Thursday, April 21, 2011

Anchorage Gluten-free support group meeting TONIGHT!!

Please join me at Natural Pantry from 6-8pm for the Anchorage gluten-free support group meeting! There will be gluten-free goodies to sample provided by Udi's gluten-free foods! I look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Gift of Pain

     As I sat in church today, watching the palms waved by the children and listening to the account of the passion of Christ, I realized just how much Christ had to suffer for me. He knew He didn't have to go through being crucified and He knew he could've stopped all the suffering. However, He knew the pain and suffering was for a greater good. He knew His pain would lead to cleansing of sin and the salvation of His people.
     Earlier this week, I found myself hearing the same words on the radio. A K-love radio feature from the Francis Anfuso foundation spoke about "The gift of pain". My first thought was "How could anyone be grateful for pain?". Then I listened to the radio feature describe how our shallow understanding of God's plan causes us to miss the point and purpose of our challenges. I think that described me a few years ago.
     When I was sick, before I knew what my diagnosis was, I could not understand why God would put me through so much suffering. Everyday was a challenge. I was tired and achy all the time, had brain fog, struggled with anxiety and depression, and felt like like knives were constantly stabbing me in the stomach. I never felt rested, sane or calm. I went to see several doctors all of whom told me nothing was wrong with me. I even had one tell me all my symptoms were in my head and because I was a nurse, I simply "knew too much". I could not grasp why God wanted me to live a life like this and I even told my mother at one point that I was not living life but suffering through it. After months of more suffering, my mother finally got me to see one more physician.
     Then came a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. I was so sick from it that I had a variety of other items I was ill from that would resolve with time once I started recovering from my gluten poisoning. I had a name for what was wrong with me and I had a physician to treat it. It took over a year before I started feeling better. Slowly, but surely, my symptoms faded one by one. Four years later I feel better than ever. My experiences gave me a whole new perspective on life. I now knew why my patients hated taking so many pills and why they were so cranky some days. I had been impatient with their lack of compliance before but now I knew why they hit roadblocks on their road to wellness. I also realized what it was they need from me and what I needed to do. Perhaps, before I was sick, I was too self-confident and too independent. I lived arrogantly even though my career was about making people feel better and live healthy lives. I had compassion but very little empathy. Even though I feel I was a good person, I don't think I was anywhere near the person God wanted me to be. I needed to know what a sick life was before I could appreciate a healthy one. It was the pain and suffering that kept me from destroying my life and continuing to poison my body. The pain provided me with protection and it kept me humble.
     I know I could never repay God for the suffering he put His Son through and the gift that came from His Son's pain.  However, I hope that I can use the pain I've been put through to learn God's will for my life.  Christ's suffering had purpose and even though I can never come close to the level of sacrifice he made, I hope that I can model my behavior after him and show others the love and support I was given. The purpose of me running for Mrs. Alaska United States was to bring more attention to the illness that I almost let conquer me. Being Mrs. Alaska and working to increase knowledge of my platform is my way of serving others. Starting a support group and running a website about gluten allergies is my humble attempt to ease the suffering of others and bringing them the hope that I almost lost sight of.
     I now can say with certainty that I am grateful for the gift of pain.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Run to the Sun Fashion Show

I was invited to participate in Run to the Sun Boutique's fashion show at the Women's Spring Fling this Saturday. The Egan Center was packed with vendors and their products all designed to celebrate women!
 Michelle Novy of Run to the Sun AK always displays the newest swim wear from her store. I was honored she asked me to join in the fun!
 I ended up buying the swimsuit above for myself and my girls trip to Vegas at the end of April.
 It was wonderful to see all the amazing products available for Alaskan women and meet the vendors who support them!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun at Clothesline Consignment with Jaime and Christie

     Clothesline Consignment on East Northern Lights Blvd. (across from the Alaska Club in the Northern Lights Village Shopping plaza) is the most adorable consignment shop I have ever laid eyes on. It feels like you're walking into the closet of a good friend and she has an awesome fashion sense! Thank you to Debbie, the owner, for letting me play around in there and take some photos with Jaime Lynn Chase and Christie Shulenski.
     It was refreshing to walk in and see so many great clothes, shoes, purses, and jewelry in a variety of sizes and styles. I always have trouble finding my size in any store but there was plenty there for me to try on! While I tended to drift toward the warm fleece and big snuggly cashmere (Christie had to stop me), I ended up picking out two items that I can wear to nationals. An adorable satin a-line skirt that is just the right length and a crystal bracelet (pic below) that will look good on stage. Both items together cost me less than $25.

    The best part? There will be a sale this Sunday! See you there!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gluten-free in Alaska

Check out a fellow Alaskan, Megan, who struggles with multiple food allergies including gluten. A great resource for those of you, like Megan and I, who have more than just an allergy to gluten!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April Product of the month

Everyone always says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I believe that but, when you are gluten-free, your quick breakfast options are severely limited. I'll admit I typically eat oatmeal for breakfast but occasionally on the weekend, I just want something that reminds me of my childhood. So for April's product of the month, I have chosen Chex Cereal. I have to applaud General Mills for taking their main stream cereals that we all grew up with and setting an example in the industry. They have made their Chex cereals totally gluten-free and they have done an awesome job doing it! Honey Nut Chex is my favorite flavor by far. It reminds me of honey nut cheerios. Honey Nut Chex with vanilla almond milk makes my tummy really happy! However, I have to say I found the Cinnamon Chex in Fred Meyer’s the other day and it reminds me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch which I loved to eat as a kid. Will it become my new favorite? We will see . . .
For more info go to:

Friday, April 8, 2011

April Recipe of the month

When I first learned I had Celiac disease, bread was something I craved desperately. Before I found Udi's bread, I stumbled upon Elana Amsterdam’s website during my search for an easy to make bread and she has since become my favorite gluten-free baker. She recently sent me copies of her new recipe book and I have enjoyed practicing her art - for sure truly is an artist. She has mastered making a gluten-free lifestyle something tasty and healthy! All of her recipes call for Almond flour and she does not use butter or refined sugar. Here is the easiest (and most delicious) sweet bread recipe I’ve ever found. Its so good, my non-gluten-free friends never knew the difference when I made it for them. It scores bonus points for being low carb, high fiber, high calcium, (a nutrient easily missed when you are dairy-free as well) and high in  protein. It is also so moist and tasty, it could double as a birthday cake if you add some chocolate chips in the mix and little icing on top after it cools . . .

Gluten Free Banana Bread (or Cake)
3 cups blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup agave nectar
¼ cup grapeseed oil
3 eggs, whisked
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 over ripe bananas (about one cup) mashed
  1. In a large bowl, mix together almond flour, salt and baking soda
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine agave, grapeseed oil, eggs and vanilla, then stir in bananas
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry*
  4. Place batter in either a cake pan or two small loaf pans
  5. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool
Note: DO NOT use Bob’s Red Mill Almond flour.
* For the birthday cake version - add some chocolate chips after step 3

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gluten-free Support Group flyer!

The Anchorage Gluten-free support group is now official! We have a beautiful flier to post around town and increase visibility of our growing group!
A big thank you to A Visual Voice ( for all their hard work on the support group flyer. Hope you like it and we would love to see you at the meetings!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Udi's gluten-free foods Ambassador program

Udi's makes the most amazing gluten-free bread available on the market today. It is soft and fluffy and can sit out on the counter like regular bread. It is absent of the grainy, dry taste that most gluten-free breads are known for. They have a whole wheat, cinnamon raisin, and white flavors.

Udi's ambassador program is a way to help unite those in the gluten-free community and ease the burden that a gluten-free lifestyle can create. An ambassador is someone who is active in the gluten-free community and leads the discussion on gluten-free issues online and within local clubs/groups. The program's aim is too increase Udi's ties with the community and make people aware of their products. I was recently asked to participate in the program and I delightfully accepted. One of the perks o the program? Free samples that I can pass out during my meetings and at other functions where people who require gluten-free diets might attend!
I am proud to be an ambassador of theirs!