May is Celiac awareness month. It is also a good month to celebrate the freedom of being gluten free. “Celiac disease affects 3 million Americans, yet 95% of sufferers don’t know they have it.” Researchers estimate that ever 1 in 133 people have celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine, which can lead to the malabsorption of nutrients. The damage is due to a genetic intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. After our diagnoses in 2008, when we went through a certified laboratory on the Internet at http://www.enterolab.com, we started on a long road to becoming aware of gluten intolerance and celiac disease. EnteroLab is a registered and fully accredited clinical laboratory specializing in the analysis of intestinal specimens for food sensitivities (reactions by the immune system to common proteins in the diet) that cause a variety of symptoms and diseases. When I look back 3 years ago on all that we have been through, I can honestly say that ‘the world’ has come a long way in gluten free awareness. Grocery stores are doing a much better job at stocking their shelves with gluten free foods. My local Safeway even LABELS the foods when they are gluten free right near the price tag. When I go into restaurants and ask for a gluten free menu, I get less and less of that ‘deer in the headlights’ look. Even if they do not have gluten free options, they at least know what I am talking about. However, I did find it interesting that not ONE Whole Foods in my area, or at Sprouts Market or Sunflower Markets, are there any events geared toward Celiac Awareness month. My family and friends are now aware of our dietary restrictions, and are even brave enough to invite us over to their house for a meal. Some will even buy specific gluten free products, just so we are included in the festivities, whatever they may be. At school, the teachers will go out of their way to ask me what they can give to my daughter for a party or celebration they are having. The music teacher even bought her a gluten free pizza! So, YES, we have come a LONG way in four years. I do know that there are some folks out there who think that it is all a game: just a trendy diet that we decided to go on for the heck of it. I know through the years, I have questioned it myself, especially when I am up until all hours of the night preparing their food for camp or for a trip or for an article I am writing. But then, Charli came along. Charli, my beautiful 6 month old, is my gluten free baby. She has never seen gluten in her life. And she is different from any baby I have ever had or babysat. She is content. That is the only word I can think of to describe her. She is content with life. And I believe it is because she has no interference. She has nothing she is fighting and so her body can work at maximum capacity, and this makes for a very happy baby. And this is why we do it. We are gluten free because our bodies, ALL of us, work better when we are gluten free, and that makes us happier. It makes us less sick. It makes us less tired. It makes us less foggy. It helps us enjoy life. And though it would seem that the only way to enjoy life more would be to be able to eat that big fat juicy pizza crust from the Pizza Place or a big scoop of cookies and cream ice cream from the ice cream parlor. But really, enjoying life is about feeling good and being present in life. And that is what Gluten Free Living is all about for us. Come on over to the other side, try it for 6 months like Charli, I swear you will never look back.
In honor of Celiac Awareness Month, there is no better way to celebrate than with a batch of my peanut butter cookies. My daughter took them to a climbing class party yesterday and they were such a hit that everyone wanted to know where she got them. She did not even TELL them that they were gluten free.
Lisa’s Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup Natural Peanut Butter (The more liquidy the better!)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 T ground flax seeds with ¼ cup hot water
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
2 T Gluten Free Flour (Bob’s Red Mill’s is good and sold at Costco)
½ cup carob chips (optional)
Add peanut butter and brown sugar in a bowl.
In a small bowl add the ground flax to water and let stand for 5 minutes. Add to peanut butter mixture.
Blend dry ingredients together.
Stir in carob chips.
Form into balls, and press with a fork.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
Yields 36 cookies.