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More Than a Fundraiser
When I first founded the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, the team and I tried to come up with different ideas of how to fundraise to support our programs and services. We started out with yoga events and even threw a Halloween party, but we needed something bigger. We needed something to really put celiac disease and the gluten-free diet in the spotlight. That’s when the Gluten-Free Cooking Spree (now Appetite for Awareness) was born.
The idea was to get doctors and chefs to put their gluten-free knowledge to the test and discover what they did (and more often, didn’t know) about celiac disease and gluten-free needs. The event was loaded with trivia, giveaways, cooking demos and competitions. Everything centered on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. While at the Cooking Spree, I shared my story of diagnosis. I told everyone about my miscarriages, how my hair was falling out, how I had a mouthful of cavities, painful migraines and dwindled to just 100 pounds while standing at 5’9”.
I’ll never forget the man who came up to me after I had told my story. He was a local chef and he had tears in his eyes. He told me that he had no idea how serious celiac is and what it could lead to. He didn’t know that, as a chef, he, his restaurant and all food establishments were the gateway to our “medication”- the gluten-free diet. He swore that he would be dedicated to safely serving gluten-free food, beyond just cooking with gluten-free ingredients. He would train his staff to prevent cross-contamination and be mindful of the risks that any contact with gluten can cause to those with gluten-related disorders.
I was reminded of this man after our recent webinar, “Cross-Contamination in Restaurants: What You Need to Know.” Unfortunately, not all chefs and restaurants are aware of the serious risks of cross-contamination…yet. Together, we can make it happen.
Here are some highlights from the webinar on how to talk to your local restaurants about the risk of cross-contamination. By talking about it and educating your local restaurants, you’re not only protecting yourself, but also making strides towards awareness for the entire gluten-free community.
A special thanks to Ken Schelper, Amy Jones, MS, RD, LD, and Pam Cureton, RD, LDN, for sharing their expertise!
Be clear that you have a medical need.
Briefly explain why you cannot eat gluten and that you will get sick. This will grab the server’s attention and help them understand why you are asking questions about the menu.
Ask questions. Then, ask more questions.
Even if the restaurant has a gluten-free menu, ask about their ingredients and preparation practices for preventing cross-contamination. Be specific and clarify your needs.
Carry a gluten-free dining card.
Bring a list of common gluten-containing foods and ingredients so you can remind the server and chef of what’s off limits.
If it’s not safe, send it back.
If the server brings you something that you know is not safe to eat, politely explain why and send it back to the kitchen. If, for example, your meat comes with a gluten-containing garnish, consider cutting the meat so you can ensure they’re not bringing you back the same meat with the garnish removed. Or, hold onto the dish until they bring the new one out.
Be sure to download the webinar recording for more ways to avoid cross-contamination in restaurants. Remember, you’ll be helping yourself and your fellow gluten-free diners by asking questions and ensuring restaurants are doing it right. You can even refer your favorite restaurants to NFCA so they can be trained in gluten-free.
Gluten-Free Social Networking: Does It Benefit Celiac Kids?
By Miranda Jade Turbin
An important way to deal with the challenges and demands of celiac disease and the gluten-free diet is connecting with others. It used to be that the way to do this was through joining a local support group, but now we have social networking websites designed just for gluten-free people. Most of these websites are designed for adults with celiac, but your child can benefit from some of them, too.
Cilie Yack’s Sous Club for Kidsis designed specifically for kids as an online social networking and cooking club where they can share recipes and interact with other celiac kids or kids with food allergies. The Kids with Food Allergies Foundation also offers a social networking feature on its website for gluten-free families. You and your child can use this website together to find other gluten-free families in the area, schedule play dates with other celiac kids, and set up local activities like a gluten-free cooking club that your child can participate in. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness also has a section called Kids Central where kids can share their story, print educational games and find kid-friendly recipes.
If your child is too young to use social media sites, you can sign up as the parent of a gluten-free child and learn valuable information and recipes to help keep your child gluten-free, healthy, and happy. When your child gets old enough, in his or her teenage years, he or she can join these websites, too.
Gluten Free Faces is a free community with more than 10,000 users dedicated to being gluten-free. As with other social networking sites, it’s free to join and users can participate in discussions, upload photos, write journal entries, start a poll, chat with other members, and find helpful articles. Some social networking websites have contests and giveaways as well which you and your gluten-free child can participate in. You can get so much out of these websites that can help you raise your celiac child!
Note: NFCA is launching a gluten-free social media community on Inspire.com, including a special section about raising gluten-free kids. Visit the Celiac Disease Support Community.
Here’s a recipe for a healthy and fun recipe to share with your new friends on social media:
About Miranda Jade Turbin
Miranda Jade 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, developing gluten-free recipes and reviewing companies for celiac consumer safety at the award-winning website: GlutenFreeHelp.info.
Gluten-Free Recipes for Back to School
By Chef Oonagh Williams
Back to school is here again and these recipes are great for the kids.
Rice is naturally gluten-free, but I make this with quinoa for more protein and nutrition. You can also use brown rice instead of white rice for better nutrition.
I adapted this recipe to gluten-free, reduced the sugar, increased the chocolate and added nuts. The recipe calls for certified gluten-free oats. If you cannot tolerate any oats, try substituting with quinoa flakes.
About Chef Oonagh Williams
British-born award-winning chef Oonagh Williams has a culinary arts degree and was trained in London and Switzerland. Based in New Hampshire, Chef Oonagh began adapting meals to gluten-free versions after her son was diagnosed with gluten and lactose intolerance two years ago. To learn more, visit Chef Oonagh’s website at www.RoyalTemptations.com or ‘Like’ her at Gluten Free Cooking with Oonagh on Facebook.
Alice Bast has been named a semi-finalist in the Be Well Philly Health Hero Challenge. We need your help to take her all the way!
This is the first ever Health Hero Challenge hosted by the Philadelphiamagazine’s health and wellness blog. Philly locals were asked to nominate individuals actively making a difference in the health of the community. Alice and 15 others have been officially announced as Health Hero semi-finalists.
The winner of the Health Hero challenge will be based on a nationwide vote. You can vote for Alice during the week of Sept. 11-17. If she earns the most votes during her week, she’ll move on to the finals!
Not in Philly? Don’t worry! Voting is not exclusive to Philly locals. Anyone can check out Be Well Philly on Facebook and cast their vote.
Congratulations, Alice, and good luck!
By NFCA Staff
Since we launched NFCA’s Facebook page in May 2009, we have loved connecting with each of you on a daily basis. Now, we are excited to launch a new opportunity to share your experiences and connect with others: NFCA’s Celiac Disease Support Community on Inspire.com.
This new forum offers a place to start conversations, join discussions and meet others affected by gluten-related disorders. You can also launch your own online journal, so you can share experiences and updates with family, friends and other community members.
The NFCA team looks forward to helping this online community grow, which we’ll start by posting a weekly discussion topic each Monday. Overall, our goal is to help you connect with each other and build new relationships in the community.
We hope you’ll join us in the new online Celiac Disease Support Community. Take a look and set up your profile today!