Where Whine Meets Wine

I Make Donuts. Call Me WonderMom.

So…. I’m pretty behind in posts in general, I know. And food posts, I’m sure I’m behind by like a month. Whoops. I have another confession- this is not going to be one either. Well, not completely. Even though I haven’t been doing posts about food, we still have been cooking, and even eating. Shocking, right? Really, there’s been lots of foodie stuff going on here… for Christmas I got a pasta extruder (you have no idea how happy this made me!).

I’ve made lots of yummy pastas, some new pasta sauces (including a pink garlic sauce- so good), sugar cookie cut outs galore, and donuts. I bought a specialty cookbook (for gluten free) specifically because it had a donut recipe in it. And I’ve been looking longingly at the donut making machines over the holidays… and then, during some post-holiday shopping, I found a set that had two donut trays. One for your regular circle donuts, and one for long john style donuts!! I was practically giddy. Ok, there’s no practically, I was giddy. You see, January marks one year of us being gluten free. It feels like it’s been much longer, but a year it’s definitely been. And we have come a long way since those first weeks. We were given a lot of discouraging advice, encouraging advice, and a lot of mixed signals. Thankfully, we were able to weed out the good and the bad and trudge on through. We did have some things going for us already. We already ate little to no processed foods, and I was already making/cooking most things… so I ordered some all-purpose GF flour on-line (because you can get it WAY cheaper and in bigger quantities) and just kept on cooking as usual. I really lucked out. This all-purpose mix is still by far my favorite. We thought it might be a fluke that the first brand we tried was so awesome, but I have not been impressed with any other brand we’ve tried.  While we still have our areas that we could improve upon (I need to make and freeze more pasta sheets on a regular basis, so they’re always available in a pinch. I also need to get back into making bread on a regular basis.), but we have certainly come a long way. We now know so much more about the little changes we can make to keep gluten out of the house and home and tummies. We have found new family favorites and ventured into foods we never otherwise would have. Plus, we feel better! We made “Mexican pizzas” (tostadas), we have sandwiches made out of waffles (the kids’ absolute favorite), we make our own pasta, we make our own sauces, we double our recipes so that we can freeze half for an easy/quick meal another night, and we do lots of experiments!

You know what the best part is? Knowing that one year ago, we were trying everything we could think of to help our sweet little girl. Who had awful tummy issues from midnight exorcism-style vomiting, to much less pleasant potty issues that I’ll save you from the details, to hives attacking her face with each and every meal. We’d gone a year trying to figure out what was causing the hives, we’d thrown out processed foods, stayed away from anything with preservatives or food coloring, gave up tomatoes and anything with citric acid… to no avail. In fact, her hives were getting worse. They were no longer just showing up around her mouth with a meal, they were staying on her sweet little face all the time, and spreading to her neck with meals. Now I know there is some controversy in the needing to be tested. But in order to do that she’d have to continue eating gluten for 2 solid months and then undergo a big-deal time of invasion to her body, which is is teeny-tiny. And the test often comes out with a false negative. Yeah, I’m not down for that. Especially, when after being gluten free for only a month, her hives went away. And they haven’t been back. And we’ve been able to add back in some of the foods that we avoided previously. Like tomatoes. Hello, ketchup! She was so excited to be able to have the ketchup that her brother shovels onto just about every food. (Except rice, because apparently that’s gross. But ketchup and anything else is totally acceptable. And I mean anything else.) Really, to me, my daughter feeling better (you know it’s a big deal when you could tell a 3 year old that she can’t have the cookie being offered because it’s one that will make her tummy hurt, and she just says, so what can I have? without getting upset at all. Or when offered something she’ll ask, will this make my tummy hurt? She feels that much better, and that’s sayin’ something.) And the diet change has caused us to look more closely into the things we’re eating and to become more intentional with the things we eat along with where they come from. Plus, now I make my own donuts. My life is now complete.

See that, a real, homemade (by me!) donut... Gluten free, and it's vegan too!

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Survival Of The Vacation

As I’ve mentioned before, the kids and I spent part of last week at Camp Arrowhead (a place dearly beloved by both mine and my husband’s families… especially because that’s where we met). It’s really a lovely experience. You stay in a cabin, or in a building, with lots of rooms that are filled with bunk beds. You have a lovely lake to swim, boat, lay out in the sun. And the dining hall…where someone else does all the cooking! As head chef of this household, I really appreciate someone else doing the work. And as much as I just wanted to go and revel in the glory of not having to plan out meals… I have a child with food allergies, and so I don’t really have that luxury. (For the full version of why we eat the way we eat, go here.) So I packed some pre-packaged meals  since I wouldn’t really have access to a kitchen to actually cook a whole meal, and lots of snacks. It turned out to be unnecessary. One of the benefits of a camp you’ve attended your whole life, is you know everyone and they know you. Plus the cook, and the cook’s family, is like family to me…so there’s that. So she had sweetly thought ahead of my family’s needs! GF Chicken nuggets and GF biscuits (for the all important PB&Js …of all the meals I make, that is the one thing they will ALWAYS eat). Plus, my kids are big vegetable and fruit eaters, so there is lots of things in that realm that they can eat.

Unfortunately, not everyone will have a cook like that, or people who are so understanding. There was a man working in the kitchen (not a camp employee, just someone volunteering to help) that was not so understanding. In fact, a comment was made to the effect of: People with allergies like that should probably just stay/eat out of the general public. And then something about how it’s not really a healthy diet anyways.  Are you kidding me?! Do they know how much of the public this would eliminate? And how unfair! I’d like him to look into my daughter’s sweet little face and tell her she has to go and eat by herself. I’d also like to see his face, when seeing my daughter’s little face, and telling him that if he feeds her the “normal” wheat laden, food-colored foods she will break out in big hives all over her body (especially her face), spend the night vomiting, and lots of time in the bathroom. Or she could have really bad symptoms. Tell me that’s fair. We don’t do this “diet” for vanity’s sake, we do this for survival. After a month of being gluten-free (GF), my MissE was free of hives that her sweet little face had for a year while the Drs (and her parents) tried to figure out what was bothering her. Thankfully, “my other mother” (who moonlights as a camp cook) said to him the things I wasn’t there to say. (I love her.)

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. I think people have a lot of misconceptions of allergies in general. It’s easy to think, “I’m allergic to cut grass, but it only bugs me while I’m cutting the grass.” Food allergies are not like that. You can have symptoms days after you’ve eaten something that bugs you, and they can be miserable, and they can even be life threatening. And when it’s your child, you’re going to be as cautious as you can be. So you have to be aware of the fact that people are not going to understand it and therefore not prepare for it (if you’re going to a friend’s or family’s home). I bring easy to pack, easy to put together, meals for the kids, because I know it’s likely they weren’t thinking about it (I’m not judging them- they don’t have to worry about it for themselves, so it’s easy to forget! And I’m the one responsible for her well-being.). Unfortunately, you do have to be watchful because there’s always at least one person who thinks it’ll be no big deal if they slip them something. And sometimes you’ll run across people who think they’re giving your child a “treat” that you just won’t allow them to have. Seriously, even at two, I could tell Miss E she couldn’t have the cookie that was offered to her, because it will really make your tummy hurt. And she knows that it’s true, so she doesn’t fight it! Seriously. It makes her feel that bad, that a 2 year old knows it is not worth eating that cookie.  That said, I try to keep a few GF snacks in my purse and/or diaper bag. Because while she may understand that certain foods will make her not feel good, it’s not easy to watch the kids around you (or your brother) have an Oreo while you have a carrot stick.

Thankfully, there are ways around this…for the most part. While you cannot help what other people do or cook, you can still choose to feed your children similarly to how you would at home. I brought some of their favorite snacks to camp: real fruit, fruit snacks; puff corn, beef jerky, pretzels, and cereal (all GF, of course). I also brough GF noodles, and boxed (organic, GF) macaroni and cheese, for quick, easy meals. (Which are pretty key for vacation time!) Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about the meals (and I can’t say enough how thankful I am for that!), but the snacks were good in times of wheat-filled munchie times. The key for my kids is to have the alternative there with you. Because when offered with a cookie now, they’re not going to be satisfied with a “We’ll get something yummy later.”

For those that we’ve gotten together with that do go the extra mile and prepare something GF for my children (or anyone else they know), thank you, thank you, thank you! For those that forget- no hard feelings. My word of advice to fellow GF-ers: prepare for your host to be unprepared. My word of advice for non-GFers: Don’t feed other people’s children without consulting their parents first. For some kids, it’s a matter of life and death, and that’s not a choice for you to be making, don’t you think?

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