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Wednesday, July 22, 2015
My Letter to Zagat: Gluten-Removed is NOT Gluten-Free



Dear Zagat,

Thank you for featuring gluten-free cuisine on your YouTube channel. I appreciate you taking the time to interview the chefs of The Curious Fork and Senza Gluten. These people are making a huge difference in the lives of people living with celiac disease, myself included. To be a celiac and go into a restaurant and be able to eat anything and everything on a menu is a wonderful feeling. I have personally dined at Senza Gluten many times and love the "freedom" I have when ordering.

Unfortunately, your video immediately lost credibility when you featured a gluten-removed beer. Many people living with celiac disease, such as myself, cannot tolerate food or drink originally derived from gluten. This beer is made from barley and the gluten is removed through a special process. Once the gluten is removed, the beer is tested by the producer for the parts per million of gluten left in the beer. "Gluten detection isn't a particularly straightforward process, and there are several methods in use that can produce different results when used to test the same product."(SourceWhile the beer you featured says they are transparent with their test results, they also choose which tests to perform on their product. I believe that until these tests are regulated by the TTB or FDA across ALL products, individual companies will continue to use tests that are most convenient to their 20ppm or less regulations.

My question for you Zagat is why didn't you choose to feature a 100% gluten-free beer derived completely from gluten-free ingredients in a video about gluten-free options getting better? There are many delicious gluten-free beers on the market now that were not even for sale a few years ago. Breweries are now using gluten-free ingredients from start to finish in a dedicated gluten-free environment. I think it was a huge mistake on your part to feature a beer that is not actually gluten-free. The beer in the video can only be labeled gluten-free in the state of Oregon and outside of the United States. Featuring this gluten-removed beer made from barley (a gluten-filled grain) is misleading and confusing to the gluten-free customer.

In a video called "Gluten-Free Gets Good," all of your featured companies or restaurants should have been truly gluten-free. Perhaps a better title for this video would "Gluten-Free Food Gets Good While Some Beers are Gluten-Removed" or something a little bit more reflective of what you are actually showing. Yes, you do let the brewer explain his gluten-removal process but you fail to mention that people are having negative reactions to this type of beer or that it cannot legally be labeled gluten-free.

Zagat, you really could have done better with this video. More thorough research on gluten-free beers, a better title, and less misleading information would have made a huge difference. Maybe next time...

Sincerely,
Erin Smith
Living with celiac disease for 34 years

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Canyon Bakehouse Review and Giveaway



When I get a really delicious gluten-free product, I either eat the whole thing immediately or I ration it out to last as long as possible. My June delivery of the newest products in the Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free line was a little bit of both. I received Brownie Bites, Plain Bagels, and Everything Bagels.

I tried to make the new Brownie Bites last but that did not happen. My boyfriend Victor and I devoured them. They were soft, delicious, chocolatey goodness. The bagels, on the other hand, were rationed out because I just couldn't eat eight bagels in a row. Being a New Yorker and a carb-freak, the plain bagels were perfect to fill my carb cravings. They were thick but not too dense and made a great addition to breakfast. My favorite way to eat them is with a little almond butter or with some cheese and turkey bacon. So yum!

According to Canyon Bakehouse:

Similar to their existing gluten-free breads, the new brownies and bagels are made with 100% whole grains and have a taste and texture just like “real” bagels and brownies. 
  • Made with 100% whole grains and real food ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, organic agave and eggs.
  • No artificial additives and fillers.
  •  Certified Gluten-Free and do not contain dairy, soy or nuts.
  • No GMOs.
Canyon Bakehouse co-founder Christi Skow, who inspired the company’s creation when she was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 explained that, “the taste and texture are so similar to ‘real’ bagels and brownies no one will even know they’re gluten free.  Our bagels and brownies are perfect for families and households with gluten-free and gluten-full eaters since they will no longer need to buy two sets of these staples.” 
All three new products are now available for online purchase and at Target stores nationwide.


Prior to receiving these samples, I can't remember ever eating Canyon Bakehouse. Now that they are on my radar, I am starting to notice their product line in many local markets. I would definitely buy the bagels and brownie bites again. The products are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility and use no GMO ingredients. Thank you Canyon Bakehouse for the delicious samples.

Want to win a prize pack of the three newest Canyon Bakehouse products? It's simple, just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, July 17, 2015
Gluten-Free Fun Friday Funny: Can I Get a Woot-Woot?

Happy Friday everyone! 



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Thursday, July 9, 2015
Thirty-four Years of Gluten-Free Fun
Today marks a major milestone. Thirty-four years ago today was the first mention of celiac disease in my medical charts. I don't remember an exact day of diagnosis because I was just a toddler but I have photographic proof.




My post from last year shares my feelings and more pictures from a lifetime of living gluten-free. I feel lucky to have been diagnosed at such an early age. I really believe the early diagnosis helped save my life. The past 34 years have definitely been a roller coaster of learning, trial and error, meeting amazing people, health highs and lows, and so much more. I believe celiac disease made me who I am today and cannot really imagine life any other way.






Friday, June 26, 2015
Pour the Core Hard Cider Festival
A few weekends ago, I attended my first Pour the Core: Hard Cider Festival in Brooklyn, New York. This event was only a few blocks from my new apartment and I was excited I would be able to walk (or stumble) home after an afternoon of imbibing in hard cider.

For those of us with celiac, hard cider is a welcome addition to our adult beverage list. Hard cider is an alcoholic drink made from fermented fruit, usually apples. It can be sweet, dry, flavored, carbonated, still, and more. I guess I never realized how many variations there were until I attended this event and saw so many different types of cider in one place at the same time.

The best thing about this event was that I could drink almost everything. There were a few rogue beers presenting at the event, but the majority of the ciders were naturally gluten-free. I had contacted a few of the new-to-me cider companies prior to the event to make sure they were gluten-free. When I arrived at each table, I always asked the demo person if the cider was gluten-free. The majority of the companies proudly declared they were and only one or two people gave me the weird "what's gluten?" question. I will chalk them up to being new demo people.

My boyfriend Victor and I were new to a festival like this, but we soon found our way to the least crowded tables first with our Pour the Core cups in hand. There is a 2oz limit to each pour, but the vendors were usually very generous. Each table also had a spit/dump bucket in case you only wanted to sip and not swig the whole think like most people usually did. I only dumped a few that I really didn't like.


Welcome to Pour the Core, neighbor!

2oz pours

The ciders were obviously the best part of this event, but the people watching was also quite entertaining. We got there about 2 hours into the event, so there were definitely some people that I had enjoyed the first hours of the event in a hard core (pun intended) way. They were pretty drunk and quite amusing. Since I was truly there to do some research, I needed to pace myself.

My New Favorite: DownEast Cider

I had tried this cider at a bar in Brooklyn a few weeks before the event and I really liked it. The bartender served this cider in a glass over ice and I loved it. I can't put my finger on what made this cider different, but it was almost a little bit thicker, like an unfiltered apple juice. I was happy to see DownEast at this event and I can guarantee this will become a summer favorite. 




A Certified Familiar Friend: Crispin Cider

I was already familiar with Crispin Ciders from bars across the country, but it is always comforting to see the Certified GF symbol when trying a product at an event. 





The Best on Tap: Ace Pineapple Cider

This is another cider I've had before, but Victor never tried it. He didn't think he would like it, but we both did and went back for seconds (and thirds!) This is a perfect summer cider and would be great to sip on the beach or at a BBQ. I loved the pineapple tap at the Ace Cider booth.



International Favorite (TIE): Maeloc Ciders and Rekorderlig

Maeloc Cider
I first tried Maeloc Cider at the International Restaurant Show back in March. This cider comes from the Northwest part of Spain and is made from Galician apples. This cider definitely has a fruity, wine taste but not too sweet which made it another favorite. The strawberry was our favorite which I expected to be sweeter than it was, but turned out to be dry and delicious!  




Rekorderlig
This was one of the few ciders that I had not yet tasted. I have seen this on the menu a bunch of times, but honestly I never ordered it because I wasn't sure how to pronounce it. This Rekorderlig cider is from Sweden and comes in a wide variety of flavors. Again, we opted for the fruity flavors and I ended up liking the wild berries flavor the best. 




Best Presentation of Cider: Awestruck Ciders

Cider on top in a watermelon. I repeat: CIDER ON TAP IN A WATERMELON. I loved this display so much I didn't event care what they were serving me. How awesome is this?!




Best Food: Lawless Jerky 

Unfortunately, there was almost no food I could eat at this event. For an event where the majority of the drinks are naturally gluten-free, it would have been excellent to have some gluten-free food options.  (Note to local vendors, bring your gluten-free food to this event in a food truck. You will do very well!!!) 

I did snack on some Lawless Jerky that has many flavors that are gluten-free. We only had bite-sized samples, but they were good. Lawless Jerky recently relocated to Brooklyn so we are neighbors and I expect to see them at more local events. Thanks for being there, Lawless! 




New-to-me Ciders:  McKenzie's, 1911, and Yankee Folly Cidery






Overall, we had a great time at my first Pour the Core event. It was a fun way to try new ciders and get a little buzzed while doing it. There are three upcoming events in Boston, Long Island, and Philadelphia and I highly recommend these events to anyone who likes cider. I will definitely be at the Brooklyn event in 2016. Check out http://www.pourthecore.com/ for more information and to buy tickets for upcoming events. 



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Thursday, June 11, 2015
Gluten-Free Summer in New York City




Are you looking gluten-free activities in New York City this summer? Look no further. I will be updating this page as I learn about more gluten-free restaurants, food fairs, activities and more!


Summer 2015 NYC Celiac Meetup Events

June 13: Pour the Core Hard Cider Festival

June 14: Summertime Dessert and Wine at Senza Gluten

June 17: The Gluten-Free Revolution: Discussion, Demonstration & Gluten-Free Tasting

June 21: Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Class

June 23: Burlap Sack Potato Party


Summer 2015 Cooking Classes

June 17: Gluten-Free Pizza at ICE

July 19: A Gluten-Free Italian Feast at ICE

July 22: Gluten-Free Summer Tarts at ICE


Summer Gluten-Free Eating in New York City

100% Gluten-Free Bakeries in New York City

100% Gluten-Free Restaurants in New York City


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Wednesday, May 20, 2015
International Clinical Trials Day
Today is International Clinical Trials Day. Clinical trials are a critical part of healthcare research and development across the globe. These trials can include testing treatments, new medications, and new approaches to healthcare in humans. There is a tremendous amount of research involved with getting a new medication approved by the FDA and people who sign up for clinical trials are a vital part of this process.

While I have been part of focus groups and online surveys, I have never personally participated in a clinical trial. Recently, I learned about CureClick through the WEGOHealth advocacy community. CureClick is an interesting new web portal that shares information about clinical trials in general as well as including information about recruitment for active clinical trials. I learned a lot about clinical trials from this website and it helped me understand how, as patients, we can help inform our own medical futures. According to CureClick "Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research."

To my knowledge, there are a few clinical trials specifically aimed at finding a medicinal aid to those of us living with Celiac Disease; CureClick just doesn't list them yet. The good news is that I am CureClick Advisory Board Member and I have a lot of communication with the founders of the website. I have already asked them to share any celiac-related trials with me immediately which I will then pass along to you. Right now, CureClick is currently recruiting for trials about severe asthma,  mild/moderate asthma, high cholesterol and risk factors for heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

Many people are excited about the possibility of drug therapy for celiac disease. Personally, I do not know if I would ever take a pill for celiac treatment but it is nice for others to have options. I am happy to see medical researches even paying attention to Celiac Disease. It is empowering to think that participating in a celiac disease clinical trial can help shape the medical future of our disease.

Please visit CureClick.com for more information about clinical trials and learn more today! Stay tuned to Gluten-Free Fun for any celiac disease trial announcements. You will be the first to know as soon as I do!



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Monday, May 18, 2015
Celiac Awareness Month SuperSeedz Giveaway
I am excited to host another giveaway in honor of Celiac Awareness Month. This time, I am giving away SuperSeedz!


SuperSeedz are gourmet, shell-free pumpkin seeds that come in a variety of different flavors. They are also allergen friendly, peanut-free, tree nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, fish-free, shellfish-free, soy-free and made with gluten-free ingredients. Flavors include "Really Naked, Sea Salt, Cinnamon and Sugar, Coco Joe, Tomato Italiano, Curious Curry, Somewhat Spicy and Super Spicy."

I like these SuperSeedz for a variety of reasons. First off, portability. They come in a resealable pack in both 1oz travel packs and 5 oz larger packs. As a traveler, I love this option. I can throw a couple of the travel packs in my carryon bag and have a nutritious gluten-free snack to go! The second reason I like these SuperSeedz is because of the flavor variety. I liked the sea salt the best, but also enjoyed the Tomato Italiano which would make a GREAT salad topper. The "Somewhat Spicy" was a little too spicy for me and I didn't even dare to try the "Super Spicy." I am the girl that sweats eating mild Thai food, so I stick to non-spicy. If you like a little heat, go for it! Lastly, these seeds are high in protein. You know I am on a kick to find higher protein travel snacks and these are perfect!

The product is available at numerous national retail outlets like Costco, Whole Foods and others as well as online at SuperSeedz.com. You can also buy most flavors online at Amazon.com.

You can enter to win your own sample packs of SuperSeedz below. Don't delay, the giveaway is only live until Friday!


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Friday, May 15, 2015
What Happens When You Tell People You Can't Eat Gluten
It's been a while since I posted a Friday Funny but I felt this deserved it's own post. This has been me for the past 34 years of my life. Explaining what gluten is, what I can't eat and reminding people there is actually food I CAN eat, why I can't just pick out the lunch meat from a sandwich, and so on and so on. Can you relate to this video?





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Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Celebrate Celiac With Simple Mills
Simple Mills has recently gone through a package rebranding and also launched three new products to its popular line of almond flour based baking mixes, including Pizza Dough Mix, Pancake and Waffle Mix, and Vanilla Cake Mix. The thing I love about Simple Mills is that their mixes are made from almond flour and other simple ingredients and preparation is easy. I am someone who is slightly baking challenged, so the easier the recipe the better! Simple Mills is easy to make and full of flavor.

I tried some of their almond flour muffin mix in December and loved the banana muffins so I was excited to try the new pancake and waffle mix this month. The new, naturally gluten-free Pancake and Waffle Mix from Simple Mills has 8 simple ingredients: Almonds, Arrowroot Powder, Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Coconut Flour, Cream of Tartar, Aluminum-Free Baking Soda, Sea Salt. These ingredients are 100% gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. They are also free of refined sugar and emulsifiers and gums. Obviously, this isn't a good mix for someone that has a tree nut allergy but perfect for those who are gluten-free or paleo.

I am a big pancake fan so sampling this new mix was a perfect opportunity for me. The pancakes were thinner than I expected, but still good. I love big pancakes so I prepared the recipe for four which made me two giant pancakes. I added sliced bananas on top and this made for a healthy and yummy breakfast. The almonds add a good protein punch to these pancakes so I stayed full much longer than I do with "regular" GF flour pancakes.

I want you to try your own Simple Mills pancakes so I am giving away one box. Everyone should celebrate Celiac Awareness Month with a little morning sweetness. Enter below to win!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Things I Can Do With Celiac Disease
When people are diagnosed with celiac disease, they often focus on things they can no longer eat or things they think they can no longer do anymore. In honor of Celiac Awareness Month, I thought I would focus on things I CAN do with Celiac disease. This list is in no particular order, just as these things popped into my head.



I want to hear from you. What are things you CAN do with Celiac Disease? Let's show the world that we can live our lives while being gluten-free!




Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Let's Tweet About Gluten-Free Travel
Tomorrow night I am co-hosting a Twitter chat all about gluten-free travel. I am teaming up with Be Free Village for this live Twitter event. Be Free Village is a cool company that will send gluten-free snack packs directly to your travel destination. What's better than having gluten-free food waiting for you when you check into your hotel?!

If you read my Gluten-Free Globetrotter® website, you know I am obsessed with traveling the world gluten-free. As a life-long celiac, all of my vacations have been completely gluten-free. I will share my best tips, top gluten-free destinations and more during our #GFreeTravel chat.






GLUTEN-FREE TRAVEL TWITTER CHAT
#GFreeTravel
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
9pm EST/7pm MST


Follow our Twitter chat using hashtag #GFreeTravel. Don't forget to follow both @GFGlobetrotter and @BeFreeVillage on Twitter too!

GIVEAWAY ALERT!!
Be sure to follow and tweet to @BeFreeVillage on May 6th for a chance to win a 5-day voyage gluten-free snack pack delivered to your destination of choice!

Can't make the live Twitter chat? You can search #GFreeTravel the day after the chat for a discount code on your next Be Free Village purchase! 


Friday, May 1, 2015
Happy Celiac Awareness Month Plus PF Chang's Giveaway
Happy Celiac Awareness Month everyone! 

This is truly a month to celebrate our gluten freedom. Our celiac community has come a long way and there is more advocacy than ever for research about celiac disease. I applaud all of the doctors, research, bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers, Instagrammers, and more for sharing the positive word about celiac disease.

In honor of celiac awareness month, I am hosting lots of exciting giveaways during May. Be sure to follow me here and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to enter to win. Now is my chance to thank you all for being faithful readers of Gluten-Free Fun and give back with exciting gluten-free prizes.First up... a $25 gift card to PF Chang's.

Instead of filing a silly lawsuit, let's thank PF Chang's for feeding us delicious gluten-free food. PF Chang's has extensive gluten-free options and recently launched a new website all about their gluten-free food and preparation. You can learn more at: http://glutenfree.pfchangs.com/

Ready to kick off Celiac Awareness Month and to enter to win? Let's go eat some lettuce wraps!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, April 24, 2015
New Gluten-Free Bread at Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's just launched two new gluten-free breads trying to meet an ever-growing demand for gluten-free products at the store. A few of my readers mentioned this bread to me and then my sister bought the new white sandwich bread at her local Trader Joe's. She said it was most similar to Udi's Bread and was happy to see it readily available and on the shelves. 


I was very curious to understand how the bread was produced and if it was made in a dedicated gluten-free facility so I contacted customer service. It took a few days, but I finally received this response from Trader Joe's:

Thank you for contacting us with your product inquiry.  However, our bread product selections and suppliers may vary by state and/or region (as we do source our bread products locally).  Therefore in order to provide you with accurate allergen information for the specific facility that makes the bread for your area, we would require the specific product SKU number or UPC code from the packaging. 
We can share with you that as a standard any products that state “gluten-free” on the labeling will have undergone testing to validate the claim. 
GLUTEN FREE — Per the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gluten free labeling regulation, a product that displays a “Gluten Free” claim on the label has been validated to contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. If you see “Gluten Free” on a Trader Joe’s product, this means that the product has been validated to contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. Individuals with Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity must avoid gluten for their health. 
So, we do also invite you to contact us directly at (626) 599-3817 anytime Monday through Friday during the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (PSt) with the specific product SKU or UPC code for further clarification.  However, you can be assured that the product is indeed "gluten free" per the above standards.

It looks like Trader Joe's understands the FDA gluten-free labeling regulation, but I still do not know how the bread is produced or if the production facility is dedicated gluten-free. It seems strange to me that the gluten-free breads would be produced in different factories across the country, but this email implies that it does just that. Once I get a loaf of this bread in my local Trader Joe's, I will inquire about the particular SKU and it's source facility and report back. .

In the meantime, here are the ingredients for the new gluten-free breads at Trader Joe's.

INGREDIENTS

GLUTEN FREE WHITE SANDWICH BREAD: Water, Tapicoa Starch, Potato Starch, Brown Rice Flour, Cane Sugar, Modified Tapioca Starch, Rice Flour with Cultured Rice Flour (for freshness), Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Whole Grain Sorghum Flour, Xanthan Gum, Yeast, Egg Whites, Tapioca Maltodextrin, Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Potato Flour, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sea Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Enzymes. CONTAINS EGGS.

GLUTEN FREE WHOLE GRAIN BREAD: Water, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Brown Rice Flour, Cane Sugar, Rice Flour with Cultured Rice Flour (for freshness), Modified Tapioca Starch, Whole Grain Sorghum Flour, Whole Grain Amaranth Flour, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Whole Grain Teff, Xanthan Gum, Yeast, Egg Whites, Tapioca Maltodextrin, Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Potato Flour, Monocalcium Phosphate), Flaxseed Meal, Sea Salt, Molasses, Calcium Sulfate, Enzymes. CONTAINS EGGS.

Has anyone tried this bread yet? What do you think? 

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Thursday, April 23, 2015
#TalkTellTest: Seriously, Celiac Disease


The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has kicked off a new campaign called "Seriously, Celiac" that urges you to talk to your family about celiac disease. They even provide you with a video about the campaign and tools to have the right conversation. They are ask you to TALK to your family, TELL them about celiac disease, and then encourage them to get TESTed for the disease.

You can download the NFCA's free discussion guide which gives you tips on having the right conversation with your family about celiac disease testing. You can also download a guide with tips on how to talk to your doctor about celiac disease testing.

I have at least two relatives that I have told multiple times that they should be tested for celiac disease. They know my thirty-four year history of the disease, my sister's history with the disease, and even another relative's history, yet both people tell me they don't have it. I don't know if they have actually been tested or not but I see continued symptoms in both. I am definitely going to reread these tips from the NFCA and have another conversation with the family when the time is appropriate.

Visit www.SeriouslyCeliac.org for more information.



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