Ten years will be too soon

Resurfacing after a (far too long) absence to say to those of you who deal with eosinophilic or other colitis, irritable bowel, whatever: Respect.

After dodging it for two years, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for my mid-life colonoscopy, which took place the other week. Let’s just say that I am extraordinarily grateful to have eos that make themselves at home in the top part of my GI tract, rather than the other end. (And, yes, I really should change the name of this blog to Middle Aged Eos Lady.)

There are probably about a gazillion web pages, message boards and blog posts out there with tips and hacks for getting through the bowel prep. I feel like I read them all. Here’s the advice I’d add.

1. Treat yourself to all the treats

I’ll admit it. Fear of prep turned me into one big baby. So, I indulged in everything I could reasonably think of just to get through. Permission to use this nice expansive list of permitted foods from Kaiser Permanente rather than the restrictive list I was given that had almost nothing on it I could actually eat? Check. Beg Mr. Eos to make me homemade chicken soup that he usually only makes at Passover? Check. Coconut milk ice cream that I’ve been trying to eat less of? Check. Pudding? Two flavors.

I got those wet wipes and the tube of diaper balm that everyone advises, figuring I could always return them if I didn’t open them. (Spoiler: I opened them.)

And then I headed to the local Barnes & Noble and walked out with an armful of magazines and one big ol’ book of KenKen puzzles. Ready.

2. Find your groove

A very kind co-worker told me that she found the GoLitely prep “tasted like bad off-brand Sprite.” The thought calmed me for a day or so, but in the end, even chilled, even through a straw, the stuff only tasted Sprite-ish to me if you figured that they also melted down the can and poured it into the mix. Blech. (Apparently, I am not the only one to hear “Polyethylene glycol” and be reminded immediately of antifreeze.)

For the record, here is what worked for me: I chugged as much as I could through a bendy straw (one of the treats). Then stuck a lemon wedge in my mouth, then took a gulp of ginger ale, then sucked on a butterscotch LifeSaver. Why this combo? No idea, but I got through most of the split prep and didn’t really start gagging on it until midway through day two. Reader, I survived. Somehow.


The instructions I received said the laxative would likely take effect in anywhere from a few minutes to three hours. Having lived 50+ years with what has delicately been described as a “sensitive tummy,” I stationed myself in the bathroom, expecting that the first 8 or 16 ounces would do the trick.

Ha! The stuff didn’t kick in for nearly two-and-a-half hours! And then it worked, And worked and worked. And worked.

Given this experience on day one, I decided to begin the second-day prep an hour earlier than recommended. Nothing like melted aluminum can taste first thing in the morning, but this turned out to be the right choice.

4. Peristalsis. It’s real.

After the first evening, when the poop finally ran nice and clear, I thought I was in the home stretch. Imagine my dismay when I hit the bathroom in the morning only to find, once again, a big brown cloud in the bowl. Don’t be discouraged. If this is you, just chug and chug some more. Everything cleared out for good for me about about two hours before the scheduled procedure time. And the post-procedure report called the quality of the prep “excellent.” Not that I’m competitive or anything.

5. The day after

Scope day was actually a double header for me: colonoscopy AND upper GI endoscopy. Lucky me.

EGDs usually leave me feeling miserable and with an achy chest the next day. Last time I had one, I swore that I would ALWAYS take the following day off work. Turns out, I didn’t feel too awful. But I’m still glad to have been at home, because my tummy was still flip-flopping a bit, and when it wasn’t, I slept and slept and slept some more. A three-nap day, in all. Also, Mr. Eos made some matzoh balls to go with the leftover soup…

I am still trying to figure out how I bit the inside of both my top and bottom lips during the scope, and also whether the very, very sore throat I had for two days was due to the scope or to the propofol, which doesn’t seem unheard of, but now has me wondering about the propofol. To investigate another day.

All in all, it was necessary, I did it, and now I am cleared for the next ten years. I’ve been told that nothing will make the next ten years fly by like fixating on 2029….

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1-2-3 Pie

It’s been too long. WAY too long. And while that’s not so great for a blog, it does at least mean that there hasn’t been a heck of a lot, eos-wise, to write about. No news, good news. (Not counting that little swallowing glitch that showed up–no joke–the day after my annual check-in appointment with Dr. Eos two weeks ago. Go away, swallowing glitch.)

I’ve been busy getting older. While trying to recommit to an exercise program at the beginning of the year, I pulled a tendon in my right inner thigh, then developed tendonitis in my left inner thigh while compensating for the injury on the right, and then pulled a hamstring muscle while doing my PT exercises. Personally, I’m finding late middle age to be a lot less interesting than eosinophils, and far more depressing.

I’ve been volunteering, working, momming, and, getting a lot more comfortable with the whole wheat-free dairy-free cooking/baking business.

In fact, I’m coming out of retirement to commemorate this weekend’s pie–the first I’ve made that looked only a little like a wreck. The recipe is my tried and true crust from Cybele Pascal.  The filling was the “improved” strawberry rhubarb from Smitten Kitchen. The result lasted 24 hours in a household of three. It would not have lasted even that long had I consumed my day-two slice at breakfast, like Mr. Eos and Boy Scientist, instead of tucking it away for dessert.

It’s National Eosinophil Awareness Week. Here’s looking at you. Here’s looking at all of us.


Don’t you like the berries on top?


Going. It looks a little like an angry face, doesn’t it?


Gone. Is it ok to lick the pie plate?


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Summer’s End

Boy Scientist doesn’t head back to school for a week and a half yet. The calendar gives us more than a month until it’s officially fall.

But the farmers’ market does not lie. As the boy and I walked around yesterday, we could see all the signs of waning summer. Tomatoes were still in profusion, and peppers, too. But zucchini are already in short supply, and we haven’t seen greens in weeks. When the lettuce and kale make their re-appearance, we’ll know that the fall crop is in.

Blueberries have vanished, the first pears are here, and the peach vendor said that this was probably their last market of the season.

Today was ninety degrees in the North Carolina Piedmont, but that didn’t keep me out of the kitchen, wringing the last bits of sweet summer sunshine from the fruits and veggies that were our haul, and the basil that’s been threatening to overtake the garden.

We started with the tried and true: roasted tomato basil soup from Chloe’s Kitchen. I always feel like I’m getting away with something here because I buy up the tomatoes that the farmers label “ugly ducklings” or “cosmetically challenged” or “salsa tomatoes.” They’re about half the price, and once they are roasted and blended, no one is the wiser!

SoupThe main course was a huge salad–grilled steak courtesy of Mr. Eos; potatoes, beans, and   corn courtesy of local growers; cheese-less pesto courtesy of the overgrown garden basil.

DinnerAnd dessert? Ah, dessert. Those end-of-season peaches (seconds, like the tomatoes), all just  HAD to jump into a bourbon-peach cobbler, total winner of a recipe from Cybele Pascal’s Allergen-free Baker’s Handbook. Forget every sloppy, gloppy gluten-free cobbler you’ve ever had. Buy the book and make this one. Now. Even for the non-allergic with whom you eat. They’ll thank you and beg you, tears in their eyes and a hint of desperation in their voice, to make it again.


Cobbler2Yum. And that last teeny-tiny bit? We call that breakfast!

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Oh, Toronto!

Several weeks home now from a business trip to Toronto, but I’d been remiss if I didn’t flag it as a great town for my way of eating.

The catered events for my conference were kind of a mess, ranging from virtually-nothing-to-eat to blech. But the time on my own? Wheat-free, dairy-free abundance!

crownieBreakfast on the road is usually a bust–maybe some fruit or some coffee. Imagine my joy on my very first sojourn to the coffee shop around the corner to discover a stash of Crownies. Who says you can’t have brownies for breakfast when they’re wheat-free and dairy-free?

That night, a friend who was a local introduced me to Fresh, which bills itself as “Toronto’s original source for modern vegetarian food and made-to-order juice.” Sometimes eating out is all about food that’s completely different from what you’d make at home. But sometimes it’s a pleasure to have food that’s almost exactly what you’d make. Fresh’s carrot ginger soup and generous salad would have been entirely at home in MY home. Thank you, Fresh.

At the other end of dining was Grasslands. It was not at all what I’d normally make at home, but a completely VEGAN restaurant–a vegan restaurant full of gluten-free options, no less–made my cup runneth over.  (Well, it would have, had I allowed a single drop of my pomegranate soda to runneth over.) I would fly back to Toronto in an instant if it meant I could have another helping of wheat-free chocolate bundt cake with warm fudge sauce.

My one regret? No pictures–I was far too busy eating! Hats off to you, Toronto.

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The Best Scope

Surprise! Fallout from an unfortunate I.V.

Surprise! Fallout from an unfortunate I.V.

I was expecting to hear from Dr. Eos today with the results of last week’s scope. But when he did call, I wasn’t at all expecting the news.

Clean, clean, clean. Or close enough to clean, anyway. Just a few errant eos hanging around in my stomach where, for all intents and purposes, they are allowed to be.

I’m still in a state of disbelief. Shocked. Floored. Astounded, really. At one point, I considered asking if maybe, just maybe, he was looking at somebody else’s labs. Only a couple of years ago, as Mr. Eos pointed out, it was “SRO”–Standing Room Only–in my digestive tract.

It’s a little confusing because I haven’t been doing anything different, and it’s also not exactly like I feel 100% wonderful. There’s still some nausea that comes and goes. Still an occasional pain across my ribs when I swallow. I don’t fool myself that I’m cured and, honestly, last week’s scope  arose from my feeling rotten at the time of my last clinic appointment in November. (Yes, November. Scheduling this one has been a bit of a nightmare.) It all can change in an awfully short time.

I do find myself wondering if the last eighteen months of so of allergy shots have had anything to do with the improvement. So, maybe that is something different. Alas, there will never be any way to know.

For now, carpe diem and gather my rosebuds. Maybe I should go eat a pizza to celebrate? Yeah, maybe not.

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Lessons Learned: Managing the Scope

Yesterday was endoscopy day. Those of you reading this as kindred spirits, blessed with eosinophilic or other GI issues, probably have a pretty good idea of what that means.

Surprisingly, it’s been nearly two years since the last scope, which took place following the spectacularly ineffective massively allergen-free diet.

Same old drill, but it struck me that I’ve finally (finally!) learned a few things about coping as a grown-up with the upper GI endoscopy experience. To wit:

Take the next day off – For each scope over the last few years, I’ve pushed myself to return to work the next day because that’s what the instructions say to expect. And each of those times, I’ve sat starting at my computer, willing myself to swallow and just wanting to be home. This time, I arranged an additional sick day ahead of time. Even though the discomfort has been quite mild, the 2-hour early afternoon nap was confirmation for me of the right decision.

(The corollary here was going to be: Don’t fear the pain meds. I’ve always been reluctant to take the prescribed painkillers, and was actually all set to slug some down today. Turns out that today’s pain has just not been that bad. So, the point is valid, I think, but not one that I can speak to from experience.)

Clear a path to the bed – At this point, I know that all I’m going to want to do when I get home is crawl into bed, and that I’m going to be pretty foggy when I reach it. Before heading off to the clinic, I turned back the cover and laid out my pj’s for easy access. I don’t remember much about getting into bed, but I was under the covers and in my jammies when I awoke. Success.

Stock up on soft goodness – What do you eat when swallowing hurts? Stock the fridge before the scope so you won’t have to send spouse or some other kind soul on an emergency run for pudding (THIS), applesauce, ginger ale (to rehydrate after that long NPO order), or whatever else brings you comfort.

Dread the gargle – I’ve pretty much stopped stressing about the scope procedure, but the anesthetic gargle ahead of time is the pits. It’s what made me almost want to call the whole thing off. It’s the last vivid memory you get before they knock you out and it makes me gag every time. If anyone out there is into biomedical invention: Please, please, please make a better gargle. Please.

We’re infinitely interesting – EOE is getting to be a lot more common; other EGIDS are relatively rare. Either way, we still generate a lot of interest. During just this single scope, I got to take part in two different research projects with, as far as I can tell, multiple parts for each. It meant consenting to some additional biopsy samples, giving some extra blood, and filling out a couple of questionnaires. At one point, what with the research assistants, the nurses, my gastroenterologist,  and the anesthesiologist, there was a line of people outside the prep cubicle. No kidding. But, really, if you’re asked to do so, there’s so much we need to know about these diseases. If I’m stuck with it, I’m sure going to help.

And how did everything look? Pretty much as I would have predicted based on symptoms: a little narrowing, a little irritation, but nothing too alarming. Biopsy results due back in a week or so. Good times!


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Nuts for Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Hamantaschen


Yum! Hamantaschen.

To be honest, of all holiday food, hamantaschen have not been leaving a huge void in my life. These are the three-cornered cookies that are a tradition at Purim. Their name and shape recall the three-cornered hat of the villainous Haman, who plotted to kill the Jews of Sushan.

Hamantaschen were never a tradition in our family, though it wasn’t hard to develop a fondness for the delicate, buttery triangles that Mr. Eos brought to the marriage. So much for that!

It’s not exactly that I’ve been craving hamantaschen, but with Purim around the corner, I’ve been finding it hard to resist a challenge. Gluten-free, dairy-free hamantaschen it is!

All thanks, then, to Gluten-Free Nosh for this gluten-free hamantaschen recipe that I doctored just a bit for a treat that was totally a slightly cake-y, non-delicate, non-buttery hit with Mr. Eos and Boy Scientist.

I’m not a fan of orange in my pastry, so I decided to turn the basic dough into one with an almond flavor. Here’s how:

  • I omitted the orange rind entirely.
  • For orange juice, I subbed in rice milk, and also added a teaspoon of almond extract along with the vanilla.
  • I omitted the sorghum and sweet rice flour and instead used a cup of almond flour. Since almond flour is quite a bit lighter, I had a generous hand with it and also added some additional potato starch to make up the weight.

It’s a strangely sticky dough that most definitely needed the overnight in the fridge and required working in small batches. It also took more like 20 or 25 minutes for the cookie edges to brown.

This batch was aesthetically challenged (a little less jam next time, and a little more care with the pinching), but I don’t think any will go to waste. Next year, I may even consider the hamantaschen bake-off at our synagogue. The boys tell me a little practice between now and then is fine with them. Purim sameach!

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Call me a curmudgeon, but I haven’t been wild about the  whole “Thanksgivukkah” hoopla this year. Sure, it’s an odd coincidence—a once in hundreds-of-lifetimes coincidence, even. But to me, it’s emphasized all the wrong things.

One reason I love Thanksgiving is that it’s religion-neutral. Yes, it’s a made-up holiday celebrating a made-up history (at the expense of a real, bloody, and horrific one, at that). But for most of us, it’s about food and family and reflecting on what we’re truly grateful for. Apart from Independence Day, it’s probably as close to a shared national experience as you can get. Attaching it to Hanukkah for some of us but not others just feels wrong.

Meanwhile, we’ve worked hard in our house to play down Hanukkah. We give a few small gifts, fry some latkes, light our candles. It’s a minor holiday, and the insistence on elevating it to “Jewish Christmas” has always bugged me. Let Hanukkah be Hanukkah, I say. Not Jewish Christmas. And not Thanksgivukkah, which gives the idea all over again that this is the leading celebration of the Jewish year.

There. Rant over. Feeling grumpy didn’t prevent me from making this almond cake yesterday for a Hanukkah potluck with friends. It’s turned into one of my favorite wheat-free, dairy-free confections. With a little powdered sugar, it was a Hanucake.


The cake really has nothing to do with Hanukkah. Food historian and cookbook goddess Claudia Roden, whose recipe I used, even speculates that its origins may lie in the wheat-free, leavening-free traditions of Passover.

I used Roden’s recipe with a few tweaks, having learned that this is a forgiving cake, as long as you get those egg whites beaten.

Citrus-flavored pastry has never been a favorite, so I omitted the orange and lemon zests and instead added about a half-teaspoon of cinnamon and a shake of ground cardamom. (Note to self: A bit more next time.)

I also mixed some hazelnuts left from Thanksgiving in with the almonds. And I upped the nuts from 1/2 to nearly 3/4 of a pound. Getting the nuts sufficiently ground without turning them into nut butter is still a challenge, but that didn’t stop folks from devouring the whole business. Yum.

Whatever you ate, however you celebrate, I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely and your Hanukkah full of light.

P.S. – Remember last year’s rather lumpy Thanksgiving apple pie?  This year’s was an improvement, even though the dough and I still duked it out mano a mano. Using Authentic Foods superfine rice flour is a game-changer though. Not a hint of grit. Win!


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Thank Heaven for High-Heat Egg

“High-heat egg” is a term I learned from my allergist. It’s the term that I sought for years, without knowing it actually existed, to describe my relationship with eggs. Raw or stovetop-cooked, and I’m toast, with violent cramps and vomiting that are akin to food poisoning. Throw those eggs into a baked good, however–a really well-baked good–and I’m just dandy.

Low- and no-heat eggs are why I carry an Epi-Pen. High-heat eggs are why I finally decided to dust off my foresaken quiche pan tonight and try something new.

When I lived in France (some quarter-century ago now!), I was introduced to “la tarte,” and I couldn’t get enough. Tarte aux poireaux, tart aux oingons, tarte aux asperges. Plus, tarte aux pommes, tarte Tatin, tarte aux pêches, aux poires, aux cerises. The whole shebang. Miam-miam. When I came home, I threw a beautiful ceramic tart pan into my luggage, along with the secrets of making a good pâte brisée crust, and this staple of French home-cooking became a staple in my home, too.

Of course, the tartes—and all of their dairy-ful, wheat-ful friends—were also slowly eating away at my insides. So, when the cheese and milk had to go, I pushed the pan to the back of my cabinets. Losing wheat a year ago sealed the deal.

It’s just that, even with the Massively Allergen-Free diet a year behind me, I still get so bored of my food. I miss crusts. I miss creamy things. It was definitely time to experiment.

For a crust, I borrowed this nice almond-flour version from over at Meaningful Eats, and cooked according to the directions there.

For the filling, I sauteed onion, mushroom, and a bag of frozen spinach. Then covered with a custard similar to Johanna’s over on her blog, but with a good grind of fresh nutmeg, and without the Daiya cheese (which I just can’t get into). Bake the heck out of it, and it wasn’t quiche, exactly, but it was the closest thing that I’ve had in a long, long time.

quicheNext time, I’m adding a bit of nutritional yeast, and I may poke around for a more pie-like crust. Still, there will definitely be a next time, which feels like a pretty big deal, in and of itself.

We rounded off dinner with the amazing tomato-basil soup (served chilled) from Chloe’s Kitchen, a lovely fresh salad, and a tasty glass of prosecco for the grown-ups. Isn’t summer fun?


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It Worked! Passover Broccoli Kugel

The Eos family is usually pretty lax when it comes to Passover. After a couple of days without chometz, we generally agree that we get the idea and throw in the towel well before the requisite eight days without bread and other leavened foods are up.

This year, with Boy Scientist determined to avoid at least bread (and pasta, cake, cookies, pastry) until the bitter end, Mr. Eos and I don’t feel like we have much choice but to join him on the journey. Considering that I was able to turn up only a single box of gluten-free matzo in the area, Tuesday evening can’t come soon enough for me.

I’m not usually much of a matzo fan to start with. My mom and Boy Scientist can eat it by the boxful, but even in its original wheatful version, it has always struck me as truly the bread of affliction.

Matzo meal, on the other hand, is the stuff of miracles. It’s the basis of matzo balls for the chicken soup. Mr. Eos whips up a magnificent sponge cake with little more than matzo cake meal, potato starch, sugar, and eggs. Crushed matzo turns into matzo farfel—sort of like a stuffing, sautéed up with lots of onions and veggies.

For this year’s Seder I had to get a little creative. Paula Shoyer’s The Kosher Baker was the source of a magnificent matzo-less chocolate almond cake that left even the wheat-eaters agape. It’s definitely making a return appearance as soon as we all recover from the decadence.

And in the place of matzo farfel, I gave this recipe for cauliflower kugel a whirl. So yummy was it, that on Friday I gave it another whirl, this time with broccoli and a few adjustments. It turned out to be equally good, if not better.

Photograph of broccoli kugel

Passover broccoli kugel. The nubby things are the mushrooms.

Passover Broccoli Kugel

4 cups broccoli florets and thin stalks, chopped (see note)
1 cup chopped shallots (I used shallots–about 6 medium–because that’s what was on hand; a small-to-medium yellow or red onion would also work just fine)
8 oz. mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
1 board gluten-free matzo, pulverized with a rolling pin (I used Yehuda brand; crushed, it came to about ¼ cup)
¼ cup potato starch
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Boil the broccoli in lightly salted water until it’s tender. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
  3. While the broccoli does its thing, sauté the shallots or onions in a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat. Once the onion is soft, salt it lightly, add the mushrooms, and turn the heat to medium-high or so. Cook, stirring the mushrooms around from time to time, until they are soft.
  4. In a food processor, blend the broccoli, crushed matzo, potato starch, egg, salt, and pepper until mostly smooth but not pureed. You want some good chunks to remain.
  5. Oil a small baking dish and pour in the broccoli mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
  6. Let stand for a few minutes, then devour.


This would probably be fine as a side for four. We had it as a main dish and it was a bit skimpy for three. It could definitely stand another couple of cups of broccoli. Regardless, next time, I’m doubling for sure!

For the pan, my Corningware says it’s 1.8 liters. I’m guessing a 9” square pan would be more than fine, too.

Because undercooked eggs make me so sick, I tend to overbake anything with eggs to get that “high heat” effect. Something like 30-35 minutes will probably be adequate if eggs are not an issue for you.

Outside of Passover, I’d be tempted to try this with a good shake of nutritional yeast for a hint of cheesiness.

How about you? Do you have a favorite allergy-friendly Passover yummy to share? I’d love to know about it!

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