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Allergy friendly trick-or-treating!

A great find at Target today! I was so excited to find how big the Teal Pumpkin Project has grown since last year. The idea is that people who have allergy friendly treats to offer for Halloween will have a teal pumpkin on display so people with allergy issues know safe places to stop and trick-or-treat. Watch this short video on our YouTube channel.

www.youtube.com/watch

GF LIFE HACKS

GF Life Hack #8 Celebrity Chef, Jamie Oliver and Gluten Free Certification: Why knowing your labels is important!

Not 5 days ago I posted about the importance of labels and gluten-free certification in my blog post To be or not to be Certified Gluten-Free. What does that mean? (That’s our question.)

When I was surfing the internet for new gluten-free information I ran across several headlines about Jamie Oliver and his company labeling items GF that are not necessarily gluten free.  Here’s a family friendly article I found during my search Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef Grub Street article

It is astounding to me that the Gluten Free certification label was treated like the gluten containing donut you were just handed at brunch!

My family loved watching Jamie Oliver on his Food Revolution show.  He would go to school cafeterias and help the cooks serve healthier options for lunch that kids would actually eat.  Being a teacher I enjoyed seeing healthy fresh options be devoured instead of scorned.  I could not believe what I have read on several different sites.  The TMZ article I read was particularly harsh-but not necessarily family friendly.  If you read the article by Grub Street it talks about how callously Jamie Oliver and his company are treating the GF logo-here’s a side-by-side comparison from that same article.

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It just further emphasizes several of the hacks I’ve shared already.  Be your own advocate, know and read labels and if you are unsure-ask! Be sure to leave a comment below about what you think about this news.  Watch what you eat and keep your gluten-free hacks close!  Here are some family favorite certified gluten-free items we have in our cupboard.

Krusteaz Gluten Free Brownie Mix

Krusteaz Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffin Mix

Pamela’s Gluten-Free Pancake and Baking Mix

Namaste Gluten-Free Perfect Flour Blend

GF LIFE HACKS

My #1 Secret Hack for Avoiding Gluten Cross-Contamination!

Most people don’t realize one of the major sources of cross-contamination in their kitchen is their toaster!  Think about it, if you are moving your kitchen over from 100% gluten to gluten free there are so many things you have to buy-food, baking utensils, who wants to, or has the money to buy a new toaster?  Or if you live in the real world, like we do, the majority of the family is not gluten free, but I am.  And quite honestly it is just too expensive to buy gluten free for everyone, I’ve tried and the kids don’t mind it, but it’s just not affordable.  So you could do several things;

  1. Give up toast.
  2. Buy two toasters
  3. Make the gluten eaters give up toast

I don’t know about you, but those don’t really work for me!  So one day while I was exploring ways to get one of my favorite gluten free brands online (otherwise I had to drive 1/2 an hour away to get it) I discovered these!  I have to say it was one of the most liberating days in my gluten free journey!

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Toaster Bags!  I had never heard of them before!  It was amazing!  I can still use a toaster that all those other gluten eaters around me use, but I won’t get sick!!!!  So here’s some of my favorite features about them!

  1. They are reusable!!!
  2. They are very inexpensive!
  3. You can toast; sandwiches, pizza, make grilled cheese, bagels, waffles, and moreAND it doesn’t make a mess!
  4. Dishwasher safe
  5. Transportable

I pack my bread for my sandwich in it for work and sandwich fixings separately.  I put my tuna melt together at work, put it back in the toaster bag and use the toaster at work.  Voila-I have a safe for me sandwich, the mess is contained and the bag can be thrown in the dishwasher and used again!

Here is a link for the toaster bags that I use.  The bags are good for roughly 50 uses, or when you start to notice excessive wear.

I love this hack, it has made my gluten free life so much easier!

GF LIFE HACKS

GF Life Hack #7

One of the great things about becoming gluten free is the discovery of your favorite new gluten free bread. (I understand that if you didn’t have to live gluten free you wouldn’t have to find a “favorite new gluten free bread”, but the fun is in the discovery.). The bread that you can make sandwiches with, and take for lunch to work or school so you almost feel normal. Something to toast for breakfast or make garlic bread with on Italian dinner night.

I have discovered my new favorite several times since I’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Each time there have been very similar downsides to my the new favorite. I have found that most gluten free breads either dry out quickly or can mold just as quickly. It is so frustrating to spend extra money to eat gluten free just to throw it away.  It has caused me years of trying to figure out a solution. Some breads freeze well, but then you have to think ahead to thaw it out. Another problem with freezing besides planning ahead is that unless it’s completely thawed out the bread breaks apart and is no longer big enough for your sandwiches.

So I came up with an idea that I am completely excited about and I can’t believe it took me so long to think of! It’s so simple it’s ridiculous. My gluten free hack for dealing with gluten free bread is to package serving sizes in ziplock bags. What I love about this is when I need bread for my lunch I just grab a ziplock baggie out, throw it my lunch box with my sandwich fixings and make my sandwich at work.


I’m sure you probably already came up with this hack- but just in case you didn’t…

And yes- my new favorite is Franz gluten free bread! 😊

Top 5 list

Top 5 GF Baking Tips

Here is a quick list of some baking tips I’ve learned throughout the last several years.

  1. First- give yourself some grace. Gluten free baking is tough- but not impossible. Don’t give up the first time something doesn’t turn out right- keep trying! 
  2. Don’t be afraid if GF baking batter looks more wet then you are used to.  I’ve learned that GF baking can dry out easily and so moist batter is almost essential to not have a dried out result.
  3. Stick to the recipe the first time you try a new GF dish. GF baking can be very tricky, and may have slightly different steps or ingredients then you are used to. Give yourself a baseline before you make changes so you can decide if you like the changes or if you like the original recipe.
  4. When using some of the wonderful boxed mixes that are available now add a teaspoon of vanilla to help it taste more homemade. (I picked that up from someone else. 😊)
  5. Spray muffin papers or muffin tins no matter how wet the batter is with a non-stick spray. GF baking tends to leave some of the baked goods behind in the tin or muffin papers- a perfect cupcake or muffin can come out if you spray it first.

So there are my quick gluten free baking tips. Hope they help!

GF LIFE HACKS

GF Life Hack #5

This is a quick one that goes along with the theme so far of eating out (or somewhere other than your own house).

#5 Don’t be afraid to take food to someone else’s house if it enables you to eat or have a similar meal.

When I first got diagnosed I hated feeling different or having to go through to get my food first- I just felt uncomfortable. Often I would eat before or wait to get home if we went to visit friends or family- but this brought up the same attention I was trying to avoid.

Here’s some thing I’ve figured out about going to other people’s houses during meal time.

  1. Talk to your host about the menu
  2. Offer to bring your own food along the same lines as the menu to help out and be polite.
  3. Offer to bring food that would make your meal as similar to the rest of the group as possible.

An example of the last item; I offered to make guacamole and bring chips that I knew were gluten-free to share. Again as long as you are gracious and understanding of whatever the host asks you to bring or not bring these steps usually ensure a smooth mealtime for everyone! 😊

GF LIFE HACKS

GF Life Hack #3

So this may seem redundant- but I feel it is vital to share again- perhaps in a different context.

#4. You are your only advocate that will always be with you- you have to become a fierce advocate for yourself!

This hack is very similar to hack number 1, but with some slight and important differences.  The first being that you have to be ok with sending food back if it is incorrect- and be explicit with what is wrong with it. I’m not advocating that we give a dressing down to every waiter and/or chef that ever makes a mistake. On the contrary if you keep hack number 2 in mind you can still be thankful and firm that something is not right with your meal.

Part of the importance of this hack is remembering there isn’t anything wrong about firmly asking for what you need, you don’t need to apologize for it. I find often I am uncomfortable with being so firm and try to soften my requests for safe food- I have paid for that mistake. You have a right to safe food and if someone can’t provide it for you it is ok to decline to eat or walk out of the restaurant if that is where you are. [Just a side note, I have never had trouble at this particular restaurant!  I’ll share more about that later!]

One of the other aspects of this hack is that while it is important to have someone who supports your diet they can’t do everything for you. When I first got diagnosed with celiac disease my husband jumped in with both feet. He began doing research and reading labels like a pro. He also became my voice at family functions and restaurants. It wasn’t until I went out with some friends without him that I realized I needed to be more comfortable doing these things on my own. Another hard lesson learned- and still learning. 😉