Friday, May 27, 2016

Rudi's Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread

"Gluten-free doesn’t mean bread-free." 
"Made with stuff you can pronounce and ingredients you recognize"

O…M…G – that’s all I have to say.  Honestly.

I guess I’ll have to explain my death bed wish.  It’s ok…my daughters already know.  When I’m down to my last 30 minutes of life…I want two pieces of the best glutenous Cinnamon Raisin Toast with real butter - and a Boston Cream Donut of course.  I’ve been Wheat-Free, then Gluten-Free for nearly 20 years now so it’s been a looooong time since I’ve had a really good piece of bread.

Until the other day when I received a package from Rudi’s Bakery.  I tore into it like a kid into a Christmas package.  I’ve heard the rumors…this was supposed to be the best around.  Now I have to admit…I was expecting tasteless white bread.  And what did I find right there on top??  Gluten-Free Raisin Bread!!  Oh My Goodness!!  Raisin Bread.  I couldn’t wait to pop the first slice into the toaster.  I grabbed the butter out of the fridge while I waited.  I know…cold butter, warm crusty bread…I was going to make it work.  Oh, my kitchen smelled incredible while it toasted.  I pulled the Raisin toast out even before the bell had a chance to ring.

Five minutes later I sat down with my Gluten-Free Raisin toast and a nice cup of Tea.  I was in heaven, absolute and total heaven.  This was by far the tastiest bit of bread that I’ve had in decades.  And it had raisins!!  Not just one or two…like I’ve gotten in others I’ve tried…but many!!  Enough raisins for every single bite…plenty of raisins.  Did I mention taste??  This is wonderful bread - incredible toasted, nice and crunchy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside with a great taste.

Now I do have to toaster has a tendency to burn the top crust of this bread.  I don't know why.  So I have to watch it while it's toasting...but I don't mind.  It is soooo worth the watch.

Instructions on the package state keep frozen.  I did that and pulled another slice out to defrost at room temperature…just to see how it was.  This bread is incredible without being toasted!!  Now that’s pretty much unheard of when it comes to Gluten-Free breads.  So the next day I made myself a Peanut Butter & Banana sandwich with room temperature bread and was incredibly impressed. 

I can’t wait to try this out on my Gluten Intolerance Group.  They’re going to love it!  And I guess now I’m going to have to change my death bed wish.  Hmmmm…a real Boston Cream Donut and I think perhaps my mom’s Mince Meat Pie.  That will do it!!

Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery
3300 Walnut Street # C
Boulder, CO   80301

Consumer Hotline: 877-293-0876
Phone: 303-447-0495
Fax: 303-447-0516

Water, raisins, potato extract, rice starch, rice flour, sorghum flour, organic evaporated cane juice, organic high oleic sunflower/safflower oil, egg whites, yeast, sea salt, xanthan gum, organic cinnamon, organic molasses

Carolanne Le Blanc
Email: GlutenFreeInFlorida @
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, May 20, 2016

Shopping Gluten-Free

I like to support my local small business first.  I live in Florida and just hate seeing so many of our small businesses…some several generations old…closing up.  These days it just seems epidemic.  With more and more small businesses on the edge of survival, it’s become much more important for us to support them with our dollars.  My favorite go to place for Gluten-Free stuff is right around the corner.  And apparently they have a new online presence too!

Vitamin Outlet
3690 East Bay Drive in Largo, FL 33771
ph: (727) 536-0120, fax: (727) 538-9805

When I first bought my house over 12 years ago they weren’t too savvy about Celiac or Gluten-Free.  But they’ve gotten quite an education over the years, which is why I love small business.  They know me, they take the time to talk to me, they strive to keep me happy and they know the importance of great customer service.  Over the years they’ve become one of the best places to get anything Gluten-Free.  They’re knowledgeable, and willing to consider any requests.  And the store is just packed full of the most current choices!!  Granted, things may be a little more expensive…but I’m a firm believer that you always get what you pay for.  When I want the care and customer service that only a small business can provide I’m willing to pay the extra to get it.

Now my Publix Grocery across the street is offering some real competition.  It’s the largest Grocery Chain in Florida so they can offer cheaper prices on many of the items I use every day.  But what they carry is pretty mundane - basic items from some of the larger manufacturers and nothing too adventurous.  I love their new GF shelf labeling…but have to be careful…I’ve caught some items indicated as GF when they’re not.  Like Ezekiel’s bread – that is NOT Gluten-Free.

When I can’t find what I need locally, I automatically turn to my online best friend – Amazon at   Type in “Gluten-Free” and you’ll get over 10,892 choices!!  Scroll down a bit and select “Free Shipping” and your choices drop to over 4,190 results, but hey…I can deal with that.  I can shop to my heart’s content and not have to pay any shipping.  That’s almost as easy as a short stroll around the corner to my favorite Vitamin Outlet.

Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, May 13, 2016

Getting a LapBand with Celiac Disease - Part III

When I first considered getting a LapBand I tried to research any information about LapBands and Celiac Disease and the only thing I found were others asking the same answers. I'm hoping to help others who might be on the same search. Don't forget to check out Part I and Part II as well.

Well, I went for my first fill this week. That was interesting.  They had me lay down with a pillow at my lower back…poked around for the port…popped the needle in then helped me to sit back up again.  I’d been advised to bring in something cold to drink because it was easier to ‘feel’ it. So while I took a few sips she fidgeted with my fill. It was a bit weird…I really could feel the fluid stopping at the band while she timed it until I told her it had passed through.  I ended up with 3.5cc's for my first fill.  I think that it’s actually less than I really wanted because I was pretty nervous and anxious about it.  I know I’ll feel a bit more confident next time.

I lost a total of 8lbs between my pre-op and post-op visits…but felt I may have gained it all back while waiting for my first fill.  So I was pretty surprised when they told me that I had actually stayed the same.  Then I learned that I had lost an additional 6lbs and replaced it with 6lbs of muscle.  That was a good thing.  So I actually lost an additional 6 virtual pounds…lol!!  Now I know better…don’t get upset with a small gain or standstill until they check your BMI for virtual pounds…there may be a few lost pounds hidden in there.

I’m still using my food log…they’re very conscientious about keeping track of what I eat and making certain I stay on a healthy diet.  There are a few different ones out there but this is my favorite…  I've always been a healthy eater...real food, nothing processed, nothing white.  There was still room to make some small changes.  Sugar in the Raw for I'm using Agave syrup for most things...especially my morning coffee...half-caf, thank you very much :-)  And I do keep vanilla 60-calorie puddings in the fridge...for those times when I absolutely have to have something that seems like a treat.  When it comes to Gluten-Free replacements...breads, pasta, crackers, etc...I've always kept them to a minimum, but now I stay away from the white rice flours like the plague.  I've always preferred whole grain even if it was Gluten-Free.

As for my un-diagnosed Celiac Disease...I've been lucky.  The extreme dieting, the surgery, the pain medications, the recovery...I've managed to come through it all with very little trouble.  My tummy is just fine...I'm adjusting to the Band really well...and results are slow and steady...which is really fine with me.  Everyone's journey is a personal one.  When I had reached a crossroads in my life...there were very few answers for me.  Here's hoping you've been able to find some that have helped you.

Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, May 6, 2016

Celiac Disease Facts and Figures

Celiac Disease Facts and Figures
University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine.  When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, the individual’s immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body.  Undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can lead to the development of other autoimmune disorders, as well as osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions and in rare cases, cancer.

Prevalence of Celiac Disease in the United States
• In average healthy people: 1 in 133
• In people with related symptoms: 1 in 56
• In people with first-degree relatives (parent, child, sibling) 1 in 22
• In people with second-degree relatives (aunt, uncle, cousin) 1 in 39
• Estimated prevalence for African-, Hispanic- and Asian-Americans: 1 in 236
• Celiac disease affects at least 3 million Americans.
• Type 1 Diabetes affects 3 million people;
            6% (180,000) also have celiac disease.
• 610,000 women experience unexplained infertility;
            6% (36,600) also have celiac disease.
• 350,000 people are living with Down syndrome;
            12 % (42,000) also have celiac disease.

Celiac disease affects 1% of healthy, average Americans.  That means at least 3 million people in our country are living with celiac disease—97%of them are undiagnosed.

Putting Celiac Disease in Perspective:
• The number of people with celiac disease in the U.S. would fill 4,400 Boeing 747airplanes.
• It would take 936 cruise ships to hold every American with celiac disease.
• Fans with celiac disease could fill Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears, 37 times.
• The number of people with celiac disease in the U.S. is roughly equal to the number of people living in the state of Nevada.
• Alaska, Delaware, Washington DC, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont all have populations that are less than 2,200,000 - the number of people living with celiac disease in the United States.

Carolanne Le Blanc
Email: GlutenFreeInFlorida @
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, April 29, 2016



Ultra-chewy, rich chocolate cookies with no added fat? And no gluten? Impossible! But it's true: these flourless chocolate cookies get their texture from egg whites, and their flavor from cocoa powder (which represents the only fat in the recipe). Plus they're easy to make: Just stir together a few simple ingredients, scoop onto a pan, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes. You won't believe the delicious result. 

Yes, this batter is supposed to be syrupy and sticky. If it's not, add more egg white until it drips from a spatula in a thick ribbon.  This recipe can be tricky to nail, especially the first time out…don’t get disappointed too soon.

Makes 16 large cookies or 32 smaller cookies

2 ¼ cups confectioners' sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tsp espresso powder, optional but good
1 cup cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process cocoa
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and/or chopped dried fruit, optional

1 Line two cookie sheets with parchment, and lightly grease the parchment. Yes, grease the parchment; these cookies are sticky, and need to be baked on a greased surface.

2 Whisk together the egg whites and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, except for the chips/nuts/fruit. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir again until smooth. The sticky batter will be the consistency of thick syrup. Add the chips and/or nuts, if you're using them.

3 Drop the syrupy batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 3" circles (for large cookies), or 1 ¾  to 2" circles (for smaller cookies); a tablespoon cookie scoop or teaspoon cookie scoop, respectively, work well here. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

4 Bake the cookies for 7 minutes (for smaller cookies), 8 to 9 minutes for the larger cookies; they should spread slightly, become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops. 

Note: large cookies with added chips/nuts will need to bake for 10 minutes.

5 Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool right on the pan. When they're nearly cool, carefully loosen them from the pan with a spatula.

Yield: 16 large (3 ¼") cookies or 32 smaller (2 ½") cookies. With added chips/nuts: 2 dozen large cookies, or 4 dozen smaller cookies.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bavarian, Gluten-Free Whole Rice Bread w/Flaxseed

Baked with Mountain Spring Water, tastes great toasted!
Gluten-Free, Wheat Free, Lactose Free, Milk Free, Egg Free, GMO Free, No Preservatives

This is not your typical white bread.  Baked according to European tradition there is nothing fluffy about this wonderful Gluten-Free bread.  I'm reminded of the breads my mom used to enjoy when I was a child.  Heavy, dense breads with a firm texture; she always enjoyed them toasted.  Which is exactly what I did as soon as I opened the package.  I waited impatiently by the toaster, careful not to let it burn.  I wanted just the right crispness, and none of that charcoal color I sometimes end up with.  I can't stand wasting a perfectly good slice of bread like that.  Of course once I had it toasted to perfection then I had to decide what to put on it.  So once again I relied on memories of childhood and pulled out my favorite orange marmalade.  Just a moment later...mmmmm...wonderful.  Warm and toasty, the bread had just a hint of sour and a tight texture that was just great to sink my teeth into.  Nope, this is not your typical white bread.  Try this bread with an open mind and I can almost guarantee you'll be back for more.

And don't forget to check out their website.  There is some really great information about the origins and creation of these breads.  They're very unique.  From their website; "These great tasting breads have a long shelf life, and should not be stored in a freezer. Once the package is opened, the bread will stay fresh for up to 8 days when stored in the refrigerator."

Heinrich Leupoldt KG
95163 Weissenstadt
Bavaria, Germany
R&R Export Import

Ingredients: Cereals 59% (whole rice, millet, buckwheat, rice flour, maize), water, sweet lupin flour, flaxseed, salt, guar gum, yeast, sunflower seeds, caramel,  no chemical additives.

Carolanne Le Blanc
Email: GlutenFreeInFlorida @
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, April 15, 2016

How­ to Store Fruits & Vegetables without Plastic

Tips and tricks to extend the life of your produce without plastic

Always remove, or loosen, any tight bands to allow them to breathe

APPLES:  store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks, for longer storage place in a cardboard box in the fridge
APRICOTS:  on a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe
ARTICHOKES:  place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture
ARUGULA:  arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture
ASPARAGUS:  stand them upright, loosely in a glass or bowl with water at room temperature, will keep for a week outside the fridge
AVOCADOS:  place in a paper bag at room temp and to speed up their ripening place an apple in the bag with them
BASIL:  is difficult to store well and does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside and left out on a cool counter
BEANS, SHELLING:  open container in the fridge, eat ASAP or some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away
BEET GREENS:  place in an airtight container with a little moisture
BEETS:  Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.  Make certain to cut the tops off to keep beets firm, be sure to keep the greens! By leaving the greens on root vegetables it draws moisture from the root, making them lose flavor and firmness
BERRIES:  Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too high, only a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well. Wash only before you plan on eating them
BROCCOLI:  place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge
BROCCOLI RABE:  left in an open container in the crisper, but best used as soon as possible
BRUSSELS SPROUTS:  If bought on the stalk leave them on that stalk. Put the stalk in the fridge or leave it on a cold place. If purchased loose store them in an open container with a damp towel on top
CABBAGE:  left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to lose its moisture after a week or so, best used as soon as possible
CARROTS:  cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in a closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long
CAULIFLOWER:  will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s purchased
CELERY:  does best when simply placed in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter
CELERY ROOT/CELERIAC:  wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper
CHERRIES:  store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, any added moisture encourages mold
CITRUS:  store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an air tight container
CORN:  leave un-husked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best eaten sooner than later for maximum flavor
CUCUMBER:  wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room
DATES:  dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag, as long as it’s porous to keeping the moisture away from the skin of the dates
EGGPLANT:  does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it, eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage place loose, in the crisper
FAVA BEANS:  place in an air tight container
FENNEL:  if used within a couple days after it’s bought fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water; like celery. If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water
FIGS:  don’t like humidity, so no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week un-stacked
GARLIC:  store in a cool, dark, place
GREEN BEANS:  they like humidity, but not wetness; a damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container
GREEN GARLIC:  an airtight container in the fridge or left out for a day or two is fine, best before dried out
GREEN TOMATOES:  store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color
GREENS:  remove any bands, twist ties; most greens must be kept in an airtight container with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out. Kale, collards, and chard even do well standing in a cup of water on the counter or fridge
HERBS:  a closed container in the fridge to keep up to a week; any longer might encourage mold
LEEKS:  leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter; just so the very bottom of the stem has water
LETTUCE:  keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge
MELONS:  uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, an open container is fine
NECTARINES:  similar to apricots, should be storee in the fridge. Okay if ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature
OKRA:  doesn’t like humidity, so a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase
ONION:  store in a cool, dark and dry, place:  good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them
PARSNIPS:  an open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge
PEACHES:  most stone fruit, refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter
PEARS:  will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them
PERSIMMON: store at room temperature until completely mushy both FUYU (shorter/pumpkin shaped) or HACHIYA (longer/pointed end) The astringentness of them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, check now and then, but don’t stack; they get very fragile when really ripe
POMEGRANATES:  keep up to a month stored on a cool counter
POTATOES:  like garlic and onions, store in cool, dark and dry place, such as a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well
RADICCHIO:  place in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top
RADISHES:  place them in an open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.  Don’t forget to remove the greens to store separately so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots
RHUBARB:  wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator
RUTABAGAS:  in an ideal situation a cool, dark, humid root cellar or a closed container in the crisper to keep their moisture in
SNAP PEAS:  refrigerate in an open container
SPINACH:  store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold
SPRING ONIONS:  Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper
STRAWBERRIES:  Don’t like to be wet, they do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day
SUMMER SQUASH:  does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut
SWEET PEPPERS:  Only wash them right before you plan on eating them as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days, place in the crisper if longer storage is needed
SWEET POTATOES:  Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Never refrigerate, sweet potatoes don’t like the cold
TOMATOES:  Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple
TURNIPS:  same as radishes and beets, store them in an open container with a moist cloth. Remove the greens to store separately
WINTER SQUASH: store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten

ZUCCHINI:  does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage

Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, April 8, 2016

Getting a LapBand with Celiac Disease - Part II

When I first considered getting a LapBand I tried to research any information about LapBands and Celiac Disease and the only thing I found were others asking the same answers. I'm hoping to help others who might be on the same search.
Part I  and Part III

One of the first things that I realized was my diet was going to change drastically.  And I have some major issues with what my Surgeon was going to require of me.  I eat healthy, organic, all natural foods along with being Gluten-Free and 90% Vegetarian.  My Surgeon wanted me to switch to diet, artificial ingredients with no real understanding of what Gluten-Free actually meant.  So my challenge was to find low calorie, high quality, high protein, Gluten-Free products that I could eat and my Surgeon would approve of.

Two weeks prior to Surgery you'll be expected to go on a torturous diet, supposedly to reduce the size of a fatty liver. I'm convinced it's to prove your determination to lose weight.  I was told I had to lose 6lbs or my Surgery would be cancelled...I lost Surgery was not cancelled.  The diet is indeed torture!!  Two High Protein Shakes a day...and ONE meat and vegetable meal :-(  After the very first week I was ready to murder anyone who got in my way.  Just out of desperation I added a High Protein Bar midday...I desperately needed something to chew on.

Even if you're not looking at Surgery...if you have Celiac Disease or Gluten-Intolerance issues you should be taking a daily Multi-Vitamin & that you're certain is Gluten-Free.  I'm a big advocate of liquid supplements...and my current favorite is Nature's Plus, Source of Life Red, Multi-Vitamin & Mineral Liquid, Mixed Berry. I've been taking this stuff for years...and I love it.  Two weeks prior to my surgery I started taking a double dose, one in the morning, and one in the evening.  After surgery I'm back to my daily dose every morning...right in my morning Protein Shake.  I'm also deficient in Iodine & Potassium so those go into my morning Shake as well.

You'll also be expected to find a good low calorie, High Protein Shake.  And you'd better find one that you actually enjoy because you'll be taking it for a loooooong time if not the rest of your life.  For me, I prefered BioChem 100% Whey Protein both the Greens & Whey and the Mixed Berry. Two scoops in every Shake so I used one of each.  I liked this because I could make it up the night before or two seconds before and it desolved easily without needing a blender.

My Protein Bar of choice is ThinkThin. I prefer any of the non-chocolate versions.  These little babies have 0% sugar...but still manage to taste pretty decent.  Even after Surgery I'll continue to keep these on my shopping list.

One thing that didn’t get discussed was the fact that such a High Protein Diet was also a great binder. OMG After spending most of my life with Diarrhea I was totally unprepared for that one!!  So I quickly added SunSweet PlumSmart to my daily diet!!  Every day, I mixed 10oz of juice and 10oz of water in my water bottle.

You'll also be expected to maintain a VERY strict diet for an additional four weeks after Surgery…two weeks of liquids, followed by two weeks of soft, mushy foods.  This is when your stomach is healing and you really don't want to be forcing your tummy to digest difficult foods.

Yogurt is also going to become your best friend...and I just love Chobani  This became another staple in my diet. My Surgeon preferred the 0% fat...I'm afraid I went with the 2% in a variety of flavors.  I just loved the creamy texture and don't even notice the extra protein :-) I stocked up on these prior to my surgery.  I also added diet puddings & Jell-O’s as well as popsicles in a variety of flavors.  And yes, I did decide to go with the diet ones only because I knew it would be short term and not something I would be doing forever.

Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, April 1, 2016

Gluten-Free Food Pantry

Living Without Magazine - Nov 2011 Issue

Hungry to Help??  For additional ways to offer meal assistance to those with special dietary needs, check around your community. Many organizations have food banks. Contact neighborhood churches, your area’s “board for aging” and the WIC program (Women, Infants, Children) in your region. See if your local Meals on Wheels program has options for those on special diets.

Special-Diet Food Banks
By Connie Sarros and Alicia Woodward

How to help when the cupboards are bare.

After a short prayer of thanks and a slightly longer prayer for protection, Cindy and her 12-year-old daughter Meagan begin eating the macaroni and cheese they picked up at the food bank in Akron, Ohio. Cindy enjoys every bite, as does Meagan. But Cindy knows that in a few short hours, she’ll be holding Meagan’s hand and offering comfort because, as a celiac, Meagan can’t handle this meal. Yet without it, Meagan will go hungry.

Meagan and Cindy are not alone.
Across America, thousands of people who depend on local food banks for their meals are facing the cruel irony of needing food to live yet knowing the items offered could make them sick—or even kill them. Food banks are drastically ill-prepared and under-informed about how to handle the special dietary needs of a growing population of people with food allergies and sensitivities.

A Call to Action
In December 2009, Dee Valdez of Loveland, Colorado, organized a gluten-free pantry as a section in her community’s food bank, the House of Neighborly Service. The first of its kind in the United States, the House of Neighborly Service now distributes food to needy families who are on special diets. For Valdez, the idea was sparked by a phone call she received 17 years before.

“In the early 1990s, a single mom called me because she didn’t know how to feed her little girl who’d just been diagnosed with celiac disease,” recalls Valdez, who headed a local celiac chapter at the time. “I went through a list of products and her response was, ‘How can I afford that? I have to choose between feeding my daughter and all my kids. What would you do? I guess my daughter will just have to learn to live with diarrhea.”

Unbeknownst to the caller, Valdez, a mother with three young children, was not much better off. Despite her own hardship, she was determined to help. She gathered up food from her household and from others who offered to assist and delivered six bags of groceries to the mother.

“I knew that was maybe a week’s worth of food for her and her children,” Valdez says. “I vowed that one day I would find a way to feed families like that, especially kids with special dietary needs.”

Several years later, Valdez found herself living in an identical situation as the caller.
“Back then, there were times when I actually had to rely on a food bank but it wasn’t designed to meet my dietary needs as a celiac. I’d get food for my children there—but I was just eating rice,” says Valdez.

Feed the Hungry
It was 15 years later when Valdez, a former journalist and TV news anchor, felt she was finally at a place in her life where she could follow up on her vow. The community need had remained unmet.

“I was rather appalled that nobody had gotten this important work done. Then I thought, well, I’ll go ahead and do it myself,” she says.

There was no sense in reinventing the wheel, Valdez thought, so she decided to start with an established food bank and work from there. That way, any issues about location, shelf space, government regulations and paperwork, staffing, safety and sanitation would already be addressed. She approached six different food banks in the Denver area—but not one of them fit the bill. The reason? No one had what she termed a “willing heart.”

“It’s not enough to have a food bank facility, sufficient space, a massive amount of donations or a lot of money. If the people who run the place don’t have willing hearts, a special-diet pantry will not be sustained,” Valdez says. “The food banks I talked to were like, yeah, that’s probably something we could look into—but I wanted people who would really embrace this.”

Another criteria for Valdez was that the food bank would offer gluten-free items on each and every day they were open, not just occasionally.

“I didn’t want this to be personality driven,” she explains. “Once I backed away or the executive director leaves, I didn’t want the whole system to fall apart. Because once you start feeding people these special-diet foods, you need to continue to do so. People should be able to count on that.”

Ultimately, Valdez found the right combination in her own backyard—the House of Neighborly Service in Loveland, Colorado.  “The executive director there had lived gluten free for a while due to health reasons. She understood how challenging the diet can be and how vital the food is to people who need it,” Valdez says, calling the food bank “a really sweet find.”

Valdez called the celiac groups in the area, asking them to help secure both financial and food donations and to publicize the project throughout the Denver region. She also contacted gluten-free manufacturers across the nation, obtaining ongoing product donations in order to keep shelves regularly stocked with gluten-free pastas, cookies, pretzels, baking mixes and other goods. The staff at the House of Neighborly Service jumped right in, enthusiastically altering their procedures to incorporate the gluten-free items. Working with Valdez, they trained volunteers to read labels, sort products and stock shelves.

Opening Day
The House of Neighborly Service agreed to launch the project in December of 2009, just in time for the holidays. Christmas, a hectic time for food banks, was fast approaching.

To help publicize the availability of gluten-free food to needy families throughout the area, Valdez decided to make the opening a media event. The press, local and state dignitaries and families across the region were notified—and the event was well attended. Valdez recalls a moment at the opening that was particularly poignant for her.

“A family with seven kids came because they needed food for the holidays. Out of nine in that family, four were gluten free,” she says. “Many of the celiac moms used the food bank as an object lesson in giving, taking their kids grocery shopping to help stock the shelves. A 3-year-old girl with celiac disease gave a box of her favorite gluten-free cookies to a little child in this family. It was a powerful visual that still makes me emotional.”

Since then, Valdez has gone on to work with other food banks across the nation to help them incorporate special-diet pantries into their day-to-day operations.

“I know from personal experience how important it is to be able to have the right food to meet special dietary needs,” she says. “Parents shouldn’t have to choose between feeding their child something that’s ‘poison’ or having them go hungry. If we can get even one family the special-diet food they need, we offer them restored health and hope—and that can permanently change their lives.”

Connie Sarros has written several gluten-free cookbooks, including co-authoring Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies. She lives in Fairlawn, Ohio.

Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, March 25, 2016

SunStart, Gluten-Free Raspberry Golden Crunch Cookies

"Tastefully rich, flavorful and loaded with 'real' raspberries"

Gluten-Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Wheat Free, Suitable for Vegetarians

Right now I'm sitting here enjoying the Ginger Golden Crunch Cookies.  But that's only because the Raspberry Golden Crunch Cookies are all gone!!  I had to share...and believe me it wasn't easy.  These Gluten-Free cookies are great.  They're enjoyed equally by Gluten tolerant and intolerant alike.  These are an incredibly light, crunchy cookie with just a hint of coconut.  They actually melt in your mouth.  Both the Raspberry and the Ginger have little bits of chewy finding tiny treasures in your mouth as the cookies melt away.  I particularly enjoy mine with a good cup of coffee or green tea.

My only concern...both boxes had about 50% of the cookies broken when we opened them.  Not necessarily 'pretty' to serve to company.  The packaging was secure, no real reason for the contents to be broken. 

But in truth I wouldn't want them 'new & improved' at all.  Just leave them the way they are...tasty little treats that I can keep selfishly for myself.  Ooop's...looks like the Ginger ones have vanished as well!  Who's got another box??

SunStart Quality Bakers
30 Woodside Road, Ballymena, County Antrim
N Ireland, BT42 4QJ

Ingredients:  Flour base (brown rice flakes, millet flakes, corn starch, potato starch, xanthan gum), desiccated coconut, naturally evaporated cane sugar, raspberry flavoured pieces (raspberry pulp, sucrose, apple, pineapple fibres), molasses, non-hydrogenated palm oil, rice syrup, golden syrup.

Additional Flavors:  Supreme Golden Crunch Cookies, Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies, Chocolate Wrapped Golden Crunch Cookies, Ginger Golden Crunch Cookies, Caramel & Chocolate Dessert Delights, Rocky Road Bars

Carolanne Le Blanc
Email: GlutenFreeInFlorida @
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771