Gluten-Free Anniversary #6

I was driving the other day when I realized that I completely missed my 6-year gluten-free anniversary!  I didn’t just miss it by a day, either.  I missed it by several.  Today is January 20th and the day of the anniversary is January 12th.  Ooops!  I have learned so much over the past 6 years and feel much more comfortable with my lifestyle than I did in the beginning.

Some of the most important things I have learned are:

  • There are way more things that I can eat, than can’t.
  • Even after 6 years, I still make mistakes.
  • There is life after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and starting the gluten-free diet.
  • The selection of gluten-free foods in grocery stores is much better now than it was 6 years ago.
  • Even with all of the publicity the gluten-free diet has been getting, some people still look at me like I have 2 heads when I ask if they have a gluten-free menu.
  • The gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily a healthy or an unhealthy diet; your diet is what you make it.  There are plenty of healthy & unhealthy gluten-free foods out there, just like every other diet.
  • Focusing on friends and family at gatherings is way more productive & feels better than focusing on the food, whether I can eat it or not.

One of the foods I have missed most since going gluten-free was not one that I ate on a regular basis before, but it was a nice treat – Jelly Donuts.  Up until recently, there were really no replacements out there.  Katz Gluten-Free has changed that!  I was able to sample & review their new doughnuts and was very pleased!  You can read my full review here.  Katz is once again holding a Grand Raffle where the winner will receive a “Box of Each Item” box. In order to enter to win, fill out the form here and watch for the winner to be drawn on February 20, 2012.


For my readers, Katz Gluten Free has offered to give one lucky reader a $30 gift certificate to use on their website.  What do you have to do to win?

***Samples & prize are free of charge for review & giveaway purposes.

Read below:

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Staying Balanced & Healthy

Staying balanced & healthy isn’t always easy.  Life happens.  Meetings pop up or one of the kids always seems to need something last minute for a project, yet they neglect to share that until I am in my jammies.  Staying balanced & healthy to me means eating right 80 percent of the time and hitting the gym/running 5-6 times per week.  Even if I don’t have time for a 60 minute workout, anything works.  Yoga, a walk, stretching.  Sometimes there is an added challenge having to follow the gluten-free diet, but I have learned over the past 6 years what foods to keep on hand for quick, healthy meals.

When I write a weekly menu plan, it is with the best intentions.  There are many times I make what is listed, but don’t end up eating it myself for whatever reason.  Sometimes it is simply due to the fact that I am feeding the kids early so they can get to their respective activities. When this happens, I will take 20 minutes to put together a healthy combination of foods that are usually naturally gluten-free.

Foods I keep on hand for busy nights:

  • Brown rice (I either cook over the weekend & freeze or buy the pre-cooked frozen – I like Trader Joe’s.)
  • Canned beans – black, garbanzo, kidney
  • Fresh vegetables for salads or roasting
  • Corn tortillas for mini wraps or bake for homemade tortilla chips
  • Tuna
  • Chicken breast – I slice and freeze for fast cooking on busy nights.
  • Quinoa – Cooks in 10-15 minutes and is a nutritional powerhouse.
  • Burgers – I form ground turkey, bison or beef into patties & freeze so they are ready to go.
  • Nuts – Walnuts are my current favorite.
  • Avocado – I love to spread avocado on gluten-free toast & sprinkle sea salt on top.

I always have a large salad with dinner.  My salad usually consists of 2-3 large handfuls of organic mixed greens, chopped tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, walnuts, goat or feta cheese, raisins or berries and a drizzle of pomegranate or balsamic vinaigrette.  Here is an example of a large salad that I usually eat with my dinner.


If I have some extra time on the weekend, another thing I do to trim time off of my weeknight meals is to roast some veggies.  I take what I have on hand – carrots, zucchini, okra, beets, etc and toss them with a little extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.  Roasting then takes roughly 20-30 min in a 400 – 425 degree oven.  I flip them half way through and remove from the oven once they are soft, but not mushy.  Once you have the veggies roasted, they can be stored in the fridge and used in rice bowls, salads or wraps.

One of my favorite quick meals is a rice bowl.  I use cooked brown rice, a protein of sorts – this night I used black beans -roasted or sauteed veggies and then warm everything up in a frying pan.  The combo of choice for this bowl was brown rice, black beans, okra, snow peas and lite soy sauce (La Choy is gluten-free).


You can really create any combination you want using brown rice or quinoa (or get crazy with millet, buckwheat or amaranth), a protein and then veggies of choice.  Since I used cooked rice and protein, this took me less than 10 minutes to put together.  Much healthier than the drive thru, for sure.

This post is part of “Balanced, Healthy & Gluten-Free” that will be going on all month over at The Balanced Platter.  Make sure to check out the new site, founded by Amy Green (Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free) & Maggie Savage (She Let Them Eat Cake).

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The Balanced Platter is on Facebook, as well as Twitter, so make sure to follow them so you don’t miss any of the posts this month!

Weekly Menu Plan–January 16, 2012

BRR!  Thank goodness it is supposed to warm up this week because these single-digit temperatures are for the birds!  Well, not really, because most of them are smart enough to head south, which seems like a good idea to me right about now.  On the other hand, if we have to deal with a day or 2 of temperatures that are below freezing to get the other 70-80% above freezing, well, I think I can handle that.  Not that we can do anything about it, right?


Confession:  Last week I didn’t follow my menu plan at all.  I had good intentions, I really did.  Those intentions went out the window when my back strain flared up.  The muscle I pulled the week before had been improving nicely until I was a little lax with the Advil and tweaked it.  It seems that the Advil may not have been doing much for the pain, but was for the inflammation.  I have since switched to Naprosyn and am feeling much better.  Hoping this trend continues and I can get back on track this week with laundry, cooking, baking & such.

Sunday – Dinner out with family – Red Robin

Monday – Spaghetti with marinutta sauce, steamed broccoli and salad

Tuesday – Turkey tacos with black beans, corn & salad

Wednesday – Bourbon chicken, brown rice, green beans & salad

Thursday – Breakfast for dinner with fruit salad

Friday – Make your own pizza and salad

Saturday – Take out or leftovers

Week in Review

GFDF chocolate peanut butter pudding

Chick-fil-A adds grilled chicken nuggets

Birthday Celebration complete with gluten (response from Executive Chef in the comments)

Hope you all have a great week!  Stay warm!


Review: Toosie’s Pancake & Waffle Mix

A few weeks back we were the lucky recipients of samples of products from the Toosie’s gluten-free line.  You can view my thoughts about the blueberry muffins over on  The weekends usually mean that Jon is asking for one of us to make him pancakes or waffles.  Lately it has been waffles.  Aaron is the go-to waffle iron guru, as I am usually stuffing my face after my long run on Saturday mornings.  I asked him to use the Toosie’s Pancake & Waffle Mix last week so we could give it a try. 


The ingredients in the mix are:

Whole grain brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, dry milk, pure cane sugar, baking powder (sodium pyrophospate, bicarbonate soda, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate), xanthan gum, natural vanilla powder (natural flavor, sugar, cornstarch), salt.

The recipe is the same for the pancakes or waffles, but the waffle batter should be a touch thicker than the pancake batter, so cutting back on the liquid just a touch (at least at first) is probably best way to start.  To 1 cup of mix Aaron added 3/4 cup of milk, 1 egg and 1 TBSP oil.  The proportions above yielded one large Belgian waffle and a half of another.  The whole one was demolished by one hungry teen boy; the half was left over for the taking.


These waffles were so good and had such a great texture that I could have eaten them without any toppings.  Jon of course smothered his in chocolate chips & syrup because that is what teen boys do, right?  He oohed and aahed his way through, which is his way of putting his stamp of approval on them. 

Toosie’s goes to great lengths to ensure that their products are gluten-free.  In addition to sourcing only naturally gluten-free ingredients, they also test each batch they make with the Gluten ELISA assay test.  Toosie’s products can be purchased right from their website

Make sure to check back for reviews on some of the other products we sampled from Toosie’s.  I hope to see their products become available in stores across the country! 


***The products reviewed in this blog were sent to us free of charge.  The opinions stated here are mine and have not been influenced by anyone or anything.

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The Best Burger

Have you ever had one of those meals where you just threw something together and it ended up being spectacular?  I had one of these last week.  I was trying to finish up a bunch of half-completed tasks and needed to feed myself & Hannah.  I had picked up some grass fed beef from Whole Foods earlier in the day, so I settled on burgers and baked steak fries. 

What was supposed to be simply a meal to “get the job done”, turned out to be one of the best I had eaten in a long time.  The burger was a perfect medium-rare, the bun was toasted to perfection and the fries completed the dish. 


To make the burgers I seasoned the ground beef with sea salt & pepper and cooked in a frying pan over medium heat.  In a separate pan I sauteed some sliced mushrooms in a touch of olive oil and cabernet.  The burger was then sandwiched on an Udi’s gluten-free whole grain bun with spring mix & ketchup. 

To make the fries I sliced a large baking potato and coated them with olive oil cooking spray.  Then I seasoned them with sea salt & pepper and baked at 400 – 425 for roughly 25 minutes, flipping half way through.  A little crispy on the outside and potato-y on the inside. 

Simple.  Delicious.  Gluten-free. 


Weekly Menu Plan–January 9, 2012

First, and foremost I want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom and birthday buddy!  Mom, I love sharing this day with you! 


Since today is my birthday, there will be no cooking for me!  We will be going out to dinner, which also means no dishes.  I really don’t mind cooking if I had a built in maid.

Monday – Dinner out

Tuesday – Easy Enchilada Bake, green beans & salad

Wednesday – Burgers on Udi’s gluten-free whole grain buns, parmesan steak fries and salad

Thursday – Bourbon Chicken, coconut baked brown rice, steamed broccoli & salad

Friday – Pizza and salad

Saturday – Cocoa coconut chili and salad

Weekly Recap

Bakery on Main announces $20,000 in Celiac donations

Tim Horton’s gluten-free choices

Review: Florastor kids

NFCA upcoming webinar: Food as Medicine for Celiac Disease

The Best Gluten-Free to Follow in 2012

Burger King Fries – are they GF?

Peter & Kelli made bagel dogs back in December and I think that Jon will really like them.  Check out the recipe

I hope you all have a great week! 

PS – I also want to give a shout out to Erin over at Gluten-Free Fitness, as she is also celebrating a birthday today!  Happy Birthday, Erin!


Birthday Celebration Complete with Gluten

I know you are probably reading the title thinking I am out of my mind.  I can assure you that I didn’t eat gluten willingly, but as a result of cross contamination.  Fortunately I did not get sick.  I am not sure how I got so lucky – maybe not enough gluten present?  Who knows.  Let me back up a little bit and share the story. 

My mom came to town yesterday to celebrate our birthdays.  Many years ago I was her birthday present!  I have always enjoyed sharing our special day together.  The official day isn’t until the 9th, but since that falls on a Monday, we celebrated a few days early.  We chose Cameron’s American Bistro as the restaurant for our feast.  They are part of the Cameron Mitchell Restaurant group and have been offering a gluten-free menu for a few years now.  Within the past year or so they began serving rolls from Holiday Baking Company, which I was thrilled about!  I have never been served gluten-free bread before a meal in a restaurant before.


The rolls were served hot along side fresh, whipped butter and a roasted head of garlic.  Heaven! 

Next up we split the portabella mushroom fries.  These melted in our mouths and the horseradish sauce was divine!


I had a rough time deciding what I wanted to order for my main course, as the gluten-free menu is fairly extensive. 


I had my eyes on the pan roasted scallops, shrimp & grits, filet mignon, steak frites and the salmon.  I settled on the steak frites – the hand cut truffle fries sealed the deal!  The server we had was phenomenal; she was very well-versed in the gluten-free menu, even mentioning how they were investigating how their bleu cheese is processed to ensure that it is gluten-free.  I actually felt very much at ease when ordering, which would come back to bite me in the butt in the end.

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The steak was a NY strip that came on a bed of sauteed asparagus and mushrooms and was topped with an herb butter.  The steak was perfectly cooked to medium rare and each bite was bursting with flavor.  The hand cut truffle fries were out of this world….until I reached the bottom and came across a tentacle from fried calamari.  The fried calamari is not on the gluten-free menu because it is breaded.  I immediately freaked out.  Was I just glutened?  All of that amazing food that I had just eaten and thought was safe, but the fries had been contaminated.  Before I let myself get too worked up, I asked to speak with our server and then the manager.  Just as I thought – my suspicions were correct – there is NO dedicated fryer for the fries.  How did I overlook the first question I typically ask the server?   I wanted to rewind & start over, avoiding such a major faux pas. 

As I was waiting for the manager to come over to our table, another thought crossed my mind.  While I have Celiac Disease and gluten makes me sick (as in GI symptoms), I really got concerned when I thought about someone with a true wheat allergy.  That person could have a life threatening reaction if they had the experience that I did.  I calmly explained to the manager that fries cooked in a fryer with foods that contained gluten are NOT gluten-free.  I went on to explain that they needed to remove them from the gluten-free menu immediately before someone had a life threatening reaction or worse, died.  Of course she apologized and took care of our meal, which we appreciated, but I still felt the need & responsibility to the gluten-free community to share this. 

This brings up another major concern – if the staff thought that the fries would be gluten-free when cooked with gluten-containing foods, what other mistakes are being made with the gluten-free menu?  It is possible that everything else is 100% gluten-free and safe to eat.  Of course it is also possible that there are other underlying issues that need to be addressed.  Offering a gluten-free menu is wonderful to those that have to follow the diet, however, if mistakes such as these are being made, it is better to not offer the menu at all and the false sense of security that goes along with it. 

I would like to see the Cameron Mitchell Restaurant group hire an expert to come in and review all of their gluten-free menus & procedures at each of their restaurants that offer a gluten-free menu.  They seem to be serious about offering gluten-free choices; this step would seal the confidence of their gluten-free customers.

The Best Gluten-Free to Follow in 2012


I received some great news this morning…are you ready?  My blog was listed, along with 29 others, on a list of the greatest gluten-free blogs, websites & tweeters of 2012!  Thank you CeliAct, and Max, for including me on this list of great influences in the gluten-free community.  While I already have many of these blogs/websites/tweeters in my Google Reader, I am thrilled to begin reading some that are new to me! 

Click here to check out the complete list. 


Gluten Freely Introduces “Ask A Doc” Series

Gluten Freely has made some great additions to their website over the past year.  The newest feature is the new “Ask a Doc” series.  Questions are being accepted now and will be answered by Dr. Stefano Guandalini.  Dr. Guandalini is the founder and director of The University of Chicago Celiac Center.  More about the series:

Gluten Freely is pleased to announce the first installment of our “Ask The Doctor” series.

As part of our ongoing effort to provide the most comprehensive and reliable information to members of the Gluten Freely community, we’re pleased to announce that Dr. Stefano Guandalini will take our members’ questions for a video Q&A session to run on January 20, 2012, at All questions must be submitted by January 8, 2012, so visit to submit yours today.

Dr. Guandalini is a world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and celiac disease expert. He is also the Founder and Medical Director of The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. The center’s mission is to raise awareness and diagnosis rates in the quest for a cure.

If you have a question about celiac disease or gluten sensitivity that you’d like Dr. Guandalini to answer, please visit us at to submit yours today. Dr. Guandalini will answer as many questions as he can. The video will be posted on on January 20, 2012.

We’re very excited to bring you this unique learning experience and we look forward to your participation.


The Gluten Freely™ Team

If you are interested in submitting a question, please make sure to do so by Sunday, January 8, 2012.

While I am chatting about Gluten Freely, make sure to check out their deals on gluten-free products right now.  Many products marked  10% to 15% off.


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