Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Syne to 2009

and here's to a gluten-free 2010.

I won't ponder the past year here. I'm saving The best and the rest for 2009 for my product blog, Ging Recommends!

My New Year's Revolutions are really revelations about how I want to live my gluten-free life. Starting today, I vow:

1. To continue to support the gluten-free community through advocacy and information. That said, I will also NOT suffer fools (and fads) gladly, for I am wise (OK, with apologies to Paul and II Corinthians, what I mean is -- I will always try to correct a misconception, lie, or ruse because I devote an enormous amount of time to seeking the truth about gluten-free living and Celiac disease). And yes, I will eat blue cheese and Hershey candy and McDonald's French fries made in a dedicated fryer --GLADLY!

2. To support our gluten-free specialty vendors, rather than just the faddish ones, since they have been there for us all along. I've made some tremendous new friends this year, and I hope they have a wonderfully successful new year.

3. To explore healthier options for my favorite GF foods. First and foremost, I realize I have to start cooking a little more than I have been. And since my needs are both gluten- and sugar-free, low fiber foods.

4. To spend as much time as possible in fellowship with great gluten-free people I have come to love. That means regular get together with my Gluten-Free Gurlz, and more time on Twitter with Dee, Ginger North, Sandra, Kate, and especially JenniferGF. I am especially looking forward to a visit to Denver in August, where I'll get to visit my gf brother-from-another-mother, GF Steve, and the lovely folks at Udi's Gluten Free! (And GF Tiff and Gluten-Free Dee, too!) YAY!

5. And finally, to live my life to the fullest! When I look back at all the problems I had last year, I wonder what 2010 will bring. I hope to be in approximately the same shape I am this year on Dec. 31, 2010. Or better.

Tonight, we're having pizza for New Year's Eve -- mine is gluten-free using my favorite Udi's pizza crust! I've been promising this recipe for a while now -- I thought I was cool to call it "GF Spanako-pizza," but DAMN if Rachel Ray hadn't done it already.

But mine is better, and here's how I do it:

GF Spanako-Pizza a la Barefoot Contessa

2 Udi's gf pizza crust
1 cup shredded mozzerella parmesan mix cheese
(the rest of this is Ina Garten's recipe)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and minced
12 ounces (325g) fresh spinach, well-washed and towel dried
(or two packs frozen, thawed and squeezed dry)
salt and freshly-ground pepper
8-10 ounces (230-250g) feta cheese
2 tablespoons finely-chopped flat leaf parsley
1 large egg, at room temperature
lemon juice

Saute onion and spinach, then drain when cooked. It should be fairly dry. Season, and add feta cheese. Add parsley, egg and squeeze of lemon, mix and set aside.

Brush pizza crust with olive oil and mound filling on top of two crusts.
Top with mozzarella cheese mix. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and hot.

Modification: If you have an GF Alfredo Sauce hanging around, layer that on the bottom of the crust *as a sauce* then heap on spinach and cheese mixture.

Much love, and here's to days gone by.
Remember today is a gift -- that's why we call it THE PRESENT!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Please don't jump on the gluten-free bandwagon til you know what it means to be gluten free!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice, and early Kwanzaa. Santa was better to me than I deserved. So was the Hard Rock Cafe Casino today. But I digress.

Today's post is a cautionary tale fueled by three episodes in the last month (OK, since the day after Thanksgiving). It's a sign of the gluten-free times. And I'm in a bit of a tither about it.

As I write this, my head is throbbing with a migraine headache, and my stomach is bloated and aching. My wrists are creaking, my knees are swollen...I won't tell you about the gastric symptoms....

For tonight I was glutened by an item on a gluten-free menu at a restaurant that advertises its gluten-free menu. Yeah, yeah, I know. eating out is risky. And know what? It's getting worse.

I warn you. This isn't a nice post at all. The names have been held to protect the criminals involved -- trust me when I say I have contacted each one...

I've seen this coming for a while now. Someone famous wrote a book about celiac disease and made the term "gluten free" a status symbol. Suddenly, people all over the WORLD are going gluten free (or some alphabet-soup variation of it) and boasting about it because they're going to get back in bikini size by eating gluten free.

Yeah. Right. I find folks on Twitter all the time saying, "I'm starting my gluten free diet tomorrow....but first I'm going to finish this bag of Oreos." Right, snowflake.

IMHO there are four groups of people who need a gluten-free diet. 1. People with celiac disease. 2. People with ANY FORM of gluten or wheat intolerance or the symptoms that accompany this. 3. People who have anaphylactic responses to wheat and gluten. 4. People who believe it lessens the results of autism on a child.

Because these are the people who go on a gluten-free diet strictly and STICK TO IT AND DO NOT CHEAT.

It is not a fad, and dag-nabbit, society has started treating it that way.

OK, so here's my rant du jour. This interest in gluten-free eating has sparked a sea of restaurants and products labeling themselves gluten free WHEN THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT MEANS. And for those of us who suffer from the symptoms of an accidental glutening (as I do, with a vengeance,) this is UNFAIR! And I want you to stop.


Situation one: Day after Thanksgiving, we lunch at a BBQ place in the south with a big sign up about a gluten-free menu. I am happy. I order off same menu stressing NO BREAD SHALL TOUCH THE MEAT IN ANY WAY! Plate comes out with bread, which, when I protest, is plucked from the plate by waitress and handed to me. I explain the problem with this removal. She returns to the kitchen, and I'm pretty sure some guy on the line rinses it off and dunks it in sauce. Within 20 minutes of leaving, symptoms begin. I email twice, only to be told, "We just can't figure out how to notify the folks in back that it's gluten free." WTF? 2


2. I am at a wholesale outlet with a table of a vendor selling holiday candy and treats. BIG SIGN says gluten free on it. I look at one stack of products and it appears to be chocolate covered cookies. I walk around table and find a large package of CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS in the mix. Are these all gluten free? I ask. Yes, said demure woman trying to sell stuff. It can't be, I say, there is WHEAT FLOUR in this product right here. WELL, says demure woman, now getting testy with me, They're gluten free because that's what the sign says. Do you know what gluten free means? I ask. No, she said, I'm just telling you what they told me. Fine, says I, what is the phone number. And to them I shout,


Cuz unless those pretzels are home made by me and hand dipped, there's no way....

3. Tonight. Been to this lovely Tampa establishment before. Jeffrey does not want beans with his tacos, so I ask for them on the side. They are clearly listed on GF menu I was presented. I have asked a million questions, our lovely server (really, it wasn't her fault at all) brings me beans and I eat three big bites. I TASTE BEER! I ask, do these pinto beans have beer in them? She says yes and removes them and we get a manager. He is VERY polite and lovely, and he understands the whole thing. But someone on his food line in the back DOES NOT get it, and he is the person I want to hurt right now (or make him hurt like I do). And I tell the very kind manager,


OK, seriously. Most people like to start new diets around the first of the year. On Jan. 1, or maybe Jan. 2, I bet hundreds of folks will decide for one reason or another to start a gluten-free diet. Please caution them all,

PLEASE DON'T JUMP ON THE GLUTEN-FREE BANDWAGON TIL YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GLUTEN FREE! And I mean REALLY all the time, 24/7, no cheating, no testing, no I'll start this tomorrow....

This ain't a casual fad. Please stop treating it that way. I'll love a restaurant and product much more for being HONEST. And for goodness sake, let's all say it together...


(stepping off soapbox).
Much love,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Georgia Favorite Made GF/SF

I love Senator Russell Sweet Potatoes, a Georgia recipe for a sweet potato casserole with a dark, crumbly topping made with pecans, flour, brown sugar, and butter. I am not a marshmallow topping sweet potato casserole girl. I discovered this in 1985, but I'd had it before then -- It's named after Sen. Richard B. Russell, a Georgia hero and lawmaker.

When Mary suggested we have GF Honey-Baked Ham last night, I helped whip this up from memory.

I made two critical changes. One, I used brown sugar Splenda, since I am trying to watch my sweets. This does alter the flavor a little, but it isn't bitter.

Second, I used Pamela's Baking Mix instead of the flour. You could use plain on GF flour mix here too, without Xanthan gum. I think the Pamela's was perfect. It made a lovely crumbly top.

This would be easy to make casein free, and probably you could make it vegan if you had egg replacer. You could also use demerara dark sugar to make it organic.

It's that kind of casserole.

But here it is. And it was yummy!

Sen. Russell Sweet Potatoes, GF/SF style

3 c. sweet potato pulp
1/2 c. brown sugar Splenda (or the real thing is you're not SF)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. milk (any kind of milk will do)
1/4 c. butter


1/2 c. brown sugar Splenda (or a cup of the real stuff is you're not SF)
1/2 c. Pamela's GF Baking Mix (or GF flour or the real stuff if you're not GF)
1/2 c. butter (you know the drill...)
1 c. chopped pecans.

Nuke or bake sweet potatoes with skins (we used five, I think). Skin and place in mixing bowl. Add other ingredients and mix.

Mix topping in a bowl and spread on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Use 9 x 9 inch baking dish.

Much love, and try it you'll love it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Super quick gluten-free turtles



equals YUMMMMM

My friend Melinda Martin told me about this, and I thought gluten-free pretzels would make a nice base. And since gf pretzels are so toasted, you can do this in the microwave without hurting the pretzel.

A bag of GF pretzels
Several rolls of Rolo candies
A can of toasted, salted pecans

Line a microwave-safe plate with a piece of parchment paper. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

If your pecans halves aren't toasted/roasted, toast lightly in a pan or oven for a few minutes. But really, it's easy to find them already roasted this time of year. They taste great with plain pecans, too.

1. Buy a bag of gluten-free pretzel twists. Lay the pretzels out on the plate in a batch of 8.

2. Take a roll of Rolo gf candy and separate pieces, placing on top of pretzels.There are 8 Rolos in each roll.

3. Microwave the plate for 15 seconds and check to see if the Rolos have softenend. If not, return in 5 second intervals until they're soft and melting (but not melted).

4, Remove from microwave and immediately press a toasted pecan half on top, smushing it down and covering the pretzel.

5. Set aside to harden (can refrigerate, but you don't have to).

Gently remove from paper when hardened and enjoy.


1. ANY kind of pecan will do, from plain to roasted to sweet and spicy to praline. And if you want another kind of nut, you of course can.

I entered this recipe in a Twitter contest last week and won a prize for it! So for sure, I'm recommending it.

Try it, you'll enjoy it and your friends will too.

Much love, and happy holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Guest Post: 10 Important Facts about Celiac Disease and a Gluten-Free Diet

I am proud to call Sandra Robins, The Gluten-Free Optimist, (aka @marylandceliac) my friend, even though we've only met through Twitter and our blogs. Sandra is also the D.C. Gluten-Free Examiner. It was she who gave me the tip about GF Food at Harrah's, Atlantic City.

Today, she wrote this post in response to the recent broadcast of the Dr. Oz Show that discussed Celiac Disease with a newly diagnosed celiac. At the end of the show. Dr. Oz made the statement that someone who suspects Celiac disease "should go on the diet for three weeks and see if it's better, then get tested."

Rightfully, a large portion of the Celiac community is upset with this comment, as well as certain opinions shared as facts by the additional guest. For the record, folks: Blue Cheese is gluten free in most instances -- when in doubt, READ THE LABEL or CALL THE COMPANY.

But I digress.

I asked permission to reprint this here to remind anyone who needs information the truth about celiac disease.

I reprint it verbatim. Thanks, Sandra, for all you do.

By The Gluten-Free Optimist:

10 Important Facts about Celiac Disease and a Gluten-Free Diet

1. Do not start a gluten-free diet until you have been tested for celiac disease (celiac panel blood test and endoscopy if necessary). Testing will not be accurate if you are already eating gluten-free. An endoscopy is necessary to confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease and sometimes to help interpret the results of the celiac panel blood test, which is not always accurate.

2. Many people who test negative for celiac disease are gluten sensitive and find that symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet.

3. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, not an allergy. It is not part of food allergy testing. Eating gluten damages the villi of the small intestine, preventing nutrients from being properly absorbed. If left untreated, celiac can lead to osteoporosis and cancer, among other things.

4. The only treatment for celiac disease is a 100% gluten-free diet.

5. Symptoms of celiac disease vary greatly and some people have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, like migraines or fatigue. Symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed as other conditions and there is a lot of misinformation about celiac disease. In fact, 97% of people with celiac disease don’t know they have it, and it can take years and many doctors for people to be correctly diagnosed.

6. Celiac disease is genetic. If one family member has it, others should be tested.

7. Gene testing for celiac disease does not tell you if you have celiac disease. If you do not have any of the genes associated with celiac disease, then you can rule out celiac disease. If you do have some of genes, all it means is that you may develop celiac, but many people with the genes never develop it.

8. While there are countless great gluten-free foods and many restaurants have gluten-free menus, cross-contamination is the biggest challenge for most people with celiac disease. Gluten crumbs in a condiment jar, a cooking utensil or serving spoon that has been used on gluten, and even airborne wheat flour, can all cause a person with celiac disease to have a severe reaction, which can last for days.

9. Eating gluten-free is not a weight loss diet. Many gluten-free breads and other baked goods are not only expensive, but high in fat and calories. Many people with celiac disease gain weight on a gluten-free diet as the body heals and begins properly absorbing nutrients. Eating foods that are naturally gluten-free is cheaper and healthier than processed gluten-free foods.

10. While wheat is a top eight allergen required to be listed on food labels in the United States, gluten is not. Gluten (wheat, rye, barley, and contaminated oats) is found in many products and some products are unsafe for people with celiac disease as a result of cross-contamination. Only oats that are certified gluten-free may be consumed on a gluten-free diet and some people with celiac disease are unable to even tolerate oats that are certified gluten-free.

Much love, and thanks for the guest post, Sandra!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Whole Foods-Briarcliff Sampling/Gluten-Free Event THIS SATURDAY

If you're shopping for gluten-free products for your holiday meals, check out Whole Foods Market on Briarcliff and LaVista Roads this weekend.

Daniel Lyons (that's him above at the Atlanta GF Vendor Fair) will be sampling Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse products, as well as other gluten-free goodies as well. The event begins at 11 and will last until about 3 p.m.

Also, Dr. Karen Tedeschi (local Chiropractor/Health Practitioner) will also be here talking about maintaining a gluten free diet and signing folks up for a class that will take place at the store January 7th at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Tedeschi maintains a gluten free diet and is an avid Whole Foods Market customer.

If folks have questions they can call 404-634-7800 or e-mail

Much love, And if you go, tell Daniel Ging said hey!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

An Important Gluten-Free Event

Note: Because of horrible winter weather in Colorado, the event has been postponed for one week.

December 3, 2009

Contact: Dee Valdez 970-308-1062

Nationwide Movement To Get Gluten Free Food Into Food Banks Begins In Loveland Colorado

Loveland, CO, December 3, 2009 - “There is a great need to develop a systematic approach to establishing Gluten Free Food Banks across the nation,” says Dee Valdez, who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 17 years ago. About 15 years ago, Valdez remembers talking to a mother with a sick 7 year old who had Celiac Disease. The exasperated mom said she had to choose between feeding her whole family or just feeding her sick daughter the very expensive gluten free food she could find. The distraught mother said, referring to her Celiac daughter, “She’s just going to have to live with diarrhea. “

“I was devastated by her reality,” says Valdez, “so I gathered as much gluten free food as I could and left it on her doorstep. Unfortunately, my reality didn’t allow me to help parents like her again, until now.”

Bread is plentiful in food banks across the county.
Gluten free bread is not.
Loveland’s House of Neighborly Service will be the test site for the new program Valdez is designing to be implemented in communities across the country. There are scattered efforts to gather gluten free food for the holidays or offer a monthly gift card to help offset the extra expense of a gluten free diet. “What I see that is missing is a systematic approach to feeding gluten free families in need,” say Valdez. “If someone has Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance, they can become very ill in the short and long term if they eat gluten containing food because that is all they have.” Bread is plentiful in food banks across the country. Gluten free bread is not. Valdez, or Gluten Free Dee, as she is called, intends to change that.

Gluten free food donations are now being accepted at House of Neighborly Service, 565 N. Cleveland, Loveland, CO 80537. It is asked that the food be identified as such when dropped off. Anyone available to deliver their gluten free food Tuesday, December 8, between 4 – 6 pm can be part of an exclusive group dedicating the new gluten free section of the existing food bank with a Ribbon Cutting, Press Conference and Festivities.

“We are excited to be able to provide an option for people with gluten sensitivities who are financially struggling, especially considering the cost of a gluten free diet,” says Erin Becerra House of Neighborly Service (HNS) Food Program Manager.

HNS provides food baskets for an average of more than 500 Loveland/Berthoud area households each month. The mission of the food program is to provide wholesome food to nourish people who are food-insecure.

Although only about 1% of the U.S. population
has Celiac disease…
12% of U.S. households want to eliminate
or reduce their gluten intake.

Although only about 1% of the U.S. population has Celiac disease, new gluten free food manufacturer General Mills says its research shows about 12% of U.S. households want to eliminate or reduce their gluten intake. July 2, 2009 article For General Mills, Wheat-Free Items Are Tricky to Make, Cheap to Market

“I honestly don’t know how many additional people will come in for help knowing that we now have gluten free food available and how many of the families we are already serving will take advantage of this new option,” says Becerra. “I believe that we will be able to provide assistance with the help of our generous community, and the support of gluten free food manufacturers and retailers who are willing to donate products for those who cannot afford them.”

Families in need of gluten free food, who live in the Berthoud, Loveland areas served by House of Neighborly Service need to be screened for services Monday – Thursday. Please call 970-667-4939 to find out the appropriate paperwork to bring to determine eligibility.

"This is an opportunity to be part of a group setting a precedent that will spread nationwide,” says Valdez. “We can make a difference. We can change someone’s life."


Tuesday, December 8, 2009
4:00 – 6:00 pm
4:00 – 4:15 Music and Gluten Free Snacks
Tours of Gluten Free Pantry
Locals Bringing Donations
Interview Opportunities
4:15 - 4:45 Press Conference
Gluten Free Dee
House of Neighborly Service Officials
Celiac Sprue Association Representatives
4:45 – 5:00 Gluten Free Food Manufacturer Challenge to Donate
Rich Schneider, Product Developer
Gluten Free Sandwich Petals by Denver’s Raquelita’s Tortillas
5:00 – 5:15 Ribbon Cutting and Dedication
First Family Receives Gluten Free Food Basket
5:15 – 6:00 Music and Gluten Free Snacks
Tours of Gluten Free Pantry
Interview Opportunities

Please give us a tentative RSVP to Dee Valdez 970-308-1062 so we can reserve a parking spot in the overcrowded parking lot adjacent to House of Neighborly Service

Much Love, and congrats to Loveland and Gluten Free Dee for this accomplishment! I would love to see Atlanta do this.


P.S. Look for a blog in a couple of days on Ging Recommends bout one of the GREAT vendors involved in this effort!