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Monday, September 1, 2014
Starting Voting Today in the 5th Annual Gluten-Free Awards

Every year, GFreek.com puts together a fun, online awards ceremony for gluten-free products, books, bloggers, and more. I cannot believe it has been five years already. This means Josh, founder of GFreek.com, and I have "known" each other for a half of a decade. We've emailed, spoken on the phone, and met in person once. He has been a great advocate for our community and it is amazing to see how the awards have grown. In the past five years, Josh has also published the Original Gluten-Free Buyers guide. This awesome resource helps you navigate the grocery store aisles when looking for the best of the best in gluten-free food.

Today, the voting for the 5th Annual GFAs is open to the public.

Rules:
One ballot per computer.
Please skip any questions you are not sure of.
Share this with your friends, family and support groups.

Timeline:
09/01/14 Gluten Free Award voting opens
10/31/14 Gluten Free Awards “Locked-In” 10:00 PM EST
11/15/14 2015 Gluten-Free Buyers Guide publishes 5th Annual GFA Results

VOTE NOW! 



Shameless plug: Vote for Gluten-Free Fun as your favorite Gluten-Free Website on question #15 and Gluten-Free Globetrotter as your favorite Gluten-Free Blog on question #17. 

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Gluten-Free at Aldi USA
We spoke and Aldi USA listened! According to the Aldi USA Facebook page, the gluten-free products are coming back! Yesterday, Aldi USA posted

"We heard you, ALDI fans! The ALDI exclusive LiveGfree product line will soon be in stores every day. "
You already know I am a fan of the Live GFree line at Aldi, but I am also a big fan of Aldi in general. They have good prices, decent selections, and now even more gluten-free food. Thank you Aldi USA for listening to your gluten-free customers and keeping the Live GFree line. You are about to gain even more loyal (celiac) customers!



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Monday, August 25, 2014
Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in New Jersey


In less than two weeks, The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo is making its return to Seacaucus, New Jersey. On September 6 and 7, 2014, join hundreds of gluten-free friends as we check out all of the new products the gluten-free vendors have to offer.

I had a great time last year seeing old friends and meeting new ones, trying gluten-free products, and learning about new companies. It was a great time and NO ONE left hungry! I'm probably going on Sunday this year due to prior commitments on Saturday. I will be wearing a black t-shirt with the Meetup logo on it so please come find me!

I am excited to offer my Gluten-Free Fun readers 20% off their tickets. Just use this link and your discount will be applied.

I am also raffling off FOUR free tickets to two lucky winners. You will get two tickets per person if you win! Enter below.

See you there!




  a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check out my photos from last year's GFAFExpo. Do you see yourself?

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Thursday, August 14, 2014
Celiac Disease and Depression
The news of Robin Williams's passing has brought the topic of depression front and center this week. Clearly Robin Williams suffered greatly and my heart goes out to his family and to his troubled soul. Depression is something that not many will openly talk about with anyone. It is uncomfortable to talk about it because many people are embarrassed and see depression as a weakness. Depression needs to be discussed, NOW, for tomorrow may be too late.

There is a link between Celiac Disease and Depression which is why I wanted to post about this today. I am not an expert but there are some websites I found that might be helpful to you if you believe you might have both Celiac and Depression. You are not crazy! The correlation between the two exists.

Here are the articles I have found:

Celiac Disease and Mental Health
Depression Common in Celiac Disease
Women with celiac disease suffer from depression, disordered eating
Neurologic and Psychiatric Manifestations of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity
Depressed? It May Be Celiac Disease
Gluten May Cause Depression in Subjects With Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity
Celiac Disease and Depression

I read a powerful quote by Robin Roberts in her book Everybody's Got Something a few months ago:
Seeing a therapist is not a sign of weakness but rather an acknowledgement that you don't have all the answers and you need help finding them.
This quote really stuck with me and I encourage anyone that is struggling to take that first step towards help. It could save your life. There is clearly a correlation between Celiac and Depression so please talk to your doctor, therapist, friend, family, religious leader, teacher, whoever will listen! It is ok to talk about Depression. You might be surprised who else you know and love is also struggling.

If you are depressed, please know there is help out there. You are not alone. The National Institute for Mental Health is a good resource and will give you some tips on how to seek help: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml

If you are suicidal, please seek help immediately at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-8255.



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Wednesday, August 13, 2014
FDA Says: 'Gluten-Free' Now Means What It Says
I am back on the grid after a much-needed family vacation and tech hiatus. While I was gone, the FDA gluten-free labeling regulations went into effect. This is a huge milestone for our community. I highly recommend you read thew new regulations and also encourage you to subscribe to the FDA consumer updates. This will alert you about any mislabeled gluten-free products or recalls. You can also learn how to file a complaint about any companies that might be mis-using or abusing the gluten-free terms on their labels.

For all of the FDA gluten-free information, please click here.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Today is the Day: FDA Gluten-Free Labeling Rules
Today is a big day in the gluten-free and celiac community. Starting today, manufacturers of gluten-free products are required to abide by the FDA guidelines if they want to use the words "gluten-free" on their package. This is actually a HUGE win for our community and long overdue.

When I was on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness webinar with the FDA two weeks ago, the speaker reiterated multiple times that these new rules are for the benefit of those with Celiac. Under these new rules, the manufactures using the "gluten-free label" must be compliant with 20ppm or less of gluten.

There are a lot more stipulations that are part of these new rules. Instead of writing them all out, I would like to point you to other websites that did a great job summarizing these new FDA gluten-free guidelines.


Foods Labeled Gluten-Free Must Now Be in Compliance with the FDA Gluten-Free Labeling Rule by Gluten-Free Watchdog

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness FDA Gluten-Free Labeling Rule by the NFCA

10 Things to Know About the FDA’s Gluten Free Labeling Rule by Amy Leger

All You Need to Know About the New Gluten-Free Labeling Rule by Simply Gluten-Free

Aug 5th Gluten Free FDA Labeling Just a Start by Celiac and the Beast

U.S. Gluten-Free Label Rules in Effect August 5 by Allergic Living

While I understand that not everyone agrees with all of these new FDA guidelines, I honestly cannot believe this day is here at all. As someone living with Celiac Disease for 33 years, I feel like our community has come a VERY long way in my lifetime. We are all our own advocates and the celiac community put up a good fight to get others to take our labeling needs seriously.

Congratulations to everyone that has contributed to this gluten-free labeling cause over the past 10+ years. This is just the beginning!


If you have also written about the new FDA labeling rules, please include your link in the comments below. I would prefer to keep this section as a resource page and not a place where you want to complain about the new guidelines. Thank you for your cooperation.




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Friday, August 1, 2014
Gluten-Free Fun Friday Funny: Twitter Gems
It's been a while since I posted a Friday funny. I thought these Tweets were rather amusing.




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Thursday, July 31, 2014
Natural Wine and Paleo Food Event in Brooklyn, NYC
One of my best friends is a sommelier. Now that is a good friend to have if you ask me! Wine with Kristen is teaming up with Chef Melissa Gellert on Wednesday, August 27th in DUMBO, Brooklyn, NYC for a cool event natural wine and paleo food event.

During Popping Your Cork: Natural Wines and the Paleo Palate, you will cover topics such as

  • Guides to pairing your food and wine
  • Foods that are on the Paleo diet 
  • Guides to buying natural wines
  • Hints on how to start your own Paleo diet

This event is perfect for those eating gluten free and dairy free, along with anyone interested in finding out more about these types of diets and drinking good wines.

To learn more and to also find a discount code for this event, please visit the Popping Your Cork event page on the NYC Celiac Meetup website.

About your hosts:

Wine with Kristen founder, Kristen Siebecker, has been a great fan of viticulture and vinification since her first illicit sip of Boone's Farm wine beverage many years ago. She hosts "Popping Your Cork" a recreational wine class in New York as well as chats about wine on her blog, winewithkristen.com an dis co host of the podcast "I Feel Vine".

Kristen is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, holds the Advanced Certificate from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust with distinction and is certified in Advanced Blind Tasting by the American Sommelier Association.

Chef Melissa Gellert is a culinary professional and has worked as a private chef and at yoga retreats in Vermont, New York, and Mexico.Shespecializes in health-suppportive, Paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan cuisines.

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Monday, July 28, 2014
So Delicious is Um, Well, So Delicious
One of the perks of being a gluten-free blogger is being sent gluten-free samples from time to time. Recently, I got a mystery white box sent to my office. When I opened the box, there were gloves inside. I was so excited to realize these gloves were to handle the dry ice that was surrounding five pints of So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Frozen Desserts.


I was excited about all of these free samples, but I was most excited about the Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Cookie Dough dessert. COOKIE DOUGH!!! As you know, I am a lifelong celiac. There are many foods that I've never eaten in my life. Cookie Dough ice cream is one of these foods. The other flavor I was excited about was Cookies 'N Cream. 


While you can taste a faint coconut flavor in some of these desserts, it wasn't overpowering. This was especially important to me since I am not really a coconut fan. The coconut milk adds a creaminess to these desserts that was really delicious. 

Another favorite of mine were the Coconut Milk Fudge Bars. These were so creamy and I didn't feel guilty about eating them since there was no added sugar. To be honest, with the creamy fudgey flavor, you didn't need it.



I am going to pull a pun here and say these were SO DELICIOUS. I love that there are dairy-free options on the market that don't taste gross. These are the opposite. I would definitely be these again and highly recommend them to anyone looking for a yummy dessert.

Thanks So Delicious! 





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Monday, July 21, 2014
Gluten-Free at NYC Restaurant Week 2014

Today starts the beginning of New York City's Restaurant Week. This is actually more like a restaurant month where you can enjoy $25 lunches and $38 dinners in top restaurants across New York City. In the past, I have avoided Restaurant Week because there were limited gluten-free options. This year, I decided to do my research and was floored by how many gluten-free options are now on the menus. I have compiled a list of more than thirty restaurants that have decent gluten-free options on their prix fixe menus over the next month. The only problem I see is not having enough time or money to eat at all of these great restaurants!

Click here to access the complete list of gluten-free options at NYC Restaurant Week. Bookmark the page. I will be updating it throughout the month as I learn of even more gluten-free menu options! 

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014
What's Up with Udi's Holey Gluten-Free Bread?
I was so excited to find the large loaves of Udi's Multi Grain gluten-free bread at Costco a few weeks ago. I spent $6.99, which I thought was a bargain at the time, for the big loaf. It was only when I got home did I realize that HALF THE LOAF was broken! It wasn't even really salvageable because not only were these slices broken, but there was a huge hole down the middle of these 10 slices... if I can even call them that! They were more like a broken bag of soft croutons. There was no full slice to be seen in this section of the loaf. 


Here is what Udi's had to say in response to me posting the picture above on my Instagram page.



I was frustrated by this response. This was now going to be my THIRD time that I am contacting Udi's about a problem with their products. I've had problems with holey bread. I've had problems with hole-less bagels. When I pay anywhere from $4.99-$7.99 for bread or bagels, I expect higher quality. I did exactly what Suzanne suggested above and contacted Udi's with the picture of the Costco loaf along with these pictures from previous negative experiences.






As I did more digging, I realized I had posted multiple Udi's fails to my social media before.


This is getting downright frustrating. I post the most obvious product failures, but it is becoming too many to count. On my first two emails to Udi's, I was sent free coupons for future products. Great. I can try more broken products but appreciated the gesture. I was hoping my third email with photo evidence of the faulty products would bring about more of a response as well as a solution to the problem. No such luck!

Here is what Udi's/Boulder Brands had to say just last week:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us here at Udi's. We always appreciate hearing from consumers who care enough to reach out to us with their comments or questions.
We regret that you had a negative experience with our Udi's Whole Grain Bread. Thank you for providing the packaging coding and photo so our Quality Control Department can look into this further. 
We are passionate about offering the highest quality gluten free products that bring joy to our customers. The holes in our loaves of bread can be caused by a natural enzyme reaction with gluten free ingredients, we’ve invested in new equipment and just moved into a brand new facility to help address this. We thank you for your patience while we continue to strive for the best product possible. 
We sincerely apologize and hope you will give us another chance. We are sending you two coupons for free UDI's product of your choice. As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we're also sharing your comments with the appropriate departments within our organization. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us.

Great, more coupons for a crappy product. I refuse to buy anymore Udi's until they fix this problem. In the meantime, I will use the free coupons. Hey, what's free is FREE! Let's hope this next loaf is usable for sandwiches and not a really expensive bag of gluten-free bird seed/bread crumbs. I do hope that Udi's new facility helps address this issue and that the holey bread goes away real fast.

What do you think? Do you still buy Udi's gluten-free products? Are you getting fed up too? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!




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Monday, July 14, 2014
Good News about Aldi's Gluten-Free Products


I was really excited when I spotted the LiveGFree products at Aldi's back in May. I was visiting my sister in Wisconsin and since we are both Celiac, we made a special trip to Aldi's. As with many of my vacations near and far, I brought home lots of gluten-free food as my souvenirs. This past weekend, I was pleased to see more of the LiveGFree line at my local Aldi's in Rego Park, New York. Again, I stocked up on the gluten-free products, bringing home baking mixes, frozen pizzas, bars, and more. I find all of the products to be very reasonably priced and they taste good too!

The Aldi's labeling has always been really clear and it's easy to spot the "gluten-free" icons on the packaging. With the LiveGFree line, there is no question. The ingredients are all gluten-free. Many of the products are also familiar. Aldi's and Trader Joe's are owned by the same parent company, so many of the Aldi's products (like the Snickerdoodles) taste, look, and feel exactly the same as the TJ's ones. The other products also remind me of Enjoy Life products. Not sure if there is any relation though!  

Over the past few months, I have read about some Aldi's stores across the country selling out of the gluten-free products and the shelves not being restocked. There appears to be high-demand for these good quality, low-priced gluten-free products so I reached out to Aldi's to find out if the products are here to stay. Here's what Aldi's had to say:

Thank you for contacting us regarding the availability of our LiveGfree products.   
Select test stores in the Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and New York areas will continue to carry a variety of LiveGfree products for the remainder of the year.  A companywide roll out of the most popular items is scheduled for later this year.  
Thank you for being an ALDI shopper! Sincerely,  
ALDI Customer Service 

WOOHOO! It sounds like Aldi's realizes the demand for gluten-free products and the LiveGFree line is going to stay around for a while. I encourage you to contact Aldi's through their corporate offices and tell them you are a fan of their LiveGFree line and you want it to stay. https://www.aldi.us/en/contact-us


LiveGFree Mac and Cheese

Pasta, soft-baked cookies, and brownie mix

Aisle of gluten-free products

Frozen pizzas and gluten-free "hot pockets"

Gluten-free Chicken Nuggets

Soft, pliable wraps! 

The Live GFree label

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Happy 33 Years of Celiac Disease to Me!
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1981. I do not remember the exact date of diagnosis because I was just a toddler. My parents didn't remember the exact date either because I think they chose to block out how sick I was back in 1981. I was in the hospital for about a week before I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease being poked, prodded, and tested for everything imaginable. By the end of my week at the hospital, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and told to go 100% gluten-free forever. I was told that it was a disease that I would not grow out of at any point. I truly believe this diagnosis and my move to a permanent, life-long gluten-free diet saved my life! Too many people I've met were diagnosed as children and told they would outgrow Celiac. If you are diagnosed with this disease, you will NOT outgrow it. Do NOT believe a doctor who tells you otherwise.

Since I don't have an exact date, I am using today as my Celiac anniversary. While at my mom's house a few months ago, I came across my medical records from my childhood. This was one thick folder! As I was flipping through the pages, two entries caught my eye. Both of these entries were from July 1981 and both documented my Celiac Disease for the first time. I believe somewhere in early 1981 I was in the hospital when I got the actual diagnosis. I was between 2.5 and 3 years old at the time of diagnosis. My pediatrician did not diagnosis me, a specialized pediatric gastrointerologist named Dr. James Markowitz diagnosed me with Celiac Disease. At the time, he was a resident and younger than my parents. He did tell my parents this was a rare disease and the only "cure" was a gluten-free diet. Thirty-three years ago, this man knew more than many doctors know today!

It was exactly thirty-three years ago today, that Celiac Disease was written for the first time in my medical charts. Let that sink in for a minute people.

I HAVE BEEN LIVING WITH CELIAC DISEASE FOR 33 YEARS!

People often think their lives are over when they are diagnosed with Celiac Disease. But I was just around 3 years old and my life was just beginning. I was going to grow up with this disease. There was no avoiding it.

My medical records from 1981.
Click on the image to zoom in. 

I am not sure why, but seeing these documents made me feel emotional. I guess seeing my diagnosis in writing from so many years ago made me feel like I really have Celiac Disease. I mean, I always have known that I am living with Celiac, but I don't remember my actual diagnosis. I was too young and I am sure the whole process was very traumatic to me at such a young age so I blocked it out. Growing up with Celiac Disease, I do not remember anything but living a gluten-free life. This is me. This is all I know.

Celiac Disease has defined who I am for almost my entire life and not in a bad way. I have always been an advocate. I created brochures about Celiac Disease in second grade. While I shied away from talking about Celiac in my teens, I grew out of that embarrassed stage. I started gluten-free blogging in my 20s with Gluten-Free Fun. I also became a support group leader in my 20s when I became the lead organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease meetup group. And as if I wasn't busy enough in my leadership and blogging, I launched a second blog called Gluten-Free Globetrotter in my early 30s. I realized that Celiac Disease was with me for life so I chose to embrace it instead of hiding it. I had a lot to contribute to the Celiac community as someone who grew up with this disease. I wanted to show people that life could and will go on post-diagnosis. Today, I am a strong advocate in this celiac community and this makes me very proud!

Celiac Advocacy from 1986! 


If you know me either in person or from reading this blog, you know that I do not let Celiac Disease stop me from doing anything. I travel extensively. I dine out. I am in a relationship. I have friends and family that love me very much. I go to work every day and travel for this job 6 time a year. While I have been glutened like the best of us, I still live my life the best way I can every single day. I just happen to have Celiac Disease.

I do not use Celiac Disease as an excuse. I try not to blame Celiac for every little ailment I have although I realize it is probably part of the reason that my immune system is sometimes compromised. I am not threatened by this disease. I see food as my medicine, not my enemy. I am not isolated by my diagnosis. I do not fear life. I embrace life, my Celiac Disease just happens to be part of that life. 

I am who I am and much of what has defined me in life is due to my Celiac Disease. I am no longer ashamed. I hope through my leadership, advocacy, and blogging, I can encourage even just one person that life can go on after a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. I believe I have been successful with the numerous emails, tweets, and in-person thanks over the past 7.5 years of blogging.

Thank you all for your continued readership, support, and friendship. It really does mean the world to me! Please share this post with others, especially those who were recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I would be so happy to connect with them and give them encouragement!

Happy Celiac Disease anniversary to me! 

Now who is going to give me some gluten-free cake to celebrate? :-)




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Tuesday, July 8, 2014
NYC Celebrate Celiac Awareness Day with the NY Yankees!



Somehow I missed posting about this event. It's probably all of the traveling I've been doing lately. Checking emails from airports, taxis, and late nights in hotels doesn't make for a very clear brain. My apologies for the last minute notice.

NYC Celebrate Celiac Awareness Day with the NY Yankees
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Time: TBD

Please purchase before midnight EST on Tuesday, July 8th! TODAY!!!

You must buy your tickets here:
http://www.glutenfreecalendar.com/shop/ny-yankees-vs-toronto-blue-jays/ 

Join the Gluten-Free Calendar for an exciting night of baseball at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees take on the Toronto Blue Jays. Tickets will be available at Will Call the night of the game, just show your photo ID. $35.00 per ticket (regularly $55) and $7.50 per ticket will be donated to the National Celiac Disease Society, a 501c3 non-profit organization (formally Kicking 4 Celiac) The seats will be in sections 232A-234. Come out for one of Derek Jeter’s last games and support celiac disease!!

Section 232A-234 for $35.00 per ticket

You must buy your tickets here:
http://www.glutenfreecalendar.com/shop/ny-yankees-vs-toronto-blue-jays/ 

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014
It's Finally Here: The GlutenAway Virtual Expo Starts Today!


Today is the day! The GlutenAway Virtual Expo is here. This expo is perfect for all of you who have always wanted to attend a gluten-free expo, but haven't been able to find one in your area. This is also for those of you who love expos, samples, and connecting with gluten-free vendors.

According to the GlutenAway Expo website, A" virtual expo is an interactive online event where companies can display their goods & services just like a physical trade show. Attendees can visit online booths and enter into giveaways, receive free product samples, chat with company reps, learn about new products and so much more."

You can do this all from the comfort of your own home. How cool is that?

The GlutenAway Virtual Expo runs through July 21, 2014 so don't delay. Sign up and start sampling and connecting today!

http://www.glutenawayexpo.com/


Update: Check me out in the Gluten-Free Bloggers Booth! 

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