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    I've lived in Texas the vast majority of my life and I'm proud to call it my home. Unfortunately, I didn't ride horses to school growing up and I've never lived on a ranch; but if you want to go out line dancing, then call me up, because I'm down! Growing up, I never considered myself popular, but a solid majority of people knew me. I distinctly remember twisting my ankle really bad one time because I had landed wrong while jumping out of a tree; my parents sent me to school the next day with a walker (yes, like an old person) and an ankle brace. There were kids calling me by name in the hallway, wanting to know what happened and if I was okay, that I was pretty sure I had never had a conversation with previously. It was in that moment that I decided to become more aware of the other kids around me and how I was connected to them by mutual friends. It was that same year in Elementary school that I had started learning about the different halves of the brain and how once children reach a certain age, they tend to be more right or left-brained. I decided that that wasn't going to be good enough for me. As it was, I was doing well in all subjects, I understood and enjoyed them all. So, I decided to see if I could continue challenging both sides of my brain in order to stay balanced. Honestly, I'm not really sure if it worked or not, but I am fairly well rounded to this day regardless. Needless to say, I've always been a bit of a nerd, and rather proud of it. However, even though I could spend countless hours sitting in a tree with a good book, I also enjoy my fair share of adventures with my friends. Now that I'm older, some of my favorite things to do are try new restaurants, travel to new places, go on road trips with friends or family, teach ESL to kids in China, and experiment with new recipes.

As I previously mentioned, I grew up in Texas. For many, this means, that your father's idea of a "healthy" meal includes meat, potatoes, mac'n'cheese (heavy on the cheese), and, if mom insists, a vegetable (i.e. buttered carrots, buttered green beans with bacon bits, or buttered corn). While mom may have eaten many salads prior to marrying, she was well informed that this was "not food". I didn't know any better, and let's be real, I'm pretty sure I would have happily eaten mac'n'cheese for every meal, no questions asked. 

    Then one thing led to another, my mom started doing research and talking to new doctors, and we all ended up learning about different allergies that we didn't know we had. Apparently, it was normal for people to be able to breath through their noses... who knew? It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I found out that I had Celiac disease. At first, I didn't take it too seriously. I thought the doctor was crazy. "Let me get this straight, you want me to stop eating bread? Stop eating noodles? No more Kraft mac'n'cheese?? What am I supposed to eat then??" I would say in utter disbelief. It was about a month or so before I finally woke up one day and said, "Okay, this is it. Today is the day. I'm going to be gluten free." That was easily one of the best things that I have done for myself and my health. I quickly started learning about sorts of other foods that were available to me and how to make some of my favorite things gluten free. Lots of people will say, "I don't know how you do it! I could never be gluten free." and it's actually not bad at all. I'm actually much healthier, happier and have discovered a whole new world of different foods that I had no idea existed growing up as a kid. We never had curry, hummus, or anywhere near the abundance of different types of fruits and vegetables that I have encountered since. Celiac disease helped me become the true foodie that I am today and looking back, I only wish I had known sooner. Now one of my favorite things is traveling and trying new gluten free restaurants. It's a little ridiculous actually how excited I get when I find a new restaurant that is Celiac friendly. It's even better when I find one that is so good, even my non-gluten free friends want to go eat there with or without me! Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and it may appear to be heading straight for your face. Luckily, most of the curve balls I have encountered thus far have only been metaphorical and I have had time to catch them, and not with my face. ;-)

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