Archive for June, 2011

Five Easy Ways to Promote Celiac and Gluten-Free Awareness Using Social Media

[This blog has been cross-posted on Food Living and Everything Else.]

June 30 has been dubbed Social Media Day, and while some may scoff at celebrating the growth of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like, you can’t deny the power of these sharing platforms. For the celiac and gluten-free community in particular, social media has picked up where doctors left off, providing practical advice and much-needed support for the gluten-free lifestyle.

Social media has also become a platform for change. The New Jersey Devils introduced more gluten-free concessions in response to pleas on Facebook and Twitter, while an online petition for gluten-free Girl Scout cookies has made national news.

So, how can we keep that momentum going? In honor of Social Media Day, here are some ways you can help the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) promote gluten-free initiatives via social media:

  1. Share NFCA’s Facebook page: The more fans we have, the more awareness we can spread and the more people we can help, especially in those first few months of diagnosis. So go ahead, click that Share button again and tell your friends why they should get informed.
  2. Join NFCA’s Cause page: It’s Facebook meets fundraising. NFCA’s Cause page allows you to show your support and gather donations to keep our goals on track. For an easy fundraiser, ask for donations in lieu of birthday gifts, and suggest that friends donate your age (i.e. $42 for your 42nd birthday). Collecting small donations each month can also add up over time.
  3. Forward NFCA’s e-newsletter to a friend: Information can be life-changing (we have the thank yous to prove it). Subscribe to our newsletter, then select “Forward to a friend” when it hits your inbox.
  4. Tweet about NFCA’s programs: Follow @CeliacAwareness and give us a shout out. Tweet about our Webinars, Gluten-Free Hot Products reviews, or why you think a restaurant should get gluten-free training through GREAT. Turn #FF into Funding Friday by tweeting a link to our Donate page, or tweet the Celiac Symptoms Checklist and encourage friends to get tested.
  5. Watch NFCA’s gluten-free cooking videos: Did you know NFCA has an online cooking series? Watch Alternative Appetites to get step-by-step instructions for fantastic gluten-free food. If you like a particular video, click on “YouTube” to visit our channel, then select Share and tell your friends.

What are some other ways you can help the cause through social media? What has been your biggest gluten-free social media success?

– Cheryl

June 30, 2011 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

Staying in Command

[As you know, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness staff members are big Phillies fans. So when one of our newest volunteers, Nadina Fraimow, told us she shared the same passion for sports, wellness and all things Phillies, we had to get her on board. Nadina will be sharing her gluten-free experience throughout the 2011 Phillies season.]

Staying in Command

A Phightin’ to Be Gluten-Free Blog

Lee’s game is no longer about the comeback.  He’s back and looking un-Be-LEE-vable! Last night, Philadelphians gave Cliff Lee a standing ovation as he flawlessly led the Phillies to a 5-0 victory against the Boston Red Sox and historically pitched his third consecutive complete game shutout.

This time, Lee brings with him three powerful C’s—curveballs, confidence and command. Pitching three consecutive shutouts is no easy feat, and Lee falls into the ranks of baseball Hall of Famers, including Grover Cleveland Alexander and Robin Roberts.

It has been an un-Be-LEE-vable month for Lee, as he also led the Phillies to a 4-0 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals last Wednesday night in his second consecutive game shutout.  Lee was completely in command on the pitcher’s mound, when he allowed simply 6 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk and 3 strike outs.

For me, it’s no longer about being the comeback gal. I recently had two consecutive successful follow-up GI appointments. I too rely on my curveballs, confidence and command on my journey to a happy, healthy gluten-free life.

When Lee is in command, the pitch he throws is the pitch he intended to throw.  Staying in command is a challenge worth Phightin’ for both Phillies fans and everyone who has food allergies or intolerances.

As Lee has so beautifully exemplified over his past three games, staying in command takes true grit and supportive teammates.  Last night was no exception, for he had great offensive support from Dominic Brown and Shane Victorino as they scored two-run home runs.  Let’s not forget Lee’s own RBI sacrifice fly that sent Dominic Brown home in the fifth inning.

Completely in command, I continue my restaurant, dish and product reviews, which are on the following baseball-inspired scale:

Single– Fair
Double– Good
Triple– Very good
Home Run– Must try
Grand Slam– Sublime

Double Rainbow Chocolate Sorbet- Double

A good gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free summer dessert purchased from Trader Joe’s.  It resembles the light consistency of water ice, but has richer dark chocolate flavor.  The finish leaves a slight, but noticeable aftertaste.

The result:  A dark chocolate calorie-friendly treat with great potential, if there was no aftertaste.

Recommendation: Pairs nicely with an assortment of fresh seasonal fruits. Serve this for a BBQ dessert or a beach day snack.

Note:  For Trader Joe’s “No Gluten Ingredients” list, visit www.traderjoes.com/pdf/lists/list-no-gluten.pdf

Soyatoo! Rice Whip- Home Run

A must-try vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and cholesterol-free condiment purchased from Whole Foods.  It’s soft and fluffy, with just enough firmness to hold a swirl.  Both the lightness and hint of sweetness nicely absorb the textures and flavors from other foods.  However, preparation time is needed to get the optimal results. As noted on the container, store upside down in fridge and sit out for 10-15 minutes prior to eating.

The result:  Looks exactly like dairy whipped cream, and tastes even better.  Follow instructions on container prior to use – it is worth the wait.

Recommendation: Delicious finish on top of baked goods, sorbet sundaes, and pairs nicely with fresh seasonal fruits.  Can prepare on July 4th with fresh berries for a sweet and patriotic treat!
www.soyatoo.de/us/our-products/

Santa Cruz Chocolate Flavored Syrup- Triple

A very good organic and gluten-free labeled chocolate syrup purchased from Whole Foods.  The sweet and dark chocolate flavor can stand on its own or be a supportive ingredient in a sundae.  The container is microwavable for a warm alternative to the classic chocolate syrup.

The result: Definitely for dark chocolate lovers, but can be drizzled over desserts for all to enjoy. Thick texture makes it difficult for chocolate syrup to ooze out of container.

Recommendation: Place upside down for a few minutes prior to use. Though microwavable option is nice, it tastes best at refrigerator temperature.  An extra oomph of chocolate sweetness that can be added to any July 4th  holiday treat. http://www.scojuice.com/products/dessert_toppings/chocolate_syrup

Sautéed flounder in olive oil with roasted baby potatoes and baby peas at Oyster House- Grand Slam

A sublime dish, and one that I look forward to replicating in my kitchen.  The perfect portion of fresh fish was executed with just the right amount of olive oil and seasoning. My favorite fish dishes are cooked with a slightly crisped top and moist inside and this sautéed flounder was no exception.  The flounder was surrounded by soft and well-seasoned roasted baby potatoes with baby peas.  Note: This was the chef’s gluten-free alternative to sautéed flounder on menu.  

The result:  A balance of beautifully cooked fish, paired with pleasantly cooked vegetables.  The different levels of soft textures on the plate complement each other from the juiciness of the fish, the softness of the potatoes and the mushiness from the peas.

Gluten-free fish dinner at Oyster House

A Grand Slam! Sautéed Flounder at Oyster House

The scene: A double date at the Oyster House on Saturday night.  As the Phillies were losing against the Oakland Athletics, we were enjoying a meal that one of the diners in our party said tasted fresh from the ocean.  In fact, the Oyster House changes its menus daily based on the freshest fish.  Since there is no gluten-free menu, I made sure to clearly articulate my food sensitivities and inquire about dish ingredients.  Our table started with an assortment of fresh oysters and then each ordered our own entrée.  To my excitement, the chefs were able to adjust a few ingredients and maintain the integrity of the sautéed flounder on the menu.
oysterhousephilly.com

Fresh roasted turkey on top of romaine lettuce at Main Line Pizza- Double

A good dish, and one that I have replicated in my kitchen.  The fresh roasted turkey is plainly seasoned, extremely fresh and properly prepared. Each hand sliced piece of turkey was cool, moist and paired nicely with the soft crunch from the romaine lettuce.  Note: This was a quick on-the-go alternative to the Romaine Turkey Wrap on the gluten-free menu.  

The result: A healthy, easy lunch cooked to just the right tenderness.  Simple flavors, simply cooked well.  At Main Line Pizza, you can eat this as a lettuce wrap or on gluten-free bread.

The scene: A quick lunch with my sister and mom before a GI follow-up appointment last week.  My sister is on a search to find the perfect gluten-free pizza, and we were happy to try Main Line Pizza with her.  As the car pulled up to a spot off Lancaster Avenue, I first noticed an inviting sign that specified serving gluten-free pizzas and pasta.  To my surprise, the owner explained his gluten-free training and his certificate from NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program. My sister and mom loved their fresh gluten-free pizza with mushrooms, broccoli and fresh roasted pepper toppings.  They even took an order of gluten-free spicy chicken wings to go, which they also thoroughly enjoyed.
www.mainlinepizza.com

June was a memorable month, as Lee made history and I made progress on my journey with support from my family team.  We are back, we are in command, and we are Free to Be Gluten-Free!

– Nadina

*Learn more about gluten-free training through GREAT Kitchens.
*Celiac Awareness Night at the Phillies is sold out! Thank you all for supporting the cause. We’ll see you there!

About Nadina:
Nadina Fraimow began volunteering with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) in April 2011, and will be happy to answer messages sent to the info@celiaccentral.org email account. Nadina learned that she has gluten sensitivity in February 2011, and is grateful for having been diagnosed promptly and correctly by a knowledgeable gastroenterologist. She enjoys running, shopping for gluten-free sweets and creating recipes that are both tasty and healthy. Nadina is a Marketing and Communications professional living and working in Philadelphia. Nadina is also a proud Penn State alumna and an avid fan of the Phillies.

June 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm Leave a comment

Celiac Disease Testing at Home (Or the Office)

[Update! Dr. Dan Leffler is hosting a LIVE Teleseminar about this research study on Monday, July 25th, 3-5 p.m. ET. Dr. Leffler will also talk about the pharmacist’s role in distributing kits and educating consumers. Pharmacists are encouraged to register at www.pharmacybusinessceliacwebinar.com. While you’re at it, learn more about gluten in medications and NFCA’s GREAT Pharmacists training program on CeliacCentral.org.]

I don’t care for needles, which is why I was thrilled when our friends at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) asked us to try out the Biocard fingerprick test kit. The at-home test is part of a research study Dr. Dan Leffler, Director of Clinical Research for The Celiac Center at BIDMC, and his team are conducting.

“While not currently approved by the FDA, these tests are still being researched as it is both imperative and necessary to explore any new possibilities for increasing celiac diagnoses in the U.S.,” said Dr. Leffler, noting the importance of this study.

My daughter has celiac disease, and our family’s trusted clinician, Dr. Ritu Verma at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, recommends screening every 3 years for first degree relatives who have the celiac gene. For me, it was about time for a follow-up antibody test, so I volunteered.

Celiac Disease Home Test Kit

Ready for testing!

When the kit arrived, the staff and I gathered around and disassembled the package. I admit that the instructions were a little difficult to understand (especially because we had a reproduced copy and it was hard to see the photos). But once we understood the process, it was simple as could be.

Fingerprick test for celiac

It's not as scary as it looks.

You place the small, plastic device on your finger and release the trigger. There was a startling pinch, and then a numb feeling that lasted longer than I expected. The kit includes a small tube in which to collect the blood sample, which is then mixed with a solution and dropped onto a test strip that will display a control line. If antibodies are present, the control line will be joined by an additional line after 10 minutes.

While I am thankful that I have access to the most amazing gluten-free food (Shout out to Main Line Baking Company, which made Nancy’s delicious birthday cake this month!), I was still relieved when the 10 minutes passed and only one line appeared on the strip.

Blood sample for celiac disease test

Preparing the solution.

I thought a lot in those 10 minutes about what it would be like for someone who doesn’t know anything about celiac disease to see a second line appear on the test strip. What kind of educational materials would be important to include in such a kit to empower possible celiac patients? Getting the right information is critical, but what’s the best way to share it?

What are your thoughts on this form of testing? Do you think self-diagnosis would increase if kits like this were readily available, and is that a concern? Weigh in with your comments below.

– Jennifer

June 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm 14 comments

Blue Diamond Gluten-Free Giveaway Winners

Thank you to all who shared their gluten-free 4th of July plans and why Blue Diamond Baked Nut Chips would make a delicious addition. We were impressed by your enthusiasm…and your social calendars!

Now, on the winners. Congratulations to the following fans:

  • Jessica: I’m so excited to try these new chips! Our 4th of July plans are similar to most holidays – food, fun and family – and I love providing a gluten free feast to a bunch of gluten eaters who never know the difference!
  • Lauren Bloom: Love the crackers, can’t wait to try to chips! They will be great with hummus!
  • glutenfreesteve: Right now, planning a cookout and these would be great to make bruschetta topping to put on!
  • K. Eve Thompson: Our family is going to be having a bbq and birthday party with friends. Snacks are a must -especially when there’s lots of gluten intolerant and celiac attendees!
  • melissadishes: We are heading down to the river, these would be a great snack for me to take along and enjoy while everyone else is eating pretzels, chips, and crackers. May even share ;-)

To claim your free bags of Blue Diamond Baked Nut Chips, email cmcevoy@celiaccentral.org. Please include your mailing address. When the Baked Nut Chips arrive, do a happy dance and shoot us an email to let us know your favorite flavor.

For those who didn’t win, watch NFCA’s Gluten-Free Hot Products blog next week (June 27-July 1) for another chance to win free Blue Diamond Baked Nut Chips. You can also take advantage of the free resources and gluten-free recipes found at www.CeliacCentral.org/bd.

And of course, you can always pick up your own bag of Baked Nut Chips. Visit Blue Diamond’s product locator to find a store near you.

June 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment

Chip, Chip Hooray for Gluten-Free (Plus, a Giveaway!)

One of the best things about holidays is having an excuse to celebrate at the office. From my first day in the workforce, I always looked forward to ‘food days,’ when everyone brought in snacks and swapped recipes for their famous cakes, casseroles, and crumbles.

When I started at NFCA, I quickly realized that ‘food days’ aren’t so easy among the gluten-free.  At the NFCA office, we default to gluten-free so everyone can participate in celebrations.  But at other offices, and parties in general, gluten eaters may be less welcoming to the idea.

Fortunately, one thing I’ve found to be universally pleasing among celiac and non-celiac crowds are gluten-free chips. Here’s why:

  • They’re portable. For party purposes, there’s nothing better than tossing a bag in your tote. If you’ve ever tried to stack cupcakes without messing up the icing, you know how valuable that can be.
  • They’re versatile. Depending on whether they’re packed with flavor or just dusted with salt, you can eat them right out of the bag, dunk them in a gluten-free dip, or crumble them on top of a salad.
  • They’re gluten-free, but not obviously so. They look like chips, they taste like chips, and they often are chips that just happen to be gluten-free. I’ve never heard someone say “This chip tastes gluten-free,” and few will be able to pass up a taste.

Now, when you bring a crowd-pleasing food, there is the risk of cross-contamination. People who can eat gluten may be happy to try your gluten-free chips and dip, but their hands also may be rife with gluten-y crumbs.

Gluten-Free 4th of July Guide

Gluten-free tips for your 4th of July celebration!

To help you keep gluten-free items untainted and make your party an overall blast, we created 4th of July Fun, a new Printable Guide sponsored by Blue Diamond. Available on NFCA’s website, this tip sheet covers all of your party-planning quandaries, from invitations to cross-contamination.

Download 4th of July Fun at www.CeliacCentral.org/bd

Win Blue Diamond Baked Nut Chips!

To get your party started, Blue Diamond is giving away NEW! Baked Nut Chips to 5 lucky winners. These new gluten-free chips are made with whole-grain brown rice and almonds, and they meet all the requirements for a party-appropriate snack. Plus, they’re delicious.

Blue Diamond Baked Nut Chips

Get these for free!

Winners will receive a bag of each Baked Nut Chips flavor: Sour Cream & Chive, Sea Salt, and Nacho (that’s 3 bags total!).

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us your 4th of July plans and why free Blue Diamond Baked Nut Chips would pump up the party. Winners will be selected randomly and announced on Friday, June 24.

(Visit our Gluten-Free Hot Products blog next week for another chance to win!)

-Cheryl

June 22, 2011 at 10:49 am 36 comments

Disaster Preparedness: Gluten-Free Needs

If you’ve noticed that natural disasters seem to be more common and more devastating in recent years, you’re not alone. A recent cover story in Newsweek addressed the wild weather that has wreaked havoc across the U.S. in 2011 alone. Floods, tornados, wild fires – they all beg the question: Are you prepared?

When residents are displaced, safe zones and shelters become a vital source for food and health needs. Gluten-free families, however, face the added challenge of maintaining their dietary needs while away from home. Fresh produce and other gluten-free options are typically limited, especially since donated items are often non-perishable foods that contain gluten.

After the recent tornados, individuals called for donations of gluten-free products to feed victims who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It got us thinking about ways to arm yourself before disaster strikes.

Natural disasters may be unpredictable, but you can still make every effort to be prepared. Consider these tips to ensure your family’s needs are met:

  • Pack an emergency kit. We asked our Facebook fans for suggestions of what they’d include in a gluten-free emergency kit. While many admitted they had never thought of it, we all agreed it’s a good thing to keep on hand.

Suggestions include:

  • Bottled water
  • Gluten-free energy bars
  • Small packs of nuts or dried fruit (watch those seasonings!)
  • A few cans of gluten-free soup
  • Canned tuna
  • Shelf stable gluten-free bread or crackers
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned fruit
  • Gluten-free jerky
  • Powdered milk or non-dairy substitute
  • Celiac-safe freeze-dried meals (StoreHouse Foods has a bunch of yummy options – and they’re a member of NFCA’s GREAT Business Association)
  • Important medications
  • Bowl(s) and set of utensils
  • Can opener
  • Aluminum foil (for cooking packets)

If you need to evacuate, bring the emergency kit. You never know how long it will be before you reach a destination that offers gluten-free options. And as our Facebook fan Colleen Cook recommended, check the expiration dates on your stock every few months and replace anything that has gone bad.

  • Find out which locations in your town are designated as emergency shelters (i.e. hospitals, firehouses) and who is in charge of disaster response.  Speak to that person (or department) about gluten-free needs, or invite them to a support group meeting so they can anticipate any supply challenges. (While you’re at it, encourage hospitals to get gluten-free foodservice training through NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program.)
  • Talk to your kids’ teachers to find out if their school has a disaster plan. Facebook fan Amy Young noted that her kids’ schools request a 3-day supply of gluten-free food to keep on hand in case of emergency.
  • If a disaster strikes and you find yourself at a shelter, do what you can to avoid gluten exposure. Ask volunteers about the food they are distributing, and read the labels on any cans or packages of food. Request that volunteers change gloves before they serve your meal.
  • If no gluten-free options are available, make your needs known. The disaster response team may be able to secure a safe stock of food or, if possible, request gluten-free items.
  • Remember to thank anyone who helps you out. It’s a hectic time, so they’ll appreciate knowing the difference they made.

– Cheryl

June 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm 3 comments

Meet Jordan: NFCA Intern & Health Advocate

[NFCA is lucky to have 3 interns helping the cause this summer. We’ve already introduced Emily and Rachel. Now meet Jordan, our Healthcare Relations intern.]

I am a true believer in the saying “Everything happens for a reason.” So when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 6, and celiac when I was 15, I knew my path was headed toward a profession in healthcare.

I will be a senior at the University of Delaware in the fall and will graduate with a dietetics degree next spring. When people ask me what my major is, there is a lack of surprise in their response when I tell them it is nutrition. I have been managing my diabetes and celiac disease for so long that I can’t imagine getting involved with anything else.

Jordan at the office

Ready to work!

After switching endocrinologists when I was in my teens, my new doctor did a routine test for celiac. There seems to be a link between type 1 diabetes and celiac, so they knew to check for it. My dad was diagnosed with celiac 2 years later. Unfortunately, he had been suffering from the symptoms for quite some time. If it had not been for my diagnosis, he probably still would not have been tested or know what was wrong. This experience led me to want to do so much for the awareness of this disease.

I was extremely happy when I received the opportunity to intern at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) this summer. When I was diagnosed with celiac 6 years ago, I did not have any support groups or people to talk about it with. I love what NFCA is doing for the celiac community and cannot wait to work with them this summer.

– Jordan

June 10, 2011 at 9:55 am 3 comments

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