Friday, December 28, 2012

Free NFCA Webinar on Gluten-free Alcohlic beverages

Free Webinar: It's Not Just Food Anymore: An Update on Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverage Labeling

Those newly diagnosed with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity almost immediately realize that traditional beer is no longer an option during happy hour. Perhaps the most popular alcoholic beverage, traditional beer is brewed using malted barley. So if beer is off limits, what other alcoholic beverages and liquors can a person living gluten-free enjoy? Join NFCA as Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, a gluten-free expert dietitian, reviews a hot topic - current gluten-free labeling policies of alcoholic beverages as proposed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s Interim Policy established in May 2012.*
When: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Time: 8:30 p.m. EST / 5:30 p.m. PST
Where: Your computerBard's Beer logo

Sponsored by Bard's Beer, this webinar is free of charge!

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*The TTB has stated that this Interim Policy was released pending a ruling from the FDA. Once the FDA releases a final rule on labeling of food as gluten-free, the TTB will decide whether any revisions are needed.
Note: The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) provides information on gluten-free events as a service to the community. Please note that NFCA cannot assure the event participant or restaurant patron of the gluten-free practices or knowledge of the restaurants cited if they have not completed NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program, which provides accredited gluten-free training to restaurants and other foodservice providers. Please call the venue directly to learn more about their preparation processes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The gluten made her do it

This is an amazing article written by a friend of mine in Anchorage. It highlights the struggle that a lot of Celiacs (or their parents and friends/family) have been through in order to get a diagnosis and draws attention to the need for awareness. It also demonstrates how our autoimmune disorder can be misunderstood and misinterpreted by the medical profession and the community in general and the difficulty we go through in trying to heal.

Its a long article but totally worth the read. Original article can be found here.

The gluten made her do it: How going gluten free saved my daughter's mental health

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Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012 3:28 pm | Updated: 4:12 pm, Thu Dec 27, 2012.

I sat next to a white wall decorated with neon alphabet letters and tried to explain the problem with my daughter. When I was done the pediatrician leaned back a little and wrinkled her nose. She frankly looked a little repulsed.
“Hold on,” she said. “Let me get the behavioral therapist.”

It wasn’t always like this. After my boy-girl twins were born, I often received compliments on how happy my babies seemed. After about eight months of age, my son stayed the same chill little guy. But in my daughter, I saw a change. At first I thought she must have a slightly more volatile temperament, and that it was only now beginning to show. But after she was a year old, it became apparent that I was dealing with something a little more serious. The slightest thing could set my daughter off—or nothing at all. And when she got upset, it wasn’t like a normal toddler getting upset. She was hysterical. It was like someone had lit her on fire. She screamed, and kept screaming, as though in mortal agony, for as long as two hours at a time.
Comforting her was no easy task, in part because she no longer seemed comfortable with being held. Even while in a good mood, my daughter would become tense and rigid in my arms. The only time she seemed able to cuddle was when she was on the verge of sleep. In those rare times when she was truly exhausted, but not quite asleep, she would finally relax into a snuggle. I treasured those moments. But I also wondered why she had to be nearly passed out to enjoy being held.
As her episodes increased in frequency, I started to feel more concerned. How would she fare in preschool? Was her temperament going to be this extreme for the rest of her life? The worst part was that my daughter just seemed so unhappy. I didn’t want that for her.
The behavioral therapist listened quietly to our predicament. Then he looked at me and shared this illuminating gem: “Well you know, toddlers do have tantrums.”
It wasn’t the answer I was expecting.
“Are you sure? I don’t think I’ve heard of this toddler tantrum phenomenon before.”
Okay, I didn’t really say that. It’s what I wanted to say. But that would have been rude, so instead I assured him that I did know what normal toddler tantrums looked like. I’m the eldest in a large Catholic family, I said; I have 11 younger siblings. I worked as a nanny for nearly three years. I’ve worked as a caseworker for homeless children and severely emotionally disturbed children. I have a pretty well-grounded concept of what is and isn’t normal behavior for a toddler. What my daughter was going through didn’t look like normal behavior to me, and I was concerned the behavior would persist and cause problems in school.
“There’s no way we can predict future behavior from how she’s acting now,” he said.
Actually, I’d done some research and had a stack of articles from peer-reviewed scientific journals on my desk at home that strongly contradicted him. But I was beginning to feel the futility of my communications with the behavioral therapist. I cautiously offered that I’d read some research that seemed to indicate there was a predictive relationship between toddler and childhood temperament.
No, not true, he said.
He added, “She’ll probably just grow out of it.”
“Okay. So what are some tools I could use now to help her when she’s really upset and won’t calm down?”
“Try distracting her,” he said. “Give her a toy that makes noise. Or sit her down in front of the T.V. for a while.”
Brilliant. Your kid is having behavioral problems? Sit her in front of the T.V.
I didn’t know what kind of degree the behavioral therapist had. But I was pretty sure I could’ve consulted someone with considerably fewer credentials for that last piece of advice.
I’m a patient person. I could deal with my daughter’s behavior. But I knew that something was wrong. When my daughter was having an episode of what might have been termed hysterics in an older time, it was as if she was somewhere else. She was unreachable. I’m an old hat at managing toddler tantrums. But there was no response on my part that had much impact on her. When she was distressed, she was just gone.
And her episodes were getting worse. Soon, she was having them at night time as well as during the day. The first time it happened, she woke up screaming hysterically at 2 a.m. Her twin brother and I sat awake with her, and I tried everything to help her, but nothing helped. At 5:30 a.m., she started pointing toward something in the closet. I couldn’t tell what it was. “This? This?” I asked, picking up various items. Finally she gave a favorable response to an old black and white polyester dress. I gave it to her. She held it to her face and rubbed the cool fabric on her cheek, her arm, her belly, and instantly relaxed. She continued rubbing it on her skin, almost compulsively. Within minutes, she had fallen asleep.
By the time my twins were almost two years old, I was no longer mothering my daughter. I was merely surviving her. The night-time episodes continued, and the dress solution had been a fluke; it didn’t work a second time. I never knew what was going to set her off. I now had to hold her when she got upset, and instruct her twin brother to keep his distance, because now that she was older my daughter flailed wildly during an episode, hurting herself, her twin and me if she wasn’t gently but firmly restrained. There were other changes. I can’t remember when, but at some point my daughter stopped making eye contact with me, or anyone, altogether. Even when she was content, she was often off in her own little world.
I got a new pediatrician. I described my daughter’s symptoms. I even started launching pre-emptively into an account of my long experience in childcare just in case he would be tempted to think that I just didn’t know how to tell the difference between a normal tantrum and a real problem. But it wasn’t necessary. He took me seriously. Instead of telling me my daughter would probably grow out of it, he got down to the business of trying to find out what was wrong with her.
He ran Mary Jean through a test or screening for everything from iron deficiency to autism. At the same time, I continued doing my own research, and I started to wonder if my daughter could have Sensory Processing Disorder, which can include intense negative behavioral reactions to the kinds of sensory input that most people don’t even notice. My daughter became rigid when I held her, and sometimes she could be set off by certain sounds. Or she would say “Too loud, too loud!” about a sound that didn’t seem loud at all. I also remembered the time when she could only be calmed by the feel of the fabric of a particular dress on her skin. Could SPD be at the root of her extreme behavior?
While I was looking into that possibility, I came across a newspaper article from March 2012 in the Huffington Post called “Is Sensory Processing Disorder the New Black?” It described the case of a child who sounded just like my daughter. In the story, the girl’s extreme behavioral symptoms disappeared after her mother consulted a nutritionist and took gluten out of her diet.
The nutritionist, Kelly Dorfman, was a co-author of the Huffington Post article, which claimed that gluten intolerance sometimes manifests with “neurological symptoms.” In other words, for some people, it doesn’t necessarily (or only) cause tummy trouble. It messes with your head.
Of course, if readers wanted to know more, they could buy Dorfman’s book, What’s Eating Your Child? about nutritional origins of childhood illnesses.
I was not sold.
Okay, a confession: I didn’t have a whole lot of flattering thoughts about the gluten-free trend at the time. I thought of gluten intolerance as a prototypical “white woman’s disease,” as awful and sexist as that sounds, and is. I thought it was something that a small portion of the population actually experienced, and a much larger portion mostly imagined. I have a sister who’s been gluten intolerant for much longer than it’s been fashionable. She vomits and gets ocular migraines if she accidentally consumes gluten. I couldn’t imagine how all the people that I suddenly met who insisted they were gluten intolerant, but had never seen a doctor about it, could really have the problems my sister did. I thought they were probably just jumping on a trend that made them feel special.
When someone told me they were gluten intolerant, I silently thought “Maybe. Or maybe it’s all in your head, and when gluten-free isn’t cool anymore, you’ll suddenly be cured.”
So when I read Dorfman’s article, I thought, “Right. So now going gluten-free is the cure for children who have extreme behavioral problems, and who-knows-what-else. Maybe. Maybe in very rare circumstances.”
But mostly, I thought it was false hope, and more gluten-free hype offered to parents who are at their wits’ end.  
So of course I bought the book.
“So, I was reading this book,” I told my daughter’s new pediatrician at our next appointment, very timidly and pretty much embarrassed that I was bringing it up at all. “And it’s by this nutritionist, who says that sometimes she sees children in her practice who have been diagnosed with bipolar or other mental health problems. But it turns out they’re just gluten intolerant. And then they get better on a gluten-free diet. And I just thought maybe we could try it with Mary Jean.”
I waited for him to, at best, patiently indulge me out of compassion for my plight, or at worst, tell me nicely (because he’s a nice doctor) how stupid that sounded.
Instead, he told me that gluten intolerance could be a culprit of my daughter’s extreme behavior, and that a gluten elimination trial would be a really good way to find out. He suggested going gluten free for a month, then back on gluten for a month, then gluten free a second time, and keeping a journal of her behavior. By doing the gluten-free trial twice, he said, we would be able to reasonably establish that any improvement in my daughter’s behavior was due to the removal of gluten, and not to coincidence.
When I told friends and family about the gluten-elimination trial, I also told them I thought it wouldn’t work. But I felt like I had to try it out of due diligence. It probably wouldn’t help Mary Jean, but at least we’d be narrowing down the possible causes of her condition, whatever it was.
So when the first month went by and my daughter’s episodes decreased markedly, I thought it couldn’t be real. Then again, I couldn’t pin her recovery on anything else.
Sometimes when people go gluten-free, they feel better because when they cut out gluten, they’re also cutting out some of the worst health offenders in their diets: highly-processed foods that often contain gluten-based additives; or refined flour products that tend to spike your blood sugar. But my children and I already ate a ridiculously healthful diet. Tomato sauce, pickles and sauerkraut were pretty much the only foods we ate that I didn’t make from scratch.
Still, that first month, I couldn’t believe my daughter might be getting better because of the gluten-free diet. It was also very easy to forget that things had ever been any different for us, than the relative peace and calm we were starting to enjoy.
But when we went back to eating gluten during the second month, the bad old days came screaming back inside of a week. I realized I’d forgotten what hell it was for all of us, living with my daughter’s condition. By the end of that second month, I was grateful just to get back on the gluten-free diet for month three of the trial. Within two weeks of going gluten-free again, my daughter’s episodes had lessened. By the end of the month, they were down to only two or three occurrences per week.
“It’s not a miracle cure,” I thought, “But it’s a lot better.”
But I was wrong. Going gluten free was my daughter’s miracle cure. After six weeks on the gluten-free diet, her awful screaming and flailing episodes, the ones that would last for hours and come out of nowhere, were gone. Vanished. A thing of the past. It was like she was a completely new, and different, person. Now, if my daughter got upset, there was an obvious reason, and she could be reasoned with. Her distress never lasted more than a few minutes.
My daughter started looking me in the eyes again. She easily relaxed into a snuggle. But the best thing about it was finding out that underneath her old symptoms was this ebullient, curious, affectionate little girl who is so thoroughly level-headed you would be hard pressed to connect her to her former self. Mary Jean’s transformation was like the fabled one between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. How had something as simple as a grain protein been the cause of behaviors that were so extreme?
"We know people have behavioral and neurological symptoms with celiac disease,” said Kelly Dorfman, the nutritionist whose book got me interested in considering gluten intolerance in the first place.  Her book will be re-released in April under a new title, Cure Your Child With Food, and Dorfman said it’s got a new chapter with more on “bizarre gluten stuff.”
Since her book has come out, Dorfman said, the medical community has started to recognize a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
“You can have all the symptoms of celiac disease, but you can’t test for it for it using regular celiac testing,” she said.
In celiac disease, the body produces antibodies in response to gluten that can be measured in the blood. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, an estimated 3 million Americans have celiac disease, which causes a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from depression to abdominal pain. The NFCA says research indicates that six times as many Americans—18 million—have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Dorfman said it’s not uncommon for her to see patients in her practice whose only symptoms of gluten intolerance have to do with their behavior and mood. It tends to run in families, she said. The client she describes in her book was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a young child, and her father was taking medication for anger management. It turned out that both were simply gluten intolerant. Celiac disease is also more common in certain populations, she said, such as Irish Catholic, Italian, and Eastern European Jewish populations, and one might expect non-celiac gluten intolerance to run higher among people with those backgrounds as well. She said she also sees a high frequency of gluten intolerance among Native American clients.
The lucky ones
Maybe it’s not so great for my daughter to be gluten intolerant, but when I first discover that gluten is the problem, I feel like we’ve won the lottery. That’s because I never thought she was going to get better. I thought that, at best, we’d get a diagnosis and then find an effective method for managing her outbursts over time. To have the solution and the cure be so easy seems almost too good to be true. So, mostly, I want to move on and forget the bad old days ever existed.
Going gluten free turns out to be an easy transition for us. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a sitter who comes in part-time to cover my freelance journalism work hours. So there’s no daycare to deal with when it comes to food preparation. All I have to do is buy gluten-free alternatives at the store. That gluten-free trend I formerly derided is a boon to us now: it means there is no shortage of food options. We never feel like we have to go without. Life is good.
And then comes the day when the sitter drops my twins off after a trip to the park, and right away I know something isn’t right. We’re getting ready to go to the coffee shop, and my daughter doesn’t like the coat I’m putting on her. Weird, but okay, have another coat, what’s the big deal. The big deal is the second coat is also the wrong coat; she needs the first one. But then she tries it on, and realizes it’s not the right coat after all. Soon she’s screaming hysterically, and insisting on trying on each coat before discarding it as horrible and asking for the other coat. It’s the hallmark irrationality of the bad old days.
I call my sitter to ask her if she gave the twins anything with gluten. Why she would do that, I have no idea, since I expressly told her not to and described what could happen if my daughter eats gluten.
“Oh, gluten?” she says. “Um, I did give them breaded chicken wings. I thought it would be a fun snack.”
Never mind that their lunch pail is already loaded with fun snacks: the kind that don’t cause little Mary Jean to lose her mind. Apparently my daughter’s gluten intolerance wasn’t “real” enough to the sitter to be taken seriously.
Kind of like how I used to view other peoples’ self-proclaimed gluten intolerance.
I suddenly realized it wasn’t necessarily always going to be easy for my daughter just because we knew what her problem was. I imagined sitting in front of an unsympathetic teacher and principal after a school pal slipped Mary Jean a cookie at lunch, trying to explain that the gluten made her do it.
Kellie Seaman, an Eagle River mother of two, has been there before. Her 14-year-old daughter, Taylor, has multiple food allergies. Some of her food allergies make her swell up, or have an asthma attack, or get hives. Wheat turns her into an emotional wreck.
“It’s easier now that she’s older, because she can identify that she’s reacting because of an interaction with food,” Kellie said. “When she was younger, it was harder for her to understand, and it was scary for her.”
Taylor’s parents have got the school thing pretty much figured out. At the beginning of the year, they meet with the teachers, the principal, the school nurse—anyone who will be charged with Taylor’s education and care—and explain Taylor’s condition. They’ve also had question-and-answer sessions with students in the classroom, to help them understand why Taylor reacts to food sometimes. They find it helps cut down on teasing. The Seamans, a military family, have found Alaska schools to be on the whole very supportive and understanding, Kellie said. But it hasn’t been like that everywhere, and some years they’ve had to homeschool.
Taylor’s immune system is highly sensitive, Kellie said; even inadvertent contact with an allergen makes her reactive. Part of communicating with school staff means setting up a protocol for how to recognize and respond to one of Taylor’s reactions. When it comes to Taylor’s behavioral reactions to wheat, Kellie said, it can be hard for people to realize there’s really nothing they can do, and the best thing is to give her space.
“The number one problem is people overreact to her irrational behavior,” she said. “If people can understand that she can’t control it and it will pass, and not engage aggressively and give her time to work through that emotion, it’ll pass more quickly. It’s when people accelerate it, yell at her, say ‘Why are you acting this way,’ that’s when it becomes a problem.”
Sometimes the teacher would send Taylor to the nurse to calm down. Other times her parents would have to pick her up. Kellie said some kids who have behavioral reactions to food allergens get violent. That’s never been the case with Taylor, she said.
“But she would sob hysterically if her pencil broke,” she said.
Taylor, now 14, says she feels more confident in dealing with her food allergies now that she’s older.
“The way I keep control is I’ve learned to ask a lot of questions,” Taylor said. “It gives me more self-esteem knowing that I need to ask about what’s in food, and that I’m old enough to ask, so I’m not having to rely on my mom. My friends help a lot. At parties they’ll watch out for me, and help me remember I can’t have certain things.”
Dorfman said most of the kids she sees in her practice get pretty good at recognizing when they’re having a behavioral reaction to gluten.
“What’s interesting is how well even young kids, who are supposedly not very good at regulating emotion, regulate themselves when they figure out that’s what it is. Kids who’ve been diagnosed with all kinds of horrible things, can tell that the gluten is causing their problem, and stick to (a restrictive diet.)”
When I talk to Megan Ippoliti, another Eagle River military mom who has four young children under the age of six, it strikes me how much her clan fits my previous stereotypes about the gluten-free family. After her husband encouraged the family to go on the paleo diet—another diet trend where adherents eat what people ate during the Paleolithic Era—she concluded that gluten had been wreaking havoc with her children’s behavior. She sees it as the culprit behind her three-year-old daughter’s sleeping problems and excessive tantrums, and her five-year-old son’s anger problems. She hasn’t had any of her kids tested for celiac disease. But she’s convinced the reason her children’s behaviors have improved is that her family stopped eating gluten.
Maybe. One year ago I would have said it’s probably all in the Ippolitis’ heads. But after what my children and I have been through, I’m eating humble pie instead of dishing out a condescending attitude. I hope my daughter and I never have to make the gluten insanity plea to a school principal or preschool director. But if we do, I hope we’ll have an understanding ear to explain it to.

Monday, December 10, 2012

NO December Support Group Meeting

Due to the busyness of the season, there will be no December Gluten free support group meeting. See you next year!

Friday, December 7, 2012

December Recipe of the Month

This recipe is simple and amazing. I first tasted it at a friend's house on Halloween night and realized that it would be great for a New Year's appetizer or to make quickly for a last minute Christmas party invite. Also, who doesn't like bacon? This will be a hit for sure and if you need a little help to justify having a few look at it this way - they'll be so popular you won't be able to eat too many yourself and those that you do eat will help you get some protein and fiber as well as satisfy your sweet tooth and your love for bacon all at the same time!

Bacon-wrapped dates

  • 1 16-ounce package of bacon (regular thickness-not thick cut), cut down the center
  • 1 8-ounce package of pitted dates (I found them near nut section of my local grocery)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil.
  2. Wrap a piece of bacon around a date. Make sure the bacon seam is placed facing downwards on the cookie sheet. Press firmly on the bacon wrapped date, so it is less likely to unravel. Repeat until all of the dates are wrapped in bacon.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Makes 25-30 bacon wrapped dates.

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Product of the Month

When you travel as much as I do, the amount of time you spend in airports increases exponentially. I have been to some airports so many times now that I know exactly which terminals have the best selections for food, best bathrooms, and best benches to sleep on. Believe it or not, this beauty queen becomes a hobo in airports and i have learned to fall asleep in an inconspicuous corner just to get a few extra moments of sleep that was stolen from me from changing time zones.
Turkey stick & Crunch GoPicnic in Seattle
Besides sleeping, what to eat is always my other question. That's why I am so happy to know of GoPicnic meals. Each box contains an assortment of snacks that are a little more wholesome than typically prepacked snacks and they are gluten-free!
Chicago had the biggest assortment I had seen at a CIBO kiosk!
 Many of them contain snacks from Enjoy Life foods (one of my favorite allergen-free food companies) and they try to keep the calorie count down per box and make sure you are getting some protein and fiber. There are also no artificial colors, processed sugars or some of the other highly processed ingredients that are hard to pronounce. All the contents are wholesome and natural.
When you have to eat on the go, I'd definitely reach for a GoPicnic!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chuck E. Cheese Gluten-free Offerings

I may have mentioned before that Chuck E. Cheese began offering gluten-free pizzas at almost 500 locations. However, I just found out that they offer gluten-free cupcakes too! Now, I haven't set foot in a Chuck E. Cheese in a long time but I have memories of being there as a kid and having so much fun. I can't imagine how it would have been then for a child with Celiac Disease. Now, for the parents with children who require a gluten-free diet, they can go to Chuck E. Cheese and have fun and eat - just like everyone else! Check out the video on their site and their FAQ's to find out more!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Quick tip for Heart Health during the Holidays

So, by now, the plates are cleared and the leftovers have been put away. You next mission? Setting a plan up for which stores you are going to hit for Black Friday. Most Americans start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving but some save the bigger items for after or others, like me, just tend to be last minute. Whatever type of shopper you are there are a few simple ways to get some exercise in while setting up for the holidays!

1. Park further out from the entrance when you go to a mall or store. Those few extra steps can add up big time!

2. Once you are done shopping in the mall or a large store - take an extra lap or two around just to get the added steps in. If you are going to the grocery store, take an extra lap around the store before starting to shop. You will have a great view of the sales and aisle end caps before you start!

3. Talking on the phone to grandparents or siblings about what to get for your loved ones? Walk while you talk! Most phones are cordless now a days and signal strength is getting better everyday. If you paced back and forth during a 10 min phone conversation you could burn 20-30 extra calories!

4. Use stairs instead of elevators or moving escalators.

5. Take smaller amounts of groceries or items you purchased into the house so you have to make more trips.

6. Also, try to minimize stress! This is always a hard one to do during the holiday season but don't be afraid to laughing at yourself or the craziness of the season in general. Try going back and looking at photos from past holidays and remembering all the fun. You could also try taking a few extra minutes to soak in the tub, go to bed 30 min early, or just give yourself 5 min to tune the world out. These small steps can help you deal with the stress a little better, keep your blood pressure down, and make it easier for your heart to keep you going strong!

For more information, visit It's a branch of the American Heart Association that can help you take steps to building a healthier life free of cardiovascular diseases! It has a variety of helpful information on mall walking clubs, other small ways to add extra steps, and expanded information on some of the advice above!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November Product of the Month

I know I have posted about Udi's introducing dinner rolls but, at my last gluten-free meeting, I was ecstatic to find them for sale at my local gluten-free specialty store. They have whole grain dinner rolls as well as french baguettes. You'll find that not only are they delicious but during the holiday season they will make it super easy to serve those with gluten intolerances!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November Gluten-free Support Group Meeting

Please join me for the November Gluten-Free Support group meeting at Natural Pantry on Old Seward Highway. We meet in the Natural Pantry Cafe located in the University Center Mall from 6-8 pm. See you there!

Friday, November 2, 2012

November Recipe of the Month

My husband loves tomato soup. His mother used to make it for him with grilled cheese when he was a kid. I never liked tomato soup and a lot of conventional recipes have dairy added to them. I also dislike the amount of sodium found in can soups. So, when we tried P90X, their recipe book contained an amazing recipe similar to tomato soup but much healthier. Its still tasty and, on those days when you have worked out extra hard, it still tastes fabulous with a grilled goat cheese sandwich. ;)

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
  • 2 cups white wine 
  • 1 medium white onions
  • 5 medium red bell peppers, roasted then seeded 
  • 2 cups celery, diced 
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes 
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
There are several ways to roast a pepper. A lot of roasted red pepper recipes call for broiling the red peppers. When we moved in, the broiler on our oven did not work and since we have an electric range and no outside grille, I use the panini grill we got as a wedding present. It can be tricky the first time but you basically blacken the peppers on all sides (you will have to watch them and rotate them) and you can tell its working when you see the skin bubbling. Once they are blackened on all sides, throw them into an airtight container and let them steam so the skin is easier to peel. Give them up to 30 minutes to sit and then peel the outside skin off and cut the middle out and de-seed. If you are unable to remove all of the skin, don't worry, you are going to puree everything anyway.
Heat wine in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, red peppers, and celery. Cook and stir for 3 minutes.
Stir in garlic. Cook for 2 more minutes, adding more wine if necessary.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and broth; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
Puree soup in a food processor or blender. If you have a regular size blender you may want to puree the soup in two halves. The first time I did it, I couldn't hold the top on the blender and it shot up all over the kitchen. True story.
Once, pureed, return it to the pan, add seasoning, and heat through.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October Recipe of the Month

I think everyone has those days where they figure out something incredibly simple but in the moment feel like they've climbed over a mountain and conquered it. Yesterday was that day. I sat in my kitchen writing a blog about what I love about the fall while I was roasting a pumpkin. I then wanted to roast the seeds of the pumpkin (because that's just plain fun) in an interesting way and after curiously searching, I found a recipe with some flavor that tantalized my taste buds!

After I was done taking my photos and posting the blog, I was hearing my stomach growl so I figured I would make myself something to eat. I had some left over green beans in the fridge and since I don't like wasting food I warmed them up in the microwave. When I set the bowl down on the counter I saw the seeds next to my green beans and paused . . . then, that proverbial light bulb went off! I was no longer going to eat boring greens beans for dinner - I threw some of the sweet and spicy pumpkin seeds on top and found myself feeling very gourmet. It was amazing, truly! The warmth and juiciness of the green beans combined with the sweet and spicy crunch of the pumpkin seeds to make a flavor that had my mouth feeling like the angels were singing hallelujah inside it! Maybe I was just hungry from all the cooking or maybe the dreamy smell of the roasted pumpkin still hung in the air but, this is definitely a dish I will continue to make during the fall and into the winter!

The best part? I can put the rest of the seeds in a container and take it to lunch to throw on a salad or mix with another veggie. I could even use them on top of the pumpkin muffins I'm going to make! How awesome is that? It's the little things in life, right?

Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October joys . . .

Instagram photo of my drive home everyday
My house smells amazingly of roasted pumpkin right now! I love the warmth of the smell and the way it puts me in the mood for snuggling on the couch with my hubby and watching the fire flicker. Fall is my husbands favorite season and although I love the warmer weather there is something magical about autumn. The changing colors, the warm sweaters, yummy food, and the sight of snow creeping down the mountain all have their charm.
Some of you may remember an older post about Pumpkin muffins (which are my favorite this time of year) and that is the reason I'm roasting the pumpkin. That recipe is actually one of my favorite gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free ones and my little sister and I practically survived off them a few autumns ago because we were too lazy to make anything else and they taste amazing anyway! So, after I cleaned my pumpkin out and as I am waiting for it to roast, I find myself in a quandary. What do I do with the seeds? Sure, I could roast them, but I don't want just regular old pumpkin seeds! I want some with kick! Some with BAM! So, I started looking around on the internet and found Heidi Swanson's website "101 cookbooks" and she has several recipes that make for some very interesting pumpkin seed flavors, such as curried or black tea and butter!! You can find the original recipes here, but this one was my favorite:

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
1 egg white
1/4 cup natural cane sugar (I actually used Stevia)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grained sea salt
1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the egg white, sugar, cayenne and salt. Add the pumpkin seeds and toss well. Drain off any excess egg white (using a strainer) and place seeds in a single layer across a baking sheet. Try not to use a cookie sheet or a sheet with a very thin bottom or they may burn easily. I also sprayed with cooking oil just to make sure they didn't stick. Bake for about 12 minutes or until seeds are golden. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar and cayenne pepper when they come out of the oven. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Makes one cup.

Friday, October 12, 2012

October Gluten Free Support Group meeting

Please join me for the October Gluten-Free Support group meeting at Natural Pantry on Old Seward Highway. We meet in the Natural Pantry Cafe located in the University Center Mall from 6-8 pm.

I have boxes and boxes of samples from the conferences I attended this month!! You don't want to miss out!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September Recipe of the month

Since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and making awareness of it my pursuit, I have been blessed with many opportunities and amazing experiences involving the gluten-free community. One of the highlights has been the honor of reviewing a gluten-free cookbook. A beautiful woman named Gretchen Brown who is the author and creator of a popular gluten-free website, Kumquat blog, decided to fulfill a dream of hers by writing a cookbook.

Gretchen is a registered dietitian and, unlike most in her profession, she has been blessed enough to spend most of her career in a kitchen as opposed to a hospital. Her husband is military like mine and believe it or not, her sister Laura was my teacher in eighth grade. Laura was one of my favorites and we have kept in touch all these years. Laura told me about Gretchen's health struggles and how she did an elimination diet and found that after she stopped eating gluten her body felt like new. When Laura heard I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and was gluten-free too, she connected Gretchen and I so we could talk about our new lifestyle.

Click the photo to buy this amazing book!
Gretchen believes that those of us who eat gluten-free still deserve to eat food that makes us sing, awaken and delight our sense and brings back old memories. So, she put all of her heart into recreating and discovering recipes that fit this description. All of her hard work will be published in a book next month and in honor of that, I wanted to share one of her recipes.

Pork Tacos with Avocado & Tomato Salsa

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided (I omitted this)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chopped avocado
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red onion (I don't really like red onion so I cut this amount in half)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Optional: sour cream, for serving
Cook the onion in pre-heated oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the pork to the pan; sprinkle the pork with chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, thyme, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Stir in the water; scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Meanwhile, combine the avocado, tomatoes, 1/4cup red onion, cilantro, remaining salt, and remaining pepper in a small bowl.
Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon the pork mixture evenly into each tortilla. Top each evenly with the avocado mixture and sour cream.
ENJOY! Serves 8

Saturday, September 15, 2012

3rd annual Gfreek Awards

Every year has awards to honor those in the Gluten-free and Celiac community. GFreek is a website started by parents of a Celiac child who quickly realized that that spending $7.00 on a box of cookies and tossing them in the trash after one bite wasn’t the way to go. They didn’t have the health or financial freedom to experiment with the new food products and services. They wanted good tasting gluten-free food and a reasonable cost without the added frustration. The GFA will be the quickest way to identify that a product or service has met the quality standards set out by the Celiac and Gluten Intolerant population. 
Each year, people that consume or use gluten-free products and services are able to vote on their favorites. The results will then be posted onto the website for everybody to use. The purpose is to provide quick and easy information to two separate parties. The consumer uses this information to make purchase decisions based on availability, price, quality, and affects. The producers use this information to make business decisions based on their consumers feedback.There are regional awards as well which is a great way to let others in your area know the resources that are available to them.
Click the picture below to head the their website and cast your vote! Voting ends December 22nd and results will be announced in January 2013!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September Gluten-Free Support Group meeting

Please join me for the September Gluten-Free Support group meeting at Natural Pantry on Old Seward Highway. We meet in the Natural Pantry Cafe located in the University Center Mall from 6-8 pm. See you there!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Help me heal Heart Disease

1 in 3 people in our national will die from cardiovascular disease. It is the number 1 killer of men and women in our nation. Imagine the impact if we reduce death and disability from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20% by 2020!  I’m joining the 2012 Anchorage Heart Walk to promote physical activity to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Please support me in helping to reach this lifesaving goal by giving a donation today! 

Did you know that heart disease claims the lives of more people than the next 3 leading causes of death combined?  Here is how your online donation will help:

-$25 gives 50 people educational materials that teach them how to personally reduce their risk of heart diseases and stroke
-$50 delivers the message of healthy nutrition to elementary school students through lesson plans and activity guides
-$100 allows one hospital to teach its patients, caregivers, and health professionals about the risks of stroke – the nation’s No. 4 killer

Chances are you or someone you know has a connection to heart disease or stroke - forward this message to your friends and family.  Thank you, in advance, for your support!

Click here for a link to my page and help me stop the #1 killer of men and women in our nation!

Friday, September 7, 2012

September product of the month

In September, most children have returned to school. The long, lazy summer days are winding down and the scheduled days of school and other commitments return. I usually like to cook everything from scratch but, sometimes, I just don't have time and it can be difficult to find a ready-made product that fits my dietary restrictions. The product of the month for August, Eat Pastry cookie dough helps me save time and make my hubby smile when he comes home! ;)
I found this cookie dough when I was at Fred Meyer's in Eagle River the other day. I actually purchased it to just have a little raw cookie dough to eat but I found that it has a bit of an after taste so, I baked it instead. (Novel idea, don't you think?) They definitely taste even better cooked than the raw dough and if you can get one warm right after its come out of the oven, it reminds me of a fresh Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookie.These were easy to bake and taste wonderfully!  The cookies turned out soft, chewy, and I found it difficult to eat just one!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Austism linked to undiagnosed Celiac Mothers

Many of us with Celiac Disease know that we are more at risk for other autoimmune disorders because of our Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease, when untreated, increases the risk of developing more advanced autoimmune diseases such as Diabetes type 1, thyroid disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis. However, a recent research study showed that mothers who have undiagnosed Celiac Disease are at a greater risk of having an autistic child.
This is a particularly interesting discovery considering that Autism and Celiac Disease have increased significantly in the last 10-15 years. Read more at the links below.

Research abstract can be found here.

Full free text of research article can be found here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Short Wheat Challenge Offers an Easy, Reproducible Method for Detecting Immune Response to Gluten

by Jefferson Adams 08/13/2012 - "Research has indicated that giving small amounts of wheat-rich food to people with Celiac disease, who are on a gluten-free diet, will trigger interferon (IFN)-γ-secreting T cells in the bloodstream. These T cells react to gluten, and can be easily detected.
Photo: CC--SD DirkHowever, very little is known about how this procedure might be reproduced in the same patient groups that underwent two, or more, gluten challenges. A team of researchers recently set out to assess the reproducibility of this short wheat challenge method for detecting immune an response to gluten.
The research team included A. Camarca, G. Radano, R. Di Mase, G. Terrone, F. Maurano, S. Auricchio, R. Troncone, L. Greco, C. Gianfrani. They are affiliated with the Institute of Food Sciences-CNR, Avellino Department of Paediatrics and European Laboratory for the Investigation of Food-Induced Diseases, University of Naples, Naples, Italy.
They evaluated fourteen Celiac patients in remission who consumed wheat bread for 3 days, along with thirteen patients who underwent a second gluten challenge after 3-10 months on a strict gluten-free diet.
The team then analyzed the immune reactivity to gluten in peripheral blood by detecting IFN-γ both before and 6 days after patients began a a gluten-inclusive diet. They found that gliadin-specific IFN-γ-secreting CD4(+) T cells increased significantly by day 6 of the first challenge.
These cells arose as prevalently human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ restricted and with a phenotype of gut homing, as suggested by the expression of β7-integrin. They also saw a reaction to gliadin after the second wheat consumption, although the responses varied by individual at each challenge.
The study showed that a short wheat challenge offers a non-invasive approach to investigate the gluten-related immune response in peripheral blood of people who are sensitive to gluten.
Moreover, the study showed that the procedure can be reproduced in the same subjects after a gluten wash-out of at least 3 months. The results of this study mean that we can likely expect this procedure to find its way into clinical practice in the future."

**So what does this mean in plain language? Well, usually, if one goes off gluten before getting properly tested then the blood tests will not be accurate. The recommendation for those who want to be properly tested for Celiac Disease after going gluten-free has been to go back to eating gluten for a minimum of 10-12 weeks. Usually a half of a slice of toast per day is enough.
However, for those who has severe pain upon ingesting gluten or who manifest other symptoms that interfere with activities of daily living, this is not an option. I know that for me, you couldn't pay me to eat a slice of regular toast. This study and its reproducibility give hope that in the future those who want definitive confirmation will not have to go back onto gluten very long to get accurate results. ***

Original article can be found here.

Research abstract can be found here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jennifer Esposito spreads the word on Celiac Disease

Gluten-free living is one of my favorite magazine for those living on a gluten-free diet. Recently, they wrote a piece on Jennifer Esposito, actress of the popular show, Blue Bloods. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2009 after years of struggling with her health. She is currently working on raising awareness about her illness and a gluten-free flour for bread mix! Read more about her story and get one of her favorite recipes from the article published by Gluten-free Living here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Man with Celiac Disease being inducted into American Football Hall of Fame

Recently, a received a very exciting e-mail from a good friend of mine, Craig Pinto. Craig, a former professional indoor football player, is the founder of Kicking4Celiac, a foundation whose aim is to reach out to people with Celiac Disease. Craig founded it in 2011 in order to educate and raise awareness about an illness that he suffers from. Craig and his board of directors works tirelessly to raise money for different Celiac Disease Centers and other Celiac-related non-profits as well as their own program, Cleats 4 Kids, which encourages good nutrition, healthy eating and places an emphasis on an active lifestyle. Kicking4Celiac also has their own scholarship program for high school student students in order to help off-set costs of living gluten-free while getting their undergraduate degree.
The past two years, Craig has put together a charity event to raise awareness for Celiac Disease by attempting to break the Guinness Book of World Records for most field goals kicked in 12 hours. Craig broke the record in 2011 with 717 field goals and then broke his own record in 2012 by kicking 1000 field goals! So, I was thrilled to receive an e-mail from Craig saying he was being inducted into American Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013. In November in Miami, Florida, Craig will be recognized during the fourth America Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony honoring a "League of Extraordinary People" for his world records and his philanthropy through football.
I know I am not alone when I say that the Celiac community is extremely proud of him and looks forward to all he will continue to accomplish through his incredible passion and devotion to raising awareness to an autoimmune illness that affects so many. Feel free to e-mail Craig and let him know how proud of him you are!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August Recipe of the month

Since my product of the month is going to be something yummy but high in calories, I wanted to pick a recipe that may counter/compliment it.
August, in most places, is the warmest month of the year. Alaska will always keep you guessing though. I think our warmest day this year was in July. It was a perfect 80 degrees with a slight breeze. I remember because I was at a street fair downtown and my friends and I stopped at a chocolate/coffee shop down one of the side streets to have an iced drink. There were 4 chairs right outside the shop and we all sat down and it became one of those blissfully perfect moments that I wanted to remember forever. Four beautiful ladies, enjoying a cold drink on a beautiful warm day filled with laughter. I even found a gorgeous pair of earrings at the fair.
Now, this memory also takes me back to another sunny afternoon a few years ago with my mom in Georgia. I was experimenting with new healthy recipes after our diagnosis and came across this yummy salad at Simply Recipes. I made this meal and we sat on the porch to eat it. Another good memory. Hopefully, this salad brings you good memories too.

Its gluten-free and dairy-free and has some good omegas and fiber as well.  Serves 4.

Chicken Apple Arugula Goat Cheese Salad

  • Olive oil (look for olive oil in a dark glass container - that's usually the best quality)
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cooked and cut up
  • 1 tart green apple, sliced thinly (I like granny smith apples)
  • Baby arugula leaves - about 4 cups
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese (I used a goat cheese feta)
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

I usually already have the chicken boiled when I start to build the salad. I am weird about grill marks and frying isn't the most healthy way so, I will leave it up to you to cook it the way your want. Set aside the chick to cool.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a frying pan and place on medium heat. Lightly saute the shallots until they turn translucent in color. Remove from pan.
Place arugula in a large bowl and toss with shallots, cooled chicken, and sliced green apples. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Place into four bowls and top with walnuts and goat cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

I have also used spinach for this salad and that worked well. Good source of iron too! :)

Original recipe found here