Celiac: Death to a Normal Life?

I went to a gluten free vendor fair at a local co-op last weekend to see what new products were available and get some information about a local support group that I’ve thought about joining. I circled around the store, tasted some products and grabbed a few to buy. They had some awesome French bread that was pretty darn close to the real thing, or maybe I just liked it because there was a bunch of garlic butter on it, who knows. Anyway, I was on my way out when I saw the booth for the local support group I was looking for so I wandered over.

I approached the woman that was there to give out information and started asking her a few questions about how she deals with being gluten free. Then she proceeded to scare the living daylights out of me. She said that if you share a kitchen with gluten-eaters, “that will kill ya.” She told me to throw away all the pots and pans and start from scratch because they were all contaminated. She told me to get rid of all my lotions, shampoo, make-up, etc. because it all had gluten in it. I asked about Trident gum because I had read that it was gluten free but she said no.

I seriously felt like the walls were caving in on me and my heart started racing. On the drive home, I started to get really depressed considering that this is going to be the rest of my life. Will I EVER get to go over to a friend’s house for dinner again? Will I ever be able to go to another neighborhood BBQ? If I get married some day, will I ever be able to go to his family’s house for a holiday? If I take into account what this lady told me, I feel like I can’t leave the house or trust anyone! I’m totally freaked out and depressed now.

To top it off, the skin on my hands is dry and cracking now because I’m scared to use lotion! I seriously need some help here, any advice any of you can give would be MUCH appreciated!!!!

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A Few of My Favorite Things – April 2013

I want to share with you some of my favorite things of the moment!

Favorite gluten-free blog: http://whatsfordinner-momwhatsfordinner.blogspot.com/
This blog is written by one cool mom, I tell you. Her daughter was diagnosed with celiac so she turned a passion for cooking into creating gluten free recipes that her daughter, and their whole family, would love. I’m anxious to try the recipes!

Favorite Recipe: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chicken_wild_rice_casserole.html
This chicken, mushroom & wild rice casserole is delicious! I just swap out the wheat flour for brown rice flour and it’s fantastic! I also double the wild rice because it doesn’t make much as called for. Even though it’s spring, the weather didn’t get the memo so I’m still liking comfort food.

Favorite Restaurant: http://hazellewoodgrill.com/
Hazellewood Grill has a pretty small gluten free menu but they make up for it in bending over backwards to make you happy. The group I went with ordered a bunch of appetizers that were off-limits for me so my server brought me a fruit plate because she felt bad. She got a really good tip…

Favorite website: http://fresheverydayproduce.com/
This website is awesome, tons of details on every kind of produce you can image in the Produce Profiles section. Also an interactive map showing you what’s in season in each state. Maybe I should also say that I helped build this website at work….but it’s still really cool!!!

Favorite Product: Essential Everyday Liquid Water Enhancer. I buy this stuff like crazy, I love the raspberry lemonade flavor. I drink way more water when it tastes good and there’s no calories and it’s GLUTEN FREE! YAY!

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Celiac Disease Resources

I put together a list of Celiac Disease or gluten-free resources. I would have loved to find a compilation like this when I was diagnosed so hopefully this helps some of you! Please feel free to comment and tell me about resources you have found!

Forum where you can get a lot of tips about eating out at certain restaurants, health advice, recipes, how to cope with being diagnosed, etc. I spent HOURS on this site when I was diagnosed because these people know what we are going through!! Highly recommend checking it out.

I love this site, you can type in any product and see if it is gluten free or not. I access this a lot from the grocery store so it is bookmarked on my phone as well.

Excellent resource for travelling on a gluten-free diet. I printed out the translation cards for my trip to Mexico.

These people are the experts on Celiac disease. If you need factual information about celiac disease or want to read up on the latest research, this is the place to find it.

Lots of gluten free recipes

List of bakeries/restaurants that offer gluten-free items

This is a list of all the safe ingredients that are gluten-free. This is perfect when looking at ingredients of a product that you’ve never heard of!

This is the unsafe list of ingredients

Emerill Lagasse’s daughters both have celiac and this is their website. Recipes, tips, etc. They also have a cookbook.

Specific to Twin Cities:

List of restaurants in the TC that are gluten-free friendly

Celiac Disease Foundation of Twin Cities. They meet the 3rd Tuesday of every month. I need to get myself to one of these meetings some day!

Local support group

Another GF blogger

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Axel’s Restaurant Review – Great Gluten Free Menu

I’ve been to Axel’s in Chanhassen twice in the last few months because it’s my dad’s favorite restaurant. I was open to going here because I saw online that they have a gluten free menu. I was impressed with the number of options on the menu as some other restaurants really only have a few gluten free items available. I basically got the same thing both times I went because I was so happy with how it turned out.

As a starter, I got the house wedge salad (no croutons obviously) with balsamic vinaigrette. It’s pretty straight forward, a hunk of iceberg and a few carrots, tomatoes, etc. but it was good. They have these huge popovers that every table gets and my parents love them but I am not a huge popover fan so not being able to eat them wasn’t a big deal to me.

For my entrée I went all out and got the 8 oz. sirloin which is pretty reasonable at $23 (the price includes a salad, green beans and potato). The steak was really good both times, perfectly cooked at medium with lots of flavor. All the steaks come with green beans. The lucky gluten-eaters get the green beans sautéed in a delicious teriyaki sauce with sesame seeds (I know they’re delicious because I used to go here a lot before my GF days) but my green beans were just steamed. But hey, I still got to have some beans. I went with the plain baked potato to keep it healthy but they have lots of other gf side items which is really nice: loaded baked potato, Alfredo potatoes, mo taters, or wild rice. They have fries listed on the gluten free menu online but I’m fairly certain that these are not gluten free so beware.

Other items on the gluten free menu that are good are the Bull Bites appetizers (semi-spicy steak bites), the French onion soup, and the filet mignon but I like the sirloin just as much and it’s cheaper. For the people that you’re dining with, tell them to get the chicken dumpling soup…it’s awesome.

The service the first time we went was absolutely fantastic. Our server got everything right, checked on the dressings I could have, etc. I was really impressed and even told the manager about how great our waiter was. I also told her how much I appreciated that they had a gluten free menu and she said that people that can’t have gluten should be able to have good food just like others and I completely agree with that! The second time around the service wasn’t as good and when a manager stopped by our table to see how our experience was I told her about what had gone wrong. She was very apologetic and told us how important loyal customers are to the business and said she’d make it right, and she did. All in all, I have been really impressed with the service I’ve received at Axels, gluten free or not.

I would definitely recommend this restaurant to those looking to eat gluten free as well as people just looking for good food at reasonable prices. I like to go more in the winter because it’s so cozy inside with the fireplace and the big booths. It gets busy on the weekends but I don’t think I’ve ever had much trouble getting a reservation. If you’ve been there, let me know your thoughts!

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Trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I just got back from a week -long vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I was really nervous about this because it was really my first big vacation since being on a gluten-free diet. I go out to dinner maybe once or twice a week so I’m used to going to restaurants but definitely not used to eating out for three meals a day. We stayed at the Marriott Casa Magna and I called the week before to ask about gluten-free options at their restaurants because they don’t list anything on the website. They connected me to the concierge at the hotel and he said that I could meet with the chef when I checked in to go over options. I thought this was a great idea which made me feel a little bit better.


I packed a bunch of snacks to have during the week too, Nut Thins rice crackers, Honey Nut Chex, and fruit cups which came in handy as well. I also printed out the cards that explain in Spanish that I can’t have wheat, barley or rye, etc. You can find them here: http://glutenfreepassport.com/allergy-gluten-free-travel/gf-translation-cards/#.USzfgvJbXWo. This is a great site where you can print out cards for a bunch of different languages.


At the Minneapolist/St. Paul airport I checked out the new section where the McDonalds used to be. There seem to be some good options there for gf items, I had the salad bar which was really good. I also recommend French Meadow Bakery, they have this salad that I love and is gf, it has grilled chicken, lettuce, sunflower seeds, beets and carrots with a white balsamic dressing.


When we checked in and got up to our room, they concierge called up and said the chef was able to meet with me. I didn’t even have to ask them which I was impressed with. I briefly met with the head of all food and beverage at the hotel as well as the chef. Little old me gets to meet with the head honchos! They were extremely nice and said that the restaurants could prepare things special for me and that I’d just have to let the waiter or chef know.


All the restaurants in the hotel were extremely accommodating, especially at Mikado, the Japanese steakhouse. They prepared everything special for me since I couldn’t eat the teppanyaki and even the manager came over and asked me questions about celiac disease. She wanted to learn about it so they could be more prepared (I’m guessing they don’t know much about this is Mexico.) They really cared about my satisfaction and well-being.

If you go to Puerto Vallarta, I also recommend going to the restaurant Casa Isabel. It is absolutely fantastic and it sits on the hill overlooking the city and the ocean. It’s perfect to watch the sunset and the food is delicious.


If you are on a gluten free diet, I highly recommend the Marriott to stay in. It is not all-inclusive so everything is prepared for you instead of in masses for all-inclusive buffets. The staff at the hotel is extremely accommodating, they remembered our name everywhere we went and we got the highest level of service you could ask for.

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Maynards Gluten Free Review & BIG weekend coming up (help!)

I had a business lunch that I planned for after a strategy session last week. There was about twenty of us going to lunch and we had just met at Bayview so Maynard’s for lunch was a good option since we had eaten at Bayside the night before. Luckily for me, Maynard’s has a gluten free menu! Yay for Maynards! The menu can be found here: http://maynards-excelsior.com/?page_id=110.

Normally when I’m with friends or family, I don’t mind putting in a really picky order and asking a lot of questions about an entree but when you’re with 20 of your coworkers, it was a little intimidating. I asked for the gluten free menu which sparked a conversation between me and all the people around me. They had a lot of questions about whether I was doing this by choice (heck no!), when was I diagnosed, etc. The Maynards menu looked great for dinner (I would get the steak!) But for lunch, I didn’t really feel like a salad so I decided to make up up my own meal. I ordered a plain grilled chicken breast and vegetables. The waitress was fine with my picky meal which made me happy! It was great, too. Lots of colorful veggies which I love. I’m not going to lie, though, it was tough looking at every single person’s plate and knowing that I couldn’t have ordered that. I’m trying not to be pessimistic about all of this but it is tough sometimes. At least I’m eating healthy though compared to a lot of other people!

I also went to the Lafayette Club on Lake Minnetonka for dinner this past weekend. They do not have a gluten free menu (all though I’ve been sending emails about this to them) but I felt pretty good about what I ordered: Plain steak, veggies and a plain baked potato. I decided to skip the salad that comes with it though because I didn’t know which dressings were gluten free (and neither did they). I’m just so thankful that servers are willing to accomodate my substitions and let me make up my own meals! I did this at Perkins for lunch today as well. I ordered a plain chicken breast with steamed veggies. The waitress was a little miffed I think but I’m starting not to care! Is that horrible of me? I figure, you’re paying for the meal, you should get what you want!

Big weekend of celebrations coming up which I’m a little nervous about. Our neighborhood always celebrates holidays together (we’re very close knit). Friday night we are having a pizza party at my neighbor’s house. I bought some gluten free crust mix that I’ll make but I’m also worried about cross contamination with the sauce (what if they use a spoon to put sauce on a gluteny crust before I put sauce on my crust)? Saturday is a birthday party and they’re having corn dogs (will have to bring something of my own to eat). Sunday is a baptism and they’re having pulled pork sandwiches. I bought my own Udi’s frozen buns but not sure what kind of sauce will be on the pork so I’ll have to find out. Then Monday is a Memorial Day BBQ at my parents house (I’m looking forward to this the most because I have control over the menu!) Anyway, any words of wisdom for this coming weekend? I know to always bring food that you can eat so I plan on making some appetizers and things. Any other words of advice?

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Bayside Grill Gluten Free Review

I was in charge of booking a two-day seminar for work and I had to find meeting space so I picked Bayview Event Center. The meeting turned out great, we met in the Lake Minnetonka room and could see out to the lake while we were meeting which was nice. I also chose Bayview because we could go to Maynards and Bayside Grill for lunch or dinner. The first day, we met all day in the room and I ordered chicken breast sandwiches and hamburgers for lunch for the group. It came with potato salad, chips, fruit and salad. I was happy because I was able to have a plain chicken breast with fruit for lunch, score! I did inquire about having a separate gluten free entree but decided I wouldn’t need it (they said it wouldn’t be a problem though if I had).

For dinner our group went to Bayside Grill and sat outside. It was the most beautiful evening overlooking the lake! I love, love, LOVE that Bayside has gluten free options on their menu, which is here: http://www.bayviewevent.com/pdf/DinnerMenu.pdf. I am officially set for the summer because I have a deck I can go to! They ordered a bunch of appetizers at our work dinner which I unfortunately couldn’t partake in but for my meal I ordered the kabobs. I was so happy! The waitress, Gigi, was so nice and let me substitute all chicken (instead of the beef and shrimp) and steamed veggies instead of the rice. I love when waiters/waitresses make adjustments for  you! Then they ordered dessert which, again, I couldn’t have but I didn’t really care because I was so happy with the meal!

I spoke to the manager later and told her that Gigi did a great job and thanked her for having gluten free menu items! It seriously means the world to us to be able to eat out gluten free somewhere.

On the other end of the spectrum, I went to 8th Street Girl downtown the other day to meet someone for a lunch meeting. That was a bit of a scary experience. I looked over the menu and there weren’t any gluten free items so I decided on the marinated chicken (it said it was marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and herbs) and asked for steamed veggies with it. I told the waitress I had to order something gluten free (she had no idea what that meant). Well my entree came with a roll on it so I asked for a side plate and removed the roll and the food that touched it. Not the safest thing to do in the gluten free world but I didn’t want to make a fuss. I learned my lesson…you have to educate servers about what you can/can’t have. I should have told the waitress I couldn’t have bread, etc.

Anyways, I’ve been eating out a lot which is scary but that’s life, right? I don’t want to miss out on fun times just because of this stupid disease!

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