Sunday 29 October 2017

Saying Cheerio to Cheerios...

Every wonder why the Cheerios Kid pants are brown?

Ah Cheerios, the staple of a childhood breakfast. I have a love/hate relationship with these little Os. While I remember them clearly from my childhood, sitting with my sister on Saturday mornings, watching Bugs Bunny cartoons and jamming as many of these little nuggets of crunch in my face as possible, milk dripping down my chins to be wiped by my Strawberry Shortcake nightie. Fast forward twenty five years and I'm cursing the little bastards as I drag them, wet and sticky, from between the cracks of my toddler's car seat.

Since my diagnosis, (of Celiacs, not the other diagnosis, that psychologist/FBI Profiler had NO idea what they were talking about), one thing that I missed a lot was my favorite cereals. Since childhood, I rarely ate cereal at actual breakfast time. It was always an afternoon snack, or a drunk late-night meal where I still dripped milk down my chin and wiped it up with my Strawberry Shortcake nightie.

There are LOTS of Gluten Free cereals out there but they lack the sugary, crunchy, bad for you and in no way a part of a balanced breakfast, allure that traditional cereals hold. No one was more happy to see Gluten Free Rice Crispies than me. I did a very embarrassing, Balky Bartokomous style dance in Walmart. Or so my children say, I was drunk with joy, and a lot of vodka. Lots of common cereals have come up with Gluten Free versions of themselves and I appreciate it, I do. One has to wonder though, HOW Gluten Free are they?

The US Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency say that anything under 20 Parts Per Million of Gluten can be labeled 'Gluten Free'. Which is awesome. This is the level for which the smart doctory types have determined that we Celiacs can eat a food and not want to die afterwards. All these cereal companies have to adhere to these guidelines prior to labeling an item 'Gluten Free'. The Government has done a great job setting a standard and holding companies to it through testing.

Here is the problem that Cherrios is facing. Oats themselves are Gluten Free on their own. I could run through a field of oats and eat them like a deranged cow in heat. However, Oats aren't the only thing a farmer grows. Farmers rotate their crops in their fields and they often (usually) use the same equipment to harvest and process these crops for sale. Which of course they should, have you ever seen a combine? Those things are right out of a fucking Transformer Movie.


So the oats (which are Gluten Free) are being harvested and processed on the same equipment as the wheat and the barley and the rye. So now the oats are cross contaminated and no longer gluten free. Then, the oats get to the cereal factory where they are made into the little Os on machinery that has just made other cereals that contain gluten, so now they are cross contaminated again.


This is why we can't have nice things. 

It's no ones fault, its just the way things are.

So, this is kind of how it went down. I always imagine this as a text...because I'm an odd woman.

GM : Don't worry, all traces of cross contamination are removed at the farm level.

CELIACS: Can you prove that?

GM: Trust us...

CELIACS: Well, it's kind of important that we know for sure. Can you prove that there is no cross contamination at the factory level?

GM: We tested. A whole bunch. We tested bigly, with lots of important testing stuff. It’s all very technical, you wouldn’t understand.

CELIACS: Try me.

GM: It would be a waste of time. You really wouldn’t understand.


GM: Oh...Hey CFIA, how's it goin? I didn't know this was a group text.

CIFA: Yup, we are here too and we would like to see your testing results and procedures please.

GM: Gotta go, my mom's calling and I have to do my chores.

GM has left the group

So do I think that GM was being cagey? No, I doubt it, I think they have a lot of shit on their plate (or in their bowl, so to speak...get it?) because they are kind of busy feeding millions of people and they have tried their best to feed the Celiacs but they really couldn't guarantee anything. In a recent article by CBC, General Mills has been requested to remove the Gluten Free label from their boxes in Canada. 

Now, have I tried the Gluten Free Cherrios? Your're damn right I did and they were delicious. However, they didn't sit right with me. I kinda felt like I had eaten at an all you can eat Chinese Buffet...that kind of feeling. Maybe it was because my body isn't used to having oats at all, or maybe it's because my cereal box was a 'hot spot', which is how it felt later in the bathroom, trust me. So I haven't been eating them and losing the Gluten Free label on Cheerios is not a big loss for me. 

There you go, a little science, a little PR and a little bit of diarrhea. I consider this post a win.

Friday 21 July 2017

Get Angry, Get Mad....But I'm Right

No Food For You! Go Starve..

All right, all right, all we go. This post is going to ruffle some feathers and we are all just going to have to ride this wave together okay? This issue has been stuck in my craw for a long while and although I've touched on it a bit in past posts and in public appearances, I feel like it's time to hit it head on. Brace yourself bitches, we are going in.

 Currently, I am sitting on my couch, with a glass of wine sitting coolly beside me, my belly is uber full of gluten free pizza (more on this later, this is a full circle post), I'm binge watching Shameless, and the spawn and my handsome partner in crime are up at the trailer and I have the house to myself. By all accounts, I should be as content as I can be.

Yet, I'm irritated and we have to talk about why. Why? Because it's my blog and my opinion, that's why.

Mature reading only here folks, not only have I had a glass of wine but as stated previously, I'm watching Shameless and the curses are going to flow like the River Nile.

It is a simple request, yet steeped in controversy and trouble.


Simple right? And you'd think it is a no brainer, but, dear Gluten Eater, you are wrong.

This is what happened today.

I have a wicked awesome job where I get to work with some wicked awesome people and we have a wicked awesome boss. Our boss paid for all of us to attend a fantastic conference/info session from 8 to 5 today at a conference centre in Calgary's North East where we learned so much and loved it all. I got to take a nice long car ride with two work gals where we laughed and caught up. When we arrived at the hotel, the group decided to go to the The Toad and Turtle Pub for our upcoming lunch break. I secretly and immediately goggled said pub and discovered to my glee that they had a Gluten Free Menu (a rarity for a pub I assure you). When lunch came around we all jay walked (we were worried about the jaywalking, no shit) over and grabbed a table.

I requested a Gluten Free Menu and asked about Celiac awareness. The look on the server's face sent a chill through my bones. She'd look more confident if someone had just asked her to perform open heart surgery. After receiving the Gluten Free Menu, I asked the server again about cross contamination and if the cooks felt comfortable preparing my meal with a high level of care. Again, she looked both terrified and confused. This was going downhill fast and now I'm embarrassed and feel like a jerk. I don't like that I have Celiacs. It's the thing about myself that I struggle with the most, other than my penchant for running over loose cats (kidding, calm down Shelby) but I really dread every experience like this and it just got worse from there.

 Several minutes later, (please note that we only had an hour for lunch), a manager came to the table and informed me that since I had Celiacs Disease, she tells all Celiacs that, "another kitchen might be better for me." This is a direct quote.

Now, let me be clear here, I deeply appreciate her honestly. I really do and I told her so. I would much rather she turn me away rather than do a shitty job feeding me and make me sick while I had to sit at in a conference room far from home AKA sit in the bathroom vomiting and sobbing in pain.

However, I wonder, beyond all wonderings, WHY OH WHY, couldn't they make me food?

After this conversation, I stayed a few minutes to finish my pepsi and left shortly after to sit in the lobby of the hotel, hungry because I certainly wasn't gong to sit and watch every one else eat. No... can't do it. As much as I love and respect my work colleagues, I could not sit there and watch them eat their lunch.

 All Celiacs right now are yelling at their screen, "Laurie, you jackass, why didn't you bring food? We ALWAYS bring food, it's our thing, our gig, our secret to the universe. We bring food where ever we go. You KNOW this." And I say to you all, I DID have food bitches. I did. But I had a apple and some almonds and after sitting in a restaurant with the aroma of hot, fresh, delicious food wafting about, I can tell you, that apple looked about as appetizing as a piece of coal but I ate it, for sheer nourishment while my work friends sat at a cozy table digging into a satisfying lunch. I ended up liberating some peanut butter packs from the left over breakfast table and ate them with a coffee stir stick. True story, no shit, this is who I have become as a person.

So, I've been thinking back to that lunch all day and like most writers, once something gets in this chaotic mess I call a brain, I can't let it go.

So let's talk about the Gluten Free Menu shall we? 

Who the fuck do you have a Gluten Free Menu for if it isn't for people who can't eat Gluten? Who? Who?

What kind of evil game are you playing here? 

So, after years in the restaurant industry, and might I add, having the deepest respect for back of house, front of house and everyone in between, I want this shit broken down. Because everywhere I've worked at, could have made me something to eat and they would have given enough of a shit to make it happen.

So let's examine shall we?

Why couldn't the Toad and Turtle Barlow feed me today?


 In order to feed someone Gluten Free Food you have to make absolutely sure that their food does not touch (by hand or by utensil or by pan) anything that contains gluten. I completely understand that this is a tall order. It means someone has to be pulled off the line to exclusively make my meal. They have to pull fresh ingredients from the cooler, they have to pull a fresh bowl, clean tongs, clean pan, new gloves, possibly a new apron if they have been dredging wings in flour. They have to pull my plate either fresh from dish or from the bottom of the plate pile to make sure it hasn't touched anything else. Yep....that sucks. I get it, please don't think I don't appreciate the effort kitchens take to feed me. This is evident in my previous posts. However, your job is customer service and, like it or not, I am a customer. Agreed, a pain in the ass one, but a customer all the same. It is done. All the time, at Moxies and Earls and countless other restaurants who have agreed that my dollar is just as valuable as the next guy. Remember too, that I tip excessively for the privilege of you making my meal safe. I tip servers a lot and I have walked back and handed a fistful of bills to the cook who made my food, and looked him in the eye and thanked him from the bottom of my heart, I am not a waste of time, I assure you.

And before you start....

 Please don't try to tell me that you were "too busy" to ensure the safety of my food. I did a quick count (and trust me, I can do a table/labor count) and you had 14 seated tables in the restaurant with 5 servers and two floor managers. That means that your kitchen should have had no less than 5 white coats on line (in addition to the two or three in the back on prep alone, because it's Friday and I know my shit) and because it was a Friday afternoon, I would bet my bottom dollar that your head chef was in the house if only to ensure a smooth Friday Happy Hour. So maybe SHE knew how to prepare my meal but everyone was too lazy to get her. Maybe she didn't know how to make a Gluten Free meal, thus we go to....


Possible. Totally fucking ridiculous, but possible. The MOMENT you put a Gluten Free menu on your rack, you MUST TRAIN YOUR STAFF TO UNDERSTAND AND BE ABLE TO PREPARE A GLUTEN FREE MEAL.That means a meal that is FREE of GLUTEN. Plain and simple. Celiacs is a fucking disease and it's effects on it's sufferers is long and deep and to just sit back and say "well, we just don't know." is bullshit. Get educated. Get informed. Train your fucking staff so they know what to do and you don't have to send away paying customers. Do better. Be better. Rock that shit. Do not offer Gluten Free Food and then refuse to serve a Celiac. It's the most ironic, foolish thing I have ever heard. This is the equivalent of advertising a "Peanut Free Menu" but then stating, "Not for Peanut Allergies." What the actual fuck? What is the point? Spend the money, spend the time, take the initiative.

Let's be clear, this restaurant didn't just have random items on their menu that are Gluten Free by default. They had Gluten Free Buns and Gluten Free Breads and Gluten Free Pizza crusts. Now, I know the places in Calgary that make these items and I KNOW that they are Celiac friendly and I fucking KNOW that when you signed your contract with them, they advised you and trained you on how to prepare their breads without any cross contamination. THEIR PRODUCTS ARE MADE FOR CELIACS AND FOR YOU TO IGNORE THEIR WELL EDUCATED TEACHINGS ON HOW TO PREPARE THEIR PRODUCTS FOR CELIACS IS RIDICULOUS. For you to not continuously train your overturn staff on these policies is nothing more than laziness (see number 1).


 The Gluten Free Menu isn't for Celiacs, it's for people who are Gluten Sensitive or people that choose a Gluten Free Lifestyle. Oh lord, let's all take a breath here. To say that a Gluten Free Menu isn't for Celiacs is like saying the wheelchair ramp is only for people on crutches or people who don't like stairs. Why don't just have an "Onion Free" menu for people who don't like onions but then make it clear that you might still get onions? Let's have a menu for people who are avoiding red meat because their wife read a facebook article that said it was bad but THEN tell the customer that you aren't willing to take ANY extra time to make sure that a hunk of sirloin doesn't make it onto his plate. Oh wait, that would be fucking stupid. And here's a big fucking shocker to all of you....BRACE YOURSELF... people who are Gluten Sensitive, can't eat any more Gluten than a Celiac. They have been told by a medical doctor that they can not eat Gluten, so stop calling your menu's Gluten Sensitive and then not ensuring that it is indeed, Gluten Free. Stop it. Now.

The Toad and Turtle calls their menu Gluten Free. Which it isn't. Well, maybe the items themselves are but they aren't willing to take any extra time to prepare it so it remains Gluten Free until you eat it so tough shit on you people who can't eat Gluten. Our Gluten Free Menu isn't for you, as bizarre and stupid as that sounds. Go ahead and leave.

Again, this is not the managers' or the servers' or the cooks' fault. They work their asses off and they only do what they are told. Who knows, maybe the head chef told the manager to turn me away today, maybe. I will never know. The staff was not trained to serve someone who needs to eat Gluten Free food off their Gluten Free menu so I don't want them to come into any shit for this, seriously, don't do it. Just train them, step it up. Do better. Be better.

If you want to have a Gluten Free Menu, my God, I applaud you, I am grateful for you, just don't suck at it. 

That was the thorns, now for the roses. I, in general, avoid pubs and would not have wasted my time jaywalking to the Toad and Turtle unless they had advertised a Gluten Free menu. I would have taken a cab over to Earls and eaten there but by the time the 'Eat somewhere else' comment got made, there was no time for me to make an Earls meal happen, much to my regret.

My belly is full of Gluten Free Pizza because on our long arduous journey down Deerfoot Trail during rush hour, I called the only pub I eat at. The Bull and Finch in Bridlewood. They have lots of Gluten Free options but the best is the pizza. I told them on the phone that I had Celiacs, I ordered my pizza and swung by on my way home to grab it. Upon picking it up, I was assured by the bartender (who had a full house by the way), that it was totally Gluten Free and he was kind and fantastic. I have eaten at the Bull and Finch numerous times and have NEVER been burned, which is a feather in their finch, or in the Bull's cap. Do bulls wear caps? Maybe on fancy days like weddings or branding days, who knows. Stop getting off topic!

 The Bull and Finch GETS Celiacs, has Gluten Free Food and trains their staff on how to handle it. They had a full house when I picked up my food but had all the time in the world to make sure I knew that the food they advertised as gluten free, was indeed free of gluten. That's why they got my money today, and will continue to get my money for as long as they will take my pain in the ass order because they get it. They get that once you win a customer over, they are yours for life. They also get, that no one is louder and more obnoxious than a pissed off customer.

Take a lesson from the Bull and Finch, Toad and Turtle, do it right, or stay in your lane.

Respectful comments and emails welcome. Feel free to swear, but be assured, personally insulting me for my opinion makes you look like a small minded douche. Arguing with me is fine, however futile....because I'm right.

 Annnnnd go....

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Poisoned By Fate

No my dear! This apple is fine! No Gluten here! No poison!
 Eat it! Eat it! BITCH, EAT THE APPLE!

I was glutened last week. This may seem like a little thing to you gluten eaters. "Ohhhh okay, so you had a tummy ache Laurie, get over it." Not so much. It's hard to describe the illness that comes with a Celiac accidentally consuming gluten. It's a vicious, nasty, debilitating, emotional experience. It's a poisoning, plain and simple. I don't necessarily wish to relive the event but I think it's important for us to discuss how this all happened.

I have been using the Superstore Click and Collect service for several months and it has been a game changer. You pick all your groceries online and then drive to the store and pick it all up from a swanky parking spot. I freaking love it. It has opened up so much extra time for me, time that I have spent drunk on Pintrest, which I'm sure you agree is vital. In general, the service has been great and the people who work there have been amazing. 

We had an incident on Monday though and it was a result of a "Butterfly Effect" type of situation. The Butterfly Effect is a weird movie from 2004 that you think you understand and then you realize that you are stupid. Basically, the theory is that one little thing (the flapping of a butterfly wing) can set off a chain reaction that eventually leads to catastrophe (a hurricane) on the other side of the world. Anyone who has been in a car accident has thought about this theory. If you had left 3 seconds earlier, if you hadn't liked the song on the radio and wasn't singing at the top of your lungs, and further, if the DJ had not been feeling nostalgic that day and not chosen that particular song, if the other driver had remembered to bring a snack for her kids and then they wouldn't have been screaming in the backseat causing her to be distracted. If ANY these things had happened differently, you wouldn't have collided with that woman's minivan on the way home from work. 

This glutenizing was kind of like that. I had ordered the gluten free version of the Club House Brown Gravy, which is awesome by the way, and instead, received the  NON gluten free version. I made the gravy, ate the gravy and within moments, knew something was wrong. We checked the package and low and behold, not gluten free. FUCK!

So, there was this little window of time I had during which we planned out the next twenty four hours while I was still able to function. Since the spawn are on summer vacation, plans needed to be cancelled, the sheets on the bed were changed because I would now spend all my time there, the dishes were done quickly so husband could focus on me and nothing else for the next seven hours. Heating pads were charged up for the cramps, cold cloths prepared for the splitting headache and the bathroom deemed off limits for the vomiting and know. God Bless my husband and our spawn for their extreme support and dedication to me during times like this. I don't like being sick, I get really cranky and weepy and they handle it all with ease and care.

And during all this flurry of activity, I went through my own little butterfly effect list. What if the worker doing the shopping had paid closer attention and why didn't they? Had she just stubbed her toe so she was thinking of the agonizing pain rather than reading the label? And before that, what if the guy who stocked the shelves hadn't been lazy, leaving that box in the middle of the floor so she stubbed her toe? What if I hadn't been on the phone when I went to pick up the order and had noticed when we were loading the groceries into the trunk? What if I had made that phone call later in the day or that when I called, the person had decided to take their dog for a walk and didn't answer? What if I hadn't been chatting with hubby while making dinner and I happened to notice the label? What if he had left work 20 min later so he wasn't home while I was making the gravy and didn't distract me with his charm and good looks? 

What if?

Ultimately though, there is no point going through the Butterfly Effect because you can only suck it up. Suck it up hard bitches.

I was sick sick sick for a full 24 hours and then feeling like a hung over bag of shit for two days after that. I try to take a lesson from every glutenizing, and  the lesson here is:

A) Having Celiacs fucking sucks
B) Don't trust anyone else to read a label that you should read yourself because they might have just stubbed their toe
C) Read every label, every time.
D) Sometimes fate is not in your favor and that has to be okay

We wrote a letter to Click and Collect and I was shocked to receive a phone call from the store manager Cheryl. She was completely apologetic and really kind about the whole thing. I honestly half expected some sort of, "we can't guarantee...blah blah" bullshit but she took full responsibility for the whole thing. She made it clear that she had dealt with the employee directly and had given retraining on the issue. She even took it a step further and has contacted the Club House company to talk about how similar the two packages look and how hard it might be for anyone to tell them apart when shopping.

Gluten Version
Gluten Free Version

Look at these two packages! Seriously, they couldn't make them more alike if they tried!

Cheryl even discussed the placement of the boxes on the shelves with her team and has moved them around to make it easier to tell them apart. I was blow away and am now a dedicated customer.

So bottom line, poisonings happen bitches...whether it's your fault or another person's fault or the Butterfly Effect of fate at play but it's just a part of having this disease.

 It's hard to suck it up but tough shit Celiac....suck it up.


Thursday 22 June 2017

Restaurants Are Terrifying Unless You Have A Tracy!

A Celiac at a restaurant. She knows she is going to die. 

Let me tell you something, come in close now, real close. You listening? Good. EATING AT A RESTAURANT AS A CELIAC IS TERRIFYING. I'm not being dramatic or extreme's fucking terrifying. Alfred Hitchcock level of scary. I know Celiacs that never eat out...ever. It's THAT scary.

You have to put so much trust in so many people. People you don't know, nor particularly like, and you just have to pray. Pray and wish and hope and dream like a Disney Princess waiting for a prince or an education.

You have to trust the waitress and hope they were trained properly, can read, aren't hung over and don't have too many tables so they have the time to listen to your lengthily order and that they aren't fighting with the kitchen so they will tell them about your Celiacs. You have to trust the chefs, that they have heard of Celiacs, and know what in their kitchen contains gluten. You have to trust their trainer who months or years ago taught them what they needed to know about cross contamination and pray that on that day, everyone had their thinking caps on. You have to trust that the hostess controlled the flow of guests and didn't seat twenty tables all at once causing the kitchen to crash and burn in a blinding wall of tickets, leading them to not be able to see, or have time to prepare, your Gluten Free meal. You have to trust the manager, that they treat their staff well, and encourage them to take their time with special orders and double check all meals for quality and accuracy. You have to trust the owners, to adhere to the guidelines and spend the money training everyone about Celiacs. They also have to make sure that the products on their GF mcnu, are indeed Gluten Free and that their suppliers notify them of content changes. a LOT of trust.

Every once in a while though, I find a gem of a restaurant who gets it. Really, really gets it and it's the most satisfying thing you could imagine. Eating out is such a simple thing for the rest of the world and it's so rare for a Celiac to feel that simplicity.

I got to get that feeling when I visited the Chateau Louis Hotel and Conference Centre for the Gluten Free  Festival put on by the Edmonton Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association. I was invited to be a speaker and I personally, was just excited to get a night away from the spawn and attend the festival. The restaurant was just a massive bonus. The Chateau Louis is this charming hotel close to the Edmonton downtown core. The rooms were clean and the bed was super comfy. After registering and scoping out the vendor fair at the Chateau Louis Convention Centre, we walked back along a covered flowered walkway to the dining room.

I was a little nervous to see that the dining room had a Pasta Buffet that night which for a Celiac is the worst thing ever. However, a lovely server came up to let me know that about eighty percent of  the buffet was Celiac friendly. Not just vaguely 'gluten aware' we are talking CELIAC FRIENDLY. That means all the ingredients have been checked, that they have exclusive equipment and are careful with every little step of the food preparation process. This was big news people.

So once we get seated, I decided to order off the menu because there was some seriously awesome stuff on there, even though the buffet looked amazing too. The lovely server's name was Tracy and she wasn't just lovely, she was fantastic. Tracy wasn't just happy and charming, she was super smart and knew everything a server needs to know about Celiacs and eating gluten free. She made great recommendations, she made sure the chefs knew about my meal and made sure I knew that my meal would take a little bit longer because it was being made from scratch. From scratch! She even added, "I hope that's okay."

Uhhhhhh yeah... that's okay. That's awesome! That's amazing! That's the best thing I have heard all day!

I had the mushroom soup and the Shrimp and Scallop Rizotto. It was one of the best meals I have ever had. I was in Celiac heaven.

We couldn't stay after the conference because we can only unload the spawn off on friends for so long because they are kind of annoying, but I totally wish we had! Turns out, the Chateau Louis has a completely Gluten Free Prime Rib Buffet on Saturday nights! Wow! I was so sad to miss it but might just make a plan to go back to Edmonton JUST to eat there.

Thank you Chateau Louis Hotel and Conference Centre for a wonderful stay. Thank you Tracy for being so smart and charming. Thank you Chefs for taking the time I know you don't have to feed us Celiacs.

Thank you to the Canadian Celiac Association Edmonton Chapter for inviting me to speak at the Gluten Free Festival. I had an amazing time.

Make sure you make the Chateau Louis a stop when you visit Edmonton, you will be as gleefully happy as I was.

Here is a few clips of my talk where I delve into the horror that is, restaurants for Celiacs.

Sunday 11 June 2017

Laughter and Love at the Edmonton Gluten Free Festival

I have no idea what I am saying here, but I guarantee that it was more funny than informative

WOW! I am still reeling from the fantastic weekend I just had. I had the privilege of attending the Canadian Celiac Association's Gluten Free Festival put on by their Edmonton Chapter. For those of you who are not from Alberta, you need to know something. Calgary and Edmonton have not always gotten along.We are technically sister cities and like sisters, we bicker, are often jealous and constantly vie for attention from our parents (two yuppy hippy types on the other side of the country named Trudeau). Calgary thinks that Edmonton is all hoity-toity because they are the Capital of our province. Edmonton feels that Calgary is all hoity-toity because they have the Stampede. And then there's the hockey thing. UGH the hockey thing! The battle never ends. For years, the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers have battled for top spot in the NHL and as you can imagine, we take hockey seriously....very seriously.

But of course, I jumped at the chance to speak and be the comic relief at the festival. To be honest, my heart stopped a little when I saw my name listed among the other speakers. There were Doctors and experts and then little old me with a bio that described me as a 'below average wife to the most patient man in the world'. The contrast was equally concerning and entertaining. At the end of the jam packed day though, I had learned a lot, made some new friends, and got to ramble like a drunk asshole into a mic for forty five minutes and make people laugh (except for the man in the red shirt who just sat there with his arms crossed, lip tight and scowling the whole time - I know you were laughing on the inside pal....I know it). I also got to eat like a Gluten Free Queen.

As the president of the Canadian Celiac Association, Anne Wagget stated, for us Celiacs, it's all about the food. Ohhhhh the food. I was giddy about the food. First of all, it was on a buffet, which normally makes us Celiacs pop Atavan like Pez to ease our anxiety. But this time, we could eat everything. EVERYTHING. For those of you who get to eat a buffets all the time, number one, you're an asshole for showing off, second, know that Celiacs don't like to touch buffets for a lot of reasons.

 First, it's rare to see the ingredients listed on a buffet, making anything with a sauce or a spice, or cooked for that matter, off limits. Second, even if there is something that you are fairly sure you can have, the possibility of some jerkoff who was ahead of you in line swapping out the tongs is huge. Seriously gluten eaters, just use the spoon provided for that item. If someone else is using it, just fucking wait for the serving utensil. If you can't wait seventeen seconds to put a damn tater tot on your plate causing you to grab at the fruit tongs and subsequently cross contaminate all the fruit so I can't eat it, you have big problems my dear, big problems. Stop screwing with the system and use the tongs provided you lazy ass.

But at the Gluten Free Festival, we could eat the entire thing. There was no fear of cross contamination, or improper handling of our food, we could just, relax and eat. For breakfast there was sausage, bacon, fruit, eggs, pancakes and toast. TOAST! Fucking TOAST! I almost lost my mind. I looked at my husband and said "I am eating toast from a buffet table." I'm not ashamed to admit that my voice cracked with emotion as I said it. I was amazed at how calm we all were about the whole thing. Everyone showed massive restraint. I was half expecting someone to just jump up on the table and go savage on that tray of toast. I can just picture some lady (okay, it's me), squatting on the table like a gorilla, fisting handfuls of toast into her mouth, chunks of Kinnikinnick bread flying around and crumbs stuck in her mascara. Lunch was sandwiches (SANDWICHES!) and salad. There was no worries about the dressing or the mayo or the deli meat. The relief of this, to me, was palpable.

On breaks, we could peruse the vendor fair which was an amazing display of awesomeness.

There was:
Arbonne                                                         NuPasta                                           Stellas
Blue Kettle Specialty Foods                          Only Oats                                        U of A Research
Celebrate Gluten Free                                    PastyPie
Dr. Schar                                                        Rio Vida Bakery
Epicure                                                           Screamin' Brothers
Hair of Rachel                                                Simply Delish Soup and Salad
Heart to Home Meals                                     Snyder's of Hanover
Monat Global                                                 Sobeys


As far as friends go, hanging around with a big bunch of Celiacs was some kind of wonderful. We had conversations that would make regular people cringe. Within moments of meeting someone, we were talking about common symptoms, including terms like 'loose stools'. It was kind of fantastic, not to you, gluten eater, but to a Celiac who often doesn't hang out with other Celiacs, this was wicked fun. There were so many inside jokes, and common stories, I was in Celiac heaven.

When it was my turn to talk, I wasn't even nervous because suddenly, I was just talking to a bunch of friends about the one thing we all share. They laughed a lot at my stuff, (red shirt guy) which was nice of them, and we all had a great day. I was filled with warm fuzzies and glowing happiness. After I was done, the co-chair of the event, Don Briggs came up and presented me with a thank you card. In true Alberta form, and to remind me that sisters only get along in short bursts, Don tucked an Edmonton Oilers key chain in my card. Funny shit. Fuuuuunnnny shit. Celiacs crack me up.

Note to Calgarians, I WILL be using this key-chain and will NOT be putting up with any sass

I'll be posting again shortly about all the amazing factoid stuff I learned and I'll be talking about the hotel and their amazingness. In the meantime, here is couple of little clips of my talk. If you want to see more, you can go to the next Canadian Celiac Association Conference and hopefully, I will be asked to speak again! That, or they will block my email and pretend they never met me.

With Laurie Lyons, honestly, it could go either way.

Saturday 27 May 2017


I will be there doing a nice long rant about my misadventures with Celiac Disease. Get your tickets now! 

Sunday 9 April 2017

An Epicure For All That Ails Your Dinner

I talk a lot about Celiac baking. Mainly because I have a rabid addiction to sugar. I don't talk as much about Celiac cooking. Why? Well, I don't hate cooking if that's what you are thinking. I don't hate it like I hate Nickelback or aphids, but, most days, cooking is not my favorite past time. "Time" being the key word here. I never have enough time. I enjoy cooking on Sunday's when I have the whole day to defrost, prep and create. I do not enjoy the panicked rush of throwing something together at 4:30pm while the kids are hangry, the house is a mess, and the dog wants to play. Having Celiac disease takes a lot of convenience foods off the table, literally. I remember with wistful nostalgia, throwing together a hamburger helper or tossing a can of cream of mushroom soup on some chicken and having a perfectly good meal thirty minutes later. No such luck these days. Want to just bake up a frozen lasagna? Your Celiac Disease laughs at your misfortune. The majority of pre-packaged, pre-made meals at the grocery store contain an astounding amount of the evil gluten.

This leaves me stuck for finding ways to avoid dinners that are flavorless, boring, repetitions of yesterday. Wanna know what I figured out because I am wicked smart and lazy?


Yup, Epicure. Those little octagon (hexagon? I don't know, I'll count them later) shaped jars in pantries with cute little labels. If you are a female and over the age of twenty, you have been invited to an Epicure party. You have also been invited to a tupperware party, a candle party, a jewelry party and a sex toy party. If you haven't been invited to these things, you're a loser, but a lucky one I assure you. Most of these parties feature a bright-eyed, over caffeinated, stay-at-home mom who is desperately trying to break out of the endless monotony of repeating herself a thousand times a day and picking lego pieces out from between her toes. Most products at these parties are over priced and wildly unnecessary. But hey, if you've got an extra eighty bucks and a desire for bamboo infused under-eye gel, have at it.

At these parties, I usually just drink all the wine, don't buy anything, and pinkie swear that I'll call to book my own party with no intention of doing so. Hostess gifts can suck it.

But when I attended an Epicure party, I perked right up when I heard "It's all Gluten Free".

Oh you heard me. Every single thing that Epicure sells is Gluten Free. Now, those of you that don't have Celiac Disease may say, "Uhhhh Laurie, it's just spices, spices aren't made with flour dummy!" To which I say, "Read some labels you illiterate, know-it-all dick." A LOT of spices on the spice rack say "may contain wheat." Why? Well because these companies make more than just that one product and they make them all on the same machinery, so there is a chance of cross contamination. So the company has to put "may contain" on it. May contain means no food for your Celiac belly.

But Epicure has made everything Gluten Free which makes me deliriously happy. They have tonnes of different spice combos like Pasta and Thai that you can just add to your pot to make it seem like you spent hours mixing and infusing flavors like a real grown up.

My favorite items are a constant presence in my pantry and they make the ominous, end of day dinner hour far easier. Don't get me wrong, the house is still a mess, the kids are still fighting and I'm still a crazy, swearing, harpy, but at least dinner is done and it tastes good.

Here are a list of my fave Epicure items. Click HERE to shop for them and other cool stuff.

Poultry (just throw on the chicken and bake)

Herb and Garlic (we put this shit on everything, eggs, chicken, soups, fish)

Lemon Dilly (fish, chicken, lemon pasta or mix with mayo and sour cream for a dip)

Pasta (self explanatory)

The broth mixes (beef and chicken)

Pulled Pork (comes in a pouch, throw it in the slow cooker in the morning and be done)

Mac and Cheese (made it with gf pasta for the family, ate it all myself out of the pot like a savage)

Pumpkin (for pies and pumpkin bread)

Taco (so good and cheaper than the little packages)

They have recipes on their website to help you whip up everything from Curry to Pad Thai and it's all really great. A fave in our house is the Lemon Dilly Chicken recipe.

Small side note, Epicure has also reduced the amount of salt in all their products. This is great if you are trying to cut salt from your diet, but I am slowly trying to murder my husband for the insurance money, so I always add salt to the dishes.

So, check out Epicure. Find someone near you who sells it and get shopping. You don't necessarily have to host a party, I don't think,you just have to find a representative.WARNING: they may try to pressure you into hosting a party by using Salem Witch Trial torture tactics. Stay strong sister, stay strong.

 I do not sell it, I just eat it, so don't bug me for stuff. Just get it, eat it, and make your dinner time less like a war zone and more like a..... well.... a smaller war zone.


SUPER off topic squirrel moment here. My friend Kris sent me a video of a Basset Hound farting because he thought I would find it funny and it seemed like a caption that one might find on my blog. I could not agree more. However, I, although a good writer, could not find a way to incorporate a video of a farting Basset Hound into a blog. So I'm just putting it HERE for shits and giggles.

Saturday 1 April 2017


Sunday 5 March 2017

Cookie Cookie Cookie Starts with...Guar Gum

Ohhhhhh Cookie Monster. You strangely flaccid blue rug with a face. Despite ONLY eating cookies for over forty years, you haven't gained a pound of fluffiness. How is that? It might be because you don't actually EAT the cookies, you just crush them up and throw them around like confetti. A practice that must make the other residents of Sesame Street super happy. I wonder if your little three fingered, fuzzy, lobster claw-like hands can hold a dust pan? I doubt it. They all must LOVE cleaning up after your bullshit behavior. Are those cookies you are throwing all over the place Gluten Free? For some reason, I think not.

As many of you know from previous posts, I have failed many times at gluten free baking. And when I say many, I mean thousands of times. Thousands of horrific, disfigured, disgusting creations have come out of my oven and I have made my husband eat every single one of them. GF baking is not for the weak. It is a practice in patience that requires the tenacity of a hyena fighting over a dead carcass. And yes, some of my baking has looked like a dead gazelle carcass.

I have given up on making gluten free bread, buns and pretzels. I have passed those achievements onto far more astute and talented bakers and simply purchase them from the store. I suggest you do the same unless you want to become the shell of a human I am.

I have though, mastered the Gluten Free Cookie. I can make GF cookies like a boss. People usually don't know that my cookies are gluten free and my friends with Celiacs often ask for the recipes. Due to my long rap sheet and many poor decisions, there isn't much I'm proud of in my life, but I am proud of my Gluten Free cookies.

 How did I do it? Well by failing several times of course and not giving up. My success is evidence to my Irish stubbornness, not due to any level of talent on my part. I have developed some hard and fast rules with my cookies and I have decided to share them with you because I'm a nice guy.

Rules for GF Cookies:

1) Use a good flour. The paler the better. I don't use any flours that have darker products mixed in, like flax or buckwheat flour. These are good for cooking or frying but I don't like them for baking. I use Robin Hood GF Flour or President's Choice Gluten free flour. Any flour you choose should be able to be swapped cup for cup. Measure your flour carefully, don't just scoop the measuring cup into the bag, this packs the flour down and makes it so you get too much. Use a spoon and ladle the flour into the measuring cup so the measurement is accurate. With most of the flours on the market these days, you can make any cookie recipe from your mom's old, yellowed, recipe box and just swap out the flour.

2) Add Guar Gum. About one or two teaspoons per recipe. If your cookies come out flat, add another teaspoon next time. Guar Gum is cheaper than Xanthum Gum and they do the same thing. Some people say that they can tell the difference between the two but I think they a crazy people. EVEN IF the flour says it has Xanthum or Guar Gum in it, add a teaspoon.

3) Rolled cookies are a pain in the ass. This has been one of the hardest things to master for me. GF cookie dough is always a little more wet than regular dough  so no matter how much flour you use, they will stick to the counter and be impossible to cut out and lift. The secret? Parchment paper and corn starch. I tape the parchment paper to my counter, cover it with cornstarch, put the dough on, sprinkle that with more corn starch and another piece of parchment paper, then I roll it out. This works great. You can also use plastic wrap but I find that it can leave those weird seams and lines in the dough. I use corn starch because GF flour is so expensive and it feels wasteful to just throw it around. If you are a Rockefeller, feel free to use as much GF flour as you like. For the rest of us peasants, corn starch is the way to go.

4) The cookie trays can be a challenge. If you are like me, you have your Mom's old cookie trays from 1960 which are probably made of lead and thalidomide so they have had a LOT of gluten on them. Plus, these jerks I live with that call themselves my family, don't have Celiacs so they sometimes use the cookie trays for their poisonous food, like chicken fingers. Losers. Anyway, line your cookie trays with parchment paper too, this prevents cross contamination and stops the cookies from sticking. I have used tin foil before and just sprayed it with non stick spray but sometimes the stupid gluten free cookies still stick and the tin foil heats up too much and causes the cookies to burn faster. So use parchment paper, it usually just comes in a roll and I buy parchment paper at the loonie store. Use something sharp to trim the parchment to the cookie sheet, a knife or samurai sword works fine.

5)  GF cookies should take the maximum amount of cooking time listed on the recipe. So if the recipe says 8-10 min, it will take 10, maybe even twelve. BUT, and here is the kicker, they burn SO FAST so watch your oven carefully. Don't leave the kitchen to build a snowman or give a presentation on the theory of relativity while you have cookies in the oven. If the recipe says 8-10 minutes, I start watching them at 8, like a hawk.

Here's the thing, you could follow all my rules and still have a result that looks like a Chernobyl experiment. I give no guarantees so don't write me hate mail when your Grandma's recipe for Snickerdoodles didn't work out. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the Gluten Free Gods did not smile on you that day and you produce bullshit. Sorry, you have Celiac Disease, suck it up, throw some icing on that shit and eat them all up anyway. I can't fix fate.

So, to my Cookie Monster, you messy, googly-eyed, sweet, puppet. I love you, I do. I would love to make you some GF cookies one day because, let me tell you, you simple-minded, sixties shag rug with arms, you wouldn't throw my cookies around pal. You would ACTUALLY eat them, because they are delicious!

You can find my recipes for GF Chocolate Chip Cookies and Sugar Cookies in the recipe section on this site.

Happy Baking!

Saturday 18 February 2017

Someone Is Going To Give Me A Microphone!

That's right, someone is going to give me a microphone and free reign! 

I am excited and honored to be asked to speak at the Edmonton Gluten Free Festival on June 10! I'll be ranting and raving with some other amazing speakers, all of which will be far more informative and educated than I. 

The festival has amazing vendors and promises to be a fantastic event. 

Get your tickets HERE. Tickets include a Gluten Free Breakfast and Lunch plus access to all speakers and vendors. Remember to register early as space is limited!