Travel Dining Cards for Gluten Intolerance and Food Allergies

Posted on May 14th, 2014 by Alison | Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

vietnamese-cardThe first big trip I took after being diagnosed with celiac disease was to Vietnam. I had only been gluten-free for a year, and I worried about how I would be able to communicate my dietary needs in a foreign country where I could not speak a word of the language and the writing was completely unrecognizable to me.

I decided that I needed to have a written explanation of my gluten-free diet so that I could just hand it to someone — a miscommunication could lead to one bite of gluten which could ruin a whole day of my (and my husband’s) trip. I had become friendly with one of the employees at the photo-developing place (remember those?) who was of Vietnamese descent, so I asked if he could help me. He was able to have the sentences I had written translated by his relatives and returned a hand-written note to me. I had the sense to laminate that little piece of paper that ended up saving me again and again on my travels.

Japanese nut allergy cardI was reminded of this story recently because my parents (who are also gluten-free) were getting ready to travel to Japan and I suggested they bring a dining translation card with them. It’s much easier now to communicate gluten intolerance or food allergies in almost any language because of the available online resources. Some you have to purchase, and some are free. Some are already written for you, and some can be customized. You have to find what works for you, but without a doubt, having a dining card with you will ease your mind and, hopefully, keep you safe, whether dining out in your own country or in different one!

Here are some of the travel and dining card resources I have found: CONTINUE READING ARTICLE »

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Gluten-free diet leads to remission of fibromyalgia in new study

Posted on April 18th, 2014 by Alison | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

In 2008, I wrote a post theorizing the connection between fibromyalgia and gluten. At that time I could find no published medical evidence of this connection, but comments from readers (over 200 of them) confirmed my belief, that many people with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (FM) may really have celiac disease (CD) or gluten-sensitivity and that a gluten-free diet would alleviate some, if not all, of the symptoms. In many cases, it may not be just gluten, but other food intolerance as well.

I am pleased to see a new study out of Spain that examined 20 patients with fibromyalgia who tested negative for celiac disease but that got better on a gluten-free diet. They concluded at the end of the 16 month study that

remarkable clinical improvement can be achieved with a gluten-free diet in patients with FM, even if CD has been ruled out, suggesting that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be an underlying treatable cause of FM syndrome

They found in their study that

The level of widespread chronic pain improved dramatically for all patients; for 15 patients, chronic widespread pain was no longer present, indicating remission of FM.

Fifteen patients returned to work or normal life.

In three patients who had been previously treated in pain units with opioids, these drugs were discontinued. Fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, migraine, and depression also improved together with pain.

Two patients, both with oral aphthae, went into complete remission for psoriatic arthritis and undifferentiated spondyloarthritis.

For some patients, the clinical improvement after starting the gluten-free diet was striking and observed after only a few months; for other patients, improvement was very slow and was gradually observed over many months of follow-up.

For eight patients, the intake of gluten was followed by clinical worsening, which subsided after returning to a strict gluten-free diet.

You can download the entire published study here: Fibromyalgia and non‑celiac gluten sensitivity: a description with remission of fibromyalgia
fibromyalgia

If you or someone you know is suffering from fibromyalgia, consider celiac disease or gluten sensitivity as the cause of the symptoms. Trust me, a change in diet is a small price to pay for feeling better!

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Mariposa Baking Co. in San Francisco – Gluten-Free Goodness

Posted on March 10th, 2014 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since I first wrote about Mariposa Baking Company At that time (2008), they were located only in Oakland, CA, and the next year made the move to a kiosk in the historic Ferry Building of San Francisco. Now they reside in a permanent spot in the Ferry Building, and with more room they can offer toasted bagels, sandwiches, and other gluten-free breakfast and lunch items in addition to an array of gluten-free baked goods.

On a beautiful day in February, I boarded the ferry in Larkspur, CA with my two daughters. We loved every minute of the ferry ride, with awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and San Francisco. We arrived at The Ferry Building, which is known for its amazing food, offering Mexican, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian and Americana, in addition to its gourmet meats, cheeses, oysters and other fresh foods.

We passed up these options, however, as some were gluten-ful, and I just didn’t feel like asking so many questions (my daughter has multiple food allergies). That day was about spending time with my girls and not having to worry about a thing, so we headed straight for Mariposa Baking Company, where we could get great food and feel relaxed.

Mariposa Baking Company San Francisco

Mariposa Gluten-Free San Francisco

I ordered “the gobbler” sandwich: organic turkey with swiss, organic spinach, tomato and red onion, cranberry sauce, and mayo on toasted Faux “Rye” bread – 2 slices of bread from a round loaf of light bread with caraway seeds added. It came with a side salad and delicious croutons! I loved it! Other menu items were “cheddar hammy sammy,” “mediterranean panini,” “tuna melt,” and “empanada plate.” All are marked whether they are also vegan, dairy-free or nut-free. You can create your own sandwich if you prefer. One of my daughters ordered a toasted cheese sandwich and the other had a plain turkey sandwich, both on their Sandwich Bread, which is egg, dairy and nut-free.

Mariposa Gluten-Free Sandwich San Francisco

After lunch we walked to the new Exploratorium and then of course we had to return to Mariposa get treats and some items to take back home. We tried a few sweets and then purchased some loaves of bread — the Faux Rye was $7 per loaf and the Sandwich Bread was $6 per loaf, great prices for gluten-free bakery bread!

Mariposa Gluten-Free Bread

Whether you are visiting the Bay Area, or a native, I highly recommend my itinerary above, with a stop at Mariposa!

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Gluten-free fig cookies – new from Pamela’s! Enter to win!

Posted on March 4th, 2014 by Alison | Read 150 Comments - Add Your Own »

Did you grow up eating Fig Newtons? I did. They are one of those nostalgic cookies for me, like Nutter Butters and Circus Animal Cookies. I never did look at the ingredients panel until recently, and… yuck. Besides the fact that Fig Newtons are gluten-ous, they also contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, soybean oil (GMO) and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil. Not what I want to be putting in my body or my children’s bodies!

But I have exciting news! Pamela’s Products has created a gluten-free version of fig cookies that is better-tasting and healthier than the original. They are called Figgies & Jammies and come in four flavors: Blueberry & Fig, Mission Fig, Strawberry & Fig, and Raspberry & Fig. If you miss the taste of those good ol’ fig cookies because you are now gluten-free, or if you want better ingredients, you will be happy to have these.Pamela's Figgies & Jammies

I like these cookies much better than the original — they are soft and full of flavor. And, they have no corn syrup, no artificial flavors or additives, and no hydrogenated oils or trans fats. I tested them on my kids, who have never had a Fig Newton in their lives and think the concept of fig in a cookie is disgusting… and they loved them! They will make a great lunchbox or after-school treat.

FIGGIES & JAMMIES GIVEAWAY!
They are not yet on store shelves, but will be soon. In the meantime, would you like to be one of the first to try them? Pamela’s has agreed to give away the new Figgies & Jammies to three of my lucky readers! All you have to do is make a comment on this post answering the following two questions:

  • What type of cookie was your childhood favorite?
  • Which TWO flavors of Figgies & Jammies would you like to win? (Yes, you will win two packages of cookies!)

Contest will remain open until March 12, 2014 at 5:00 PST (I extended it). You may add extra comments for extra chances to win, telling me you shared the contest on Facebook or Twitter. Three winners will be randomly selected and I will contact you via email. Good luck!

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Gluten-Free Valentine’s Chocolates

Posted on February 8th, 2014 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

Do you love someone (yourself included!) who can’t eat gluten? Yes, flowers are nice and gluten-free, but sometimes a box of chocolates is just, well, delicious!

See's Gluten-Free Valentine ChocolateI have some good news and some bad news regarding the most popular brands of Valentine’s Day chocolates. Do you have any more to add to this list?

Good News — Gluten-Free!

SEE’S CANDIES
See’s Candies‘ new allergen list, as of January 1, 2014 states that “All See’s products do not contain gluten.” This is a change from the past, when some of their candies did contain gluten. I also confirmed this via phone. The allergen list also states which candies are nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free. You can see their Valentine’s Day products on their website and in stores.

Ghirardelli Chocolates - Gluten-Free?Pretty Good News — Gluten-Free Ingredients

GHIRARDELLI
Ghiradelli Chocolate also has an allergen list on their website. The good news is that according to the list, all of their chocolates are gluten-free except for the ones that contain “Crisp.” However, they are all listed as Shared Equipment with gluten, so that is a decision you need to make depending on your sensitivity. (I eat Ghirardelli chocolate with no problem.) You can see their Valentine’s Day offerings on their website and in stores.

RUSSELL STOVER
Russell Stover ChocolateRussell Stover states on their website that “Most of our products do not contain gluten from added ingredients. Those that do contain wheat gluten, such as S’Mores and the Cookies and Cream Rabbit, clearly show the presence of wheat in the ingredient listings. However, please be aware that products containing wheat are produced on equipment that’s also used to make our other products. So, we can’t rule out the possibility of cross-contact, despite efforts to prevent it. Because of that possibility, we do not declare any of our products to be gluten-free.”

Bad News — NOT Gluten-Free!

Godiva ChocolateGODIVA
Godiva states: “ALL of our products including solid chocolate pieces may contain gluten. Any person with a gluten allergy should NOT consume ANY of our products.” The same goes for nuts and dairy.

 

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Camp Celiac in Northern California 2014

Posted on January 30th, 2014 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

Treat your child to a week of gluten freedom at a special summer camp, Camp Celiac!
NOTE: Registration starts February 1st! The camp days have been reduced – see information below from their website.

CAMP CELIAC

In northern California at Camp Celiac, “campers, counselors, and junior counselors eat delicious gluten-free food and enjoy traditional camp activities such as a ropes course, rock climbing, zip-lining, boating, swimming, archery, arts and crafts, skit night, and outdoor sports. Three meals a day without having to ask if any of the foods are gluten free is life changing for many campers and staff!” Ages 9-15.

2014 Camp Dates: Due to high demand for space at Camp Arroyo, we have to reduce the length of Camp Celiac at Camp Arroyo in 2014. We will still have two sessions for campers ages 9 to 15:
Session One: Monday, July 21, 2014 through Thursday, July 24, 2014
Session Two: Thursday July 24 through Sunday, July 27, 2014.

Counselors and Jr. counselors (ages 16 and 17) will stay for both sessions: Monday, July 21, 2014 through Sunday, July 27, 2014. Thus, we will have fewer available counselor and Jr. counselor spaces. On-line registration will open on February 1, 2014.

Camp Celiac recognizes The Taylor Family Foundation for again hosting our camp at Camp Arroyo. The Taylor Family Foundation’s mission is to preserve the wellness and enhance the quality of life for children in Northern California with life-threatening and chronic illnesses, disabilities, and youth at risk through unique therapeutic experiences and support. For more information, please visit www.ttff.org.

Please consider a donation to The Taylor Family Foundation and to Camp Celiac! Donations to Camp Celiac cover many items specifically for Camp Celiac, such as crafts, medical supplies, DJ’s, additional activities, our camp program’s general and medical insurance, etc. Donations to The Taylor Family Foundation cover the substantial food, maintenance, and activity costs for all of the camps at Camp Arroyo (www.ttff.org).

To register:

Registration Priority: The by-laws of The Taylor Family Foundation require that we give priority to campers from Northern California.

Campers from Northern California: All campers from Northern California who register between Feb 1st and Feb 14th will be given equal priority if all four registration steps (see below) are completed by February 14 (and received if paying by mail); i.e. there is no advantage to registering on February 1st rather than February 14th. After February 14th, available space will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis after all four registration steps are completed (and received if paying by mail). At all times, space availability will depend, in part, on the camper’s age and gender since cabins are segregated by sex and age. Please see “Camp Watch” for status regarding available space vs. wait list only.

Campers from Outside Northern California: Please complete the registration instructions below. Priority will be based upon date of completed registration and sex/age availability. No spaces will be offered to campers from outside Northern California until mid March, and then only if space is available.

If you register by FEB 14, we will advise you of your camper’s registration status by MAR 5.

Campers can indicate which of one of two sessions they prefer to attend. To ensure maximum availability for new campers, campers may sign up for ONE session only.

For more information about how to sign up for this camp, visit the registration page at CeliacCamp.com.

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Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread in San Francisco

Posted on January 28th, 2014 by Alison | Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

Growing up near San Francisco, I loved sourdough bread. In fact, it was the only bread I liked, and the only bread-y thing I would eat. I pulled the fillings out of sandwiches made on other breads, but if you gave me a turkey sandwich on sliced sourdough (Colombo and Parisian were the brands at that time), I was a happy girl!

Fast forward to 2002, when I was diagnosed with celiac disease and learned all about everything gluten-free. One thing I learned was that sourdough naturally has the lowest gluten content of breads, because the fermentation process makes it easier to digest — no wonder I liked it!

BreadSRSLY Gluten-Free SourdoughWhen you are on a strict gluten-free diet, however, even “lower gluten” foods like sourdough bread are completely off-limits, but last Sunday, I got to taste sourdough bread for the first time in 11 years. I had been hearing about a woman in San Francisco who started making and selling gluten-free sourdough bread, and that it was really good. Well, yes, it is! That woman is Sadie, and her company is Bread SRSLY (“seriously”). My daughter who had never had sourdough in her life (and has multiple food allergies and is in need of good bacteria!) loves the bread and has a toasted slice with her breakfast in the morning, which I feel good about because gluten-free sourdough may be beneficial in the healing of the gut due to the growth of good bacteria (lactobacilli is one) during fermentation of the sourdough.

BreadSRSLY Gluten-Free SourdoughNot only does Bread SRSLY offer a “Classic Sourdough,” there are other unique flavors like Kale (which I absolutely loved) and Apricot Fennel. In addition to being gluten-free, the bread is free of dairy, egg, nut, soy, chickpea, potato, and tapioca. Yay! Ingredients (non-GMO): Organic White Rice Flour, Organic Millet Flour, Sorghum Flour, Arrowroot, Sourdough Starter (Water, Sorghum Flour), Xanthan Gum, Salt.

So, where you can find this San Francisco treat? Bread SRSLY is offered locally in the San Francisco Bay Area through local markets, Good Eggs and Amazon Fresh, and nationally by ordering online.

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How to Get $0 Co-Pay for Epi-Pen or Auvi-Q

Posted on January 11th, 2014 by Alison | Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

Did you know that you can get your Epi-Pens or your Auvi-Q (new brand of epinephrine auto-injector) for free? Both companies are offering a $0 Co-Pay program. I wasn’t aware of these programs until a friend told me – before that I was paying over $100 each time I needed to get a refill, which adds up when you need one for school, one for home, and one more to be safe! Plus, they expire every year, so you are forced to get new ones and dump the old.

Here’s how it works:

The Epi-Pen $0 Co-Pay Offer:

What is it?

It’s a savings offer that you can print or store on your smartphone. The EpiPen® $0 Co-Pay Offer helps eligible patients save on out-of-pocket costs for up to $100 per each EpiPen 2-Pak carton. It will cover up to 3 EpiPen 2-Pak cartons per prescription fill. Just present your card at the pharmacy each time you drop off or refill your prescription.

Use it again and again.

Your EpiPen $0 co-pay card is reusable for each prescription through December 31, 2014. It’s good for up to three EpiPen 2-Pak or EpiPen Jr 2-Pak cartons at a time, so you can have several EpiPen 2-Pak cartons available in different locations.

Patient Instructions*: Present your card along with a valid prescription for EpiPen® (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors 2-Pak carton or EpiPen Jr (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors 2-Pak carton. Maximum benefit of $100 per EpiPen 2-Pak® carton where applicable. This offer may be used on up to three EpiPen 2-Pak cartons per prescription. This offer can be used an unlimited number of times until the offer expires on 12/31/2014.

For more information, visit the Epi-Pen Co-Pay Offer page.

The Auvi-Q $0 Co-Pay Offer:

Eligible Patients: Maximum benefit of $100 per two‑pack of Auvi‑Q, up to a maximum of three two‑packs per prescription. This offer can be used an unlimited number of times until 12/31/2014. Prescriber ID# required on prescription. This offer is not valid for prescriptions covered by or submitted for reimbursement under Medicaid, Medicare, or similar federal or state programs including any state medical pharmaceutical assistance program.

Patient Instructions: If prescription is covered by insurance, you may need to notify the insurance carrier of redemption of this copay card. Patient not eligible if prescriptions are paid in part or full by any state or federally funded programs, including, but not limited to, Medicare or Medicaid. In order to redeem this card you must have a valid prescription for Auvi‑Q.

For more information, visit the Auvi-Q Co-Pay Offer page.

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Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo coming to SF Bay Area

Posted on January 9th, 2014 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

GFAF ExpoThe Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo, which originated in Chicago, makes its first stop of the year in the San Francisco Bay Area on January 25 & 26th. The Expo is in San Mateo from 9 am to 3 pm on both Saturday and Sunday. You can buy a ticket for either or for both days. Kids are only $5!

According to the event’s website:

The Expo is the premier gluten and allergen free event in the US. Whether you are looking for specialty products that taste great or trying to learn how to cook and bake to meet your dietary needs, the Expo is the place to be!

What do you get with your Expo Ticket?

  • Entry into the 150+ booth vendor fair
  • Valuable coupons at the vendor booths
  • Samples from the vendors
  • Discounted products available for purchase
  • Informative classes related to the gluten and allergen-free lifestyle
  • Free reusable bag to carry your goodies
  • Meet your favorite vendors, authors and bloggers

Here are some important links if you are planning on attending the Expo:

When and Where

Buy tickets

Classes

See which vendors will be there

Have fun if you go!

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Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin February 2014 Meeting

Posted on January 8th, 2014 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

gigofmarin1UPDATE: We have many wonderful vendors attending this meeting, including Bread SRSLY and Odd Bagel, who will be SELLING their breads, Good Eggs – a grocery delivery service, and samples from Mary’s Crackers, Simple Squares, and Larabar. Please RSVP by email or Facebook if you will be attending this event so we can let our vendors know!

Gluten can trigger many autoimmune conditions:

  • Hashimoto’s, Grave’s Disease & other thyroid conditions
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Vitiligo
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Balance & Movement Disorders
  • Alopecia
  • and others

Autoimmune diseases as a group are the third most common medical condition in America, affecting over 50 million people. And new research indicates that the two leading medical conditions–heart disease and cancer–can have an autoimmune component too.

For some people, autoimmune symptoms and the risk of developing additional autoimmune conditions can persist even after eliminating gluten. But there are actions one can take to alleviate symptoms and reduce risk.

Join us at the Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin’s next meeting on Tuesday, February 4 to learn more with Dr. David Lepp of The Bay Area Autoimmune and Thyroid Center.   

Whether you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or are learning more about gluten free living for yourself, family or friends, we welcome you to the GIG of Marin. New members, friends, and loved ones are always welcome.

You can RSVP here or on our Facebook page. RSVPs help us plan logistically for the meeting, but if you haven’t RSVP’d, please come anyway! You are always welcome.

The Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin will meet:

  • Tuesday, February 4
  • 7:00 to 9:00pm
  • Community Room at Corte Madera Town Center (upstairs at PF Chang’s end) 770 Tamalpais Dr. Suite 201, Corte Madera, CA, 94925

We look forward to seeing you!

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