About Gluten-Free Bebe

Author and Gluten-Free Health Coach

What do you do when your problem is not theirs?

Last weekend, my husband and I, traveled up to the finger lakes region of New York with some friends.  It was the perfect weekend for the fall foliage, so despite my “eating-out” fears, we didn’t want to miss all the fun.

My friends are VERY accommodating to my gluten-free eating.  Matter of fact, my good friend Cathy, who coordinated the weekend, even had her husband ask if the B&B we were staying at would be able to provide gluten-free menu items for breakfast for me, which she said was not a problem.

As a back-up, I called the proprietor, and again she assured me that she has people stay at her house with all kinds of food issues, including gluten and dairy restrictions.  I left my house feeling very comfortable staying there, but I brought some Udi’s bread, just as a back-up.

The first morning I woke to a lovely apple crepe, but when I asked if the granola on top was gluten-free, she apologetically took the plate back to the kitchen and brought me a new crepe with no granola.  Luckily, I brought my own granola and sprinkled that on top.  It was such a treat to have someone else make me breakfast, so I enjoyed every bite from that moment on.

The second morning I let my guard down.  When she brought my eggs over, I devoured them without thinking a second about the sauce on top.  She explained to my friend that it was a horseradish sauce, that began with a basic cream sauce.  We both froze when she finished her sentence.  I was too nervous to ask if it contained flour since I was almost done with my eggs.  She exited the dining area in haste without offering the ingredient list for my knowledge.

Needless to say…24 hours later, I was stuck in the house, perched close to the bathroom, doubled over with discomfort.  Was it her fault?  I say NO.  It was my responsibility to question every ingredient.  She truly believed that she was good at recognizing what ingredients are gluten-free, but unless you are a sufferer or trained to prepare gluten-free menu items on a regular basis, it’s really hard not to make mistakes.

It certainly was a lesson for me.  Always question, always come prepared and always assume it contains gluten, unless you ask what the ingredients are.

You are NOT Crazy…

Last week I attended a talk at our local hospital on gluten-free food manufacturing.  One of the doctors, from the hospital’s largest gastroenterology group, co-sponsored the talk and has a been a huge advocate to the gluten-intolerance community, especially celiac suffers.

During the question and answer period, I directed a question to the doctor about why more doctors, outside gastroenterology, aren’t aware of the benefits a gluten-free diet can provide.  I briefly explained that I had been to at least 20 doctors over the last 7 years looking for explanations to my various symptoms (i.e. infertility, joint pain, depression, migraines, etc.).  I explained that I am non-celiac gluten-intolerant, and I have been symptom free since going gluten-free almost 2 years ago and my recovery would’ve been much quicker if one of the doctors had suggested a gluten sensitivity.  He assured me that our local hospital was “trying to get the word out”.

Through the remainder of the presentation, I came to the conclusion that if you aren’t diagnosed with a medical condition like celiac, than in the medical world, there would be little or no support.  My observation was solidified when I was approached by a lovely woman at the end of the talk.  She explained to me that she had been to 22 different doctors, including the co-sponsor of the talk, and after a barrage of tests, she was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and prescribed narcotics for her pain.  As a last resort, she attended the talk to learn if eliminating gluten was a viable option for her.

Her smile spoke a thousand words when I told her, “You are NOT nuts!”.  I told her how my symptoms had been eliminated by changing my diet, and she could do it too.

No wonder the co-sponsor of the talk said they were trying…how can you convince the medical world that 250 different symptoms can be caused by gluten.  Who would believe it, but when you find yourself going to a gastroenterologist one week, then a neurologist the next, and an endocrinologist the next, you may want to consider trying a gluten-free diet.

Here are just a few of the 250 symptoms that vary from person to person…

  • Abdominal Distention
  • Abdominal Pain and Cramping
  • Alternating Bouts of Diarrhea and Constipation
  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Bloating
  • Bone Density Loss
  • Borborygmi (stomach rumbling)
  • Constipation
  • Stunted Growth and Failure to Thrive
  • Depression, Anxiety and Irritability
  • Diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Low Ferritin Symptoms
  • Malodorous Flatulence
  • Malodorous Stools
  • Gluten Ataxia
  • Grayish Stools
  • Hair Loss (Alopecia)
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Infertility
  • Joint pain
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Mouth sores or mouth ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling in the patient’s hands and feet
  • Osteoporosis
  • Peripheral Neuropathy (including either a tingling or sensation of swelling your toes and fingers)
  • Sjogren’s Disease
  • Steatorrhea (high lipids in the stool, which may cause the stool to float)
  • Teeth and Gum Problems
  • Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplained Weight loss

Gluten-Free Stuffed Tomato’s

4 large or 6 medium tomatoes / insides removed and tops cut off
3/4 c. Fresh or Frozen Corn (Thawed)
3 scallions chopped
1 can Black Beans – Rinsed and Drained
1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c. Brown Rice
1/4 c. Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
1/4 t. Cumin
1/2 t. Dried Cilantro
Salt & pepper

Cook Corn and Scallions in Olive Oil until Corn is lightly Browned.   Add spices and Black Beans, Cheese, Rice and Bread Crumbs until combined.
Add to Tomato’s.  Sprinkle with Bread Crumbs  and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake in lightly covered aluminum foil at 450 degrees for 15 min.  Remove foil and bake
Additional 10 minutes

About Me…Bebe

Looking back over the last 25+ years, my journey probably started when I was very young.  I am the youngest of 10 children and grew up on wonderful Eastern European foods like pierogies, nut rolls and every baked good my Slovak Mum could make.

It’s easy to look back and see all the problems I had growing up with learning, attention and behavior, but back in the 80’s no one thought to look at all my problems as a whole.  I was always a mediocre student who got by on a very BIG personality.  My humor was my crutch.  I knew I wasn’t stupid, but I couldn’t figure out why it would take me twice as long to read as the other kids.  Or why I couldn’t grasp concepts in math or science.  I could learn from someone telling me or through song, but I couldn’t open a book and comprehend concepts on my own.

It was when I was about 14 years old that I was told that I had an “auto-immune” problem, but that was all I (or my parents) knew.  After that first sigmoidoscopy, the doctor explained to me that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and that I would “eventually get colitis and perhaps colon cancer.”  Nice thing to try to explain to a 14-year-old.  I spent the next 6 years hiding symptoms from my mom or refusing to see doctors for fear of the embarrassment of the procedure preps and the mention of colonoscopy.

Every major life event from the time I turned 20 until I had my daughter at 36 (college, jobs, marriage, death of my dad, infertility, pregnancy) resulted in a weakened immune system and subsequently I would have a colonoscopy to determine if the IBS had gotten worse or turned into colitis.  When I had my son at 34 I started to get migraines, in the form of flashing aura’s.  After my daughter, they got worse and I eventually contacted a neurologist to rule out any brain defects.  All tests (CAT Scans, thyroid tests, etc.) all came back normal.  He suggested that I try taking Riboflavin as a last resort.  He didn’t know why it worked for some people, but I didn’t want to go on prescription medicine, so this was my last resort.  Thankfully it cut the number of migraines to one to two a month.

Right before my 40th birthday EVERYTHING fell apart.  Depression set in.  It was suggested by my OBGYN that I go on birth control pills to help with my remaining migraines.  My general physician suggested I go on depression medicine to help me even out my mood.  Finally my sister Sue stepped in.  From California she found me natural practitioner who was familiar with an Independent Query System (IQS) called BioSet.  My practitioner was able to diagnose me with non-celiac gluten intolerance and a severe vitamin B deficiency.  Before I went on any vitamin supplements, I decided to consult an M.D. as a back-up.  She did a blood test that confirmed everything that was found through the BioSet system.

I cried a river of tears with joy that I finally had a diagnoses for the way I felt.  It took me 7 days to detox off gluten, but once I got over the cravings, I immediately noticed that could breath out of the right side of my nose.  I’ll bet I hadn’t done that my entire life.

The first 6 months were up and down.  I would go on and off gluten.  I would feel sick and then feel good each time I got on and off it.  The seventh month I made the full commitment to stay gluten-free.  It’s been a year and a half and I know now that it’s something I have to do for the rest of my life.  And I’m ok with that.  I’ve come to the realization that it’s NOT elimination, it’s all about substitution.

So, here is where the journey continues.  This Blog is not only my therapy, but I’m so excited to share all my experiences, recipes and journey through my gluten-free life.  Thanks for following me!

Crunchy Fish – Tilipia

My husband grew up in Wisconsin (Yes – He IS a Cheese Head).  For years he told me about a favorite past time…”Fish Fry Friday.”  Being a Catholic my whole life, I expected your typical greasy lenten church fried fish served in a paper bowl.  Let me tell you, Wisconsin fish fry is NOTHING like what the Catholic church ladies prepared in Western, PA.  It’s fresh Cod that is thick and crispy and browned to perfection.

After we got married, we discovered “Fish Taco’s” while living in Southern California.  They were served in warm tortilla’s with fresh cabbage and mexican spices.  We loved all the textures and flavors with the fresh grilled fish.

It was my goal after we moved back to Pennsylvania to bring those two recipes together.  My kids LOVE it, so I make gluten-free for me and gluten-full for them.

I use Costco’s frozen and individually wrapped tilapia loins.  I’m sure that other mild white fish (like Cod) would work fine, but tilapia holds it’s shape during frying and is convenient for me to store in my freezer.

After they thaw, I dust lightly with corn starch or rice flour.  Then I dip in egg and finally in gluten-free bread crumbs.

I like to combine Glutino Original GF bread crumbs and Kinnikinnick brand crumbs.  The combination makes a crispy coating that adheres well to the egg coating.

Another great coating is broken-up corn chips.  It’s a great way to get rid of those last few chips at the bottom of your bag.

After I make my gluten-free fillets, I insert a toothpick in them and keep them in a 200 degree oven to stay warm.

Finally, I add gluten-full panko style breadcrumbs to the remaining breadcrumbs and continue frying for the rest of the family.

In my house, everyone knows the gluten-free items because they are served with a toothpick sticking out of it.

I always make extra fish and serve it the next day with warmed corn tortillas, cole slaw or broccoli slaw, and hot sauce.  They are even better the 2nd day!

They aren’t exactly Wahoo’s Fish Taco’s or the Port Washington’s Cod, but Bebe’s Fish Taco’s are always popular in our house!  Enjoy!



4 Tilipia Fillets (Thawed)

1/2 c. Corn Starch or Rice Flour (For dusting)

1-2 eggs (Beaten)

1/2 c. G.F. Panko Style Bread Crumbs

Dry Fillets and dust with Flour

Dip into Beaten Egg

Dredge in Panko

Fry both sides in Hot Veggie Oil (Canola) until brown and 140 degrees

Serve with Cole Slaw or Brocolli Slaw

Serve 2nd Day as Fish Tacos


The Nitty Gritty of Gluten-Free Food Manufacturing

The Celiac Center of Paoli Hospital presents this talk on Food Manufacturing and Production.  Anne Rold Lee from Schar USA, will be the guest speaker.  RSVP by October 9th for either the live or online event.  Seats are limited.  1.866.CALL.MLH

See you there!


WOW – It was a night PACKED with information!!!  Anne Roland Lee, Director of Nutritional Services at Schar USA, filled our brains with so much to think about!  She started her talk with a slide showing that eating gluten-free isn’t the healthiest way to eat.  Matter of fact, she noted that people on a g.f. diet end up gaining about 22 lbs. and are usually deficient in fiber, vitamin B or iron.  This is because wheat products are fortified with some form of these vitamins and minerals, compared with the g.f. products, which are not required to be fortified.  Not to mention, most g.f. products are high in fat and sugar.

Her suggestion was to incorporate some alternative grains into your diet.  Grains like, buckwheat, quinoa, millet and teff were great examples of grains that are packed full of iron, fiber, B’s and protein.  Compared to rice, potato and corn, they contain more nutrients and fiber and contain a lower glycemic index.

Schar is VERY concerned about cross-contamination and go to great lengths to prevent it in their factories.  Since it only takes 50 mg (1/8 tsp.) to trigger an auto immune reaction to celiac sufferers (that’s 1/2 of a cruton or 1/4 of a holy communion), Schar will quarantine their outside ingredients to allow them to be tested over a period of time to ensure their products maintain less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten.  AMAZING!

Schar has set the bar high for other manufacturers.  They built a state of the art facility in New Jersey that is a designated gluten-free facility.  Anne did mention that other stores brands are very good as well (Wegman’s & Trader Joe’s specifically).  I felt better knowing that Schar consulted for them while they were developing their gluten-free lines.

My head will be “spinning” all night thinking of what new grains I can try in my recipes!

Wyebrook Farm

I LOVE buying local.  We are blessed to live in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the heart of horse country, surrounded by beautiful landscape and bountiful farms.  One of my favorite bi-weekly stops is the 355 acre Wyebrook Farm in Honeybrook, PA.Ex-Securities Trader, now Farmer, Dean Carlson has given us a place to walk and explore, as well as products that were raised and sold on site.  Growing up in the mountains of Western, Pennsylvania, I love sitting on the deck of the barn admiring all that the farm has to offer (It reminds me of home!).  Inside the barn, Chef Janet is the butcher that will NEVER turn away a question about meat.  I love talking with her about what cuts of meat to use in different recipes as she hand butcher’s the meat to my specifications.  She is the true treasure of the farm.  Downstairs there is a cafe with many different offerings.

I have yet to find a hamburger that tastes more fresh than the Wyebrook burger.  It’s cooked to order and goes wonderfully with a huge helping of fresh-cut french fries.  They are always willing to accommodate my gluten-free request of “no bun”.  I may be gluten-free, but…

“Give me beef or give me death!”.


20 Things to have in your kitchen when starting your journey…

The decision to go gluten-free is a huge decision.  Sometimes without the support of family and friends who don’t know what a huge undertaking it is.  When you finally make the decision, you need to be prepared.  There is nothing worse than being hungry while detoxing, it’s easy to forget what you need to eliminate.  I keep a container in my pantry with quick-pick items that I can grab when I’m on the go or hungry.

One thing to note is that everyone has different levels of tolerance.  Some people can’t eat anything that is processed in a plant with wheat.  It’s kind of trial and error on products that don’t contain wheat, but are not listed as gluten-free (GF).  Each products label contains a listing of allergens.  This is a great thing, but it doesn’t prevent cross-contamination of ingredients that are processed in non gluten-free ingredients.  Buying gluten-free is very expensive, so it’s great when you can find off the shelf items that are not labeled gluten-free, but do not contain wheat that you can tolerate (i.e. Bugles, Corn Chips, etc.)

  1. Gluten Free Crackers (i.e. Rice, Corn, Quinoa)
  2. Corn Tortilla’s (Tostito’s)
  3. Chex Cereals (Rice, Corn and Honey Nut)
  4. Rice Cakes (Lundberg is my favorite)
  5. Peanut Butter
  6. Gluten Free Pretzels (Snyders or Glutino)
  7. Lundberg Brand Rice
  8. Gluten Free Bread Crumbs (Panko and Regular)
  9. Canned Beans (Black Beans are Great on Cornchips with Cheese)
  10. Nuts and Seeds (Almonds and Pumpkin Seed are a must in my house)
  11. Fruit (Apples, Grapes, Pears, etc.)
  12. Cut-up Veggies (Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Peppers, etc.)
  13. Hummus
  14. Yogurt
  15. Gluten-Free Oats (Great for homemade granola or breakfast)
  16. Cheese
  17. Popcorn
  18. Gluten-free bread (Udi’s, Rudi’s)
  19. Egg’s
  20. Gluten-free Protein bars