The “R” Word


According to Ali G it is Respek.  According to another IBD blogger, Mary Claire, it would be Resiliency.  For me it is bigger then both of those words put together.  This week, I heard the “R” word officially for the first time since getting Crohn’s Disease…Remission.  My colonoscopy was back in February and I knew I was healed more than the previous year.  Sadly the pictures didn’t save so I couldn’t actually see the results.  This week was my first appointment with my GI since then.  After a little chit-chat and a quick exam, he went on his computer, pulled up the scope results, and mentioned how there was no Crohn’s activity and that I was in remission.Happy

Needless to say I was a little shocked.  I knew I was doing well.  I don’t show many symptoms these days.  I didn’t know I was completely in remission though.  I was so happy.  But like all things, the moment has now passed.  Of course, I am still happy, but just because the Crohn’s is in remission, doesn’t mean I still don’t get symptoms.  Because this is such a nasty disease, even if my intestines are healed, I can still show signs of the damn disease.

The first sign is my joint pains.  Both my knees and my knuckles get bad arthritic pain at times.  Then there are the mouth sores that come on at any given time.  Next are the skin problems like rashes and pimples.  The list can go on and on.

But what does remission mean..to me.  Well, it actually means a lot to me.  For the first time in a long time, my medicine is working.  After years of throwing poisonous medicine into my body without any results, I switched over to a non-conventional drug.  2 years after starting the med, I am in remission.  I would say it is working perfectly and scientist really need to start studying the role Naltrexone can play in IBD.  Another great thing in all this is that my doctor is also convinced that LDN works and might start giving it to other patients.  I was his first and his guinea pig.  I would say the test has been successful.

Another thing this means to me is that diet does in fact play a role in IBD.  For years I ate what I wanted and never healed up.  Along with the change in meds, I also went gluten-free.  It has been a bumpy road in my gluten-free journey and I really have to fight some cravings every now and then.   But ultimately it really has helped in my healing process.

Now, please just know, I am not saying that if everyone took LDN and went GF that they would achieve remission.  Everyone is different.  What works for one person not might work for someone else.  My results may not be typical.  I don’t know since there are no studies showing a correlation.  So please, don’t stop your current therapies to try mine just because I got results.  Whatever you are doing might give you the results you need.  If you are not there yet, be patient.

So for now I will sit back and enjoy what this word means to me because I know like so many others know…that this feeling can go away at any minute.

Advertisements

What’s Your Trigger


Lately I have been thinking about how lucky I am in the food categories, compared to many others with IBD.  I see people on TPN or liquid diets and think, “Well, at least I can eat solid food”.    Even though I have some restrictions, every day I feel like I am lucky to be in the position I am in.

But today, I really thought about it and I have started to question, “Am I really lucky”.  After my major flare, eggs which were a safe food for me became an enemy.  So did bananas.  I also realized that gluten products were not helping me to get well.  I went gluten-free and cut out eggs.  But, cravings would hit.  I found the egg issue was a big one.  After talking to others with digestive issues, I found out about Papaya Enzymes.  I started taking them every time I ate eggs and they really helped.  I would get no pain, wouldn’t have to rush to the bathroom 10 times a day and my outlook on food changed.

But now, there is a shift in my life.  I take 5 enzyme pills when I eat eggs (bottle recommends 2-3).  They used to help but now lately I have been getting some pains when I eat eggs.  I know that means my body is adjusting to the pills and the efficiency of them is diminishing.  Along with eggs, salad has now also become an issue.  I used to be fine with any leafy vegetable.  But now within less than an hour it runs its course and comes out almost as fast as it goes in.  Slowly, my dietary choices are getting slim.  I am back to trying to lose weight so I have to watch what I eat and my choices are shrinking.

So I was sitting here this morning, eating scrambled eggs and thinking, am I still lucky.  As many of you know, I love food.  I enjoy the flavors and smells.  I love the entire experience surrounding food.  I don’t feel I can survive on a very strict diet but that is where I am heading.  Things I onced love to indulge in I can no longer eat.  It has been almost 2 years since I had a slice of NY pizza or a bagel, chinese dumplings or pastries.  So many foods that I took for granted I might never eat again.  And that scares me.  I am trying not to feel depressed over this but it is hard.  I went to school originally to be a chef and I work in the hospitality industry.  I buy food every day for work.  It is my life.  To look at a bounty of great looking food and know that I can’t touch it really saddens me.

Some of you might think this is self pity, and part of it is.  I know there are others worse off than me.  But most people don’t realize just what food means to me.  It isn’t just a nutritional, life sustaining thing.  It is a way of life and is a part of mine.  I feel like today, a part of me has died. 

So where does this leave me know.  I am still struggling with my weight and trying to eat healthier.  I am trying to diet.  But this latest development hurt things.  But I can’t give in and I won’t.  I am done with excuses.  I will find a way to get to my goal and overcome my obstacle.  Hopefully, my passion for food will rise like the phoenix and renew itself.  There are so many new foods out there to try.  It might be time to explore options and see just what my diseased body can handle.

And worst case…as I am sure a friend of mine might suggest…there are always gummy bears to live off of.  But that, is another story.

Gluten Free Rant


I went out to eat this weekend and something jumped into my head that really got me thinking.  Many restaurants are now serving gluten-free meals.  They recognize there is a big issue out there and they are now catering to the many people out there that can’t or won’t eat gluten.  I like that.  I am happy for that.

I work in the hospitality industry.  Maybe one day I will own my own restaurant.  What I know is that when you open a restaurant and create a menu, you can’t keep that same menu forever.  You have to change it over time to keep up with trends and what the customers want.  Many restaurants do this and are now moving to keep up with the gluten-free movement.  This is a good move on their part.  There are even gluten-free restaurants which I think is great.

Now, here is my rant.  I went into a big national chain restaurant (who will remain nameless) and they had a gluten free menu.  I loved it because items I thought had gluten in them on the regular menu turned out to be gluten-free.  I placed my order (my wife ordered from the regular menu) and then they brought out the bread.  Before I went GF I loved their bread.  Now, I looked at it and drooled knowing I can’t touch it.   On another day I was in a diner and again, the bread basket comes out with delicious looking items.

With this big push to be Gluten Free sensitive the one thing that hasn’t really changed is the bread basket.  As anyone on a GF diet knows, this item is a major no-no.   Bread is a big component of gluten.  So why isn’t anyone focusing on this item.  This is one item to change very easily.  There are tons of GF breads and rolls out there.  There are GF bread sticks and crackers.  Why can’t restaurants include these items for us GF customers.  Why are we forced to either drool over the regular bread baskets or sit there alone.    Now, I am not asking these restaurants to make their own.  I know there are many places that are real small and don’t have the kitchen space.  I am fine with that.  But you can buy them and put them in their own basket for us GF dieters.

What also gets me is in the chain restaurant they at least asked if we wanted the bread.  In many places they don’t ask. I know first hand bread costs have gone up.  If they would stop bringing out the bread automatically they would probably save money which they can spend on the GF bread.

Eating out in a restaurant should be an enjoyable experience.  I used to love going out to different places.  Since going GF I enjoy it less and my selection of restaurants have decreased.  Being teased at a restaurant makes the experience even worse.

Ok, rant over.  And now I want a slice of bread.

Gluten Free Beef Stew


It’s been awhile since I said I would post recipes so, here is another gluten-free recipe which is pretty IBD friendly..or at least for some IBDers.

Being that the temperature has been in the 20’s and I have been freezing my butt off lately, I wanted something that would be satisfying and warm me up.  I was getting tired of my usual weekly menu and needed a change.  When I was online one day, I saw a recipe for beef stew for a crock pot and I thought, I don’t have a crock pot but I can still make the stew.  So, I went out shopping, got the ingredients, and made way to much stew.  But is was so worth it because it was soooo good.  And the cold will be around for a while so I have meals for another day.

Now, for the recipe, I didn’t measure out anything and it made about 8 servings.  This is a dish that exact measurements aren’t needed and you can add whatever you want.

SAMSUNG

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb cubed steak
  • 3 Carrots – peeled and rough chopped
  • 6 Celery Stalks – rough chopped
  • 1 Parsnip – peeled and rough chopped
  • 2 Large Potatoes – peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 Onion – peeled and rough chopped (pearl onions work well also and require no prep)
  • 1/2 Frozen Peas
  • 64 oz Beef Broth
  • 2 cans Diced Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Gluten Free Flour or Corn Starch SAMSUNGSAMSUNG

Take your steak and coat in either the corn starch or flour.  I decided to use flour just out of personal preference.  Heat oil in a large stock pot and sear off meat.  You don’t want to cook the meat all the way through, just brown it.  You are sear it to seal in the juices.  Also, you can do this in batches if the pot isn’t large enough.

SAMSUNGSAMSUNGAfter the meat is browned and removed from pot, add onions and more oil if needed.  Saute the onions until soft and translucent.  If you are using pearl onions, do not do this step.  They will be added at the end.

SAMSUNGSAMSUNGWhen the onions are done, add some flour to make a roux.  Cook this for a couple of minutes until the roux starts to brown.  Add carrots, celery, parsnip, potatoes, beef, and stock.  Stir well.  Add any seasoning you like.  They can be fresh or dried.  I added some basil, oregano and salt.  Again this is to your preference.   Bring the stew to a boil.

SAMSUNGSAMSUNGWhen it boils, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let cook for about 1 1/2 hours.  When the stew is done, add the canned tomatoes and peas.  If you are using pearl onions, add them also.  Bring back to a boil and remove from heat.  If the stew is still thin and not to your desired thickness, make a cornstarch slurry to add to it to thicken it up.  Serve with some nice crusty bread.

SAMSUNG

Gluten Free Restaurant Review – New York City


This past week I had the chance to visit 2 restaurants in New York City that are known for being Gluten Free friendly.  One I was so so on, the other I can’t wait to go back to.

S’MAC 

The first restaurant I went to was S’Mac which is short for Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese.  As you can guess, they specialize in Mac & Cheese.  They have both gluten-free and regular pasta.  The bread crumbs and flour used are gluten-free and if your lactose intolerant, they can use a coconut milk.

First I want to start off saying that I knew this wasn’t a gourmet restaurant.  It is a quick service restaurant.  The food however is made to order since it is custom-made to how you want it.

I am not a big Mac & Cheese eater, but my wife is.  This was for her birthday so I didn’t mind trying it.  Overall, I wasn’t that impressed.  I thought all the pasta and sauces would be made already so all they had to do was mix everything together and heat it up.  However, it took quite a long time from placing our order to getting it.  Once we did get our meal, they were both ice cold to the point that I got the impression they were being cooked from a frozen state.  They were more than happy to heat it some more.  Again, I had to send it back a second time due to heat issues.  Once it was finally hot enough to eat, it wasn’t bad.

My other issues, and this is probably what caused our heat issues, was that it seems like there was recently a shift change and a lot of the off duty employees were hanging out and talking with the employees that were working.  The current employees seemed to be preoccupied which is why our meal was probably cold.

One bright side is when I posted all this onto their Facebook page, Sarita answered back pretty quickly and said she would talk with the manager.  I would give her the benefit of the doubt and try it again one day.  Overall, I would give this place 3 out of 5 stars.

Risotteria

This place I have wanted to go to since I went Gluten Free.  It has really great reviews and almost everything here is gluten-free.  Their main specialty is risotto and most of the risotto dishes are GF.  They also have some salads, pizza’s both GF and regular, and panini’s, also GF and regular.  The meal starts with some homemade GF bread sticks which I thought were excellent.  I wanted to try the risotto but since I was there for brunch, I went with a panini.

Besides the main meals, they have a complete GF dessert menu.  For drinks they also have a selection of gluten-free beers.  Everything here that we had was excellent.  The place is small and can only accommodate 20 people, but that was fine with me.  We got there when it opened so we didn’t have to wait.

Overall, I loved everything here and can’t wait to go back again.  It definitely lived up to all the reviews I read.  On top of everything, they also sell their mixes, breads and desserts.  I was tempted to buy some but I decided to wait until next time.  I would give this place 5 stars out of 5.

Since going Gluten Free, my biggest concern has been eating out.  I find most restaurants are not GF friendly.  This was the first time I went out and didn’t worry about the food at all.  It was nice not to have to worry if I will feel sick after eating.  So, if you are ever in New York City and you need a gluten-free meal, check these places out.

Chicken Soup – Not Just Good For The Soul


Yesterday started Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week and what happens…I get sick.  Ok, it is just a cold, but still feel like crap.  The weather has cooled down a lot and I am constantly feeling cold now.  So what better thing to do then to make some nice hot chicken soup.  Recently someone asked me how to make it.  I sent them my recipe and now that I am making it I figured, let me take some pictures and share the recipe with you.

I know a lot of Crohnies like soup for when they aren’t feeling well and it helps to settle a stomach and rehydrate you.  Also, I grew up hearing it called Jewish Penicillin so how bad can it be for you.  The great thing about this soup is that it is naturally Gluten Free so I don’t have to worry about that.

So, without further delay, here is my chicken soup:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Stalks of Celery
  • 1 Turnip
  • 1 Parsnip
  • 1 Onion
  • Fresh Herbs
  1. Take chicken and wash it off.  But into 1/4 ers and place in large soup pot.
  2. Peel carrots and parsnip.  Place into pot.  Trim celery and turnip and add to pot.  Peel onion and slice into 1/4ers.  Add to pot.
  3. Add any fresh herbs that you like.  Some ideas are thyme, marjoram, oregano, parsley, basil and rosemary.
  4. Fill pot with water and cover.
  5. Place onto medium heat until water boils.
  6. When water boils, add 2 tsp of chicken bouillon (I use the loose instead of cubes).
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an hour.
  8. When done, turn off heat.  Remove chicken to a plate. Remove any vegetables you don’t want to serve with the soup to a bowl.  Drain any soup in the bowl with the vegetable and discard the veggies.  Drain any soup from chicken.
  9. Serve.

Now how you serve it is all up to you.  I take my chicken and back it off with some spices.  As for the soup, I make some gluten free pasta and serve the soup with that.  I keep the carrots only.  Some ideas are to add rice to the soup, chop up the chicken and add that back, or even make some matzoh balls for a traditional jewish soup.

Use a fresh clean chicken

Use a fresh clean chicken

1/4ered chicken

1/4ered chicken

Veggies...yum

Veggies…yum

Cut up veggies and chicken in pot

Cut up veggies and chicken in pot

Add Water

Add Water

Finished Soup

Finished Soup

Soup without all the veggies

Soup without all the veggies

Soup without all the veggies

Soup without all the veggies

 

Finished product with Gluten Free pasta noodles.

Finished product with Gluten Free pasta noodles.

 

Follow Friday for Oct 19th


This has been a busy week for me.  Three blogs in one week..wow.  I was going to hold off on this one, but I felt like I wanted to put down what was fresh in my mind.

Last night,  I had the pleasure of being in a focus group for a brand new website.  It is still in its infacy and still trying to improve itself.  But from what I see of it, it will go far.  The website I had the honor to advise on is www.meddik.com.  If you visit this right now, please please please remember that it is still being tested out so if you have problems let them know and give them some time to improve.

The site right now is based on people with Crohn’s, Colitis, and Celiac disease.  But, anyone with any medical condition can go on it.  There are posts from people with these diseases looking for help and advice.  You can ask questions or answer others.  One feature of theirs right now is that everyone for the most part is anonymous.  That was one of the features we discused in the group and this might change.

One good article about this site was written here http://mashable.com/2012/05/29/meddik-video/.   Lauren Hockenson talked with the co-founder Tim Soo and I thought this article best explains the site better than I could.  I got to meet Tim last night and he is a really outgoing overall nice guy.

Now I know there are a lot of sites out there to get info and many more social sites.  What will make this site different and better is that it will kind of work like Google.  It will find results based on your preferences.  You can filter what your needs are and it will find results that are like you and others that are realted in a sense.  Do if you put a filter to look for Crohn’s Disease, it will pull and show you posts for CD.  It will also find ones for IBD, Colitis, etc but …it will let you know how many finds are for your direct filter and how many are sort of related.

So, go check them out and let them know how you like it.  If you really have strong feelings on how to help them, you can email me and I will forward it to them.  Sometimes emails are better than a message on a website.