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Managing a Gluten-Free Diet in School

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Yikes! My kids go back to school this week! Ever since they started preschool, we’ve been on the traditional schedule of starting school after labor day. So starting in August, feels really early to me. Especially since we spent most of our summer moving! But we’re ready. The kids are anxious to learn about their new school and meet some new friends. And I…well, I am ready to get back on a schedule. I still have a lot of boxes to unpack and organize. And that’s a little easier without the kids at home. 🙂

As we are getting so close to the start, I’ve been going through some of my older posts about keeping the kids gluten free at school. We’ll have new teachers, administrators, and nurses to connect with and make sure they understand the importance of my kids being gluten free.

Earlier this year, I put together a page (Gluten Free in School) with all the posts I have written about managing my kids’ gluten-free diets at school. Maybe you’re preparing for school, too, and would like some new ideas to review? I’ve got sample letters to teachers, snack and classroom party food ideas, and craft recipes all linked. So, check it out and feel free to add your own ideas in the comments. Simply click on “Gluten Free in School” on the menu bar above. Or here: Gluten Free in School.

Want to discuss the issue further? NFCA (along with the sponsor Mary’s Gone Crackers) is facilitating a Back-to-School webinar about “….Preparing to Educate Administrators on the Importance of Gluten-Free.” To be a part of it, you can register for free at And don’t worry if you miss it. After the event, they will post the webinar on their website, so you can download it and review later from their archived webinars.

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Gluten-Free Holiday Recipes Galore

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Update: I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! I took some time to update the Holiday Recipe Events below with all the links to recipes and roundups, so browse through them for some great gluten-free recipes. You may find just the recipe you want for  some last-minute ideas for Christmas, or maybe you’re thinking ahead to New Year celebrations.??

I also want to mention another gluten-free event that I completely neglected (unintentionally) – Jules’s Gluten-Free Cookie Swap. I’m not very good about following Facebook, but I finally got a chance to look at it. Wow! It has more than 100 gluten-free cookie recipes posted. You don’t want to leave this off your list of recipes to peruse. And maybe you’ll share your own favorite cookie recipe!

However you are spending the start of the winter season, I send you warm wishes to you and yours. I hope you have a happy, healthy, gluten-free holiday!


Three online events are going on this season to help you enjoy your holidays gluten free. I’ve already shared with you the December Sanity Challenge. Here are two events that are more specific to gluten-free recipes. The events have already started, but don’t let that stop you from checking them out. New gluten-free recipes are being posted everyday by bloggers wanting to share their healthy ideas with you. And, there are still prizes to win, too!

A Gluten-Free Holiday

This weekly themed link-up event is taking place on Thursdays (November through December) and includes a cookbook give-away every week.

Share your own favorite gluten-free holiday dishes and browse through new gluten-free recipes to add to your menu.

Nov. 3rd – Healthier Through the Holidays at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free
Nov. 10th – Thanksgiving Favorites at Cook It Allergy Free
Nov. 17th – Edible Gifts at Taste at Tasty Eats at Home
Dec. 1st – Holiday Entrees & Sides Dishes at Daily Bites
Dec. 8th – Holiday Breakfast & Brunch at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs
Dec. 15th – Holiday Desserts at She Let Them Eat Cake


Home for the Holidays

This daily event is taking place through December 23, and features holiday recipes from 25 different bloggers. Shirley at gluten free easily gathered almost 100 items to give away throughout the event.

The prizes include gluten-free cookbooks, e-books, magazine subscriptions, applications, and a testing kit. The final top three prizes will be a VitaMix blender, $150 shopping spree at Free From Gluten, and a giveaway package from Caveman Cookies.

Check out all the details in the event announcement from Shirley.

Nov. 28– Nutmeg Shortbread Flats (Gluten-Free) at gfe–gluten free easily
Nov. 29– Toffee (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at The WHOLE Gang
Nov. 30– Fritters/Förtchens/Futtjens/Ferdons (Gluten-Free) at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom
Dec. 1– Cut-out Gingerbread Cookies (Gluten-Free) at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen
Dec. 2– Chocolate Pecan “Toll House” Pie (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at And Love it, Too!
Dec. 3– Paleo Monkey Bread (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at Paleo Parents
Dec. 4– Candy Cane Ice Cream (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at She Let Them Eat Cake
Dec. 5– Red Chile Enchilada Casserole (Gluten-Free) at Gluten Free For Good
Dec. 6– Cinnamon Bun Cake (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at Cook IT Allergy Free
Dec. 7– Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan, Corn-Free)at Lexie’s Kitchen
Dec. 8– Chocolate & Cinnamon Babka Bread (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at Real Sustenance
Dec. 9– Gingerbread Apple Crisp (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at Elana’s Pantry
Dec. 10– Peanut Butter Pie with a Double Chocolate Crust (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at The Spunky Coconut
Dec. 11– Chocolate Peppermint Truffles (Anti-Candida, Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegan) at Diet, Dessert and Dogs
Dec. 12–  Cream Cheese Cookies (Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan) at The Daily Dietribe
Dec. 13– Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies (Gluten-Free, Vegan) at Gluten Free by Nature
Dec. 14– Cinnamon Sticky Rolls (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan, Oven or Crock Pot Method) at Jules Speaks Gluten Free
Dec. 15– Pine Nut Cookies (Gluten-Free) at Silvana’s Kitchen (and Easy Eats)
Dec. 16– Christmas Breakfast Casserole (Gluten-Free) at Gluten-Free Cat
Dec. 17– Baked Eggs Florentine (Gluten-Free) at Simply…Gluten Free
Dec. 18– Holiday Pumpkin Bread (Gluten-Free, Vegan) at Alisa Cooks
Dec. 19– Cinnamon Rolls (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at The Gluten-Free Homemaker
Dec. 20– Magical Seven-Layer Bars (Vegan, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Casein-Free) at Gluten Free Gigi
Dec. 21– Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Gluten-Free) at Z’s Cup of Tea
Dec. 22– Chocolate Silk Pie with Honey Whipped Cream (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Grain-Free) at Lillian’s Test Kitchen
Dec. 23— Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free) at gfe—gluten free easily

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This week only, through Sunday, December 25, Gluten-Free Saver has partnered with Van’s Natural Foods to raise money to send gluten-free kids to a summer camp next year.

The money collected will be used for scholarships for kids to attend a gluten-free summer camp hosted by the Celiac Disease Foundation next summer in San Bernardino, California. The summer camp will be held from July 30 to August 3, 2012. It’s open to all kids between the ages of 7 and 15 who are gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive. The kids do not need to have an official diagnosis of celiac disease, only the need to be gluten free.

Van’s is matching all donations this week up to $1,000! Please join me this week in donating to the cause. Even a small donation of $2 will add $4 dollars to the scholarships. If you are feeling generous this holiday season, feel free to contribute as much as you’d like.

You can find more details on this one-week fundraiser at Gluten-Free Saver.


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Gluten-Free Food Labeling Summit 2011

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Last week, my husband and I decided last minute to join the crowd in D.C. for the 1 in 133 event. I really didn’t think we would be able to attend, but decided that we could skip out on some after school activities for such an important event. So, I picked up the kids at school and headed to D.C. to pick up my husband and join the event.

We arrived toward the end of the cake building. The top was being placed, and the decorative frosting was being added to the sides. The kids and I even got to decorate a couple smaller cakes that were added at the bottom. We stayed as long as we could and still get the kids home to bed on time. It was a good night to reconnect with fellow Celiacs I hadn’t seen for a long time and meet some new gluten-free friends, too.

I took some photos of the cake, and a few of the kids.  I talked with Linda of The Gluten-Free Homemaker, Jules Shepherd of Jules Gluten Free, John Forberger the Gluten-Free Triathlete, Dr. Alessio Fasano of The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, and so many more.

It really was a great event with many gluten free experts, researchers, sponsors, food manufacturers, bloggers, celiacs, supporters, etc. Also present was a member of the FDA who was there to hear our plea for federal regulation on gluten-free food labels. There really were so many other people there who were instrumental in bringing the night’s event together, but unfortunately I didn’t get all those names and titles. I guess I didn’t have my reporter hat on that night.

I’ll bet you’re wondering if there was any news from the event. I can tell you that the cake was 11’2″ tall. And, the talk about the gluten-free labeling law sounded encouraging. It was difficult to hear the speakers, especially with two fidgety young kids. So, that’s about all of the information I can offer. For more specific details of the event, read Amy Ratner’s more thorough report at Gluten-Free Living. For additional photos and videos of the event, check out the post at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

There is still more work to do. Please show your support of the effort any way you can:

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This has been a busy year for my family for a variety of reasons. And, as such, I haven’t been able to share as much as I wanted to on Celiac Family. But, as this is Celiac Awareness month, I’m going to give my best effort to getting more than just menu plans done this month. - Support Gluten-Free Food Labeling1 in 133 –  It’s a Big Deal! I’m starting with a newsworthy event happening in Washington D.C. on May 4, 2011. You may or may not know that the FDA was expected to have ruled on proper labeling of gluten-free products by now. We expected the determination and law to be effective in 2008. Well, it’s now 2011, and we are still waiting for them to make a decision.

Why do we need a labeling law? Well, most importantly, to ensure that products are not being labeled “gluten free” when, in fact, they aren’t. As it is now, the FDA has not made a ruling about what determines if a product is gluten free or not. We who eat gluten free have relied on our own gluten free community to research products and ingredients. And, as a gluten free community, we have questioned companies to tell us about their ingredients and manufacturing processes. We have made progress, but as the community grows, so will the gluten-free food products, companies, and…well…mistakes, mislabeling, and misunderstandings of what “gluten free” means.

The good news is that the FDA did pass the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 which mandates that the top allergens be clearly identified either in the ingredients or in a separate allergen statement. So, that means that if there is any wheat or any derivative of wheat in the product, it must be clearly labeled. Since wheat is the biggest offender contributing gluten to products, that makes it easier for Celiacs to determine the gluten content of food products.

The bad news is that barley, rye, oats, and malt, which also contain gluten, do not have to be clearly identified on the label. In some cases, the label could include those gluten-containing ingredients in “natural flavoring” or other vague listing. To further complicate the matter, a product can have no gluten in the ingredients but still have gluten in the product due to cross-contamination in the processing of it. So, you can see why so many people (including me) feel it is so necessary to have a ruling about what must be on the food labels, and when a company can state that their product is gluten free.

More good news. As part of the FALCP Act of 2004, the FDA was charged with continuing its work on gluten labeling.  SEC. 206. on GLUTEN LABELING states, “Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with appropriate experts and stakeholders, shall issue a proposed rule to define, and permit use of, the term  “gluten-free” on the labeling of foods. Not later than 4 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue a final rule to define, and permit use of, the term “gluten-free” on the labeling of foods.”

More bad news. It sounded promising, and certainly seemed like a reasonable amount of time to get it done. The research was done and a proposed ruling was registered in 2007. But still, there is no official ruling in 2011. There have been efforts over the past couple years to try to get the gluten free labeling issue back to the top of the priorities. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much progress from the FDA.

Now what? 1 in 133 is a new effort for bringing the issue back to the forefront. The name 1 in 133 was chosen to emphasize the fact that one in 133 Americans are estimated to have Celiac Disease, making it the most common genetic disorder in North America. (Surprised at that number? Maybe that’s because about 95% of those with Celiac Disease have not been diagnosed yet.)

Taking place on May 4th in D.C. will be the first Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit, an event designed to bring attention to the need for clear, accurate, and reliable labeling of gluten content in food products. The event will feature the building of the world’s largest gluten-free cake. Along with the organizers and other supporters of the event, I hope this enormous cake gets the attention of lawmakers to help us push this effort forward, and finally get a ruling on gluten-free labeling.

What can you do to help this effort? Please visit the website 1 in 133. You can find more information about the organization, the project, sign a petition, and donate money for the cause.

Additional Notes on Food Labeling:

  • This press release from the FDA states “Effective January 1, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring food labels to clearly state if food products contain any ingredients that contain protein derived from the eight major allergenic foods. As a result of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), manufacturers are required to identify in plain English the presence of ingredients that contain protein derived from milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans in the list of ingredients or to say “contains” followed by name of the source of the food allergen after or adjacent to the list of ingredients.”
  • The current regulations on food labeling in the US indicate that they are also in the process of making a determination of what “gluten free” means. The proposed recommendation is 20 ppm.
  • For further information on food labeling, you can check the Q&A on the FDA food labeling proposal for gluten.
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