One of the hardest parts about being on a "restricted diet," as they call it, is that you become "that girl." You all know what I'm talking about. Haven't you ever stood behind some blond toothpick of a girl at Starbucks who orders a tall, half-skinny, half-soy, quad split shot (2 shots decaf, 2 shots regular) latte, extra hot 160 degrees, with extra foam (and can that be whole milk foam please?), in a double cupped grande cup, with a 1/2 pump of sugar free cinnamon dolce syrup, 1/2 pump vanilla syrup, and 1 packet of splenda, and can you put the splenda in first before anything else? And sprinkle the top with extra cinnamon?
Who hasn't rolled their eyes at that girl?
The thing is, when I see a waiter coming at me in a restaurant, I start to feel like I'm that girl. Take the first night I was in the hospital as an example: the nurse brought me my "gluten-free meal" and I pulled off the cover to find... lasagna with wheat noodles. Doubting that the hospital kitchen had gone through all the trouble of making gluten-free lasagna just for me, I told her I couldn't eat it. It wasn't gluten-free. She was taken aback, but she took the meal away and brought me... a breaded chicken cutlet. "I can't eat this either!" I said. Obviously very annoyed with me now, she asked, "can't you just scrape the bread off?" No! I said. It will make me very sick! And then she told me, in so many words, "tough luck! If you don't like what the kitchen is making, your husband can go buy you something else. This is all there is." So Nate had to leave the hospital and find me a gluten-free meal somewhere else.
Look, if this were your normal average Joe, I would get that she didn't really know what gluten is. I didn't have a clue about it until little over a year ago. But this is a NURSE in a HOSPITAL. Shouldn't she, somewhere in her education and experience, have heard of celiac disease? Or gluten intolerance? Or even a wheat allergy for goodness sakes? (Thankfully the next morning the nutritionist came in, arranged all the rest of my meals, and slapped a red hot "ALLERGY: GLUTEN" bracelet on my wrist, confirming that I was, indeed, actually afflicted with something besides being a snobby picky eater).
I guess what I'm trying to say is, the hardest part about being on a restricted diet is when people mistake your real, life-threatening health issue for snobby picky eating. No, I can't just scrape the breading off a chicken cutlet. I'm not refusing to eat it because I'm too good for it. If my food even touches gluten, I'll get sick. If my food is cooked in the same pan as something breaded, or handled with the same utensils, of if someone say, handles a piece of bread and then touches my food without washing their hands, I'll get sick. For me, even a little contamination means three days in the bathroom being miserable. So I have to be "that girl," because if I'm not, I'll get really, really ill. And I hate being that girl.
So when someone goes out of their way to accommodate my special diet, to make sure that I am safe, I really, really appreciate it. Like all the wonderful people who have brought us gluten-free meals over the past two weeks. You rock!
When I first told my family I thought I had celiac disease, they thought I was crazy. Another one of Beck's hypochondriac self-diagnoses, to be tolerated until she gets over it and moves on to the next crazy thing. Except, of course, I just felt so DAMN good being off the gluten. EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERY ONE of my other undiagnosable "mystery" conditions improved or went away. Diabetes. PCOS. Fibromyalgia. Peripheral Neuropathy. And of course, the bloating, cramping, constipation, lethargy, fatigue, depression, acne, and facial flushing. Gone! Like a miracle!
So I've been off the gluten for almost a year and a half, and I have never felt better. My mom, in particular, has always been the skeptic about my million health issues. So I can't tell you how touched I was when my mom, she who sort of hates baking, made this gluten-free, flourless chocolate cake just for me. And it was really good!
So here's to grandmommy's chocolate cake. Look, if MY mom can make it, you can do! So if you only have one gluten-free recipe in your repertoire, let it be this one!
Grandmommy and baby James
Grandmommy's Gluten-Free Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dar Chocolate Glaze, served with Macerated Strawberries and Homemade Whipped Cream
1 gluten-free flourless chocolate cake
2 pints fresh strawberries
1 pint whipping cream
1/4 cup + 2 tbs sugar
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1. Bake the cake according to the directions. Set aside (can be prepared up to a day ahead).
2. Rinse, hull, and quarter the strawberries. Sprinkle the strawberries with 2 tbs sugar and the balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat. Let sit at least 10 minutes.
3. In a stand mixer or with a hand blender, beat the whipping cream on high until soft peaks begin to form. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar slowly, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Don't overbeat, or you'll end up with butter!
4. Cut a slice of cake. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, and a big spoonful of strawberries. MMmm. Enjoy!