Category Archives: Gluten Free

Tips for Enjoying Gluten-Free Holidays, Wherever You Choose to Dine

The holidays tend to create anxiety for many people following special diets, including the growing group of people diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. It’s no wonder, since so much of our culture today seems to revolve around socializing while eating. Whether it’s accepting an invitation to a holiday dinner party, attending a work luncheon, or hosting family for a festive dinner in your own home, there can be challenges to safely following your gluten-free diet. But with a bit of thought and advance planning, you can avoid getting “glutened” – and feel like you’re a full participant in the event.

Hosting the Meal Yourself
This is probably the most sure-fire way to ensure your meals will be gluten-free. Whether it’s a holiday cocktail party, dessert party, or sit-down family meal, YOU are in control of the planning, shopping, and preparation of the food. And with the wonderful gluten-free foods available today, you could easily offer up an entirely gluten-free spread, and no one would even know! You’ll be happy to know that if you are comfortable preparing a full holiday meal yourself, there are many holiday favorites that are easy to prepare gluten-free.

If hosting something on a large scale seems overwhelming, by all means make it “pot luck.” Prepare a few key dishes yourself (things YOU like) so that at least you’ll be able to eat your own culinary creations. Even if your guests bring things that are off limits for you, you won’t have to worry about cross contamination, since the food brought by others was prepared elsewhere and shouldn’t need to come into contact with your gluten-free items (just be careful of sharing serving spoons).

Accepting an Invitation to Someone Else’s Home
This can be one of the more intimidating options, since you don’t want to be sick – but don’t want to feel rude or left out if there’s nothing safe for you to eat. The best solution is to offer to bring a few of your own favorite items as part of the meal (your host or hostess will greatly appreciate this!). Ideally, this would involve a casserole or other main dish, a couple of side dishes, and dessert. If it’s a family member’s home, you may even have some say in planning and preparing the menu. In all likelihood, your host will welcome tips to convert favorite recipes into gluten-free favorites! Even something like homemade gravy can easily be thickened with cornstarch instead of flour.

Desserts can often present the trickiest part of the meal, but try to think outside the box. Consider “crustless” pies, crème brulee, pumpkin custard, or flourless chocolate cake (you’d be hard pressed to find someone that would turn THAT down!) Gluten-free cupcakes are always a hit with kids, and basic gluten-free sugar cookie mixes are relatively easy to find (or make yourself) if you’re a fan of traditionally decorated holiday cookies. Chances are, whatever you bring will be tastier than the gluten-filled options, and there won’t be any leftovers!

Dining Out
While we’ve always dined IN for Christmas, our family has actually dined OUT for several recent Thanksgivings. One year after attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City, we dined at a very celiac-friendly Italian restaurant called Sambuca (OK, so we got our turkey fix the next day with a traditional, home-cooked meal!). And this year, our extended family voted to give ourselves a much-needed break and go OUT to Wildfire restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. We selected this restaurant based on their careful attention to their gluten-free diners. We confirmed the gluten-free selections before making the reservation, and what a treat it was! Virtually every item of the menu was either gluten-free or could be tailored to be, down to the gluten-free stuffing and gravy, gluten-free croutons on the salad, and flourless chocolate cake for dessert.

If you’re with a group of friends or colleagues that will be selecting a restaurant for a holiday get-together, don’t be shy about your dietary restrictions. There’s nothing worse than having to forgo most of the food while your dining mates gush over how great the meal is. Speak up and suggest one of your favorite “gluten- free friendly” restaurants as a good choice. A quick search on a site like GlutenFreeTravelSite will help you find GF-friendly restaurants (both chain and independent) in any town or city.

So whatever your choice – eating IN or eating OUT, dining gluten-free over the holidays can easily be done without feeling deprived, left out, or overworked!

About the Author: 

Karen Broussard is the founder of GlutenFreeTravelSite, a popular website that helps the gluten-free community find safe places to eat in their area — or wherever they travel. It includes thousands of user-submitted REVIEWS of restaurants, bakeries, markets, hotels, resorts, B&Bs, and cruises – both in the U.S. and around the world. Karen launched GlutenFreeTravelSite in 2008 — several years after her son Ryan was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at a very young age. She and her family found that dining out and traveling could be a real challenge for people following gluten free diets, and she wanted to provide a place where the gluten free community could go to share their experiences first-hand with others who also love to dine out and travel. 

The dining and travel reviews on GlutenFreeTravelSite are organized geographically and can be searched by state/country — or more narrowly by town/zip code. Visitors to GlutenFreeTravelSite will find many other helpful resources, including a section of the site devoted to national and regional restaurant chains offering Gluten Free Menus, a page of Colleges reviewed from a gluten free perspective, a page outlining the gluten free policies of all the major Cruise Lines — with links to reviews of each cruise line submitted to GlutenFreeTravelSite, a page listing Camps for gluten free kids, and many gluten free Trip Planning Resources. Other features of the helpful site include a monthly Featured Review (and contest!), a Blog, Articles, and Interviews with Chefs. You can follow GlutenFreeTravelSite on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

 

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Introducing Non-Dairy NuGO Slim in Two Indulgent Gluten-Free Flavors

We are very excited to introduce Non-Dairy NuGO Slim, the revolutionary low sugar bar. Finally, people needing dairy-free, vegan, or Kosher Pareve can enjoy two flavors of our popular low sugar, gluten-free protein bars! We have had so many customer requests for a dairy-free, low sugar bar that we are happy that we can now bring you this new snack option. Non-Dairy NuGO Slim is available in Crunchy Peanut Butter and Espresso.

NuGO Slim is the only low sugar, high protein bar without artificial sweeteners or maltitol! The scrumptious all-natural bars are sweetened with REAL Dark Chocolate and chicory root, instead of the sugar alcohol maltitol, which can cause gastric distress and a bad aftertaste. We are the only company to make REAL Dark chocolate coated protein bars for many lifestyles.

Look at the many great features of Non-Dairy NuGO Slim.

REAL Dark Chocolate

• No Maltitol or Artificial Sweeteners

• Low Sugar (3g)

• High Protein (16-17g)

• High Fiber (7g)

• 180 Calories

• Certified Gluten-Free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)

• Certified Kosher Pareve by the Orthodox Union

• Vegan and Non-Dairy

• Low Glycemic

• Diabetic-Friendly

• All-Natural

• No High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Oils, or Trans Fats

You can now order Non-Dairy NuGO Slim on our website. Look for a sample pack coming soon. Are you excited to try Non-Dairy NuGO Slim? Leave a comment and let us know what you think about our new bars.

 

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Celebrate Family Fun Month with Moo Shu Vegetable Wraps and an Edible Sailboat

Are you looking for ways to involve your kids more in the kitchen? Having some basic cooking know-how is a wonderful life skill to teach your kids. From toddlers to teens, there are creative ways to make helping in the kitchen entertaining and interesting. As August is Family Fun Month, we wanted to share how you and your kids can truly have fun with your food while keeping it healthy and delicious. Aviva Goldfarb, Founder and CEO of The Six O’Clock Scramble, shares a recipe below that has both kid and adult appeal. See her post on PBS Kitchen Explorers for how to make this adorable sailboat and more fun snacks for kids. Food can be tasty and amusing!

Moo Shu Vegetable Wraps
Prep + Cook Time = 25 minutes
6 Servings

Far East goes South of the Border with these sweet hoisin marinated vegetables, wrapped in tortillas. The kids can tuck the vegetables deep in their wraps so they’ll hardly know they’re eating something so healthy. If you prefer a meatier meal, you can add cooked chicken to the wraps with the rice and vegetables.

-1 – 1 1/2 cup white or quick-cooking brown rice

-2 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil

-1/2 yellow or white onion, sliced into thin strips

-1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters and thinly sliced

-1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

-8 – 12 oz. sliced mushrooms

-2 scallions, thinly sliced

-4 Tbsp. hoisin sauce (a Chinese marinade and dipping sauce)

-6 whole wheat or white tortillas, or use corn tortillas for a gluten-free option

-1 1/2 cups cooked sliced chicken breasts (optional)

-1 – 3 tsp. Asian chili sauce, Tabasco, or other hot pepper sauce, for serving (optional)

Cook the rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, while you chop and add the other vegetables. Stir in 2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce. Continue to sauté the vegetables for a few more minutes, stirring often, until they are tender but not mushy, 8 – 10 minutes total, from when you first added the onions and zucchini. (Meanwhile, prepare the smoothies, if you are serving them.) Remove the vegetables from the heat.

Put the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, cover them with a damp paper towel, and heat them on high power for 1 – 2 minutes until they are very warm and soft.

At the table, lay a tortilla on each plate and brush a little hoisin sauce (about 1 tsp.) in the middle of it with the back of a spoon. Add a scoop each of the rice, vegetables, chicken (optional) and a few drops of hot pepper or chili sauce (optional). Wrap the tortillas burrito-style.

Scramble Flavor Booster: Spice it up by adding the Asian chili sauce or hot pepper sauce to the wraps.

Tip: Hoisin sauce is an Asian marinade with a pungent, sweet-spicy flavor. If you or your kids have never used hoisin sauce before, start with just a little. If you enjoy the taste, you can always add more.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (% based upon daily values)
Calories 280, Total Fat: 8g, 12.00%; Saturated Fat: 1g, 5.00%; Cholesterol: 0mg, 0.00%; Sodium: 480mg, 20.00%; Total Carbohydrate: 47g, 16.00%; Dietary Fiber: 5g, 20.00%; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 7g

About the Author:

Aviva Goldfarb is a family dinner expert who helps busy parents let go of all the stress at 6:00 and bring joy and good nutrition back to the dinner table. She is a mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble, an online dinner planning system and cookbook (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), and is author of “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families” (St. Martin’s Press, 2010), which was named one of the best cookbooks of 2010 by on the Washington Post. She is also a weekly contributor to the Kitchen Explorers blog on PBSparents.org, and often appears on television, radio, and in magazines such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Working Mother, Kiwi, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Prevention, and many others. Visit her boards on Pinterest for tons of healthy food ideas and fun and healthy kid snacks. Follow @thescramble on Twitter and like the Facebook page.

 

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What’s in Your Bar?

Our customers are always saying that NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip protein bar tastes just like a Thin Mint cookie. So, when we heard about Nestle Crunch making limited edition Girl Scout Thin Mints candy bars, we decided to compare them. The Girl Scout candy bars are a good example of dark chocolate deception - calling a bar dark chocolate on the front of the package, but not using REAL dark chocolate in the ingredients! While many protein bars are merely candy bars in disguise, take a look at this chart to see how NuGo is different.

Karen Broussard, founder and president of the Gluten-Free Travel Site, summed it up perfectly in her review.

I told our son, who has been gluten free since before he was two, ‘Now you know what Thin Mint cookies from the Girl Scouts taste like.’ Only NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip bars are really better. And healthier. And natural. And did I mention 10g of protein?!

Best of all, NuGo bars are available year-round at stores across the US, so you can enjoy them anytime! You can also purchase them online. Look for sample packs with free shipping returning this fall. Tell your friends about NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip by repinning this on Pinterest.

 

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Gluten-Free Travel Tips from a Globetrotter

A longtime fan of NuGo bars, which coincidentally I first came across while traveling, I was happy when they asked me to write a post for their blog – on, you guessed it – traveling as someone with both celiac disease and a severe food allergy to shellfish.

First of all, a celiac or food allergy diagnosis is initially overwhelming. I mean we have all been there and it does throw a bit of a wrench into your lifestyle until you get up to speed. There is a learning curve for the newly diagnosed but I am proof positive that it does get easier as time goes on.

Traveling can seem like a daunting challenge because not only do you have to deal with eating out in a new location that may be unfamiliar, but there’s also the getting there and back which depending on where you are going could prove to be a significant chunk of time. So, with Celiac Awareness Month upon us and the summer travel season about to kick in, I thought I would share a few tips and tricks that I have picked up as I have literally circumnavigated the globe as a celiac and food allergic traveler.

The most important tip that I can give is to plan before you go. This will help to alleviate unnecessary stress when you arrive at your destination. I like to go online and get a lay of the land if you will of where I will be visiting. I look for restaurants and grocery stores near where I’ll be staying that are gluten-free friendly. Be sure to also check out any local celiac or food allergy support groups that might have websites as they often provide a host of information at the local level. Trust me, having a lay of the land before you go will make your trip all the more smoother. When you arrive at your destination, talk to the hotel staff or concierge for local recommendations. You’d be surprised what great local tips they can provide and I have even run into a few that were fellow celiacs and had some fantastic recommendations for me.

Planning also involves looking at things like airlines and hotels as some do a better job in catering to travelers with dietary restrictions. If you are flying, go to the airline’s website or call them to find out if they offer a gluten-free (or other special meal type) before you book. This is a must on long-haul and ultra long-haul flights and less important on shorter domestic hops. At the hotel level, more and more hotels are catering to guests with dietary restrictions and a few even have formal programs in place to ensure that guests with special needs can dine without worry. Fairmont Hotels with their Lifestyle Cuisine Plus program does a particularly good job.

Packing is equally as important as planning in my book – and by packing I mean in the food/snack department. Tip number two is to always take along what I like to call a gluten-free contingency pack. This usually contains a range of food items that I can snack on if I am delayed, my gluten-free meal on a flight didn’t make it onboard or is not really to my liking, or I just feel like a treat while enroute to or at my destination. I typically include things like pretzels or chips, something sweet, and of course snack bars – guess which ones you’ll always find in my bag? The good thing about a contingency pack is that you can tailor it to your specific trip and make it more comprehensive for longer journeys and smaller for quick hops. I also like to throw some larger snacks or treats in my checked bag to enjoy at the hotel when I arrive at my destination. More often than not you’ll be able to find a host of great items at your destination but sometimes you might just feel like relaxing after a long journey and it’s nice to have something ready to nosh on.

The final tip that I can offer is to get out there and enjoy yourself. Do not let celiac or another food restriction limit your lifestyle. Will everything always go as planned – likely not. Even those of us that have been doing it for a while still have things go wrong from time to time but look at them as learning experiences. The more often you get out on the road, the more comfortable you’ll become traveling with special dietary needs and it will just become second nature.

About the Author:

Michael De Cicco-Butz

Hailing from New York City, Michael is perhaps best known as his gluten-free alter ego Gluten Free Mike a global advocate for celiac disease who pens a very popular eponymous gluten-free website and blog. He and his site have been featured on MSNBC.com and the TodayShow.com discussing luxury travel from a food allergic perspective. Michael has made it his personal mission to share his experiences on his gluten-free journey to help others navigate and make the most of their own journeys. Diagnosed with celiac disease more than ten years ago (and shortly thereafter developing severe shellfish allergy), when the gluten-free landscape was very different, he understands how confusing, overwhelming, and isolating it can be when first diagnosed.

He lives by his mantra of Living Well, Gluten-Free, No Apologies and does not let celiac or his food allergies limit where he goes or what he does. He has travelled the globe as a celiac taking full control of his food restrictions proving that by making smart choices and asking the right questions anyone can get out there and enjoy all the fabulous tastes and places our world has to offer — just gluten-free.

A foodie through and through, you’ll often find him dining out at both gluten-free and non-gluten-free restaurants and has created a Quintessentially New York Gluten Free dining guide on his site that follows him dining gluten-free at some of the most iconic restaurants in New York City. He also loves to cook and has adapted many of his favorite recipes to be gluten-free.

Read Mike’s blog, Gluten Free Mike, follow him on Twitter @glutenfreemike and Pinterest, and like his Facebook page.

 

 

 

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