Archive for August, 2011

Dear Abby Advice: Great for those with Food Allergies & Celiac Disease

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I haven’t always been 100% pleased with the advice that Dear Abby gives her readers regarding food allergies, celiac disease, food intolerances, and the like (See one of my past blog post here for an example).

But as I was reading my morning paper (yes… the good old fashioned kind delivered right to my door every day!)  this past week, I was thrilled that good ‘ole Dear Abby gave some advice that was right on target for those of us with celiac disease, gluten-intolerance of other food allergies / intolerances.

Yeah, Abby! Here it is:

Dear Abby:

As a former paramedic and also a food allergy sufferer, I’m acutely aware of the problems caused by this condition. Food allergies vary widely and are not limited to common ones — nuts, shellfish, gluten or strawberries. We know what we are allergic to, and we do our best to avoid those foods.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what’s in some tasty-looking dishes at potluck gatherings. An ingredient may be used only for seasoning, but sometimes just a trace of it is all it takes to trigger a reaction. That’s why I have established a practice that has always been well-received. I print out a card to attach to the dish I brought. On it I name the dish and list the ingredients.

I hope you’ll find this suggestion helpful enough to pass along. It could save a life.

Joe in Janesville, Minnesota

And Dear Abby’s reply:

Dear Joe:

You’re right; it could — and that’s why I’m printing it. I met a widow whose husband suffered an allergic reaction and died at a dinner party, despite the frantic efforts of several physicians who were also in attendance. Forewarned is forearmed.

Right on Dear Abby! Thanks for printing a column with some good, solid, useable and real life advice. But on top of her advice, I also have some of my own thoughts to add:

–    Include not only the ingredient – but the brand: Often times a certain brand of a product may carry a certain allergen, when another does not. Did you use Hellmann’s Mayonnaise in your potato salad? Was it Yoplait yogurt used in your spinach dip? Make note of them!

–    If you have the ingredient labels of the products you used bring those along too! Although many people now have smart phones and can quickly look up ingredients of most manufacturers brands in a heart-beat, bringing the labels often times would be a time-saver and well-appreciated! Note: For those of you with smart phones and you need a quick look-up of product ingredients, try this website out:

–    Write up extra recipe cards: Why just bring one card listing all the ingredients in your dish? Bring a bundle – since your dish will be the hit of the party – and everyone will want the recipes to make themselves!

Want to let Dear Abby know that you appreciate her advice? Or give her your own thoughts on this column? You can email her here.

Friday Favorite: The Really Great Food Company Baking Mixes

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

This week’s Friday Favorite on BeFreeForMe goes to The Really Great Food Company. In particular, their ever-so-delicious Lemon Poppy Cake Mix.

This mix bakes up a moist and soft… like homemade. This is the kind of cake that you can bake-up, serve and  have the non-gluten-free eaters ask for seconds too.

The Really Great Food Company Baking Mixes are not only gluten-free, but also nut-free, casein-free, dairy-free and soy-free. They are made in a gluten and nut-free facility as well.

This cake is a perfect dessert or served at any brunch. Top it  with a lemon glaze or fresh strawberries and you can make it “your own” and extra-scrumptiously delicious.

Where to buy, you ask? This gluten-free Lemon Poppy Cake Mix can be brought on The Really Great Food website, or in a store near you.

Free of many common allergens, convenient and delicious are the reasons this week’s BeFreeForMe Friday Favorite is awarded to The Really Great Food Company Baking Mixes. Congratulations!

WIN-It-Wednesday: Vermont Smoke & Cure Real Sticks

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

This week’s WIN-It-Wednesday is one of my go-to, quick & healthy snacks on the run  …  Vermont Smoke and Cure RealSticks. These snacking sticks, that need no refrigeration, are made with naturally grown meats without antibiotics or added hormones, and also contain NO preservatives or nitrates.

With 50% less fat and 45% less salt than the “Slim” convenient store snack stick (and please? How ironic is it that the word “Slim” is even in the name?) you can feel good about eating RealSticks.

RealSticks have been a favorite snack of mine for awhile. But I’m not the only one raving about this healthy snack… just a couple of weeks ago RealSticks were listed on Yahoo’s “13 Healthiest Snacks”.

Slim Jim vs. RealSticks? No question about it… RealSticks has it ALL… fantastic real flavor from natural spices, naturally grown meats without antibiotics or added hormones, and also NO preservatives or nitrates. PLUS… they are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and MSG-free!

My favorite is the BBQ RealStick that offers just the right amount of sweetness with a touch of hot pepper heat. But the Cracked Pepper RealSticks are equally as good, delivering a big, peppery flavor. Both are seasoned with real spices and contain no preservatives or nitrates.

All these reasons are why I was thrilled when Vermont Smoke and Cure contacted me about being the sponsor of  the next two week’s  WIN-It-Wednesdays on!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and tell us what you do to keep things “real” in your world (spending time with your kids, day-trips with your sweetie, gardens, daily exercise… you name it… anything goes!)

A total of TWO (Yes… 2!)  BeFreeForMe members will be selected to win a RealStick Sampler, packed with 12 RealSticks (6 Barbeque and 6 Cracked Pepper). One (1) winner will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST, and one (1) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, August 31 and Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 11:59PM. SO – make sure you enter to win two times!

Good luck, Keep it real… and as always,
Be Free!

Savings Alert! ORDER NOW AND SAVE! Want to order Vermont Smoke & Cure products? Then take advantage of 10% OFF ALL ORDERS until 09/30/11 by using coupon code GF11 and discover RealSticks for yourself. This offer is good for ALL products on the Vermont Smoke and Cure website… so also make sure to check out their summer sausage, smoked pepperoni (delicious!), and also the ham and bacon.

Friday Favorite: Sunshine Gluten-Free Veggie Burgers

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

I’m all for a big juicy burger straight from the grill, but recently I’ve been trying to eat meat-free at least a few times a week. The question is what is a burger-loving gluten-free gal to cook up?

Sunshine Veggie Burgers to the rescue!

I’ve found that most veggie burgers are packed with gluten. But Sunshine Veggie Burgers are free of gluten, and also contain no soy. Sunshine Burgers also contain sunflower seeds and Lundberg Family Farms brown rice.

My favorite Sunshine Burger is the Southwest variety, but they also come in Original, Garden Herb and Barbecue varieties too. I haven’t checked them out yet, but Sunshine Burger also makes a Falafel and a Breakfast patty as well.

No Meat and No Gluten – but tons of flavor are the reasons why this week Friday Favorite is presented to Sunshine Burgers.

Shine on!

Webinar: Back-To-School & Gluten-Free- The Importance of School Nurse Education & How-To Strategies for Parents of Gluten-Free Kids

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Believe it or not, summer is almost over and whether that makes you sad or glad, it’s the time of year to start planning for back-to-school.

And if you have a child with celiac disease (or a food allergy) you have even more to anticipate, plan for… and often times worry about.

That’s why I wanted to pass along to all members a special back-to-School webinar that is being sponsored by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA): Importance of School Nurse Education & How-To Strategies for Parents of Gluten-Free Kids.

It is taking place (right in the comfort of your own home!) on Thursday, August 25th, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. This webinar is FREE of charge! All you need is your computer and a working internet connection.

This webinar which will focus upon your child’s gluten-free needs in and out of the classroom will be lead by Nina Spitzer, President of the Celiac Disease Foundation’s Greater Phoenix Chapter.

And although this webinar is focuses on children with celiac disease, I bet that it will also be very insightful for those that have children with food allergies and other food intolerances as well.

If you want to register for this seminar click this link: Register Now!

This webinar is sponsored by Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery and they’re giving away some awesome prizes to some lucky webinar participants.

So… sharpen your pencils and don’t miss out on this Back-To-School webinar!

Friday Favorite: Smooze Fruit Ice

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

This week’s Friday Favorite on is an icy fruity treat that both kids and adults will love! Smooze Fruit Ice.

The first cool part about this product is that it is sold shelf-stable.  When you get it home you put them in the freezer to freeze. I like this idea, since if you order in bulk off of or just stock up while at the store, you don’t use up valuable freezer space, and can replenish the freezer stock as needed.

The second cool part about Smooze is that each serving comes in a little pouch, which makes eating them fun and tidy. After cutting off the top, you just push-up on the packaging and enjoy the icy treat right out of the top.  All three flavors (Coconut & Mango, Coconut & Pineapple and my favorite, the Coconut & Pink Guava) are coconut based, and contain 100% real fruit juices and purees. The coconut milk makes these treats not as icy as a non-nutritious Popsicle – but more of a milky frozen-yogurt type of consistency. Smooze are good for you and delicious!

These all-natural treats are also gluten-free, dairy-free, have no cholesterol or trans-fat and are low in fat and sugar.

Good, fun and healthy icy treats that are perfect for adults or kids are the reasons why this week’s Friday Favorite on goes to Smooze Fruit Ice!

Congratulations Smooze!

Want to buy some Smooze for yourself? Buy them here on Also, eligible for Super-Saver Shipping! Smooze All Natural Fruit Ice, Coconut & Pink Guava, 17.6 Ounce Boxes (Pack of 4)

WIN-It-Wednesday: “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen” Cookbook by Laura B. Russell

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Oh how I miss my Asian foods. Dumplings, Crispy Spring Rolls, Mu-Shu Pork, Potstickers, Kung Pao Chicken and more. Since going gluten-free my take-out orders at my local Chinese restaurant have been bland. At best.

“Steamed Chicken and Veggies, please”,  I say with a forced fake smile while ordering my Chinese take-out each week… or should I say Chinese fake-out each week. Come on… really? Who am I kidding? I really, really miss good Chinese and other Asian dishes with all of the flavorful sauces and ingredients that add a burst of flavor and element of surprise.

This is why my fake smile was replaced with a real-life, honest-to-goodness,  ear-to-ear smile when I received an advanced copy of the new cookbook, “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen – Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, & More” by Laura B. Russell. Talk about good fortune!

This cookbook is a keeper. As soon as I received it I immediately started reading each and every page oohhing and aahhing over each recipe and every scrumptious photograph. By the time I was at the last recipe – I had tabbed over 2 dozen recipes to make myself.

It’s no ancient Chinese secret that Chinese food, as well as Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese can be jammed packed with gluten and dairy containing ingredients. However, Laura B. Russell does an excellent job of demystifying the most common ingredients used in Asian cooking, as well as supplying tips and tricks to navigate the grocery store; helping find replacements for gluten and dairy ingredients; and ultimately assisting celiacs and dairy-free folks the chance to enjoy Asian cuisine once again.

All these delicious reasons and recipes are why I am thrilled that this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday on is sponsored by Laura B. Russell – the author of  “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen – Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, & More”.

How can you win?


Reply to this blog and tell us what Asian dish (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai or Vietnamese) you miss the most since going gluten and/or dairy free. (Me? Potstickers!)

A total of FOUR (Yes… 4!)  BeFreeForMe members will be selected to win the “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen – Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, & More” Cookbook. Two (2) winner will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST, and two (2) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, August 17 and Tuesday, August  23, 2011 at 11:59PM. SO – make sure you enter to win two times!

Good luck, believe in good fortune… and as always,
Be Free!

Savings Alert! ORDER NOW AND SAVE! Pre-order your copy of “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen Cookbook” prior to the title being released on 08/23/11 and SAVE! is now offering this cookbook for only $14.50 which is 37% OFF!  Here is the link to order: The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen: Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, and More

Ask Shelley Case: Picky-Eaters and the Gluten-Free Diet – How to Tackle Both!

Monday, August 8th, 2011

My 6 year old daughter just got diagnosed with celiac disease. She’s such a picky eater, I’m afraid she won’t eat anything! Please help!

Over the years I’ve heard this question many times – so rest assured that you are not the only parent with this concern. The key to making your child’s transition from “picky eater” to “gluten-free eater” effortlessly is to give your child a bit of control and decision making in her food choices and meal preparation. Here are a few suggestions on making this transition go from hassle-free to gluten-free in no time at all!

Help them understand the gluten-free diet: Age permitting, make sure that your child understands what the gluten-free diet is all about. Encourage them to ask questions. Introduce them to books that are geared towards children and address the gluten-free diet such as:

“Gluten-Free Friends: An Activity Book for Kids” by Nancy Patin Falini, RD

“Gluten-Free Kids: Raising Happy, Healthy Children with Celiac Disease, and Other Conditions” by Danna Korn

“Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?” by Katie Chalmers

Take your child grocery shopping with you: Letting your child have a say in their gluten-free food choices may take longer while you are in the market, but will avoid bad tempers and problems at mealtime. Get them to select a new fruit or vegetable each week to try, or pick a recipe beforehand and have your child help find the ingredients while in the grocery store with you.

Check out the many kid-friendly prepared gluten-free choices. Some manufacturers that cater to gluten-free kids are: Allergaroo, Enjoy Life FoodsEnviroKidz, GlutenFreedaGlutino, Ian’s Natural Foods, Kinnikinnick , Orgran and Pastariso.

Get them involved! Let your child help you in the kitchen while you are preparing meals with small, age-appropriate jobs. Some ideas are reading recipes and measuring or mixing ingredients. Engage your child!

Serve food that is fun for kids: Get creative with your menu options. Some ideas are:

  • Have the kids top it off! Try having your own gluten-free pizza night! Serve gluten-free pizza and let your children top their own personal pizza with a choice of fresh cut vegetables, lean cuts of meat and cheeses. Another idea is to cook-up some gluten-free burgers or hot dogs and serve them on a toasted gluten-free bun.  Let the kids make their own with fun and non-traditional out-of-the box toppings like salsa, chopped veggies, shredded cheeses and sauces.
  • Make a meal or snack item in a different shape. Try “Eggs in a Hole” by using a cookie cutter to cut out a small circle in the center of gluten free bread. Butter both sides of the bread, place in heated frying pan, crack an egg into the center, cook on one side and then flip to cook the other side. Or use a cookie cutter to make different shapes in a gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich, French toast or pancakes.
  • No bread needed. Breadless sandwich are fun to make! Take a large romaine or other lettuce leaf and place a slice of cheese and gluten-free turkey or ham and roll up secured with a toothpick.
  • Get creative! Try making “Ants on a Log” –   Spread peanut, almond or sunflower butter on a celery stick and decorate with raisins.

Encouraging children to build their own creative meals and snacks gives them ability to explore new food options that you may have thought they never would have tried!

Charm with condiments: So many parents tell me that their kids won’t eat vegetables. My solution? Serve them with a side, low-fat gluten-free ranch dressing, yogurt or hummus.  Suddenly broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers or baby carrots become fun.

Make meal time “family time”: Although schedules can be crazy and family-members can be running here and there, try to make as many meals as possible “family time”.  This will let your child know that you are all in this together. Things as simple as setting the table for the occasion, turning off the TV set and eating as a family can take the focus off the food, and onto the experience.

Travel the world! Try introducing new tastes and foods with a little international flair.  Have a taco night on Cinco de Mayo and serve gluten-free corn tacos with all the fixin’s. Make the dinner even more festive by wearing sombreros from the party store! Cook up some gluten-free Asian influenced foods on Chinese New Year, or traditional Irish foods on Saint Patrick’s Day. Food can be educational, fun and delicious!

Rock & Roll: Look for a “ROCK” (Raising our Celiac Kids) group. These celiac support groups are a great resource for parents and children. And they often have special events such as potlucks, parties or meeting at restaurants where your child can be encouraged to try new foods that other children are eating. For a R.O.C.K. Chapter near you check out this list of gluten-free support groups.

And finally, here is a helpful article from dietitians Mary K. Sharrett and Pam Cureton called “Kids with Celiac Disease” that has some other great ideas.

Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case, RD is a Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. Visit Shelley and get more gluten-free tips & info at:

Vic’s Gluten-Free Bagel Bar: A celiac’s dream come true

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Imagine going into a bagel shop, being able to get a fresh-baked gluten-free bagel and then selecting your cream cheese along with gluten-free “add-ins” (think Cold Stone Creamery style) to make the bagel exclusively your own.

Add-ins that would pack a flavorful punch like basil, bbq sauce, wasabi, roasted red peppers, and cilantro; or add-ins that are fresh and healthy such as carrots, red onions, cucumber, raisins, broccoli, corn and chickpeas; or even add-ins that are on the indulgent side, including sprinkles, chocolate chips and potato chips?

This is not a dream my friends. This is Vic’s Bagel Bar in NYC.

Vic Glazer, the owner of this Bagel Shop (aka: my gluten-free idea of heaven) was diagnosed with celiac disease six months after opening his bagel shop.

But instead of throwing in the towel with the bagel holes and calling it quits, this Harvard pre-med student is no dumbie. He decided to switch grains and developed a gluten-free bagel mix that could only add to his repertoire of customers.

Customers like me that really, really, really appreciate every single gluten-free bagel he bakes.

After stumbling across his website searching for the newest and greatest in the gluten-free culinary world, I am seriously thinking about a Vic-Trip. Yes, a trip to NYC to meet this ingenious gluten-free bagel maker. I seriously think it will be worth the trip.

Until then, I’ll be dreaming up my gluten-free bagel topping combos.

Note: Please feel free to comment and share if there is a bagel shops near you that offers gluten-free bagels and add-ins like Vic’s Bagel Bar!

Friday Favorite: cocomama Quinoa Cereal

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

I am a huge fan of quinoa, but to be truthfully sometimes I don’t have the time, or the energy, to cook up a batch and transform this gluten-free grain into something magnificently delicious.

That is why I was thrilled to discover cocomama Quinoa Cereal.

This creamy, yet slightly crunchy, gluten-free cereal can be served hot… or cold… although I prefer to have my cocomama served piping hot. And besides the delicious taste, another beauty of this product is the packaging – Each serving comes in its own BPA-free microwavable pouch that allows you to have your breakfast ready in just minutes. No water, no mixing, no stirring… no mess. Can you say simple?

And the ingredients are so simple too: coconut milk, banana, organic quinoa, maple syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt. I love that all the ingredients are ones I have in my own cupboards. What a great way to start the day!

My favorite flavor is the Banana-Cinnamon. Reminiscent of fresh banana bread right out of the oven, this hot cereal tantalizes your senses with notes of pure maple syrup and fresh vanilla. A breakfast keeper!

All the cocomama cereal, including the Banana-Cinnamon, and the two other flavors – Orange Cranberry and Wild Blueberry – are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and vegetarian. They are also made with real fruit, and supply a healthy dose of protein and fiber.

Convenience, health and good taste are all the reasons why this week’s BeFreeForMe’s Friday Favorite goes to cocomama Quinoa Cereal.


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