Marie Kawaguchi is a Northern Utahn who was diagnosed with celiac disease over 16 years ago. Through From the Community, she’ll share gluten-free recipes and stories of support for others with the disease. She enjoys spending time with family, reading, watching movies and more.
“Knowledge is Power.” — Sir Frances Bacon
When our children were small, I worked a part-time job in the evenings, and when I returned home each evening, I would relax by reading through cookbooks. My favorite was “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook” (my kids gave me this as a gift one year), as it contained from scratch recipes made the way our grandmothers cooked. I would search out recipes that matched the ingredients I had on hand, and those recipes became the week’s menu. Not only did this help me stretch our food dollars, but my family was exposed to new dishes, and I learned a lot about cooking and foods in general along the way. All my reading benefited me in ways I hadn’t expected.
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When dining out after I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I knew anything listed on the menu as “au gratin” meant “with cheese,” but it also meant there would be flour in that recipe, so it was off-limits. The same was the case for dishes with “fricassee,” “gumbo” or “rue” in the name or description. Amazing what a little learning can do!
Oh, but I wasn’t home free by any means. I spent many hours educating myself on food ingredients used by manufacturers so I could knowledgeably read labels at the supermarket. When I was diagnosed many years ago — unlike today — there were very few resources available to people who needed to eat gluten free. I researched what I could on the internet, made phone calls to manufacturing companies, attended conferences and contacted support groups to educate myself further.
I have even been known to call a company on my cell phone as I stand in the aisle at Costco to confirm a food’s contents. And I’m still learning. Do I know everything there is to know about celiac? Absolutely not. I will be the first to tell you I cannot rattle off the names of pertinent blood tests, genes or associated T cells. But I have learned a lot about food.
My point is, education is everything. When I am confronted by anything new, educating myself offers me insight, provides me knowledgeable choices and makes me feel stronger in the end. And it will for you too.
Today, anyone diagnosed with celiac disease is only a mouse click away from anything they’ve ever wanted to know about the disease or any other condition. Here are some of my favorite websites:
Vegetarian Times (http://www.vegetariantimes.com/) has some wonderful gluten-free recipes, as do many paleo websites. My favorite paleo cookbook is “The Paleo Approach Cookbook,” by Sarah Ballantyne. “The Wheat Belly Book” is another of my favorite books. It’s filled with great medical information and recipes. And let’s not forget that Pinterest and Facebook are both filled with gluten-free recipes. But I do urge that any recipe — from any site — be carefully reviewed to ensure it’s truly gluten free. It’s as easy to get bad information as it is to get good information.
My favorite phone app is Find Me Gluten Free, which is available through Google Play. My husband and I use it frequently, especially when we’re traveling. The app shows restaurants near you, their locations, their ratings, customers’ comments and more. It even provides news on gluten-free topics. For example, as I looked at it recently, I saw an article on the best vegetarian, gluten-free restaurants in Denver and how to find sweet gluten-free treats for your valentine.
If you are hesitant to dine out, you will be happy to know that more and more restaurants are becoming gluten-savvy. Some of my favorite local restaurants with gluten-free items are the Union Grill, Roosters Brewing, Prairie Schooner Steakhouse, Brixton’s Baked Potato, Costa Vida, Noodles & Company and Warrens Craft Burger. Outside of Weber County, I love Thai Jasmine (Syracuse), The Mandarin (Bountiful), Twigs Bistro (Farmington), P.F.Chang’s (Salt Lake City) and Oasis Cafe (Salt Lake City). Many restaurants now show their menus on their websites, so it’s easy to review available gluten-free options before heading over. In fact, most restaurants now offer a full list of ingredients for different dishes, calorie counts or information about whether a dish is considered heart-healthy.
Education, knowledge and action are the three most important and empowering aspects of life, and even more so when an individual must navigate a path not common to everyone. One must gather the facts that are pertinent, make decisions based on that information and determine the necessary actions for a successful result, whatever that may mean.
As a person with celiac disease, once I’ve gathered the facts about a restaurant’s menu or a recipe I’m considering, I must determine whether the menu item or recipe is in my best interests. If I were to not do this and chose something I know to be harmful (which I would never do), I’d only have myself to blame for the consequences.
So, do a little research, call or email your selected restaurant to clarify your dining options, and enjoy!