Gluten Free Blog Posts
American Girl Birthday Party
This weekend we celebrated my daughter's 8th birthday party at American Girl in Natick, Massachusetts. This is her first party that we had at American Girl.
In previous years, we celebrated her birthday with her grandparents on her actual birthday in the restaurant. This year we invited a few friends to celebrate at a private dining room using the deluxe package.
Nine Things We Learned about the Deluxe Party at American Girl
- We brought our own cake from Gerardo's European Bakery in Westborough. In the past, my daughter didn't like the gluten-free cake that we had at American Girl. American Girl was fine that we brought in an outside cake. We served the guest the cake that comes with the deluxe package. Only the adults and my daughter got the gluten-free cake.
- The gluten-free cake is what was she used to blow out the candles.
- The deluxe package includes a table activity and a craft. We only had time for a craft. My daughter got everyone involved by doing a sing-a-long to some of her favorite songs.
- The craft was creating a bracelet out of string. The hostess did a good job explaining the task and help people set up their craft. The activity did involve a fair amount of work, and only one person was able to complete it in time.
- The deluxe package is 90 minutes - but the hostess said that it didn't seem like a long enough time for 9 girls.
- There was another party in the room next door. We kept going back and forth with who could sing happy birthday the loudest. I think the other room won simply because there were more people in the room.
- Basically this felt more of a lunch party than a typical birthday party that we have gone to in the past. Usually, birthday parties involve activities away from the table for a while and the party concludes with some food. This party felt more of her inviting her friends to a private lunch.
- Everyone had a good time and enjoyed their meals. Which is the most important thing!
- We were happy that the package included a goody bag, as it was one less thing to worry about.
Google Trends is a great way to find out popular searches around the world. I thought it would be interesting to see the most popular countries that search for Gluten Free. Obviously, it would be more popular in English speaking countries. Some translation examples:
- German: Gluten-frei
- Spanish: sin gluten
- Portuguese: livre de glúten
- Russian: не содержит глютен
- Chinese (Simplified): 不含麸质
Australia and New Zealand are the countries with the highest interest in searching for gluten-free. The Tasmania region is the strongest region in New Zealand that put it ahead of all other countries.
Boston ranks 15th in 58 cities in the Google Trends report. Just short of Melbourne, Australia.
Nexvax2 now in Stage 2 Trials
Good news for Celiacs! On January 2nd, ImmusanT secured a fast-track for it's Nexvax2 as a vaccine for people with celiac disease. It's currently in Phase 2 of testing.
The FDA only grants fast track status to certain drugs when there is an unmet need for medicine with serious or life-threatening conditions.
"Nexvax2 will improve quality of life and prevent the serious complications of chronic gluten exposure in celiac disease patients. The development of Nexvax2 aligns with our strategic vision of transforming how patients with autoimmune diseases are treated.” - Leslie Williams CEO of ImmusanT in a recent press release
Fast Track to stage two testing does not increase the chances the drug will be approved, it's just a way that the FDA to move the drug along the process quicker.
About the Phase 2 of the Trial
A phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study of Nexvax2. This study will evaluate efficacy of Nexvax2 administered subcutaneously. The study plan consists of 3 periods: a screening period of 6 weeks, an approximately 16 week treatment period, and a 4-week post-treatment observational follow-up.
Be Part of the Trial
To be considered for the trial you must be:
- Someone who has been diagnosed celiac disease,
- Must be over 18 and under 70.
- Must be gluten free for at least one year.
- HLA DQ 2.5 Positive
- Participants must be willing to consume some gluten.
Unfortunately my 8-year-old daughter is not eligible for the study. If the trial is successful, hopefully, they come up with a children's version.
If you meet the simple criteria, why not be part of the study? On the Clinical Trial page is the locations where the trials are occurring. Simply contact the person nearest to you.
Oddly enough there is no trial in Massachusetts, which is the location of ImmusanT.
Estimated Completion Date
The trial will end on September 2019.
Gluten Free Labels
We like to label boxes and Tupperware that the contents are gluten-free. This helps at school so they know the contents are safe for my daughter. It's also good at parties so that people can see that gluten-free foods look good.
We use the labels from Gluten Free Stickers because they are simple and stand out on anything that we put them on. They also last through many Tupperware washing - in some cases, longer than the Tupperware!
We don't place the stickers on every single ziplock bag. For school, it's usually placed on food containers that are for food events such as snacks for Extended Day or when she brings in cookies for treats.
These labels are very helpful and the quality is great! You're not getting cheap paper labels!
Check out Gluten Free Stickers. We recommend getting the Gluten Free Label roll so that you'll never run out of stickers when you need it.
Gluten Free Freezer
Happy New Year 2019!
Finding Gluten Free in the Supermarket
Most supermarkets keep all the gluten-free alternative items together. This makes it easy to find all the bagels/breakfast goods available.
In Market Basket, you can find all the gluten free bread and pastries in the back freezer, near the Produce and Meat departments.
Wait a minute
Just make sure to double check the items, recently I spotted the following:
I was excited to see that there was a new item in the case. However, this isn’t gluten free - there is no Cinnabon Product that is gluten-free. Katz does make a gluten free cinnamon roll, which is probably the product that should be displayed in the case.
Some people may not really pay attention and just assume that it is since it’s with all the gluten free breakfast goods.
Just a simple reminder to always check the packaging - especially if it’s a new product.
Looking forward to finding all sorts of new products in 2019.
Top 8 Gluten Free Post of 2018
I didn’t post much gluten-free this year, basically didn’t post much between February and September.
Here are the top posts of 2018.
- AMC Theater Popcorn is not Gluten Free - Surprise of the year, it’s not safe to eat popcorn at AMC.
- Just Crack an Egg - My daughter’s favorite breakfast treat. She has one practically every morning.
- Fire & Grain - Great restaurant in Hershey, PA. We ate a lot of meals here and they were very knowledgable on gluten free eating.
- Cauliflower crust at California Pizza Kitchen - Definitely the go to choice when it comes to eating pizza.
- Ice Cream Cafe - We found a great ice cream shop on Cape Cod that offers different gluten free cones.
- The Lazy Turtle (Aruba) - The only place in Aruba where we found that offers gluten free pasta.
- Best Super Crispy Fries at Home - We used the frier a lot this year and enjoyed extra crispy french fries.
- Benevento - After being away from the North End for a while, we decide to go back and found a good gluten free restaurant.
Gluten Intolerance Group
In 2016, Kent State became the first school in the United States to offer a complete dining hall that only serves gluten-free foods. Since then other colleges and universities have followed by with changes to the various dining area.
Kent State received certification from the Gluten Intolerance Group's Gluten-Free Food Service Accreditation Program. The certification shows that Kent State is committed to serving great food for celiacs.
Two years later the Prentice Café is still serving gluten-free options. They promote all the various gluten-free options on the Prentice Hall website. According to various social media reports - the Prentice Cafe is just as popular as another campus cafe.
Gluten Intolerance Group
The Gluten Intolerance Group (GFCO) is one of the leading gluten-free certification programs in the world. They give out certifications to organizations that demonstrate the commitment to having gluten free options.
About the GFCO
The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit association funded by private donations, fundraising, sponsorship opportunities, and industry programs. It relies on tax-deductible contributions to support its many innovative industries, service, social and awareness programs. GIG has been a highly respected leader in the gluten-free community since it was founded in 1974.
Boston University is the only Boston-area organization to make the GFCO certification list. They have 3-Certified Dining locations on campus:
The Fresh Food Company at Marciano Commons, The Fresh Food Company at Warren Towers and The Fresh Food Company at West Campus.
They are the only local type organization in New England to receive the GFCO certification.
Other National Chains, which are based in New England has gotten certifications:
This Christmas season celiacs don’t have to feel left out when invited to a Gingerbread House party. You can buy a Gluten Free Gingerbread House making kit.
About Something Sweet Without Wheat
Something Sweet Without Wheat makes a Gluten Free Gingerbread kit that can be ordered online.
They had a booth at the Children's Hospital holiday party a couple of weekends ago. They had all sorts of goodies on display, but the Gingerbread kit was the big hit.
Visit SomethingSweetWithOutWheat.com today to order yours!
Sample Art Work
Here's a sample completed project using the Something Sweet Gingerbread House:
Extra Large Rice Cereal Treat
Kellogg's Rice Krispies isn't safe for Celiacs because they contain malt flavoring. Malt flavoring comes from a barley grain. Barley is not gluten-free and therefore Kellogg's Rice Krispies are not gluten-free.
Which means you can't really make Rice Crispy treats using Kellogg's brand of Rice Krispies. (There are plenty of alternative brands that make Rick Krispies that are safe for Celiacs.)
This is important to know because you can't buy pre-made Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats.
Wegman's Rice Cereal Treat
Did you know at Wegmans you can get a large Marshmallow Rice Cereal Treat? This is perfect to cut up and pack in lunches or to serve as treats for kids at parties.
They are devious and nobody would know that they are gluten free - they taste just like regular Rice Treats.
Where to Find them in The Store
You can find them near the in-store bakery section of Wegmans. They are located near various other allergy-friendly cookies and treats. (In Natick, they were on the second to bottom shelf - which makes it easy to miss!)
Wegmans Burger Bar
One of the nice things about the Natick Mall's Wegmans is that they have a few places to eat. Last Sunday we made a stopover at the Burger Bar since we visited it a few times in the past and had good experiences.
Things were a bit differently on this trip - partly because of the CDC national mandate to not use Romaine Lettuce.
"Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a warning.
Meanwhile Back at the Burger Bar
When we placed our order for Gluten Free Burger, we told them it was for an allergy. We asked if she could have a salad with her order - since she can't have french fries due to cross-contamination issues. The server told us they couldn't do that, and that the only option available would be a fruit cup. We thought that it was weird that they still served salads using other types of lettuce, but they couldn't make a side salad from the same lettuce?
My daughter was happy with the fruit cup option so we were fine with that.
Burger Arrived with a Bonus Side
When my daughter's dish arrived, she got the fruit cup, burger and animal crackers. Which was very strange seeing that this was an allergy order. I double checked the animal crackers packaging and they weren't gluten-free.
We have eaten at the Burger Bar enough times that we knew that the burger bun was gluten free.
Clearly the server at Wegmans didn't know about the Gluten Free order - or not aware of what foods could be included as a side dish.
We didn't say anything at the time, as we didn't ask for cookies and she doesn't like animal crackers. It was a "bonus" side that was anything but a bonus.
My daughter loved her burger. She took her usual time of eating it. She didn't end up eating the fruit cup. All she wanted was a burger for lunch and she likes using the Coke Soda machine to make her orange soda.
It was a busy post-Thanksgiving Sunday at the Mall, but that's no excuse for serving regular crackers on a gluten-free order.
Gluten Free Eggnog
Good News! All major brands of Egg Nog are naturally Gluten Free! Wheat is not something to add in any recipe for Egg Nog. (I am sure someplace there's an Oreo Egg Nog and that's definitely not Gluten Free!)
Turn of the Century Recipe
I found this "Turn of the Century" EggNog recipe at the Boston Public Library (January 1922). This is how your grandmother might have made EggNog.
Beat white to a stiff froth, then put in the yolk, beat very light, and bring milk to boiling heat and pour over the egg, then add sugar and flavor.
If this, is not your recipe please try and see how superior it is to the old way.
I am not exactly sure that's going to taste the same as people might have gotten used to. I will continue to look to see if there's a more detail "Turn of the Century" way to make EggNog.
Turkey Shape Butter
Keller's Creamery Turkey Shaped Salted Butter is now available at Walmart, Hannaford, Wegmans and Stop and Shop. We did not see any in Market Basket or Whole Foods.
We had this last year, and it was a hit at the Thanksgiving table.
They make a Christmas Tree and a Bunny Shape Butter too. The Christmas Tree is available in December and the Bunny is available in March.
We recommend getting two, that way there's no issue with cross contamination if you have regular rolls and gluten-free rolls. (Or get one and put it next to the gluten-free rolls to encourage people to take the gluten-free rolls.)
Boston's North End is the best place to go to get Italian food. There are lots of great restaurants to choose from and the food is excellent. Certainly worth visiting if you're coming to Boston for business for vacation.
If you're eating Gluten Free, you may think your best to stay away. You would be wrong. There are some restaurants that offer excellent gluten-free meals - Benevento is one such restaurant.
Gluten Free Garlic Bread and Alfredo Pasta
Nine Things We Learned visiting Benevento
We found Benevento via the Find Me Gluten Free ios App, it got a very good rating from other guests.
We made reservations for five at Benevento and ended up sitting in the basement. It was nice because it was quiet, but we were sitting next to the cleaning kitchen. (Not sure why we were put in the basement if we had a reservation.) You're much better off eating at street level since they have an open kitchen.
There is a TV downstairs where you can watch the latest Boston Sports. (I believe that there's one upstairs too.) There is no cellular service downstairs - so no chance of checking in. (You shouldn't be using the phone in a restaurant anyways.)
The downstairs bathroom was flooded and it took a while for it to get clean.
The server brought regular bread to the table even though we indicated that two people in our party needed to eat gluten-free. They did make some gluten-free garlic bread which is one of the appetizers. They don't have gluten-free bread as a regular table offering.
My daughter didn't really like the garlic bread. I think this is the first time that she tried Garlic Bread. It was a nice treat for her. I tried some and thought it was good. It was gluten-free flatbread that had garlic sauce on it.
We order my daughter the Alfredo Pasta, which is to her is just a different type of Mac & Cheese. She did enjoy it and ate a fair amount. I think she was saving her appetite for some dessert at Mikes Pastry. I also tried some of the pasta and thought it was good.
The other meal that was served gluten free was Puttanesca. It looked exactly like regular Puttanesca and tasted just as good. The person was planning on saving some of it for the next day but ended up eating the whole thing because it was so good.
We did take home the Alfredo Pasta and my daughter didn't really like it a couple of days later. She said that it tasted better at the restaurant. I asked if she wanted to go back to Benevento, and she said yes.
Benevento is located on 111 Salem Street, in the North End of Boston. It's about a block away from Bova's Bakery. They have their menu posted online so you can see all the gluten-free options.
We would go back, as we love visiting Boston's North End. Next time we'll ask her to eat more otherwise we wouldn't go to get ice cream at Mike's Pastry.
Just Crack an Egg
Finding a good breakfast is kind of hard to do for a seven-year-old. They are very picky about what they want. Add needing to eat gluten-free makes it really hard. There's very limited choice on cereals and other breakfast goods - such as Eggos and frozen pancakes.
School mornings can be crazy. If people aren't up in time, it can be a madhouse to get ready for the day. However, a good breakfast is critical to winning the day.
Crack-An-Egg To the Rescue
Crack-An-Egg is a mix of vegetables, cheese and a protein (Ham or Bacon). Dump out the contents, crack an egg in the container pour in the contents back in and stir. It's a simple healthy breakfast. Since the ingredients are all separated, you can decide how much - if any - to put in with your egg.
We love Crack-An-Egg. It's a great way for my daughter to have a healthy breakfast very quickly. In about 70-seconds she has a simple scrambled egg breakfast. It's all naturally gluten-free!
Sometimes she's in a mood to make it herself, with some adult supervision and has fun mixing all the ingredients together. Most mornings, I am putting everything together.
The nice thing about Crack-An-Egg is that the portion size is perfect for her. It's not too much or too little. Sometimes she finishes it, and sometimes she leaves just a bit left.
Crack an Egg is a bit expensive breakfast for a seven-year-old. It's a nice healthy treat to have a couple of times a week. My daughter loves it and looks forward to breakfast in the mornings.
Obviously the concept of Crack-An-Egg is easy to make homemade. Simply get a microwave safe bowl, put in an egg and some chop vegetables and protein. But who has time in the mornings to chop up vegetables and protein?
You can find Crack-An-Egg in the dairy section, usually above the regular eggs. In New England, we have seen them in Market Basket, Stop and Shop and Sudbury Farms. Wegmans and Whole Foods does not carry them.
AMC Theater Popcorn is not Gluten Free
At a recent meeting at the Boston Children's Hospital Celiac Group we were surprised to learn that the Popcorn at the local AMC Theater chain in the Boston area is not gluten free.
Wait. What? Popcorn not gluten free? We always thought it would be safe. Apparently not!
Members of the Boston Children's Hospital Celiac Group took the time to call around all the movie theater chains and received information that the butter topping that they put on the popcorn contains gluten.
I checked various AMC websites and did not get the same information - all indications was that the popcorn is safe. However, we know that the Boston Children's Hospital Celiac group is a reliable source and we trust their findings.
The next time we'll go to the movies, I'll make a batch of popcorn for my daughter. If someone at the movie theater challenges bring outside food to the movies, I'll let them know that my daughter had enjoyed the popcorn in the past but can no longer have some.
If you want full details about how celiac friendly that other Boston area movie theater's are, be sure to join the Boston Children's Hospital Celiac Group and ask for the Popcorn report.