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Gluten-Free Experiences

KIND Snacks Cyber Monday Deal

By December 2, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

KIND Snacks is serving up a Cyber Monday and #GivingTuesday deal this year!

From December 2nd to 3rd, KIND will offer $10 off of their KIND Healthy Indulgence Cube, which normally retails for $42.50! All you have to do to get the $10 taken off is enter GIVE at checkout.

The BEST part about this deal is that you not only receive $10 off of the tastiest gluten-free snacks around, you also help to give back at the same time. For every cube purchased, KIND will make a donation to City Harvest, a food rescue organization that is dedicated to feeding the hungry.

KIND Cube

If you like KIND Snacks as much as I do (I keep a stash in my desk at work), this is the perfect way to give back this holiday season! You can be philanthropic simply by buying yourself or a loved one a cube today because your purchase will help to feed 12 people in need!

Check out the KIND Healthy Indulgence Variety Cube on their website. You will see that it includes a variety of delicious KIND bars which are what I consider to be my go-to gluten-free snack bar. They’re also healthy (hence the whole ‘Healthy Indulgence’ part of the name), so they’ll even fit in to your new year’s resolution diet plan!

Hurry up and buy before Cyber Monday and #GivingTuesday are over! Don’t miss out on this great deal and incredible opportunity to give back this holiday seaon!

Have you tried KIND snacks before? What’s your favorite?

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Gluten Free & Jolly at the Holiday Party

By November 12, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

No one likes a Debbie Downer, especially during the holiday season.You’re supposed to be in the spirit, rejoicing with family and friends. Looking like a gluten-free bump on a log certainly won’t get you a kiss under the mistletoe, now will it?!

As part of the NFCA’s Gluten-Free Holiday Blogger How-Tos campaign, I put together four tips that will help you stay jolly this holiday season, no matter what food is put on the buffet.

I decided to provide a little teaser to my post on the NFCA’s site. Below you will find a summary of the four tips, with the full explanations here.

gfree and jolly

Getting Through the Holiday Party

  1. Bring your own dish – I prefer gluten-free meatballs. I eat ‘em like candy.
  2. Communicate – tell your family what’s up! It might be easier for them to provide a gluten-free dish than you think.
  3. Don’t depend on others – give your taste-buds what they want. Don’t wait for someone else to provide you with a dish that may or may not be 100-percent gluten-free.
  4. Stay positive – so what if you can’t eat like a 500-pound man at the holiday party? At least you won’t leave all bloated and sick like years past. Maybe your pants won’t be that tight come New Year’s Eve, either!

Do you agree with my tips? Which tips would you give to the gluten-free community? Comment below! 

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The International Celiac Disease Symposium

By September 28, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

The International Celiac Disease Symposium was this week in Chicago, IL and it was pretty much the greatest thing ever for the celiac world. The symposium featured the TOP doctors in celiac disease and attendees flew from ALL over the world to hear about new advancements in research, diagnosis processes, and the treatment of celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity patients.

ICDS 2013: Mother-Daughter Bonding

I signed up for the conference six months ago as part of a mother-daughter trip. Yes, while most people take weekend trips to Chicago to shop and sight-see, my mom and I take trips to sit in “class” and learn all day. We’re nerds. I attended the conference as a blogger (I was pretty much the least medically-qualified person in the crowd) while my mother (diagnosed with celiac) attended as a medical professional/nurse.

ICDS 2013 in Chicago

Mind Blowing Research

The only thing I can tell you about the symposium right now is that there are a BUNCH of things going on in the celiac/gluten-free world. LIKE, A BUNCH. It’s mind blowing, seriously. The symposium touched on everything from the existence and prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, to the degree of damage done in the intestine per different amounts of gluten contamination. I learned how to spell SO many medical terms, you should all be proud of me. And, in my opinion, I should have some sort of medical degree after all of those #ICDS2013 tweets that I sent out!

I’m not going to try to write an all-inclusive summary of the conference right now because I’m still trying to recover from the week of travel + work, but I will say that there are plenty of blog posts coming your way. Check out the websites of the other ICDS bloggers (listed below) who sat in the room tweeting their little g-free hearts out with me. You’re going to find loads of information that will help you better understand celiac disease and everything associated with it.

ICDS 2013 Official Bloggers:

Erica Dermer, Celiac and the Beast, @CeliacBeast

Rebecca Black, Pretty Little Celiac, @PrettyLilCeliac

Amy Leger, The Savvy Celiac, @AmyLeger

Kelly Courson, Celiac Chicks, @CeliacChick

Mad Props to The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

I want to also thank The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center (@CureCeliac) for being amazing hosts this week. We felt at home in the windy city and I’m pretty positive that we all ate one too many gluten-free cookies, brownies, bagels, cinnamon rolls, and muffins.

 

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NFCA’s Gluten-Free Summer Block Party

By July 3, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences, Gluten-Free Recipes

Who needs Wendy, Ronald, or The Colonel when you can make your own gluten-free chicken nuggets?!

Gluten-Free Summer Block Party

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness asked me to join their Gluten-Free Summer Block Party and gave me a challenge: Create a recipe using Blue Diamond Nut Thins and Go Veggie Dairy-Free Cheese. The dish was meant to be served at a summer party or get-together in efforts to break away from the mundane summer-party foods. The goal was for everyone to enjoy the dish (even the gluten-eating folks), proving that gluten-free food can be served to everyone!

Seeing that I love a little spice in my life, I came up with a recipe for Gluten-Free Spicy Garlic Buffalo Chicken Nuggets with dairy-free cheese on top. Who wouldn’t love that combo?!

You can find the recipe here.

Making the Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

I did a trial run of the nuggets at home one evening and gave myself a HUGE pat on the back after tasting them. I couldn’t believe how good they were! They weren’t difficult to make AND they were baked, not fried, making them a much healthier alternative than the nuggets that gluten-eating folks are used to eating.

Gluten-Free Spicy Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

After I knew my recipe would be a hit, I made sure I had the necessary ingredients for a get-together that I was hosting later that week with college friends. This meant that my audience was beer-drinking, twenty-something’s that are under the illusion that gluten-free food isn’t the greatest. I had to prove their taste-buds wrong and serve up nuggets that they’d enjoy!

My gathering was at a cabin at the lake so I made my nuggets ahead of time in the oven at home. I packed the cooked nuggets (stored in Tupperware), a package of Go Veggie Dairy-Free Mexican Cheese, a side of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce, and some toothpicks.

Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients for Nuggets

Serving the Chicken Nuggets at the Party

Once it was time to get the gluten-free chicken nuggets ready for the party, I simply reheated them in the cabin’s microwave. I placed a few sprinkles of Go Veggie Dairy-Free Mexican cheese on top of each one. Once they were all heated up, I placed a toothpick in each chicken nugget and arranged them on plates.

Go Veggie Dairy-Free Cheese

Gluten-Free Eating at a Summer Party!

By the way, please don’t pay attention to the non-classy plate ware. Our weekend at the lake wasn’t necessarily meant to be classy, if you know what I mean. (Picture 24-year-old boys shot-gunning beers on the patio)

Regardless of all of that, when my friends arrived, they each snagged a few chicken nuggets, dipped them in the hot sauce and appeared to enjoy the taste. One of my friends even said, “I can’t tell the difference between gluten-free and gluten food.” Victory!

How’d They Taste?!

The majority of my friends thought that the gluten-free chicken nuggets were good! There was one person that didn’t care for the taste of the dairy-free cheese, but you’ll have that. All in all, I think I did a great job proving our food is actually tasty to the unlikeliest of folks.

Taste Tester

Gluten-Free Believer!

This recipe would be perfect for a get-together at your house since you would have all of the necessary tools at your disposal (a.k.a. the oven). I think the fact that I was able to successfully serve the chicken nuggets without using an oven makes the recipe even more desirable! It proves that you can venture outside of the summer-barbecue-box and cook up some exciting options for your party guests!

Gluten-Free Spicy Garlic Chicken Nuggets
Recipe Type: Party Food, Horderve
Author: G-Free Laura
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: – –
My recipe for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Gluten-Free Summer Block Party. The perfect food to serve at your summer party or gathering!
Ingredients
  • • 1 box of Multi-Seed Nut Thins (crushed)
  • • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • • 1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
  • • 2 eggs
  • • 3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • • Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce for dipping
  • • Go Veggie Dairy-Free Mexican Cheese, Shredded
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place wire rack on top of baking sheet.
  2. Combine crushed Nut Thin crackers, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder together in a shallow bowl.
  3. Whisk two eggs in a shallow bowl. Dip chicken pieces in egg then into cracker mixture, evenly coating each piece.
  4. Place chicken nuggets on top of wire rack. Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Take chicken bites out and sprinkle Go Veggie Dairy-Free Mexican Cheese on top. Place back into oven until melted.
  6. Serve chicken nuggets with toothpicks and Buffalo Hot Sauce on the side for dipping.

 

 

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The Gluten-Free Game of Clue

By June 14, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

In the Game of Clue, players must solve the mystery of who killed Mr. Boddy, what they used to commit the crime, and where this occurred. A similar version of these three questions is something that gluten-free folks are used to finding out.

Who prepared the food?

What utensils did they use?

Where did they prepare it?

When I dine out, I’m always sure to remind the server, “They cannot prepare my sandwich on the same counter,” or when I’m at Chipotle, “Could you please change your gloves? I am gluten free.” These are comments that MUST be made in order to ensure safety and reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

I figured we’d have some fun and make a gluten-free version of this classic detective game because that’s what we all need to be – gluten-free detectives! When dining out, there are different places one can be glutened and there are different weapons of contamination. No matter who did it, where it happened, or what caused the contamination, the end result is always the same – the victim is glutened.

Gluten-Free Game of Clue: How was I glutened?

gluten free game of clue

If dining at a restaurant that serves both gluten-filled and gluten-free food (which is just about every restaurant we can eat at), the opportunity to be glutened is everywhere. The key to a safe dining experience for a gluten-free individual is for the kitchen staff and servers to be trained properly.

Let’s put our detective caps on and go through some of the possible scenarios that could result in someone being glutened:

The prep cook, in the kitchen, with the cutting board

gluten contamination cutting board

If a prep cook slices your gluten-free bread on the same cutting board that they sliced a gluten-filled baguette on, you’re in for an unpleasant evening! If it’s your first time at a restaurant, ask your server about the preventative measures the restaurant takes to prevent cross-contamination. Chances are if the server isn’t aware of any special procedure, neither is everyone in the kitchen. Play detective – it’s better to be safe than sorry!

The line cook, at the salad station, with the croutons

contaminated salad

Salads are a safe bet when dinging out, right? Well, yes, but only if you ask the right questions and stress the importance of NO CROUTONS. Make sure your server knows that these little pieces of stale bread can play havoc with your intestines. The kitchen can’t simply take the croutons off, they MUST prepare your salad without croutons and with fresh utensils.

The line cook, preparing your sandwich, with the bread-crumbed condiment

contaminated condiments

I literally cringe when I see food being prepared at a so-called gluten-free restaurant, yet the same tubs of condiments (mustard, mayo, barbecue sauce, sour cream) are used with the same knife that touches gluten-filled bread AND gluten-free bread. It gives me anxiety, seriously. But the good thing is that restaurants always have extra condiments waiting to be used; it’s part of their kitchen prep. So the next time you’re ordering a dish that includes some type of condiment that will come from some type of tub, ask if they can use the fresh batch due to your allergies. I have had restaurant employees be very considerate when I make this request, and I’ve also gotten the eye-roll and “Oh my gosh, this girl is so annoying,” look but it doesn’t bother me! Why? Because I value my health and gluten-free diet more than what someone thinks of me and you should too!

Another line cook, placing your food, with contaminated gloves

contaminated gloves

When visiting a restaurant, whether it’s your first time or your fifteenth, tell your server that you are highly sensitive to gluten and you’d prefer your food to be prepared by someone with fresh gloves. If a cook is placing someone else’s food that comes with a bread or bun and then they grab your food, it’s game over. That simple glove with even a trace of gluten has the potential to ruin not only your meal, but also the next few days (depending on how long your symptoms last). Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, educate your server, and get confirmation that the kitchen staff is trained to serve the gluten-free community properly.

It is imperative for restaurants to be educated in the preparation process. If they’re going to have a gluten-free menu, they HAVE to do their homework. Also, you’re going to have to play detective sometimes in order to ensure that you can trust the restaurant, employees, and the food.

What are the questions you ask when dining out? 

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Gluten Free on the Beach

By June 5, 2013 Gluten Free Vacation, Gluten-Free Experiences

I’m no stranger to the beach. I spend just about every weekend during the summertime sitting in a beach chair, soaking up the sun and sipping on a cocktail, so I know a thing or two about packing a beach bag. From snacks to beverages, below are my tips to ensure you will have fun in the sun!

Pack beach-friendly snacks

Spending your day on the beach means that you need to pack the appropriate food. You will want gluten-free finger-food and snacks that are easy to throw in a bag or cooler. My favorite beach-friendly snack is pistachios. They won’t get crushed in your bag, and you won’t feel that guilty eating them. I love eating pistachios on the beach because I’m able to throw my shells in the sand! No mess, no stress!

Some of the other gluten-free snacks I like to pack for the beach include rice chips (RiceWorks Sweet Chili rice chips are my absolute favorite), gluten-free pretzels, and popcorn (like Skinny Pop). Other easy snacks to pack are Crunchmaster Gluten-Free Crackers and Wellaby’s products. They’re all sure to be a hit among the other beach bums in your company!

RiceWorks Sweet Chili Rice Chips

Go the Sandwich Route

If you think you’ll want something more substantial to eat while on the beach, you can easily pack a gluten-free sandwich, contrary to what you may believe. Although a lot of gluten-free breads require a toaster to taste good, there are certain brands that would work for the beach setting. Try Canyon Bakehouse bread – pack a loaf in your bag, or even keep one cold in the cooler. The slices taste “real” and will go perfect with your favorite gluten-free deli meat. Another good brand of beach-worthy bread is Udi’s bread (Millet-Chia is my personal favorite). If you are looking to go the sub sandwich route, you can easily pack a few packages of Schar’s Sub Sandwich Rolls. Each roll comes in an individually sealed package making it ideal for the beach bag. There’s also no toasting or heating up required for these sub rolls to taste edible, so enjoy!

Schar GF Sub Rolls

Have a Large Bowl of Fruit in the Cooler

Just because you’re on the beach all day doesn’t mean your diet has to completely be derailed. My family often has a large bowl filled with mixed fruit that we can enjoy while on the beach. Whether it’s watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, or a variety of fruit, you can easily make this healthy snack beach friendly. Pack a few plastic forks and some smaller bowls for individual servings, along with a plastic baggie to put the garbage or dirty dishes in after (we don’t want to litter our beaches).

Come with a Full Cooler

You’re going to want to make sure you have all of the beverages you’ll need. You’ll want to pack bottles of water, Gatorade (for the REALLY hot days that you’ll be playing beach volleyball or Frisbee), and other hydrating liquids. Don’t make the mistake of only filling the cooler with soda because when you’re baking in the sun all day, you’re going to want healthy and hydrating options to drink as well.

If you’re going to be drinking adult beverages while on the beach, there are quite a few gluten-free options you can choose from. If you’re a gluten-free beer drinker (which I am admittedly not), you can enjoy brands like New Planet Beer or Bard’s Gluten-Free. I opt for a six-pack of Woodchuck Hard Cider (either the Summer or Crisp flavor) in my beach cooler.

Woodchuck

I also like to enjoy a mixed drink on the beach as well, so I’m always sure to bring a Tervis Tumbler cup to pour my creation into. I usually pack gluten-free rum, like Malibu, or gluten-free vodka. Stoli is my personal favorite, so I tend to mix that with light cranberry juice, lemonade, or diet soda. It’s not that hard to pack everything you need for a classy adult beverage. I prefer to pack small bottles of mixers so I’m not hauling a 50 pound bag through the sand.

Stoli is my favorite!

Protect Yourself

This is not food related, but it’s always imperative to protect your skin when out in the sun. Wear sunblock and make sure you reapply so you don’t end the day as a lobster. I always pack a hat to wear as well because no one wants the face of G-Free Laura to get all wrinkly!

G-Free Laura

If you’re planning a day at the beach, the most important thing is to pack accordingly so you don’t end up as a hungry, thirsty, and grumpy lobster. The extra 10-20 minutes spent packing is worth it when you’re enjoying  a relaxing day in your beach chair!

beach bumming

What do you pack for a day at the beach? Do you have a preferred adult beverage to sip on throughout the day?

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