Gluten-Free... Sort of.

I used to get the worst stomach pains. I'll spare you the description of what it felt like. Just know... it was really uncomfortable. It was embarrassing to be at my desk after lunch, bent over in my chair holding my stomach. It wasn't really easy to make any client calls in that position, either. The pains became so frequent and got so bad that I decided to discuss it with my doctor. After hearing my symptoms, he suggested that I try removing different foods from my diet to test which ones might be bothering me. I started with tomatoes because my mom always had issues with them and I just assumed it might be hereditary. I love tomatoes. I can stuff a whole basket of cherry toms in my mouth. I'd show you, but then you might never be able to eat that succulent fruit ever again, so I will refrain. You're welcome.

Thankfully, it was not tomatoes.

The next thing I tried was pasta. I was eating pasta nearly every day. I started my pasta habit as a waitress at a restaurant that had one of the most popular pasta bars in the South Coast Plaza area. Our Chef, Geno made so many delicious combinations with all the varieties of pasta, the various sauces, and every kind of topping possible. I learned to make the BEST pasta dinners. Sadly, removing my favorite meal option from my diet seemed to make a big difference in my belly aches. Reluctantly, I stopped eating pasta. I occasionally have some at a party, but it's not something I indulge in any more.

Taking pasta out helped, but not completely. I didn't want to admit it, but I knew it had to be another grain item that I overindulged in. I have a thing for bread. I love bread. Like... LOVE!!!! I especially love a warm loaf of sourdough bread straight out of the oven. Mmmmmm... soooo good! Begrudgingly, I cut back on the bread, and guess what? My tummy trouble seemed to go away a little more. It was a bittersweet discovery.

Later, I took out pizza. That one hurt the most, but not as much as it hurt after eating a few slices. I love pizza, as much as I love tomatoes and bread, which are the two main ingredients in pizza, so not much of a shock there. After a few years of not eating it, I started to react to it the way a former smoker reacts to the smell of cigarettes. I got sick just thinking about ordering it.

For years, I plodded along, skipping over most of the menus whenever I'd go out for dinner with friends or family. Then a few years ago, everyone started serving gluten-free foods. I was like, "What the crackers is gluten-free?" That's when I found out about celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten. Although I've never been diagnosed, knowing that the removal of certain foods from my diet, I think I must have some kind of gluten intolerance. So rather than continue finding out about items that I can't stomach by being doubled over in pain, I started looking into which foods contained gluten. I was surprised how long that list was!

Did you know that even cough syrup has gluten in it?

Last summer, my favorite cough and cold remedy company, Vicks came out with a new line called Nature Fusion. Not only are the cough and cold products made with real honey, they are non-alcoholic AND Gluten-Free!

With so much awareness about celiac disease in the last few years, it's really easy to find a gluten-free version of my old favorite foods... including pizza!! My kitchen is now stocked with quinoa grain pasta, gluten-free bread mix, pizza crust made from rice, and Nature Fusion cough medicine. I still occasionally indulge in foods that are not gluten-free, which folks that suffer from celiac disease can not do. I don't have a horrible reaction to those foods, and I think that's because I have incorporated many gluten-free and whole foods into my family's meals. I'm also glad that there are so many menu options now available when we eat out.

Even though I've never been officially diagnosed, I know that my health has benefited from going mostly gluten-free.


Hey, did you know that I'm a Vicks Blogger? Yep! That means I've been compensated to talk about something I probably would have talked about for free... but don't tell them that! ;)


Feel Better Friend

It's that time of year again. The time of year that the coughing, aching, stuffy heads, fever, sneezing, runny noses, and all around feeling yucky starts up again. Do you ever see someone's sad little update on Facebook that says something about feeling under the weather? You can't "like" the update. All you can really do is tell them you hope they feel better and maybe add a little :( to the end, right?

Well, Vicks has come up with something a little more fun than our standard responses to a sick friend across the country (because if your friend is in town, your ass better be driving over there with some warm chicken soup).

For sick pals that live outside driving distance, there's the Feel Better Friend Gift Box. It's a virtual gift that will warm someone's heart and hopefully lift their spirit.

Here's how it works.

Go to the Vicks Vaporub Facebook page, and on the left hand column, under Wall, Info, and Photos, you'll see "FBF Gift Boxes." If you click on that, you'll be redirected to their Facebook app.

See up at the top right hand corner where it says "Create an FBF Gift Box?" Yeah, click on that. What you see next is pretty cool.

See that?? Using key phrases, the app searches for ANY of your friends that might not be feeling well, not just the one you were thinking of. So if you're feeling might generous, you can send them ALL a box! Now... on to creating said box. Click on the bottom right button that says Step 2.

Here you can add fun things to brighten your sick friends' days. Videos, photos, warm fuzzies, even a little virtually stitched pillow with a comforting message.

You can even preview your message to see what your friend is going to receive. It's really cute. A little box shimmies onto the screen and pops open. The receiver clicks through all the items you put in their box. They smile and feel instantly better. It's all very awesome.

You may not be able to cure the common cold, but with these Feel Better Fast Gift Boxes, you can at least brighten someone's otherwise not-so-100% day.

Hi... did you know I'm part of the Vick's Bloggers Brigade? Yep! I'm one of the lucky bloggers that's compensated to tell you all about one of my favorite brands in the whole wide world on the world wide web. (See what I did there?) ;)

Five Summer Uses for Vicks VapoRub

While I was up north in Monterey last week, I spent a little too much time in the cold, foggy air and ended up with a congested chest. By the time I got home from my trip, I had a deep, bronchial cough that sounded like I'd been smoking a stogey all my life. My relief came in the little green and blue jar that sits on my night stand.

Vicks VapoRub is my go-to for coughs and colds all Winter,  as well as the notoriously cold Spring days on the Northern California coast. I'll rub it on noses, feet, throats, and chests of my loved ones and myself. I'm sure many of you have done the same.

But did you know it has even more amazing uses beyond relief of the winter cold? Here are five ways that Vicks VapoRub helps you and your family during summer:

Headaches - Rising temperatures sometimes bring on mild headaches. Remember to stay hydrated. If you forget and end up with a headache, drink some water and rub Vicks VapoRub on your temple and forehead. The mentholated scent will release the pressure in your head and relieve your painful headache.

Splinters - Summer is made for hours of tree climbing. With all the swinging on branches come splinters. After you remove any splinters, use a dab of Vicks to prevent infection and speed up healing. Works for paper and other small cuts, too.

Mosquitoes - With summer come mosquitoes. Dabbing a bit of Vicks on your body and clothes will ward off these pesky little bugs. And if you do get bitten, rub a little Vicks on to relieve the itch.

Sore Muscles - If you spend too much time hunched over your garden or diving for volleyballs this summer, break out the Vicks and rub a bunch on your achy muscles. Then plan on spending the night alone.

Dry Home Air - Hot, dry air dries out the mucus membranes of the throat and nose, making them less effective barriers against infection. Not to mention, it's just plain uncomfortable to have a dry, scratchy throat. To make your home less arid in the summer, try using a humidifier with an aromatherapy compartment to place the Vicks VapoRub in.

If you come for a visit this summer, you'll be sure to smell the scents of charcoal burning, flowers blooming, oceans breezing, and Vicks VapoRub wafting all throughout the Sugar Shack.


Disclosure:  I am a part of Vicks VapoRub Blogger Brigade, a campaign put together to spread the word about Vicks products and their Facebook page.  (Have you "liked" them yet??) I chose to join “the brigade” because it’s a helpful campaign that I can stand behind.  I am being compensated for helping to spread the word about this perennial favorite that has been used for generations in my family.

PS: Don't you love big words like "perennial?"