Musings and Morsels from an Allergic Foodie (1-22-15)

I photographed this morning’s shadows on the snow-covered mountains before I’d even had a cup of coffee. If I waited too long, the sun would shift and the view would change.

Musings and Morsels of an Allergic Foodie (!-22-15)

I’ve been reminded this week to appreciate life’s moments. Life as you know it can change in an instant.

A friend I met through blogging, Kathryn Chastain Treat, passed away a few days before Christmas. Her daughter posted this news on Kathryn’s blog.  Though I’d never met Kathryn in person, she was more of a friend than some people I see daily. We supported each other through emails and Tweets and Facebook posts. I got to know Kathryn and her family while reading  her book, Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope. She was a vibrant and healthy woman until toxic mold changed her life forever. Learning about how she was forced to live in physical isolation made my food allergies and celiac disease seem silly. However, she never made me feel that way. Kathryn always had a kind word to say. I will miss her.

Kathryn Treat, Author

Kathryn C. Treat, author of Allergic to Life

I encourage you to read Kathryn’s book. You can find it on Amazon.

Book trailer for Allergic to Life

My reviews: Part I and Part II.

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Last week I wrote about the hidden risks of vegetable oil and received many insightful comments. Several readers shared their horrific experiences of anaphylactic reactions when restaurants served them food prepared in the wrong cooking oil. Please don’t just ask what cooking oil the restaurant uses–ask to see the bottle. If the restaurant doesn’t want to show you, leave. Don’t take a chance.

In this same post, I shared my frustration with highly refined soybean oil and soy lecithin being excluded from the FDA’s allergen labeling requirements. Some of you only react to soybean protein, but others of you are highly sensitive like I am. Maya Trimner of Maya’s Happy Place sent me this petition asking the FDA to include all soy derivatives in food and drug allergen labeling.

Anyone with any food allergies understands the consequences of eating the wrong food. Please won’t you sign this petition and share with your followers?

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Enough musing . . . . time for a morsel!

I’ve been wanting to share this new product since our lunch was served in it at the Food Allergy and Celiac Convention last November.

Solvetta: Flat Box-Lunch Box

This lunch box unzips and lays flat, serving as a place mat. As an Allergic Foodie who travels a lot, I love that I can keep my eating surface clean and free of potential allergens. Think about those disgusting airplane trays and the tailgate of your car. I also take my allergen-free meal into fast-food restaurants where my husband eats. Now I don’t have to worry about asking the restaurant folks to wipe down the tables. They especially like doing this when they see I’ve brought my own food. These Flat Box-Lunch Box are great for students, too.

Visit Solvetta’s website to see all the sizes and colors and order yours. I got pink.

In closing, remember to appreciate the moments.

An Allergic Foodie’s Favorites: Rebecca’s Gluten Free

I’ve really come to appreciate the small family-owned businesses that make food my sons and I can eat. For a long time I hated grocery shopping because all the “allergy-free” packaged foods contained at least one ingredient one of us couldn’t have. Son #1 is allergic to dairy and eggs, son #2 has celiac disease, and I’m the Queen of Allergies including oddball ones like vanilla, nutmeg and guar flour.

Thankfully, there are other allergic folk (mostly women) and parents of little allergic folk (mostly moms) who don’t mind stepping up to the kitchen counter and taking on the painstaking task of developing recipes sans “normal” ingredients and yet taste great. I so appreciate these women because I do not have the patience or the passion to create a batter over and over again until I get it right. These people deserve our applause.

At the recent Food Allergy and Celiac Convention in Orlando, I was incredibly touched by the selfless stories I heard over and over again of people changing careers or starting a home business to help families like mine. These people make it their life’s work to make our lives better.

I’d like to introduce you to  some of  these special people and their companies. Starting with this post, I’ll tell you about my favorite gluten-free and allergy-friendly businesses–everything from computer apps to cookbooks to cookies. I hope you’ll learn about new products as well as enjoy getting to know the incredible people behind them.

Let’s begin with cookies.

An Allergic Foodie's Favorites: Rebecca's Gluten Free

Rebecca’s Gluten Free  (Cookie Mixes)

Some back story . . .

Rebecca Clampitt sent me two of her cookie mixes to try–Coconut and Brownie. I was reluctant at first because they are made with some corn and I sometimes react to corn, depending on the amount. The directions also said to add butter and eggs, which are a no-no for one son and me. I decided to make the coconut ones with egg replacer and Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread.

Rebecca's Gluten Free Cookie Mixes

They turned out perfect and so tasty–like a macaroon but better. I had no reaction to the corn–this is not to say those of you with corn allergies should try!

Coconut Cookie Mix from Rebecca's Gluten Free

Now on to the interview .  . .

Rebecca, please share the story behind Rebecca’s Gluten Free.

Three years ago, when my daughter was  ten, she was very ill with severe gastrointestinal issues and ear infections. I was also having GI symptoms. I wanted her to be tested for celiac disease, but she is afraid of needles and wouldn’t let a doctor get near her. I finally decided to take us both off gluten and we felt so much better. While we’ve never ben officially diagnosed with celiac disease, we are gluten intolerant.

I wanted my daughter to have gluten-free treats for school functions, but most packaged gluten-free cookies didn’t taste that great. As far as mixes go, there were only two choices–chocolate chip and sugar. So I started researching different flours. The cookies would always end up flat and I’d end up in tears. It was not an overnight process!

Rebecca with her beautiful daughter

Rebecca with her beautiful daughter

When I finally got it right and decided to sell my mixes, it was important to me that they be easy and require no more than three additional ingredients. They require eggs and butter, and the Pumpkin Spice requires molasses.  I also wanted to come up with unique flavors. We offer Brownie, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Crinkle, Coconut, Pumpkin Spice and Snicker Doodle.

Where are your cookie mixes manufactured?

I rent space in a commercial kitchen. The kitchen is not gluten-free certified, but I have my own space–no one uses it to cook any other foods–and I make my mixes when no one else is cooking. I also use my own cooking utensils..

Your labels say “tested and approved at 2.5 ppm of gluten.” How do you test for gluten?

According to the FDA, everything in the mixes must be tested, including the separate packets of sugar and coconut included in the package. I send everything to EMSL Analytical Incorporated.  Every new mix flavor I create gets tested. I am working to become Certified Gluten Free through the Celiac Sprue Association.

I noticed the ingredients weren’t listed on the packaging. Why?

Honestly, I couldn’t fit them on the label! In January I will have new packaging that will include ingredients and nutrition labeling. Until then, you can find all ingredients on the website.

The Brownie Cookie Mix was a hit with the College Celiac.

The Brownie Cookie Mix was a hit with the College Celiac.

Are there any other common allergens in your mixes?

All of the mixes have corn and one has coconut. There are no nuts.

How much do your mixes cost, and where can people find your cookie mixes?

They cost $5.99.  Tight now I am only selling through the website. I am waiting to be certified gluten free before pursuing Trader Joe’s and other stores.

For more information about Rebecca’s Gluten Free, visit her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

An Allergic Foodie received Rebecca’s Gluten Free Mixes for free, but An Allergic Foodie’s review is entirely her own.

An Allergic Foodie’s Favorites: Rebecca’s Gluten Free first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Questions about Celiac Disease? A Helpful List

I recently attended my first local Celiac Support Association meeting. The library conference room was full of newbie celiacs along with some old-timers; I fell somewhere in the middle. Coupons, recipes, pancake mix, and a grocery store’s  gluten-free directory were distributed. The speaker was a nutritionist, one I had visited during my first months following my diagnosis of celiac  and multiple food allergies. Being a regular speaker, she seemed to have run out of material and spent the hour talking about other autoimmune diseases–all of which those of us with celiac disease are at greater risk for.

Talk about a downer.

When it was time for questions, hands shot up. “Is there a link between celiac disease and depression?” “What probiotic do you recommend?” “What do you think of the Paleo diet?”

It was obvious: Those of us with celiac disease have a lot of questions.

Looking around the room, I noticed most of the attendees were silver-haired, reminding me of my mother who doesn’t own a computer. This also explained why it had taken me six years to find this group–they didn’t have much of an online presence. Without a search engine, how do folks find information about this life-changing disease?

Of course, a medical professional would be the ultimate resource, but how many of us have gotten no more direction from our doctors than “Don’t eat gluten.” A monthly meeting–if you can find one–is helpful, but probably not enough.

So I decided to make a list incorporating both internet and non-internet resources, many of which I have personally found useful. Later, I’ll do one for food allergies.


 

An Allergic Foodie’s Favorite Gluten-Free Resources

Books, Medical

I stick to books specifically about celiac disease and less about how gluten causes us to be overweight, stupid and evil.

The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World Out of Balance–and the Cutting-Edge Science that Promises Hope by Donna Jackson Nakazawa (Author), Douglas Kerr (Foreword)

Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemicby by Peter H. Green, M.D. and Rory Jones

Mayo Clinic Going Gluten Free by Joseph A. Murray, MD

Books, Memoir

Celiac and the Beast: A Love Story between a Gluten-free Girl, her Genes, and a Broken Digestive Tract by Erica Dermer (Note: I appreciate Erica’s blatant prose, but not everyone will.)

Jennifer’s Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease–What Doctors Don’t Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again by Jennifer Esposito

Conferences

Conferences can be a great way not only to learn from healthcare experts but also to connect with others with celiac disease. Many nonprofit organizations, listed below,  host national and state conferences and/or symposiums. Of course, they can take time and money; look for one close by or tie into a business trip or a family gathering. 

A good list of upcoming events: http://www.celiaccentral.org/community/Upcoming-Events/78/

Celiac Disease Foundation Conference:  http://www.celiac.org/get-involved/conference-expo/gluten-free-expo/

Gluten-Free Drugs

http://www.glutenfreedrugs.com

Organizations

Celiac Disease Foundation: https://www.celiac.org

Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG):  https://www.gluten.net

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness:  https://www.celiaccentral.org

Magazines

Some of these magazines can be found at grocery stores and bookstores.

Allergic Living: http://www.allergicliving.com

Journal of Gluten Sensitivity:  http://www.celiac.com/store/journal-gluten-sensitivity-c-47.html

Living Without’s Gluten-Free and More: http://www.glutenfreeandmore.com

Simply Gluten-Free:  http://www.simplygluten-free.com

Gluten-Free Conventions and Expos

A convention is a gathering of folks who have something in common and typically occurs every few years. Companies with products, such as gluten-free food, come to educate attendees about their products in an exhibition hall. This is a great way to meet people, form friendships, and taste test. If you’re traveling to an expo, always pack light as you’ll receive lots of giveaways. I can’t possibly list all the conventions and expos, but since I’m an official blogger for this one, I’m including it.

Food Allergy and Celiac Convention, Orlando, Nov. 3-6, 2014: http://www.celebrateawareness.com

I also think this one is really cool because you can go in your pajamas and a 17-year-old blogger came up with the idea.

Gluten Away Online Expo: http://www.glutenawayexpo.com

Gluten-Free Food (Where to Find)

Conventions and Expos (which you just read about)

Gluten-Free Food Fairs at grocery stores, such as Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Trader Joe’s

Gluten-Free Buyers Guide by Josh Schieffer, updated yearly: http://www.glutenfreebuyersguide.com

Some grocery stores have printouts of gluten-free products the store carries; ask customer service

Mail-order (http://www.wellamy.com; http://www.tasterie.com)

Pinterest Boards

Support Groups

If you can’t find any information online, ask local gastrointestinal medical offices and nutritionists.

Celiac Disease Foundation: https://www.celiac.org/chapters

Celiac Support Association:  https://www.csaceliacs.org

Online Support Groups

Go to your favorite social network–Google+, Facebook–and run a search.  Type in “Celiac Disease Support.”  Consider the size of the group. For instance, Celiac Disease Support Group on Facebook has over 7,000 members. You may want to define a group you join by size, location, age (adults-only or families). Be wary of groups for gluten-free dieters who don’t have gluten sensitivity or celiac.

Summits and Webinars

Online summits, such as the recent Food Allergy Wellness Summit, are typically free for the first week of release and then the organizer will sell tapes. I have participated in several–both as a participant and as a speaker. I find them beneficial, especially when medical professionals participate.

Some organizations, such as NFCA, offer free webinars on various topics. They are often archived so you can watch at your convenience.  I recommend  http://www.celiaccentral.org/community/Free-Webinars/110/

Websites/Bloggers

The following websites regularly update their lists of bloggers.

Freedible : http://www.freedible.com

Gluten-Free Global Community:  http://www.simplygluten-free.com/gluten-free-global-community

Celiac Central (NFCA): http://www.celiaccentral.org/Resources/Gluten-Free-Bloggers/125/


Looking for Answers about Celiac Disease: A Helpful List first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.