Weekend Inspiration: Melissa Bess Reed, CMA, Gluten Free

I *met* Melissa in 2014 on Twitter shortly after finding out that I had the genetic marker for Celiac Disease.  Melissa, diagnosed with Celiac in 1998, was my first role model for this new path and a new way to eat.  Her book, Gluten Free Lifestyle Series: Silly Yaks Favorite Recipes, helped me, and my family, eat healthier and in a manner that would not make me sick.

For the first post of this new weekly feature of closing out the week with an inspirational story, I just knew this inaugural article needed to feature Melissa.  She took me under her proverbial wing and shared tips and tricks on how to stop yourself from eating the wrong things.  Being armed with foods you can eat safely is the key.  Cooking at home, or from trusted sources, is a must.

At that moment in time, my main meals were the issue.  What could I eat that did not contain wheat, or any of its by-products?!?  And my prowess as a resourceful baker?  Out the window!  Who could make a light fluffy cake with a tender crumb and a buttery taste when I couldn’t use whole wheat flour?  Or, the lighter refined cake flour?

Enter Silly Yaks Favorite Recipes.  The first thing I made was the Chili Relleno Bake.  I really enjoyed them!  It was a new taste for me.  I was never a fan of chilies and cheese but this was yummy!  Next, I made Grammies Easy Jambalaya.  The whole family enjoyed this dish!! (Read about it here.)

I even live-tweeted while I was making the Jambalaya.  It was a lot of fun!  Taking pictures as I was putting it all together.  Asking questions as I went along and getting great feedback and advice during the process.  And Melissa?  She was there for the whole thing.  She supported my growth and budding enthusiasm.  She shared her knowledge without hesitation.


I even shared my blood test results with her and Melissa felt the results pointed more to an autoimmune issue rather than an allergy/intolerance/sensitivity to gluten.  That was in 2014.  Fast forward to 2017.  I was diagnosed with an autoimmune blistering disease.

Melissa was spot in.  She tirelessly studies and keeps abreast of new findings in regards to autoimmune conditions and how what we eat can help help our bodies.  As I mentioned earlier, Melissa was diagnosed in 1998 with Celiac Disease and then in 2012, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroiditis.  Both of these autoimmune conditions medically require a gluten free diet.  Melissa did not want to be a victim so she taught herself so she could share her knowledge with others to help them ease their way into this new eating lifestyle.

Silly Yaks Favorite Recipes

So, if you have any gluten issues, I would strongly suggest you check out Melissa’s cookbook and her blog.  She posts about new gluten free recipes, great food pairings, and sustainable living.

By having Melissa as a part of my life, I was able to grow past some pretty daunting food challenges and come out on the other side with a satisfied tummy that did not rumble in distress hours later.

From the East Coast to the sunny West Coast, I say a heartfelt, Thank you!, to my inspiration — Melissa Bess Reed.

Check out Melissa’s blog here.

Find Melissa on Twitter: @MelissaBessReed



Finding Balance in Dis-ease

Dear Friends,

In the past four weeks, you may have noticed that I have virtually disappeared from the social media world.  This is because I had a very sudden onset of skin eruptions.  On Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune blistering disease; my immune system is attacking healthy skin cells.

As you can imagine, there are all types of day-to-day life decisions I now have to make, and new ways of functioning to consider and implement.  Why?  Because unfortunately, since skin is the largest organ of our bodies, it’s difficult to conceal all of the expressions of this condition especially in summer attire.  I have to wear long sleeves and long flowing skirts/full pants in order for my clothing not to irritate my skin.

I have to pad my desk edges, the seat edge of my office chair with soft material so that the regular everyday banging, rubbing, and friction our skin is used to dealing with, does not irritate and break out my new, more fragile skin, blisters.

I stopped counting the large blisters (aka: bullas) after the first eight big ones.  These 8 all formed within the 1st 2 weeks of this condition’s onset.  This included the biggest, a lightbulb-sized one on the side of my left arm at the tail-end of week 1.)

I have been to the dermatologist’s office, and the ER more times in the last month than I have been in the last 15 years.

This blistering disease is rare and most GP and ER doctors have only heard about it via textbooks, or a seminar, or two, while in med school.  Thus, making it difficult for them to help me deal with the day-to-day issues of the condition.  The main problem is the intense itch; it drives me to distraction.  In the last several weeks, I have figured out that movement greatly helps alleviate the desire to itch.  So, I move around a lot while working!

The medication prescribed will take 4 – 6 weeks to take effect.  So, in the interim, I’m still experiencing the effects of the blistering condition.

Please know that this condition is in no way contagious!  It’s not even genetic.  It is a condition that sometimes has no specific cause, or trigger.

Here’s more information if you wish to read about it: https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/autoimmune-blistering-diseases/.

There are three pictures posted below.  But, my friends, it’s not a pretty-looking thing especially when the bollas burst and they begin to draw, pull and crust over.  It’s especially not fun when more bollas form around the original site of the initial bollas!  The two pictures are of my right arm on May 12th, 2017.  The one on the left is at 12:12 am EDT.  The one on the right is at 7:39 am EDT.  The picture beneath them is what my arm looks like today — a week later.

In the days and weeks to come, I will be venturing back into the fray as my energies get stronger (and as the medicine kicks in!).  But, until that time, I will post infrequently.

righ arm jewels today_5 18 2017

Today, 5/18/17 – one week later

Okay, it’s time for me to wrap up.  I suppose there should be wise words.  Some epiphany, or enlightenment.  Not sure I’m there yet.  Give me a few more weeks.

However, know that I am at peace.  I am as comfortable as is currently possible.  And, that each day, I know my body is healing and is finding its way back to balance.

Here’s to wishing you all a Happy Friday and a blessed weekend.