Monday, April 28, 2008

Lots of News

Oh my gosh. I have so much to post that I don't know where to begin. I will try not to ramble on! First of all, an update on my surgery. I had my six-week post op appointment with my surgeon this morning. More x-rays. Everything is healing well. My nerves seem to be healing and my "bad" days are fewer and farther between and not quite as "bad" as they were pre-op! My incision is healing well and I'm told it will be almost unnoticeable in a few more months. I really only have one complaint at this point. My throat still feels swollen inside, like a swollen tonsil or a "frog" in there when I swallow. It gets worse when I eat, especially hard or hot foods. My surgeon was not sure exactly why this would be happening this long after surgery. Apparently, most patients feel the swelling go away by 4-6 weeks. Perhaps I just take a little longer. In any case, I guess we'll just have to see if it improves on it's own. If not, it was suggested that I go see an ENT specialist. In the meantime, I'll just keep eating that cold ice cream! I've had to switch to "Skinny Cow Fat Free Fudge Bars" now that I'm back at Weight Watchers! My family and I finally went to dinner at KD's Fish Fry this weekend. Wow! I was so happy, I could hardly contain myself while I ate. I ordered the GF NE Clam Chowder, GF Fried Clam Strips, GF Onion Rings and for dessert, GF Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!!! I was totally in heaven and made a huge pig of myself. Their GF Menu is posted right along side their regular menu on the wall. Bless these people for caring about people with food allergies and for coming up with such wonderful food! The very best part was that the restaurant is clean and nicely decorated in nautical theme...I almost thought I was on the Cape...and my family loved their food as well. We will definitely be visiting again soon!!! Next time, I think I'll bring some of that cake home!!! I have been having so much fun emailing restaurants on the Cape and here at home to inquire about allergen information. I received a very nice response from Cooke's Seafood. They are located in Hyannis and Mashpee, MA. I had inquired about the hamburgers and other items on their menu. Below is there response. Thank you for your interest in Cooke's Seafood. Please excuse the lateness of this reply but our server was out for the last five days. As to questions regarding your dietary restrictions, we will be more than happy to accommodate your needs. Both menu items that you mentioned are possible as are a number of other grilled items (Grilled Salmon or Grilled Chicken Sandwich). Our lobsters are steamed in a commercial steamer in which only lobsters, corn and carrots are cooked. As you suggested the sandwiches can all be served minus the bread and our various broiled items without the crumbs and accompanying toast points. Please do keep in mind that cross contamination can occur as you pointed out but we will do our best to make your meal a pleasant experience. We look forward to serving you soon, The Owners and Staff of Cooke's Restaurants, Inc. I will keep posting restaurant information as I find out more...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gluten-Free Cape Cod, MA

Every year around February, I begin planning our summer vacation. It has been a long standing tradition in my family to visit Cape Cod, MA. I went every summer as a kid and I like to think of it as my second home. I have continued this tradition with my husband and daughter, even though my husband laments that he would like to visit other places at some point. I love the Cape for many reasons. The ocean (of course!), the quaint little villages, the shopping, the many, many family activities found there and of course, the restaurants.
For a good six months before vacation, I spend time googling places to stay, places to visit, making lists of things to pack, gazing at webcams, dreaming of that first day when I can stick my bare feet in the sand. Since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I have added emailing some of our favorite restaurants to find out if they are willing to give out allergen information for their menu items. Some restaurants reply by happily providing a list of items where no gluten ingredients have been added. Of course, there is always the disclaimer that cross-contamination may occur and that they can't always rely on their suppliers for complete allergen info. Other restaurants never reply at all. I'm guessing they probably don't want to be held responsible for making someone sick. I have even heard stories of restaurants who, upon finding out that someone has a food allergy, have refused to serve them. In any case, I have been able to find two Cape eateries that I will be visiting this summer.
BZ's Mexican Pizzeria - 682 Main Street, Dennisport, MA.
They advertise gluten-free pizza on their website. They even state that they have specially trained their staff about cross-contamination. You can bet I will try it!
Sundae School Ice Cream - 381 Lower County Rd., Dennisport, MA
They also have locations in Harwichport and East Orleans.
We visit here every summer and there is no place like it. Homemade ice cream, hot fudge, real whipped cream and a bing cherry on top! I received at email response to my request for allergen information this morning. As I suspected, all their ice creams are gluten-free, with the exception of those with mix-ins such as oreo cookies, brownies, etc. Also, cones are out. The ice creams and hot fudge are sweetened with corn syrup and there is only vanilla and sugar added in the whipped cream. Now, my disclaimer is that I didn't ask about whether the vanilla used in the whipped cream or the cocoa used in the fudge is gluten-free. If you are super gluten sensitive you would need to ask more questions along with asking for a clean scoop to be used. For my needs, this information is good enough. I'm lucky that I don't become seriously ill from ingesting a small amount of gluten.
As with any of us who are gluten-intolerant, we have to use our own judgement when dining out in restaurants. Lord knows, I have eaten more salads than I have in my entire lifetime since being diagnosed last year, simply because it's just easier. No croutons, no dressing, no blue cheese, has become my mantra.
I am also looking forward to visiting Trader Joe's. Since there are none of these stores in our area, it is always a special treat. This year, it will be especially fun to look for their gluten-free items. I plan on taking a small cooler just in case I find some goodies to buy on the last day of vacation to bring home. Hopefully, there will be room in the car.
Now, where's my flip-flops?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Websites/Blogs

I have been doing a lot of internet surfing this weekend (when I wasn't outside enjoying the beautiful, unseasonably warm weather!) and came across some new and old websites/blogs dealing with Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free living.
A good starter website for all you ever wanted to know about Celiac Disease is The Celiac Disease Resource, Inc., Albany, NY site at
There are also a couple of restaurants in the area serving gluten-free selections. I have not tried these places yet, but plan to very soon!!! The first is KD's Fish Fry in Saratoga, NY. They apparently serve gluten-free fish fry, french fries and other items. Their website is The second is Nunzio’s Pizza and Deli @ The Pink Store at 119 Clinton Street in Saratoga Springs, NY. Gluten-free pizza made-to-order. They do not have a website that I know of, but their phone number is 518-584-3840.
For more information on these establishments and more, see , a blog set up by a local blogger, former bakery owner, Suzanne Mangini, who now follows a gluten-free diet.
Happy reading!!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Accommodating Allergies

Since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease last November, I have become very aware of restaurants who are willing to accommodate persons with food allergies. Just about every restaurant will give you a salad without croutons or dressing, but I find there are few with actual "Gluten-Free" options. When I do find an establishment service GF items, I squeal with delight! For example, there is a wonderful little bakery on Hoosick Street (Route 7) in Brunswick, NY, called "Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe". It is run by a husband and wife team who, along with their kids, live gluten-free. Absolutely EVERYTHING in their restaurant is gluten-free. Pizza, pasta, cookies, breads, doughnuts...everything! They bake a gluten-free layered dessert bar (the kind with the M&M's on top) that is, in my opinion, to die for. Well, the only problem for me is that the cafe is a little far out of my way. Much to my surprise, I found that a natural foods store in Stuyvestant Plaza carries some of Sherry Lynn's baked goods, including her doughnuts, pizza and layered bars! Yes, that was an audible squeal you heard!
Which brings me to my next latest find. On our trip to Stuyvestant Plaza, I grabbed a container of Sherry's layered bars and headed over to the Starbuck's located a few storefronts down. With great joy in my heart, I ordered my decaf with skim and sat down and devoured my coffee and GF goodies! I have often wished that Starbuck's would offer some gluten-free options. I would also love them to make their allergen information available either on their website or in-store. Well, seems I am not the only one secretly wishing for this! While surfing my usual GF blogs and sites this morning, I found a new one. Celiac Chicks, which I will be listing among my favorites, contained a link to "My Starbuck's Ideas" where you can vote for all kinds of things. Among the brilliant ideas others have posted is one for GF goodies! So, if you can find it in your heart and have a couple of minutes to go through the account sign-up process (it's free), please vote for all of us who want to enjoy treats at Starbuck's!!! Thanks!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hired Help

I must admit that I am never one to spend money on things that I feel I can do myself. I guess you could call me frugal or a penny pincher or cheap or any other number of names. I'd rather save my money for things I feel are important like family vacations, pool memberships, clothing for my ever-growing daughter, not to mention my mounting medical bills. It's only been recently that I've begun to realize that I can't do everything around the house like I used to.
When we moved into our house two years ago, we decided to continue the lawn service that the previous owners had hired. It's really nice not to have to spread fertilizer, weed preventer and grub killer ourselves. It spares a lot of time lugging bags of poisonous stuff from the store into the garage every spring.
Since my surgery, I have also realized that some of the house cleaning chores are almost impossible for me to accomplish. I can no longer crouch in the shower to scrub the soap scum or push the vacuum over the carpets without hurting myself. Never before this time would I even consider hiring a maid service to do what I consider to be my job as a stay-at-home mom. I'm hear all day, what else am I going to do? Sit around, watch soaps and eat bon-bons? I don't watch soaps and I don't even know what a bon-bon is. Well, today I hired a maid service to come in every other week. Perhaps only until I feel I can manage the chores again myself.
I also determined that I am unable to paint the three bedrooms that desperately need painting. So, tomorrow I have a painter coming to give an estimate. I can't even imagine how that's going to go. Last fall, for fun, I got an estimate for the job. I nearly fainted when I saw the total. At that time, I decided the price was way too high and that I would paint the rooms myself in the spring. Who knew what was to come?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Back to Life

Since we didn't get to go anywhere for Easter this year. No Easter church service, no visiting family, no Easter egg hunts. My daughter didn't get to wear her Easter dress until yesterday. I couldn't resist taking pictures of her all pink and girly. Every day when I see her, she reminds me that life is wonderful and that I am so lucky to have her in my life.
This weekend I re-entered the land of the living with a bang. We were so busy all weekend, I barely had time to remember that I am still recovering from surgery. Shopping, dining out, shuttling our daughter to birthday parties, going to church for the first time in weeks and visiting family. It was all exhausting, but lots of fun. Things felt as though everything was back to normal. Well, at least as normal as possible.
I've been trying to ignore that my pre-surgery symptoms, the ones that led me to have surgery, have returned. The weakness in my arms and legs is back with a vengeance. The electric buzzing feeling began again this morning. I keep telling myself to be patient, that it's only been four weeks since surgery. I have been told that nerves take a long time to heal. That is if the nerve damage hasn't gone too far and they are going to heal. Patience!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Retail Therapy

Today was the first day that I actually went out by myself in the three weeks since my surgery. I got in the car, drove to CVS, did some retail therapy and drove back home. Aside from the occasional stares at my neck brace, it felt like things were getting back to normal. The nice thing was that those who did stare, smiled at me when I caught their glance. They were probably wondering if I was pulling an April Fool's joke!
The weather was wonderful for April 1st. It was 65 degrees according to my thermometer. I went for my walk around the neighborhood, although I'm not going as far as I did the first day out. I've learned that shorter distances don't make me quite so tired. As one of my friends who is recovering from surgery herself keeps reminding steps! Thanks L~ for all of your words of support.