Posts tagged ‘NFCA in the wild’

Gluten-Free Food for the Soul

I really like to stay home. I’m not embarrassed by this statement but embrace the fact that I no longer feel pressure to “go out.” Not only have I had plenty of years spending countless nights and weekends making the most of my free time, but both mine and my husband’s jobs require that I attend events, dinners, receptions and every feasible sport played by college athletes possible. The added benefit to staying home is the control I have over my food.  A perfect weekend night is eating an Amy’s gluten-free cheese pizza on the sofa, catching up on all my shows on the DVR. Now that’s indulgence! But, despite typically loving my weekends at home, I was super excited to head out last Saturday night with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to the studio of Liddy Lindsay, local artist and friend of NFCA Founder and President, Alice Bast. It was such an amazing night!

Liddy Lindsay's Art Studio

Liddy Lindsay’s Art Studio

NFCA brought lots of gluten-free goodies for guests to experience gluten-free food and ask questions about celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Everyone was surprised that they were eating gluten-free; comments, like “this actually tastes good” were heard throughout the night. The studio was filled with this wonderful array of individuals from varied backgrounds and lifestyles. Everyone was inquisitive and curious about NFCA and celiac disease. While most people did not know what celiac disease is, they all have heard about the gluten-free lifestyle and most know someone with gluten sensitivity.

Group Photo

NFCA Founder Alice Bast (center) with her daughter Linnea (left) and artist Liddy Lindsay (right)

As the end of the party neared, it became apparent that no one wanted to leave (always the sign of a good party!). The evening continued for a number of us NFCA art-lovers once we arrived at Pod – a West Philly, Steven Starr, establishment that provides gluten-free options on their menu. So, while a night out typically means worrying about what I’m going to eat, this night was less worry and more “let’s eat!” (Post-party confession – I stashed a gluten-free pizzelle in the car for an after dinner treat and enjoyed it when we left the studio. What a nice way to end the night!)

Gluten-Free Food for the Soul: Nanny Vogt and Alex

Nanny Vogt and her guest Alex at the event.

While it may be a bit out of character for me now, I am looking forward to heading out with my NFCA pals for more events throughout May for Celiac Awareness Month. On May 7th, we’ll be shopping at C. Wonder in the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania with 20% off purchases and 10% of sales going the support NFCA (isn’t that great?). After that, I’ll be heading on up to New York City for a very special evening with Chef David Bouley on May 9th.

All of the ladies at NFCA are buzzing with excitement for the upcoming month and the energy is contagious. As I’m catching on to their excitement of being out-and-about more often than usual this month, I can’t help but be reminded of a famous quote from the infamous Dorothy Day: “Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.” I’m so happy to be part of a team that helps people get diagnosed, restore their health and reclaim their lives, especially during Celiac Awareness Month – now that is food for the soul.

– Kim

April 30, 2013 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

Gluten-Free Pizza: Las Vegas Style

I LOVE pizza – cold pizza for breakfast, hot, gooey, cheesy pizza with thick or thin crusts and toppings of all kinds: pesto, pepperoni, olives, onion, even anchovies. So when I was diagnosed with celiac disease back in 1992, when very few gluten-free products existed, I concluded my love affair with pizza was pretty much over. Making gluten-free pizza was a chore I could handle, but it just wasn’t the same.  Eating pizza out of the box and sipping an ice cold beer while watching a movie, and hanging with the family or friends seemed impossible or too depressing.  During a pity party, I even told my husband, Dave, my last request before I died was pizza delivered to my death bed with a cold brew as my last meal. (What’s one last jolt of poison when your about to take your last breath anyway?) I’m so glad gluten-free has come so far that I can pick a more extravagant last meal….maybe chocolate croissants.  Never in my lifetime, did I expect to live to experience gluten-free pizza so accessible and tasty.

Gluten-Free Pizza: Las Vegas Style: Gluten-Free Pizza in Oven

Gluten-free pizza has certainly come a long way in the past 20 years!

Recently, I was honored to speak at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas on behalf of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). Gluten-free pizza is a HOT trend and operators across the country want to know what it takes to include gluten-free as an option for their customers, so I was thrilled to be asked to attend. Over 7,000 pizza operators attend this show annually to taste the latest, greatest ingredients, find new equipment, and attend educational sessions to learn how to make their business more successful. The energy at this show is over the top and the events are show stoppers. These operators are serious competitors, too. The contests happening right on the “All Pizza, All-of-the-Time Show Floor” included Bake Offs,  Freestyle Acrobatic Dough Tossing, Pizza Challenges, and Demonstrations for pizzas, salads, and beer brewing.  What an amazing experience.

My educational session, “How Pizzerias Can Serve a Gluten-Free Pie” included 3 panelists. As moderator and speaker, I provided education about serving diners with gluten-related disorders, the importance of training and safe preparation. My panelists, GREAT Kitchens grads (a training course from NFCA on safe gluten-free food preparation) Adam and Debbie Goldberg from Fresh Brothers, LA area, and Willy Olunds, from Willy O’s in Michigan, gave the attendees real life experience in serving gluten-free pizza. These experts gave different perspectives since Fresh Brothers has 8 locations and Willy O’s is an independent operation.

Gluten-Free Pizza: Las Vegas Style: Willy O

Willy O himself with his delicious corn-based gluten-free pizza.

Willy invited me to tag along during his pizza competition in the non-traditional category. (No gluten-free category yet, but maybe next year.) According to Willy and his wife, Carla, this is highly irregular to allow non-participants in the competition area. I felt honored and so impressed with the intense passion each competitor brought to their pie including Willy. His unique corn-based crust and decadent ingredients made for a pretty impressive entry.

Elizabeth Falkner

Iron Chef Redemption challenger Elizabeth Falkner doing her kale demonstration.

Other GREAT experiences included hanging out with the staff at Venice Bakery. (Their booth was amazing and so was the pizza!) I also sat in the front row and watched Iron Chef Redemption challenger Elizabeth Falkner demonstrate kale salad (crispy, fresh, and blanched kale) and actually met her after the demo. She’s really cool.  I had some time to check out the exhibitors, so I  said “hi” to  old friends like Joel Schut from RW Bakers, Pamela and Alison from Pamela’s, and the DeIorio’s team.  Best of all I made a new friend, Denise San Filippo (a fellow gluten-free gal) from Schar. Denise and I hit the strip one night and had a fabulous gluten-free dinner at Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris Hotel.  From our window, we could see the Eiffel Tower and watch the Bellagio fountain show. (Sometimes this job is grueling!) Our waitress was well-educated about allergens and gluten which gave us confidence in our restaurant choice especially when she answered all of our probing questions correctly.  She even brought us toasted gluten-free bread and warm olives for our starter. Denise had the scallops and I tried the Lemon Chicken with shallow Pom Frites. (Shallow means fried separately in a pan not a deep fryer.) It was delicious, especially the fried potatoes.

Gluten-Free Pizza: Las Vegas Style: Venice Bakery

Me and the Venice Bakery Team

Gluten-Free Pizza: Las Vegas Style: Beckee and Joel

Me and Joel from RW Bakery

Eiffel Tower

Our view from our gluten-free-friendly restaurant.

With every expo and conference I attend, I have the opportunity to meet new people and can’t help but feel ecstatic over the progress we’re making.  20 years ago, I thought I would never eat pizza again.  Now, there are people seeking information on how to make both delicious and safe gluten-free pizza.   And, to be able to be a part of that is a GREAT feeling.

– Beckee

April 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm Leave a comment

Take Me Out to the Ball Game! Family Fun & a New Gluten-Free Stand at the Phillies’ Stadium

Spring is has sprung and that means baseball is here!  All of us at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) have started following our favorite teams and are ready for a great season of America’s favorite pastime. And, we are preparing for our annual night out at the ballpark.

This year, Celiac Awareness Night with the Philadelphia Phillies is on Friday, August 16that Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies host the Los Angeles Dodgers. This will be NFCA’s 6th Celiac Awareness Night and we are looking forward to a great night of great baseball.

This year, we are excited to have a special free raffle to offer visitors to our information table near Section 210.   Thanks to the Phillies and Aramark, the basket will include Phillies memorabilia, two tickets to a 2013 regular season game in section 116, a preferred parking pass and a complementary food coupon valued at $30. Better yet, there will be an expanded menu at the gluten-free concession stand that is set up for NFCA’s night out.

Last Friday, I went to the Phillies Home Opener.  I either am a terrible influence or a great grandmother as I snuck my grandson Zachary out of school for the afternoon so he could cheer on the home team. The weather was perfect, the seats were good and we were all set to start a winning season.  Unfortunately, the Phillies weren’t quite as ready as we were and lost to the Kansas City Royals. As the crowd streamed out at the 7th inning stretch, my grandson refused to lose faith and declared, “I am a Phillies fan and I am staying!”

Grandson at Phillies Game

My grandson checking out the new gluten-free concession stand at Citizens Bank Park. Such a dedicated fan!

We did have a great chance to check out the new permanent gluten-free concession stand in Section 136. What a boost to the Phillies experience! We had delicious hot dogs and cheesesteaks and watched as people who were thrilled to find gluten-free food so available ordered pizza and chicken fingers. Sweet Christine’s furnished brownies and other sweet treats, along with the hot dog rolls.  Of course, you can get a gluten-free brew with that dog—Redbridge beer and Woodchuck Hard Cider.

Gluten-Free Phillies Fans

I had the pleasure of meeting Teddy and Caitlin, two fans stopping by the gluten-free concession stand.

No matter what the final score, it always is a good day at the ball park. With more gluten-free food, it is even better.

See you at Celiac Awareness Night!  You can grab your tickets here.

Play ball!

– Nancy

April 9, 2013 at 11:53 am Leave a 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

Traveling Gluten-Free: What I’ve Learned in 3 Years

I’ve become quite an expert at traveling. As Director of Gluten-Free Industry Initiatives for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), I’ve visited over 25 cities and worked in a dozen or more states within three years (my latest NFCA trip was to Atlanta, Georgia two weeks ago for the KeHE Summer Selling Show).  I can maneuver through airport security with ease and efficiency, flipping off shoes and jackets and pulling out bags of liquids and my laptop in seconds. And since I have celiac disease, traveling means “always being prepared and aware” so I’ve created a list of “must-haves” snacks, which airports have safe choices and how to find gluten-free friendly and not so friendly restaurants anywhere in the country. (I use the Find Me Gluten-Free app to sort out potential eateries. This is a dining locator not an endorsement of gluten-free options. You still need to investigate by reading the reviews, making a call and asking questions.) I’ve also had to be proactive and advocate for myself and others with gluten-related disorders when it comes to attending business dinners, conferences and events by identifying my dietary needs on conference registration forms, plus notifying event coordinators, hotel hospitality and general managers.

Gluten-Free Travel: Udi's Gluten-Free Products at the KeHE Show

Udi’s Gluten-Free had lots of products on display at the KeHE Show.

This is all part of trip preparation. It takes a bit more time but I always feel it’s important to be an advocate for not only myself but for all people with gluten-related disorders. And while I’m traveling around the country, I feel it is my job and honor to be the voice for people with celiac disease everywhere by spreading education, awareness and understanding. (You may not want to sit next to me on a plane…you’ll get an earful.) I have learned that if we don’t politely ask, people may not think our dietary needs are necessary. If we don’t carefully express our needs, many may not think there are any. If we don’t calmly mention the mistake, serves and restaurants will never know there is a problem. If we don’t ask if they have completed NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens gluten-free training program, restaurant operators, chefs and servers may not think they need it. But, if we remain patient and plant the seed, the growth will come.

Gluten-Free Travel: Enjoy Life Staff

Enjoy Life staff were at the KeHE Show too.

Here is my list of must-have gluten-free snacks to take with me on the go:

  • KIND bars
  • Gluten-free crackers (If you keep these in a tin, they’re perfect for packing in a suitcase)
  • Individual servings of hummus and nut butter
  • Fruit
  • Jerky sticks
  • Cheese sticks
  • Mix nuts, dried fruit, gluten-free pretzels or chocolate chips
  • Go Picnic boxes (Not everything by Go Picnic is gluten-free, so be sure to check before purchasing)
Gluten-Free Travel: Poster Cut Out with Park Jae-sang

Did I mention I “meet” some interesting characters on my gluten-free travels?

I’m always looking for new travel-friendly gluten-free foods. Comment below with your go-to travel snack to give me some fresh ideas!

– Beckee

February 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm 2 comments

A Great Gluten-Free Day!

Two northwestern sections of Philadelphia were jumpin’ on Saturday, January 26th.  Weavers Way, the fabulous community owned co-op that has made a name for itself in the Philadelphia region, held its annual Gluten-Free Day from 12 until 4 p.m.

This year, the savvy folks at Weavers Way expanded the event to include both their Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy stores.  Bettina de Caumette, Outreach Coordinator at Weavers Way, put the day together to everyone’s delight.  Frigid weather aside, the day seemed just right to explore the wonderful world of gluten-free goodies.

A Great Gluten-Free Day: Bettine de Caumette, Weavers Way Outreach Coordinator

Thank you Bettina for putting together such an amazing day!

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) was on hand in both locations to discuss the gluten-free diet and to go beyond that to the underlying need for this special approach to the menu: celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders.

The NFCA team was pleased and proud to have two long-time, stalwart and extremely knowledgeable volunteers distribute literature and answer shoppers’ questions. Becky Lownes Urbano  returned to the post she manned last year in Chestnut Hill.  Annsley Klehr took a brisk walk from home to spread the word in Mt. Airy.  Tema Esberg, a new member of the NFCA volunteer team, joined Becky in Chestnut Hill.

A Great Gluten-Free Day: Becky Urbano, NFCA Volunteer

Big thanks to Becky and all of NFCA’s volunteers for supporting us in raising celiac disease awareness!

Chestnut Hill store manager Dean Stefano and Mt. Airy store manager Rick Spalek each donated an enormous basket of gluten-free products for a raffle benefiting NFCA. One lucky winner from each store went home with a bounty of delicious treats that will have them trying out new items and enjoying old favorites. For our part, NFCA is grateful for the donation that will go toward our educational programs.

On a normal Saturday, about 1,100 people pass through the doors of Weavers Way in Chestnut Hill. That number swells significantly on Gluten-Free Day and this year was no exception. I don’t know how many came to the Mt. Airy store but it certainly was a steady stream of eager shoppers, many with questions about gluten-free food and celiac disease.

In short, it was great!  The NFCA team is looking forward to Gluten-Free Day 2014 at Weavers Way!

– Nancy

February 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

Appetite for Awareness – Truly Philadelphia’s Premier Gluten-Free Food Fest

Appetite for Awareness 2012 is over, but the office is still buzzing with excitement.  When you focus on preparing for an event for months and months, you can’t help but feel a sense of relief and happiness over the success of the event.

I joined the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team back in May, so this was my first time at Appetite for Awareness.  Leading up to the event, I attended planning and update meetings and absorbed all the fine details that go into coordinating an event of this size.  Last week, NFCA staff and our wonderful event planners, Phyllis and Ed, went over the final plans, and I thought I knew what the event had in store for all its gluten-free guests.  I never could have imagined how big Appetite for Awareness really could be, and how much it could mean to the community.

Appetite for Awareness: National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Store

The first ever NFCA store premiered at Appetite for Awareness

The venue was the Historic Strawbridge Building in Center City, Philadelphia.  For those of you who have never seen it, the building is unbelievably beautiful.  It used to be the Strawbridge & Clothier building, but was just converted into a venue for special events.  It has that historic look to it, with the grand staircase in the back, low hanging, bright chandeliers, and a working fountain in the walkway that divides the massive floor space.  On Sunday, tables snaked through the main hall, loaded with vendor tables all handing out gluten-free samples to the 1,500 attendees.

Appetite for Awareness:  Gluten-Free Vendor Tables

The restaurants and chefs gearing up for the crowds

So here’s how Appetite for Awareness goes:  You come through the door, grab your NFCA tote bag and start eating!  All of the vendors and restaurants get their own table and they serve only gluten-free food.  Even better, all of the restaurants in attendance are trained by NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program, a training course that teaches chefs all the ins and outs of preparing gluten-free food safely.  This is what makes Appetite for Awareness so special.  From the pasta samples served by the restaurants, to the brews chilling in the beer garden, it’s all gluten-free.   There are no questions to ask your server.  There are no concerns about cross-contamination, because nothing containing gluten comes through the door.  Everyone there knows what the gluten-free diet is and why it’s so important to those living with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  For once, people on the lifelong gluten-free diet can just relax, eat and have a good time without making special preparations, calling ahead or packing their own snacks.

Appetite for Awareness- Line for Registration

The line to get into Appetite for Awareness wrapped all the way around the outside of the building!

I spent most of the day walking through the Strawbridge building, snapping photos, live tweeting from the event, and doing Twitter giveaways. (Shout out to Amie Valpone of The Healthy Apple & Crunchmaster, Blue Diamond and PJ’s Beef Steak for providing us with the gluten-free giveaway items.  You guys rock!)

I didn’t get to try all of the dishes, but from the massive lines of people eagerly devouring their samples while reaching for another one, I know the food was delicious.  A returning favorite were the soft pretzels from Tonya’s Gluten-Free Products, which earned rave reviews at Appetite for Awareness 2010, too.  I saw people running to go have a pretzel or two (or three or four).  Kids were covered in pizza sauce, and sticky fingers were everywhere.  It was an awesome sight.

Appetite for Awareness: Tonya's Gluten-Free Products: Soft Pretzels

People were talking about how excited they were to have their first soft pretzel in years.

Personally, I was super excited to meet the people that I talk to on social media all the time.  I met Erin Smith of Gluten-Free Fun, Amie Valpone of The Healthy Apple, and the Appetite for Awareness honoree himself, Michael Savett of Gluten Free Philly.

Appetite for Awareness: Honoree Michael Savett of Gluten Free Philly

Michael accepting his award from NFCA Founder & President Alice Bast. (PS- isn’t that staircase great?)

NFCA honored Michael Savett at the event for his major contributions to the gluten-free community living in the Philadelphia area.  When his son was diagnosed with celiac, Michael started teaching restaurants about the gluten-free diet and kept track of the restaurants that could cater to his son’s special dietary needs.  Instead of keeping the information to himself, Michael started Gluten Free Philly for everyone in the area to benefit from.  A driving force in creating more availability for gluten-free options, NFCA would once again like to thank and congratulate Michael for his efforts.

Check out the tribute video NFCA made (with the help of Michael’s friends and family) to say thank you.

I had a blast at Appetite for Awareness 2012, and based on the tweets and Facebook comments, it seems like everyone who attended agrees.  None of this would have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors, the support of the NFCA board and advisory council members, and of course, our amazing volunteers and staff who put in countless hours to make Appetite for Awareness 2012 a fun and safe event for the gluten-free community.

Visit the NFCA Facebook page to see some of my snapshots from the event and stay tuned for the professional photographer’s pictures to come.  While you’re visiting the Facebook page, tell us your favorite part of Appetite for Awareness!

There are so many people to thank and recognize for their contributions to Appetite for Awareness, especially Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals,  KYW Newsradio 1060, PREIT, Mercedes-Benz of Fort Washington and West Chester.   Click here to see all of our amazing sponsors and participating restaurants and vendors.

Thanks to all who came out to make Appetite for Awareness such a memorable event!

– Alicia

September 25, 2012 at 10:42 am 4 comments

Helping Hands—Lots of Them!

It’s time for NFCA’s Appetite for Awareness!

The NFCA Team is very excited about the 2012 edition of this signature event. I can’t wait to see which doctors are paired with which restaurant to prepare and offer true gluten-free delights to our guests. Appetite for Awareness brings out the gourmet in most of us as we table hop between the booths of some of the best restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Today, I learned that there will be about 60 exhibitors who are ready to highlight the latest gluten-free products and distribute educational materials to all attendees. Add the Beer Garden with flat screen TVs and “the game,” the Children’s Pavilion with games for the whole family, and cooking demos for the Julia Child in each of us, and you have quite an afternoon!

Helping Hands- Lots of Them: Appetite for Awareness Volunteers

Our “helping hands” at Appetite for Awareness 2010

How does the NFCA Team make all of this happen? The short answer is, we don’t. Well, more correctly, we don’t do it alone. Each year, a small army of volunteers puts on their Appetite for Awareness T-shirts and jumps in to help.

Helps Hands- Lots of Them: Face Painting

From face painting to staffing the NFCA store, our wonderful volunteers do it all!

Our guests will meet them all, from manning the registration desk to helping at the NFCA Shop to selling tickets for the drawings (including a lease on a Mercedes-Benz!) and much, much more. This volunteer corps is an essential ingredient in the success of each and every Appetite for Awareness that NFCA has held over the years.

This year, over 75 volunteers plus a cadre of students will take the floor to make this the best event ever. Some are first-timers who will be amazed and others are old hands who know the ropes and always are enthusiastic.

Helping Hands- Lots of Them:  NFCA Volunteers

NFCA volunteers help registration run smoothly.

If we held a contest for the volunteer who traveled the greatest distance to get to the Historic Strawbridge Building, Cecelia Bonaduce from Baltimore probably would win (plus, she originally hails from California). Most years as an Appetite for Awareness volunteer? Probably Karen Dalrymple and Donna Sawka. Husband and wife teams — Jen and Kenny Arters, Judy and Mike Paul, Eva and Marv Schlanger.  More family ties — Patti and Jessica Townsend, Amanda and Sam Beeler, Jody and Bruce Finkel, Sandy and Rachel Cogan, Eileen and Jim Grady. And, organizing this whole team—Julie Cooper.  Amazing!

Looking forward to a great time!

– Nancy

September 18, 2012 at 10:28 am 2 comments

Celebrate Celiac Awareness Day

Celebrate Celiac Awareness Day

Today is National Celiac Awareness Day, and I for one am incredibly excited.  Our mission at NFCA is to raise awareness of celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders, so a day dedicated solely to our mission is pretty exciting.

We are celebrating Celiac Awareness Day by announcing the Grand Prize winner of our first-ever Gluten-Free Pantry Raid.  (Meet the winner here.) Our friend Jehangir Mehta who was a finalist on “Next Iron Chef” and will compete again in the upcoming season, is hosting a Celiac Awareness Day dinner at his New York City Restaurant, Mehtaphor.  You can join in on the celebration, too!  Stuck for an idea?  Check out these ways to do your part to raise celiac awareness.

Share the Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist

This one is simple.  Head to NFCA’s website and download the Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist.  Print it out and give to your friends and family, or share the link through e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or whatever social networking site you prefer.  An estimated 3 million Americans are living with celiac disease, but 85% of them remain misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.  By sharing the symptoms checklist, you can make a huge difference in the lives of people who may still be undiagnosed!

Bake a Gluten-Free Cake

Or cupcake.  Share your gluten-free creation with your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, whoever!  Your delicious cake will be a big hit and will open up the door to talking to people about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.

Wear Green

Green is the official color for celiac disease, so sport a green shirt, tie, dress, shoes, or whatever green accessory you can get your hands on.  Be sure to tell everyone why you’re rocking your green gear.

Change Your Profile Pictures

Change your Facebook or Twitter photo to the NFCA logo (you can grab it from our Facebook page) or upload a picture of yourself decked out in your green gear.  Then…

Update Your Status

Tell all your friends that it’s Celiac Awareness Day by updating your status and telling them so.  You can even toss in a few facts to help people understand the autoimmune disease:

  • Celiac disease affects 1 in 133 Americans, but 85% of them are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.
  • There are no pharmaceutical cures for celiac.  The only treatment available is a gluten-free diet.
  • On average, it takes 6-10 years for a person with celiac disease to get an accurate diagnosis in the United States.

Get more fast facts here.

Buy a Ticket for Appetite for Awareness

Appetite for Awareness is NFCA’s signature gluten-free event hosted at the Historic Strawbridge Building in Center City, Philadelphia on September 23.  The event is packed with gluten-free food, live chef demos, giveaways and free samples from local vendors.  If you don’t live in the Philly area, you can still support NFCA with a donation (even a dollar helps!) or sign up for the newsletter so you can stay on top of all the latest celiac and gluten-free news.

Make a Celiac Advocate a Health Hero

Our founder Alice Bast is a semi-finalist in the Be Well Philly Health Hero Challenge.  It’s a voting contest from Philadelphia magazine’s health blog that honors people making a contribution to health in the Philly area.  Even if you don’t live in Philly, you can still vote.  A win for Alice would help launch celiac into the spotlight even more.  Voting only takes a minute and you can vote for her once daily until Monday, September 17.

Experiment with New Gluten-Free Ingredients

Think outside the box with your recipes and try using a different ingredient that you’ve never tried before.  There are a lot of delicious and nutritious gluten-free recipes out there that go beyond plain ol’ chicken and veggies.  NFCA has entire recipe boxes dedicated to giving you some gluten-free cooking inspiration.  Invite your friends over to share in the cooking experiment and use it as a chance to talk to them about celiac disease.

So what will you do for Celiac Awareness Day?  Leave a comment or tell me on Facebook.

Happy Celiac Awareness Day!

–          Alicia

September 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm 1 comment

Two Gluten-Free Parties with GREAT Gals

In July, I had two golden opportunities to celebrate the generosity of personal friends and friends of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).

We all love a party but some of us are really good at throwing one of the biggest parties in town. Meet Chris Auman, a member of the NFCA Team who has worked on our events since the day she walked in the door years ago. Chris has been a huge part of the energy and organizational power behind Appetite for Awareness as this fun-and-food-filled event has grown from an intimate evening in a private home to the festival that we enjoy today.

Right now, Chris is organizing the Marketplace for Appetite for Awareness 2012 being held on September 23rd at the Historic Strawbridge Building at 8th & Markets Streets in Philadelphia. If you want to have loads of gluten-free fun, come on down. Chris will be ready for you.

On July 27th, we held a party of a different kind when we celebrated Chris’ birthday.  Alice Bast, Chris and I headed to Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington where we enjoyed a delicious gluten-free Mexican meal. The gazpacho with watermelon, tomato, cucumber, a house specialty, was a big hit at the birthday table.

What Are Friends For- NFCA's Alice Bast, Nancy Ginter, and Chris Auman

Alice, Chris and me after our delicious gluten-free Mexican meal. That’s Chris on the right.

On Sunday, July 29th, I made my way from my home in Blue Bell, PA to the absolutely fascinating home of Jennifer and Ken Arters in Downingtown, PA. Jen was holding an in-home shopping spree benefiting NFCA. Featuring jewelry from Stella & Dot, along with fabric purses and bags of all kinds from Thirty-One, this trunk show was like Christmas in July, as far as I was concerned. Temptation was everywhere.  Yes, I succumbed!

Jen prepared delicious gluten-free treats from tasty miniature meatballs to fabulous mini red velvet cupcakes. And, yes, I succumbed.

What Are Friends For- Jen Arters

A big thank you to Jen for hosting the party benefiting NFCA!

Jen and Kenny showcased these delightful gifts in their 1850s house lovingly being brought back to its former glory.  Restoration is hard work designed for talented and skilled people with a passion for making things better. Jen and Kenny have an equal passion for raising awareness of celiac disease. All of us at NFCA are grateful for their spirit of volunteerism and their dedication to the celiac cause.  You will see them at Appetite for Awareness – helping out, of course.

What Are Friends For- Celiac Disease Resources

So many celiac resources!

– Nancy

Get tickets to Appetite for Awareness »

August 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

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