer section of your special grocery store or by driving to their home neighborhoods. The Seattle area has a slew of these. There’s Flying Apron, NuFlours, Coffee and a Specialty Bakery (which is downstairs in Pikes Place Market and worth the walk down all those stairs) and Wildflour (way over in Bellevue.) Large chunks of Seattle are covered with their own little neighborhood places. And then you  have the start-ups that are in your farmer’s markets. We found a really nice one at our local farmer’s market called Sugar and Spice, and they make amazing bread, including a cinnamon swirl bread that makes the best french toast.

The first one of these that I made my way into was Wildflour. They have an amazing flour

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This is kind of what it looked like!

mix (no they don’t sell it) that makes light fluffy bread and some of the best chocolate chip cookies that I’ve ever had (glutened or gluten free.) Walking into Wildflour was like walking into a Willy Wonka’s magic chocolate garden room. I could eat anything and everything. It’s not until you walk into a grocery store and realize exactly how much you can’t eat to understand what it’s like to take that freedom for granted. Walking into a dedicated gluten bakery takes all of that away. There you can eat everything! That bread on the shelf, you can eat that. Those cookies in the case, you can eat those too. I honestly think I spent way too much money on out first trip to the shop, but it was so worth it. We walked out with some of the best foccacia I’ve ever had and cookies that were amazing. It’s just a beautiful thing.

I had a similar feeling when we went to Coffee and Specality Bakery and got some bacon cinnamon rolls (they make the best cinnamon rolls) and spoke with the owners for 20 minutes about Seattle suburbs and got some free dinner rolls from them. Or when I met some girlfriends for coffee at Flying Apron and there was mac and cheese and beer and doughnuts! Oh my! It’s kind of great just being able to go in some place and eat EVERYTHING knowing that it was safe to try whatever I want. The best part is when your friends think that the gluten free option is better than the gluten option.

Yup, the food of our people is better than what you Gluticrats have. Sure you can eat gluten free, but until you know that it’s as good as or better than that glutened stuff, well that’s really special. I still have more to explore, but that’s part of the joy of being gluten free. There’s a whole new world of food to eat.