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Giving Our Kids a GREAT Start
If there’s one thing I’m passionate about, it’s raising celiac disease awareness. Pretty obvious for the founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), right? I love meeting community members and hearing your celiac disease stories, especially when they involve starting the gluten-free diet, feeling infinitely better and never looking back.
As much as I wish I could say all the stories I hear have a happy ending, the fact is that’s just not true. All of your stories impact me personally but when it comes to kids, I have a special soft spot. Things are so much better for kids living with a gluten-related disorder than they were in the past, but kids face special challenges – especially in social scenarios. School years are the most formative and feeling left out or different can negatively affect kids in both the short and long term.
Yes, it’s our job as parents to help our kids not to feel “weird” about their gluten-free diets and to let them know that being different doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We have to teach our children about food safety and, eventually, let them start to navigate their diets on their own. But, schools need to do their part to help, too.
In my ideal world, kids would be heading off to school and eating their gluten-free lunches alongside their friends in the cafeteria, without having to ask 100 questions and still worry if gluten is somehow sneaking into their food. Does that seem impossible? To many parents, it might. But to me, it’s a very real possibility that’s well within our reach. As parents, it’s our duty to be persistent in our campaign to safely feed our children and, most importantly, educate the decision makers in the school system.
How can we do this? Through NFCA’s GREAT Schools, Colleges and Camps program. It’s an online gluten-free training program specifically tailored to the educational needs of the foodservice professionals working in the education system. GREAT Schools, Colleges and Camps is inexpensive and not overly time consuming, despite its comprehensive information. In short, it’s a program that works. In fact, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles California, a GREAT-trained school, was recently recognized for its gluten-free-friendliness on this list of the Top 10 Gluten-Free Accommodating Colleges.
Whether your child is in grade school, high school or college, talk to the school about taking the training course. When used correctly, it makes all the difference in the world for our kids. I bet your child won’t be the only one to benefit from the training program, either.
I encourage you to start the conversation today. Head to this link to learn more about GREAT Schools and be sure to share it with your school!
Has your child’s school already taken the training program to help your child eat without fear? We’d love to hear about it on Facebook!
To our children’s GREAT health,
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It's still hot and sticky even though September is here already, so it’s time for more cool food.
RASPBERRY WHITE BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
I used this on a salad with fresh Brie, caramelized almonds, fresh raspberries and peaches, nectarines and mangos. Drizzle on grilled chicken, shrimp or salmon.
CUCUMBER YOGURT DIP (TZATZIKI)
This is my version. Most commercial versions contain dried herbs and are almost totally smooth. Serve this as a side with spicy dishes like chili or curry.
About Chef Oonagh Williams
Chef Oonagh's son was diagnosed over 5 years ago with no previous symptoms. She has non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’), but with celiac disease genetic markers, and she has cousins with the autoimmune disease. 'Like' Chef Oonagh at Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh on FB where she posts links to her recipes, her Delicious Gluten Free cooking cookbook (over 200 pages), appearances on the local ABC station, products and her classes. Chef Oonagh will be speaking to the Dallas FW Celiac Support group in September and hosting a cooking class. She spoke as part of the Health and Wellness Forum at Boston GreenFest in August, will do a Chef's demo at the Boston Local Food Festival in September, and speak at GFAF expos in Springfield MA. October and Dallas November. E-mail at [email protected]. Chef Oonagh is British, has a culinary arts degree, trained in London and Switzerland and lives in New Hampshire.
Back-to-School: It’s All about Your Attitude
By Silvana Nardone
Get your gluten-free cooking and baking questions answered by the expert! Have a question for Silvana? E-mail Alicia at [email protected] and your question could be answered in a future NFCA newsletter
Let’s be honest. When September rolls around, we as parents get a little excited to send our children back to school. It’s nice to get back to the structured routine that the school year brings. But, when your child has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, that excitement can be accompanied by some worries and anxiety, too.
It’s natural to be concerned about sending a gluten-free child to school, especially if they are very young or newly diagnosed. There are a lot of unknowns and that can cause stress for you and your child. My very best tip for easing anxiety is being prepared. My second best tip is teach your child about their condition, what’s on and off limits, and what to do if they’re faced with a situation that they are unsure how to navigate.
Kids are resilient. They are adaptable and most importantly, they pick up on the cues of the parents. If you take a look at the positive things, embrace the gluten-free diet and accept it as the new normal, your kids will follow suit. Learning the gluten-free lifestyle is an adventure. If you explore this new territory with your child, he/she will be much more inclined to stick to their diet, even when they are away from you at school (or at parties, sporting events, after school activities, etc.).
Education and attitude are key to keeping your child healthy and happy. But, it doesn’t hurt to have some awesome recipes and lunchbox ideas up your sleeve, either. Send your child back to school with one of these recipes for lunch and all the kids will be wanting what’s in his/her lunchbox!
About Silvana Nardone
Silvana Nardone is the author of Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals and founder of silvanaskitchen.com, a blog that takes the guesswork out of how to feed a family with food allergies. Join the gluten-free conversation in her Facebook community or follow her on Twitter or Pinterest.
Injecting Health into the Gluten-Free Diet
By Shelley Case, RD
The gluten-free market is exploding with a growing number of widely available specialty products. This is welcome news for those who need to follow a gluten-free diet. But while you rejoice over the many choices available at the supermarket and online, you also need to be aware that not all gluten-free items are created equal.
Get the full scoop on the nutritional value of many gluten-free products.
Ready or not, school is officially back in session! If you’re like most parents, you might be scratching your head wondering, “What am I going to pack for the kids’ lunches?” We have the answers! (Well, actually, our community members have the answers.)
From September 2-30, we’re asking parents to send in their kids' favorite gluten-free, lunchbox-friendly foods. No idea is too simple! We’re looking for everything from the classic peanut butter sandwich on gluten-free bread to soups, wraps, salads – you name it, we want the recipe.
NFCA will pick the top 10 recipes to include in a downloadable gluten-free eCookbook. If your recipe is chosen, you’ll win a gluten-free prize pack, courtesy of our sponsor, Thai Kitchen.
Sponsored by Thai Kitchen
Every year, NFCA shares resources covering a different aspect of sending your gluten-free child back-to-school. Here are some oldies, but goodies, from the archives:
Help Restaurants Get Serious about Safety
Let’s face it – dining out can be a real challenge when you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. NFCA is working to eliminate these issues by training foodservice establishments on safe gluten-free food preparation.
Here’s how you can help.
You can learn more about NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program at www.greatGFkitchens.org.
In support of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), the extraordinary and award-winning Costa Rican beachfront and rainforest resort Arenas Del Mar will host two Weeks for the Celiac Disease Community during the weeks beginning on September 13th and again on November 8th . This luxury resort is situated on a cliff with direct access to two pristine sand beaches on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Both restaurants at Arenas Del Mar will go 100% gluten-free for their guests' safety and comfort. Guest chefs Monica Glass of Clio in Boston and Michael Solomonov of Zahav in Philadelphia will take gluten-free dining to new heights.
The Week for the Celiac Disease Community was inspired by the Arenas Del Mar owner's daughter, who is diagnosed with celiac disease. The family knows first-hand how gluten-free needs can affect travel and are excited to offer a worry-free week to others living with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
All the kitchen staff at Arenas Del Mar will have completed NFCA's GREAT Kitchens gluten-free training program before the community week begins. A portion of proceeds earned during the community weeks will benefit NFCA's free programs and services.
Learn more about the Week for the Celiac Disease Community in NFCA's Upcoming Events Listing.
NFCA is excited to help you learn how you can bring GREAT Schools, Colleges, and Camps to a learning institution near you! Join us for this one-hour special program for tips on how to make the gluten-free back-to-school experience a happy, healthy, and enjoyable one for all!
Learn about NFCA’s GREAT Schools, Colleges, and Camps from its program director Beckee Moreland during this back-to-school special. Webinar participants also will hear the perspective of a school system that has already implemented the GREAT program to make its schools a safer place for children with special dietary needs through Jessie Coffey, District Nutritionist for Lincoln Public Schools in Nebraska.
NFCA’s Director of Foodservice Development Jerry Norris will be heading to Atlanta, along with NFCA GREAT Affiliate Tracy Stuckrath. Together, the team will speak to foodservice industry professionals on the topic of Fact vs. Fiction: The Real Scoop on Gluten-Free Best Practices. The GREAT team is ready and excited to talk about the real need for a strict gluten-free diet for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Learn more about the expo in NFCA’s Upcoming Events listing.
Disney is well-known for being one of the top food allergy and gluten-free locations in the world, making it an ideal place for an event dedicated to awareness of food allergies and celiac disease.
Open to consumers, families and individuals of all ages, the event will include an expo area, welcome breakfast, non-dairy ice cream buffet, kids corner, raffles, recipe booklets and more! Ticket prices range from $5-$15.
Get all the details in NFCA's Upcoming Events section.
Tell us about your gluten-free product finds on Facebook every Sunday night at 7:45 p.m. EDT! Missed a post? Check out our trending product updates on the Gluten-Free Hot Products blog.
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