The Verboten Crouton

Here is a real world dilemma for a celiac.  I know it is real because it happened to me last week!

One of my absolute favorite lunches is a chopped salad.  Several restaurants have chopped salad bars near me and, while the toppings amp up the calorie count, I love them.  It is great to climb out from my work cave and seek a healthy lunch with company.

salad ingredients

Last week I chose the leafy greens, garbanzo beans, beets, tomatoes and tofu for my chopped salad.  I watched all of these gluten-free ingredients go into the bowl and observed the “chef” with the mezzaluna chopping everything up to create a finely mixed salad.  The salad guy tossed it with a balsamic dressing and put it into my container.  As far as my watchful eye could see, I had a gluten-free lunch!

salad mezzaluna

I was thoroughly enjoying my lunch and conversation with my lunch buddy when I crunched down on something that had no business being in a gluten-free salad…a crouton.  I could tell immediately what it was and was so incredibly bummed.

salad crouton

What would you have done with a mouthful of crouton?  I should have spit it out into my napkin.  I was eating lunch with a friend, a really old, “knew-me-when” friend who watched me suffer difficult pregnancies and waste away during my sickest point…she would have understood.  It wasn’t a job interview and it wasn’t someone I was trying to impress.  I should have spit it out.

But I did not spit it out, I ate it.  In that “blink” decision, I calculated that I had probably already eaten the other half of the crouton or at least most of it since it was all chopped up in my salad.   I regretted it.  My intestinal track gurgled all afternoon and into the evening.

I consider myself fortunate that I do not get violently ill with accidental gluten, but I still did not feel well and that crouton damaged my intestine.   It just knocks you back a little bit when you are careful and watchful over food that is made outside of your control and it is not enough oversight.  All I can think of is that there was a crouton in my portion of mixed greens that I did not see as it was placed into the mixing bowl.

Would I have felt better if I had spit it out? Who knows how much gluten I had already eaten by the time I crunched down on the crouton.  Next time, I will make sure the greens are free from croutons prior to selecting other ingredients.  And if I ever crunch down on a verboten crouton again, I will spit out the mouthful into my napkin!

Kendall Egan


The Gurgles

My tummy music was like a freight train last night.  I do not know what I ate yesterday that caused the burbling and gurgling in my intestinal track yesterday, but my stomach put on quite the concert!

I ordered the “healthy greens” for a chopped salad yesterday and assumed it would be some dark greens, romaine lettuce and maybe a little spinach tossed in for good measure.  It was actually mostly kale and other really dark greens which are not my favorite thing uncooked.

I had already rattled off my add-ins so I just rolled with the greens already dumped into the bowl.  Nothing had gluten, so I was only concerned about the taste of those greens prompting my choice of dressing to be chipotle ranch and lots of it.  That did not contain any gluten either.

Dinner was prepared by me and totally gluten-free, so I know I did not get glutened over the course of the day.  I just think all those healthy greens popped and motored loudly as they wound their way through my small intestine.  Does a little extra fiber do that?

Any-hoo, I felt great and I feel great this morning but it is embarrassing when everyone in the room watching an NBA game can hear your stomach!

Kendall Egan