Posts tagged ‘holidays’

Chip, Chip Hooray for Gluten-Free (Plus, a Giveaway!)

One of the best things about holidays is having an excuse to celebrate at the office. From my first day in the workforce, I always looked forward to ‘food days,’ when everyone brought in snacks and swapped recipes for their famous cakes, casseroles, and crumbles.

When I started at NFCA, I quickly realized that ‘food days’ aren’t so easy among the gluten-free.  At the NFCA office, we default to gluten-free so everyone can participate in celebrations.  But at other offices, and parties in general, gluten eaters may be less welcoming to the idea.

Fortunately, one thing I’ve found to be universally pleasing among celiac and non-celiac crowds are gluten-free chips. Here’s why:

  • They’re portable. For party purposes, there’s nothing better than tossing a bag in your tote. If you’ve ever tried to stack cupcakes without messing up the icing, you know how valuable that can be.
  • They’re versatile. Depending on whether they’re packed with flavor or just dusted with salt, you can eat them right out of the bag, dunk them in a gluten-free dip, or crumble them on top of a salad.
  • They’re gluten-free, but not obviously so. They look like chips, they taste like chips, and they often are chips that just happen to be gluten-free. I’ve never heard someone say “This chip tastes gluten-free,” and few will be able to pass up a taste.

Now, when you bring a crowd-pleasing food, there is the risk of cross-contamination. People who can eat gluten may be happy to try your gluten-free chips and dip, but their hands also may be rife with gluten-y crumbs.

Gluten-Free 4th of July Guide

Gluten-free tips for your 4th of July celebration!

To help you keep gluten-free items untainted and make your party an overall blast, we created 4th of July Fun, a new Printable Guide sponsored by Blue Diamond. Available on NFCA’s website, this tip sheet covers all of your party-planning quandaries, from invitations to cross-contamination.

Download 4th of July Fun at

Win Blue Diamond Baked Nut Chips!

To get your party started, Blue Diamond is giving away NEW! Baked Nut Chips to 5 lucky winners. These new gluten-free chips are made with whole-grain brown rice and almonds, and they meet all the requirements for a party-appropriate snack. Plus, they’re delicious.

Blue Diamond Baked Nut Chips

Get these for free!

Winners will receive a bag of each Baked Nut Chips flavor: Sour Cream & Chive, Sea Salt, and Nacho (that’s 3 bags total!).

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us your 4th of July plans and why free Blue Diamond Baked Nut Chips would pump up the party. Winners will be selected randomly and announced on Friday, June 24.

(Visit our Gluten-Free Hot Products blog next week for another chance to win!)


June 22, 2011 at 10:49 am 36 comments

A Blogger A Day: Silvana’s Kitchen

A Blogger A Day, the Gluten-Free Way logoName: Silvana Nardone

Blogs at:
Tweets at:
Friend her at: Silvana Nardone on Facebook
On the bookshelf: Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy Delicious Meal. A second cookbook is in the works, and a digital gluten-free food & lifestyle magazine called Easy Eats will launch in the fall.

Why we’re fans: As a published cookbook author and former editor in chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray, Silvana has a lot of clout in the food industry. But she also is just a mom looking for good food to feed her kids. Her Mini Mac & Cheese Cakes were a hit among all age groups at Appetite for Awareness 2010, and recipes for important foods like birthday cake ensure that gluten-free families don’t miss out on life’s little (or big) celebrations.

Silvana Nardone

Silvana Nardone

Silvana’s Story: My now 14-year old son Isaiah was diagnosed as gluten intolerant 4 years ago, which changed the direction of our lives forever, like so many other families.

According to Silvana: The most unexpected part of going gluten-free was that Isaiah was open to trying so many new foods, which expanded his whole eating experience beyond his classic white foods diet.

A taste of Silvana’s Kitchen:

For more of NFCA’s Celiac Awareness Month celebration, visit

May 25, 2011 at 9:22 am 1 comment

A Blogger A Day: Gluten Free Mom

A Blogger A Day, the Gluten-Free Way logoName: Jamie Eppenauer
Lives in: Woodinville, WA

Blogs at:,
On the bookshelf: Nothing yet, but working on one!

Why we’re fans: Going gluten-free is one thing, but being a parent of a gluten-free kid adds a whole other level. Jamie skips the jargon and tells parents what they really want to know. What candy can my kid eat? How do we prepare for road trips? Will our family traditions ever be the same? Jamie doesn’t have the only answers, but she does know what works for her family – and that can be the reassurance parents are looking for.

Jamie Eppenauer

Jamie Eppenauer

Jamie’s Story: My oldest daughter, the Gluten-Free Teen, was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2005.  I have the genes for celiac disease, but after feeling good for the first time ever in my life, I declined to get back on gluten to have the endoscopy.  I am also allergic to dairy.  My middle child is gluten intolerant and has a dairy allergy.

According to Jamie: The most challenging part of raising a Gluten-Free Teen may be the “teen” part!  In all honesty, even though the diet is challenging, I can say that my Gluten-Free Teen is totally “normal.”  She went to prom, has a boyfriend, just got her driver’s permit, hangs out with her friends constantly, plays volleyball and has straight As in school.  It required some extra work, but we have traveled all over the world – Mexico, Hawaii, Ireland, London, Paris, and both coast of the US.  My Gluten-Free Teen is a great cook, and we have a very healthy diet.  Yes, there are moments when it is challenging (especially when traveling) but all in all, we have been blessed with a happy healthy lifestyle.

A taste of Gluten Free Mom:

For more of NFCA’s Celiac Awareness Month celebration, visit

May 22, 2011 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

A Blogger A Day: Gluten Free Betsy

A Blogger A Day, the Gluten-Free Way logoName: Betsy Thompson
Lives in: Chicago, IL

Blogs at:
Tweets at:
Like her at:

Why we’re fans: Betsy is a sharer. She writes about local gluten-free events and online giveaways, but more importantly, she brings readers through her own gluten-free experiences, whether it’s attending a swanky gluten-free dinner or explaining why a certain product she tried is too good to pass up. Betsy proves that it takes one to know one, and she’s posting her knowledge for all gluten-free newbies (and not-so-newbies) to benefit from.

Betsy Thompson

Betsy Thompson

Betsy’s Story: I was diagnosed with celiac disease in January 2000 and have been gluten-free ever since.  It’s been a world of difference.  I wrote why I started my blog in a post called “Starting from the Beginning…

According to Betsy: The toughest part of going gluten-free trying to come up with alternatives.  When I went gluten-free, there weren’t nearly as many gluten-free alternatives as there are today.  I remember some terrible cookies and crumbly bread.  Luckily I’ve improved my baking skills a bit.

A taste of Gluten Free Betsy:

  • Gluten Free Girl Scout Cookies – Samoas:  This one is from March of last year, but I still get many hits on it.  I decided to make my own “Girl Scout” cookies, since I couldn’t eat the ones from the Girl Scouts.  I found a similar recipe online and adapted it to make it gluten-free.  The comments really made my day, especially the one from Teresa whose daughter was a Girl Scout but never tasted their cookies.
  • Gluten-Free Chicago Potluck: I’m part of the Gluten-Free Chicago group on Gluten-Free Faces. I loved meeting other gluten-free people in Chicago and having a potluck with them!  There’s very few options for me at potlucks, so being able to taste everyone’s dishes was great!  It was such a fun day.
  • Oh Thank Heaven for 20-11: This was my first post of 2011 and where I announced a new feature on my blog, a gluten-free book club.  I love to read, and I read a lot of books on the celiac/gluten-free topic, everything from cookbooks to memoirs to educational pieces.  Since more and more people are being diagnosed with celiac or are going gluten-free, I thought it might be a great place to find the right book they are looking for.  Looking for facts?  Someone’s story to relate to?  Need a collection of great gluten-free recipes?  They’ll find it here, and I was so excited to start that new feature.

For more of NFCA’s Celiac Awareness Month celebration, visit

May 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm 1 comment

Gluten-Free Passover: Restriction or Freedom?

The Jewish holiday of Passover centers on the symbolic use of food. The 8-day holiday prohibits Jews from eating grains, unless they have come into contact with water for less than 18 minutes and were prepared under strict Rabbinic supervision.

While Matzo (typically made from wheat) is a staple of the Passover diet, many products specially made for Passover contain potato and other creative mixes of non-grain ingredients. These are valuable products to those on a gluten-free diet, and they may only be found at this time of year.

Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo

Fried matzo - One of my favorites, gluten-free style!

Passover celebrates the journey of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom, when they left Egypt with only unleavened dough on their backs. The holiday encourages us to put ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors, look at our own modern lives, and take action against oppression.

It’s an interesting dichotomy that we restrict what we eat to remember our ancestors, but at the same time we celebrate our many freedoms. We recall the stories and embrace the position we have come to enjoy as 21st century Americans.

But as I look at my own family, I can’t help but think of my daughter Molly, and how she lives every day as a slave to her disease. Not only is she restricted from the basic freedom to choose what she eats, but she also must opt out of many social situations because of cross-contamination concerns or a lack of acceptable food choices.

I am thankful, however, that Molly knows the face of her oppressor. Her diagnosis allows us to make accommodations that embrace her at our table. My Grandma Pauline was not so lucky. She sat out of many holidays and family celebrations due to (what I think was) undiagnosed celiac disease. She spent much of her 84 years not able to travel and not even able to leave her bathroom. She didn’t know the face of her enemy.

Molly and Grandma

Molly and my grandmother at a Seder several years ago.

The Torah refers to Egypt as a narrow place. When I think of Molly eating alone in her dorm room every night while all other first-year students happily socialize in the dining hall, or I think of my grandmother sequestered to her tiny bathroom while our family tried to enjoy another Thanksgiving without her, I understand this narrow place in a whole new way.

Fortunately, even Matzo is now offered in gluten-free versions. I recently had the chance to test out Yehuda’s Gluten-Free Matzo-Style Squares. How did it go? Find out by reading my review at

How do you celebrate gluten-free Passover in your home? Do you focus more on the restrictions or freedoms associated with the holiday?

– Jennifer

April 14, 2011 at 10:07 am 2 comments

Pizza Gran Gets a Gluten-Free Makeover

Between our April 2011 Celiac Central Newsletter and posts on, we’re as hopped up on Spring as the Easter Bunny himself. So when gluten-free blogger Paul Biscione emailed me about a special holiday treat he’d been working on, I couldn’t resist. Paul has contributed several gluten-free recipes to NFCA, and this time, he included a story along with it. Read about the inspiration behind this dessert, then learn how to make it by visiting NFCA’s Gluten-Free Recipe of the Week.


If you aren’t Italian or haven’t lived in Brooklyn, you may not know what Pastiera is. It is an Italian dessert seen around Easter time. It has many names, such as Pastiera, Pizza Gran (as we call it in our family), Grain Pie and Italian Easter Pie. However, calling it something as vague as “Italian Easter Pie” is a mistake, since there are two traditional pies made around Easter: Pizza Gran and Pizza Rustica. Pizza Rustica is a savory meat and cheese pie, while Pizza Gran is a sweet dessert pie.

All names and differences aside, what is Pizza Gran? Simply put, it is a sweet ricotta-based pie with citron and grain…and still my personal favorite dessert of all time! This pie brings back childhood memories when I so much as smell it being baked, and yes, my Mom still makes it to this day.

Sweet Ricotta Ramekins

Easy to make, but they look gourmet!

My Mother used to bake about five of these pies at a time; we would keep one and give away the rest to family and friends. The only problem with her giving away the other four was that the pie was so popular in our house – one was just never enough. Inevitably, she would start making individual mini pies just to appease us. I still remember her yelling at me and Dad for digging into our mini pies only an hour or so after they came out of the oven. “It’s still too warm and has to set!” she said. But we didn’t care, and to this day I still love to eat these sinfully delicious pies while they’re warm.

Family tradition continues, and only a few years ago I was so happy to introduce my own daughter to this favorite childhood memory of mine. Just as I expected, she went to town on it. Between the two of us, the pie was gone almost as fast as Easter Sunday itself, and a new happy family memory was made.

Since then, we found out that Gia is gluten intolerant. This is a big issue because one of the main ingredients in this pie is grain from wheat, and the pie crust is made with gluten-containing flour. Would this be the end to Pizza Gran? Nope. Gia may not be able to have the pie crust or the grain in the filling, but what is stopping me from making a gluten-free version?

To be honest, it’s not the crust or the grain, but the decadent sweet ricotta filling that makes this pie so delicious and flavorful, in my opinion. If I can make this like a custard and simplify the recipe, it should be just as delicious, right? Well, it is!

What’s great about removing the grain and pie crust is that it saves the time and mess you generally get when baking. It would take my Mom days to make this. She would have to go to the Italian specialty store for the grain, soak the grain overnight and make loads of pie crust the day of the actual baking. She would line our entire kitchen table with brown paper and form a baking assembly line.

Without the grain or crust, I can whip up a batch of these in no time flat. I have also opted to remove the milk from this recipe to make these even easier to make. I’ve already made this recipe for numerous gatherings at my house, and each time gotten rave reviews from even the toughest critics.

Gluten-Free Dessert

Beware...these go fast!

Since my new recipe has no grain in it, nor is it a pie, “Pizza Gran” just didn’t seem to fit. So, I’ve dubbed my creation “Sweet Ricotta Ramekins” (that’s “Tazza Con Dolce Ricotta” in Italian).

The recipe is simple, takes very little time and still holds true to the flavors of this traditional Italian holiday favorite. They also look so dressed up in their little individual ramekins, guests will think you spent hours making them. And the very best part of all is that my daughter can once again enjoy this holiday favorite with me. Childhood memories restored; new ones being made.

Now if I can only stop her from eating them less than an hour after they come out of the oven. Heck, I think she’s worse than I was.


Get the recipe »

April 11, 2011 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

If I Had a Million Dollars…

I’d heave-ho to my favorite non-profits. Maybe even invest in a few of those oversized checks because, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to hand over one of those to their organization of choice?

Of course, that’s not an option for most people.  The economy’s taken a few punches, and we’ve all suffered the blows. Throw holiday shopping in the mix and it’s no wonder households (mine included) are trolling websites for discounts and snapping up Groupon deals.  (Winning our “Holiday Dips & Dishes” $500 grand prize would help, too.)

But despite the urge to tap out and save up, we can’t help but want to give, especially around the holidays. My roommate fills out the $1, $3 or $5 donation cards at the grocery store, while I opt for tossing change in the Salvation Army buckets.

It’s little, but it adds up. And that’s what our new “Take Action Tuesday” Facebook campaign is all about. Each Tuesday, we’ll post an idea for something you can do, right then, that will make a difference in celiac awareness. It’s not a matter of pulling out your credit card (though we welcome donations of any amount); it’s more about doing something that advances the cause. Baby steps. Big strides. You get the idea.

How to “Take Action” this week? Create a “Holiday Wish” for NFCA’s Cause on Facebook. It works the same way as a “Birthday Wish” on Facebook, just with some seasonal flair. To “Start your Holiday Wish,” visit this link:

Make sure to pick “National Foundation for Celiac Awareness” as your cause, and within 2 minutes, you’ll have an easy way to raise funds for NFCA. Plus, it’s another way to spread awareness. Did your 5th grade classmate know about celiac disease? Nope. But now she does.

See how many “Take Action Tuesdays” you can complete, and post a comment saying “Done!” when you do. We may even make you an Awareness All-Star.

December 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Turkeys

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Turkey

Gertie, my turkey

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and friends and express gratitude for all we have AND to eat the best food ever. I don’t care what others say… Thanksgiving is all about the food, and it’s my absolute favorite meal to prepare.

This year, I had the privilege to set 15 places at two tables and work some gluten-free magic in my own domain. Being in control of the menu and ingredients can be an advantage if you worry about ingredients, preparation and cross contamination in the kitchen. Just make sure you have plenty of extra hands to assist so you can enjoy the day without exhaustion! Of course, the magic occurs when all are able to give thanks for the food on the table and not even know that every bit is gluten-free.

Beckee and Dave

Fierce competitors

My husband Dave and I have a love for each other and cooking competitions (Bobby Flay, Iron Chef, Top Chef) so this year we agreed on a “Turkey Throwdown.” I dug out my favorite Martha Stewart Turkey 101 recipe for Gertie, the 12lber that included a rub down of butter, stuffing of onion, apples and herbs, and a continued basting of butter and wine.

Gluten-Free Turkey on the Grill

Fred, Dave's turkey

Can it get any better than that? Dave thought so.  The grill master used a combo-recipe for Fred (his 12 lber) that included brining, basting and indirect heat, with a touch of apple wood thrown in for smoke- all on his big ol’ grill.  Both cooked birds were perfect specimens – brown, juicy and tender.

Family reviews and votes were mixed. Each bird had such a distinctly different taste…there was no comparison. Actually I think the family was just playing nice because of the holiday. In my opinion, Dave was the winner …this year.


December 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm 2 comments

An Uphill Battle

Kristin's Grandma


It’s that time of year again. Time for my grandmother, 89 years adorable, to call me so that she can review the ingredients of her favorite holiday recipes. I’ve been diagnosed for three and a half years but somehow the questions and comments such as, “It has a teaspoon of flour in it. Can you have it?” and “What do you mean you had bread? I thought you couldn’t eat bread. What’s it made out of?,” still arise. Like I said, she’s 89 years adorable so I can’t help but smile.

This year the questions and comments were no different. But the food around the table was. For the first time in three years my family’s entire Thanksgiving meal was gluten-free, complete with the Gluten-Free Goddess’ corn-bread stuffing and my aunt’s homemade pear and cranberry almond flour crisp. I left the table with my belly full and my heart happy.

While cleaning up, I casually mentioned that I should make this year’s Christmas lasagna using rice noodles. My aunt slowly stopped toweling off the dish she was holding and my grandmother, with her hands on her hips, asked, “Well, what’s that gonna taste like?”

Looks like I haven’t won this year’s battle just yet.


My gluten-free Christmas lasagna!

Update: The gluten-free lasagna I mentioned above? My family actually let me make it for Christmas dinner. And it was a hit! In fact, they liked my lasagna better than the regular version.

Who said gluten-free didn’t taste good?


December 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Everybody Knows Somebody!

I am convinced that everybody knows somebody with celiac disease.

When I tell people where I work and what I do, more often than not the response I get is, “Celiac? Oh yeah, my sister in law/cousin/boss’s son/mailman/insert someone here has that.”

It never ceases to amaze me.gluten-free pizza

On that note, here is a lovely photo of a gluten-free pizza made by my culinary savvy roommate, whose grandfather happens to have…you guessed it…celiac disease!

Using some Chebe pizza dough mix she picked up while attending our Appetite for Awareness event, she was able to make this delicious looking creation for her entire family as they came together to celebrate the holiday weekend.

It warms my heart to know that my job enabled me to help make this thanksgiving a special and delicious experience for her relatives, the gluten-free and non gluten-free eaters alike!

I now plan on scouring the office for extra pizza dough samples.

If I bring a few more home – maybe she’ll make a pizza for ME!


December 1, 2010 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

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