Monday, May 30, 2011

Delicious Dandelions

Dandelion Greens with Fennel, Green Apple, and Seaweed

I have many memories of dandelions from when I was a child.  Whether it was my mother cursing their prolific presence in the yard or my siblings and I picking the fluffy seedheads and delightfully blowing on them to release the little "paratroopers" (unwittingly contributing to my mother's agony), dandelions evoke a variety of emotions for me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


When I looked up "reclamation" in the dictionary, it gave me three definitions:

1. the conversion of desert, marsh, or other waste land into land suitable for cultivation
2. the recovery of useful substances from waste products
3. the act of reclaiming or state of being reclaimed

I believe all three are extremely relevant to the journey us canaries must make.  For a majority of us with either celiac disease or a severe gluten intolerance, overcoming the years (and in many cases, decades) of damage to our digestive systems is our biggest challenge.  Of course, negotiating a new way of eating and adopting a different lifestyle are difficult, but they are just the means to an end.

And thus, definition number 1

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Secret of Hummus's Hummus

Mediterranean cooking has always been one of my favorites.  Growing up in Michigan, if I was ever asked where I'd like to go out to eat, chances are it would involve hummus and falafel.  Luckily, between Dearborn, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Royal Oak, there was always a ton of authentic restaurants to choose from.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


In Tagalog, that means "Thank you."  

Whether you replied to the poll in the sidebar, tried out my sister's delicious spice cookie recipe, left a comment, or found yourself smiling at any time while reading The Canary Files, I extend my gratitude.

I can't tell you how proud I was to post my sister's recipe this past Monday.  And this coming Monday, I will be posting my recipe for hummus, an all-time favorite food for this canary.  Ideally, every Monday I would like to post a new recipe, whether that be one of my own or a recipe from one of you.  So if you have a recipe you'd like to share, please email it to me at:

I will gladly put it through the test kitchen and it just might appear on The Canary Files one Monday in the not so distant future.  Remember, this blog is not just about me, but about us, and how we can each help each other navigate the often challenging terrain of our "particular" lives.  And though our paths may seem disparate or even worlds apart, there will always be moments of convergence, synchrony, and recognition.

Moments we should savor and enjoy.  

Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend filled with love, laughter, and light. :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

If you weren't already aware, May is National Celiac Awareness Month (NCAM). And thanks to some wonderful organizations like the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF), and the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA), the media is brimming with information about both Celiac disease and gluten-free living.

Of course, living requires one to eat.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Did You Know.....

The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same.  Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. - Don Williams, Jr.

I have been doing a lot of searching, lately.  Having finally released "The Canary Files" from the confines of my cranium, it has inspired me to find others also writing about their diet and its "particularities."  Of course, I know I'm not reinventing the wheel, but when it comes to my voice and my experiences, I can safely say those "twists and turns" are mine alone.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sis' Special Spice Cookies

Jessica's GFDF Spice Cookies

In making any transition in life, whether it be related to lifestyle, work, relationships, relocation, etc., a good support network is essential.  These transitions are difficult, and no matter how independent or self-sufficient we think we are, there will always come a time when we need someone else to lean on.  In my opinion, that's exactly what these forks in the road are for:  to remind us that we're not alone.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Quid Pro Quo

Now that you know a little bit more about me, I've posted a poll on the sidebar so maybe I can learn a little more about you.

"How long have you been gluten-free (or gluten-freeish)?"

Of course, part of this blog is about me, but ideally, I'd like for this blog to be about us.  If you get the chance, please indulge my curiosity.  If it kills the cat, then it's good for the canary, right?

For those of you who are not gluten free, I tried to add a "N/A" button, but it wouldn't let me. Alas...

And FYI, I will soon be posting the very first recipe on The Canary Files!
Stay tuned....

Love and light to all of you. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

You vs. the Grocery Store

From experience, I know that grocery shopping can be one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to transitioning to a gluten-free or dairy-free diet.  The grocery store you knew so well suddenly turns into a terrifying labryinth of hidden allergens, self-doubt, temptation, and what can feel like endless reading of ingredients, allergen warnings, and nutrition facts. 

Now at one time, I was the guy who would go to the grocery store once or twice a month, loading up an entire cart on each visit.  I have fond memories of being in college, the roommates and I piling into one car and making the pilgramage to Meijer's.  I would stock up on canned spaghetti, mac n' cheese, frozen chicken breasts, loaves of bread, and boxes of Hostess treats.  Real healthy, I know, and chock full of gluten and dairy to boot.  But of course, both my mind and body reflected that food and how instead of eating to nourish and enhance my wellbeing, I was eating in spite of it.  My food choices were more in pursuit of instant gratification, quick fixes, and a short-lived feeling of contentment before the cramping, migraines, and bloating would set in.  I was still oblivious to that connection just staring me in the face.

Hindsight 20/20, indeed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gravitation and Gratitude

Evening has just begun on what has been an amazing Mother's Day.  It started with waiting tables at The Steeping Room, and then directly to teaching Pilates in the early evening.  It was full of sunshine with just enough of a gentle breeze to balance the humidity, everyone seemed to be in high spirits (some after waiting over 90 minutes for a table), and the class I taught was full of sweat, laughter, and the type of energy you want to bottle up to save for a rainy day.

So, gravitation.  The word for the day.

It would make sense that having discovered gluten-free dining myself at The Steeping Room, there would be many other "canaries" who have found a place to "roost" there.  And it's true - we have a growing community, of both patrons and servers who are GF, DF, or both.  I remember during an evaluation with Emily, one of the bosses, that she was concerned that perhaps I was encouraging guests to modify their orders or make special, out-of-the-ordinary requests.  I assured her that that wasn't the case ( I already have a toaster) - I just tend to attract guests with particular dietary needs.  That's all.  <shrug>

The truth in that statement could not have been more evident than today, waiting tables on Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Definitions: Part 1

There may be some of you who might wondering, "What does he mean by 'canary'?  And why does he keep calling himself that?"  Given that most people have the association of a small, golden, usually captive, songbird, I figure an explanation is due.  Here we go.

Do you know how canaries were once used by coal miners?  Long story short, before coal mines had ventilation, coal miners used to keep a caged canary with them while they worked.  Canaries are particularly sensitive to dangerous gases like methane and carbon monoxide, so as long as the canary kept singing, the miners kept mining.  And if it died, immediate evacuation.  A short, but heroic life.

So fast forward to 2007, when I first started working at The Steeping Room.  One night, Amy March, one of the owners called me a "canary."  She might have left it at that, but the quizzical look on my face probably compelled her to elaborate.  "I'm a canary, too."  And with a little chuckle on her part, she disappeared into the kitchen.  Now even before I eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet, there was still a long list of things I would not eat based on allergies and preference. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


My name is Jonathan Guerrero Itchon.  During the last two years, it's been on my brain that I should write about my journey living a gluten-free (GF) and dairy free (DF) life.  I'm finally embarking on that journey, and while I'm beyond excited, I'm also relieved.  You know when you want to tell a story to everyone you meet, but there are too many words, not enough time, and you don't know where to begin?  That's how it's been for me, so eager to tell this story.

Now, I know where to begin.

I've been GF for nearly four years and DF for three, and the change it has brought to my life has been nothing short of amazing.  A complete turnaround, and that is not an exaggeration.  Many of you know what I mean.  And even though there is so much more information and awareness these days, there are many who still don't have access to it.  It might just be a matter of asking a few questions or doing a little research, but what if you don't even know what questions to ask or where to start?  Or are afraid of the answers?