Posts tagged ‘holidays’

5 Resources to Tackle Gluten-Free Roadblocks

The gluten-free diet requires lifelong commitment, which means you’ll likely face a number of curveballs. Fortunately, with the right resources and plenty of support from family and friends, you can take on anything that life throws.

Here are 5 scenarios you may encounter while living gluten-free, and 5 resources from NFCA to help you through:

1. When You Have a Question About Nutrition…

Answers from a Dietitian image

Get Answers from a Dietitian. NFCA’s popular Q&A blog invites you to submit your general questions about nutrition and the gluten-free diet. Not sure which foods to eat when you want more Vitamin D, or how you can gain weight without loading up on sugary gluten-free junk? Ask away!

2. When You’re Struggling in the Kitchen…

Alterantive Appetites

Watch Alternative Appetites. Chef Dan Kohler takes you step-by-step through gluten-free recipes. And these aren’t just stir-fries. You’ll learn how to make things like Amaranth and Black Bean Salad or Roasted Garlic White Bean dip from scratch.

3. When Your Grocery List is Getting Dull…

Gluten-Free Hot Products

Browse Gluten-Free Hot Products. Our team of staff and volunteers test the latest gluten-free products to hit shelves, including some gems you can only find online. Take a look and find a new favorite to perk up your pantry.

4. When You’re Heading to College…

GREAT U cover

Read GREAT U. You grew up with a supportive family and rarely had to worry about what to eat. Now, you’ll be on your own and on the hunt for gluten-free options. Flip through this digital magazine for quick gluten-free recipes, tips from real gluten-free college students, and advice on navigating the dining hall.

5. When Your Non-Gluten-Free Friend Wants to Cook You a Meal…

Entertaining Gluten-Free Guests

Download Entertaining Gluten-Free Guests. If your friend is new to gluten-free, this guide can get him or her started in the right direction. Offer to help your friend prepare each dish. That way, you can ensure that the food is safe while giving your friend a 1-on-1 course in gluten-free.

May 18, 2012 at 10:47 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 KosherConsumer.org, 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

When You Can’t Do It All

Dear Friends of NFCA,

I get asked a lot, How do you do it all?  How do you run an organization, take care of your family, cook, and live a balanced life without pulling out your hair?  The answer is that I don’t do it all.  I make mistakes, but I try to learn from my mistakes.  And there are times when the ball does get dropped.

The NFCA Team

Our amazing team!

Our family recently moved. And, let me tell you, our holiday was a bit chaotic. I didn’t get any exercise for weeks on end. But my wonderful staff picked up the pieces in the office.  Thank you Cheryl, Jennifer, Nancy, Kristin, Whitney, Sue and Beckee.

I wanted to write a holiday blog post, but I honestly could not get my act together. On the bright side, I knew that it wasn’t the end of the world and that you would all understand. No one is perfect. We all do the best that we can, and my family needed my time and attention.  And I needed to unpack and organize my belongings.  Thank you, team NFCA!

– Alice

January 12, 2012 at 11:30 am 2 comments

A Gluten-Free Holiday Treat, No Baking Required

I’m always prepared to bring an appetizer, salad or main dish to social gatherings and holiday functions. Like many with celiac disease, I quickly learned that if I wanted to eat a safe gluten-free meal, it was up to me to tote along at least one item I knew I could eat.

But dessert? Despite my sweet tooth, more often than not I have opted to forgo dessert simply because baking and I are not friends. So fruit has served as my go-to pick, and the nutritional benefits are always a plus. Alas, sometimes a fruit salad, no matter how fresh the ingredients, just won’t cut it. This Christmas, I wanted to join my family at the dessert table with something more substantial than pineapple and berries, even if topped with whipped cream.

Enter these no-bake coconut balls.

Gluten-Free No Bake Coconut Balls

Gluten-Free No Bake Coconut Balls

I’m sure you can guess that a recipe with minimal ingredients and without an actual “baking” process were both requirements. Fortunately, I stumbled across this simple recipe while performing the perfunctory Google search: No Bake Coconut Balls

The recipe called for nut butter plus chocolate chips or nuts of your choosing, but I opted for a combination of the two. My secret ingredient? Justin’s Nut Butter. This brand has been a pantry staple of mine for the past 2 years so I knew that their Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor was delicious. (If you are not already familiar with their line of nut butters, please head to your local grocery store immediately).

Making Gluten-Free Coconut Balls

All you need for a delicious gluten-free dessert.

Not only did they fulfill my sweet tooth, but my family was impressed too. Who said you need flour to “bake” Christmas cookies?

– Kristin

Related Content:

December 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm 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

Related Content:

December 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm 5 comments

Holiday Giving: What’s Your Approach?

It’s a season of giving and the time of year many of us line up fundraising appeals from various organizations and begin deliberations of who to support this year.

I find philanthropic psychology to be a fascinating topic, and I love to learn about the ways in which different families and cultures approach giving.

I’ll share mine.

My grandmother would send an $18 check to any organization that sent her an appeal. (For those curious about the 18 denomination…it’s Jewish thing. The Hebrew numerals for the number 18 are the same characters that make up the word life, so it’s good luck to give in denominations of 18.) I didn’t know this until I was in my 20s and already working for a nonprofit. I hoped that she would be so proud of my accomplishments that she might even send $180! Alas, two weeks later came our check for $18.

NFCA logo

NFCA - A small but mighty force!

In general, I personally prefer to send more dollars to fewer organizations, but my giving does mirror my grandmother’s in one way. I give $18 to anyone who knocks on my door. Ok, well anyone who represents a cause that I don’t find objectionable. Also, every Chanukah, we light a candle for others and, instead of a gift, I provide a blank $18 check to each of my girls (and any guest joining us that evening), and I let them pick an organization to give to this year.

When I started working for NFCA, my daughter had been diagnosed with celiac disease only 4 months. I knew that celiac disease would be something I would care about for the rest of my life, but, at the time, I didn’t realize that I would actually be working for an extremely compelling cause. You’ve heard the facts before: 95% undiagnosed. A direct social cost of at least $14 billion per year in critical healthcare dollars. The lack of research on the disease and its spectrum. The personal devastation undiagnosed celiac disease can cause for entire families. I could go on and on.

I understand why celiac disease is a niche cause among healthcare givers. When I talk to people about the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, I often get blank stares from those not connected to “the tribe.”

“You know…the gluten-free disease.” Recognition. “Really? That’s connected to a medical problem?”

We have a lot of work to do.

I’ll be honest with you, we need your help. We realize that gluten-free food is expensive. And that NFCA looks snazzy with blogs and webinars and cooking videos. But we are a small organization with a very loud roar. Really. Check out how few people there actually are running our programs. And they’re working really hard.

NFCA is among the organizations I choose to support with my charitable dollars. If you’re reading our staff blog and have had the patience to read all 479 words thus far, you are clearly interested in what NFCA is accomplishing everyday.

Please donate today. And in the process, think of my story and how your own personal history has influenced your decision to do so.

– Jennifer

December 14, 2011 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

Rollin’ into the Holiday Season

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

Rollin’ into the holiday season

A Phightin’ to Be Gluten-Free Blog

The end of the year is a time to evaluate results, existing players and their performance.  Organizations strive to reach goals, college students prepare for final class exams and Phillies management continues to negotiate with players. The latest buzz to reach media channels follows the potential deal to re-sign shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Only time will tell if the Phillies will be Rollin’ into the holiday season with him on the team.

December is an exciting time for my family team, as we also roll into the holiday season. When we get together, there is always a kitchen stocked with delicious gluten-free sweets, snacks and meals. We whip up favorite recipes, create new concoctions and document the All-Stars. My secret is to introduce festive ingredients, including cinnamon, pumpkin butter and cranberries, into all types of dishes.  Plus, the sweet aromas stick around longer than the food on the plate!

Below is a new restaurant dish review on the following baseball-inspired scale:

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

Herb braised Skate, cherry tomatoes, white wine over rosemary roasted potatoes at Melograno- Home Run

Herb braised skate at Melograno

Herb braised skate at Melograno

Overview: A must try, one-of-a-kind herb braised skate completed a delicious meal.

The Scene: It was a special celebration at Melograno. As the Phillies management continued negotiations, we enjoyed the lively and cozy ambience of the BYOB.

Safe Dining:  At Melograno, the chefs in the kitchen are educated in gluten-free dining.  Melograno has completed gluten-free training through NFCA’s Gluten Free Resource Education and Awareness Training (GREAT) Kitchens program. [See more GREAT Kitchens.]

Presentation:  The herb braised skate was plated over baby roasted potatoes, topped with cherry tomatoes and surrounded by cooked oils and white wine. The crisp, golden-brown sear showcased braising technique from searing in the kitchen.  A glistening plate of liquids seeped into the tomatoes and roasted potatoes, which enhanced color and texture.  (Note: I ordered baby roasted rosemary potatoes to replace potato puree on the menu.)

Taste:  The herb braised skate is cooked for enjoyment!  The sear locked in the Mediterranean seasoning, wine, oils and the slow braise developed the rich flavors.  For other first time skate eaters, the texture of the fish resembled braised brisket. Similar to brisket, the layers pull apart easily in a stringy formation. The juicy tomatoes and crisp baby potatoes soaked in flavors on the plate accompanied each tender bite of skate.

Result:  The one-of-a kind herb braised skate and complementary vegetables are a great way to start rollin’ into the holiday season with friends and family. (Tip:  Be creative when dining out and inquire about tasty, gluten-free recommendations from the chefs).   

www.melogranorestaurant.com

Everyone have a happy, healthy gluten-free holiday season!  Stay tuned for new restaurant and product reviews to enjoy during the baseball off-season.  Be-Lee-ve it — Spring training is just a few months away!

– Nadina

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

December 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

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