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

Friday, March 18, 2016

Barbara's Excellent Banana Bread (Gluten-Free)

This is the ultimate Banana Bread recipe donated by a friend named Barbara in Florida.  This has got to be the most excellent recipe I have ever received.  I've used this so many times, with so many variations...and every time it comes out just incredible.  I've used a variety of Gluten-Free bought, recipe mixes, whatever's left in the name it.  I prefer muffins...but it works as a loaf too. 

Barbara's Excellent Banana Bread

½ cup solid shortening (I prefer butter, room temp) 
2 Bananas, very ripe (big, small it doesn't seem to matter)
2 Eggs, Large
1¼ cup flour
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt (I seldom add the salt)
1 tsp soda

Blend bananas and shortening until smooth, add eggs one at a time, cream together.  Add sugar, salt, and soda, mix well.  Gradually add flour, mix on high for 5-10 minutes, until batter fluffs up a bit.  Pour into greased loaf pan and bake...350 for 1 hour.  Or 12 muffin cups...350 for 30-35 minutes.  Don't be afraid to fill the muffin cups full.

One little tip I've learned from another friend...Chef to fill the muffin tins with papers and then spray the papers with a bit of oil.  Makes getting the muffins out so much easier and doesn't tear the muffin.

I've also learned that Gluten-Free flours need to be beaten.  Unlike regular wheat flours...GF flours need the extra time to absorb the moisture and settle in a bit.

One of my experiments was to replace the butter with applesauce.  It worked pretty well...I added a touch more flour to achieve the same texture...and added the salt that time.  I've also started making these only to find that I'd run out of flour...I only had one cup...but I had some Irish Instant Oatmeal so I used that to make the final 1/4 cup.  They came out pretty good...but the final texture was a bit more gummy than I could appreciate.  I've also tried these with a bit of spice, some nuts and dried cranberries...MMMmmm!!  So give it a try...and let me know how you make out.  Follow the recipe the first time...but go ahead and play a bit the next time.

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, March 11, 2016

Getting a LapBand with Celiac Disease - Part I

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 II and Part III

After working for 10 long years with a bevy of so called experts – Primary Care Physicians, Nutritionists, Bariatric Specialists, and Endocrinologists – I’d finally come to the conclusion that I needed to take control of my own life and do something drastic. I’ve always been one of those rare birds…an overweight Celiac.  In fact, to this day I am still undiagnosed primarily because every Doctor I’ve questioned about it has stated that my only problem is my weight and if I was a true Celiac I’d be much thinner!!  All I know is that for me the GF diet works…I’ve been Wheat-Free then Gluten-Free for over 25 years now.  And I still feel great!!  And boy can I tell right away if I’ve been Glutened!!  I don’t need no stinkin’ Diagnosis!!

But my weight has been slowly overtaking me…leaving me unable to keep up with my Family and Friends and that’s been very distressing.  So with the new year I purchased the best (more expensive) insurance and plunged forward, determined to get a Lap Band that would help me control my food intake and therefore get rid of some of this unnecessary weight.  Surgery was no easy decision for me…I was absolutely terrified!!  Thankfully, I also have a great Support Group in my Family and Friends…and they helped me every step of the way to getting it done. Here in Florida I found one of the BEST Surgeons.  Then I had to go through six more months of Nutrition Counseling, be interviewed by a Psychiatrist, be approved for Surgery by my PCP, prove with a starvation diet that I could be determined, and then finally get my Surgery scheduled.

I chose the Lap Band specifically because it’s one that’s most common around the world and I LOVE to travel.  So if I run into trouble anywhere I can get care.  I’ve also heard that the Lap Band is a bit more unforgiving if you like to eat meat…and I’m 90% vegetarian so that wasn’t even an issue.

Surgery was a breeze!!  I just loved my Anesthesiologist!!  I went in with a Blood Pressure of 221/90…did I mention I was terrified??  After about 45 minutes I was able to get it back down to a more normal level…and my Anesthesiologist just took over.  Last thing I remember is watching her walk away from my drip line…I knew she had slipped something into it…next thing I knew I was waking up with her sitting beside me talking quietly.  It was over, and my eyes were open and I felt pretty good!! 

I elected to take the 23 hour hospital stay…and I’m glad I did.  I just didn’t feel comfortable going home without someone monitoring me for at least a little while.  My bed was pretty comfortable…one of those craftmatic types…and beyond that it was pretty much a standard Hospital stay.

Every step of the way…from Pre-Op to Admission on the floor…every single person I met asked me the exact same question.  “You have Wheat Allergies, Gluten Intolerance, and Latex Sensitivity…is that correct?”  At least 24 times I affirmed, yes – that’s correct.  So what did I receive on my Breakfast tray the next morning??  CREAM OF WHEAT!!

Ah well, seems no-one ever talks to Nutrition!!  But it was a typical Hospital stay…and now I’m home learning how to cope with this new tool.  I’m doing pretty well so far…and already looking forward to my next big vacation.  We’re heading off to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic next year…I can’t wait!!
Carolanne Le Blanc
Meeting:  4th Saturday of every month except December
Imperial Palms, East Clubhouse, 101 Imperial Palm Drive, Largo, Florida 33771

Friday, March 4, 2016

Gluten-Free for Life Expo - my interview :-)

Hello Carolanne,  The interview has been posted at
Thanks for the interview and good luck with the Expo.
Keep me up to date on any changes with the Expo.  Thanks, Warren

Interview with Carolanne LeBlanc, Volunteer Coordinator for the Gluten-Free for Life Expo to be held on the 24th of March 2012 in St Petersburg, Florida

Monday:  Hello Carolanne, I understand you are starting the new Gluten-Free for Life Expo dedicated to Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Lifestyle. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and the Expo.

Carolanne:  My name is Carolanne LeBlanc and I’m the Volunteer Coordinator for the Gluten-Free for Life Expo and the Moderator for the Gluten-Intolerance Support Group of Largo, Florida.  The Support Group and I came up with a plan to sponsor our own Expo for the Celiac Disease and Gluten-Intolerance community. We expect this to be a major event in this state with nearly 100 manufacturers, medical professionals, distributors, service providers and retailers available to demonstrate and speak on the latest issues regarding Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Lifestyle. Both Vendors & Speakers will have the opportunity to be exposed to people not only from Tampa Bay but across the state of Florida as well. Many attendees will be newly diagnosed Celiacs and/or persons with additional food allergies. This will be a fantastic opportunity to offer products, information, and services to consumers who may not be aware of what is available.

Monday:  What are the Highlights that Visitors to the Expo will Experience?

Carolanne:  This is going to be an Educational, Experiential Expo for the general public, food industry, and health professionals. Aside from the chance to taste and purchase many Gluten-Free products, we’ll be having Professional Speakers throughout the day. We’ll have specially designated ‘Chat Rooms’ were people can meet with others, ask questions, offer advice and have the opportunity to talk with other Support Organizations that work together with the Gluten-Free Community.  We’ll have several Health Professionals specializing in different areas available to offer their services and answer questions.

Our goal is to help those within the Gluten-Free Community gain knowledge, research, and resources while providing opportunities for Families with related diseases to bond with one another. This is our effort to increase the awareness and diagnosis of Celiac Disease and help those with Gluten-Intolerance.

Monday:  Tell us about what life experiences with Celiac Disease lead to the creation of the Expo.

Carolanne:  I’m what’s commonly known as an ‘undiagnosed’ Celiac. When I was diagnosed with wheat allergies nearly twenty-five years ago, I was devastated. That was an enormous adjustment for me because bread was a huge staple in my daily routine. And 25 years ago there was no easy way to know what products contained wheat. But I managed and I felt a little better so that was good enough for me. Wheat was out of my daily routine.

Then nearly ten years ago a co-worker suggested I look into Celiac Disease. My immediate response was that I couldn’t have a Disease! Not that! So for a while longer denial became my best friend. But curiosity finally led me to the Internet and I couldn’t help doing a bit of research. When it all sounded so familiar, that was the scary part. So after doing the research, and a lot of soul searching, I had no choice but to start on the Gluten-Free Lifestyle and I’ve never looked back. I feel great, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been and right now the diagnosis is no longer important for me. I feel good.

Monday:  For people new to Celiac Disease please explain what it is.

Carolanne:  Celiac Disease is not an allergy. It is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms.

It’s a disease that when left untreated can leave a person feeling sick and miserable their entire life. Not only can it cause many mysterious unhealthy symptoms, it can eventually create any number of other debilitating diseases that will ultimately take your life away. It’s not a pretty picture, but sugarcoating the facts won’t make them any easier to swallow. The only known cure is eating Gluten-Free for the rest of your life. Embarking on a Gluten-Free Lifestyle is a lifetime commitment to healthy living. It’s a tough decision to make, and it can be an even tougher promise to keep.

Other facts about Celiac Disease:
·       Celiac Disease runs in Families
·       Having only one person with Gluten-Intolerance can affect the whole Family
·       Celiac Disease/Gluten-Intolerance can create or affect an entire Family of other diseases such as Arthritis, Autism, Cancer, Depression, Diabetes, Infertility, Migraine, and many more.

Monday:  What were some of your major challenges related to having Celiac Disease?

Carolanne:  The hardest thing through it all wasn’t having to give up all my favorite foods, it was not having anyone to talk to. For years there was no one. Of course I had support from my family and friends, but they had no real understanding of what I was going through. And occasionally even my family and friends would tell me I was crazy or that it was all in my head. I felt totally alone. That was hard. In all those years I never met a single soul who was going through the same thing that I was, someone who totally understood.

Eventually, the Internet became my only contact with others with Celiac or Gluten-Intolerance. I’ll never forget the first time, five years ago, when I walked into a room full of Celiacs and Gluten-Intolerant people. I had been invited to tell them about my new online Yahoo Group, Gluten-Free in Florida. There were 30-40 people, all sitting in the same room, eager to hear what I had to say. I nearly burst into tears. I was so excited that I totally forgot what I had come to talk about and just started chatting with everyone. I wasn’t alone any more. For the first time in my life I was actually standing face to face with people who understood what I was going through. It was an incredible feeling.

And once I had attended my first Gluten-Free Expo, I knew that was something I just had to make available for others. My first Expo was such an eye-opener. Over 3.000 people attended, and I stood there in the middle of the hall simply overwhelmed. All those people to talk to!!

So I got together with The Gluten-Intolerance Support Group of Largo, Florida and we all did some brainstorming to come up with a plan to sponsor our own Expo.  This was going to be our first attempt at something like this, and it turned out to be such a huge project that we hired a Special Events Coordinator named Nikki Everett from Echo Event Solutions ( to help pull things together. We want our Expo to be unique and something we can continue to do for years to come. 

Monday:  Tell us about how the Expo will benefit people with Celiac Disease and Gluten-Intolerance?

Carolanne:  We anticipate between 1,200-1,500 attendees coming not only from the Celiac Community but from the general community, as well as local businesses. This is a one-of-a-kind Expo that offers great information about overcoming the challenges of eating gluten free and tips on living life to its fullest.

In addition, all money raised through Donations & Raffles will be used for the education and assistance of Florida children living with Celiac Disease and Gluten-Intolerance. We'll also be accepting donations of Non-Perishable Gluten-Free Foods to be donated to local Food Banks to assist Families with Gluten-Free needs.

Monday:  What is one of your major challenges in making the Expo helpful to the medical community?

Carolanne:  Our challenge currently is to find a local Educational Hospital willing to sponsor our Expo so that Nurses, Doctors, and Medical Professionals who attend can receive Continuing Education Credits for their Licensing requirements.  One of our goals is to get the Medical Community involved and educated so that people living with Celiac Disease and Gluten-Intolerance can receive quality treatment and advice.

Monday:   Where can people get more information about you and the Expo?

Carolanne:  They can contact me any number of ways:

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

Monday:  Thank you Carolanne for being my guest today and helping spread the word about Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Lifestyle. We all look forward to visiting the Gluten-Free for Life Expo on March 24th, 2012 at the St Pete Coliseum, 535 Fourth Avenue N, St Petersburg, FL 33701