Health by Gini
Tid Bits with Tina
Celiac Disease: Exploring the Impact on Women’s Health
Leaving Gluten at the Altar
Gobble Up Gluten-Free Tips & Treats
All Things GREAT
Celiac in the News
It’s a Girl Thing
Around the holidays, I always look forward to spending some time with the women in my life. With one daughter in college and the other preparing to leave the nest next year, quality time comes at a premium. Fortunately, our nation was kind enough to commemorate an historic feast each November, giving me the excuse to gather my flock for a quick trip south. Our destination: my sister’s house, where my spunky sibling welcomes us with open arms and a warm oven.
Each year, I marvel at the gathering, mostly at the bounty of gluten-free food my sister manages to whip up (See “Gobble Up Gluten-Free Tips & Treats” for two of her recipes!), but also at the healthy women sharing my table.
As many of you know, I struggled with fertility issuesas a complication of celiac disease. When I suffered a full-term stillbirth, my eldest daughter Elizabeth eased the pain by noting that Baby Emily was in heaven with Grandma Gloria, my mother. Even at such a young age, Elizabeth looked on the bright side. She’s now studying to be a physician and already has co-authored a women’s health article with me, an accomplishment I still hold dear.
When Linnea was born, she weighed barely more than 2 lbs, but I was over the moon. She fit in the palm of my hand, but she had survived. And, boy, could she scream! Today, she is 5 ft. 8 inches and still feisty. I couldn’t be prouder.
I’m lucky to have my girls, but I sympathize with women struggling to conceive. Perhaps most heartbreaking is that, for many, the problem may be right on their plates.
Celiac disease is commonly associated with gastrointestinal issues, but tummy talk can overshadow other symptoms, including reproductive health problems. My girls have learned from my experience and understand how food can be a powerful factor in one’s health. Elizabeth gripes when there are poor options at her college dining hall, and Linnea avoids fast food restaurants at all costs. As the saying goes, we are what we eat.
Unfortunately, even our best intentions can go awry, especially when the culprit is cloaked in otherwise “healthy” foods, like multigrain bread or whole wheat pasta. My daughters know the signs and symptoms of celiac disease, but many women don’t. In some cases, the signs aren’t even there to detect. That’s why it’s so important to educate the medical community about celiac disease.
I’m thrilled to announce that NFCA has just launched a special Women’s Health section on beyondceliac.org. Designed for obstetricians, gynecologists and other women’s health clinicians, this new addition to the Education tab includes information about celiac-related issues unique to females. [Read more about it in “Celiac Disease: Exploring the Impact on Women’s Health“]
Corresponding with this new launch, NFCA also will be releasing a new Women’s Health brochure for patients, which will be available for download in the Women’s Health section, as well as on our Printable Guides page. This is truly an accomplishment, especially coming just months after the release of our extensive Celiac CME Central program for primary care physicians.
It’s a cliché, but I really do count my blessings. Do I worry that my girls will have the same reproductive trouble I did? I try not to, but I do get them tested for celiac every 3 years and will encourage them to do so as they age. It’s not mother’s intuition; it’s what my doctor recommends.
Xylitol: A Better Sugar Substitute
By Gini Warner, Clinical Nutritionist
Americans today are consuming very large amounts of sugar in their diet. This can lead to a variety of health problems, such as weight gain and diabetes. Many people eat products sweetened with artificial sweeteners in an attempt lower their intake of calories. They might be saving some calories, but they actually are putting themselves at risk for many other health problems including cancer, headaches and nausea. Some sugar substitutes are still high in fructose, which poses the same problems as regular sugar.
Xylitol is a natural, unprocessed sugar that comes from birch trees. It is a low-calorie alternative to table sugar. It is also lower in carbohydrates than table sugar. Xylitol is absorbed more slowly than sugar, therefore it does not contribute to high blood sugar levels, which can result in hyperglycemia. It is safe for diabetics as a sugar substitute.
Xylitol is found in some chewing gum and mints. It can be purchased in individual packets at specialty markets, making it convenient to use in cooking.
When choosing brands, compare prices and quality because Xylitol can be made from many different sources. The lower-priced versions tend to be made from corn instead of the sweeter source of wood fibers. I recommend choosing organic brands because they will be free of any genetically modified organisms.
To learn more, contact Gini Warner (
About Gini Warner, Clinical Nutritionist
Gini Warner completed her master’s degree in Health Education and Nutritional Science at New York University in 1988 and has been working with families, individuals and corporations in the fields of celiac disease, immune dysfunction, diabetes, osteoporosis, weight loss and overall wellness. She has been a practicing nutritional counselor for more than 20 years.
Gini develops nutritional programs for people with food allergies, for safe weight control, diabetes, eating for energy, disease prevention, and overall nutritional balance. She believes that the key to achieving proper nutrition and overall health is in making positive lifestyle changes.
Gini has developed wellness programs for corporations nationwide including AT&T, Citibank and Revlon. These programs have dramatically improved the health and quality of life for their employees.
As a clinical nutritionist, Gini works in most areas of nutritional wellness for adults and children and welcomes referrals from medical doctors, chiropractors, and other healthcare professionals. She offers nutritional counseling in person or online.
Tips to Help Your Celiac Child Avoid Cross-Contamination
By Tina Turbin
If your child has recently been diagnosed withceliac disease, it is likely your family is still adapting to his new gluten-free lifestyle. It may seem overwhelming at first to parents of celiac children to go gluten-free, as there are many adjustments to make. One of the major challenges is helping your child avoid gluten that can get in his food through cross-contamination.
Theceliac community has worked hard to identify safe commercial products. Any food processed on equipment shared with gluten is at risk of having at least some degree of contamination. In order for a product to be truly gluten-free, special handling is required at each step of the process—the growing, harvesting, milling and processing of non-gluten grains. Shared equipment can result in gluten contamination in the field, manufacturing facility, restaurant or home kitchen.
Luckily, there are some ways to ensure a truly gluten-free diet, information which is particularly useful for parents of celiac children who are especially sick or sensitive togluten. First, although cross-contamination is an issue in the home, I recommend that parents adopt the habit of home cooking to meet the needs of their celiac child’s gluten-free diet. This takes the uncertainty out, as you’ll have much more control over the ingredients and the food preparation, using fresh foods and foods that are minimally processed in a gluten-free environment.
Starches can be useful in frying and baking, such as cornstarch, potato starch and tapioca starch, as they have been processed to remove the protein. There may still be a small amount of residual protein, most of which would be from, for example, the corn, potato or tapioca used to make the starch, but not from contaminating wheat. Wheat starch is not safe, however. You can find a cookbook that uses starches only to get some recipe ideas. Also Chebe Bread is an excellent line of bread mixes made with tapioca starch. If you have the time, consider milling your own flour. This will allow you to inspect and wash the whole grains, which significantly cuts down your chance of contamination in flours.
Next, learning how to read labels is an absolute must. Before you go grocery shopping, make sure you’re alert and not hungry so you can read labels carefully. When you do purchasegluten-free products, buy those that have been “certified gluten-free.” [Editor’s note: Manufacturers involved in the NFCA’s GREAT Business Association meet the product standard of containing less than 20 ppm gluten.]
When you’re not cooking, watch over food preparation with care. You can teach friends, family members, and even servers and cooks at restaurants about cross-contamination, its serious consequences, and how to prevent it from happening. Ask food preparers every question you can think of regarding the content and preparation of your child’s meals. Learn the questions you have to ask and have them memorized so you don’t leave out any possibility of gluten contamination. Were the cooking utensils contaminated with gluten from other foods? Did the meat share a grill that had come into contact with a gluten-containing marinade?
It is usually beneficial to write out a list of ways gluten-free foods can get contaminated bygluten (dusting the gluten-free cake’s pan with flour, using utensils that have touched gluten-containing foods, etc.) and a list of gluten-containing foods. Bring this to restaurants and have the server take it to the kitchen. You can give your relatives and close friends this list or an article about cross-contamination. It is usually helpful for people to see information in writing.
Finally,I can’t stress enough the importance of teaching your child about his own condition and cross-contamination. How much your child can absorb depends on his age and maturity level. You’ll be surprised by how much a child is capable of understanding, though. Even 2-year-olds can practice “reading” labels with you at the grocery store. Practice with your celiac child at home how to explain information about cross-contamination to others and how to say “No, thank you,” when he is offered foods which may contain gluten.
With the increased support for celiac disease research, in the not-too-distant future an enzyme may be developed that can be taken with food to break down the gluten molecule. This most likely wouldn’t serve as a substitute for the gluten-free diet, but it would help your child deal with the cross-contamination problem. For the time being, though, you can ensure your child’s diet is truly gluten-free by following these tips.
More about Tina and the “Danny the Dragon” children’s book series:
Tina Turbin became extremely interested and involved in the subjects of celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and gluten issues a number of years ago, after being diagnosed as celiac after many years of unresolved troubles. Since then, she has engaged in diligent research and writing about these topics, weekly radio shows, developing gluten-free recipes and reviewing companies for celiac consumer safety.
Tina is an award-winning children’s book author
By Kristin Voorhees, NFCA Program Associate
This month marks a special time for women whose reproductive health has been affected by undiagnosed celiac disease, as NFCA launches its special Women’s Health section.
More than a year ago, NFCA embarked upon its goal to make testing for celiac disease a standard practice for healthcare professionals treating women during preconception, early pregnancy and in infertility programs.
To address the matter of infertility resulting from undiagnosed and untreated celiac disease, NFCA partnered with the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, and together developed a formal written protocol for standard use by women’s health providers. The protocol was then reviewed by obstetricians, gynecologists and nurse practitioners who explored the feasibility of integrating celiac disease screening into routine reproductive health practice.
The women’s health providers also helped the NFCA to determine this population’s awareness of the potential relationship between celiac disease and a woman’s reproductive health. During the review, NFCA received overwhelming feedback that providers would appreciate patient education information. With the help of educational materials, providers said, patients will become more aware of the signs and symptoms of celiac disease, which can drive greater demand for testing and diagnosis.
So here we are today!
All of us at NFCA are thrilled to announce the completion of Celiac Disease & Women’s Health: Your Guide to Understanding, a two-part initiative that aims to educate women’s health providers and spread awareness among the female patient community. Encourage your obstetrician, gynecologist, or other women’s health provider to check out www.beyondceliac.org/womenshealth today. Providers can request a copy of the written protocol by sending an email to [email protected]. And, please be sure to check our Printable Guides section later this month for your free printable patient education guide!
By Cheryl McEvoy, NFCA Online Content Manager
The cake may be a centerpiece of wedding celebrations, but planning gluten-free reception goes far beyond pastry. Over the past 3 months, NFCA was delighted to congratulate two supporters (and gluten-free eaters) on getting hitched. Both newlyweds were willing to share some of the details that went into their weddings – mainly, how they upheld a gluten-free diet while catering to a largely gluten tolerant guest list. Contrary to “eat at your own risk,” these couples made sure all guests had a safe and satisfying dining experience.
NFCA Advocacy Chair Geoffrey Roche exchanged vows with wife Rebecca in August. Geoffrey was the only celiac in attendance, but the event also had two vegetarians and one nut allergy, a challenge made clear by having guests note “special dietary needs” on the RSVP card. The reception was held at a restaurant/catering hall the couple had attended for a previous wedding, so they knew the staff could handle their needs. “The entire kitchen staff was made aware of celiac disease and the risks of cross-contamination,” Geoffrey noted.
Despite Geoffrey’s special diet, the couple decided to throw an event that would accommodate all needs and tastes, so they elected for a buffet. Most of the items were naturally gluten-free, including pork, beef, parsley potatoes, vegetable blend, cheese and fruit. In the case of gluten-containing items, Geoffrey was prepared a special plate. “All of the gravies contained a form of gluten except mine, which was just some fresh cooked apples on top of the pork,” he explained.
The couple even researched drinks, offering a gluten-free Fuzzy Navel in addition to beer, wine and soft drinks.
For dessert, the couple ordered two cakes: a traditional white Bride’s cake and a gluten-free Groom’s cake. The gluten-free version featured pound cake with fresh strawberry filling and chocolate icing. A delicious treat, but more expensive than a traditional cake, Geoffrey noted.
On their honeymoon, the couple went back to nature, visiting five national parks in Utah. Some meals were cooked by hand; others were spent at restaurants. In those cases, they relied on the Celiac Golden Rule: When in doubt, ask.
NFCA Webinar presenter Erin Elberson of Gluten Free Fitness wed hubby Jeff on October 10th in Tennessee, but the celebration took place after the honeymoon, at a relaxed gathering in Fort Lauderdale. Erin and her father were the only gluten-free eaters at the party, but the remaining guests – all close family and friends – were aware of contamination risks.
The majority of food was homemade, and most of it naturally gluten-free. Erin admits that she did serve some gluten-free crackers, which even gluten tolerant guests munched away. The “do-it-yourself” approach also meant Erin didn’t have to worry about instructing or correcting waitstaff. Gluten-containing food was kept separate from gluten-free food, and Erin served up the food herself!
In keeping with the theme, the cake was non-traditional and gluten-free: “an awesome chocolate-on-chocolate creation,” Erin declared.
Prior to the reception, Erin and Jeff spent a few days honeymooning. Like Geoffrey and Rebecca, they took a rustic retreat, which was conducive to Erin’s dietary needs. “We rented a cabin in Tennessee, where we have a full kitchen and a nearby supermarket,” she said. “Dinners were mostly at steakhouses, where items are naturally gluten-free and it’s easy to explain cross-contamination.”
NFCA wishes both couples a long, healthy and gluten-free marriage!
By Cheryl McEvoy, NFCA Online Content Manager
As a holiday that’s centered on food, Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for celiacs and others on a gluten-free diet. From ubiquitous bread crumbs to hidden gluten in gravy, Thanksgiving dishes can serve up risks of cross-contamination, not to mention the pain of watching others devour your gluten-filled favorites.
As celiac awareness grows, manufacturers, cooks and families alike are becoming more sensitive to gluten-free needs. Here are some tips and recipes that can help make your Turkey Day both fun and filling!
Call ahead: You do it for restaurants, so why not give friends a heads up about your medical need? Let the host know about the risks of cross-contamination, and offer to help with the food prep so the host is less stressed.
BYO: It never hurts to bring a dish along, and it will ensure that you have something to enjoy at the table.
Color code: Use different colored bowls and spoons to mark gluten-free items. Make sure friends and family know that it’s important to keep the items separate. Not enough variety in your dishware? Wrap colored tape around the handles to flag the right food.
Cube apples, butternut squash and sweet potatoes and coat lightly with olive oil. Spread in a roasting pan and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour orange juice over mixture and toss lightly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degree for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until sweet potatoes and squash are fork tender.
Prepare 1 loaf pan or 12 popover pans or 20-24 muffin tines by oiling lightly with olive oil or canola oil spray.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and agave, then slowly pour in the club soda, ginger ale or beer to mix.
In another large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients (flour, salt and sugar) except yeast. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry mix to combine. When incorporated, add the yeast. Beat until the batter is smooth, then increase mixing speed and beat for 4 minutes.
Pour batter into loaf pan or, using an ice cream scoop, measure batter and scoop equal portions into the prepared popover or muffin pans.
Cover with oiled wax paper and let rise in a warm, moist place for 30 minutes (an oven preheated to 200 degrees, then turned off, with a bowl of water in the oven to add moisture, is a good option).
When the bread has risen, bake at 375 degrees (static) or 350 degree (convection) for approximately 35 minutes for the loaf, 15 minutes for the dinner rolls or 12 minutes for the smaller rolls. The internal temperature of the loaf should be approximately 205-210 degrees. The bread or rolls should have risen high above the tops of the pans and will be golden brown with a nice crust. Always insert a skewer or cake tester to the center of the loaf or rolls to be doubly sure they are cooked all the way though before removing to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Then gently remove from the pans and serve warm.
Note for Bread Machines:You may easily use this recipe in your bread machine by adding all the liquids to the pan first, then sifting together the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast to the well.
Set the machine in the gluten-free setting or the setting on your machine with only one rise cycle and no punch-down. Use a rubber spatula to go around the inside of the pan while the machine is mixing the dough to ensure all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Remove the pan from the machine when finished baking, then allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan to cool further.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter or spray with cooking oil a 10 inch pie plate and 1 ramekin.
Mix together all liquid ingredients in one bowl and whisk together the dry ingredients in another. Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the liquid bowl while stirring. Beat until totally combined. Pour into prepared pie plate, leaving at least ¼ inch between the batter and the rim of the pie plate. Pour any remaining batter into prepared ramekin. Smooth the top of the pie with a rubber spatula.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 30 more minutes or until a knife inserted into the pie comes out clean.
Squeeze the juice from the orange and set the juice aside. Remove and discard the membrane from the inside of the orange rind and cut the ring into small dice. In a small sauce pan over high heat, combine the rinds and water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 min., then drain and set aside.
Peel, core and quarter the apple. Cut into 1/2 inch dice and place in saucepan. Sort the cranberries, discarding any soft ones. Add to the apples, along with the orange juice, orange rind, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan partially. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple is tender, and the cranberries have burst, 10-15 minutes.
Transfer the cranberry sauce to a heatproof bowl and let cool for 1 hour before serving. Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups.
You can make this recipe in advance and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days. The dish can also be freezed for up to 6 months, defrosted in the refrigerator and brought to room temperature before serving.
Beat eggs. Add sugar and whip. Add butter and beat. Add flour and xantham gum a little at a time. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda into buttermilk. Add this mixture to the flour mixture slowly. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 20 min.
*If you don’t have canned figs, use fresh figs cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Measure one part sugar to two parts fresh figs. Put sugar into a thick walled pot. Add just enough water to dissolve the sugar (water should be about 1/4 of the volume of the sugar). Boil sugar and water for a couple of minutes until almost clear. Add cubed figs. Cook over low heat to maintain a slow boil for 2-3 hours. Stir to make sure they don’t burn. The mixture should be syrupy and the figs light brown. It is easier than it sounds, and worth it!
More Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes:
*Get a new gluten-free recipe every week!*