October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween and a Belated Flashback Friday

Happy Halloween, everyone! One of my favorite things about Halloween is the costumes. It's so fun to see all the creative costumes and just have fun - anything goes! Over the years I've been everything from a witch to the Bride of Frankenstein. Tia over at one of my new favorite blogs, Christopher and Tia, holds Flashback Friday every Friday on her blog and invites others to join in. I love the idea, because I have so many fond memories of events that happened prior to blogging, and in some cases, the Internet! Flashback Friday keeps these memories alive.

The FF theme this week was Halloween, and why wouldn't I participate? I love Halloween. Here's a great flashback from 1983 when I was just a wee lass, only 2 years old:

If you couldn't tell, I was Glinda, the Good Witch of the East. The Wizard of Oz is my all time favorite movie. I watched it over and over when I was a child - I even lost my first tooth while during the flying monkey scene. One of the movie theaters in the Chicagoland area holds a Wizard of Oz Fest every year and some of the munchkins attend. There is even a Wizard of Oz museum in Chesterton, IN that I've been to. Admission was 25 cents. Isn't that adorable? It's also the 70th Anniversary since it was released.

The OTHER reason I love Halloween is because of the CANDY!! Nom nom nom! When I was younger, my friends and I would be out all night trick-or-treating and I would come home with soooo much candy! I still remember where the "good houses" that gave out full-sized candy bars were. Or even the houses that gave out little bags of chips, packs of gum, twinkies, or cans of pop. When I think back to all of that, I can actually feel my teeth rotting.

This year instead of indulging in candy, I made a yummy Halloween dessert, Ghosts in the Graveyard. It's basically the dirt dessert. I thought it seemed fitting. I gluten-free'd it up by using KinniToos sandwich cookies. I threw on some candy corn, gummies, Peeps, and gluten-free teething biscuits (it was the only gf cookie I could find that looked like a tombstone!) and it was good to go!

Hope everyone has a very safe and happy Halloween!

October 27, 2009

BOKA Update!

For all of you lovely folks that still need to purchase tickets for the Safe & Sound Dinner event, use the code: GFB1102 in the discount code area on the checkout page and receive a discount!

It's going to be a fantastic time, see you there!

October 26, 2009

Step aside, Olive Garden...

...cuz MY bread sticks are better than yours!! And not just because they are gluten free - they are healthier too! Made with Smart Balance omega-3 spread, agave nectar, and Stonyfield organic yogurt, it's definitely okay to indulge in more than one.

Not too long ago the awesome folks at Stonyfield Farm found out I love to bake/cook and sent me some coupons (and a tote bag!) for their products. This was a godsend because a) I should have my own cow at Stonyfield because I'm so obsessed with their yogurt and b) they truly are an amazing company and I love supporting them and their causes. They also invited me to step outside the box, put down the spoon, and create a recipe with yogurt instead of eating it straight up.

This could get interesting.

With the cooler weather moving in, everyone in blog world is posting yummy recipes for soups and stews. A couple weeks ago the Jules Gluten Free weekly recipe was for curried carrot soup and bread sticks. If you're a regular at my site, you know by now I love her flours and recipes. When I saw that the bread stick recipe called for vanilla yogurt, I knew that I'd soon be making it with my Stonyfield yogurt.

Recipe Copyright 2009 Jules E. Dowler Shepard

While the original plan was to make it with the Oikos vanilla greek yogurt, it appeared that someone in my family already ate it. Hmm... Good thing I always have a tub of fat free French Vanilla in the fridge. I came home from work tonight craving pasta and bread sticks. As my brown rice pasta cooked up, I whipped up a batch of the most delicious bread sticks ever.

Light and airy on the inside. Crisp and slightly crunchy outside. I ate three of them. The lasagna roll-ups I made for them to accompany paled in comparison. I wish I would have just had bread sticks, although I'm sure that's not a very balanced meal.

Safe & Sound Allergy Free Dinner at BOKA!

In just one week, top chef Giuseppe Tentori will create a complete, multi-course, allergen-free dinner at Boka, the red-hot Lincoln Park restaurant. Tentori has been named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2008, famed New York magazine critic Gael Greene proclaims “Tentori’s food is marvelous,” and Chicago Tribune’s Phil Vettel heralds Boka “spectacular.”

The menu will be free of gluten, as well as the 8 most common food allergens affecting more than 12-million Americans: wheat, eggs, soy, dairy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts. Swirlz will provide cupcakes for dessert.

This last Safe & Sound Dinner party of 2009 will be held Monday, November 2, at 6:30 p.m. To enjoy a lively group dining experience in the sleek, stylish setting of Boka, located at 1729 North Halsted, Chicago you must reserve a spot in advance.

Tickets for the Safe & Sound Dinner at Boka are $50 per person and include a complete, multi-course dinner, as well as all tax and gratuity, along with a fantastic, filled-to-the-rim allergen-free goodie bag for each guests.

For reservations and more information visit http://www.lisacooksallergenfree.com/ or call 773-665-0430. Use the code: GFB1102 in the discount code area on the checkout page and receive a discount!

October 22, 2009

Wouldn't It Be Loverly

One of my very favorite gluten free blogs is Gluten Hates Me but I'm Surviving created by the brilliant Marlow. (holla!) Not only does her blog share awesome gluten free worthy finds, but she delves into her personal life quite a bit too. I love her stories and look forward to what's up with her. Reading her blogs is like talking to a good friend, with the added gluten free bonus.

One of her posts awhile back was about some amazing gluten free cookies by a little bakery in Vermont that goes by the name, Liz Lovely. After drooling over the pictures and almost tasting them based on her descriptions, I immediately headed over to sign up for their fan club. I wished I could have also made a purchase, but I tend to always be broke and online shipping costs often add up on me! (Plus I couldn't decide which cookies to chose!)

Being a proud fan club member, I continue to receive their news and events updates and was THRILLED when earlier this month, I saw this:

Look at that love! Just like getting presents on your birthday, Liz Lovely is giving deals during Celiac Awareness Month. (To be honest, I don't remember any other gluten free companies holding "celiac awareness month" sales...I could be wrong though.)

Awesome, now I can finally get my cookies!! Not only that, they are also offering the chance to WIN COOKIES!! Here's the details:

Since you can't "reply to this email", just email Andy at Liz Lovely with your pics. Have fun! Happy Halloween AND Celiac Awareness Month!!

October 19, 2009

Some Chili for the Chilly Weather!

It's been chilly lately. Don't get me wrong; I loves me some fall weather, and we're now entering the "comfort foods" season. Macaroni and cheese, stews, apple pie...and all the other warm, filling foods. Yum.

Last weekend I made some chili for the chilly evening. I finally broke out the bag of Pamela's cornbread mix too! I'd been saving it for a good comfort foods meal. I took Marion's advice and added a can of "mexicorn" too. Yummy! It definitely gave those sweet little muffins a kick, but I think I like the good old fashioned plain cornbread better. Anyway you mix it, I think that Pamela is on to something. Her cornbread mix is just as good as all of her other mixes, and I'm sure it will make an appearance in my meals again soon! Good stuff!

Alexandra's in da house!

I'd like to introduce Alexandra to the site!

As my "celiac sista", she's one of my besties who shares the same gluten free point of view with me. We originally decided to start a resource site, Celiac And The City, but for some reason or other started our own blogs instead. That was a silly idea considering that she's along for about 99.9% of my gluten free adventures.

We've finally decided to combine forces and blog on the same site since great gluten free minds think alike. I'm thrilled that she agreed to be an author of Gluten Free Betsy. I can't wait for her posts, as she has such fabulous insight on everything gluten free!

October 16, 2009

Spreading the Celiac Awareness - Part 2

As I mentioned earlier, October is Celiac Awareness month. Some people are lucky enough to live in an area where they can get involved at gluten free events and support groups. For those that live in towns without much gluten free activity going on, don't worry, you can still do your part!

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has many opportunities to get involved. One of the "sweetest" opportunities is volunteering to host a cupcake party. Cupcake parties can be held anywhere! All you have to do is send the NFCA your address and Pamela's Products will send you gluten free cake mixes, frosting, and some kitchen goodies to get started. Invite your friends and family, collect their donations (tax deductable), and start decorating!

My good friends, Alexandra and Kristin, decided to host a cupcake party with me. Kristin founded the Dilettante Society which features various experts sharing their talents and knowledge. She agreed it would be great to have Alexandra and I do a session on celiac disease and cupcake decorating since we are the gluten free experts. We invited our friends, got the drinks goin', and pulled out the sprinkles! We all had a great time and raised $165 for Celiac Awareness!

To prepare for the event Alexandra and I baked the cupcakes beforehand so they were all set to go. I made up little celiac statistics and symptoms cards, as well as receipts of their donation with an attached celiac disease awareness ribbon. We decided to have a raffle with cupcake themed prizes and Kristin beefed up the "giveaways" table with some extra bakeware. Pamela's Products sent us some great frosting spreaders and Lil's Dietary Speciality Shop gave us some Pamela's Products chip clips and other goodies.

Alexandra and I gave a presentation on celiac disease; covering what it is, symptoms, and following a gluten free diet. We held a Q & A and had a lot of great questions thrown at us. I was very excited at how eager these ladies were to learn more about celiac and gluten intolerance.

I love the picture of Alexandra describing the damaged villi!

We moved things to the kitchen where aspiring cake decorator, Alexandra, gave a demonstration on frosting cupcakes using pastry bags and frosting tips. Kristin mixed up some hot cider, busted out the Cupcake wine, and then we got decorating!

It was a really fun night and I'm so glad we hosted a gluten free cupcake party for the NFCA. I strongly suggest others to do the same! If you have an oven, cupcake tin, and friends - what are you waiting for?!

October 15, 2009

More Reasons Why You Should Never Skip Breakfast

I hope you're all reading my badass articles on Examiner.com. If you're not, you totally missed out on my cereal review! Here's a repost, enjoy!

Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It makes you feel well, helps you perform better at work or school, and even aides in weight loss.

Those on a gluten free diet have plenty of breakfast options with the wide variety of gluten free bagels and waffles now available. Good old bacon and eggs make for a good choice too!

The downside of the gluten free diet is that while there are gluten free cereals, they aren't as abundant as "regular" cereal. Walk down the breakfast aisle at the grocery store and there are millions of boxes of cereal, yet only a handful of ones that are gluten free - if you're lucky.

Erewhon, one of the products under the U.S. Mills family, offers a wide variety of gluten free cereals to consumers. Recently, Erewhon expanded their line of gluten free cereal and introduced Strawberry Crisp and Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice. Both are low fat, Kosher, Non-Dairy, and suitable for vegans, in addition to being wheat and gluten free.

I was lucky enough to receive samples of Erewhon's new cereals, as well as a few other Erewhon favorites. What a treat! I've had gluten free cereal before, but just the basic corn or rice cereals, nothing compared to the flavorful Strawberry Crisp and Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice.

The Strawberry Crisp brought me back to my childhood when I was not yet diagnosed with celiac disease and ate sweet, sugary cereal. The only difference being that the Strawberry Crisp is actually good for me! Made with organic ingredients, the freeze dried strawberries come alive with a splash of milk, tasting as if they were fresh from the garden. The lightly sweetened flakes are made from a blend of brown rice and corn balancing out the sweet strawberries and making for a well-rounded and satisfying breakfast.

The Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice's rich, smooth cocoa flavor made me feel almost as if I were eating dessert instead of breakfast. Quite decadant, yet the crunchy organic brown rice provides for a nutritious breakfast. It also makes for a great snack when mixed with yogurt or dried fruit. Plus you really can turn it into a dessert and whip up a batch of marshmallow and crispy rice bars.

I loved the taste of these cereals, but what thrilled me the most was that all of the cereals are made with organic and natural ingredients, and only 8 ingredients max. The Crispy Brown Rice only has 3 ingredients and the Corn Flakes has just 2 ingredients. Talk about all natural!

For more info: To find out where you can purchase these cereals and other Erewhon products, visit Erewhon's Store Locator page.

To find recipes using Erewhon cereals, visit their Recipe Index.

October 14, 2009

Two New Chicago Gluten Free Events!

There are some great events going on right now and this weekend. Two southside shops are hosting events for your gluten free enjoyment. Be sure to check them out!

First up is Lil's Dietary Speciality Shop's Grand Re-opening. The store has more than doubled in size, offers an on-site dietitian to help with specific dietary needs, and has new products out the wazoo! Congratulations on the new store, guys!

Click to enlarge if you are having trouble reading.

I stopped by Monday night and had a big bowl of Kettle Cuisine chicken noodle soup, a delicious Blondie from a Namaste mix, Pamela's cookies, some crackers and more cookies. Samples and goodies daily, not to mention a lot of special sales throughout the store!

This weekend, Alexandra and I plan on hitting up this vendor tasting event at Free From Market:

Click to enlarge.

Pan-style gluten free pizza? Muffins and Brownies? Surprises?! See you there!

October 13, 2009

Spreading the Celiac Awareness - Part 1

October is National Celiac Awareness Month and this weekend I spread the awareness like nobody's business!

Saturday, October 10th was my little sister's birthday. What did I get her? A celiac screening of course! She has been experiencing some of the symptoms and with my mom and I having the disease, she has a high chance being Celiac too. The University of Chicago Celiac Center holds a free screening for celiac disease every October. They use the tTG-IgA (anti-tissue transglutaminase) blood test for their free screenings. My older sister also got tested on Saturday. The annual event consists of the screenings followed with a wonderful vendor fair, along with a question and answer session with some of the top celiac disease experts from the U of C.

My lovely sisters after their tests.

I attended the vendor session and Q&A last year and learned lots of new information - as well as sampled many gluten free products. I felt like the mother hen guiding them through the center for their tests and to the exhibitor tables this year. My sisters will find out their test results within a week, but in the meantime they had the chance to try out some of the A-M-A-Z-I-N-G gluten free products out on the market.

What did we eat? Oh...just some pizza, cupcakes, soup, cookies, chicken tenders, granola, and crackers. Some of the products were from Pamela's, Enjoy Life, and Mary's Gone Crackers.

Marcello's was there and the woman told me their menu is now labeled with gluten free options. They now have pasta, Redbridge beer, and gluten free brownie pizza! My sisters and I gobbled down our pizza slices. We all loved it!

You'd never guess it was gluten free!

Swirlz had dozens of itty-bitty cupcakes including one I'd never tried before. Vanilla with strawberry frosting. YUM!!

And of course we got a bag full of samples to take home. Thanks University of Chicago Celiac Center!

How cool was it to see New Vitality there?!
Representing the Southside - what, what