I am not a fan of plateaus

Hello Everybody!

As I sit here and write this post, it is a very chilly and very windy evening in central Illinois.  Although wind is typical of March weather in these parts, I think that we can all say we have had enough.  This Winter has affected all of us deeply.  The harsh weather that we haven’t seen in many years came back with a vengeance and we definitely weren’t prepared mentally for it.  I know I certainly wasn’t.  Now that we are just a few days from the official start of Spring, we know that warmer temperatures are on the way.  The light can definitely be seen at the end of the tunnel.

I believe when we settle in for Winter it’s easy to go into sort of a mental hibernation or auto pilot, if you will.  I think that this Winter put me into a weight loss hibernation as well, namely multiple plateaus that frustrated the crapola out of me.  I would lose a pound, bounce back up one and a half pounds and then stay there for a couple of days to a week and then slowwwwwly return to the weight I had gotten down to.  I’m not even sure how many times I have done this throughout the Winter.  Very frustrating.  I have had a hard time consistently keeping the number on the scales going down.  I began working out in mid-December and I was constantly having to reinforce and remind myself that with working out that muscle weighs five times more than fat does.  So I know that I was and am building muscle while I am shedding fat.  It was still frustrating nonetheless.  A constant thought in the back of my head has been, “Once the weather breaks and I become more active outside, it will be easier to jump start the weight loss.  Just hang in for warmer weather.”  That seems to be my mantra.  I have been obsessed with the weather reports and watching the 10 day forecasts for a week that is consistently in the 50s and 60s.

But it’s not just the weather.  It’s been what I have been putting in my body as well.
While I have continued to stay gluten free, I have occasionally wavered in my avoidance of sugar always with not so pleasant side effects.  I have also taken advantage of the “GLUTEN FREE” processed foods (cookies, snacks, etc.) that have not helped either.   I have found that for me I have to severely curb my intake of grains.  And there is a correlation between how many vegetables I eat and my weight loss success.  The more fresh vegetables, fruits and meat I eat, the better I do.  If I don’t drink enough water throughout the day, it will also have an effect on my weight loss.

Complacency has been a big problem with me this Winter.  I have a tendency to justify what I eat that it will be OK (this time!) and then it quickly becomes a habit after only a few days.  It is so easy to do.

So I guess  am writing this today as a testimony that during our journey, each and every one of us will have times of frustration and days that we will waver in our resolve to stick to our eating plans.  But that does not mean that we have lost the fight.  It only means we are human.  We all make mistakes and occasional bad choices, but it’s how we face them and go on that tells our story.  If you or I  have a bad day, it is just that.  A bad day.  Tomorrow is another chance to make better choices.  Leave tomorrow in the past and concentrate on the future.  I can do it.  And I know that you can, too!

“Did you miss me?” & “My Review of the Downtown Indianapolis P.F. Chang’s”

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been over a month that I have posted.  Life gets in the way, I guess.  Lots to catch up on.  This Winter has seemed to drag on forever!  Now old man Winter is winding  down and we are seeing subtle changes.  I hear the birds singing in the morning now and that always makes me smile.  The weather here is still rather cold, but the warming trend is beginning and we dodged the last predicted blizzard with only 1-2 inches.  I’ll take it.  Spring is definitely on its way and we will be setting the clocks forward this weekend and it always helps that the sun sets later in the evening.  I expect my mood will be greatly improved when the days seem to last longer.

My husband and I went away for the weekend a couple of weeks ago.  He had a seminar to attend and I went along to relax and do a little shopping, well, no a lot of shopping.  It’s my favorite thing to do!  I should have been a personal shopper since I love it so much.

We traveled to Indianapolis for this seminar.  It is one that we look forward to each year.  The NFL combine is also going on at the same time so it’s fun to people watch and see if you can spot NFL team owners and other important dignitaries of the NFL world.  Since football is very important in this household, this is just a perk of being there at the same time as the Combine.

I was a little concerned about how I would be eating while we were there.  I bought and packed snacks for both of us in case we couldn’t find places we liked to eat or that couldn’t accommodate my gluten free lifestyle.  I knew I would be OK either way.  When I shop, I don’t particularly like stopping to sit down and eat somewhere so having a gluten free bar in my purse or an apple or other GF snack tides me over just fine.  And I get more shopping time in, too!   We always agree to meet for dinner each night and this is where the story gets interesting.

We got into Indy Thursday afternoon, got to the hotel, checked in and unpacked.  We decided to take a walk since it was not that cold outside and there are a lot of restaurants in the downtown area.  Now a few blocks from the hotel is a mall.  There is easy inside access to this mall across the street from our hotel, but we walked the three blocks to the mall and there is a restaurant there with outside access.  This restaurant is PF Chang’s.  Neither Todd or I had ever eaten there.  With it being a Thursday, we did not have to wait to be seated.  After being seated and greeted by our server, we told them that I was gluten free.  She said great! we have a gluten free menu and opened our menu up and pointed out the section that was specifically gluten free.  Here is a picture of the GF menu:

PF Changs GF menuOMG!  I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  Asian cuisine is one of my favorites and I  hadn’t eaten it in awhile mostly because I was trying to stay away from MSG and fried foods that are almost always coated in wheat based breading.   Our server explained the menu to us and that any entrees that are gluten free are brought out on special plates with the PF Chang’s logo so that we know it is gluten free.
She made sure to tell us  not to use the soy sauce that was on the table because it did contain gluten, but that she would bring out gluten free soy sauce and  the other condiments will be gluten free as well.

I chose the Philip’s Better Lemon Chicken and it was delicious!!!  Todd and I shared a side of GF Spinach stir fried with Garlic.  Also, most delicious!!!  And we couldn’t end the evening without trying the GF flourless chocolate dome for dessert.  We had that boxed so we could enjoy it back at the hotel.  It addition to the flourless cake, it had a scrumptious raspberry  sauce and fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries).

We mentioned to our server that I was a gluten free blogger and that I would be blogging about my experience that night.  I told her that everything was delicious and we would be giving them a good review.  A few minutes later, the manager on shift came over and gave us two gift cards for an amount off our next meal and hoped our meal was satisfactory.  I told her that I would be blogging my experience and that it would be a good review.  She thanked us for trying PF Chang’s.

Needless to say we were impressed with the service, the attention to detail to accommodate my GF requirements and the food was delicious!!

PF Changs GenaWe were stuffed by the time we left and enjoyed our dessert back at the hotel.   AND I had a gluten free beer that night called OMission Pale Ale.  It was pretty tasty as well!

So Friday after a busy day of shopping  and meeting Todd to go to dinner, we decided to go back to PF Chang’s again.  With it being a weekend night, we had a little bit of a wait, but it wasn’t too long.

Now this is the next day and there were different people on shift, but when we were seated our server already knew that we were gluten free.  How they knew, I have no idea.  But we enjoyed another fantastic meal and another GF flourless chocolate dome that we had to take back to the hotel because we were stuffed, but again, it was a wonderful and delicious experience.
So if you are in a city that has a PF Chang’s and have never tried it, I highly recommend them.  Even though I am gluten free I know that if the regular menu was half as good as the GF menu I tasted, it would still be fantastic!  And I looked up their locations and they do have one in Chesterfield, MO which is not that long of a drive for us central Illinoisians.  We will be making a trip there in the future for sure.  If you are traveling, check to see if they have one in the city you are visiting at http://pfchangs.com.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Guest Blog Post from Tracy A. or What the heck can I eat anyway???

Thanks to Gluten-Free Gena for inviting me to be a guest on her blog. My name is Tracy Anderson and I’ve been Gluten-Free for a little over 2 years. I had already lost 80 lbs when I stumbled across a book by Dr. William Davis titled “Wheat Belly”. At that point in time I’d already given up sugar and most grains however, I did occasionally eat Ezekiel bread (which is made with sprouted wheat and has a low glycemic index due to the sprouting process). I’ve not knowingly eaten any wheat, sprouted or not, since finishing that book! Bottom line, wheat is wheat and causes inflammation which can lead to other issues besides mere weight gain…regardless of whether it is sprouted, bleached, whole grain, etc. Currently I do not eat any grains whatsoever, as I found they are all causing weight gain (and other less visible issues, I’m sure). I am trying out some strategies to get my body to allow some of the less harmful grains (such as white rice & quinoa) but it is still work-in-progress and I unfortunately have no conclusions to share as of yet.

When Eugena asked me to be a guest blogger, I really wanted to write something helpful but I procrastinated because I couldn’t decide what to write about. I am constantly seeking health and nutrition information for my own purposes. There is such an array of information that could be beneficial to share but I am typically not one to offer unsolicited advice. Recently a friend who is struggling with weight and inflammation issues asked me a favor. She wanted me to write down my grocery list for her. She wants to improve her health and is interested in my strategies, but she was having difficulty understanding what foods I buy. In her mind, my diet consisted of very limited food choices. I’m sure she imagined me munching on nothing but lettuce all week long! Well, I collected several old grocery shopping lists and grocery receipts and compiled that list she is requesting. I think she will be surprised to see that my diet really isn’t so limited! I hope there are others out there that wonder what us gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, whole-food-only people eat….because that is today’s blog.

Tracy’s shopping list (& other little tidbits):


Plain Whole-Fat Yogurt (I buy the Dannon 32 oz tubs….don’t buy low-fat or fat free)

Cheeses (make sure it is REAL cheese; Muenster is very useful as it fries up nicely)

Cream Cheese (used in several recipes)

Heavy Whipping Cream (Walmart on Rt 4 has a Dean’s brand that is pure cream)

Eggs (lots & lots of eggs)

Sour Cream (Daisy brand full-fat is best – we buy the 5 lb size from Sam’s Club)

Goat Milk (full-fat)

Cottage Cheese (4% milk-fat or higher; Daisy brand has best ingredients)

Keifer (full-fat, plain; sold at County Market on Rt 4)

Butter (make sure it is real butter)


Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferably organic)

Sesame Seed Oil (cold pressed, non-toasted)

Peanut Oil (for frying)

Coconut Oil (Nutiva brand is the best: vitaminshoppe.com)

Coconut Milk, Canned (I use this sparingly in some recipes)


Chicken (frozen/fresh/canned: Soaking in water will remove the added sodium)

Seafood, Frozen: Shrimp, Scallops, Tilapia, Salmon, Roughy, Swai, Tuna, Pollock, Cod, Flounder, Halibut, Sole, Trout, Catfish, Mackerel

Seafood, Canned (tuna, oysters, sardines)

Bacon (it is cured in sugar, but the amount consumed is hopefully very negligible)

Hot Dogs (Hebrew National brand has no sugar; others have corn syrup – yuck!)

Beef (80/20 ground beef, roasts, burger patties, steaks, liver, ribs)

Turkey, Whole (soak the turkey in a brine without sugar to remove added sugar/sodium)

Pork (roasts/chops/loins; Schnuck’s does not inject their cuts with sodium)

Other meat: Veal, Lamb, Duck, Venison

Almond Butter (raw and unsweetened from Food Fantasies or Trader Joe’s)

Nuts, Raw & Unsalted (almond, walnuts, pecans…..look in baking section)

Seeds, Raw & Unsalted (pumpkin & sunflower seeds; Food Fantasies bulk bins)


Green Beans, Canned (I only eat a small amount due to higher starch content)

Tomatoes, Canned (diced, paste, stewed, etc – used in recipes – ie: ketchup, chili)

Other Canned Veggies (mushrooms, artichokes, sauerkraut – read labels)

Frozen Veggies (spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus)

Fresh Veggies: Onions, Lettuce, Carrots, Avocado, Garlic, Kale, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Butternut Squash, Summer Squash, Sweet Potato/Yams, Leeks, Spinach, Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Mushrooms, Radishes, Cucumbers, Ginger, Zucchini, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Beets, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Celery, Sugar-snap Peas, Bok Choy, Swiss Chard

Sea Vegetables, Dried (Asain market on MacArthur has best value)


Berries (strawberries, blueberries, cheeries, mixed berries….read labels; frozen is best)

Pumpkin, Canned (check ingredients)

Applesauce (unsweetened)

Lemons & Limes (both in juice form & fruit form)

Apples/Bananas/Oranges/Grapes/Pears/Pineapple (high fructose level; use sparingly)

Coconut Flour/Flakes (Food Fantasy carries in bulk bins; use sparingly; unsweetened)


Tea (green, black, herbal…..tea is my go-to snack; hot or cold; can sweeten with stevia)

Coffee (whole bean, medium roast)

Almond Milk (plain, unsweetened)

Seltzer Water (County Market sells their own store brand in 2-Liters)


Mustard (read the ingredients…Plochman’s & most brands are fine; no honey mustard)

Lemonaise (a mayonnaise replacement; found at County Market w/other mayos)

Marie’s Salad Dressing (Schnuck’s – Creamy Italian & Blue Cheese contain no sugar)

Pasta House Italian Salad Dressing (Schnuck’s – don’t buy the low-fat….it has sugar)

Horseradish (read labels to find pure horseradish puree…GFS sells it)

Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (as a soy sauce substitute + many other uses)

Tamari Sauce, Organic (a wheat-free soy sauce)

Apple Cider Vinegar, Organic (Bragg’s is a good non-pasteurized brand)

Spices & Herbs (read labels for hidden sugar, MSG, hydrogentated oil, starches, etc)


Broth (Meijer’s Organic in the 32 oz boxes is the way to go…or make your own)

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder & Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Squares

Pure Stevia Natural Extract (KAL brand is best – buy online: vitaminshoppe.com)

Extracts (vanilla, peppermint, etc….read labels; many have added sugar)

Plain Whey Protein Powder (Designer Whey Plain & Simple: vitaminshoppe.com)

Psyllium Husk Powder (add to smoothies/protein shakes or use as filler)

Flax Seeds (golden are better for baking; Food Fantasies’ bulk bin is best value)

Spirulina Powder (vitaminshoppe.com)

Chia Seeds (use as a thickener)

Pork Rinds (I crush them and use them as bread-crumb replacers)

Collagen Powder (to add to smoothies/protein shakes, CVS has best price)

Enzymes, Probiotics, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin D3, Fish Oil (Cod Liver & Krill)

Xylitol Sweetened Gum (“Pure” brand sold at Meijers checkout stand is my favorite)

Hope this Grocery List helped you out and here is an example of a dinner that I had recently:

Dinner was Italian Beef with pizza margarita sauce and mozzarella cheese; salad with Marie's Cream Italian salad dressing, sauted red cabbage & spinach pie.

Dinner was Italian Beef with pizza margarita sauce and mozzarella cheese; salad with Marie’s Cream Italian salad dressing, sauteed red cabbage & spinach pie.

Thank you very much Tracy, for taking the time to contribute to this blog!  I am still learning the ropes of things I can and can’t eat and your grocery list is going to be a valuable resource for me as well as my readers.

If anyone has questions for Tracy, ask away!

Thanks again, Tracy!











Christmas is over. Now what??

The holiday has come and gone.  I must say I did fairly well.  No gluten ingested (that I know of) but I have to admit I did go a little overboard on my husband’s dark chocolate covered acai berries.  Couldn’t stay out of the bag.  Yum!  But way too much sugar and I could definitely feel it the next day.  I have been working out at least every other day as well.  Enjoying working out for the first time in a long while.  I continue to see changes in my body daily despite a weight loss slow down.  I know it’s to be expected, but now that I am working out I realize I am toning up and that’s a very good thing right now.  I need things firm up a bit.  :)

I ended my 21 day detox on Christmas Eve eve.  It wasn’t too terrible, but I was glad it was over.  I had really looked forward to eating some cheese and nuts other non gluten grains that I had to forgo for three weeks.  I didn’t feel the burst of energy that I should have and that may be because I had a lot of nasty stuff to get out of my liver.  I so looked forward to being able to eat some things on the ‘do not eat’ list when I was done with the detox.  My first restaurant of choice to celebrate was Chipotle.  Enjoyed it very much.

Now I am looking forward to New Year’s Eve.  No specific plans for going out.  We will probably just stay home and watch The Walking Dead marathon on AMC.   What are your plans???  How is being gluten free going to factor in to your celebration???  Or will you be more aware of gluten when you do go out if you haven’t started yet???

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy yourself and stay safe.

Happy New Year,

Gluten Free Gena

PS.  Once the holidays are over, some of my gluten free friends have promised to write a blurb about how they came to be GF, so watch out for that in the coming weeks.

Hitting a New Milestone

I’m in the middle of a 21 day detox.  This is a detox for the liver, but one of the side effects can be weight loss as well.  I went in to this thinking I was going to be able to drop another 10 pounds over the course of three weeks (I know.  Not realistic, but a girl can hope, right?) So over the last couple of weeks I have been stuck at pretty much the same weight.  The first 11 days of the program, I only lost a little over 1 pound.  Aggravating to say the least.  It is frustrating to get on the scale and not see progress.  I was still working out and eating what I should be and keeping away from the NO items on the list and drinking my shakes as I should and drinking copious amounts of water, also.  I got fed up and stopped getting on the scale for three days.  I decided to take a break from beating myself up and getting bent out of shape over it.

My first long term goal was getting below 200 pounds.  I have not been that weight since 2001 (over 12 years!).  I know I should have made smaller goals but I always had that one  on my mind as my first big goal to achieve so it was driving me crazy that I couldn’t get it done.  I didn’t get frustrated enough to go off the prescribed eating plan, but I did tinker with a few things here and there to try to find the answer.

Well, I decided to step on the scale Friday morning just to see where I was.  I frankly wasn’t expecting much.   And what do you know, I weighed in at 199.1.  I stared at the screen (I weigh in with the Wii Fit Plus program) literally dumbfounded and then I sat down and cried.   It was a very good cry.  It was what I needed to boost my resolve and keep me going.

Yesterday, hubby and I stopped at the Grand Opening for a new nation-wide fitness chain that opened in Springfield not long ago.  We got the tour and we decided to sign me up.  I had my evaluation today and first workout.  Even though it’s a little bit of a drive to get there, I think this is going to be really good for me and if I get to another plateau in my weight-loss journey, there are always personal trainers there who can help me figure out what I need to do to get past it.  I am looking very forward to working out there.  It’s a really nice facility.   So you all are going to hold me accountable, right???  :)

I wanted to tell you about my Friday and the rest of the weekend because I know that everyone has good days and bad.  I’m just glad the weekend gave me a boost and made me smile.  We all need that sometimes.  Thanks to my hubby for signing me up.  He said I deserved it because I have worked hard so far.   I do and I have been.  Thanks for recognizing that, sweets.

Just know that you will probably get frustrated and bummed out at points on your journey.  I have and I am sure it  won’t be the last time either.  Chin up, take a deep breath and dig in.  It may be a bumpy ride, but it will never be boring.  :)


Gluten Free Gena

How I came to be Gluten Free

Eugena and Todd Bahamas

Eugena and Todd in the Bahamas 2000.

Looking back on my childhood, I believe I always had a problem with gluten.  For one thing I craved gluten along with sugar.  It was nothing for me to come home from school and open up a 16 oz. Pepsi (or two) and devour a big bag of Doritos.   At 5 or 6, I could eat adult sized meals – no problem.  I slept a lot, but when I would wake up I wanted nothing to do with food.  I have later learned that this is a symptom of adrenal fatigue (more on that in another post).  I could go half the day without eating, but when I would start it would be continuous until I laid down for bed.  My family did not try to teach me healthy eating.  This is how I remember it anyway.  Maybe they did.  I only remember that I pretty much ate whatever I wanted.  In high school, I stayed on an even keel with my weight at around 166.

Fast forward to adulthood.  I have gained and lost 1,000 pounds.  I would get excited about some goal I had in mind (I am a very goal oriented kind of gal) to get me started.  I would stick with a diet here and there,  lose some weight but it would always come back, plus some.  Many of you have done the same thing.  Mostly, it was a diet that would deprive me of the things I really loved to eat and I would get to a point where I would hit the proverbial wall and I would swing back the other way.  I think my life’s purpose on earth is to learn moderation, but that’s another blog post entirely!  :)  I could never do anything middle of the road.  It was either all or nothing.

I met my best friend and husband, Todd,  in 1994.  We were married in 1996 and I decided to lose weight in early 1999.  My diet of choice was Atkins.  I LOVED it!  I could eat all the meat and cheese I wanted.  I was in diet heaven.  Along with working out, I dropped 75 pounds on Atkins in a little over a year.  I even got down to my lowest weight ever as an adult.  142 pounds.  1 – 4 – 2.  My main motivation this time was that we were going to attend a seminar in the Bahamas.  I had fun picking out the first bikinis I ever owned to wear them on that trip. That fat girl was still inside though.  She was waiting.  Biding her time.  My weight loss success couldn’t last.  And it didn’t.  You see, I wanted to be a Mom.  A friend made a casual comment one day that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant because I didn’t have any fat on my body (which wasn’t true), but that comment stayed with me.  It hung around, subconsciously sabotaging my weight loss with great success.  I wanted to be a Mom more than I wanted to be thin at the time.  When I got pregnant with our oldest daughter who was born in 2002, I had gained back all of the weight I had worked so hard to lose plus added another 15 pounds to the total.   And had two more daughters in 2005 and 2007.

In January 2011, I entered a weight loss contest.   $100 buy-in.  6 of us entered.  It ran for 3 months.  I chose to follow Dr. Eric Berg’s “7 Principles of Fat Burning”.  The first thing is you go on a three week liver detox plan.  This plan eliminated grains, refined sugar and limited cheese.  No soda or caffeine.  It was at the end of this three week period that I had an Aha!  moment.  I realized that my migraines had lessened in frequency and muscle pain and flare-ups had done the same.  It felt better than I had in a long while.  Brain fog was lifting and I had a lot more patience with my kids and it seemed that my mood swings weren’t as bad.  Could it be the elimination of wheat and grains (and sugar) from my diet???  I started doing a lot of research on the gluten free (read “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis) and decided to use info in Wheat Belly and Dr. Berg’s plan and the pounds were coming off consistently and I was gonna win that contest, darnit!  Well, I did win.  I lost the most body fat percentage which which equaled 34 pounds.  I had every intention of sticking with it, really I did.  But then my Dad passed away.  Life overwhelmed me and I slid right back into my old habits, slowly at first.  It was easy enough to do because the weight didn’t come back fast.  I was able to maintain my weight loss for a year before it came back in the last year or so.  The symptoms I had experienced before came back with a vengeance.  Some of them worse than before.  And I realized I needed to do something.  This whole decision making process took a year for me to commit to it, though.  I was tired of being sick and tired all the time.  I didn’t want to hit my next milestone birthday (in less than two years now) feeling and looking like this.  I spent a lot of time thinking about my kids.  What was I showing them by not taking care of myself?  I was flat out not being a good role model for my girls.  Would I make it to holding my grandbabies and watching them grow up if I kept doing the same old thing and repeating the same old patterns?  I don’t think so.  I knew I couldn’t go on like this. I had to change for ME, first and for the people I love and want to be with for as long as possible, second.  Maybe I can live to 100 or beyond???

I knew gluten free worked for me and I believed it would work again.   So I started gluten free for the second time toward the end of August.  This time I eliminated sugar, too.  And high fructose corn syrup and trans fats and caffeine and trying to eliminate processed foods as well.  Some would ask,  “Well, is there anything you can eat?”  And my answer is A LOT!!!  There are things I am eating now that I never thought I would eat and it’s good and tasty and I am enjoying finding new recipes to try.  But I am open to trying new things.  That is the key to it, I think.  You have to be willing and open to try new things.  Eliminate the junk (because it is slowing killing you!) from your diet and you can have success as well.

I am always here to answer questions.  I am taking you step by step through my process.  And believe me, if I can do it, anyone can.  You have to make the commitment to yourself and take one step at a time and move forward.

It won’t always be easy, but it will be so worth it in the long run.

Until next time,

Gluten Free Gena

Orange Cranberry Quinoa Salad

Orange cranberry quinoa salad

I had quite a few people ask for the recipe so I am putting on here for y’all.  :)

Orange Cranberry Quinoa Salad


1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

2 large leaves of kale

2 cups fresh cranberries

2TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp honey

2 TBS grated orange zest

6 small oranges

1/4 cup mixed nuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped


1.  Rinse with water: 1 cup quinoa

2.  Bring water to boil.

3.  When water is boiling transfer rinsed quinoa to water and return to boil.

4.  Cover: reduce heat to low and continue to cook until the water is gone and quinoa is cooked, about 12-15 minutes.

5.  Wash, remove from stems and finely chop:

2 large leaves of kale, set aside.

6.  Pulse in a food processor to coarsely chop:

2 cups fresh cranberries

2 TBS olive oil

1 tsp honey

7.  When quinoa is done, transfer to a mixing bowl and mix with chopped kale.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

8.  Stir in with quinoa:

2 TBS grated orange zest

9.  Peel and coarsely chop:

6 small oranges

10.  When quinoa is completely cooled, gently stir in the oranges and cranberry mixture.

11.  Stir in:

1/4 cup coarsely chopped mixed nuts

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

12.  cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prep time:  10 min;  Cook time: 15 min;  Inactive time:  20 min. cooling time;

Difficulty:  easy;  Servings 8;  serving size 1/2 cup

It was was a hit at my in-laws house for Thanksgiving.  Nice flavors and went nicely with turkey.  Would be good with a roasted chicken as well.

Happy gluten free eating!!!



Progress pics and being Honest

Honesty.  Sometimes that is a really hard thing.

progrees pics 11-21-13

I said I would be open and honest about my experiences on this road to health and wellness.  It’s very difficult to come to terms with how I perceive myself and how I really am.  Not that it would make much sense ordinarily but just looking at the pics I am posting brings it to a head for me.  Over the last 12 weeks (this sounds better to me than three months), I have watched my progress in the mirror.  I know that I am thinner than I was 12 weeks ago.  The scale tells me so.  My clothes fit better and I have even given some away that no longer fit, which is a great feeling.  Nonetheless, I was definitely disappointed when I took the progress pics and then compared them to the beginning pics.  I didn’t see as much progress as I felt I had made during this time.  I am not posting this to get the rah-rah “cheer me ups” from you.  I am just saying it like it is for me.  I know I have made great strides, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just how I perceive myself versus the reality of the situation.  I am not discouraged in that I will abandon my goal, far from it.  This makes me all the more determined to succeed.

A friend said to me today that what I have lost is equivalent to carrying around 4 gallons of water.  Just try to carry around 4 gallons of water for any length of time.  It ain’t easy.  My energy level is much higher.  The brain fog is lifting and my patience is much better these last few weeks.  I haven’t had a migraine in over two months and the usual muscle flare-ups have not shown up in almost as long.  I would say this is the  REAL progress.  I know that I shouldn’t gauge my progress by pictures alone when I think about all of the other positives that have come about in 12 weeks.  Pictures are only one element of the whole experience.

But those pictures bring up a realization.  I MUST start exercising!!!  This is very hard for me.  I have never been athletic or one who enjoys getting exercise.  Not in my DNA.  My family never encouraged or participated in exercise or athletics of any kind.  I have to find the right fit for me.  I need to find the type of exercise that I can enjoy because if it’s not fun, I ain’t gonna do it.  I have exercised before (really, I have!) and I know that I do feel better when I get some exercise, but I am having trouble figuring out what I want to do.  The weather is steadily getting colder and I do like to walk, but I don’t like to be cold when I walk.  I know, making excuses here, but I’m all about the honesty so I am honestly saying I haven’t found anything so far I do like to do.  That’s a lie.  I do like the Wii Fit Plus.  I have done that in the past.  May try that again.   Thinking about the C25K app and start running, but not sure about it.  I have never liked running so I don’t know why I would suddenly like it now.  Maybe I should wait another 30 pounds down and then try it.  Maybe thinking interval training might work.  I will have to check into that. They have Zumba in town two days a week now.  Been thinking that over, but their space is small and I have heard they have been packing them in the room.  Not really my idea of having a good time being packed like sardines into a room and being told to move and sweat and have people see me be totally uncoordinated.

Did I mention that I’m uncoordinated?  Dance would have been a really good idea for me when I was younger, but the folks had other priorities ie. bills to pay.

So there you have it.  Not happy with the pics, but not going to let it discourage me.  Another notch in the motivation tool belt is all it is.  I ran into a friend of mine at the store last night.  She said I was looking great and I was carrying myself differently.  I had to think on that a bit.  I guess so.  I am gaining confidence.  Each step I take is another step toward my goals.  Another friend said to me that if by seeing these pics and following my journey that I can help one person along the way take that first step so they can achieve their goals, encourage them along the way and make them feel they are not alone then it will all be worth it.  How very true. I know that I cannot do this alone.  I have an awesome support system of people who love me unconditionally and encourage me on a daily basis to be a better person in all ways.  Thank you, minions.  You know who you are!

My journey is your journey.  We will walk together and be healthier & happier as a result.

Do we have a deal?


Take one step toward your goal today.  It takes only one step to begin the journey.

Until next time, have a wonderful weekend!

~Gluten Free Gena


What is Gluten and what’s the difference between Celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten intolerance/sensitivity?

Well, I guess we should start off with the facts and basic information.  I’ve had a couple of people ask me what gluten is and where is it found.  I also wanted to go over the difference between Celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten intolerance/sensitivity.

What is gluten anyway???
Here is the definition I found on Wikipedia:

Gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue”) is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations.

Gluten is the composite of a gliadin and a glutenin, which is conjoined with starch in the endosperm of various grass-related grains. The prolamin and glutelin from wheat (gliadin, which is alcohol-soluble, and glutenin, which is only soluble in dilute acids or alkalis) constitute about 80% of the protein contained in wheat fruit. Being insoluble in water, they can be purified by washing away the associated starch. Worldwide, gluten is a source of protein, both in foods prepared directly from sources containing it, and as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein.

The stored proteins of maize and rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from true gluten.

About 1 in 133 people in developed nations have intolerance to gluten, some of which can be severe enough to be life-threatening.

Buddhist monks discovered gluten in the 7th century. The monks, who were vegetarians, were trying to find a substitute for meat. They discovered that when they submerged dough in water, the starch washed off and all that was left was a meat-like, textured, gummy mass – Gluten.


What is the difference between Celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity or intolerance?

Celiac disease has been known by many different names in the medical literature over the years, including gluten-sensitive enteropathy and celiac sprue (to differentiate it from tropical sprue). CELIAC DISEASE can be defined as a permanent intolerance to the gliadin fraction of wheat protein and related alcohol-soluble proteins (called prolamines) found in rye and barley. CELIAC DISEASE occurs in genetically susceptible individuals who eat these proteins, leading to an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system starts attacking normal tissue. This condition continues as long as these food products are in the diet.

The resulting inflammation and atrophy of the intestinal villi (small, finger-like projections in the small intestine) results in the malabsorption of critical vitamins, minerals, and calories. Signs and symptoms of the disease classically include diarrhea, short stature, iron-deficiency anemia and lactose intolerance. However, many patients will also present with “non-classical” symptoms, such as abdominal pain, “irritable bowel”, and osteoporosis. Patients may also be screened for celiac disease because of the presence of another autoimmune disease, such as type I diabetes or thyroid disease, or a family history of celiac disease, without having any obvious symptoms. Serum antibodies can be utilized to screen for celiac disease. However, the key to confirming the diagnosis remains a small intestinal biopsy, and the patient’s subsequent clinical response to a gluten-free diet.

Wheat allergy is one of the top 8 food allergies in the United States. Allergic reactions after eating wheat may include reactions in the skin, mouth, lungs, and even the GI tract. Symptoms of wheat allergy can include rash, wheezing, lip swelling, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The branch of the immune system activated in allergic reactions is different from the branch thought to be responsible for the autoimmune reactions of celiac disease.

Research into non-celiac gluten sensitivity — also known as gluten intolerance — increasingly is proving that you can get serious symptoms from gluten ingestion without having celiac disease.

In a landmark study on gluten sensitivity released in early 2011, prominent celiac researcher Dr. Alessio Fasano concluded that “gluten sensitivity” represents a completely different condition from celiac disease, and most of the people who suffer from gluten sensitivity will never develop celiac.

Just as with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity can cause fatigue, brain fog, and other cognitive problems, including gluten-related attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, Drs. Fasano and Fine claim.

Dr. Fasano says he sees headaches (including gluten-induced migraines) and brain fog in about one-third of the people he has diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity… far more than in celiac disease. People diagnosed with gluten sensitivity also report feelings of gluten-induced depression and anxiety.

So what’s gluten in again???

The following I found on diabetes.org and it’s a pretty good list to keep in mind.

Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains.

Avoiding wheat can be especially hard because this means you should avoid all wheat-based flours and ingredients. These include:

  • White Flour
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Durum Wheat
  • Graham Flour
  • Triticale
  • Kamut
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Wheat Germ
  • Wheat Bran

Common foods that are usually made with wheat include:

  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Bread
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Muffins
  • Pastries
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Beer
  • Oats (see the section on oats below)
  • Gravy
  • Dressings
  • Sauces

This may seem like a long list, but there are still plenty of gluten-free foods out there! Choose from many fresh, healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy, nuts and gluten-free grains like quinoa or rice. There are also gluten-free versions of many of the foods above available in most grocery stores. You just have to look for them!

Gluten Surprises

You may not expect it, but the following foods can also contain gluten:

  • broth in soups and bouillon cubes
  • breadcrumbs and croutons
  • some candies
  • fried foods
  • imitation fish
  • some lunch meats and hot dogs
  • malt
  • matzo
  • modified food starch
  • seasoned chips and other seasoned snack foods
  • salad dressings
  • self-basting turkey
  • soy sauce
  • seasoned rice and pasta mixes

There are also many additives and ingredients in packaged foods that may contain gluten. Always check labels and ingredient lists for these. For a more comprehensive list of gluten-containing additives, contact your local celiac support group.

A Few Other Points:

Don’t forget that ingredients in food products change frequently, so always check the label before buying packaged foods.

Remember that “wheat-free” does not automatically mean “gluten-free.” While a product may not contain wheat, it can still contain rye or barley in some form.

If you have any question about whether a food contains gluten, contact the manufacturer directly.

The Fuss About Oats

Oats are technically a gluten-free food but they are often contaminated with gluten during growing, harvesting or processing. In the past, many experts recommended completely avoiding oats in addition to wheat, rye and barley for those on a gluten-free diet. Now, some oats are grown and processed separately and are labeled “gluten-free.”

Many people with celiac disease are still advised to avoid oats initially. However, eating gluten-free oats can (the package should be marked gluten free) help provide fiber and other important nutrients in one’s diet. And over time, most people can reintroduce pure oats in small amounts (about 1/2 cup of dry oats per day) without any trouble.

I bet you are thinking:  Well, what CAN I eat then?  LOTS and LOTS of things!!!  I will be adding recipes and snack ideas in the future.  If you are thinking about going gluten free, it’s best to keep in mind that fruits, veggies and meats (except processed meats, always check the label on these) are always allowed as long as what they are being cooked with and served with are also gluten free.  Sauces and dressings are notorious for containing gluten.  I almost cried one day when I looked at my favorite tomato soup and in the ingredient listing it contains wheat flour.  Really?!?!?  I was bummed for a bit and then I realized I could do one of two things.  I could look for a brand of tomato soup that didn’t contain gluten or I could make my own.  The choice was mine and I could still enjoy it when I wanted to.  You can also have rice and corn.  There really are a wide variety of foods and many choices still available to us, so don’t get discouraged.  :)

Gluten Free Gena