May 30, 2012

Working out with Gunnar Peterson

Last week I started a new fitness challenge, The Gunnar Challenge. It's an 8 week online program crafted by Gunnar Peterson, personal trainer to a bunch of Hollywood stars. The program features a daily videos from Gunnar, a meal plan, exercise routines, a diary to to track food and exercise, and a forum to connect with other challenge members.

My new personal trainer.

I'm one week into the program and really enjoy it. The exercises are great and the videos from Gunnar are motivating. I am not following the meal plan because there are a lot of meals that include gluten, but I am still following the dietary recommendations as best I can.

Lots of salads, grilled chicken and fish, and of course vegetables. I usually eat raw veggies or steamed, but I was given the opportunity through MyBlogSpark to try their Green Giant frozen vegetables. Almost all frozen vegetables are gluten free, but some varieties with sauces or rice are not always gluten free. Here is a list to help you out with that.

Additionally several of the Green Giant vegetables have been endorsed by Weight Watchers. If you're counting points, the choice is simple as the points plus values are listed right on the front of the box. Easy Peasy. Literally.

If you're looking for ides for what to do with those veggies, check out some of these recipes.

May 12, 2012

Word to Your Mutha! Gluten Free Crepes for Mother's Day


Happy Mother's Day to moms, grandmas, godmothers, and aunts everywhere! Especially to my gluten free mama, who I lovingly refer to on this blog as Babs.  My mom was diagnosed with celiac a year after I was and we're the only two in our family that follow a gluten free diet. Yep, we're a split household as far as food goes, so we know a thing or two about cross contamination.

This Mother's Day we're doing the Annual Beverly Breast Cancer Walk and then coming home and having brunch. This year it's all about the crêpes. I've been on a kick since I discovered gluten free (buckwheat) crêpes at Flip Crêpes a couple weeks ago.  Last weekend I practiced making some with the sample baking mixes I received in the CDF Celiac Conference goodie bag.

Since my niece and nephew spent the night and love my cake pop maker, we made Cinnamon Sugar donut holes with XO Baking Company's Pancake and Waffle Mix for breakfast the next morning.  I followed the instructions on the bag and made them using unsweetened almond milk and coconut oil.  After they were baked, I browned some butter to dip them in, and then rolled them around in my cinnamon and sugar mixture. Divine!

For the crêpes, I used the Pure Pantry Organic Buckwheat Flax Pancake and Baking Mix. Again I just followed the instructions on the bag and used almond milk and coconut oil while preparing them.

Unfortunately I didn't have any fresh berries to top them with, or even Nutella, but I did have Peanut Butter & Co. Chocolate Peanut Butter and some cherry preserves that made for a yummy cherry chocolate crêpe. Another variety was a chocolate peanut butter banana crêpe.

May 11, 2012

Domino's Gluten Free Pizza. Neither a Domino, Nor a Gluten Free Pizza. Discuss.

OK, well the gluten free world is a tizzy over Domino's announcement of a gluten free pizza....that is not safe for celiacs.

I am so torn over this issue for a couple reasons.
  1. I've never eaten Domino's Pizza in my life. I was 18 when I found out I had celiac, so I had plenty of chances to do so, but I'm from Chicago. Born and raised, and still here. There was/is no reason for me to eat such inferior pizza ever. Sorry, Domino's, but it's true. There are a handful of mom 'n pop Italian restaurants within blocks of my home, work, friends' houses, etc. 
  2. I want to say something like, "well, celiacs can eat/have eaten safely at other restaurants that do not have "gluten free" menu options and there is the possibility of gluten cross contamination in those kitchens. Even restaurants with gluten free items still serve gluten counterparts. How is this any different?"
I guess what's different is that if Domino's is going to go through the GREAT Kitchens program with an organization named National Foundation for CELIAC AWARENESS and then say, "well this isn't for celiacs", then wtf? 

Yes, it's true that some restaurants will throw a gluten free label on their menu or product with no idea why other than "everybody's doing it". It seems that Domino's was really doing their homework by participating in the GREAT Kitchen program, so they are aware of the reason why; however, gluten intolerance or a sensitivity and wheat allergies are no laughing matter either.

If you try to place an order online you get this message:

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Take a peek at some screen shots from their gluten free FAQ page:

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Did you find any mention about how the gluten free ingredients (I'm assuming a premade crust?) is stored? Or the precautions the employees go through (like washing their hands, changing their gloves, maybe throwing on a quick plastic apron), or how a gluten free order is handled once it's taken?

Watch this short video too and see if there is any indication about separate baking pans, spoons, or pizza slicers.

With all those disclaimers, warnings, red flags, flashing lights, bells and whistles I think I'm more miffed about how those topics are completely ignored!

I know of several great restaurants in Chicago that offer a gluten free menu along side their regular gluten filled menu, but they are more than happy to explain the cross contamination processes and how their gluten free items are prepared and safe for gluten free people of all eating reasons backgrounds.

How could Domino's, after all of that, not even mention one word about the preparation process?

I'll give you a topic: Did Domino's go about correctly with their disclaimers? Or are they wrong because they did not disclose issues like separate utensils, pans, etc.? Do you guys even like Domino's Pizza? Is this a bigger deal than it should be?

While we're on the topic of chain pizza restaurants doing the gluten free pizza thing, I'd like to give a round of applause to Chuck E. Cheese (where a kid can be a kid) for addressing this issue with the info we're looking for! 

Yes, they are using Conte's pizza, but 
  1. Have you had Conte's pizza? It's delicious.
  2. It comes in a frozen bake-in-bag presealed packaging. The bake-in-bag pizza will remain sealed while cooked and delivered and until opened and served with a personal pizza cutter at families' tables by the adult in charge.
Also, they will have cake for those kiddies! 
  • Under the same procedure, gluten-free, chocolate fudge cupcakes naturally sweetened with fruits, vegetables and grains from Fabe's All Natural Bakery will remain in pre-sealed, single-serve packaging through preparation and until opened and served at the table. 
I haven't been to Chuck E. Cheese in a million years, but it was a big deal back in the 80s (when it was ShowBiz Pizza) for classmates' birthday parties, and I'm sure if it's still in business, that's still the same reason.  If I was diagnosed with celiac when I was younger and going to those parties, I would be bummed that I couldn't eat pizza and cake with everyone else. Granted, I was scared to death of the Pizza Theater robots in the restaurant area, but that's not that point. The point is, this is fabulous news for gluten free kids! Thanks, Chuck E. Cheese

So, I really want to know your thoughts on all of this! I've been reading other blogs, message boards, tweets, and facebook posts and everyone has an opinion on this. Discuss! 

Special thanks to Mike Myers for being the fabulous Linda Richman on SNL.
and Tania for magical Linda gifs!!! 

May 2, 2012

Rudi's Gluten Free Spreads the Bread for Celiac Disease Awareness


Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month!

May is National Celiac Awareness Month. Six awesome states have official proclamations declaring it a statewide observation. Illinois is one of them. Signed into existence on May 5, 2011 (and filed May 20th, thank you very much) How's that for getting things done?

To celebrate, gluten free companies and organizations are running special promotions during the month. I will do my best to share them with you. If I don't blog about it, I will tweet it or post it on my Facebook page, so be on the lookout there too.

You'll also meet some awesome advocates that are going above and beyond the call of gluten free duty to bring awareness of celiac disease to the world. Without them, we would not have had the giant strides in celiac research or diagnoses. If you read my last post recapping the Celiac Disease Foundation's Education Conference, the experts threw out some statistics that are still alarming. The United States STILL has the lowest rate of diagnosis in all developed countries. For every 20 people that have celiac disease, only 1 is diagnosed. We have to change that!

Awareness has gained steam over the past few years and diagnoses have increased two-fold. That's largely due to the dedicated work the doctors and researchers at a handful of medical centers are doing. Another large amount is due to celiac and gluten free non-profits. They would be:

  1. Celiac Disease Foundation
  2. Celiac Sprue Association
  3. Gluten Intolerance Group
  4. National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
  5. 1 in 133
All of these organizations are providing support to the celiac and gluten free community through support groups, educational information, newsletters, events, and more. They rely heavily on the charitable donations from THEIR supporters, people like us.

Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery is helping the Celiac Disease Foundation, Celiac Sprue Association, Gluten Intolerance Group, and National Foundation for Celiac Awareness with their "Spread the Bread" campaign. You can help these four non-profits AND get something in return. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3...
  1. Go to Rudi's Spread the Bread page 
  2. Select which organization you want Rudi's to send $1 to on your behalf
  3. Print your $1 off any Rudi's product coupon! (Once you download the coupon Rudi's will send $1 to the organization you selected)
That's it! You're done! It's a win-win all around. You're helping spread Celiac Awareness and Rudi's is helping you save on your gluten free breads.  How will you use your coupon? May I suggest...


Yep! I got the sneak peek this past weekend at the CDF food faire. They are incredible! Alex from Rudi's was so sweet she even let me take this bag home with me. We've been making wraps with them like nobody's business in my house all week.

Don't worry, I still am on my grilled cheese kick ever since the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo a few weekends ago. Rudi's was passing out grilled cheese sandwiches that were so good, I've been trying to recreate them ever since.

That's a Sol Cuisine veggie burger in there!

May 1, 2012

I'm Back From the Celiac Disease Foundation's Annual Education Conference and Food Faire

I can't believe the Celiac Disease Foundation's Annual Conference took place this past weekend. It felt like a whirlwind of activity and gluten free greatness all squeezed into one short day.  I arrived in Los Angeles Friday afternoon and left to return to Chicago Saturday afternoon. I was probably on the plane the same amount of time I was there, but it was worth every second.


Friday afternoon kicked off with a Leadership conference for CDF Support Group leaders. If you can remember, I am a support group leader in Chicago. Our group has been on an infinite hiatus for quite some time and I've been wanting to get it back in full swing again. I was able to meet a lot of other leaders and get ideas for running a successful group. I was simply amazed at the amount of time and effort some of the ladies put into their Chapters. They really inspired me to do a better job at being a leader for others in my community. I won't go as far as getting another phone line installed in my home for a celiac hotline, but I will try my best to hold a monthly meeting on a regular basis!

Marilyn Geller, new COO of CDF and Phyllis Kessler, President of the South Florida CDF Chapter.

Best of all, during the Leadership meeting I was finally able to meet my very first blogging buddy, Chandice from Gluten Free Frenzy! Chandice has the #1 blog to visit for gluten free giveaways. Not only that, she's also a support group leader in Phoenix AND has launched Gluten Free Calendar. A site that brings "Unity in the Gluten Free Community". Gluten Free event listings from across the nation (CDF, GIG, NFCA, CSA, etc.) are all listed in one convenient place. Lots of great things are in store for Gluten Free Calendar, including Celiac Awareness Nights at Major League Baseball games. (Including my White Sox! Pencil in September 29th now!)

Friday night, I tooled around Universal City Walk near the hotel. I had some yummy food and took in some entertainment. I even found Cupcake Popcorn that was certified gluten free.

Nerdin' out by myself! :)
Cupcake Popcorn?!

Yes, this is real.
Saturday morning for the actual education conference was jammed packed with a handful of excellent speakers including Dr. Stefano Guandalini from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, Dr. Peter Green from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, Shelley Case RD, and Melinda Dennis RD from Delete the Wheat. Here's some of the interesting things I learned from them:
  • I should be getting annual blood tests to make sure my antibody levels are still in the clear
    • I used to think just following a gluten free diet was good enough to manage celiac, but the doctors expressed that celiac patients actually need greater care due to other autoimmune disease that can appear over time.
  •  None of the glutenases on the market are for realz - DO NOT USE!!
    • A pill that blocks gluten absorption? Don't waste your time or money, gluten will still be absorbed and will cause damage to your body.
  • In a study from 2007, celiac disease in babies was higher in those delivered by cesarean.
  • Celiac Disease is in constant evolution - you need to stay updated! 
  • The rate of diagnosis of CD has increased two-fold over the past 3 years, although the US is still has the lowest rate of diagnoses in all developed countries
    • Rate of diagnosed to undiagnosed:
      • US - 20:1
      • Italy - 7:1
      • Finland - 2:1
    • Females diagnosed more than men 
  • Celiacs have a 3-10x greater chance of developing another autoimmune disease than a non-celiac
  • This one was a bummer: There is a modest increase of death rate in celiac patients.
    • Again, celiac patients need special medical care. More than just handling it by themselves.
Julia, Chandice, and Dr. Stefano talk celiac disease in children.

Now I know you want to know about the food. And boy, was there food! From the snacks at the Leadership conference to the breakfast and lunch served at the conference, the day was filled with food.

The best part of breakfast was these scones from Gluten Not Included.

Cobb Salad with Fried Chicken Tenders for lunch!

One of the highlights was from Julia's Gluten Free Bakery. Located in Phoenix, Julia makes a mean gluten free cupcake. I had the pleasure of enjoying both her red velvet cupcake AND her lemon cupcake. Delicious. But the ultimate "are you kidding me?!" goes to her Cinnamon Rolls. They are hands down the best cinnamon rolls I've had in my entire life. That's pre- and post- gluten free. That's saying a lot. My mom would make Ann Sather's Cinnamon Rolls when we were growing up and I thought those were out of this world. Julia's gluten free rolls are just another galaxy. I urge you to visit one of the retailers that carries her products if you ever happen to be in the Phoenix area, you will not be disappointed!

Julia's Gluten Free Bakery Red Velvet Cupcake.

Julia's Gluten Free Bakery's Famous Cinnamon Roll.

Julia, the sweetest person ever, and me - professional super models.

No celiac event would be complete without a swag bag. The amount of goodies that was given away was ridiculous. My swag bag weighed more than my carry on luggage. No joke. From flax seed to cereal, cookies to coupons, the swag bag was filled to the brim.

Just some of the samples from the gift bag!

For more pics of the amazing gluten free good times I had, check out my Facebook album!