Although I had been diagnosed with Celiac for basically my whole life, until fairly recently I had never joined a support group. My first Celiac conference event was an Annual Stanford Celiac Conference where we listened to speakers like Dr. Gail Pyle and Carol Fenster and feasted on more gluten free goodies like Kinnikinnick donuts and bagels than I’d ever seen in one place. I also joined some truly excellent groups online, such as the Yahoo groups SillyYaks and a group for locals in the Bay area, Celiac Bay Area, as well as a specialized group for vegetarian gluten free diners, Vegetarian GF. Perhaps because I’d been living with Celiac for so long, I wasn’t sure that I needed support in the same way a new member might, but I actually found that because I had been diagnosed for so long, some of my information was outdated. Also, it was really fun learning from others living gluten free. I learned about gluten free restaurants that I had never imagined existed, and found countless new products thanks to my fellow “SillyYaks’” recommendations. The internet has really revolutionized the accessibility of information for countless millions of people, and for someone with specialized interests like gluten free living, it has expanded the possibilities of gluten free eating in a way that was previously unimaginable. Thanks to various Yahoo and Google message boards, I can now research a location before I go there and find all the gluten free bakeries, restaurants, and shopping destinations simply by asking friends on a national board like SillyYaks or by joining or contacting a local gluten free group like Las Vegas Celiac Support. My dining possibilities have never looked brighter. If you haven’t tried these specialized forums for those with gluten intolerance, give them a try. I think you will be impressed and amazed at the warmth and kindness of members in these groups, who try to face the trials of gluten free life positively and help their fellow “SillyYak” friends to the best of their ability. Many people have commented about BytheBay’s sweet sponsorship of the Cooking for Karina Blog Event. I have encountered this spirit of generosity in many of those in the gluten free community that I have met, and so I would encourage any of you who are feeling discouraged about the limitation of the gluten free diet or additional allergies, or even those long term gluten free folks like me, to pay a visit to these boards. It’s amazing how much knowledge we have together.
The virtual gluten free community is not the only one available to you, however. I think many of us are vaguely aware that there are local gluten free support groups all over the country, but we don’t take the time to locate or contact our own local support groups. Thanks to my membership in the Yahoo “CeliacBayArea” forum, I recently have become involved with a Celiac SF group. So far we’ve met several times and shared delicious homemade gluten free food together. Plans are in the works for a web site with restaurant, shopping, and other information about gluten free living in the area, and we’ve started a forum and have some plans for educating restaurants on Celiac and the Gluten free diet. I’ve really enjoyed the chance to meet other people on the gluten free diet, and it’s a true joy to enjoy an entire meal of gluten free food together. Our last dinner had an “Asian” theme, and so we enjoyed Vegetable Pakora, fresh fruit, my Ambrosial Green Beans, Thai Chicken Curry, Thai basil beef, my Twice browned Indian Potatoes and Green Peas, Ginger Tea, my Mango Lassi and two lovely desserts, blond chocolate brownies and a strawberry shortcake on coconut bread. It was all lovely, and I’m wondering why I didn’t join a group like this years ago…. So, if you’re tired of cooking gluten free all by yourself, why not find your local Celiac or Gluten Intolerance group? We may not always be able to rely on restaurants to provide us with delicious, safe, gluten free food- but at least we can rely on each other!
Twice browned Indian Potatoes and Green Pea Recipe
1 1/2 to 3 tbsp mustard oil (or other favorite oil)
5 medium potatoes (1 1/2 lbs or so) cut into cubes
1 bay leaf or curry leaf
5 whole cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin (Freshly ground preferred)
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh is best, canned will do in a pinch)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp plain yogurt (you can leave this out as I did this time, but it’s better with the yogurt.)
1/4 tsp garam masala (I mix my own)
Heat 1 or 2 tbsp oil in a skillet (cast iron is nice) on medium. Add potatoes and let them brown in the oil, turning occasionally. I do this for about ten minutes, or until as many sides as possible are golden. Take out and add additional oil (1 1/2 tsp) and heat again, over lightly lower heat. Heat curry leaf, cardamom, and cloves briefly to release flavor and then add spices, up through sugar. Let them heat, stirring constantly and then add potatoes, tomatoes, and salt. Add water, lower heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add peas a few minutes before the end of cooking time. When done take off burner and stir in yogurt and garam masala, leaving potatoes intact.
1/3 cup plain yogurt, store bought or homemade (GELATIN FREE)
1/4 cup canned mango pulp (Alphonso Mangos are best, you can find this at any Indian market)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup cold water (or less, to taste)
MAKES ONE 16 oz. serving
Blend together, serve chilled.
Yummy and very easy. Double for a couple, or you can also make a big batch for a party. (Say, for a small pitcher 1 cup yogurt, 3/4 cup canned mango pulp, 4 1/2 tbsp sugar, 2/3 to 1 cup cold water- multiply from there)