Monday, December 13, 2010

I was a (almost) thirty year old acne victim

yep.  twenty nine (no, really.  the first time around) and STILL breaking out like a pubescent teenager.  it's horrifying, really.  because we're not talking small little blackhead like breakouts.  we're talking gargantuan, massive, cystic clusters of acne.  disgusting, bacterial acne.  the kind that you remember on THAT kid in high school.  the kind that just looking at made you want to go wash your face.  yes, my friends.  THAT kind of acne.  do you have the full disgusting picture in your head yet, or shall i get more graphic?  Just to be sure we're all on the same disgusting page, i'm going to be extremely brave (WAAAAAY outside my comfort range here, folks) and show you what i mean:

this is a good day, too.  these are immediately after my nighttime cleansing, which is really when they look their best, sadly.  i refuse to put pictures of their worst.  this is hard enough for me.

let me give you a little background on me real quick.  

i never had perfect skin.  but it wasn't horrible.  i didn't have acne, per se.  i had your typical once in awhile break out.  then, after i had my first baby (i call him bubba in my blogs), my skin got worse, then better.  when he was six months old or so, i went to work for Clinique.  working for them, i took skin physiology courses and became the counter three step leader, selling their number one skin care line.  and the line worked for me.  for a little while, anyway.  gradually, my skin got worse.  then it would get better.  i started using the Arbonne Intelligence line at some point after my second baby (blog name marti) and had AMAZING results with that.  then they discontinued it.  at some point in there, i went on birth control to help with my mood swings, skin problems, crazy cycles, and early menopause symptoms.  anyway, in the last year, i changed birth controls - from ortho tricycline oral doses to the depo-provera shot.  well, i gained weight with the depo, my skin broke out, i was miserable.  so i quit.  haven't gotten around to going back on the pill yet. BUT my skin continues to get gross.  and stay that way.  since i went off the depo at the end of august, i've not had a single clear skin day.  sometimes i can wake up mostly clear and by lunch i'm breaking out.  i've changed skin care, make up, you name it.  nothing's worked.

then in october, i went gluten-free.  skin actually got some better.  i lost almost ten pounds, all my medical problems cleared up, feeling fabulous.  but my skin.  i STILL can't get it clear.  

the other day, mom reads on Glutenista about wheat in hair products and cosmetics...

...hold on.  i have a wheat allergy.

ingredient check!!!  

nothing i use has any of the derivatives of wheat in it.  at least that i can find.  well, shoot.

a little more internet digging and i find that while MAC cosmetics has some of the most amazing color and makeup options out there and is cruelty free, that they do have products containing wheat and/or gluten.

oh, you have GOT to be kidding me!!!  i've used MAC for years.  i worked for them for a long time and i LOVE their products.  so to find out that the very powder i've loved for the last seven years may contain kernel oil was very upsetting.  no, i don't have a corn allergy.  i have a wheat allergy.  but corn contains its own gluten.  they also mention that there's the possibility of equipment contamination.  i found all this on this website, which is admittedly dated.  but then, i realized that the newest product i've been using is my concealer.  and after a few days of thinking about it, i ONLY break out in the same spots over and over and over and over.  those are the places i conceal daily.  only to break out in more clusters.  (you'd think that it wouldn't take very long to make this connection, but it did me, because i've never had sensitivity issues.)  well, best i can tell online, my concealer doesn't contain any gluten products.  (FYI - don't EVER google all the ingredients in your cosmetics.  i now don't ever want to put that stuff on my face again.  ever.)  but i've emailed MAC to find out for sure.  in the meantime, i have purchased a different brand of concealer, one whose label i checked REPEATEDLY to make sure.  i'm going to give it two weeks and see if it makes a difference.  

i have also checked the ingredient list on every product i own - from toothpaste to deodorant to soap to hand lotion.  i had no idea that i might find allergens in my shampoo.  or my concealer.  that shocks me.  and frustrates me.  because the MAC Studio Sculpt concealer is the best stuff i've ever used.  but at the same time, i'm sooooooo tired of being an acne victim.  it's not fair.  i passed puberty sixteen years ago or more.  that i should still have to deal with this is maddening.  i will be doing ingredient checks on everything from now on.  and i will be taking pictures daily of my skin to see how it's clearing up.

i should also mention that i plan to continue my regimen of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid on my face to help dry up and kill the acne.  but i also plan to NOT add anything that might irritate it.

so i will be letting you know how it goes.

what kind of weird allergy/cosmetic issues have you had?  what did you do about them?  is there something i'm missing?

let me know!  and go be gorgeous!

Free Maternity Patterns: Maternity Shirt Pattern

Free Maternity Patterns: Maternity Shirt Pattern

Monday, November 8, 2010

for the love of noodles...

So, learning to eat gluten free has been a challenge.  Especially if you want to eat out somewhere.  A few weeks ago, I had this experience at our local Nothing But Noodles:

me: (calling to order two meals to go for L to pick up) I've been told that you have gluten free noodles.  is that right?
NBN girl: ummm...what?
me: pasta.  noodles.  gluten free.  do you have them?
NBN girl:  ummm...i don't think they're free...
me: (with an exasperated sigh and eye roll, cuz it's not like we had a bad connection) no, hon.  GLUTEN free.
NBN girl:  oooohhhh!  yeah, they're glue free!
me: ooooookay.  know what?  i'm just gonna get two chicken and cheesy vegetables or whatever it's called.  i need two separate orders of that.
NBN girl: okay!  great!  and what's the name on that?
me: slaymaker.
NBN girl: oh, wow!  that's really cool!  okay, ms. slaymaker (not my name, fyi, but L's) we'll see you in a little bit! bye!

and i'm still frustrated that she didn't give me a total, but i got over it.  i repeat the conversation to L and she laughs.  but then she goes to pick it up:

NBN girl: (same one, no lie) okay, that'll be $16.83.
L: okay, i need to pay for those separately.
NBN girl: okay!  so this one's $16.83.
L: no.  i need to split that and pay for them each separately.
NBN girl: yeah, okay.  so we'll take care of this one first and then get your second one.
L: NO.  (pulling two debit cards out) i need to put ONE on this card.  and ONE onthis card.
NBN girl: oooohhhh!  okay.  yeah, i don't know how to do that.

Thankfully, the next time I actually went IN to NBN, they had gluten free menus right by the register.  And y'all, it was GOOD.  Perfect rice pasta.

I also know that Olive Garden (and who doesn't love the OG???)  has a gluten free pasta.  Yes, ma'am, they do.  And it's GREAT.  And ordering that over the phone wasn't nearly as complicated.  To make that experience five times better, the girl that brought it out to me at the restaurant is also gluten free.  She said working at the OG around all that pasta makes her feel like a fat kid who can't have any cake.  Yeah, I can relate to that feeling.  But she has learned her menu and knows what's gluten free there and what's not.  And FYI, per OG girl, the salad dressing that we all love so much is NOT gluten free.  Dang.

Bridge tells me that Mellow Mushroom has a gluten free pizza crust and it's good, too.  Everything else I've tried has been normal food, just nothing with bread.  Grilled chicken and corn tortillas and stuff.  But you should know that my life has been made a million times better by the fact that I can, in fact, get gluten free pasta at the two best pasta places in the world.  And at one of them, I'm even guaranteed that the pasta is GLUE free, as well.  Who could ask for more???

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Let the Adventures Begin!

Welcome to Gluten Free Adventures!!!  My name is Sarah and I'm a single mother of two.  My kids, Bubba and Marti (NOT their real names) and I live with my wonderful parents.  Recently, my father and I both started having stomach problems that our doctor diagnosed as gallbladder troubles.  We both went through multiple tests, including ultrasounds, HIDA scans (radioactive stuff), and endoscopys, only to find out that neither of us had anything wrong that the doctors could find.  My doctor recommended that I have a colonoscopy, to which I said "NO, thank you."  I'm not even thirty, I don't see me doing that before I absolutely have to, thanks.  So I stuck to taking my Prilosec and keeping the Zofran handy for nausea.  Not the ideal way to live, but I figured I had to do it.  A couple of weeks ago, one of my coworkers asked if I had tried taking the gluten out of my diet.  I told her no, that I really didn't think that was my problem and didn't think I could handle giving up my carbs.  She explained that she had gone through much of what I had several years ago.  Then they determined that she had a wheat allergy (not the same as having celiac disease).  So for years, she's gone wheat free.  After giving it some thought - and spending the weekend going crazy on carbs and pasta - I decided last Sunday, October 10, 2010 would be my day.  I gave up wheat products.  It hasn't been easy at all but it has been worth every minute.  After a week, I realized that I had not had to take my nausea medicine or my reflux medicine all week.  This was HUGE!  So my mom, Melissa (and co-author of this blog), and I talked about the whole family going gluten free.  Her massage therapist has a son that can't have gluten or dairy.  And supposedly, this diet helps kids with ADHD, which my son has.  So we decided we should all try it.  And thus began our Gluten Free Adventure.

We started on Saturday.  I'd been on the diet one full week and was loving it.  We went shopping together and found lots of food.  She bought a book called Cooking For Isaiah by Silvana Nardone.  The book is chock full of amazing recipes using gluten and dairy free products.  And of course, the pictures look great and all.  But I was skeptical.  How good could it really be?  Well, Mom got her shopping list together using this book and off we went.  We went to Publix, Wal-Mart, Target, and Kroger.  She went to EarthFare and a small local store called Garden Cove.  We have yet to make it to Fresh Market.  Surprisingly, we found the most at Kroger.  We bought several things to make our own gluten free flour mix, as well as some Amy's frozen dinners.  We found gluten free bread, crackers, cookies, cake mixes, soups, pastas, you name it.  It's amazing.  Here's a sample of what we bought:

Yes, that's correct!  Fritos are gluten free.  You'd be surprised what is.

So we got started on our first gluten free dinner as a family.  Thanks to Silvana, we had Grilled Peach BBQ chicken (supposed to be wings, but we just cut up 3 chicken breasts and used that instead), Grilled Asparagus with Creamy Lemon Dip, and brown rice.  Now, not being an asparagus person, I really didn't know how this was going to work out.  Mama and I made prepped the chicken and the asparagus:

And made the sauces for each. The chicken sauce was very similar to a sauce Mom and Dad brought back from Belize called Lisette's Secret Sauce.  We actually had quite a bit left over and put it in the fridge to save for other stuff.  And it was wonderful on the rice, as well.

The sauce for the asparagus was really different.  It's got lemon zest and lemon juice as well as mayo, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil in it.  It's supposed to have red pepper flakes, which we didn't have, but also didn't really need:

After that came the grillin'.  That's my Daddy's area.  He grilled the chicken and the asparagus.  And in less than twenty minutes, we had dinner.  I took pictures of the finished products, but for some reason tonight I can't upload them.  Anyway, let's just say the meal was AMAZING.  Even my picky kids ate it.  Marti didn't care for the asparagus at all, and Bubba only ate one, but they tried it.  After dinner, Mom made Silvana's Super Fudge Brownies.  If you're not a fudgey, gooey brownie kind of person, then these are not for you.  The recipe only uses 1/2 cup of Silvana's all purpose flour mixture, so they're pretty flat and fudge like, but OH. MY. GOODNESS.  I could eat the whole batch.  Just fantastic.

So we moved into day two of the adventure today.  Breakfast was a mad dash because the kids and I overslept and were running late for church.  It was still gluten free, though - Chex cereal and milk.  Lunch, though, was spaghetti.  We used DuBole's rice spaghetti and regular spaghetti sauce (check the label!).  We always cook ground meat - very frequently turkey, almost never chicken, and rarely beef - and mix in with our sauce.  I'm not a meatball person, and honestly, that's just the way we've always done it.  So today, we had rice pasta and sauce with ground turkey breast.  Wasn't a big hit.  Daddy and I liked it, Mama didn't.  The rice pasta is tricky.  Silvana recommends undercooking the pasta a bit to avoid it getting mushy.  Except we undercooked it just a bit too much, so it was kinda stiff instead.  And the ground turkey breast...might I just suggest you not try it.  It was a little dry and just didn't taste right.  However, I was just so darn excited to have pasta, I didn't care.  And I have the ability to think to myself, "If this was just a little more *blank* or a little less *blank* it'd be perfect," and eat it anyway.  Mom and the kids weren't huge fans.  So next time we try it, we'll do it differently and let you know how it goes.

Dinner tonight was all me.  Mom and Dad go to a small group Bible study on Sunday nights and the kids and I stay home.  This is kind of our "family" night for the three of us.  I've always liked doing breakfast for dinner.  Last week, I tried scrambled eggs, brown rice, and bacon roll ups with corn tortillas.  Needs some work.  When I figure that out, I'll let you know.  But this week, we had Banana Pancakes with Warm Cinnamon Goo.  Um, fabulous!  The pancake mix has mashed banana and cinnamon in it.  The cinnamon "goo" is brown sugar, water, and cinnamon melted to a syrup.  It was delicious!  Plus it made enough to freeze and put up for tomorrow morning, which is extra cool.  I had a picture of that, too, but again...Blogger won't let me put it up.  I'll try to post a blog tomorrow of just the pictures for these meals.

I'm looking forward to the rest of this adventure.  What amazing special diet recipes have you tried or come up with lately?  What's your favorite gluten free food?  What's your favorite restaurant dish that's gluten free?  Tell us about your adventures!