Archive for August, 2010

Celiac Disease, Gluten-Free and Food Allergies… In the News!

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Wow! There’s been a lot of news in the limelight this week when it comes to gluten-free living, celiac disease and food allergies in general.

The article that  “wowed” me the most (along with the video above that goes with it) was featured in the Wall Street Journal on August 24, 2010. After reading this article, I realized that the media is finally “getting” why the gluten-free diet is so important for some, but not such a great ideas for others. This Wall Street Journal article, another article that was written a few years back and published by the BBC, and the rash of articles on celiac disease that came out after the WSJ article this past week (like these excellent ones from the Toronto Star or St. Petersburg Times) all examine and detail the reasons why the gluten-free diet is a must for some, but why the gluten-free diet, or any diet that cuts out key foods, may not be the wisest choice for many. It seems crazy to me, but some folks think that living with food restrictions is the way to go because actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachel Weisz and Zooey Deschanel, or celebrities like Madonna and Victoria Beckham are restricting gluten and other foods from their diets.

My thoughts? I think it’s great that these celebrities are bringing recognition and acknowledgment to celiac disease, food allergies and intolerances; but as a consequence there are people that are exposing themselves to a diet that is not nutritionally sound, or is preventing them from getting the correct diagnosis to a legitimate food allergy, intolerance or celiac disease diagnosis. I encourage everyone to eat healthy, visit your health care provider before engaging in any type of restricted diet, and most important do what is right for you, not some celebrity.

Next on the hot newsworthy list this week is an article found in the North Shore News, a division of The article “Don’t Go Nuts Over Food Allergies” is a great article that reviews some basic tips about being “peanut-aware”. Its publication is timely too: Just in time for back-to-school. It’s a perfect article to print and share with teachers, neighbors or bus drivers. This is a must read that can be modified to fit any food allergen. While your at it, also check out an article found in, listing a short summary on what foods to avoid for certain food allergies.

The last tidbit of news was found in Business Week. The article, “Signs You Might Have Celiac Disease” is a good conversation piece and a starting point for those that are thinking of getting tested for the disease. Hooray to Business Week for bringing recognition to celiac disease.

That’s it! Please share and post links to any articles that you have found on gluten-free living, food allergies or celiac disease. After all… it’s all about the sharing!

Be Free!

Friday Favorite: Kame Rice Crackers

Thursday, August 26th, 2010
I love Kame Rice Crackers since they’re so very versatile.

They seem to work with everything… from sweet to savory. I even have my non-gluten free friends hooked on these crackers.

I love them as a part of a quick mini-meal-on-the-go or a quick snack. Spread them with peanut butter, dip them in hummus, slather them with fresh preserves or use them as a scoop for fresh salsa. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks – Kame Rice Crackers fits the bill.

I also like the way these crackers note right on the package that they are gluten-free. I have been fooled many times into almost buying other brands of rice crackers thinking that they have to be gluten-free… after all they are Rice Crackers? Right? Wrong! Examine some of these other brand’s labels a bit closer, and you’ll see that often time one of the ingredients is WHEAT! Ughh!

Kame Rice Crackers comes in many flavors including Original, Sesame, Seaweed and my new favorite… Wasabi!

Not being fooled, duped or tricked into eating gluten; having a gluten-free cracker I can count and a crispy, great taste are all the wonderful reasons why Kame Rice Crackers are this weeks Friday Favorite!

WIN-It-Wednesday: National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Goodie Bags

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding for celiac disease that will advance research, education and screening amongst medical professionals, children, and adults on a gluten free diet.

Over the course of the past three years, I have had the pleasure of meeting Alice Bast, the Executive Director of the NFCA, and her team at seminars, trade shows and events.

Whenever I run into Alice and her team at these industry functions, I can’t help but notice the enthusiasm they share with me on wanting to educate everybody (and anybody!) about celiac disease and making sure celiacs everywhere have the tools to live a happy and healthy life… gluten-free.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, or you haven’t visited in some time, visit the NFCA website. It’s easy to use and full of information for those just starting out on a gluten-free diet, as well as the seasoned gluten-free’er.

My favorite sections of the NFCA website? The Resource section which has support for patients and their families, food & recipes, and more. My favorite go-to sections of this resource page are the printable guides, that you can download and are great for sharing with family, friends and teachers (plus these guides are free to download too!) and the page that lists all the upcoming webinars hosted by the NFCA – a great way to stay “in the know”, without even leaving your home. And last, while you’re at it, check out the Events section of the NFCA website to see if there are any support meetings or fundraisers in your area that may be of interest to you – after all sharing with each other is crucial in learning more about the celiac lifestyle and supporting each other. A great event worth mentioning is the NFCA Annual Appetite for Awareness taking place on on October 24 in Philadelphia, an event that not only spreads awareness of celiac disease, but also offers a spread of gluten-free foods any celiac would love to explore & devour! Make sure to check out the details on this event.

For the next two week’s WIN-It-Wednesdays, the NFCA has graciously offered a total of six (YES 6!) Goodie Bags full of fun NFCA goodies. The goodie bag are packed with fun items that will let you show your celiac pride! Items in the goodie bag will include logoed NFCA baseball caps, celiac awareness magnets (I have one on the back of my car showing I am a supporter of celiac disease awareness!) and sticky notes – plus some other things like aprons, chip clips and cookie cutters (for gluten-free cookies – of course!). Also included with the fun goodie bag items will be a book, either a gluten-free cookbook OR an educational resource book on celiac disease, the winners can pick which type of book they would like.

How can you win?


Reply to this blog and ask one questions about celiac disease / the gluten free diet that you need to know OR share one pointer/tip you would give someone who just got diagnosed with celiac disease today. (Mine? Try to “embrace” the gluten-free lifestyle… really wrap your arms around it and learn as much as you can, and make sure you have fantastic fun trying new foods you never knew existed!)

Six randomly picked winners will be chosen as winners. Three winners will be selected from all entries posted before Tuesday, 08/31/10, and three winners will be selected from the entries posted between Wednesday, 09/01/10 and Tuesday, 09/07/10.
Enter EACH WEEK to increase your chances of WINNING!

Good luck, remember to always seek answers, yet help with solutions… and as always…
Be Free!

Allergen-Free Ice Cream Social: Scoops, Sprinkles and Smiles!

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

In the crazy and hazy days of mid-August most of us enjoy a scoop of good ice cream. Our favorite flavors topped with sprinkles, or mixed in with our favorite allergen or gluten free add-in’s make the whole ice cream experience something to scream about.

But often times, when a food allergy, intolerance or celiac disease is involved a trip to the local ice cream parlor can turn into a plain old vanilla type of experience. Plus, the cost of treating a family to ice cream can be another reason to scream.

That is why I love to host my own ice cream parlor style Ice Cream Socials. As with anything you make, bake or cook at home, versus dining out, you have complete control over what food is on the menu, and also how it is prepared and served.

The concept of having an ice cream social is simple. Just remember to keep the any items you serve at the ice cream social away from all other items that impose an allergy concern (i.e. keep the nuts, on a completely different counter top, or better yet, omit them completely, if nut-allergies are a concern), also make sure that you prevent any cross-contamination issues, by providing separate serving spoons or ice cream scoops for every item served.

When planning your Ice Cream Social, make sure you have a large enough area to set up “salad bar” style. The idea is to have your guests mix and match their toppings based upon their tastes and allergens. Have the guest form a line “buffet style” to serve themselves. Here are a few pointers to make your ice Cream Social a screaming success:

Take Orders: Consult your guests to find out if they are concerned with any food allergies prior to choosing what ingredients will become part of your ice cream buffet. Also, make sure you keep the labels and packaging in case someone wants to read the items ingredients.

Start with the Basics: Select a few type of basic ice creams to serve, or non-dairy ice cream, if a dairy allergy or intolerance is an issue. Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry & Coffee, are good choices. Some of my favorite types of gluten-free ice cream include Edy’s and Hood, which also makes a Lactaid Ice Cream, which is free of lactose too. Also, a really good dairy-free ice cream is Rice Dream. Whatever type you choose, set it out a few minutes before serving for easier scooping.

Mix-ins: Next start with the mix-ins. Gluten free cookies from Glutino or Allergen free cookies from Home Free are great cookie mix-in choices. I also love the Cinnamon riceworks brown Rice Crisps as mix in’s too – plus they are full of fiber! Other mix-in ideas include M&M’s, jelly beans, gum balls or Skittles. Mix it up and get creative!

Topping: toppings can include, traditional sprinkles (or jimmies), candy, nuts (if nut allergies are not a concern), whip cream, hot fudge, caramel, popcorn,  marshmallow fluff, gluten free cereal, shredded coconut, fruit (canned, frozen or fresh), and of course… maraschino cherries!

Think outside of the bowl: Let your guests make Ice Cream Sodas, Root Beer Floats, cones and milkshakes too, by supplying a blender, tall glasses, straws, gluten and allergen free ice cream cones, milk (soy milk, if dairy is an issue) and root beer.

Menu: Some people, especially kids, may get overwhelmed trying to figure out what kind of sundae to make. This is when you can help out! Make up some “recipes” for suggested sundae ideas on index cards, and scatter them along the sundae making table.

Some of my favorite sundae concoctions?

Pina Colada = Vanilla Ice Cream (or dairy free substitute) + Canned Pineapple + Shredded Coconut

Snickers = Chocolate Ice Cream (or dairy free substitute) + Caramel Sauce + Hot Fudge + Peanuts

Classic Banana Split =  One scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream (or dairy free substitute) + One scoop of Chocolate Ice Cream (or dairy free substitute) + One scoop of Strawberry Ice Cream (or dairy free substitute) + Banana + Caramel Sauce + Hot Fudge Sauce + Frozen Strawberries (thawed with juices) + whipped cream + nuts (optional, omit for nut free)

Cherry Crisp = Vanilla Ice Cream (or dairy free substitute) +  Canned Pie Cherries + dollops of cooked gluten-free oatmeal + sprinkle of cinnamon

Triple Chocolate Brownie = Chocolate Ice Cream (or dairy free substitute) + Gluten-free Chocolate Brownie (heated) + Hot Fudge + whipped cream (optional) + Chocolate sprinkles

Classic Hot Fudge = Vanilla Ice Cream (or dairy free substitute) + Hot fudge sauce + whipped cream + chopped walnuts (optional, omit for nut-free) = maraschino cherry

What is your favorite kind of ice cream, and ways to enjoy it?

Friday Favorite: Edy’s Pineapple Fruit Bars

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

One of my favorite memories as a little girl was visiting my “Mom” (Grandmother) & Grandpa Green in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The summer days were hot, steamy and sticky and the highlight of the day was “Pony Boy”, the ice cream man that came by in his cart, pulled by a pony, providing Popsicles to all of us anxious and enthusiastic kids that were patiently waiting, quarter in hand, for his musical entrance on mid-summer night evenings.

The grand entrance of Pony Boy could never be compared today to the opening of my side-by-side freezer after dinner. But when I reach in for an Edy’s Fruit Bar, it sure does come close.

Let’s face it. Simple “frozen delicacies on a wooden stick” bring back fun summer memories. So simple, yet so emotionally powerful.

And Edy’s Fruit Bars are basically, in a frozen memory nutshell, the Popsicle for the big-girl.

Gluten-free, nut-free and only 80 calories per bar, my favorite is the new Pineapple Fruit Bar. Juicy, packed with tiny bits of pineapple and just enough of an after-dinner dessert to satisfy, but not make me feel guilty, Edy’s Pineapple Fruit Bars are my go-to summer favorite.

A fantastic mid-summer dessert, only 80 calories, and the ability to bring back some of the best memories of my life are the reasons why this week’s Friday Favorite goes to Edy’s Fruit Bars… even if they aren’t delivered by Pony-Boy.

WIN-It-Wednesday: Didi Davis Food – Salt Blend Collection

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

For those of you that are looking to shake up some of your recipes with tons of flavor and spice… look no further! Didi Davis Food Blended Finishing Salts are a must have in gluten and allergen free kitchens. Getting tired of ho-hum grilled chicken breast? Dash on some Sagemary Salt, to add a spicy, fresh-from-the-garden herb flavor; is your salmon getting bored and poached to pieces? Splash some Fennel Thyme Salt on top and enjoy a clean, crisp calorie-free and allergy-free addition, and if your green beans need a little fancying-up for company, toss in some sliced almonds and a dusting of the Vanilla Salt.

Created from Flor de Sal (a moist Portuguese sea salt) and fresh herbs, DiDi Davis Salt Blends add flare, crunch and piazza to any fresh and cooked gluten and allergen free dishes.

Natural sea salt is the way to go when salting your foods. I love the briny, strong and earthy taste compared to regular white table salt. Plus, because of the fuller flavor in sea salt, I use way less salt in my dishes as well.

For recipe and usage ideas you can also check out Didi Davis Food blog, appropriately named, The Salty Dog blog.

Some of the blends that these finishing salts come in are: Fennel Thyme Salt, featured in this recipe, Oven-Poached Salmon with Fennel Thyme Salt; Porcini Salt, wonderful used in gluten-free broths and gravies; Sagemary Salt, a blend of sage & rosemary and my personal favorite; Caraway Salt, perfect accompanied over sweet Italian sausage tossed with olive oil over Penne pasta; Vanilla Salt, a sweet addition when speckled over in-season buttered corn-on-the-cob; Sumac Pepper Salt, ideal as a topping for fresh seasonal steamed vegetables like in this Asparagus with Sumac Pepper Salt recipe; Aleppo Chile Salt, to flavor for chili & tacos and last the Smoked Spicy Paprika Salt, which is great over smoked beef, charcoal grilled burgers or used in this recipe Roasted Potatoes with Smoked Paprika Salt.

All these fabulous salt blend creations are why I am so very excited that DiDi Davis Food is this weeks WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor.

Three (Yes 3!) Lucky BeFreeForMe members will win a Didi Davis Food Salt Blend Collection, which consists of a sampler pack of the eight salt blends listed above.

How can you WIN?


Reply to this blog and tell us which of the salt blends listed above sound the best to you… as well as how you would use it. (Me? I would love to try the Vanilla salt over a Spinach & Strawberry Salad, or the Aleppo Chile Salt in Bloody Marys!). All entries must be received by Tuesday, August 24 at 12:00 midnight EST.

Good Luck, Remember to break out of your routine and shake things up once in awhile, and, as always…
Be Free!

Got Celiac Disease? Hopefully Chelsea Clinton’s Gluten-Free Cake Has Many Saying “I DO!”

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Without a doubt Chelsea Clinton’s July 31st wedding will be dubbed the event of the year, if not the century.

The wedding was picture-perfect: The bride’s Vera Wang wedding ensemble, and the Oscar de la Renta dress worn by Hillary; the swanky Rhinebeck, New York venue, Astor Courts Estates, which hosted the 500-plus guests; and the absolutely perfect weather for the estimated $3 to $5 million dollar extravaganza, which ultimately proved to me the Weather Gods absolutely, positively, and without a single-doubt have to be Democrats.

Chelsea made some fabulous choices when planning the details of her wedding, but what really caught my eye, and I’m sure had millions of others across the globe pining to find out more, was the gluten-free wedding cake.

From the bottom of my celiac-heart, thank you, Mrs. Mezvinsky.  (That’s Chelsea for those of you that didn’t know her married name).

With Chelsea saying “I Do” to a gluten-free wedding cake, she brought world-wide recognition to the gluten-free diet. The world has been abuzz with this wedding, and having a gluten-free wedding cake being the choice, and in the spotlight, of this former sweetheart of a first-daughter’s wedding, is big time for me, and the rest of the gluten-free set.

This 4-foot tall, nine-tiered, vanilla sponge cake layered with dark-chocolate mousse,  made by La Tulipe Desserts in Mount Kisco, New York, has sweetened the concept of being gluten-free. This famous cake has people chatting about the gluten-free diet and celiac disease; how “everyone knows someone with celiac disease”;  and most importantly, asking question about the disease, the reason why I and over 3 million other folks, just in the US alone, should be adhering to a gluten-free diet – not by choice, or by fad, but by medical necessity.

I am not exactly sure why Chelsea Clinton-Mezvinsky decided to choose a gluten-free cake on the day she said “I Do”, but thanks to her choice of cakes, and the publicity this famous gluten-free cake has garnered, my hope is that those with undiagnosed celiac disease all around the globe will become more aware of the disease, more conscious of the symptoms and have them questioning their doctors that maybe “I Do” have celiac too.

Want to find out more about Chelsea Clinton’s Gluten-Free wedding Cake? Check out this links:
Today MSNBC Article

or video

Friday Favorite: Ciolo Food’s Spreads, Dips & Tapenades

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I love it when I find those little jewels that I can’t live without at Whole Foods. And just last week sittin’ all pretty on the deli cheese case shelves I found Ciolo Spreads.

I purchased a package of the Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Spread with the excitement of spreading it on my gluten-free bread topped high with smoked turkey and fresh veggies from the garden.

But once I opened the package, I realized that this spread is just not for spreading. This dip is also great for dipping, smothering, coating, finishing, sandwiching and smearing on anything & everything that that is edible.

Along with the Pimento Cheese Varieties, they also offer Tapenades (with flavors such as Mediterranean, Lemon Artichoke and Kalamata), Pesto (these all sound so good… Sundried Tomato, Artichoke, and even a Jalapeno Pecan Pesto!), and cream cheeses (including sweet varieties such as Pumpkin, Cranberry Nut, Pomegranate and Apricot Pecan; as well as savory cream cheese flavors like Martini Olive, Garlic Basil Blast, and Artichoke Parmesan).

These items are all gluten-free.

For more info check out the Ciolo Foods website, and join me as a Fan of theirs on Facebook!

WIN-It-Wednesday: Goldbaum’s Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones (Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free and Peanut-Free too!)

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

I love ice cream, but since going gluten-free my ice cream lovin’ life just hasn’t been the same.

There’s something about having to eat an ice cream in a cup that just seems too proper. I decided it’s the cone that makes ice cream rip-roaring fun. I miss the drips. I miss the mess. I miss the bottom falling out of the cone. I miss licking as fast I can.

I miss my ice cream cones.

That is why I was so very excited to find Goldbaum’s Gluten-free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free and Peanut-Free Ice Cream Cones at my local supermarket.

These cones come in four flavors: The sugar cone style that comes in three flavors; Traditional Sugar Cones, Cocoa Sugar Cones and the Jumbo Cones; and also the traditional “cup” style that come in a box of 12 cones, wrapped in two separates packs with 6-cones in each. Me? I put one of the 6-packs in my car, for those swing-into Dairy Queen on a whim type of days, and the other 6-pack in my cupboard for my late night “I Can Eat An Ice Cream Cone So I Am!” type of days.

Hurray to Goldbaum’s for making all gluten-free summers more memorable and little sweeter… drips and all.

All these reasons are why I am screaming with joy that Goldbaum’s Gluten-free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free and Peanut-Free (did I mention they were made in a nut-free facility?) Ice Cream Cones are this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor on

Four  (Yes 4!) Lucky BeFreeForMe members will win a variety of the Goldbaum Ice Cream Cones.

How Can You WIN?

Reply to this blog and share your summer pleasure(s). This is an easy one! Mine? Fresh veggies from the garden, bare feet and balmy summer evenings sitting out on my porch… enjoying an ice cream cone – of course!

All entries must be received by Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 12:00 midnight EST.

Good luck, Take the time to enjoy the little pleasures in life… and, as always…
Be Free!

Interested in buying Goldbaum’s Ice Cream Cones? For your convenience, here’s the link to buy! Goldbaums Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones 12 Pack

Ask Shelley Case: Anemia & Celiac Disease – Causes & Treatment

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Question: After years of being anemic, I just found out I have celiac disease. Do you have any advice on maximizing iron absorption?

Anemia is a concern for many folks that have been diagnosed with celiac disease. Anemia is a condition that results from a deficiency in the size or number of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin in these cells. There are many causes of anemia, however, the most common is due to iron, folate or vitamin B12 deficiency. In celiac disease damage to the intestinal villi in the area where iron and folate are absorbed frequently results in a deficiency of these nutrients. As the disease progresses, villous atrophy in the lower part of the small intestine (terminal ileum), resulting in vitamin B12 malabsorption, can also occur in some individuals. Other reasons for inadequate absorption of B12 may be due to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, low stomach acid levels (caused by the long-term use of gastric acid blocking agents for the treatment of reflux or ulcers) or pernicious anemia (an autoimmune disease that produces antibodies that destroy specific cells in the stomach which contain the Intrinsic Factor (IF) that is necessary for the absorption of B12 from foods).

How Can You Treat Anemia?

Once a diagnosis of celiac disease is confirmed and the gluten-free diet is initiated, the villi begin to heal which allows for the absorption of nutrients. Response to the gluten-free diet varies from one individual to another and may take on average from 2-18 months until the nutritional deficiencies are corrected and symptoms resolve. In addition to a strict gluten-free diet, it is important to include foods high in iron, folate and vitamin B12. Nutrition supplements may be required if the deficiency is severe. In the case of pernicious anemia, life-long vitamin B12 supplementation (shots, intranasal or oral supplements) are necessary. Discuss with your physician and dietitian about supplementation.

There are two types of iron in foods, heme iron and non-heme iron:

Heme Iron:
•    Is more readily absorbed by the body (approximately 23% of heme iron consumed is absorbed).
•    Absorption is not changed by other foods in the diet.
•    Is found only in red meat, fish and poultry.

Non-Heme Iron:
•    Is not absorbed as well as heme iron (only 3-8% of non-heme iron consumed is absorbed).
•    Absorption can be increased or decreased by other foods in the diet.
•    Is found in fruits, vegetables, grains and eggs.

How Can You Maximize Iron Absorption?

1.    Choose foods with a higher iron content

2.    Eat a source of heme iron with non-heme iron at the same meal: An example is stir-fried beef, chicken, pork or fish with vegetables (e.g., broccoli) and rice and toasted almonds or sesame seeds; or Chili with meat and beans.

3.    Vitamin C increases absorption of non-heme iron so combine vitamin C-rich foods with non-heme iron foods at the same meal: An example of this includes Poached egg and glass of orange juice; Casserole with rice, beans, canned tomatoes or tomato sauce; or a Spinach salad with strawberries or orange segments.

4.    Avoid coffee or tea with meals rich in iron as these beverages contain tannins which interfere with iron absorption. It is better to drink these beverages between meals.

5.    If taking iron supplements, consume supplement with vitamin C-rich foods.

How Much Iron Do You Need?

For more than 50 years, nutrition experts have produced a set of nutrient and energy standards known as the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA’s). A new set of standards has been developed called the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRl’s) which reflect collaborative efforts of American and Canadian scientists, through a review process overseen by the National Academy of Science’s Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies.
The newly established levels for vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, cholesterol, carbohydrate, fiber, and energy levels can be found at this Board’s website (please note that iron levels are listed on page 2).

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. Visit Shelley and get more gluten-free tips & info at:

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