Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pregnancy and Celiac Disease

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease my husband and I had just started talking about having a third child, so I was concerned with how the disease would affect our plans.

I asked the Gastroenterologist what having Celiac Disease meant for pregnancy. I was mostly concerned about whether the baby would be getting enough nutrients with me being on a gluten free diet. The doctor laughed at me a little and assured me that a gluten free diet was very healthy for both me and the baby, but that a lot of people with Celiac Disease actually had a hard time conceiving.

Lucky for us I didn't have that problem. A few months later I was sitting in my OB/GYN's office asking her how my Celiac Disease was going to affect my new pregnancy. I was especially concerned with what would happen if I accidentally (or on purpose, those pregnancy cravings are killer!) got some gluten. The doctor told me that the baby would take the nutrition it needed from my body, so I would be the one to suffer for deviating from the gluten free diet not the baby. She also assured me that the baby wouldn't feel anything if I was in pain from intestinal distress. I was actually pretty worried about that one.

My pregnancy wasn't exactly normal. Due to some physical problems completely unrelated to the Celiac Disease I went into early labor and had to spend the night in the hospital when I was 22 weeks along. This experience gave me a little preview of what it was going to be like to give birth at the hospital.

My hospital had absolutely no gluten free options. There was a little blurb at the bottom of the menu that said they would be happy to work with any dietary restrictions, but when I ordered my roast chicken with no gravy it came smothered in the stuff. My husband had to go out and get me a low carb hamburger so I wouldn't starve.

The next day I spoke to somebody about it and the hospital's dietitian came up to my room to talk to me. She actually asked me for my preferences and sent somebody down to the local health food store to get some of my favorites so that I could eat lunch without any problems. She even purchased a new toaster only to be used for gluten free breads.

I let them know when my due date was, and since I had to be induced (ironic isn't it?) I was able to call them ahead of time and let them know that I was coming. After the first bumpy start, my next visit went like a dream. They even had brownies for me.

So basically, if you have Celiac Disease and are looking to get pregnant here's what I think you should know.

1. You may have a harder time getting pregnant in the first place.

2. If you do cheat on your gluten free diet it probably won't hurt the baby. It will however be harmful to you. The baby won't feel the pain, but you will. Honestly being pregnant is hard enough, why make it harder. I can tell you from experience that that thing you are craving will not be worth the pain and fatigue you'll be feeling later. REALLY not worth it.

3. You may have to educate the hospital about your diet. Most Hospitals have an Expectant Mother Tour, I recommend you go and ask lots of questions. Ask to see a menu, visit the cafeteria and ask them how they will handle your diet, make an appointment to talk to the dietitian. Find out if the Labor & Delivery department has a fridge where you can store your own foods (labeled with your name.)

4. When you pack your Going-to-the-Hospital bag I recommend packing some of your favorite gluten-free snacks. Labor is hard work and you may not be able to get food from the cafeteria right away. Having something to eat handy can save a lot of trouble.

Congratulations and Best Wishes!

Chili is Good Campin' Food

I was planning on doing a few posts about all the great gluten free foods we were going to have on our camping trip, but the trip was a fiasco and we ended it really early. The only meal worth mentioning was the chili.

I used the Bear Creek "Darn Good" Chili Mix. I cheated and cooked this on a camp stove, but I think it would be really easy to make this chili over a fire if you are the hard-core type of a camper. It's really easy. You boil the water, dump in the mix, and mix in a 6 oz. can of tomato paste. Then let it cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. We also chopped up some hot dogs and threw those in. The back of the package has some other suggestions for things you can add, but I just kept it simple.

It was very tasty and hearty. It has a little bit of a kick to it, but it isn't too spicy for little kids or people with sensitive stomachs. I know everything tastes better when you're camping, but I love this stuff even when we're at home. We added sour cream and cheese as toppings, and some of us scooped it up with Frito's. I just ate it with a spoon, but that's 'cuz I was too hungry to mess with the chips. There were four adults and four kids in our group and there was plenty of chili for everybody. More than half of us even had seconds.

This chili was definitely the highlight of an otherwise dismal camping trip.

The Bear Creek Country Kitchens has a few other soup mixes that my family really loves, those reviews will be coming soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vegetarian Nachos

Lucky me! My husband made dinner tonight.

No really. It's a good thing. He made our family's version of Nachos.

Here's the recipe:

One 40.5 oz. can of Refried Beans
One bag of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Chunky Salsa (We use mild or medium, just use whatever your family likes.)
Corn Tortilla Chips

Heat up the beans. We nuke 'em for three minutes in the microwave, stir, then nuke 'em for three more.

Spoon the beans into bowls, top with the cheese. If you want, pop the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt the cheese. I do this for hubby and me but not for the kids.

Top the beans and cheese with whatever combination of sour cream and salsa. (I like a lot of salsa and a little sour cream, my husband likes lots of sour cream and lots of salsa, my daughter likes a little sour cream and no salsa, my son likes lots of sour cream and a little salsa, the youngest son doesn't get sour cream or salsa.) You can also add some chopped olives if you're feeling fancy.

Use the tortilla chips to scoop the nachos into your mouth. Yum!

I was getting us ready for our upcoming camping trip, so I didn't get a chance to take pictures. The next time we have these nachos for dinner I'll post some pictures.

I'll be back in a few days with lots of posts about the trip.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mrs. Leeper's Creamy Tuna dinner

One of the things I miss about my pre-Celiac days was having all the quick meal options. I mean just because I've got Celiac Disease doesn't mean my super busy days suddenly disappear. Right?

My local health food store had Mrs. Leeper's Creamy Tuna on sale and since it looked vaguely like Tuna Helper (which my family loved) I thought I'd get some to try it out. Worse case scenario would be that it tasted awful and we'd have hot dogs or pb&j instead. Best case I find a new boxed dinner to keep in my cupboard for busy days.

The box comes with the noodles and the sauce packet. I had to add 2 1/2 cups of hot water, 1 cup of milk, and 1 tablespoon of butter per box plus the tuna. I made two boxes and it fed our family of five quite well. I also added two cans of tuna for each box instead of just one. What can I say, my family likes meat!

The instructions are super easy. Drain the tuna and dump everything but the noodles into a pot. Bring that to a boil and then add the noodles and lower the heat. Cook it for 10 minutes, then let it set for a few minutes more. Easy peasy. It is important to let it set for awhile though, the sauce thickens up as it cools. The box says to let it set for three minutes, I let it set for five.

Okay, I know it looks kinda gross. It really doesn't photograph well at all. Trust me though, it tastes amazing.

The noodles have a really nice texture, not at all gritty. The sauce is just awesome. The flavor is rich without being too strong, and really very creamy. I don't really know how to describe it, so I'll just say that there was silence around the dinner table. My incredibly chatty kids were too busy eating to talk. Even my meat and potatoes loving husband liked this. He went back for seconds.

I think that this could be really good with a can of sweet corn or a can of peas added in. I also think it would be good with some crushed potato chips on top to add some crunch. I'll have to try that next time.

Overall I really liked the Creamy Tuna dinner. Preparation was easy, it tasted really good, and everyone in my family loved it. The only downside is that it was quite pricey. It cost about $5 for each box (on sale), so $10+ for a meal. That's about average for gluten free convenience foods, so it isn't overly expensive. It's just pricey for somebody on a budget, but I will be getting more the next time they go on sale. It's worth it for a quick meal on a tough day.

Charlotte's Bakery

I like to bake. Well, I like the idea of baking. I love the finished product of homemade goods fresh out of the oven. What I don't like is cleaning up afterward.

The first thing I realized when I started my gluten free diet was that good bread was hard to find. Most of the stuff I found was either tasteless, gritty, hard, or left a bad aftertaste. Sometimes all four at the same time. I tried making bread myself but it was an ordeal and the loaves never turned out well.

Then I found Charlotte's Bakery and it changed my life.

Their bread is awesome. It is slightly sweet, kind of like a cross between cornbread and potato rolls. It stays together very well and is excellent for sandwiches and french toast. Peanut butter and Jelly on Charlotte's bread almost feels like a treat. I adore this bread. The only problem I have with it is that it doesn't toast or grill well, so I have to use a different bread for breakfast toast and grilled cheese sandwiches.

I keep usually keep it in my fridge, and it stays fresh for about a week. It does freeze pretty well, but the crust can be a little dry when it thaws out. Overall this bread is excellent.

They also make cakes, cookies, pies, and other goodies. I'll be writing reviews for those soon.

I'm lucky that Charlotte's is sold at my local health food store. If you aren't so fortunate, they do sell online. You can find them at