Sixteen Surprising Things That Contain Gluten

I have cut gluten and wheat out of my life off and on for the last ten years and I thought I was in the know. I had NO idea. Gluten is EVERYWHERE.

I have to wash my hands a thousand times a day. Because I touch my face. A lot, apparently. The amount of times I stare at my computer working out a tough scene with a fist pressed to my lips flabbergasted me when I started to pay attention.

I promise this won’t become a gluten bashing blog, but I just wanted to post some of the surprising things I found. And to inform family and friends. And I especially want everyone to know that if I kiss your kids or hold their hands and then immediately scurry off to scrub my hands and wash my mouth it’s not because they’re gross. I love them, I really do. But I love my health just as much. And thank you to my wonderful SIL and BFF who didn’t balk a couple of nights ago when I washed my mouth with soap after kissing her kids – on the head. But I didn’t know where they’d been that day, what they’d eaten and what they’d wiped their hair with. She was lovely about it and said “Oh my God, you can’t even kiss the kids anymore without thinking about it.” Sadly, no. And yes, I may be going a little gluten-a-phobe, but when you’ve felt like I have for the last decade and more you’re going to try and do things right.

Here are a few shocking (to me) things that I discovered have gluten.

  1. Potato Chips – the flavoured variety
  2. Soy Sauce – many of them are wheat based
  3. Lipstick
  4. Toothpaste. Toothpaste!
  5. Tape and stickers and stamps and envelopes
  6. Pam – the Baking Spray, not regular
  7. Licorice. Licorice!
  8. Vitamin E face cream – it’s usually derived from wheat germ like the one I’d been using one for the last fifteen years. I had no clue.
  9. Salad Dressing
  10. Vodka – much of it is made with wheat and those that are flavoured are verboten, see #11.
  11. Natural and Artificial Flavours – don’t ask me why, I haven’t gotten that far yet.
  12. Deli Meats
  13. Hand sanitizers – Purell is okay. Thank God.
  14. Pickles – if made with malt vinegar
  15. Wine – if wheat derived caulking is used on barrels
  16. Your hands – from touching things!

Also, products from Canada can be different than the US such as Worchestershire which is fine in the US but not in Canada because it is made with malt barley. Manufacturers also change their recipes so something that is fine one day could be a nightmare the next.

It’s a good thing I like reading. And that Costco is a gluten-free mecca. And that my favourite alcoholic beverage is vodka. Little victories. Or, you know, big ones where the vodka is concerned.


Gluten Gone Bad

Last week I found out gluten is forbidden for me. Since then, I’ve been struggling to comprehend just how much my life is going to have to change. Here are just a few of the aggravating ways. And not to forget to be grateful, I’ve listed some of the positive ways below. Because it’s not all bad – or at least, it won’t be.

  • I have to read the label on anything that goes near my mouth.
  • I will spend hours reading, researching, cooking, and baking.
  • Grocery shopping taking twice as long with all the reading and googling I have to do.
  • I have to replace half of my kitchen pantry.
  • I can no longer shop at the bulk food store.
  • My grocery bill is going to fly through the Milky Way.
  • My local health food store owner could retire on my purchases.
  • I can (mostly) no longer eat out.
  • I have to ask the restaurant a thousand questions if I do.
  • Eating at someone’s house is just going to be easier if I bring my own food or bring a few dishes. Cross contamination of gluten is evil with a capital E – even scrubbing the cutting board after using it to slice bread might not prevent pesky gluten molecules from transferring into my meal – they can burrow into a wooden cutting board or spoon and hang out for a surprisingly long time. Did I mention I have to replace all of mine? And I haven’t figured out what to do about my toaster. Am I really going to give up toast (the gluten-free variety)? I love toast. I do, however, have sparse counter space and adding a second toaster isn’t really an option.
  • If I can eat at a social gathering, I’m going to have to run over folks to bolt to the front of the serving line before the food gets cross contaminated. Granny is going to think my manners have gone to hell. And I can never go back for seconds. Or thirds.
  • I’m really going to miss lazy Sunday mornings out for Dim Sum.
  • I’m really going to miss grabbing a quick snack or meal if I don’t feel like cooking.
  • I am going to have to feel like cooking. ALL. THE. TIME.

I know this has been a bit of a grumbly post, but there are good things here, too:

  • I will eat healthier
  • My family will eat healthier
  • It could have been one hell of a lot worse
  • I will avoid health complications later in life
  • I get to shop for some new kitchen stuff!
  • I will feel better
  • More energy is sure to follow
  • I may not have to sleep 9 hours every night
  • This will give me more writing time
  • And more time for cooking healthy
  • And everything else joyful

I’m looking forward to it – I am. It’s just an adjustment, and, like everything, that takes a little bit of time.


Inappropriate Writer Brain Moments

I can’t turn it off. My Writer Brain that is. And was I ever grateful when I learned that there are others out there like me, writers whose brains are constantly churning and creating stories.

Writers on Vacation by Debbie Ohi

This cartoon by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (who is also responsible for some of Judy Blume’s gorgeous new covers – how awesome is that!) is so accurate it’s frightening. A writer truly never gets a holiday. And that’s because we’re at Writer Brain’s beck and call. Even sleeping, I can’t catch a break. I dream about my current project or wake up with a thought or idea I have to write down.

Here are a few of my inappropriate Writer Brain moments.

  1. Any moment where I don’t have a pen and paper or my phone to write/type it out!
  2. In the middle of a conversation. Yes, this happens often. Sorry everyone.
  3. At a funeral. I can’t help myself. Thoughts of character and life swirl through my brain.
  4. When my husband is saying something profound. Sorry, honey. In my defense, he’s a creative brain too, always inventing things, so I’m sure he doesn’t listen to me all of the time either.
  5. When my husband and I are disagreeing and one of us says something that triggers a moment where I think “Oh, that should be in a book.”At yoga when I’m supposed to not think. Yeah, right.
  6. At yoga when I’m supposed to not think. Yeah, right.
  7. During an intimate moment.
  8. Cooking! I’ve almost killed dinner numerous times while stopping to ponder an idea or jot a thought down.
  9. When I’m supposed to be working or focusing at a meeting.
  10. After a couple of cocktails after which I can’t remember what my spark of creative genius even was.
  11. At the beach when I’m supposed to be relaxing, see above cartoon.
  12. Pretty much all the time.

When does your Writer-Brain jab you with an inappropriate idea or thought?


Redesigning Rose Excerpt

I’m selecting excerpts from Redesigning Rose for an upcoming blog tour with Chick Lit Plus and decided I should share one here. This is one of my favourite scenes with my favourite character, Becky. Sometimes – just sometimes – I want to write her story or a sequel. I miss her and Rose now that some time has passed.


Eventually, between alcohol, expletives I wasn’t even aware I knew how to use, and tears, I told Becky everything.

“Rose, you did right.” She waved her glass around in a toast, red wine sloshing over the edges. I couldn’t even remember when we’d swapped the whiskey for wine.

“I can’t believe the money. He thought I was too dumb to figure it out.” Now slurring, I reached for the wine bottle and missed. Becky caught it before we almost had a perilous loss. It was the last bottle.

“I can’t believe the porn.”

You can’t? How do you think I feel? Typical Frank, always wanting the biggest and best of everything. Why couldn’t he have just liked feet?”

“There’s no way you could have known. I’m all up for exploration, but people hide that weird shit. My friend’s friend found her husband’s tranny porn hidden above the basement bathroom ceiling tiles. God knows why she was up there, but she was so glad she found it before their boys got old enough to start snooping for daddy’s porn… What was my point? Oh… Hiding it. You couldn’t have known, honey,” she said, poking my arm with her index finger before pouring us each another glass.

“I don’t know. Sometimes I wondered if something was wrong with him in bed. He did it, but he never seemed as into it as he should have been. I chalked it up to marriage. You get bored.” I slammed my glass down. “I trusted that fucker. I could have a disease and not even know. Remind me to go to the doctor, okay? I’m gonna forget.”

She nodded and we sat in silence, digesting the possibility of my disease-infested nether regions.

“I’m not sure if a dominatrix actually has sex with her clients,” Becky said eventually.

“Close enough. And those messages… The things he was doing?” I wrapped my arms around me as another shudder ran down the length of my body.

“You didn’t print any? As evidence.”

“Ugh. Like I need the reminder. They burned onto my eyes.” I said, poking at them. I missed and jabbed my temple. “You know what the worst part is? I knew.”

Becky’s eyes widened.

“Oh no. No! I didn’t know all that.”

She shrugged. “People do weird things.” She trailed the ssss, sounding like a snake. “What about those women or men who stay when they discover their partners want a sex change operation? Or find out their partners are gay and ignore it for whatever stupid reason.” She sighed. “I miss Oprah.”

“Maybe I’m just not strong enough to stay?”

Becky looked at me like I’d sprouted tentacles. “You’re strong. You left. You needed time to think and took it. He obviously hasn’t been treating you well.”

“I knew something was wrong but I ignored it,” I said in a whisper. “I didn’t want to believe my marriage was less than perfect.”

She nodded solemnly. “I know.”

“But I glossed over it. I ignored what was right in front of my face. Like this.” I held my hands in front of my eyes, fingers splayed wide and sang out, “I see you.”

“Hindsight, Rose. Hindsight. It’s the universe’s biggest clairvoyant. The things I wish I had known too. Did the same thing. Packed up. He didn’t know. We fought like crazy. Mean and dirty. We’re better off without them.” She raised her glass again and clanged it against mine. Red wine splashed onto the grimy white ceramic tiles like blood splatter.

I stood and shook my head to clear it, but only managed to make myself dizzy. I reached out for my chair, missed, and toppled over onto the floor.

“That’s it. You’re cut off,” Becky said, snatching the glass out of my hand, which, like any good wine lover who takes a tumble, I hadn’t spilled a drop of. I did however mop up Becky’s wine with my jeans.

“Nooo!” I wailed, climbing to my knees and clasping my hands together. “Please, can I have it back? Please?”

“You sure?” she asked, grabbing my shoulders. “Are you sure you can handle it?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I slurred and tipped over at her touch.

She handed it back to me and I took a swig from my position on the floor.

“What were we talking about?” Becky asked.

I shrugged.

Becky groped for a small black object on the counter and music blared. She reached for my hand and pulled me up. “C’mon. Let’s dance.”

I wrapped my arms around her. “My savior,” I screamed so she could hear me above the music she was belting out the words along to.

Becky threw her head back and laughed before continuing to shimmy around the room. “You’re probably not going to love me in the morning.”


Redesigning Rose - Cover Image

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