They Had Bread

This is a very old article (at least 7 years) but when I found it today it made me so happy that I decided to re-post.

Bilmore EstateIt is hard to believe how much excitement I felt as a result of the opportunity to have bread with my meal.  For those of you who don’t know, I have been living gluten-free for about a year now.  While I never “cheat” on purpose, eating out in restaurants is always a gamble for me.

 

 

Last week I had lunch with my son and his fiance at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.  While the website said there were gluten-free options, and I had consumed a magnificent meal there on Thanksgiving, I still expected to have very limited choices.  I looked longingly at the regular menu and then let our server know that I would need gluten-free options.  She said she would be right back with a gluten-free menu.  One star for that?

varieties of breadThe gluten-free menu was in my hands within a few minutes and I was thrilled to see that almost everything on the regular menu was also available to me.  I could have the herbed chicken or the barbecue.  I was so excited.  Two Stars!!  Then she said that if I wanted one of the sandwiches from the regular menu just to know and they would put it on gluten-free bread for me.  Gluten free bread?  I don’t think I have been to a restaurant yet that actually had gluten-free bread.  Four Stars!!.  I actually chose a meal that did not include bread, but just knowing that I had the option was amazing.

I chose to split a sampler platter for two with my son.  He wanted to substitute french fried for the collard greens.  The server said that the substitution would be fine, but cautioned that the fries would be cooked in the same oil as gluten foods so would not be safe.  We got them on a separate plate so my food wouldn’t be contaminated and he was quite happy.  Five Stars!!!  A server who really got it.

After lunch we were interested in dessert, because it would be yummy and because I had a buy one get one free coupon.  Alas, none of the desserts looked to be gluten-free.  Once again, my server saved the day, checked with the kitchen, and brought me the most delicious chocolate pudding I think I have ever had.  Can I give Six Stars?

For the first time since starting this gluten-free adventure I felt like I had a dining experience that was equal to every one else.  Thank you Biltmore Stable Cafe for making me feel welcome and NORMAL.

 

Since the time of the first publication of this article there seems to be an increased awareness of gluten-free eating, but it still is usually treated as a preference rather than a necessity and many restaurants offer one or two possibilities rather than a full menu.  Whenever I go out to eat (which is rare) and encounter a restaurant that can work with my food issues (more than just gluten) I am again filled with the same sense of wonder, awe, and gratitude that I experienced that day at Biltmore.

Lea’s Rules – Avoid Corn

Picture of fresh corn with husk pulled back exposing the beautiful yellow kernelsAnyone who knows me very well knows that I need to avoid many common food items because they make me very sick.  It is not a casual “I think I’ll stop eating snails” kind of thing.  Perhaps the hardest for me has been corn.  Sure I like the taste of corn bread, corn on the cob, and creamed corn.  Giving it up isn’t without some severe nostalgia; however, the real difficulty lies in the pervasiveness of corn in the American diet.

Because of my relative success, many people have asked me for the guildelines I follow in eliminating corn from my diet.  Beward – purging your diet of corn is not for the lazy or faint of heart.  It takes an abundance of dedication, research, and perseverence.  I believe it is worth it.  In response to the questions, I have prepared for you my short  list of corn avoidance rules.  While written with a bit of humor to counterbalance the bitterness of the task, I am also being serious about what can be involved.

  1. Do not eat processed foods – not ever.  If you feel you absolutely must eat something that comes in a package, don’t eat it if it contains an ingredient you cannot read or do now know what it is.
  2. Make everything from scratch so that you know what is in it.  Even your common spice containers may be suspect.
  3. If you don’t have to peel it, chop it, or core it – eat with great caution.
  4. Put manifacturer’s phone numbers on speed dial. Plan to call the company before using almost anything in a box, can, or frozen food section.  Remember, corn does not have to be labeled.  The fact that it isn’t listed as an allergen on the package doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
  5. Never assume you know what is in the product you are ready to eat.  Even powdered sugar has corn starch.
  6. If it is something that could stick together, but isn’t sticking, it probably has corn starch to prevent the sticking.
  7. If it comes in a pill/tablet – assume it has corn in it until proven otherwise.  It should be listed on all medication package inserts and your pharmacist should be able to check it out as well.  Unfortunately all of the ingredients in your medications don’t simply say corn.  They will be called something else most of the time.
  8. Only buy supplements or vitamins that specifically state NO CORN.  “No corn added” is not sufficient and is a real give away that there is probably corn. If it is supposed to be chewable it has to be sweetened with something.  That something is often corn.
  9. Bottled spiced and herbs, condiments, sauces, and gravy are all suspect.  Call the company or make your own.
  10. Deli meats almost all contain corn.  Roast your own turkey, beef, or chicken at home and slice it thin.  Think like a pioneer woman. Convenience does not exist.  You need to pre-plan everything.  If you do the planning, it can almost feel like convenience on some days.
  11. Buy a very nice insulated cooler/lunchbox and carry most of your meals with you.  This is a place to make a good investment.  If you happen to go somewhere that is corn safe, count your blessings and take your food back home for another day.
  12. Always carry corn-free snacks in your car, purse, briefcase, or pocket.  Don’t be caught unprepared.
  13. If you are going to eat out, skip the condiments that are on the table.  Tell your server that you would like to speak to the kitchen manager because you cannot eat corn.  I have found most places to be very knowledgable and willing to feed me safetly.  I carry a laminated card with me that lists my food allergies so that the kitchen can have it while preparing my food.

For people with serious corn allergy it gets even worse from here since many other things are also made from corn products, including plastic bottles we drink from.  I have not become sick from a plastic bottle yet, but do try to stay away from them.

I know it sounds like a lot, but my philosophy is that it is a small price to pay to keep me feeling healthy.

Book Review: Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl

This was a surprising read for me. Why? Because I had preconceived ideas about the content of the book.  I expected to find a story of severe allergies (I did) and a belief that everyone should chage their lives to accommodate the person with allergies (I didn’t).  This book had balance.

Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an allergice life by Sandra Beasley expanded my knowledge of allergy research and gave me food for thought (pun intended).  I haven’t always known that I had food allergies and mine are generally not as life-threatening as Sandra’s.  It seems that mind have had a more subtle and cumulative effect on my health.  Nonetheless, my food allergies significantly impact the way I live.

Her writing style is engaging, even in the more technical descriptions of allergy and medicine.  I found myself laughing at the descriptions I recognized all too well and deeply pondering the more challenging viewpoints.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that even thinks they may have food sensitivities and it is a must-read for anyone that loves or lives with someone with life threatening allergies.