Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo in Chicago Recap, 2015


When you walk in, the lights blaze, and the buzz hits your ears: echoing feet, echoing voices, gluten-free chatter and the in-flux of attendees.  It's a battle for attention.  It's an all-out mix of national brands and local start-ups.  It's a blend of the whole food, local-and-sustainable mindset and the faux-gluten mimicry of large-scale gluten-free conglomerates like Udi's.

But it's all gluten-free; and it's all celiac safe -- and the floor is packed both days.

This is the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo in Chicago that I attended this year as a featured blogger.

Why Expo-it?  Simple: For exposure.  Living with Celiac Disease is not a do-it-alone equation. The best part of expos isn't the food -- it's the community.



Without more ado, here are the highlights from Chicago, which showcased those local and organic, small-business powerhouses right alongside the large-scale brands.

And this Expo had some seriously keen local (and semi-local) standouts.

Here are the stand-outs and shout-outs from
C.J., Tumbling Gluten Free!


NICE BARS 

Being "nice" to your guts sounds like a good idea to me.  It did to Kate and Jesse too.  Thus, they founded  Nicer Foods, and the Nice Bar.  These toothsome bars are low FODMAP (often a good way to start healing a damaged gut), have a nice sweet stick to them, and are great take-em-alongs.  I especially like their business: being of service, creating a bar not just to sell, but to heal.












NOW FOODS

NOW's Banana Bread -- ooee:
nice mix
A company I've followed for some time, NOW Foods now has a product line free of all  top 8 common allergens.  But they also have made a commitment to sustainability, and removing toxins along with gluten and other allergens from their products.  Nearly entirely organic.  Brownies were now isn't always easy to find amongst all the packaged, processed gluten-free variety.
texture-and-taste-lovely.  But what I'm most excited to try are their gluten-free grains, including quinoa, amaranth, etc. It's the simple things that make for the spice of life in the end; and simple quality

The QUINOA: seed, not grain,
all the colors!
Naturally gluten-free seeds, grains, sprouted nut pulses, flours -- NOW touts "real food".  Gluten-free is real food, and the naturally gluten-free abundance in the world is actually enormous.  It's just not always available. NOW's food product line is making it just that.   Check back for a full product review, and possible giveaway.  (Be aware: NOW does produce gluten-including products on separate equipment.)










CANYON GLUTEN FREE



Got bagels? Canyon Bakehouse does got the bagels now. They lost their samples too fast to believe at the expo.  But I just got a package of the EVERYTHING Bagels and PLAIN Bagels, and though Wheat's End Cafe has made the best in-cafe bagel I've had yet, CB may have just made a seriously stable, chewy, packaged bagel -- gluten-free.  Is that worth a shout-out?  Yes. Yes it is.


Then there is the real local scene. 


Then there's the opportunity to eat fresh, local, and revel in the abundance of a community that has learned to embrace Celiac Disease -- no, to embrace treating the treatment of Celiac Disease like it is possible and normal.



WHEAT'S END CAFE and SWEET ALI'S made my stay in Chicago -- they made the weekend.

When you've got Celiac Disease, you often feel like you have to make excuses.  I eat gluten-free food.  But gluten-free shouldn't have to be a qualifier or discount on my life, or food.  It certainly wasn't and isn't in Chicago because of these two stellar operations.


Wheat's End Cafe and Ali's both are local purveyors of gluten-free provender that knock the discount out of the pitch and off the deep end.

Highlighting the strengths of ancient (gluten-free) grains, and simple quick-breads, Wheat's End makes artisan  baked goods that shine.  They also have a store-front cafe that serves a full brunch.  If you ever feel like a second-class citizen, or like you need to define your food by the tag gluten-free, stop right now and try Wheat's End.  They make the best bagels this side of New York, waffles, english muffins, and not only can you walk in like any other bloke off the street and order a full meal, without ever grilling the kitchen staff on "safe-practices," you can enjoy it without tasting sawdust.  Wheat's End is also organic and local-sourced, and everything is prepped on a made-to-order basis in the cafe.

(Follow along on Instagram if you want to see the whole Wheat's End Menu in order!)

They even gave me a real English Muffin on-the-house at the Expo -- after I told them I'd missed out on that particular treat when getting brunch before the event that morning.


Ali's, similarly, makes cookies and cakes of exceptional variety and quality.  No restriction or it's-good-but to these bakers.  I loved meeting ______, and his kitchen staff -- and eating the cookie.  It's enormous. And chocolate chip.

BARE BELLY ORGANICS

How about seriously small, seriously clean, entirely un-food-related excellent personal care?  Bizarre as it is, not only do sunscreens and lip balms often contain cancer-causing chemicals, they get full of gluten too.


Not Bare Belly Organics.  I love Autumn.  She's one of a two-woman team that started this wonderful business.  I'm reviewing their essential oil-based bug-spray, sunscreen, and lip balm, a line that I was extremely excited to find.  Most recently, I've simply ditched using balms, sprays, or screens because I'm sick of using chemicals.  But Bare Belly is entirely organic, chemical-free, and their bug spray smells like body-spray.

Look out for the full review of the sunscreen, bug spray, and lip balm -- so far, this stuff feels wonderful.




On another note -- more more edible: Check out B-Corp Certified YUM Butter.  They produce, small-scale but growing, a blend of nuts and seeds that gives great taste, great nutrition -- and gives back by feeding the hungry every time you feed yourself by purchasing it.

Also, you can't get a better rep than a woman named Starlight.


Simple Mills showcased a small-biz, beautifully grain-free line of baking mixes, based on almond flour. Low sugar-to-no-sugar, 2-5 ingredients per mix tops, Simple Mills is simple -- simply gluten-free, simply grain-free, and simply well-made.  I loved their Pumpkin Spice Mix.


Also, safe home-testing?  NIMA might have it.  Look these peeps up.  They're solid, they're testing down to to 98% accuracy, and they're making it affordable and possible at the restaurant or home table for Celiacs to check for gluten-on-the-plate-or-foodstuffs.

They also have an excellent sense of humor and proportion.


Along the way, I also hit some other stand-outs:

Pascha, fair-trade, organic cacao chocolate:  Simon, CEO, and the entire company support Celiac Disease Awareness, and providing good chocolate through fair business practices.

Raw Rev, woman-owned, small-biz, naturally gluten-free high protein and vegan snack and recovery bars:  you can find my product review of their GLO Bar selection here!

Mamma Chia, another organic, certified B Corp company that bases its new gluten-free granola on chia. Keen Celiac-safe product, excellent crunch in the granola.

But finally, the best part of expos is the community and support.  We get together to eat together because eating is an integral part of our sense of identity, and our community.  We get together in expos to learn about the disease of Celiac, as well as treatment of other food-related disorders. the GFAF Expo gave a great lineup of bloggers and speakers during the show. Tiffany of Gluten Free Mom Certified,  Keeley McGuire, and more!   Chicago in particular though, highlighted the growth of local, sustainable, real food and small business-based resource for all of us with Celiac Disease.  


It's not about the food, mates.  It's about the people.


But it's wonderful to see the growth of platforms, businesses, education, and purveyors that make eating freely something you can do with an autoimmune disease like Celiac.








Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Probiotics Labeled Gluten-Free? Nope, They Aren't

Probiotics: The little bugs are touted to Celiacs as the silver bullet. Swallow the pills, heal your gut.  But what if those pills aren't just filled with healing microflora, but also full wee above 20ppm of gluten?   A recent investigation has discovered two high profile probiotics, tested positive above the 20ppm celiac-safe threshold.

Worse than that, the brands and bottles are labeled gluten-free.

So are you poisoning yourself trying to heal yourself if you're out there downing probiotic pills?

The study identified more than half the probiotics on the market in the United States contained measurable amounts of gluten.

In the press release from Columbia University Medical Center, study author Dr. Samantha Nazareth said, "Many patients with celiac disease take dietary supplements, and probiotics are particularly popular[...]"  The gastroenterology team at the medical center had earlier concluded that patients taking dietary supplements often had more symptoms than those not taking supplements, which lead Dr. Nazareth to start the study on probiotics.

In my personal work, and my personal use of supplements, I've been noticing symptoms in myself and clients.  But I never would have guessed I could be downing probiotics that contained over 1/64 of a teaspoon of gluten, the amount that can cause intestinal damage. 

At the same time, most probiotics are taken in such small doses it seems unlikely that they could cause actual intestinal damage.

The more worrisome facet of the study is that -- despite FDA regulations -- products and supplements labeled gluten-free are being sold with gluten-amounts well above the threshold of 20ppm. Not only that, but these products are touted to Celiacs as healing.

Dr. Nazareth presented the study May 16 for Digestive Disease Awareness Month.  But it's been smashing across the social media sphere this weekend.  It comes right in the wake of other news, describing the risk for severe nerve damage to those suffering untreated or "glutened" Celiac Disease.

I suppose it's a tally mark for the argument to stick to whole foods, purely.  One can certainly get a good dose of good bacteria from excellent fermented foods, and the enjoyment of them as well -- from kimchi, to sauerkraut, yoghurt to natto and miso.  But at the same time, sometimes our systems -- smashed by the autoimmune response and dragging -- need a lot of support.

Probiotics in both supplement and whole-food form should both be options.  Gluten, on the other hand, shouldn't be in either.  Especially if labeled gluten-free.


References:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Food Rules: There Are No Rules, But If There Were Rules...

Food should never have rules.  Food isn't a privilege or a reward; nourishment is a right, and so is our particular taste. But if food did have rules, these would be them.


1. FOOD IS NEVER ABOUT SHOULD.

The difference between a secure child and an insecure child: The former thinks they should eat "healthy"; the latter enjoys getting to eat and try a variety.  The difference between a happy individual with Celiac Disease, and an unhappy one:  The former thinks they should eat gluten-free, the latter enjoys eating freely now that they know what to leave out.

2. FOOD IS NEVER ABOUT SHAME.

If food causes shame, it's been linked to emotions.  Food isn't about feelings, and certainly not about identity. Your value is never a matter of what you eat, how well, what you weigh, or how you look; and food isn't about any of those things either.  Food is a matter of nutrition and community.  Food is also a matter of taste.  No one deserves to be shamed about what they like to eat, whether it's noodles and butter, okonomiyaki, large salads, no salads, steamed vegetables, raw vegetables, meat, more meat, less meat...ad infinitum.

Shame is  only ever a matter of abuse.

3. FOOD IS A BASIC RIGHT -- it isn't a privilege; it isn't a reward; it isn't a treatment or a replacement for emotional nourishment, spiritual nourishment, or a bargaining piece.

4. FOOD AIN'T PERFECT, or in other words, DON'T THINK YOU CAN EAT PERFECTLY.

...because there is no such thing, not even for an individual with Celiac Disease or severe food intolerances. You can eat with an attitude of self-care and good sense.  You don't need to look for the illusion of perfection.

Perfectionism is another mask for shame; and another guise of abuse.

5. EAT WELL, DON'T EAT RIGHT.

Eating right =  I have to get the perfect nutritional balance, caloric intake, and meal timing.

Eating well = I get to eat a variety of foods that correspond to my personal taste, explore new tastes, eat until I feel satisfied, eat regularly, and eat peacefully.  I get to prepare foods slowly and enjoy foods slowly and understand that there is an abundance -- I never need to eat more because I think there won't be enough later, or less because I'm afraid there is too much.

6. EAT TO LIVE, DON'T LIVE TO EAT.

7. DIETARY RESTRICTIONS ARE NOT RESTRICTIONS ON ENJOYING FOOD, COMMUNITY, LIFE.

Disease is something broken.  Dietary restrictions due to Celiac Disease are a fact, but they can be dealt with not wallowed in.  Focus on the have's.  Medical conditions and diets don't restrict. Attitudes do.

8. FOOD IS NEVER ABOUT FEAR.

So Celiac Disease requires that one ditches the wheat and maintains vigilance in keeping gluten-free food free of cross-contamination. But maintaining health can be an opportunity to explore new options, not a damnation to restrict one's life in regard to eating.  Anxiety is normal.  But food itself isn't bad or wrong.  Food isn't fearful.

There then: The  rules about food, except that the main one is: THERE ARE NO RULES.


Especially with autoimmune diseases, Celiac in particular,  it's easy to find rules ruling food, overwhelming life, over-taking life.  I recently chatted with some fellow Celiac bloggers about just how much our thoughts revolve around food.  Being a nutritionist personally, and having Celiac Disease, I fall into fixing food sometimes. I look at the building blocks before the wholeness of the options and nourishment.

But food isn't a scientific puzzle any more than a human being is a disconnected muddle of cellular building blocks.  Food isn't about rules, but if there were rules, these would be them.

Don't let your life be ruled by food.  Eat joyfully, eat well (with these great tips), and let your creativity and intuitive taste take over your exploration of eating.  Eat in community. Look for your options.  Always live in abundance.



Saturday, May 9, 2015

Shoestring Budget, Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free)

I've got a recipe for traveling sanely and on a shoestring with Celiac Disease. Actually, I literally have a recipe.  But the attitude -- and planning -- are the recipe under the recipe. Doesn't it cost you, like, a million dollars to eat all that gluten free stuff? asked a friend before I hit the trails for Chicago and the Gluten Free Expo.

Er, yes.  If I bought the whole shop of highly overpriced bread-stuffs at the market.

But I don't.

I make Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies instead.

Celiac Disease:  It can takes a load out of your pocketbook on the road.  So can any travelling sans solid meal-packing plans.  I travel light when road tripping, except for the sack of provisions perched precariously in my passenger seat, spilling foodstuffs over my arm when I swerve onto the shoulder after driving 14 hours straight.

I got across state lines sailing free -- or tumbling free -- of any expense but FUEL.

Because I packed a huge sack of gluten-free cookies.

Save coin, travel long and well, pack your own and make it dense.


SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER 
CARROT CAKE COOKIES
[ dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, egg-free, vegan ]

ingredients

2 tbs Teff flour
4 tbs Once Again Organic Sunflower Seed Butter
(or home-made)
1 tbs maple syrup
1 packet NOW Foods Stevia 
(only brand that uses the whole plant rather than extractives)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 medium carrots grated
water to adjust consistency
1/3 tsp ground ginger

directions




Finely grate the carrots.  
Add all ingredients to a medium mixing bowl and 
mix until a thick paste-of-a-dough is formed. 

Spoon onto parchment-baking sheet, press down
with a fork into 2" rounds.

Bake until bottoms are crisp and browned.  Allow to sit
for 5-10 minutes in oven once it's turned off
to crisp around the edges.


I admit, I ate an entire sack of these little blokes.  They're bite-sized, mildly sweet but highly flavored, and they have the diverse nutritional profile to punch out protein, fat, and enough carbohydrate to keep the body satisfied and alert.  Even for 14 bloody hours on the road.

I could shoestring budget on these every day, and the shoestring -- when it has cookies -- feels fat.  Budgets should simply allocate resource to make the thinnest resource feel, and act, abundant.  No budget should feel like a restriction, just as eating with Celiac Disease shouldn't feel like an opportunity for deprivation.

And these remind me of the cookies I used to make to mimic the oat-cakes the characters trucked in the Redwall books across mountains and seas.   Good foot-food, as a dear friend from Japan used to call mochi.

A plan.  A creative half an hour in the kitchen. A chance to use up perishables and make into non-perishables.  Not to mention, I have heaps more fun baking a cookie than buying a cookie, and I get to use local, organic, whole foods as well.

(As a note:  I didn't survive on cookies alone.  I also had pre-prepped curried lentils, baked potatoes, and a sack of celery, carrots, and Way Better Snacks Blue Corn Sprouted Chips. )

Best always,

CJ

Friday, May 8, 2015

Up Next Gluten Free Wellness Event, St Louis!

Win Free Tickets  |  Get First Looks at New Gluten Free Products |  Build Community, Get Educated  | Have Fun!


On May 16, the Gluten Free Allergen Free Wellness Event hits St Louis, MO!   For me, it comes up on the tail of a mad-flash roadtrip -- and that's an interesting bird of a challenge with Celiac Disease -- from Boston to Chicago for the GFAF Expo and then down into Missouri for some freelance work, and the event in St Louis.

Rather a good line-up for Celiac Disease Awareness Month!

I met the bloody most brilliant people in Chicago.  From Don't Go Nuts, Lily Pinto and her cousin to MerTerese, Goya Food's dietitian, to Kate who created the NICE Bar ("Be Nice to Your Guts"), a low FODMAP edible for Celiacs and beyond, the aisles were full of resource.  And  I don't mean food. I mean people.

I'll be tossing up a post-Chicago wrap-up shortly (and some excellent gluten-free giveaways), but for now, it's Celiac Disease Awareness Month -- are you looking for more resource?

What I love about all of the GFAF Wellness Events are the people.  I think a lot about food.  I think about food more than I want to sometimes.

What I love about this upcoming event is the fact that it showcases exceptional gluten-free and
allergen-free vendors.  But what it focuses on is community.

Why join me in St Louis?

It is Celiac Disease Awareness Month.  Get your awareness on: education, support, self-care strategies.

It is an EVENT: fun, cheap, and food-filled.

It is nourishing -- emotionally and physically. (Check out the line-up of speakers.  I especially love Sema, my fellow blogger at EatWithoutGluten, and her presentation on coping with Celiac Disease as a teen. )

Some of the vendors you'll find include Udi's,  Enjoy Life Foods -- and a bevy of local offerings you just won't find anywhere else.  It's another strength of these Gluten Free Wellness Events: focus on and support of, local purveyors of allergen-friendly food and products.  (I loved My Coconut Kitchen last year -- you can see why here.)

Win Free Tickets Below!


(and keep an eye out for my recap of the GFAF Expo in Chicago!)



Best always,

CJ




Thursday, April 30, 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness: Top Resources This Month

I'm about to hit the road for the Chicago Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo.  It's perfect timing -- May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, May is Spring, and I've been itching to travel.  So before I peg off into the blue, I want to write up some of the resources recently released for Celiac support, recovery, and research.



The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness put on an amazing summit in MD just weeks ago. Oy, I didn't get to go!  But the resource is online.

The summit also hit at the perfect time.  I've been consulting with some newly-diagnosed Celiacs.  I met Bridget while staying temporarily in Connecticut, and she's in the thick of transition, with a family that is semi-supportive but only vaguely educated about the effects of and treatment for Celiac.

When I was diagnosed, there was nothing on the planet I could find to...what?  That was actually part of the problem.

What did someone with Celiac Disease even need?

The NFCA's summit summed it up in three points: Talk. Tell. Test.

I would add transition. I might also add tumble, but I'd do that tongue-in-cheek.  Celiac Disease an autoimmune disease.  It runs in families.  It puts those diagnosed at higher risk for other autoimmune disorders.  It doesn't go away and no one grows out of it.

To successfully treat and recover from Celiac, you have to eat gluten-free.

What does that mean?  Bridget thought eating gluten free meant taking wheat off her plate (but still baking wheat bread for her kids and prepping her food on the same cutting board as her husband chopped baguettes.

Another friend thought eating gluten free meant skipping pizza.

My doctor -- no longer my doctor -- said eating gluten-free meant not eating bread (oy, easy right? Try Wheat-Thins!...er wait...).

But things no one told me and you don't know unless you get the education?

One 64th of a tsp of gluten can cause intestinal damage

Family members have a statistically significant chance of also 
have Celiac, and should be tested

Toasters, counters, tea-rags, ovens,
and flour in-the-air from mixing or baking
all can cross-contaminate food and harm some with Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is silent more often than not:
no gastrointestinal symptoms

Hair loss, anemia, infertility, migraines
are all non-gastro symptoms of Celiac Disease

It can take up to a year to heal a damaged gut

Celiac Disease, as an autoimmune disorder,
triggers the natural immune response
to unnatural attack healthy tissue in your body


...and those are just a few facts no one taught me when I was diagnosed. 

I've talked to my siblings about testing, face to face.  THIS video from the NFCA is a brilliant example of how to start a conversation.  But honestly, none of my siblings is interested in being tested.  They'd rather not know.

So perhaps they need to hear it from someone other than me.  I discovered that the trauma around my long-diagnosis-process gave them rather a tendency to guard-first, think later.  One thing I do know: They're well educated from being in contact with me.

But I'm hitting the Expo this weekend, and I'll be bringing back more info, more options, and a bevy of new food experiences to the blog.  Admittedly, food is really a side-issue to the disorder; an accident of the disease.  Getting tested and recovering is about attitude, willingness, and education -- Talk, Test, Tell.

I talked out my symptoms, got tested, and now I get to tell in the sense of teaching! tumbling free not from gluten, but from being ill all the time, thinking about food all the time, worrying about other people's reactions or my family all the time.

AMPLIFY Celiac.  (It's a hashtag, mates.)  Make awareness the watch-word.  Use the NFCA's videos, tools, and research! They're adding more each day.

And if you want extra resource and education during this Celiac Disease Awareness Month, you might want to try Chicago this weekend for the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo.

Or St Louis's Gluten Free Wellness Event on May 16.

Or the Celiac Disease Foundation's AMAZING conference and expo this same weekend (May 2-3) in CA.


Or some other bloggers who advocate with humor, knowledge, and endless energy to make Celiac Disease a side-note to their lives -- and the lives of those diagnosed and undiagnosed -- not the main body of the text, and not their identity.  
 [running a great month-long Facebook event:
education and huge giveaways here ]
...to name just a very few.

Talk. Test. Tell.  Transition -- that transition is hard for a good year.  But now, I add travel too.  I couldn't travel to save my life the first two years after I was diagnosed.  I was scared spitless to be away from safe food.  Now I trundle all over the grand green earth. Celiac-be-amplified-so-Celiac-be-demned.  

(Some advice and older posts on how to travel fancy-free with Celiac Disease right here!)

Check back in for updates from the GFAF Expo in Chicago -- you can get live info from the presentations if you follow me on Twitter  (@TumblingGF) or 'like' the Tumbling Gluten Free Facebook page!  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Nourished: Good Food + Good Info -- Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo Chicago 2015!


Join me May 2-3 in Chicago for the Gluten Free Expo!  I'll be tumbling off into a road-trip in just a few weeks, and the first stop is this celiac-sharp event in the heart of the Windy City!  One of the largest gluten-free events in the United States, GFAF Expos don't just roll out a wealth of educational opportunities and classes, they shower attendees with most excellent gluten-free and allergen-free food.

I had the privilege of blogging it up with them in San Francisco a year ago, and am tumbling excited to hit Chicago in a few weeks.

Wonder what you'll get for a ticket's admit?
(Want to get a special deal on the weekend?  Buy tickets online through
my link HERE to get a special 20% off through May 1st! Really. GOOD DEAL.)

This year, vendors (and reams of samples) include some stand-by's: Udi's, Canyon Bakehouse, Food For Life, Namaste, Bob's Red Mill...to name just as few.  But I'll also be seeing  some new peeps on the roundabout I've yet to try like YUM-Butter and Nicer Foods.

These events are great for  good eats and a safe place to play with food.  But suit up and show up because the best part isn't just the eating, but the gluten-free exploration and the community.

GFAF Expos are a brilliant place to relax, to nourish yourself with the facts you need to take care of yourself, and to eat freely.  Come by, bring your kids, make the connections, and have fun.  I'm also looking forward to seeing some of my fellow bloggers -- great online resources when you don't have an expo to hit!

To see a list of the great panels and education sessions, click on off here.

For a full list of vendors, try here.

I also have FIVE free passes to giveaway!

To enter to win a pass into the great event, join the Rafflecopter giveaway below and comment on what you're most looking forward to in your expo excursion!  Are you tumbling free from more than just gluten?  Are you recovering a sense of stability after Celiac diagnosis?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Best tumbling free,

CJ


GFAF Expo in San Fran!
An enjoying-life
gluten-free
w00t!