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March 25, 2010

In a few weeks, I will have been gluten-free for 4 years.

It’s funny how long it has been when it really feels like it was just yesterday that I found out I had Celiac disease.  It was so overwhelming at first – I couldn’t trust anything in my kitchen and I spent hours wandering the aisles of the grocery store, picking up packages to read the ingredients, only to set them back on the shelves.  I spent hours in the kitchen, trying to make myself something edible, and I spent a lot of weeks miserably sick because I tried something I shouldn’t have.

Now, 4 years later, I don’t have to think about it much – it’s truly second nature.  I can tell in about 20 seconds whether a product is likely to be GF and whether I’m taking a huge risk by trying it.  I’m not perfect – I still make mistakes (I think everyone does, no matter how many years you’ve been GF) – but it’s easier now than I ever imagined it would  be.

Because I’m so comfortable now, I had really forgotten how hard it is at first until I got a comment asking why I was eating oats and/or telling other Celiacs to eat oats.  In the many posts I’ve written where I’ve talked about eating oatmeal or oatbran, I haven’t always specified that the oats I’m eating are certified GF, but they are (I eat Only Oats brand). 

So here’s the deal with oats and Celiac:  oats themselves are GF – the protein in oats is called avelin that, while structurally similar to gluten, is not gluten.  The problem with oats is that oats grown in North America are likely to be cross-contaminated with wheat because of the way the two crops are grown together… but European oats and specially grown oats here in America/Canada (such as Bob’s Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates, and Only Oats) ARE GF.

Cross-contamination is a tricky animal.  CC is most of the reason why we get sick eating at restaurants or why it’s a big deal when a manufacturing facility produces GF products on “shared lines”.  I know Celiacs that eat Quaker oats without problems… but that doesn’t mean I would do it or would recommend it to anyone else.  On the other hand, eating at a restaurant when they grill your unmarinated, unseasoned chicken breast on the same grill that they recently grilled a fully seasoned steak on poses similar problems, but there are many Celiacs that eat out without many problems.

When it comes down to it, you have to listen to your body and do what feels right for you.  I always suggest that people err on the side of caution, especially at first, and I would never tell someone to eat something that could make them sick.  I consider myself to be one of the more sensitive Celiacs, so it’s likely that if I can eat it, so can the majority of the rest of the Celiac community (although I still feel that new Celiacs should wait to try oats until some healing has occurred).

All that to say… tonight I had (gluten-free) oats… in the form of protein pancakes!


Easiest pancake recipe ever.  Tonight I added a tablespoon of ground flax to the the batter and topped it with a shmear of Fleischmann’s olive oil butter and a sea of maple syrup.


I also had a pomegranate yogurt smoothie to continue the breakfast theme.


Good stuff.

  • 3/4 c. POM Wonderful pomegranate juice (thanks again, Ryan!)
  • 1 c. Silk soymilk
  • 1/2 c.  Stoneyfield Farms plain lowfat yogurt
  • (frozen) blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
  • (frozen) mango
  • (frozen) nectarine

I’m not a huge juice fan in general even though I love pomegranates, but I think the POM Wonderful brand is far better than the stuff I was buying (which was a no-name brand that I found at the Korean grocery store that we frequent for produce).  It’s thicker, more syrupy, and more tart.

I think I’ll munch on the last of the leftover brussels and maybe a FoodBar if I’m still hungry… which is probable, as the guy in the lane next to me kept trying to race me while I was swimming this evening and the competitive streak in me won out.

Hope you all have a fabulous night – tomorrow is FRIDAY!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2010 8:07 PM

    wow, that’s crazy that it’s been 4 years! you make it seem so easy 🙂 oatcakes sound amazing…breakfast on sunday perhaps?!

  2. March 26, 2010 4:32 AM

    Yum, those oat pancakes look awesome!!

  3. March 26, 2010 4:41 AM

    all that cross contamination stuff must be so frustrating! I think its awesome that you have been GF for four years!!! I’m sure you feel 1000% better. Great pancakes. Happy Friday to you too

  4. March 26, 2010 5:38 PM

    The problem I have with celiacs who eat contaminated oats and don’t pay attention to cross-contamination issues in restaurants is that they are disseminating incorrect and potentially dangerous information to the service industry, their friends and family, and other celiacs, in particular those who are newly diagnosed. I feel like it is counterproductive to our cause, if you will. I am so diligent that I do not hesitate to correct them, but I don’t want to hear things like “well so-and-so eats this all the time so it must not have gluten” or “we have customers eat these gluten free pancakes made on the same griddle as the regular ones all the time, and it doesn’t bother them.” Well, it should! To each his or her own, I guess. Celiac makes us all responsible for our own health.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a month or so now, and I think it’s great! I admire your love for brussel sprouts…I can only manage to eat a few at a time, but maybe I’ll give them another chance.

    • thedallasceliac permalink*
      March 26, 2010 6:23 PM

      Hi Felecia,

      Thanks for reading! I agree that Celiacs that treat the disease as if it is no big deal are hurting the rest of us in regards to the care that needs to be paid to our food preparation, among other things. In some ways, non-Celiacs that loosely follow a gluten-free diet are a bigger threat to public perception of the disease than Celiacs In Name Only. I worry every time I hear about someone that claims to be gluten-free, yet will eat a hamburger by removing the bun, or will pick croutons off their salad. Surely it makes me look like a crazy person when I make them re-do the salad if they just served someone that treated some crouton crumbs as if they were nothing to worry about.

      Keep truckin’ with the brussels sprouts – they really are the world’s greatest vegetable! 🙂


  5. March 26, 2010 10:29 PM

    I’m approaching my first year since my diagnosis. I loved oats, especially steel cut oats with dried fruit. But I haven’t been willing to test it yet, even with certified oats like those from Bob’s Red Mill. I was, and still am — though getting better!, very sick before being diagnosed. And at 44, I’m at a juncture where I don’t take many risks. If I’m not confident it’s safe, I don’t eat it. Which means I don’t eat out much at all.

    However, I liked brussel sprouts even when I was a kid. I don’t have them more often solely because the rest of my family does not share my appreciation for them. 😉

    • thedallasceliac permalink*
      March 27, 2010 10:02 AM

      Eating out is incredibly risky, especially if you have other food allergies. I don’t think we ate out much at all for the first couple years I was GF.

      Too bad your family doesn’t love brussels sprouts – they’re missing out! 😉

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