Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Strawberry Shortcake

Yes my friends, it's a beauty!  Tis' the summer season!  Bring on the Strawberry Shortcake!  This dessert is so refreshing, especially when it's 95 degrees outside!

Strawberry Shortcake a la Mode!

I was very pleased with how it turned out.  I used Pamela's Products Pancake Mix for the Drop BiscuitsEdy's Vanilla Ice Cream, Cool Whip and of course the main ingredient, mushed strawberries with sugar.  

There's many ways to make Strawberry Shortcake.  My mom prefers to use pieces of pie crust, others like more of a pound cake or sponge cake, but for us, the drop biscuits are the best! 

It was a wonderful treat on this HOT Memorial weekend.  I look forward to making Strawberry Shortcake more often.  1) It's delicious  2) It's pretty and 3) It's the perfect summer treat!

So here's to Strawberry Season, a 3 day Weekend, and lastly and most importantly, to the Men and Women who fought for our Country - God Bless America.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Made a Stupid Choice!

So, we went to Brixx pizza place for lunch today and I was excited for Jack to try their gluten-free pizza.  I really wanted their margherita pizza, so I got that in a kid's size and had the kids share the gluten-free pizza since it only came in one size - a large with six pieces.  So I placed the order for the gluten-free pizza, half cheese (for Jack) and half pepperoni and sausage (for Georgia).

Well, the pizzas are brought to us and the lady who brought it to us wasn't our server that took the order, but the general manager.  She said, "Here's your pizzas.  I just wanted to mention that the sausage and pepperoni do contain gluten and that the grease has gone over on the cheese side." Uhhhh??? First, I didn't even think about pepperoni and sausage having gluten in it - I KNEW BETTER - but I didn't think about it when ordering!!

WHAT I SHOULD OF DONE - is said, "Oh thank you for telling me, I didn't even think about that!  My son should not eat it due to cross contamination - how long would it take to make a plain cheese one?"  And I would also ask for a discount because the server should have mentioned that at the time - the manager even said that.

INSTEAD of doing that, I allowed Jack to eat the middle cheese piece.  By this time I'm just so upset because here it is lunch time, I don't really want to wait for another pizza, I'm frustrated because the manager didn't say, "Let me put another one in for you real quick."  It was just so frustrating!  I ordered a gluten-free pizza that's contaminated??? STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!

I'm putting this out there because I'm not perfect.  My brain wasn't functioning correctly I guess.  Bottom line, I'm VERY HARD on myself when something like this happens.  I wish I could have a do-over, BUT I've learned from this, I NOW KNOW BETTER.  We will ALWAYS order a CHEESE pizza.

BTW, I really don't like using the word "Stupid" unless appropriate.

Lesson learned.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Wish I Knew What I Know Now...

When I think back to right before Jack was diagnosed, it's hard for me to look at pictures, like the one below.  We never heard of celiac disease - why would we think gluten was hurting him??  It makes me sad thinking back to that time, because my little guy was sick and I just didn't know it.

Jack's 2nd birthday - hot August day.  The following week, Jack would be tested for celiac disease at his 2 yr. well check visit.  His poor little belly is distended due to inflammation.

But thankfully, Jack was tested for celiac disease right away. Jack had his 2 yr. well check the following week and I mentioned to his pediatrician that something didn't seem right...diarrhea, irritability and lack of energy.  And at the time, a distended belly, but I just thought that was the way his body was made! Jack's pediatrician mentioned doing some blood tests just to make sure everything was okay.  Little did I know, in a week's time I would be told Jack has Celiac Disease and must live a Gluten-Free Lifestyle.  What??  Celiac Disease?? What's that?  My friend had mentioned it to me the day before on the phone and that's the only time I had ever heard of it.

Jack's distended belly and flat buttocks (also know as muscle wasting - where the muscle becomes thinner) are signs of Celiac Disease.

The search began! I was on the Internet researching Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free diet.  For 2 weeks I was overloading myself with information. What's gluten-free? How did he get this? Hereditary? Who carries the genes?  After two weeks, I finally cried.  It was overwhelming!  I was scared, shocked and didn't really know what was next.

BUT, it got better and the best part was seeing Jack improve so quickly!  Within two weeks, Jack gained weight, had solid stools, and started running around like a 2 yr. old.  I was SO happy to see Jack feeling better - it was AMAZING!

This is why raising awareness is so important to me.  If someone had told me about it and I had known about Celiac Disease, maybe I could've have caught Jack's symptoms earlier.  I want others to know about this disease - just be aware of it - know that it's out there and it has many hidden symptoms that are misdiagnosed.  Luckily for Jack, he was diagnosed right away - I'm thankful for that every day.

Please email this post to 1 person.  And help someone start feeling better today.


Friday, May 13, 2011

A Poem for Jack

Raising Jack with Celiac can be challenging for sure
but every day we are thankful for the gluten-free "cure"
No medicines are needed, no surgery required
just gluten-free pizza, cupcakes, and pastas required


It's been almost 2 years since finding out
that celiac disease was the cause of Jack's diarrhea bout
His distended belly and lack of energy was there as well
not too mention his irritability times twelve!


As soon as we changed Jack's diet to gluten-free
He was back to his terrible twos - testing me!
He gained weight, had solid stools & started running around
But most all, he was making that happy laughing sound


It's amazing to me that celiac disease is hereditary
when nobody in the family knew about it
 not even Grandma Betty
We had to start somewhere and the Lord chose Jack
to inform our family and friends about celiac


Jack, I'm so proud of you
You've been a trooper these past 2 yrs. too
I hope you always know that Mamma's got your back
I will always be by your side on this journey with celiac

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

*PART II* - 2nd Day of EXPO

Okay, so my 1st day at the EXPO was AWESOME, but the 2nd day was even more AWESOME!

I didn't have a cooking class to attend so the schedule was open!  So off to the Vendor Fair I went!  The place was packed! I made my rounds, visited tables that interested me the most, which ones were those you ask?  The ones with food samples! Let's be honest, eating gluten-free is expensive, so to be able to try samples before buying them is a HUGE help!


There were a lot of vendors and food samples, so I am going to share my TOP 5 starting with:                                             

Food Samples & More!  Getting this all in my suitcase and on the plane was a challenge, but I did it and my new pizza cutter got through airport security - phew!  I say that because they zoomed in on it and I said excitedly, "Oh, that's my new pizza cutter!"

Okay, okay so I do have another favorite and it happens to be alcohol or I like to refer to it as Cider - Woodchuck Hard Cider.  I found myself going back to their table often, "Oh, you have a Blueberry flavor?" I may have taken advantage of their free samples, but they were really good!  It was refreshing and crisp.  I liked the Amber and Blueberry Ciders - they even have Seasonal Ciders - a different cider for every season - sounds good to me!  

Now, I have to talk about Pamela's Products a little more because I am a huge fan of her products and now of her! Pamela is the sweetest woman!  She's down to earth and she listens to you intently and she truly cares about her products and what her customers think.  I tried not to stalk her table too much, I was able to try a variety of her products and I gotta tell ya, the raspberry cheesecake and coffeecake are DELISH!! I'll have a future post about Pamela's Products because I could go on and on.

Pamela - she's the coolest and me (the Stalker - on the left)

Besides Pamela's Products, and the other wonderful food vendors, there were cookbook authors, food demonstrations and wonderful publications like Living Without Magazine. Also, the University of Chicago - Celiac Center was there - they provide a Gluten-Free Care Package Program - if you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease and call them they will send you a HUGE basket FILLED with gluten-free products - I'm talking HUGE! I wish I knew about this when Jack was diagnosed it would have made things a little stressful knowing there were so many GF products readily available.

Again, I could go on and on and get what I'm saying - I have nothing negative to say about my experience at my first GF & Allergen EXPO.  I would recommend this EXPO to anyone that lives gluten, dairy, nut, soy, or egg free!  I'll see you next year Chicago!

For more information on the EXPO visit: 

This EXPO will soon be held in different locations - the next one is in Dallas in October!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My First Gluten & Allergen Free Expo Experience in Chicago, IL *Part I*

Oh Jack, get ready to try some new GF cooking kiddo! :)

This past weekend I went to my first Gluten-Free & Allergen Expo in Chicago, IL.  I was excited to take cooking classes and visit different vendors to try samples of their products, meet new friends, and last but not least, have a weekend to myself (every mommy needs a break, right?).

I got in late Friday evening, so I just checked in and enjoyed my quiet hotel room. When Saturday morning came, I was up bright and early, ready to see what was in store for my first cooking class!

The cooking class was set-up like a college seminar brought back memories for sure...I felt 20 again...just for about a minute and then our first presenter appeared - Kim Koeller - she is the President and Founder of GlutenFree Passport - she's been ALL over the world and is co author of Let's Eat Out with Celiac/Coeliac & Food Allergies! book Series.  She talked about utilizing different Apps on IPhone and other technology devices and celiac disease across the globe.  It was interesting to see numbers in other countries.  For example 1 in 133 people have celiac disease in the U.S., but in Ireland, it's 1 in 120, Sweden, it's 1 in 100, in Argentina, it's 1 in 167, in Algeria, it's 1 in 70....there's no doubt celiac disease is prevalent and having someone that has been around the world and can share these stats with us, was pretty interesting.
After Kim presented, Stephanie O'Dea took the stage.  She was so sweet and petite, I just wanted to pack her and her crockpot and bring her home with me!  In 2008, Stephanie made a New Year's Resolution to use her slow-cooker everyday for a year - yes 365 days! She started a blog called A Year of Slow Cooking and wrote a New York Times Bestseller, Make it Fast, Cook It Slow. Her 2nd book, which I purchased, called More Make it Fast, Cook It Slow: 200 Brand New Recipes for Slow Cooker Meals on a Budget.  She sampled two of her crockpot creations, Carnitas and Country Captain - which were both delish!  The best thing about all her recipes, they are all gluten-free!  I was able to chat with Stephanie during lunch, she offered advice and tips for offering Jack new foods and cooking gluten-free.  I look forward to trying her crockpot recipes.  And I love that she calls the crockpot - "An Easy Bake Oven for Grown-Ups." :)  I look forward to keeping in touch with Stephanie - she's a bright light and she also has a new website called Totally Together Journal - which I will visit often! :)

Another presenter that I really enjoyed was Cybele Pascal. Cybele is a food writer and author of the bestselling Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook and the Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook.  What I found fascinating is that she baked a delicious red velvet cake with white frosting without using milk, egg, soy and gluten.  It was DELICIOUS! It was moist, just the right texture and the frosting was lovely.  Well done Cybele!  It's not fun to be allergic to any foods, but when you have a family allergic to eggs, milk, soy, nuts, etc. - you have no choice but to do what's best for your family.  And that's what Cybele did.  She's created amazing recipes without wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and more!  It was pretty impressive!

The other presenters were Joel Schaefer with Allergy Free Foods, Sueson Vess, Founder of Special Eats and Anna Sorbaski, Founder of Breads from Anna.  Again, all the presenters were amazing!  Joel made a wonderful Turkey Cutlet with Buckwheat Pilaf and 3 Bean Salad.  Anna baked Flatbread and we sampled her Maple Cake - yum!  And lastly, Sueson made Spiced Garbanzo Beans and Lasagna with Homemade Pasta.

So, my first day at the Expo was filled with tips, tricks, recipes, samplings and GF jive! I'm not sure what GF jive is, but I like it!  I enjoyed the cooking class tremendously.  It was knowledgeable and enjoyable.  They all had wonderful insight.  I appreciate them taking the time to come and present and to share their yummy dishes.  And thank you to Jen Cafferty for making the Expo happen!

Stay Tuned for Part II - the Vendor Fair, Pamela with Pamela's Products, free samples, my favorite new GF pizza and lastly my favorite GF alcohol beverage. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cooking Gluten-Free for the Whole Family - Our 1st GF dinner!

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month and my inspirational trip to the Gluten Free and Allergen Expo in Chicago this past weekend - we as a family have decided to cook gluten-free.  Now, if Jack wasn't a picky eater, I would have done this a long time ago, but he doesn't each meat or veggies and so I made our dinner and he would usually have his pizza, baked potato or whatever it may be!  It never bothered him eating something different because that's what HE wanted!

So below is a picture of our first gluten-free dinner as a family! Woohoo! Now, for the kiddos they had regular cheeseburgers, but otherwise everything was the same on everyone's plate - except for Jack, no corn. BUT, he did eat two bites of his cheeseburger in exchange for a Marshmallow Peep.  We gotta start somewhere, right?!

Mushroom Swiss Burger, Corn on the Cob, Red Potatoes and Strawberries

I look forward to trying new recipes and making our house a gluten-free home.  I'm not going to throw all my gluten items away, we will either eat them up or give to whomever - I can't just pitch it!  But we are on the right path.  As Jack gets older, I see him not being so picky and eating meals like this - so it only makes sense for all of us to eat gluten-free - the last thing I want is for Jack to feel isolated at home when he has to eat differently at school, restaurants and social gatherings.  So here's to happy, healthy gluten-free cooking! :)



#10  Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease 

  #9   It's not Celiacs, it's Celiac

  #8   1 in 133 people have it in the U.S. - that's A LOT

  #7   No medication is required just a GF lifestyle

  #6   Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye

  #5   It's a genetic disorder - see how Grandpa's feeling...

  #4   Migraines, fatigue, seizures, infertility can be associated

  #3   If not diagnosed, severe medical problems may occur

  #2   95% of celiacs are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed...

  #1   Don't be a chicken, get a blood test today! :)

Gluten-Free is Good 4 Me!

Living Gluten-Free is not the End of the World - 
It's the Beginning!