Heading to the Races: Gluten Free Style

17 05 2011

This past weekend was one of my favorite all time races:  REV3 Knoxville.  I did not one but THREE posts about this race last year, you can find them here.  This year I was not racing ( boo), but my husband was and a lot of my fantastic Trakkers/REV3 teammates were going to be there so it was still well worth the 6 hour drive!

Kier and I showing our non-racing excitement! (photo by Joel @trimadness)

Speaking of driving, eating gluten free on the road is not an easy task!  For this trip I used timing – I ate a big meal at home (gluten free pasta) and brought some small snacks – apples, gluten free pretzels and lots of water, for the road.  Once we arrived we went to – PF Chang’s.  (in my head every time I say the name PF Chang’s heavenly music plays)  There’s a whole post of it’s own about PF Chang’s and I’m pretty sure it’s going to include poetry about their yummy food, but we’ll save that for another day.    If I have to eat on the road and I’m headed to the races (going light on the fiber and salads) my go-to food is a Wendy’s baked potato.

IF I was racing for the weekend here are the gluten free accommodations I would make:

  • Do not, under any circumstances plan to live off the course.  (my stomach is really sensitive to sports drinks)  The only thing going in my body on race day is what I have brought along.
  • What do I bring along?  First Endurance  Again, I have several posts about their products – look them up and read more about them.
  • Bring along post race food.  Even if they have yummy fruit that looks wonderful, I have witnessed the fruit being cut by the same big knife that just cut 6,000 bagels.  Not good.
  • I tried bringing a snickers bar one time.  I ended up drinking a melted snicker’s bar and sick from all the sugar.  So, here are my two go-to bars (after I have my First Endurance Ultragen recovery shake) Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Kind Bars and any kind of Think Thin Crunch (although my favorite is the Carmel Chocolate Dipped)

When I’m not racing (often I am working timing for an event) I pretty much live off a cooler of fruit, some UDI’s Gluten Free bagels for breakfast and lots and lots of Think Thin and Kind bars.  For the REV3 Quassy weekend, which I will be working from Thursday night through Monday morning I have already started stockpiling my bars!!

Going Gluten Free as an Athlete

13 01 2011

Joshua asked about tips for going gluten free so I thought I would share a little perspective on being gluten free and an endurance athlete.  If one was just a normal (sane) person that wasn’t putting in 8 – 17 hours a week of endurance training it might be a little different being gluten free.  Fruits, veggies and meats – all gluten free.  Even the processed gluten free stuff might be more alright for those that aren’t as worried about body composition and creating a lean mean running/biking and swimming machine!

I try to include as many high quality grains into my diet as possible.  In the morning I have Bob’s Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal which has sourgum, rice, corn and buckwheat.  I eat lots of fruits all day for good carbs, but also have brown rice, quinoa, and different gluten free pastas that are mixes of brown rice, corn and quinoa.    I read each and every label on every item I eat.  Seriously.  Not only is gluten hidden in all kinds of stuff, but so is all kinds of yucky crap my body doesn’t need.

So, how do you implement a gluten free diet and how in the world do you know if it’s right for you?  Robert at First Endurance has a great program on the Team First Endurance site. His program is centered on a race, I would recommend you try the program out before a race.  The other thing I would do is double the gluten free days, keeping the eating gluten days to 7.   He has a ton of good information on his site (and support too) about going gluten free.   And, his products are a major staple in my gluten free athletic life.

When I first went gluten free I didn’t think it was working.  I went about 2 weeks and decided it was too hard and thought I wasn’t feeling any better.  That was until I went back to eating gluten.  I don’t think I fully realized how bad I had felt until I had 2 weeks off gluten, then went back on.  So many symptoms that I had not linked to the gluten – the biggest being regularly scheduled migraines, achey joints and eczema.    It’s certainly not an easy diet to follow in our world of fast food burgers, oreo cookies etc – but I am so much healthier beyond even the gluten – I don’t eat fried food any more.  If I do drive through I am getting a plain baked potato.  Fruit has replaced bars and crackers.

So, there you have  it, feel free to email me with any specific questions about going gluten free or living the gluten free lifestyle.

The North Pole Goes Gluten Free

8 12 2010

12-11-2010 UPDATE #2 – the contest is up!  You can vote once a day (by leaving a comment on the blog) vote often and vote for mine!  (hint, you can clearly see the North Pole sign on my houses!)

12-11-2010 UPDATE – the contest isn’t up yet, thank you all who have offered to vote!  I’ll update as soon as it’s live!

Around noon today I realized I HAD to iron a bunch of my husband’s pants.  Not because he expects it.  Not because he can’t do it himself.  Mostly because I was going to be embarrassed if everybody got home from school/ work this evening and the ONLY thing I did today was make a ginger bread house.

Most people picture a nice little house that comes from a kit and tastes like cardboard when they think gingerbread house.  Not in this house.  First you have to find a gluten free gingerbread cookie recipe.  (preferably one that tastes good!)  I found my recipe from last year that worked great at Only Sometimes Clever.  I cut my own (only partially fitting) template and whipped up enough Royal Icing to glue ANYTHING together!  

With two houses of somewhat equal size I decided to GO BIG this year and make our very own North Pole.  After raiding the candy isle of 3 different stores we I was ready to go!   I have to admit here that while the kids were at school and my hubby was at work I really spent my entire day (minus the time spent ironing pants) working on my Gluten Free North Pole.  And it – was fun.  I even let the kids help when they got home from school!

Now I might be a weeee bit over the top, but not only was it so much fun, but it has the potential to WIN ME STUFF!  I might be a tad bit competitive, so that might just have been a bit of a motivator to make it all just right.  The contest is at one of my favorite gluten free blogs, Cook it Allergy Free.  The winner gets an Ipod touch, so it’s no small contest!  So my blog friends, check out the masterpiece and beginning Friday please, please go to the blog and VOTE FORE ME!!!  (or more importantly vote for Santa and his gluten free village : )


The Elves' Toy Factory (those are little gingerbread elves on the walk way)

The frozen pond out front w/ Elves skating and Santa's sleigh in the back - it's even filled with presents!

Casa Santa and Mrs. Clause (you can see Rudolph hanging out behind the house)

Mrs. Clause getting the mail

The whole shebang! Santa and Mrs. Clause go Gluten Free : )

It’s the little things . . .

22 11 2010

It’s odd to me how emotional food (or eating) has become since being diagnosed with Celiac in 2004.  I would almost classify myself as a food hoarder now.  Want to reduce me to tears – go ahead and eat the last of any of my gluten free foods.   After I finish crying you’d better hide.  Seriously.

And then there’s the wacky emotion surrounding finding new and yummy gluten free foods.  I get down right giddy when biting into a gluten free bagel that doesn’t taste like a rock, or euphoric when baking delish gluten free cookies.  I have issues.

We have all but given up dining out since we put my son on a gluten free diet this year.  I can navigate a regular menu pretty easily by getting a plain salad anywhere, but tell an 8  year old that he has to sit and watch his 11 year old sister eat yummy buttery yeast rolls while he noshes on plain salad – not so much.  And then there was Vitos.


Hello happiness.  We went out for pizza this weekend.  And it was gluten free.  And it was sooooo good.  Mine had ricotta cheese, spinach, panchetta (sp?) and mozzarella cheese and garlic.  And I didn’t have to spend the day mixing crust and making pizza.   Did I mention it was good?

My sweet son was chosen to have “pizza with the principal” (his teacher gets to choose 2 kids per 6 weeks) today.  I told him I would bring him in a gluten free pizza to which he said “Can you get me a 12 inch cheese take out from Vito’s”  No, not at 10:45 in the morning, but it just warms my heart that he has the chance to feel a little more normal with the option of real take out pizza.  As I said, I have issues, but that’s ok, that’s what running is for right?


Product Review: King Arthur’s Flour Gluten Free Pancake Mix

3 08 2010

OH MY GOSH.  I think I might have just managed to find 10 more lbs. to put on this summer.  I grabbed a box of King Arthur’s Flour Gluten Free Pancake mix at the store last week and after a good and sweaty morning run I decided to try the new mix out.

I used oil rather than butter, mainly because I”m lazy about melting the butter.   After I finished mixing the milk, eggs and butter I took one look at the mix and thought UH-oh, runny pancake disaster.  I take my pancakes pretty seriously and for me flat and heavy gluten free flops won’t cut it.  I’ve tried just about every gluten free mix out there and so far have only found acceptable mixes.  I have found heavenly recipes, but lets face it- I’m lazy and don’t want to cook pancakes from scratch every time!

Back to my runny mix.  I was about to ditch the whole effort when I actually read the directions.  Yep, me – reading directions.  Miracles happen.  Low and behold – let the mix sit for 10 min. to thicken is #3.  Woo hoo, we’re in business!  They cooked up beautifully with no funny flakes or weird coloring.  Seems silly to note, but since I’m trying to convince an 11 year old who is NOT gluten free that these are just like glutenous pancakes the little details are important.

I wish I were witty and could make up cool new words because there aren’t words for me to describe how amazingly spectacular I thought these pancakes are!!  They were light, fluffy, golden – and OH MY GOSH they tasted yummy with a little butter and syrup!!!  We will be ditching all other pancake mixes from here on.  Next up:  King Arthur’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust!  I can’t wait!!!!

The Half Gluten Free Family

14 07 2010

I would love some feedback from any gluten free blog readers out there with a problem I have been having with the family.  My son and I are gluten free.  Both my necessity, neither by choice.  My son went gluten free this year and has done great at not eating anything he isn’t sure about, letting others know he is on a gluten free diet and for the most part not complaining about being gluten free.

My husband and daughter aren’t gluten free.  They both have a huge aversion to the taste of gluten free items and aren’t afraid to share their feeling about the gluten free yucky foods.  On the one hand life would be much, much easier if everyone in the house was gluten free.  We have separate pans, bowls and even quesadea makers.   It is a huge pain.  On the other hand it’s so much more expensive to buy gluten free things and lets face it, things do taste different – and not always good different.  If  I didn’t have to eat the funky stuff, I don’t think I would want to.

Here is the issue, my son – who is a great sport about the gluten free life gets upset when my daughter gets yummy treats like farmer’s market fresh doughnuts, that he can’t eat.  My daughter loves to bake goodies, most of which we can’t eat.  Fine with me – goodies in the house is just extra temptation in my mind, but in the mind of an 8 year old it’s just torture.

Moving along to my daughter.  Any time I insist on making the whole family eat gluten free (like when I make pasta) she gets upset and pouts.  Her favorite restaurant is one that has nothing my son and I can eat.  She gets upset that she never gets to go to her favorite restaurant and in her 11 year old mind can’t understand how crappy it feels for my son and I to sit and watch everyone else eat yummy food that is off limits for us.

I’m just plain worn out from trying to make both sides happy.  Help!

Product Review: EFS Liquid Shot

14 04 2010

Hi, my name is Kati and I have a liquid shot problem.  I have never been a gel eater.  Even at mile 9 of a half marathon, running out of energy with no other nutrition available.  I just can’t do it.  For the last few years I have used different gummy versions of gels, Luna Moons, Shot Blox and Carbboom chews.  They worked just fine, but it’s not all that pleasant to have to chew them up with a dry mouth while you are panting. 

When our mama bear told us that using First Endurance  products was part of our sponsorship deal I was a bit nervous.   Celiac makes my stomach finicky to put it mildly.  My first interaction with First Endurance was when I emailed Carole (our mama bear who is responsible for making our team, well, awesome) asking if the First Endurance product was gluten free.  I didn’t get a response back from Carole, I got an email directly from Robert Kunz, the co-founder of First Endurance.  He assured me all products are gluten free.  Simply Awesome!

I decided to give liquid shot a try, assuming my husband would probably be the one to use it.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Liquid shot is not a gel.  From the First Endurance website:

It’s called a liquid shot because it doesn’t contain gelling agents that can slow down absorption and digestion. Features include our exclusive 400-calorie supercharged endurance formula that boasts over 1500mg electrolytes, 1000mg amino acids and 100 grams of simple & complex carbohydrates, all in clinically effective doses.

When refrigerated Liquid Shot has the consistency of hot fudge topping.  BUT instead of fudge, it’s my favoritest flavor – VANILLA.   I love, love, love vanilla.  I was a little nervous to use it warm after sitting in my pocket for an hour.  Turns out I like it even more then.  Warm it has the consistency of  Hershey’s syrup.  This stuff  is like candy to me.

Usage:  I use my liquid shot in 1 oz. servings which end up being 100 calories.  On a long bike I take 1 oz. per hour, along with drinking a third to one half of my 200 calorie EFS drink.   When I hit the run I take a flask and sip on the liquid shot every 15 to 20 min., coming out to about 75 calories per hour.   That is, in a nutshell all there is to my half ironman nutrition.  It’s so easy, which is of course what makes it work.

Now I must admit to my other uses of liquid shot.  When kept cool in the fridge, liquid shot is almost like icing to me, but not as horribly sweet.   My husband, who I thought would be the one to use all my liquid shot doesn’t like it.   Seems he’s more of a chocolate guy, and prefers the gel consistency.  He walked in the kitchen one Sat. afternoon to find me with a serving spoon full of liquid shot half eaten.  Busted.  Then last night I was baking cookies for my JMU tri club kids that are leaving for Nationals today.  Those cookies smelled SOOOOO good, but alas they were filled with gluten so they were off limits for me.  With no other sweet and yummy treats I got out my serving spoon . . . I think I might be developing a bit of a liquid shot problem! 

I would like to again point out that First Endurance is one of my sponsors.  They provide a discount on their products to me.   I will also say that if I didn’t like it, and wouldn’t buy it at full price without sponsorship I wouldn’t be reviewing it here.

I’m having a week . . . So I’ll give something away!

26 03 2010

I feel like I’m having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week.  I’ll be waiting for someone to comment with the appropriate response to that!  In fact, how about I give away a flask of EFS Liquid Shot to the first follower (you need to be a blog follower – see the button on the bottom right of the page) that leaves me the correct response!

Anyhow, my tweet last night:  Do you ever have those days or weeks when you just don’t feel like an athlete?  says it all.   First I missed my time goal by one minute on Sunday.   I’m the type of person that would rather blow up and be 10 min. off  than to miss by 1 min.  It’s like 4th place.  I hate 4th place.  I know – silly, but it’s just how my wacky brain works.

I followed that up by returning home to stomach trouble.   I can’t seem to bounce back from my gluten incident like I normally do.   Yesterday I was still down and out.  That gives me a whopping total of 1:45 on the bike this week.  That’s it.  No running, no swimming – just one hour and forty five min. on the bike.  Eek!

I have put myself on a modified BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) diet.  I had a bottle of EFS drink for breakfast (I really need the fluids and electrolytes at this point), and a banana.  If that settles things a bit I will upgrade to another bottle of EFS and some plain rice for lunch.  I am staying away from toast because the only gluten free bread I have in the house is full of nuts and other normally yummy things that will NOT be good right now.

I should probably be skipping my coffee but that would definitely make it a terrible horrible very bad day for everyone around me too, so for now we’ll just take it one cup at a time!

Celiac Sucks

25 03 2010

On a day to day basis I am able to tell myself that there are things much worse than having celiac disease.  In general I believe that my celiac diagnosis led me to some major positive lifestyle changes, and led my family to some very positive lifestyle changes.  And then there are days like yesterday.

Mile 5  of the bike ride my waist band started to feel like it was digging into my belly.  Hmm, that lunch I ate before the ride must not be sitting well.  Mile 6 I couldn’t keep anywhere near my riding partner – try as I might.  Mile 7 I was reduced to labor like breathing and had my tights pulled up to my ribs to try and lesson the discomfort of the waistband on my belly.  My wonderfully patient riding partner suggested a break at mile 8 to walk around a bit.  By then I knew it wasn’t the timing of my pre-ride lunch, rather what was in my pre-ride lunch.  Somehow I got gluten – but for the life of me I still don’t know where.

So, what is celiac?  It’s not a food allergy, rather an auto-immune disorder.  From the Mayo clinic website:

Celiac disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. If you have celiac disease and eat foods containing gluten, an immune reaction occurs in your small intestine, causing damage to the surface of your small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.

Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment. This can lead to other illnesses and stunted growth in children

Reactions to gluten vary dramatically.  My son gets very hyper, or more importantly can not concentrate, has a stomach ache and gas that can clear a room.  For me, about 20 min. after I ingest gluten my stomach starts to bloat.  After about 10 min. of bloating my belly looks like I am 5 months pregnant.  It’s like the worst gas pain you can imagine, without the gas to relive the pain.  This can go on for a few hours to a few days.  I usually get a migraine about 3 hours after ingesting gluten, and have achy bones and joints for the next day or two.   From what I have heard my reactions are fairly mild and thankfully they usually only last a day or two.

Some of the other gluten reaction/ celiac symtoms include: (also taken from the Mayo Clinic website)

  • Intermittent diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating

Sometimes people with celiac disease may have no gastrointestinal symptoms at all. Celiac disease symptoms can also mimic those of other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcers, Crohn’s disease, parasite infections, anemia, skin disorders or a nervous condition.

Celiac disease may also present itself in less obvious ways, including:

  • Irritability or depression
  • Anemia
  • Stomach upset
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Skin rash
  • Mouth sores
  • Dental and bone disorders (such as osteoporosis)
  • Tingling in the legs and feet (neuropathy)

Some indications of malabsorption that may result from celiac disease include:

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
  • General weakness and fatigue
  • Foul-smelling or grayish stools that may be fatty or oily
  • Stunted growth (in children)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Anemia

My biggest issue is that I am lucky enough to be super sensitive to gluten. Because it’s an autoimmune response it doesn’t matter how much gluten I consume, and because I am clearly advanced at everything I do, my body is super good at detecting gluten.  Residue on the toaster oven from regular bread?  I will react just as severely as if I bit into a big ‘ol yummy loaf of gluten bread.   I suspect toaster residue was the culprit in my gluten reaction yesterday.

Today I am a bit better, but still not able to enjoy the beautiful weather outside while riding my bike.   There are many worse thing that I could have.  Today I am left struggling to appreciate my healthy lifestyle changes and reminding myself two days of missed training aren’t the end of the world.   I’d better go clean my toaster .  . .

Making Gluten Free Cereal Bars

18 03 2010

My 7 year old son will be guest blogging for me today.  He is also on a gluten free diet, so as part of his homework I invited him to write a blog about making gluten free cereal bars.

Step one: Find a recipe.   We used this one.

Step two:  Get out your favorite gluten free cereal and get out any kinds of seeds (or nuts), peanut or almond butter and other things that you would like. (we used Koala Crisp, almond butter, Agave nectar, mini chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and sunflower seeds)

Step Three:  Measure the ingredients.  Get out your food processor to grind up the nuts and seeds (just a little bit.)

Step Four:  Get out your favorite saucepan and put in the Agave nectar and almond or peanut butter.  

Once it starts to melt put in the salt and vanilla.

Step Five:  Once it’s all melted pour the hot mixture into a mixing bowl and add your nuts and cereal and mix it all up.  (we let it cool a little and added the chocolate chips – mmmmm!)

Step Six:  Pour it in a pan (lined with parchment paper) and flatten it out so it looks like this:


Step Seven:  Put it in the fridge to cool and if it’s a nice day – Go Outside!!

Step Eight:  Cut them up and eat!!  We both give them a double thumbs up!!