Gluten-Free at Target? It can be done!

Can you shop gluten-free at Target?
Can you shop gluten-free at Target?

Gluten-Free at Target? Yes, It can be Done!

Since we moved to Virginia, we pay an absorbent amount of money for rent and are still carrying our mortgage for the Columbus house until we can find renters. Because of this, I’ve been looking for ways to stretch the good old dollar… especially since I am back 110% living gluten-free after my gluten challenge. That’s why I’m creating a new series on my blog documenting how I’m trying to save money and ideas for ways you can incorporate tips into your own life.

First up… Target!

Okay, now I’ve been hard on Target in the past for their lack of gluten-free options. Right before we moved I noticed they started carrying some items that I love like Van’s chocolate chip bars and Van’s gluten-free waffles. HOWEVER… our new apartment is within walking distance of Target and I’ve been spending a lot of  my time there so I set out on a mission to see if I could get a full weeks worth of groceries there for me and Aaron.

Sure enough, my trip was a success and I left Target spending less than $150 and that included toilet paper and paper towels (which cost a fortune for some reason).

I broke it down for you so you can see what I bought for each  night of dinners and then the snacks at the end. I incorporated some items that I already had in our pantry, so bear with me on that one but you can certainly substitute for your own stuff! If you are someone who is very interested in buying all organic items or staying away from certain big name brands, then this might not be the most relevant post for you. However, there are many people out there who are looking to live gluten-free on a budget and can’t afford Whole Foods!

One last thing, Target doesn’t label their shelves with “gluten-free” tags so you have to be armed and prepared to look for items but it certainly is worth it the first time because then it’s so much easier the next time… and the time after that.

If someone that works at Target is reading this blog post, email me because I can significantly help you out in your grocery department!!!

Gluten Free Dinner via Target
Gluten Free Dinner via Target

First Night: Lean ground beef 90%/10%, Red Fork Gluten Free Sauce (you actually need tomatoes with this sauce too), Canyon Bakehouse Bread and Steamed Green Beans

Gluten Free Taco Night
Gluten Free Taco Night

Dinner 2: Taco Night! Jennie-O Ground Turkey, Ortega Corn Shells (says gluten-free on box), Fontera Taco Sauce (says “no gluten ingredients used” on label), Black beans and some Uncle Ben’s Rice. Be careful with Uncle Ben’s rice, not all of their flavors are gluten-free. I added some spinach I already had in the fridge on mine but you can add whatever veggies you want, they sell them at Target as well.

Dinner Night 3
Dinner Night 3

Dinner Night 3: Baked chicken tenders using Van’s bread crumbs (bread crumbs not purchased at target), steamed green beans and roasted red skin potatoes. I have a secret recipe for them I’m going to share next week so stay tuned, but there are minimal ingredients and they are delicious! You can just cube them and bake for 25-30 minutes on 425 degrees with butter, garlic and salt. Amazing!

Dinner Night 4
Dinner Night 4

Dinner Night 4: Steak pinwheels that are baked as is and steamed green beans. We love green beans, what can I say? I add toasted sesame seeds, grass fed butter, sea salt and garlic to make them tasty!

Dinner Night 5
Dinner Night 5

Dinner Night 5: Grilled chicken on the George Foreman Grill, redskin potatoes with the Red Fork Sauce and some stir fry veggies to go with everything.

Gluten Free Snacks at Target
Gluten Free Snacks at Target

Now, these are just some of the snacks for the week that they had at Target and I wanted to show you. The frozen berries are perfect for my shakes, the brats are for lunches and bacon for breakfast or lunch. I try not to buy a million different products during our trip because I found that much of it goes to waste, so really focus only on what we are buying for that week. I usually go to the store 1 time on the weekend and stock up for each night. We make a list on the calendar of what’s for dinner, so the person who is home first can start making it without worrying what to fix.

This is just one shopping trip I took to Target and I have very specific tastes. I can tell you there are many more items at Target you can purchase that are gluten-free! Learning to read labels is key to saving money and also being able to do a quick google search from your phone in the store.

I also saved money on this trip by using the Target Cartwheel App, along with store coupons they mailed to me for fresh veggies, fruit and produce AND you can use manufacturer’s coupons. So, for example, my husband likes the Mio sport drink drops. They were 20% off on the cartwheel app, I had a .50 off coupon and then I got another 5% off for using my Target Red Card. We have the debit one, not the credit card. You can also earn 5% off coupons by getting your prescriptions filled at Target and signing up for their pharmacy rewards program. That way you can get some 5% off shopping days if you don’t want to sign up for the card.

Hopefully this post will save you some money too and give you ideas for the next time you are planning your trip.

Have you had any luck at Target? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Experience with the Gluten Challenge

When my  new GI doctor told me I needed to start consuming gluten again to get an accurate diagnosis, I was immediately confused and conflicted. For 2 years I’ve mastered the art of living gluten-free and wasn’t even sure I wanted to go this route but I wanted to get answers so I agreed. That was in October right before we moved to Virginia.

I finally got into a GI doctor here, Dr. Solomon Shah in Fairfax, VA and was very impressed by his knowledge of both celiac disease and food sensitivities. I was instructed to consume way more gluten each day for 2 weeks up until my upper endoscopy appointment. If you follow me, you know I love soft pretzels. That’s basically what I’ve been eating several times a day, along with my regular gluten-free meals.

He also instructed me to eliminate all dairy products due to the slight possibility that it may be dairy and not gluten as the culprit for my body. Since I eliminated lactose a while back, it wasn’t that difficult for me to cut the rest out. Trying to read labels for dairy seems much easier.

For the past 14 days, my body feels like it’s in a sausage casing and any push on my skin is bloated and puffy. I can’t wear my wedding rings. My ankles have some mild edema going on and my face is abnormally bloated. My stomach just hurts and I’m not sleeping well. There is this overall sense of brain fog that I can’t seem to shake and I’m literally exhausted. Although part of the exhaustion is from my increase in workouts, but we can talk about that on a different post.

My arm has had a lovely rash on the inside of my right elbow and I’ve been experiencing an abnormal amount of heartburn. My joints feel extra achy and I’m getting really sore after my workouts.

Could this rash be from the gluten challenge?
Could this rash be from the gluten challenge?

Yesterday I had my endoscopy. It doesn’t really matter how many times I go for these procedures, I still get nervous about the anesthesia. My right arm has the perfect vein for IV’s and blood draws but the nurse insisted on using the top of my right hand. I know from experience that this is a bad spot for me. My tiny little veins are a challenge and I’ve struggled with that spot in times past. The nurses insisted and I let her try my hand. Well, I never had that much pain from an IV start in my life. Even my husband said my hand squeeze hurt him and he knew by the way my body was writhing around in the bed that it had to be painful. I know the nurse felt so bad but I warned her! The next stop was the spot I asked her to use in the beginning and it went in without a hitch. Moral of the story? Patients know what they are talking about!

IMG_1440-1024x1024
Bracelets for my Upper Endoscopy

After the procedure I don’t remember much but I do know I was tested for something called h. pylori due to some gastritis and Barrett’s esophagus along with the celiac biopsies. Call me weird but I’m fascinated by the pictures of my innards! The results will come in 3-4 weeks and I should finally have some confirmation one way or another.

So, what’s the point of me going through all of this? Why did I do the gluten challenge? Why didn’t I just accept the celiac diagnosis? These are all great questions.

I guess for me I feel like I’ve come this far to not have a conclusive answer. I share my experiences on here and believe I owe it to all my readers to know that even I continue to struggle years after my diagnosis. I run into challenges associated with diagnosis and am looking for answers to more questions about not feeling 100%.

Don’t be discouraged into thinking you are the only one fighting this battle or having difficulties finding answers… because you aren’t! We are all in the same boat and the only way to get through the rapids is to row together.

Effective today, I am 100% gluten-free and lactose free. I will be for the rest of my life. I did the gluten challenge so I could confidently say I tried everything in my power to get the correct results. The results may be inconclusive but I know for a fact that gluten makes me sick, especially after my gluten challenge. And to me… that’s all that matters.

Should you do a gluten challenge? This is a tough question and a decision you will need to make with your medical provider. I can’t make that decision for you, I can only share my story and let you know my experience with the challenge. I will take this time though to re-emphasize the importance of waiting to eliminate gluten from you diet until all of your testing is complete!

If you’ve done the challenge and are willing to share your story, please feel free to post it in the comments section. That’s what makes this community so great is the ability to share our individual stories and let others see they aren’t alone.

Until next time.

Comments

  1.  Sue Rice says:

    After 5 months of becoming more and more ill, weight loss of 30 pounds (1/5 of my body weight at the time) in 3 months, liver complications, gastritis, non-specific colitis, rectal ulcers (diagnosed via endoscopy and colonoscopy – but no test for celiac was done) and my family doctor closing practice, I was left alone and on the verge of being hospitalized. I went on a waiting list for a new family MD and took matters into my own hands using natural herbs and totally clearing everything out of my diet.
    Long story short, a year and a half later, I am back up 20 pounds, survived multiple “be prepared for cancer diagnosis”, multiple specialist (gastro last with the longest wait time) It’s gluten, I’ve tried reintroducing it and I get the week or so of symptoms. Intense gastro pain, system back up, tremors, migraines – you name it.
    My gastro was angry that no one sent me to him first (the small local hospital I was referred to was sure I had cancer as I lost so much weight so fast) as I now have been gluten free for a year and he can’t tell if I am 100% celiac unless I do the challenge.
    I work a job I love that requires my brain to be sharp, I like my weight where it is, even though in high school I wasn’t this tiny – it’s much better than before) If I did the two week challenge by gastro feels it would be a HUGE setback for me. Even just a cross contamination now takes me totally out of commission.
    As I have been strict in my regime and I am textbook symptom wise, he is given me an out from the test as I have promised to never eat gluten. Should another test be developed, he’s going to call me.
    I applaud you for your undergoing of the challenge and very much like you stating it was your choice. My choice is to not put my body through it and continue gluten free as although a slow process, I am feeling better everyday. You are so right – don’t stop eating gluten until you’ve had the test is the best advice.
    Good luck with your results. Will be sending you positive vibes.

     

    •  Rebecca Black says:

      Sue, thank you so much for sharing your story! I think people being able to see that it is a personal choice to be made without judgement. These issues are so personal and I am grateful for your story. Hopefully, by just sharing our stories we can help people make their own decisions (with the help of their doctors of course!)

       

      •  Sue Rice says:

        No judgement is so important! We all know what it’s like to be “that customer” in a restaurant, “that guest” etc. So very much love what you are doing by providing a forum of support, empowerment to make your own best choices and a community in which to share.
        Hope you have a speedy recovery from the gluten-ing

         

  2.  R. Roth says:

    apart from the 3 to 6 months or more needed to remove inflammation caused by your gluten challenge from all your body tissue and rebalance hormones and electrolyte ratios, sadly duodenal spot biopsies may still miss villi changes and therefore provide an inconclusive diagnosis. More importantly, any results so obtained will not be able to discern if you are non-celiac gluten sensitive or eliac nor show any concurrent issues to celiac disease (associated casein, legume, ovalbumin, salicylic acid intolerances, beta carotene/interleukin-15 switch, etc.).
    Our patients have had the most beneficial answers/results (and newest research recommends this route over previous gold-standard of biopsy) by getting genetic B1 subgenes of HLA-DQ2 and DQ8 tested (e.g. Enterolab.com “Panel B”). Latter also provides answers as to “what else” to avoid.

     

    •  Rebecca Black says:

      Thank you for your comment. I’ve already had the DLA-DQ2 and DQ8 tests done. I based my decision on information I obtained while attending the International Celiac Disease Symposium along with collaboration with my doctor. Again, this is the choice I made for my body and am willing to work take the chance. I understand others are not. But, with so many people offering differing opinions on how to diagnose etc. I feel it’s important to share my story and my choice. I didn’t write this post to argue with people but rather to let them know this is a difficult journey regardless of the route they choose to find answers.

 

 

Taking Control of Negative Events in Our Life

I can’t even believe it has been a month since I last posted on this blog. I apologize greatly for being missing in action. When we moved to Virginia from Ohio, we thought we had everything taken care of with my business and our house and right before Christmas, all of our planning fell through leaving us with a  lot of unplanned work. I’ve been going back and forth to Ohio much more frequently than I anticipated and it’s sucking up much of my time. I promise I’m not neglecting you!

But, through all of the emotional turmoil and personal things I’ve been going through, it really made me want to do a post on processing difficult situations. It seems like the last 2 months have been filled with chaos from multiple areas of my life!  I’ve written before about the emotional struggles when going gluten-free or getting a celiac disease diagnosis but I think it’s important to emphasize these feelings happen much more in our lives than we anticipate.

With everything I’ve been through in my life, I believe I’m a pretty strong person. I try to live a happy life and take things with a grain of salt, but every now and then something happens to shake me to my core. After all these years, I can say I make a pretty mean lemonade. (from all the lemons thrown at me of course!)

I want to share with you how I handle these situations.

One of the biggest challenges I faced recently was feeling betrayed by someone I trusted completely. This shook me to my core and caused feelings I haven’t had in a long time. But, what it showed me is the feelings I’ve had for this event are the same for when I was diagnosed with celiac disease, my miscarriage, realized gluten-free is for life or any other health problems I’ve discovered in the last 2 years.

We all grieve differently. Grief isn’t just something happens when someone passes away or leaves our life forever, it happens when major life changes cause us to question everything. You start to think about what you could have done differently, what you should have done or how you could have prevented the situation. For me, anxiety takes over my body for a few days and so does a somber and angry person – who frankly, I forgot existed. When I process these events, I go through the same process every time. Maybe these sound familiar?

First, I cry. I actually remember telling my husband when we first met that I “never cried.” LOL Yeah, Right.

Second, I want to be left alone. While I love and appreciate the texts, emails and messages, I really just need time to process the situation and my feelings. I also use this coping method to protect those around me because I tend to become angry and snappy while projecting my hurt onto them. I realized over the years that I just need to be alone.

Third, I process the situation. I run through the scenarios. I need to go through steps 1 and 2 to be able to effectively complete this step or else I end up with lots of irrational thoughts!

Fourth, I start planning for what’s next. I realize what is done is done and now I need to take action and move on. I need to grab the reins and start steering the horse, taking control of the situation.

And, finally, I learn from the situation. Setbacks, adversity, negative events are all a part of life. It happens to all of us. I don’t typically take the “why does this always happen to me attitude” and if I do, it doesn’t last long. If we can’t learn from our mistakes, we can never get better, never move on and never find our happy place again. We live in a world of anger and resentment with that situation controlling our lives. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have the happy Rebecca in charge of my life instead of the Debbie Downer Rebecca.

I am fortunate to have this blog and lots of readers to share my stories with! But, I’m just one person. There are thousands of you out there who have similar stories and I think there should be a place for all of us!

In case you didn’t know, Andrew Cordova and I have a GFMagazine podcast that you can find on iTunes. We have a  bunch of episodes on there about coping and I have them on my Pretty Little Celiac podcast as well. In the last 9 months, we realized through all of the feedback from our readers that there is a need for a community to safely talk about issues like this one. A place where we can process our feelings, without feeling defeated or bullied online.

That’s when we came up with the idea for the GFree Community. We are in the pre-launch stage, but we are trying to get people who might be interested in this to sign up for more information. So far, we are thrilled at the response we’ve received already since we first started promoting it last week. Just click here to find out more and to join us!

I’m ready to start blogging again so you will see much more from me in the near future.

Rebecca