Musings and Morsels from An Allergic Foodie (8-1-14)

My family often shares what we read with one another. My husband emails links of articles and television news stories he’s come across while traveling for work. If you read the newspaper after me, you’ll likely get one full of holes.  As a nonfiction writer, I have boxes full of clippings (we’ve moved these four times). Even our boys share info they’ve discovered on Facebook and YouTube.

It makes me feel good when someone hands me an article they think I’ll be interested in. To me, this says,”I cared enough about you to take the time to clip this.” Well, unless it’s a story about dieting and losing weight–that’s just plain mean. I also don’t like articles about aging. Will you please stop sending me those, Mom?

I often come across something I know could benefit my food-allergic/celiac disease friends but just doesn’t fit into a post. Maybe it’s a peer-reviewed study you ought to know about, or a book I think you’d like, or I’ve just met someone at a conference I think you should meet. This blog is not a recipe blog or a product review blog, but I’ve often wanted to share a recipe or a product I’m particularly excited about. And, of course, I’ve often cut things out of the paper or seen something on TV I’ve wanted to discuss with you.

So this is the inaugural MUSINGS AND MORSELS.  Think of it as a smorgasbord of information–sink your teeth into whatever looks tasty.

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Have you seen the Maple Hill Creamery yogurts with the label “made from organic milk from 100% grass-fed cows?”

Grass-Fed Yogurt

An article this week in the Wall Street Journal says grass-fed dairy products are gaining in popularity by health-conscious consumers. Those allergic to soy, corn and gluten may benefit from milk that’s come from grass-fed-only cows. Though pricey–$6 for a gallon of grassmilk–the article reports that whole milk from grass-fed cows is Organic Valley’s best-selling item at Whole Foods. We’ll probably start seeing grassmilk cheeses and butter soon.

In case you’re wondering what the difference between “organic” and “grass-fed” milk is: the USDA requires cows to graze on a pasture for a minimum of 120 days during the year and get 30 percent or more of their diet from the pasture to be labeled “organic.” The rest of their food can come from a feed of grain, corn, soy, vitamins, minerals and other ingredients.  “Grass-fed” should mean the cow has eaten only on the pasture–no corn, soy or other grains.  But according to the WSJ article, “Some dairy brands labeled ‘grass-fed’ do allow their cows to eat grain if other food is scarce.”  There is no federal regulation of the term “grass-fed” for dairy products.

Here we go again with that deceiving labeling. If you missed my blog post about grass-fed beef and bison, here it is.

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Also in the news: Did you know Monsanto has recently created the Global Corporate Engagement Team to “debunk myths” surrounding the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds and herbicide? This was reported in the St. Louis Business Journal. They’ve actually hired a “director of millennial engagement” to help the public understand “the story behind Monsanto.” An online comment asks if Monsanto is debunking myths or covering up facts. What do you think?

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A blog you’ll like: Mary Kate and Denise at Surviving the Food Allergy Apocalypse  cook up some  awesome allergy-friendly recipes–not only for food but for soap and toothpaste too!

Also, if you haven’t discovered Freedible  yet, you are in for a treat. Freedible is a valuable tool for the “custom eater”–anyone who has a food restriction for any reason. You’ll find online support groups, recipes, blogs, and much more on Freedible.

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Kudos to  Tracy Grabowski of WheatFreely.com and certified by GREAT Kitchens and DineAware for writing an excellent article, Why Many Restaurants Should Not Offer Gluten-Free Menu Options . . . Yet, published in the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, Spring 2014. She writes that restaurants must be trained before offering gluten-free items: “The truth is that genuinely gluten-free dishes should be more than just replacing a bun, or using a corn or rice versions of pasta.”  She stresses restaurants need be educated and trained in cross-contamination issues and how to read labels for hidden ingredients.

And with that said, I leave you with a photo of a menu from Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub in Williston, Vermont.

Gluten Sensitive Menu

 

This menu does not say “gluten free” but “gluten sensitive.” If you have celiac disease as I do, would you feel safe ordering off this menu?

Musings and Morsels #1 originally appeared at Adventures of An Allergic Foodie.

Eat Without Me! Please!

Our book club alternates meetings between restaurants and our homes. As the “one with food issues,” I am given the final say on the restaurants where we’ll meet and eat. No problem there. It’s when we gather at one another’s homes that problems arise.

What can Amy eat? I bought these gluten-free crackers especially for her. Oh, I forgot she can’t have milk. When did Amy become allergic to soy, I thought she just had celiac disease? Why isn’t she eating the carrots? What do you mean the veggies can’t be served on the same platter as the crackers?

Just this morning one of my book club friends asked if I could eat Chicken Curry (our current book takes place in India). I figured she had found a safe recipe for me; after all, isn’t curry often made with coconut milk? When she emailed the recipe, I was surprised to see sour cream and mayo. Now this is a person I have traveled with and eaten out with many times, so I was a little surprised she didn’t remember I was allergic to dairy and eggs.

But I let it slide.

Of course, there are several perfectly acceptable things I could have done. I could have suggested she take a look at the recipes over at Freedible or on my Pinterest board and make some substitutions. I could have asked her to make me a plain piece of chicken. I could have offered to make a salad or a side dish.

But I simply told her I would eat before I came.

You see not eating at book club IS NOT A BIG DEAL. I am there for the book discussion and the comradery. And okay, maybe a little for the wine. But never for the food.

I have learned a long time ago that eating before I go to people’s houses is safer and easier–for me and for the host. Of course, when first diagnosed, I do remember feeling left out, especially during the holiday season when the food looked so festive and tasty. I do remember wishing I didn’t have to always pass on the birthday cake or the special tapa a chef brought to the table.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped caring–and when I stopped caring, I started enjoying life more.

While I consider myself a true foodie, I don’t feel like food always has to be the center of every social event. I can enjoy myself on just about any occasion without having to eat. In fact, by not having to think about what’s in that curry sauce, or if there are croutons in the salad, or if that fork touched the pasta, I am free to enjoy myself more. I think it’s harder for those without dietary restrictions to understand this.

So tonight at book club, I’ll probably be asked why I’m not eating along with a dozen other questions about what I can and cannot eat. But that’s okay. I figure if I keep declaring my independence from food and my food restrictions, someday my friends will stop trying to feed me.

Someday.

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This post originally appeared on Freedible in honor of  Declare Your Independence from Food Restrictions Month.  Anyone with any food restrictions should check out this website. It’s a place to connect with people who eat the way you do.