February 26, 2011

Gluten Free Betsy Bookclub: Cilie Yack Is Under Attack!

Last year around St. Patrick's Day, the Southside Celiac Group that I am a part of had a guest speaker at our meeting. The speaker, Caryn Talty, is the editor of Health Family, a website dedicated to "staying healthy in the modern world."  She was a fantastic speaker and gave a wonderful presentation on the benefits of coconut flour.

When I saw she wrote and illustrated a children's book late last year, I couldn't be happier for her.  I was also excited to read it.  Cilie Yack is Under Attack: A story about a boy with celiac disease is about an Irish boy named Cilie who is nine years old and living with celiac disease.  The book is a chapter book for children at a 4th grade reading level and is told from Cilie's point of view.  Described as "a story about how one boy triumphs against all odds...", Cilie touches on his life prior to being diagnosed, his relationships with his family and friends, life at school, Irish culture, and much more.

Cilie have a gluten reaction.
The book has so many situations in which readers, especially children, can relate.  Difficulty at school, attending birthday parties, giving into temptation and unfortunately, gluten's painful reactions.  What's so great about this story is that not only does Cilie come to terms with having to be on a strict gluten free diet, but he also aspires to do something more about it.  At the age of 9, Cilie researches his disease at the library and even experiments with gluten free baking.  With his new found knowledge of celiac facts and gluten free baking, he starts up a Sous Chef Cooking Club for the other children in his neighborhood who are gluten free or have other food allergies.

This book was a joy to read.  I found Cilie to be adorable and very realistic.  His constant rambling and getting off topic is exactly like children I know.  He's so filled with knowledge of celiac disease at his young age, and it's so sweet to see him not only "deal with it", but to help other kids going through the same thing.  He's such a likable character, and what's even better is that there is a real life, Cilie Yack Sous Chef Club For Kids!

Author, Caryn Talty, not only knew of the importance of writing this book for her son, but also that there be a place for kids with food allergies to get together and learn to cook gluten/allergy free and have the support from each other.  With more and more kids being diagnosed with celiac, gluten intolerance, or a food allergy, it's pretty common for more than one student in a classroom to be on a special diet.  Not only that, but it's also very challenging for grade school kids to participate and feel accepted when food is being served.  Pizza parties, birthday cake, buying a "hot lunch" at school, even innocent classroom treats are off limits.  The Cilie Yack Sous Club for Kids gives kids confidence in their diets by seeing that there are others who eat the same way they do.  They are also learning to cook gluten free meals and have fun while doing so.

Cilie and his father trying to figure out how to bake with gluten free ingredients.
Right now Cilie Yack is Under Attack: A story about a boy with celiac disease is on sale at Amazon.com for a little more than $9, and if you have Amazon prime it also includes free shipping.

Either route, I encourage you to purchase an additional copy to donate to your local library or your child's school.

February 20, 2011

Product Spotlight - Bakery on Main's new Soft & Chewy Granola Bars

When I was in elementary school, my family used to order Market Day every month.  We usually just stocked up on snack items, mainly string cheese and granola bars.  Boy, did we love those granola bars.  They were basically a "healthy" candy bar, filled with either chocolate chips, peanut chips or some other sugar laden treat, but the oats and other grains made the bars acceptable for a snack.

While those popular brands (and even generic brands) of granola bars line the shelves of stores, they seem like they could be gluten free, being made from oats and crisp rice, but guess what?  They're not.  Not even close.  That crisp rice is filled with malted barley and those whole grains contain wheat flour.  Also, I'm pretty sure those aren't gluten free oats.

For years, there have been several options for gluten free bars.  Most were either a gluten free crispy rice bar, a nut bar, or various other gluten free grain bars.  Bakery on Main even provided a granola bar that was more on the crispy side.  Recently, however, Bakery on Main introduced a line of Soft & Chewy granola bars in three delicious flavors.

Peanut Butter & Jelly, Chocolate Almond and Cinnamon Apple Soft & Chewy Gluten Free Granola Bars are the newest additions to the Bakery on Main product list.  Certified gluten free, just like the rest of their products, these new granola bars are free from dairy, casein, GMOs, trans fat, cholesterol, and of course, wheat and gluten.

Bakery on Main sent me some to try out.  How do they taste?  Pretty darn good!  My favorite was the peanut butter and jelly bar.  I loved the texture and flavors of these bars.  They were soft and moist and not too sweet.  I noticed they were made with wholesome grains and seeds such as quinoa, amaranth, chia, and flax.  Each bar had either 3 - 4 grams of protein and 8 - 9 grams of sugar.

Have you tried Bakery on Main's new granola bars?  If so, what'd you think?  If not, I highly suggest you grab a coupon and start shopping! 

February 15, 2011

Gluten Free Betsy Book Club - The Paleo Solution

In the beginning of January, I decided to start posting reviews of the gluten free related books I read.  I chose The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf as the first book to review.  I heard of the paleo diet years ago when I was running several times a week.  I had read about The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance in a fitness magazine which peaked my interest.  I flipped through that book in a bookstore, and learned that the paleo diet is eating like cavemen - without grains or dairy.

The Paleo Solution was released in September of last year and focuses on how the paleo way of eating is for everyone, not just athletes. I learned of this book from the Celiac Listserv, when Don Wiss posted:
One of the things we see in the diagnosed celiac community is people becoming overweight. This is for two reasons. The obvious is our gut is absorbing the food more efficiently. And the other is the carbohydrate oriented diet that celiacs follow, and is pushed on them. When you go to any gathering of celiacs gluten-free carbs will be the primary food. When you go to a celiac convention there will always be a session with a dietitian pushing grains. The problem with grains is they are carbs and they make you fat. The food industry pushes them on us as they are low labor and therefore highly profitable.

The Paleolithic diet has been around for more than 10 years. The early followers of the diet adopted it to avoid the many diseases of civilization that now plague us. There were not very many of us. The next, and much larger wave, were people that adopt the diet as a means to increase their athletic performance. People on the diet consider it a permanent change to their way of eating.

As the diet eliminates all grains, potatoes, and beans, but allows unlimited vegetables and fruit, it is a much lower carb diet than people normally follow. And consequently people lose weight on it. Though if the person has a lot of weight to lose they may have to limit the fruit.

There are a few books on the diet. The main one is being revised and a new edition will be out in December. One can realistically lose 75 pounds in six months following the book's advice.

Wanting to lose the pounds I packed on since I had to stop running, I thought I could use to learn a thing or two from The Paleo Solution book.

The author, Robb Wolf, is a former research biochemist, who also has celiac disease.  While the book is heavy on the science of how our body digests food, it's written in layman's terms which helped me understand everything more clearly.  The information on digestion and how specific foods treat our bodies was interesting and thought provoking.

In addition to eliminating grains, legumes and dairy, he also recommends that people with autoimmune disease eliminate eggs, nuts and seeds, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers.  He suggests going paleo for 30 days.  He even provides a 30 Day Meal Plan, which even includes some basic recipes.  Most of the items and recipes are pretty basic (Here's the recipe for Steamed Broccoli: ingredients - broccoli and water).  It is helpful for jump starting a weight loss plan to clean up your eating, or if you are at your wits end with pain or just wanting to feel better and gain more energy.  

However, while I can understand the paleo diet's benefits, I didn't enjoy the tone in which The Paleo Solution was written.  The constant negative remarks about vegans and vegetarians, the over-mentioned "No-Cal Margaritas", and the "trying-to-be-cute-but-came-across-as-creepy" way he referred to the reader as "buttercup" didn't go over too well with me.  I felt that while explaining how one's health could improve by eliminating dairy, legumes, and grains, he made it seem as THE only diet you should be following.

I think this way of eating works well because you are eliminating refined carbs and sugar, as well as eating natural, wholesome foods.  Since this book was so one-sided I decided to read up and get some other views.  I started with reading a book on sugar.  I then caught a couple films on Netflix (Foodmatters and Change Your Food Change Your Life) which I also found very interesting and helpful.

There are so many contradicting theories out there about the best way to eat.  Everyone's body is unique and handles food differently.  Overall I found The Paleo Solution to be helpful as a starting out point if you are considering a paleo diet, but I think listening to your body and feeding it nutritious foods is the best way to go.