Archive for June, 2009

USA: The Home of the Free – But not at Mickey Dee’s?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

What’s more American than a cheeseburger from McDonalds? For me and the million of other Americans suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance we would say a cheeseburger on a gluten free roll from McDonalds.

Impossible you may say. McDonald’s could never get the recipe right or the training perfected to correctly offer a gluten-free roll on their menu.


McDonalds is already offering a gluten-free hamburger bun and many, many other gluten-free options in Sweden.

Anna, a gluten-free blogger from Germany, has experienced firsthand the convenience of walking into a McDonald’s in Stockholm while on business and grabbing a cheeseburger on a gluten-free roll. Ahhhh – The luxury.

McDonald’s USA website describes “New Burgers” that offer, “Fresh toppings that are new for McDonald’s, like sautéed mushrooms, red onion slices, crinkle cut pickles and thick tomato slices all served between a perfectly toasted bakery-style sesame seed roll”.

This Fourth of July holiday week, I say we should all practice our right to speak our opinion. Let’s contact McDonald’s and ask them to carry the gluten-free rolls in the states.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the description of McDonald’s new products changed to, “… bakery-style traditional or gluten-free perfectly toasted roll”? 

I’m Lovin’ It!



What I Learned During My College Internship: How to Make Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

When my parents sent me off to business school and footed a hefty bill, I don’t think they imagined the most important thing I would learn during my junior year internship was how to make the most perfect, sugary sweet blueberry muffin in the world. But yes, Mom and Dad – it is true.

My internship was at Jordan Marsh and I was an assistant manager at one of the stores. Jordan Marsh was a Boston-based department store founded in 1841 legendary for their bakeries, and more so for their blueberry muffins. Every morning that sugary-sweet berry aroma started to make its way through the store, wafting through each and every department, slowly but surely, floor by floor.

I was a smart little gluten-eating cookie back then.  I asked to come in early each day (blamed it on the Route 128 traffic) so I could take my morning break first, at exactly 10:20 AM each day – right about the time those delectable sugar-crusted muffs were being taken out of the oven.

Nearing the end of my internship, the recipe for the legendary muffins made its way around the store, employee-to-employee, faster than the news that the muffins were out of the oven and ready to be served.

I found the recipe a few weeks back and tried it out, gluten-free style of course… Gluten Free Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins.  I am proud to say that I aced it – they came out sugary, sweet, and exactly the way I remember – minus the gluten.

And for the record? I also aced the internship. Sweet.


Gluten Free Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup of sugar (plus another plus ½ cup for sprinkling the tops of the muffins before and after baking)
2 eggs
2 cups of gluten-free all-purpose flour (plus another 1-2 tablespoons for tossing the berries)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk
2 cups of blueberries – plus a handful to sprinkle on the tops of the muffins prior to baking

With a blender, cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar until smooth. Add one of the eggs and beat. Repeat with the second egg. 

Sift together 2 cups of the gluten-free flour, salt and the baking powder. Add it to the creamed butter mixture slowly, alternating with adding milk.

In a large zip lock bag add the 1-2 tablespoons of the gluten-free flour and 2 cups of the blueberries. Gently shake until the blueberries are coated. Add a bit more gluten-free flour, if needed.

Next, carefully fold the flour-coated blueberries into the batter and refrigerate for ½ hour while preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 6 jumbo muffin tins, as well as the outside of the tins (since the batter mushrooms over).  Remove the muffin mix from the fridge and fill the muffin tins generously with the batter. Evenly sprinkle the muffin tops with ¼ cup of the sugar and about 5-6 extra blueberries (not coated in flour) on each muffin.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Cool for 30-40 minutes before removing from tins to ensure they come out in one piece.

Friday Favorites: Sauces n’ Love Pesto

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

My Friday favorite blog feature is all about sharing. But this week I’m really sharin’ the love.

Sauces n’ Love Pesto is amazing. I stumbled upon this little gem at my local BJ’s Warehouse Club store while shopping for staples and basics. Since that day this pesto has been on my standing-order of BJ’s stock-up supplies.

I hate to sound smug but the reason this pesto is one of my all-time favorites is because it is so darn close to my own handmade pesto. I make my pesto with garden fresh basil, which I painstakingly nurture, grow and water, combined with fresh garlic, pine nuts, fresh grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Not surprisingly, these are the exact same natural, organic, vegetarian, and gluten, sugar and preservative free ingredients used in the Sauces n’ Love pesto.

I love making my pesto in the summer when my basil plant is the size of a small shrub (if I remember to water it) and ready to be harvested. But when time is at an all time premium, I count on my staple tub of love – Sauces n’ Love pesto.

And if you want to make things really easy, buy yourself a small basil plant and put it on your patio. Get some Sauces n’ Love Pesto, act like you made it yourself, and toss it up with your favorite gluten-free pasta. No one will ever tell the difference… and there’s no watering required.

WIN-It-Wednesday: Gluten-Free Diet: Comprehensive Resource Guide – The Newest Edition!

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

We’re on a (gluten free) roll! This is the fifth week of BeFreeForMe’s ever popular WIN-It-Wednesday feature!

This week’s WIN-It-Wednesday is sponsored by Shelley Case, a registered dietician and leading international expert on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. You may know Shelley from BeFreeForMe’s monthly segment, Ask Shelley Case.

When I first got diagnosed with celiac disease several years ago, Shelley’s book, “Gluten-Free Diet: Comprehensive Resource Guide” became my gluten-free map. Now, the newest edition of the book is triple the size of my original edition and jam-packed with tidbits of gluten-free information. The map that helped me navigate through the gluten-free lifestyle in 2003 is now the GPS of 2009.

This book is a must-have for those new to the gluten-free journey, as well as the seasoned gluten-free traveler.

I’m not the only one who thinks this book is a must-have. Every customer’s review on gave it 5 out of 5 stars, and Tiffany James, the Atlantic Gluten Free Examiner, recently gave this book a phenomenal review too.

I am happy to announce that Two LUCKY BeFreeForMe members will win the newest edition of “Gluten-Free Diet: Comprehensive Resource Guide”.

How can you win?


If you are an old pro of the gluten free diet, give us a word of wisdom (Mine: always plan ahead), piece of advise (Mine: never apologize for your gluten free requests) or a random thought (Mine: beware of red licorice!); or if you are new to the gluten free diet, let us know what is on your mind, wish was on your plate or really want to know but have been afraid to ask!

After all, the gluten free road of life is a lot easier with friends that help you navigate the way!

The contest ends on Sunday, June 28 at 12 midnight EST.

Good Luck and… as always…

Be Free!

Friday Favorites: Edward & Sons Purple Rice & Black Sesame Rice Toasts

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Sometimes gluten-free crackers can be so, well, bland. That is why I love Edward & Sons Purple Rice & Black Sesame Rice Toasts.

Before even biting into one, I knew that this was no boring cracker. How could it be when it’s… purple!

Somehow Edwards & Sons mills colorful Asian rice into these yummy, nutritious, whole grain crackers. They are also vegan, low sodium and have zero grams of trans fat.

They’re crisp, colorful and wholesome… plus they are made of all natural ingredients.
I like mine smeared with roasted red pepper hummus, or as a side with tomato soup.

Another bonus: These crackers came in two individually wrapped trays, a plus to keep them stay fresh and extra crispy.

They also come in two other varieties: Thai Red Rice & Flaxseed and Jasmine Rice & Spring Onion. I haven’t tried these two other varieties yet, but I am looking forward to trying them soon.

Being purple makes these crackers fun. But being so tasty and healthy makes them my pick for this week’s Friday Favorite! Enjoy!

WIN-It-Wednesday: NuGo Free Bars!

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

As most of you know, I am a “bar junkie” and I can’t go anywhere without my bars stashed in my purse, briefcase or glove compartment. Goodness forbid, if I get stuck somewhere and need a quick, easy and nutritious snack.

All of you gluten, soy and dairy free folks… Feel Free To Snack! NuGo Free makes gluten free, soy free and dairy free eating a real treat!

NuGo Free’s certified Gluten Free bars are one of my favorites. Full of crisp rice, fiber (5 grams per bar), protein (10 grams per bar) and healthy ingredients, NuGo Free bars are delicious & nourishing.

The three gluten-free flavors are perfect too: Carrot Cake is perfect for a breakfast on the run; Dark Chocolate Trail Mix, is a perfect afternoon snack; and Dark Chocolate Crunch, is as good as any dessert.

BONUS: Each bar is between 150 and 160 calories and only “3 points” for those watching their weight – or for those that don’t want to feel bad about eating two in a row!

I also love that NuGO Free bars are 100% natural, vegan OU Pareve plus layered with luscious, REAL dark chocolate (think YUM!) or drizzled with a touch of sweet icing. 

NuGo Free wants to give away a mixed box (12 bars) of their gluten-free bars (4 bars per flavor) to 3 (Yes – three!) LUCKY BeFreeForMe MEMBERS!

How can you win?


Let me know what flavor bar sounds the most scrumptious to you and, if you’d like, what makes you feel FREE!

(What makes ME feel free, you ask? My morning jog, a super extensive gluten-free restaurant menu, and my vegetable garden… to name a couple of things!)


Good Luck and, as always…

Be Free!


NOTE: This contest ends Sunday, June 21 at 12:00 midnight EST

Friday Favorites: Johnsonville Bratwursts

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Grilling time is here. It’s quick, easy and convenient. Plus, I can spend my late evenings in my garden or relaxing on my front porch, instead of scrubbing dirty pans!

But sometimes I want something a bit different for dinner. This is when we fire up the grill and brown up some Johnsonville Bratwursts. The Original Bratwursts are gluten free, and most of the other varieties are too (check under nutrition information on the Johnsonville website for more info on allergens).
Although I eat Johnsonville bratwursts without a bun (I truly believe that a bun takes away from the flavor anyway), I love them with mustard and grilled red & green peppers.

Because of the variety, economics and accessibility of the Johnsonville Bratwursts – you can find them at almost any grocer – they get my Friday Favorite pick for this week. If you are looking for something different to cook up on the grill this season give them a try!

WIN-It-Wednesday: GLEE Gum!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

NOTE: This contest has ended but the folks over at Glee Gum have offered BeFreeForMe members a Buy One – Get One FREE Coupon for the Glee gum! Click the link to get yours today!

Since the folks over at Glee Gum sent me a fantastic care-package, I have been happily chewing in gleeful bliss!

This week’s WIN-It-Wednesday is the most fun prize we have had yet! I was so happy (or rather I should say…gleeful) when Glee Gum decided to participate in BeFreeForMe’s WIN-It-Wednesday.

Gum is just fun. And being happy knowing you can enjoy it without the worry of allergens and additives is even better.

Glee gum is full of flavor (They come in six varieties: Tangerine, Triple Berry, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Bubblegum and Spearmint) yet it is free of gluten, dairy, soy and nuts. It also has no preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors or artificial sweeteners. 

And to make things interesting, Glee Gum is the only gum made the old fashioned way, with chicle, a unique gum base which helps preserve the rainforest, not the synthetic stuff most gums are made with these days. Even the boxes are “green” made from 100% biodegradable, recycled cardboard.

Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make you happy. Today a ¼” square piece of Bubblegum flavored Glee Gum put a smile on my face.

How Can You Win?

Reply to this blog and tell us what little thing made you happy today. How easy is that?!


What Will You Win?

We will randomly pick five (5) winners to win the following prize package: One Mini Glee Variety packs (21 delicious Mini Glee Gum packs in kid-friendly Tangerine, Triple Berry and Bubblegum flavors) PLUS 2 Buy-One-Get-One FREE coupons for the Glee Gum of your choice.  Deadline to enter is Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 12 midnight EST

Be Happy. Be Free… and Good Luck!

Ask Shelley Case: How to Get More Fiber In Your Diet!

Monday, June 8th, 2009

How can I get more fiber in my diet? I was used to eating high fiber cereals/breads/crackers etc. before being diagnosed with celiac disease. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables but I know I am not getting 20-30 grams of fiber a day.

Dietary fiber is the part of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils), nuts and seeds that cannot be broken down by the human digestive system.  Although fiber is not readily digested, it plays an important role in the body, particularly through its effects on the digestive system.  Fiber helps to maintain regular bowel movements.  A high fiber diet can also play a role in the prevention of certain chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, colon cancer and diverticular disease.

Consuming adequate amounts of fiber is especially important for people with celiac disease.  Many newly diagnosed individuals may have symptoms of diarrhea due to malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the absorptive surface of the small intestine.  However, once a gluten-free diet is initiated, the intestinal tract begins to heal and the malabsorption and diarrhea eventually resolve.  Some may then have problems with constipation. It should also be noted that many individuals with celiac disease actually present with constipation prior to their diagnosis which may get worse on the gluten-free diet. 

As many gluten-free foods are made with starches and/or refined flours which are lower in fiber, it can be a challenge getting enough fiber in the diet. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for fiber varies for different age groups and sex. The DRI for females and males ages 19-50 is 25 and 38 grams per day respectively. For ages 51-70 it is 21grams (females) and 30 grams (males).

Here are some tips to increase your fiber intake…

* Gradually increase fiber in the diet (start with a small amount) along with an increased fluid intake, especially water

* Choose a variety of high-fiber gluten-free foods on a regular basis

* Mix it up.  Add ground flax, mesquite flour, rice bran or rice polish to pancakes, hot cereals or baked products. Extend hamburger patties or meat loaf with ground flax, cooked brown rice or oatmeal (pure, uncontaminated gluten-free). Add cooked amaranth, quinoa or teff to puddings. Use quinoa or brown rice flakes, oatmeal (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free) or gluten-free granola as a topping for fruit crisp

* Toss it up. Use brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, teff or wild rice in salads

* Use your bean. Add chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans and other bean varieties to salads, casseroles and soups

* Soups on. Make soups with lentils or split peas

* Pilaf Ideas. Add cooked buckwheat, oat groats or steel cut oats (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free)quinoa, sorghum or wild rice to a rice pilaf recipe

* Use high-fiber gluten-free mixes (homemade or from gluten-free companies) containing amaranth flour, bean flours, brown rice flour, ground flax,  mesquite flour, Montina™, oat flour   (pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free), quinoa flour, sorghum flour, teff flour or a combination of some of  these flours in baked products

* Try hot cereals for breakfast such as Altiplano Gold Instant Hot Quinoa Cereal, Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Flakes, Bob’s Red Mill Mighty Tasty GF Hot Cereal, The Birkett Mill Pocono Cream of Buckwheat Hot Cereal, Cream Hill Estates Lara’s Rolled Oats, Holly’s Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cereal Porridge with Cranberries, Gluten-Free Oats® Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

* Flax it up. Sprinkle ground flax on yogurt or add to fruit smoothies

* Snack right. Consume high-fiber snacks such as dried fruits, nuts, seeds and popcorn. Choose high-fiber snack bars with dried fruits, nuts and/or seeds (e.g., Bumble Bar,  Larabar, Mrs. May’s Naturals, Perfect 10)

* Eat, rather than drink. Eat whole fruits and vegetables rather than drinking juice

Choose right.  Choose breads with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving such as Ener G Seattle Brown, Kinnikinnick Brown Sandwich or Schar Multigrain. Choose higher fiber pastas such as brown rice, lentil, quinoa, soy or wild rice instead of white rice. Try high-fiber crackers such as Mary’s Gone Crackers or Crunchmaster Baked Multigrain Crackers


* NOTE ABOUT OATS: Must be pure, uncontaminated, gluten-free oats. Some available resources are from Bobs’ Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates, FarmPure Foods, Gluten-Free Oats, Gifts of Nature. For more information about the safety of oats in the gluten-free diet see:

Here are a few examples comparing the fiber content of seeds and grains:

Seeds & Grains (1 cup raw)

Fiber ( grams)

Flax seed




Sesame seeds (kernels, dried decorticated)




Buckwheat Groats (roasted, dry)


Oat Groats (pure uncontaminated, GF)


Sunflower Seeds (hulled kernels, dry roasted)






Wild Rice


Brown Rice (long grain)


White Rice (long grain, parboiled, enriched)



A comprehensive list of foods and their fiber content can be found in The Gluten-Free Diet

Note: Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case is a Registered Dietitian, Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide.

Friday Favorites: Trader Joe’s Gluten & Dairy Free Pancakes (and 3-slot toasters!)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I usually like to make my breakfast from “scratch” and try not to rely on pre-made offerings since homemade is usually far more economical. But there are some mornings I need a good “sit down breakfast” yet don’t have the time, or the bother to fuss.

This is when I reach for my Trader Joes Gluten AND Dairy Free Homestyle Pancakes.

Each box has four handy packets each containing three pancakes. The pancakes aren’t huge, but the three pancakes are a satisfying meal. The only tricky thing I have encountered is toasting all sides of the three pancakes when I have a 2-slot toaster (BTW – I know people with a 2-slot and a 4-slot toaster, but never a 3-slot toaster)! I solved the dilemma by buddying up two panckes in one slot, popping the toaster mid-cycle and rearranging the pancakes so that all pancake sides get that “I need butter to melt all over me” toasty glow. But I admit…  I have once or twice eaten a cold sided pancake – maybe I need to pay more attention, but that can be hard some mornings – especially before I’ve eaten.

The package shows them served with berries, syrup and melted butter, but I usually eat mine with either real maple syrup, or if I feel I need to adjust my sugar and calorie count, Maple Grove Farms or Vermont Maid Sugar Free syrup – both of which are clearly marked gluten free on their labels.

I also have spread raspberry preserves on these panckaes and eaten them in-hand and on-the-go on the days when a fork and knife are not an eating option.

All in all, these pancakes have my pick for BeFreeForMe’s  Friday Favorite for this week. Call them what you want… pancakes, flapjacks or hotcakes… they are a really good and quick breakfast, a freezer staple and a must-buy on a Trader Joe’s shopping trip.

One more thing…  Trader Joe’s, if your reading this, you may want to buy some stock in a 3-slot toaster manufacturer.

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