Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Gluten-Free Quilt Issue

To Quilts & Beyond!

In spite of sounding like that tinny, pull-string recording of Buzz Light Year, I keep repeating the theme of My Life Beyond Quilts. Perhaps I've poured the essence of my mental and emotional energy into learning everything I could about quilts for the past 5 years, and neglected to honor my other needs. As Creatives, we do this. It's all or nothing, baby! We self-consume. We eat that one food everyday until it grows tasteless, and think, "What have I been missing?" Don't get me wrong. I still adore quilts, but I'm adding a few spices now for flavor. 

I think Bluprint is about the neatest thing since sliced bread, proverbially speaking. (Did you know I can't eat regular glutinous bread?) I told you in the last post that I've been watching everything besides quilting now that I have a Bluprint subscription, and let's say it's been a life changer. 

Right about the time I took up with quilting I discovered I was gluten sensitive. Here's the short story: About 5 years ago I went yeast, dairy, sugar, and gluten free for 2 months to battle a health issue naturally, and my years of joint and hard-to-label pain disappeared. My seasonal allergies all but left, and I could breathe again not to mention the 25 pounds I had lost. I've lived most of my life with a laundry list of allergies, but none were life-threatening. I just knew if I was exposed to or ate too many from the long list I would be congested, itchy, tired, and so on. But as an adult, the game changer was hives, asthma, exhaustion, brain fog and pain. 

Black Eyed Peas and Ham-GF

I couldn't believe how wonderful I felt! It had been years. One by one I added things back into my diet. The first shocker was dairy. If I ate it, I was congested. I snored. I had sinus issues and a history of infections. You see, it was like putting bad gas in this car. I had a reason why this car was backfiring now--literally, but I was also lactose intolerant, I'd found. Sheesh. But raised in dairy country surrounded by dairy production and cheese factories, I opted to eat it in moderation. Today I know when I've had too much, and which things tend to bother me more. During an allergy flare up, I give it up. My body doesn't need to cope with one more thing.

Gluten Free Sweet & Sour Chicken

Now gluten was another beast entirely. Bursitis had plagued me for years, and I'd had chronic shoulder pain. I hobbled when I walked some days. My mother still sewed daily in spite of fingers knotted with arthritis, and I had begun to show the same swollen joints in one hand. The future was looking grim.

Fibromyalgia? I had modified my life around the pain, brain fog, and exhaustion. As a matter of fact, I was used to naming it as a catch all to explain everything that was wrong health-wise on a bad day. Hot mess would have been a better term. Who could have imagined getting these problem foods out of my diet for even that short time of a couple months meant nearly all those things disappeared. Certainly not me, but it was far too big of a change to ignore. 

Adding gluten back in proved to be a disaster. I noticed it first in my hands. I would eat gluten one day, and by the next I had swollen, red, or achy joints. Of course, I had to test this many times, and certainly I've fallen off the gluten free wagon many times in the past several years. Months of feeling wonderful make the problems fuzzy in one's mind. One bite here, a sip of beer there, and paying for it with a major flare up of what appeared to be fibromyalgia. No gluten equals no fibromyalgia symptoms, joint problems, digestive issues, etc. I should never eat it again, but let me tell you sister, food issues are NOT easy to live with!

Watching the Blueprint series with Shauna James Ahern as the first stepping stone was truly empowering. I'd lived for years using only a few gluten-free mixes I could find in stores or online, and quite honestly, many were awful. Did you know most gluten free items are about twice the price you'd pay for a regular mix? Yes, I usually pay over $5 for a loaf of bread half the size of regular bread! In a few hours I had a handle on the flours, the fats, and the binders, and this lady was just enjoyable to hang with! I'd love if she was my neighbor. You know? 

Join Bluprint For Just $100 & Get a Free Project Box!  (through 1/31)

One beautiful thing I must point out: She is joyful to teach you that baking gluten-free is not hard. It does take preparation to keep these different flours on hand, but her recipes are made to tweak. In every lesson I've heard several options to turn that one base recipe into something else, and trust me, people who are gluten free are ecstatic for options! We have had so few.

Gluten-Free Girl American Classics Reinvented by [Ahern, Shauna James, Ahern, Daniel]

Join Bluprint or just buy her class. Buy her books. She's well within the general person's reach to eat happy, and stick to a gluten free existence.

Preparing Homemade Chicken Stock

One more totally worthy, love, love, love cookbook series, and not on Bluprint, is by Nicole Hunn. Every single recipe I've tried has been a hit out of the park. 

Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

She also inserts suggestions and swaps for people eating with other common food allergies. At any given family gathering, we have sensitivities from mild to extreme to gluten, egg, fish, dairy, and a slew of spices. Yeah, it's interesting to say the least.

In full disclosure, my husband and I haven't eaten out in 8 days. Not a burger or even coffee at a drive-thru. Zero. Nothing. It has to be a record. Yes, it's taken more time to plan, shop, and cook, but there is the consolation of everyone sitting down together, expecting the food to wow them, and no one getting sick! 

I feel by telling you this I've lifted a weight off my chest. How does that happen? Life beyond the quilt studio is complicated, and this one change has made a world of difference. If my word of the year is honor, I'm honoring my own needs and those of my family first. Clean, tasty food makes us tremendously happy!

Sourdough Starter
(Gluten-Free, of course)

Excuse me while I go check on my starter I mixed yesterday. The smell is heavenly, and there will be sourdough bread by the weekend, I hope. My mom is heading down for a mother-daughter sewing day, and I have lunch to plan. The next time we meet I'll tell you about a huge stack of quilts that were donated, and another nearly ready to go. The Gnadenhutten Quilt Project is strong and alive!

I hope you take time to take care of you. Learn something new. Solve a problem. Read a book. Be inspired. And if you're so inspired to try out Bluprint, kindly follow the link through Pink Doxies. As always, it costs you nothing, and helps keep the fabric cupboard full, and lights burning.

Thank you.

Come on, Doxie girls. 
Let's go sew.


Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

Glad to hear you figured out what was causing you so much trouble. And yeah to yummy foods that don't make you sick. I have food intolerances, and it's a pain. I generally will eat stuff just because it's easier. Happy quilting with your mom.

Barb Neiwert said...

Julie - how come you were writing about me??? Thank you for venturing away from the sewing room to address something of major concern for you, and as it turns out, for others! I was diagnosed with fibro more than 20 years ago, and basically told it was just something to live with. Bah, humbug! So refreshing to hear of a Real Life Story of a solution that works. Thank you for the inspiration to delve deeper into my diet to tweak and modify and improve. I already have Bluprint, so will check out the lesson you suggested. :)

Linda Swanekamp said...

I discovered my husband's celiac disease when I was don a food elimination diet for migraines over 20 years ago. Back then, there were few cookbooks or supplies. All his five siblings have it, but I discovered and educated them about celiac. Recently, my niece, also celiac, went on the autoimmune protocol diet and found that sugar in addition to gluten was a huge problem for her whole system. It is still hard to find somewhere to eat out and good bread. There is gluten free beer now, and he is thankful for that. I could use some new recipes as the cookbooks have probably improved.

Rebecca Grace said...

Oh, WOW -- I never would have thought that food allergies could cause that severity and range of symptoms!! And you had to do the total elimination for two months and then reintroduce gradually to confirm which foods were causing you grief, right? Your doctor couldn't just do a skin prick allergy test and then print you out a list a few days later? I've suspected for years that my husband has some food sensitivities/issues but he "got tested" for allergies at his primary care physician's office and "they said" he doesn't have any. Well, I am glad that you and your family have not only discovered the root causes of all of this pain and suffering, but that you have found the silver lining under the storm cloud and used these food allergies as a catalyst to gather around the table once again, enjoying one another's company and enjoying the too-rare pleasure of a homemade meal.

KaHolly said...

I’m blessed with no food issues, but my daughter did the purge a couple of winters ago, and it was amazing what we learned! Good job taking care of yourself and your family beyond the quilt studio. I’ll surely pass these links along to friends I know on gluten free diets. They’ll be overjoyed!