I’ve stayed away since Thanksgiving, but yahoo, I think I’m back in the saddle. There are numerous reasons for my not posting to my gluten-free blog, but the two most obvious are that things on the business front got very busy and I just didn’t have/make the time to post. I took pictures, intending to post and blog about the pix, but just never got around to it. The second reason, maybe even the more pressing reason, is that I just hit a gluten-free wall. I’ve felt embarrassed and even angry with myself – though I think I’ve moved past it. Let me explain – at some point in the last few months, I decided that I’m angry, annoyed, pissed, sad, and lonely. Angry because after almost one year living gluten-free, I’ve gotten past adapting to my new gluten-free life and am now asking “Why me?”. Annoyed because it’s a major pain in the butt to eat safely when out of the house – every time and I mean every single time we eat outside of the house, it is a major friggin’ production. I’m so sick of explaining it to waitstaff at restaurants that I could scream. Pissed – ditto on the last sentence. Sad and lonely because I feel so removed from other people – it’s really hard to be this different when it comes to food – a major element in all of our socializing.
And to add insult to injury, we just returned from a 10 day trip to London and Nottingham, England where I was contaminated â€“ not just once, but twice! The first time was last Friday, December 22. We were at a conference in Nottingham and the caterer for all the meals assured me that the evening meal for that night was entirely gluten-free. We felt very comfortable and ate without worrying. Big mistake. Within a few hours, I knew something was fishy. I began to ache all over â€“ headache, body aches, stomach ache. It felt like the flu without the fever. Iâ€™d read and heard other Celiacs talk about feeling like they had the flu after eating gluten â€“ but now I knew what they were talking about. I took some Advil and a sleeping pill, thinking it would get me through the night. My husband slept like a baby. I lay awake all night, tossing and turning, certain I was going to need to go to a hospital. Sorry for the graphic description, but I wouldnâ€™t be telling you the whole story if I didnâ€™t tell you that I finally threw up my entire dinner at about 5 that morning. And though I finally felt some relief, I really havenâ€™t felt back to normal since. Of course, it doesnâ€™t help that I was contaminated again this past Wednesday when we returned to London from the conference in Nottingham â€“ we were watching a movie and munching on what I thought were gluten-free potato chips made by the Kettle Company. The package said â€œSuitable For Coeliacsâ€ on the outside, so I didnâ€™t even bother to check the ingredients. They were yummy â€“ it was the Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar flavor. Within a few minutes of finishing them, I began to feel that now familiar feeling. The headache was first. Followed by the stomachache. I quickly looked up Kettle Chips (the United Kingdom website) and read their FAQ page. Sure enough, there was a reference (I canâ€™t remember exactly what it said) to the ppm (parts per million) of one of the ingredients in the Salsa flavored potato chips. There was nothing about the Sea Salt and Balsamic flavored chips Iâ€™d eaten so I then fished the bag out of the trash and read the ingredients (which I shouldâ€™ve done in the first place). Barley malt!!!!! I just ate half a bag of chips containing barley malt!!!! I was so mad at myself for not reading the ingredients before eating them. Well, I had another bad night â€“ not as bad as the Friday night before, but I still tossed and turned. And Iâ€™m still feeling the effects less than three days later. I have a feeling that it will take awhile until I feel back to normal. At my post-endoscopy doctorâ€™s appointment last January, my husband asked the doctor what would happen if I were very compliant and then at some point decided to eat a bagel. The doctor said that it would take a month to undo the negative affects on my intestine â€“ 2 weeks if I only ate half a bagel, and a few days if I took only a bite. If thatâ€™s the case, I have no idea how long it will take before I return to feeling really good again, as Iâ€™m not sure how much gluten I really did consume in England. But Iâ€™m certain it was the Friday night meal that was the first culprit. There were other Celiacs at the conference â€“ I spoke with one of them (a young woman in her early 30â€™s who was diagnosed at age 1) on Saturday morning after the gluten contamination. Sheâ€™d eaten the same meal as we did and was certain that sheâ€™d been contaminated based on her own personal reaction (I wonâ€™t go into it, but suffice it to say that when sheâ€™s eaten gluten, her reaction is always predictable).
I posted about this experience to the Icors Celiac listserve and received numerous replies. One person explained that the labeling is different in different countries â€“ which I knew, but had completely forgotten about. In order to say itâ€™s gluten-free, the product has to have no more then 100 ppm of gluten, in Canada itâ€™s less (something like 20 ppm) and in Europe itâ€™s 200 ppm. So, even though the potato chips that I ate in London had enough gluten (barley in this case) to not be able to call them gluten-free in the US, they are deemed gluten-free in England.
So much for not reading labels â€“ that will NEVER happen to me again, I can tell you that. I donâ€™t remember ever being in that much discomfort. And I wish I could say that I feel 100% back to where I was – after almost a year of eating gluten-free and being totally compliant – I was actually feeling good again. No more indigestion at all. And I think my hair has stopped falling out (yes, I have Alopecia, fortunately on a part of my scalp that makes it undetectable). But since last Friday, every single thing I eat gives me major indigestion. Even as I sit here typing this, I am in major discomfort. Feels like I have a toothpick stuck in my esophagus.
Despite the complaining, I am very glad to be home. One of the first things I did was make a loaf of gluten-free bread in our bread machine. This recipe is SO good â€“ itâ€™s actually edible without toasting it â€“ which personally, I think is a feat when it comes to gluten-free bread. Most of it needs to be toasted in order to make it palatable (with some exceptions including Breads From Anna â€“ her mixes are fantastic). I found this recipe online but have changed it by not including the buttermilk powder that it originally called for. I also changed the flour combination to include 1 Â½ cups of brown rice flour and Â½ cup of sorghum flour rather than 2 cups of brown rice flour. I also added one tablespoon of flaxseed meal. And I used regular soymilk instead of cowâ€™s milk. Now that Iâ€™m getting a bit more comfortable with different bread recipes, Iâ€™ll probably continue to experiment with this recipe as Iâ€™d like to increase the protein in the bread. I might try replacing some of the brown rice flour with some chickpea flour the next time I make it.
For those of you who have the Zojirushi bread machine, please see my note beneath the recipe to explain the setting I used on the machine.
If you make this, remember to bring the eggs and milk to room temperature before blending the ingredients.
Old-Fashioned Gluten-Free Farmhouse Bread
Â¼ cup oil (I used canola)
1 Â¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon unflavored soy milk
3 large eggs
1 Â½ cups brown rice flour
Â½ cup sorghum flour
Â½ cup potato starch flour (NOT potato flour)
Â½ cup tapioca flour
3 Â½ tsp. xanthan gum
Â¼ cup sugar
1 Â½ tsp. salt
2 Â¼ tsp. active dry yeast (1 package plus part of another package)
Combine oil, milk, and eggs. Pour into bread machine pan.
Combine brown rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, sugar and salt. Pour over the liquid ingredients in the bread machine. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the other dry ingredients, being careful not to touch the sides of the pan with the yeast.
Select the â€œHome Bakeryâ€cycle by pressing the â€œSelectâ€ button until the arrow in the timer window points to the â€œHome Bakeryâ€ choice in the lower right hand corner. The other arrow will be on medium.
Then press the cycle button in the â€œHome Bakeryâ€ square which will allow you to move through the various settings. As each setting appears in the timer window, you can figure out the amount of time by pushing the â€œTimeâ€ button to the left of the â€œCycleâ€ button. Settings can also be turned to â€œOffâ€ by pushing the â€œTimeâ€ button until â€œOffâ€ appears.
Warm: 10 minutes
Knead: 18 minutes (I lift the lid and use a rubber spatula to mix in the flour that remains on the side walls of the pan with the other ingredients that are being kneaded)
Rise 1: Off
Rise 2: Off
Rise 3: 55 minutes
Bake: 55 minutes
If I remember correctly, you have to then press the start button twice. But donâ€™t quote me â€“ I shouldâ€™ve taken notes, but I forgot to. I was so excited to make the bread!!!
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