Celebrating with CDF

photo from celiac.org

This year for my birthday I received an incredible gift. An airplane ticket and registration to a conference! This may sound strange to someone who doesn’t know me very well. No, this is not work-related, and no I am not tagging along because my spouse has to go. This conference that I am voluntarily flying out-of-state to go to is all about the one thing that my life inevitably revolves around now; Celiac Disease. And I couldn’t be more excited! I think some people who have Celiac Disease or other gluten sensitivities get sick of hearing and talking about gluten, and side effects, and blood tests and cross contamination. I rarely do. If you ask me anything about gluten, watch out, and expect to get an earful and probably a few emails and maybe a follow-up phone call too. Like the poor Safeway pharmacist that asked me a simple question about gluten today. She will get a follow-up visit from me on Monday complete with informational print outs and website addresses as well my email and phone number.

Gluten-free is my thing now. And I am so glad. And grateful. The doctors finally figured out what was wrong and I am healing. I so desperately want others that are sensitive to gluten to heal like I am healing. I’ve realized those of us that have Celiac Disease are lucky. How in the hell can someone with a disease be lucky you might ask? The answer is we have a disease that has a treatment. And not only a treatment, but one that is possible for most people.

I’m not saying it’s a breeze to be 100% gluten-free, and sometimes frankly it is so difficult I wonder how I am going to keep it up, but it is doable. It’s like in the preview I just saw for Soul Surfer, the movie about the courageous teenage surfer that loses her arm. Her dad warns her that surfing with only one arm is not going to be easy and she responds, “I don’t need easy; I just need possible.” I didn’t get easy in my life, but I did get possible, and for that I am eternally grateful.

And so on May 14th, I will be in Universal City in California, celebrating my gluten-free life with others at the Celiac Disease Foundation Annual Conference. I will be a sponge soaking up as much as possible about the newest medical research, I will be sampling certified gluten-free goodies produced in gluten-free facilities, I will be learning ways to be an advocate for celiac disease and perhaps the best part is I will be meeting others like me that are attempting to navigate this crazy gluten-filled world we live in, in a gluten-free way.

To learn more about the May 14th CDF conference in California click here. Not going, but still interested? I will post here about what I learn!

There are many other gluten intolerance or celiac groups that put on incredible conferences as well. Here are a few of them:

Canadian Celiac Association National Conference May 13-15, Ottawa, Canada

International Coeliac Disease Symposium June 20-22 in Oslo, Norway

Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) Conference  July 1-2 in Orlando, FL. (Next year this will be in DENVER!!)

Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) Conference  September 15-18 in San Diego, CA

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Gluten-Free Easter Candy

Image from Blisstree

If you haven’t encountered any Easter candy yet, I am impressed. Luckily there are many gluten-free options out there for us. Even better, there are some incredible websites out there that have done extensive research to make our holidays safely gluten-free. My good friend DeAnna, from iamgf, clued me into an incredible website called MyGlutenFacts.com. Besides having a database of all kinds of gluten-free products, they have a great gluten-free easter candy list updated for 2011.

Make sure you check out the box on the upper left box on the home page that explains how they classify gluten-free products. They have three categories; Cleaned Production LinesDedicated Gluten Free Production Lines (which includes my all-time-favorite, Peanut M&M’s), and the safest category, Dedicated Gluten Free Facility.

MyGlutenFacts Easter Candy List

My Gluten Facts also offers printable versions of both US and Canadian Candy Lists.

Gluten-Free Easter Candy pdf (US)

Gluten-Free Easter Candy pdf (Canada)

Don’t see your favorite candy? MyGlutenFacts only lists gluten-free candies that they have researched. You may have to do your own research. A good place to start is the Celiac Family Easter Candy List 2010. Yes, it does say 2010, so obviously this list is outdated, however, Heather from Celiac Family has included many links to candy manufacturer statements and that would be a great starting point to check current statuses.

What Easter candy were you relieved to see is gluten-free?

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I’m Back

It has been far too long since I last posted. Life has thrown a few curveballs and I feel as if I am still at the plate as the dust is settling, wondering what just happened. As I am slowly getting back into my daily routine I realize how much I have missed writing here. My head spins when I think of all the gluten-free things I want to share in the weeks to come. I’ve discovered new gluten-free bakeries, attended gluten-free cooking classes, created new recipes, experienced gluten-free travel, attended local Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) and Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) meetings, become an official GIG volunteer, registered for the Celiac Foundation Disease (CFD) annual conference in LA,  planted a gluten-free garden . . . I could go on forever. Well first things first. Easter is in two days and to help keep you gluten-free at the holiday, I’m going to work on my next post about gluten-free easter candy.

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A Little Break

I am out-of-town helping with a family emergency, but I will back posting soon! I can’t wait to share how to eat gluten-free while in an unfamiliar town and on the go (with no pre-planning!). I’m making it work and have some great tips. . .

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CNN Video about Celiac Disease

A friend recently sent me a link to a CNN video about Celiac Disease, which led me to search other CNN videos about Celiac. I was impressed with what I found. Heidi Collins, a CNN news anchor, has taken advantage of her public position to bring light to Celiac Disease. In 2006 she even became the official spokesperson for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Below is one video that I felt needed to be shared. Even though it was created in 2006, it is packed with great information and features an interview with the renowned Dr. Peter Green, author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic.

Two statistics from this video that stood out to me are:

  • 1% of Americans have Celiac Disease, which is approximately 3 million people!! (FYI This is the same percentage of Americans that have high Cholesterol!)
  • 97% of Celiacs are UNDIAGNOSED

Another fact I want to throw into the mix:

  • 25% of Americans have some sensitivity to wheat (whether it is a wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, or Celiac Disease).

Please watch the video below!

Oh, and if you didn’t get to see the CBS clip I linked to last month with actress Pauley Perrette (Abby from NCIS) bringing awareness to Celiac Disease, click here.


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Red Velvet Cupcakes (Gluten-Free)

Red Velvet Cupcakes + Cream Cheese Frosting. Need I say more? Mmmmmm.

I wanted to try something from my new cookbook Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America by Richard J Coppedge Jr. and as I was flipping through gorgeous glossy photos in the middle of the book, I stopped at a luscious picture of Velvet Cake. Chocolate cream cheese frosting was topping and in between three layers of chocolate velvet cake; that did it, I didn’t even need to see the recipe, I knew I wanted to make it. As you can see from my photo above, I ended up tweaking the recipe a bit, well actually quite a bit. But, let me tell you, they came out amazing! My husband really cannot tell they are gluten free! First I completely changed the flour mix because I did not have all the flours it called for. I am gaining courage each time I work with different gluten-free fours and decided to substitute a flour mix that the glutenfreegirl has used in some of her recipes.  (It is based on a 60% starch and 40% whole grains mix that I love for cakes and muffins!) Then I decided to add the “Red” to the Velvet in honors of Valentine’s Day. A little extra buttermilk here, a little evaporated cane juice there . . . and it only took two tries to perfect the changes and adjust to altitude and I ended up with a delicious cupcake!! Two tries to perfect something with lots of changes is pretty darn rare around my house, so I am pretty excited that I can post the recipe within 24 hours of starting it!

Want to bake something for Valentine’s Day? You won’t be disappointed with this irresistible gluten-free red velvet cupcake!

Tip: you may want to double this recipe; it only makes 10 cupcakes and that just may not be enough to go around on Valentine’s Day!

Brooke’s Gluten-Free Bites Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from the Velvet Cake recipe from the cookbook Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America


4 Tbsp Butter (room temp)
1 cup sugar (I prefer evaporated cane juice)
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
50 g (~1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp) superfine brown rice flour (subtract a Tbsp at sea level)
40 g (~1/4 cup) superfine sweet rice flour
28 g (~1/4 cup) tapioca starch
15 g (~1/8 cup) superfine sorghum flour
15 g (~1/8 cup) potato starch
15 g (~1/8 cup) corn starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp guar gum
1 Tbsp and 2 tsp cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk (a little less at sea level)
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp vinegar
red food coloring (optional)


2/17/11 author’s note: I have updated the amounts below. I found my original amounts resulted in too much frosting for 10-12 cupcakes. Even though I had no problem finding other uses for the extra frosting, this recipe is more precise.


4oz cream cheese (softened) Philadelphia Cream Cheese is gluten free!
1/2 stick (2oz) butter (room temp)
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1  tsp vanilla extract (make sure it is GF!)

Prepping: Take egg, butter, cream cheese and flours out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Preheat Oven to 375° (350° at sea level). Prepare muffin tins.

Mixing the Cupcakes: Sift all flours and gums into a medium bowl. Add cocoa powder (if there are lumps in the cocoa, you may want to sift it too). Use a whisk to mix flours and cocoa. With a hand-held or stand mixer, beat butter until fluffy and then add sugar and beat again. Add egg and beat until well blended. Add vanilla and food coloring (to desired color -remember the flour mix will dilute it) and blend well. Add flour/cocoa mix to the mixer, alternating with the buttermilk. After each addition beat on low-speed until combined. Take mixing bowl off the stand and gently fold in the vinegar and baking soda.

Baking: Fill muffin tins a little more than 2/3 full to make approx 10 cupcakes. Bake for approximately 15 mins or until top of cupcake springs back to the touch.

Frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Sift the powdered sugar into the mix and blend completely. Add the vanilla and blend until you have achieved your desired consistency. It is easier to spread if you chill it first!

Need to substitute something? For the flour, just try to stick with a ratio of 40% whole grain and 60% starch and you should be ok. If you only have one of the gums, just use a total of 3/4 tsp of either guar gum or xanthan gum. If you don’t need your cupcakes too sweet, it worked with 1/4 cup less sugar. Anything else? Contact me at gfbrooke@gmail.com and I will try to help!


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Gluten-Free Candy List

As Valentine’s Day approaches, it is inevitable that candy will surround you. Whether at work, school, parties, or at home, you will probably be tempted by some amount of candy. Are you like me and wonder every time, Is that really gluten-free? Unless I have time to do the research, I typically avoid the candy. Even though it is healthier to be avoiding candy, sometimes we just want to indulge a bit!  However, the last thing you want to be is sick on Valentine’s Day, so when I came across this post about Gluten-Free Valentine’s Day Candy from Heather over at Celiac Family, I knew I want to share it. The comprehensive list includes all the candies she has researched and is organized into three parts. The first part includes candies that she believes are gluten-free and safe, the second part includes questionable candies, and the third part lists unsafe gluten-containing candies. Please take the time to read how she determined candies to be safe. Heather even specifies how recently she verified the candy as gluten-free, because we all know that companies can ingredients. I personally like to do my own research because I am so sensitive to trace amounts of gluten, but what is absolutely valuable to me is her list of unsafe and questionable candies. I will avoid her list of unsafe and questionable candies, and just research the ones that are most likely safe. That cuts my research time down a lot!!

Perhaps you will want to print out this list and take it with you to the grocery store when preparing for Valentine’s Day, or since i am posting this a little late (I only found this post today!), you can at least make sure the candy you already purchased doesn’t contain gluten. I am sure a gluten-consuming friend would be more than willing to help you out by taking some of the questionable candy.

Below I have posted only Heather’s list of unsafe gluten-containing candies. You may be surprised at what ended up on the list, Lindt chocolate candies for example 😦 This is not a complete list of all the unsafe candy out, there, but it sure is a great starting point! Thanks Heather!

Unsafe Candy and Treats (Do not eat the following treats if you cannot tolerate gluten in your diet.)

  • Any chocolate candy with crisps is likely to have wheat flour or barley malt, so check carefully.
  • Crunch (Nestle) snack-size and hearts contains “barley malt“; “Made on equipment that also processes peanuts, nuts and wheat.”
  • Disney Princesses Crispy Chocolaty Hearts contains “malt extract“; “Manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts and wheat.” (Jan. 2010)
  • Dora and Diego Crispy Chocolaty Hearts contains “malt extract“; “Manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts and wheat.” (Jan. 2010)
  • Ferrero Rocher contains “wheat flour.”
  • Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Premium Assorted Chocolates in a heart box – contains “barley malt
  • Harry London assorted chocolates – Contains “wheat flour, gluten
  • Hershey’s Miniatures “Contains malt.”
  • Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Crème snack size treats – contains “wheat flour
  • Kit Kat contains “wheat flour
  • Lindt chocolate candy contains “barley malt powder
  • Reese’s peanut butter filled chocolate hearts (this refers only to the small, individually foil-wrapped hearts) Contains “wheat flour.”
  • M&M’s pretzel candies contain “wheat flour, malt
  • Spongebob Squarepants Crispy Chocolaty Hearts contains “malt extract“; “Manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts and wheat.”
  • SweeTart Hearts Gummies contains “wheat
  • Transformer Crispy Chocolaty Hearts contains “malt extract“; “Manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts and wheat.” (Jan. 2010)
  • Twix contains “wheat flour
  • Twizzlers cherry pull ‘n peel candy – contains “wheat flour
  • Whoppers contain “barley malt and wheat flour” and egg products.”

Click here to view the entire list provided by the Celiac Family site.

There are lots of yummy and safe candies out there for Celiacs and others following the gluten-free diet to eat, so you don’t have to feel deprived on Valentine’s Day!

My Note about Kroger Brand Candies:
If you are tempted to purchase Kroger brand candy and are sensitive to gluten, I strongly caution against it. You must call the company for each package of candy you purchase, every time you buy it. Kroger has told me repeatedly that ingredients can change in each batch and they need the specific bar code for the package if there is a questionable ingredient such as natural flavoring. Also, Kroger cannot guarantee the product was manufactured on gluten-free lines because they usually do not receive that information from the companies that manufacture their products. For now, I am not purchasing any Kroger brand products.


2/18/11 Gluten-Free Candy Update:

On Valentine’s Day I ended up purchasing some Ferrara Pan “cinnamon hearts” -that basically look like heart-shaped red hots-  and they were labeled gluten free! I went to the website and found that NO wheat, barley, rye or oat ingredients are used in any product and are not present in their facility!! YAY! So, here is some more candy to add to the “safe” list that I did not see on Heather’s list:

Here are the gluten-free products listed on the Ferrara Pan website:

  • All Gummies Ferrara or Black Forest
  • All Jellies (Gum Drops, Orange Slices, etc…)
  • All the Headlines (Lemonhead, Applehead, Grapehead, etc…)
  • All Jujus
  • All Jelly Beans
  • Sour Jacks
  • Cherry Sours
  • Boston Baked Beans
  • Atomic Fireballs
  • Jawbreakers (Jawbusters)
  • Red Hots
  • Chewy Lemonhead & Friends
  • Chewy Atomic Fireballs
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Chocolate (Almonds, Peanuts, Raisins)-Dairy
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