Archive for category Celiac “101″

Gluten Free Holiday Party Tips

nutcrackersI’ve been gluten free for over five years. Most of the time I think I have this lifestyle down pat. I can easily name 20 gluten free flours, describe the inner workings of xanthan gum, and recite how to make fab waffles using Gluten Free Bisquick. Then the month of December arrives with a slew of gluten-filled holiday party invites. Fear sets in. How can I avoid glutening myself? Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, I’m picturing accidentally eating gluten and spending an embarrassingly excessive amount of time in my host’s restroom. Then I remind myself that there’s no need to panic; with some pre-party planning, we can successfully navigate through the holidays gluten-free!

1. Let your host know that you are gluten-intolerant and offer to bring a gluten-free dish. This guarantees that you will be able to safely eat at least one dish at the event.

2. Don’t go to the party on an empty stomach. Before you head out the door, eat something. You’ll be less likely to drool over those off-limit pastries if you’re not famished. Enjoy a safe and tasty gluten-free meal at home beforehand.

3. Pack an emergency stash. Bring along some gluten-free crackers or a snack bar. If the worst-case scenario happens and there is not one thing you can eat, you’ll have your emergency stash to dip into.

4. When in doubt, don’t chance it. Your host’s intentions most certainly are good, but unless you are 100% sure that a dish is gluten-free, don’t eat it. It’s absolutely okay to ask to see the packaging and check the ingredient list.

5. It may be gluten-free, but someone might have glutened it. Be aware that cross-contamination can easily happen at the buffet table. An unknowing guest could have scooped up the gluten-free dip with a pretzel or cheese curl.

6. Host your own party and make it gluten-free. Have peace of mind that all party foods are safe by hosting your very own holiday party.

7. Focus on your friends and family, not the food. Try not to dwell on what you can’t eat at the party. Focus on the fun you’re having with your family and friends. Have a healthy, happy and gluten-free holiday

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A Gluten Free Thanksgiving IS Possible!

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, Thanksgiving was a holiday that came with much trepidation.  Truth be told, Aunt Edna’s gelatin mold was indeed a bit scary, but my big fear was how to survive Thanksgiving gluten-free.  Our dinner table was traditionally laden with gluten-filled fare such as stuffing, rolls, gravy, and pies.  As a “newbie”, I envisioned myself munching on a piece of cardboard in the corner (most likely at the kid’s table).  Fear not!  Thanksgiving (and any other holiday) can be deliciously gluten-free.  A little research, planning, and flexibility will help you to have a Thanksgiving that rivals years past.

Bird is the Word: Did you know that some brands of turkey contain gluten as an additive?  To make sure you select a gluten free turkey, always check the ingredient list.  Gluten free turkey brands include Empire Kosher, Honeysuckle White, Jennie-O, Perdue, Sheltons, & Shadybrook Farms.

Break Some Gluten Free Bread: Serve up a batch of gluten free biscuits in no time by using Betty Crocker Gluten Free Bisquick Mix.

Get Stuffed: Check out my post for some savory Gluten Free Stuffing.  Want to try something different?  How about a rice-based stuffing?

Hop on the Gravy Train: Sure, “traditional” gravy is made from a flour base.  However, you can make a mouthwatering gluten free country-style gravy with Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Bisquick Mix as a base.  Or check out these gluten free gravy mixes:  Road’s End Organic Savory Herb Gravy, OrgraN Vegetarian Gravy, Maxwell’s Kitchen Brown Gravy.

Don’t Forget the Sides: Homemade cranberry sauce, fruit salad, candied yams, and mashed potatoes all make fabulous sides.

Time for Dessert! The possibilities are endless.  Since pumpkin is so often featured as the star of the show at Thanksgiving, pumpkin ice cream would be a delicious gluten free option.  A decadent (but easy) option is my Pumpkin Cheesecake with Rice Chex crust:

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Be sure to have cream cheese & eggs at room temperature.

Gluten Free Crust:

1/2 cup pecans
2 cups Rice Chex Gluten Free Cereal
8 gluten free Ginger Snap cookies
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup butter (melted)
In a food processor grind pecans, cookies, & Rice Chex cereal until crushed & crumbly in texture (resembling ground almond meal). Add brown & white sugar and butter. Mix thoroughly. Press crumbs against the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.

Cheesecake Filling:

3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/8 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 whole egg
4 egg yolks
3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine pumpkin, 3/4 cup of white sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, mace, and 3 egg yolks. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Set pumpkin mixture aside.

Using a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Slowly incorporate 3/8 cup (=1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) of white sugar, 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, whipping cream, cornstarch, orange and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add pumpkin mixture and combine thoroughly. Add batter to springform pan. Bake in center of oven for 50 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees. I placed a pan filled with water on the rack beneath the cheesecake to eliminate cracking and maintain moistness. Remove cheesecake from oven and cool for at least 1/2 hour before removing from pan.  Refrigerate prior to serving.

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Behind the Scenes at General Mills

gluten free general mills

I recently had the holy crap are you for real?! exciting opportunity to visit the General Mills facility in Minneapolis.  Along with eleven other passionate gluten free bloggers, I participated in a General Mills Gluten Free Summit.  Also in attendance was the dynamic Danna Korn, author of six gluten free books and founder of GlutenFreedom and Carol McCarthy Shilson, Executive Director of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.  This was an amazing opportunity to let our voices be heard!  I arrived in Minneapolis ready to shout my gluten free opinions from the top of the Pillsbury Dough Boy (yes, there actually is a statue of that rotund youngster inside General Mills).  Here is what I took away from this monumental gathering:

General Mills genuinely wants to listen to the gluten free community and is eager to learn more.  Major win for us!  I felt very empowered to have my voice be heard at the Gluten Free Summit.  Feedback (good and bad) was highly encouraged.   Put eleven opinionated bloggers in a conference room and we certainly delivered.   Take a moment and think back to when you were first diagnosed with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, there was so much to learn.  General Mills is taking on the very same task and moving forward in learning all there is to know about life gluten free.  What’s even more impressive is they are looking to the gluten free community to help teach them.  As one of the first major corporations to step up to the plate in the gluten free realm, I give them huge kudos.  What really struck me is that the CEO of General Mills has a gluten free family member.  This is huge.  It hit home for me because I felt as though the CEO could actually understand, sympathize, and identify with our gluten free lifestyle.  So what’s the big news, you ask?  General Mills is definitely listening to us and there will be more amazing things to come.  Stay tuned in the coming months as I will have more information to share and will keep you posted on the strides General Mills is making in our gluten free community.

Now on to the food!  Normally I am in hyper stress mode about where to eat when traveling.  Can you even imagine if members of the Gluten Free Summit were glutened on their trip?  It’s sort of amusing to think about.  Okay, maybe notsomuch.  However, much to my relief, we ate like gluten free kings and queens!    From the mouthwatering dinner at Biaggi’s that included gluten free bread, pizza, pasta and (to die for) flourless chocolate cake to the wonderful breakfast baked goods from French Meadow Bakery, my belly was full of fabulous (and safe) gluten free foods.  One food glitch did happen in the Betty Crocker Test Kitchen.  The eleven gluten free bloggers had a friendly “bake off” in the General Mills Test Kitchen.  I’ve never seen so many ovens in my life!  Unfortunately, we could not eat any of our gluten free creations due to the fact that the Test Kitchen uses wooden spatulas and rolling pins.  As you know, wood absorbs the evil gluten and no matter how much you wash it, the particles remain.  So we decided to forgo the baked goods in fear of being glutened.  That was a big bummer as I’m all about the baked goods, but the thought of being sick while on a two hour flight kept me away from the Snickerdoodles.  On a positive note, this was one of the many important lessons learned by General Mills while we were at their facility.

I’d like to give a shout out to my fellow Gluten Free Summit attendees’ sites.  Stop by for more fabulous information on everything gluten free:  A Few Shortcuts, Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures, Hey That Tastes Good, Gluten Free Easily, Gluten Free Homemaker, The Savvy Celiac, Wheat Free Meat Free, Gluten Free Taste of Home, and Celiac Princess.

In case you were wondering, I sadly did not get to visit the Mall of America or the infamous Spam Museum, but I hope to return to Minneapolis again someday and check out these noteworthy sites!

Group photo courtesy of Jill Elise of Hey That Tastes Good.

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Is It January Yet?!

The latest episode of my Hold The Gluten Podcast is now live!

Episode 14 “Is It January Yet?!” Features:

  • Wine and M&M’s…Duh – forgot gluten free food at a recent party.
  • Gluten Free Flours – always refrigerate (4 to 6 months) or freeze (up to one year).  Due to the lack of processing, most alternative flours will go rancid if not stored properly.
  • There is no “Holy Grail” for a GF Flour combination.  With flours such as Amaranth, Buckwheat, Millet, Quinoa, Sorghum, and Teff — use the 1/3 rule.
  • Remember that gluten free flours tend to absorb more liquid.  You may need to increase your liquid ingredients to avoid your baked goods being too dry/crumbly.
  1. Amaranth: Powerhouse for fiber, iron, B vitamins, and calcium.  Works well in baked goods due to high moisture content in grain.  Provides a nutty, grainy flavor.  Note – there is a strong smell/taste with Amaranth.
  2. Brown Rice: Healthier choice than White Rice Flour due to whole grain.  Nutty flavor.  Can have a gritty texture (combine with other flours to combat this).
  3. Buckwheat: No relation to wheat whatsoever.  Buckwheat is actually a herb and related to the rhubarb plant.  Provides a nutty, earthy flavor.
  4. Millet: Non-acid forming, making Millet Flour easy to digest.  Creates a light, crunchy crust for baked goods.  Provides a sweet, nutty flavor.
  5. Quinoa: Works well in baked goods due to high moisture content in grain.
  6. Sorghum: Closely mimics wheat flour.  Good for pizza crusts, scones, biscuits.
  7. Teff: Excellent thickener for soups, gravies, puddings, or stews.  Provides a mild, nutty flavor.
  • Don’t get glutened over the holidays!  Never be embarrassed to ask questions or double check the labels of that well-meaning family member cooking for you.
  • What’s your holiday tradition?  Have a new tradition you’ve created since going gluten free?  E-mail me at celiac@holdthegluten.net
  • Are you an Gluten Free Eagles Fan?  Check out EaglesFanCast blog & podcast. Yes, this is another shameless plug for hubby!

Read the blog. Listen to the podcast. Educate yourself.

Rock on Celiacs!

Click the player below to listen to the show! Subscribe to the podcast using iTunes (or whatever media player you use) at http://feeds.feedburner.com/htgpodcast

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Gluten Free!)

The latest episode of my Hold The Gluten Podcast is now live!

Episode 6 “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Gluten Free!)” Features:

  • Getting to your destination.
  • Airlines offering GF meals.
  • Pack GF snacks in carry on (a must!)
  • Research, research, research!
  • GF blogs & newsgroups can provide info on where to safely eat at your destination.
  • Find chain restaurants and grocery stores in area.
  • Triumph Dining Cards - free GF American Dining Cards during month of August.
  • Lesson learned – unknowingly given grain alcohol on trip – told it was potato vodka.

Read the blog. Listen to the podcast. Educate yourself.

Rock on Celiacs!

Click the player below to listen to the show! Subscribe to the podcast using iTunes (or whatever media player you use) at http://feeds.feedburner.com/htgpodcast

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Happy Hour, Gluten Free!

The latest episode of my Hold The Gluten Podcast is now live!

Episode 5 “Happy Hour, Gluten Free!” Features:

Read the blog. Listen to the podcast. Educate yourself.

Rock on Celiacs!

Click the player below to listen to the show! Subscribe to the podcast using iTunes (or whatever media player you use) at http://feeds.feedburner.com/htgpodcast

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Get Carded…

Ah, remember the good ol’ days?  Nervously waiting to be asked for i.d.  Hoping you looked “old enough”… Call me vain, but I’d pay 100 bucks to have someone card me today!  However, snickering while they looked at the birth year on my license would definitely forfeit the Ben Franklin.

I’m actually writing about cards of a different sort… Gluten Free Dining Cards.  These wallet sized “cheat sheets” are given to your server/chef when dining out.  Until the end of August, Triumph Dining is supporting those with Celiac Disease by offering FREE Dining Cards.  Better yet, once 15,000 people sign up for these complimentary cards, Triumph Dining will make a $10,000 donation to a national celiac awareness campaign.  How fantastic is that?!

Kelly from the Triumph Gluten-Free! blog sent me this exciting message:

I’m writing you today to let you know about Triumph Dining’s new give-away that we’re doing in August to raise money for Celiac Disease awareness, called the $10k Challenge.  I hope this is something you would like to share with your readers.

Triumph Dining is giving away FREE American Dining Cards until the end of August. There’s absolutely no purchase necessary. Your readers can simply visit http://www.triumphdining.com/freediningcard.aspx to participate and get a free dining card.

The purpose of this give-away is to raise money for Celiac Disease Awareness. If 15,000 people to sign up for free dining cards, Triumph Dining will make a $10,000 donation in support of a national celiac disease awareness campaign. When we hit our goal, we’ll ask you and the gluten free community to help us decide which non-profit(s) receives the donation.

We’re trying to build awareness on two fronts: With 15,000 more dining cards on the street, we’ll be educating more restaurants about the gluten free diet faster. And, with $10,000 funding behind a national campaign, we can diagnose and educate more Celiacs.

I hope you’ll tell your readers about this promotion.

Thanks and keep blogging,

Kelly
Triumph Dining

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Get Tested!

The latest episode of my Hold The Gluten Podcast is now live!

Episode 4 “Get Tested!” Features:

  • Discussion on genetic testing and blood tests.  Exactly who needs them?
  • The genetic test for Celiac Disease is known as the Celiac Disease DNA Test.  To clarify even further, specify HLA genotyping of the DQA1 and DQB1 genes.
  • The Celiac Disease DNA test is most useful for family members of individuals with the disease — particularly first-degree relatives— such as parents, siblings, or children of people who have been diagnosed.
  • A Celiac Blood Panel should also be performed to check antibodies.
  • Celiac Blood Panel tests include: Anti-endomysial antibody test (EMA-IgA), Total Serum IgA, and Anti-Tissue Transglutaminase (tTG-IgA)
  • What happens if a family member does test positive for the Celiac Gene but negative for Celiac Disease?  What next?

Read the blog. Listen to the podcast. Educate yourself.

Rock on Celiacs!

Click the player below to listen to the show! Subscribe to the podcast using iTunes (or whatever media player you use) at http://feeds.feedburner.com/htgpodcast

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Picnic Paranoia

Episode 3 of my Hold The Gluten Podcast is now live!

Episode 3 “Picnic Paranoia” Features:

  • A Celiac’s “Picnic Paranoia”.
  • Food as a social experience.
  • Surviving (gluten free!) summer picnics, pool parties, and various shindigs.
  • Easy Gluten Free dishes to bring to get togethers.
  • Maureen’s 7 Layer Dip Recipe.
  • “Beyond Rice Cakes” – a gluten free cookbook authored by Vanessa Maltin of the NFCA.
  • Enjoying the summer months with an unglutened belly!

Maureen’s 7 Layer Dip Recipe
2 pints of sour cream
2 bags of shredded cheese
1/2 head shredded lettuce
1 jar salsa
1 can sliced black olives
1 can sliced green olives
3 large tomatoes diced
1 bag corn tortilla chips

  1. Spread the sour cream in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch dish.
  2. Layer the shredded cheese to completely cover the sour cream.
  3. Continue adding a layer of shredded lettuce, salsa, black olives, green olives, and diced tomatoes.
  4. The final layer will be the remaining bag of shredded cheese.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips.

*Optional – For more variety, consider adding a layer of taco meat, shredded chicken, black beans or jalapeno peppers.

*PLEASE always double check the ingredients list or, if in doubt, call the manufacturer to confirm.

Read the blog. Listen to the podcast. Educate yourself.

Rock on Celiacs!

Click the player below to listen to the show! Subscribe to the podcast using iTunes (or whatever media player you use) at http://feeds.feedburner.com/htgpodcast

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These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…”

Nah – too much rain gives my roses black spot and I’m terribly allergic to cats.  Really.  I broke out in hives just typing the word “c-a-t”.

Anyway – being an official member of Club Celiac for almost three years now, I’ve encountered many a gluten free food that I wouldn’t feed to my worst enemy.  The most frustrating thing is paying a ton of money for food that is inedible.  Then what to do?  Do you eat it anyway!?  When I was a youngster, my mother utilized the “there are children starving in China” threat so that I would clean my plate.  Leftover guilt from my youth pressures me to finish these dreadful gluten free meals.  We all know the cardboard box it came in probably tastes better than the actual food!

So, to help you avoid eating a whole bunch of unnecessary nastiness, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite gluten free foods!

Drumroll please…

1) Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancakes.  YUM!  I love these pancakes.  They come frozen in a box of 12.  I microwave mine and then add chocolate chips or sliced bananas.  Top it off with maple syrup and enjoy the gluten free goodness. FYI, they are dairy free as well.

2)  Think Thin Peanut Butter Bars (Crunchy or Creamy).  These bars are brilliant. I keep one or two in my glovebox at all times (probably not the best idea when it’s 90 degrees outside).  They are very high in protein, are satisfying, and don’t taste like crap.

3)  Envirokidz Cereal Bars – Chocolate.  Technically I think these “rice crispy” type bars are marketed towards children.  On occasion, I feel as though my IQ is that of a three year old (as all of my brain cells have been sucked out by my children), so these are perfect for moi!  The bars are great alone or topped with peanut butter.

4)  Trader Joe’s Flourless Chocolate Cake.  Need I say more?  It’s just sick.

5)  Robert’s American Gourmet Pirate’s Booty.  This is the closest thing to a cheese curl that I’ve found.  It’s like a little white cheddar cloud puff that melts in your mouth. FYI, most of Robert’s American Gourmet snack foods are gluten free!

6)  Tostito’s Restaurant Style Corn Tortilla Chips.  When I am not trying to be healthy, I LIVE on nachos.  Tostito’s Corn Tortilla Chips are my fav-or-ite.  Whatever you do – please, please, please don’t buy the multi-grain or flour ones.  They are NOT my favorite…

7)  Glutino Pretzels (minis or sticks).  I have a hard time keeping these away from my gluten eating family.  They love them!  These pretzels have a buttery taste and really hit the spot.

8)  Tinkyada Pasta.  Weird name.  Great tasting.  This is a gluten free pasta I can serve and the “gluten eaters” never even know it’s gluten free!

9)  Puffins Cereal – Honey Rice.  Sweet, crunchy, gluten free cereal.  I can’t get enough of the Puffins!

10)  Amy’s Organic Rice Crust Pizza.  I’m lazy.  I don’t really cook for myself often.  I used to eat large quantities of pizza.  Amy’s gluten free pizza is the best tasting frozen pizza I’ve found.  Now, let me be clear — this does NOT taste like the greasy, cheesy pizza you used to eat.  Don’t even try folding it.  But it thoroughly satisfies my need when the family orders one large pie with a side of gluten.

11)  Cocoa Pebbles Cereal.  Ok, this is not healthy at all.  It’s sugar in a bowl.  But, who cares!!!  When you can have a bowl of chocolate cereal and then drink up the chocolaty milk left in the bottom, that gets a huge thumbs up in my book…

12)  Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix.  This rocks.  I use this for my gluten free pumpkin waffle recipe.  If I run out of my Trader Joe’s frozen pancakes, I’ll bite the bullet and actually make some “homemade” pancakes with Pamela’s mix.  They come out light, airy, and tasty!!

13)  Bob’s Redmill Gluten Free Brownie Mix.  Oh baby, I love these brownies!!  Be sure to make the “Cream Cheese Brownies” recipe on the back of the bag.  They are DELICIOUS.  Question — do you ever fantasize that Bob is your long lost uncle?  Think of all the gluten free goodies you could be getting.  Hmm, maybe I should keep that delusion to myself.

Ahem, moving on to my last (but not least!) favorite gluten free food…

14)  Anything “naturally” gluten free! Enjoy the summer’s fresh fruits and veggies.  A trip to your local farmer’s market can provide you with a plethora of naturally gluten free options that are good for your body.

Then go have yourself a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles and don’t forget to drink the milk!

:)

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