It only matters what works for you.

Archive for the ‘gluten free’ Category

Unico 20.87- The Quiet Pool

The quiet pool was really the focus of our vacation I think. After a leisurely waking and a nice walk to the breakfast buffet, we retired to the quiet pool. It was a bit cooler than the two main pools and it was tucked off to the side. The music was lower, easily talked over. There was no beer pong. All the beer pong was over in the main pool.


This really sums up our vacation. The clear cool water of the pool. Blue sky with decorative puffy white clouds. Palm trees swaying in the breeze. The swim up bar opened at about 11, or maybe 10:30. But we didn’t have to actually swim to the bar because the amazing Bianca would come by every little bit to refresh the ice buckets keeping our water bottles cold and see if we needed another pina colada, or maybe another daiquiri, or a chi-chi, which is what Bianca told me a pina colada with grenadine is called, although Google differs.

When we got warm, just hop up and take another dip in the pool. Gustavo, a young man not long out of school and saving for University, was tasked with making sure our umbrella constantly moved to keep us out of the sun. We didn’t take advantage of the lunch delivery, but it was available.

Partway through the morning our Host, Leonardo, would come by to see if we needed anything. Dinner reservations? Spa reservations? Could I please have an electric fan in our room? Certainly! No problem. Everything we could possibly need, including change for a $20 on the last day to tip our favorite servers, he made possible.

They were running some great specials, so after a leisurely morning reading and swimming at the pool, and a late lunch, I took myself off to the spa. Daily massage has become a goal. Some were good, some were amazing. Volcanic hot stone massage is a favorite, but I tried some of everything.

One day Beloved took off on an excursion to see the ruins at Tulum. He came back full of excellent educational details. He said the quality of the excursion and the education was much, much higher than the cruise excursions we’re used to. I didn’t think I’d be up to the walking, so I was in the spa and then had a lovely reading day.

After the pool and the spa was always a leisurely dinner. Beloved made extensive use of the jacuzzi tub on the deck every evening.

But when I plug into the memory to relax and bask in the joy, it’s laying on a sunbed at the quiet pool in the breeze that is the strongest memory. That’s what I look forward to in our next vacation.





Unico 20.87- the Food.

Food, glorious food!

One of the questions we always have to ask is, can they handle a guest with food allergies. Yes, they did, and they did a fantastic job.

Breakfast and lunch every day was at the 20 87 restaurant, which is an enormous buffet. In the US I am particularly leery of buffets because you can’t be certain what is actually in the food, and cross contamination is a big problem. I ate at their buffet twice a day for 5 days and never had a single issue. You should be impressed.

While they did have all the traditional things an American tourist will expect, made to order omelettes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, and pancakes, that was the very least of the breakfast offerings. There was an array of things to make breakfast tacos, which I never fully investigated. There were so many things, I often wished they were still offering breakfast at lunch so I could try things I missed. Every day I had beautiful creamy scrambled eggs and bacon and gluten free bread. Other offerings that rotated were various preparations of potatoes. Poached eggs with salsa, with salsa verde, and some creamy cheesy sauce that I sadly skipped. Several times shredded beef or chicken that was beautifully seasoned. An entire section…six or seven trays…of sliced meats specifically a salami type item that I ate for breakfast and lunch every day. Trays of cheeses that made me sad I can’t eat cheese any more. Tray after tray of cut fruit, the expected watermelon and pineapple, cantaloupe, mango, something I didn’t recognize, and sliced peaches and plums, which was a very nice treat for me.


And a huge selection of every possible pastry that my Beloved enjoyed ruthlessly. On the weekend they offered a selection of gluten free muffins that were lovely.

The juice flowed endlessly, and if you’re a fan of watermelon, I’d just like to recommend fresh squeezed watermelon juice to start your day. Or strawberry juice, if that’s your thing. Definitely my thing, along with orange juice, which was always fresh squeezed and far superior to what I can usually purchase here in the DC area.

Lunch was the same layout. More fruit, cheese, and sliced meats. Made to order lunch steaks, hamburgers, or fish. Tacos. Curries. Random veggies. Interesting potatoes. So much variety every day. Beloved was particularly enamored of the no less than 5 varieties of ceviche that were presented every day. And of course, desserts, if you possibly had any room. The gluten free chocolate chip cookies were very nice.

For less formal lunch or afternoon snacks there were several choices. There were some areas around the pools that were just walk up bars. One specialized in fried fish, one had a big brick pizza oven, one seemed to specialize in sandwiches. I never had room to try them.

For dinner, things were just a bit more formal. The space that was a buffet two meals a day became a steak house. I had to most amazing flank steak possible. It didn’t taste like anything but flank steak, but it was the richest, most tender flank steak you can imagine and I have no idea how they managed it. Beloved had something they called a strip roast, which seems to be what a rib roast would be if you cut it the other direction along the ribs. It was also very good, but we agreed mine was the best tasting.

There was a Italian restaurant that I admit we didn’t try. They do offer a gluten free pasta, but neither of us were particularly intrigued by the menu.

Mura House is their Japanese restaurant. We ate there twice because Beloved adores sushi. Everything he ate was beautiful and he raved about the freshness. They offered gluten free soy sauce, so all the sushi was available to me, except that I don’t care for it. Instead I had custom prepared teppanyaki, which wonderful. They also offered a specialty beverage called a Momo which went down so smooth on a hot day that it’s only by careful pre-planning that I didn’t over do. They are saki, peach liqueur, peach juice, and something else I think. Really spectacular. In this picture Beloved has received his tempura, but we’re still waiting on our drinks. With multiple open grills, I found it a bit warm, hence the fan.


Cueve Siete is their Mexican signature restaurant. It is not what you think of as Mexican, but it was amazing anyway. One night there was table-side fresh to order guacamole. My favorite dish was a beef and sheep’s tongue appetizer that was just amazing, tender and flavorful. Both nights we were there I had the duck as my main course. It was rich and tender and not under cooked the way it often is here where it’s practically raw in the middle. It is not done to lick the plate, but it was difficult to maintain my composure. Sex on the Beach was the drink of choice those nights.

And on the off chance you might possibly still be looking for more food, Cafe Inez was on the walk from the restaurants back to our room and they offered a dangerous selection of desserts, baked goods, and they had a little three-tier case with three lovely gluten free choices, a fantastic apple tart with an almond base, a super rich frosted chocolate brownie-thing, and a lovely crumbly round pastry with a rich sweet taste and a light chocolaty layer in the middle. I’ve never seen one before, but it was delicious.

They took being accessible to those of us with food allergies very seriously. After check-in I was presented with a laminated card with all the food allergies I’d submitted printed on it. I showed this at every restaurant and it was noted down. I think that as they go along they’ll come up with a better method for keeping the information on file, but for now, in their first year of operation, they are obsessively keeping statistics.

It made our experience that much more stress free.

And because it matters to me, so maybe to you, in a conversation with part of the customer care team we ran into on the way back to our room one afternoon, I learned that almost all the food is local, either organically or hydroponically grown. They have a very aggressive recycling policy and have a whole team devoted to minimizing their impact.

Here at home I eat organic as much as possible, and I try to make the freshest choices, but the difference in the  food is astounding. Everything just tasted better there, and I don’t think it was solely because I didn’t have to cook it myself. I think real, fresh, untainted food is a gift it’s hard to get here. I’m not sure we as a culture even know where we’re missing any more.

If you missed the first part, it’s here.



How deep does it go?

They say if you want to permanently lose weight and be healthier you need a ‘lifestyle change’.

What does that mean?

Often we implement this ‘lifestyle change’ by getting up a little earlier to go to the gym, clearing out all the stuff we know we shouldn’t eat from the pantry, and devoting ourselves to ‘eating healthier’ (another term that doesn’t really mean anything).

I think we’re doing it wrong.

I have a friend who’s lost a lot of weight. And that’s great. But what I really see is that she’s restructured her entire life around this new person she’s become. She went gluten free, and that’s important. But I see a lot more than that. She started exercising, but that’s not it. She swims. She doesn’t just swim, she joined a team and she does synchronized swimming and competes. She runs, but more importantly, she’s started doing marathons, and running with people.

She’s made swimming and running into a big part of her social life. It isn’t an exercise program any more, it’s her social scene. That’s where her friends are. It’s what she does on weekends.

That’s a lifestyle change.

Going to the gym doesn’t usually give us the changes we’re looking for because it’s just something we’ve stuck on our previous life. And often its something we don’t really want to do, we’re just supposed to.

I’m thinking you have to incorporate something that is not only healthy, but also fun, challenging, satisfying, and/or rewarding.

Now how do I figure out what that would look like?

Yeah, just go out and try things.

Raise a fuss!

How many times have you put aside your needs for the sake of ‘not raising a fuss’?

Yeah, I’m pretty much done with  that. You see, if we don’t raise the fuss to do what is necessary to care for ourselves, then it will Never Happen. When we don’t care for ourselves, we not only short change our own lives, we limit our ability to care for others and make a difference in the world.

You deserve to be cared for, however that has to happen. Just so you know.

I just came back from the best vacation I’ve had in a very long time. Because for the first time, possibly since I found out I had food sensitivities, I raised the necessary fuss and got exactly what I needed. On a cruise ship, the people there really are there to serve you. And everyone else, but you too, and not as an afterthought. So I did my best to make it easy for them to take care of me. They did a great job. I think at this point they probably have a whole crew behind the scenes who just manage the special needs patrons, I wasn’t the only one.

Raising a fuss doesn’t have to be negative. I followed their procedure, I was clear and prepared with what I needed. I made it as easy as possible for them to support me.

I’ve stopped pretending that I don’t have special needs. I do. Pretending just short changes me, and by the way makes me irritating to deal with. I need special chairs sometimes (Is it sturdy? How wide are the arms?), I can’t walk as fast as some people, and I can’t eat ‘normal’ food, at least the way it appears here in the US. No amount of pretending will change it, so I’ve just gotten to the point where I can embrace it. Or at least acknowledge it.

In exchange for being clear about my needs, I had the most relaxing vacation I can remember. I don’t think I even remembered what it was like to not have to worry about what I ate. It’s really hard to have to be on top of something so basic every meal, all the time. At home of course I keep my home safe, but that means doing my own cooking and shopping and planning. Vacations are complicated. I either bring and plan all my food, making vacations a little less relaxing, or I spin the roulette wheel every time I eat, which isn’t as fun as it sounds because the risk is possibly ruining the rest of the vacation.

I encourage you to raise a fuss. Just a little one to start. State your needs. Be clear, but unapologetic. The more I do, the more I find that people are delighted to help, if they just had the faintest idea that you needed it. And when they aren’t? Well, you’re no worse off than if you didn’t ask, and you’ll know how to plan differently next time.

Do doctors have friends?

They must, I’m certain. Even my seLf-professed curmudgeon of a naturopath in Colorado had a perfectly lovely fiance who I knew professionally. They had a real life that would pass for normal. So he almost certainly had friends. Doctors are people too, right?

So how is it that the western medical profession as a generalized whole is not becoming more aware of the prevalence of food issues? Do they think we’re lying? Confused? Undereducated? I wish I knew so we rabble-rousers knew which direction to point our putative rabble in.

Today I went to a lovely networking lunch to promote my day job. I had a great time meeting fun and interesting people. After the ‘official’ parts were over I stayed to chat with a few people and, as it so very often does when I’m present, the topic of food allergies came up. Funny that, I know. The woman across from me has been gluten free (more or less) for just a few months after being diagnosed by her chiropractor. I was also diagnosed by my chiropractor, but that’s a story for a different post. The woman next to me told a story of a personal friend who had nearly died of a stroke caused by the cumulative side effects of undiagnosed celiac. Another woman joined our conversation when she heard ‘celiac’ because her mother has it and she herself was ‘in denial’.

Four random ladies in Virginia who gathered for completely unrelated reasons all have a personal story about celiac. That came up in more or less random conversation.

And that was the second allergy conversation I had at that luncheon. The first one popped up because two of us had to be sure that our meals had been prepared gluten free. Two of us at a table of five.

I grant that I may notice that this comes up more often around me because I care, so I notice when the topic comes up. Turns out that the conversation also comes up in my husband’s male dominated IT oriented work place. How do you provide a treat for clients when one of their staff has a food intolerance? One of his co workers shares my primary allergies, soy, gluten, and dairy, so he hooked us up so I could tell her about dairy free ice cream.

My point here is, these conversations are happening all the time.

Why aren’t MDs hearing them?

Why aren’t MDs LISTENING?

It isn’t always reasonable.

A few days ago I experimented with a packaged food.

I usually avoid packaged food. They put a lot of weird stuff in them that is often harmful or poisonous to me. But since I’m doing hcg right now and not eating those things anyway, I thought I’d get something that looked like my ever patient husband would enjoy and try it out.

I should have known better.

The box was marked as gluten free. I read the ingredients and I thought it looked fine. I missed something. Yeast extract can be made from beer processing and isn’t always gluten free. Or, it might have been that yeast extract is closely related to MSG. Either way, I should have known that, but live and learn. I only tasted a few grains to check for doneness and then a partial spoonful afterwards to actually check the taste. That shouldn’t have much of an effect, right?


If I ate a whole teaspoon full of rice, I’ll be shocked. I really was going for just a taste. That has no apparent bearing on how sick it made me.

My entire day yesterday was a wash, focusing on a nap, a heating pad for my gut, and my usual pain reliever and marshmallow root, which is my preferred palliative for a gluten poisoning. I also got a reminder of the horrible pain in my shoulder that used to be part of my daily life until I went gluten free and it suddenly went completely away. Phantom pains are actually a quite common side effect of gluten sensitivity, did you know?

But seriously. 1tsp of rice, coated with a seasoning mix on which yeast extract was the last ingredient. It just isn’t reasonable that it could have that kind of effect.

Except that it did. On hcg I’ve eaten nothing but an endless round of 8 foods for the last 3 weeks*. Reasonable or not, there is no other possibility.

We get really caught up, as people and as a culture, in what we can track and what we can measure and discounting anything that we don’t currently know how to quantify. I think it would be good if we all learned to spend a little bit more time reviewing what is, and figure out the how and why after that.

*HCG doesn’t have to be quite that monotonous, if you don’t have a ton of food allergies. Its just easier for me that way.

L’Eggo my Eggo waffles, blue yogurt, and scrambled eggs.

Its another TED episode.

Robyn O’Brien was a Wall Street food industry analyst turned mom who had a Life Event when one of her small children had an allergic reaction to her breakfast. Then she turned her professional experience to benefit her family and started doing research on “how can kids be allergic to food”. She’s a good speaker with a compelling personal story, well worth your 18.27 minutes.

The point that really hits home for me is that Europe and many other countries looked at the new farming options and the new genetic engineering and the new hormones that increase yields and said “There aren’t any studies that show they are safe, so lets wait a while.” The US went the other way and said “There aren’t any studies that show they aren’t safe, so we’re going to go ahead.”

Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy and safe?

Me either.

The US didn’t even suggest that maybe we should do some studies on the safety of this stuff. We’re a number of years out on using GMO and hormones and if good research is being done on the effects this is having, it isn’t making news headlines.

Still not getting that warm fuzzy feeling.

How much of the bad health in the US has nothing to do with the effects, like obesity and heart disease, and is actually attributable to a completely different cause, say the horrific, intentional, adulteration of our food supply?