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Gluten-Free Experiences

Gluten-Free Summer Lovin’ Swag Giveaway Courtesy of Rudi’s!

By May 7, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

Rudi's sends kids to gluten-free summer camp!

Rudi’s offers kids a chance to go to gluten-free summer camp!

As part of Celiac Awareness Month, Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery is holding a “Happy Camper” Facebook contest! Rudi’s fans are encouraged to submit a short essay from their child that explains what attending a gluten-free summer camp would mean to them. I think we can all agree that as a kid with celiac or gluten sensitivity, attending a GF camp means A LOT. It’s a chance to be a worry-free kid and have fun with others their age!

Based on the essays that Rudi’s receives, they will chose ten lucky winners between the ages of 8-17. The winners will enjoy a week long gluten-free camp experience, and Rudi’s will be covering travel for the children!

I am so happy that Rudi’s is holding this contest! In 2010 I volunteered at a gluten-free summer camp for a week and it was so rewarding to see the children have fun, make friends, and not worry about getting a special meal in the mess hall. This is a great opportunity for kids to create memories that will last a lifetime!

But you get to win something, too…

Rudi’s has asked bloggers to help promote their “Happy Camper” contest, and in return, WE get to offer YOU some gluten-free summer swag! So I’m holding a giveaway for a Summer BBQ Picnic set, including a picnic basket and grill, valued at $100! Talk about awesome!

To enter the contest, all you have to do is press a few buttons below and Voila! You’re on your way to gluten-free summer lovin!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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If I met you at the GFAF Expo, you’re awesome.

By April 22, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

I had a fantastic weekend at the GFAF Expo in Chicago and was able to meet what I consider to be celebrities. It was a surreal experience finally seeing people face-to-face after talking with them for months online. It was like meeting an expo hall full of pen pals all at once, and being able to hang out with them for the entire weekend.

I met Erica from Celiac and the Beast and it was so funny when I first saw her because it was just like, Oh hey, Erica! What’s up? as if she is was someone that I bump into on a regular basis, and there we were, just spending another weekend together. But this was legit the first time I had ever seen her not through my computer screen or iPhone. But we are already great GFFs (gluten-free friends), and I even made a cameo in her video on Sunday!

I was lucky enough to spend both expo days within an arm’s length of Crave Bake Shop cupcakes (you know, Kyra Bussanich, winner of Cupcake Wars). Yeah, that was pretty awesome. It didn’t help the bikini body efforts, but it was totally worth it. I must also say that Kyra might be one of the nicest people ever. I spoke to her a couple months ago on the phone when I was interviewing her for Taste Guru’s blog, and from that point on I referred to her as the “nicest person I’ve never met,” but now I’ve actually met her! I even gave her an idea to make gluten-free fig newtons, so watch out for those! (Kyra, you better ship me some!)

Kyra from Crave Bake Shop

I was also taken by surprise when I made a new best friend on Saturday at the expo. Her name is Claudine Phillips and she’s the wonderful creator of Gluten Free Greenbean. She’s honestly the coolest person ever. I spent all of Saturday night talking with her at the bar (which was filled with all of us gluten-free folks), and she was sipping on her ice water (because she’s 6 months preggers), but she was still the life of the party. She’s going to have me over for dinner on a regular basis once I move to Colorado. I’m looking forward to it.

Claudine, Gluten Free Greenbean

On Friday night I even turned an email friendship into a real life friendship, so that was cool. I met Alissa from Breaking Up With Captain Crunch in person, and I absolutely love her. I knew ahead of time that we’d get along because she’s hilarious, and I was totally on point with that prediction. Immediately after we started chatting it was like a conversation you’d have with a lifelong friend. I also just plain love the fact that she named her blog Breaking Up With Captain Crunch. It makes me think I should have named mine Breaking Up With Cheez-Its instead of G-Free Laura. What do you think?

I could go on and on talking about all of the amazing people I spent the weekend with! There was Amy The Family Chef, Rebecca with Pretty Little Celiac, Cindy the Vegetarian Mamma, Pam from I’m A Celiac, and then the two fellas behind our favorite app, Find Me Gluten Free, Darin and Jason. But, I think I’ll stop talking about all of this now because I’m sure I’m just making you all jealous.

Have you been to any gluten-free expos lately? Did you meet any “gluten-free celebrities” like I did?!

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GFAF Expo in Chicago!

By April 18, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

Odds are if you’re gluten free, you’ve heard of the GFAF Expo. Traveling all across the nation, the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo is the hottest spot to be if you’re g-free!

This weekend, April 20 – 21, the GFAF Expo will be making a stop in Chicago, and this girl is going! Luckily Chi-town is only a 4-5 hour drive (depending on traffic of course) from Toledo, Ohio, so I am hopping in my car and making an appearance! With nearly 8,000 attendees expected, and LOTS of amazing vendors, this is sure to be a weekend to remember!

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My GFAF Expo Plans:

I will be arriving Friday evening, and I have the opportunity to attend the Schar party. UMMM, awesome! Then on Saturday I will be spending my day at booth #702, reppin’ Taste Guru, my favorite gluten-free company out there! If you’re in the expo hall, you better stop by and say hello…or else!

I’m not only excited to help Taste Guru throughout the weekend, I am ecstatic to come face-to-face with other bloggers that I’ve come to know via the interwebs! I consider a lot of these people my friends, as weird as that sounds since I’ve never met them, but it’s true! We all know each other on a level that other people don’t, because we have all gone through similar experiences. AND, we’re all passionate about gluten-free living, so obviously we’ll get along (until someone eats the last gluten-free cupcake, then it’s war)!

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Updates from the GFAF Expo:

Follow me via social media this weekend to see what’s happening, both on my personal G-Free Laura accounts, and on Taste Guru’s social media accounts. We’ll be covering the latest gluten-free products available, and we will connect with some of your favorite gluten-free personalities, so you’ll definitely want to be tuned in! It’s going to be a magical couple of days!

Follow along with G-Free Laura: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Follow along with Taste Guru: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Don’t miss out, folks! It’s going to be a wild time! I hope to see your beautiful faces stopping by the Taste Guru booth. We have a special little giveaway that’s probably the cutest gluten-free thing you’ve ever seen!

See you soon!

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The Gluten-Free Runner: Race Day

By April 5, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

This is Part 2 of The Gluten-Free Runner by Rebecca Bishop (find Part 1 here). In the last post, Rebecca addressed the issue of eating gluten-free while training for a marathon or half-marathon. Part 2 will discuss race day preparation and execution, including everything from the carb-loading dinner before the race to dealing with the gluten-filled finish line spread. Take it away, Rebecca!

via brazosrunning.com

via brazosrunning.com

Race week it is important to carb-load a little. By this I mean don’t gorge yourself all week, just add an extra 100 calories or so to your daily intake. I usually have a Vita Coco or even just a ½ cup of sticky rice with a little salt. It’s important to retain water for race day, so add a little extra sea salt to your meals and drink extra water. It’s very likely you will gain a couple extra pounds that week. I promise it’s water weight and nothing to be alarmed about at all. The days leading to the race I recommend a sports drink or coconut water to sip throughout the day.

As for meals, I stick to a strict vegetarian diet due to GI issues, but race week I follow an almost 100% vegan meal plan. Rice and GF pasta loaded with steamed veggies, fruit, healthy fats (I am a total avocado junkie, and love almonds and nut butters), lean proteins, GF cereals and granola are all great staples; and as an added bonus, I love to dig into some homemade GF bread and olive oil as a side dish with my meals. Even if you are a meat eater, it’s still best to stick to foods that can be easily digested and that aren’t going to stick around so there aren’t any elimination issues race morning. Trust me, it’s not fun! Like desserts and treats? It’s your lucky week! In my day I definitely enjoyed homemade GF chocolate chip cookies, a little extra ice cream or a few pieces of chocolate. It’s OK to allow the additional splurge!

Race weekend I cannot stress this tip enough for gluten intolerant or celiac athletes, and please remember this in bright neon letters: Try nothing new. If you can, pack your own food before the race, and stick to whatever worked for your pre-long run dinners. I oftentimes pack my own pre-race meals in Tupperware for long road trips. This is obviously not so easy for races where I have to fly. If you can’t pack and prepare your own meals, do extra planning and research. Find restaurants you KNOW are going to provide safe, GF meals, look on websites you trust, and contact the restaurants directly. Stores like Wegmans have hot bars where you can grab a container of rice, some steamed veggies, and a side of protein. It’s always best to do everything you can to handle and provide your own food. I have been glutened before a marathon before due to carelessness, and it was one of the worst race experiences I ever had. It’s critical to avoid a glutening, I promise it can ruin what is supposed to be a momentous occasion.

Obviously if you’re gluten-intolerant or celiac you have to avoid the pasta dinners that so many races will provide, and it can be a real bummer to miss them; I love to meet other runners and break bread, so to speak. Many meals have been simply consumed in my hotel room. I personally stick to high carb foods like baked potatoes, pasta and veggies with tofu (or any other protein), homemade GF pizza or bread with olive oil, and treats are always a nice plus, so indulge that sweet tooth if you have that desire. I used to love, as a pre-race lunch, a baked potato and Frosty from Wendy’s, perfect amount of carbs and sugar! Those days are gone, but I still performed quite well on race morning carb-loading in this manner, and recommend that you stick to what works for you the night before a long run. Veggies are better consumed steamed, not raw, it’s best to avoid too much roughage to prevent GI issues on race morning.

For race morning breakfast, again, stick to a routine. I always have the following maybe 2-3 hours before the race: a banana, 2 cups of coffee, an Udi’s bagel with peanut (or almond) butter and honey. I have consistently stuck to this routine for years and it’s worked well for me. Whatever gets things moving for you, so you don’t have any issues or emergency stops during the race, is the key to a successful race from start to finish! Don’t let the hotel continental breakfasts (or even their appliances like toasters) tempt you, they are a gluten-filled nightmare. I use the microwave or a hotel iron and a toaster bag to ensure a safe breakfast, and it’s never failed.

On race day, I try to ingest 350-400 calories during the race and make sure I hydrate at almost every water stop. That may not seem like enough for some people, so you have to assess your caloric needs accordingly. For a marathon I would usually take in calories around Miles 6, 12, 18 and 22, but somehow in the final miles I forgot that last gel and just want to finish. For a half marathon, maybe take in a gel around Mile 6 or 7, and if you need a little extra boost, mile 10 or 11. There are plenty of fuel stops provided by volunteers and spectators alike, laden with things like pretzels, marshmallows, candy, brownies and yes, even beer. As someone with celiac I wouldn’t take ANYTHING but fruit, and even then it’s best to see if there is a possibility of cross-contamination (like a plate of pretzels or cookies right next to the orange slices) and make a judgment call.

The finish line spread will almost always be disappointing to one with a gluten-intolerance or celiac disease. I’ve run races with the most amazing finish line spreads, and I usually have to bypass all of it and grab maybe a banana and a bottle of water. If you have a drop bag or someone waiting for you at the finish, have a protein bar or other gluten-free recovery fuels waiting. I usually would have a KIND or Think Thin bar; once I get back to my hotel room, I would have something like a Greek yogurt and gluten-free granola and fruit, and then wait a couple hours before my next meal. The most important things are to keep yourself well- hydrated, keep moving, and get some protein into your system within 30-45 minutes in order to get the muscle recovery activated. This can be cheese sticks, almonds, yogurt, protein bars or a shake, half a sandwich, anything that you would rely on as a post-run recovery fuel. Even if you aren’t hungry, try to eat something, and then let your appetite dictate when you want to refuel again. Most of us just want a shower and a nap, surprisingly food is usually on the bottom of the list of priorities. I’ve had to force-feed myself often after a marathon.

Running a race is a wonderful journey of self-discovery that is full of incredible and satisfying milestones as you prepare for the main event. The main lessons here are that you will have to practice and see what works best for you, never try anything new, and stick to a solid routine. You just may surprise yourself when you see how well you can do!

Good Luck, Happy Running, and Much G-Free Love to You!

Rebecca BishopRebecca Bishop’s mission is to see all 50 of the United States on foot by running a marathon in each and every one. She states that running is her motivation, but she has also embraced her role as a celiac disease advocate since her April 2011 diagnosis. Rebecca has found that by changing her diet she has opened a whole new world of running for herself and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

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The Gluten-Free Runner: Marathon Training

By April 4, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

I connected with Rebecca Bishop on Twitter awhile ago (@Run_Rebecca_Run). I noticed that she was gluten free, a runner, and an all around nice person. We started tweeting back and forth, and did that thing where you become “friends” with someone you have never “actually” met before. So, when I recently decided to get back to my running roots, I found myself turning to Rebecca for advice on runner-friendly food, long run routines, and race day prep. Since I think Rebecca is such a helpful sweetheart, I thought she would make a great guest-blogger on my site! So, without further adieu, here is Part 1 of Rebecca’s The Gluten-Free Runner guest-blog! I hope you enjoy (and learn a thing or two)! 

via fitsugar.com

via fitsugar.com

Distance running is something that has much been a part of my life to the point of being like a second job. My daily life revolves around weather forecasts, sunset times, training and race calendars, and scheduling various appointments around my weekday runs. I ran my first marathon with Team in Training in 2006 and absolutely loved the experience, even with all the pain and agony that came with it. Since that time I have run 13 marathons and countless half marathons, and love planning my annual race calendar as I try to run a marathon in all 50 states. It may seem like a lofty goal, but slowly and surely, I’m getting there and it’s been a wonderful journey.

I was diagnosed with celiac disease in late April of 2011, and it changed so many aspects in my life without warning. I had so much to research, pantries to clear, labels to examine, and many lessons were learned the hard way time and time again. After two years of living gluten-free, I finally think I have the hang of it, and I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to share some nutrition tips with you!

Please note that the main message of this article will be: Every runner is different and has different needs. Some need more, some need less, what works for one may not work for another. Test the waters, see what works and what doesn’t, then stick to a routine once you have it down. This applies to long runs, as well as pre-and post-race nutrition.

While the training aspect of a marathon or half marathon is important, nutrition is just as crucial, especially when you are running higher mileage runs. I’m not one to recommend having to refuel after something like a 3-4 mile run, and don’t even usually carry more than water with me on runs up to 12 miles, but each runner will have different nutritional needs and they have to determine what will work best for them.

As a celiac athlete that has to follow a very strict gluten-free diet, I had to do a lot of trial and error to see what worked best for my own needs. When it came to training runs, I always felt the most important thing is hydration, especially in the summer months.  Make sure that you run on a route that has water fountains or carry a handheld water bottle or fuel belt; I cannot stress enough that it’s essential to have this on hand during summer training. Heat exhaustion is not a fun experience! I used to also have diluted sports drinks for hot and humid runs to avoid sodium depletion, and as of late have experimented with coconut water for hydration due to being more natural, sugar-free and loaded with potassium. Gatorade, Powerade, and Vita Coco are all gluten-free and work great.

When running longer training runs, it’s important to carry quick-digesting carbs that the body can process rapidly. If you are training for a half or full marathon, I highly recommend researching and experimenting with what you would fuel with on race day, whether it’s gels, sport beans, or gummy blocks. I’m a gel person simply because chewing while running isn’t something I enjoy, unless it’s something easy like a banana. I personally prefer Honey Stinger gels, and in the past have had great success with Gu. Try out your preferred race day fuel during a long run to make sure it works for you. NEVER try a new fuel on race day, you never know how your body may react, so it’s ALWAYS best to try out different gels or chews until you can pinpoint your preferred fuel.  Go to a running store and try out a few different brands and flavors; remember: one person’s Gu may be another person’s Carb-Boom. Always check labels and don’t hesitate to check the manufacturer’s website or contact their customer service department to double check ingredients and manufacturing practices. If you have a sensitivity to artificial sugars, dairy, or other possible allergens, please note that some gels may have these ingredients.

As for fuel during long training runs (on days where you aren’t having a race day “dress rehearsal”), make it fun! I usually set up a fuel stop at an out-and-back  point so I can stop, grab a bite, and continue running, so real food can actually be used instead of expensive gels. In the past, I LOVED fueling with candy: Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, mini Butterfingers, M&Ms, whatever is easy to get down on the run. If you like salt, Glutino pretzels and crackers are also good, but I think the best fuel are foods that are easily and quickly digested. Chocolate has fat that is slower for the body to break down, so I always recommend more simple, quick-digesting carbs. I personally like to use fresh fruit (grapes and bananas are best), raisins, and honey straight from the bottle. I used to carry the smaller packets of honey, but I find them to be messy (four equal around 100 calories, and it can be cumbersome and sticky to try to open and dispose of them!). I’ve even used half of a Luna or Kit’s Organic bar for longer runs, they are naturally gluten-free, made of all natural ingredients, and almost feel like a treat (if you’ve had peanut butter cookie or coconut cream pie flavor you know what I mean!).

Wow, I never even thought to eat “real” food halfway through a long run, but it makes perfect sense! Thanks, Rebecca! Part 2 of The Gluten-Free Runner addresses race day prep, what you should eat the day before/morning of, and how to handle the gluten-filled finish line spread!

Rebecca BishopRebecca Bishop’s mission is to see all 50 of the United States on foot by running a marathon in each and every one. She states that running is her motivation, but she has also embraced her role as a celiac disease advocate since her April 2011 diagnosis. Rebecca has found that by changing her diet she has opened a whole new world of running for herself and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

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Spreading the G-Free Love

By February 25, 2013 Gluten-Free Experiences

I’ve been a busy, busy bee lately, spreading the g-free love on other blogs and websites. It’s so amazing to be able to share my thoughts and opinions on other platforms and reach an even wider audience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so (even though my little g-free brain is a bit tuckered out)!

I wanted to share my guest-posts with you guys so you can take a looksie at them! I also hope that you will get to know the companies and bloggers that have been gracious enough to include me on their sites!

Taste Guru

I am now doing weekly posts on the Taste Guru website! Every Monday you can find a new G-Free Laura post in the magazine section of their website. So far I have written about falling in g-free love, how to give a gluten-free elevator speech, and even the gluten-free Oscar Awards. I highly advise you to check out my posts, as well as the others in their magazine. And while you’re there, why don’t you check out what Taste Guru is about – you might want to join the club!

Pretty Little Celiac

I had a guest-post on Pretty Little Celiac’s website this past Monday. Rebecca of PLC is a super sweet Celiac activist and has helped thousands through her website and social media. Check out my guest-post, 5 Tips for Trying New Gluten-Free Products, and find numerous other helpful posts on the site!

Swim Utopia

Every Wednesday is Wheatless Wednesday with G-Free Laura on SwimUtopia.com! Go onto the site to see the recipes I have posted, like “skinny” tacos, white chocolate strawberry brownies, crockpot nachos, and purple potato chips.

Rudi’s Baked on the Bright Side Blog

I contribute monthly posts to the Rudi’s Baked on the Bright Side blog, with my most recent post being Happy to be Gluten-Free! Go to the blog and check out my past posts too, such as Rudi’s Real Housewives, and Grandma’s Holiday Bread-and-Butter Pudding!

Wonderly!

I am also branching off into the non-gluten-free world with weekly posts on the Wonderly website. Wonderly is a place for innovative female creators and audiences to meet, collaborate, and celebrate each other’s creations. I just basically write about life which is pretty darn fun. I wrote one post about how I took advice from a fortune cookie, and another one on how Nicholas Sparks novels have ruined the single woman’s view of love.

I hope you check out my posts on the above sites. If you like what I write here on my blog, you’ll also enjoy reading what I contribute to others! Let me know of any other sites that you think I should guest-blog on, too! I am always looking to create new relationships with companies, bloggers, and organizations!

How do you spread g-free love? 

Definition of g-free love

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