Archive for July, 2013
I have three criteria for the perfect block party food:
1) It has to be handheld.
2) It has to be tasty.
3) It has to get people talking.
With those stipulations in mind, I embarked on creating two recipes – one savory, one sweet – for NFCA’s Virtual Summer Block Party. The only requirements were that I use Blue Diamond’s new Artisan Nut Thins and one of the many gluten-free products from Go Veggie! (I chose the dairy-free cream cheese alternative because it seemed the most versatile.)
Products in hand, I proceeded to take a “Chopped!” approach and made my dishes using only the ingredients I could find in my kitchen. Since the whole point of the Summer Block Party is to help everyone feel more confident and included at food-centric social events, I decided to make my recipes not only gluten-free, but also vegetarian.
First up, I created a spin on stuffed tomatoes. I have looked at a number of stuffed tomato recipes online, but never have tried them myself. Some call for baking the tomato, but for this batch, I left the oven off. Instead, I crumbled up the Artisan Nut Thins and toasted them in a pan, which added a nutty flavor and crunch to each bite.
I’m not one for exact measures when creating recipes, so you’ll have to bear with me when I say just wing it on the amounts. Everyone has their preferred veggies-to-cream cheese ratio, and I tend to use more pepper than salt in my seasoning. So, customize it to your liking.
For the sweet dish, I first tried blending strawberries with the Go Veggie! Cream Cheese Alternative. What I didn’t anticipate was that the water in the strawberries would thin the cream cheese out too much. It was delicious, but didn’t have the heft that I was looking for in a cracker topping. My guess is that it would make a fantastic pie filling, especially if mixed with a gluten-free, dairy-free vanilla pudding. Chilling the mixture in the fridge also helps it set up.
In my second attempt, I opted for a deconstructed strawberry cheesecake. I mixed the cream cheese alternative with agave nectar, spread it on Artisan Nut Thins, and then topped it with balsamic glazed strawberries. This recipe earned a verbal declaration: “Winner!” For an even sweeter bite, I would recommend dusting the Artisan Nut Thins with some cinnamon and sugar and giving them a quick bake in the oven before adding the toppings. (Make sure they are completely cool so the cream cheese spread doesn’t get runny.)
If you ask me, these recipes offer more interest than the standard chips, salsa and fruit salad, but I’m eager to hear what you think. Invite the neighbors over, give these recipes a whirl, and let us know how it goes!
Last month I had the honor of participating in the Drug Information Association’s (DIA) 49th Annual Meeting as a 2013 DIA Patient Advocate Fellow.
Because the gluten-free diet is currently the only treatment for celiac disease, some of you may be curious as to why I was interested in attending a meeting focused on the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory sciences.
Today we know that the gluten-free diet isn’t perfect – cross-contamination, isolation, constant fear of being gluten-ed, worry about finding a safe meal when dining out or traveling, the list could go on.
But these truths have not always been recognized or established.
Celiac disease was once considered a rare childhood condition that could be wholly treated by eliminating dietary gluten and these misconceptions significantly hindered research into pharmaceutical therapies for decades.
As one of the most commonly occurring lifelong genetically-determined diseases with an increased risk of health complications such as bone disease, infertility and intestinal and bowel cancers if left untreated, it is critical that celiac disease be recognized as a chronic condition worthy of the pharmaceutical industry’s attention.
Although a pharmaceutical treatment is absent from today’s market, it is exciting to have three treatments currently undergoing clinical trials in the US, each offering the patient population a unique solution for their celiac disease.
As these trials, and hopefully one day others, progress, it is essential that celiac disease patient advocacy organizations know how to navigate the pharmaceutical industry and the regulatory science field. An alternative treatment for celiac disease is no longer a hope but a reality and patients must learn about their important role in scientific research, how drugs are discovered and developed, and how clinical trials are conducted. In this case, knowledge is truly power.
A sincere thanks to Donna Mayer, the DIA Board of Directors, the 2013 Fellows, DIA Fellow Alumni, and the many professionals involved in the selection process and planning of this year’s meeting. It was a transformative experience and an incredible learning opportunity and I look forward to applying my new found knowledge to my work as a health communications professional.
Want more info?
Stay on top of the latest news in the world of celiac disease drug development and clinical trials by visiting NFCA’s new web section on these very topics.
The next few days will be particularly busy for our president, Alice Bast. She’s speaking at two conferences – the School Nutrition Association (SNA) Annual National Conference and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo – in the course of 48 hours.
The two audiences are vastly different, but they both play critical roles in keeping our community safe. School nutrition teams are key advocates in coordinating gluten-free school lunches for children with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. Food technologists make sure we have gluten-free options in the first place, spending months testing new formulations and making adjustments to create gluten-free products that are tasty and safe.
I’ve had the privilege to work on both presentations, gathering facts, creating slides and rehearsing with Alice to make sure we are delivering the most up-to-date information and explaining why this topic is so important. With so much attention on the gluten-free “fad,” we believe it’s more important than ever to emphasize the medical necessity of the gluten-free diet and the serious health concerns associated with that need.
Alice will not be alone in sharing this information. She’ll be joined by some incredible people who are leaders in their industries.
At the SNA Conference, Alice will be presenting with Gabriela Pacheco, RDN, LD, SNS, a school nutrition consultant with a keen interest in accommodating special dietary needs. You may remember Gabriela from last year’s Back-to-School webinar; she served as our panelist and shared a number of helpful tips that parents can use when working with school nutrition teams.
At the IFT Meeting and Expo, Alice will be presenting with Jennifer Williams of Penford Food Ingredients, which produces the gluten-free starches found in many of your favorite gluten-free foods. Penford is constantly developing new ingredients to help manufacturers improve the taste, texture and nutrition of gluten-free products. It falls under the category of “things I never knew existed before I worked at NFCA,” but it’s a critical step in making sure your gluten-free food is not only safe, but also something that you’ll want to eat.
Giri Veeramuthu of PacMoore Products, a contract manufacturer that works on gluten-free products, will also share his insights during the presentation.
Our trade show presentations are one of those behind-the-scenes functions that make a big difference in our mission to increase diagnoses and improve quality of life. It’s our chance to bring the voice of all people affected by celiac disease and gluten sensitivity to the forefront, and we wish we could bring you all along to see the education in action!
What are you interested in learning about the trade shows that NFCA attends? We are interested in hearing your thoughts, so leave a comment below!
The following guest post is from NFCA volunteer Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free.
I love jumbo shrimp and this is an easy way to have them on the barbecue, with just a few steps beforehand. After they’ve soaked up the marinade, just thread through skewers, or even place in one of those metal baskets for the grill.
The lime adds a great “tang”!
Gluten-Free BBQ Shrimp with Lime Marinade
- 1 lb. extra-jumbo shrimp (approx. 16 per lb.)
- 1 lime (you need the grated zest from it and all of the juice squeezed from it)
- ½ Tbsp. finely diced poblano pepper (You can freeze the remaining pepper for the future)
- 3 Tbsp. light extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
- Pinch of salt (Sea salt preferred)
- 1 tsp. fresh parsley flakes, chopped in small pieces
- First, peel and devein the shrimp, trying your best to leave the tails on.
- In a medium bowl combine all of the remaining ingredients, stirring well. Add the shrimp and toss so they’re coated all around.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Thread on skewers (or use a metal barbecue basket that will allow you to rotate the shrimp so all sides get cooked). If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak in water before threading, so they don’t burn on the grill.
- Place on a hot grill, and grill for about 3 minutes on each side, until turning pink. A lovely side dish is a saffron rice, but whichever side dish you choose, these are great!
For tips on safe gluten-free grilling, check out the Gluten-Free Summer Safety Tips blog series from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.
Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free
Annette is a native New Yorker, now living in New Jersey. Since she was diagnosed with celiac disease well after the age of 50, Annette has made it her mission to raise awareness in the hopes that others won’t have to live for years with unexplained symptoms as she did. Some of Annette’s recipes are inspired by traditional Italian recipes, but she adds other original gluten-free recipes to the mix. Her “semi-homemade” and from “scratch” recipes are meant for busy families eating gluten-free. For more of Annette’s gluten-free recipes, visit her blog at www.BestLifeGlutenFree.com.