February 2010

This will be a quick blurb about one of my favorite wineries/restaurants.  I heard from a patient, living with celiac disease, that Cooper’s Hawk now has a gluten-free menu. She was impressed at the measures they took to control for cross contamination and stated that  the food was very good. To date, I have not sampled the menu. However, if the food is as good as the wine, I cannot wait.

 Stay tuned for more on Cooper’s Hawk www.chwinery.com .


My family and I had the pleasure of dining at Palermo’s on 143rd Street and Wolf Road in Orland Park.

The restaurant has been open for several years, but only recently added several gluten-free dishes to its menu. Prior to our visit, the owner Adam Cisek, assured me that all possible routes of contamination have been eliminated. The pizza crust is homemade and the pastas used are either Scharr or Le Veneziane.  So, with the legwork done, all that was left was to go for dinner.

Palermo’s is tastefully decorated with true Italian ambiance. We were greeted warmly by the wait staff and by the owner himself. Adam was very gracious in allowing us to taste several appetizers, entrees, pizza and gelato. The food was wonderful, my favorite being the polenta/goat cheese appetizer. I know the polenta I make at home never tastes like this!

My kids really liked the gluten-free pizza . It is a thin crust with very tasty sauce and a bit larger than other gluten free pizzas in the south Chicago suburbs. My husband ordered the spaghetti del mar and I ordered the chicken balsamico. We both agreed that my dish was a bit better, although both were very good.
For dessert, gelato comes in many different flavors. We were able to sample espresso with chocolate chunks, raspberry with chocolate chunks, peppermint, cinnamon, and lemon italian ice. Each was more delicious than the next.

At the end of the meal, my children all yelled “We are definitely coming back!”

If you would like to visit Palermo’s website, please go to www.palermochicago.com. They’re creating new menus now and I’ll post a link to them when they’re available.

We were impressed with the thought and the care that Palermo’s put into this new gluten-free venture and encourage everyone to give them a visit. I know we’ll be back!

Microscopic colitis is a term used for two types of bowel inflammation, collagenous colitis and lymphocytic colitis. Both entities can cause chronic, non-bloody watery diarrhea and abdominal cramping. This array of symptoms can either be continuous or have symptom-free periods. In a study, An association between microscopic colitis and celiac disease by Green PH, Yang J, Cheng J, Lee AR, Harper JW, Bhagat G, the authors state that there is a 70-fold increase in the development of microscopic colitis in a celiac patient. With the large array of celiac patients that I am seeing in my office, I am seeing my fair share of microscopic colitis as well.

  Six months ago, I had one such patient visit my office. She was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and had biopsies done that revealed microscopic colitis. Because of the increased propensity for this condition in celiac patients, I wanted to be well versed on the treatments that are available. One such treatment  is a poorly absorbed steroid called Entocort (Budesonide). Entocort is absorbed mainly in the gastrointestinal tract and to a lesser degree, systemically, so it is more appealing due the lesser array of side effects. I began this patient on Entocort and within one month her diarrhea had completely resolved and she started to gain weight and feel significantly improved. We have already begun the weaning process and she continues to do well.

 On a recent visit with her husband to his colorectal surgeon, she mentioned to him that she was on Entocort for microscopic colitis. He stated to her that this was inappropriate treatment for her condition as it is absorbed strictly in the terminal ileum (the end of the small intestine) and not in the colon. My patient called me distressed over my poor choice of treatments.

 The National Institutes of Health list Entocort as one of the main treatments for microscopic colitis (http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/collagenouscolitis/ ), as does Mayo Clinic and MedicineNet.com. It is absorbed both in the small intestine as well as parts of the large intestine.  So, if you are suffering with microscopic colitis and your physician has prescribed Entocort for you, rest assured that you are on the appropriate treatment, no matter what the local surgeon states!

Although many of you have already discovered Joan’s Gluten Free Bakery products, I was a bit slow on the uptake here. I was sent a gift package of her foods to try by my brother, also a celiac. I was so amazed at how delicious her products were, that I immediately turned around and ordered some more for my family. Unfortunately, the packaging meant to keep the foods frozen failed, and much of the food I ordered perished. When I called to let the manager of the bakery know what had happened, I got Joan herself. She was so gracious about the mishap, that we wound up speaking for quite a bit of time. She is as wonderful as her products!

Joan is not a celiac herself. Her venture started when her son, and now her twin grandchildren, were found to be gluten-intolerant. They had the unfortunate experience of nosebleeds with ingestion of gluten. So, being the good grandmother that she is, she started to bake for them. It did not take long for her products to be discovered and written up in a local paper. The rest is history.

Joan’s bakery is not a walk in facility. However, Joan wrote me that she enjoys when people do come in so she can meet her customers face to face. She will ship anywhere in the country, although her products are also carried by many local health food stores. We have tried several of her products and one is better than the next. The pizza crusts are fabulous. They cook up like real pizza, but at the end you have an outside crust that is just like a breadstick. Her bagels bake up at home. Out of the oven, they are toasty on the outside and soft on the inside. My childrens’ favorite are her chocolate chip cookies. I dare anyone to tell the difference between Joan’s cookies and Nestle Toolhouse cookies. I am looking forward to trying the english muffins and sugar cookies. Those are on tap for tomorrow. I was also told that bialys are coming soon as well.

If you would like to check out Joan’s website, please go to www.gfgreatbakes.com. I promise, you will not be disappointed!

So, as promised, the results of my poll are in. To review, the question was would you trust your child’s school to safely prepare a gluten-free meal for your child. The supposition of training and good communication with the parents was inherent to the question. I had only seven responses. However, the vote was a unanimous No. It is somewhat disheartening to know that many of you feel as I do. So, although  the American with Disabilities Act allows us to demand the choice of a gluten-free meal for our celiac/wheat-allergic children, none of us will enact this choice.

 My opinion on this reaches many levels. I believe that the kitchen staff genuinely care about the kids. Yet, in the midst of a busy lunch time, coupled with incomplete knowledge of the complications of the disease, I believe that things will inadvertently occur. I am not comfortable with my childrens’  health riding on this. So, I will continue to prepare lunches from my gluten-free kitchen, apparently right along with the others who took part in the poll.

 Thank you for your time and input. It was a reality test for me as I tend to be a bit neurotic with these types of issues. To our children, continue to enjoy your homemade meals. You do not know how lucky you are!