Feb 14

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The kiddos were excited this morning when they woke up to these V-day treats!


Daddy let them eat some for breakfast–sorry teachers! I used this recipe from gfreekid.com but used WowButter since Emerson is allergic to peanut butter.  She was not a fan of the WowButter flavor on it’s own but mix it with some sugar and top with chocolate icing and its a different story!

It is such a simple recipe–great for someone like me that is not a great baker!

1 Cup peanut butter (or WowButter in my case)

1 Cup Sugar

1 Egg

Mix all ingrendients together and use a greased (or non stick spray) mini-muffin pan to make the cups.  Try to make the layer thin and even in the muffin pan to ensure even baking.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 9 minutes.  Top with your favorite icing.  A word of caution: be very careful to watch them in the oven…speaking from experience they can burn very quickly!  My first batch ended up in the garbage can :(  

I love that this recipe could easily be adapted for different holdiays/occasions simply by changing the color of the icing or adding different sprinkles.

I don’t buy into the “Hallmark/Roses/Candy” part of the holiday but it is a nice reminder to say “I love you” to those special people in your life–and maybe do a little something special for them too. Hope your heart is surrounded by love today and always!

Jan 31

KRAFT Good Seasonings Italian NO longer Gluten Free

After hearing word through the online gluten-free community, I too, wanted to continue to pass the word along. This was a staple for me—I used it to season everything from meat, to patotoes, to using it as actual salad dressing.

(Photo credit:  www.gfreekid.com)

This is a good reminder for me to continue reading food labels—even on products we have used for years. Products really can (and do) change all the time. Wheat is labeled on the new Good Seasonings packets.

Note this is a recent change. If you have some packets you bought a while ago they may still be the old ingredients and safe to use.

I encourage you to all call KRAFT (1-800-522-0501) and lodge a complaint about the recent product change. Power in numbers—maybe we can have a positive impact and get these products back to being safe for those living gluten free.

Jan 30

Just the winter blues…or is it more?

February is my least favorite month of the year.  I know, Valentine’s Day, lovey dovey, feelings…well, its still a tough time for me.  The long winter days set in and the holiday high that kept me going through January is gone.  The winter blues, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), just a bad day…or is it depression?  As the days are shorter, the sunlight less plentiful and many of us stuck inside (at least those of us living where we get “winter”) it can be a mentally challenging time.

If you have celiac disease, or undiagnosed celiac disease, you may even be at a great risk for experiencing depression.  A review of 18 studies found that depression in adults with celiac disease is more common and/or more severe than a healthy adult population.  This increased risk is similar to adults with other medical illnesses as well—possibly suggesting that dealing with any chronic condition is responsible versus a direct effect of the celiac itself.

Check out the NFCA’s symptom checklist.  Could depression be one of your symptoms that you should stop writing off and make the appointment to be tested for celiac disease?  Or is your celiac disease not well controlled?

depression pic for blog

image courtesy of Master Isolated Images/freedigitalphotos.net

The Mayo Clinic recommends the following steps to help manage SAD.

  • Stick to your treatment plan.Take medications as directed and attend therapy appointments as scheduled.
  • Take care of yourself.Get enough rest and take time to relax. Participate in a regular exercise program. Eat regular, healthy meals. Don’t turn to alcohol or illegal drugs for relief.
  • Practice stress management.Learn techniques to manage your stress better. Unmanaged stress can lead to depression, overeating, or other unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.
  • Socialize.When you’re feeling down, it can be hard to be social. Make an effort to connect with people you enjoy being around. They can offer support, a shoulder to cry on or a joke to give you a little boost.
  • Take a trip. If possible, take winter vacations in sunny, warm locations if you have winter seasonal affective disorder or to cooler locations if you have summer seasonal affective disorder.

What helps you keep a positive outlook through the dark winter months?

 

 

Resources:

Smith DF, Gerdes LU.  Meta Analysis on anxiety and depression in adult celiac disease. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2012 Mar; 125(3):189-93.

Jan 28

Tax Time: What you need to know to file for gluten free tax deduction

The dreaded words: Tax Time!  If you are interested in filing for a deduction for gluten free products you have purchased the NFCA has an article that will help you walk through the steps.

Be sure to check out the full article, but the basics steps include:

1. Have an official diagnosis

2. Save your receipts.  You will have to compare each gluten free item price to its gluten containing counter-part.

3. Fill out claim for medical deductions

 

 

Jan 07

New Year’s Resolutions for living with celiac disease.

So, now that we are about to start the first FULL week of the year time to get down to business!  (Clearly just a rationalization for me to not feel so guilty about finishing off the left-over holiday goodies since I hadn’t officially started my resolutions yet).

These are just some suggestions that might get you thinking about how you can use the new year to reset and make this a great gluten-free and healthy year!

  1. Keep up on the research.  Information about celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and living gluten free is everywhere!  Don’t get swayed by the “hype”. Vow to stick to factual information and keep up-to-date with what the research is really showing.  Stick to reputable websites such as the NFCA, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, and of course The Happy Belly Project!  Or ask a dietitian!
  2. Try a new homemade gluten-free recipe each month.  Expanding your horizon will help you focus on what you can GAIN by going gluten free, not what you lose by living gluten-free.  There are so many websites and cook books out there—or take an “old favorite” recipe and adapt it to be gluten free.
  3. Try a new gluten-free grain.  Fiber is an issue and trying new grains can increase fiber intake as well as many vitamins, minerals, and protein.  Many of the gluten-free convenience items are made from white rice—nice and easy to grab on-the-go, but not super-nutritious.  This is one I struggle with and am hoping to accomplish in 2013.  My second part of this resolution is find recipes that my kids will actually eat too.  My quinoa attempts have not been so successful in this second area.
  4. Follow up with your doctor.  Regular contact with your physician and dietitian is important.  Stick to your annual appointment and get your yearly blood work done. It is the one way to be sure you aren’t being “glutened” and causing long-term damage to your body.
  5. Don’t cheat!   I know its hard but even a little gluten can damage the lining of your intestine and make you feel miserable!

What are your resolutions to make 2013 a great year?

Jan 04

A new year, a new you…everyday!

This time of year we all hear about New Year’s Resolutions. Did you make any? Almost every year I come up with the same ones… exercise more, lose weight, drink more water. You probably have some of the same ones.
Instead of New Year’s resolutions… Let’s try daily resolutions. Each day is a new start. Yeah – I did not exercise yesterday but today I can fit it into my schedule-even if is just walking around the field a few times while my child practices soccer or parking at the far end of the parking lot. Do not focus on what you “failed” at yesterday. Learn from it and try to do better today – for your health, for your family, for you.
We have 365 days in a year.
Every day is a new day. Make them count.
Happy 2013 – all 365 of them!

 

*Adapted from article written by Sheri Bernhardt RD,LD

Nov 21

Disney Magic

Well, I’m certainly not doing very well at keeping up regular posts.  Many excuses reasons come to mind—being increased to 40 hours per week at my job—not something I was hoping  for, but in light of the current state of the economy and so many people looking for jobs, I am thankful to have one; and, one I actually enjoy too!  In addition to full-time mommy to now 5 and 3 year olds–life gets pretty busy.

However, after returning from a recent family trip to Walt Disney World in Florida I think it is worth commenting on.  I was really nervous about traveling for a whole week without a full kitchen available.  Everyone told me, “no need to bring any food, she will be able to eat everywhere” but I just couldn’t believe it.  To get to the punch line—IT”S TRUE!  What a wonderful “vacation” for me not to have to worry about constantly packing up food and snacks for Emerson. And a huge treat for her to be able to order off the menu EVERYWHERE we went. Disney does many things right from a customer service standpoint and attending to those with special diet concerns is one of them.  Crowd control after the electrical parade is another story!

Our first meal was at the quick service location in our hotel, Art of Animation.  From the moment Chef Ron came out and stooped down to talk to “Princess Emerson” at her level to find out exactly what she wanted for lunch I knew we were going to be ok.  He then proceeded to prepare her meal himself and deliver it directly to her.

Each table service meal we were greeted by a chef that took her order and then hand delivered it to the table themselves.  At the quick service restaurants a supervisor or manager assumed these responsibilities.  IF I had to find a negative it would be at the quick service locations it did take quite a bit longer to get her meals however, knowing it was safe for her to eat made it completely worth while.

Plenty of to-go snacks including pop chips and gluten free brownies, cookies and cupcakes were available most places.  We did visit the gluten free bakery Downtown Disney but didn’t end up getting anything.  I meant to make it back all week but never found the time!

I wish I had been better about taking pictures of her food and the restaurants/quick service locations we ate, but I wasn’t Sad smile  To be honest, her meals were such a “non-issue” I really didn’t have to think about it at all.  Such a change from most vacations!

Here are the few I did get…

IMG_0243  The Chef talking with Emerson and I about her special birthday breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table.

IMG_0258 Birthday Mickey Mouse waffles complete with Mickey Mouse sprinkles!

IMG_0458  Cookie ice cream sandwich made just for Emerson!  Half of the chocolate ice cream ended up on her white shirt—but nothing a little bleach couldn’t fix!

Have you been to Disney?  What was your experience?  Let me know other gluten-free-friendly vacation choices you have found too!

Aug 16

How to include more fiber in your gluten-free diet

We’ve all heard the conflicting and changing nutrition advice out there on TV, magazines, and the web. Good carbs, bad carbs, low fat, good fat, low sugar—it’s hard to keep up! However, one piece of nutrition advice that has been consistent is fiber. More is better and most Americans –gluten free or not- are not getting enough. The AI (Adequate Intake) recommended in the 2010 dietary guidelines is 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories, or 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men.

 
The gluten-free diet presents even more of a challenge in meeting this goal as many high fiber foods you may have been used to such as whole wheat bread, bran flakes, whole wheat pasta, and fiber bars are now not an option. Also, the gluten-free flours often used in prepared gluten-free items (like rice flour) are lacking in fiber content.

 

A few Fiber-Facts:
• Fiber is generally referred to in two categories: soluble and insoluble. Both are good for you!
• Soluble fiber slows absorption of glucose (good for those with diabetes), lowers cholesterol, and slows GI transit time. Soluble fiber can be found in apples, cooked beans and peas, citrus fruits, plums, certified gluten-fee oats (if tolerated), and flaxseed.
• Insoluble fiber helps create “bulk” to your stool to keep your bowels moving regularly, may help prevent certain GI diseases such as diverticular disease and colon cancer, and aid in weight loss by creating a feeling of fullness. Sources of insoluble fiber include: dark green leafy vegetables, cabbage, nuts, seeds, potatoes, corn, strawberries, and carrots.

 
It’s important not to worry about how much soluble vs. insoluble fiber you are eating. Many of these foods actually include both soluble and insoluble fiber. In some cases fiber supplements are needed, however, I always encourage people to try food first! Besides just fiber, you are also getting all the other benefits of vitamins and minerals from eating these healthy foods. And as you can see—so many naturally gluten free options!!

 

Here are some tips to include more fiber in your gluten-free daily routine:
Breakfast
 Add ground flaxseed and raisins to your hot cereal
 Add blueberries and strawberries to your cold cereal
 Substitute almond or bean flour for some of the white rice flour in your favorite gluten-free pancake or waffle recipe. Use a mix? (like me!) –top your waffle with walnuts and banana slices
 Make scrambled eggs or an omelet with peppers and onions

Lunch/Dinner
 Add frozen vegetables, dried beans or peas to your soup
 Substitute brown rice for white rice at dinner. Or get adventurous and try a new-gluten-free grain such as quinoa, wild-rice, or buckwheat.
 Top your baked potato with broccoli and cheese
 Top your spinach salad with grilled chicken, corn and black beans

Super Snacks
 Replace your gluten-free pretzels with trail-mix including popcorn, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits
 Top low fat yogurt with fruits and nuts
 Snack on fresh veggie strips such as peppers, carrots, and cucumbers
 Replace your potato chips with popcorn
 For more snack ideas (all including a good amount of fiber) check out this post I wrote for GF Kid

Aug 02

Summer Bounty

One of the best things about the gluten free diet is the natural guidance toward eating more whole, natural foods. Especially fruits and veggies. I have to admit it makes me smile to know while her friends at daycare are eating processed cookies and crackers, my daughter is happily munching away on green pepper strips. Sidenote-We love our daycare and no, they do not serve processed snacks everyday–

Recently my kids and I have made a new habit of going straight from school to the farmer’s stand just down the street a couple times a week. I love that the kids get excited to pick out their own fruits and veggies. Emerson always heads straight to the cantaloupe and corn while Cohen loves the berries. The folks are so nice and always let him taste test before choosing which one he wants.

Summer fruits and veggies make dinner preparation so easy! Some of our favorite naturally gluten-free sides this summer include:

corn on the cob
roasted asparagus with olive oil and parmesean cheese
sliced cucumbers and tomatoes with italian dressing
sliced green peppers

There are many websites and recipes out there—too many to list—but sometimes it’s nice just to keep it simple!

I encourage you to take a moment to stop at the roadside stand or farmer’s market in your area. What are your favorite summer foods?

Jul 09

Mind over matter. Happy and gluten free.

What determines ones quality of life?  It is quite subjective.  I see patients everyday with kidney disease requiring dialysis and think “I don’t think I would want to live if I had XYZ…” but these patients do.  And do it well.  I have asked some, “I know you don’t enjoy coming to dialysis, so what makes you get up 3 mornings a week and come in for treatment?”  Their answers include family, kids, spouses, grandchildren, the will to be able to continue to care for others, the fear of dying…there are many.

It got me thinking.  Celiac disease is not that different than any other chronic disease.  We have to ask ourselves—how can I make this the best it can be for me?  Or my spouse, or my child?

A 2011 study found that 65% of patients reported full adherence to the gluten free diet, but that nearly 80% of them found the diet “impossible, mostly difficult, or sometimes difficult”.  The study found a step-wise decline in quality of life and increasing likelihood of anxiety / depression associated with increasing degree of difficulty adhering to the gluten free diet.  The study concludes that “The degree of gluten free diet difficulty is associated with reductions in patient wellbeing and psychological distress that the dietician is critically placed to address.”  Not, interestingly, the degree of adherence achieved which would directly effect how one feels on any given day.

So, bottom-line, how can we make the gluten free diet feel easier to follow and therefore be happier!  Below are my top 5 tips.

  1. Use your resources!  It IS actually easier to follow the gluten free diet than ever before.
    • Almost all grocery store chains and companies will provide a list of gluten free items that they carry.  Check out this one from Janine, a Meijer Healthy Living Advisor.
    • The internet has made searching company websites a breeze.
    • Use apps on your smart phone or tablet (more to come on this soon).
  2. Focus on adding foods, not taking away.
    • I think dietitians are guilty of falling into the “deprivation model” when we counsel patients.  “Don’t/Avoid/Limit” are words I often hear myself using when counseling patients.
    • When I think a better method would be the “enjoyment model”.  When instructing someone on a gluten free diet this method would include advice such as “enjoy fruits, vegetables, plain meats, beans, nuts and dairy products”.  Looks a lot like the same advice I hear for cardiovascular health and to prevent diabetes—huh, maybe this gluten-free thing isn’t so bad?
  3. Get family and friends on board.  It’s always more fun when you are surrounded by those special people in your life.
  4. Look at this as an opportunity to explore new foods and recipes—who has tried quinoa, teff or amaranth?  Sneak peak: get ready for the gluten-free grain challenge—coming to The Happy Belly Project soon!
  5. Get connected.  Get involved.  Attend celiac support group meetings, join a list-serv, go for a gluten-free grocery store tour, or find a celiac conference in your area.  The NFCA has great information on community events.

Let me know your best tips for making the gluten-free diet an easy-to-follow way of life!

 

 

 

 

 

Resources:

Barratt SM, Leeds JS, Sanders DS.  Quality of Life in Coeliac Disease is Determined by Perceived Degree of Difficulty Adhering to a Gluten-Free Diet, not the Level of Dietary Adherence Ultimately Achieved. J Gastroinstin Liver Dis.  Sept 2011 Vol 20 No3, 241-245.

Webb D.  Think Positive-Focusing on Foods to Add, Rather Than Avoid, Helps Your Patients Succeed.  Todays Dietitian. Vol. 13 No. 2 P.24.