Thursday, May 30, 2013

thankful thursdays - teacher appreciation and birthday fun

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week and Ben's birthday, and this week was mine! I received so many well-wishes from friends and my students! The weather was consistently nice and finally warm enough to spend the time outdoors.

89. Dramatic skies and beautiful sunsets.

90. Having such a great group of students, parents, and some amazing co-workers this year! After a great day outside filled with multi-class measurement Olympics, one of my amazing parents brought gluten-free cookies for teacher appreciation! 

91. The green of early summer.

92. Beautiful scenery above and below.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

spring love

Spring has a way of bringing out the love in people! So I thought I'd take part in another "What I'm Loving Wednesday!"

I'm loving the spring colors! The sakura are just about gone, but in their wake, all the grass has turned green, the tulips are blooming, and the sun has finally come out!

I'm loving this song/video by Sara Bareilles. It just makes me feel good about humans in general.

I'm loving karaoke! We've gone several times in the last few months with a few different groups of people, and LOVE the way it's done here in Japan.

I'm loving all the great show finales (though I'm SO bummed The Office is over) and the movies we've gotten to see in the theater recently... Gatsby, Iron Man 3 (and Star Trek, next week!)

I'm loving PlanbookEdu! I have used them for a few years now, and the online planbook has made life SO much easier, especially if I have to have a last-minute sub (which happened far too frequently this year). I won a free year subscription!

And last for today, I'm loving working with some great co-workers. The silly pranks, friendship, and camaraderie make work a better place!

Monday, May 20, 2013

grain free pancakes, for the win!

We've been experimenting with paleo recipes, trying to stay as grain free as we can throughout the week. One of the recipes we tried out was for grain-free pancakes from PaleOMG

The first time we made them, they were light and fluffy but lacked much substance, so we altered a few ingredients. The second time, they were perfect!

I also tried making some vegan whipped cream to go on top! Below are the altered pancake recipe, in addition to the whipped cream recipe!


  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt


  1. Place bananas in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  2. Then crack eggs into food processor and mix together.
  3. Add the coconut flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Puree until smooth.
  5. Heat up a non-stick pan. We use a ramen spoon for the batter - it's about the equivalent of 2 tablespoons.
  6. Wait until each pancake begins to form bubbles on the surface, then flip. If you keep the pancakes smaller, they will cook more evenly and flip perfectly.
  7. For an added bonus, I use Enjoy Life non-dairy mini chips. They are perfectly-sized for these mini pancakes!

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 can of coconut milk, full fat (refrigerated)
  • 1 tablespoon honey or 100% pure maple syrup (if you're going for vegan, choose the maple syrup option)

  1. Refrigerate coconut milk overnight (or for at least two hours)
  2. Open can and scoop out the creamy part. You can save the thinner coconut juice for flavoring other things, like smoothies or ice cream!
  3. With the creamy coconut in a bowl (don't use a shallow bowl!), use a hand mixer and beat for 2-3 minutes, or until it resembles whipped cream. 
  4. While beating, add the honey or syrup. This step is optional, but gives your whipped cream a sweeter taste. 
  5. Serve or refrigerate immediately. If you refrigerate, it's best to beat it again for 20-30 seconds before serving.

Friday, May 17, 2013

that girl

I said I'd try and post more during Celiac Awareness Month....and this is one topic that is near and dear to my heart.

The thing I hate the most about having Celiac Disease actually has nothing to do with the food itself. It's the stigma that comes with it.

When someone offers me something, I have to choose what to say. I can politely take it, throw it away, and immediately disinfect my hands. I could tell them, "no thank you," which usually results in a nasty look by the offerer, who thinks I have disrespected them. OR I can tell them I have Celiac Disease and can't eat it. Depending on how well I know the offerer, how likely they are to be offended, and how likely they are to start an argument, I choose my answer.

Most of my friends and acquaintances have been very understanding about this whole gluten thing. They don't really understand it but they do understand it's not easy. Some, though, have actually made the whole process harder to handle in one way or another.

See, the media's representation of Celiac Disease and going gluten free have stigmatized those who struggle with this auto-immune disorder. Every week, there is a new celebrity going gluten free to lose weight, or sharing their success story of how much healthier they feel now that they cut gluten. The problem is, most of these people don't have Celiac Disease and don't realize the effect gluten has on those who actually do.

Those celebrities, and even celebrity doctors who frequent daytime talk shows, tell the world that a little bit of gluten doesn't hurt. They don't have to check EVERY. SINGLE. LABEL. They don't have to write to companies to find out if there is hidden gluten in their products. They don't have to worry about "gluten free" foods being cross contaminated with glutenous products made by the same companies. They don't have to worry about missing out on work and every day activities because they are sitting on the floor next to the toilet for the next few days/weeks/even months.

Those of us with Celiac Disease do. Shopping with a Celiac takes HOURS. Those first few months, we'd be at the grocery store for hours checking labels, checking websites, checking blogs and other sources to see what foods were safe. Right now, companies are not mandated to list allergens in their ingredient list. Some do, which is always a huge relief, but many are unreliable.

There are people who truly believe that Celiac Disease is a fad. They say insensitive things because they don't know any better, and were educated by celebrities and media who failed to fact check. I try not to be offended  because I'd like to think people just don't know any better. That's why I keep blogging about it...if I can make just ONE person more aware then my job is done. Isn't that what awareness is all about?

So I'd like to leave you with a video. A video that sums up the stigma of living with Celiac Disease. I hope you will watch it, and not buy into the hype that Celiac is a fad. We are not picky. We are not anti-social. We are just trying to be as normal as we can.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

thankful thursdays - being real

This month has been one of rejuvenation and what feels like coming back to life. After having spent the past several months (and years, if we're being honest) not feeling well, I finally am starting to feel like me again.

I have energy again.

I haven't cried about something stupid in more than 48 hours (don't think that's happened in about a year.)

I haven't had a panic attack in weeks. Or a migraine. Or the other 20-30 symptoms I had been having almost daily before cutting out gluten and corn.

It's been such a relief, physically and emotionally. I feel like I'm taking all these steps in the right direction! I joined an online support group that is full of women who are going through the same thing. It's been wonderful to share our stories, swap recipes, get advice, and to know that we are not alone. I don't have a picture to share for confidentiality purposes, but this group of ladies has been at the top of my thankful list all month!

I also talked with my small group at the church - we talked about depression and faith and how hard it is to feel joy during the hard times. I shared this project with them and realized that I haven't been as consistent over the last few months as I was when I first started out.

So I have written this blog as a re-dedication to finishing my One Thousand Gifts Project.

86. The tears of joy and sadness with my small group. Talk about amazing women...

87. The color pink that surrounds us after so many months of plain white.

88. Daily strolls through the park.

even Disney?


(Read the story here)

This right here.

This is why Celiac Awareness Month is important!

A company as family friendly as Disney produced a kid's show that blatantly has children being bullied for not eating gluten.

Breakdown: Kids eating breakfast. One kid says he can't eat gluten because of an allergy. Other kids laugh at him and make fun of it. Later in the episode, kids throw the gluten-filled pancakes in allergy kid's face. Even if kid doesn't have the topical version of Celiac (DH), he is being picked on because of his auto-immune disorder.

How could Disney think this is okay?

As an adult, I have known what it's like to be shunned and ignored and even teased a bit about the fact that I have to eat gluten free. (Note the word have. It's not a choice I would have wanted to make.) It's frustrating, humiliating, and annoying to be left out and marginalized for something I have no control over. Can you imagine how a child might feel in these same circumstances?

Having to eat at a separate "allergy" table at school? Not being able to share in birthday celebrations? Not understanding why you are so different than everyone else?

Disney could have used this as a teaching tool, but instead turned it into a big joke. Shame on you, Disney. Shame on you.


The Celiac family (and all of their supportive loved ones) joined together in protesting the episode. They contacted Disney, wrote on facebook, blogged, and signed petitions.

Disney has now publicly apologized and has decided not to air the episode. They may go back and edit the scenes out and then re-air it. Here is their statement:

Victory for awareness! Now, to continue getting the information out there... I always tell myself not to read the comments on news articles and things such as this, but I couldn't stop myself and what I saw was disheartening. So many people angry over the "picky parents" and "glu-tards" (yeah, someone actually said that...) being easily offended. It just goes to show how much the media has stigmatized Celiac Disease. Had this incident been a child with a severe peanut allergy or lupus, the fuss over complaints would not have ensued.

Among the rants were some very well-worded comments about how Celiac Disease is actually linked to cancer, horrible GI symptoms, seizures, asthma, Crohn's Disease, etc (but you already know that so I won't go there.) The best we can do it use the truth and try and get the word out there...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

surprising sorghum

In celebration of Celiac Awareness Month, I figured I'd post some tasty, naturally-gluten-free snacks! One of my favorite snack items used to be popcorn. Many Celiacs (myself included) find that they are more prone than others to having multiple food allergies. A few months ago, I found out that in addition to being unable to tolerate gluten, I was allergic to corn.

Of course, this meant no more popcorn.

A few weeks ago, though, I heard about popping sorghum.

Sorghum is a grain that many Celiacs rely heavily on as a substitute for wheat. Sorghum flour, mixed with other gluten free flours, is great for cooking. Sorghum seeds are packed with protein and flavor. The best part is that cultivated popping sorghum can be popped like popcorn!

I decided to try it out, so I ordered a bag from Just Poppin' and I highly recommend them. What a great company with wonderful customer service!

Within a week (which is almost unheard of, being that we are an APO address) we received our bag and tried it out.

Like popcorn, it pops best in a small covered pot with olive oil. After some experimenting, I have discovered that cooking it in smaller batches yields a higher ratio of popped sorghum. (I use 2 tsp. of olive oil + 1/4 to 1/3 cup of seeds -- and if I am cooking more, I do more small batches.)

Unlike popcorn, popped sorghum has a bit of a rich, nutty taste. It also pops much smaller than popcorn. Finally, the hull of the sorghum is edible (and not nearly as hard as popcorn kernels) so any sorghum that does not pop can still be eaten!

I highly recommend this tasty little snack in lieu of popcorn if you want to change things up a bit, or if you have a corn allergy!

I added some Enjoy Life chocolate chips for a gluten, dairy, and corn free sweet-and-salty snack!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


While I don't want my life (or my blog) to center solely around my gluten-issues, it's been the one thing first-and-foremost that always seems to be on my mind. I can't escape it. Some days, I've learned to be okay with that. Others, I want to have a real "reminds-you-of-the-olden-days-when-you-were-a-child-yelling-and-screaming-kicking-your-feet-tantrum."

But the biggest reason I keep writing about my celiac story is for awareness. In this day and age, when an estimated 1 in 133 Americans suffer from some sort of gluten intolerance, people know strangely little about this disease.

Every time I meet someone new (or have some sort of eating experience with someone for the first time) I have to explain it.

Not that I mind.

But it's distressing to me that so many people are mis-informed because of today's poor media fact-checking. I have seen several articles and tv specials, where the "specialists" talk about going gluten free as a way to lose weight. I've heard them say that Celiacs can have just a little gluten and not get sick. Even Rachael Ray, in creating "gluten free" meals, added gluten-containing ingredients to the mixture on her cooking show. Every day you hear about a new celebrity who has gone gluten free, and each time it happens, those who actually suffer with this disease have their credibility drop just a little bit.

Over and over.

I have heard horror stories from those who have gone to eat at supposed gluten-friendly restaurants, only to have someone not take them seriously (or even purposely, because of disbelief) touch something with gluten, add gluten-filled ingredients, or fail to disinfect hands/counters/utensils.

We are a bit further removed from this, since we live in a country that is so geared toward customer service. It has its pros and cons. On the one hand, I have to explain (in Japanese) what Celiac is and what I can and can't eat. The Japanese are largely unaware of Celiac, which seems to be a primarily European auto-immune disease. Every time, they have to ask the chef and deliberate each item on the menu that may or may not be gluten free. On the other hand, though, I know that if they tell me they have something on their menu I can eat, it will be prepared in a way that is safe.

I am worried about our trip to the US this summer, where I won't have my safe cocoon of a kitchen. I worry for my friends, who are left out of social situations (or are forced to sit and not eat if they do choose to go) because of the disease. I worry for those who are mis-diagnosed for years before figuring out they have Celiac Disease. I worry for the children (and even adults) in our society who are bullied because of something they can't control.

So instead of sitting here and worrying, I write. I write in the hopes that one of you will read it and learn something. Maybe you're having some of the same experiences I have had and can't figure out what's causing them. Maybe you have a friend who has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and you don't know what it's all about. Or, maybe you're one of the many who have gone gluten free as a fad because of all the celebrities doing it, and don't realize the negative effect it has on those who are actually cursed with having to be gluten free for the rest of our lives.

I write, because I want the world (or at least, my little corner of it) to know that Celiac is a real thing and it isn't going away any time soon.

On that note, I'd like to say, "Welcome to Celiac Awareness Month!" I hope to be writing about some of the things I've discovered because of Celiac Disease (recipes/products/positives/negatives) throughout the month. To start off the month, I've created a facebook timeline template for anyone who would like it! Click the picture to get the higher-resolution version, and feel free to use and/or share it with anyone you know who wants to spread awareness! (I know it looks off-center, but once you put it on your timeline, your profile picture will balance it out!) Enjoy! ♥