Valentine’s Cookies (gluten-free, allergen-free)

Posted on February 8th, 2012 by Alison | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »
Gluten-free Valentine's Cookies

These are the gluten-free allergen-free Valentine’s cookies that my girls and I made last year. This picture makes me happy because of the beautiful imperfection created by their little hands!

After years of experimenting with different people’s recipes, I finally have had success. For roll out sugar cookies that maintain their shape and taste good, I recommend two recipes. One is Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom’s Cut-Out Sugar Cookies. I followed the recipe for the cookies exactly, except for almond extract due to nut allergies in my house, and I just use regular powdered sugar to make the icing, but if you need to be corn-free, she has a great recipe for powdered sugar without the cornstarch. The other recipe I recommend is Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Free Rolled Sugar Cookies. Note that she uses rice milk for the icing, but I personally don’t like the taste of rice milk and think it makes frosting taste “off.” You can use water, milk or coconut milk instead if you are like me and prefer something other than rice milk.

Remember when decorating cookies that you want to put the sprinkles on right away because the icing will set and then the sprinkles won’t stick. Also remember that you really can’t go wrong if you put out little bowls of sprinkles and let your kids exercise their creativity (I do recommend frosting them yourself however!) If you use sprinkles that complement each other, the cookies will look great no matter what and they will be so proud to serve them to their family, friends, and classmates.

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Two California summer camps for gluten-free kids – register now

Posted on January 29th, 2012 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

Treat your child to a week of gluten freedom at a special summer camp! There are two California camps – Camp Celiac in northern California, and the new Children’s Celiac Camp in southern California.

CAMP CELIAC

In northern California at Camp Celiac, “campers, counselors, and volunteers eat delicious gluten-free food and do camp activities such as a ropes course, rock climbing, ziplining, boating, swimming, 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 9-17.

There will be two weeks (each with a different group of campers):

Week 1:  Tuesday, July 24 – Saturday, July 28, 2012
Week 2:  Saturday, July 28 – Weds, August 1, 2012

To register:

Priority is given to 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 & gender since cabins are segregated by sex and age. For more information about how to sign up for this camp, visit the registration page at CeliacCamp.com.

CHILDREN’S CELIAC CAMP – New!

In Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear, campers will enjoy “a week with their peers, filled with fun activities and adventure in an environment dedicated to their dietary needs. Attend Camp Nawakwa in the beautiful Barton Flats area of the San Bernardino Mountains and enjoy archery, arts and crafts, canoeing, cookouts, drama, hip hop dance, nature lore, swimming and wall climbing.” Ages 7-15.

There will be one week:

July 30, 2012 to August 3, 2012

To register:

Spaces are limited…Plan ahead…Reserve now. Call the CDF office at 818.990.2354 or follow the registration steps on the Celiac Disease Foundation website.

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Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin February 2011 Meeting

Posted on January 29th, 2012 by Alison | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

gigofmarin1Our next meeting of the Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin will take place on Monday, February 6th at 7:00.

What Does a “Gluten Free” Label Really Mean?

Products labeled “gluten free” fill supermarket shelves in ever increasing numbers, but the lack of standardized labeling laws means that shoppers cannot be sure of what exactly the label “gluten free” means.

At our next meeting on Monday, February 6, I will discuss the current issues surrounding labeling and then we will learn from the manufacturers themselves what it takes to produce a gluten-free product.

One of the hottest gluten free products showing up in bay area stores are gluten free potstickers from Feel Good Foods. We are delighted that Feel Good Foods will be with us to share samples of their delicious product, as well as other manufacturers such as Kind Bars, The Inspired Cookie, Attune Foods, and Mary’s Gone Crackers. Other vendors will be represented with samples.

Please come, find out more about the foods you buy and show your support for manufacturers’ efforts to meet the needs of gluten free shoppers. This meeting is sure to be informative and delicious!

Please let your gluten free friends and family know about this fun event. The meeting is free; however, we appreciate a donation of $5 or more to cover the costs of renting the meeting room, printing the handouts, etc.

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.

As always, we request that you RSVP to this event by emailing us at: glutenfreemarin@yahoo.com.

The Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin will meet:

  • Monday, February 6th
  • 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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Gluten-free donuts in 5 minutes

Posted on January 24th, 2012 by Alison | Read 13 Comments - Add Your Own »

The other day I had a gluten-free donut emergency. There was a birthday in my daughter’s class and the kid brought donuts to share. I am always prepared for birthdays with cupcakes in the freezer and I can make a fast brownie, but donuts? That is not in my repertoire.

But then I remembered that my mom had just given my daughters a Babycakes Donut Maker. At the time I wasn’t that excited about another appliance in the house, but now I was ecstatic!  All I had to do was come up with a batter that was gluten-free and egg-free (daughter is allergic to eggs) and I would have mini donuts in about five minutes! I decided to use a pancake and waffle mix as the base and work from there. I always have The Cravings Place All Purpose Pancake and Waffle Mix on hand because it is a mix that does not call for eggs at all and somehow the waffles always defy gravity and come out fluffy. I sort of used their recipe (on their website) for Shortcake to make the donut batter. I can’t be certain I followed it exactly, because, like I said, it was a donut emergency and I was in a hurry! You can probably use any gluten-free batter with success.

When I brought the mini-donuts to school, I peeked in the donut box that held the “regular” donuts and to my pleasant surprise, there were donuts with vanilla icing and chocolate sprinkles, just like I had made! My daughter and another allergic girl in the class that I brought donuts for were very happy, and I have to admit that I felt like Super Mom that day!

Here is (approximately) how I made the gluten-free dairy-free egg-free donuts:

Ingredients:

Directions:

Cut the butter or shortening into the dry mix, using a pastry cutter or knives until the the butter or shortening is blended in, or resembles small pebbles. Add the sugar and water and mix until fully blended. Batter should be somewhat thick.

Take a ziplock bag and cut off one corner so there is 1/2 inch hole. Spoon the batter into the bag, and following the directions on the donut maker, squeeze the batter out of the bag into the donut rounds when the donut maker is ready (hot). Fill it pretty full (even though the directions say to fill each with two tablespoons, don’t bother measuring). The bottom side of the donut will brown more than the top, but if you turn the donut over before icing, no one will see the less-cooked side.

Let the donuts cool a little bit before icing them or the icing will melt down the sides. For a quick icing, I mixed a little Pamela’s Vanilla Frosting Mix with a little water until it was the consistency I wanted, but you can also just use powdered sugar and water or milk, and add some vanilla too if you like. It’s up to you how you want to ice them — you can dunk the whole thing to get a glaze all over, or ice the tops like I did. There are also several frosting recipes in the recipe booklet that comes with the donut maker.

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Living Gluten-Free Class in San Francisco January 24th

Posted on January 18th, 2012 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

Have you or has someone you know been diagnosed with celiac disease?
Do you or does someone you know have gluten intolerance?
Are you looking for possible answers to your health problems?
Would you like to find out more about the gluten-free diet?

If the answer is yes to any of the above questions, please come to a class I am giving called “Living Gluten-Free” on January 24th in San Francisco. I will be speaking at California Pacific Medical Center from 6-7:30 pm. This class will provide you with invaluable information about the gluten-free diet. Topics include symptoms, diagnosis, shopping, cooking, labeling, product information and more!

Living Gluten-Free
Speaker: Alison St. Sure
When: January 24th, 2012, 6-7:30pm
Where:
California Pacific Medical Center (Pacific Campus)
2333 Buchanan St., San Francisco
Enright Room

To register, call 415-923-3155
or email cpmcchrc@sutterhealth.org

Directions

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People with celiac disease have increased bone fracture risk and other bone problems

Posted on January 9th, 2012 by Alison | Read 4 Comments - Add Your Own »

For anyone with bone density problems, bone fractures, osteoporosis, osteopenia, osteomalacia, bone pain or any other bone-related problems, consider getting tested for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. This is a common symptom that often gets overlooked.  Two recent studies confirm the negative effects of celiac disease on bone health.

A case study of a 29-year old man with no gastrointestinal complaints came in with back pain. It was discovered that he had a compression fracture in his spine, and he reported that he had several bone fractures as a child. Tests revealed low bone density, but that vitamin D levels were normal, despite villous atrophy (damage to his intestines, often preventing the ability to absorb nutrients).

The authors of the report stated that ”Celiac disease is often a cause of low bone density and patients with celiac disease have an increased fracture risk, a hazard ratio of 1.43 or 43% increased risk when compared to age-matched healthy populations.” They concluded, “We emphasize considering celiac disease in all patients with idiopathic [arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause] low bone density even if vitamin D and PTH [parathyroid hormone] levels are normal.”

Another study submitted by doctors in Amsterdam profiled a 29-year old woman bound to a wheelchair who had progressive bone pain, short stature, difficulty walking, scoliosis, softening of the bones, low bone mineral density and poor dental condition. Testing showed that she had villous atrophy, antibodies against gluten, and extremely low vitamin D and low calcium, and was deficient in several other vitamins. She had already been diagnosed with celiac disease at age 17, but apparently wasn’t following the gluten-free diet or was at least getting some amount of gluten exposure. The doctors treated her for 14 days with intravenous calcium and vitamin D, and “the symptoms of the patient rapidly improved; the bone pain decreased, muscle strength and physical performance improved markedly, and she was able to walk unassisted.” Incredible! After 5 1/2 months they found that her bone mineral density had indeed improved.

Have you had bone problems as a result of celiac disease or gluten intolerance? Are you looking for answers to your bone-related health issues? Leave a comment so that your experience can help others or others can help you!

Related reading: Gluten and bone health

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Celebrating nine years gluten-free and happy holidays to you!

Posted on December 20th, 2011 by Alison | Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

On December 28, 2002 I received a diagnosis of celiac disease and began eating gluten-free. I could never have imagined how that diagnosis would change my health or the course of my life. I knew soon after that I needed to share this information, and I turned to the web.

This blog has been been visited by over a half a million different people over the years — that’s amazing to me! I have been able to help people find a diagnosis when their doctors failed them. I have been able to guide people in how to live gluten-free. Because my own daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies, I have commiserated and shared advice with other allergy moms. I have gotten strength and support from my readers through their comments, emails and phone calls. I so appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support me in my quest to educate and provide support. I don’t look at my diagnosis as a curse. Instead, I am thankful to have discovered a healthy way to live. Happy Holidays to you all!

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This Week Only: Donate $2 (Or More) To Help Send Children To A Gluten-Free Summer Camp!

Posted on December 19th, 2011 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

If you or your child has ever been to summer camp, you have memories of the playing in the outdoors and making new friends. But what if your child couldn’t go because of his special dietary needs? Fortunately, special camps are popping up around the U.S. and this summer the Celiac Disease Foundation is starting a new one in southern California.

In the spirit of the giving season, I am hoping that you will help provide scholarships for children to attend this gluten-free summer camp. This week, giving just $2 will go a long way…

Through Sunday, December 25, Gluten-Free Saver has partnered with Van’s Natural Foods to raise money to send children to next summer’s CDF-sponsored summer camp, and Van’s is matching all donations up to $1,000!

The goal is to raise $2,000 – and when you donate $2, you’re really contributing $4.

You can read more about the fundraiser here: www.glutenfreesaver.com.

The summer camp will be held in San Bernardino in Southern California from July 30 to August 3, 2012, and it’s open to all 7-15 year old gluten intolerant and gluten-sensitive children – not just those diagnosed with celiac disease.

I hope you will join me in giving $2 (or more if you wish) so children can attend a camp where they don’t have to worry about the food, and they can just enjoy being kids. Please help reach the goal of $2,000. Every $2 helps. 100% of all donations will go directly to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

YES! I want to help send a child to a gluten-free summer camp and donate $2 right now!

Thank you!

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Chocolate Coconut Crispy Meringue Squares Recipe – Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free

Posted on December 15th, 2011 by Alison | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

If you know someone who needs to be gluten and/or dairy-free this holiday season, surprise them with a treat they can eat! Once they get over the shock of your thoughtfulness, they will simply delight in the yumminess of your creation. (Or, gift them to yourself – you deserve it!)

To get an idea for the Attune Foods December theme of “holiday gift recipes”, I turned to my mom and her recipe box. I love when she pulls out a tattered 3×5 notecard — you know that the more stained the card, the tastier the outcome will be. When I asked her if she had a special cookie recipe that she remembered fondly, she offered one of those well-used cards. She made these bar cookies often, but I of course have adapted them to be gluten-free, dairy-free and also nut-free by using Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal in place of the chopped nuts.

To read the recipe for Chocolate Coconut Crispy Meringue Squares, please visit the Attune Foods blog.

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Finding or making your favorite holiday foods – gluten-free, allergen-free

Posted on December 13th, 2011 by Alison | Read 4 Comments - Add Your Own »

For people who are gluten-free or have food allergies, the holidays can be a reminder of what we can’t eat. Gluten and other allergens are everywhere, and because we are more social at this time of year, this fact becomes more obvious as we attend holiday parties, share meals with family and friends, and are tempted by sweet treats all around.

But you don’t have to go without your favorite foods! You may not be able to indulge in everything, but think about what food would make you feel the most emotionally satisfied — is it pie, is it stuffing? Is it a box of chocolates, matzoh ball soup? Which one holiday food would give you the greatest pleasure? Then, make it happen! If you can buy it, treat yourself! If you have to make it yourself, do it. If someone else wants to make it for you, great! If you don’t have to stop at one food, by all means, don’t! If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the things you can’t eat, let’s simplify it.

I hope this short list of suggestions can help, and if there’s something else you’re longing for, let me know, and I will use my resources to try to find you the enjoyment you deserve!

GLUTEN-FREE / ALLERGEN-FREE GINGERBREAD MEN OR HOUSE

Buy it: Oops, we’re past the deadline already for ordering an allergen-free gingerbread house kit from A&J Bakery, but now you know for next year. Sensitive Sweets in southern California is also making an allergen-free gingerbread kit for purchase.

Make it: You can make this. Seriously, you can. Read my post “I made an allergen-free gingerbread house!

ROLL OUT SUGAR COOKIES

Buy it: I haven’t found any gluten-free shaped sugar cookies you can buy in stores that are gluten-free, and many of the sugar cookie mixes don’t make cookies that hold their shape.

Make it: I am very excited this year that I found a GREAT recipe for roll-out sugar cookies that are free of gluten, dairy, eggs and nuts! The recipe is from Heidi at Adventures of a GF Mom. (The recipe calls for almond extract which I replace with vanilla.) Cybel Pascal has a recipe for sugar cookies that is also free of the top allergens.

PIE OR PIE CRUST

Buy it: Whole Foods’ Gluten-Free Bakehouse brand has a pie crust, and you can find finished pies or tarts from Katz Gluten Free, Crave Bakery, and Christine’s Upper Crust Pies.

Make it: There are actually tons of gluten-free pie and pie crust recipes out there if you want to make it from scratch. Some of the sites that have recipes are Whole Foods, Simply Gluten-Free, Living Without Magazine, Elana’s Pantry, and Gluten-Free Girl. You can also use commercially available flour blends to make a crust, which saves you some steps. King Arthur shows you how, and if you want a really easy with video instruction, Pamela of Pamela’s Products shows you how to make a gluten-free pie using her mix (is also egg-free and can be dairy-free). Jules of Jules Gluten Free also shows you how to make pie using her flour blend.

GRAVY

Buy it: You can purchase gluten-free gravy mixes. Here is a list of search results for gluten-free gravy on Amazon. Mayacamas is another company that makes gluten-free gravy mixes.

Make it: Instead of flour, use a gluten-free starch. Here’s a little primer on wheat-free thickeners from FitSugar. Ali at Nourishing Meals explains how to make gluten-free gravy. A chef from Whole Foods shows in a video two ways to make gravy, and The Family Chef shares her easy steps.

STUFFING

Buy it: Look around — gluten-free bread  crumbs or croutons are available, but if you can’t find them, you can buy gluten-free bread like Udi’s or Rudi’s to use in any traditional stuffing recipe.

Make it: You can make a loaf of gluten-free bread to use in stuffing recipes. That’s what I do because I can make the bread dairy and egg-free also for people with multiple food allergies in my family. This recipe for Harvest Stuffing always turns out. If you don’t want to use bread, opt for a rice dressing, which will be naturally gluten-free. Make sure any broth you are using is gluten-free. If you have nut allergies, watch out — many stuffing recipes call for nuts.

MATZOH BALL SOUP

Buy it/Make it: You buy the mix to make your own matzoh balls. They are really good and I love the name: Mock-Zah Ball Mix.

POTATO LATKES

Buy it: Hmmm… nope, you’re going to have to make these.

Make it: Easy to make gluten-free, just substitute an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend for the flour called for in traditional recipes. Need to be egg-free too? Don’t worry, I figured this one out for you: Gluten-Free Egg-Free Latke Recipe

CHOCOLATES

Buy it: See’s Candies is still my favorite boxed-chocolates. They have an allergen list, so depending on your allergy, you might be able to find something you can have!

Make it: You can easily make chocolate lollies and shapes by following these steps:

  1. Buy candy molds in holiday shapes, like snowflakes or snowmen or Christmas shapes or Santas.
  2. Buy Enjoy Life Foods Chocolate Chips or Mega Chunks – they are free of the top 8 allergens.
  3. Temper the chocolate in the microwave by heating the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, at power level 5 or 50% for 30 seconds. Using a rubber spatula in a gentle sweeping motion,  stir the chocolate, even if none of it has become liquid yet and return the bowl to the microwave oven for another 30 seconds. Remove, stir, and repeat until about two-thirds of the chunks become liquid and about one-third are in soft lumps. Continually stir to cool the chocolate until the soft lumps disappear and the chocolate has cooled a little.
  4. Pour the chocolate into the molds, or use a spoon or spatula to put it in, and let it set in the refrigerator.
  5. When chilled completely, wrap the chocolates with colored foil or clear wrap.

What else is tugging at your tummy this holiday season?

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