Friday, 30 September 2011

Jigsaw update

We've made a lot of progress on our 5000 piece jigsaw!

Last week we started and finished the sky which was probably about 1000 pieces.

The sky was difficult in one sense as there wasn't a lot of detail to refer to but in another sense this made it easier (especially when we lined up the pieces in shapes)

I'm hoping to have the dining table back soon.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Gluten free: Dining out

Here are my sweeties at Macaroni Grill. Doesn't Henry look so cute giving his baby sister a cuddle!

Due to the rain we spent most of the weekend at home in our pajamas. However we did get out to church and then to lunch.

We ate a Macaroni Grill because:
1. it is close
2. they have a new menu
3. they offer gluten free options

The new menu is terrible. There is much less choice than before and now there is no lamb. I repeat, No lamb. No lamb. Andrew spoke his mind to the waitress.

We tried out their new mushroom & goat cheese flatbread and their gluten free pasta. Both were good. [Sidetrack: how can you tell they served us gluten free pasta? what if they mixed it up?]

Overall though we were disappointed and probably won't go back again. It did highlight the difficulties of gluten free dining out and the lack of options available.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Gluten Free: Nordic Naturals

Looking for a good fish oil? Check out Nordic Naturals.

These fishies for the kids are packed full of Omega 3 and importantly are gluten free.

For the adults we have a lemon flavoured tablet.

For the baby we have strawberry flavoured drops.

We're in this together people.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Gluten Free: Bob's Red Mill

Yay for Bob's Red Mill!

I've been buying flours from them ever since we moved to the US. I have all sorts of specialty flours that can't be purchased elsewhere.

Now I am trying out their extensive gluten free range.

Everything from brownie mix to oatmeal.

And guess what?

They have a GF pizza crust mix.

Sounds like a good excuse to fire up the pizza oven.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gluten Free: Baby steps

Plans are worthless but planning is everything. Eisenhower

I abhor it when people say 'just eliminate gluten from your diet for a few weeks to see if it has an effect on you'. Like that is an easy thing to do! We are a busy family with 3 little ones. 'Just' eliminating gluten is not an easy thing.

This is a lifestyle change, not a fad.

Going gluten free is not a matter of flicking a switch and everything is magically wonderful. There are a number of steps to undertake to get to that point and that is what this post is about - getting my thoughts down so we can make the steps needed to become gluten free.

1. Set date for the changeover (currently 10 October 2011, about 3 weeks away)

2. Order lab tests to determine medically whether we are gluten sensitive

3. Buy new soy sauce

4. Look through frozen prepared meals and mark which ones have gluten. Eat these before change over

5. Purchase GF Bob's Red Mill flours and mixes

6. Shop at Trader Joes for gluten free products

7. Purchase cinnamon/chromium tablets from Costco (diabetes related)

8. Purchase good fish oil

9. Make a 2 week GF menu plan (incl. breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks)

10. Clean out pantry and fridge of non GF products.

11. Talk to school, preschool, friends, mums group and church about going GF

And I'll add to the list as I think of more.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Gluten Free: Why are we going gluten free?

Going gluten free is not something that is easily or lightly done so with that in mind I am writing down the reasons so that whenever I get unmotivated I can come back here and get the pep talk. And yes there is some ranting in this post which you can feel free to ignore.

There are two reasons for this change, both of which require some explanation.

1. Andrew developed diabetes for an unknown reason.

In March 2009, a few months before Henry was born, Andrew was diagnosed with diabetes. We sort of guessed this before the official word came through. And funnily enough before we got married 12 years ago I told Andrew when we were discussing our vows that if he continued eating his terrible diet and got diabetes that I wasn't going to look after him. [So when he called me from the doctors office to say he had diabetes I told him I would stick with him! Aaaahhh!]

The point is that Andrew is not overweight, gets reasonable exercise and doesn't have a family history of diabetes. He doesn't fit the mold of either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. They really don't know what type he has or how or why it developed. Rant 1 [I really don't understand why the doctors do not care how his diabetes developed. They just treat the visible symptoms and not worry about trying to understand what is really happening in his body. If things go wrong they just give him more drugs at higher doses. Really?]

So on my to-do list has been to research diabetes in some more depth. And I came across this fact: gluten damages pancreas cells that produce insulin.

Adult onset diabetes may be the result of gluten intolerance. However the gluten intolerance is not usually diagnosed or treated, just the diabetes symptoms that have appeared. There is a high correlation between celiac disease and diabetes.

Therefore it makes sense to see if gluten intolerance is the real problem. Eating gluten doesn't mean that the diabetes will go away, particularly if the pancreas is beyond repair, but it does mean that the underlying cause will be treated and further complications from gluten intolerance can be averted.

2. Before the villi are gone

In 2005 with non-specific symptoms I had a blood test result that indicated I potentially had celiac disease. A biopsy proved that I did not have celiac disease. That was a relief. BUT then there was no diagnosis for why I felt sick in my stomach all the time and kept losing weight. The gastroenterologist told me it was stress.

During my recent diabetes/gluten free research I came across a report that said: if a small bowel biopsy comes back normal or nearly normal, you are told that the blood test must have been a “false positive” and that gluten is not your problem. All that means (positive blood test, negative biopsy) is that the gluten sensitivity (evidenced by antibodies to gliadin in the blood) has not yet damaged your intestines severely.

Eureka! Wow! Why did I not know this before?

Celiac disease is the end point - there's no going back at that point. BUT there are points in between and going gluten free before that point can prevent it becoming full blown.

Based on this research because of my positive blood test there is a high likelihood that I am gluten sensitive and should go on a gluten free diet.

Now it's time for another rant [How on earth could that specialist gastroenterologist look me in the eye and give me the throwaway line that my symptoms must be caused by stress? Really? Given this research it is clear that many people are gluten intolerant and yet he wants to wait until full blown celiac disease arrives before the patient is treated!! I wish I could re-visit him today and give him the research (and a piece of my mind) so that in future he may be able to help others! As the research article says, no one waits for a heart attack to occur - they take steps to prevent it. The same for celiac disease, no one wants celiac disease - adopt a gluten free diet now]

So there you have it, two good reasons for our family to go gluten free.

And btw we are ordering gluten sensitivity tests from the lab to confirm a diagnosis either way.

Next Steps

Despite the evidence above, I am still resisting somewhat. It's not an easy thing to overhaul the way we eat and in fact seems overwhelming. There are so many questions. Can we still eat the meals we still love? How will we go out to restaurants? Can I still cook from Rose's Beautiful Cakes? How will we deal with school, parties, pot lucks, going out to friends houses? Why does soy sauce have wheat it in? Why does so many prepared foods have wheat in them? How can we make pizza dough?

I guess we'll work through the answers to these questions as we go.

Next post I list the steps I am going through right now to get to the end point.

Monday, 19 September 2011

BugFest 2011

On Saturday we made the two hour drive up the I40 to Raleigh to the Museum of Natural Sciences. We were there to check out BugFest!

[As a side note can I just say that its been super hot here over the summer. The last few weeks its settled to around 85 degrees. On Saturday the temperature suddenly dropped to 65 and we were scrambling to find clothes for the kids that still fit!]

The museum was full of exhibits on cockroaches, scorpions and flies as well as various presentations. There were lots of stands outside including face painting, cockroach races and the world's rarest caterpillar (which wasn't actually very exciting)

One of the key features of the festival is eating bugs! The kids boycotted this idea by demanding Chinese so we headed over to NeoAsia. We've eaten at NeoAsia a few times. One time we had to wait 45 minutes for a table. This time (and to some extent last time) the place was empty. What is going on? Is there a new dim sum place in town? And the waiters weren't Chinese this time but Mexican and American. It was very strange in an eerie kind of way. Maybe next year we can eat the bugs!

After lunch we headed over to Grand Asia market for coconut juice, roast duck [mummy i can see its eyes!] and bbq pork. The kids also spent some time at the model train shop just down the road.

On to Trader Joes for some gluten free shopping. They make it so easy by printing a 'g' symbol on their products that are gluten free. The girl at the cash register confirmed that TJ's was opening in Wilmington (it was in their staff bulletin) but no date had been assigned other than 2012.

Then it was time to come home and all three kids slept in the car the WHOLE way!

[And don't they look so cute with their faces painted!]

Friday, 16 September 2011

Vegetable update

Our vegetable garden was fairly successful this year. We focused on tomatoes and whilst we had an abundance of fruit, there was none left to can or preserve. We ate them all!

We still have peppers (capsicums), carrots and leeks growing in the garden. It is so fun to be able to run outside and grab a leek whenever I need one for cooking.

Thankfully the tomato season was finished before Hurricane Irene blew through.

Andrew used all his nerdiness to create a database to record all the vegetables grown. Once the season completely finishes we'll do some statistical analysis and plan for next year.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Back to regular programming

Thank you to my half a dozen loyal readers for all your patience.

Today Henry's preschool started its regular program so I am now down to one child at home a few mornings a week.

Hopefully I will be able to blog more regularly than what occurred over the summer.

We were pretty busy but I just didn't have much time to sit at the computer.

The busyness continues but I now have a few hours of quiet! Felicity is such a happy contented little person and pretty quiet so I will be able to have some head-space.

I'm not going to recap the summer, sorry. Let's just start fresh!

We are heading to Raleigh on Saturday to go to Bugfest as well as our usual round of shopping at Grand Asia market and Trader Joes. You can look forward to reading about it next week.

Here are some things (amongst many others) on my mind that you'll be hearing about:
  • buying a new car
  • converting to a gluten-free diet
  • looking for pork belly recipes
  • learning to make kefir and home-made yoghurt
I have also started thinking about Christmas.

Go Hawks!!

Thursday, 1 September 2011