Diary of a Celiac

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gluten Free on the Norwegian Dawn

WOW!  That about sums it up!  I just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Norwegian Dawn.  I generally have to educate people about the seriousness of gluten in my food.  Not this time!  It was amazing!
The first night usually is the most difficult since you would not have had the opportunity to pre-order your dinner.

The first night we dined at Teppanyaki, the Japanese Hibachi Restaurant.  I was concerned about this restaurant because the food is prepared on the grill in front of you and everyone's food is prepared at the same time.  As soon as we boarded the room we went to Teppanyaki and advised them of my being gluten free.  I placed my order for dinner at that time.    We had made our reservations at this restaurant for 5:30 so that the grill would be clean and less chances of there being any cross contamination.  The chef came out and confirmed my selection and explained how he would prefer my food first to eliminate any cross contamination.  I did not have to tell him!  It was wonderful!  Twirling knives, food tossed in the air . . . great show, great food and no gluten!  I would liked to have had was some coconut aminos' or gluten free soy sauce, but it was tasty and safe.  I am not sure how they would avoid possibility of cross contamination after the first meal preparation.  If you decide to dine at Teppanyaki I would recommend dining at 5:30.  After dinner we went to Cagney's to pre-order my dinner for the following night.

The second night we dined at Cagney's, this is NCL's steakhouse.  Consider yourself warned. . . . do not eat lunch!  The portions are extremely large!  When I arrived I provided the head waiter with my cabin # and advised him that I had pre-ordered my dinner.  He came back a few minutes later and confirmed what I had ordered and that my meal was gluten free.  The food again was amazing and gluten free!  Just remember after dinner to go to the restaurant that you will be eating at the following day to order you meals ahead.

The third night we dined at Bamboo which is Pan Asian Cuisine.   When my husband was making our dinner reservations I told him that I did not want to eat at Bamboo.  I had serious reservations about anything being gluten free.  Asian food tends to be limited when you are gluten free, at least locally where I live.  I had gone to Bamboo after dinner at Cagney's and had pre-ordered and was surprised at the meals they stated they could prepare for me.  So with obvious skepticism I went to dinner.  Again the head waiter took my cabin # and came back and confirmed the meal I had chosen and that it was gluten free.  This is the one restaurant that I expressed concerns to the waiter.  My food arrived as did the concern that I was going to be sick later or the food was going to be bland.  Well, neither of those happened!  The food was amazing!  We were going to have to go back there on another night!  It had been a very very long time that I had dined out on Asian Cuisine that the food was delicious!  I highly recommend Bamboo if you are gluten free and miss Chinese food!

The fourth night we dined at La Cucina which is Italian.  Again I had pre-ordered my meal the night before and my waiter had confirmed my selection.  The options are a little more limited at this restaurant.  They have gluten free pasta and they do a great job preparing it.  Many restaurants where I live overcook it and it is all mushy.  The pasta at La Cucina was done perfectly.    When you initially are seated at La Cucina they will bring over a basket of bread and some dipping sauces.  Be sure to ask from gluten free bread and an extra plate of dipping sauces.  The waiter thought it odd that I wanted my own dipping sauces so I explained cross contamination to him.  I tend to take the opportunities to educate other people about the importance of not having any gluten if you have Celiac disease.  I had spaghetti and meatballs and it was very good.  My husband loves Chicken Parmigiana and I do not make it at home so this was a great opportunity for him to have a meal that he loves!  I should have asked if they could make Chicken Parmigiana gluten free but did not think of it.  Maybe the next cruise . . . . .

We dined every night at the specialty restaurants, this is a package that we purchased when we made our reservations.  It was $119 per person for the entire week.  We were able to pick the restaurants ahead of time and have private dining the entire week.  I feel the wait staff is better than at main dining.  We had no waits to be seated and the food the entire week was very good!

The other thing we did that made our trip more enjoyable was to stay in a suite.  We were in cabin # 12510.  When you stay in a suite (not a mini suite) you have Concierge and Butler service.  Our Butler (Jennifer Calixto) was advised that I was gluten free and each night we had gluten free snacks, chocolate or canapes brought to our room!  She did an amazing job, we hope to have her as our Butler the next time we sail on the Dawn!  But the biggest benefit is that you can dine at Cagney's for Breakfast and Lunch.  This made being gluten free so much easier!  I had the same wait staff each morning which made it much easier.  Again, be sure to pre-order all your meals the day before.

I hope this review helps you in your decision about sailing on the Norwegian Dawn!  Feel free to ask question and I will do my best to assist!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Gluten Free on the Disney Fantasy!

We sailed on the Disney Fantasy August 4th thru the 11th.  As with any travel I always pack up some gluten free snacks for the just in case occasions.  I bring Larabars!  Quick, Easy and always safe!
Day 1
We arrived on the cruise ship on the 4th.  For those of you who have cruised previously, the first thing the cruise lines do is direct everyone to the buffet.  I went up to the buffet and spoke with the one of the chefs and he advised us what our options were.  We selected which foods we would like and he went back and prepared our food for us.  They literally went back to the kitchen and prepared our food!  This definitely reduces the chances of cross contamination.  I then met with the dining staff to confirm that my daughter and I were registered as requiring a gluten free diet.  They confirmed that we were listed as gluten free.
Our dining rotation began at the "Enchanted Garden".  What a beautiful dining room!  Our Server was Gonsalo.  He advised that we could order what we wanted and the kitchen staff would prepare it for us.  After our meal he presented us with the menu for the following night and we selected what we would like to have the following night.  My husband loved this . . . . . he always wanted to know what he could have the following night!  The only disappointments were the gluten free bread and the dessert.  We were not given an option on desserts and the gluten free bread in disgusting.  I have been gluten free since January and the only time I was impressed with the bread was bread from Against the Grain in Vermont.
Day 2
We went to the "Royal Court" for breakfast and just advised our server that we were gluten free and they again prepared our food.  They also had gluten free donuts. . . . this is something we normally do not have at home, but we did try them and were pleasantly surprised!  Also, I have to say . . . .the coffee is the best coffee!  I had seen on a blog that I follow that the Disney Fantasy had gluten free chocolate chip cookies so we asked about them at breakfast and they went and brought us a plate of them!  We did not eat them for breakfast . . . . . not then anyway!
At lunch time we went to the buffet.  I am always nervous going to a buffet, but Disney exceeded all of my expectations!  I just asked for the chef and we had a repeat performance of the previous buffet experience.
At dinner time were wereDinner #2  The dining room was the "Royal Court".  This is their very formal looking dining room.  Again we were served the disgusting bread. . . . my daughter will eat it, but only the crust part.  The meal was amazing!    Desert was delicious!  Creme Brulee'!
Day 3
We arrived at St Marteen!  We went to breakfast at the buffet.  This time we were helped by a Chef  whose name was Levi Bailey.  He prepared our breakfast for us and it was delicious!  My daughter and husband went off on an excursion  "Sea Trek Helmet Dive".  I did not go . . . . . I am absolutely terrified to be under water.  Instead I stayed on the ship and relaxed. . . . and by relaxed, I mean that I went to the spa!  : )
When they returned we went up to the buffet for lunch and again Levi helped us with our food selections.  For dinner we were at the "Animators Palate".  What an amazing restaurant!  It was so exciting to watch the reactions of all the children!  That Crush  "The turtle from Finding Nemo"  actually converses with the guests at the table was so amazing.  The food again was amazing.
Day 4
We arrived at St Thomas!  We again went to the buffet for breakfast.  We had to be ready for our excursion at 9:30, so it was an early day.  Levi again helped us with our breakfast selections.  I tend to stick with omelets because I know that I will always like them.  My daughter tried the pancakes and she was not happy with them.  She makes pancakes at home using gluten free Bisquick with a little vanilla and some chocolate chips and they are very good.
Dinner was back in the "Enchanted Garden"
The cruise ship had Pirate night on this night and fireworks off the back of the ship!  What an amazing site!
Day 5
We were at sea.  The food was great and dinner was again in the "Royal Court"
Day 6
We arrived at Castaway Cay!  This is Disney's private island.  This is the only place that I did not feel handled our gluten free request as well as the other dining venues.  We ate off the same buffet line as others who may or may not be as careful as we are.  The corn on the cob (which we normally would have eaten) was right next to the hamburger buns.  If anyone had picked up a bun and a crumb fell off, we would have had cross contamination.  So we passed on foods that were near the food with gluten in them.  The BBQ'd Ribs were delicious and we did not get glutened!
Dinner was back in the "Animators Palate"  Again we were impressed with the technology that the dining room has!  We drew pictures and they animated them while we were dining.  Our pictures were dancing on the screens!!  Dont misunderstand, our drawings were not that great but we were very impressed with the technology!  Dinner again was amazing!
Day 7
We arrive back in Port Canaveral.

Things I learned about being gluten free on this cruise:
Try to find a chef and stick with that one chef!  If you are on the Disney Fantasy, please ask for Levi!  He did an amazing job meeting all of our dietary needs!  He was super friendly and very helpful!
Confirm that you are registered as gluten free when arriving on the ship.
Get cookies! The cookies are from http://omgitsglutenfree.com/
Relax and know that they are going to take care of your dietary needs!

Disney by far exceeded our expectations on everything . . . . . .except for the gluten free bread . . . . . yukk


Monday, July 23, 2012

This is how life should always be!

Happy Monday everyone!
What an amazing day today.  The weather was very hot but we had an evening rain which cooled things off.  Enough that my husband and I were able to go out walking!  It is the first time we have really walked for exercise in a long long time.  It was so nice to have that time together to plan for the future and talk about our concerns with each other. 
I made a new recipe for dinner tonight.   Mia's Domain | Real Food: Slow Roasted Smoked Paprika Molasses Pork Chops

I think it came out pretty good.  I prefer not so sweet so next time I make it I will probably cut down a little on the Molasses or the Honey.  I also think I will shorten the cooking time by 1/2 hour.  It seemed just a tad drier than I prefer.  I made this for my Husband, my daughter and her boyfriend.  They all agreed that they were a little dry.  I used pork chops that were about 1/2 inch thick.  So maybe if they were 1 inch thick the 3 hour cook time would have be better.

I love trying new recipes and look forward to trying more recipes for Mia's Domain!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Traveling paleo and gluten free!

So . . . . I have been traveling lots over the last few months.
We cruised with Princess cruise lines.  After we boarded the ship, I checked for when I could speak to the dining staff.  I went and met with the matride' and reviewed my dietary requirements.  I think it made dinner less worrisome as I knew how they handled special requirements.  They presented me the next nights menu at each dinner and I was able to select what I would like and they prepared it and or modified it so that I would be able to enjoy the meal!  I definitely did not stay on Paleo for the entire trip.  It is pretty unbelievable how quickly how non paleo food affects my digestion!  Princess cruise lines did an amazing job with the wait staff and dining requirements.  I have cruised a lot over my life and this is the first cruise that I have been on that I did not gain weight!  It is sooooo amazing.

In June we sailed with Carnival Cruise lines  and we pretty much handled it the same way.  I was definitely a little more concerned about them meeting my dietary requirements because it was Carnival.  But, I was pleasantly surprised!  I did not have a single meal that made me sick!  I think that it is partially because I am making better personal choices about my foods!  Again, no weight gain!
So we are in July now and I am 7 months into being gluten free and I am now down to 147 pounds!  It is so amazing to me how gluten affected my weight, I am sure poor food choices played a part as well.

I am going to start the 21 Day Total Transformation  by Robb Wolf on August 12th.  I have never been one to exercise much, this will be another big change for me. 

Some of my favorite blogs are
Against All Grain She has an amazing Bread!!!!
Every Day Paleo
Wheat Belly Wheat Belly is by Dr William Davis.  He has also written a book titled  Wheat Belly.
I definitely recommend this book.  It really will give you some insight into our foods, specifically grains.
I am constantly looking for recipes to try and I will try posting the ones that I really enjoyed!

Thanks for reading.  If anyone reading has any recommendations for the 21 day Total  Transformation please feel free to comment!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weight loss

I am down 24 pounds!!  I have been thriving on a gluten free diet!  I have never felt so good!  I have to say, I have made life a little simpler by adapting a PALEO diet.  I have found it is so much easier than searching list of ingredients in processed foods.   Some of my favorite blogs are http://www.marksdailyapple.com/#axzz1oT4RdPPA
I will keep adding awesome websites!
I will be traveling on Princess Cruise lines and will let you all know how my gluten free traveling goes!
Life is amazing and I am blessed to have such an amazing and supportive family  <3

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How it all began . . . .

As with most people with Celiac Disease my illness began many many years ago.
I was born with digestive problems, my Mom thought that maybe it was due to me being born 1 month late.  Shortly after I was born they discovered that I could not tolerate formula.  My Mom said that they were trying a new formula every couple of days, which must have been very expensive.  There was no WIC program available at that time, so my parents were having to pay for all this.  Many of the formulas that they tried were more than $4.00 per can!  Of course I was lactose intolerant which made the formulas even more expensive. 
I ended up hospitalized very shortly after my birth because I could not keep anything down or it went straight through me.  The nurses sent me home and my parents were advised to give me gingerale.  It was felt that I would be ok as long as they could maintain my weight.  My Mom said that someone recommended a doctor.  The doctor was Indian and had a recommendation that no one else had tried.  She recommended Kanana Banana Flakes.  My Mom said that the Kanana Banana flakes saved my life.  After a short time on the Kanana Banana Flakes I was able to keep down a Soy formula.  My health seemed to improve.  I appeared to be a healthy child.

At age 19 I began to have some serious digestive issues.  I had a lower GI done and was told that I had Ulcerative Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  I was back and forth to the doctors for months.  The doctor was discussing a Colostomy!  I knew that I would live with the discomfort and difficulties rather than go that far!  So I stopped going to the doctors and just adjusted my lifestyle so I could accomodate the frequent trips to the bathroom and just accepted that I was going to have abdominal pain.

I had 2 healthy children with a miscarriage in between them.  I breastfed both of my children.  Shortly after the birth of my second child I had to have a complete hysterectomy due to dermoid cysts which had regrown.   

At age 28 I began having heartburn nearly every day.  They did an Endoscopy and advised that I would need to take medication to repair the damage that was done to my esophogus due to the heartburn.  I took the medication and the heartburn improved and my esophagus healed which was confirmed with a second Endoscopy.

At age 35 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. 

So here I am at the current time in my life. . . . 45 years old, living with abdominal pain, frequent bowel movements, migraines, joint pain,  heartburn . . . . . . . not much fun.
I decided that I should head back to the doctor.  The doctor referred me to a Digestive Disease Specialist who suggested a Endoscopy and a Colonoscopy.  Those 2 tests were done on the 28th of December.  After the procedure the doctor advised me that he had removed a polyp and that he had taken a couple of biopsies.  He also advised me that I had a hiatal hernia.  At least it seemed like we were making progress.  On January 6th of this year the doctors office called and advised me that the intestinal biopsy showed that I had Celiac disease and that they wanted me to have some blood work done.  On the 9th of January I had my blood work done and began the task of researching what Celiac disease was.  I had never heard of Celiac disease and did not know what Celiac disease was, and my doctors appointment is not until the 31st of this month.  I am not one to wait and to be honest, I am tired of being sick!  So I researched treatments and found that I needed to eliminate gluten.  Seemed simple enough!  Boy was I wrong on that one!  I purchased 2 books, Wheat Belly and Celiac Disease for Dummies.  I read both of them and began the task of trying to understand what I could and could not eat.  I cleaned out my pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  We now have one shelf in the pantry that has food with gluten in it.  That way anyone preparing food in my kitchen will know what I can and can not have.  So far so good!  So eating at home has been fairly easy.  I have always loved vegetables and meals were pretty simple to adjust to with my new dietary requirements or restrictions depending on how you want to look at it.
Eating out . . . . that is another story altogether!  My first trip out to a restaurant was January 13th and the restaurant was a local mexican restaurant, I knew that I needed to ask  questions to be sure that what I was ordering was gluten free.  I asked lots and lots of question.  I asked so many questions that I was beginning to be concerned that I was embarrasing my husband, daughter and son-in law!  I knew that I did not want to be sick and that I had to be sure.  Well after much conversation with the server I placed my order.  I enjoyed the food and the company!  Within 1 hour of eating I was so sick.  It was such a disappointment.  I felt like I had asked all the right questions and made a good food selection.  Obviously not all restaurants take gluten free dietary requirements seriously.  I will not be going back to that restaurant any time soon!
I had a short cruise on the Disney Dream on the 19th and was very worried about how they would handle my dietary requirements.  I let them know and they did an amazing job!  I did not receive any gluten while on the ship!  They made it very easy and the food was very good (except for the rolls). 
Today is the 24th of January and I have been or tried to be gluten free for 14 days.  I have had my ups and downs.  Today I decided that I would have celery with peanut butter. . . . I made sure the peanut butter was gluten free. . . . . I did not think about having made sandwiches with that jar of peanut butter.  I definitely consumed some gluten!  I did not even think about cross contamination.  I will make sure not to do that again!  Now we have 2 jars of peanut butter.  One will be labeled for me so everyone will know not to contaminate it with gluten.

It would be so nice if there was a local support group to help with the initial questions!  But I have been unable to find one here.

I have subscribed to lots of blogs for Gluten Free and Celiac Disease and will be posting information about recipes that I have tried, ideas about how to feed a household that has many dietary requirements without making lots of extra work and hopefully how to save money on gluten free foods!
If anyone reading this has any suggestions please feel free to comment!  I need all the help I can get and hopefully I will be able to help others once I understand the disease more!

The name of my blog was suggested by my youngest daughter!  My maiden name was Pillsbury, she thought it would be a good play on words and I agree.  I am so blessed to have a wonderful and understanding husband, 2 amazing daughters and my Mom.  My Mom and my daughters all do a great job finding me recipes to try.  We will need to find a Pumpkin Cranberry Bread that is gluten free!  I think I will miss that the most.

Thank you for reading my first post and I look forward to updating it!