Category Archives: Gluten Free Lifestyle

It Is What It Is…

My mother-in-law used to say, “It is what it is,” all the time. It used to kind of make me a little crazy. But now I find myself saying it all the time. My MIL passed away a couple of years ago and we, my husband and I, find ourselves thinking of her often. She was quite the gypsy, with an infectious spirit. I truly loved her and miss her a lot.

Ginger with DennyWhat I’ve discovered in my quest to find the healthiest foods and best diets, pills, potions, etc. to lose weight and get healthy is this – it’s still calories in vs. calories out when you’re trying to lose weight. Once you figure that out, the rest doesn’t matter as much. I’ve gone back to the same strategies I used when I did Weight Watchers and lost lots of weight. I’m now using My Fitness Pal, which I absolutely love. It makes the whole calorie-counting chore a lot easier to deal with. It’s even easier than Weight Watchers. I absolutely love the app on my phone.

I wish I could say that it makes a difference if the calories are nutrient-dense or if they’re just junk calories. But truthfully, it doesn’t. You may be hungrier if you eat empty calories versus eating spinach and broccoli, but if you stick to your calorie allotment for the day, you will lose weight. And exercise does matter. You can’t just take a pill, eat what you want, do no exercise and expect anything to change. It’s just not going to happen. You have to get your butt up off that couch and get moving! That’s how you burn more calories than you consume. It has always been that way, and always will be.

Stock photo courtesy WebMD

Stock photo courtesy of WebMD

I’m really relieved to make this discovery. It takes the unknown out of the equation. I can no longer say, “I just don’t know how I’m gonna lose this weight.” Because now I most definitely know the answer. I’ve gotten back up on that horse and started my weight loss journey again, armed with the right tools and mindset. I like Paleo and use my Practical Paleo cookbook a lot, but I don’t practice it anywhere near 90% of the time, or even 80%. Well, maybe it’s close to 80%. But somedays are better than others. And I love beans. So, I do some Paleo. And I do some other stuff. I just watch how much I eat.

There are, of course, some restrictions in my daily diet now that I never had to deal with before – I’m 100% gluten/wheat-free and casein/dairy-free 100% of the time. I can no longer have them since discovering my intolerances. Bummer. I really loved bread and cheese. They just didn’t love me back. In fact, they were kind of mean to me. They really did hurt me. So, our love affair is over and all I have are the memories. Sigh.assortment of baked bread on wood table

But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy other foods that are good for my mind and body. I still can enjoy a cookie or a piece of chocolate (dark only, though) as long as it’s gluten/casein-free. They have them out there now. I hate it for people who couldn’t have things and had to really go without for years before companies finally started making things special for folks with allergies. But I really try to keep my sugar intake to a very low minimum most days. I know that sugar is the worst thing for my body. I just don’t metabolize it right. Even smoothies with more fruit in them. I will gain a lot of weight just from adding smoothies into my regular diet. So, I have to keep those out.

And I can still have WINE! That’s important.

IMG_4811 - Version 2

I got back on my Shakeology too, which I love! It actually helps with my sweet cravings most of the time. I can’t believe I went so long without using it. But I’m back to using it now, thank goodness. It really makes a HUGE difference in how I feel. If I ever feel like I’m not getting quite enough veggies in my life, the Shakeology will give me a little extra boost.

I’m well into my journey now. I’ve already lost 10 pounds since I started nearly two months ago. I’m down to a weight I haven’t seen in several years. And that makes me exceptionally happy. And to think, I could have done this a long time ago if I hadn’t gotten distracted with all the latest diet crazes out there right now. But that’s okay. It’s been a wonderful learning experience. As always, I’m a work in progress.

To a longer, healthier and happier life.


A Candy-Free Halloween

As someone who’s been gluten-free for a while now, I should know better. But yesterday I “glutenated” myself with a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Ok, so it was obviously more than one. It’s a well known fact that no one can eat just one.) I really used to love those things, but I now know all too well just how bad they really are. I also noticed a weird chemical after taste that I don’t remember ever existing before. And of course, being highly sensitive to whatever is in these little cups besides peanut butter, I was sick for the rest of the night.
Which brings me to my Halloween decision for this year — a candy-free Halloween! I’m not being a revolutionary deciding this, as there are clearly lots of families who’ve given up the candy idea for healthier, more fun options. I read a fun blog post, “Real Food Tips: 20 Ways to do Halloween without candy” listing all kinds of alternatives to handing out candy along with some great ideas on what to do with all the masses of candy your kid will collect on his or her Trick or Treating outing. I personally love the idea of handing out the glow sticks. And as I read through the comments on the post, one person mentioned decorating clementines like little jack-o-lanterns with a Sharpie! Love that idea, too.

So, if you want to kick the GMO candy habit and go for something fun and healthy, use a little imagination and come up with something creative on your own. Or use one of the many fun ideas floating around on Pinterest and several blogs out there by super crafty moms. There’s nothing wrong with sharing a great idea and keeping all the nasty, GMO-laced candy out of our kiddos this Halloween. Or all the candy-filled holidays to come, for that matter. There’s no better time to start building healthy habits for our children than right now.

And just in case you aren’t familiar with all the GMO candies out there, here’s a great list.

Incidentally, GMOs are not the only reason to forego the candy at all the holidays, of course, but they happen to be completely unchecked in 90% of the candy out on the market that our kids just love to beg for. If you happen to live in California, you can help make a huge difference in the fight to get GMOs labeled in ALL foods, including all the candy within your child’s reach at every check out counter on the planet. California residents please VOTE YES to PROP 37!! We all have a right to know what’s in our food, especially the food our children love to eat!


A bowl full of fun surprises…stickers, dracula teeth, scary finger tips, whistles…none of which contain GMOs or contribute to sugar overload. Win-win!

Have a safe and healthy Halloween!

To a happier, healthier and longer life.

A Long Hiatus


Yes, it’s been a few months since I’ve posted anything, but I’ve been in a huge transition. I had no idea just how crazy it would be to move from Germany to California with a couple of stops in between. But we’ve finally landed and gotten all of our stuff unpacked. Whew! It’s been a big learning experience, to say the least. Have I mentioned that I really hate moving?

California desert living, though, has been pretty awesome so far. The temperatures are amazing, the mornings and evenings are cool while there’s plenty of sunshine all day long. I missed the sunshine during my time in Germany, so this has been heavenly. We’ve also moved to California at a very interesting time – Prop 37, which will require GMOs to be labeled on food packaging, is being promoted very heavily across the state of California leading up to the big election. President Obama and Gov. Romney are having their big debates, too. America is quite heated on both sides of the fence and the tension is growing. How exciting!

But now, as fall arrives, I’m distracted by all things of the season. I love fall and am excited to be back stateside for the fall season this year. I signed up for an organic produce delivery here on base,, and pick up lots of fun local produce every week. I love it! Along with the traditional produce, each week something that I’m not really familiar with comes along, like Chinese okra, or Delicata squash. Fun things that give me a chance to learn something totally new to me. Eeek!!!

I’ve been inspired so much since arriving here in SoCal. I’ve taken up canning and I’m expanding my knowledge base in this area. I’ve always made my own salsa and canned it, but now I’m venturing into jams and soups and have plans to can more diverse foods for my shelves. I canned salsa and soup yesterday with plans to do more jam this week. When my box arrives, I’m always excited to see what fun things will inspire me. These past two weeks it’s been pomegranates. And they’re amazing! So, I’m making some variety of pomegranate jam, probably combining them with some peaches or pears or both.

So, this is a short post this week, but I wanted to get back here and let everyone know that I’ve made it from one part of the world to the other safely and happily. I have some work to do today, so I’ll write more next time. And don’t worry, I’ll be sharing my food adventures with you all soon!

To a happier, healthier and longer life.


I’m Not Trying to Be Hip – Just Healthy

I just read this articleJust because you have given up sugar, gluten and carbs – don’t ram it down my throat,” and I expected to be really pissed off. But in the end, I actually chuckled and realized the writer has a point. And I’ve noticed it, too.

Yes, it’s true – everyone’s giving up something these days – sugar, gluten, dairy, etc. And I’m one of them. I gave up gluten last August, and in January it was dairy. I feel like I’m just another one of the many people out there who are taking on the air of superiority because I have eliminated whole food groups. I know what she’s talking about – I’ve seen it and heard it myself.

But I’m not one of those people. I did have conversations with my doctor. I did get tested for Celiac. (I tested negative, thank goodness!) My doctor and I had very candid conversations about what was going on with my body and how to make it feel better.

In the end, once we figured out which two (yes, TWO) foods I had to give up, he asked me, “Can you live like that?”

I knew right then that I had to make a choice – to either fully give up two food groups that I dearly loved or suffer the consequences, including surgery to “correct” a problem in my stomach. Is surgery preferable over changing my diet? I don’t think so…

So, yes, I do understand why this person (and many others, I’m sure, as is evident from the various quotes in the story) have come to hate on the abstainers. Normal people must look at us GFCF (Gluten-free Casein-free) folks and the other various groups out there who have given up on the good stuff and think we’re idiots.

Who would give up all bread, pasta, cake, cheese, yogurt, etc. if they didn’t have to? Seriously!!

So, I agree with her point – not everyone should be doing this! If you don’t have to give up food groups, then DON’T!! It’s really a lot more of a challenge than you might think. And it’s sooooo hard to do every day.

It’s almost as hard as giving up cigarettes.

I read Dr. Davis’ book, “Wheat Belly” and couldn’t stop reading it.  I actually agree with him on most of what the book talks about, especially the fact that wheat has been fundamentally changed, and is now a widely used GMO. And giving up wheat is probably a very good idea – or at least cutting down.

The real problem is that we, as in humans, eat far too much of it. No wonder it has had such an impact on our waistlines over the past 20+ years. No one was ever meant to eat bread three times a day! That’s a lot of starch…

But what of the superiority? What about the fact that in my childhood, food allergies were so miniscule, I never knew anyone with a food allergy until college, at that was one of those Anaphylaxis types to nuts!

No one ever had food allergies. No one ever had Celiac (never even heard of this until much, much later.) No one was sensitive to certain foods.

And no one weighed 200 lbs. at age 14, either.

Today’s world is not the same one we grew up in. We’ve been subjected to far too many changes in our food supply. I strongly believe there are consequences for that. We have been eating highly processed food for far too long and the effects of that are catching up to us.

Yes, we have a lot more intolerances and allergies these days. What we’ve been eating has attacked our defenses and made us all more vulnerable. I think that living the way I did for more than 20 years created a perfect storm in my body, causing it to attack itself when certain foods came into play. And wouldn’t you know it? It was the two food groups I ate most of the time – bread and cheese! I think my body just got to a point where it just couldn’t handle it any more. It was trying to let me know by acting out – like a child.

I hate that I can’t eat bread or cheese anymore. It really sucks. But at least I don’t have to have surgery.

And if I ever get all high and mighty with my friends about the fact that I’m GFCF, I would hope that they care enough about me to let me know I’m starting to sound a bit like an ass.

To a healthier, happier and longer life.

Gluten-Free Ain’t All Bad…Learning Through Mistakes

So, I’ve been going through the trials and tribulations of learning to go gluten-free. I’ve made some mistakes along the way (who knew wheat was the number two ingredient in soy sauce?) but I’ve also made some very wonderful discoveries that will definitely help me in the future. Without mistakes, there is no learning. Right? Right!

One thing I have learned is what my initial symptom, or my tell, is when I’ve been glutened. And I think this is extremely important as it lets me know right away when gluten has been surreptitiously slipped into my food without my knowledge. And I can easily pinpoint the culprit so as not to make the same mistake twice. Finding your initial reaction (for me, it’s the onset of acid reflux) is critical in finding your way in a gluten-free world. So, the next time you go to a restaurant and ask for gluten-free pasta, you’ll know if  your request was honored or if you had some self-righteous chef in the back who thinks he knows better than you. (Yes, it happens!) So, learn your tell!

I also discovered that being gluten-free doesn’t mean I can’t eat wonderful foods that I grew up loving – comfort foods! Just this week I decided it was high time to pull out my crock pot and get it stoked for the fall season.

First I made beef stew, chock full of wonderful veggies, potatoes and beef chunks. I used some gluten-free beef stock (Progresso stocks are actually labeled gluten-free) to add that little extra flavor. YUM! Next, I wanted to get more work done so I thought the crock pot could be my savior again. So, chilli was on the menu – ground turkey, pinto beans, fresh tomatoes and some green chilies, along with fresh-cut onions and garlic. Delish! Worcestershire sauce and the previously mentioned beef stock added plenty of extra flavor along with some tomato sauce – gluten-free, of course.

I discovered that you have to pay special attention to your seasonings. My spice rack, as it turns out, is full of monosodium glutamateMSG. It took me a few bouts of acid reflux to figure this one out when I should have picked up on it right away.

A lot of blends (season salts, Everglades – my husband’s favorite, etc.) contain MSG, so you need to make sure to check their labels. Also, be aware of the seasonings that are manufactured in plants that also process products containing wheat. Tastefully Simple, for example, puts it right on their label that they use facilities that process wheat products. So, check your seasonings – some of the best, most popular blends contain MSG and this stuff, if you react the way I do, will cause serious pain. Ouch!

But I’ve discovered how lovely the Mrs. Dash seasoning blends really are. So many varieties, no gluten and no salt – what’s not to love about them? I use them quite liberally on practically everything from eggs to salads to the chilli I made for dinner last night. You just can’t go wrong with them.

It seems for every mistake I make, I learn something new and exciting to make up for the acid reflux pain. And that’s quite alright with me. The great news overall is I’m learning to live this gluten-free life and have been able to control my acid reflux, which has plagued me for several years, without medication. I’ve officially gone off of the Nexium I’ve been taking forever. And that makes me quite happy.

So, get out there and make some mistakes! You never learn anything without them.

To a healthier, happier and longer life.

Is Flavored Coffee Gluten-Free?

All coffee, regular and decaf, is naturally gluten-free. However, when it comes to the ingredients (usually hidden with words like “natural and artificial flavors“) used to created the flavor, these are usually not gluten-free. I personally love flavored coffee and do not think adding a flavored creamer is the same. So, I sent an email to my favorite coffee company to inquire.

This is the email I received in return:

Dear Ms. Cordell,

Thank you for contacting The J.M. Smucker Company regarding our Millstone® coffee products. For over 110 years, consumer safety and product quality have been of paramount importance to our company.

Coffee is not a source of gluten and our Millstone® roast and ground coffee items are produced in a dedicated facility where no other types of agricultural crops are handled or processed. However, due to the use of common equipment within the agricultural community to harvest, store and transport crops, our roast and ground products may contain trace amounts of grain-based ingredients.

Additionally, our flavored coffee products may contain added ingredients that are not gluten free.

Thank you again for your interest. We hope that you will continue to enjoy our products for years to come. If you should have further questions or need additional information, please visit us at or contact us at 800-522-7894, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.



Consumer Relations Representative

Most responses from other coffee manufacturers will be the same – they mention the agricultural practices and cross contamination, which generally isn’t a problem but keeps them from being able to claim their product is gluten-free. The real problem with the flavored coffees is the ingredients used to create the flavors. Until we are made aware of what those ingredients are and can verify if they are gluten-free or not, we have to assume they are not safe.

If you have Celiac, you should avoid flavored coffees unless they state on their package they are gluten-free.


To a healthier, happier and longer life.

Beginning A New Way Of Life…Going Gluten-Free

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have only just, at the age of 41, discovered I have an Intolerance for wheat gluten. I have been living gluten-free in the months since. It’s only been two months so far – I feel incredible, but I am feeling the pangs of loss.

For bread.

And pasta.

I haven’t had wheat bread or pasta since the end of the summer. (sigh)

I know there are lots of people out there who have Celiac or wheat gluten intolerance or an allergy and I’m not an isolated case. Those people do not feel sorry for me at all. Some people have never really been able to enjoy wheat or pasta, or cereal, or cookies, or cakes…there are many things that contain wheat gluten out there. And I don’t feel sorry for me either.

I shouldn’t.

And I won’t ever be tempted to eat it, either. Because I know the consequences if I ever do.

Before I discovered my issue with wheat, I felt horrible all the time. The worst part is I didn’t realize how sick I felt until I got better. I honestly thought it was my age creeping up on me and that it would only get worse as I got older. That part made me sad and I was trying everything to keep it from happening. I was working out several times a week, probably pushing myself more than I needed to leaving myself open for injuries. I was always on some new diet to help keep my weight down, which was nearly impossible since my insulin and leptin levels were out of whack.

And nothing was helping. I hurt all the time. I felt lethargic and chronically fatigued. I lacked motivation constantly and had to really mentally overcome it every day. It was a daily struggle. Can you believe I thought this was normal?

One week after going off the gluten (all grains, in fact) I had a complete, unexpected turn around in my overall health. It was amazing! I talked to my doctor about it and he told me I didn’t need a test to verify what I already know. Plus, I would actually have to go back on gluten for four weeks in order to do the blood test for Celiac. But, I wasn’t willing to go back.

Today I’m pain free and have had a complete recovery of my energy. I don’t feel lethargic all the time anymore. I had an itchy, red rash on my scalp that has cleared up, too. Changing my lifestyle and making the bread sacrifice has been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m curious to see what other ailments are related to my gluten intolerance and if they will be alleviated as well over time.

There are many different symptoms of Celiac disease, wheat allergies and a general intolerance for wheat gluten. My symptoms represent only a handful of symptoms which also include chronic diarrhea, malnutrition, weight loss and anemia. If you think you may have Celiac or a wheat sensitivity, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to rule out Celiac first.

Unfortunately there is no test for any wheat intolerance except for Celiac, which presents with damage to the villi in the intestines. A biopsy is the only way to confirm Celiac disease. If you test negative for Celiac, it doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from an elimination of wheat gluten from your diet. You may still have wheat sensitivity and a diet devoid of gluten may be a good treatment for your symptoms.

If you have any symptoms and suspect you may have a wheat sensitivity of any kind, talk to your doctor about your options.

I still can’t believe the difference going gluten-free has made in my life. I feel better than I have in the past 10 years – I have plenty of energy, I don’t feel swollen or puffy any more, I don’t feel pain any more. I feel like I’ve just gained back 10 years of my life.

But I still miss bread and pasta. What can I say?

To a healthier, happier and longer life.