Posts tagged ‘gluten intolerance’

10 Easy Ways to Celebrate Celiac Awareness Day 2013

Raising awareness is a prime focus here at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).  So, you can image that we have lots of ideas for raising celiac disease awareness every day, but especially on Friday, September 13 – Celiac Awareness Day.

Even if you are short on time, we have ideas that will have a big impact if we all work together.  Check out our 10 suggestions for raising celiac disease awareness:

Share the Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist

Did you know 83% of the estimated 3 million Americans living with celiac disease are still undiagnosed or misdiagnosed?  You can help put these people on the path to diagnosis by sharing the Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist.  Share it on social media or print it out and hand it to a friend, coworker or family member.

Provide your insight for parents of gluten-free kids.

Maybe your child has been diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’) for a while.  Perhaps you have a newly diagnosed child, but found a great trick for making things easier for them and yourself.  Either way, share your tip with NFCA for the Back to School Gluten-Free Tip series.  When you do, you’ll automatically be entered to win two mixed cases of Crunchmaster Cheezy & Grammy Crisps.  Grab all the details here.

Try a new recipe.

Cook something new for dinner this weekend.  Not only will this help you find additional recipe options, but if you share it with a friend, you’ll be proving just how delicious gluten-free can be.

Wear green.

Show your support by wearing green – green pants, shirt, shoes, nail polish, hair ribbon, socks, whatever!  If you’re feeling extra adventurous, upload a picture of you and your friends wearing green to NFCA’s Facebook page.  We’ll add it to our “Wear Green” photo album.

Help get the facts out there.

NFCA has a section for printable guides.  Consider printing a few, like the “What is Celiac Disease?” information sheet, and leave them at your doctor’s office or favorite local store.

Use a hashtag.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we got #celiacawareness trending on Twitter?  Tweet a celiac disease statistic to spread the word to your followers.  Feel free to give NFCA a shout out at @CeliacAwareness, too!

Donate or make a purchase in honor of Celiac Awareness Day.

At NFCA, we appreciate every donation we receive, whether it’s for $10 or $1,000, it truly makes a difference in our ability to provide free programs and services to people living with gluten-related disorders.  If you live in the Philadelphia area, consider attending our 10 Year Anniversary Celebration, a fundraiser for the organization.  If you can’t attend, you can always share the details with someone you know.

Some organizations, like Scent-Sations, make a donation to NFCA when one of their products are purchased.  More details can be found here.

Talk to your family about celiac disease testing.

Since celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease, meaning that it runs in families, it’s important for family members to get tested, whether they have symptoms or not.  Raise awareness in your family by sharing the facts.  We have some tools to help you get the conversation started.

Make sure you are up to date on the latest celiac disease news and research.

Researchers are working hard to better understand various aspects of celiac disease.  Visit NFCA’s Research News Feed to stay up to date on their findings and check in periodically with the Drug Development and Clinical Research page to see how you can get involved in advancing research.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially ruled on gluten-free food labeling.  Learn what it means for you and your family by registering for the free NFCA webinar, “Understanding the FDA’s Gluten-Free Labeling Rule: What You Need to Know.”  NFCA will also compile an informational sheet with key details from the webinar in the weeks following the live airing.  If you can’t make it, don’t worry!  Just register for the webinar and we’ll e-mail you a link to the archived version when it becomes available.

Share your ideas with NFCA.

These are just some of the many ways we can all work together to raise awareness.  Tell us how you’re celebrating!  Leave a comment on this blog, tweet us at @CeliacAwareness or drop us a line on our Facebook page.

Thanks for reading!  I can’t wait to hear everyone’s ideas.  Happy Celiac Awareness Day!

-          Alicia

September 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm 3 comments

Chef Janet’s Time-Saving Tips for the Kitchen

The following guest post is from Chef Janet, a certified culinarian.

So many of my clients are new to a gluten-free diet, most due to celiac disease. They are people who used to eat out or do a lot of take out, so they don’t have a lot of confidence in the kitchen. Many think that cooking from scratch always takes a long time – but that’s not true. Yummy, interesting meals can be quick and easy. The key to easy meals is simply knowing how to plan your cooking. So here are some of my tips to remember.

  1. If you’re using the oven or the grill turn them on first, so they’re hot when you need them.
  2. To do your preparation, pick a spot that is as close as you can get to the stove/oven and the sink. If you have a small kitchen this is easy.
  3. Bring the trash can to that spot. I know some people use a garbage bowl, but that just means more dishes to wash. This will save you time walking around the kitchen.
  4. Next pull out all the ingredients AND tools you will need to prepare the meal – cutting boards, knives, pans, pots, cooking utensils etc. Take an extra minute to think about it so again, there is no extra time spent walking around the kitchen trying to track down the missing items.
  5. If there is any chopping or cutting to be done, do it all at once. Cut produce first, meat last so you can use the same cutting board – we like washing less dishes!
  6. Start with the items that take the longest to cook. Then while they’re cooking you can prepare the rest.
  7. Always cook more than you’ll eat in that one meal so that there are leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner. The only thing that I don’t like the next day is seafood, anything else can be eaten again. Items can always be re-purposed with a new sauce or by adding different ingredients. Throw extra veggies on a salad, make curry chicken salad from leftover plain chicken.
  8. If you have one day with a little extra time make an extra veggie dish, some extra rice or quinoa, a big green salad to last a couple of meals. All these items will store well in the fridge.

Remember just take a few minutes every week or every few days to think about how you can cook once and have enough for a couple of meals and meal planning will be a breeze!

About Chef Janet

Chef Janet

Chef Janet applies her culinary knowledge into creating gluten-free dishes that rival your favorites and will satisfy even the fussiest eaters.  She is a Certified Culinarian with the American Culinary Federation and is ServSafe Certified with the National Restaurant Association.  Janet has a Master’s Degree in Education from UCLA and more than 20 years of experience as a teacher and trainer.  She combines all her skills as a teacher and chef to design customized gluten-free recipes and menus and teaches clients to prepare them for their family and friends. Chef Janet has been gluten-free for 10 years.

September 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

Gluten Free Cranberry-Orange Scones

The following post is from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) volunteer Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free.

I had no desserts or snacks on hand today, and for me, that’s a horrible situation! I have a tremendous sweet tooth. So…out came the measuring spoons, cups, and other essentials.

There are certain flavors that go so well together…and these two are a perfect example: Cranberry and Orange.

I had a Cranberry-Orange Scone that was commercially made, gluten-free of course, and loved those tastes together. So, rather than spend $5.00 on one (“gulp!”), I decided to experiment on a recipe at home.  And you know what? It didn’t involve that much work or even that much time.

So, if you have the desire, and a little bit of time, try my scone recipe. And I’ll bet you can even change up the flavors once you’ve made this recipe and come up with something special that you’ll like just as much as I love these.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend (such as Arrowhead Mill), plus additional for dusting your board or surface.
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum (Omit if already added to flour blend)
  • 1 stick cold sweet butter (8 Tbsp.) cut into small pieces. Keep cold until ready to begin adding.
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (If you like, use ¾ cup Half &Half instead of milk & cream)
  • 1 egg1 tsp. gluten-free pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. orange juice- from a fresh orange
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest – from same orange of course.
  •  1/3 cup cranberries – dried
  • Small amount Demerara sugar for sprinkling on top.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line your baking or cookie sheet with parchment paper. No need to grease or spray.
  2. In large bowl, place all dry ingredients. Mix by hand just to make sure they are all incorporated together. Add the zest and combine.
  3. Take out the cold butter and “cut in” to the dry ingredients with pastry cutter tool or forks. Don’t use mixer here.
  4. In another smaller bowl, hand blend the wet ingredients including the egg and orange juice.
  5. Add the wet to the bowl with the dry. If you use a hand mixer, don’t beat too much. Once it gets a little stiff, stop and use clean hands. Form 2 balls. It should be easy to do this, since the batter will stick. If you feel it’s really too dry and doesn’t “stick together,” add a drop or two more milk. But not a lot of additional milk.
  6. On the dusted surface, place the two balls and flatten into 2 discs. They should be about 7-8 inches wide.
  7. Brush top with a little bit of milk and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
  8. Cut with a sharp knife into triangles and using a flat spatula, gently lift off board and place on the parchment paper on your baking sheet.
  9. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until light golden in color.
  10. Cool on the paper, and store in air-tight container when cooled. (Don’t cover while warm or moisture beads will form inside.)

This is really easy to do, and makes a great breakfast treat on a weekend morning! Actually, it’s a nice treat at any time of day!

- Annette

Annette Marie

Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free


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.

August 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm 1 comment

Trials and Tribulations – My First Experience with Gluten-Free Baking

New to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team, Healthcare Relations Intern Josh Goldberg has developed an interest in all things celiac disease and gluten-free related.  Eager to get more involved, Josh took to the kitchen to put his gluten-free baking skills to the test.  Read on for Josh’s account of his first try at gluten-free baking.

Savory Avocado Coconut Cookies.

I glared at my monitor incredulously.  It sounded like the sort of thing you would make on a dare.  I had wandered into this recipe while searching for something gluten-free to bake.  If I had a lick of common sense, I would have stuck with something a little more traditional for a dessert.  My eyes darted down to the ingredients and baking steps.  The recipe only required three ingredients: a large avocado, coconut flour, and some salt.  All I had to do was mash up the avocado, mix it into the coconut flour and salt, toss the concoction onto a tray, and leave in the oven for a bit.

Savory Avocado Coconut Cookies.  Three ingredients.  Seven steps.  What could go wrong?

I scrambled over to Whole Foods and picked up the necessary ingredients.  Once I got home, I pre-heated the oven and got to work.  The avocado peel came off easily and I attacked the fruit with all the precision of Norman Bates.  Some of the resulting mess ended up on the floor where the cat sniffed it curiously and then retreated.  I tried not to think of it as a bad omen and dumped the appropriate amount of coconut flour into the avocado’s bowl.

After the salt was added, I grabbed a big spoon and started to mix.  It felt like I was pushing sand.  The flour and avocado were adhering to one another, but the product was crumbling and barely clumping.  It took a good long while to bunch the mixture into what can only be described as The World’s Saddest Cookies.  Despite their less-than-perfect appearance, the bright green of the “cookies” brought me some level of optimism.  I pursed my lips and guided the cookie tray into the oven.  Surely, the baking process would instill some flavor into these little green lumps.

All signs should have pointed to me lowering my expectations for the cookies.  I caught a sniff of the coconut flour and began thinking about sharing these cookies with my family.  I would now have a signature dessert that I could bring to my in-laws when we ate at their residence.  Their fears of the bizarre-looking cookies would dissipate with a single taste.  I would be the new gluten-free baker on the block.  The thought was as savory as I hoped the cookies would be.

Beep!

I vaulted off the couch and grabbed the tray with a gloved hand.  The little green lumps that I had sent in were now…little green lumps with a tan.  I could still smell a hint of coconut, so my hope for a good, savory flavor remained intact.  After giving the lumps time to cool, I brought my fiancé into the kitchen to take a taste test with me.  She was surprised by the appearance of the cookies, but tentatively took a bite with me.

I didn’t even have time to ask her if she liked them before she placed what was left of the lump in my hand and ran to get a drink of water.

Dejected, I got in touch with my stepmother-in-law.  My fiance’s father and sister were diagnosed with celiac disease over ten years ago and it largely fell to her to figure out how to cook and bake without gluten.  Surely, she would give me some guidance as to what went wrong with the recipe or my cooking method.  My stepmother-in-law listened to my story and shrugged.  She had recently spent a Saturday making cookies of her own.  She made the cookies multiple times with different ratios of ingredients to get the right level of consistency and texture, but the end result was the same.  This woman, who had been cooking and baking gluten-free for so long, still struggled to perfect a recipe.

I was stunned.  Having eaten with my in-laws on numerous occasions, I knew her cooking was top-notch.  My stepmother-in-law noted my surprise and told me that cooking and baking is a constant learning process.  You rarely ever get the recipe right the first time.  The issue is compounded in gluten-free baking.  It is important to not be discouraged when a recipe does not go as planned.  Instead, take stock of what you have learned and incorporate it into your next try.  The reward of having a go-to baking recipe is worth the effort.

My discussion with my stepmother-in-law soothed my bruised ego.  She had spent an entire day on a cookie recipe that went nowhere and I was upset over one simple recipe gone awry.  I went back over the avocado coconut cookie recipe and checked some similar, more complex recipes.  It turns out that I need to add some additional binding agents to the recipe to bulk up those green lumps.  It would also help to add chocolate to enhance the flavor.  My lesson has been learned.  I don’t feel embarrassed about the experience anymore.  I feel empowered.

Savory Avocado Coconut Cookies.  I’ll give you another try…someday.

-          Josh
Healthcare Relations Intern, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

June 13, 2013 at 8:55 am Leave a comment

Gluten-Free Chicken with Broccoli over Rice

The following guest post and recipe are from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) volunteer, Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free.

 I am a former New Yorker, where there are more restaurants than you can shake a stick at! And quite often we enjoyed frequenting a Chinese place serving both Sechuan and Cantonese dishes, with all of the various tastes that just make your mouth water.  So, when I wanted something similar, (don’t get me wrong-I’m not that familiar with Chinese cooking, after all, I’m Italian-American!) I fiddled around until I was happy with this dish.

This is a really quick chicken recipe that’s a one-dish meal, ready in about 30 to 40 minutes. And with the warm weather months ahead, that’s perfect for supper after a day outside enjoying yourself!

The trick to this recipe? Cook the white rice on one burner while the main dish is going on a second. Then everything’s ready at the same time.

Gluten-Free Chicken with Broccoli over Rice

Gluten-Free Chicken with Broccoli on Rice

Gluten-Free Chicken with Broccoli on Rice

Ingredients:

  • White rice (Cook as directed, amount is per your needs)
  • 6 or 7 chicken tenderloins, cut in half on diagonal
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, washed and stems removed.
  • 2 scallions sliced, but do not use the last 2 inches of greenest ends
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ lb ( or more if you prefer) sugar snap peas, washed
  • 1 cup gluten-free chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (Natural Soy Sauce Alternative)
  • Dash of salt & pepper
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Directions: 

  1. Put up the rice, as we said, to be cooking while you’re making the chicken-broccoli dish.
  2. In large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter. When melted, saute the chicken tenders on a low to medium heat until there’s a golden tinge and there’s some golden-brown bits in the pan from the butter.
  3. Remove chicken and place on a plate, but keep the butter residue in the pan.
  4. In the butter residue, saute the scallions first, then add the peas and broccoli. Saute for about 3-4 minutes until starting to get a golden color.
  5. Add the broth, spices, amino liquid, and cover pan.
  6. Simmer on low for about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove cover and pour out about ½ cup of liquid into a measuring cup or small bowl.
  8. Add the cornstarch and hand-blend until combined.
  9. Add to the skillet and replace pan on low heat. Cover and heat for another 5-7 minutes until it only thickens a little. You should have a gravy-like liquid now. Shut heat.

The rice should be done and ready for your plate!

Quick! One-Dish! Ready to go!!

Enjoy!

- Annette Marie

About Annette Marie

Annette Marie

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.

April 25, 2013 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

A Personal Celiac Disease Story and Gluten-Free Recipe

Introducing Annette Marie of Best Life Gluten-Free!  Annette will be sharing her gluten-free recipes here on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) staff blog. Read on to learn more about the cook behind the gluten-free recipes at www.BestLifeGlutenFree.com.

My name is Annette and I live in the “Garden State,” the lovely state of New Jersey! I was actually a New Yorker most of my life, growing up there and learning to cook and bake at the hip of my Italian-American Mom. (I must admit that when I was twelve, I wasn’t too happy to forgo the soda shop after school in order to learn how to make marinara sauce!) But looking back, I’m glad she did it.

Like many others, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease after much suffering, pain and anguish, wondering what could be wrong with me.  As a kid, we visited the doctor so often that when he saw me he’d exclaim, “Well, it’s the belly-ache kid!”  Later in my life I had 3 ulcers and always suffered with stomach issues in one way or another.

For years I was embarrassed, frustrated and down-right mad!  Why couldn’t they fix what was wrong?  However, unlike some people with celiac disease, I wasn’t diagnosed as a child…nor as a teen…nor even as a young woman.  Mine was diagnosed well after 50! Talk about a medical mystery!

It was so severe that I was unable to make a 30 minute drive without plotting the route and discovering if there was a shop with a restroom nearby.

Thank God for the gastroenterologists, who have been caring and supportive, have provided information, guidance and so much more. Yes, it was difficult the first few months, but I took it on as a challenge to be met.

That’s why I’m really hoping to “Pay-it-Forward” by helping anyone who may need some guidance or reassurance. My recipes are both “semi-homemade” and “scratch,” and if I can provide photos along with as much description as I can to help you get cooking gluten-free, then that’s what I’ll do.

My biggest message to people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is, please don’t feel isolated.  More and more, it seems as if gluten intolerance and celiac disease are coming to the forefront. And thank goodness for strides being made in our behalf by organizations like the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

Here is just one of my gluten-free recipes that I’m so excited to share with you!

Cheese-Filled Coffee Cake

Cr. Cheese Coffee w Whole

Ingredients:

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 6 oz. cream cheese – room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. lemon juice

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Gluten-Free Bisquick
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used Lactaid 2%, but any is fine)
  • ¼ cup butter – softened, room temp is fine)
  • 1 tsp. gluten-free pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Crumb Topping Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup softened butter – room temp
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (Bob’s Red Mill is fine.)
  • Small amount of confectioner’s sugar for dusting on top when it’s done.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Generously grease a round 9 in. cake pan.  (I used margarine)
  2. Well, you’ve greased the pan liberally, so set it aside.  First, mix the filling in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the butter, milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar.  Gradually add the flour and mix until well combined.  Spread about a little more than half of the batter in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Next put the cream cheese filling on top and try to spread around. (It may be difficult, but using the back of a tablespoon works well.)
  5. Lastly, put the remainder of the dough batter on top.
  6. In a small bowl, using a pastry blender tool or 2 forks, combine the topping ingredients until it resembles crumbs. Sprinkle over the batter in the pan.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes. Ovens vary so take a peek after 20 minutes. A tooth pick inserted into it should come out clean and dry when done.
  8. Cool well before dusting the top with sifted confectioner’s sugar, if you like.  After cooling, be sure to keep covered for freshness.

That’s it!

About Annette Marie

Annette Marie
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.

April 3, 2013 at 9:26 am 1 comment

Gluten-Free, Miami and Me

I don’t know how many of you are like me but when I travel, I pack most of my food with me so that I know exactly what I am eating at all times.  That usually means one suitcase full of food including my handy Magic Bullet for my morning gluten-free shake.  But a few weeks ago, I was off to South Florida with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team and there was no room for all of my food.  This made me a little nervous, but I knew that I could manage this trip because of all the additional knowledge I’ve gained from working with NFCA.  Plus, everyone I would be meeting would be gluten-free, so how hard could it be?

The flight down wasn’t too bad since I had armed myself with ThinkThin bars (there’s always 2 in my bag) and bottled water.  By the time I checked into the hotel, it was so late there was no need to eat.  The next morning, I took another bar and water with me for breakfast and was off to visit a member of our Gluten-Free South Florida Group.  We spent time talking and sharing our stories of diagnosis- guess who else travels with food?  Isn’t it a great feeling when you realize you are not alone in your pursuit of gluten-free food and desire not to be cross-contaminated?  It’s like a big hug from the world telling you it will all be okay.

Dinner worked out well that evening at Seasons 52, a restaurant that had a gluten-free menu.  Even though they are a chain restaurant, I went with another member of the South Florida Gluten-Free Group who has eaten there many times and felt safe in her recommendation.  Plus, I was starving!

The following day was literally a GREAT day.  Alice Bast, NFCA’s Founder, was invited to speak at a country club in Gulfstream, Florida.  They were trained by NFCA’s Gluten-Free Resource Education and Awareness Training (GREAT) Kitchens program, so the entire meal was gluten-free and I felt confident the chefs understood safe gluten-free food preparation.  If any of you have heard Alice speak, you know that she is dynamic in her presentation and her passion for celiac and gluten-sensitivity radiates from her inner core.  The crowd of more than 100 was in tune with gluten-free and more than half knew about celiac disease or are personally affected by this autoimmune disorder.  They all had such amazing questions and were engaged throughout the evening.  Most of the guests were also shocked at how delicious the gluten-free meal was and the flour-less chocolate torte was exquisite!  It was so great to be surrounded by people who understood the need for safe (and tasty!) gluten-free food.

My final day, I visited with a doctor who has non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  We met at his home where he made me a fabulous gluten-free grilled cheese on Udi’s bread.  Oh, and truth- we split a gluten-free chocolate bar.  After talking for three hours about all things gluten-free and NFCA, I had to go or I would have made myself at home for dinner.

Now what is it that I want you to take away from my trip south?  I survived and thrived without a full suitcase of food.  We have an amazing and inspirational community that I am fortunate to meet on my travels and in the Philadelphia region.  All of you teach me something new in our conversations and emails.  I leave tonight for overseas…with just 3 bags of gluten-free food.  I’m not scared, I’m confident.  But I wouldn’t be if I hadn’t found NFCA and the amazing gluten-free community.  Thank you for giving me my wings back.

- Kimberly

March 18, 2013 at 11:48 am Leave a comment

3 Tips for Making Gluten-Free Food Better Than the Original

The following post is from guest blogger Annsley Klehr, owner of Gluten Freedoms, a gluten-free consulting business. Annsley is a teacher, a mom, and a volunteer with NFCA.  You can read more on her blog, Gluten-Free Food and Fun.

Some people have the misconception that “gluten-free” means “taste-free.”  Here are 3 tips to make your gluten-free dishes delicious:

Choose the Best Tasting Brand

Try as many gluten-free products as possible, and choose the one that reminds you of the good old gluten-days.  Remember that quality matters.

Choose the Naturally Gluten-Free Ones

So many foods are naturally gluten-free, and so are plenty of recipes.  Focus on those for best bet recipes like Catch-All Roasted Root Vegetables.

Pay Attention to Other Cultures

Choose the gluten-free foods that other cultures eat as part of their everyday diet.  That way, you know that you’re not just “substituting,” but rather using foods that have been loved and enjoyed for hundreds of years.  Quinoa was considered the mother grain to the Inca and cultivated by the Bolivians over 5,000 years ago.  It’s been tested for a lot longer than some of the other shelf products!  And the Brazilians make a tapioca cheese bread that is just heavenly.  You can find it on the table at the Brazilian steakhouse chain, Fogo de Chao.

Don’t give up on your diet or your belief in gluten-free!

-  Annsley

December 17, 2012 at 9:59 am 2 comments

Top 5 Things To Know About Being Gluten-Free Before Applying to Colleges

The following is a guest post by Dhanu Thiyagarajan, a sophomore at University of Pittsburgh and founder of Gluten Free My Campus, the university’s gluten-free student group. Dhanu is studying bioengineering and hopes to go to medical school to become an OB/GYN doctor. She has been gluten-free since December 2010.

Applying to college is a hard decision on its own, but it’s even harder being a college student on a gluten-free diet. These are five things that I found to be really important regarding the gluten-free diet when applying to colleges.

  1. On-Campus DiningThe dining halls and areas on campus should have safe gluten-free options available for you. It is very important to know that those who are cooking your food know how important it is to avoid cross-contamination.  If the college can’t offer this for you, make sure you can cancel your meal plan.

    College Students

    Ask if there’s a gluten-free student group on campus.

  2. Student Health CenterTalking to the dietitian is helpful, so they can help with your diet and can inform you accordingly of any updates regarding the gluten-free options on your campus. Make sure the health center accepts your insurance and can help you in case you get sick from accidental gluten ingestion or in general.
  3. Living in a DormIt is good to know what appliances are allowed in your dorm room.   A fridge with a freezer is your best friend!
  4. Campus SupportHaving a gluten-free club on campus is wonderful because you know there is support on campus, and people to help you with this adjustment.  Also, knowing if there is a decent amount of people on a gluten-free diet will allow you to be more confident that gluten-free living there is possible.
  5. Off-campus restaurantsSocializing with friends is a huge part of a college lifestyle and a lot of that is done during meals.  It is good to make sure that there are restaurants around where you can go, eat and socialize safely.

Different people have different needs for college, so it is important to prioritize your needs and choose your colleges accordingly.

- Dhanu

October 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

Hidden Gluten: 4 Places and 1 Resource to Watch

[When you first go gluten-free, you typically focus on the obvious foods like bread and pasta. But it's often hidden sources of gluten like soy sauce that throw you off course. We asked Shirley Braden of gluten free easily to share her tips on avoiding hidden gluten. Here they are, organized in 5 categories to help you stay safe!]

When The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness asked me to participate in this year’s May Celiac Awareness campaign, of course I said yes as I’m a huge fan of the NFCA and all its efforts. I said yes even though initially the subject matter didn’t excite me. Hidden sources of gluten. Yes, it’s a very important topic, but it’s one that’s not very exciting on the surface (no pun intended). However, not knowing where gluten can be hidden can give you major anxiety. There’s nothing as unfortunate as going merrily along and suddenly getting “glutened”!

The following are some frequent sources of hidden gluten … or sometimes not so much sources of hidden gluten as “overlooked”gluten. Note that the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act went into effect on January 2006, which ensured that wheat (as one of the eight major food allergens) must always be shown on applicable food product labels—either in the listing of ingredients themselves or after the ingredients list in a “CONTAINS:” statement. (Read more here.)

1. Grab-and-Go Foods

Candies ~ While there are many candies that are gluten free, many more contain gluten. Most folks are not surprised to learn that candies that contain cookie ingredients contain gluten, but they are surprised to learn that others like licorice (or similar; e.g., Twizzlers) contain wheat. Many other candies contain gluten in the form of barley for flavoring. Read labels and be wary of accepting or taking candy with no packaging.

Chips ~ Flavored potato chips (e.g., barbecued flavor, sour cream and onion) can contain gluten. Some new varieties of “whole grain” or “multi-grain” chips may also contain gluten. Don’t dip the chip without knowing that it’s gluten free!

“Formed” Products~ I asked my son for his input on products that contain hidden gluten and he said, “Anything that is mixed and then molded or shaped probably has gluten in it.” Great point. He talked about specific candies and some brands of beef jerky (for the latter, some brands also contain gluten via soy sauce for flavoring).

2. Cooking

Broth ~ The unsafe gluten ingredient that can be present in commercially prepared chicken broth, beef broth, or stock is usually wheat. Therefore, wheat will be shown on the ingredients label. Similarly, some chicken bouillon can contain gluten. Read the ingredients label.

Gluten-Free Label on Chicken Stock

Condiments~ There are many condiments that are gluten free, but sometimes gluten is used as a stabilizer and thickener, so read labels and do your due diligence. If you share a household with gluten consumers, it is imperative that separate condiments be maintained. It’s unrealistic to think that the members of your household who eat gluten will know or remember not to contaminate the mayo jar when they stick a knife inside the jar, spread mayo on bread, and then realize that they need more mayo. That same knife will go back in the mayo jar and the jar suddenly become cross contaminated and a source of gluten. Similarly, there are many who will touch the ketchup container right to the gluten-containing bun, bread, seasoned fries, etc. and the ketchup container then becomes a source of hidden gluten.

Kitchen Equipment
~ Toasters used for gluten-full bread, old pans and baking sheets, cutting boards, baking stones, and wooden utensils can all be sources of hidden gluten. (A black light that would show gluten would be so very handy, don’t you think?)

3. Eating Out

The opportunities for cross contamination are endless in restaurants, and even a gluten-free menu doesn’t guarantee a gluten-free meal. Every single individual must be fully trained on serving the gluten-free patron and keeping gluten-free ingredients/dishes free of gluten contamination. One poorly trained individual and/or one misstep is all it takes to provide an unsafe meal. But let’s focus instead on foods and dishes that may have hidden gluten in restaurants. The risk can also be greater when eating out because we don’t have ready access to ingredients listings.

Beverages~ This category includes non-alcoholic and alcoholic liquid refreshments. I was with a group of bloggers, most of whom were gluten free, at a food blogger conference a while back. During a break between sessions, we were sampling some of the vendors’ wares. We immediately asked if the beverages were gluten free. The answer was “Yes, these are.” What we didn’t pick up on was that there was an emphasis on the “these” and a specialized sweep of the company reps’ hands, indicating that only particular flavors of the brand were gluten free. We discovered this info after continuing to reading ingredients labels as we sipped.

That gluten can be present in tea also surprises folks. Barley is the usual source. Holiday and specialty teas are more frequent sources of gluten than basic teas. Special scrutiny should be paid to teas with name that include “gingerbread” and “sugar cookie,” as gluten is used to achieve that baked good taste. Similarly, flavored coffees can sometimes contain gluten.

The biggest concern for alcoholic beverages typically is beer. Unless it is made from special gluten-free ingredients and/or processed to be gluten free, beer is off limits. I’ve seen this news come as a shock to gluten-free newbies. The health care professional who diagnosed them had warned them about pasta, bread, crackers and baked goods, but had forgotten to mention beer.

Dressings, Marinades, Sauces, and Soups ~ I was very surprised to learn that an area restaurant’s homemade Caesar dressing contained soy sauce (which, of course, contained wheat). If I had not notified my waiter of my dining needs and he had not been well informed on the restaurant menu and ingredients, I might have been “glutened.” Others have found that soy sauce has been used in all types of dishes, and in decidedly non-Asian fare. Soy sauce is often used in marinades, and beer may sometimes be used as well. Sauces and soups are often thickened with wheat-based flour versus naturally gluten-free thickeners such as cornstarch, potato starch, and tapioca starch/flour.

Gluten-Free Label on Allegro Marinade

Egg Dishes ~ Some well-known chain restaurants add flour or pancake batter to scrambled eggs and omelets. One should always ask if either have been added when ordering egg dishes–even in the finest restaurants–just to be safe.

Salad ~ Of course, salad on its own is gluten free … lettuces and other salad greens, carrots, onions, tomatoes and the like are gluten free. However, many restaurants will make salad in a humongous bowl and then the wait staff will serve individual salads from that bowl. If the restaurant uses croutons in that bowl, you must ask for your salad to be made fresh, separately without croutons. (Note: If ever you receive a salad with croutons, or say a bread stick on top, hold on to it until the server replaces it, as restaurant staff have been known to simply pick out croutons or remove the bread stick.)

Water Used in Food Preparation~ Are you ordering steamed seafood? Does the restaurant use beer to steam to add special taste to its seafood offerings? If so, either you must abstain, or you must ask if the chef will steam your seafood in plain water in a separate, clean pot. (Do not assume on the latter.) Are you ordering steamed veggies for healthier fare? Be sure the restaurant doesn’t use the same water that it has used to boil its pasta in to also steam its veggies. This happens more often than you would think and not asking that question has gotten me “glutened” at least once.

Seafood Steamed in Beer on Menu

4. Non-Food Sources

Please don’t stop your vigilance at food sources; consider the following.

Art Supplies~ Numerous art supplies—like mainstream brands of play dough and finger paint—contain gluten. Heidi at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom has an excellent post on gluten-free art supplies here. As Heidi says, little ones are notorious for putting their hands in their mouths.

Makeup and Lotions ~ Choose lipstick and facial lotions (or any product that could wind up in your mouth) that are gluten free. Deciphering the ingredients on these labels is not easy, so select products that have simple ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter or shop from a product line that is entirely gluten free.

Medications and Supplements~ Gluten is also sometimes present in medications. I’m talking about prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins and supplements. Alice Bast, founder and president of NFCA, states “When you look at the word gluten, think glue. It is often used as a binder.” NFCA is in the midst of a two-part study on Gluten in Medications, which was funded by a $50,000 grant from the FDA.

Pet Food~ Unless you are purchasing grain-free pet food, it most likely does contain gluten. Make sure to wash your hands after handling any pet food. This issue may even be more of a concern for the gluten-free child touching the pet’s food dish and then his/her mouth, kissing the family pet, etc.

5. The Gluten-Free Watchdog

Those are just a few sources for hidden gluten, but I’d like to share another component of the hidden gluten equation. As most of you know, there are no current standards for a “gluten-free” label in place in the U.S. at this time. The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed standard from a few years ago remains at less than 20 parts per million (ppm). Final passage of this amount has not occurred; the latest data from the open comment period held months ago is still being evaluated. We also know that we are seeing more and more products labeled “gluten free.” Does that mean such products really are gluten free?

That’s what the Gluten Free Watchdog program is finding out. Founded and maintained by Tricia Thompson (The Gluten-Free Dietitian), the Gluten Free Watchdog program tests “gluten-free” products weekly.

Gluten-Free Watchdog

The most important thing to know is that while most of the products that the Gluten Free Watchdog has tested are gluten free to less than 5 ppm gluten, a handful of products have tested well above 20 ppm gluten. These findings point to the scariest sources of hidden gluten of all—the ones with “gluten free” labels that you believe are safe. Please take a moment to check out the Gluten Free Watchdog Alerts page to see which products have tested positive for gluten at 20 ppm or above. I have not seen this information shared enough with the gluten-free public and folks are still consuming these products and getting ill. (Note: Only subscribers get the product testing reports immediately with the specific testing results.)

Finally, do your best to “stay safe out there.” For staying safe and living gluten free easily (gfe), I’m a huge proponent of real food that is naturally gluten free. There is no hidden gluten in the products that are ready to eat “as is” (obviously, cooking will be needed in some cases). Think meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, and dairy. As they come in their natural forms (without processing or “additives”), these foods are gluten free all day long!

- Shirley Braden

May 1, 2012 at 10:03 am 22 comments

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