Archive for January, 2012

Friday Favorite: Pamela’s Luscious Chocolate Cake Mix

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

I love baking. The mixing, the blending, the smell of a good gluten-free goodies baking in the oven. I love to make sweets for myself, and for those in my life…  just because.

After all, cake isn’t just for birthdays. Celebrations should happen daily. Got a “B+” on that math test? Time to celebrate! Mom home from a business-trip after being gone all week? Time to celebrate! It’s the little things in life that are sometimes the most overlooked, yet those that bring the biggest joys into our lives. The kind of joys that put a smile on your face, and a bounce in your step.

And to celebrate these tiny joys, cupcakes made from Pamela’s Cake Mixes are perfect.

I love the convenience of adding just a few ingredients and mixing up a batch of gluten-free cupcakes.  Afterward I frost and decorate each one uniquely… for each special someone in my life. I learned early-on the perfection in decorating doesn’t matter one bit. After all, as the old saying goes… it’s just the frosting on the (yummy, gluten-free) cake… so go nutty-crazy with the frosting & sprinkles.

Celebrating every day wonders and joys are the reasons this week’s Friday Favorite on goes to Pamela’s Cake Mixes. Congratulations…and have fun celebrating!

Want to buy Pamela’s Cake Mixes on Take advantage of FREE Super Saver shipping. Here are the links:

Pamela’s Products Luscious Chocolate Cake Mix, 21-Ounce Packages (Pack of 6)
Pamela’s Products Classic Vanilla Cake Mix, 21-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)
Pamela’s Products Vanilla Frosting Mix, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)
Pamela’s Products Dark Chocolate Frosting Mix, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)

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

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Chinese New Year was this week, and if you’re like many celiacs and those on a gluten-free diet it’s can be a  bummer not to be able to enjoy a traditional feast with family & friends at your local Chinese restaurant.

So instead of going out to eat this year, plan a Chinese New Year Gluten-Free Celebration at your own house. But where will you find the recipes for your favorite Asian Foods? Dumplings, Crispy Spring Rolls, Mu-Shu Pork, Potstickers, Kung Pao Chicken… and more?

Thanks to Laura B. Russell, everyone on a gluten-free diet can now enjoy these Asian favorites at home, and can find the recipes in her cookbook,  “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen – Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, & More”. Talk about good fortune!

This cookbook is one of my all-time favorites (this is coming from a gal that has a cookbook library spanning three 6’ long shelves!). Every page of this cookbook features a recipes that “I just have to try” with instructions that are easy to understand, along with basic prep and cooking techniques. I also love the reference section at the front of the cookbook, which has become a go-to while shopping for Asian food ingredients.

Some of my favorite recipes in “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen – Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, & More” include Gingery Pork Pot Stickers, Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad, Fiery Ginger Sauce, Shrimp & Sweet Potato Tempura Pancakes. All bursting with flavor.  All delicious. All keeper-recipes.  I will make these recipes again, and again, and again. No more bland “Steamed Chicken & Veggies” for me – the only thing I can eat at my local Chinese restaurant.

This is why I was thrilled when I found out that this WIN-It-Wednesday on was going to be sponsored once again by Laura B. Russell and “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen – Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, & More” .

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. But Laura B. Russell allows celiacs and dairy-free folks everywhere the chance to enjoy Asian cuisine once again.

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, January 31, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST, and two (2) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, February 1 and Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 11:59PM. SO – make sure you enter two times to win!

Good luck, believe in good fortune… and as always,

Be Free!

Order your copy of “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen Cookbook” on and take advantage of FREE SuperSaver Shipping! Here is the link to order: The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen: Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, and More

Happy Chinese New Year! Gluten-Free Style

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

With any New Year, resolutions are made and promises are etched in stone. A New Year is a reason to turn over new stones, and is often the best time to try something new… to expand your horizons.

And over the past few years, I have challenged myself to try new recipes and new cooking techniques every Chinese New Year. This year’s Chinese New Year falls on Monday, January 23. So, as you can imagine the wok is getting primed, rice noodles purchased, and ginger, gluten-free soy sauce and other Asian staples stocked.

2012 is the year of the dragon. In the orient, dragons are symbolic of wisdom, knowledge, and the quest to learn more. So what a perfect time to expand your cooking horizons and taste buds, and introduce a little Asian influence into your families gluten-free dinner line up!

In celebration of Chinese New Year, BeFreeForMe will strive to expand your cooking horizons and assist you in taking in a bit more knowledge when it comes to your culinary visions. BeFreeForMe will be featuring some awesome Asian dishes in our Daily Thought emails (like our Warm Asian Noodle Salad and Toasted Sesame Green Beans and Asparagus) and also be featuring one of my favorite gluten-free cookbooks, Laura B. Russell’s, The Gluten Free Asian Cookbook, as the next two week’s Win-It-Wednesday’s sponsor. So make sure you check back next Wednesday to enter to win (and the following week for a second chance entry)!

Welcome back Dumplings, Crispy Spring Rolls, Mu-Shu Pork, Potstickers, Kung Pao Chicken and more! And hello 2012!

Friday Favorite: Calbee SnackSalad Snapea Crisps

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

This week’s Friday Favorite goes to one of our favorite snacks… Calbee’s SnackSalad Snapea Crisps – a crispy salad treat!

We love these crispy peas that are made into fun to eat snacks because they are tasty… and nutritious.

With no artificial flavors or colors these snow pea-shaped crispy snacks are the perfect way to get your veggies and enjoy them too.

Calbee says that their purpose is in their name. “Salad” means they will bring you the wholesome goodness of the entire fruit or vegetable, and “Snack” means they crafted it to be eaten more enjoyably.

Although we love eating them straight out of the bag, many gluten-free folks I know add them to the top of their dinner salad for a crispy crunch, or as an appetizer dipped in some lemon hummus.

Any way you snack it – these crispy peas are delicious!

All these reasons are why this week’s Friday Favorite goes to Calbee SnackSalad Snapea Crisps. Congrats!

Want to Buy? Check out this deal on with FREE SUPER SAVER SHIPPING! Calbee Snack Salad Snapea Crisps, Original Flavor, 3.3- Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)

Note: Made in a facility that also manufactures products containing wheat, milk, soy, shrimp, and fish.

Friday Favorite: Green Valley Organic Lactose Free Yogurt

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

This week’s Friday Favorite on BeFreeForMe goes to a fantastic new yogurt that I recent discovered… Green Valley Organic Yogurt.

This is the real stuff too… REAL DAIRY yogurt that is lactose-free. Creamy. Rich. Real dairy.

I love all the yogurt  flavors, including Vanilla, Blueberry, Honey, Plain and Peach,  but my favorite is the Strawberry. Creamy, rich and just sweet enough, I found myself scraping the sides and bottom of the cup for more… it was just that good.

This lactose-free, gluten-free yogurt is great for those that are sensitive to lactose, as well as gluten. The yogurt also contains 10 live and active cultures, is probiotic rich, and kosher. I’m loving that it is organic too.

Green Valley Organics also makes other lactose / gluten-free dairy products including kefir and sour cream. YES… REAL SOUR CREAM! =) Creamy, dairy-full sour cream.

No wonder Green Valley’s logo is “Peace. Love. Dairy.”

I met the folks at Green Valley Organics at a tradeshow last year, and they are a great bunch of great people. They are passionate about the products they make, and are so happy to make  top-notch dairy products that all of us gluten/lactose free  people can enjoy… and love!

For all of these reasons Green Valley Organics gluten and lactose-free rich, creamy dairy products are this week’s Friday Favorite on Cheers!

Note: Want to buy these lactose and gluten-free products? Check out the “Where To Buy” page on the Green Valley Website.

Ask Shelley Case: The Gluten-Free & Vegetarian Diet

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012


I am interested in eating vegetarian, at least some days of the week, but I am on a gluten-free diet. Can you give me more information about vegetarianism along with some nutritional pointers and tips to accomplish this?


What exactly is a vegetarian? Here’s a quick primer on the different types of vegetarian diets:

  • Vegetarian: avoids beef, pork,  poultry and fish
  • Vegan: avoids beef, pork, poultry, fish,  eggs, milk products and any products derived from animal products (e.g., gelatin, honey)
  • Ovo-Vegetarian: eats eggs but not dairy products, beef, pork, poultry or fish
  • Lacto-Vegetarian: eats dairy products but not eggs, beef, pork, poultry or fish
  • Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: eats milk and eggs but not beef, pork, poultry or fish

Health Benefits: Plant based diets are high in fiber, phytochemicals (naturally occurring compounds such as antioxidants) and a variety of vitamins and minerals, plus they are low in saturated fat. Research has found that vegetarian diets are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer. In addition, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index.

Budget Benefits: Pound for pound pulses (aka legumes- dried beans, peas and lentils), grains and even gluten-free pasta cost less than meat, fish or poultry. One of my favorite gluten-free protein-substitutes, that are also easy on the wallet, and loaded with vitamins and fiber, are pulses. Both dried and canned, they tend to be a budget and nutritional staple for gluten-free vegetarians.

One of my suggestions if you use canned beans or lentils is to drain and then rinse them off with cold water under a colander prior to eating or using in a recipe. This will reduce the sodium content by up to 40%. Rinsing can also reduce the “gassy” effect some people experience after eating beans.

Check out the recipes and tips for incorporating pulses (legumes) into the gluten-free diet that were developed by Shelley Case and Carol Fenster.

Gluten-free whole grains are also another healthy vegetarian option. Another FREE resource is  “Whole Grains and the Gluten-Free Diet” by Carol Fenster and Shelley Case. It is loaded with practical tips for getting more whole grains in your diet, nutrition information and recipes.

More Nutritional Tips for Eating Gluten-Free & Vegetarian: Like any diet, eating a variety of foods will best assure that you are getting the required nutrients your body needs to thrive. However, it is important to focus on the following key nutrients when following a vegetarian gluten-free diet. Examples of foods containing these nutrients are included:

  • Protein– pulses, soybeans, tofu, nuts, seeds, amaranth, quinoa, wild rice, teff, buckwheat, gluten-free oats, eggs and dairy products
  • Iron– seeds (pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower), quinoa, amaranth, gluten-free oats, teff, sorghum, millet, soybeans, pulses, almonds, peanuts, dried apricots, prunes and raisins, cooked spinach, baked potato (with the skin), green peas, acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, blackstrap molasses, enriched gluten-free bread products, cereals and pasta.
  • Zinc- pulses, nuts, seeds, amaranth, buckwheat, teff, quinoa, gluten-free oats, wild rice, sorghum, gluten-free “Chex” brand cereals, milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Calcium- tofu made with calcium, calcium fortified orange juice, calcium fortified soy milk, chickpeas, green soybeans, collards, kale, spinach, beet greens, turnip greens, bok choy, Brazil nuts, figs, dairy products
  • Vitamin D- fortified orange juice with vitamin D and calcium, soy milk, fortified rice milk, fortified almond milk, gluten-free “Chex” brand cereals (rice, corn, honey nut, chocolate and cinnamon), eggs and milk
  • Vitamin B12soy milk, other non dairy fortified beverages (rice, almond), gluten-free “Chex” brand cereals, Glutino “Sensible Beginnings” cereal,  eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese

Learn to substitute gluten-free vegetarian options. Get creative and try your favorite recipes without meat. For example, make vegetarian chili by leaving out the ground beef and adding an extra can of black beans. Or make fajitas using extra-firm tofu rather than chicken. You may be surprised to find that many dishes require only simple substitutions to make them healthier… and even tastier too!

Discover new gluten-free & vegetarian recipes: Looking to get inspired to get cooking vegetarian? Try new recipes and see how simple eating gluten-free and vegetarian can be. One of my favorite cookbooks to help you get on the right track is “125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes” by Carol Fenster. This cookbook offers tasty and easy gluten-free and vegetarian recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking. Here are two of my favorite recipes –  Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Cream and Quinoa Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Dried Fruit.  A must-have this book is available on and is available with free super-saving shipping.

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:

WIN-It-Wednesday: Jamieson Direct Probiotics Gift Pack… Plus a FREE Teleseminar!

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

With the New Year here  it seems that everyone is chatting about better health and overall wellness. But besides getting regular exercise, and watching every single gluten-free morsel we eat, is there anything else we can do?

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to learn as much as I can about increasing my overall wellness. I actually carry a notebook and have been making note of things to research, things to discover more about, that will increase my overall health.  One of the things I jotted down last week was “probiotics”. What are they? How do they help celiacs? What is the best way to get them – by food, or by supplements? And (the one that I have trouble understanding) if probiotics are bacteria how could that possibly be a good thing?!

That is why I was thrilled when Jamieson Direct, a manufacturer of quality natural healthy products for over 50 years,  and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness or the NFCA  (I love this organization!) contacted BeFreeForMe to let us know they were having a teleseminar  regarding probiotics and their role in gastrointestinal health… including the gluten-free diet, IBS, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

This is a live seminar (which means I can ask all my questions!) and it will be hosted by Dr. Daniel Leffler, a world-renowned gastroenterologist and celiac disease expert, who is also the Director of Clinical Research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and on the faculty at Harvard Medical School (many of us may know him from his speaking engagements at national celiac conferences or from the book he authored, Real Life with Celiac Disease: Troubleshooting & Thriving Gluten Free) and Shelley Case, a registered dietitian who is a leading international expert on gluten-free nutrition and celiac disease, the author of  The Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, and member of the Medical Advisory Boards of the Celiac Disease Foundation and Gluten Intolerance Group in the United States and the Professional Advisory Board of the Canadian Celiac Association (many of us know her from her Ask Shelley Case columns on

The seminar will take place on Wednesday, February 1 , 2012 from  8pm – 9:30pm ET. It is free to attend, but the spaces are limited, so make sure that you sign-up soon.

Ten lucky participants of the teleseminar will be randomly selected to win a gift pack containing Dr. Leffer’s book, Real Life with Celiac Disease: Troubleshooting & Thriving Gluten Free), Shelley Case’s book, The Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, and a 2-Month supply to Jamieson Probiotics.

But… the members are a lucky, lucky, lucky crowd. We have a sneak peak to win the gift packs on this WIN-It-Wednesday blog!

Here is the scoop…

One (1) winner will be randomly selected to win a gift pack that is mentioned above from the replies / entries received on this blog post before Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST, and one (1) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the replies / entries received between Wednesday, January 18 and Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:59PM. SO – make sure you enter two times to win!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and let us know your commitment to stay “well” this new year  (Me? #1. – I will never skip a breakfast in 2012 and; #2. – I will try to keep things “simple” to keep the stress levels down !)

Good luck, Be well, See you at the teleseminar on February 1st  … and as always.
Be Free!

Friday Favorite: Amy’s Light & Lean Soft Taco Fiesta – Gluten-Free, Low Calorie & 6 Weight Watcher Points!

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

This week’s BeFreeForMe Friday Favorite is one of my all time favorite go-to frozen meals: Amy’s Light & Lean Soft Taco Fiesta Meal.

These meals are delicious… they have a zip of cilantro (which I love), that is  layered with organic vegetables, organic brown rice, corn tortillas and black beans. In fact, it is hard to believe that these meals have only 220 calories. These meals are the perfect trifecta that I am looking for to keep my New Year’s resolutions:  Tasty, low calorie and easy to prepare. Jackpot.

As well as the Soft Taco Fiesta Meal, the Light & Lean Meals also come in  many other varieties, including: Black Bean & Cheese Enchilada, Pasta & Veggies and Spinach Lasagna to name just a few.

This week’s Friday Favorites on BeFreeForMe goes to the Light & Lean Meals since they are all under 300 calories, have less than 5 grams of fat, and are only 6 Weight Watchers points in the Points Plus program. All the while tasting delicious!

These meals can be found in most grocery stores, and will be available SOON through To sign-up to get notified when this item becomes available on, check out this link: Amys Light & Lean Soft Taco Fiesta Bowl, 8 Oz (Pack of 12)

Congrats, Amy’s!

Losing Weight & the Gluten-Free Diet: The Secrets We Already Know

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

The New Year is here and for many it’s the time to revisit the scale and devise ways to shed the extra weight we’ve gained over the holiday season, or have even been carrying around with us for the past year… or more.

Like many others, I too have gained weight since being gluten-free. Thankfully the days of having an insatiable appetite yet still being able to lose weight, because of undiagnosed celiac disease, are long gone. Also gone are the days of cramping, bouts with diarrhea, anemia and feeling like I was in a “mental fog” and out-of-sorts. Bye-bye to that all. Thank God.

I know that now my body is finally healthy. Finally. After years of eating gluten my body was not absorbing the basic nutrients needed to thrive –  including fats, vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates. Now, I am healthy and “normal” when it comes to gaining weight.

And what does a body behaving “normally” mean?  It means that now when I eat too much I gain weight. For the most part I eat healthy and well. But every so often, I enjoy all the gluten-free goodies, sweets, desserts and high-calorie things “I just have to try since it is gluten-free”. All things that don’t helping the waist line.

Through emails sent to BeFreeForMe from our members, comments on BeFreeForMe blog posts, and reading gluten-free forums and fellow gluten-free blogs, if seems that gaining unnecessary weight while on the gluten-free diet, and then trying to loose it, is a huge concern. It’s a hot topic. People are asking if there’s a trick? Any special ideas on losing this extra weight? Is there a special weight loss diet for those with celiac disease? And through it all I have learned that one thing is a fact: Losing that extra weight can be hard.

But why? Here we are a group of people, old-pros at restricted eating. We know what it takes to get into the mindset of eating for our health. Let’s face it, we are good at it. We’re proven pros. Which got me thinking… what if we simply take all we know about eating gluten-free successfully and apply it to eating to lose weight? Would we be on the right track to rid ourselves of any extra weight?

So after much thought I decided that instead of trying to find a magic trick or miracle diet, the secret is something we’ve been practicing all along… our gluten-free lifestyle.  Read on…

– Keep track of what you eat: We’ve all had it happen… The mistaken ingestion of gluten. This is where a food diary can help in determining where the gluten could have come from. By using the same “food tracking” concept when trying to loose weight, a food journal can help keep track of what you eat and assist in making better choices, as well as keep you accountable.

– Always have an emergency snack handy: Being gluten-free we know the scenario: You are stuck in an airplane on a snowy tarmac for hours or you are scheduled in back to back meetings and a gluten-free lunch option is nowhere in site… you get the picture. Any good dieter should also know that a healthy snack kept in your bag is a must to keep yourself in check calorie wise when hunger strikes. Some gluten-free options: fruit-based energy bars, nuts, or dried fruit.

– Plan ahead: We all know that the gluten-free lifestyle can require calling ahead to restaurants to find out what gluten-free options there are to eat.  When watching your weight the same due-diligence should be used. Check out restaurant menus online before getting to the restaurant to not only find the gluten-free options, but also the ones that are the healthiest and the best-bet calorie-wise. Do double due-diligence!

– Life beyond white bread: Being gluten-free we know that there are other options besides “white” (or refined grains) when it comes to bread. For those trying to lose weight, go for the gluten-free breads that contain whole grains that are higher in fiber and protein. Some grains to look for include: amaranth, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oats (pure, uncontaminated), quinoa, sorghum, teff, and wild rice.

– You can do it: Being on a gluten-free diet, at least at first, takes some time and experience to get down pat. But over time, it comes more natural. The same holds free for eating to improve your health, and loose some weight. Renew that faith in yourself and remember that you can do what you put your mind to do!

– Life just isn’t about food: People that are trying to loose weight are often told to engage in activities that don’t focus around eating and food. If anyone knows the challenges of combining social situations and food, it’s a person on a gluten-free diet. Embrace activities that involve exercise, and bring along a light gluten-free snack to refuel!

– We know how to say “No thank you”: Being gluten-free we know how to say “no thank you” graciously and politely. Learn how to use these three little words when refusing high calorie foods that add to your waistline.

–  Respect your body: Often time, it takes awhile to get your body healthy. After I went gluten-free it took some time to heal – to feel better. The same holds true when it comes to weight loss. We can’t expect immediate results, but slow gradual ones. Be patient.

– Believe in yourself: Dig deep inside and dig up that “I can do it” attitude. You got through the ins-and-outs and the trials and tribulations of gluten-free living. Take that same attitude, motivate yourself, and set your mind to reducing your weight for your health!

What are your pointers for loosing weight on the gluten-free diet?

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions when it comes to better health?

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