Friday, April 27, 2012

Save the Date for the 38th Annual GIG Educational Conference

GIG Health & Wellness Experience – June, 2112

GIG’s Annual Event is now the Health & Wellness Experience

The Health & Wellness Experience will take place in Seattle at the Sea-Tac DoubleTree Hotel on June 16, 2012.

Come explore a variety of informative activities offered at this event. Find out about living a healthy, balanced, positive, gluten-free life. Visit our health screening booths, hands on activities, exhibits and  presenter areas. If you are following a gluten-free diet, or want to know more about it – this event is for you.

I will be attending with everyone to learn practical tips for living gluten-free and balancing your life for better health. Participate in health screenings such as BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol and bone density. Explore the exhibit hall, and network with others who are living gluten-free.  View more details here.

Also, join me for Gluten-Free Awareness Night with the Mariners Gluten-Free Tailgate Party! 
Join GiG Branch Leaders and gluten-free food bloggers for a special gluten-free dinner before the game. Mingle and dine while viewing the players warm-up in the adjacent bull-pen. 5 – 7 p.m. June 15th. $65 covers tailgate party and game ticket.  Visit to get your tickets now.
Gluten-Free Awareness Night with the Mariners
To purchase the game tickets only, go to

Friday, April 20, 2012

Join me May 12th in Atlanta!

Before John and I moved to Alaska, I lived in Atlanta, Ga with my family. I was born a southern girl and I adored living in Georgia. Atlanta was my home for almost 10 years before we moved. I went to school at Emory and that's where I got my undergraduate and graduate degree in Nursing.  It was also where I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. So, when Jennifer Harris, the program coordinator of the Atlanta Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) called me and asked if I would be visiting home anytime soon, I was happy to tell her that I would be home in May. Jennifer then asked me to be a guest at their May GIG meeting and of course my answers was yes! Jennifer is the same woman who organized the Atlanta Gluten Free Expo in October which my mom and sisters loved!
I am looking forward to meeting everyone and sharing my story. Watch for photos and a post after I visit them on May 12th. If you're in the area, stop by and join us! I will be hanging out with the group from 10-12pm at Scottish Rite (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta)

Here is the link to their page: GIG of Atlanta

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gluten and Allergy free at Chicago O'Hare

Sometimes traveling, especially by plane, can be stressful for someone with dietary restrictions. I have been living with Celiac Disease for over 4 years now and I still get a little anxious about traveling long distances because its any one's guess as to whether there will be anything that I can eat. I typically pack a banana, apple, protein or nut bar, and a bag of carrots just to make sure I don't get too hungry. Living in Alaska, it takes 4 hours just to get to Seattle so, even the closest big city is still too far away and way too long to wait to eat.
Recently, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find something in the Chicago O' Hare Airport that made my belly extremely happy! I was headed to the E & F concourse toward terminal 2 and I usually stop at this little natural food kiosk called CIBO. They've always had fresh fruits, veggies, and allergy friendly snacks there for me to grab and go. This time though, right next to it, was an new kiosk called Argo Tea. I had never heard of Argo Tea before so, I went to check out what they had in their little cooler in front of the coffee bar. I know the odds are not good they will have something I can eat but, a girl can always hope! As I surveyed the list of offerings sure enough, there were several healthy (and yummy) options laid out in front of me!
Most of the options were not only gluten free but vegan, dairy and soy free! They were low calorie and healthy as well. What more could a girl ask for? I ended up picking up the Chickpea salad. It was fabulous!
Thanks Argo Tea for helping make airport travel a little easier!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in Chicago, IL

 I just had the most amazing weekend! It was like a gluten free vacation for two days with the celebrities of the gluten free world. Where was I? In Chicago at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. The Expo is the creation of Jen Cafferty, President of Gluten-free Classes. In only four years, The Expo has grown to reach over 10,000 attendees throughout the United States and Canada. Jen Cafferty and her team of notable chefs, cookbook authors and nutritionists present cooking demonstrations and educational sessions.   In addition, the event includes a Vendor Fair with over 70 GF companies from across the country. To know more about Jen click here.

While there, I had the pleasure of assisting in some of the cooking and baking classes. I was excited to wear my Mrs. Alaska apron too. I had it specially made for the occasion. (see photo above) The first class I helped with was The Italian & Asian Adventures. Laura B Russell, author of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, was first up. My friend, Sueson Ross Vess, of Cumin & Clove, emceed the class while Laura and I cooked. Laura demonstrated to the crowd how to make a Quick Barbaqued Pork and Barabqued Pork Fried Rice as well as her delicious and highly coveted Gingery Pork Pot Stickers! I may have eaten the entire plate that she made! ;)
Sueson Ross Vess, Laura Russel, and I

After, Laura, the men of DaLuciano's Italian restaurant in River Grove, IL stopped by to share their recipe for Bruschetta bread and meat sauce for their own pasta. The executive chef of DaLuciano's, Rose Libreri, has 7 children and 4 of them have Celiac Disease. She found herself not being able to serve them most of the traditional Italian dishes she grew up with so she made it her mission to provide wonderful fresh Italian food from the finest ingredients that were free of gluten. Everything on DaLuciano's menu is gluten free.
 After lunch, I spent some time walking around the Expo and found a lot of my favorite vendors. Udi's was there as a major sponsor making pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches.
 I also met up with some familiar faces from Enjoy Life Foods. Scott, the CEO, and Joel, the CFO, were there promoting their new Plentils chips (see photo below). Enjoy Life Foods is one of my favorite company because they are not just gluten free. They are free of the top 7 food allergens which is great for others like me who also have dairy and soy allergies. While the Light Sea Salt Plentils were my favorite, two of the new Plentils flavors are Dill & Sour Cream and Garlic & Parmesan, are dairy free despite their names! Very exciting news for those of us who miss the dairy flavors. Lentil powder and potato starch are the first two ingredients in each bag and are a great light snack!
While at the Expo, I was also given the opportunity to speak to the attendees about living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle with Celiac Disease. Heart Disease effects 1 in 3 Americans and Celiac Disease increases you risk of heart disease 30% over the regular population. As a former Cardiovascular ICU nurse, I feel I am uniquely suited to educate my fellow Celiacs of this risk.
 Why are we more at risk? In one word - inflammation. Celiac Disease is an inflammatory disease and the inflammation that occurs does not just stay in the gut. It occurs in the vascular system as well.  Arteries that are inflamed are more at risk for clots and fatty tissue build up that could block blood flow. Most Celiacs also tend to have diets higher in fat, sugar, sodium, and calories due to eating prepackaged gluten free food. Part of my lecture included information on eating heart healthy and the importance of exercise. With diabetes and Thyroid disease occurring simultaneously in more Celiacs than the general population, diet and exercise are even more important to focus on.
 I also had the pleasure to meet Kyra Bussanich, owner of Crave Bakeshop, and notable gluten free personality of Cupcake Wars fame. She was featured on the 100th episode of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network and won with all here cupcakes being gluten and dairy free!
I also had the pleasure of meeting Pamela of Pamela's Products. Her chocolate chip cookies are the best on the market. 
Overall, the Expo was an amazing experience. I recommend that any gluten or allergy free person visit one if they have the chance. You never know who you might meet!

Monday, April 16, 2012

April GF Support group meeting

Please join me for the April meeting of the Gluten free Support group! We will meet at Natural Pantry off Old Seward Hwy in the University Center Mall from 6-8pm. I will have samples and stories from the expo for everyone!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Nurse Practitioner with Celiac Disease Wins Mrs. Alaska International 2012

Nurse Practitioner with Celiac Disease Wins Mrs. Alaska International 2012

John Libonoti was kind enough to run a press release on his website, Gluten Free works, about me winning the title of Mrs. Alaska International 2012. Check out the website for articles on what is going on in the gluten free community, the latest product news and much more!

I just want to say that it means a lot to me that the gluten free world has embraced me with such open arms. My goal is to raise awareness for Celiac Disease and in doing so I have found an amazing amount of support from all people with gluten intolerances. It makes all the long hours and  missed sleep worth it ten times over. ;)

I <3 my Gluten Free family!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo April 14 - 15

I am so excited to have the honor of participating in the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. It is proudly presented by Living Without Magazine and starts this Saturday at the Westin Lombard with the Nourished Food Bloggers conference. Over 100 vendors sampling and selling products will be present plus, cooking classes and informational sessions. All items are gluten-free and everything is labelled with allergen-containing ingredients.

Here is a little sample from the press release:

Do you want to learn how to cook and bake on a restricted diet? Sign up for our weekend demonstration cooking/baking classes. The classes are taught by top chefs, nutritionists and cookbook authors in a friendly environment. You will watch how to prepare all of the recipes, get to taste all of the recipes, and have time to ask questions of the presenters. Your cooking class ticket also allows you access to the 100+ table vendor fair (a $20 value).
Note:  These classes are demonstration classes not hands-on classes.
Here is what we are making in our Chicago Cooking Classes!  Everything is Gluten & Dairy Free… Italian & Asian Adventures Class: Bruschetta Appetizer Pasta with Homemade Meat Sauce Zeppole Dessert Stir Fried Noodles with Spinach and Beef Barbequed Pork Fried Rice Gingery Pork Potstickers Healthy Living Class: Very Berry Smoothies Top of the Morning Muffins Chewy Oat and Fruit Bars Grilled Citrus Asparagus Chicken Rosamarino Quinoa Pilaf with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pinenuts Blissful Baking Class: Triple Coconut Cream Pie Truffle Fudge Brownies Orange Infused Angel Food Cake Pistachio Mango Gelato Pizzelles & Ice Cream Cones Bread & Beyond Class: Soft Pretzels Cheesy Bread Stick Twists Sunflower Flax Bread Bagels Baguettes Rosemary Focaccia

Do you want to try new products but aren’t interested in cooking classes? Come to the vendor fair! The vendor fair is open to the public with a special area dedicated to nut/tree nut allergens.  The fair features over 100 vendors both sampling and selling their products.  There is also a public stage with topics pertaining to gluten and allergen-free living throughout the day. Tickets are available at the door or online.  Purchasing your ticket online will allow you to gain entry without waiting in the payment line. The best gluten & allergen-free deal in town!  What do you get for the price of admission to the vendor fair? Sampling and purchasing from over 100 vendors Free lectures about gluten & allergen-free living The best cookbooks and the ability to meet the authors and get a signed copy of your book A free gift bag to carry all of your loot You have the ability to sample hundreds of products All products are labeled by allergen. Get coupons for future purchases. Take home samples of all of your favorite and new products and purchase hard-to-find products. Shop at the new Expo Store – featuring gift products that can only be found at the Expo Kids area with crafts and activities Healthy living spa area with free services.

Check the website for more information:

I will be there posting on my facebook, twitter- @BrandyWendler, and blogging about all the great happenings! Please come out and join me!

Monday, April 9, 2012

April Product of the Month

I may have mentioned one of my favorite gluten free snack chips in my blog before. They are sweet potato chips by a company called Food Should Taste Good Too. This company strives to provide food for people with allergies or certain religious and ethical food beliefs (i.e. Kosher, vegan, etc) with wholesome and tasty food. I haven't purchased any of the chips in awhile because if there is a bag in my house it must be eaten!
However, recently, when I was traveling down the aisle where my favorite chips typically hang out (they are on the top shelf so being short helps me not have to make eye contact with them), I noticed that they were right in front of me peeking out from the end-cap of the aisle. What was a girl supposed to do?! They had seen me- I couldn't be rude! So, I casually walked over (you know, just to say hi) and the bag looked different to me. It turns out this wasn't my usual bag of chips but the older, more mature sibling version. They were KETTLE COOKED!

Why does this excite me so much? Well, not only do they have less fat than their sibling version but they have a good amount of your daily potassium in them as well as Vitamin A. Through kettle cooking the sweet potato retained some of its nutrients and now my favorite chips are healthier for me!! So I may have purchased a bag . . . Or two . . . Hey, I shared them with my support group. They couldn't stop eating them either! So, next time you're at your local health food store check out these good chips chips that not only taste good but are better for you! The best part about them? Only three ingredients . . . It doesn't get much better!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Free Webinar: Maintaining a Healthy Weight while eating Gluten Free

As you may remember, I joined the NFCA in February for their Heart Health and Celiac Disease Webinar. In 10 days they will be hosting another Webinar titles, "Maintaining a Healthy Weight While Eating Gluten-Free: The Importance of Physical Activity & Mindful Eating". The guest speaker is Amy Jones, MS, RD, LD, founder of the Logan County Celiac Support Group in Bellefontaine. She is a dietitian who specializes in working  with Celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitive individuals.
Join the Webinar here and tune in with me to get some good information on staying healthy while living with Celiac Disease!

Maintaining a Healthy Weight While Eating Gluten-Free: The Importance of Physical Activity and Mindful Eating

Join us on Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM EDT

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April recipe of the Month

I think I must have been a picky eater as a child. I remember milk, peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly) and mashed potatoes being a staple in my diet. What more could a kid want, really? ;) Now that I have gotten older, I realize that mashed potatoes are not the best thing I could chose to put on my plate. Most men like their steak and mashed potatoes but a simple substation could do wonders for your overall health. What substitution is that, you ask? CAULIFLOWER! Now, before you stop reading, because you don't like cauliflower just hang in there. I'm talking about boiling the cauliflower . . . huh? Yes, you read that correctly, boiling the cauliflower like you would a mashed potato. Then, blend it up like you would normally blend a mashed potato and stick that on your plate instead. Check out this chart I made of the nutritional differences:

Cauliflower has a better glycemic index rating, is lower in calories and has some better vitamins to offer. It is also higher in some good omega fatty acids. Its Paleo friendly too!

Mashed faux-tatoes!

1 head cauliflower
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)
1 tablespoon butter (you can use olive oil or another butter substitute like Earth Balance)

½ teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
dash of rosemary (optional)

Snipped fresh chives or parsley for garnish (optional)
Separate the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Place in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover, and steam until tender, about 15 minutes. Place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment, add remaining ingredients, and process until smooth and creamy. Serve hot with a sprinkling of fresh chives or parsley, if desired.

So, you take take your plate from an ok meal (on the left) to a really healthy one with just a few simple changes!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Did you know?

The number of people in the U.S. with Celiac disease would fill 936 cruise ships. Passengers on 908 of them wouldn't know they have it.
                                      - University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

This is why I am so passionate about raising awareness. How many people are sick and losing hope?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April is Autism Awareness Month

The latest news on the prevalence of Autism was just released by the CDC. The new statistics are that 1 in 88 children have Autism.

This statistic is really alarming considering that just a few years ago it was believed that it occurred in 1 and 150 children. This discovery is extremely important but I know my usual readers may wonder what this has to do with my passion, Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances. Well, Dr. Alessio Fasano, (whom I have had the pleasure of meeting) is the world's leading expert on Autism and Celiac Disease and through his research he has shown that 30% of Autistic children benefit from a gluten-free, casein-free diet.

Does this mean that autistic children have Celiac disease? Actually, no. While children with autism have gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, bloating and constipation, they do not typically have Celiac Disease. Autism, like Celiac Disease, is not something that is solely in one area (i.e. the brain). Autism effects the entire body and, like Celiac Disease, what happens in the gut does not stay in the gut. Proper nutrition is essential in both disease processes. Research has shown us that when parents implement an autism diet (think gluten, dairy, and soy free) improvements can be seen in sleeping difficulties, focus, eye contact, language and learning. Why? The answer is inflammation. Gluten, casein (found in dairy), soy, corn, refined sugar and eggs all cause inflammation in the gut and brain. The gluten and casein-free diet has been shown to be the most popular and the most effective.

I will be wearing my autism awareness bracelet for the month to support all those who have autism and require a diet free of gluten and casein. If you know someone who has autism, maybe you could offer to make a dish for the family that fits their diet. Little gestures could mean the world to someone! 

For more information on autism and nutrition check out this article by nutrition consultant, Julie Matthews - click here.