Archive for September, 2009

WIN-It-Wednesday: Glee Gum

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

This week’s WIN-It-Wednesday is a re-run of one of the most popular WIN-It-Wednesday’s to date! GLEE GUM!

Just like a re-run of your favorite TV show that always puts a smile on your face… this re-run of Glee Gum is bound to do the same!

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. 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.
Gum is just fun, and so were the responses that we received the last run of this Glee Gum giveaway.

We simply asked “what little thing made you happy today”.  The responses were overwhelming and enlightening.

And every single one of them put a smile on my face. 

How Can You Win?
So once again… in order to WIN, reply to this blog and tell us what little thing made you happy today. (Me? A delicious specially made gluten free dinner waiting for me when I get home from work).

What Will You Win?
We will randomly pick one blog entry to win the following prize: One Mini Glee Variety packs (21 delicious Mini Glee Gum packs in kid-friendly Tangerine, Triple Berry and Bubblegum flavors).  Deadline to enter is Sunday, September 12, 2009 at 12 midnight EST

Be Happy. Be Free… and Good Luck!

NOTE: The folks over at Glee Gum have also offered ALL BeFreeForMe members a Buy One – Get One FREE Coupon for the Glee gum! Click the link to get yours today!

BeFreeForMe has been Nominated to the Shine A Light Initiative

Monday, September 7th, 2009

BeFreeForMe has been nominated to the Shine A Light Initiative!

Shine A Light is a program that rewards everyday small businesses that inspires to help others, while keeping an entrepreneurial spirit.

The Shine A Light initiative is sponsored by American Express, in partnership with NBC Universal. They are inviting folks to nominate and vote for an inspiring small business that strives to assist others and give back to their community.

This is a perfect opportunity for those in the celiac and allergen free communities to make a difference and have others take notice! The three finalist judges are talk show host and entrepreneur Ellen DeGeneres, fashion designer and entrepreneur Diane von Furstenberg, and MSNBC’s small business expert and host JJ Ramberg.

To support BeFreeForMe’s nomination, click here, and read our profile. If you would like to support us, and further the awareness of food allergies and celiac disease, click on the “Support this Story” button in the left column. Please note that in order to submit your endorsement, you will have to register (it is quick and easy though and they promise not to spam!). 

BeFreeForMe would use the award grant money to further the awareness of celiac disease and food allergies, as well as provide medic alert bracelets / identifications to anyone financially in need.

Thanks ahead of time for your vote! Please note that you need to vote by September 13th (Sunday)!

Ask Shelley Case: Eating Out – Resources & Tips

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Question: I just got diagnosed with celiac disease and my two children also have food allergies. Can you give me any tips on eating out safely… and easily?

Answer: Eating out can be a real challenge, especially when you are first learning about the gluten-free diet, so I recommend mastering the basics of the diet before venturing out to eat in restaurants. But once you’re ready to eat, there are a growing number of restaurants that are gluten-free (GF) friendly. Many have a GF menu or they’re willing to make adaptations and substitutions in order to meet the needs of the GF customer. Also it’s exciting to see initiatives like the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP) from the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) that includes educational and training materials for restaurants and their staff. Once they meet specific criteria they are listed on the GFRAP website so that individuals can search participating restaurants in North America by restaurant name or city and type of cuisine. Check out

There are many other great resources to help you eat out and travel safely:

1. The Celiac Scene™ features a free database and downloadable maps of restaurants that locals with celiac disease trust in cities across the USA and Canada. Owned and updated by an individual with celiac disease. Many restaurants bear the special symbol of the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program.

2. is another free online global directory of over 6000 GF listings of restaurants, bakeries, hotels, resorts, spas, cruises and more. Recommendations are submitted by individuals with celiac disease or others following a GFD, as well as individual GF eating establishments.

3. has a variety of resources on safe GF travel and dining. One is a great book called Let’s Eat Out with Celiac and Food Allergies that provides practical information on eating out in regular and ethnic restaurants. It includes 7 international cuisines with hundreds of menus items showcasing common ingredients, hidden allergens and food preparation techniques used by chefs and restaurants. In addition they have cuisine specific pocket size guides that include sample menus, menu dish descriptions, preparation techniques, quick reference guides and questions to ask to ensure safe meals. Another handy resource is the multi-lingual phrase pocket guide that has over 1200 translations from English to French, Spanish, German and Italian. The phrases include dining requests, ingredients, specific preparation requests, sample menus and over 300 health phrases in 4 languages. They have also just released new iPhone/iPod touch applications for some of their resources.

Listen to my podcast (scroll down to podcast #3) with Kim Koeller, co-author of “Let’s Eat Out: Your Passport to Living Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free.” It features an informative discussion on Kim’s newly released revised edition on eating out in regular and ethnic restaurants around the world and tips to eat out safely.

4. Triumph Dining has an Essential GF Restaurant Guide that features over 5000 restaurants across the US listed in a state by state directory and every listing is verified and updated each year by an individual with celiac disease. And the Guide has 80 GF lists from various chain restaurants. Triumph Dining also has laminated wallet sized dining cards for 10 different cuisines. One side of the card is in English and the other side in the foreign language.

5. Bob and Ruth’s Gluten-Free Dining and Travel Club is a company specializing in assisting individuals on a GFD. They offer escorted GF getaways to resorts, on cruises and tours of exotic places all over the world. All the arrangements are taken care of and you can eat safely in these various locations with fellow gluten-free travelers while enjoying a wonderful vacation. My husband and I booked a one week trip with Bob and Ruth a few years ago to the Caribbean. We stayed at the Club Med and not only was the food fantastic and safe, but we met so many nice people.


Here are a few tips for a safe and successful dining experience for those with celiac disease, as well as any intolerance or dietary restriction:

1. Call the restaurant the day before or earlier in the day and ask to speak to the chef or manager to discuss meal options. They can often substitute other ingredients or create an alternative menu or menu item.

2. If possible try to avoid peak meal times. Dining early or late will allow more time and easier access to the staff that can answer questions and usually accommodate special needs.

3. Explain your dietary restrictions briefly. The terms celiac disease is still often unfamiliar to many to those in the food service industry. So I often find it easier to explain that you have a serious food allergy and will get very sick if your order is not handled properly. Indicate that you must not have any  foods or ingredients containing gluten which means no items made with wheat flour, breading, croutons, etc. It often helps to ask to speak to the manager or chef to make sure the order gets placed properly and prepared safely.

4. No matter whether the restaurant has a special GF menu or some GF items on the menu, it is still essential to ask specific questions. You need to inquire about cooking methods, specific ingredients that are in the item and how it is served.

5. Request that your food be prepared on a clean grill or in a clean pan. If this is a problem, suggest cooking it on clean aluminum foil.

6. When they bring your meal make sure you ask again if this is the special meal and were your instructions followed.

7. Don’t forget to thank the server, chef and manager. Leave a generous tip for good service and patronize the restaurant again.

Tips adapted from Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case and Restaurant Dining by the Gluten Intolerance Group.

Friday Favorite: Soups On! Pacific Natural Foods

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

The days are getting shorter, temperatures getting cooler and lunches are being well planned and thought out.

This is when I reach for Pacific Natural Foods soups.

Quick, easy and convenient, having a soup I can reach for that is gluten and allergen free is a comfort. The 16-ounce package makes this soup a grab-and-go alternative for any busy lunch hour.

Out of all of the many varieties of gluten and (most) allergen free soups … Organic Creamy Tomato & Organic Creamy Butternut Soup are two of my favorites.

Pacific Natural Foods Soups are my Go-To-On-The-Go quick lunch options and this weeks Favorite Friday.  

Soups on. Grab a spoon and dig in!

WIN-It-Wednesday: Navan Foods – The Allergy Free Food Shop

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

For those of you looking to find an allergen free food shop, that has personal and customized food options, look no further. Navan Foods is the place to find one-on-one individual service that is a friendly resource and one-stop shop.

Navan Foods has helped me, and BeFreeForMe members find those hard-to-find allergen free items. Two weeks ago, Jill, a BeFreeForMe member contacted me wondering if I knew of any corn free confectionary sugars, and where she could buy it. Jill needed the sugar to make the frosting for her wedding cake.

Without ado, I contacted Jennifer Elizondo, the owner of Navan Foods, and asked her to assist in helping this corn-free-frosting-seeking bride. Within 12 hours, Jennifer had contacted Jill and hooked her up with a corn-free confectionary sugar.

How’s that for frosting on the cake customer service?

Another reason I like Navan Foods is the icon guide that effortlessly navigates you through the site. The icons make shopping for special diets easier. Navan does the hard work and determines what products are free of what allergens by contacting the manufacturer and asking them a series of questions about their products ingredients and their manufacturing facilities.

The icons represent products that are free of certain allergens (gluten, egg, soy, dairy, corn, etc.), specialty diets (vegan, organic, kosher, diabetic friendly, etc.) as well as icons representing healthy options (low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium and sugar free).

Navan Foods is sponsoring this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday and is offering TWO Lucky BeFreeForMe members a $20 gift certificate, PLUS free shipping!

How can you win?


Reply to this blog and tell us the one thing that you are glad you found that is gluten / allergen free (Me? Glutino gluten free pretzels!) or wish you could find (Me? Gluten free red licorice).

 Entries must be received by Sunday, September 6, 2009 at 12:00 midnight EST.

Good Luck… and as always…

Be Free!

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