Lifestyle Guide : "GF Information"

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

 Celiac Awareness month

May is National Celiac Awareness Month and I would like to begin the month off with the beginning.  How do you know if you have Celiac Disease?  

Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Fast Facts:

  • Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.
  • An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease.
  • Celiac disease can affect men and women across all ages and races.
  • It is estimated that 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
  • 6-10 years is the average time a person waits to be correctly diagnosed. (Source: Daniel Leffler, MD, MS, The Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center)
  • 5-22% of celiac patients have an immediate family member (1st degree relative) who also has celiac.

There are over 300 known symptoms of Celiac Disease  Below is a list of some of the symptoms common to Celiac Disease.  If you have one or more of these you should seek the advice of a medical doctor to determine if you have Celiac Disease.


Digestive Symptoms 

  • abdominal pain and/or bloating
  • chronic diarrhea
  • constipation
  • pale, foul smelling stools

Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms and are more likely to exhibit the following symptoms:

Other symptoms

  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • behavior issues, depression, anxiety, ADHD
  • dental enamel defects and tooth discoloration
  •  delayed growth/ puberty
  • failure to thrive
  • iron deficiency
  • bone/joint pain, arthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • numbness/tingling in hands and feet
  • migraines
  • frequent canker sores
  • defeatism herptiformes

You can find a more comprehensive list at U Chicago Celiac Disease Symptoms List

If you have these symptoms, it is important to find out if they are cause by Celiac Disease.  Celiac Disease is known as a companion disease, leading to other autoimmune diseases.  You can find a list of symptoms and conditions possibly due to Celiac Disease here.

I urge anyone who thinks they may have Celiacs or gluten intolerance to be tested before going off of gluten.  Going back on gluten after being gluten free can make you feel worse than if you wait to be tested and then go gluten free.

 life begins

5 Things I Am Not Saying When I Tell You I’m Gluten Free

gluten freeAssumptions, right or wrong, people make assumptions all the time.  In the case of Celiac Disease, this is no different.  Those who are uneducated on gluten and its effects on the bodies of people afflicted by this disease can be guilty making assumptions based on what they here in the media.  I want to clear up some of those assumptions and help raise awareness and educate others. Here are 5 things I am not saying when I tell you I am gluten free.

I am NOT judging what you eat. 

When I tell someone that I am gluten free, it is not to tell them that they are eating the wrong things.  I tell people I am gluten free to protect myself from eating foods that may make me sick and lead to further health issues later in life.  I believe people should have the right to eat whatever they want.  I have my opinions on what is best for me, but I cannot force those on anyone else.  What is right for one person is not always right for everyone.  So when you here someone say they are gluten free, please don't assume we are scoping out what you eat and secretly judging you.  We are not.assumptions  I am NOT asking you to switch to a gluten free lifestyle.

When I tell you I am gluten free, I am not trying to turn anyone to gluten free living.  I am not trying to persuade you away from your favorite foods.  Living a gluten free lifestyle is not easy and if it is not necessary, you shouldn't feel like you need to switch.  I do believe that there are many health issues beyond Celiac Disease that can be made better by living a gluten free lifestyle, but I only suggest it to those who are seeking alternative answers.  I will not push gluten free on anyone.

 I am NOT on a fad diet.

Celiac Disease is a very serious condition, not just a upset tummy disease, that requires strict dietary adherence to a gluten free diet in order to heal and remain healthy.  Celiac Disease is also known as a companion disease to other autoimmune diseases.  If I eat gluten containing foods,it can trigger other autoimmune diseases.  Beyond the risk of triggering other diseases or cancers, gluten changes who I am.  I feel psychotic, anxious, depressed, moody. I get brain fog and can't function as well.  I also get the typical intestinal issues, which diminish my quality of life.  Choosing to eat gluten free because you want to follow a trend and having to eat gluten free to save your life are two very different things.  Fad diets come and go, a gluten free lifestyle is for a lifetime.gave up gluten I am NOT asking you to cater to my food restrictions.

When I tell you I am gluten free, it is not for you to make sure you have something I can eat if I visit. I appreciate when my friends and family do have gluten free offerings, but I NEVER expect it. I still feel like a burden to them, because I am different and I always try to bring things for myself, because it is my issue not theirs.  I feel cared for when they try to understand what I need and make efforts to help me out.  

 I am NOT asking for your pity.

Although living a gluten free lifestyle can be challenging, I actually feel like it is a blessing.  There are many other people who are in tougher situations than me.  I am thankful that this can be managed in a fairly simple manner and a normal life can still be led.  There are so many I see who have so many struggles and hurdles to overcome and still cannot live a full life. I feel blessed my struggles are insignificant in comparison. I don't feel like being gluten free is a condemnation, I feel it has been liberating.

7 Culver’s Gluten Free Bun Is Not Worth It

culver'sA few days ago, I had many after school activities going and I had just a short time in between my daughter's speech team practice and her dance, so I decided to stop in at Culver's ( a Midwestern burger franchise). We don't usually eat here often because I have had cross contamination, but sometimes it is our only option.  Usually we order a cheeseburger with no bun and have them flag our order as an allergy. That day, as we walked in the door, I noticed a sign saying they offered Udi's gluten free buns.  I was happy to see that the awareness of gluten free had finally reach a local fast food establishment. As I expected, there was an extra charge for the bun as there commonly is with gluten free foods.  I have used Udi's before, but I still prefer my homemade.  So my daughter ordered her usual cheeseburger, pickles, ketchup, and onions but with a gluten free bun this time.  She was eagerly anticipating having a cheese burger with a bun.

udi's buns in a bag

 When the order came we were shocked.  It looked nothing like the picture which advertised the buns.  Now, I know because I am in food writing, that they take extreme measures to make the pictures look appealing.  But THIS was extreme!  I did not get a picture of the cheese burger, but the bun had to be at least 3″ thick.  It swallowed up the hamburger patty which was tiny in comparison to the bun. Unfortunately, this is common with commercial gluten free hamburger buns. They must have cut half of each bun off to take the picture in the ad, because this was ALL bun.  My daughter said she couldn't taste any of the cheeseburger because it was all bun.

Udi's packaged

After the initial disappointment.  My daughter used the bottom bun as a plate and proceeded to finish the cheeseburger without a bun. Why do gluten free bread manufactures have to compensate  for lack of quality by making it bigger?  Just give me something that is similar to a normal bun. My homemade is more manageable in size.

I do have to give Culver's credit as they did serve it as you see in the picture on the right, packaged, and we had to assemble the cheese burger. They even had a message on the sign that it was sealed for our protection and to limit cross contamination the cheese burger would need to be assemble by the customer. That was great, I loved that they thought of that. So they got a plus for taking cross contamination into account.

However, as for us, we will probably return at some point, our lives are super busy; but we will still keep to ordering our cheeseburger without a bun.

Sweets for the Sweet

Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  Do you know how to shower your loved on in delights without accidentally making them sick?  Let me help you keep Valentines day sweet for your sweetheart.attractive-roses-arrangements-with-tasty-chocolate-on-red-hearth-shaped-box-for-valentines-day-gift-and-decoration-design-ideas

Heart shaped boxes of chocolates and truffles, kisses, and messages made from candied hearts are symbols we come to recognize for Valentine's Day.  Why?  If Valentine's Day originated to honor Saint Valentine, why do we give our sweethearts sweets and chocolates?  Although the history of Valentine's Day goes back to the Romans, it is not mentioned in association with romance until Chaucer's writings in 1382.  Still gifts were not as luxurious as chocolate until the 1800's.  In the 1840's, Richard Cadbury, from a British chocolate manufacturing company, found that the method of making chocolate that his company used, left an excess amount of cocoa butter, which allowed him to expand the varieties of “eating Chocolate” his company could provide.  He realized this was a great marketing possibility and began to sell them in fancy boxes.  So now, lovers had additional choices to shower their sweethearts.

Chocolate has come along way since the 1840's and not all chocolate is gluten free.  Actually, more often than not it may be difficult to find gluten free chocolate, especially if you are a chocolate connoisseur and want high quality chocolates.  Listed below are some of the most popular brands of chocolates and their gluten status.


 Dove Chocolate Dove Chocolate is  division of Mars Chocolate.  They make all of their Dove chocolate bars and other products gluten-free to 20 parts per million.  Always should check labels, since production timing might require the company to use an alternative processing facility that has a cross-contamination risk. Dove discloses any potential gluten cross-contamination on its label.dove

Endangered Speciesmakes all-natural and organic chocolate bars which are certified gluten free by  the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO).  This company tests and ensures products contain fewer than 10 ppm (parts per million) of gluten.  They have several varieties to choose from such as dark chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate raspberry, dark chocolate espresso, and milk chocolate with cherries.

Enjoy Life– This company makes an excellent dairy free, gluten free chocolate chips.  They also have dark chocolate, rice milk, and rice milk crunch bars. Enjoy life has a dedicated gluten free facility.  It is also know for being allergen free, so many of the common allergens are not found in their products.  It is also certified by the GFCO.

Hersey'senjoy life chocolate–  Hersey's says that only tow of their products are gluten free- 1.45 oz. milk chocolate and 1.45 oz. milk chocolate with almonds.   all other sizes and flavors  of chocolate bars have a risk of gluten cross-contamination due to shared facilities or equipment.  Several of the kisses are gluten free including the milk chocolate,  kisses filled with caramel, and kisses filled cherry cordial creme.  None of the other Hershey's kisses products are gluten-free.

GhiradelliGhiradelli makes only one product which contains gluten, but all of their chocolate bars are produced in the same facility.  The one that contains gluten is Luxe Milk Crisp singles and bars.  If you have just a gluten sensitivity you may be able to tolerate this, but for those with Celiac Disease, I suggest avoiding all of their bars.godiva

Godiva Godiva's own statement about their chocolate is

ALL of our products including solid chocolate pieces may contain gluten. Any person with a gluten allergy should NOT consume ANY of our products.

Green and Blacks Bars–  Although most of their bars do not contain gluten here is their statement on allergens in their bars.

 “We take into account scheduling of products and we clean the lines by flushing chocolate through until there is no notable trace of the previous lines’ chocolate in the new batch. We are confident that the cleaning procedures are robust and eliminate traces of nut, cereal or dairy ingredients, but the only certain guarantee of absence is by manufacturing in a nut, cereal and dairy free site.”

Lindt- All of their chocolate bars contain no gluten ingredients but are made in a facility that shares equipment that also produces gluten containing products. Their Lindor truffles all contain barley malt.

Toblerone– It does not make any bars that contain gluten ingredients but they are also not certified gluten free and there is no message on the bars as to whether they are produced in a dedicated facility.


Gift Boxes:

 Because these boxes generally include mixed varieties of smaller candies, most contain some gluten-containing candies. Even if you can pick out the individual gluten-free pieces and leave the gluten ones behind, you'll be risking cross contamination.cellas

Cella's Chocolate Covered Cherries-  These are produced by Tootsie Roll Industries.  Their products are entirely gluten free.

Fannie May- None of their variety gift boxes are gluten free. Some of their individual chocolates are gluten free and they do have a create your own option.  You may should call to find out which of their chocolate are gluten free.  The selection is small, but if you are determined to give a box of chocolates, this maybe an option.

Russell Stovers–  They say that their ingredients are gluten free, to the best of their knowledge but give this statement,

 “Be aware that products containing wheat are produced on equipment that's also used to make other products. So we can't completely rule out the possibility of cross-contamination, despite efforts to prevent it.” 

Ferrero Rocher – This is a very popular chocolate gift box brand, unfortunately it is NOT gluten free.   They contain wheat flour.

ferrer rocher

Mrs. Fields –  This popular brand also contains wheat flour and is NOT gluten free.


Hopefully this helps you find safe options for your Valentine.  Of course you can always skip the worry and give flowers, cards, or take them out on an adventure date.  I hope you all enjoy a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Surviving Game Day Gluten Free


superbowl party

Sunday is the big game day, Superbowl XLIX.  Many will be gathering with friends and family to see who this year's Superbowl champion will be.  I am not a football fan, but I will most likely find  myself at a party on Sunday.  Since I am gluten free, I will need to be careful that I don't eat anything that will make me sick.  Here are some suggestions on surviving the big game day gluten free.

Some of the common causes of accidental gluten ingestion are cross contamination from crumbs or pieces of gluten food dropping into gluten free foods or on plates, serving utensils used with gluten foods used on gluten free foods, or not knowing ingredients in a dish.

If you are hosting a party:

  1. Separate tables.  If possible, have separate tables for gluten and gluten free offerings.  This is the most reliable way to keep cross contamination from occurring  at a party.

  2. Label serving utensils and dishes that are gluten free with the same color ribbon, so guests can tell which serving utensil goes with which dish.

  3.  If you are doing your party pot luck style, have your guests put ingredients on a recipe card and place by the dish.  Those who are gluten free will know what ingredients to stay away from and decide if the dish is safe for them.

  4. Talk with your gluten free guests before the day of the party and learn what would be helpful for them.  This will make them feel like some one cares about them.

  5. If you are going to make every dish yourself, you could make them all gluten free.  Your gluten eating guests will never know the difference. Check out the recipes below for ideas.  Many chips and salsas are gluten free naturally, so it is easier than you think it would be to do it all gluten free.  Read labels.  You are looking for wheat, barley, malt, rye, modified food starch.  If you have questions, your gluten free friends will be more than willing to help you figure out if something is gluten free.


If you are attending a party:

  1. Bring your own food.  This is always the safest choice.  Be prepared and bring your own serving utensil and even plates and silverware if you want to be certain.  If you are sharing your dish, make sure it has a labeled serving utensil and it is set away from dishes with gluten.

  2.  Ask those who made the dish what the ingredients are or to see the container they came in.  If you start the conversation that you have a food allergy and would like to know the ingredients, you can prevent them from feeling offended.  If they are not cooperative and won't tell you, do not eat it.  It is not worth getting sick.

  3. Avoid anything you do not  know the ingredients.  Some common safe options are fruits and vegetables that have no dip or dressing on them. Many chips and salsas are too, but once again checking labels is the safest option.

  4. If you see crumbs or food from other dishes or any other signs of cross contamination, avoid that food.

  5. Be open and talk to other guests.  Many don't know about gluten and are very open to learn about your eating needs.  Most will also be very accommodating.  There are always those who are not so agreeable, but your health is more important than their ego.

If you are diligent and proactive, you can enjoy the game and have an equal experience as the rest of your friends and family.

Here are some tasty and healthy snacks from some of my favorite blogs.  Enjoy the game and stay healthy!


Sweet Potato Skins                                                                                                    

Creamy Kale and Artichoke Dip with Homemade Chips                              

Keegan's Chicken Wing Sauce                                                                           

Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip                                                                                         

Fiesta Cheese Dip

Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

Easy Guacamole 

Homemade Potato Chips

Layered Taco Dip

Raspberry Layer Bars

Apple Crisp

Pumpkin Bars

Chocolate Lasagna



Heal Your Gut

Leaky gut

Celiac Disease (CD) is not curable, but it is manageable by eating a strict gluten free diet.  That may not be enough.  Many suffering from CD still feel ill even after being faithful to a gluten free diet.  Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease which causes your body to attack and destroy the microvilli and villi in your small intestines.  These are key to the absorption of nutrients from food and are also where many enzymes used in digestion are made.  When these are destroyed, the ability to absorb nutrients decreases and can lead to malnutrition.  This is not all that happens in a damaged intestine.  Gluten can cause the tight junctions, spaces between cells lining the intestines, to be damaged or destroyed allowing larger molecules such as proteins and even microorganisms to pass into the blood stream. Under normal circumstances, the intestinal wall only permits small particles to pass through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream. When these larger molecules make it through into the blood stream our bodies do not recognize these  larger molecules and an autoimmune response begins.  It is these autoimmune responses that may be the cause of you still feeling ill.  What needs to happen to feel well again, is to heal the gut.

“All patients with Celiac Disease will have some degree of leaky gut.”

Daniel Leffler, MD, MA. Director of Clinical Research at the Celiac Research Center at Beth Israel Deacons Medical Center in Boston

Dr. Natasha McBride has done a lot of research in healing the gut.  Most of her work is focused on Autism, ADD, ADHD,Depression, Dyslexia, and Schizophrenia, but her diet has also helped many with food intolerances as well, including Celiac Disease.  Her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome describes her treatment plan.  One of the things her treatment focuses on to heal the gut is remedying the dysbiosis of gut bacteria, over growth of bad bacteria and not enough of the good bacteria.  She addresses this by eliminating processed foods and sugars, dairy at the beginning of treatment, alcohols, and grains.  She also suggests daily probiotics in the form of fermented foods and bone broths.  Bone broths are not the broth you find in the grocery stores.  Bone broths are made from roasted bones which are put into a crock pot or stock pot and slowly cooked for a long time to draw out the nutrients from with in the bones.  The main nutrient in the bones is gelatin, which has a soothing and healing property to the intestines.  This is not the same gelatin you find in jello which is highly processed.

Bone broths are becoming well know for their restorative properties and larger cities are now seeing bone broth cafes similar to coffee shops pop up.  Renowned chef and Hearth owner Marco Canora owns one such shop, Brodo, New York City’s first take-out window devoted to sippable broths. He’s betting on the fact that people will be intrigued by both the health benefits and the taste.Brodo-1

Although the GAPS diet may not be easy, to those who are suffering the effects of Celiac Disease, the effort is definitely worth it to have true health and vitality.  It is not the only avenue to take to get your gut healthy, but as far as research goes, it seems to be one of the more effect ways.


[yumprint-recipe id='8′]

8 Unexpected Sources of Gluten

As gluten free diets become more popular, more people are aware of what gluten is and where  it comes from, but do you know all of the hidden sources of gluten?  Some of them may surprise you.  For those who have Celiac Disease, not knowing these sources can have serious consequences.  I will go over 8 unexpected sources.


1.Binding Agents and Fillers

Usually these are not a problem unless they are ingested.  Some common places you would find these fillers are in older stamps and envelopes, newer one use corn based adhesives, toothpastes, and other adhesives.  I personally react to the adhesives in bandages, even the latex kind.

2. Body Care Products:gluten in sunscreen

Body care products do not need to label whether they are gluten free or not so outside of reading labels for gluten in the ingredients, here are some other things to watch out for:

Vitamin E – often obtained from wheat germ oil

emulsifiers and stabilizers – can be manufactured from hydrolyzed gluten

gluten in toothpasteOur skin is our largest organ and although the pores are too small to absorb the complete gluten protein, it can cause a reaction on the skin and some people have been know to have a gluten reaction even though it was just on their skin.

“At the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, Prakash and her colleagues presented a case report on a 28-year-old woman with celiac disease who had successfully controlled her symptoms for several years by restricting the amount of gluten in her diet. After starting to use a new body lotion, however, the woman developed an itchy, blistering rash on her arms, as well as abdominal bloating and diarrhea—all of which disappeared once she stopped using the lotion.” 



Most cosmetics do not have ingredient labels and so it is anyone's guess as to what they contain.  Some may contain fillers and binding agents.  One needs to be extra careful of lipsticks as these are ingested by licking our lips.  Many contain wheat germ oil and barley extract.  To be certain of what is in the product, you will need to contact the manufacturer.  In most cases if you ar not highly sensitive to gluten, the amount in the make up is minimal enough to not cause any significant problems.  However, in those who are sensitive to gluten below 20 ppm, this may be something you will need to be diligent in nonworking the ingredients of your favorite make up.  Here is a resource of where to find gluten free make up and here

Gluten Sources

4. Medicines:

Gluten can show up in your medicines as well, usually it is the binders and fillers.  Ask your doctor and pharmacist to make sure your medications do not contain gluten.

“Generic brands are more likely to contain traces of gluten”- Alice Bast, executive director of National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

You will also need to look out for maltadextrin and dextrose in cough syrups and cough drops.  These may be sourced from products containing gluten.

In natural supplements, especially green food supplements, be wary of wheat grass and barley grass.  They technically should be gluten free if they were harvested before the seed heads formed, but if you do not know the harvesting practices of the company, you cannot be sure that they harvested at the correct time.  To be safe, I avoid these products, there are plenty of gluten free options out there on the market.

5. Pet Food:pets

Yes, I know, most people don't eat pet food, but there is always the potential of accidental ingestion and awareness of the fact there may be gluten in your pets food can prevent this.  It is simple to prevent, just wash your hands after feeding your pet.

6. Lubricants:

Frequently a gluten containing lubricant is used to lubricate conveyor belts in factories.  That is why products that are seemingly gluten free may say they may contain gluten.

8. Latex Gloves:

Latex gloves have a powder inside them to help you slip them on more easily and to help prevent sweat, although I never found that to be of much help when I worked in a lab.  That powder can be made from a gluten source.  Check with the glove manufacturer, because there are not ingredient lists on gloves.

9. Playdough:

The all time kid favorite is not gluten free. All name brand playdough is mad with wheat.  YOu can make your own at home though.  Here are some links to recipes for it:

About Health's recipe

Mommypotamus's recipe



  1. Read labels and learn the terms for things that contain gluten such as vitamin E and Maltadextrin

  2. Call manufactures to find out ingredients, especially if there are none on the packaging.

  3. Wash your hands after you have come into contact with anything containing gluten.

  4.  Watch small children who have gluten intolerances.  They like to put EVERYTHING in their mouths.



Hidden Sources of Gluten

Gluten Free Drugs

Gluten Free Make Up Gal

About Health's recipe

Mommypotamus's recipe

 Hidden Sources


Bella Vista Offers Great Gluten Free Options

Many times as one who eats gluten free, eating out is not very exciting.  Most restaurants idea of gluten free is to strip the entrees of everything and serve an unseason meat and plain vegetables.  I can get more exciting than that at home, why would I pay for less than that somewhere else?  That is not the case at Bella Vista, located across the bridge in the historic Hastings, MN. Their Italian-style restaurant is abounding with fresh, quality ingredients to produce flavorful authentic Italian cuisine!

Bella Vista

My husband and I recently had a date night here and were pleasantly surprised when the co-owner, Jenn, said that almost everything on the menu could be made gluten free and all of there sauces were gluten free to begin with.  I knew we were in for a great treat after she said this.  We started our evening off with a few cocktails at the bar while we waited for our table to be available.  We had a very pleasant conversation with the bartenders, Maria and Adam.  That is the wonderful thing about Bella Vista, everyone we interacted with was happy to converse with us and they all seemed to believe in the owners vision and loved working there.

Our first course was our appetizer, Papedeaux Peppers. Papedeaux Peppers They were divine.  They were peppers stuffed with either feta, blue cheese, or goats cheese with chives, and topped with a piece of crisp bacon.  It melted in your mouth and the peppers we a nice sweet balance to the strong flavors of the cheeses. 

Second course was our salads.  They have a wide range of salads.  My husband chose a beet salad and I had a creamy balsamic.Creamy Balsamic Salad  Once again the blending of flavors was perfect.            

So far my dining experience was heaven.  I could hardly wait for the next course.  

Bella Vista has only been open since October, and talking to the staff, they say that every night they have a full house.  I can see why.  The atmosphere is welcoming and energetic, the staff is friendly, and the food is amazing.

My main course was Lobster Fettuccine.   The gluten free version of this ended up with penne pasta instead of fettuccine, but all pasta really is the same it is just different shapes, so for me this really did not change the experience I had, after all it was LOBSTER!!! Lobster Fettuccine

Then the very best for last, dessert, after all that is the whole point of the meal, right, to lead up to the dessert.  My husband had creme brulee and I had chocolate mousse.  Once again we were not let down with the dessert as well.  A perfect way to top off the meal and our evening.

Creme brulee

Chocolate Mousse

 So, for those of my followers who live in South Easter or East Central Minnesota and want to experience a great gluten free Italian meal.  I would recommend Bella Vista.



Bella Vista Interior

Bella Vista Owners

Lisa and Jenn, Bella Vista's Owner

1 Help! I Need to Bring a Treat to School

ClassroomIt's your child's birthday and you want to bring treats, but what do you bring?  You know there is at least one child who has food allergies and the school has strict policies about what can and cannot be brought for treats.  The last thing you want to do is alienate those who have food allergies. It is already hard enough to be different.  With the rise in allergies and food intolerances, gone are the carefree days of sending treats.  It doesn't have to be that stressful.  There are many options that are safe for most of the common food allergens.

Fruit and Vegetable Snacks

One of the easiest treats to provide are fruit and vegetable snacks.  You can create fun animals and even pictures with fruit and vegetables. Here are some fun ideas that kids love.

1. Butterfly snacks- there are several ways you can do this.  You can use the fruit to make the butterflies, or you can use the packaging of the fruit to create the butterfly.

clothespin butterfly

fruit butterfly

2. Fruit served in a gluten free waffle cone

fruit in a cone

3. Fruit on a stick- you can have little bowls of cream cheese or chocolate for dipping for those who can tolerate those foods.  In a school setting you would want to provide individual cups to avoid the potential “double dipping”

fruit on a stick

Other Treats

4. Chocolate Macaroons that are no bake, Dairy free, Gluten free, Nut Free, and Grain free.

5. Gluten free Pretzels and crackers – some of the favorite brands are  Glutinos, Snyder's, and Crunchmasters.  These could be eaten plain, or with nut butters if allowed, cream cheese spreads for those who tolerate dairy, hummus, and vegetable and fruit pieces.

6. Boxed cake or brownie mixes.  There are several companies that now provide gluten free cake and brownie mix.  My recommendations are Bob's Red Mill or King Arthur as these tend to have less of the chemical additives.


 7. Here are some other sources of fun ideas for snack for children.

25 School Treat Ideas

50 Gluten Free Healthy Snack Ideas

Easy Gluten Free, Grain Free Snacks for Kids

Gluten Free Snack Ideas

7 Allergy Free Snacks for Kids

Sending Your Child to School Gluten Free


Are You Ready for Thanksgiving Part 2

Sweet potato casserole

In this second part on preparing for a gluten free Thanksgiving,  I am going to discuss some of the traditional dishes and how to find gluten free substitutes or replace with even better options.

Holiday traditional abound this time of the year and many begin with the Thanksgiving meal.  One of those traditions is the sweet potato casserole.  I personally have never been a huge fan of this casserole and since marshmallows are being debated as whether they are even safe for those on a gluten free diet, I am sharing an alternative to the traditional sweet potato casserole.  It is one of my families favorite recipes and they would eat it anytime of the year.  The crazy thing is it also can replace the cranberry jelly that frequently graces the Thanksgiving spread.  The combination of the two flavors is amazing.  Add in the onions and orange juice, and your mouth is awake with all the wonderfully different tastes and textures.  A lot more enjoyable  for the mouth to experience. ( recipe to follow)

Another traditional dish that many serve at Thanksgiving, is the green bean casserole.  In order to have this gluten free you have to make the french fried onions yourself.  My internet search at the time of this writing did not find any commercially produced gluten free french fried onions. They are fairly simple to make. It is like making onion rings, except the onions are sliced into thinner rings.  You could also just caramelize shallots or onions. I am also sensitive to MSG, so I not only make the french fried onions, but I also make homemade  Cream of Mushroom soup, but there are many gluten free brands of Cream of Mushroom soup out there if you don't want to make the soup from scratch. I make mine to have peace of mind that my food won't make me sick. Once you have these ingredients you can assemble the casserole and enjoy a Thanksgiving favorite.

One my favorite things about holidays is making new traditions.  Maybe this Thanksgiving, you will make this recipe apart of your Thanksgiving tradition.

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