Category Archives: Gluten Free

Why No One Figured Out Food Was Making Me Sick

Allow me to introduce you to Amy.  Her story of food allergies and the journey to find out what was making her sick, is an interesting one.  Now, I will let Amy tell you for herself.

Why No One Figured Out Food Was Making Me Sick

Five minutes. That’s all it took for golf ball-sized hail to destroy the four gorgeous pots of flowers I’d just set out on the patio. In two days our extended family was gathering for a dinner party to celebrate a wedding; I’d have to scurry to find more flowers. What a waste of time and money.




What I didn’t realize at the time was that the hail had also completely destroyed our roof along with many windows as well as the siding of our house. I’d be spending the entire summer dealing with the insurance company and contractors. Losing those flowers were small potatoes.

Sometimes we focus on the little things and entirely miss the big picture.

This is exactly what happened when I started getting sick in my thirties. The doctors focused on each of my symptoms—from vertigo to chronic pain– entirely missing the symptoms were all a part of the same illness.

The first doctor said my blood pressure was high and put me on meds. The second one told me my iron was low but brushed it off to a poor diet. Another doctor said the pain in my chest was GERD and prescribed meds. A dietitian told me I was malnourished and gave me a diet to follow. A gastroenterologist gave me meds for IBS. Another gastroenterologist told me to go eat fried foods and if I got sick, I most likely needed my gallbladder removed.  A gynecologist told me I needed a total hysterectomy.

Each time I got a diagnosis, I let out a sigh of relief.  At least it wasn’t cancer.

Still, something wasn’t adding up. After all these tests and procedures, followed by a hysterectomy and gall bladder surgery, my symptoms worsened. In fact, I became so exhausted I couldn’t get out of bed. Everything I ate made me run to the bathroom. I couldn’t remember what year it was, or how long I’d been married. Pain shot through my entire body. My legs caved when I walked up the stairs. My eyesight weakened, and I kept developing weird skin lesions. I itched all over.

I’d about given up when I saw an advertisement in our local paper for a food allergy blood test. Not one doctor had suggested food might be causing my symptoms—even though I now know reactions to food can cause all the symptoms I experienced.

When the blood test came back, I argued with the pharmacy that something must have gone wrong in the lab—I couldn’t possibly be allergic to that many foods!

So I went to a board-certified allergist for skin-prick testing. He confirmed I was allergic to myriad foods, including dairy, soy, eggs, corn, wheat, vanilla, nutmeg and asparagus.

I’d received negative results for celiac disease years earlier, but a new doctor ran a genetic test and confirmed celiac disease. Turns out I have both genes for celiac disease; either one parent has both genes, like me, or each carries one gene.  An endoscopy also revealed I have eosinophilic esophagitis, which explained why food often got stuck on the way down.

At first, I found it hard to believe food could make me so sick.  I was an adult—adults don’t develop food allergies! But as soon as I started eliminating certain foods, my health improved—immensely!

The prescribed painkillers for chronic pain and the antibiotics that followed all those procedures and surgeries in all likelihood contributed to a leaky gut and resulting food allergies and celiac disease. Certainly they didn’t help. Nor did the gluten-filled saltines I kept eating for an upset stomach!

I’ve learned a valuable lesson: Pay attention to the details, but look at the big picture. While each doctor had his or her theory for the cause of a symptom, my instinct was that all my symptoms were part of a bigger problem. I’ve since learned celiac disease can have over 300 symptoms!




It took some time, but the flowers I thought had been destroyed by the hail eventually grew back. They don’t look quite as pretty as when I brought them home, but they are getting stronger and healthier.

Just like me.

A Gluten-Free/Dairy Free Scone Disaster

I have been baking scones and freezing them the last few days.  I have some organic half and half that needs to be used up; so I am baking.

My favorite scone has lemon or orange zest and poppy seeds (sometimes substituted with Chia seeds when there are no poppy seeds).  My husband’s favorite scone has chocolate chips and sliced almonds in it (sometimes with a little coconut thrown in for good measure).

Thursday I made a batch of my scones and substituted Chia seeds because the organic poppy seeds I had ordered didn’t arrive. I also made a batch of my husband’s scones.  I decided to be a little creative and added some almond flour. The recipe calls for 2 cups of flour and I substituted 1/2 cup almond flour for part of the organic wheat flour.  They tasted very good.

This morning I woke up determined to use the last of my half and half before it went bad.  Again I made a batch of my scones using lemon zest (need to order some more orange zest) and Chia seeds.  I also decided I would bake another batch of scones for my husband.

This is where I became a little over creative.  The batch on Thursday with 1/2 cup of almond flour and 1 1/2 cups of organic wheat flour had been good.  Why not change things up?  I decided to make this batch totally gluten-free.  For the 2 cups of flour required in the recipe I used 1 1/2 cups almond flour and 1/2 cup coconut flour (since I add coconut anyway) and a handful of unsulfured coconut.  Hmm, I thought. Why not substitute the tablespoon of sugar with coconut sugar (denser and dryer than I thought but I went for it anyway).  Well, if I was going to go gluten-free, why not go dairy free?  I substituted the half and half for almond milk (left over from my daughter’s visit) and mixed it with the two eggs.

So, if I am going dairy free, I should use dairy-free mini chocolate chips.  I mixed everything together and patted it out into a circle on  parchment paper.  I brushed the entire surface with a little of the almond milk/egg mixture and added a few more dairy-free chocolate chips and slivered almonds.  Into the oven it went.

25 minutes later, I pulled out the scones with the melted chocolate chips and slivered almonds on top of a golden brown crust.  My husband walks in a little while later and takes a slice of his favorite scone right off the baking sheet.  He immediately asks what I did different.  He says they are grainy and hard to swallow.  Uh Oh!  I had to taste them for myself.  And yes they were a little gritty tasting and kind of stuck to the back of my throat when I swallowed, calling for a quick glass of water to get them down.

What went wrong?  Should I have balanced the almond flour and coconut flour better?  Should I have used coconut syrup instead of coconut sugar?  Should I have used more almond milk or added an extra egg?  I just don’t know!  If any of you who have baked gluten-free have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.  Until then, I may not be trying this again for a bit.

Catch Up Mondays: How Allergies Prevent a 50 Shades of Grey Life

A Lot of Women around the Pool are Reading the Same Book

Amanda from Celiac and Allergy Adventures featured a blog post with this title.  I loved how she compared allergies and Celiac Disease with the book, 50 Shades of Grey.  For me adding in mold and chemical sensitivities and Amanda has it right on.  I thought I had posted this in 2012 but in searching my past blog posts I only found a few comments and Amanda’s text wasn’t shown.  So for all of you, please visit Amanda’s blog and read this post.

Catch Up Mondays: The Holidays are approaching; are you ready?

This was first posted on November 6, 2012.  The holidays are here again and we are all asking the same question.  Are we ready?  How will we handle the holidays with chemical sensitivity as well as food allergies?  It is difficult.  I have been fortunate that my family is always cooperative and we manage to make it through without too many issues.  The picture below was my first Thanksgiving at my house in 2004.  I am posting this early because I have another post scheduled for Monday.

Thanksgiving at my house.

Thanksgiving at my house.

The holidays are approaching.  Are you ready?  Someone Googled “Christmas with multiple chemical sensitivity” and found my post on mold spores and cross contamination.  I Googled it myself and found my blog post on page 6.  The holidays are hard for everyone with the craziness of shopping, decorating, wrapping gifts, preparing for company and planning dinners.  For those of us with multiple chemical sensitivity life becomes even more difficult and we have to be so much more creative.

My sensitivities had peaked by the end of 2003 when I came home after being in Dallas at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas for nearly a year.  My husband had been working on a safe house for me without carpets and other toxic substances.  I had rented a computer in November while still in Dallas to try to do some Christmas shopping online.  I was determined that there would be a Christmas someway, somehow.  My family would not go without some gift from me.  I arrived home on December 22nd.  The house was not finished.  The only rooms tiled were a bedroom for me to sleep in and the guest bathroom.  I had my cot and a washer and dryer.  I arrived home to a stack of boxes and two days to get it together.

Christmas morning arrived.  My family (daughters, mother, dad and sister) arrived.  The living room floor was just concrete.  There was no furniture so I borrowed some metal folding chairs from my sister.  There was no tree so I tied a bow on an oscillating fan that my husband had been using while working on the house and gently placed a few packages down around its base.  My husband made coffee at the house next door and brought it in for my family to drink.  The house was cold because the heat wasn’t hooked up yet, made even colder by the cold concrete underneath our feet.  The only heat I could provide was from a small ceramic heater that I used in the bedroom.   We survived the opening of gifts and then everyone left me alone in my room to go to my mother’s for Christmas dinner.  Oh how I wish I had a picture of the fan to share with you all.

The following year was Thanksgiving.  By this time I had some wicker furniture in the living room and a table in the kitchen.  My house was now to be my safe place and no one could enter without wearing the beautiful and elegant white tyek suits to protect me from possible mold and fragrances.  They also wore white painter hats and booties to cover their hair from fragrances  and cover their shoes from whatever they might have on them.  The photo I am sharing is what Thanksgiving looked like at my house.

My point in this post is to let others know that yes holidays are hard  with multiple chemical sensitivity but there are ways to make it work.  If you can’t go to shop like me, there is an abundant amount of online shops.  The trick is to have an idea of what you want to buy.  The first time I tried it, I became panic-stricken and began to cry.  It isn’t like going to the mall and picking up something you see that you know would be perfect for Aunt Ginny or cousin Susy.  It takes time, patience and practice but it can be done.  Wrapping paper is another issue.  Solutions can be something as simple as plain tissue paper or kraft paper that doesn’t have all the inks or shine of traditional wrapping paper.  My second Christmas after my family all graciously endured the tyvek suits, hats and booties from Thanksgiving, I wanted something better.  I purchased pajama pants for the entire family and plain simple t-shirts.  I laundered them so I could stand them and one by one my family entered the garage, changed from their “stinky perfumed things” into my safe clothes and walked into my living room.  For the first time Christmas felt a little more normal.  We all looked like we had just gotten out of bed and went straight to work celebrating Christmas.  We just had a pajama day.

Christmas dinner was what I could eat and what anyone else wanted to bring as long as the aroma from the food wouldn’t bother me.  I ate what I could eat and left the other food to everyone else.  We have continued this way of celebrating the holidays.  It may not be everyone’s normal, but it is our normal.  I am so fortunate and grateful to have a loving family that supports me and gives me the opportunity of celebrating holidays with them even if it means that they have to step outside their comfort zone to do it.

I would love to hear what others with multiple chemical sensitivity do to celebrate Christmas and other holidays.  I hope that I have answered the question for the next person that searches out chemical sensitivity and Christmas or given hope that there are things that can make it work.

Thank You

I have noticed today that I have several new followers to this blog.  I would like to take a moment to welcome you and say thank you.  Please feel free to comment on blog posts and ask questions. 

You will see that I have a great group of followers who are amazingly helpful as well.

To all of you, both new and long-time followers, I say thank you for wanting to learn more about my story and environmental and chronic illness.  Your support and encouragement mean a lot to me.

Book Blog Tour: Day 12/TWO FOR TUESDAY

Today I have the distinct honor of being hosted by two amazing women on their blogs.  Therefore, today is Two for Tuesday.

ARE YOU AN ALLERGIC FOODIE?  DO MOST OF THE FOODS YOU LOVE MAKE YOU ILL?  Amy of adventures of an allergic foodie  suffers from severe food allergies and will be hosting me on her site where I will be answering some of Amy’s questions.  Amy has chosen to post my interview in two parts (today and tomorrow).  I have been following Amy for about a year and love reading what she has to say about her food allergies and how she deals with them.  One of the first things I did when I started following her was to check Amy’s “About Me” page.  The following sentence caught my eye:  I can’t possibly list all the foods I’m allergic to, but believe me when I say there are few cookbook recipes or restaurant meals I don’t have to modify. Wow, her list of food allergies must look like mine.  There was a time when I only had nine safe foods to eat. And add in celiac disease as well.

I like Amy’s attitude: I do believe obstacles are put in our lifepaths for a reason–and I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to let food allergies hold me back!  It took me a while to realize there had to be a reason for my illness and I needed to take back control of my life in any way possible.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?  The phrase that we often associate with the Verizon cellphone commercial leads me into my second host for today.  I am being hosted by Shanna of lipreading mom who manages everyday life as a mother of three struggling with hearing loss.  She was just 27 at the time.  Shanna’s blog talks about hearing loss, bullying for those that are deaf or hard of hearing, and takes a pro-active stand to help others.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to not be able to understand your child when they are talking to you.  I am thankful that she is bringing awareness to this.

Please visit lipreading mom and read my interview with Shanna.  Then take some time to browse around her blog and learn more about the amazing things she does to help and support others.

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway through the links on their blogs for the chance to win one of three signed copies (US Only) or a gift card to purchase the book for those outside the US.

Book Launch and Book Signing Party

The book launch party and signing were awesome. IMG_1884 I saw some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and met some new people who came because they knew of my story. One high school classmate drove over two hours to come and support me.  Here we are with copies of my book. IMG_1911

The baking went well on Friday although not being able to multi-task any more sure through a kink into my baking day. First mistake was discovered on Friday evening as I went to cut the chocolate almond joy bars to prep them for serving on Saturday. I couldn’t figure out why the chocolate on top was so gooey. Suddenly the light bulb went on in my head. Only 1/3 of the chocolate chips were supposed to be on top and the rest were to be inside. I had two batches with all the chocolate on top. Taking my daughter’s and husband’s advice I put them in the freezer and served them cool. The second big mistake came when I went to take the pumpkin bars out of the oven after the timer went off. They weren’t done! OOPS! I had turned the oven off while I ate dinner and decided whether to make the pumpkin bars or snickerdoodles. The oven was never turned on or hot when I put the bars in the oven. I quickly turned the oven on and they turned out perfectly the second time around in the oven.

Saturday morning arrived and we headed over to the home of my friends Steve and  Victoria to set up for the party. Everyone arrived on time at 2:00 p.m. for the party as fragrant free as they could be by avoiding colognes, perfumes, after shaves, and scented lotions. The food was a success

Goodies to nibble on.

Goodies to nibble on.

and I am glad that I included copies of the recipes (thanks to whoever told me to do this). I signed books and visited. The giveaway of four gift baskets was fun and in the end I gave away a copy of the book.

Today I have been doing the fun things like scrubbing toilets, steaming floors, and laundry to bring me back into reality so that I could get this post done and I need to sign and prepare for mailing the three copies of Allergic to Life from the Goodreads Giveaway.

My Gift Basket Winners

My Gift Basket Winners

Below is a video clip of me thanking those attending.  I will post more pictures during the week.

Book Blog Tour: Day 10

We are nearing the end of the Book Blog Tour.  I have two tour stops this week so this will give you all extra time to make sure you visit all the previous stops of the book tour and enter to win a signed copy through rafflecopter.

Book Blog Tour Day 10 is  being hosted by Amanda of celiac and allergy adventures.  I have been following Amanda for almost as long as my blog as been in existence.  Not only does Amanda suffer from celiac disease, she also suffers from asthma, food allergies and eczema.  I have learned a lot about her journey through following her blog and am glad that we connected in the blogosphere.

Some of the things I have learned from Amanda through her blog and through the About Me section of her blog are that we are similar in some ways:

  • We both have had anaphylactic reactions to food but I have not gone into respiratory arrest as Amanda has done.
  • Like Amanda, I refuse to let these conditions be all that I am and totally dominate my life.
  • I, too, want my blog to serve as useful information and a way to share my experiences.
  • I love coconut.  Amanda loves mounds bars.  I bet she would love the chocolate almond joy bars I am baking on Friday for my Book Launch Party this upcoming Saturday.
  • We both like to shop online.  Face it is easier for me and keeps me out of the way of all those nasty chemicals.

Unlike Amanda I do not like:

  • Used bookstores – too much dust and mold for me.
  • I am not a fan anymore of grilled cheese sandwiches for two reasons (My only cheese options are mozzarella or provolone and breads have yeast which I have a severe allergies.)
  • I do not like horror stories or anything morbid.

Please stop and visit Amanda on Day 10 of my book blog tour.  You may find that you have things in common with her as well even if you don’t suffer from allergies or celiac disease and choose to follow on her journey as well.

Don’t forget there is a Rafflecopter giveaway throughout this book tour where three signed copies of Allergic to Life will be given away.

My Goodreads giveaway of three additional signed copies ends on Saturday, October 19th.  If you haven’t entered there, it gives you  more chances at winning.


Hello everyone!  As you know today is Book Blog Tour 9.  I have a few updates to share:

  1. Rachel at doilooksick is hosting me on Tuesday, October 15th (Thank you Rachel)
  2. Shanna from lipreading mom is hosting me the following Tuesday.  (Thank you as well Shanna) Amy from adventuresofanallergicfoodie is also hosting me that Tuesday.  So we are having a two-for-Tuesday Book Blog Tour Stop.
  3. I am dealing with a nasty sinus infection that is driving me crazy and trying to prepare for my book launch party here at home a week from tomorrow.
  4. Yesterday my dear friend Victoria (you all know her from the Christmas cookie baking post where she is pictured in the lovely and stunning white tyvek suit) came over and put my gift baskets together.  Thank you Victoria and to the wonderful companies that donated items for me to use.
  5. Two weeks ago I tried a sunflower butter cookie to see how it tasted and how many cookies I could make as part of the food for the party.
  6. Today I made mock oatmeal cookies (gluten and dairy free as well) using ground almonds in place of oats.  They are good but I may add a dash of cinnamon for zing).
  7. Tomorrow I am going to make the chocolate almond joy bars to see how many I can get out of a batch.
  8. I still need to try a carbob chocolate chip cookie.
  9. I need to get plates, napkins and paper cups yet and maybe a banner or two.
  10. Recipes need to be typed and printed and cards made specifying the type of snack (gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, etc.)

I have a week to accomplish this while dealing with a sinus infection.  Wish me luck everyone.  I really would like to get a lot of the typing done this weekend and even get my cellophane bags and prep the dry ingredients so I am ready to go next Friday for a bake-a-thon.

There will be lots of pictures taken and I will post them as I go along as well as recipes for the items I make.


Book Blog Tour: Day 7

I am having a wonderful time and feeling so privileged to be able to share my story on some amazing blogs hosted by equally amazing women.

Today I am honored to be hosted by Molly from based on a sprue story.  I will be answering interview questions that Molly has prepared including what is the funniest thing that has happened during this illness.

I gave up eating wheat and most things gluten when I was told I had to give up oats and wheat because I tested allergic on a blood test not because of a diagnosed celiac disorder.  After years of treatment I am now able to eat those items again.  Recently through meeting Molly over six months ago and learning her story of gluten intolerance, I have begun to try to incorporate more gluten-free recipes into my meals.  I also was not aware back when I was giving up gluten of cross contamination with non-gluten products.  I have learned many things since following Molly.

What I love about based on a sprue story is Molly’s ability to take even a nursery rhyme or children’s story and put a gluten-free or  humorous spin to it.  I think you will enjoy her blog as well as those of the other ladies that have been hosting the book blog tour.