Saturday, June 30, 2012

Meet the COO of the Celiac Disease Foundation

As some of you may know by now, there have been leadership changes at the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF), an organization which continues to make a profound difference in the lives of those with Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerances. 
In April, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Marilyn Geller, CDF Chief Operating Officer, at the annual Leader’s Meeting and CDF Conference.  She is a wonderful lady full of energy and passion for raising awareness. She recently wrote a message to the Celiac Community which I would love to share with you. Please go to the CDF website and check out "Marilyn’s Message". It's a wonderful story of how one mother's determination to help her son has turned into a mission to effect the future of Celiac Disease and its awareness in our nation.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Highlights from the CDF 2012 Educational Conference in Los Angeles

CDF's 2012 Annual Education Conference

If you missed the 2012 Celiac Disease Foundation's Annual Educational Conference in Los Angeles, CA, click the above link to view highlights from their largest event . There are a few pictures and a video of a lecture presented by Dr. Gaundalini, Director of the University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Center. Here are some of the pictures of me posted on their webpage!

 CDF Chapter and Support Group Leaders at Conference meeting
with (far right) Mrs. Alaska International 2012, Brandy Wendler, RN

Peter H.R. Green, MD, Mrs. Alaska International 2012, Brandy Wendler, Stefano Guandalini, MD and Shelley Case, RD at VIP Reception

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Gluten Free Insider: Health Canada Releases New Guidelines for Gluten F...

I have always known that Canada had much better developed gluten free labeling laws than the US but here is an update that I found on Kinnikinnick's blog that I find very exciting! Just goes to show how the international community is coming together to make sure those of us who require a gluten free diet are safe!

Click here to read the blog!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June Support Group Meeting

Please join me June 21st for our monthly Gluten-Free Support Group Meeting from 6-8 pm at Natural Pantry in their cafe. Natural Pantry is located at 3801 Old Seward Highway Anchorage, AK 99503.

Hodgson Mills has been kind enough to send samples for our meeting.

See you there!

Please note - there will be NO JULY Support Group meeting.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Partnership with Find me Gluten Free App

Exciting news! Find Me Gluten Free is now the official iPhone app for Mrs. Alaska International 2012!

Here is the official press release:

Mrs. Alaska Brandy Wendler partners with Find Me Gluten Free to raise awareness for the Gluten Free Community
“Find Me Gluten Free is my go to source when looking for gluten free restaurants”
-Brandy Wendler Mrs. Alaska 2012
(Anchorage, Alaska)  Find Me Gluten Free, the most downloaded gluten-free restaurant and business finder app for iPhone and Android announces partnership with Brandy Wendler, Mrs. Alaska International 2012 to create awareness for the Celiac Disease and Gluten Free Community.
Find Me Gluten Free rates businesses on how gluten-free friendly they are, making it easier to find a restaurant which users can be confident will take preparing a gluten-free meal seriously, along with serving as a brand-finder at stores nationwide.
Brandy Wendler was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2008. It was a long journey to get the diagnosis that changed her life. For almost ten years she was sick and struggling. After her diagnosis, it was a long road to recovery but, she found new meaning to her life. “My responsibilities as Mrs. Alaska 2012 require me to travel frequently and it is nice to have the  Find Me Gluten Free app on my phone  for discovering restaurants and stores that I can dine in safely. Knowing that the app and website were created by a fellow Celiac, Jason, gives me a large sense of relief”, said Wendler.
“It is a natural fit to partner with Brandy and help increase awareness in the general population about Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity, she has written some great reviews about the locations she has visited”, said Darin Alpert, COO, Find Me Gluten Free
Those with Celiac Disease or a gluten-intolerance cannot digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Three million Americans have Celiac Disease, and the Center for Celiac Disease in Maryland reported one out of seven people will have a gluten intolerance in their lifetime. The gluten-free food market has exploded as more and more people are diagnosed with gluten allergies and Celiac Disease.
For more information about Find Me Gluten Free, to download the iPhone and Android apps, or for partnership information please visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  
- # # # -

 About Find Me Gluten Free:
We believe that whether you're traveling, socializing, or you just need a quick bite to eat, people living a gluten-free lifestyle should be able to eat safely and comfortably. We strive to help you find gluten-free friendly businesses and share your experiences with other people in the gluten-free community. We want to raise awareness for Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance and help educate people about the gluten-free lifestyle, which is why we donate a portion of our proceeds to gluten-free awareness organizations. Visit us at:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Save the Date: Celiac Sprue Association National Conference in October

 The 35th Annual 
"Charting the Course"

The Celiac Sprue Association is pleased to present an annual conference full of delicious gluten-free food, the latest on Celiac disease research, and education on celiac disease and gluten-induced conditions.
Join friends on Long Island, NY, October 4-6, 2012. The Celiac Sprue Association's conference hotel, Hyatt Regency Long Island in Hauppauge, has extended special conference hotel room rates of $119 throughout the dates of October 2-9, 2012.
So pack up your bags and your kids and enjoy the sights and sounds of Long Island and New York City. While there, join the Celiac Sprue Association for some great gluten-free food and important Celiac disease education.
 Celiac Disease Conference   celiac disease conference

New York City - Make the short trip from Hyatt Regency Long Island to New York City for lots of excitement.

Long Island Wineries - Discover the enchanted wine country of Long Island.

Golf - Located at the Hyatt Regency Long Island, The Hamlet Wind Watch Golf and Country Club rests atop one of Long Island’s highest points. The beautiful 18 hole course offers panoramic views of the entire north shore of Long Island.

Tennis - For high energy activities, hit the lighted tennis courts.

Entertainment - Long Island offers much of the same exciting entertainment as its larger counterpart, Manhat­tan.

Shopping / Galleries - With its close proximity to New York City, it’s no wonder that Long Island art galleries and retail shops abound.

Outdoor Adventure - The natural beauty of Long Island has given way to myriad parks and beaches. Situated on the Atlantic, the area is ripe with wildlife and foliage.
Vendors please contact for information about the gluten-free vendor fair.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June Product of the Month

Gluten free twizzlers!

Everyone I know who has to be on a gluten-free diet has at least one type of candy that they miss. For me, its Twizzlers. I never thought twice about them being made from wheat before I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease but now, I still occasionally check the packaging just to see if it has changed a little. Well, no longer do I have to do the walk of shame away from that bag of Twizzlers - Corn Candies Company has created a nice substitute for my licorice cravings.

Candy Tree Organic Cherry Twists are not only wheat and gluten-free but dairy, soy and artificial sugar free. They are sweetened naturally with fruit juice! To try some for yourself, click here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interesting question about Udi's bread

Recently, a group member of mine asked a question about Udi's bread and how a local store displays it. She was under the impression that the bread must always be kept in the freezer or refrigerator. One of the grocery stores in our local area keeps the bread displayed out like regular bread on the shelf. So, I took her concern to my friend, Regan, at Udi's and here was her reply to me:

Hi Brandy,

Udi's bread, unlike our competitors, can be left at room temperature so it can be eaten soft without being toasted. A lot of our vendors now sell our bread in the bakery rather than in the frozen section. The bakery department should re-date the product to reflect the 7 day use-by-date (just like gluten-filled breads).

Here is the recommended shelf life for our products:
*       At room temperature: 5-7 days
*       In refrigerator: 21 days (the refrigerator will only prolong the life of the bread but since it's bread, it may dry out)
*       In freezer: 6 months
Please note our breads do not spoil, as with any other bread products, it will mold.  So as long as it's not moldy, you can refreeze or refrigerate the product.

Hope this helps.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

June Recipe of the Month

Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms

Being so limited by my diet leads me to explore next items to eat and tastes to explore that I never would have considered before. Quinoa is a grain-like seed. It is not really a seed or a grain but a member of the grass family and is actually related to beets and spinach. It has a light, fluffy texture when cooked and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an nice alternative to rice or couscous etc. I know a lot of gluten free people use it but I have never actually cooked it before so I decided to give it a try. This particular recipes works well with the salmon that is so easy to catch here in Alaska during the summer because of its lemony overtones. I think you'll find it pairs nicely with any seafood but don't just take my word for it- try for yourself!

  • 2.5 - 3 cups of cooked Quinoa (can be prepared beforehand)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 1 small to medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small to medium orange bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
When the quinoa is almost finished cooking, place olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once warmed, add garlic, red and orange peppers into skillet and cook until slightly softened then add the mushrooms. While mushrooms are almost done cooking, add pepper, basil, and oregano.
Once the mushrooms mix is through cooking add it to the pot of quinoa. Mix well and add lemon juice and zest.
Garnish with mint sprigs and pine nuts and serve with a side of wild Alaskan salmon!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Smart Balance Acquires Udi's Gluten Free

Udi’s Healthy Foods announced yesterday that Smart Balance will be acquiring Udi’s in a transaction that is expected to close in July.  In an e-mail from Denise M. Sirovatka to the Udi's ambassadors she wrote, "We are very excited about the partnership with Smart Balance, it is a positive move for our brand – it will improve speed to market with innovative new products, increase the number of products for our foodservice division and increase availability for our consumers."

Here is the story from the Denver post which you can also read online here.

New Jersey-based Smart Balance today announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Denver-based Udi's Healthy Foods for $125 million - an acquisition it says will enable it to offer "the most comprehensive portfolio of gluten-free products."
Smart Balance said it was acquiring Udi's Healthy Foods from E&A Industries, an Indianapolis-based investment firm, the family of Udi Bar-on and other minority holders.

Smart Balance had previously purchased Quebec-based Glutino Food Group, a Canadian maker of gluten-free foods.
Etai Bar-on, co-chief executive of Udi's Foods, said that while Udi's Healthy Foods has been sold, Udi's Foods will remain in Denver and is committed to its thousands of customers in

"The Bar-ons affirm they will continue their local restaurant, bakery and catering businesses in Colorado," the family said.
Udi's Foods includes six restaurants, along with the bakery and catering business in the metro area
"We really love our local businesses. It gives us endless pleasure to feed our neighbors daily," said Etai Bar-on.
Stephen Hughes, chairman and chief executive of Smart Balance, said Udi Bar-on, founder of Udi's, partnered with E&A Industries three years ago to launch a groundbreaking gluten-free bakery line.

"Today the brand is the leading devoted gluten-free brand with a very loyal following in gluten-free bread," said Hughes.
"Udi's leading bread and bakery portfolio is the perfect compliment to Glutino's wide range of bakery products, and broadens our natural foods portfolio which includes Earth Balance, Glutino and now Udi's," said Hughes.
Smart Balance noted that in addition to Udi's being the leading brand in gluten-free bread, it markets other gluten-free products in the bakery category, as well as frozen pizza and granola.

In the 12 month period ending March 31, Udi's sales were $60.9 million .

Devin Anderson, chief executive of Udi's Healthy Foods, said the acquisition by Smart Balance represents "an outstanding opportunity to bring together two companies which share similar corporate visions, principles and growth objectives..."

"Combining our organizations will allow Udi's to continue on its significant growth path and leverage Smart Balance's strategic leadership," said Anderson.

Smart Balance's Hughes said the gluten-free food segment is now a "cornerstone" strategy for Smart Balance.
"This acquisition will be transformational to our company, as it will position Smart Balance as a leader in gluten-free, accelerate our growth rate, and further diversify our mix to high-growth natural brands."

Hughes has deep Colorado roots.

He was chief executive of Celestial Seasoning from 1997 until the sale to Hain in 2000 and founded Smart Balance under the original name of Boulder Specialty Brands in 2005.

The company has made two previous major acquisitions: GFA Brands, Inc. in 2007, makers of Smart Balance and Earth Balance, and Glutino Food Group in 2011, then the leading gluten-free brand.

Hughes said that the 2012 acquisition of Udi's Healthy Foods, "the current leading devoted gluten-free brand," marks the company's third major acquisition..

"Boulder Specialty Brands started in Colorado and we are fortunate to have such a strong, continuing presence here," said Hughes. "The Front Range has long been the epicenter of the natural products industry where many natural food brands, such as Celestial Seasoning, Silk, Horizon and now Udi's, found their start."

Smart Balance said it expects to close the transaction for Udi's in July.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or or twitter@HowardPankratz