What to Do When It’s Been Done to You

Okay, perhaps the title isn’t fair.  Sometimes we do it to ourselves.  Other times, we’ve been glutened.

I’ve spent so much time and energy focusing on how NOT to eat gluten that I’ve ignored a simple fact: It happens.  No matter how many wait staff you speak to, how many labels you read, or how many friends and relatives you educate about the weird thing your body does, there will be a time where you are glutened.  I remember vividly my last glutening, and it makes me feel so dumb: Thanksgiving.  I worked so hard to prepare an entirely gluten-free dinner for us and a friend.  I had slaved away, and I was so proud of the results.  After letting the main meal digest for a while, CB said to me, “I’ll go get dessert together. You sit.”  It was a sweet move because he had been running around to shops that morning, washing dishes whenever I bellowed, and working from home on top of it all.

So, you’re asking, if I worked so hard to be so careful, what was the problem?  Ice cream.  It was a rookie mistake, too.  Magnum ice cream bars are gluten-free and have quality ice cream and chocolate.  They had just come out with a tub version, with the chocolate in the core, and we thought it would be a nice addition to the cupcakes and cheesecake I made.  Only we made the assumption that it was gluten-free, and it was not.  Cue falling to my knees, demanding of the sky “WHY?!”  Or, mostly, just curling up in a ball in pain.

When I saw a post on Celiac and Allergy Adventures about what she does when she’s been glutened, I realised I’d never shared that part of the story.  I talk about how to get off gluten, how to look at labels, and how to make favourite foods without it, but I’ve never talked about what to do if (read: when) you find yourself glutened. I don’t hold all the secrets, but I do know what works for me.

  • One of the big things I’ve noticed that’s common among sufferers is: heat helps.  Heat inside and out.  Soup, hot (decaf! caffeine irritates the gut) tea, water bottles, and heating pads all seem to end up on the standard lists.
  • Lots of rest.  Your body will be using tons of energy to try to repair the damage.
  • Watch your intake of leafy vegetables.  They might provide good nutrients, but they can go straight through you when you have issues.
  • Watch your intake of seedy fruits (like strawberries).  These can irritate your gut, too, with the little seeds getting stuck in corners and pockets all over.
  • Sugar and caffeine all impede the process, so sodas are completely out.
  • Up your fibre intake.  Fibre is always a good thing, but it can especially help to push through the bad stuff you’ve eaten. Flax meal is my go-to for extra fibre.
  • If you don’t think you can tolerate solid foods, juice.  Buy juice, use a juicer, whatever you can.  Get plenty of the nutrients your body will be shunning during an attack.  If you use a fine-ground flax meal, you can mix it straight into your juice for an extra kick.

What do you do to help your body out?  Any tips or tricks?   Do you have the magic answer?


Both Chickens and Eggs are ‘Naturally Gluten-Free Foods’

Chicken egg

Don’t take my chocolate egg.

I don’t usually go sciency on my blog, but when Celiac Disease shows up in the NYTimes — and not mocking “designer illnesses” — my ears perk.  As a Celiac woman, I am aware of the possibility that I could pass my disease to my children.  I spend so much time thinking about how it affects me and how to cope with the day-to-day reality of such an illness that I don’t even know where to start when it comes to being able to safeguard, if at all possible, or how to discuss with a child that they can’t trade sandwiches with Tommy in the cafeteria.

This article, “Who Has the Guts for Gluten?”, doesn’t have the answer, but it does talk about current and past research on what causes Celiac. (Don’t read the comments.  If you suffer, you will find people who are going through the same things but moaning rather than empowering others or folks who tell you it’s all in your head; if you don’t suffer, you won’t find anything enlightening.)  The biggest take-away I got was the importance of a balanced gut.  I swear my life got a hundred times better when I found the right probiotic for my body (Bio-Kult, if you’re interested, which is gluten-free and vegetarian).

The article suggests that, with much of the research, there is a “the chicken or the egg” conundrum — namely, do poor levels of specific gut bacteria cause Celiac, or does Celiac create conditions where these bacteria die off?  They know that Celiac has genetic factors.  Having a Celiac parent raises your likelihood of also suffering from about 1% to almost 20%; two parents increases that number to 45%.  I’ve always been an egg girl, myself.  My not-a-scientist scientific knowledge suggests that a mutation has to occur in offspring.  Something near enough a chicken would have to lay an egg; the egg would hatch to a chicken, which would then produce more chicken eggs.  Even a small population of not-quite-chickens facing the same environmental conditions would produce the chicken eggs, thus insuring the new species would continue, for a while anyway.

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I don’t think the bacteria are actually chickens or eggs.  I think the bacteria are the environmental conditions which make something already in your body (the not-quite-chicken) begin to express symptoms (the egg).  When enough of the symptoms are present, it becomes diagnosed or otherwise acknowledged as Celiac (the chicken).  Once the chicken exists, it is hard to keep it from producing more eggs.  When the environmental conditions are right, lots of eggs are produced — the more eggs that hatch that look like chickens, the harder it is to say chickens don’t exist.

If you prevent the conditions, there are no eggs and no chickens.  The chicken never exists.  The not-quite-chicken is still there, but the evolution of that species just stops.  If they don’t ever lay chicken eggs, there are no symptoms.  If you know there is a genetic predisposition in a child for Celiac, work on boosting the good bacteria from birth.  Many probiotics are safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women.  I’m a firm believer that breast-feeding gives a child the best start possible, especially when considering the proteins and antibodies the mothers can pass to their children.  Keep the crap (We’re all guilty!) out of their mouths as long as possible, fuel them with good, whole foods, homemake their indulgences so you know exactly what is in them, and we can work toward wiping out the chicken population — metaphorically speaking, of course.

Back in Business and on a Roll

I’m back on the internet and back in the kitchen.  I feel like Freddie Mercury dancing around, singing, “Don’t stop me now!”

First of all, check out this awesome present I got from my sweet husband:

28 pieces of Pyrexy goodness

28 pieces of Pyrexy goodness

He ordered it online, and it arrived at my parents’ house the same day I did.  One of the pieces shattered in delivery, but it appears it was faulty packaging.  I didn’t want to take the chance of sending the whole thing back and getting another broken piece, so I opted for a partial refund.  Now I have a 27 piece set! I used nine of the pieces last night, on a whim, to make something I’ve been craving for weeks. I found a recipe online that looked good, but it was vegan.  I’m still not vegan.  I have no interest in going vegan ever again.  Once I started changing the vegan items for others, I started playing around more and more with the ingredients until it barely resembled where it started.  I think I must have said “Well, it’s an experiment anyway!” and “Oh, I hope this turns out well!” about 50 times as I was making it!

While they’re not the same as cinnamon rolls, these guys acted as my main inspiration:

And, yes, I do mean the ones that come in the plastic.

And, yes, I do mean the ones that come in the plastic.

I remember eating these bad boys with my dad.  I don’t think I have ever just taken a bite out of one.  I always had to peel it apart, layer by layer, until I got to the softest, most cinnamony part of the center. I don’t even know if pecan swirls actually have pecans in them because that’s sure not in my memory.  All I know is that, as I started to work on my dough in the kitchen last night with my father as my assistant, I couldn’t wait to pull apart some pastry.

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Ooey Gooey

Ooey Gooey


For the filling:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey powder (if you don’t have honey powder, substitute more brown sugar)
3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans, chopped and divided
dash of salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted

For the dough:
2 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour (if you mix your own, go for brown rice, tapioca, and potato starch)
3/4 cup sorghum flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and filled the measuring cup up to 1 1/2 cups with plain milk — I thought the lemon might be too sour in the dough — and let it sit for about 5 minutes), divided
7 tablespoons butter, divided and melted
Spray or extra butter for pan

For the icing:
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup icing sugar
Half of the chopped pecans from the filling mix
3 tablespoons buttermilk (from the dough division)

Large mixing bowl
Two small mixing bowls
Three small reserve bowls (milk, flour, butter)
Bowl or pan for melting butter
Pie dish or other round baking dish
Wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Microwave or stove for melting butter and heating milk
Knife, spoon, and fork
Parchment paper, cling film, or Press ‘N Seal Wrap (worked for me!)

Depending on how fast or slow you are in the kitchen, you can go ahead and preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C. I waited to start until I was kneading the dough to preheat because I’m slow.

Go ahead and measure out your vinegar and milk, if you don’t use buttermilk, and let it rest to the side.

For the filling, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, honey powder, cinnamon, half of the chopped pecans (1/8 cup or so), and salt in a small mixing bowl.  Stir together with a fork.  When you are sure it is combined, stir in 1 tablespoon melted butter.  When well-combined, it should look like wet sand.  Set aside.

Start on your dough by combining the all purpose flour and sorghum in the large bowl.  Measure out about 1/2 cup and put in a reserve bowl to the side.  Back in the big bowl, add in baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum and stir with the wooden spoon.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the milk mixture in a bowl and set aside.  Heat the remaining milk mixture in the microwave or on the stove.  You DO NOT want it boiling or steaming hot.  You only want it warm.  Slowly mix 3 tablespoons of melted butter into the warm milk.  Because the milk is warm, the butter should not curdle the milk and the milk should not congeal the butter back into solids.  Add the milk/butter mixture into the large mixing bowl, stir a few times, and add 2 1/2 more tablespoons of melted butter into the mix.  Stir with the wooden spoon until you can feel resistance and cannot see any lumps of flour (about 45 seconds for me).

Put down a layer of whatever paper you choose for your work surface. I used Press ‘N Seal wrap because it could “stick” to the surface and was thick enough that I could use it as a tool.  If you do use Press ‘N Seal, just make sure that the adhering side is DOWN; the smoother side should be facing up toward you.

Sprinkle about 3/4 of the reserved flour on the surface and dump your dough on top.  Yes, it is a lot of flour.  Yes, you will need it all. Begin working the dough with your hands and kneading in all the flour.  It will be very sticky, and you will probably think you’ve done something wrong.  Keep going!  Once you have integrated all the flour and you’re starting to notice it looking like a real dough, sprinkle the rest of the flour onto it and knead into the dough.

Once you have it all looking nice and like it might have a promising future as a pastry, spread or roll it out into a 10″x12″ rectangle.  If you want a lot of swirl with thinner sides, spread it a bit further than 10 inches, but maintain the 12 inch side. Take 1 tablespoon melted butter (if you’re doing the math, you should have 1/2 tablespoon left!) and spread it over the middle of the dough, all the way to the edges. Go back and get your filling mixture you made earlier and cover all but the very edges of the dough with it.  There is a lot.  I like it that way.  If you want a higher pastry to cinnamon ratio, use a bit less.  But, then, if you don’t like cinnamon, why are you making cinnamon rolls?

Now for the fun part.  It’s where I found the Press ‘N Seal saved the day.  I literally lifted the front and used it to roll the dough over on to itself.  If you are using a different surface, it may do the same thing. If your dough wants to stick, you might need a metal spatula to pry it up.  Once you have the first roll, lightly press down — you don’t want to mash it into the other side, but you do want it to know where it belongs.  Continuing rolling until you have a log.  If the dough splits open at the end, patch it up.  If it’s in the middle, it probably won’t matter.  Cut the log into eight 1 1/2″ slices — I actually cut some of mine thinner and thicker to make some crispy and some smooshy.  It’s up to you.  Arrange them in a circle around the pie dish, and then squish some in the middle, too.  Press down with your palm to spread them out enough to touch.  Brush with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter.

Bake for 24-25 minutes, but, as always, check on them before the timer goes.  You don’t want your hard work to burn because your oven is different than mine!

While they bake, mix up the icing. Whisk together the cream cheese, cinnamon, icing sugar, and buttermilk until it is combined.  I never remember to sift the icing sugar, so it took a little elbow grease to get the lumps out.  Stir in the chopped pecans.

When the rolls are done, let them sit for five minutes before icing them.  Use a spoon to drizzle as much or as little icing as you want. Do not, however, let your mother dunk her finger into the icing bowl. I would pour the whole bowl of icing over her cinnamon roll before I would let that happen!

Oh, and these guys are great the next day.  Store them in the fridge and pop one in the microwave for about 25 seconds to get it soft and warm again.  They are almost just as good.  Trust me, I just did it.

You can let your mother scrape up some of the cinnamon meltinessat the bottom of the pan.  She'll probably do it whether you allow it or not.

You can let your mother scrape up some of the cinnamon meltiness
at the bottom of the pan. She’ll probably do it whether you allow it or not.