Posts tagged ‘jennifer’

Gluten-Free Products at Expo West 2012: New Snacks, Better Nutrition

Last weekend, Alice and I went to Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA. It was a blast!

Let’s start with the magic of Disney: their chefs are a delight, and the 8:40 p.m. nightly fireworks were icing on the gluten-free cake.

Speaking of cake, gluten-free sales continue to boom. At the Expo, we learned that Mintel projects the market to reach between $8.5 and $9.9 billion by the end of 2013. Mintel, along with market research firm SPINS, stated unequivocally what we all know – that gluten-free is a long-term industry trend that is here to stay, not a short-term fad that will fade into distant memory.

As far as products go, we saw the continued abundance of gluten-free salty snacks, including several lentil-based crackers. We previewed Rudi’s new tortilla, which didn’t crack or break when rolled or folded, and we spent Thursday evening with the team from Rudi’s and Charter Baking, including their CEO Jane Miller.

We saw the emergence of stronger nutritional profiles at Expo West this year. Schar’s new Gluten-Free Multigrain Ciabatta Parbaked Rolls are delicious and satisfying. And Lucy’s has developed a brownie bite free of most major allergens. Also free of all 8 allergens was Enjoy Life’s individually-wrapped packs of trail mix, providing easy-to-grab fiber and protein from a flavorful blend of seeds.

After an endless day of sampling chips, pizza, cookies and bars, I was especially excited to eat some actual veggies. Thank you to Kettle Cuisine for their delicious array of savory soups (I love the Roasted Vegetable) and Thai Kitchen, for their curried vegetable stir-fry with fresh pea pods and peppers. Yummy.

I spent the plane ride home reading the story of Bob Moore (of Bob’s Red Mill), whose inspirational act of generosity caught our attention when he gave the company to his employees on his 81st birthday. “These folks helped me build the company up,” Bob told me. “How could I do anything else?”

– Jennifer

March 14, 2012 at 10:31 am 1 comment

NFCA Staff: Our Biggest Accomplishments of 2011

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has accomplished a lot in 2011, but I wanted to know what my fellow co-workers thought was their biggest breakthrough of the year.

GREAT Kitchens logo

GREAT Kitchens - training restaurants across the U.S.!

For Beckee and Jennifer, our gluten-free industry team, the top highlight was adding NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens training to US Foods Resource Advantage Program. The program offers discounts and deals on various resources for the foodservice industry. Thanks to Beckee and Jennifer’s hard work, more foodservice operators, including restaurants and dining halls, can now have access to gluten-free training through GREAT Kitchens at a discount.

Beckee also is proud of the increased availability of safe, gluten-free options for students from K-12 all the way through college. NFCA’s GREAT Schools program is aiding that cause by teaching dining hall and cafeteria staff how to properly prepare gluten-free meals.

For Nancy, helping NFCA secure the landmark FDA grant for our upcoming Gluten in Medications study was her biggest accomplishment. The $50,000 grant provides much-needed funding to pioneer this new area of celiac disease research, and NFCA is thrilled to be leading the charge!

Alice echoed Nancy’s sentiments about the FDA grant, as it was a huge milestone in NFCA history. Alice also named the Philadelphia Award as her top achievement in 2011. “This is one of the most prestigious awards in Philadelphia, and it brought front page coverage to the NFCA and celiac disease,” she noted.

For Alice, the award wasn’t an end result, but a jumping off point to bring even more awareness to celiac disease and gluten-free needs.

pointed to the many collaborations and connections she formed in promoting NFCA’s Primary Care CME:

“In 2011, 306 U.S. primary care providers received training from NFCA’s Primary Care CME. Medical experts indicate that primary care physicians have the opportunity to diagnose 18 new patients per year. Based on this statistic, our records demonstrate that NFCA has had the opportunity to directly impact the lives of 5,508 patients. NFCA looks forward to continuing our professional education efforts in 2012,” she said.

Spreading the word about the CME involved a number of helpers in 2011. Quest Diagnostics disseminated more than 9,000 promotional postcards to primary care providers; individuals and support group leaders distributed 2,800 postcards to local healthcare professionals; and NFCA, along with physician advocates and celiac champions, sent 2,000 postcards to medical conference, clinics and lunch meetings extending as far as Hawaii and Norway!

Whitney cited her work with the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR) as her biggest accomplishment of 2011. She stepped up at a moment’s notice and flew to Asheville, NC, to lead a gluten-free training course for 25 foodservice professionals. More than 20 restaurants in this popular tourist destination are now GREAT-trained and ready to serve gluten-free food.

Kids Central

Kids Central - our new hub for gluten-free kids and parents

For me, Kids Central was my baby, and like a proud mama, I was happy to see it take flight in October. The new microsite accomplished much of what we originally set out to do, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of many, many friends in the celiac and gluten-free community. I’ve met wonderful parents, super kids and amazing teens who were willing to share their stories and gluten-free recipes. We’ll continue to add new articles and advice as we move into 2012. In fact, I’ll be posting our first Ask the Pediatric Gastroenterologist Q&As today!

Wishing a happy and healthy New Year to all of our friends and fans!

– Cheryl

December 30, 2011 at 11:41 am Leave a comment

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

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

March Madness in the Gluten-Free Market

Expo WestT minus one month and counting. I am really looking forward to Natural Products Expo West in March. As you may have read in our February newsletter, Alice is facilitating an exciting panel about the gluten-free marketplace, including a segment on food safety and testing by Quality Assurance International, the nation’s largest certifier of organic labeling claims.

We will be setting up shop with our partner, the distributor Tree of Life (a KeHE company), where Beckee will be talking to both retailers and manufacturers about opportunities in the gluten-free marketplace.

Expo West is always an exiting trip because the gluten-free industry has grown up within the natural and organics category. And it’s where you can really see the explosion of tastier and more nutritious food.

Speaking of nutritious, Alice will also be a featured speaker at an ingredient and food technology conference discussing the movement of the marketplace to high quality and nutritionally dense foods. She will be accompanying GREAT Business Association member Penford Food. The company produces a starch that improves taste, texture and shelf life when used in baking.

While baking is not my thing, I do rely heavily on the bakers I know for my daily carb fix. And thank God for Whitney’s chocolate stash in the front office!

– Jennifer

February 11, 2011 at 11:11 am Leave a comment

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