OK, so here is the situation I found myself in last night.  One I’m sure many will appreciate…

My lovely, wonderful boyfriend informs me that his friend from up the street is going to drop in.  I say, “When?”  I say this out loud (of course) but what really is going through my head is,  ”DROP IN?  Who DROPS IN?”  …Found out later that ‘dropping in’ is very big where my boyfriend comes from.  Lets just say where I come from we hid when then doorbell rang without further knowledge of the event.  But I digress.  My boyfriend answers, “In 5 minutes, she just wants to come by for a few minutes and drop something off for us for the holidays.”   (“WTF,” I’m thinking!!!!!!!) Why now, at 9pm, when I’m in sweats, exhausted from the day and have nothing to offer anyone.  (A very rare occurrence – usually there is something here that I’ve baked.  A cookie, a cake, a pie! SOMETHING!)  I look at him as if to say “WWWWHHHYYYYYYY!!!!!??????????????”  Instead I just get up and try to run in 5 different directions as my troop, Frankie Beans, watches my every move.  With one leg in my jeans I hear the bell ring.  Frankie looks at me as if to say, “Were we expecting someone?”  With my expression he sees the answer is, “NOOOOO!”  So he goes into his rendition of being a guard dog – barking, jumping and bringing all his toys to the door.  I hear my boyfriend already starting to open the door so I jump into my closet (since I don’t have a separate room in my place, it’s all just one big open space).  So I’m basically screwed and half naked at the moment.

I get it together (barely) and meet our guest now standing in my apartment.  A very lovely lady that is actually a business associate of my boyfriend that I don’t happen to know that well.  She offers my boyfriend a tin of fresh baked Christmas cookies and then turns to me to offer me something in an aluminum foil wrapper.  It all seams to go in slow motion at this point.  As this lovely women gives me an aluminum foil wrapped batch of cookies she made especially for me, “WITHOUT THE  GLUTEN.”  Yes that’s what she said, “WITHOUT THE GLUTEN!”  Now I know all my Celiac friends are gasping just as much as I did in that moment, but if you don’t understand the situation that has now been placed in my hands, let me explain.  I am a Celiac, a severe Celiac.  One that has MANY other allergies thanks to many years going undiagnosed.  For this reason cooking and baking for me is something of an impossibility.  So, hearing her tell me she baked without the gluten, just doesn’t seem like I would be safe with these treats (to say the least).

Before I can even say anything she says,  ”Try one. I worked all day trying to make cookies without gluten and I finally got it. I think. But I know you are the expert so please try and tell me what you think.”   I look at her with a blank smile.  Frankie Beans gets his nose under my hand and tries to sniff out what’s under the foil while my boyfriend starts to explain as to why I would have to be rude and not be able to taste them.  I apologize but she insists that she did it right.

Does she realize that if she made those cookies right next to or on the same cookie tray as she did the gluten filled ones that I would be ill?  Ill for up to a week sometimes for me.  What do I do?  I felt so bad, but also didn’t want to be sick!!!!!!!  This is where time slowed way down.  As she insisted again I tried to change the subject, my boyfriend kept politely declining, and Frankie Beans would not stop getting under my hand.

Well, before I knew what happened Frankie had pushed my hand in such a way that I not only dropped the foil wrapped cookies but the treats scattered out of the foil and all over the floor.  We all kind of freaked, which made Frankie freak and he stepped all over the cookies smashing every last one of them!!!!!!  I apologized profusely as I picked up the cookies squished into the floor and took Frankie beans to the kitchen with me to to reprimand him.

In the kitchen I threw away the smashed cookies and turned to Mr. Beans (I call him that when he’s in trouble).  His ears went up not knowing what the problem was.  He usually cowers when he does something wrong.  Instead he was standing by the refrigerator as he does when waiting for a carrot.  I looked at him and he seemed quite pleased with himself.  I knelt down and he gave me a hug by putting both paws on my shoulders and licked my face.  I chuckled to myself and thought, “Did he do this on purpose?  I mean, I know he is smart, but really?”  I looked at him again and he put his paw on the refrigerator door as if to say, “I did your deed, now a carrot please, lady.”

Was this my Xmas miracle?  Frankie has always been my best friend from day one and now 11 years later he still is.  He knows and feels everything that I do, and who knows, maybe he did this on purpose.  Whatever it was I loved him for saving me the pain from one bite of cookie, and also the pain of having to explain my disease, again.  I opened the fridge and gave him two carrots and a big hug.  Nothing like a best friend to do your dirty work.

. . .

And here’s a note I found from Frankie Beans this morning.  Let me know what you think about it.  I’ve decided he’s the new mascot for Jennifer’s Way!

Happy Holidays

~ Jennifer

This Post Has 56 Comments

  1. sue garavaglia

    you are the greatest and so it that beautiful dog of yours. your lucky you have him to look out for you. hurry and get well and come back on the show. we miss you terribly. i know somewhat of how you feel. i have the gluten sensitivity so i know how badly you are suffering, obviously much worse than me, and i thought i was bad. get in touch with a dr. elizsabeth borg, here in michigan. she’s a all natural and holistic doctor and i buy her supplements and she helps me a lot. maybe, just maybe she can help you, at least a little if not a lot. happy new year and get well or at least feel better. sue garavaglia

  2. Despina

    Wow I really really think that Frankie beans can actually sense gluten. Probably because everything that you make and he eats doesn’t have gluten in it. That is so cute he is really looking out for you. I wish some people can have that same reaction,, all of my relatives know that I have Celiac disease and yet some of them still try to get me to eat food with gluten in it!

  3. michelle larson

    What a cute story.. Your stories are always such a ray of sunshine to our days and you are such an inspiration to all of us Celiacs. I too went undiagnosed for years until just recently I was finally diagnosed in June of this year. I was told numerous times I was crazy or it was just something I ate that upset my stomach and now that I am diagnosed I get those around me saying oh its just a fad or Maybe they should go on the celiac diet to lose weight etc… Gosh if only they could’ve walked in my painful shoes day after day to realize how much gluten can affect our bodies. I feel so bad for those individuals who are too ignorant to not educate themselves about a disease before making such comments. So again thank you for your inspiring words of wisdom and for standing tall and strong for the rest of us. May God continue to bless you on your journey.

  4. Irene

    Before I even finished reading the story I knew it had to be a Golden Retriever.They are so intuitive I do believe he came to your aid.I share my home with 3 rescued Goldens. There is nothing better.PS.Your pictures of Frankie are adorable.Happy New Year.

  5. mary janssen

    What a smart dog, no not dog, child. Our pets are like are children. We love them and they love us unconditionally. Love that story and what a great mascot. Frankie Beans!! Good work boy.

  6. Mary Wikle

    That is so awesome! What a way for your dog to protect you from getting sick. We have all been there when someone offers us their try at gluten free baking, when they do not normally work with it. They are very well meaning, but it can be scary for us. Maybe I should get myself a dog and train it to help me out in those kind of situations!

  7. Kathleen

    Yes, Mr. Beans should be your official mascot. Dogs and cats are smart on those things especially when they know you! As Debbie said how often are we put in this situation. I’ve been gluten free for over 6 years now and I still got two tins of Danish Butter cookies mailed to me from family members. What??? Are you kidding? Number one I’m a single gal so why they would think I’d eat a whole big tin of cookies myself is ridiculous, but you would think my own family would remember! I usually just graciously write a thank you card and tell them I took to a friend’s house for their party and remind them later. Educate, educate, educate.

  8. Laurie

    Been there. My husband’s sister bought a gluten free mix and was going to make it and send the cookies to me for Christmas. After talking to my husband first she said he “scared her so bad she just sent me the unopened mix” a big thank you to my husband, he explained to her that if she made them I couldn’t eat them anyway, not knowing what touched what they were made with, utensils, butter, etc. most people don’t get it. Good boy Franklin!

  9. Lesley


    I dont doubt for a second that Mr Beans had every knowledge of his actions.

    Moracles are jsut that because they come from unexpected sources.

    Please give him a little scratch behind the ears from us.

    Love Lesley

    Ps- In my youth I worked or a doggie treat company and would be happy to share our recipe for puppy friendy carot cake. It wouldnt be hrd to make it GF!!!

  10. Lynn

    hey! Animals KNOW things–I don’t have any pets (my hubby is extremely allergic to pet fur/dander) and they take care of their human companions…and your honey of a Mr. Beans is taking care of you (he’s also right about the costumes and accessories, Jennifer…cut that out! LOL!) Have a healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year!

  11. Susan

    That is SUCH an awkward position to be in. You know the person had all the best intentions, but you have to be super vigilant to preserve your health. Frankie Beans is the best dog ever!

  12. nantucketdaffodil.blogspot.com

    This is such a funny story! Your hero! It’s so hard trying to educate people! My daughter’s school has been amazing. Kids wash before and after snacks…sep. area for my daughter to build her gluten free gingerbread house….a GF microwave for warming food from home….we are blessed. I am SO nervous when someone says they have made GF for us. I want to ask…”Did you use this….did it touch that?” etc……..so hard to be trusting where our sweet 9 year old is concerned!

  13. Jeannie

    Sounds like maybe this woman with all her instance, was trying to prove a point that Celiac’s go overboard? I am so glad that your little “angel” was right on target! Merry Christmas Jennifer and many blessings and prayers sent your way!

  14. Jennifer

    What a cute story!!! I think our pets know…. They know how much we love them, so they give us their best in return. Frankie Beans is soooo cute. I love all of the costumes!!! Very Handsome! Perhaps he and others can be trained to “sniff out” gluten (and other bad things) and let us know that we shouldn’t be eating it!!! :)

  15. Linda

    Mr. Beans did indeed save your life! Rice flour cookies mean NOTHING! I can’t even get it through my own husband’s head that wheat is used as a declumper and filler in many spices! He also doesn’t believe that I should have my own toaster (I did before we married). People just do not understand,,,God bless your saving angel!!!

  16. Chelsea Turrone

    Thank you for speaking up about your experiences. My Christmas was extremely stressful due to cross contamination issues, and I’m glad there is somebody out there to speak up for severe Celiacs. I also have food allergies and just eating off a plate washed with a shared sponge can give me a reaction. My son is extremely reactive as well. I had to ask family members to change their hair products and lotion to GF varieties so that he could wrestle and play without reacting to the gluten in their shampoo. They complied, but looked at me like I was a crazy b**ch.

  17. Terri

    Way to go Frankie Beans!!! He was discretely helping his mom out of a difficult situation. It is amazing how much our pets love us! Frankie Beans you are a true gentleman (handsome too).

  18. Stephanie

    Awww – three cheers for Frankie Beans!! Thanks for sharing this story Jennifer. This was a miracle. Boy, most of us can relate to that moment of panic when someone hands you something “gluten free” with mystery ingredients in it – Yikes, it’s not fun. Sniff*, this made me miss my dogs, Lucy & Ricky. You know what they say, angels don’t have wings, they have fur (sounds cheesy on paper, but it’s true).

  19. Christina

    Loved this post!! What a dog!

    I totally understand the socially awkward predicament people put us in. It is amazing that people really don’t understand the severity of celiac. Thanks for spreading awareness and sharing your story – it means so much to those of us who are affected by it or love ones who are. You rock!

    PS- If your boyfriend wrote that note from Frankie, he seems very sweet and funny!

  20. Jess

    Hi Jennifer,
    Such a great story and you are so lucky to have Frankie in your life. I agree with the other posters about wanting to have a “gluten sniffing” dog…..that would make life so much easier for some of us.
    Happy New Year to you! Jess

  21. Jim Bryan

    Hi Jennifer,
    That is a great story. Our pet friends are much more intelligent than what we give them credit for. Frankie Beans has your back. I used to have a St. Bernard — Koko, that had my back always. She was there for me at my darkest times. Unfortunately she has been gone for 5 years now but I will see her again when it is my time to pass on. I wish you the best in the New Year. By the way, Blue Bloods is just not the same without you. Just saying! God Bless you and all that you hold close to your heart. I feel so bad about all of the Celiacs out there. I am fortunate that I do not have this disease. I can’t even imagine all that you go throught on a daily basis. I have a daughter with diabetes and I see her challenges each day. I wish I could cure all of the diseases in this world so people didn’t have to suffer. Unfortunately, my heart is bigger than my brain so I do not have a cure. I will keep you and all those that suffer daily in my prayers! God Bless and Ever Onward!

  22. Patti Campbell

    My husband is a celiac, 1 bread crumb will send him to bed for 24 to 30 hours. Everyone, family members, our own non celiac daughter (we have 1 celiac daughter & 2 celiac grandchildren) try to be so supportive, they want to have us over for dinner, they have baked holiday treats. He has been so sick since Christmas Day. I have developed a gluten free flour mixture that he can have, I only bake gluten free now, I cook only with what I know is gluten free, there is no cross contamination, we have separate butter dishes, separate toasters, separate peanut butter. I do have a loaf of regular bread in the frig for myself, every once in a while I want real toast or a grilled cheese. He appreciates that everyone wants to accommodate him but unless you live with this horrid disease – you have no idea. Dinner parties must now be held at our house so that I can control the food & cross contamination. Our friends bring the wine and desserts, I supply hubby’s dessert, usually fresh fruit. He is so sensitive he sometimes survives several days at a time eating only mandarin oranges & drinking Jasmine Pearl tea. He was only diagnosed 15 months ago, it has been a journey for both of us. Lots of tears, but on the plus side, he has lost 95 pounds. He thought he would always be the big fat guy, never able to lose more than 10 lbs. I believe gluten was the devil this whole time. Science has modified so much of the natural foods we consume, I truly believe the human race is poisoning itself.Our friends think we have become fanatics, maybe we have, but I will only cook with the freshest foods & nothing “modified” comes through the door. We both enjoy your blog, Good luck to you on your journey.

  23. Angela

    Thank you for posting this story. I am celiac/Hashimoto’s and literally just laughed until I cried reading this blog update. I hope my dog would do the same thing for me, but normally I just throw the “bad” cookies and things away, or give them to a friend on the way to the trash can. I don’t feel bad about it anymore. Poison is poison, even if it is just one candy cane or breath mint. This was my first Christmas without corn and candy canes, it wasn’t that bad because I know how “corn belly” feels. (It’s only my fourth without gluten.)
    I hope you are attending the GFAFExpo next month in San Francisco. I would love to tell you, “me too!” when you tell your story. (That happened a lot at the Dallas Expo this year.)

  24. Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

    I say give Frankie Beans (who is adorable) lots of hugs, carrots and bannanas! It’s now day 3 for me of being sick after eating at my mother in law’s house. She doesn’t have a dishwasher so I’m thinking all those dishes are covered in gluten paste. She’s 85 and doesn’t get it. Can I borrow Frankie Beans? maybe he can break some plates. :)

  25. Debi

    Such a wonderful story AND a great miracle. It does get tiring having to explain to others why we are so hesitant to try something that they made for us that may or may not be safe. So glad you have such a wonderful four legged best friend to look out for you!

  26. Amy

    Your Frankie Beans story is just too cute. I am new to learning about Gluten and I want to thank you for all your information. My Aunt is Gluten Free and she got me learning about the effects it has on our bodies. Then I saw you on FoxFiles and so I just had to find your blog. :) I am allergic to soooo many things (milk, etc) and looking forward to following you on this journey. :) Happy new Year everyone!!

    1. Alexandrina

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  27. Jillian

    I would love to have a gluten-sniffing dog! What a great story. I got “glutened” at a party just recently, and I was so terrified that I would be sick. Glad you avoided that feeling.

  28. edna oldrich

    all celiac’s are anemic, no mater how much b12 is in your blood test you could still have pernicious anemia. you must get shots or take sublingual under the tongue.low b12 mimics MS, it is a precursor to parkinsons and alzheimers. I temporarily lost my eyesight, got lost in my lost in my local market. very confused, could not complete a sentence, could barely walk, felt like fainting. sore tongue, pins and needles in my hands and feet, very depressed, agitated, etc, etc,
    get a blood test FIRST before taking sublingual. ask for an MMA (methamelonic acid) test. your gut can not absorbe b12. anyone of heart burn meds is also low b12

  29. Lindsay

    I understand your difficult situation. At Thanksgiving this year, my elderly, lovely grandmother put aside turkey for me, and to keep it warm she wrapped it in a wrapper that had been used for wheat bread. And she stirred the “gf” sweet potatoes with the same spoon as the gluten and dairy full mashed potatoes. I tried to explain, yet despite her good intentions, she just didn’t understand that I couldn’t eat any of that. Then she insisted on putting it all on my plate. After she left the kitchen I dumped it down the drain and when she asked, I said she was a marvelous cook. Oh, the tough spots we are put in by well-meaning people.

  30. Joy

    Awesome dog!
    Did you know you can microwave spaghetti squash? It cooks in 15-20 minutes. Check Pinterest for instructions. I buy them on sale, cook, freeze meal sized portions, then to thaw I microwave and put in a strainer to get rid of extra liquids. :)
    Thanks or sharing all your info!

  31. Barblin

    Hi Jennifer,

    I just discovered your page through our mutual friend Ralph Sutton. I have to say, I am deeply moved by your “way” and the stories you share. The letter from Frankie just topped it off, now I am teared up in front of my computer. I do not have Celiac but have discovered that a gluten free diet is the “way” I feel best, not bloated, healthy, happy and also energetic. I have recently started baking my own bread as I always thought of myself as a “not a bread” person but now that I make gluten free bread I actually enjoy a lice every now and then. My husband loves it and I make them like they are made in my home country Germany – with lots of seeds and nuts.

    I will for sure come visit your bakery soon! Keep up the good work, Jennifer! You’re a true inspiration!


  32. jackie acosta

    This letter that Frankie Beans wrote should definitely be published in the book “A Letter to My Dog: Personal Notes from Humans to Their Pups By (author) Robin Layton

    Jennifer you should contact Robin Layton :”)

    I love Frankie Beans!!!! He’s a life saver

  33. Jane jones

    Oh my goodness I know that panic you have when someone brings you something gluten free. They do it with the best of intentions, really they do, but by no fault of their own most make mistakes. I had a joint fusion surgery, am unable to stand for more than a mere few moments. For the better part of 6 weeks I am bedridden. I thought ahead and baked, pre-cooked, pre-mixed and froze most of what I can eat planning for my meals while I am out of commission. My sweet, well-meaning mother in law made one of my pre-frozen pumpkin cake mixes and brought it to me grinning from ear to ear tht she had made me one of my favorite treats. I ate it, knowing that I had prepped it and that it would be ok for my celiac belly, or so I thought. Before I even finished it my poor tummy already started to feel like I had swallowed some pretty sharp rocks (my first indication that what I ate had some gluten) and completely wracked my mind trying to figure out what the source of gluten was and also setting myself up for the pain and illness that would follow for the next few days. Finally I broke down and asked my mother in law how she had handled the batter I had pre-made and frozen. It turns out that even though the instructions didn’t call for it she had buttered and floured the cake pan because she was afraid the cake would stick to the pan. UGH! Poor thing she was so upset that she had made me ill, now she is asking more questions and is actually enjoying some of my favorite gluten free recipes. Thanks for your inspiration and opening a GF bakery! You should think of franchising it, there really are no safe franchised bakeries!!!!!

  34. Robin

    Hi Jennifer! I enjoyed your story, and I knew as I read it exactly how it felt for you. I’ve been there too.
    I don’t know if you will see this, but maybe someone who needs it will — STOMACH ACID!!!
    When I got my Celiac diagnosis, I thought it was the core problem, but I found out it was just another layer of the onion. LOW STOMACH ACID, in many cases, seems to be the cause, or a contributing factor, for Celiac, GERD (reflux), food allergies and intolerance, Lupus, MS, Asthma, and many other conditions. There is a whole list on page 103 of the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You, by Jonathan V. Wright, M.D.
    I take Betaine HCl with Pepsin at each meal, (as many as I need) and my health has improved by leaps and bounds. Get checked for low stomach acid!
    Good luck with all of your endeavors…

  35. Paula

    Good Boy Frankie Beans!!!,, We have all been in those horrible situations when well meaning people say- “it’s gluten free ” and the panic that runs through your mind as you try to decide your best course of action FIGHT or FLIGHT!.. I discovered I had celaics two years ago.It has been an intresting ride to say the least- like you, I am extreme- one crumb and I am sick for nearly two weeks. I also have multible food issues and most of our children are folloing suit.. makes eating other people’s food terrifying to put it mildy. So glad your Boy friend and doggy defender were there to save the day! Think Maybe I could train our golden doodle Lady to be our cape crusader? lol

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  36. Paula-momof8

    I know this is an older post and I already commented above but I was looking through your blog and came across this post again. We were put in this kind of situation just this week on two separate occasions.1. The church next to our house was having VBS. We let our kids go with the understanding they know what they can eat and what they can’t. We fed them dinner before hand. Telling them how important it is to stick with fresh fruit or chips and the older ones had to look out for the younger ones to keep them safe. We talked to the workers at the church and explained our situation. We also told the kids privately-If someone asks or offers anything else politely decline and explain that you have a lot of food allergies. The first few nights everything was fine. The 3rd night someone had brought gluten free cookies in especially for our children.They came over to ask if they can have them just to make sure. It was so awkward because the cookies in question were in a ziplock baggie. I had no way of knowing if they were pre-packaged or homemade. Homemade opens up a whole world of terror. I did not know what else was in them.We have many foods we have to stay away from not just gluten. Even if they were pre-packaged and I could read the label to make sure they were safe. There was still the very real issue of cross contamination. Did someone handle gluten laden goodies before bagging up the gluten free ones.Did they lay them on a tray along side regular cookies? They were not labeled at all- how do I know they didn’t grab the wrong cookies by mistake- just too many variables to consider. I didn’t want offend anyone but I can’t risk my kids getting deathly ill either. I so appreciated the thought, expense and effort they went to so our kids could have some treats too.. BUT!!! What do you say to help someone understand despite their good intentions we have to say no because it’s too risky, While they say over and over” but they are gluten free – we checked them”. I don’t want to be THAT person- that crazy over protective MOM. kwim? Luckily as I fumbled around trying to think of the right way to handle this delicately. The man said “well, they are not dairy free though – one of the kids said something about dairy free , Is that a problem?”. Only half of the children have to be dairy free but it was an easy out so I jumped on it. I said “They can’t eat dairy, they won’t be able to eat those.. I am sorry. I really appreciate the thought though.” Shew! crisis averted or so I thought. We later found out two of the younger kids had already ate a handful of the “gluten free cookies” before the man came to ask if they were ok. The night was spent in dread and prayer waiting/hoping that the cookies really were safe. Luckily they were and the kids did not get sick. Also lucky the two that ate the cookies can eat dairy with no problems. One of the older girls got to the youngest before she had any of them-the youngest has to be dairy free. She gets extremely ill- just a small amount of dairy has her running a fever and crying for days because her stomach hurts. 2. My husband’s uncle passed away last week. As family was gathering, of course there was food and tons of it. We brought dishes we could safely eat and enough to share. It was still a very hard day. Bad enough that people are grieving.But to have to refuse over and over, the cake Aunt Jean made, or the homemade pie sent over by the deceased pastor’s wife-”just take a bite it is really good” or the chicken and dumplings another church member brought. They had tears in their eyes while me and my husband were trying to explain why the kids and I could only eat the food we brought. It was beyond unbearable.

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