Nutella Fudgesicles

Nutella is one of our favorite things around here.  We love smearing it on toast or crackers, dipping our fruit in it, and now, making fudgesicles!  These are so easy and fun to do.  We experimented for the first time today with this.  This is what we did:

1 cup 2% milk

1/3 cup Nutella

Whisk together until well blended.  Pour into popsicle holders.  This amount made 5 popsicles, but it depends on how big and how many popsicle holders you have.  You can easily double, or triple this recipe!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 

It’s Story Time Day #15 Bryan’s Story

This story was written last fall.  It was written at the time to share with you about sometimes you have to go a step further than the gluten free diet to get your healing.  This time I am posting it to share with you Bryan's gluten free  story.  Today is a special, and very important day for Bryan.  He is starting chemotherapy as he is preparing for a bone marrow transplant to treat PNP, or "bubble boy disease."  Please join with me in praying for this special little boy.  His mom and I got to know each other really well while planning the Gluten Free Expo in Birmingham.  This family is amazing.  He had his central line placed yesterday and starts chemo today.  This is a long, scary, unknown road for this family.  Please lift them all up in the next coming weeks. 

I wanted to also share with you a link where you can bless this family financially.  There medical bills are expected to reach over $100,000.  You can follow Bryan's journey here as well as donate. 

There will be a Baron's Baseball Game  on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 7:00pm. at Regions Park in Birmingham, where proceeds will go toward Bryan's medical expenses.  You can get 5 tickets for $25.00.  You must purchase them in advance and can do so by contacting me.  I will send you the contact information in a private email. 

This is actually my first post about my son, Bryan. Our 3 year journey with him is filled with so much…blessings, heartbreaks, trials and triumphs, worry and hope…I most often have a hard time processing it all and the thought of having to dredge all this up brings me to tears nearly every time. However, on September 9th, I knew the time had come for me to speak out. While shopping for birthday party items for my eldest son’s party, Bryan literally laid down on the grocery store’s floors, four times, telling me he hurt too much to walk. Determined, as always, to “do it myself,” Bryan insisted on walking and refused to be seated in the cart. “Why is this happening, God?” “I am trying to do everything right!” He did not cry but looked at me with that sense of pleading in his eyes, asking me to make his pain go away. I hit my breaking point.

Just two months prior to this, my husband and I thought we finally found the holy grail for Bryan. After years of neurologists, therapists, and many other doctors’ visits, I decided to have him tested for gluten intolerance. BINGO. Two weeks later, living gluten free, Bryan’s improvement was remarkable. His tremors stopped. His pupils were equal again. His stools were normal for the first time in his life. We were able to start weaning him off of the Prilosec. His color improved and the dark circles under his eyes diminished. His energy levels remained steady. He had a growth spurt!  His low tone did continue and he still had problems with balance, but we were just grateful for the improvements we did see thus far.

What happened between June and September?

In mid July, Bryan developed an ear infection from some pool water. Within one day of oral antibiotics, all of his old symptoms returned and gradually got worse. I thought I made sure his medication was gluten free, so at first I suspected he had an accidental ingestion from contaminated food. As the symptoms worsened, there were only two days left in the antibiotics, so I decided to finish it out. Within one full day of completing the medicine, Bryan improved noticeably. Unfortunately, the improvement never met the same level of health as before. His neurological symptoms were better but not the gastrointestinal symptoms. The reflux returned with a vengeance as well as the smelly, loose diapers (Bryan is not yet potty trained because he is too weak at this point). His newly gained healthy glow was also lost.

I knew that healing from the onslaught of the antibiotic on his gut would take time, so I faithfully led our home into the joys of gluten free eating. I relished the challenge of coming up with the best gluten free bread, and we all enjoyed the variety of gluten free foods I made or purchased. But, Bryan still did not get better.

On September 6th,  I accidentally damaged Bryan’s healing gut even further. In order to give Bryan a gluten free and high protein meal, I cooked him red lentils with brown rice. I did not know I was supposed to soak the lentils overnight and then rinse them before cooking. The lectins in the lentils literally made Bryan so sick, he woke up in the middle of the night with vomitting, diarrhea and complaints of pain. The diarrhea, which was thick with mucus, continued for almost 2 weeks. On September 9th, as described above, Bryan started to have severe pain in his legs and joints. We worked so hard to see him finally walk, and now I felt as if I had destroyed it. The guilt was overwhelming for me but I knew I could not stay in that place. So, what does God often lead me to do when I am in despair over Bryan’s health? I research.

For now, I will summarize for you what this research taught me in the past couple of months. I came across an article about how doctors in the early 20th century CURED Celiac disease in children with something called the Banana Diet.  This discovery then led me to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and then, it’s modern twist, The GAPS Diet, which Bryan is on right now.

We are living beyond gluten free right now. In fact, we are grain-free, lactose-free, refined sugar-free. As Bryan’s gut heals, there will be a day when we can actually move back up to a gluten free lifestyle. This time, however, I will be more careful with the amount of grains we consume. Starches are hard on digestion, and careful digestive health is paramount for anyone with gluten sensitivity. I never thought I would become so enthusiastic about making my own yogurt, cream cheese, whey, sauerkraut, and ghee butter! I am now passionate about probiotics, enzymes, and homemade soups.

 

This story was written by Christine, owner of Birmingham Kids and Family Magazine

If you have a story you would like to share about your journey gluten free and how it could help others, please contact me.

It’s Story Time Day #10 Mandy’s Story

According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, the average time from symptoms appearing to diagnosis of celiac is 4 years in the U.S. Though I have not been biopsied for celiac, I have enough symptoms to merit going off gluten for life. My story and realization took 6 years from the onset of symptoms.

It is said that sometimes life-changing events or sickness can trigger celiac or gluten intolerance in a person. I’m not really sure what my trigger was; it could have been stress or a stomach bug, which my first doctor said was all I had. My story started rather dramatically when my brother-in-law took me to the ER with heart attack symptoms. I did, in fact, have irregular EKGs which merited staying in the hospital overnight on heart monitors. After some monitoring and additional tests, doctors decided my heart was fine and called my little issue “stress”.

From that point, my symptoms seemed to multiply. I experienced digestive problems, a constant foggy head, dizziness, muscle aches, and multiple sinus infections. There were days that I could barely get out of bed. In fact, I spent about three weeks in bed, unable to do anything. Additionally, my doctor put me on a beta blocker to slow my heart rate. (That doesn’t seem too healthy for a 25-year-old, does it?)

Unfortunately, nothing was helping. I went off caffeine. I went through more tests. I accumulated tons of medical bills just trying to find out why I felt so awful all the time. Further heart tests, kidney tests, a colonoscopy, an upper GI test, blood work, and samples galore did not help to diagnose my problem. Every test came back normal. Doctors gave me another medicine for heartburn and my constant nausea. “Oh you have anxiety too! Why don’t you take something for that?”
More time passed with no real answers.

One positive during this time was becoming reacquainted with a friend from college who I married in 2006. Yes, he wanted to marry me even with all my issues. He is a good man! I did have some better moments after marriage but never felt great. I already knew, from a previous allergy skin test, that I have multiple seasonal and outdoor allergies like trees, dirt, grass…you know, earth. 
No one ever mentioned the possibility of a gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

I learned to deal with feeling so awful all the time. I felt nauseated, dizzy, and exhausted every single day. Doing simple tasks took a great deal of effort. I remember sitting on the couch every night after dinner and falling asleep. I would describe it as felling drugged.

It all kind of came to a head in January of 2010 when I had vertigo. When I went to the clinic to be checked, I found out that I also had very low vitamin D levels and low white blood cell count. I battled the vertigo for three months and still did not feel well. This time, I found a good family doctor who was very helpful and caring, and she really wanted to help me find some answers. She did some blood work as well and found that my white blood cell count was still abnormal. She was concerned that I could have an immune disorder or some type of cancer since immune-related diseases run in my family. After seeing a blood specialist, the only answer I had was, “It’s idiopathic.” (Another “we don’t know.”)
Instead of giving up, my doctor decided to order a food panel test for me. I waited five more weeks to get the results. I was shocked to find out that I had positive results for allergies to oats, potatoes, egg whites, and tomatoes. These were some of my favorites! AUGGGHHH!

So, in the summer of 2010, I had to drastically alter my diet to exclude oats, potatoes, egg whites, and tomatoes. I still felt like gluten was affecting me too, so I added that to my no-no list. My doctor decided it was unnecessary to do further testing. She advised me to pay close attention and not eat anything containing my food allergies or wheat.

(I distinctly remember the last time I had gluten as a conscious choice…October 28, 2010. My husband took me to a yummy pizza restaurant for my birthday. Oh, was it good! And, I felt like I had the flu for about two weeks afterwards.)

The difference has been amazing! I cannot say that I have not had moments of feeling less than stellar—there is a definite learning curve. For example, a few months ago I found that a medicine I just started taking had potato used as filler. After battling the flu-like symptoms, I researched and found that potato was used as an inactive ingredient.

My best advice is to find a doctor you trust but, ultimately, YOU are responsible for your own health. I am happy to report that I have been much healthier and have eaten much healthier since I changed my diet. What was hard at the outset is now second-nature to me (and my husband, bless him).
Dealing with food allergies and gluten intolerance couldn’t have come at a better time. This past November, my husband and I had our first child. I am so thankful that I am feeling better since I have a baby to care for.I hope my story encourages others who feel like there is no answer and they will never feel better.

I was that person. There is hope. Don’t give up. Keep pushing a little bit more

You can find Mandy blogging over at Sensitive and Centsible

Got a Gluten Free Kid? Check This Out!

Katie Chalmers who wrote the book, Mommy What is Celiac Disease?,  (you can read my review here) has designed a gluten free blog designed with kids in mind!  It is great!  With this post she has some really fun, easy Easter ideas.  Go check it out, like her page, and tell her I sent you:)

She will show you how to make Muddy Bunnies, Chocolate Peep Eggshells, and Bunny Trail Pops!

Go here to check out G-free Kid!

Free Gluten Free E-cookbooks from Amazon

Right now on Amazon you can get The Vegetarian Paleo Recipe Cookbook: 47 All Natural Gluten-Free Meals and Desserts for Free for your kindle!

You can also get The Gluten Free Handbook e-book for your kindle for free!

Pay close attention to the price as it can change at anytime!  At the time I am posting this, it is free!  You don't have to have a kindle for these purchases.  You can download kindle for pc and read from your computer!

Thanks, Gluten Freely Frugal!

 

No More Gluten Free Hamburger Helper from General Mills

Well, it seems like after such a short time on the market, General Mills will no longer be making “gluten free” hamburger helper.  I am not a huge fan of it anyways, but I would purchase on occasion to have something quick to make if necessary.  There were coupons which made it really inexpensive to purchase.  The ingredients will stay the same, so it will not have any gluten ingredients, but it will be manufactured in a facility that processes wheat, so there will be risk to those sensitive.   There may still be some at the stores that are still labeled “gluten free”  you might want to grab those while you can if you like this product because they won’t have the “gluten free” label anymore.

Source:  Examiner.com

Sweet Treats at Sweet Freedom

Here is a place called Sweet Freedom in Philadelphia, PA we tried out for a gluten free snack.  It is an all gluten free bakery.  A little on the expensive side.  Four treats cost me over $15!!  I had promised the kids a cupcake and wanted to try an all gluten free bakery since we don’t get anything like that in Birmingham.  I didn’t know each cupcake would cost $3.50 each!  They were very good.  2 kids tried cookies with icing in the middle and 2 had cupcakes.  I sure wish we had an all gluten free bakery in Birmingham.  Anyone up to starting one?  It was so fun to watch my daughter get to pick anything from the bakery case that she wanted!  It is a rare thing for her and definately worth the $15.

What do you think, worth it?

PF Changs Review

***I wrote this immediately after this happened, and forgot about it.  Sorry.  This was back when the tornados happened.
Last night we had to go out to eat again due to the power.  It was a weird day.  We had gotten our power back on around 10 am.  I went to get some lunch stuff at the grocery.  Then around 2pm I went to my friend’s house about 25 min. or so from my house to get my food that I had stored in her freezer.  Then off to my mother in law’s to get the rest of my refridgerated food.  By the time I got home, the food from my friend’s house had been in the car for about an hour and a half.  I got home, and yep, you guessed it, no power J.  So, I had to take the food to my dad’s house and unload it in his freezer.  Got home from there an hour later and yep, you guessed it, my power was back on J  this is how my week has been since last Wednesday at 5am.  I am definitely not complaining.  Just thought you might find that hysterical.  Ok, so to say all that, after the hours I spent loading and unloading food everywhere, I decided I didn’t feel up to starting to cook dinner at 6:30 at night.  So off we went…..
My husband met us at PF Changs, one of our favorites for gluten free eating.   By the time we got there, he had already ordered our food and the gluten free lettuce wraps were already sitting on the table.  This was such a nice treat from the craziness of my day.  After we finished our wraps, our gluten free chicken fried rice showed up.  It was so good.  Our waiter was very friendly, helpful and cautious.  All our sauces at the table were gluten free as to not get it mixed up.  They bring your gluten free foods out on a PF Changs plate so that you know that your meal has been prepared gluten free.  I ALWAYS ask to be sure the food is gluten free.  We did have an experience once that our food was brought out on regular plates and I asked to be sure it was gluten free.  My husband said, “Jenny, we told them gluten free, I am sure it is fine.”  Come to find out, it was not gluten free, they had brought out the wrong plates to our table.  NEVER feel bad about double checking.  We are only human, and mistakes can be made.
Last night’s waiter was so nice.  He was a diabetic, so was very nice to my daughter and made her feel special.  He knows what it is like to not be able to have the foods others are eating.  He brought her out their new triple chocolate mousse to have, just for her.   The manger thanked us on our way out and spoke with us for a while about their gluten free menu.  It was a good experience.  We don’t eat out much, but this is one of the restaurants we normally go to and feel safe at.

 

***This was our experience with this restaurant.  As always, I would love to hear your experiences as well.  Remember that unless you are eating at a totally gluten free restaurant, you always run the risk of contamination.  There is always the chance that you may get an employee that is not as familiar with the gluten free diet.  If you are uncomfortable, be sure to ask to speak with a manager.

 

Gluten Free Deals Signup

If you haven’t signed up for Gluten Free Deals yet, now is the time! It is quick, painless, and FREE to sign up! What is Gluten Free Deals? Well, it is simple. You sign up with your email, then each week that they run a deal on a new gluten free product, you will get an email informing you of the deal. If it interests you, you can purchase the deal. So far they have been about 50% off the normal purchase price. This is a great way to try some new products for less than what you would normally pay.
Go HERE to sign up!

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