Elimination Diet Part Two: Seven Years Later

Hippo quote

I have known for a very long time that I need to be completely gluten free, to the most minute degree. Although I was never diagnosed with Celiac disease, I have the same level of sensitivity. It now makes me obviously and incredibly sick, however for most of my life I had no idea that gluten was bad for me.

How is this possible? Well, according to some reading I’ve done, when you are first introduced to a substance that is bad for you then yes you get sick. But then you quickly climatize to it, although it is still doing a lot of damage. Like how cigarettes make you sick when you first start smoking them, but you get used to it, and although it is doing a ton of silent damage you don’t really notice. Symptoms gradually get worse and worse, until one day you body screams enough, and collapses. With cigarettes that may be increased sinus infections, allergies, headaches, leading eventually to emphysema and cancer.

With gluten, I had no idea the myriad of vague health issues I had was related to it. I thought everybody had headaches 4 or more days per week. I thought it wasn’t unusual to get migraines on a monthly or more basis, since there were several people in my family who had this. I was taking ibuprofin almost every day and had no idea that the chronic pain, mostly in my head, was not normal. A friend tried to tell me, but I just brushed them off and didn’t really think about it.

Although I could “write” on my skin, scratching with medium pressure would cause swollen red lines because of the high level of histamines in my system, I thought it was just some weird random fluke. I never connected it to the fact that it really hurt to get my teeth cleaned because they were so sensitive, nor to the fact that rain to me felt like little cold needles. Nor to the fact that I was always so cold, and that once cold it was in my bones and took forever to feel warm again. I thought it was just cold out or that other people didn’t like talking about how much teeth cleaning hurt.

I was tired all the time, but hey, I thought, who isn’t? I frequently got super cranky but I thought it was just because people were being especially stupid that day. I had a cold or the flu once or twice a month, which I knew was more than other people, but I thought I had just inherited a bad immune system from my mom who was also sick frequently. (Did I mention that food intolerances are hereditary?)

NONE of this is normal.

I know this because I finally got sick of being sick and was finally willing to do the elimination diet, found out that gluten is my kryptonite, and have been hypervigilant to keep it completely out of my life.

From what I have researched, the ONLY way to know for sure what you are allergic to is to do the elimination diet – it is the “gold standard” according to my doctor. The blood and skin scratch tests are not very accurate. I have read that they are now finding that there are antibodies (allergic response) that develop in the bowel that never make it into the blood. If you are serious about getting well, you must do an elimination diet. (And of course, consult your doctor first! And hopefully your doctor is one that actually understands elimination diets. If you don’t have one, get one)

I am doing much much MUCH better now that I have completely eliminated gluten, in even its tiniest forms (such as the evil maltodextrin and “natural flavors”). I only eat at places that understand celiacs and have strong protections in place against cross-contamination. And, of course, my own house! Most of the food I consume was prepared by me in my own house from scratch. No boxed food! Few canned or bottled either.

I NEVER get a headache or a migraine unless I have been “glutenized” (ingested some gluten). In a year, the three times I had a cold was when I was glutenized. My teeth don’t hurt now when they get cleaned! You can no longer write on my skin. Many other health problems have cleared up as well.

However, lately I have been feeling kinda tired and off. I know that I am also allergic to corn, sesame and chocolate (yes, chocolate). I have been wondering if there is something else that is slowly poisoning me. I have my suspicions about dairy and the nightshades, especially potatoes and tomatoes (sob!).

My spouse has been thinking that maybe she has allergies too and has been wanting to try the elimination diet. Her mom recently was confirmed with Crohn’s Disease and is thinking of doing one too.

So here we go, Elimination Diet round two!


Recipe: Al fresco lunch

Sweet red bell pepper

I suppose this isn’t a recipe per se, but it is a easy lovely lunch. It is a simple lunch that relies on the freshest of ingredients, allowing each to shine. Everything should be bought as ripe and in season as possible, preferably organic and grown nearby – the food will have more nutrients and will fill you up much better. Continue reading

Hidden gluten, cross-contamination, and celiac disease, oh my!

It’s been two weeks since I started this.

Two weeks since I realized that I was generally feeling ill and had a host of problems over my life that the doctors could not figure out the cause, and oh yeah!, maybe cutting out more than just bread and pasta versions of wheat might help, aka finding and eliminating hidden gluten (not that any doctor suggested this. Ever >.<). Continue reading

Cooking Meditation – Pesto and Portobello

One of the things that has always made me uncomfortable about cooking, doing the dishes, or other solitary activities is that I am left alone with my own thoughts. It is difficult to escape myself when I am doing something that requires silence.

I suppose cooking doesn’t require silence. I could talk on the phone or watch TV. But those things tend to distract me so that what I am making doesn’t come out nearly as tasty as when I am fully concentrating on creating delicious food.

The trick is to concentrate more.

Continue reading

Spicy Eggplant with Miso

One of the most confounding things about moving to a gluten free diet is how to adjust old favorites. They are never going to taste the same. That is just a given. The delightful thing is when they taste even better. Continue reading

Enoki Baataa (Butter)

I’ve always loved enoki baataa, a Japanese side dish made of enoki mushrooms and butter, but because I always pronounced it “baataa” (the way the Japanese say “butter”) in my head, I didn’t realize it was, well, butter. Who doesn’t love butter and mushrooms?

The Japanese twist on this favorite incorporates sake and Japanese enoki mushrooms. It is soooooo good!

I really like enoki with Japanese cucumber pickles called Shibazuke, with rice on nori (seaweed). The soft savory mushrooms contrast nicely with the sharp crunchy pickles. Yum!

Enoki mushrooms are very mild flavored, and very inexpensive. Usually one packet like the one pictured below is about $1 if you go to the not fancy Asian markets.

This recipe is an estimate of how much to use, but because the amount of mushrooms will be different each time, you’ll have to adjust. Also, each person is different. Some like lemon on their enoki baataa, but I don’t unless there is a ton of butter. Others like more pepper, but I’m not that fond of pepper and I think it masks the delicate mushroom flavor. Play with the ingredients to your taste!

Enoki Baataa (Butter)

1/2 – 3/4 Tablespoon butter (according to taste)
One 3.5 oz package of enoki mushrooms, with the bottom part cut off. Cut up to where the mushrooms aren’t really sticking to each other much (a little is ok). Discard the bottom.
1 teaspoon sake
2 pinches salt
Tiny bit of black pepper

In a flat pan, melt about the butter. Make sure its a pan big enough to spread out the mushrooms – as Julia Child says, don’t crowd the mushrooms!

Sprinkle in the mushrooms, breaking them up from each other. With all the butter they should look kind of slimy. Like this:

Don’t worry, the butter will largely absorb. Cook for about two minutes.

Add a touch of pepper.

Add sake.

Saute til it starts getting brown, like this:

Add salt. Taste. Adjust. Serve and enjoy!

On the Road Again

My girlfriend and I are going up to Bellingham this weekend with her parents to do a kayaking trip for their birthdays. I completely forgot this when I set my goal last week of eating EVERY MEAL made entirely by me, from scratch.


I normally would have stocked up on snack bars, dried fruit, and nuts. But those snack bars have tons of stuff in them, so gluten can more easily sneak in, plus I’ve got other allergies. And I found out that nothing in bulk can be guaranteed gluten free. Packaged fruit and nuts are rather expensive (and I’m a poor social worker).

I decided to figure out tasty satisfying food that wouldn’t need much refrigeration.

I already had the carob cookies I made last night in honor of Mikey. I got organic strawberries, nectarines, apples, and oranges.


Rather than buy prepackaged baked tofu with soy sauce (aka wheat), I sliced up tofu, marinated it over night in my amazing teriyaki sauce, then baked it at 375 for 45 minutes.

Yuri’s Amazing Teriyaki Sauce:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup wheat free soy sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder (fresh is better but it upsets my stomach)
1/2-1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger (it’s easiest if you put ginger in the freezer – stays fresh and easy to grate)

Tofu about to go into the oven

I sliced tempeh about a little less than 1/4 inch thick, coated in oil, then baked at 350 for 50 minutes. Then sprinkled them with sea salt. My GF’s parents scarfed them down, and asked how I got them to taste like bacon!


Today, for lunch, while my GF and her folks ate Dick’s burgers and fries (those fries are sooooo hard to resist! but you know they were in the same frier as the onion rings), I had myself a little bento picnic: tempeh strips, chirashi sushi, and organic orange tomatoes, carrots and snow peas.


Chirashi sushi (aka “scattered” sushi)

2cups cooked sushi rice (short grain Japanese rice. The better quality you get, the better the sushi! I like Koda)
1/2 Tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar (must be seasoned! Get one without msg)
1/3 cup cooked edamame (shelled, not in pods. Bring largish pot of salted water to boil, throw in beans, bring back to boil, cook til tender not squishy (3-5 min), drain, rinse in cold water til cool, salt to taste)
3 thinly sliced seasoned cooked shiitake mushrooms (rinse dried mushrooms, put in pot with water to just cover, add brown sugar and soy sauce to taste (~1/4 tsp brown sugar, ~1 tsp soy sauce), simmer til soft)
4 inari pockets, thinly sliced

Make sure rice is warm. Mix in vinegar. Taste. Add more vinegar or rice, til it tastes like you like it. Add all other ingredients, mix. When mixing rice don’t mash it, cut in with the rice paddle/wooden spoon and flip.

It was a lovely lunch! Especially with cookies and strawberries for dessert! I was completely stuffed, but in a good way. And I still probably ate half the calories the GF and parents had with their burgers, fries and shakes.

I think I can do this road trip thing.