Celiac Awareness Month: Interview with Chrystal Carver
For those with celiac disease, everyday life involves a little more planning, patience and a lot more worry. Between packing kids' lunches, eating out or taking a family road trip, celiac disease will always be there. In honor of May as Celiac Awareness Month we've teamed up with gluten-free bloggers to share their stories of hope, encouragement and lessons learned along their celiac journeys.
Chrystal Carver is the creative mind behind Gluten Free Palate, a website that shares recipes and resources for gluten-free eaters and travelers. Chrystal has been blogging for four years and believes that baking gluten-free shouldn’t require extravagant ingredients or complicated steps. She shows readers how to convert everyday gluten-containing classics to easy gluten-free recipes without sacrificing flavor or texture.
When were your kids diagnosed?
In 2009, after three weeks of not eating, and several tests, my girls were diagnosed gluten-intolerant (along with other food intolerances).
Tell us a little about your gluten-free journey:
It started when my girls got really sick. The doctors didn’t know what was going on and called it a “strange stomach flu”. Afterwards, my girls had a hard time eating regular foods and started showing new symptoms: stomach cramping, headaches, eczema. We had them tested for food allergies, and the gluten intolerance levels were off the charts. I had to relearn how to cook and bake. Once I got the hang of things I started sharing recipes, and developed a gluten-free cookbook. Somewhere in the middle I was tested. Sure enough, I can’t tolerate gluten. I now enjoy a gluten-free lifestyle and showing others how easy it can be to cook and bake gluten-free.
What was the most unexpected challenge you had to overcome when your children were first diagnosed?
Finding gluten-free bread that has the same texture as glutinous bread. My girls loved grilled cheese sandwiches (and still do). In 2009 there were very few bread options available in my area, and the options we did have weren’t very tasty. Luckily, we’ve come a long way and we have great brands to help us love food again.
What is a typical day of eating like for you/your family? And how do you manage food for yourself, and then for the kids?
We make most of our meals at home and only eat out on special occasions. I mix up a batch of gluten-free muffins and pancakes every week for breakfast to serve with eggs and fruit. We usually grab gluten-free Everything Bagels if we are in a time crunch. We pack our lunches together each night (sometimes leftovers from dinner), and we eat the same thing at dinner. We let our girls each pick a dinner option for the week so that we all get to enjoy at least one thing that we love.
What is your go-to recipe/meal?
I tend to make chocolate chip muffins and pancakes for breakfast. For dinner, we have at least 30 meals we rotate through. I know it sounds like a lot of meals, but I love having variety at my fingertips. I’d say that tacos, homemade pizza, spaghetti, and sweet and sour chicken are our go-to meals. All gluten-free, of course.
What is your best tip for traveling gluten-free?
Plan ahead. Do research on gluten-free restaurants and hotels in the area you are visiting. You’d be surprised at how many hotels offer gluten-free meals these days. Also, bring a carry-on tote full of your favorite snacks. You’ll eat your way through them while traveling and have an extra bag to put goodies and souvenirs in for the trip home.