Posts tagged ‘annsley’

15 Cheap Gluten-Free Things To Do This Summer In and Around Philadelphia

As the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) revs up for Appetite for Awareness in Philadelphia, we asked our local volunteer Annsley to share a few places that make this city great. Annsley is a teacher, a mom, and owner of Gluten Freedoms, a gluten-free consulting business. She also is an avid Philadelphian!

My daughter is not one to sit still (and neither am I).  So, summer is the perfect time for us to play in the sun and share precious outdoor moments that don’t involve gluten.

  1. Go Fruit or Veggie Picking – If you’re looking for Organic, Integrated Pest Management (IMP), or just run of the mill fruit, this is the season.  Strawberries have come and gone, but there are still blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and peaches to come.  At Longview Center for Agriculture, you can pick fresh veggies like kale, collards, basil, mustard greens, and thyme as well as blueberries.  (They happen to also make AMAZING gluten-free smoothies).  Call ahead to see if what you want to pick is still in season.

    Blueberry Picking

    My daughter and I picking blueberries.

  2. Go Hiking or Camping – It’s easy to get caught up in the busy city life.  One of the most peaceful and relaxing things we do is find a trail where we can stop, look, and listen to nature.  Philadelphia has one of the largest urban park systems in the world, spanning about 10,500-acres!  You can find trails close at the Horticulture Center or at the Wissahickon Valley Park, (our favorite place), that has over 50 miles of trails that follow the Wissahickon Creek.  There are plenty of state parks and the Pocono Mountains have no shortage of campgrounds and cabins.

    Hiking on the Wissahickon Trail

    Hiking the Wissahickon Trail

  3. Engage in Water Play – You can stay right in front of your home with a hose and a squirt bottle or within the neighborhood at spraygrounds, swimming pools, and creeks.  In Philadelphia we are lucky to have a newly created urban wet zone called Sister Cities Park.

    Playing in the Pool

    The girls cooling off in their ducky float.

  4. Visit Frog Ponds – A city is full of wildlife; you just have to know where to find it.  It’s pretty cool to watch the tadpoles swim, the camouflage frogs leap in the air, and the croaks reverberate all around.  The Schuylkill Environmental Center, Wissahickon Creek at Mt. Airy Ave., Pastorious Park all have ponds with croaking frogs.

    The Frog Pond

    We spotted a frog!

  5. Create a Frozen Treat – There is nothing better than a cool, sweet treat on a hot summer’s day.  Once my daughter and I have picked our delicious berries, we often make them into frozen popsicles.  In a pinch, we will use fruit juice or frozen fruit to make popsicles.  Ice cream is also a delicious summer treat.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker, there is always the fun plastic baggie method!

    Homemade Popsicles

    Homemade Popsicles

  6. Make and Play with Bubbles – Need an afternoon activity for the summer heat?  Mix your own bubble mixtureand/or make your own bubble blowers out of pipe cleaners or old hangers.  Of course, the store bought method is also excellent!

    Blowing Bubbles

    Blowing bubbles

  7. Preserve or Can Fruit– I learned how to do this while spending summers with my grandma in Alabama.  When we have leftover berries, we preserve them to keep that summery flavor all year round.

    Preserved Strawberries

    Our preserved strawberries

  8. Drink Tea at The Japanese Garden – Here you can come in and have tea and learn about the Japanese ritual, which is considered an art form, a spiritual discipline, and a way to socialize.  In the Japanese culture, tea ceremonies have been practiced for over 450 years. Shofuso is the Japanese Garden next to Fairmount Park’s Horticulture Center in Philadelphia and it offers tea ceremonies and tea classes.
  9. Plant a Garden– You can plant in pots or in the ground, with seeds or buy a baby plant.  Either way, it’s fun to get your hands a little dirty and to watch as your plant blossoms before your eyes.  We like to plant things we can eat like herbs, tomatoes, and peas!

    Planting Peas in a Garden

    Planting peas in the garden

  10. Create a Lemonade Stand – Remember those youthful summer days when you made your own lemonade stand?  You can squeeze your own lemons or have a quick fix with the frozen kind.  It’s the perfect, refreshing, gluten-free drink.
  11. Bike or Rollerblade – It’s great to get out and enjoy the fresh air on your bike, scooter, or blades.  Here in Philly we have a path along the Schuylkill River banks where you can bring your own set of wheels or rent them right in front of Lloyd Hall on Kelly Drive.


    Biking on the sidewalk

  12. Go Geocaching or Letterboxing – Both are outdoor treasure hunting games where X marks the spot.  If you’re an adventurous soul who enjoys a compass and a map, Geocaching using GPS might be for you.  If you’d prefer following clues, than your adventure game is Letterboxing.


    Going letterboxing

  13. Watch the Trains – Some towns have garden railways, which are miniature worlds set up in gardens through which weather resistant model trains abound. If you are local to Philadelphia, you can watch them at Morris Arboretum or the “real” big commuter and Amtrak trains at 30th Street Station.

    Watching trains

    Watching the trains at Morris Arboretum

  14. Interact with Sculptures – Sculpture gardens meld the outdoors with art.  All ages can interact with them, and they really spur some great conversations.  We went to one at the Abington Arts Center, and my daughter stuck her hand through the mouth of the sculpture. Then she promptly told me that they were saying, “No, you may not do that!”  (Wonder where she got that from!)

    Sculpture Garden

    Interacting with the sculptures in the garden.

  15. Watch Outdoor Concerts and Movies – Most cities hold (FREE) outdoor concerts and outdoor movies, where you can pack a picnic and share with friends.  It’s a great way to go relax, be outdoors, and enjoy the cooler night air.  In Philadelphia there are multiple venues all over the city (to list a few): Pastorious Park (Chestnut Hill), Schuylkill Banks (Center City), Philly at the Movies (rotating Center City venues), Moonlight Movies in Mt. Airy, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Bike-In Movies (Center City South Street), The Awesome Fest Film Series at Liberty Lands Park (Northern Liberties), Gorgas Park Movie Night (Roxborough), Screenings Under the Stars at Penn’s Landing.

– Annsley


July 10, 2012 at 9:27 am 1 comment

Gluten-Free Passover Facts and Tips

By Annsley Klehr

Passover is a time of remembering the past and celebrating the fact that we Jews are no longer slaves in Egypt. The lengthy dinner we have is called a Seder, which means order. We follow this order using a Hagaddah, which guides us in the order of the 15 different holiday rituals.

Then we spend the next 8 days trying to remember what it was like by removing leavened bread from our diets, because the slaves did not have enough time to wait for their bread to rise in the ovens before running for freedom. That’s why we eat matzah, an unleavened, cracker-like bread. Needless to say, unleavened bread is still made from wheat and is not gluten-free.

But don’t worry!  There is now excellent gluten-free matzah on the market and well as many gluten-free products this time of year!

Facts and Tips for a Gluten-Free Passover

Fact #1: Some Jews also avoid rice, corn, peanuts, legumes, and pulses, since they could be grown in the same fields as the wheat and have a risk for cross-contamination.  (This rule really depends on the person and how closely he/she follows Jewish Law).

Tip #1: Choose how strictly you want to keep a Passover diet.  Passover is a time for celebration and remembrance, but you also never want to compromise your health.  I choose to eat rice, corn, peanuts, and legumes on Passover.


Annsley's daughter with gluten-free matzah

My daughter loves gluten-free matzah.

Fact #2: There is another group of strictly Orthodox Jews who do not eat “gebrochts,” which is Yiddish for “broken.”  That means that they avoid any matzah (wheat) product that has come into contact with liquid after it has been baked.

Tip #2: Since gebrochts technically refers to wheat-based products, then “non-gebrochts” means products that do not contain wheat. Look for this statement on packaged goods and you will know that they are not only wheat-free, but also produced in a wheat-free facility, due to the strict nature of Passover laws.

Annsley and daughter with gluten-free matzah

And so do I!

Fact #3: According to, for a product to be qualified as “kosher for Passover” it must be free of “Wheat – all classes, Barley, Spelt, Rye, Oats, Legumes & rice or any derivative of theirs.”  (Matzah is an exception because it is unleavened.) In addition, there is a strict sterilization process for any equipment used to manufacture “kosher for Passover” products.

Tip #3: The kosher for Passover facilities are extremely careful with grains, so I often stock up on gluten-free products for the rest of the year:

  • chocolate bars
  • cocoa powder
  • potato starch
  • baking mixes for cakes and cookies
  • gluten-free/non-gebrochts matzah and matzah crackers

 Note: Not all products follow the strict Orthodox traditions. Therefore, some products for Passover are made in facilities that also process wheat. Read labels carefully.

Gluten-Free Panko with NFCA logo

One of my latest gluten-free Passover finds!

Passover is my favorite holiday. It’s a chance for friends and family to get a little “taste” of what it’s like to be gluten-free.  It’s also a great time to invite friends and family to join you in celebration, or  to experience another culture while sharing a stress-free and gluten-free environment. Just don’t forget your gluten-free matzah!

Happy Passover!

Read more from Annsley, including a personal story about Passover, on her website: Gluten Freedoms LLC

About Annsley

Annsley Klehr is the owner of Gluten Freedoms, LLC, a gluten-free coaching and consulting business.

March 31, 2012 at 8:39 am Leave a comment

10 Fun (and Gluten-Free) Things to Do Since the Groundhog Saw His Shadow

[The groundhog saw his shadow. Now what? Our volunteer Annsley Klehr has some ideas for keeping the kids occupied until Spring rolls around. Find more tips from Annsley in NFCA’s Parenting Articles.]

By Annsley Klehr

We all know that winter can bring on a feeling of hibernation, but only to a certain degree.  After a while, you get that cooped up feeling.  You know, like when you were a little kid and were driving your parents nuts because you kept begging them for a playmate? Of course, any activity also has to account for dietary restrictions, but don’t worry!  Here is a list of activities that kept me gluten-free and plenty busy with my daughter this winter, even if we have to spend a little extra time indoors.

1.  Watch a Movie – Take your family to a movie and stash some bagged popcorn or HalfPops in your bag. You can also make some homemade hot chocolate and popcorn on the stovetop to enjoy with a movie on your comfy couch (a warm blanket is a plus!).

2.  Play a Game – Remember your good ole deck of cards or a board game that could entertain you for hours?  Dust them off and put them to use!  There’s bound to be some good laughs.  Even if your child is young, he/she can still find matches or pairs in a simplified version of Go Fish.  When that gets old, make up your own game.

Layla in chair

No cabin fever here!

3. Read a Book – Cuddle up on the couch with your kid(s) and share a quiet moment either reading together or separately. Sometimes it’s fun to read something like Where’s Waldo? together where everyone is a part of the book.

4. Put Together a Puzzle – Puzzles are a great calming way to help develop spatial skills.  Doing them together helps to reinforce communication skills and teaches how to negotiate with others.

Layla with puzzle

Everyone loves a good puzzle.

5.  Make a Gift – The art of making something for someone you care about, whether it be a card, birthday present, housewarming gift or just something small to show someone you care often gets overlooked.  It is quite a special way to share joy with your child and teach them other ways to show love and appreciation.  Out of ideas?  Try checking for inspiration.

6. Take a Hike – Check out the trails around you and enjoy the respite from the hubbub of daily life. Point out trees and plants budding, animals that live in the woods, sounds of nature, etc.  We take time to use many of our senses to describe what we see, smell, hear and touch. Don’t forget to make yourself some gluten-free GORP (good old-fashioned raisins and peanuts) for using your sense of taste!  We like to make it using peanuts, gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate chips, dried fruit, assorted seeds and nuts from the grocery store, raisins, and gluten-free O’s cereal, to name a few.

7.  Pop Popcorn – Make popcorn from organic corn kernels over the stovetop and watch them pop, Pop, POP.  Then add your favorite toppings: butter, cheese, salt, chocolate, etc.

8.  Create an Indoor Scavenger Hunt – What’s more fun than reading simple clues and finding what might normally be a boring object in your house?  It will provide hours of entertainment.

For Example (from simple to complex):

  • A purple crayon
  • Something blue and white?
  • Something long?
  • Something that can get wet?
  • It’s hiding in a room of red, behind a heap and used for bed.

Not ready to create your own?  Fantasy, Jr. has printable ones for you.

Then you have your more traditional poems like the one from Scavenger Hunt Fun, in which a clue is left and you have to solve it to get to your next clue.  The final location usually has a surprise waiting for you.

9.  Ride a Train – Too cold to go outside, but need something to get you out of the house?  Pack a few snacks and get on the train for a quick tour of your city.  Looking out the window of a moving train can be incredibly thrilling.  If that’s not enough, bring travel bingo cards with you.  Make them yourself, use online printables, or buy them here.

10. Roast S’mores – Thought you couldn’t have them anymore?  Make a fire over your grill, your gas burner or a fire pit and then bring along a box of gluten-free graham crackers or bread, marshmallows and gluten-free chocolate for melt-in-your-mouth s’mores.  If you want to try something a bit more original, after roasting your marshmallow, sprinkle some gluten-free chocolate chips into the middle for a different mouth-watering sensation!

Please add your own ideas to this list to share!

About Annsley

Annsley Klehr is a classroom teacher and owner of Gluten Freedoms, LLC, a gluten-free coaching and consulting business.

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February 17, 2012 at 9:08 am Leave a comment

Tips for Traveling Gluten-Free By Plane, Train and Automobile

[NFCA volunteer Annsley is back with more gluten-free holiday tips. This time, she explains how to prepare for travel when gluten-free food may be limited.]

We all know what it’s like to be in a packing frenzy less than 12 hours before your trip.  My favorite holiday flick is “Home Alone,” when the family is packing up a gaggle of people and things, and then of course comes the missing headcount when Macaulay Culkin gets left behind.

In all my packing frenzy, I have yet to forget my daughter.  However, I will never forget my honeymoon to New Zealand, land of beauty, tranquility, and cars that drive on the “other” side of the road.  My newlywed husband and I were shutting the door to our apartment and locking it as he turned to me and said, “I don’t have my driver’s license.”  What I interpreted from him, “I haven’t seen my driver’s license in 3 weeks since we took that trip to Savannah.”  Did I mention that I’d already been having nightmares about driving on the other side of the road or that you cannot drive a car in another country with just your passport?  So started the beginning of our marriage and my new career as a chauffer.  (In these past 4 years, he hasn’t lost his driver’s license again – just his passport!)

Annsley Klehr

Annsley Klehr

These days, most of the packing falls to me: Did I remember my contacts, my phone charger, the baby’s wipes, diapers, and my underwear?!  And of course, we’ve all made it halfway to our destination when we remember exactly what it was we could not put our finger on – my daughter’s pajamas – and we still have a good time.

But wait! Ever since being diagnosed with celiac disease, I have to remember the cooler, too!  It always seemed enough to worry about my suitcase, but now traveling gluten-free has added a bit of extra packing stress to my life.  To combat the frenetic packing zone I get in, I have a few helpful hints that get me traveling and still feeling good with relatively few hassles.

By Plane

I almost always get stopped going through security.  Once my unopened jar of peanut butter was confiscated for being a liquid.  Yep, that’s right!  My unopened can of tuna got the same bad rap.  I have now learned a few tricks of the trade to make it through the security checkpoint without losing a thing, even if it is as liquid.  I pack for both my daughter and myself the night before the trip:

1. Carry a doctor’s note with you.  Make several color copies of it (so you have the real deal safe at home), and laminate them so that you have several copies to save and with which to travel.  Whenever security stops you, just pull it out.  If you don’t have one, write your own little card explaining your dietary issues.

2. Carry a travel-size cooler with an arm strap.  To manage my load, I consider this my personal item, and then I usually take a backpack so my hands are free to grab my daughter.

3. Ice packs – I always put all my food in a cooler with an ice pack.  If you’re nervous about an ice pack, you can use those plastic re-useable ice cubes and fit them in a snack size zip-lock baggy.  It’s less than 2 oz., so you don’t have to worry.

4. Stash good snacks in the cooler. I pre-bag all snacks in little bags or small plastic tupperware containers.  They come in handy later in the trip.  This is a good way to empty your fridge before leaving, so I just fill the cooler with what we have on hand.

  • Sandwich – I usually will make some sort of gluten-free sandwich or two to carry on.  That way, I don’t travel with that jar of peanut butter.
  • Baby Bonbel individually wrapped cheese or string cheese.  Cracker Barrel has prepackaged cheeses, too.
  • Fruit – grapes, clementines, apples
  • Gluten-free pretzels – I put these in a little reusable sandwich bag.  Glutino makes some good ones.
  • Crackers – We like Back to Nature brand.
  • Trail Mix – Enjoy Life makes several kinds.  Sometimes, I mix my own with gluten-free pretzels, seeds, nuts, raisins, and cranberries.
  • Gluten-free muffins – I often bake up what’s in my house, take some with me and freeze the rest.
  • Raw veggies – carrots, cucumbers, celery, baby tomatoes
  • Yogurt – either the individual cups, I put some in a little container.
  • A treat – Kinnikinnick makes excellent graham crackers, but use what you’d like. Plan to pack extra.  See #8.

5. Plastic Utensils – I try to keep a knife, fork, spoon, and napkins always in the cooler pocket.  That way I never forget, and if they break or I lose one we can always pick up more in the airport.

6. Baby Wipes – These are great for cleaning up messes.

7. Extra Ziploc bags – I use them for trash or repacking opened items, but if you forget, you can always use the barf bag on the airplane as long as you don’t get motion sick!

8. A special kid’s snack for the snack cart or, in my case, bribery – It became clear that my cute, boisterous, and obstinate daughter refused to put her seatbelt on and sit in her seat at take off.  To settle her down, the flight attendant offered her animal crackers with gluten. Yikes!  I have since learned to carry my own treat to sneak to the flight attendant in such instances.  This can also be used when the drink and snack cart gets pushed around, too.

By Train or Car

1. Bring a cooler, but a larger one than the one used for the plane. Use the tips above to think of good food ideas. Make sure to pack it all up the night before and leave the food in containers in the fridge until just before heading out.
Buy some ice.

2. Bring non-perishables, too – I usually pack a grocery bag full of gluten-free bread, peanut butter (or whatever you can eat), jelly and canned tuna, along with a can-opener, plastic utensils, napkins, wipes, etc.  That way, if we have to stop and there’s nothing around, I have my own little dining stash.

3. Carry a dining card with you at all times that specifies what you can and cannot eat.  I like to give this to the chefs in restaurants when I go out; it makes my life so much easier.

4. Research your route and find acceptable dining locations and groceries – To this day, I use the old-fashioned map.  I put dots on it along our route so I know where it’s safe to stop and sometimes the hours they’re open.  We often drive late at night.

Packing ahead of time and cleaning out the refrigerator before I go really helps me in terms of time management and maintaining a low anxiety level.  No matter how delayed we are or how often the car breaks down, I am always well prepared.  Happy, healthy, and safe travels over this holiday season!

– Annsley Klehr
Gluten Freedoms, LLC

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December 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm 5 comments

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Tips: 3 Scenarios

[We’ve been on the hunt for the best gluten-free holiday tips. Naturally, we asked NFCA volunteer Annsley to share her advice. Here’s how she stays gluten-free at Thanksgiving, no matter what’s on the table.]

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year because it speaks to cool, crisp air, falling leaves, harvests, family gatherings, and lots of food.  This all sounds great!  Then the reality of the situation hits; my imagination runs wild and I see a playground for gluten: The slide is a big wet lasagna noodle, the swings seats are plump, cushy pumpkin muffins, the dirt is stuffing giving way under the shuffle of feet as animals, adults, and kids slurp and slide all over, smearing gluten from one play structure to the next.

Then the chilly fall air blows across my face and I’m back to reality – gobs of friends and family hovering over the food, fingers picking, serving spoons jumping from one platter to the next. . . This could end up as a regular old disaster, but I then I take hold of my imagination and decide to control the situation with ORDER.

Tips for Thanksgiving when you have TOTAL control:

  •  If it’s up to you, make all dishes gluten-free. That way, you’ll have no cross-contamination issues!

Tips for Thanksgiving when you have PARTIAL control:

  •  Make sure there are some gluten-free dishes that are available to you.
  • Ask to be the first one served and/or make your own plate before all the guests are served.  Take enough for seconds, because once the dishes are touched by others, it could be a slippery slope.
  • Set the gluten-free dishes on a separate table or a separate section on the table.  They should be the first dishes in the line-up.
  • If you’re feeling brave, make a little note next to the gluten-free dishes that says:

This dish is gluten-free and may become contaminated if brought into contact with other dishes.  Please use only this serving spoon with it.

 Tips for Thanksgiving when you have ZERO control:

  •  Bring your own food.
  • Put your food on one of the plates that everyone else has and bring it out to your place when everyone else sits down to eat.

– Annsley Klehr
Gluten Freedoms, LLC

More from Annsley:

November 15, 2011 at 11:56 am 3 comments

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