Start the New Year with Udi’s Gluten Free–Enter Giveaway Today!

The Udi’s Gluten Free “care packages” arrived just in time for the College Celiac’s Christmas Break. It’s been a rough four years, trying to adapt to life with celiac disease while being away from home. Okay, truth be told, it’s been harder on me than him. I worried if he was eating enough nutritious foods.

So I was thrilled to introduce my son to new foods from a company I trust. These burritos were a hit. He added Cholula Hot Sauce. What is it with college boys and Cholula?

Udi's Gluten Free has eight varieties of burritos. Allergens: Egg, Dairy, Corn

Udi’s Gluten Free has eight varieties of burritos. Allergens: Egg, Dairy, Corn

Based on the dirty dishes I woke up to on several mornings, the Udi’s Gluten Free Plain Tortillas were also quite good.

These tortillas come in small and large. Dairy, soy and nut free. Allergens: egg.

These tortillas come in small and large. Dairy, soy and nut free. Allergens: egg.

For those of you who are regular readers, you know I’m not much of a baker. Thankfully, Udi’s provided the College Celiac with treats this holiday: Snicker Doodle Cookies and Dark Chocolate Brown Bites (both soy and nut free). I have no photos because they disappeared so quickly.  And someone only left one  Double Vanilla Muffin.

Who ate all the Udi's Gluten Free Muffins?!

Who ate all the Udi’s Gluten Free Muffins?!

My plan was to add berries on top of the muffins with some whipped cream.  In fact, I’d planned on creating several of the terrific ideas Udi’s Gluten Free pinned on Pinterest, but then the other hungry son with food allergies came home.

For Christmas dinner, I served Udi’s Classic French Dinner Rolls. Even my husband–the Eater of Everything–said they were delicious.

New French Roll from Udi's is dairy, soy and nut free. Allergens: egg and corn

New French Roll from Udi’s is dairy, soy and nut free. Allergens: egg and corn

Udi’s also has a new French Baguette that I’m planning to serve with split pea soup this evening. The boys are rallying for baguette pizza.

When I post Instagram photos of  my meals using Udi’s foods, I’m often asked where followers can buy Udi’s. Udi’s started in Colorado and I live in Colorado, yet many of my stores don’t carry the foods Udi’s offers.  If you go to their website catalog, there is a link to either order the products or find a store near you that carry the items. I suggest you ask the manager at your favorite grocery store to start carrying Udi’s; sometimes there is a form you can fill out.

Okay, so now that I have your mouth watering, I bet you’re wondering how you can enter to win one of Udi’s holiday prize packs or coupons for free product. It’s quite easy–just click here.

Good luck. And may you have a happy, healthy gluten-free New Year.

Udi's Gluten Free Giveaway

 

Start the New Year with Udi’s Gluten Free–Enter Giveaway Todayfirst appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Musings and Morsels 11-07-14

What a week! I spoke during the online Food Allergy Wellness Summit on a topic close to my heart: Living with food restrictions in college. As a nonfiction writer, I love to research and I read everything available to prepare for this interview. I have enough material to write a book! Well, at least a few blog posts.

I’d like to thank the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and Food Allergy Research and Education for providing PDFs of their college-related handouts. Also, my appreciation to Well Amy, Surf Sweets, and Carrie S. Forbes, author of The Everything Gluten Free College Cookbook, for generously donating giveaways for those who signed up to follow this blog. (A little bribery never hurts. Wink, wink.)  Lastly, kudos to Crystal Sabalaske of Cluttershrink for organizing this valuable summit to help families with food allergies and for including me with such an impressive list of speakers.

Musings and Morsels 11-07-14

Last night I grabbed a glass of wine and a Daiya pizza–by the way, the crust has been greatly improved!–and listened to NFCA’s webinar on Gluten-Free Labeling with Tricia Thompson, RD. She’s the dietitian behind Gluten Free Watchdog, which if you aren’t following you should be! I learned so much about the FDA’s gluten-free labeling rules and I’m going back today to re-listen. It’s a lot to digest (pun intended)!

Good News: NFCA will be providing the webinar on their website. so you can listen, too. Check here later today.

On a sad note, this week I also learned a nonprofit task force I’ve co-chaired with a good friend would be ending. For 12 years my friend and I provided support to high-risk pregnant mothers on bed rest in local hospitals. We’d both been on bed rest during our pregnancies, and I delivered a baby 12 weeks early. We were the substitute families for these women whose families weren’t always available (we live in a military community). It’s hard to have the door close on something we believed in so much.

But as the saying goes–when one door closes, another opens. I truly believe helping others with celiac disease, food allergies and EoE is my new calling. This blog is just the start. If you have ideas for how I can do more to help you, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Okay, enough musings–on to a few morsels!

As I’ve mentioned more than a few times here, I react to soy worse than any of my other allergens. So when I saw Soy Allergy Survivor’s helpful one-page soy list I immediately printed it. Because I have so many allergies including corn and dairy which can hide in many, many foods, I always appreciate guides like this one.

Musings and Morsels 11-07-14

Speaking of hidden allergens and labeling, which seems to be a theme this week, a new FDA consumer report, Finding Food Allergens Where They Shouldn’t Be, says the FDA is working to reduce undeclared allergens on labels by:  researching the causes of these errors; working with industry on best practices; and developing new ways to test for the presence of allergens. From September 2009 to September 2012, about one-third of foods reported to FDA as serious health risks involved undisclosed allergens. This is frightening, to say the least. You can help the FDA by reporting  food-allergic reactions to the FDA consumer complaint coordinator in your district. 

I’ll end with a little gossip. Who doesn’t like gossip? A little bird told me that the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference would be held in a different state than Nevada next year. Turns out it’s true! Pop on over to their Facebook page to learn more. If you aren’t familiar with FABlogCon, it’s a wonderful conference and opportunity to connect with the food allergy community and learn from experts. It’s for everyone–not just bloggers.  I, for one, am pretty excited about a new venue in a new state.  Come to think of it Colorado would be an excellent choice . . . hint, hint.

Musings and Morsels 11-07-14 first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Brain Fog (or Sometimes I Just Crack Myself Up)

Oh my gosh, sometimes I wonder what in the world is wrong with me. I drive all the way to the north side of town before remembering the store I am going to is on the south side of town. And I’ve been going to the same store for 20 years!

Sometimes I can’t remember what year it is! I’m not joking. I once had to google to see if it was 2013 or 2011.

A few weeks ago I panicked because I thought I missed my good friend’s birthday. It’s February and her birthday is in October.

Brain Fog and Celiac Disease/Food Allergies

I’ve never had a good memory. The fact my husband has a photographic memory is both a blessing and a pain in the butt. Who wants to be reminded of the year, day, and time I slipped into the pool, or rode my bike off the path and into the bushes.  (I’m also a bit clumsy.)

But since developing celiac disease and food allergies, my brain has turned to mush.  Dr. Lawrence Wilson from The Center for Development gives a more educated definition of brain fog :

Brain fog may be described as feelings of mental confusion or lack of mental clarity. It is called brain fog because it can feel like a cloud that reduces your ability to think clearly.  It can cause a person to become forgetful, detached and often discouraged and depressed.  It usually is present most of the time, meaning it does not come and go, although it may become better or worse depending on what a person eats, or one’s state of rest and hydration.

Ah ha! I’ve often thought that since I’ve gotten my celiac and allergies sort of under control, I should be thinking clearer and remembering better. This hasn’t happened. What I do notice is some days are worse than others. Or if you’re the half-full type, some days are better than others.

This week my brain’s been bad. Let’s just say I haven’t been entirely “with it.”  And guess what? My gut has been acting up too!  Because of stupid decisions, such as not identifying all the ingredients in foods I ate out, I’ve been spending a good portion of the day in the bathroom and the other portion on the couch. I have no doubt being “gluten-ed” and probably “soy-ed” has scrambled my brains.

Let me give you an example or two.

Yesterday I had a meeting in an office in downtown Colorado Springs. After I pulled into the parking garage and walked into the building, I suddenly realized I was in the wrong building and heading to the wrong office.  Fortunately, when I googled the directions, I discovered the right office was 23 feet away. I laughed. Sometimes I just crack myself up.

But there’s more. After lunch, I went back to the parking garage. I had absolutely no idea where I’d park my car. Was it on the first floor of the garage, or the second? Was it in the north tower, or the south tower? As I was walking around, discreetly clicking my car door opener, two men asked if I was looking for something.

“My car.” I laughed. They looked at my pitifully. Then they attempted to help, but to no avail.

I had to go back to the ticket booth and retrace my steps while continually pushing the panic button.  Eventually my car alarm sounded. I ignored the glares from the ticket booth lady.

Okay, I know you’re dying for a third example, so here it is.

That same evening I attended a brain-empowering lecture by Katherine Boo at Colorado College. Her book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity was recognized in 2012 as a top-ten book by The New York Times Book Review. (No, I didn’t just recite that from memory; it’s on the book cover.) I bet Katherine Boo has never experienced brain fog a day in her life.

After Boo’s inspiring talk, my friend and I decided to get a gluten-free meal at Croquette’s Bistro. When we got there, I remembered the restaurant wasn’t supposed to open for a few weeks.

So we went across the street to Poor Richard’s, which has a great menu of salads and soups. But my eyes locked onto the words scrawled on the chalkboard: “Gluten-free pizza.”

I ordered a slice, adding roasted red peppers and mushrooms which I knew wouldn’t have soy, gluten or dairy. The pizza came out and I lifted it to my lips and froze. I’d forgotten to say no cheese! I’d been watching all the people around me eating cheese pizza and it still hadn’t occurred to me that I’d forgotten to order correctly.

I’ve been ordering gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free meals for the past five years! How did I forget?

“Well, I guess I’ll just bring it home to Daniel,” I said to my friend who was enjoying her soup. “He’ll have to pick the mushrooms off since he doesn’t like them.”

When I handed the slice to my son later, he raised his eyebrows. My son has a dairy allergy.

Brain Fog (or Sometimes I Just Crack Myself Up) originally appeared at Adventures of An Allergic Foodie.

Easy Holiday Chicken Salad

Easy Holiday Chicken Salad

My gluten-free college boy is home!  I’d planned on making him a smorgasbord of gluten-free meals, which he doesn’t get in school, but I haven’t.  It’s unseasonably warm here in Colorado, warm enough for walking under blue skies in Garden of the Gods.

Garden of Gods in Colorado Springs

Who can blame me, right?

But today I decided to make something for lunch other than gluten-free microwaved burritos.  Chicken Salad. Which I named Easy Holiday Chicken Salad because it has green apples and red dried cranberries, and it takes minutes to prepare.

An Allergic Foodie’s Easy Holiday Chicken Salad

2-3 cups chopped chicken (I’m lazy, so I chopped up Costco‘s bagged rotisserie chicken)

1 cup Earth Balance Mindful Mayo (use more or less depending on how much mayo you like)

2 small peeled and chopped organic Granny Smith apples

1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans. If you’re allergic to nuts, use celery)

1 cup allergy-free dried cranberries

I didn’t use any seasoning because the rotisserie chicken already had a lot of flavor.

Toss, chill, and serve.

I ate my chicken salad on a bed of baby greens. Steve ate his on a gluten-free baguette.

Holiday Chicken Salad

Then we went for a walk.

Taste Test Tuesday: Enjoy Life Decadent Soft Baked Bars

This summer I’ve been golfing a lot.

BD (before diagnosis) I typically stayed home while my family hit the links.  (Golf courses with limited restrooms aren’t the best place to be when you’re having a reaction to gluten or soy or dairy or corn or one of the other myriad foods I now know I’m allergic to.)  Fortunately, since cutting out offending foods from my diet, I am much more active.

Country Club of Colorado

The new dilemma: What do I snack on when I’m playing four hours of golf, or hiking in the Colorado mountains, or taking a day trip to Denver.  Certainly not anything from a snack bar or a  fast food joint!

Fortunately, portable allergy-friendly products are becoming more and more common. In just the five years since my diagnosis, I’m amazed at the availability of convenience foods for an allergic food.  More importantly, many of them actually taste good!

So I’ve decided to review some of these products in a regular blog post called Taste Test Tuesday.

My first review is–drum roll, please–Enjoy Life® Decadent Soft Baked Bars.

Enjoy Life Decadent Soft Baked Bars

Full disclosure: The company sent these to me to try after I offered to review.  I was curious to see if these new bars could win me over. I’ve had some pretty awful cardboard-tasting “bars” since AD (after diagnosis) so I was a bit skeptical, and honestly, somewhat reluctant to bite into one.

The four boxes sat unopened on my pantry shelf for several weeks. Then one day when I was late for a tee time, I grabbed a Cinnamon Bun for breakfast.  Now I won’t try to convince you it tasted like I imagine one of those cinnamon buns in the mall does, but it was good. Quite good.  And no wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish or shellfish!

So the next time I golfed, I took a Chocolate SunButter®.  Yummy!  As you may have read before in this blog, I adore chocolate!

My gluten-free son is a bit pickier than I am (he gets to be since he can eat dairy, soy and eggs).  Yet he LOVES the S’mores. S’mores were always a favorite dessert when he was growing up so it’s nice he gets to enjoy them again. He took the rest of the bars back to college.

If you like tart flavors, you’ll enjoy Cherry Cobbler.  I couldn’t get excited about this one, and my son said the bar tasted odd (he’s used to sweeter, I think).  No worries–there are three other flavors for us to enjoy.

The Decadent Soft Baked Bars are now a staple in my pantry, in the care packages I send to my son, and in my golf bag.  Thank you, Enjoy Life, for making a product that helps this allergic foodie enjoy her golf game again.

Now if you could just help me with my putting.

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Visit Enjoy Life Foods for more information.

An Allergic Foodie’s BBQ Sauce Picks

I admit it. I’m a little lazy when it comes to making my own condiments. Sometimes it’s just more convenient to open a bottle of salad dressing or pour on some store-bought barbecue sauce. Fortunately, I’ve found some wonderful barbecue sauces that my entire family–those with and without food allergies–enjoy.

My latest find comes out of my home state of Colorado: The Rib House. Ohmygosh is this good BBQ sauce! For yesterday’s July 4th picnic, I served both the mild and the medium (the boys who like spicy said we should try the hot next time). While I had planned to grill country-style  pork ribs, I overcooked them in the crock pot and the meat fell off the bones. No worries. I just served the sauce on the side and no one knew any different. I also included The Rib House sauce in this recipe for baked beans I found at About.com. They were a hit.

Here's what's in my pantry.

Here’s what’s in my pantry.

I’ve always been a big fan of Organicville‘s condiments (because I can eat them and they taste good!). They’re BBQ sauce is sweetened with agave nectar and is a staple in my pantry. I like the sweeter original sauce on Buffalo burgers and the more tangy sauce on grilled chicken.

Bone Suckin’ Sauce is the other BBQ Sauce we love. At least once a month, I add a cup of Bone Suckin’ Sauce to a pork shoulder roast in the crock pot, throw in about a half-cup of Vidalia onions, turn the crock pot on low, and in seven hours I’m dishing out delicious pulled pork.

bone_suckin_sauce_4oz__68807

While I’ve found plenty of gluten-free BBQ sauces out there, it’s more challenging to find those without corn syrup and/or soy or something else I can’t pronounce. If you’ve discovered an allergy-friendly GF BBQ Sauce, let me know. This allergic foodie and her family will give it a try.