Tips for Eating at Restaurants If You’re Gluten Free

Gluten Free Restaurant Tips

Enjoying meals out with friends and family is an important part of living life. Social aspects of celiac disease, including eating at restaurants can often be challenging but you shouldn’t have to miss out on these experiences due to your gluten free diet.

When eating at restaurants if you’re gluten free, preparation is key. If you plan ahead and take certain precautions you will be able to enjoy yourself and not have to worry about getting sick.

Tips for Eating at Restaurants If You’re Gluten Free:

Do Your Research: If it’s a restaurant you’ve never been to, check out their website ahead of time. Review their gluten free menu and any allergen statements they may have. Also, check to see if they make fresh bread, baked goods or pasta in the kitchen. If they do, this may be a red flag for cross-contamination.

Call Ahead of Time: Before you go, call and ask questions about their gluten free menu/options. Most of the time it’s apparent after a two minute conversation if they’re able to truly accommodate a gluten free meal and understand cross-contamination. If you feel they can’t prepare you a safe meal, don’t get upset… look at it as a blessing that you called and prevented getting sick!

Avoid the Rush: Okay, I know this may be a bummer… especially if you’re going out on a date. But trust me, avoiding the crazy lunch or dinner rush is a good thing! I personally feel I’m more at risk for cross-contamination when a restaurant is really busy, so I try to go during off hours whenever possible.

Speak to the Manager: This is key! No matter how well informed your server may be, always ask to speak to the manager. When you bring the manager into it, chances are your meal will be prepared with a little more caution and attention.

Use Keywords: Unfortunately many times when you say “celiac” some servers don’t know what that means (kind of a red flag, right?!- but it does seem like more people are getting educated on the topic!), so I often pair that with “gluten makes me very sick” or “autoimmune disease”. Even though celiac is not an allergy, sometimes I do say “severe gluten allergy” just because that often will make a server take extra precaution with my meal. Whatever you feel like you need to say, make sure you say it!

Be Specific: Make sure you clearly state your order and explain why! Rather than saying “No croutons on my salad” you should say “No croutons on my salad because I have celiac disease and gluten makes me very sick, so please put an allergy alert on my order”. Unless you tell the server why, they won’t know to treat it as an allergy alert.

When in Doubt, Go Without: This is my motto when it comes to gluten free eating! Don’t be embarrassed or feel like you need to be polite and just eat it… if you’re uncomfortable with your meal or think it may not have been prepared right, send it back for another meal or just don’t eat it!

Use Your Manners: This is a biggie! I know you may be stressed about eating at a new restaurant, but regardless you need to be nice about it! Politely speak to your server about your situation, kindly request to speak to the manager and if there is something wrong with your meal you don’t need to freak out on the staff. I’ve heard from servers that taking an order for a dietary restriction is stressful on them too… so treat them with respect. If my experience is a good one, I always take the time to let my server and the manager know that I appreciate the extra care they took of my food!

Besides these tips, if I’m invited to a restaurant that I’m uncomfortable eating at, I bring my own food! I just let the server know why and ask for a plate to put my food on. I do this often and have never had an issue with a restaurant allowing me to.

Happy Eating!

 

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Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo Favorites!

Over the weekend I attended the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo in San Diego, Ca which is the largest expo of its kind in the US. This expo moves around the country and features vendor expositions, educational sessions, and online resources.

GfAfExpo

Not only do I love attending expos because I get to meet people and try new products… but hello goodie bag! I left with a large bag filled with products, coupons, informational brochures and more! There are a lot of great products I learned about at the expo, however I’m going to share 5 of my top favorites with you!

5 Favorite Products from the GF & AF Expo:

1. La Brea Bakery Gluten Free Artisan Sliced Sandwich Bread

If you’re gluten free, then you know most sandwich bread you find in the freezer section is dense and not always the best (if I do say so). Needless to say I was beyond excited to try this sandwich bread from La Brea Bakery and let me tell you… it did not disappoint! I took a double take of the package to make sure it was gluten free because it was so light and fluffy! Their rep informed me that this bread is sold in the bakery section not the freezer section! I’m definitely going to keep an eye out  for this at my local grocery store.

2. Brazi Bites

When I saw the Brazi Bites booth I knew I had to stop by. Have you tried these? They’re one of my favorite gluten free products! I buy them at Costco in a big bag, but my store only has the original and the Pizza flavored. At the expo I tried the Pepper Jack ones and they were amazing!!

3. Milton’s Craft Bakers- Baked Chips

 

I’m a big fan of Milton’s Baked Crackers (once again I buy the big bag at Costco), so I was excited to try their new baked chips. They come in six different flavors, but the Red Chili Salsa was my favorite! I love that they’re all certified gluten free, Non GMO Project Verified and Baked, Not Fried. These are the perfect healthier choice when I’m craving a bag of chips!

4. White Claw Hard Seltzer

I’m not a big drinker, but do enjoy a drink every now and then. I often find flavored beverages to be too sweet, so I was pleasantly surprised when I tried these White Claw Hard Seltzer because they were REALLY good! These are the perfect drink to enjoy by the pool or even add wine to make a spritzer. They have 5% alcohol, are all natural, gluten free and only 110 calories per serving!

5. Nima Sensor

I knew about the Nima sensor, but after speaking to their rep I’m sold! Basically how the Nima Sensor works is you put a small sample of your food into a one-time use capsule and in about 3 minutes it will tell you if the item is gluten free (less than 20 parts per million) or if it has gluten. I think this is perfect for trying new products, eating at restaurants and for traveling. Imagine the piece of mind knowing you won’t get sick because your food actually is gluten free!

If you have a favorite gluten free product that I need to try, please let me know!

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{gluten free} Jalapeño Cheddar Bread

This quick gluten free Jalapeño Cheddar Bread is ready start to finish in less than an hour, with no yeast required and is the perfect addition to your dinner table!

{gluten free} Jalapeño Cheddar Bread

Since going gluten free, hands down bread is my most missed item. I love sweet bread, savory bread but not so much dense gluten free bread that you often find in the freezer section!

This Jalapeño Cheddar Bread is so moist that no one will know it’s gluten free! It’s full of bold flavors, yet not spicy since you removed the seeds of the jalapeño peppers.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour (I always use Cup4Cup)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch bread pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix gluten free flour, cheese, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Sir in buttermilk, melted butter and eggs.
  4. Fold in chopped jalapeño peppers. Batter will be thick and lumpy.
  5. Pour into prepared pan.
  6. Bake 40-50 mins (baking time will vary depending on oven) or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

{gluten free} Jalapeño Cheddar Bread

Enjoy!

 

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NuGo Protein Bars

NuGo Protein Bars

As most people with celiac know, unfortunately there are going to be times where you’re somewhere and there are no gluten free options for you to eat, and unless you have food on you, you’re going to be hungry! Trust me I’ve learned this the hard way when I was first diagnosed. Now you can guarantee I always keep snacks on me. Most packaged goods that are easy to throw in my purse and won’t go bad like crackers and cookies don’t offer much nutritional value and leave me hungry. This is why at any given time you can open my purse and will find protein bars stashed.

I’m always on the hunt for protein bars that provide the most nutritional bang, so I was excited when NuGo reached out to me regarding their bars. Often times protein bars are made with maltitol, which is used as a sugar substitute and is known to cause bloating and gastric discomfort. What makes NuGo protein bars different than most is that they’re the only company to make REAL Dark Chocolate coated protein bars.  Other ‘dark chocolate’ protein bars substitute unhealthy palm kernel oil for the natural cocoa butter, raising the melt point above body temp, making it waxy and too sweet.

NoGu Protein Bars

NuGo offer’s 21 bars that are certified gluten free and according to their website, “The FDA standard for labeling a product gluten-free is testing to ensure it contains less than 20ppm of gluten. At NuGo, all bars that say gluten-free on the label have been batch tested to below 10ppm, a stronger standard than the FDA requires. We manage allergens strictly during manufacturing, and all shared equipment is heat treated and cleaned before use with our gluten-free products in order for us to maintain the highest standard to ensure the products test below 10ppm.” 

NuGo Slim Bar Flavors:

  • Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • Brownie Crunch
  • Raspberry Truffle
  • Toasted Coconut
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Roasted Peanut
  • Espresso

NoGu Protein Bars

Facts About NuGo Slim Bars:

  • All are certified gluten free
  • Made with non-GMO ingredients
  • Only 2-3g of sugar
  • No Maltitol
  • 16–18g of protein in every bar
  • Low glycemic index of 24
  • Free of artificial ingredients

I tried the Toasted Coconut and the Chocolate Mint bars, and enjoyed them both! I find that many protein bars leave you with that chalky weird taste (you know what I’m talking about!), whereas these didn’t! They honestly taste more like a chocolate bar rather than a protein bar. It’s obvious that being made with real dark chocolate plays a huge role in the texture and taste. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with chocolate and mint… as far as I’m concerned those two flavors were made for each other. With that being said, I’m a little bias towards the chocolate mint bar but I really enjoyed the toasted coconut too.

NuGo Protein Bars

You can find these bars at most major grocery retailers or specialty stores. You can click here to find out where they sell NuGo bars near you.

Questions:

  • Are you a protein bar fan? 
  • Have you tried these NuGo Slim Bars?

*Thank you to NuGo for kindly providing me with these bars to try. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

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Gluten Free Salsa List

Gluten Free Salsa List

Salsa is one of the best selling condiments in the US. Did you know salsa has surpassed ketchup sells?! I’m a huge salsa lover, so this is no surprise to me!

I know what you’re thinking… salsa has gluten? Really?! Well, many salsas are gluten free so that’s good news for all salsa fans! The issue with salsas that cause concern is that some contain vinegar which may have been distilled by gluten-containing grains. Some people are very sensitive even when the distillation process is used. If you’re one of these people, proceed with caution.

Amy’s Kitchen: According to their website: “The gluten free statement is expressly defined by the FDA as containing less than 20 parts per million of gluten. In other words, regardless whether the item was cooked in a facility that processes wheat, it may be labeled as gluten free provided that it has less than 20 ppm of gluten. For all of our gluten free items, we have numerous safeguards in place to assure that the items meet the FDA definition.”

  • Black Bean & Corn
  • Medium
  • Mild

Chi Chi’s: The parent company for Chi Chi’s is Hormel Foods, and according to their website: We are providing the following list of products as a general guideline for those presently produced and distributed in the United States with formulas that do not have gluten containing ingredients in the form of wheat, rye, oats, and barley. Although our products are labeled in compliance with government regulations, it is always necessary to read the labels on the products to determine if the food product meets your required needs.” In addition they discuss the vinegar used: “The following list of products may contain vinegar. This vinegar would normally be white distilled vinegar. Other types of vinegar are listed on the ingredient statement. While our sources indicate that these types of vinegar are gluten free, you will need to make your own determination on whether you want to use these products:”

  • Fiesta Salsa
  • Garden Salsa
  • Natural Salsa
  • Restaurante Salsa

Frontera: Gluten-Free products are labeled as “gluten-free”.

  • Salsa:
    • Chipotle
    • Corn & Poblano
    • Double Roasted Tomato
    • Guajillo
    • Jalapeno Cilantro
    • Mango Key Lime
    • Red Pepper & Garlic
    • Roasted Habanero
    • Roasted Tomato
    • Spanish Olive
    • Tomatillo
    • Salpica Salsa con Queso Natural Queso Dip
  • Salpica Natural Salsa:
    • Chipotle Garlic
    • Cilantro Green Olive
    • Grilled Pineapple Key Lime
    • Habanero Lime
    • Mango Peach
    • Roasted Corn & Bean
    • Rustic Tomato
    • Tomato Jalapeno

Herdez: The parent company for Herdez is Hormel Foods, and according to their website: “We are providing the following list of products as a general guideline for those presently produced and distributed in the United States with formulas that do not have gluten containing ingredients in the form of wheat, rye, oats, and barley. Although our products are labeled in compliance with government regulations, it is always necessary to read the labels on the products to determine if the food product meets your required needs.” In addition they discuss the vinegar used: “The following list of products may contain vinegar. This vinegar would normally be white distilled vinegar. Other types of vinegar are listed on the ingredient statement. While our sources indicate that these types of vinegar are gluten free, you will need to make your own determination on whether you want to use these products:”

  • Salsa Casera

La Victoria: The parent company for La Victoria is Hormel Foods, and according to their website: We are providing the following list of products as a general guideline for those presently produced and distributed in the United States with formulas that do not have gluten containing ingredients in the form of wheat, rye, oats, and barley. Although our products are labeled in compliance with government regulations, it is always necessary to read the labels on the products to determine if the food product meets your required needs.” In addition they discuss the vinegar used: “The following list of products may contain vinegar. This vinegar would normally be white distilled vinegar. Other types of vinegar are listed on the ingredient statement. While our sources indicate that these types of vinegar are gluten free, you will need to make your own determination on whether you want to use these products:”

  • Cilantro, Mild
  • Cilantro, Medium
  • Green Salsa Jalapeña, Extra Hot
  • Red Salsa Jalapeña, Extra Hot
  • Salsa Ranchera, Hot
  • SUPREMA™ Salsa, Mild
  • SUPREMA™ Salsa, Medium
  • Salsa Victoria, Hot
  • Thick ‘N Chunky, Mild
  • Thick ‘N Chunky, Hot
  • Thick ‘N Chunky Verde, Mild
  • Thick ‘N Chunky Verde, Medium

Newman’s Own: According to Newman’s Own Inc. allergen statement, “Newman’s Own complies with the FDA Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (Title II of Public Law 108-282). The Newman’s Own, Inc. policy concerning food allergens is as follows: If one or more of the major common allergens recognized by FDA are contained in a Newman’s Own product they will be listed in the ingredient statement regardless of the level and whether or not directly added to the product or contained in another ingredient . The composition of each ingredient will be reviewed for the presence of the major common food allergens recognized by FDA.”

  • Black Bean & Corn
  • Farmer’s Garden
  • Hot
  • Mango
  • Medium
  • Mild
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Tequila Lime
  • Salsa con Queso

On the Border: According to their website: All of our On The Border® retail products are gluten free. Our products must pass finished goods testing to meet FDA requirements for gluten-free labeling, and we prominently state “Gluten Free” on our packaging.”

Organicville: According to their website: Organicville’s salsas are USDA certified organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and made with agave nectar.”

  • Hot Organic Salsa
  • Medium Organic Salsa
  • Pineapple Organic Salsa
  • Mild Organic Salsa

Ortega: The parent company for Ortega is B&G Foods Inc. and they no longer have a gluten free list, therefore they no longer call any of their salsas “gluten free”.

Pace: Pace is owned by the Campbell Soup Co. which states on their US Gluten Free Product List form, “Campbell has a strict two-step process for classifying a product as gluten-free. First, we verify all the ingredients are gluten-free, then we analyze the finished product to make sure it is also free from any gluten.”

  • Chunky Salsa – mild, medium and hot
  • Fire Roasted Tomato and Corn Restaurant Style Garden Pepper Restaurant Style
  • Garlic & Lime Verde Restaurant Style
  • Original Restaurant Style Salsa
  • Southwest Chipotle Restaurant Style

Sabra: According to the company: “All of Sabra’s products meet broad standards of gluten free content of < 20 ppm.”

  • Chunky Pico de Gallo
  • Garden Style  
  • Homestyle Medium
  • Homestyle Mild
  • Mango Peach
  • Restaurant Style
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Southwestern Style

Taco Bell:  Kraft Food, states “Please note our products are produced and labeled in compliance with the FDA.” So any product containing gluten will say so on the label. The products that do not contain gluten may be subject to cross-contamination during processing.

  • Ready to Heat Dip:
    • Medium Salsa con Queso
    • Mild Salsa con Queso
  • Thick ‘n Chunky Salsa:
    • Medium
    • Mild

Tostitos: According to the Frito-Lay North America Inc. gluten free product listproducts listed below do not contain wheat, rye, barley or oat ingredients (we include oats in this list as a precaution as oats are often commingled with gluten-containing grains).  Please note however, some of the products listed below may be manufactured on the same lines as products that contain gluten.  Although our lines are cleaned between production runs, Frito-Lay has not tested these products for gluten content and the ingredients in these products may have come into contact with gluten-containing products prior to manufacturing.  Individuals who are sensitive to gluten should take these factors into consideration in consuming these products.”

  • Cantina Salsa Verde Restaurant Style Salsa
  • Chipotle Restaurant Style Medium Salsa
  • Chunky Salsa – Hot  
  • Chunky Salsa – Medium
  • Chunky Salsa – Mild
  • Restaurant Style Salsa
  • Roasted Garlic Medium Chunky Salsa
  • Splash of Lime Flavored Mild Chunky Salsa

Wholly Salsa: According to their website: Neither our Wholly Guacamole or Wholly Salsa products contain allergens”. All their products say “gluten free” on the package.

  • Avocado Verde
  • Avocado, Black Bean & Roasted Corn
  • Classic Hot
  • Classic Medium
  • Classic Mild
  • Guacamole & Spicy Pico
  • Red Pepper Mango
  • Roasted Tomato

 

I hope you find this list helpful! Happy eating!

**This list is for the US. If you’re in another country, please contact the manufacturer first.

 

 

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A Husband’s Perspective: What it’s Like Being Married to Someone with Celiac Disease

What it’s Like Being Married to Someone with Celiac Disease

Let’s face it, getting diagnosed with an autoimmune disease turns your life upside down. From countless doctor appointments, to days being sick in bed, and of course the ongoing tiredness are just some of the new normals. For me it’s celiac disease and although I’m learning to navigate life so I don’t miss out on what I used to love, my life is not the same. Everything from eating out, attending social events, the cosmetics I buy to the trips I take are all different now.

I think it’s really easy to get caught up on focusing how much my life is different and how hard it is at times for me, that sometimes I forget my illness not only impacts me but also my loved ones; specifically my husband. When he fell in love with me I was a healthy young girl (we met in high school!) with no worries in the world. Over the years he saw me struggle with my health, until finally a diagnosis was given. I was scared and didn’t know what the future would bring for me, but I selfishly never stopped to ask him if he was scared. There have been many times we’ve had to cancel plans because I haven’t felt good, or planned our entire trip around making sure it’s gluten free safe and never once has he complained about it or made me feel guilty for it. In fact he continued to date me, marry and love me unconditionally.

In honor of all the incredibly supportive spouses out there living with someone with celiac (or another autoimmune disease), today I’m interviewing my husband Erik and getting his perspective on things. Some of these questions we have never talked about before, so I asked him to be as open and honest as possible.

How was life before my diagnosis?

Life before your diagnosis was a very normal teenage life for the both of us. We ate all the junk food that we wanted, as most teenage kids do. We would go to our favorite Mexican restaurants together, get burgers and fries on the pier at the beach, pizza after football games… the list could go on and on since we were your typical teenagers. But to be honest, things changed way before your actual diagnosis. I can remember like it was yesterday when I knew there was something wrong and different about you. I started to notice that whenever we would go out to eat you would suffer from a stomach ache or not feel good. As time started to pass, the reactions would get worse and it seemed like you always felt sick, not just after eating and trying to figure out what caused the issue started to seem hopeless. I remember you going to so many doctors and they didn’t know what was wrong, and actually told you it was in your head. Looking back I can remember being so frustrated at the situation because every time I would suggest somewhere to eat you didn’t want to go because you were “allergic” to what they served (even though we didn’t know what). I look back on it and feel so bad about how I use to give you a hard time. I wish I was more respectful about how you felt and it makes me sad to think about all the young kids that suffer from celiac or gluten intolerance that are going through that now.

How did you feel when you heard I was diagnosed with celiac disease?

To be honest when you were first diagnosed I didn’t think much about it. I thought all you had to do was not eat bread or certain types of grains and it would be as simple as that. A part of me was relieved that you finally had an answer to why you were always sick. I really didn’t think that it was that big of a deal. I’m not even sure if I knew it was an autoimmune disease at that point. Honestly, even when I found out it was an autoimmune disease, I don’t know if I even knew the severity of what it entailed.

How did your life change after my diagnosis? (positive & negative)

 Some of the positive changes came in the form of changing our eating habits. It really made me aware of what goes into certain foods and taught me to read labels, not only for gluten but also to make healthier choices. With having a loved one that has an autoimmune disease it really makes me look at my own health and not take it for granted.

Negatives…well to be honest I try to focus on the positives, but there have definitely been challenging aspects to your illness that I never thought I would have to think about. I would say traveling and lack of spontaneity has been the hardest change. We are now limited to where we can travel, where we can stay, we have to research ahead of time places you can eat, etc. I miss being able to just explore and stumble upon places. Sometimes it feels like we plan our trips (even day trips) around food. But at the same time, I wouldn’t change that for the world since now you’re feeling better!

What surprised you most about living with someone with celiac?

The biggest surprise was how severe your reaction is to gluten. Having to witness what you go through and the process of healing from your reaction is saddening and hard to deal with, since there is no way to really help. Another thing that surprised me is how strong you are (I always knew this, but didn’t realize how often you use your strength!). This is a two-parter. First is your willpower. I’ve never seen you cheat on your diet, even when you’re around food I know you used to love. I’ve heard many times people say to you “oh, come on one bite won’t kill you”. I can imagine this is hard to hear and but you never let that bother you. The second is your overall strength. I never realized how celiac impacts your life so much until I lived with you. It’s a lot harder than people think, but you just do what you need to and keep on going.

You choose to have our house be 100% gluten free, is that ever hard for you?

Transitioning to a gluten free house was hard in the beginning just because it was overwhelming going to the grocery store and trying to figure out what was gluten free and what was not. I remember one time you sent me to pick up a few items and I was at the store for an hour trying to read labels and Google things! Now it’s second nature to me and I couldn’t imagine going back to how it used to be. I honestly don’t feel like I miss out on anything (I’m sure your cooking really helps with that!). Even though I don’t have celiac, I really feel better eating gluten free as well (I do eat gluten when I’m out, without you).

What’s been the biggest challenge?

I would say hands down the hardest part for me is seeing you struggle. Your life has turned upside down and although you know how to mange it now, it’s still a challenge. Just knowing how sick you feel after you get glutened and seeing you lay in bed is hard. I can remember at first your hair was falling out and I saw you one day in the bathroom cry as you brushed it… that killed me to see you.

Also, watching you struggle over the years with the social aspect has been challenging for me. I remember the first time we went to a wedding together after your diagnosis and we weren’t prepared and didn’t pack you food. You held tears back all night as everyone ate freely around you and questioned you why you weren’t eating. You’ve given up a lot and have to worry so much that it saddens me. Each time we go out to eat you have to ask so many questions and are always at the mercy of how the food is prepared, that I can see you stressing. It hurts me to see how people treat you sometimes and think it’s a fad. I remember one time your friend said “I was going to invite you to dinner with us, but figured you couldn’t eat so I didn’t”. Sometimes it’s hard for me to sit back when people say hurtful things like that. It breaks my heart for you because I know you didn’t ask or deserve this. I’ve seen you get so strong over the past couple years and you always seem to be control of the situation, even when it’s hard.

In your opinion, what’s helped us get through the hard times with my health so far?

Being a team has been the key to it all. It’s with anything in life, not just your health. When I’m having a bad day you’re there to lift me and vice versa. Days that I can see you’re not feeling well I try to pick up the slack for you. It’s all about having someone to conquer your fears and stresses… knowing you’re not alone during the hard times.

What advice would you give to another spouse married to someone with an autoimmune disease?

You have to be a team and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Be open to the other person’s feelings, thoughts, stresses, concerns etc. You have to be there to pick them up during the hard times, but celebrate the positives. Be patient. Getting a diagnosis of celiac or another autoimmune disease is life changing and you really need to remember how hard it is on them.

What advice would you give to a person living with an autoimmune disease regarding their spouse?

You’re not the only one who stresses or has concerns from a diagnosis like celiac. You may be the one who has the illness, but you’re not the only one who is living with it in the relationship. Your loved one goes through every step of the process with you. Also, we don’t read minds so when you’re feeling something let us in. We can only be there for you fully if you open up.

A big thank you to Erik for being open and transparent during this interview! He truly has been beyond supportive with my celiac and every aspect of life. There’s no one else I’d rather do life with!

 

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Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars

These no-bake peanut butter Cheerio bars are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast or snack!

Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars

Simple, quick and delicious. These Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars really need no introduction.

With only four ingredients and not much time needed, these are a great way to put a twist on a classic breakfast favorite. When you add peanut butter into the mix, it adds some protein to your breakfast or snack!

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup pure honey
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups Cheerios

Instructions:

  1. Grease an 8×8 pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, add peanut butter and honey. Stir constantly until melted and evenly mixed.
  3. Add cinnamon and stir together.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in Cheerios. Mix until evenly coated.
  5. Pour mixture in pan and press into place.
  6. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting.
  7. Store extras in the refrigerator.

Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars

Enjoy!

 

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How to Stock a Gluten Free Kitchen

How to Stock a Gluten Free Kitchen

If you’re new to the gluten free diet it can be overwhelming at first. All the things you used to love like pizza, pasta and bread are now out- don’t panic! You need to focus on all the great foods you can have and learn to stock your gluten free kitchen.

As with anything associate with living a gluten free life, preparation is key. There is nothing worse than having an empty kitchen, being tired, feeling defeated on the gluten free diet and tempted to get in the car and pick up some gluten-filled take out! Don’t do it! If your kitchen is always stocked with some gluten free basics you won’t have to worry about being caught in that scenario. I’ve put together some basic staples you should keep in your kitchen that are gluten free, everything from when you’re in the mood to cook, to when you’re in the mood to throw a pizza in the oven!

How to Stock a Gluten Free Kitchen:

Fruits and Veggies: Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten free in their pure form, so feel free to stock up on all your favorites! Be cautious when purchasing pre-cut fruits & veggies because you don’t know if cross-contamination occurred on the cutting surface or even with the knife used.

Poultry/Meat: Poultry and meat is naturally gluten free, so as long as you’re buying these items in their pure form you are good. Avoid purchasing pre-marinated meat because you can’t be sure it’s gluten free, it’s best to just marinated it yourself. If you’re buying bacon, sausage, veggie burgers, etc make sure the package says gluten free.

Fish/Seafood: Fish and seafood is gluten free in its pure form, so once again don’t buy anything marinated or stuffed. Also, be aware that most imitation seafood contains gluten in it.

Dairy Products: Milk, most yogurt, cream cheese and pure cheese (I would avoid blue cheese since it can contain gluten) is gluten free. I always make sure I have yogurt in my fridge since it’s a good source of protein and probiotics. My favorite brand is Siggi’s.

Rice: Rice comes in many varieties and in its pure form is gluten free, just avoid pre-packaged seasoned rice.

Quinoa: Quinoa is my go-to grain! Even though it’s naturally gluten free, I always make sure to buy “certified gf” so I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination in the fields or during processing. I love to make quinoa like a cold tabbouleh-type salad or use it hot in place of rice.  

Beans/Legumes: Beans and legumes are cheap and offer lots of protein. If you buy them canned, just make sure you don’t get seasoned ones just incase they contain gluten. You can always season and spice them yourself.

Nuts/Seeds: Proceed with caution when buying pre-made trail mixes unless it states gluten free, however nuts and seeds in their pure form are gluten free. The issue with nuts and seeds are that many times they are processed/packaged in a facility with wheat, so make sure you read labels!

Gluten Free Pasta: You may have to try a few until you find gluten free pasta that you like. I like Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta. It doesn’t break apart like many gluten free pastas do and I like knowing it’s more nutritious than corn or rice pasta. You should always have gluten free pasta in your pantry for busy days that you need a quick meal.

All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour: If you’re new to the gluten free diet, stock up on your all-purpose gluten free flour because I can guarantee you will be baking! Many pre-made gluten free baked goods don’t make the cut as far as texture and flavor, so baking is a must. I prefer using all-purpose gluten free flour where you don’t have to worry about mixing multiple ones together. My favorite is Cup4Cup where you can literally take any recipe and substitute it for the regular flour.

Protein Bars/Snacks: I always recommend snacking on whole food items (fruits, veggies, nuts, etc) since they are healthier, but come on that’s not realistic always. When buying gluten free snack foods make sure you read the label and avoid products packaged/manufactured in a facility with wheat.

Gluten Free Cereal: Cereal is another great staple you should have in your gluten free kitchen. Many large brands now have gluten free cereal (Cheerios and Chex) that it’s easy to find and you don’t have to spend an arm and leg on a little box.

Gluten Free Bread/Tortillas: Most gluten free bread is stored in the freezer, so make sure to do the same at home. Bread is something you will most likely have to experiment with at first until you find one you like. Be prepared to try some bad ones! My personal favorites are made from Schar and Canyon Bakehouse. I don’t eat nearly as much bread now that I’m gluten free, but it’s always nice to have it in the freezer for days I’m in a pinch and need to make a sandwich. I also always keep tortillas around too because I like to mix it up and make wraps. Make sure you read the label and stick to corn tortillas that say gluten free because one time I accidentally bought a blend of corn and flour! My favorite type is the Mission Soft Taco Gluten Free tortillas…with these you will never miss flour tortillas!

Gluten Free Frozen Items: I don’t recommend living on frozen meals, however they are great to have when you’re in a hurry or tired after a long day. I recommend Amy’s Kitchen frozen meals. Just be careful because not all their products are gluten free, so read the label before purchasing. Frozen gluten free pizza is something else I always have in my freezer. This is something else you will have to experiment with until you find one you like. My personal favorite is Freschetta Gluten Free Thin and Crispy Pizza.

Sauces: Gluten tends to lurk in many sauces, so make sure you read labels. For example, soy sauce contains gluten so make sure you only buy gluten free soy sauce. Just because you’re gluten free doesn’t mean you have to miss out on flavor. Don’t be afraid to play around with marinating and using different sauces. You can read a list of gluten free condiments here.

Canned Goods: Canned goods are something else to have when you’re in a crunch. As I previously mentioned, avoid pre-seasoned items and look for items labeled gluten free. You can read a complete list of gluten free soups here.

Spices: Since you are no longer going to buy pre-marinated, pre-seasoned items you will need to have your spice rack stocked. You can read find out which brands are gluten free here.

Question:

  • What’s something you always have in your kitchen?

 

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Coconut Lime Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice that’s simmered in coconut milk and tossed with lime zest and cilantro makes the perfect gluten free and low carb side dish!

coconut lime cauliflower rice

Cauliflower rice. Have you had it? Move over startchy, carb-filled white rice because cauliflower rice is giving you a run for your money! The first time I made it I didn’t tell Erik what it was and served chicken stir fry over on top… guess what? He didn’t notice until I told him and he loved it!

I decided to put a twist on plain cauliflower rice by simmering it in coconut milk and tossing it with lime zest. This is the perfect addition to your meal, either as a side dish or throwing some veggies and/or meat on top!

I find cauliflower rice in a bag at Trader Joe’s (in the produce section), but I’ve also seen it at Costco (it’s not so finely riced though). If you can’t find these, don’t worry… it’s so easy! Literally grab a head of cauliflower and your food processor and in less than 5 minutes you can rice it yourself!

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (when you seed it, it’s no longer hot)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bag cauliflower rice OR 1 small cauliflower head cut into florets
  • 1 ¼ cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 limes, zest of
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. If using a head of cauliflower, add florets to food processor and pulse until it looks like rice. You may have to do this in a few batches depending on the size of your food processor. Make sure you pulse and not puree.
  2. Set cauliflower rice aside.
  3. Drizzle olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  4. Add onions and jalapeños, sauté for a few minutes until tender.
  5. Add garlic and cauliflower rice, stir so everything is evenly mixed. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Pour in the coconut milk, stir and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and cauliflower is tender.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in lime zest, salt, pepper and cilantro.

coconut lime cauliflower rice

Enjoy!

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Tips for Gluten Free Air Travel

Tips for Gluten Free Air Travel

Air travel tends to be a little more challenging if you’re gluten free due to the lack of flexibility for you. From strict security restrictions, to unexpected flight delays. Just as with anything when you’re gluten free, preparation is key.

There is no reason you should avoid air travel just because you fear not being to find anything suitable to eat in the airport or on flight, or because you stress getting sick while traveling. 

Tips for Gluten Free Air Travel:

Bring Your Own Snacks/Food: Bringing your own food is the only way to 100% guarantee a safe meal for yourself. You don’t want to worry about food spoiling, especially if you have a long flight/layover so avoid anything that needs to be refrigerated. I always pack a ziploc bag filled with peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, gf crackers, gf cookies, protein bars, dried fruit, nuts, whole fruits (bananas, apples, etc.), carrot sticks, etc.

Getting Through Security: When deciding what to pack, keep in mind the security regulations. Travelers are allowed to bring 3.4 ounces of liquid or gel (per container) through security and it must be in a clear Ziplock bag (no larger than a quart). Don’t forget gel packs that keep your food cold also falls into this category, so that’s why I say you’re better off avoiding foods that need to stay cool. Also, don’t wrap anything in aluminum foil because it will interfere with x-ray machines.

Eat Before Your Flight: Since most short flights don’t offer meals and typically snacks on the flight aren’t gluten free, you will want to make sure you eat before your flight. Even if it’s a short flight, it never fails that your stomach will start rumbling as you look around at everyone snacking on their airline provided pretzels.

Research Airport Restaurants Beforehand: Just how you would research places to eat at your final destination, you need to do this for the airport as well. Even if you see that the airport has a restaurant you’re familiar with, make sure to call ahead of time and speak to someone regarding gluten free options. Often times airport restaurants have limited menus and differ from the same restaurant that’s not in an airport. Don’t be embarrassed to ask extensive questions regarding gluten free options (cross-contamination, how it’s prepared, ingredients, etc.). I don’t know about you, for me there is absolutely nothing worse than getting sick when you’re up in the air for hours just because you didn’t prepare ahead of time.  

Contact Your Airline Regarding a Gluten Free Meal: Most major global airlines offer gluten free meals for long flights where meals are offered. In order to get this, make sure your airline offers this at the time of booking. If so, it’s best to request this at the time you book your flight but then you MUST call the airline 48-72 hours prior to your flight to confirm your meal. I recommend you specify you have celiac, so they know your meal must be 100% gluten free.

Notify Your Flight Crew About Your Meal: Once you’ve boarded the plane, introduce yourself to the flight crew and double check they know and have your gluten free meal. This way you can feel comfortable knowing they’re aware of your situation and won’t give your meal to someone else who decides last minute they want a gluten free meal.  

Double Check Your Gluten Free Meal: Just as you would at a restaurant, when your meal is delivered double check with the flight attendant that it is in fact gluten free. Anything packaged that’s given to you (cookies, crackers, etc.) read the label to make sure it’s gluten free.

If you follow these simple rules while flying, you can safely enjoy your trip and not having to worry about getting sick from gluten!

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