Friday, August 19, 2016

What's in Jack's Gluten-Free Backpack? (+ GIVEAWAY!)

After reading all about these wonderful products, you can ENTER TO WIN ALL OF THEM! There will be (1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER and (3) additional winners.


SO, WHAT IS in Jack's Gluten-Free Backpack?

HIS LUNCH!

Check out some of our favorite products for packing lunches EVERYDAY.

1)  EasyLunchboxes

First things FIRST! We need to pack his lunch in something. And that something is EasyLunchboxes. 

We've teamed up with EasyLunchboxes to help make packing lunches EASY! With a roomy cooler bag, easy to open lunch containers and mini (leak proof) dippers, EasyLunchboxes provides everything you need to make sure your kiddo is lunch ready! With assorted colors for the cooler bags and containers, EasyLunchboxes has something for everyone.

This could all be YOURS!

NOW, let's chat about what goes INSIDE Jack's lunch...


2)  Enjoy Life Foods NEW mini Cookies

Enjoy Life Foods has introduced their next BIG thing - MINISFREE FROM THE TOP 8 ALLERGENS, these cookies are delicious and can be shared with EVERYONE! And when they say, "MINIS", they mean teeny tiny!  Just a size of quarter, these sweet little cookies make for a great treat in your child's lunch and/or after school snack.
MINIS, MINIS and more MINIS!!
The MINIS come in 6 Flavors - 3 soft baked and 3 crunchy flavors.
These will be available in stores this FALL!  I will keep you posted on dates! But you can order them from Enjoy Life Foods website.


3) Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips

Seriously, how can beans taste so good?! This is coming from someone who has NEVER liked beans! BUT, eating Beanfields Bean and Rice Chips, I can say, I LOVE BEANS!! These chips are SOOO FLAVORFUL and there are great benefits to eating them as well, like protein and fiber, just to name a couple. With 9 Flavors, Beanfields has a flavor for EVERYONE! They make smaller individual bags (1.5oz) that are perfect to put in your child's backpack or lunch!

Who would have thought? Let's make chips from Beans and Rice! Brilliant idea!!


4) Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix + Brownies 

So not necessarily in Jack's lunch, but before and after school, YES PLEASE! How about some delicious gluten-free pancakes in the morning? Or Banana Bread? Coffee Cake? I've made all of these using Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix.

Oh Pamela, how I love thee...let me count the ways...
Then after school, a brownie treat that you can make in the microwave? Pamela's makes individual brownie packets! You can have a brownie in a cup in about a 1 minutes and 20 seconds! This is great to take to a friend's house for a sleepover or having on a Friday after school. Topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup - YUM!
Seriously, an INDIVIDUAL Brownie Packet...Genius
Then there's Pamela's Whenever Bars that you can have WHENEVER! With 6 Flavors, from Oat Chocolate Chip Coconut, Oat Blueberry Lemon to Oat Raisin Walnut Spice and Double Chocolate Peanut Butter - you can have these morning, noon and night. Perfect for your kiddo's snack at school. Or keep in his/her backpack for a "just in case" option.


5)  Canyon Gluten-Free Bakehouse

Are you looking for a super soft, chewy gluten-free bread?? Well, I found it for you! Canyon Gluten-Free Bakehouse is DELICIOUS! It's the perfect sandwich bread! Your kiddo will love the soft, chewy texture.

The way a PB and J SHOULD taste!
Canyon Gluten-Free Bakehouse has a VARIETY of bakery products, from mountain white bread, deli rye, bagels, hamburger buns and more!

Canyon Gluten-Free Bakehouse HAMBURGER BUN!!
I mean...it doesn't get much better than that!

THERE YOU HAVE IT! 

Jack's Gluten-Free Backpack FULL of some AWESOME PRODUCTS that YOU NOW HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN!! 

ENTER BELOW - the more entries, the better your chances!   4 WINNERS TOTAL!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS OVER.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER: STEPHANIE W.

ADDITIONAL WINNERS: LORINA R., SARA P., KATIE P.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Grand Prize Winner will receive:
  • (1) Cooler Bag, (1) set of lunchbox containers and (1) set of mini dippers from Easylunchboxes.
  • Assorted Variety of the NEW Mini Cookies from Enjoy Life Foods.
  • (1) Baking and Pancake Mix, Plus (1) NEW Pancake Mix and (2) Individual Brownie Mixes from Pamela's.
  • An assortment of gluten-free bread from Canyon Bakehouse
  • 1 box (24 count) of 1.5 oz bags of Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips.

3 additional Winners will receive:
  •  A Sample Prize Pack - Samples of MINI Cookies, a mini Dipper container, Whenever Bar and Brownie Mix

Here are the products that are available on AMAZON! Enjoy Life Foods MINIS are not available yet, except on their website.



*This has been a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. I love these products and want to share them with all of you! Thank you sponsors for being so generous with your contributions to this giveaway.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Gluten-Free School Lunch Tips and Menu Ideas

School will be back in session in just a few weeks. When it comes to packing lunches, I will be packing Jack's lunch every day, 5 days a week, 20 days a month, for 40 weeks out of the year. That's a lot of lunch packin'! But, I don't complain, as it keeps my boy healthy.

But, you gotta get creative, so it doesn't get boring and your child says, "Do I have to eat that again?"

Below I have some tips to offer you and some gluten-free menu ideas.

3 TIPS: 
  • Lunch doesn't mean having a "sandwich"- anything nutritious that fills your kiddo up until they get home from school will be just fine.
  • Packing a lunch full of iron and protein packed foods, will help provide energy for the afternoon math test.


















3 DO(s) FOR PACKING LUNCHES:
  • Healthy Foods - Fruit, Cheese, Yogurt, Turkey, Veggies 
  • Milk or Water
  • Pack a little treat - other kids at school will bring all types of treats and even buy ice cream from the cafeteria. The 2 cookies I pack for Jack, are the size of 1 regular 'gluten' cookie.

3 DON'T(s) FOR PACKING LUNCHES
  • Sugar Drinks 
  • No items that are too hard to open - they need to focus on eating, not trying to open something for 10 minutes
  • Minimal plastic baggies - it really is a waste - find a great plastic container to reuse  

GLUTEN-FREE SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS

Lunch 1:

(Jack's Favorite lunch)

Hard Boiled egg
Strawberries
Spinach leaves (yes, he eats SPINACH!)
Yogurt
WOW Chocolate Chip Cookie
Milk

Lunch 2:

Turkey and Swiss Cheese Roll-ups
Strawberries
Carrot Sticks
String Cheese
Yogurt
Milk

Lunch 3: 

PB and Jelly sandwich on your favorite GF bread
Lay's Potato Chips
Pear Slices
Carrot Sticks/Spinach Leaves
Yogurt
Glutino's Chocolate Chip Cookie
Milk


Special treat in this one! And extra ketchup packets, save
them for lunch!
Lunch 4:
Perdue Breaded Chicken Tenders  
Fritos
Grapes
Carrot Sticks/Spinach Leaves
Cybele's Cookies
Milk

Lunch 5:

Pizza Squares - Udi's Pizza Crust or Kinnickinnick Pizza Crust - bake, cut in squares, put in thermos to keep warm.
Mandarin Oranges
Carrots/Spinach Leaves
Yogurt
Milk


Here are some products to get you prepared to pack lunches every day! From lunch containers to an individual cupcake holder for parties and more, I got you covered! 

Happy lunch packing! 
Best wishes for a great gluten-free school year!



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dear Teacher, Jack Has Celiac Disease - 504 Plan/Letter

At the beginning of each school year, I meet with Jack's teacher and school counselor/504 coordinator to put into place a 504 plan for the school year. As parents, it's our responsibility to educate our children's teachers and caregivers about celiac disease and the importance of our children avoiding gluten.

I file a 504 plan for the following reasons:

1) My son isn't avoiding gluten          just "because"                         2) He has an autoimmune disease, 
3) He can become tired and ill if exposed to gluten, 
4) Which can affect his academics if he has to miss school.

Every child is different, every teacher and school is different. It's really what you feel most comfortable with and what you feel needs to be put in place to ensure your child is safe from gluten while at school.

What is a 504 plan?

A 504 plan is designed under law, to ensure that any child with a disability or chronic condition has accommodations put into place in order to achieve academic success and access to the learning environment. (A link is provided at the end of this blog post to explain more on ).

Jack's entering 3rd grade in few weeks and it's that time of year, where this momma gets everything gluten-free ready in preparation for a great school year.  At school registration in a couple of weeks, I will find out who Jack's teacher will be and from that point, I will make every effort to make sure his teacher understands his gluten-free lifestyle and the importance of avoiding gluten at all costs.

The letter below is an opportunity to inform Jack's teacher(s) about celiac disease, avoiding gluten and requests to make accommodating his gluten-free lifestyle easier for everyone.

**NOTE: This is a letter that I created. The information in the letter is what I feel is important to address pertaining to Jack's life. Every child is different, every school is different and every teacher-parent-child relationship is different. Please do what is best for you child and add more information or less. 

Dear Teacher,

This letter is to inform you that our son Jack has celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that when gluten is ingested, it wrecks havoc on his body. For the past 7 years, Jack has been living a gluten-free lifestyle. Gluten-free living for celiacs, is like insulin for diabetics. It’s what keeps Jack healthy.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten is found in a wide variety of foods - from cookies, breads, pastas, cereals, candy, snack foods and more. Because celiac disease is not an allergy, Jack WILL NOT be in immediate danger, BUT if he ingests gluten due to cross contamination or accidentally eats something that contains gluten, he will likely experience stomach discomfort/pain, as well as fatigue, diarrhea and headache.

With Jack only being 9 yrs. old, we are still learning the signs and symptoms of accidental gluten exposure. We just need to make sure that Jack avoids gluten at all costs.

With all that said, I want Jack to have a great school year and I have no doubt, you do as well. I want to just share a few things with you that will help you in the classroom and the information that you provide me, will help me prepare for upcoming school events:

  • First, Cross Contamination - From gluten crumbs, to art supplies/crafts, and Playdoh (which contains wheat) - it is important to be aware of Jack's surroundings and work surface. For Playdoh, I would like to provide some Crayola Model Magic which is gluten-free and some of his own tools/cutters to keep separate from the others. With cross contamination, please be aware of wheat products in the classroom and I encourage a lot of hand washing! (Last year, Jack would come home from school with filthy hands).
  • Restroom Breaks - Jack needs to be excused to use the restroom on a “as needed” basis. Jack may have an urgency to go and when he says he needs to go, he needs to be excused...no holding it, when it comes to celiac disease. And sometimes, he may be in the restroom a little longer than most - that’s just how Jack’s system works.
  • Birthdays - Please let me know how you plan to celebrate birthdays - whether once a month or if children will be allowed to bring in cupcakes on their birthdays. This will allow me to prepare accordingly and have something for Jack on the days that special treats are brought in. If children are allowed to bring in treats on their actual birthday, could you please provide a list of birthdays for me?
  • Special celebrations - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, pizza parties, etc. - let’s make sure to communicate - I’ll always provide something for Jack. I also like to make gluten- free cookies and cupcakes for the whole class when it comes to celebrations.
  • Field Trips - Please provide information in advance of any field trips: What activities will be taking place (crafts, etc.) and if special treats will be had, so I can provide something gluten-free if needed.

Lastly, if you ever have any questions about Jack’s diet or have a question about eating a certain food, please don’t hesitate to call me. (Provide Phone Number)

If you would like to know more about Jack’s story and celiac disease, please visit


Thank you so much for working with me to make Jack’s school year gluten-free friendly! 

Sincerely, 

Jack’s Mom

I hope this letter helps you on your way to great school year. For more information on 504 plans, visit celiac.org for detailed information. 

 

Here's to a great GLUTEN-FREE school year!