Find Support!

Support groups can be a crucial resource for the newly diagnosed as well as the seasoned Celiac & non-celiab gluten-sensitive community. By attending local support group meetings and seminars you will gain important information on the latest in medical research, dietitian recommendations, useful tips for living a healthy gluten-free lifestyle,and so much more. Support Group meetings are a wonderful venue where you can chat with others on a similar Celiac journey.  Take a significant other, a friend, or go solo. You can even consider volunteering!

There are multiple National Celiac Organizations that can be a source of support groups. Here are some that are great:

-The American Celiac Disease Alliance

-Celiac Disease Foundation

-Celiac Sprue Association

-National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

Remember: you are never alone. There are support groups everywhere and anywhere!

-Janice 🙂

 

Thanksgiving Pie

Yum! Pie. Pumpkin pie.

You can’t eat gluten? That is not a problem! Gluten-free pie can be better than pie made with gluten.

Here is how you can make it:

Here are some more instructions:

You want everything COLD. Much more important than gluten to a pie dough is cold. Weigh out the flours you’re going to be using and put them in the freezer for 30 minutes before you start. If you’re using the food processor, put the bowl and blade of the food processor in the freezer as well. Cube up your butter into 1-inch pieces and put them in the refrigerator. You want COLD. That’s what makes a pie crust flaky.

And if you want to make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving? Here is the best way to do so:

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! Happy Holidays

P.S. Who doesn’t like deals? Check out gluten-free saver for many deals!

-Janice Vargas 🙂

A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about family and well, the food. We all know how much we are looking forward to this at home; Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this is definitely something that has been on my mind. There are actually plenty of convenient gluten-free foods and ingredients for Thanksgiving you can use as shortcuts, or you can decide to make everything on your menu from scratch — your choice. Pinterest has a great board of GF Thanksgiving Recipes – I highly recommend browsing through this.

Here’s a run-through of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, and what you need to do to make them gluten-free:

The turkey. Fresh, plain turkeys — those without any added broth, spices or other ingredients — are always gluten-free. Don’t open any gravy packet that’s included with a turkey, though — those almost certainly contain gluten.

Stuffing. It’s actually pretty easy to make gluten-free stuffing, and once you add spices and other ingredients, it’s likely to taste almost exactly the way you remember it. You can use a mix or simply use gluten-free bread crumbs (either packaged or from your own stale bread) in your own traditional recipe — you shouldn’t even need to alter the recipe. If you add spices, make sure they’re from a safe source.

Mashed potatoes. Some brands of instant mashed potatoes are gluten-free, as well, but it’s not difficult to make your own, and I think they taste better that way.

 Sweet potatoes. You might find a recipe for candied sweet potatoes that includes flour as an ingredient, but I think it would be more the exception than the rule — the vast majority I’ve seen are naturally gluten-free.

Gravy. Many of us grew up watching our mothers make Thanksgiving gravy using the turkey pan drippings, plus wheat flour. Fortunately, it’s incredibly easy to make gluten-free gravy — just substitute corn starch for the flour.

Pumpkin pie. The trick to making a decent gluten-free pie is placing the emphasis on the filling, not on the crust. That being said, though, it’s not difficult to make a decent gluten-free pie crust, or you can purchase one pre-made and frozen at many high-end grocery stores. You also can try one of these gluten-free pumpkin recipes, which include ideas for pies and more. Just make sure that all your other ingredients — spices, mainly — are from safe sources.

 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

-Janice Vargas

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten intolerance or sensitivity generally takes one of two forms: one with characteristics more similar to celiac disease and the other with characteristics more similar to a food allergy.

Given the varying degrees of severity and symptoms of gluten sensitivity, researchers believe the prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity to be much higher than that of celiac disease. It is estimated 6% of the U.S. population, or as many as 18 million people, suffers from gluten sensitivity.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

This group reacts with some of the same symptoms as people with celiac disease (gastrointestinal pain or bloating, diarrhea, fatigue) but gluten-sensitive individuals typically test negative for celiac disease in diagnostic blood tests and show no signs of the damage to the small intestine that defines celiac disease. Because of the lack of clarity around symptoms, no accurate or conclusive test for gluten intolerance has been found.

Treatment

As such, it is generally advised that people who may suffer from gluten sensitivity speak with a dietitian and follow a gluten-free diet to relieve symptoms. If following a gluten-free diet does not alleviate symptoms, it is advised patients speak with their doctors, as they may be suffering from something other than gluten intolerance. There are various outlets of Internet sources that one can seek out for gluten intolerance. Various websites and even phone applications have made it easier for those who are Gluten-Free! Keep an eye out for new websites for celiacs or even just googling a product will go a long way!

Some foods are naturally free of gluten. Here is a handy checklist of examples for your next trip to the supermarket:

  • Milk, not flavored with ingredients that contain gluten, such as malt
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juices
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Lentils
  • Beans, in their natural, unprocessed form
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds, such as flax
  • Tree nuts, such as almonds
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Fresh fish (cod, salmon)
  • Fresh shellfish (clams, oysters)
  • Fresh poultry (unbreaded)
  • Fresh meats
  • Honey
  • Water, including bottled, distilled, spring

Check out The Food and Drug Administration or The Mayo Clinic for an extensive list.

-Janice Vargas

LUNA & KIND: Yes, They’re GF!

Two of my favorite bars just happen to be gluten-free! KIND and LUNA protein Bars!!

  KIND

If you have never tried KIND gluten-free bars and granola, you are surely missing out. If you are a nut lover, you will definitely be into these; It may look like just another “health nut” bar, but it is so much more than that. With flavors like Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate (my personal favorite) and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan, you really can’t go wrong. If you don’t dig the whole chocolate thing as much as I do, KIND has you covered with several other flavors including Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio and Cranberry Almond. Seriously, think of any fruit and nut combination and it’s probably available on KIND’s list.

KIND also has gluten-free granola and let me tell you, this stuff is the best. It’s a perfect topping for your morning serving of Greek yogurt and fruit! I simply ate the granola straight from the bag and ran into the problem of “I can’t stop eating this” and had to eventually hide it deep in the pantry.

LUNA-1024x1024

While I try not to eat protein bars on a daily basis, I do find a need to have them on hand on a busy day, or to pack in my bag just in case I can’t make it back to my apartment before a class. Sometimes it can be hard to find gluten-free bars that you not only like, but don’t cost an arm and a leg (oh, us college students). The reason why I like LUNA protein bars is that they taste delicious (because I love all of the chocolaty flavors), but they are also reasonably priced.

I often take advantage of the 10 for $10 sales at the grocery store, that way I keep the cost low and have enough bars to last a decent amount of time. My favorite flavor is the Mint Chocolate Chip. With 12g of protein and 3g of fiber, LUNA Mint Chocolate Chip protein bars help me to get my mint craving in without leaving behind the guilt that chocolate mint candy would. It’s pretty amazing! If you haven’t hopped on the LUNA protein bar train yet, I highly recommend it. Even though the website is marketed towards women, I don’t think any fella should be afraid to take advantage of these. Like I said, they’re available at regular grocery stores, so you won’t have to make a separate trip to the health food store, and you can even get them on sale from time-to-time. (Yes, gluten-free sale items DO exist!)

I enjoy these bars for a variety of reasons and not just the taste. There are several occasions where I’ve had to grab on the go while rushing from class to class, and the LUNA & KIND bars don’t make me feel guilty like other snack bars too. I get the taste I want (with some chocolate of course) while I receive quality nutrients!

These bars are great for fuel before a workout or run. There’s a fine line between eating too little and being famished after a run, and eating too much and then regretting it during the run. KIND & LUNA bars have solved that problem for me. Just this morning I grabbed a KIND bar to eat about 25 minutes before I went on a run and it was the absolute perfect amount of fuel that I needed. Grab your smart phone and look up these bars and see for yourself if they’re gluten-free! 🙂 So, if you need fuel before or after a great workout, you know what kind of bars will help!

-Janice Vargas

Gluten-Free Halloween: Candy Candy Candy!

Halloween is right around the corner and we know what that entails: candy, candy, candy, and costumes of course! In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to designate a post that is all about the fun in Halloween: Gluten-Free Candy. Just because one is gluten-free does not mean that there isn’t a bundle of candy choices to pick from. I listed my personal favorite category: Chocolates 🙂

According to Nestle, the following candies are gluten-free:

  • Baby Ruth
  • Bit-O-Honey
  • Butterfinger Bar (original flavor only, NOT Crisp, Giant Bar, Snakerz, Medallions, Jingles, Hearts or Pumpkins)
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Goobers
  • Nips (including both regular and sugar-free)
  • Oh Henry!
  • Raisinets (including Cranberry and Dark Chocolate flavors)
  • Sno-Caps
  • Wonka Pixy Stix
  • Laffy Taffy (including Laffy Taffy Rope)
  • Wonka Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip

The following Nestle candy products are NOT gluten-free:

  • Butterfinger Crisp Bar
  • Butterfinger Giant Bar
  • Butterfinger Snackerz
  • Butterfinger Medallions
  • Butterfinger Jingles
  • Butterfinger Hearts
  • Butterfinger Pumpkins
  • Wonka Nerds
  • Sweetarts
  • Wonka Bar (all flavors)
  • Chewy Spree
  • Wonka Gummies
  • Wonka Kazoozles
  • Everlasting Gobstopper
  • 100 Grand Bar

Hershey’s candies are gluten-free:

  • Almond Joy (all)
  • Mounds (all)
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses
  • Hershey’s Filled Chocolate Kisses (only caramel and cherry cordial creme, NOT Hugs, Special Dark, Milk Chocolate with Almonds, or Cookies & Cream)
  • Hershey’s Nuggets (all varieties)
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, only in the 1.55 oz. size
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds Bar, only in the 1.45 oz. size
  • Heath Bars
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (all except for seasonal shaped items)
  • Skor
  • Skor Toffee Bar
  • York Peppermint Pattie (all)

The following Hershey’s products are NOT gluten-free:

  • Hershey’s Special Dark Bar
  • Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Bar
  • Hershey’s Air Delight
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Drops
  • Hershey’s Miniatures
  • Mr. Goodbar
  • Symphony Bar
  • Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate

pumpkin-carving-patterns-happy-halloween

 

Here is the full updated list of Gluten-Free candy for October 2013! Happy Halloween Everyone !

 

 

-Janice Vargas

Apple Picking in College!

Oh October– The weather is great and there are plenty of fun activities to do with this beautiful fall weather. This past weekend I wanted to try something new that I haver never done before: Apple Picking! I grew up in the city of Chicago and I never really had the chance to do this in the city. My friends and I decided we should have some fun and try this out. After all, this is the perfect time for some delicious ripped apples in Madison, Wisconsin.

We went to this place in Fitchburg called Eplegaarden, which was only a 20 minute drive off campus! It was beautiful! We stopped by the wooden stand in the middle to get a pre-paid bag for apples. We were able to pick apples from trees! We spent the afternoon seeing the difference between apples and apple trees, which was awesome. Cortland, Jonathan, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, etc. The type of apples varied, but my favorite were the Honeycrisp. Those were the best ones that they had during this time.

APPLES                           We definitely had fun 🙂                 more apples

It was definitely nice to get away from school for a bit and be outdoors! There are so many ways to enjoy apples, and of course they are naturally gluten-free! They are a nutritious snack, and they can be made into a sweet treat, like applesauce!

Here is an easy recipe for some delicious gluten-free, egg-free, peanut-free, soy-free, dairy-free Apple Sauce:

Ingredients
  1. 5 lbs of Apples (Empire or Macintosh work best)
  2. small amount of water
  3. Light Sprinkle of Cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Slice apples (unpeeled) and put in a large pot. Add small amount of water and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cook apples on stove until soft. Place apples in apple mill to create apple sauce. Serve cold or warmed

Honeycrisp_apple_tree

Take advantage of this fall season and go on some fun adventures, like apple picking! Take your phone and google any apple picking areas in your neighborhood. As for my UW-Madison friends, I would recommend going to Eplegaarden in Fitchburg, WI!

-Janice Vargas 🙂

Gluten-Free Alcohol: You Have All Thought About It Once Before

SO you never want to ask, but I know you’ve thought about it before; especially after reading our blog: “What alcohol is gluten free?” All of you college kids out there, don’t you worry. I’ve done some research so all of you know what you can and can’t drink at a bar or any party.

First thing first, a BIG no-no is BEER! It’s made from malted barley. Keep away from the beer bongs and those beer games. However, there are some gluten free beers! Try Red Bridge, Bard’s, Estrella Damm Daura, and Green’s Endeavor. You can still join your friends if you stick to these.

YESgreens-endeavour

Sorry to say this, but another BIG NO is Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Silver because they are made from malt.

😦 SMIRNOFF

Now, for what IS SAFE, which is a lot more than you’d expect. Here are some of the following: champagne, gin, scotch, whiskey, vermouth, vodka, bourbon, Kahlua, Armagnac, cognac, brandy, schnapps, triple sec, and Jagermeister.

Vodka is made from wheat, but during the distilling process, all of the gluten is extracted and is therefore safe for Celiacs. Try Svedka, Skyy, Absolut, Belvedere, Balinoff, Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Ciroc; they’re all okay. Most rums are gluten free EXCLUDING Bacardi Silver products. Be careful when consuming flavored or spiced rums as they could contain gluten ingredients for flavoring!

SKYY_Still_1_lo2

The easiest way to know if something’s gluten free before you drink it in a social setting is to grab your smartphone or your friend’s and google it. Better safe than sorry!

Hope this helps for you college Celiacs out there!

Check out this article on Huffington Post about Celiac Disease. Show it to your friends who want a simple explanation of the disease, or those who think they might need to be Gluten-Free!

AND if you are someone like me who loves information in the simplest form, check out this “Living Gluten-Free For Dummies” page. It’s a great “cheat sheet” and it pretty much sums it all up.

GF

 

AND ONLY REMEMBER THIS UNTIL AFTER YOU TURN 21 (if you are not of age yet)! If you are 21 and a celiac: here ya go! 

Remember to be RESPONSIBLE, LEGAL, && MOST IMPORTANTLY: SAFE

 

-Janice Vargas 🙂

(INSTA)nt (INSTA)gluten-free (INSTAGRAM)!

What’s the first thing people tend to do right when they wake up? Yawn. Stretch. Try to fall back asleep? Hit that snooze button? Personally I tend to do all of the above, but my cell phone always manages to get in between all of that. I always look at my iPhone when I wake up; good thing it sleeps right next to me every night 🙂 . When laying in bed with my phone as I am woken up before my long day starts, I usually have the same routine of what I check on my phone: text messages emails, Facebook, Twitter, && INSTAGRAM! I love Instagram and it certainly is something that I check frequently. It’s a free app and is one that everyone should certainly download.

I have recently started following some gluten-free users on Istagram. WIth our digital age, everything is instant and at our hands wherever we are. Even from the moment that I wake up, I am able to look up anything that I please. I started looking through the trends of #glutenfree and I came across thousands of photos. They ranged from recipes to tips to just simple meals or drinks that were gluten-free.

One user that stood out to me the most was a woman named Shauna James Ahern. She is an avid social media user and talks about her gluten-free life style. I highly recommend following her if you are in need of gluten-free advice, articles, or recipes. Click her for her Twitter account or Click here for her Instagram account.

Remember, anything you want can be at your hands instantly. Use hashtags! Hashtag “gluten-free” and you will come up with thousands of options in any social media. Here are some photos that are #glutenfree on Instagram!

-Janice Vargas

 

 

 

Start off the right way by learning how to eat Gluten-Free!

You may think that it may be nearly impossible to eat gluten-free; IT’S NOT. Trust me, the more you become aware of your products and your surroundings, the easier it will be. Practice makes perfect! Here are some ways to begin a gluten-free diet:

1. Clean out your kitchen! You need to dispose of anything that contains gluten. Some people even need to change their toasters. If you are in major need of this, take those drastic measures. This is a good start to getting rid of any products that are gluten-containing.

2. Start with fresh produce or meats. To avoid any gluten at all, limit your diet to unprocessed foods at first and go from there. Fresh fruits, fresh meats, poultry and fish do not contain gluten! Eating as simply as you can with fresh herbs and spices will help you.

3. Expand to include gluten-free products. Once you have conquered the fresh products, you can go on to the foods that are clearly labeled “gluten-free.” You can find bread, pizzas, frozen waffles, and gluten-free beer for you! Amazing!

4. Learn to read food labels! Manufacturers can label something “gluten-free,” but that does not mean that there is not a trace of wheat in there. Food labeling laws do not require the disclosure of gluten-containing ingredients on food labels!  Always remember that wheat-free does not mean gluten-free! Do not be fooled!

5. Consider a gluten-free Smartphone App! With our society constantly changing and our media taking our our influences, this is the perfect way to learn more about gluten-free! There are many apps in the digital age that help people who want or NEED to be gluten-free! Here are a few that you should take a look at:

  • Is That Gluten Free? (&7.99)
  • Grain or No Grain (Free)
  • Gluten Free Nom Nom: Recipes (Free)
  • Gluten Free Restaurant Items ($2.99)

I hope this helps a lot more. Remember: it’s not impossible, especially with our digital age that we live in now!

-Janice Vargas