Friday, September 30, 2016

Bake a Better Biscuit, Gluten-Free

Crumbly cookies may well be a thing of the past when it comes to purchasing
your next packet of Gluten-Free biscuits.
By: Paige Taylor
Recent research results from the Department of Food and Technology of the University of Madrid reveal that flour made of the Teff seed could be the answer to every Celiac sufferer’s prayers. Teff flour is made from the seed of a grass called ‘eragrostis tef’ or commonly called, ‘Teff’. It is a grass grown in Northeast Africa, in particular the northern Ethiopian Highlands. It is a small seed used in a similar fashion as quinoa. In Ethiopia, Teff is a chief food source and is commonly milled into flour and used to make a variation of flat bread.

Teff has an attractive nutritional profile which has researchers excited about its potential use. Teff is a high source of carbohydrates and fiber. The grain has a naturally low glycemic index. It is high in iron, protein and calcium and contains significant levels of essential minerals such as barium, boron, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin and zinc. Teff is also extremely rich amino acids and is much higher in lysine than wheat or barley. The grain is ideal for celiac sufferers as the gluten in Teff does not contain the protein ‘gliadin’, which is what causes the immunological reaction in Celiac Disease.
The most pressing concern for the manufactures of Gluten-Free food is the arduous task of trying to imitate the elastic properties of wheat flour. The gluten proteins in wheat varieties allow for a light, fluffy and supple texture. Most Gluten-Free flours are heavier, dry and even brittle in comparison.  Developments show that Teff has the ability to absorb water more readily and bind better as a dough; making it a much better alternative for those wanting to avoid gluten products.
Teff contains a higher amount of fat than regular grains, so no added fats are necessary when creating the Teff variety of Gluten-Free flour. This instantly reduces the calorie count and limits the need to incorporate artificial additives. Additionally, the flour appears to hold up to the current manufacturing processes employed by cookie companies. This allows Gluten-Free alternatives to be mass-produced in similar circumstances, providing a cheap, competitive product.

The developers of Teff flour have applied for a patent on their highly guarded method for making this new flour. They hope to have it available to manufactures soon so others can benefit from this new discovery. Teff flour will be an appealing alternative for people requiring a specialized diet or wanting to explore healthier alternatives.
Written By: Paige Taylor,
Paige writes for A Forever Recovery to help people struggling with addiction

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Cookie Momsters, Gluten-Free Bakery

All of our baked goods are Gluten-Free (GF), Casein-Free (CF) and TreeNut-Free (NF).
We also have Soy-Free (SF) items and will do special orders for Egg-Free (EF) items.

My youngest daughter recently moved to Jacksonville, Florida and of course the first thing I did was Google "Gluten-Free Jacksonville" for my next visit.  Imagine my delight when I discovered Cookie Momsters, a dedicated Gluten-Free Bakery, right in Jacksonville.  I couldn't wait to go check them out.  I was so excited that I totally neglected to check their open hours.  Imagine my dismay when I arrived at the Bakery nearly two whole hours after they had closed!!  I was heartbroken...standing there in the sweltering Florida heat with my nose literally pressed against the window...and one hand on the door handle.  And the door opened!! OMG!!  I wasted no time in putting my head inside to find someone still there.  "Are you still open??"  She must have heard the yearning in my voice because she smiled, put her purse and keys back onto the counter and told me that as long as she was there...they were open. 

I wasted no time going inside...explaining to her that I lived four hours away and I was sooooo grateful she would let me in.  Everything had been put away...but she wasted no time in pulling everything back out again!!  Now that's Customer Service!!  I pulled out my wallet and proceeded to shop to my hearts content :-) 

Cupcakes, Muffins, Cookies, Bread - Oh My!!  I got some brand new, never been tried before, seeded rolls...Yum!!  Those were incredible.  Beautiful, light, fluffy Hamburger Rolls...and I had mine with nothing but fresh butter.  Oh My!!  Frosted Cupcakes, light and airy with an extra dollop of frosting inside.  My favorite was the Lemon w/Lemon Frosting.  Wonderful moist Carrot Cake w/Frosting...just melt in your mouth deliciousness!!  Chocolate Chip cookies for the long drive home.  I can't wait to go back to visit my daughter again...with a side trip to Cookie Momsters along the way.  Sooooooo worth the four hour drive.  I just want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to Cookie Momsters for their wonderful Gluten-Free Bakery and their great Customer Service.

The Cookie Momsters

5041 SanJose Blvd
Jacksonville, FL   32207

Located just north of University Blvd in the
SanJose Square Shopping Center,
at the corner of SanJose Blvd and Flanders.

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

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dining out Gluten-Free in Florida

This list is updated let me know if you have additions or changes you'd like to see.  These are simply a few recommendations of places available in Pinellas County...along Florida's West Coast.  I've not had the opportunity to visit all of these locations.  As always when eating out...take responsibility for your own health.  Remember when dealing with Restaurant staff that you represent the entire Gluten-Free Community.

** the ones that have been recommended by our members.

**BJ's   (727) 525-4640
 3800 Park Blvd
 Pinellas Park, FL 33781

**CentralCafe and Organics   (727) 824-0881
 Organic, Vegetarian and Smoothies
 243 Central Avenue
 St Petersburg, FL 33701

**JimmyJohn's   (727) 894-3300
 750 4th Street N
 St Petersburg, FL 33704

**LeafyGreens Cafe   (727) 289-7087
 Organic, Smoothies and Vegetarian
 1431 Central Avenue
 St Petersburg, FL 33705

**LeeRoy Selmon's   (727) 347-5774
 2424Tyrone Blvd
 St Petersburg, FL 33710

**OutbackSteakhouse   (727) 898-2016
 1900 4th Street N
 St Petersburg, FL 33704

**ParkShore Grill      (727) 896-9463
 300 Beach Drive N E
 St Petersburg, FL 33701

**400Beach Seafood   (727) 896-2400
 400 Beach Drive N E
 St Petersburg, FL 33701

Rollin’Oats Market & Cafe   (727) 821-6825
2842 Dr ML King Street N
St Petersburg, FL 33704

Rollin’Oats Market & Cafe   (813) 873-7428
1021 N MacDill Avenue
Tampa, FL 33607

BellaBrava    (727) 895-5515
Italian, Seafood and Pizza
204 Beach Drive N E
St Petersburg, FL 33701

CafeAlma    (727) 502-5002
Mediterranean, Seafood and Tapas
260 1st Avenue S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

CafeLuna    (727) 360-7500
6700 Gulf Blvd
St Pete Beach, FL 33706

Crowley'sDowntown    (727) 821-1111
269 Central Avenue
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Fresco'sWaterfront Bistro    (727) 894-4429
300 2nd Avenue N E
St Petersburg, FL 33701

GratzziItalian Grille    (727) 623-9037
211 Second Street S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Meze119    (727) 498-8627
119 2nd Street N
St Petersburg, FL 33701

PrimiUrban Cafe    (727) 895-4909
27 4th Street N
St Petersburg, FL 33701

Frenchy'sRockaway Grill    (727) 446-4844
7 Rockaway Street
Clearwater, FL 33767

GourmetPizza Company    (813) 258-1999
610 S Armenia Avenue
Tampa, FL 33609

**MellowMushroom    (813) 685-1122
10959 Causeway Blvd
Brandon, FL 33511

**P.F.Chang's China Bistro    (813) 289-8400
219 Westshore Plaza
Tampa, FL 33609

664 Main Street
Dunedin, FL 34698

TerraSur Cafe    (813) 269-2694
5358 W Village Drive
Tampa, FL 33624

ThaiIsland    (813) 251-9111
210 E Davis Blvd
Tampa, FL 33606

TheLiving Room    (727) 736-5202
487 Main St
Dunedin, FL 34698

Carolanne Le Blanc

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

Friday, September 9, 2016

Making bread safe for celiacs

By Alix Stuart, Boston Globe Correspondent
March 11, 2013
(Reprinted without permission)

When Leslie Williams, a former pharmaceutical executive, agreed to meet a visiting professor from Australia in Boston for a lecture, she thought it would be a routine lunch in her role as a business mentor.  But the meeting, three years ago at the Boston Cambridge Marriott, turned into an intense five-hour discussion as Dr. Robert Anderson explained how his research into celiac disease promised to render the destructive disorder obsolete.

An autoimmune disease triggered by gluten proteins in wheat, barley, and rye, celiac disease affects­ some 3 million Americans. Untreated, it can destroy digestive tract tissue and can lead to anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, neurological dysfunction, or even cancer.

Currently, the only solution is to avoid gluten altogether. That means not eating standard versions of bread, pasta, and pizza, or anything else that contains even traces of wheat, including soy sauce and some candy, such as Twizzlers.  Dr. Robert Anderson’s research is zeroing in on a potential vaccine against celiac disease.

But as Anderson explained that afternoon to Williams, his research was zeroing in on a vaccine to cure celiac disease.  
The science “struck me as quite special and possibly­ game-changing,” Williams recalled.

She agreed to work with Anderson, and in short order Williams lined up seed capital from an angel investor and then went to Australia to unravel legal­ agreements around Anderson’s research and his company. Within the year, ImmusanT was formed, with Williams as chief executive and Anderson­ as chief scientific officer. By its first ­anniversary, the firm had $20 million in venture funding.

ImmusanT is headquartered in the biotech boomtown of Kendall Square in Cambridge and is conducting clinical trials for its vaccine, NexVax2, under “fast-track” designation from the Food and Drug Administration for diseases for which no comparable therapies exist.

“If it works, you’ll see the entire paradigm of treatment for celiac changed,” said Sundar Kodiyalam, managing director for the venture investor Vatera Healthcare and an ImmusanT board member. His firm was so enamored of the science that it invested before the company had persuasive clinical data.

Beyond ImmusanT, Boston has become a locus for research into celiac disease. Massachusetts General Hospital scored a coup when it recently convinced a leading researcher, Dr. Alessio Fasano, to head its new celiac treatment and research center. “Our mission is to make life normal for people with celiac disease,” Fasano said at a ceremony marking the opening of the Mass. General center in February.

With similar research units at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Boston, the city now has “a critical mass of expertise” in celiac disease, said Dr. Ronald Kleinman, physician in chief of Mass. General’s pediatric unit.

“I’m not sure that I see miracles happening” with the research underway now, said Lee Graham, chairwoman of Healthy Villi, a 900-member support group for celiac sufferers in New England. “But the gathering that’s happening in Boston is terrific, and tremendously encouraging to us.”  Formerly at the University of Maryland, Fasano in 2003 published a landmark analysis in which he determined that celiac disease affects many more people than previously thought: about 1 out of 100 people. Up to that point, the scientific wisdom was that celiac was relatively rare, and that a gluten-free diet worked as a sufficient “cure.”

But Fasano and others have since shown that some patients who avoid gluten continue to suffer gastric distress, leading to the conclusion that diet alone is not enough.  Not surprisingly, with the market for gluten-free foods at $4.2 billion, ImmunsanT has some company in the race for a solution.   One rival is Alba Therapeutics, a Maryland company that Fasano helped start in 2005. (He is no longer involved in the company, though he owns some stock.) The other is Alvine Pharmaceuticals, of San Carlos, Calif., spawned from research at Stanford University.

Both companies are working on pill-based therapies to counteract the unintentional consumption of small amounts of gluten; complements to the gluten-free diet rather than replacements. And both are preparing for Phase 2b clinical trials to determine if their medicines work, and at what doses.  Alba’s compound targets zonulin, a protein that is believed to contribute to “leaks” in the gut that allow gluten to infiltrate the digestive system. Cephalon Inc., now owned by Teva Pharmaceuticals, has a $7 million option to buy Alba if its drug proves effective.

Alvine’s therapy involves an enzyme that decomposes gluten into harmless particles before it reaches the gut. Patients in its most recent trials who consumed gluten for six weeks while taking the Alvine compound showed little or no damage to their intestines, with some even showing improved conditions.  
ImmusanT’s drug is at a much earlier stage of development. At the time he lunched with Williams, Anderson was a professor at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He had a start-up, Nexpep Pty Ltd., and was in need of funding to continue developing a celiac vaccine.

Anderson said he was struck by how many patients struggled with a gluten-free diet, which can be less healthy than typical diets.   “Having a treatment that would allow full recovery and return to normal diet would be life-changing for patients, and may motivate more patients to be checked for celiac disease,” he said.

Williams, meanwhile, had worked at Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, and other drug makers and was chief executive of Ventaira Pharmaceuticals when it was sold to Battelle in 2007.

In his research, Anderson had latched on to a key catalyst: the three gluten peptides that are believed to be at root of the reaction patients suffer from gluten. NexVax2 essentially tries to reeducate the immune system to tolerate those peptides. Initial study results indicate that ImmunsanT has identified the correct peptides, and that Nexvax2 is safe to take — two important steps.

Still, there are many questions. For one thing, ImmunsanT’s early volunteers maintained gluten-free diets during the study, so its not clear how well the vaccine works in the presence of gluten. And it will work only for an as-yet undefined subset of celiac sufferers.  Even so, Fasano, who has no connection to the company, calls the concept behind the ImmunsanT’s vaccine “the holy grail” that would allow patients to eat regular bread, pasta, and other gluten-rich foods.

Though ImmusanT and the other firms are small, Williams and others in the field said the pharmaceutical industry has a keen interest in their research.   Moreover, because celiac disease is currently the most well understood autoimmune disorder, many scientists believe the research could serve as a springboard to drugs for larger markets.  “It’s not just about curing celiac,” Fasano said. “It’s about treating MS and diabetes, and all these other autoimmune conditions, and that is where industry really takes an interest.”

Carolanne Le Blanc

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

Friday, September 2, 2016

Celiac & Gluten-Intolerance to be considered Disabilities??

Food Service Vulnerable to Food Allergy Lawsuits
People with severe food allergies have a new tool in their attempt to find menus that fit their diet: federal disabilities law. And that could leave schools, restaurants and anyplace else that serves food more vulnerable to legal challenges over food sensitivities. A settlement stemming from a lack of gluten-free foods available to students at a Massachusetts university could serve as a precedent for people with other allergies or conditions, including peanut sensitivities or diabetes. Institutions and businesses subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act could be open to lawsuits if they fail to honor requests for accommodations by people with food allergies. Colleges and universities are especially vulnerable because they know their students and often require them to eat on campus, Eve Hill of the Justice Department's civil rights division says. But a restaurant also could be liable if it blatantly ignored a customer's request for certain foods and caused that person to become ill, though that case might be harder to argue if the customer had just walked in off the street, Hill says. The settlement with Lesley University, reached last month but drawing little attention will require the Cambridge, Mass., institution to serve gluten-free foods and make other accommodations for students who have celiac disease. At least one student complained to the federal government after the school would not exempt the student from a meal plan even though the student couldn't eat the food. "All colleges should heed this settlement and take steps to make accommodations," says Alice Bast, president and founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. "To our community this is definitely a precedent."
People who suffer from celiac disease don't absorb nutrients well and can get sick from the gluten found in wheat, rye and barley. The illness, which affects around 2 million Americans, causes abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea, and people who have it can suffer weight loss, fatigue, rashes and other problems. Celiac is a diagnosed illness that is more severe than gluten sensitivity, which some people self-diagnose. Ten years ago, most people had never heard of celiac disease. But awareness has exploded in recent years, for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Some researchers say it was under-diagnosed, others say it's because people eat more processed wheat products like pastas and baked goods than in past decades, and those items use types of wheat that have a higher gluten content. Gluten-free diets have expanded beyond those with celiac disease. Millions of people are buying gluten-free foods because they say they make them feel better, even if they don't have a wheat allergy. Americans were expected to spend $7 billion on gluten-free foods last year. With so many people suddenly concerned with gluten content, colleges and universities have had to make accommodations. Some will allow students to be exempted from meal plans, while others will work with students individually. They may need to do even more now as the federal government is watching. "These kids don't want to be isolated," Bast says. "Part of the college experience is being social. If you can't even eat in the school cafeteria then you are missing out on a big part of college life." Under the Justice Department agreement, Lesley University says it will not only provide gluten-free options in its dining hall but also allow students to pre-order, provide a dedicated space for storage and preparation to avoid cross-contamination, train staff about food allergies and pay a $50,000 cash settlement to the affected students. "We are not saying what the general meal plan has to serve or not," Hill says. "We are saying that when a college has a mandatory meal plan they have to be prepared to make reasonable modifications to that meal plan to accommodate students with disabilities."
The agreement says that food allergies may constitute a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act, if they are severe enough. The definition was made possible under 2009 amendments to the disability law that allowed for episodic impairments that substantially limit activity. "By preventing people from eating, they are really preventing them from accessing their educational program," Hill says of the school and its students. Mary Pat Lohse, the chief of staff and senior adviser to Lesley University's president, says the school has been working with the Justice Department for more than three years to address students' complaints. She says the school has already implemented most parts of the settlement and will continue to update policies to serve students who need gluten-free foods. "The settlement agreement provides a positive road map for other colleges and universities to follow," Lohse says. Joan Rector McGlockton of the National Restaurant Association says that restaurants have taken notice of an increasing demand for gluten free options, "drawing attention to the importance of providing these options as well as the preparation methods involved in serving these options." The group has a training program for restaurants so they will know what to do when food allergy issues arise. Some say the Justice Department decision goes too far. Hans von Spakovsky, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who worked in the civil rights division of the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, says food allergies shouldn't apply under the disability act. He adds that the costs could be substantial when schools are already battling backlash from high tuition costs. "I certainly encourage colleges and universities to work with students on this issue, but the fact that this is a federal case and the Justice Department is going to be deciding what kind of meals could be served in a dining hall is just absurd," he says.

Whether the government is involved or not, schools and other food service establishments are likely to hear from those who want more gluten-free foods. Dhanu Thiyagarajan, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, says she decided to speak up when she arrived at school and lost weight because there were too few gluten-free options available. Like Lesley University, the University of Pittsburgh requires that on-campus students participate in a meal plan. Thiyagarajan eventually moved off campus so she could cook her own food, but not before starting an organization of students who suffer from wheat allergies like hers. She says she is now working with food service at the school and they have made a lot of progress, though not enough for her to move back on campus. L. Scott Lissner, the disability coordinator at Ohio State University, says he has seen similar situations at his school, though people with food allergies have not traditionally thought of themselves as disabled. He says schools will eventually have to do more than just exempt students from a meal plan. "This is an early decision on a growing wave of needs that universities are going to have to address," he says of the Lesley University agreement.
Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, August 26, 2016

Gluten-Free Cupcakes, CookBook

50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour
By - Elana Amsterdam

I don't normally 'read' cookbooks.  I have a tendency to pinpoint what I'm looking for, just to grasp the general idea of the recipe.  My Mom always called me the 'experimentor' because I seldom follow any recipe to the letter.  But this was the second CookBook that I've received with a request to review.  So read it I did :-)

I'm glad that I did...I was pretty impressed with what I read.  First of all...there were pictures.  I like pictures, they give me a goal to strive for.  Pictures tell me right up front if this is something I might like to eat.  Secondly, I liked all the pre-cookbook information...CupCakes 101 - Equipment, Tips & Ingredients.  There was a lot of great information there written in simple, easy to understand language.  Considering that Almond and Coconut Flours are so new it's very important to read Elana's suggestions and tips on handling them.

Thankfully, I received two copies of this little book because as soon as my friend saw it she snatched it up and took it home with promises to try each and every recipe in the book.  Not only is she trying all the recipes, but she's keeping notes and bringing samples!!  I just love the samples!!  Right away we were both impressed with the fact that while these are all still delicious, even decadant treats...they're still healthier than most we've had in the past.  Both flours have more fiber and/or protein than the standard white-rice based flour. Fiber is crucial to healthy digestion and cholesterol levels.  Adding them to baked goods lowers their glycemic level for blood sugar maintenance.  Both are grain- and gluten-free and both flours are lower in calories per 1/4 cup.

My friend prefers her Cupcakes without frosting.  She feels you can appreciate the taste of the cake much better that way.  So far I've gotten to test the Pumpkin CupCakes...they were very tasty.  A bit heavier than I'm used to but tasted wonderful just the same.  She made the Scallion Goat Cheese Muffins and gave them to me just in time for a four hour road trip across state.  Boy those little babies were life savers!!  And just recently she brought over the Chocolate Peanut Butter CupCakes and laughingly told me she'd be making those much more often since they were her favorites so far.  I have to agree that for a sweet treat they were just wonderful!!  She's having a grand time going through the entire book and I'm certainly looking forward to more 'left-overs'.

•50 gluten free recipes for cupcakes and savory treats
•14 recipes for frostings, fillings and toppings
•25 cupcake recipes that use coconut flour
•9 cupcake recipes that use almond flour
•4 flourless cupcake recipes
•12 cupcake recipes that use both almond flour and coconut flour
•41 dairy free cupcake recipes
•8 dairy free frostings, fillings and toppings
•5 vegan frostings, fillings and toppings
•38 nut free recipes
•10 cupcake recipes that use arrowroot powder

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dinner Done! Gluten-Free

Get your Dinner Done!
Often end up grabbing fast food or spending a lot to eat out?  Wish your family sat down for homemade meals more often?  Let us help bring dinner home.  Prepare healthy meals in our professional kitchen, order ToGo or have it delivered! 

I’m sitting here at my computer enjoying a bowl of Pulled Chicken in Honey Chipotle Sauce that I just pulled out of my Crockpot and paired up with some broccoli.  Out of the fridge, into the Crockpot on low for a few hours and I have a wonderful dinner…absolutely no prep time.  Now that’s the way I like to cook.  And it tastes delicious!

About a month ago I heard through the Celiac grapevine of a great place in Tampa that understood good food prepared at home and Gluten-Free.  For a set fee you can choose 4 meals from a full menu and make a reservation to attend a prep session.  You show up on time, receive an apron, your chosen menu, and instructions on how to put it all together.  Then you work in their kitchen, follow their recipes, use their ingredients, tools and storage materials and walk out the door an hour or two later with some incredible food ready for the freezer and simple instructions for preparing your own wonderful meals at home.  And did I mention they understand Gluten-Free?

So I got in touch with Audra, the owner, and asked her for a list of safe meals that I could have.  Of the 12 or so items on the menu I expected to find only one or two that would be suitable for a Gluten-Free lifestyle.  I was astounded by what I received…not just one or two but this:

•Argentinean Flank – OK as is
•Farmers Market Chicken -- Use gluten-free chicken base
•Goat Cheese Herb Stuffed Chicken -- Use corn meal instead of panko
•Hong Kong Pork Tenderloin - Use gluten free soy sauce; use corn meal instead of panko; OMIT dipping sauce (contains a soy sauce that DOES contain a little gluten)
•Marsala Mushroom Chicken -- Use corn starch instead of flour
•Salmon with Piquant Dill Sauce -- OK as is
•Chicken Parmigiana -- Use corn starch instead of Italian Seasoned breadcrumbs. Lightly season it with salt and pepper
•Chops with Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta - OK as is
•Grilled Lime Chicken with Black Bean Salsa - OK as is
•Pulled Chicken in Honey Chipotle Sauce - OK as is

Now that’s an impressive list of choices!  And it was very difficult to pick out just four!  But I finally settled on the ones I wanted and then set about putting the recipes together.  There were fourteen prep stations altogether.  Each one specifically set up for one entire recipe.  So it was just a matter of moving from station to station for my four meals.  Everything I needed was within easy reach, and there were helpers aplenty to answer questions and whisk away dirty dishes and utensils to replace them with clean in the blink of an eye. Each meal feeds 4-6 people and we were given the option of splitting them in half for smaller portions.  So I actually got eight meals to bring home…two of each of my four choices.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that because of my lapband each meal provided one dinner and two smaller lunches.  And if my meals taste as incredible as my dinner tonight I am one very happy camper :-)  My daughter and I are already looking over the March menu and trying to figure out when we can make it back to Tampa for another prep session.

They do have the option of picking up already prepared frozen meals, or having them delivered to you within their delivery area.  But being Gluten-Free I fully understand the possibilities of cross-contamination so I actually prefer to prep everything myself so that I can see what’s going into my meal first-hand.  I’m willing to accept those risks myself and for the price of my meals I am extremely happy with what I received.  We will definitely be returning to Dinner Done!

Dan and Audra Nasser
Dinner Done Carrollwood

Address: 10330 N. Dale Mabry, Suite #120, Tampa, FL 33618-4404
Phone: (813) 264-7700
Directions: Dinner Done Carrollwood is located in the Promenade Plaza in Carrollwood.  Directly on N. Dale  Mabry, just north of Busch.  We’re in the same plaza as Avant Gold Jewelers and Peter Glenn Ski & Sports, just south of McDonalds.

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

Friday, August 12, 2016

Gluten-Free Snack Cake, Single Serve or Share

UPDATE:  WhooHoo!!  Seems that Florida now has a new Cottage Food Law that will allow me to sell my little snack cakes :-)  Yahoo...going to have to look into this a bit more but it sounds really promising!!

My challenge was simple.  I wanted a quick n easy snack that didn’t create a huge mess, didn’t have a ton of leftovers, didn’t have all the sugar/fat of regular treats, and might actually be a bit healthier than most snacks.  AND it had to work in a toaster oven or microwave.  AND it had to be Gluten-Free!!  It took a bit, many trials n errors, about 5 lbs on my behalf and then I just started passing them out to family and friends and begging for feedback.


What I ended up with is great!!  It’s a little Gluten-Free Snack Cake that comes in two flavors…Chocolate and Vanilla…that’s just big enough for one person, or to share.  You can prepare it with Applesauce if you don’t want the fat…or your favorite Greek Yogurt for the extra protein.  I prefer the Chocolate done with the Applesauce, and the Vanilla done with Pineapple Yogurt.

Ok…so now I’ve got the recipe perfected.  What shall I do with it?? 

I’m thinking that I can certainly sell these little gems locally.  No problem there - $4.00 per Snack Cake seems about right.  But I’m also wondering if I can sell them by mail??  I’m thinking $5.00 per Snack Cake allows for my shipping and handling too.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Ingredients:  White Rice Flour Mix* (White Rice, Tapioca, Sorghum, Potato Flours, & Corn Starch), Raw Sugar, Buttermilk Solids, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Sea Salt (*White Rice, Tapioca, Sorghum, Potato Flours, & Corn Starch)

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Ingredients:  Brown Rice Flour Mix* (Brown Rice, Tapioca, Sorghum, Potato, Garbanzo & Fava Flours), Raw Sugar, Dark Cocoa, Buttermilk Solids, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Sea Salt

A warm delicious, single-serve (or share) Gluten-Free Dessert that’s ready in minutes straight from the microwave or toaster oven! Now you can treat yourself to a warm indulgent dessert without all the preparation, time and clean-up.  Just add two simple ingredients and pop it into the microwave or toaster oven. You’ll have a warm treat in no time.  They’re the perfect size and are so quick and easy!! These cakes are so quick, easy to make that Celiac Teens can make them as an after school snack, and they’re just big enough to satisfy two or three toddlers without any waste.

Bring them to work for a quick and warm treat. But the greatest thing is that you don't have to worry about finishing off an entire cake. Just one satisfies your sweet tooth and you don't have all of the guilt from overeating.

Toaster Oven:  30 Minutes at 350, One 4” Ramekin
          (Oven Proof or Microwave Safe)
Microwave:   3 Minutes on High, One 12oz Coffee Cup, or Two Smaller Coffee Cups
Allow time to cool

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

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Celiac Disease Epidemic - Why Gluten-Free isn't enough

(Re-printed without permission)

On June 10th 2005 my mom died from Cancer at the age of 52… and I miss her every single day.

I was devastated.
It tore me apart.
It didn’t make sense.
It wasn’t fair.
How could this happen?

But looking back, the signs leading up to her cancer revealed a pattern:
Lifelong “nervous stomach” (diarrhea, gas, and bloating)

Fertility problems
Graves’ disease
Frequent illness
Gallbladder cancer
Bile duct cancer
Liver cancer

And my own Celiac Disease diagnosis in 2007 affirmed my suspicions.

Lifelong untreated Celiac Disease killed my mom…

Celiac Disease is an exploding epidemic
The latest research estimates 1% of the western population has Celiac Disease (1 in every 133 people) with nearly 3 million people suffering in the United States. Lot’s A LOT of people… but what’s worse is the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center estimates 97% of those with Celiac Disease remain undiagnosed.

So why are so many people unaware they have Celiac Disease?
The diagnosis itself can be expensive, time-consuming, and misunderstood. The “gold standard” Celiac diagnosis looks for a positive antibody blood test confirmed by an intestinal biopsy.  The biopsy is typically ordered by a Gastroenterologist and gathered in a hospital setting during a procedure called an Endoscopy, costing anywhere from $2,000 – $5,000.  For some people, that’s just not an option.  It isn’t necessarily a lack of tests that’s the problem - it’s the lack of doing tests in the first place.  But I’ll get to that in a moment…

I used to think the Celiac Disease epidemic was there all along… that this meteoric rise in the disease was the result of new medical technology and the growing awareness in mainstream media. But I was wrong… well sort of.

We are getting better at finding it - but recent studies provide solid evidence that a Celiac Disease “explosion” is happening because more people are developing the disease, not just because of better testing.  In fact, one study performed at the Mayo Clinic suggests the incidence of Celiac Disease in men has increased 4X since 1948!  If that’s not enough to convince you that there’s a tidal wave of Celiac Disease headed for us, let’s follow the money.  Private Industry has taken notice of the rising population of gluten-free dieters (not all of which have Celiac Disease). 

Look at this data:
Gluten-free foods and beverages, once considered specialty items, had a compound annual growth rate of 30% in the U.S. between 2006 and 2010… $2.64 billion in total sales in 2010.  New reports estimate it will be a $5.5 Billion market by 2012!  Corporations wouldn’t be pumping millions of dollars into a market if they thought it could shrink or slow down anytime soon.  Not only have that, but pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop several drug treatments for Celiac Disease.  The worst part of this story isn’t just the growing epidemic…

You Could Have Celiac Disease and Not Even Know It
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition of the gastrointestinal system triggered by gluten, the protein found in wheat.  When people with Celiac Disease are exposed to Gluten it stimulates the immune system to attack and damage the intestinal lining, waging war against its own intestinal tissue (villi).  The challenge with Gluten is that it’s virtually ubiquitous in today’s world, found in just about everything… from cereal to lipstick.  And because Gluten is in just about everything we eat, drink, and bathe with – it can be tough to avoid.  We could conceivably consume Gluten in every aspect of our daily lives.

Lately, public awareness has been growing for the digestive symptoms related to Celiac Disease like diarrhea, gas, cramping, and bloating.  It’s a good sign, but one problem lies in the fact that only ½ the people with Celiac Disease actually have significant diarrhea as the primary symptom.

Additionally, the disease has been linked to over 300 different symptoms, many of them subtle and seemingly unrelated to digestive problems.  Other symptoms include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, depression, anxiety, joint pain, seizures, muscle cramps and many more.

That’s the problem with undiagnosed Celiac Disease… 
It’s not a lack of available testing - but a lack of recognizing the need to test for it in the first place.  The disease is like a chameleon, sometimes manifesting into symptoms that don’t exactly scream out, “Hey Doc, I’m Celiac Disease.”  Couple that with an average family physician 10-20 years out of medical school that’s not current on the latest Celiac Disease research and it’s a losing equation for everyone involved.

That’s what my story was like.  After losing my mom in 2005 I started having diarrhea more and more every day… sometimes 10 or more gut-wrenching sessions.  I was losing weight and malnourished.  And even though I had some “classic” Celiac Disease symptoms, I also had a history of depression, anxiety, “nervous stomach”, chronic fatigue, and low iron.

Over the next year, I continued to go to the doctor with worsening diarrhea and received a different diagnosis each visit.  First I got sent home with Fiber, then drugs for IBS, and then a colonoscopy looking for Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease.  It was only because of my emotional pleas the gastroenterologist agreed to take a small intestinal biopsy for Celiac Disease.

The bottom line is this: you could have Celiac Disease and not even know it - and your Doctor might not realize it either.

What Happens in Untreated Celiac Disease?

If Celiac Disease goes untreated… it’s not good.  Here’s just a few of the increased risk factors from various studies:
  • 30% increased risk for GI cancer
  • 40X increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma of the small intestine
  • 77X increased risk for lymphoma
Then there’s the percentage of people with Celiac Disease that have the following associated conditions that aren’t going to go away if the Celiac Disease isn’t treated…
  • Anemia (3-6%)
  • Arthritis (20%)
  • Ataxia (40%)
  • Cows Milk Intolerance (24%)
  • Dermatitis (5%)
  • Diabetes-Type 1 (12%)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (20%)
  • Liver Disease (42%)
  • Migraine Headaches (4%)
  • Nerve Disease and/or Peripheral Neuropathy (51%)
  • Obesity (30-40%)
  • Osteoporosis (4.5%)
  • Low Bone Density (70%)
  • Pancreatic & Thyroid Disorders (5-14%)
The important message here is this: it’s a good idea to rule out Celiac Disease if you have any of these problems… and it’s a REALLY good idea to treat Celiac Disease if you do get diagnosed.  A diagnosis isn’t the end of the world… as you can see, it could save your life.

The Gluten-Free Diet will save your life (maybe)…
It’s widely accepted that the first step in treating Celiac Disease is removing gluten from the diet with 100% strictness.  In fact, this is the treatment plan copied right from the National Library of Medicine and typical of most doctor-patient conversations after a diagnosis:

Celiac disease cannot be cured. However, your symptoms will go away and the villi in the lining of the intestines will heal if you follow a lifelong gluten-free diet. Do not eat foods, beverages, and medications that contain wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. You must read food and medication labels carefully to look for hidden sources of these grains and ingredients related to them. Because wheat and barley grains are common in the American diet, sticking with this diet is challenging. With education and planning, you will heal. While removing gluten exposure is critical to the treatment of the disease… it isn’t THE only treatment.  It’s just part of it.  The danger lies in the promise that people with Celiac Disease who follow a strict Gluten-Free diet for life will fully heal. I followed a strict Gluten-Free diet for two years with only minor symptom-relief.  And it turns out I’m not alone….

The Gluten Free Diet Isn’t Enough…
New research suggests that the small intestines of up to 60% of adults never completely heal from Celiac Disease despite following a gluten free diet.  In one study of 241 Celiac Patients – small intestine mucosal recovery 2 years after following a Gluten-Free diet was 34% and 5 years later was only 66%.  The authors stated: “Mucosal recovery was absent in a substantial portion of adults with CD after treatment with a GFD.”  Another study of 465 Celiac patients after 16-months on a Gluten-Free Diet found that:  “Complete normalization of duodenal lesions is exceptionally rare in adult coeliac patients despite adherence to GFD”

So in other words, many of these people followed a gluten free diet for years without completely healing the intestinal damage caused by the disease.  If the intestinal damage never heals it is no wonder Celiac Disease patients are more likely to experience cancer or some other debilitating disease.  That’s incredibly depressing for people with Celiac Disease… especially if their Celiac Disease diagnosis went anything like mine:  I’d finally convinced my Gastroenterologist to order an endoscopy after years of horrible diarrhea, fatigue, and depression.  A few weeks after the procedure I got a pamphlet in the mail from her called “Living Gluten Free” with a hand-written note that said:  “Jordan – tests showed you have Celiac Disease.  Follow a Gluten-Free Diet and you’ll be just fine.”  Ummm, what?  What’s Celiac Disease and what’s gluten?!? How could gluten be causing all these problems in my life?  I’ll really be just fine if I change my diet?  I can’t help but wonder how many people around the world get thesame prescription I did and feel desperate when the Gluten-Free Diet doesn’t work.

But here’s what I do know: when I followed a strict Gluten-Free diet for 2 years believing I would be “just fine” and STILL had diarrhea 5-10 times a day, I came face-to-face with insanity.  In fact, things got a little scary when I was absolutely convinced I was getting “gluten contamination” from everything (like the dishwasher, cooking pans, silverware, water, air, kissing, breathing, whatever).  It reached the lowest point when I thought I couldn’t eat anywhere but my own kitchen without getting “glutened.”  But the reality is: it wasn’t gluten contamination at all.  The gluten free diet wasn’t working for me…

How to tell if The Gluten Free Diet isn’t working for you
If you have Celiac Disease and you’re following a Gluten-Free diet - but still experiencing any of these symptoms, the Gluten-Free Diet isn’t working for you either.  (Remember: Celiac Disease symptoms may or may not occur in the digestive system).
Recurring bloating and cramping
Chronic or recurrent diarrhea
Liver and biliary tract disorders
Weight loss
Pale, foul-smelling stool
Iron-deficiency anemia unresponsive to iron therapy
Tingling numbness in the legs
Sores inside the mouth
Skin rashes/acne
Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
Unexplained infertility or recurrent miscarriage
Osteopenia or osteoporosis
Anxiety or Depression

Each of these symptoms can present themselves as part of Celiac Disease and simply removing gluten can help.  Many people even see a disappearance of random symptoms after they go gluten free.  However, if you have Celiac Disease and any of the these symptoms are still present… even on a Gluten-Free Diet, it’s likely gluten free isn’t working for you.  It might be providing some relief, but it’s not healing the underlying damage in your gut… which dramatically increases your risk for cancer and the other diseases I just mentioned. That doesn’t mean all hope is lost either…. 

Why My Mom’s Story Matters to You
My mom is a prime example of what can happen when Celiac Disease goes undiagnosed and untreated.  She suffered through stomach pain, an irradiated thyroid, rounds of chemotherapy, and an early medical retirement from her career.  Above all – we lost her too early.

That’s part of the reason I fought for my diagnosis - why I pressed my doctors to get the tests I wanted.  Why I followed my Gluten-Free prescription with the strictest adherence.  Yet I still suffered from life threatening symptoms.  So much so that I wrote my first will at the age of 24 because I didn’t think I’d live much longer unless they miraculously figured out what else was wrong with me.  Then I got lucky and found a new doctor with new ideas about what it meant to treat Celiac Disease.  A new doctor, that finally helped me stop my diarrhea for the first time in 6 years.

I’m one of the majority - One of the 60% that didn’t get better from a Gluten-Free diet alone.  I needed to do more to treat my Celiac Disease.  Jordan

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