Archive for April, 2012

Gluten-Free Cookies in 5 Simple Steps

[If you’re new to the gluten-free diet, you probably have yet to try gluten-free baking. (Yes, we all know xanthan gum bears a rather intimidating name.) Fortunately, there’s a little wonder known as gluten-free cake mix that can do much of the work for you.

Anne Byrn, better known as The Cake Mix Doctor, discovered just how versatile gluten-free cake mix can be when she was creating recipes for her first gluten-free cookbook. We hope her story, and her simple 5-step recipe, will inspire you, too!]

While working on The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, I was making gingerbread out of a yellow gluten-free cake mix, adding apple cider, molasses, cocoa powder, ginger, nearly the kitchen sink! The taste of that gingerbread reminded me of my grandmother’s gingersnap cookies, and all of the sudden the most wonderful and nostalgic flashback came into my mind. I was 12 years old and in my grandmother’s kitchen snatching a cookie from the cooling rack.

So, I thought, could I turn this gingerbread recipe into a cookie? I grabbed a clean mixing bowl and wooden spoon, poured a fresh box of cake mix into the bowl and carefully added just one egg, vegetable shortening, molasses, ginger, and other spices. Dropped onto baking sheets, these cookies baked up crisp and spiced with ginger.

There is something unexpected and magical about rice flour and what it does to cookies. Rice flour makes it possible for you to turn a gluten-free cake mix into light, crisp cookies. And because it is flavorless, it is a blank canvas allowing big, bold flavors such as ginger to come through.

-Anne Byrn

Gluten-Free Gingersnap Cookies

Gluten-Free Gingersnaps

(From The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, by Anne Byrn)

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Prep: 10 minutes
Chill: At least 2 hours
Bake: 9 to 11 minutes
Cool: 10 to 16 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 package (15 oz.) yellow gluten-free cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Place the molasses, vegetable shortening, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the egg. Increase the mixer to medium and beat until smooth, 30 seconds. Set the molasses mixture aside.
  2. Place the cake mix, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a small bowl and stir to combine. Add the cake mix mixture to the molasses mixture, a little at a time, beating on low speed until everything is just combined, 30 to 45 seconds. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the cookie dough in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Set aside 2 ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Place the sugar in a shallow bowl. Form the cookie dough into generous 1-inch balls. Roll the balls of dough in the sugar and arrange them on the baking sheets, about 4 inches apart.
  5. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake the cookies until they are crisp around the edges, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for 1 minute. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough, if any.

April 30, 2012 at 8:20 am 2 comments

Celiac Awareness Month 2012: Get Ready to KISS!

Celiac Awareness Month 2012_KISS banner

National Celiac Awareness Month is quickly approaching, and what celebration would be complete without a blogger campaign? This year, we rounded up 16 bloggers for a series chronicling every stage of the gluten-free journey, from Day 1 basics to advanced cooking and advocacy.

In keeping with this year’s theme, Keep It Simple and Safe, each blogger is offering 5 key tips or lessons related to that day’s topic. The guest posts start tomorrow, April 30, so check back daily!

NFCA Celiac Awareness Month Blogger BadgeWeekly Focus

  • Monday – Cooking/Baking Gluten-Free
  • Tuesday – Nutrition/Wellness
  • Wednesday – Raising a Gluten-Free Kid
  • Thursday – Dining Out Gluten-Free
  • Friday – NFCA Resources You Should Know About

Schedule and Guest Bloggers:

Week 1: Just Diagnosed (April 30-May 4)

  • Anne Byrn of The Cake Mix Doctor – Reading labels and cooking with boxed mixes
  • Shirley Braden of gluten free easily – Avoiding hidden gluten
  • Kathleen Reale of Be Free for Me – Talking to your child about celiac disease
  • Lisa Garza of Gluten Free Foodies – What questions to ask when dining out
  • NFCA – Discover NFCA’s Getting Started Guide

Week 2: Getting the Hang of It (May 7-11)

Week 3: Hitting a Roadblock (May 14-18)

  • Diane Eblin of The WHOLE Gang – 5 tips to get out of a food rut
  • Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free  – First gluten-free, now lactose intolerant? 5 tips to becoming a dairy-free diva
  • Wendy Kaho of Celiacs in the House – Gluten-free challenges at school
  • Michael De Cicco-Butz of Gluten-Free Mike – Traveling while gluten-free
  • NFCA – 5 resources to handle life’s hurdles

Week 4: What’s Next? (May 21-25)

  • Amie Valpone of The Healthy Apple – Publishing your gluten-free recipes
  • EA Stewart of The Spicy RD – Healthy gluten-free foods you’ve never heard of
  • Katie Chalmers of G-Free Kid – 5 tips to empower gluten-free kids
  • Carrie Forbes of Ginger Lemon Girl – Starting a gluten-free dining group
  • NFCA – Ready to fundraise? Here’s how to start

For more Celiac Awareness Month  fun, including a chance to win a Gluten-Free Pantry Raid, visit CeliacCentral.org/awarenessmonth

April 29, 2012 at 8:10 am 6 comments

Gluten-Free on the Road: GREAT Kitchens in Michigan and Minnesota

Every day, new restaurants are going online and completing NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens training and educating their staff about serving gluten-free to people who depend on verified ingredients, gluten-free protocol, and a celiac savvy waitstaff. They’re learning why it’s important to greet special diet guests with confidence and know how to answer questions to build trust. Owners and managers across the country are hearing about GREAT Kitchens at their local restaurant association and American Chef Federation meetings, through U.S. Foods distributors, and of course, the celiac community.  Thanks for your help!

GREAT training is better than “good enough,” and I’ve had the pleasure to see firsthand the result of GREAT training while traveling for business and pleasure. I can’t tell you how excited I get when I know I’m going to a city where GREAT Kitchens exist, and I can be a secret diner to check out the effects of GREAT training.  There are hints of GREATness that stand out in GREAT Kitchens. Check out some of my travel spots and their outstanding service:

W.O.W. – East Lansing, MI

I ended up in East Lansing, MI, in October 2010, to speak at a local health food store for their Celiac Awareness campaign. On my way back to Detroit, where I would be speaking the next day, I stopped in to meet Steve Pollard at Guido’s pizza parlor in Okemos, MI, just outside of East Lansing. Steve was one of our first GREAT Kitchens, and his staff is well-trained in gluten-free protocol.

Gluten-Free Pizza at Guido's in Michigan

Gluten-free and amazing!

The pizza? Well, it is simply amazing. Soft, tender crust handmade crust with perfectly placed toppings made me teary to think that Steve was serving these sweet pies daily to the lucky East Lansing folks.  Now almost 18 months later, Steve’s moved his gluten-free operation next door. W.O. W. ( With Out Wheat) deli and bakery has fantastic gluten-free breads, sandwiches, rolls, pizzas and dessert.  GREAT progress!

Beckee and Steve Pollard of Guido's Pizza

Beckee and Steve from Guido's/W.O.W.

Hint of GREATness #1 – Taste has not been compromised by gluten-free status.

Pizza Luce – Minneapolis, MN

Staying in Minneapolis for a wedding weekend in September gave me the opportunity to taste a bit of the Mini-Apple’s famous pizza spot, Pizza Luce. Pizza Luce has 5 locations in Minnesota that are all GREAT trained. At the downtown location, the servers were gluten-free informed and the gluten-free options on their menu extensive.

Gluten-Free Pizza at Pizza Luce

One of Pizza Luce's yummy gluten-free pies

Confession…I ate there twice and could have placed an order for the road. What is it about eating in a restaurant that you know has GREAT status, and all will be well with the tummy? It’s seems you have to try everything that’s offered and more. As the director of GREAT, I know what’s supposed to happen when a dining establishment takes training seriously.

Hint of GREATness #2 – The waitstaff welcomes you with a gluten-free menu, say they’ve been trained, and can answer ingredient questions with ease.

More spots and hints in my future blogs!

-Beckee

See the full list of GREAT Kitchens in the U.S. at www.CeliacCentral.org/kitchens

April 20, 2012 at 10:03 am Leave a comment

Q&A with Fulbright Scholar and Celiac Researcher Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson

You may recognize Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson from NFCA’s Research News. A renowned researcher in the celiac disease field, Dr. Ludvigsson has co-authored some of the most cutting edge studies on this topic.

Currently, Dr. Ludvigsson is on a Fulbright Scholarship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. NFCA Healthcare Relations Manager Kristin Voorhees asked him a few questions about his impressions of celiac disease research in the U.S. compared to his home country, Sweden.

Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson

Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson

NFCA: How is Swedish celiac disease research different from U.S. celiac research?

Dr. Ludvigsson: Several things are different. The awareness of celiac disease is very high in Sweden (together with Finland, we have perhaps the highest awareness in the world). This means that patients are likely to be diagnosed at an earlier stage, since general practitioners test frequently for celiac disease. Hence, a larger proportion of the Swedish celiac community has been diagnosed (compared to the U.S. population).

Another big difference, however, is the existence of the personal identity number (or National identification number).

This number is assigned to all Swedish residents and is unique for each individual. This means that we can trace every individual’s health for the last 30-40 years, and often longer. It also means that people are not “lost” from research, and that we can study thousands, sometimes millions of patients at the same time. For instance, I carried out a study on the risk of preterm birth in children born to mothers with celiac disease where we could compare the risk of preterm birth in 2,000 mothers with celiac disease, to the risk of preterm birth in 2.8 million Swedish women without celiac disease.

Through the personal identity number I have been able to identify about 29,000 patients with celiac disease in Sweden, and we now compare them with almost 150,000 individuals without celiac disease. This has allowed us to calculate the risk of death and cancer in patients with celiac disease. Celiac disease, even in those with a diagnosis, increases the risk of death, but the risk increase is very small. In 1,000 individuals without celiac disease, 7 will die in the next year (0.7%), while in 1,000 celiac patients, 10 (1%) will die next year. 10 is more than 7, but still the risk increases are very small.

NFCA: How can we improve celiac disease awareness in the U.S.?

Dr. Ludvigsson: I think the general awareness of celiac disease is increasing in the U.S.; to a large extent due to the high quality research done in this field in the US, both clinical research and experimental research. If there is one thing that I believe could help American research (and indeed research all over the world) it would be to agree on the definitions of celiac disease and related disorders such as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Our latest paper was a collaboration between researchers in America and elsewhere, and we feel this could be the beginning of even more international collaborations. (Read more about this paper on celiac disease terminology.). Another thing could be to establish collaboration between celiac centers and share experiences. I also think that the work of the NFCA is great – being present at meetings, on the Internet, on Facebook, etc.

NFCA: Where do you think celiac disease research is headed?

Dr. Ludvigsson: I think there are three areas where progress is really needed:

1) Is undiagnosed celiac disease dangerous? And if it is, how dangerous is it, and in what regards?

2) How important is the dietary treatment? I think it is important, but it will not prevent all complications and associated disorders.

3) What is non-celiac gluten sensitivity? Is that dangerous to the individual?

Do you agree with Dr. Ludvigsson’s three points? How do you think the U.S. can improve celiac disease diagnosis?

April 18, 2012 at 10:01 am 6 comments

It’s Spring! Time for a Health Fair!

New Year’s Day may be the time for making resolutions, but the breath of spring in the air makes all of us want to live healthier lives as we get ready to be outdoors more and more. Enter, the health fair!

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of participating in two such events, each one targeting a very specific audience.

Sunday, March 25, brought the annual “Education Day” at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Called Growing up with Celiac: A Forum for Parents and Children, this information-packed event was organized by Dr. Ritu Verma, pediatric gastroenterologist and Section Chief of CHOP’s Gastroenterology and Nutrition group. Dr. Verma leads the Center for Celiac Disease at CHOP and also serves as a very active member of NFCA’s Scientific/Medical Advisory Board.  This lady wears many very important hats!

Dr. Ritu Verma of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Dr. Ritu Verma

The conference covered a wide range o f topics ranging from ‘The Genetics of Celiac Disease,’ with Curt Lind of CHOP, to ‘Celiac + Social Media,’ with Priyanka Chugh, and ‘Bone Health in Children with Celiac Disease,’ with Babette Semel, PhD.

CHOP Education Day March 2012

Welcome to Education Day!

Our own Alice Bast spoke about a topic that is grabbing national attention as students struggle with the gluten-free diet in school and on college campuses. In ‘Gluten-Free Goes to School,’ Alice outlined the perils and some solutions for this important facet of a student’s daily life.

NFCA fans Jillian and Danielle

By the way, there was loads of delicious gluten-free food provided as samples by vendors and also for a plentiful breakfast and lunch.

A big thanks to NFCA volunteer Sarah Terley, who passed out information to parents and kids coming to our table.

Sarah Kristin and Alice at CHOP Education Day March 2012

Sarah Terley, Kristin Voorhees, Alice Bast

Thanks to the discerning palate of my associate, Kristin Voorhees, we ended the day with a delightful meal at Garces Trading Company at 1111 Locust Street in Philadelphia.  The Garces Restaurant Group has completed NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program and, as a result, we were confident that the gluten-free items on the menu really were produced in a safe manner.  Very reassuring. Anne Lee of Schar USA joined us as we enjoyed a delicious gluten-free meal, including fabulous desserts. The quite decadent Chocolat is to die for!

Garces Trading Company

Garces Trading Company

On Saturday, I joined the group at a free Men’s Health Fair at The First Pentecostal Church in Lambertville, NJ. Organized by Jonathan Bridges, a church member and owner of Wallingford Farms, this preventive health collaboration between the church community and healthcare service providers offered lectures plus screening for a variety of the basics: hypertension, hyperglycemia, BMI and more.  Many thanks to Karen Dalrymple and Donna Sawka of the Greater Philadelphia Area Celiac Support Group for coming out to spread the word about celiac disease, gluten-related disorders and the gluten-free diet.

So…great weather, interesting information, delicious food…an all around GREAT experience!

- Nancy

April 5, 2012 at 11:58 am 1 comment


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