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NFCA President and CEO
The Power of the Positive
There has been a lot of negativity swirling around the gluten-free community lately. Between articles claiming that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’) doesn’t exist, some restaurants not taking our gluten-free needs seriously and the daily challenges of living with a gluten-related disorder, it’s easy to start feeling pretty down and negative. But, as a “glass half full” kind of woman, I find it healthier to take a look at the positive side.
I am just like you. I get glutened at restaurants. I struggle to get some of my family members tested for celiac disease. I have to carefully plan every detail of every business trip and family vacation. And yes, I too get frustrated sometimes. When I reach that point though, I take a step back and think about what life was like for me over 20 years ago, when I remained devastatingly ill and lived with the constant burning questions, “What is wrong with me? Am I dying of cancer?”
My point is this : Those of us who know that we are living with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity are the lucky ones. We know the trigger to our ailments and, even though it may be challenging sometimes, we’re able to avoid gluten and restore our health. Now that we have the diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, we can do our homework and educate ourselves on how to live a happy, healthy gluten-free life.
Is it frustrating that people don’t always understand why I need a gluten-free diet? Yes. And do I wish all restaurants knew how to safely serve us? Of course. I know that you feel the same; we hear it from you regularly on social media. We can stay mad and be frustrated and avoid restaurants for the rest of our lives, or we can do something about it. I choose to do something about it.
Without a doubt, education is key to creating safety and understanding in a gluten-filled world. I hope that you will join me and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) team in our pursuit to educate not just the gluten-free community, but those outside of the community. Here are three things you can do right now to get the ball rolling:
Will you accept this invitation to join us on our mission? Tell us about how you’re helping the cause on Facebook or Twitter or show us on Instagram. Together, we can help our community live life to the fullest.
To our GREAT health,
BLUEBERRY LEMON CRUMB CAKE
This is based on a wheat-flour recipe from a local farm stand in New Hampshire. It’s one of those recipes that requires only ingredients you probably already have and plenty of fresh fruit. I made it with a mix of fresh strawberries, peaches and blueberries, then I made a version with just blueberries. If you use frozen berries, the cooking time will be significantly longer and the cake far moister.
About Chef Oonagh Williams
Chef Oonagh’s son was diagnosed over 5 years ago with no previous symptoms. She has gluten sensitivity (but with celiac disease genetic markers), and has cousins with celiac disease. ‘Like’ Chef Oonagh at Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh on Facebook, where she posts links to her recipes, her Delicious Gluten Free cooking cookbook (over 200 pages), appearances on the local ABC station, products, her classes, and where you can meet her when she speaks at conferences nationwide. E-mail at [email protected]. Chef Oonagh is British, has a culinary arts degree, trained in London and Switzerland and lives in New Hampshire.
Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Blueberry Swirl Muffins
By Silvana Nardone
Get your gluten-free cooking and baking questions answered by the expert! Have a question for Silvana? E-mail Alicia at
My son Isaiah’s diagnosis with gluten sensitivity led me to start experimenting with gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. It took a lot of trial and error, but it was worth every effort to recreate my family’s old favorites—and even to find dishes that would become our new favorites!
I know from experience just how challenging a celiac disease or gluten sensitivity diagnosis can be. That’s why I enjoy sharing my knowledge with the gluten-free community. I’m happy to announce that my next cookbook will be available on September 2. As a thank you to the NFCA community members who follow this column, I’m giving you a sneak peek at just one of the recipes that will be included in Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed .Enjoy!
Blueberry Swirl Muffins
Between the whole blueberries and the blueberry swirl, these muffins deliver a burst of flavor in every bite. The lemon sugar makes the tops extra crunchy.
About Silvana Nardone
It’s official! As of August 5, 2014, all FDA-regulated packaged foods bearing a gluten-free claim must adhere to the guidelines established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are many components to the gluten-free labeling rule and there’s a lot to learn when it comes to what to look out for on food packages and manufacturer compliance. NFCA urges you to learn about the ruling in our dedicated web section, which contains answers to frequently asked questions and an outline of the rule requirements. You also can access two free webinar archives:
Do you have questions about the ruling? E-mail them to [email protected]. Your questions will help NFCA continue to learn more about the needs of both gluten-free consumers and food manufacturers so that we can determine how best to help our community eat without fear. It’s essential that we use a unified and consistent voice to amplify the medical need for a gluten-free diet and how essential safe food is for the health of those with gluten-related disorders.
It’s an exciting time in celiac disease research. New things are happening every day and there are so many ways for the community to be involved. From surveys and focus groups to clinical trial participation, people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are needed to help move research forward. NFCA is committed to sharing the latest research news and opportunities so we all can be a part of it.
The Link Between Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity and FODMAPs
It’s the most dreaded phrase among patients of all kinds: “I don’t know.” When it comes to our health, we find comfort in answers and seek definitive causes with proven treatments. But sometimes, uncertainty can be a good thing. It’s a sign that we’re asking questions, exploring every angle, and never taking one solution as an absolute truth.
Such is the case with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Virtually unrecognized a decade ago, gluten sensitivity is now a baffling puzzle that has prompted nearly 200 studies in the past two years alone. Today, we have more questions than ever, proof of increasing research and knowledge, not the lack of it.
Doctors and researchers are grappling with the questions that frustrate us, and they have a steadfast commitment to answering them. As Dr. David Sanders, chairman of the health advisory committee for Coeliac UK, reminded us recently: “We are still on a learning curve ourselves about this condition and its natural history, and patients need to understand that.”
One of the biggest questions to emerge recently – and an item of hot debate at the International Celiac Disease Symposium last fall – is whether the explosive prevalence of gluten sensitivity is truly due to gluten, or whether other factors and food culprits could be part of the cause.
College students across the country will be heading back to campus in the coming weeks. In addition to scheduling classes, buying textbooks and stocking up on dorm room essentials, gluten-free college students have one other thing to prep for – managing their gluten-free diets away from home.
NFCA and Blue Diamond are teaming up to help college students get started on the right foot. All through August, parents and students can enter to win a gluten-free care package, courtesy of Blue Diamond, by simply filling out our quick and easy entry form.
But, that’s not all! We’ll be sharing tips from current gluten-free students, alumni and parents to make college life easier for students so they can focus on their studies and making memories.
Thanks to Blue Diamond for making this campaign possible!
By Anna Sonnenberg of Gluten-Free Jet Set
Whether you’re taking off on a short hop or a long overseas flight, flying gluten-free can be challenging. While gluten-free travelers should always pack safe and healthy snacks for a flight of any length, the good news is that more and more airlines are able to accommodate special food requests, especially on longer flights. There may not be any 100% gluten-free airlines quite yet, but some airlines are much friendlier to gluten-free travelers than others.
Out of 80+ major airlines worldwide, over three-quarters offer a gluten-free meal on long-haul flights, but passengers should be sure to read the fine print. Some of these meals actually are noted “low gluten” or “not suitable for celiacs.” Snacks on shorter flights or between meals, however, are a different story. Only one major airline regularly offers complimentary gluten-free snacks, and just about a dozen airlines offer gluten-free snacks for purchase. Read on for your best and worst airline options, and take some of the guesswork out of flying gluten-free.
Gluten-Free Airline Options: North America
In North America, JetBlue stands out as the only airline to reliably provide complimentary gluten-free snacks (Popcorners chips), along with some of the healthiest plant-based foods for purchase. Other North American carriers offering snacks for purchase include Air Canada (gluten-free crackers and cheese), Alaska Airlines (Mediterranean tapas selection), Delta (Mrs. May’s Nut Crunch), United (Two Degrees bars), and Virgin America (Udi’s granola and Crunchmaster crackers).
Teaming Up for a Common Goal
Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) hosted their first-ever allergen conference. Beckee Moreland, NFCA’s Director of GREAT Kitchens, was invited to be a part of this conference to speak to the needs of the celiac disease and gluten sensitive communities. While food allergies, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are completely different conditions, they are both treated the same way: through avoidance of the trigger foods. In addition, people with food allergies and celiac disease deal with daily dilemmas that affect their quality of life. These common denominators make FARE and NFCA perfect partners in raising awareness of special dietary needs.
Beckee’s first speaking session, “The Spectrum of Food Allergies: Related Disorders” was shared with Dr. Wendy Book from the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders, and Tonya Winders from the Allergy & Asthma Network. Together, these experts focused on educating the audience on conditions that tend to go hand-in-hand. By alerting the food allergy community to the connections to celiac disease, we can increase diagnoses and help people adopt the life-saving gluten-free diet.
On the second day of sessions, Beckee was a part of a panel that talked about the unique challenges faced by college students living with food allergies and gluten-related disorders. She was joined by expert panelists Anne Thompson, a food allergy mom and patient advocate, Beth Winthrop of Sodexo, Betsy Craig of AllerTrain, and Kristi Grim from FARE. The focus of the session was to provide parents and students with valuable information concerning college entry and what services and contacts will assist them.
Free Webinar: Live Q&A with Gluten-Free College Students and Grads