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I have learned some potentially tragic news this week….there may be something in coffee that irritates the stomach like gluten. Oh, no – my one vice is having 3 (sometimes 4, depending on the day!) cups of coffee each day. But, now, I have learned that my beloved coffee could be harmful to my intestinal tract.

coffeeHere’s a summary of  the research that I found about this possible link:

  • Coffee cross-reacts with gluten antibodies (in other words, gluten antibodies can hop on other non-gluten and really mess up your system; coffee is excellent and attracting gluten antibodies)
  • Only 10% of coffee is a protein that cross-reacts with gluten, but apparently it is enough to do damage
  • You can find out for sure if you are sensitive by going through expensive lab tests, ordered by your doctor
  • Coffee is apparently one of the most harmful foods to a gluten sensitive/intolerant individual
  • It’s not the caffeine that causes the problem, so decaf coffee will still cause a problem

See more specific information here -

Dr. Clark’s Brain Based Blog 

Body Ecology

The Healthy Home Economist

As an avid coffee drinker, this was some tough news to swallow (no pun intended!).  But, I thought it was something to be concerned about too. So, I’ve decided to try giving up coffee for 30 days to see if I notice any change. I know that when I gave up gluten the first time, I noticed a definite change when I reintroduced it for ten days to get tested. As of 8/28/12, I switched to black tea instead of my usual coffee. I will write a follow-up post towards the end of September to let you know how this little experiment goes. (Personally, I’m really hoping they are wrong as I really enjoy coffee! But, my health is most important to me – so I will make the sacrifice if I have to!)

Anyone else interested in joining me for this experiment?

NicholasWow! Where has the summer gone? It’s hard to believe that Nicholas will head off to school next week already. (The photo is of him clowning around at the TACA Picnic this summer; he has a bit of a mustache fetish.) It’s been a busy month around here, but I did manage to find 8 Recipes I Love for August. Here they are -

1. GFCF Almond Flour Biscuits from Ask Georgie.com – these work great as a side bread for dinner or even as a mini sandwich.

2. Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing from Food Lush – it was so great to find a tasty, dairy-free ranch dressing. It’s also gluten-free, so it would be a great option to serve with carrots.

3. Homemade Food Coloring from Melis Ann at HubPages – one of the toughest things about baking cakes or cupcakes is that if you want to avoid dyes and colors, you have to use either vanilla or chocolate frosting. But, check out these fruit-based colors!

4. Gluten-Free Ground Beef Hash from Elegantly Gluten Free – here’s an easy recipe that is definitely casein-free and very easy for a weeknight meal.

5. Paleo Chicken Salad  from Everyday Paleo – this is a yummy chicken salad recipe, just in time for your Labor Day picnic! Bonus: there’s also a tuna salad recipe just below it!

6. Cinnamon Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Toasted Walnuts by Paleo OMG! – here’s a new twist on ice cream that is dairy-free and gluten-free but perfect for these last few weeks of summer heat.

7. Watermelon Gazpacho with Lime by Gluten-Free Goddess – here’s a great way to make use of all the cheap watermelon out there and enjoy a nice cool soup in the heat.

8. Gingerbread Protein Pancakes by Healthful Pursuit – a tasty variation on the old breakfast classic, pancakes. This is not only gluten and casein-free, but is also good for those who need to limit their sugar intake.

It’s that time again….back to school, for some people, at least. Others will be heading back in the next few weeks. Bearing this in mind, I thought it would be helpful to talk about how you can get your child’s school on board with your GFCF Diet. Whether you have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), a 504 Plan, or simply mainstream your child – there are accommodations you can request from the school.

With an IEP, you can request to have the diet accommodation specifics written into your goals. Sometimes, schools will resist this because if it’s in the IEP, they can be held to a higher level of accountability. Other schools may try to tell you that they can’t write it into the IEP at all because a diet is not considered a goal.

A 504 Plan is a bit more accommodating, but not always. Technically, because the 504 Plan is set up to prevent discrimination of people with disabilities from participating fully in the same programs offered to non-disabled students.  This means that your child can not be prohibited from participating in the School Lunch Program just because they follow a GFCF Diet. However, since Celiac Disease and/or food allergies are not listed as a disability in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, for short), it’s again tough to get the school to follow this as a “requirement” of any kind.

So, now, what can you do? First, if your child is too young to know what food items may or may not contain gluten or casein, be sure that they pack a lunch each day. You can also speak with the Health Office at your child’s school about how to alert the cafeteria that your child is on a special diet and cannot go through the lunch line for any reason. In addition, it’s a good idea to talk with your child’s teacher(s) about the foods that they can/cannot eat and consider writing a letter to all staff members that might give your child food. (I’ve put a link to a sample letter that I used this past year with success at my son’s school.)

Finally, provide alternative foods for your child at the office and/or teacher’s classroom. I keep both cold and room-temperature items at the office and at my son’s classroom for my son, in case he is still hungry from lunch or if a surprise class party happens.   This has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion! If you can find out who the room parent is for the year, this will also be a big help in knowing ahead of time what parties will be planned and what menu might be offered at those parties; this will allow you to send an alternative treat for your child on that date.

gfcf online shoppingIf your schedule is hectic, you live in a more rural area, or you just want to save some money, you may want to consider shopping online for GFCF foods.  In order to accomplish GFCF shopping online, all you need is a computer, Internet capabilities and a credit or debit card. Do remember that you should still check ingredient lists for anything you purchase to be sure that something labelled “Dairy-Free” actually doesn’t contain casein or that there isn’t other allergens in products that you don’t wish to consume, like corn.

Here are 6 websites to help you get going -

1.  Amazon - their selection of specialty foods is growing all the time. If you purchase things under their Subscribe & Save program you can even have scheduled deliveries and free shipping every time! (This is a great plan for purchasing things like flours that you know you will use and can freeze until you do.)

2. Gluten-Free Mall for Gluten-Free Foods – this site is linked to celiac.com and has everything from cookbooks to food to vitamins. Join their mailing list and you’ll get regular coupons and discounts sent to your inbox!

3. Savorfull - this is one of a few companies that will send you a box of allergen-free goodies each month for a flat rate. (I will be reviewing this company very soon here on the blog!)

4. Penzey’s Spices - an amazing variety of spices available in many formats from gift boxes to individual containers. I think I could spend a LOT of money with them! (It’s tough to choose only a few things because everything sounds so good.)

5. Gluten-Free Saver - this is similar to Groupon, but for gluten-free foods. I’ve seen some casein-free products offered too, but be sure to read ingredients.

6. Katz Gluten Free - this site has mostly bakery items that are gluten-free. They allow you to search by specific allergy which is great. And, you can even order sample boxes for only the price of shipping!

Got any others you’d like to add? Please mention them in the comments below so others can enjoy them too. Thanks!

If you have Celiac disease or any kind of gluten intolerance, you will have to give up certain foods in order to keep any symptoms from flaring up.  But considering that there are over 3 million Americans who have Celiac disease, more and more gluten-free options are becoming available.  You don’t have to even give up Chinese food.  In fact, you never really had to give up Chinese food, but you will have to avoid some of the sauces and noodles.

The Incredible Variety of Chinese Food

Chinese food isn’t all about Chinese take-out; that would be like judging all of American cuisine from McDonald’s (ew, gross!).  But even at your favorite Chinese take-out, you can ask them to hold the sauce or ask about lighter fare.  You can often choose brown rice over white rice.  Stir-frying brings out, instead of covering up, the flavors inherent in all of the ingredients.

Chinese restaurants and take out places want to please their customers in order to stay in business.  They are aware of food allergies and the requirements of vegans or vegetarians.  They also will try to include some gluten-free Chinese food or dairy-free dishes on their menus.  You want to avoid anything that may have food additives, a thick sauce, or bread or pastry coating because these would contain gluten.

One alternative before going out or ordering out is to check out Select Wisely.  This website contains Cantonese translations to be sure you are communicating your needs directly.  Although most Chinese food establishments have excellent multi-lingual skills, some still have mostly native-speaking staff, especially in larger cities.

Make It Yourself

The best way to assure that you have gluten-free Chinese food is to make it yourself.  A wok is the best way to cook gluten-free Chinese food, but if all else fails, a big frying pan will do.  If you want to avoid rice (which you don’t have to), use crunchy bean sprouts.  The cooking itself takes only a few minutes.  It’s the chopping that will take up the most of your time.  But once you practice vegetable and meat chopping, you will get faster and may find it a fun way to engage your children in the kitchen as well.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.

The main spices of gluten-free Chinese food are the same as for any other Chinese cooking – fennel, peppercorns, cloves, star anise and cinnamon or ginger.  Many commercial Chinese Five Spice mixes will often have salt and pepper and garlic powder in them.  Fresh garlic is another must for gluten-free Chinese cooking, unless you really hate garlic or have been told by your doctor to cut down on it. Be sure to use a tamari soy sauce, however, because regular soy sauce has gluten in it.

Two Restaurant Options

I know of two restaurant options that do cater to a gluten-free diet (and it’s pretty easy to avoid dairy at Chinese restaurants). These two restaurants are:

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

Pei Wei

Do you know of other Chinese restaurants that cater to gluten-free eaters? Please add them in the comments below.

It’s summer in Southern California and that means surfing! Nicholas enjoyed a week of Surf Camp and the weather couldn’t have been better. It’s also time to list my 7 Recipes I love for July.

These are the ones we have been enjoying this month, and I hope you will too!

1. Creamy Cashew Pasta Salad  – what is it about cold pasta salad and summer? They just go together, beautifully. And, a GFCF version is even better!

2. Shredded Beef Tacos – my son asked me to make “tacos like they have at Chipotle” and this recipe really delivers.  It can be made in a crock pot too, so it doesn’t heat up your kitchen.  My husband and Nicholas couldn’t stop raving about these!

3. Coconut Cajun Shrimp – I’ll admit it…I have a definite weakness for recipes that include both coconut AND shrimp! This one is extra special because it’s spicy to boot.

4. Gluten-Free Crepes – yes, you can make crepes with coconut flour! Another fun item for summer because you can stuff them full of all the fruit that is in season now.

5. Paleo Hungry Man Sweet Potato Casserole – another hearty meal that you can cook in the crock pot. Crock pot cooking is really great for summer, especially if you are very busy.  Dinner is waiting for you in the evening, after a little bit of prep in the morning; fabulous!

6. Asian Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Sauce – chicken on a stick…doesn’t that just scream SUMMER? I’ve seen the prepared, marinated skewers at the store and realized there’s too much junk in the marinade (including MSG and gluten usually). So, I was so thrilled to see such a yummy recipe to make my own.

7. Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Donuts – “But, Mom! I really miss donuts!” Nicholas was super excited to find out that he could eat these donuts and not violate the GFCF Diet.

 

breadUnderstanding and Preventing Celiac Symptoms

Celiac disease or gluten sensitive enteropathy (GSE) affects about one in 133 people in the United States today. According to studies, celiac disease happens to 5-15 percent of those people who have siblings and other family members who are suffering from this ailment. However, among identical twins, about 70% of twins suffer from celiac symptoms shortly after the other is diagnosed with the disease. Given these high incidents of the disease among twins, doctors often subject the other twin to a series of test for celiac disease even if the other twin does not manifest any celiac symptoms.

Although there are so many people who are suffering from celiac disease in the country today, it not really clear as to what causes this type of ailment. Some medical professionals believe that celiac disease can be genetic judging by the way twins often display the same celiac symptoms, but there is still no concrete evidence to support this claim.

What are the Common Symptoms?

Some of the most common celiac symptoms are abdominal cramping, intestinal gas, bloating, distention of the stomach, chronic diarrhea and/or constipation, anemia, and weight loss even if the person has large appetite. In some other cases, celiac symptoms may come in the form of dental enamel defects, bone or joint pain, osteoporosis, depression, infertility, and fatigue and even ulcers. Since most of these symptoms are non-exclusive to celiac disease, one should not assume that you are suffering from celiac symptoms if you suffer from any of these conditions. In fact, a lot of medical professionals warn against starting a gluten-free diet until the existence of celiac disease has been medically confirmed.

How to Know If You Are Indeed Suffering From Celiac Symptoms

The only way to know for certain whether or not a person is suffering from celiac symptoms is to conduct a small bowel biopsy. This process involves gastroscopy or the passing of a tube from the mount of the patient to the gut where a small sample from the wall of intestine is taken for study. This can be quite an uncomfortable procedure but since a blood test is not always sufficient to establish if a person is suffering from celiac disease and the celiac symptoms can easily pass off as symptoms of some other types of diseases, this uncomfortable procedure is important to determine the true condition of the patient.

For more information about Celiac Disease, please visit these resources:

Celiac Disorder Foundation

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

Celiac.com

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

 

gfcf_diet_plan

Today, I have a special announcement! I’ve launched a new website, GFCF Diet Plan, to help you succeed with the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet. I’ve been asked by so many people for help in following this difficult diet that I felt it would be a great idea to put a website together to help people succeed with the GFCF Diet.

Don’t worry, though! I will continue to run this blog where I can offer you recipes and other great articles about all things related to gluten-free, casein-free living. I’m just trying to provide you with a more in-depth guide to succeeding with the GFCF Diet.  I hope you will check out the website and also sign up for my mailing list so you won’t miss out on anything!

 

 

gluten in medicationIf your physician has prescribed you a gluten-free diet, you need to be aware that many medications are not gluten-free. Vitamins, tablets, capsules and liquid medications may all contain gluten.  Gluten is added to medications because it is useful as a filler and as a substance that will either hold the medication together (a binder) or thicken it.  You can also find gluten-containing ingredients being used to coat the pills, to mask the flavor or scent or as an ingredient that will increase the stability of the medication.  If you have been prescribed a gluten-free diet, you should be aware that the gluten products contained in these medications could cause stomach irritation and other symptoms that you are trying to avoid.

Ask Your Pharmacist

If you are in doubt about any medication, inform your pharmacist of your special dietary need for gluten-free medications and ask the pharmacist about the entire list of ingredients that go into any of your medications.  If you are buying drugs over-the-counter, read the entire label carefully so you can determine whether or not there is any gluten contained in the formula.

Typical Names of Gluten Products In Medications

Examples of the names for gluten ingredients that are used in the manufacture of medications include dextrates, dextrins, maltodextrins, pre-gelatinized starch and sodium starch glycolate.  You will need to ask your pharmacist about any other possible names that are used for gluten-based ingredients in your prescribed and over-the-counter medications so that you can safely choose gluten-free medications.

Your dietary needs are just as important as your needs for medications and with your pharmacist’s help; you can avoid the numerous gluten products that are used in many medications.  You’re best able to do this by becoming informed about the names that are used to identify the gluten in medications.

Despite the fact that many drug manufacturers use gluten ingredients in their formulas, there are also many drug manufacturers who are aware of the growing number of people who need to have gluten free-medications and there are many prescription and over the counter medications that do not use gluten products. Or, you may also choose to use an online resource, such as Kirkman Labs to obtain medications that are certified free of any allergens, including gluten.

For more resources about avoiding gluten and other allergens in your medications –

Gluten Free Drugs

Protect Yourself from Hidden Glutens

Safe Medication

save money on GFCF grocery shoppingYes, you can save money!

Everything is getting more expensive today. From gas to groceries, our hard-earned dollars are challenged to stretch further. Now, we may be able to ride a bicycle around town if we can’t put gas in our cars. But, we have to eat. There’s no getting around that. So, we have to find ways to spend less on groceries while still getting the things that we need to feed ourselves and our families.

6 money-saving tips

  1. Clip coupons. They put those in the newspaper for a reason. If there are new items you want to try, use a coupon to get it at a discount. If you like it, you have saved some money. On the other hand, if you hate it, you didn’t pay full price. For me, coupons save an average of 35-50% per visit! That’s money in my pocket that I can put towards gas for the car. Also, you can visit the websites of many manufacturers and download free coupons. Or, visit the Stockpiling Moms website and learn how to really save lots on gluten-free, dairy-free items!
  1. Buy more staples than prepared foods. It is easier to buy a frozen gluten-free dinner, but is it more economical? A large box of gluten-free pasta and a GFCF marinara sauce will make more servings for your family than one gluten-free frozen dinner. This is especially true for baked goods! The next time you go shopping and pick up a box or bag of an already prepared item, ask yourself if you can make that at home for less. If you can, then put that item back in favor of less expensive staples.
  1. Buy in bulk. Consider the food items that you use most often. Gluten-free snacks, meats, vegetables, condiments, juices, and paper products can be bought in bulk usually at a lower price at food warehouses like Costco, BJ’s, and Wal-Mart. If you have a coupon, you’ll save even more money. Yes – you can find more and more gluten-free, dairy-free items at the warehouse stores. And, don’t be afraid to request certain products through the manager; that’s how they find out what their customers really want!
  1. Don’t shop when you are hungry. This is a definite no-no. Shopping on an empty stomach means that you will pick up more things than you need. You are more likely to pick up that box of gluten-free cookies when the growling gets underway!
  1. Take a grocery list with you. This is another protection against picking up things that are too costly. Check your cabinets and the fridge to see what you need and write them down. Remember, the goal is to stick to the list as much as possible.
  1. Shop at the same stores. This is more of a frustration reliever. In a new store, you spend most of your time looking for things and walking up and down every aisle, which oftentimes leads to forgetting an item or two. Going to the same store each time makes you more familiar with the prices so you can estimate your bill as you write your grocery list. I also find that you get better service if the store employees know your face. (Last weekend, an employee at Trader Joe’s not only helped me find a great watermelon, he cut it open for me to see that it was appropriately ripe; what a great help!)

You can succeed!

Rising prices don’t have to mean a lean dinner table. There are ways to make your food dollar go further and if you take the time to implement the ideas listed above as well as others of your own, you’ll see savings each and every time you shop.

Know any money-saving tips?

If you have some great shopping tips to share, please add them in the comments section below. Thank you!

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Your Guide to Success with the GFCF Diet

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