A Silly Yak, and other animals people think I am.

Apparently, I am a silly yak. Oh wait, and I have diabeetus? Is that some kind of bug? I’m sorry, but it’s actually beyond my comprehension how people just cannot seem to get it straight. It’s like, no I don’t have celiacs- there aren’t multiple? You know you’re S.O.L. if a doctor comes into your appointment and starts reading the grocery list, as I so lovingly referred to it in a previous post, looks you in the face and asks, “How well is your celiacs managed? You been feeling alright?” Nah, I actually casually prefer the momentary satisfaction of an Oreo over the upright-edness of my villi of my small intestine. Yup, loving me some intestinal wall holes.

I want to give a little insight into my food allergen riddled life. I was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 5, one year after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And if it isn’t clear already, my intestines are actually guarded like an army guards international borders—not a single gluten molecule gets through there without being, quite literally, attacked. As time wore on, I determined that I am the proud owner of the weakest digestive tract on the planet—developing intolerances to straight milk [like cereal pouring/coffee altering—to which I am opposed anyhow. Coffee is meant to be bold and black.] by around age 10, peanuts around age 16, soy and shellfish at age 18, and the random smattering of “Oh, those make my tummy hurt, but no actually my intestines are spasming, where is the Nulev *frantically riffles through medicine box under counter and audibly sighs relief upon finding the stomach relaxant*?” foods including carrots, popcorn, and anything gummy.

What’s that? You “could never do that?” Funny, I think I’ve heard that one somewhere.

Below, there’s a photo of me and my sister, who is literally my rock, at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Benefit last year, enjoying a ballroom filled with celiac and non-celiac individuals and 30+ gluten free restaurants from around the Chicagoland area. Mind you, my family has been attending these events since 15 years ago when we had one long table at Wildfire Restaurant and the most exciting research news was that someone was researching celiac disease at all.  Over the last few years, I’ve even been able to make my dent on the research, working with Dr. Bana Jabri in her lab [multiple important links below] and helping the University of Chicago obtain their first celiac disease mouse model.

Through the ups and downs of a diabetic-celiac existence, there has been no one as important or special to me as my sister. A junior in high school herself, she still finds the time in her busy schedule to find me, in my busy schedule, to be sure I’m alright. She’s been retrieving juice for lows since she was old enough to do the stairs, and sharing every crumbly piece of nasty gluten free bread ever discovered until we finally found one that was edible. As I mentioned in a previous post, there’s something unique in finding someone who shares your problems, but I am blessed to have someone who has none of them but nonetheless brings me the same comfort, happiness, acceptance, and strength. This blog post is in honor of my sister, the person who has, in her own way, made me the person I am today. Below is also a link to a great recipe for gluten free fruit tarts—her favorite.

As Woodie Guthrie says, “Take it easy, but take it.”



Brianna and Ellory at Spring Flours 2013– University of Chicago’s Annual Celiac Disease Benefit

University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center:

University of Chicago CDC Website

Fruit Tart from Gluten- Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America, 2008

Yield: Six 4 1/2″ tarts

One half recipe (7 oz.)        1-2-3 Cookie Dough*

1 1/4 cups (11.7 oz.)          Pastry Cream**

16 oz. (1lb.) (as needed)     Fresh Fruit, sliced

1/4 cup (2 oz.)                     Water

1/4 cup (2 oz.).                    Sugar

1/4 cup                                Apricot jam

1/4 cup (1.25 oz.)                Almonds, sliced, toasted

Preheat oven to 350* Roll out dough to 1/8 ” thick, place in greased tart pan, and dock. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool. Fill shell with pastry cream. Top with sliced fruit. Heat water, sugar, and jam together in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and jam is liquid. Bring to a boil, then simmer before brushing over fruit. Top edges with crushed toasted almonds.

*1-2-3 Cookie Dough (**I use GF All Purpose Flour instead!**)

Cut 1/2 cup (4 oz.) old butter into cubes. In a bowl combine, 1/4 cup (2 oz.) sugar, 1 1/4 cups Flour Blend #2 (1 3/4 cups white rice flour, 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour, 3/4 cup potato starch, 1cup tapioca starch. Total 4 3/4 cups), 1 egg room temperature. Mix with butter by hand or with paddle until thoroughly combined. Wrap dough in plastic or waxed paper. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Can be held in fridge for two weeks or frozen up to two months.

**Pastry Cream

Whisk together 3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and 5 tablespoons cornstarch in a medium bowl. Set aside. Combine 1 1/2  cups milk and 1/4 cup sugar in saucepan and bring to boil over moderate heat. Add 1/4 of heated milk mixture to the egg mixture, adding it in four parts and whisking constantly to combine. Add the egg-milk mixture to the remaining simmering milk mixture in the saucepan on the stove all at once; continue whisking until it comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour the pastry cream into a wide shallow pan and cover surface with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface of the cream to prevent the formation of a skin. Allow pastry cream to cool completely in the refrigerator before using as a filling for pastries. Stir or whisk cooled cream before using.


The girl behind A Different Survival Guide. Known on social as breezygfreezy.

  • Emory

    I am completely excited that I can find a blog or even a person that has the troubles that I face everyday. I, however, do not have the same conditions as you do. I am allergic to gluten, but have not been tested for celiac and my husband is a type 1 diabetic who is pump dependent. It is often hard to deal with both of our mood swings at the same time, his highs and my gluten head aches. You are my new book to read and you have recipes also! Thank You.

    • briwolin

      Hi there Emory! I am so thrilled you're enjoying exploring my blog, and that it's relatable to both you and your husband. I definitely realize that there's a complete lack of attention to the basic life existence of diabetic/celiacs and any other combination, and hope I'm providing some much needed empathy! I can't wait to keep writing for you and please, keep commenting and let me know what you, or your husband, would like to hear about. Feel free to share my blog around, and you can subscribe to get an email anytime I post! -Brianna

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