Archive for March, 2010

WIN-It-Wednesday: Better N’ Peanut Butter

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Let’s get down to the basics. Peanut butter is good, and it’s good for you – but it has way too many calories and fat for a gal like me to eat every day.

That’s why I am more than thrilled to have found a new and improved alternative… Better N’ Peanut Butter.

Better N’ Peanut Butter is gluten-free, dairy-free, and contains no cholesterol or trans or saturated fats.

Better yet … it has 85% less fat and 40% less calories than regular peanut butter.

The three varieties that Better N’ Peanut Butter comes in is: Original (with less than 3 grams of fat per serving vs. regular peanut butter that has 16 grams of fat), Low-Sodium (with 95 mg of sodium per serving), and Chocolate (a unique rich & creamy blend of chocolate & peanut butter that, believe it or not,  still has 85% less fat and 40% fewer calories than regular peanut butter! Yummy!)

Better N’ Peanut Butter is just what a gluten-free gal like me needs, especially when bathing suit season is just a few short months away.

Any way you spread it, Better N’ Peanut Butter is just plain better.

That is why I am happy to report that Better N’ Peanut Butter is this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor on BeFreeForMe. Two (yes 2!) LUCKY BeFreeForMe members will win a variety pack of Better N’ Peanut Butters (one of each flavor).

How can you win?


Reply to this blog and tell us how you stick to staying in shape (I am really looking forward to seeing these answers!) and/or your favorite way to enjoy peanut butter. (Me? I try to hit the treadmill every day while I watch Dr. Oz to pick-up a few pointers on staying well, and I love my peanut butter on gluten-free toast).

All entries must be received by Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 12 midnight EST.

Good Luck, Learn from peanut butter and stick with it… and, as always…

Be Free!

Isn’t This Just Kosher?

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Passover is a fantastic time to scoop up some phenomenal gluten-free products at some great prices!

What distinguishes food that is eaten at Passover? During this religious holiday observing the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt, observers eat matzo instead of bread. They also refrain from eating “chometz” during the weeklong holiday – that includes barley, wheat, rye and oats (plus leavening).

I found a blog, Gluten-Free Nosh, run by a gal named Eve, whose youngest daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease three years ago. In her blog Eve shares how to create gluten-free versions of her family’s favorite and traditional Jewish foods, along with tips and pointers to navigate your way through a gluten-free lifestyle.

Just recently Eve wrote a blog post that includes a comprehensive list of gluten-free foods found during Passover.  Her blog posting is a must read for everyone! So make sure you check it out, and bring it with you during this week’s grocery shopping trip.

P.S. I also am dying to try Eve’s Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup recipe.

Thanks Eve for this great blog post!

Friday Favorite: Butterball Boneless Breast of Turkey Roast (WITH Gluten-Free Gravy!)

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Good Gravy!

I couldn’t believe it when I was told by the Customer Service Rep at Butterball that the gravy packet included in my Boneless Breast of Turkey Roast was gluten free! What a treat for me! (I called Butterball at 1-800-BUTTERBALL or 800-288-8372).

Besides the bonus gluten-free gravy pack (which is included in a separate pouch) the boneless turkey breast is also delicious…. Moist, flavorful and juicy…. without the hassle of preparing, prepping and cooking a whole turkey.

In fact, the Butterball Boneless Turkey Breast was a snap to prepare. Just pop it in the oven and it is done. No mess. No fuss.

This turkey breast is a welcoming change to weeknight dinners, and will make a fantastic addition to my Easter buffet.

The convenience, taste, and of course that awesome, out of-this world gluten-free gravy packet makes Butterball’s Boneless Breast of Turkey Roast this week’s Friday Favorite on BeFreeForMe!

Gobble Gobble!

WIN-It-Wednesday: Pastor Chuck Orchards Apple Specialties

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

When I was younger my Mom served applesauce all the time. We would have it for breakfast on top of oatmeal, at lunch for a side with our sandwiches, and of course served with pork chops … which had me and my sisters imitating Peter Brady, a la Humphrey Bogart, by repeating “porkchopppps and apple sauuuuuce” continuously throughout the dinner hour.

Oh the memories…. (and the patience my Mom and Dad must have had!)

I hadn’t thought much about apple sauce until I was recently introduced to Pastor Chuck’s Organic Apple Specialties. They makes delicious products made from Maine-grown, organic apples. All of their products have no preservatives or pesticides. Plus they are gluten and allergen free.

Pastor Chuck’s products are not just perfect for kids, but also for all of us adults that are looking for healthy and organic choices.

That is why I was thrilled when Pastor Chuck’s Organic Maine Apple Specialties decided to be the sponsor of BeFreeForMe’s WIN-It-Wednesday this week. Two (Yes 2!) LUCKY BeFreeForMe members will win a gift pack of Pastor Chuck products!

The first gift packs includes three jars of the Apple Butters, which are fantastic non-dairy alternatives to spread over gluten-free bagels, instead of butter or jam. The second gift pack includes a jar of the apple butter, a jar of the applesauce, and a jar of the Apple Salsa (Yes Salsa!) which is so versatile. I love to use the apple salsa over grilled meats, with baked brie, and as a dip for gluten-free crackers and fruits.  It is uniquely delicious!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and tell us your favorite TV show when you were a kid and your favorite character in that show (Me? I loved the Brady Bunch, and my favorites were Peter and Jan… since they were both middle children like me!)

Good Luck, Pork Chops and Apple Sauce forever… and as always,

Be Free!

Friday Favorite: Nature’s Path Whole O’s Cereal

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

O Boy! Many newly diagnosed celiacs find themselves craving the “standard” breakfast cereals. That is why Nature’s Path Organic Whole O’s are a must-have for any gluten-free cupboard.

Made by Nature’s Path, the Whole O’s cereal taste just like Cherrios… only they are gluten free and good for you too. Made with organic corn and whole grain rice, Whole O’s are crunchy & delicious.  

This all-time favorite breakfast cereal (or right-out-of-the-box by-the-handful snack) is healthy and gluten-free, which is why Nature’s Path Organic Whole O’s gets this week’s BeFreeForMe Friday Favorite nomination… and a standing O-vation!


WIN-It-Wednesday: Conte’s Gluten-Free Pasta

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Remember Stuffed Shells, Cheese Tortellini, Pirogues and Raviolis? If these are the type of cravings you are dreaming about on your gluten-free diet than check out Conte’s Pasta… this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor on

Conte’s Pasta Company is a family run business that makes phenomenal Italian specialties the old fashioned traditional way. Since 2007 they have offered a selection of gluten-free choices to their product line, including gluten-free raviolis, stuffed shells, lasagna, spaghetti & meatballs and gnocchi. I have tried them all and they are remarkable!

Conte’s makes traditional Italian meals like I remember.

I am so thrilled that Conte’s Pasta Company is this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor!
Two (Yes 2!) LUCKY BeFreeForMe members will win a goodie box full of an assortment of Conte’s gluten-free pasta.

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and tell us what family traditions you had/have. (Me? Dad’s Flourless Chocolate Cake for birthdays; fish & chips from Bessie’s Seafood; summer clam bakes on Cape Cod; and long walks with the extended family after big holiday dinners).

All entries must be received by Tuesday, 03/23/10 at 12 midnight EST. 

Good Luck, Keep those traditions going…. And as always,

Be Free!

One Mothers Story on Celiac Disease

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Tara Taft’s daughter, Erica, was diagnosed with celiac disease several years ago. Over these years, Tara and her whole family has made Erica’s diagnosis a family-affair. The outcome? A healthy and happy Erica, and the whole Taft family learning the true meaning of community and giving.

There were a lot of experiences I could relate to after reading this article that appeared in Thrive, Children Hospital of Boston’s Health & Science Blog.

One of these experiences is the sense of community with those with celiac disease or food allergies share. I have a saying, “Once a Celiac, Never a Stranger”. Seeing someone in the grocery store with Van’s Waffles, Glutino Pretzels & Bob’s Red Mill GF Flour in their carts or a fellow restaurant patron beaming happily at a gluten-free menu just begs me to start-up a conversation!

I have discovered a healthier and happier me; complete strangers that have become lifelong friends; the true appreciation of food, family and friend and most importantly, the sheer joy in sharing simple basic things (even hugs!)… all because of my diagnosis of celiac disease.

Tara’s article should remind us all that a positive outlook and attitude is contagious.

Yup… life is good.

Friday Favorite: Bare Fruit 100% Organic Snacks

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

This week’s Friday Favorite goes to a super-convenient, healthy and simple snack: Bare Fruit 100% Organic Fruit Snacks.

Bare Fruit snacks are “baked-dried” organic fruits that are so simple, yet so delicious. What I love the most about these snacks is the ingredient list. The only ingredient is the organic fruit itself (and natural organic cinnamon for the Cinnamon Apple Chips) and nothing more.

Full of flavor and fiber, yet no gluten, allergens, fat or preservatives these snacks are the perfect “go-to-snack” for work, traveling, school or after-school activities.

My favorites are the Cinnamon Apple Chips and the Pear Chips. I also like to mix these in with my yogurt, or as a topping on my gluten-free oatmeal.

Bare Fruit Snacks are a snack you can feel good about eating!

WIN-It-Wednesday: Michael Season’s Snacks

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Sometimes I crave a salty snack that is reminiscent of the days before I went gluten free. The type of snack that reminds me of when I was a kid, and I would sit around with my sisters and share a big bag of snacks until all that was left was a bunch of crumbs.

That is why I was excited when Michael Season’s sent me a big box full of snacks that were not only gluten-free, but also a healthier version of the treats from yesteryear.

Michael Season’s has developed what I call “The Cheese Curl for the Big Girl”… a delicious gluten-free cheese curl with at least 50% less fat than the leading brand-name. They have even developed “adult” flavors for their cheese curls, including Hot Chili Pepper Curls and Jalapeno Puffs, along with the traditional childhood favorites, Cheddar Cheese Curls or Puffs. There are also no artificial colors in any of the Michael Season’s products so you can eats these curls and puffs san the construction-zone cone orange fingers. Definitely a plus.

Other favorite Michael Season’s products are the Thin Potato Crisps, which are also casein-free, as well as gluten-free. Sporting 70% less fat than regular potato chips, these chips add just the perfect crunch to any lunch. Guilt-free.

Michael Season’s products are all natural, and contain no preservatives, artificial flavors or MSG.   They use the highest quality ingredients and seasonings; and has gluten-free testing done on their products. Feel good snacking at its best!

All these reasons are why I am so excited that Michael Season’s is this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor. Two (Yes, 2!) LUCKY BeFreeForMe members will win a Michael Season’s reusable shopping bag packed with the Michael Season’s products of your choice.

How can you WIN?

Reply to this blog and tell us what childhood memories you have that make you feel good. (Me? Blueberry picking with my Mom & sisters, along with my summers on Cape Cod). All entries must be received by Tuesday, March 16th at 12:00 Midnight EST.

Good Luck, Hold close your childhood memories… and as always,

Be Free!

Ask Shelley Case: Does Celiac Disease & Lactose Intolerance Go Hand-in-Hand?

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Q. I have just been diagnosed with celiac disease. In addition to avoiding gluten do I need to avoid dairy products too? I hear that celiac disease and lactose intolerance can sometimes go hand-in-hand.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten found in the grains wheat, rye and barley. The small intestinal villi (tiny finger-like projections) become inflamed and flattened (known as villous atrophy) due to the reaction to gluten. Malabsorption of various nutrients such as iron, folic acid, calcium and vitamin D can result. Fortunately, removing gluten from the diet will allow the villi to regenerate fairly quickly- often weeks to a few months. In some people with long-standing, undiagnosed celiac disease or in older individuals, it may take months to several years until the villi are completely healed. The most important factor is to follow a strict gluten-free diet for life.

The tips of the villi also contain enzymes such as lactase which is responsible for the digestion of lactose- a natural sugar found in milk and milk products. In some individuals with newly diagnosed celiac disease, especially those with major villous atrophy, the level of lactase is significantly reduced. This temporary lactose intolerance causes undigested lactose to pass through the intestinal tract, drawing fluid with it. It is then fermented by bacteria in the large intestine producing short-chain fatty acids and gases. Symptoms of lactose intolerance may include abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, nausea, headache and diarrhea. These symptoms can occur 15-30 minutes or as long as several hours after consuming foods with lactose.

The good news is that this temporary lactose intolerance often improves on the gluten-free diet alone. However, some people may also need to restrict or reduce lactose until the villi are completely healed and the lactase enzyme levels are restored to normal. This may take weeks to months depending on individual response. It should be noted that most individuals with lactose intolerance can digest small amounts of lactose.

Here are some options for those with lactose intolerance:

 Lactose-reduced milk contains added lactase enzymes and about 99% of the naturally occurring lactose has been converted to simple, easily digested sugars. Some brands such as Lactaid and Dairy-Ease are available in refrigerated forms and Lacteeze is in shelf-stable and refrigerated forms. Lactose-reduced milk is slightly sweeter than regular milk but it has the same nutritional value and can be used in cooking and baking as well.

 Lactase supplements can be taken just before meals or snacks that contain lactose. Lactaid makes caplets that can be swallowed or chewable tablets. Lacteeze brand has ultra-strength tablets.

 Lactase enzyme drops can be added to liquid dairy products. You need to pre-treat the milk at least 24 hours in advance to ensure the lactase breaks down the lactose. Lactaid and Lacteeze make these drops that are available in drug stores.

 Non-dairy beverages made from nuts, potatoes, rice or soy do not contain any lactose. Look for brands that are gluten-free (do not contain any barley malt flavoring) and are enriched with calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients.

 Yogurt is often tolerated by those with lactose intolerance. Although yogurt contains lactose, the lactase enzymes in the active cultures digest this lactose. Choose brands that contain “active” or “live” cultures.

 Cheese  especially aged, natural cheese such as Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan and Mozzarella are low in lactose. In these cheeses most of the lactose is removed with the whey and the small amount remaining is broken down during the aging process, therefore, most aged cheese are well tolerated.  However, processed cheese food and processed cheese spreads often contain added modified milk solids, therefore their lactose content may be higher than plain processed cheese. Light cheese products also contain modified milk solids that replace milk fat. They tend to be high in lactose.

 Milk  taken in small amounts (1/4-1/2 cup) at a time may be tolerated. Avoid drinking large amounts at once. Consume milk with meals or snacks but avoid drinking on an empty stomach. The higher the fat content in the milk, the slower it is digested and more easily tolerated. Whole milk may be better tolerated than low-fat or non-fat milk.


The above information was excerpted from Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide by Shelley Case, RD. See

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