Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chebe Supports Celiac Month

I'm kind of partial to Chebe. If you've been following my blog, my Twitter or my Instagram account, I share about them often. I'm not a Chebe employee, and I don't own stock. I just really like their product and the people behind the business. And I especially love that their products are almost free of all top 8 allergens. (One mix contains milk, but their other mixes are dairy-free.) All mixes are made with tapioca starch, and is therefore paleo and also non-gmo. certified as well

You can make all sorts of things with a Chebe mix. Like hamburger buns

Or pie crust. In actuality, there are over 200 recipes on their website. 
Of course, they're really known for their original cheese bread mix and their pizza crust mix.
Have you tried their pizza on the grill? Crazy fast and seriously delicious. 

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Chebe has agreed to send one lucky winner a selection of their grain-free, nut-free, soy-free, yeast-free, kosher mixes.  To enter, tell me what other things you look for in a product, besides being gluten-free.
 Earn other entries using Rafflecopter. 

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Make America Great Again

What I'm about to write has nothing to do with food or Celiac Disease. (If you've never visited my blog before, I'm a Celiac Disease advocate and I share about gluten-free food and Celiac Disease research & news.) It doesn't really have to do with politics either. I have a burden on my heart and this is my place to write out the random thoughts that are swirling in my head. So if you want to read on, thank you. If you don't, I understand that too. Just know that you have the power to change the world.

I live in Flint, Michigan. Maybe you've heard of our city. We've had an issue with our water lately. It might have been mentioned in the news. I think someone famous may have said something.

It's not easy living here sometimes. Us personally, the water isn't our biggest concern. We've been blessed that our house tested 0 ppb for lead and copper. I know that not all households are as lucky as we are. I try not to take that for granted.

There's a lot of violence here. It was here long before the water problem. In some neighborhoods it's horrendous, like a war zone. Teenagers killed. Caregivers murdered. Houses shot up.

The house across from us was shot at this past weekend. The story is people walked by and just opened fire on the house. It shook all of us up a bit, including the workers at the water distribution center. (During the Flint Water Crisis, there are sites around the city handing out free cases of water, filters and test kits.) The water center workers were concerned for everyone's safety, so they chose to shut down the distribution site for the rest of the day.

Later that night someone tried to set the same house on fire. My husband jokes that he's going to call our Jasmine "lifesaver" because somehow she sensed it, roused my husband, and he was able to call 911 as he saw the perpetrators leaving the scene. The fire died quickly as the fire department arrived. No one was hurt, and the property wasn't really damaged. My husband didn't sleep too well that night though.

Before people freak out and tell us to move, please know that this was not an act of random violence. There was a disturbance at said house earlier this week, some of it aggravated by the person living there, and I'm sure this was an act of retaliation. I don't believe that my husband and I are in any real danger. This is our home, and we're staying.

I'll admit my first thought was that I hope the resident moves. I want a quiet neighborhood, and I heard my heart saying "those people" should be forced to live elsewhere. You know, "those people" who seem to have a lot of drama in their life. It would make my life easier.

Which is ironic because the phrase "It's just easier" has become the bane of my existence.

And then, God pricked my heart. "Those people" are whom I'm supposed to reach. "Those people" are whom I'm supposed to love. "Those people" may have never had someone show them any other way of handling conflict or emotions. Maybe "those people" have been abused, mistreated, and have put up a wall saying that they'll never let anyone else get near them again.

It makes me think of the Israelites in the Old Testament. While God did give them certain guidelines about interacting with those who were not Jews, I still think they were meant to witness to those who were not God followers. While we're not to be "of the world", it doesn't mean that were not supposed to be "in it" dealing with the people that need to experience God's grace and direction. I need to experience God's grace and direction, so we're all the same.

There's a lot of violence in Flint, a greater percentage of violence than many other communities. It could make sense to leave, to move away, to go where life is less complicated. Sometimes based on the circumstances, it may be absolutely necessary. But when all of the people who could be a light choose to walk away, everything gets a little bit darker.

This is truth for everyone though. It's no secret that our world is messed up. I see it when the young mother is screaming profanity on her cell phone as she's walking down a busy street, with her 4 year old boy walking silently behind. We see it in cities where the meth epidemic is ruining families. We see it when drivers cut someone off in traffic, only to be followed by someone with road rage who shoots them. We see it when children are abducted in Africa, forced to turn into soldiers.

It can all seem so overwhelming. How can we even begin to make a difference?

With one little act of intentional kindness at a time.

Before the water distribution workers could set up today, a neighbor and their small children wrote the workers a love note in chalk. Nothing long and elaborate, just an intentional note letting them know someone is thinking of them. 

This is how we Make America Great Again. Not by government force or policies, but by choosing every day to make our communities a better place to live. It's not always convenient either. Maybe you'll have to pick up the trash someone left at the park. Maybe you'll have to clean up some graffiti at the local bus stop, even though you already have a "to-do" list. Maybe you'll have to reach out to that neighbor who has wronged you in some way, more concerned about peace than about revenge. Maybe you'll have to mow the lawn of the abandoned house down the street, because the landlord or bank hasn't taken care of it. Maybe it's something as simple as taking some flowers to a neighbor who's had a rough week. But just maybe, those little acts will add up to a huge difference.

My husband and I are are going to attempt to reach out to the person who lives across the street. I'm sure they had a pretty sleepless weekend. They might even feel a bit unwelcome after what happened, so they might be uneasy about someone approaching their door. Our interaction may be awkward. But I have to decide what type of community I want to live in. I want to live in a neighborhood where neighbors leave love notes for each other, even if it's in colored chalk. 


Did you know that the UN declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses? Not the pulse you take on your wrist, but legumes. Pulses include crops such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas. That makes Banza pasta a great product to eat then! Banza, a Michigan-based company, is a pasta made out of chickpeas, This pasta delivers 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber. Their Instagram page is filled with delicious images like the one above with all of the dinner creations made with their pasta. Check out the recipes tab on their page to get you started. 

So a bit of background on this pasta created by Brian Rudolph. Brian grew like most kids, eating chicken nuggets and bagels. Later in life, he started to experience some health issues, including sinus issues. He decided to focus on how the foods he ate made him feel, and chose to eliminate gluten from his diet. When he did remove gluten, he noticed that his health improved. Now he stays up late reading food science books thinking about the next food innovation that can combine health and great taste. Stay tuned for a new product launch this summer that kids are sure to love!
What started as a project in the kitchen has spread across the country. In 2015, Time Magazine named Banza on of the Top 25 Innovations of 2015, and Forbes magazine listed Brian on their 30 under 30 list of entrepreneurs. Brian wants to pass on his love of healthy pasta on to you. One lucky winner will win a case of their assorted pastas. Winner must live within the continental Unites States. 

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Physical and Emotional Care for Celiacs

So you've been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and have started to navigate what you can and can't eat. Every day you learn a little bit more and feel a bit more secure in your health. But what are the next steps in your medical care? I want to cover some of these topics, but I also want to make a disclaimer. I'm not a doctor, nurse or certified medical professional. I do however have plenty of contacts who are, and I'll be sharing knowledge from trustworthy sources.

Follow-Up Medical Care
Over 120 years ago, Dr. Samuel Gee was the first to realize that diet played a role in the healing of those with Celiac Disease. The fact that gluten ingestion is the main cause of damage to the intestines is widely accepted as fact. What isn't standard is the guidelines for follow-up care. Doctors from ESPGHAN (including Dr. Ivor Hill and Dr. Guandalini) have recently written up research and guidelines in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and NutritionSuggestions for proper follow-up care, post diagnosis via biopsy, include:

- Repeat antibody lab work within 3-6 months of diagnosis, then repeated yearly
-Annual blood draws for nutritional assessment, such as iron, zinc and lipids
- TSH levels, as those with Celiac Disease often suffer from thyroid issues 
- Bone density screening for adults, repeated every 2 years
- Pneumonia shot (for adults) 
-Annual flu shot 

In addition to lab work, it is highly suggested that you meet with a dietitian who is knowledgeable about Celiac Disease. (In Michigan, I would suggest Marge Pestka or Lana Coxton) This is especially necessary if you have other health issues such as diabetes, kidney problems, or other health issues that are impacted by diet. 

As Celiac Disease affects our ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, it's important that we eat mindfully to incorporate a diet that meets our body's needs. While multivitamins are good, your body will process and absorb nutrients better from whole foods than it will from supplements. This means we need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole gluten-free grains. Whole grains contain B vitamins, which regulate many aspects of our health, including our metabolism and sleep cycles. Good examples aer whole grain teff, quinoa and even whole grain corn. Eating these are key as many gluten-free packaged items are not fortified with vitamins and minerals like non-gf items are, so we must be vigilant.

Fiber and water are other important factors to our health. Both help in digestion and intestinal health. I personally suggest having a 1/2 cup of beans (pinto, kidney, chickpea. etc) per day. They're great on salads and in soups. The standard suggestion for water intake is 64 oz of water a day.

A word about probiotics (and prebiotics). Probiotics help establish healthy levels of the good bacteria in your gut. It's frequently referred to as the microbiome. Research is still being done on the effectiveness of probiotics in treating gastrointestinal issues. There are many probiotic supplements on the market, although reports have been done recently that some of these pills have been found to contain gluten. Again going back to the idea that your body prefers natural sources versus supplements, my gastroenterologist suggests drinking kefir daily and/or eating yogurt. I have personally been consuming kefir with a sliced banana daily and have found it has helped my digestive issues greatly.

What do you do if you accidentally ingest gluten? How do you take care of that not-so-fun situation?In most cases, it does not require a trip to the doctor or emergency room. As I explained earlier, Celiac Disease is tied to over 200 symptoms, and we can all experience them with different degrees of severity. Usually the most pressing issue is the gastrointestinal symptoms, because none of us want to be in the bathroom all day. Taking Miralax or Colace for constipation helps, as well as Gas-X for painful bloating. Sometimes the best thing is simply plenty of rest, lots of fluids and a bland diet until you feel better. Pretty Little Celiac has some suggestions on her blog as well.

Mental and Emotional Care
Celiac Disease impacts more than just our body. It places a toll on our mental health as well. Beyond Celiac states that those with Celiac Disease are 1.8x more likely to develop depression. There are many who experience panic attacks or other mental health issues when gluten has found its way into their system too. I've personally experienced panic attacks, and it's not fun.These issues should be addressed by a mental health professional. Never feel guilty about seeking out professional help, as your total health is important.

A main emotional issue with Celiac Disease the is psycho-social component. Celiac Disease affects our ability to eat every day foods, which therefore make dining with others difficult. Dating can be an issue when we have to explain why we can only eat at certain restaurants. It becomes a greater issue when the person you really want to kiss has just eaten a big piece of crusty French bread with crumbs of gluten all up in their grill. Do you ask them to brush their teeth before kissing you? (You actually should. I will admit that I don't always remember to make my husband do so.)

Another issue that we don't talk a lot about is faith. Not so much about what faith to follow, but how our Celiac Disease (and other food allergies and intolerances) affect our ability to worship in the manner that we choose. One of my most heart-breaking stories was talking to a woman who was newly diagnosed describe her sobs of grief when she realized she could no longer take communion. This is just one among many things we wish our worship leaders knew.

This is why I always suggest getting involved with a support group. The people there have gone through some of the issues you are going through.

  • The grieving period over a complete lifestyle change. 
  • Unsupportive family members and friends.  
  • What to make for dinner, since it's harder to eat out
  • How to save money when your medically necessary diet triples your grocery bill. 
  • The simple fact that you now feel "different." 

But there's another reason to join a support group. It allows you to give back. It allows you to be the listening ear for someone else's journey. It allows us to turn the negative of a lifelong diagnosis into positives that we can hold on to. For example, I have so many friends around the country now due to my diagnosis that I don't think I'd ever substitute it for a "normal" life. That's not saying there aren't times that I don't still struggle. We all do, even after years of being diagnosed. But when we're able to step back from immediate situation, there are often times when we can find something to laugh or smile about, or be thankful about.

What steps have you taken to manage your medical and emotional care after diagnosis? Please share them below so that others may benefit!

Other topics in my Celiac Disease Awareness Month Factual Friday series:

Why Celiac Disease Makes Food Your Enemy (A primer on Celiac Disease)
The gluten free diet; what's safe unsafe, and by whose standards
Eating outside of the home and other resources

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Renee's Pizzeria

I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like pizza. People may have preferences over deep dish or thin crust, but it's pretty fair to say that if someone offers up pizza, no one is going to turn it down. That is unless, you have Celiac Disease. Going out for pizza or ordering in is near impossible. Even if the pizzeria offers gluten-free crust, there is often a high change of cross-contact. But not at Renee's Pizzeria! This 100% gluten-free and nut-free pizzeria is a safe haven for many. Zero chance for cross-contact. Did I mention they make elephant ears

Renee's Pizzeria opened in early 2014 to meet a very real need. Owner Gabe Hertz has a young daughter named Renee. Renee was diagnosed with a peanut allergy when she was 5 and then diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she was 10. The opportunities of safely eating out were greatly reduced, so Gabe quit his Relax the Back franchise and took a bold step into the food industry. Watch the video above about the ways this business has been successful. Sometimes success is measured more than just in dollar signs.

Their brave and compassionate step has greatly paid off. Business has been good for Gabe and they're about to open a second location in Southfield. They love being able to bring smiles to people everywhere. In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, they're offering a $25 gift certificate for one lucky person. They do not ship their products, so you MUST be able to come to their location to dine in or pick up your order yourself. 
And get an order of cinnamon sticks. Trust me. 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Celiac and the Beast

Do you know Erica Dermer? You might know her better by her blog name, Celiac and the Beast. She is a HUGE Celiac Disease advocate. How she manages to do it all amazes me. She
- runs a hugely successful blog
- is an editor for Gluten Free and More magazine
- is an ambassador for the organization Beyond Celiac 
- stands up for truthful Celiac Disease info and dispels myths and rumors
- travels to conferences around the country to educate and encourage others
- has written a book and designed clothes like the hoodie pictured below

She's like a Celiac Wonder Woman.

Although Erica is so highly accomplished, she's incredibly down to earth. I follow her website and on social media not just for information, but because she has a great sense of humor and is honest about life. We've all had days when Celiac Disease has kicked our butts. Erica does too, but she's great at showing the triumphs of when we can kick it right back. She is passionate about learning as much as she can about Celiac Disease so she can share that information with all of us. Because we're part of a community that should help each other.

She's willing to share a copy of her book with one lucky reader as well. Her honest (and humorous) sharing of her personal journey from illness to diagnosis to health feels like you're sitting in a room talking to a long-time friend. Her book allows you those moments when you can laugh out loud about this disease. (Well, at least I did when I read it!) 
To enter, comment below about how your Celiac Disease diagnosis has made you laugh. Gain extra entries by using the Rafflecopter platform. Winner must live in the continental U.S. 
And if you're extra lucky, maybe she'll get #TerribleMurph to sign your copy! 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Send Me Gluten Free

Have you ever wanted to go to a GFAF Expo, but there isn't one near you? That's the beauty of the Send Me Gluten Free subscription box. They include many of the companies that attend this series of nationwide events. Once a month a new box gets delivered to your door, full of neat new products! It's a great way to try new products that maybe you've seen online or in magazines, but can't find locally.

I've reviewed their boxes on my site before. Pictured above is the box from January 2015. I really loved the Free For All Brownie Thins. I was super excited when there was another small package I received at the Schaumburg GFAF Expo this past weekend. When they sent me an additional box in February 2015, I was most excited for the full package of Toufayan wraps, as well as a box of Le Veneziane lasagna noodles. The Pamela's Figgies and Jammies bar was a nice treat too!

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, the team at Send Me Gluten Free is offering a giveaway of one of their boxes. Winner must live within the continental United States. Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

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Monday, May 16, 2016


The GF Bites

Why do I love thee, GFB? Let me count the ways! 

1. They're crazy delicious and made with simple ingredients. 
2. They're a Grand Rapids, Michigan made product. Support local! 
3. The GFB is certified as a B Corporation making sustainable products 
while giving back to their community and offering their employees fair wages.
4. They have a great bear costume. Seriously, it brings a smile to everyone's face
5. Elliott and Marshall Rader. These two entrepreneurial brothers are the nicest guys ever.   
Marshall and Elliott Rader
So here's a bit of background on these two fellas and their great product. Elliott and Marshall both had big corporate jobs that required them to travel the globe. Being able to do so successfully while on a gluten-free diet presented a challenge. They'd take snack bars with them, unsure when their next safe meal would be. Problem was, they couldn't find a bat that 1) tasted great 2) had simple, healthy ingredients and 3) had plenty of protein to keep them feeling full. 
So in 2010 they created their own. They found a great pastry chef along the way who helped them perfect The GF Bar, Bites  and other recipes. What started as a small company with two brothers has now turned into a business that ships across the country and around the world. 

Marshall and Elliott are great at spreading Celiac Disease and gluten-free awareness on their website as well. They have a very informative blog and they have a great informative newsletter that often includes news headlines. In addition to sharing knowledge, they're willing to share their product with you as well! Two winners will receive a sample pack of their flavors. Enter through the Rafflecopter progam below.

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*All photos courtesy of The GFB**