Letting Go of Food Paranoia

Using up CG's farmers market produce for dinner before it goes bad

Using up CG’s farmers market produce for dinner before it goes bad

You can’t help it sometimes. Okay, most times. You learn you have food allergies/intolerances and everything looks like a potential hazard. There will always be paranoia when anaphylaxis is a reaction. Heck, I have a healthy enough paranoia that my peanut allergy could wind up in an anaphylactic reaction that I’m not tempted to go near peanuts.

Paranoia makes you hypervigilant. Too much hypervigilance creates stress. Too much stress can lead to adrenal fatigue and triggering autoimmune disorders.

I had to let go of some of that paranoia to lower my stress levels.

But what does that mean?

It means offering to cook when I stay with friends.

It means educating others when it is called for and not until then.

It means packing food for road trips when there are no restaurant options along the way. Packing food in the suitcase and carry-on luggage for potential food emergencies in the airport, plane, and destination.

It means researching potential restaurants before traveling.

It means taking my own food when going to big social gatherings when food options are slim to none and/or potential for cross-contact is high.

It means releasing family and friends from the expectation that they have something available for you.

Steeler bought gf bread mix while I was resting. I had to politely tell him I couldn't have it after checking the ingredients.

Steeler bought gf bread mix while I was resting. I had to politely tell him I couldn’t have it after checking the ingredients.

You cannot let go of all of your food paranoia. It would make us lax in checking everything and we could end up in worse health than before. But there is some unnecessary paranoia and stress we put ourselves through that I think would make it so much easier if we would just let it go.

The paranoia serves us well when we are first diagnosed, but we cannot keep up the same level of paranoia all the time. Again, severe allergies aside. My paranoia levels at home are low because if Chaz wants to bring in something with gluten, he keeps it separate from the rest of the food. He has his own spot in the dining room for his food he brings in. It is nowhere near the pantry or the refrigerator. He brought in bread for the first time a few months ago and was toasting it in the oven. I got a bit paranoid and was throwing foil down on the pan and cleaning the counter after him. He hasn’t brought bread in since. He knows to wash his hands and face after eating anything I react to just in case. He ate something with gluten in the car a couple of years ago then reached for me. I pulled away, “You have gluten on your hands!” We have now dubbed them “gluten cooties.” It keeps it light and less stressful for me.

Steeler made cedar plank salmon, green bean salad, and cucumber & tomato salad. All safe for me after double checking everything.

Steeler made cedar plank salmon, green bean salad, and cucumber & tomato salad. All safe for me after double checking everything.

There are places I feel comfortable if someone else cooks for me and other places I don’t. That is okay and I plan accordingly. It keeps it low stress for everyone.

I know that going to see family and friends when food is involved means food in most situations and we all want to partake and feel included when the food is involved. However, our family and friends don’t always get it or their kitchens are a cross-contact nightmare. There is no rule that says you can’t bring your own food. That way when you are socializing, yes, you may not have what everyone else is having, but you have something safe for you. I’ve found when I take that food element away from the socialization that it becomes more about being with your family and friends than it does about the food.

Double checking ingredients no longer feels paranoid to me. It is just routine. I’m happier with  where I am and how I need to eat because I don’t make it stressful or turn something into a stressful situation when it doesn’t need to be. I can’t have it? I move on. No sense ruminating over it because it does nothing but create stress. If you haven’t been paying attention (or just started following me) I do not need nor do I want the stress. I have better and more productive things to do with my time.

Grain-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ginger Molasses CookiesIf you follow me on social media, you heard about my allergy treatment last week. I had enough of the headaches and wondered if they were a reaction to something. I couldn’t pinpoint it myself because I wasn’t eating the same thing all the time. If it kept trying, I never would have figured it out.

Water.

My body wasn’t liking water, soda, sports drinks, and tea. I never drink sports drinks, I rarely drink soda, and lately I’ve only been drinking herbal tea. Water I drink like there is no tomorrow. When my doctor tested me in the subcategories, I was reacting to the glucose and caffeine in soda. He said the times when caffeine alleviated the headache, it was overriding my body’s initial reaction.

Go figure. Allergic to myself and water.

I had to not eat or drink anything for two hours after the treatment. My first sip of water I had I start to feel the first inkling of a headache and I switched to coconut water for the rest of the day. I started drinking water again the next day and no reaction. I am glad they are gone!

I’ve had a little more energy since then, too. Pumpkin Palooza is going on in my kitchen and I am churning out projects I’ve sidelined for months. Feels good.

On to cookies.

These cookies will be slightly more on the ginger side than the molasses side, which is what I wanted. If you love molasses cookies, never fear. You will still be able to taste the molasses.

I use cashew butter in this recipe because the flavor will not overtake the ginger and molasses. I did not attempt to make these with Sunbutter because of my current sunflower seed allergy. If you or a loved one has a nut allergy, you can use Sunbutter in place of cashew butter and pumpkin seed flour in place of almond flour but taste your batter first. You may need to make adjustments so the Sunbutter does not take over as it tends to do. You can add ground ginger if you need to, but only add a little at a time. You can always add more, but you cannot take away.

Grain-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies (makes about 2 dozen)

1 cup cashew butter (I used roasted natural)

1 cup almond flour

3/4 cup blackstrap molasses

1/4 cup Ginger Spread

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat liner (I use the Silpat liners for no waste). Mix all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheets and press with the back of a spoon or your fingers to flatten slightly. Bake for fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest on the cookie sheets for five minutes. Remove cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool before eating. The longer you let them cool before trying to eat them, the better they will firm up.

Allergy-Free Eating in Manassas

Torched Cherry Mojito

Torched Cherry Mojito

I left Jerm and DD’s house the same time they left for work. I drove to Manassas for my last stop of my vacation to see my friend CG. I intended to drive around and kill a lot of time until she got off work even though her husband, Steeler, was home on vacation working on projects around the house.

My first stop after exiting the freeway was Target. It was RIGHT there. And there were a few things I needed. Mostly a razor because my razor head broke two days before. I also knew I could kill a lot of time in Target. I picked up what I needed, found a lot of washi tape for art journaling, and realized I forgot The Fall of Five by PIttacus Lore (any other I Am Number Four fans?) was released two days before.

My stomach was growling so I checked the “Find Me Gluten-Free” app to find a good restaurant for lunch. Three restaurants down, Cheeseburger In Paradise.

SQUEEEEEEEE!

We don’t have one in Cincinnati. If you look at their locations, they are not widespread like most chains. Which is a damn shame because they get gluten-free and allergy-free. Their fryers for the fries are dedicated. The only time I get to go to one is if we are out of town where there is one.

Burger and fries at Cheeseburger in Paradise

Burger and fries at Cheeseburger in Paradise

I went all out. I was tolerating cheese before vacation so it was a bacon burger. They offered a gluten-free bun and while I shouldn’t have because of the egg, I did anyway (and no reaction!). I even posted a picture of it on social media. My phone blew up as soon as I did. Tweets and texts. It was a hearty mess of deliciousness and I savored every last bite.

CG texted me while I was eating to let me know I could go to the house when I was ready and that she and Steeler would be going to lunch soon. I was paying my check so I hightailed it out and over to their house. I went with Steeler to pick her up for lunch to surprise her and sat with them in Qdoba while they ate. I went back home with Steeler and did some reading until we left to meet CG and a co-worker of hers I know (and hadn’t seen in years) for drinks.

I ordered a Prosecco when I saw it on the wine menu. Manassas 4

Then I noticed they have Angry Orchard hard cider. That was next. Manassas 5

Then I remembered when CG and I get together we drink. I was immensely grateful for the allergy treatments that allowed yeast back into my diet.

I fixed dinner for us that night but the next morning I went out to breakfast at Potomac Mills. I decided to see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (again) at the theater there, then walk around the mall and I had more than enough time for breakfast by the time I got there. I used the Find-Me Gluten-Free app and settled on Silver Diner. A local chain with farm-to-table practices. Manassas 8

Their menu has gluten-free options marked, as well as vegetarian, vegan. The options aren’t huge, but with their menu it was a good thing because I never would have been able to decide. I chose the Coconut Quinoa Pancakes without bananas and since I did okay with eggs baked into a bun the day before, I decided to test eggs.

Coconut Quinoa Pancakes at Silver Diner

Coconut Quinoa Pancakes at Silver Diner

The pancakes were delicious and I had no reaction to the eggs. I did a little happy dance because I knew tolerating cheese and eggs meant my body is healing. I loved the diner feeling of the Silver Diner without being too kitschy. Plus, each table has a mini-jukebox with all the selections and the music plays overhead and through the jukebox. No leaving your table to choose your song or your child wandering around to get to and from the jukebox. Manassas 7

I enjoyed the movie (again). If you haven’t read the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and enjoy books in the teen fantasy/paranormal genre, read them! They’ve become my favorites since picking them up and I love the casting of the movie so much I was able to forgive all the changes they made in the movie. Okay, all but two. But that’s just me and what I thought was important to the story. I spent several hours in Potomac Mills and bought a few things for me and a t-shirt Chaz seems to love because he keeps wearing it.

I knew I still had a couple of hours before CG would be done at work so I decided to find a Starbucks to use their wifi and do some writing. Turns out I found a Starbucks without wifi and since I was already settled I tried to grab wifi from the Chick-fil-A next door. It worked in about one minute increments. I did what I needed to do and anything else I couldn’t do with the shaky wifi could wait. I focused more on editing and writing.

Of course I lost track of time and I hurried home to find CG home from work and Steeler already gone to his fantasy football meeting. CG and I decided to go out to dinner. I opened up the Find Me Gluten-Free app again and started looking at the nearby restaurants. We settled on Glory Days Grill because they use a dedicated fryer for their gluten-free wings and fries and CG decided she wanted wings.

When we got there and I started asking my million questions it turned out they use a mix of vegetable oil and soybean oil for their gluten-free fryer. Soybean oil for the fryer. I really don’t get the widespread use of soybean oil in restaurants. I really cuts a lot of options for me. I went with a cheeseburger and red potatoes. I really wanted fries, but the potatoes were a good substitute. And guess what? They serve Angry Orchard hard cider!

Cheeseburger & red potatoes at Glory Days Grill

Cheeseburger & red potatoes at Glory Days Grill

I definitely ate out more than I planned to while in Manassas, but I was able to do so safely, I mentioned the FInd Me Gluten-Free app. It is a lifesaver for me if we happen to be out and we need to eat. I’ve tried several other apps that didn’t give me the information I wanted. I started using this one months ago and it has not failed me. I even used it to start researching places in Vegas for our trip in December.