It’s been a difficult few years navigating Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Eye Disease, and it’s time for an update. Where did I leave off?
My thyroidectomy that was originally scheduled for the first week of the NYC COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 was rescheduled a few months later. Upon waking up from the anesthesia, I instantly felt a wave of relief. Perhaps it was partially a release of stress that had been painfully building for six months, but I also felt deep down like my body was no longer fighting with itself. My surgeon appeared by my hospital bed and assured me that the nerves that control my vocal chords were intact. After several months of speech therapy I had a joint appointment with my surgeon and therapist where a camera was sent up my nose and down my throat – “Now sing!” (If you thought a COVID test felt weird – try this). My surgeon beamed with joy, gave me a picture of my vocal chords (which now has a prominent place my fridge – isn’t that where we all put souvenirs from our vocal scopes?), and sent me on my way.
Switching to a thyroid replacement medication, my thyroid levels finally started to stabilize for the first time in years. After pacing on the sidewalk and practicing how I would advocate for myself once inside my eye surgeon’s office, I was surprised that he suggested we try a new drug treatment for Thyroid Eye Disease. In the extra time that it took to reschedule my thyroidectomy more data had come out, and he now believed I was a good candidate.
I’m going to give you the cliff notes version of the nightmare that happened next:
-Insurance denied the claim.
-Insurance reconsidered and approved it.
-I had my first two infusions (out of eight).
-Production of the drug completely shut down due to Operation Warp Speed, and resources were redistributed to prioritize vaccine production. There was no estimation on when drug production would resume.
-Two treatments weren’t enough to tell us if the drug was working for me, so I waited four long months.
-I resumed treatment.
-Treatment didn’t work.
-We switched back to the original plan – a series of surgeries.
-Operating room schedules were significantly booked up due to all of the surgeries that had been delayed during the pandemic, so I waited another three and a half months.
Hello fall of 2021! A year later than originally planned I had two orbital decompression surgeries (one for each eye). Continuously a nightmare, I got kidney stones the morning of my first surgery and spent the first evening of my recovery in the emergency room. I was grateful the second surgery was boring in comparison.
Said one of my surgeons about orbital decompression – “It’s truly life changing!” And it has been. I am not free of this disease. I’m awaiting my next surgery. Things aren’t the same as they were before. But I am grateful that things are at least better. I’m triggered less often. Looking in the mirror is no longer excruciatingly painful. I can see progress. Sometimes I even spot a glimpse of the old me.
As I type I’m anxiously awaiting my upcoming lid surgery and experiencing familiar feelings as I watch the Omicron case numbers rise. Will my next surgery happen? Will it be delayed another three months? Maybe more? I’m just so tired. I’m ready to move on with my life. The emotional burden of this disease is too much to carry every day.
I’m hoping to share more once I’m on the other side of my next surgery. As with my orbital decompression surgeries, I won’t be sharing the date publicly. There’s nothing quite like the sadness of receiving well-wishes the night before the planned date and having to explain to everyone that it was cancelled at the last minute. But please feel free to follow me on instagram – I’ll be posting updates in my stories as they happen.
Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post. I have special relationships with some companies and may have received product samples. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I genuinely enjoy.
It’s that time of year! My annual gluten free holiday giveaway series has begun! Throughout December I’ll be featuring some of my very favorite gluten free small businesses starting with Little GF Chefs and their gingerbread house kit!
All of this year’s giveaways will be posted/run on instagram, so follow me (@tastymeditation) and look out for the giveaway posts for a chance to win! Best of luck and happy holidays!
Disclaimer: I was not paid nor given free products in exchange for writing this post. I have special relationships with some of these companies and may have been given samples in the past. This post contains a few affiliate links in which I get a small commission that helps maintain the cost of this site (there is no added cost to you). All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I genuinely love. As always, double check labels and product information. Ingredients, allergen policies, and facilities can change at any time.
The Tasty Meditation Gluten Free Holiday Gift Guide: 2021 Edition is here! It’s more important than ever to support small businesses, so you’ll find many of my favorites listed below.
For the chocolate & sweets lover:
• See’s Candy – Gluten free chocolate truffles! Most of their chocolates do not contain gluten, but be sure to visit the allergen information page of their website for the most up to date information.
• LA Burdick hot chocolate – Kris introduced me to their hot chocolate on our first date. “I hope you brought another pair of socks…because yours are about to be knocked off.” Lucky for me – it happened to be gluten free! Their drinking chocolates are prepared in a dedicated gluten free kitchen.
• Yum Earth – Certified gluten free treats, even licorice!
• Goodie Girl Cookies – If you’re thinking that “Mint Slims” sounds almost exactly like a certain Girl Scout cookie, you are correct. So good, you’ll be tempted to eat an entire box in one sitting.
For kids (or kids at heart):
• Little GF Chefs baking kits – Absolutely adorable, creative and fun baking projects for people of all ages! The founder, Jereann Zann, is on a mission to empower kids, build confidence, and encourage a positive relationship with food. Every baking kit is made in a dedicated gluten free and top 8 allergen free facility and comes with just about everything you need to make the fun treats. Individual kits and subscriptions are available. I loved their rainbow donut kit!
• Nuts.com gift certificate – (affiliate link) My favorite source for gluten free flours, nuts and dried fruit. They have a huge selection of gluten free items, and everything is clearly marked.
• Guittard Chocolate Chips – My absolute favorite chocolate to bake with. Most of their products are made in a dedicated facility and will say so on the label.
• Jovial olive oil – I didn’t know what I was missing until I tried their olive oil from Italy. Wonderfully flavorful and perfect for dipping bread and drizzling on top of pizza.
• Digital Kitchen Scale – Digital scales are essential for measuring gluten free flour accurately! So far my favorite scale is by Escali. I use it nearly every day, and years later it’s still working perfectly.
• Ultimate pizza-making equipment bundle – (affiliate link) I’ve compiled a collection of everything you need to make my favorite No Gluten, No Problem pizzas! The cookbook, baking steel, storage-conscious pizza peel, digital kitchen scale, and food thermometer.
• Charlie’s Table fresh pasta – Once you try fresh pasta you’ll never want to go back to dried. Certified gluten free and made in a dedicated facility, Charlie’s Table offers pasta shapes that are difficult to find gluten free – bucatini, rigatoni, garganelli, gemelli, and tagliatelle.
• Still Riding Foods pizza crusts – One of my favorite pre-made crusts. Certified gluten free, dedicated gluten free facility, dairy free, egg free, soy free, nut free, vegan and kosher.
For the makeup lover:
• Red Apple Lipstick gift certificate – (affiliate link) Amazing allergen-friendly makeup with a wide variety of stunning lipstick colors. The Rallye Balm is a lifesaver for chapped/dry lips during the colder months. My personal favorite colors include Vogue and Ooh La La. Get 22% off orders of $50+ with the code “TastyMeditation”.
Gluten free bakeries – All of these 100% gluten free bakeries ship across the US (for residents of Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories please inquire with the bakeries directly), and several offer gift cards:
• Bread Srsly sourdough (affiliate link) – Seriously the best gluten free sourdough (and my favorite gluten free bread, in general) on the market! Made in the Bay Area, this bread nails that traditional sourdough taste. Free from gluten, wheat, egg, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, potatoes, sesame, refined sugar, and chickpeas. The last day to order for the holidays is December 12th, but I recommend ordering early because they sell out. Use code “TASTYHOLIDAY” for 10% off your order through 12/12/21!
• Krumville Bakeshop – Delicious cookies, cakes, muffins, and bread – everything that comes out of the Krumville kitchen is incredible! I recently made it my mission to try all of their layered cakes (spoiler alert – they’re all wonderful). If I had to choose one favorite, it would be three – chocolate raspberry, lemon & berries, gingerbread & cranberry. Feel free to send me a message if you’re looking for a personalize recommendation.
• Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery – This bakery holds a very special place in my heart. My favorite items include panini bread, burger buns, almond ricotta orange cake, lemon mascarpone almond muffins, shortbread cookies, and pecan snowball cookies. After years of visiting this bakery, I recently tried the cookies for the first time. Normally when I visit in person I opt for the pastries, but wow was I missing out! Their cookies are truly magical.
• Modern Bread & Bagel – You’re not dreaming, these are real New York style bagels! When I was diagnosed with celiac disease I never thought I would experience this joy again. Infinitely grateful to Modern Bread for making this magic happen.
• Meredith’s Bread– A family-run bakery located in Kingston, NY, Meredith’s Bread is well known for selling products at farmers markets around NYC. They have two lines of products (wheat-based and gluten free – look for that GF label!), and their gluten free baked goods are made in a separate/dedicated facility. Excellent pricing. I love their rustic farmhouse breads, black and white cookies, and biscotti.
• Izzi B’s Allergen Free Bakery – So many free-from statements! This bakery is free of gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, nuts, casein, preservatives, trans-fats, refined sugar, and more! Located in Connecticut. Try the yellow cake, it’s my favorite!
• Everybody Eats – Mention Everybody Eats to a gluten free New Yorker, and they’ll immediately start talking about how kind and wonderful the owner, Pedro, is. Check out their instagram for delightful videos of Pedro singing in his bakery, and you might spot a certain special guest (spoiler alert – it’s me!). Highly recommend their gluten free baguette.
• Mariposa Baking Co – Located in San Francisco, so shipping rates are more affordable for friends on the west coast. I highly recommend their cinnamon rolls and flaky pastries. One of the few bakeries I’ve found that makes gluten free croissants!
• The Karma Baker – 100% vegan and gluten free in LA. I highly recommend their donuts.
For the bar:
• Tito’s Vodka – Certified gluten free, corn-based vodka. You might want to get some for yourself, too. I’ve found that you save more money in the long run if you buy the bigger bottle (wink).
• Barr Hill Gin – Lightly sweetened with local honey, so every batch is a little different. Labeled gluten free.
• Bright Cellars – (referral link) A fun subscription box with wine tailored to your preferences. Each box comes with fun cards to help you learn about the wine you receive. The more you rate your wines, the more the algorithm learns about what you love.
• Wolffer rose cider – Our favorite cider in the Tasty Meditation kitchen, and naturally gluten free!
• Pallini Limoncello – A taste of Italy! Kris and I tried various different limoncello brands during our gluten free honeymoon in Rome, and this was by far our favorite.
Gluten free resources:
• Gluten Free Watchdog subscription – GFW is one of the most incredible advocates in the celiac disease/gluten free community, and her website is a wealth of information. Subscribers get special access to products reports (selected items are tested for gluten in a laboratory setting) and support her overall efforts.
• Gluten Dude app subscription – An excellent resource with restaurant/bakery lists, product recommendations, and moderated message boards created by celiac disease advocate Gluten Dude. See you on the app!
If you’ve been following my updates on social media, you know that I recently had my first orbital decompression surgery to help correct some of the damage done from Thyroid Eye Disease. It’s a pretty intense surgery and recovery process (I’ll go into more detail in a future post once I’m on the other side of my upcoming procedures). As I’m following all recovery instructions from my doctors and taking my prescribed post-op medications, I’m trying to help my body as much as possible with a variety of nutrients.
I’ve been making fresh ginger tea for years, and it’s my go-to recipe whenever I’m not feeling well. I was looking for a way to spice things up, and my Ginger Chai Tea is now one of my favorite cold weather drinks. Hope you enjoy!
Ginger Chai Tea
For ginger tea:
5 cups water
3 oz peeled fresh ginger, cut into cubes
For chai tea:
1 1/3 cup ginger tea
2/3 cup milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp vanilla
2 dashes cinnamon
2 dashes nutmeg
Place water and fresh ginger in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the stove off and let the tea sit for two hours. Discard the ginger. Place all chai tea ingredients in a pot. Heat and stir. Add more maple syrup/vanilla/spices to taste and serve.
Makes two cups. Extra ginger tea can be refrigerated for future use.
Disclaimer: I was not paid nor given complimentary product in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend restaurants and products that I truly enjoy. Please always call a restaurant before visiting to verify that it is appropriate for your needs, as policies and menus can change any time.
I have a new favorite 100% gluten free restaurant, and I can’t believe it took me so long to try it. I visited Thyme & Tonic on the Upper West Side earlier this year for cocktails and appetizers. I was incredibly impressed and excited to eventually return to try the entrees and desserts (and more cocktails, of course). In short, I was blown away.
We started the evening off with a round of cocktails. Kris was instantly a fan of the Chipotle Pineapple Margarita. I opted for my favorite cocktail from my previous visit – Besos Calientes (Spanish for “hot kisses”). Featuring vodka, lime, passion fruit, and a cerano ice cube, the concept of this cocktail was so smart. It was on the sweeter side (which I like), but as the cerano ice cube melted, it changed the flavor profile of the drink. And it got spicy quickly!
I normally feel very confident in my gluten free restaurant research, but when this salmon burger arrived at my table I thought, “Oh no, I’ve made a terrible mistake. Am I at the right restaurant? Did I read something wrong? Look at that bun! The height, the color! Is it gluten free?” And yes, of course the restaurant is 100% gluten free. They just do magical things in their kitchen. The burger and fries were simply amazing.
Lucky us, our reservation happened to coincide with their final ice cream special of the summer. The mini lemon donut ice cream sandwich was heavenly. I’m looking forward to seeing what desserts specials Thyme & Tonic will offer in the fall/winter, but I’ll be on the lookout for anything they make with lemon because this dessert was perfect.
Overall, I adored my experience at Thyme & Tonic. The service, atmosphere, food and cocktails were all top notch, and it has quickly become one of my very favorite restaurants in NYC. Book your reservation now. You don’t want to miss out.
Thyme & Tonic is a 100% gluten free, mostly vegan, and certified Kosher restaurant located at 474 Columbus Avenue (near 83rd St). Open for brunch (in collaboration with Modern Bread & Bagel next door) and dinner.
2. I always caught the bouquet at weddings & Kris always caught the garter.
3. I will always bring my own gluten free cake with me to a wedding.
This recipe was inspired by a particular wedding a few years ago. I caught the bouquet (no, cousin Carol, it’s not “your turn” – Jessica’s on the dance floor) and Kris caught the garter (cue the delightful bit of chatter among guests).
My gluten-intolerant mother and I chose to opt out of the catered dinner (with 184 other guests to provide for, the chances were overwhelmingly high that someone would mess up my gluten free meal), and she surprised me with a small bag filled with homemade gluten free carrot cake cupcakes that she had tucked away under her seat. I happily munched on cupcakes throughout the evening while Kris hit the dance floor with my very smitten grandmother.
“Caught the Bouquet” Carrot Cake Cupcakes
*For best results use a digital kitchen scale to measure ingredients in grams.
½ cup pureed apple (128g)
¾ cup sugar (150g)
¼ cup + 2 tbsp packed brown sugar (83g)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp coconut oil (27g)
¾ tsp vanilla extract (3.75g)
¼ cup + 2 tbsp potato starch (64g)
¼ cup + 2 tbsp sorghum flour (48g)
¼ cup tapioca starch (32g)
¾ tsp xanthan gum (2.25g)
¾ tsp baking soda (3.6g)
½ tsp baking powder (2.4g)
1 tsp cinnamon (2.5g)
¼ tsp nutmeg (.5g)
¼ tsp salt (1.5g)
1 ½ cup finely grated carrots (150g)
½ cup finely chopped fresh pineapple plus the juice that leaks out as you slice it (90g total – I recommend weighing a 90g chunk of pineapple and then chopping it on a plate so you can catch the liquid)
½ cup unsweetened coconut (28g)
½ cup walnuts, finely chopped (58g)
¼ cup + 2 tbsp raisins (60g)
Cream Cheese Frosting
*This will make a liberal amount of frosting – have fun decorating!
3 oz butter (85g)
6 oz cream cheese (168g)
1 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (5.5g)
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar (327g)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the sugar, apple, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl and stir with a spoon until just combined.
3. In a small bowl, combine the potato starch, sorghum, tapioca, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour half of the dry mixture into the wet and stir, then add the second half and stir until just combined.
4. Add the carrots, pineapple, coconut, walnuts, and raisins. Stir until just combined.
5. Line a cupcake pan with liners (this recipe will yield a baker’s dozen) and scoop the batter into the liners. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before decorating.
6. In a medium size bowl, use a hand mixer to cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add half the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add the remaining half and mix again until smooth.
7. Frost the cupcakes, leaving a few spoonfuls of frosting left over. Divide the remaining frosting into three small plastic bags. Add a few drops of food coloring to each (I recommend green, red, and yellow). Smush the frosting around in the bag until it takes on the color. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of each bag and pipe your bouquet – start with the stems, then flowers, followed by the ribbon.
Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post. I am an affiliate of Red Apple Lipstick and occasionally receive complimentary products. This post contains an affiliate link, which means when you use my link to order I get a small commission that helps me maintain the cost of this site (there is no added cost to you). All opinions are my own, and I only recommend bakeries, restaurants, and products that I love.
The holiday season could not be complete without a Red Apple Lipstick feature! I learned about Red Apple Lipstick shortly after I was diagnosed with celiac, and I immediately fell in love. Their entire line of makeup is gluten free, vegan and cruelty free. Their dedication to the celiac/GF community is truly admirable, the team is wonderful, the colors are stunning, and it’s my very favorite makeup company.
Featured in this post are some of my favorite Red Apple Lipstick photos over the years.
As you can see, all of the colors are beautiful. Pair them with any number of Red Apple lip liners, and the color possibilities are endless!
My personal favorite lipstick shades? I’m a fan of fall shades year round, especially ones that have a slight mauve color tone. Vogue and Ooh La La are my go-to classics. Spice ‘N Easy is great for a casual look. Add a little sparkle with Mauve Me. Get dramatic with Wine & Dandy.
And of course Rallye Balm is the greatest hydrating lip balm. It’s a life saver during the cold winter months (and this reminds me that I need to stock up).
Last minute gift shopping? (Don’t forget to get yourself a gift this year!) Check out their great holiday sale, use code “tastymeditation” for 22% off orders $50+, and enjoy free shipping within the US on orders of $35+!
A very happy holiday, indeed – one of my followers will win a $100 Red Apple Lipstick gift certificate! What’s even more exciting – this giveaway is open to anywhere around the world Red Apple Lipstick ships – this includes the US, Canada, & more! (Visit their website for more details)
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and I only recommend restaurants, bakeries and products that I love.
Upon going gluten free, I feel like we all have a list of GF-must-finds – we’ve gotta find the very best of the best pizza, bread, cake, etc that’s out there. The food that I hear about the most – pasta. Perhaps you’ve experienced lackluster gluten free pasta that clumps together, falls apart or has a weird aftertaste. If you’re still on the hunt for the best gluten free pasta, look no further than Charlie’s Table.
Charlie’s Table Pasta is:
-Certified gluten free
-Made in a dedicated certified gluten free facility
-Passionate about giving back to the community. They donate a percentage of their profits to local food banks and other organizations to support people who need to eat gluten free and are food insecure.
Charlie’s Table makes so many unique pasta shapes – tagliatelle, rigatoni, gemelli, garganelli, and bucatini. It’s so nice to have a fresh new variety of gluten free options to choose from. I can’t wait to see what they make next (I’m hoping for gnocchi!).
As someone who makes fresh pasta from scratch, when it comes to fresh pasta vs dried/boxed pasta, there’s no comparison – the taste, the texture! It’s a total game changer. However, I don’t always have the time or energy to set up my pasta machine, so I’m glad to have a box of Charlie’s Table pasta in the freezer. It’s also a wonderful option for times when I’m not in my own kitchen. I was house sitting several times this fall and didn’t have access to all of my normal cooking equipment, but there was no reason for me to settle for meals that were less than inspiring. With Charlie’s Table I was able to quickly and easily make gourmet Italian dishes.
Charlie’s Table currently ships their pasta across the contiguous US. Visit www.charliestable.com to order and experience this amazing pasta for yourself.
It’s time for a giveaway – one winner will receive four packages of Charlie’s Table pasta!*
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend restaurants, bakeries and products that I love.
Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery is very close to my heart. I’ve been a regular since they opened in NYC, and I’m thrilled that they began shipping their products across the US this year so more people can experience their wonderful breads, muffins, cakes, cookies and more.
Overwhelmed with all of the choices? My personal favorite items – panini bread (I use it to recreate my favorite Senza Gluten prosciutto & mozzarella panini at home), lemon mascarpone almond muffins, and the almond ricotta orange loaf……but also the hamburger buns, flourless chocolate cake, pumpkin pie, literally all the muffins and scones – you can’t go wrong!
Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery recently announced three new cookies for the holidays – chocolate crinkle cookies (dairy free), classic sugar cookies, and gingerbread people!
The final day to order before Christmas is 12/20. Senza Gluten ships on Mondays & Tuesdays only, and the cutoff for weekly shipments is Sundays at midnight EST. All orders placed after Sunday/midnight ship the following week.
Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post. I am an affiliate of Bread SRSLY and occasionally receive complimentary product. This post contains an affiliate link, which means when you use my link to order I get a small commission that helps me maintain the cost of this site (there is no added cost to you). All opinions are my own, and I only recommend bakeries, restaurants, and products that I love.
I’ve written about Bread SRSLY more times that I can remember, and for good reason. This 100% gluten free bread is made in San Francisco and is the real deal when it comes to sourdough. Not only is it my favorite gluten free sourdough, it’s my favorite gluten free bread on the market.
Bread SRSLY is certified gluten free and made in a 100% gluten free facility, top 8 allergen free and made in a dedicated top 8 allergen free facility, dairy free, soy free, egg free, potato free, tree nut free, peanut free, tapioca free, chickpea free, sesame free, kosher, non gmo, and vegan. AND there are rice free and gum free options available. I’m in love with their ongoing commitment to our community!
Love their classic sourdough loaves and rolls but in the mood for something a little sweeter? Bread SRSLY recently launched their new cinnamon raisin sourdough!