Monday, October 27, 2014

Raising Jack Supports The Teal Pumpkin Project!

The Teal Pumpkin Project is making waves this Halloween and we're happy to be a part of it!                                                                                                                                                   FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) started a new initiative this season, encouraging families to participate in trick or treating by passing out "Non-Food treats to promote safety, inclusion and respect of those living with food allergies - and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all."

Celiac disease and food allergy communities have a common bond. We can relate, even though the scenarios may be different, celiacs and those with food allergies have to avoid certain foods to prevent harm to one's body.

Jack was on board and ready to start painting our TEAL pumpkin! 

After painting the pumpkin, Jack was ready to fill the Halloween bowl! We headed to the store and we came home with LOTS of TRICKS! Jack's favorite - the skeleton parachute guys!

This was a FUN "Project" and we look forward to doing this every year! 

P.s. You didn't know this, but teal is one of my favorite colors - hence our door and shutters are TEAL! :)

Wishing all our food allergy and celiac families a SAFE and FUN HALLOWEEN!

P.s.s. You still have time to paint your pumpkin TEAL! 

For more information:   #TEALPUMPKINPROJECT

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Everyone needs to enjoy a S'MORES at least once, right?! 

Jack enjoying his first gluten-free S'more a few years ago.

I'm so thankful for Kinnikinnick sending some S'moreables my way for our GLUTEN-FREE S'MORES GIVEAWAY!

2 WINNERS will receive:

(1) Box of S'moreables 
(1) Bag of Marshmallows 
(3) Hershey Candy Bars

BUT wait, there's more!

Have you seen Kinnikinnick's new Vanilla Wafers??  I had an opportunity to try them at the GFFAF (Living Without's Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest) in Indianapolis a few months back. They were AWESOME! And guess what, the winners of this giveaway will receive a box of them!

Enter below for your chance to win a Gluten-Free S'Mores Prize pack! 

Remember 2 WINNERS will be chosen! GOOD LUCK! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

FREE SHIPPING - Gluten Free & More Magazine

This week only, Gluten Free & More magazine (formerly Living Without) is offering FREE SHIPPING on their magazines, cookbooks, Holiday Guides, e-books, books about living gluten-free (like the one Beth Hillson wrote) and more! 

Click picture below and get to shopping! :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Thank you Fablogcon!

The 2nd annual Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas this past weekend (Sept. 26-28), was a HIT! Packed with lots of great speakers, break-out sessions, networking and brainstorming, it was fun, informative and inspiring.

Let me get right to it, and tell you MY HIGHLIGHTS from this year's FABlogCon.

  • Beth Hillson, receiving an award for her achievements and contributions in the celiac disease and food allergy communities. Beth of course, is who I recently interviewed and did a 3 part blog post (read this post first, then click here for more with Beth) series on. She's fabulous and she deserves this honor!
  • My break-out session, "Advocate First, Blogger Second: Making Strides the Old Fashion Way" - a lot of great ideas were shared - thank you to those who attended!


    • "Balancing Act" with Keeley McGuire, Pam Jordan (I'm a Celiac) and Cindy Gordon (Vegetarian Mamma) - these ladies gave tips on managing your blog, while managing work, family and LIFE. Setting goals, priorities, time management, scheduling tools, like and more! Thank you my dear friends for sharing your tips.
    • "Self-Publishing: From Pen to Publicity" - Thank you to Stacey, April, Alisa and Erica for sharing their experiences with us on producing their books. Write ideas down, organize your chapters, hire an editor, buy ISBNs and again, so much more! Hmmm, will there be a Raising Jack book in the future?? We'll see! :)
    • "How to Influence Change in School Policy" - the ladies (Jan, Caroline, Laurel and Gina) of this panel, shared so much information to get everyone on the road to success in their schools. I loved the quote for this session, "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples" - Mother Teresa.
    • Cybele's Free to Eat Oatmeal Cookies. These cookies are so delicious, and they're free of the Top 8 allergens. Soft, chewy and full of flavor!

  • Enjoy Life Foods - THANK YOU for always being so generous and sharing your products with us! Looking forward to using your dark chocolate morsels this weekend! And thank you to Joel Warady, Chief Marketing Officer at Enjoy Life Foods, for being a part of this event and giving us tips on approaching brands, branding yourself, doing reviews and more.

  • Luke's Organic Chips - are CRUNCHTASTIC! I loved the Kale Chips and I felt so healthy eating them! ;) Luke's father wanted to create great tasting chips and crackers for his son who has celiac disease. I love their story and website. My husband ate the whole box of Luke's Black Pepper crackers that I brought home from the conference! I think we'll be seeing a lot more of them - I certainly hope so! 

  • Pascha Dark Chocolate - OMGoodness! Eating a piece of delicious dark chocolate with a hint of coffee - HELLO?! DELICIOUS!! With 8 bars to choose from, as well as chocolate chips, Pascha is FREE of the TOP 8 allergens, I mean, AWESOME!! 
  • Friends - Seeing a lot of wonderful friends and meeting new ones is always my favorite part of this event. It's like a reunion every time we see each other.
    Me, Erica ( and Keeley (

    Erica, Michelle, Me, Keeley, Pam, Chandice and Sarah.

    • Meeting Jerome Bettis - Thank you to Sanofi for sponsoring FAB, as well as surprising us Saturday evening with a visit from "The Bus" himself! Jerome has asthma and is also anaphylaxis to shellfish.  I may not know what team he played for in the NFL (Steelers, I know), BUT, I know he played for Notre Dame and that's all that matters! My husband was born and raised in South Bend, IN - so Notre Dame football is on our TV every Saturday.

    • Social Media presentation with Ritesh Patel and Heather Hewett wrapped up the conference with LOTS of information on using social media. From Facebook, Twitter, Google + and more, Ritesh shared ways to enhance each outlet and shared the "Ecosystems of Storytelling". 
    • SWAG! Thank you to all the vendors who contributed to our swag bags! I was stoked to bring this home to my family. Jack was pretty pumped!! He went for the chocolate first...just like his momma.

    • Vegas Strip - On Sunday evening, we headed to the Vegas strip for dinner. Our dinner wasn't the best, but the company was AWESOME! Much love to all these ladies!

    • Okay, so I can't leave this out, this was a BIG highlight of my trip...Monday was my "Vacation" day.  And I went in the hot tub a couple of times through out the day. An achy back's DREAM!!

    • Last, but not least, Jenny Sprague and Homa Woodrum - Ladies, you out did yourselves!! Thank you again, for a wonderful event!! You both worked so hard to bring this together and it showed. Can't wait to see what's in store for next year!!

    Continue raising awareness, making a difference, encouraging others and don't forget to smile along the way. Life is too short not laugh, even when life is stressful and crazy, find your sense of humor and deal with the craziness with a smile!

    FABlogCon 2015, see you next year!

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    Beth Hillson Part III: Raising Jeremy Q & A

    My final post with Beth Hillson, well, for now anyway, is all about raising her son, Jeremy.  From reading Part II: Following Your Gut, you know how Jeremy came to be diagnosed with celiac disease at 5 yrs. old.  Jeremy is now 27 yrs. old, doing very well for himself and attending graduate school.  

    I had an opportunity to ask Beth some questions - I kinda wanted a glimpse into my son's future and living with celiac disease. Of course it's different for everyone, but I was curious, was there a time (teen years) that was more challenging for Jeremy with his gluten-free lifestyle, what about dating, how was his transition to college and more. 

    Thank you Beth for answering my questions and being such an inspiration! 

    Beth and her son Jeremy in Central Park.

    1) Has Jeremy always embraced his gluten-free lifestyle? Do you recall a time when it was more     difficult for him - pre-teen, teen years, etc.  How did you help him through it?


    When we had a family gathering, I cooked for three special diets:  gluten free, sugar free, and cholesterol free.  As soon as Jeremy could talk, he started asking every guest who ate in my home if they needed special food.  When he was diagnosed around age 5, it was an easy transition.  It hasn’t always been perfect however.  Part of being a pre-teen is  to take charge of your life.  Unfortunately, you can’t take charge of your health when you have celiac disease.  It takes charge of you.  Often he didn’t want to listen to me when it came to the diet.  And I couldn’t watch him every second.  But I realized early on that you can’t fight about this diet or punish your kids for cheating.  It doesn’t work because ultimately they need to learn to take charge and they need to learn to live this way every day of their lives.  I would not fight about the diet.  Fighting puts a negative spin on this challenging regimen.  I simply said he was a big boy and I trusted him to take care of his diet, to make good choices.  I told him I would be there to help and to prepare or purchase whatever he wanted.  That seemed to work.  I know he worried about getting sick so he took charge and managed well.  Was every day perfect? Not at all.  Just like learning to ride a bike, it doesn’t happen overnight.  But kids have to learn to cope with this.  It’s their health, their lives.

    2) As a mother with celiac disease, have you ever felt guilty, thinking, "He got this form me!" 


    For sure.  I’ve written quite a bit about mother’s guilt.  In fact, “The Inheritance,” a Gut Reaction in my book talks about this.   But I really try not to look at the negative side of this.  There are lots of much worse things that we could have.  It takes a little effort, but the rewards are delicious gluten free food and good health.  I don’t know of another condition that is treated solely with diet. 

    3) I think about Jack being on his own in college, making his meals, dorm food, etc...I know I'll     be nervous - how did you handle this with Jeremy going off to college?


    By the time Jack gets to college, the diet will not be an issue at all.  In fact, it is hardly an issue now.  Every college seems to have a gluten free menu.  Some have a separate area where there is a toaster and freezer stocked with gluten-free products. The key is to find out the system at the college your child chooses and then work with food service and housing to make sure the child is able to live near a cafeteria that has gluten free options.  The big one is drinking.  Of course no one drinks until they are 21 (hmmmm) but beer is often the drink of choice.  My son is just getting into his beer phase and buys some great gf beers that he really enjoys.  He’s also no longer engaged in the campus drinking games where cheap beer prevails and it’s usually NOT gluten free.  I wrote a section on “Playing Beer Pong without Beer and Other Drinking Games” in the book and it talks about socializing (and drinking) in college. 

    4) Dating. I don't have to worry about this for a long time, unless Jack has a girlfriend in 1st 
        grade that I don't know about, but did celiac disease or Jeremy's gluten-free lifestyle affect         his dating life? Scare girls away once he told them, thinking he was different or it was a               hassle. Really, who wants a girlfriend like that anyway, but I'm just curious.


    Mostly, I think Jeremy picks restaurants that had a gluten free menu when he dates.  I do think he is uncomfortable interrogating the server in front of a date unless he has already explained the diet to his lady friend.  He often suggests cooking together in his apartment (now his dorm) so he can manage the diet without making a big deal of it.  First grade --- that should be adorable.  These days, gluten free is so trendy that almost everyone knows something about it.  ( I should also mention that every college dining hall I’ve encountered lately seems to have at least one staff person who is either celiac or has a friend, sibling or parent with it.)  

    5) Besides reading your book that's filled with so much wonderful information, what advice do 
        you have for parents like myself, raising a young boy with celiac disease? 


    My secret ingredient is humor.  It’s always gluten free.  Wallowing in the diet issues is not healthy for you or your child.  Try to put a positive spin on each challenge.  Part of parenting is teaching your child to cope and handle life’s challenges.  The gluten free diet is an extra challenge.  Yes it permeates every other part of your child’s life (and yours).  But good coping skills will help both of you handle this regimen with aplomb. 

    6) Lastly, does Jeremy have a recipe gluten-free dessert that you've made for him? If so, please 
        share the recipe! 


    From the time he was a little boy, I made plates of cookies for him and his friends.  Our old standby is still his favorite:  Chocolate Chip (a.k.a. Tollhouse) Cookies (recipe below) from my book, The Complete Guide to Living Well Gluten Free. I also have other yummy treats, like GF Twinkies on my blog:

    Chocolate Chip (a.k.a. Tollhouse) Cookies Recipe

    Thank you so much Beth for taking the time to answer my questions!  And, thank you for putting your heart and soul into a book for people like me, wanting to know anything and everything about the gluten-free lifestyle and for people, like my son and hubby living with celiac disease. I've learned so much more from your book - things I just didn't even think about! Thank you!

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    Beth Hillson Part II: Following Your Gut

    By now, I'm sure you all have seen my post, "Beth Hillson Part I - A Gluten-Free Pioneer Living Well".  So here we are, Continuing with Part II!

    Beth discusses Jeremy's diagnosis in her new book, "A Complete Guide to Living Well Gluten Free: Everything You Need to Know To Go From Surviving to Thriving".  Jeremy's diagnosis wasn't easy, needless to say, especially when most of his symptoms were behavioral. Below, I've taken some excerpts from Chapter 1 about Jeremy's journey to diagnosis.

    Beth was concerned about her son as a toddler, not paying attention, flopping from one piece of furniture to another, austistic-like manner and he also had difficulty relating to school mates.

    When Jeremy was born, his pediatrician told Beth that the likelihood of him having celiac disease was not very high. "Today we know that 1 in 22 first degree relatives are likely to have the disease."

    "Looking back, I am surprised I did not consider the obvious culprit. I never suspected gluten."

    "Like most people, I believed celiac disease was a failure to thrive issue, whereas my son was in the 99th percentile for weight and height. Yet I sensed his behavior deteriorating throughout the day as he consumed more gluten and dairy." 

    Beth came across a book about elimination diets and it discussed the connection between food allergies and behavior. Since the gluten free diet was the one Beth was familiar and with, she started with eliminating gluten first. 

    After Jeremy's teacher noticed a significant change in Jeremy's behavior after returning to school from winter break and eating gluten-free, Beth knew she was on to something.  "As a calmer, happier child began to emerge, I wondered whether I was on to something. At the end of two weeks, I put him back on a regular, wheat-filled diet. I knew the diagnosis would only be circumstantial unless I had him tested."

    A week later, Beth was at school, and Jeremy's teacher said, "You've taken him off that diet, haven't you?" She said, "I can see the difference." Beth knew she wasn't alone on seeing the transformation of Jeremy's behavior when he was off gluten.

    Now, the frustrating part...getting a doctor to test him. Beth took Jeremy to a pediatric gastroenterologist and he ran two tests that were inconclusive. Beth asked him to run more specific tests to celiac, but the doctor didn't recommend it. He said, "He's growing normally and he's healthy."

    Beth knew Jeremy needed the tests done. She told the doctor that maybe she didn't have him eating enough gluten and if he could just write the tests up, she would wait until the summer to have Jeremy tested. 

    Well, she didn't wait. The blood tests came back positive for celiac. And the same GI doctor said, "Well, you give me no choice with the elevated tests and the fact you have it, I have to scope him. But I have to tell you there is not a one in a million chance he has this disease."

    I love what Beth said next, "Humor me."

    After the endoscope, the doctor came out to give an update, or an apology that is! "I owe you an apology," he said. "Your son's intestine was 'scalloped; I could see the damage with my naked eye."

    From then on, the hospital changed its protocol on the celiac profile. In addition, it began working with the ADHD clinic to screen their patients for celiac disease well.

    Following her gut is just what Beth did when it came to Jeremy's health and behavior. As parents, we can sense something's not right with our children, it's in our gut, we just know! And sometimes, we have to go against what others may think, to get the answers for our children.

    Quite an interesting story! It goes to show, that behavior is a HUGE part of untreated celiac disease. Thank you Beth for sharing Jeremy's story with us.


    Stay tuned, Beth Hillson Part III - Raising Jeremy - Q &A

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    Beth Hillson Part I: A Gluten-Free Pioneer Living Well

    I'm excited to share this post with you and tell you more about my new friend, Beth Hillson.

    I had an opportunity to meet Beth a few weeks ago at the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest in Indianapolis and to receive a copy of her new book "The Complete Guide to Living Well Gluten Free." - we'll get to that in just a minute!

    Beth is a fabulous, brilliant, funny lady, who has contributed to the celiac disease/gluten-free community in so many ways. Beth wears many hats, from being Food Editor for Gluten-Free & More Magazine (Formery Living Without) and President of the American Celiac Disease Alliance, as well as Founder of the Gluten-Free Pantry (which has been acquired by Glutino) and she's also an accomplished author, chef and baker. Beth is known for making fabulous gluten-free breads with her BFF, her beloved bread machine.

    Being diagnosed in 1953 at 5 yrs. old, Beth is a true pioneer when it comes to living with celiac disease. She also knows what it's like raising a child with celiac disease, her son Jeremy was also diagnosed at 5 yrs. old.

    So, Beth has a lot to share from her life experiences with living gluten-free, and it only made sense for her to write a book about it and share it with us!

    Beth's book, "The Complete Guide to Living Well Gluten Free" Everything You Need to Know To Go from Surviving to Thriving covers everything from getting tested, food shopping, GF-friendly kitchen, recipes, socializing, traveling, myths and more.

    It's a fabulous read and Beth shares SO MUCH information that Beth is sharing two copies with me to give to YOU!  I truly think you and/or your child will benefit from this book. It truly is a helpful guide...maybe some things you might not have thought about, Beth thought of it.

    Please enter below for your chance to win a copy of "The Complete Guide to Living Well Gluten Free". Remember, 2 WINNERS will be randomly chosen to win.

    To purchase Beth's new book, head over to Living Without's website or you can also purchase it through Amazon. I promise, you'll be HAPPY you did!

    Make sure to enter below and stay tuned for my next post: Beth Hillson Part II: Following Her Gut and Part III: Raising Jeremy. Beth's determination to have her son tested for celiac disease and tips to raising children from socializing, simple kid friendly meals and more!

    THIS GIVEAWAY IS OVER. CONGRATS to Kaila and Michelle!!