Sunday, December 6, 2015

Some Cities and Products You Should Try If You Have Special Dietary Needs

While traveling this year, Doodle and I visited so many places and tried a veritable plethora of products that are new to the market of allergy-free offerings. Sometimes during our travels, we feel like it goes by in a blur and we know our readers do as well. Because we drive to many of the shows, we have places we stop in and try their safe food options all along the way. Just imagine thousands of miles, through cities you never thought could or would hear of gluten free or allergy free. These trips have mounted into a bunch of priceless experiences.

This catch-all post should provide you with some incredible companies and eateries that are a must try if you are anywhere near them. The companies mentioned can be found regionally and nationally. If you can't find them in your store, request that they be carried. Of course it will never measure up to being at the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Events and trying them yourselves, but it is the next best thing we can offer.

Kansas City, MO
KC Natural BBQ Sauce We love this BBQ sauce - They even have a Paleo friendly sauce!
Mean Vegan Products - Jackfruit Tamales, Jackfruit BBQ, and Un-Chicken salad were all faves!
Hilary's Eat Well - Veggie Burgers you can sink your teeth into and are good for you
Andrea's Gluten Free - The best mixes, pancake mixes, sweet treats, pasta, and more! They are a fave in our house on  regular basis now.
Ya Ya's Euro Bistro - I love this small chain of restaurants for meeting special dietary requests with ease and serving up the best Beef Carpaccio in the nation!

Louisville KY
Dragon King's Daughter - Great gluten-free sushi and Asian fare
Roots - Vegetarian and Asian influenced delights
The Fish House - Tiny little place that does gluten-free fried fish in a dedicated fryer: Catfish, Scrod, Haddock, Flounder, Shrimp. Great slaw and fries

Harrisburg PA
The Wild Tomato - Unlikely looking little place carries all your favorites gluten-free: Meatballs, Truffle Fries, Garlic Cheese Bread, Pizza, Submarines including a Philly Cheese Steak. Yum! Take out only, no dine in.

Hartford CT
Black Bamboo Chinese - Gluten Free options galore and delicious Chinese without all the MSG
Harry's Bishop's Corner - Best gluten-free pizza in town
Burton's Grill - This restaurant goes above and beyond for gluten-free and other special dietary restrictions. It is a chain but feels like a local owned eatery

Companies to look out for:
Aleia's Gluten Free - Cookies, Mixes, Bread Crumbs, Panko, and More!
Bakery On Main - Granola, Bars, Oatmeal and More
Pan De Oro Chips - Delicious Tortilla Chips that are non-GMO
Raw Food Central - Raw food items like Kale Chips, Onion Rings, Trail Mix, and More
Still Riding Pizza - Delicious pizza crusts, gluten-free and dairy free
Mo' Pweeze Bakery - A bakery that takes food free from to a different level
Nature's Grocer - Not only is it the best place to shop in Hartford area, they have breads, muffins, cupcakes, and so much more

Shenandoah Valley VA
Cranberry's Grocery & Eatery - This tiny little natural foods grocery store in Staunton VA has amazing finds including the famous Polyface Farms products. Their cafe serves gluten-free sandwiches and options for breakfast also
Vito's Italian Kitchen - Truly delicious gluten-free pizza

Most of all, we wish safe and happy road trips to you all through the Holidays!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Gluten-Free Southern Thanksgiving Feast and Lesson

The anxiety of being at the precipice of the Holiday season with Thanksgiving right around the corner is stewing below the surface for most of our followers. This anxiety is due to family reunions and pot luck dinners with questionable preparation and ingredients. We used to be right there among those with anxieties, until just a couple years ago when we moved to the mountains of North Carolina.

For 4 years after Doodle's diagnosis, I prepared and carted a separate meal to each of our Holiday get-togethers. It was doable with a lot of planning and extra work. When we made the move, it finally gave me the chance to use distance as an excuse to not have to pack up a full meal. Understanding the meaning of having a Holiday meal without stress and worry of cross contamination is truly wonderful.

The move also allowed for me to focus on not only eating gluten-free, but eating organic and clean. No longer did I have to worry if the turkey that was chosen was a mass produced fattened up bird or the cranberry sauce was out of a can. No longer did I have to upset anyone with my annoying requirements of eating closer to the vine and making things homemade, as well as with dietary restrictions. And now, I could surround myself and my daughter with people on the same mission who appreciated real food.

I got to know a butcher who could provide me with a pasture raised turkey at Rose Mountain Butcher Shoppe in West Jefferson. We now buy all of our meats, eggs, and some local produce there. I picked up some homemade canned organic cranberry sauce at my best friend's farm. While in Connecticut doing our event in October, we purchased our favorite Stuffing Mix from Aleia's Gluten Free Foods. So with a little planning, our cleaner meal has formed without the usual last minute stress.

Remember: Pinterest is a wonderful place to find recipes for your favorite oldies done with your dietary needs in place but we thought we'd share some of our Southern favorites with you here.

Southern Gluten-Free Cornbread Dressing

1 Medium pan of gluten free cornbread (not sweet) crumbled

1 box of gluten free stuffing mix from Aleia's

Toss together

Add 1 Tsp. of poultry seasoning and 1 Tbsp. of sage, salt & pepper

(Once completely mixed, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking)

4 Stalks of celery chopped

1 large onion chopped

Saute celery and onion in 1 Tbsp. of butter or oil and add to bread mixture

Add gluten free Chicken Broth to make a very wet mixture. (Depending on the amount of bread crumbs – You will need 3-4 cans of chicken broth or 1 large carton)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Melt 1 stick of butter in a casserole dish.

Add stuffing mixture on top of melted butter

Bake for 1 hour.

Holiday Gluten-Free Pie Crust

(Good for sweet potato and pumpkin pies)

2 1/2 cups ground pecans in food processor

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Stir together ground nuts, cinnamon, and sugar. Mix in melted butter.

Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch, deep-dish style, pie pan. Chill the unbaked crust in the refrigerator for about 30 to 45 minutes.
Fill with your pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie mixture and bake.

If pre-baking nut crust for a custard pie (like key lime or lemon):

Place pie crust on a cookie sheet, and position on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree F (175 degree C) oven.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. WATCH it carefully, as nut crusts burn easily; they DON'T have to turn black to taste burnt!

Cool completely before filling.

You may use almonds to make this crust as well. You can also add about 1/2 cup of gluten free flour such as rice flour to the nut mix if you are making a potato or pumpkin pie for a more flour like texture

Sweet Potato Souffle

4 medium sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup of raw sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup of condensed milk

1/2 cup of fresh butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon


1 cup brown sugar

1 cup of chopped pecans

1/2 cup of fresh butter

1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour

1/2 tsp of baking powder

Boil potatoes with skin on until tender. Peel and mash. Add sugar, cinnamon, 1/2 cup butter and milk. Beat eggs well and add to mixture. Add vanilla. Pour into buttered 8x8' Pyrex dish.

Mix up topping and spread mixture over top. Bake at 350 for 30 - 45 minutes.

Some people use marshmallows on top instead of topping in which case you add them when the souffle is almost done and brown the marshmallows slightly on top.

Monday, November 2, 2015

FREE Webcast Jacksonville GFAFEvent - Celiac Disease, Kefir and Gut Health, Essential Oils, Grain Free Living, & Elemental Wellness

It's the second year for the Jacksonville Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event on November 14 from 10 am - 3 pm at the Prime F Osborne III Center, and we have a fantastic lineup of presentations and vendors for you. As always, we are lucky enough to bring a pre-event webcast to you completely free of charge so you can get a preview of the incredible information that will be given at the event.

So join us right here on Thursday, Nov 5 from 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm (we went over by 16 minutes:) to listen in to the following speakers:

Julia McRae has been in private practice for over twenty years, as a Certified Nutritionist. She herself suffered with Ulcerative Colitis in her youth. She has been colitis free for 30 years. Her passion to see others recover bowel health is one of the primary focuses of her practice. Customized, nutrient dense protocols are designed to bring lasting digestive health. She is a frequent guest speaker at Wellness events and for private businesses. Julia remains true to her belief that bowel health is a foundation to a strong, functional immune system.

Jen Eccleston- Author of the blog “my BIG FAT grain free life” and owner of Jen Tilly Tea. Using humor and quite frankly, crybaby moments, she seeks to deal with food allergies, bowel health and autoimmune disease while retaining her belief that allergen free food really CAN taste delicious. Along the journey, Jen learned the important role probiotics play in overall health. After learning to make water kefir from a health conscious friend, Jen found herself and her family addicted to the delicious drink, and, just to make things weirder, she named her kefir grains. She now operates blue bottle bootlegger, hosting classes on the benefits of water kefir, including demos and tastings and allowing attendees to meet the offspring of "Squishy".

Jennifer Cuevas- The Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet supports delicious eating that is gluten, grain, soy, and poultry free. Jen Cuevas experienced her own journey to wellness by eating this way, and desires to share the message that life can still be delicious!

Dana Martin - As she encountered more and more people with allergies and herself being diagnosed with multiple restrictions, she began to transform their restaurant recipes to fit the needs of allergic eaters. This began her work in the recipe and product development for many gluten free companies and her cooking show with her family that broadcast LIVE every week around the world. Her desire is to see each person gain optimal health thru their eating, by creating good habits, and a desire to live healthy and delicious. She wants everyone to “Come Taste and See How Good it is to be Gluten Free”

Jenna Drew - Jenna Drew has been active in Gluten Free and Celiac Disease Awareness since 2007, her most prominent event was the first annual Celiac Awareness Night with the Pittsburgh Pirates. She officially was introduced to Celiac Disease in 2007 as her mother underwent a very slow and painful diagnosis. After having a gene panel test, Jenna was surprised to learn that she inherited the gene for both Celiac Disease and Lymphoma. She began following a strict gluten free diet in 2009 after her Celiac Disease diagnosis and symptoms of needing a gluten free diet became severe through rapid weight loss, unbearable migraines and more.

Beth Mincher, CHHC, AADP - Beth is a Certified Holistic Health Coach who received her training through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She focuses on helping people achieve optimal wellness through a whole body approach that emphasizes the importance of not only diet, but other factors such as: physical activity, personal relationships, career, emotional wellness, lifestyle, prevention and the use of natural therapies.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hartford FREE Webcast - What to do if a Traditional Gluten Free Diet is Not Making You Well, Transitioning from Gluten Free to Grain Free, and Customized Nutrition

The Hartford Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event is fast approaching on October 17, at the Windsor/Hartford Marriott from 10 am - 3 pm. Seems like we just left Kansas City, doesn't it?
But I can't deny being excited to be back in the New England area once more. Nothing like the drive up through the Appalachians and into the Poconos before dropping into Connecticut. The foliage colors should be spectacular.

As with all of our events, we have a webcast to do pre-event on Thursday, October 8 from 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm EST. This episode will feature What to do if a Traditional Gluten Free Diet is Not Making You Well, Transitioning from Gluten Free to Grain Free, and Customized Nutrition.

Heather Jacobsen is a researcher, author and founder of the online wellness magazine, Stuffed Pepper.

Heather is interested in how our modern diet is affecting chronic disease. She considers herself an "accidental nutritionist," having learned more about nutrition than she ever set out to do, after delving into the medical literature regarding gluten, grains, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. She shares this information for free on Stuffed Pepper (, and in the easy-to-digest compilation, GOING GLUTEN-FREE: 7 Surprising Facts You Should Know if You Want to Achieve Dietary Success.

Jennifer Cuevas
The Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet supports delicious eating that is gluten, grain, soy, and poultry free. Jen Cuevas experienced her own journey to wellness by eating this way, and desires to share the message that life can still be delicious!

Just a few short years ago, Jen was ill with a multitude of issues (although not typical “Celiac” symptoms), including high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, sudden weight gain [over 60 pounds], Hashimoto’s, and arthritis (read more of her story here). After more than seven frustrating visits with various doctors, she finally learned about her gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease. In becoming well, she found that life without gluten was really great from a health perspective, but affected everything else that had a social factor.

Susan Ruch
Executive Director and Founding Partner ID LifeSusan is a strong advocate of Celiac Disease as she has family and friends with this condition. She, herself, has an autoimmune disease and understands the issues of nutritional deficiencies, malabsorption issues of nutrients (B12, Vitamin D, C, Iron) gluten intolerance and cross contamination issues.

All IDLife Products are Organic, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, GMO-Free,Casein Free and Natural. IDLife’s core product is customized, pharmaceutical grade nutrition, specifically designed for you and delivered to your body at the right dose, at the right time of the day) for maximum absorption. We are all unique and your nutrition should be too.
See more at

We will also have a very Special Guest: Bruce Homstead, MS, RDN, LDN, AFMCP, President, Board of Directors, Celiac Support Association

So meet us right HERE on October 8 for a great webcast!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Kansas City GFAF Event Free Webcast - Being a Teen and Gluten Free, Transitioning from Gluten Free to Grain Free, Customized Nutrition, and Taking Gluten Free to the next Level

Last week's first Kansas City Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event webcast was incredibly informative. One of the most educational webcasts we have had yet. But this week is definitely going to interest you as well. This webcast we will talk about Being a Teen and Gluten Free, Transitioning from Gluten Free to Grain Free, Customized Nutrition, and Taking Gluten Free to the next Level. There's a lot of information being presented and we will also discuss a hot topic to all of us in the community.

So meet me right here on September 22 from 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm CST or access it anytime on our webcast archive section.

Sema Dibooglu 
Sema is only 17, articulate, artistic, and passionate about raising awareness. She lives in St. Louis and is a National Foundation of Celiac Awareness featured Gluten Free blogger. ‘Eat Without Gluten’ is featured on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’ webpage, and her gluten free cartoon movie ‘Draw my life’ on YouTubehas been featured in many countries, from Ireland to Australia. The blog is written to provide positive, practical, educational and insightful information on the gluten-free diet. Sema is one of the first gluten-free teen bloggers both in the United States and worldwide.

Susan Ruch
Susan is a strong advocate of Celiac Disease as she has family and friends with this condition. She, herself, has an autoimmune disease and understands the issues of nutritional deficiencies, malabsorption issues of nutrients (B12, Vitamin D, C, Iron) gluten intolerance and cross contamination issues. All IDLife products are derived from the highest quality ingredients, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, GMO-Free, Casein Free and Soy Free. IDLife’s core product is customized, pharmaceutical grade nutrition, specifically designed for you and delivered to your body at the right dose, at the right time of the day) for maximum absorption. We are all unique and your nutrition should be too.

Jennifer Cuevas 
The Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet supports delicious eating that is gluten, grain, soy, and poultry free. Jen Cuevas experienced her own journey to wellness by eating this way, and desires to share the message that life can still be delicious! Just a few short years ago, Jen was ill with a multitude of issues (although not typical “Celiac” symptoms), including high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, sudden weight gain [over 60 pounds], Hashimoto’s, and arthritis (read more of her story here). After more than seven frustrating visits with various doctors, she finally learned about her gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease. In becoming well, she found that life without gluten was really great from a health perspective, but affected everything else that had a social factor.

Brooke Seiz
Brooke is a graduate of the Nutrition Therapy Institute in Denver, CO. Previous to her nutrition training, Brooke was a professional actress. She spent a lot of time traveling, and in order to maintain her health, she became an avid nutrition reader. This led to formal schooling, and a passion for helping people integrate nutrition into all their varied lifestyles. She has a special interest in digestive and immune system wellness. Brooke aims to create a warm, supportive environment for you to learn and integrate positive healthy changes into your life at a reasonable pace. She not only addresses diet, but also lifestyle, exercise, and overall vitality.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kansas City GFAF Event Webcast - Featuring Celiac Support Association Mary Shucklebier, Dr. Anthony Colatrella, and Dr. Francisco Leon

We are only a couple weeks from the first Kansas City Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event and we have had the added privilege of working in conjunction with the Celiac Support Association as they hold their annual meeting in this new event. Therefore, our next webcast will feature some of their most esteemed board members. I am just so excited to talk with all of them and pick their brains for the wealth of information they have to share with you!

Dr Anthony Colatrella - Celiac-specializing gastroenterologist and a Founding Partner of Pittsburgh Gastroenterology Associates. He diagnosed his first celiac patient in 1979. He has participated as Chief Site Investigator in multiple celiac research studies including studies with both Alba Therapeutics and Alvine Pharmaceuticals.

Dr Francisco Leon - Celimmune’s CEO and Chief Medical Officer.
He communicates characteristics and expectations of the non-dietary treatments for celiac disease and gluten-related conditions on the market and in clinical trials.

Mary Shucklebier - Executive Director of the Celiac Support Association (CSA), (formerly the Celiac Sprue Association/USA) serving those with celiac disease and other gluten related disorders. CSA is the largest member-based non-profit organization in America serving the entire gluten-free community. CSA’s emphasis is on education, research, and support for the self management of a healthy gluten-free lifestyle.

As you can see, you definitely don't want to miss this webcast! So, we will meet you right here September 17 at 7:30 pm CST for an incredibly informative episode.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How A Quest For Gluten-Free Beauty Products Turned Into Organic & Why It Matters

Allergic Traveler, Tarah Jakubiak was speaking in Raleigh, and one of her talking points was a reminder to check hair color if you have multiple allergens. Once she had finished speaking, I noted to the audience that I had been a hair dresser for 25+ years and could confirm the fact that multiple allergens can be present in all hair care products. If you have no reaction to your skin or hair products - Great! But, that is just not the case for many people. My daughter has celiac disease and her scalp breaks out in small pimples when she uses hair care with wheat/gluten in the ingredients. Many of my clients also complained of other issues like burning scalp with hair color.

On our quest for hair care products without gluten, we realized so many of the shampoos, conditioners, and hair color on the market use wheat proteins in their ingredients for conditioning agents. We also began to realize the amount of chemicals, which are highly toxic, in our beauty care products as well. It's one of those things where you start reading the labels, and the next thing happens, you begin to know too much to turn back. It's the same thing as when you get diagnosed and start realizing what is in your food because you are actually reading the labels and making informed decisions.

We learned:
  1. The average person uses 168 chemicals on their body per day
  2. The likelihood is that most or all of those chemicals have not been tested by the EPA
  3. To get most companies to disclose all sourcing becomes a feat in itself.
  4. There are multitudes of studies on ingredients and their affect on hair dressers from long term exposure, but very few on how they affect the average person.
  5. Some of the most common ingredients; sodium laureth sulfate, DEA/TEA/MEA, Ethoxylated surfactants and 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, are all shown to be extremely hazardous in studies

Subsequently, I began working at Bee Natural Organic Salon in the little mountain town of West Jefferson NC, right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. We sell only organic hair care, use only organic hair color, and also sell only organic body care products. In buying these products, we have become knowledgeable that products can make the claim they are natural or organic, when only 50% or more ingredients are classified as such. So, it has become my mission to find truly healthier beauty care products to sell to our customers and ourselves. 

Aubrey Organics This is the hair care product line we sell in the salon as it is certified organic, vegan, paraben free, sulfate free, animal cruelty free, and they have a clearly defined gluten-free section for products.

California Baby & Kids California Baby products are free of common allergens such as milk, egg, peanut, walnut, cashew, almond and pecans, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. California Baby products are also free of gluten and casein. True to their toxin-free, sustainability-focused roots, they steer clear of Diethanolamine (DEA), sulfates, dyes, numbing agents, and ingredients that can trigger allergies in young ones or chemically sensitive adults, including synthetic fragrances, dairy, soy, peanuts and gluten. Strict standards ensure that all of their products are CA Prop 65 compliant, which means they contain no carcinogens such as 1-4 Dioxane or phthalates.

Gluten-Free Savonnerie Besides gluten-free, they have casein-free, dairy-free, soy-free, dye-free, latex-free, and peanut-free options for all hair and skin care.

Original & Mineral - This Australian hair color is long lasting, and free from ammonia, resorcinol, and PPD. Clients do not complain of burning or tingling scalp, it covers gray, and shines the hair without the dull lifeless feel of long term color damage.

100% Pure - Although not cheap, this makeup and skin care is fruit pigment based, gluten-free, and totally free of dioxides and all other chemicals. They also have nail polish that is free of formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, camphor, formaldehyde resin, xylene, parabens, fragrances, phthalates, and animal ingredients. And they carry hair, body and baby products also.

Herban Cowboy - Free from Propylene Glycol, Aluminum, Chlorhydrate and Triclosan It will last at least 4 hours even when working.

Nourish Organic - Is gluten-free and contains a blend of naturally deodorizing cornstarch and vegetable protein, soothing shea and cocoa butters, beeswax and coconut oil.

Desert EssenceNo Parabens, Sweeteners, Harsh Abrasives, Artificial Fragrances or Dyes, Petroleum Compounds: Mineral Oil, Petrolatum or Paraffin, SLS, PEGS, PPG, MEA, DEA or TEA, Glycols, Phthalates,and gluten - free.

That should get you started on organic beauty products. Please be wary of those trying to push products on you with gimmicks or false claims. Hopefully, you will be more well informed now and start asking the right questions when seeking out truly chemical - free products. If the company you call can't or won't answer the questions you pose, you know you can refer back to this list.

I wish a healthier beauty regimen for all of our readers and success in ridding their lives, not just their diets, of toxins.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Raleigh NC GFAF Wellness Event Webcast - Men Vs Celiac Disease, Digestive Wellness with Essential Oils, and BYOC: Bring Your Own Cupcake Party Solutions

We are going to finish out the pre-show webcasts for the Raleigh Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event on August 11 from 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm EST right here on Allergy-Free Back Roads and you DON'T WANT TO MISS IT! 

This next segment is going to bring Canadian Jordan Middlebrook of King Gluten Free and a guy's perspective of Celiac Disease, Tiffany Hinton of GF Mom Certified and handling parties with children who have food allergies, and Jenna Drew talking benefits of essential oils in digestive health.

We hope you will also join us LIVE August 15 at the McKimmon Training and Conference Center at NCSU campus from 10 am - 4 pm. A day full of over 55 vendors, 11 presentations from experts, and a whole lot of communing with fellow people who are seeking better health through dietary change.

Mark your calendars and we'll meet back here on August 11!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Raleigh NC GFAF Wellness Event Webcast - Traveling Allergy-free, Allergy-free Italian Pastas and Sauces, & How to Bridge the Gap Between Gluten-Free to Grain-Free

Can you believe it's been a whole year since we were back in Raleigh, the Capital city of North Carolina? I can't believe it, but then after 4 years on the road, time seems to slip by faster than I realize. The way I remember is because every year we change up the event a little bit to reflect what is happening in the world of specialized diets for medical necessity. Every year, Raleigh gets some new faces and the best of information,

You can come join us on August 15 at the McKimmon Training and Conference Center at NCSU campus from 10 am - 4 pm. A day full of over 50 vendors, 11 presentations from experts, and a whole lot of communing with fellow people who are seeking better health through dietary change.

It's also time to continue with our fabulous Speaker Webcasts - YAY!
This informative 2 part webcast will feature speakers you can see at the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event in Raleigh.

You can join us right here on August 4 and August 11 from 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm EST
Special guests on August 4 will include interviews with Tarah Jakubiak of Allergic Traveler, Amy Fothergill of The Warm Kitchen, Jennifer Cuevas of The Gluten and Grain Free Gourmet, & more. We are going to talk about traveling allergy-free, Italian pastas and sauces that are deliciously allergy-free, and how to bridge the gap between gluten-free and grain-free. So you don't want to miss this one...
Mark your calendars and we'll meet back here on August 4!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Surviving Holiday Get-Togethers and Festivals with Food Allergies

Another glorious holiday weekend has come and gone, and hopefully we all made it through without a cross contamination issue. We should all be grateful every time we make it through a weekend where potluck and cookouts rule, which has most of us with food challenges scrambling to achieve normalcy. The dreaded potluck moments, uneducated family member moments, and even our social media woes of pictures and recipes of food we never get to have unless we learn to cook it. Holiday festivals are usually filled with food trucks of glutenous delights like funnel cakes and hot dogs or hamburgers and the fries or onion rings are often in a shared fryer.

The bright side is we are way less likely to get a case of salmonella from hot potato salad or under-cooked meat. But seriously, many people are more likely to become recluse-like to their pals and family members due to the sheer complications. And everywhere, reports are echoed through our community of family members that seem to think we are making up the seriousness of the situation.

The following five tips and solutions to problems posed will hopefully aid you in a less stressful time, or at the very least, share an empathetic shoulder to your challenges.

1. Identifying food at pot luck dinners can be challenging, not to mention someone using the spoon of one dish to spoon another. Most guests are unaware and do so out of being unaware.
Safe Solution: Purchase food tags or set up a table separate which has allergy free foods and have a server there to avoid issues.

2. Most hosts are not aware of the same things you may not be aware of with cooking surfaces. Teflon and non-stick surfaces can absorb gluten proteins as they bake into it. All hands should be washed between preparation and surfaces cleaned thoroughly. Lastly, avoiding the ever present danger of double dipping into butter and spreads is always a high risk assessment.
Safe Solution: You can invite people over to help you make items in your kitchen so you know they are safe.

3. If going to a festival, be sure to vet out the safety of a food truck by speaking to those who are running it. Chances are, if they offer other items which may contaminate your food with whatever allergen, you most likely will want to make a risk assessment based on your specific reactions and sensitivity.
Safe Solution: Bring your own tailgate meal if allowed or eat before meeting everyone.

4. Grills can be cross contamination nightmares, which the grill master is usually not aware of. Not only do you not know what has been in the many rubs and marinades, but you have no idea if bread has ever touched the surface unless it is yours or brand spanking new.
Safe Solution: Purchase a cheap small portable traveling grill and take it with you or host a get-together at home.

5. Family gatherings are a high anxiety situation for most everyone involved. Inevitably someone makes a snarky remark or belittles you for being a pain in their rear. There are even people/family who think it is OK to place peer pressure on you that "just a little bit won't hurt" and make you out to be the seemingly paranoid individual.
Solution: Sometimes people are simply never going to get it. Toxic people are no better than toxic food and sometimes you have to remove yourself from those situations to have a more healthy life. And sometimes, it only takes one family member or friend to make it all feel better, especially a support group friend. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Eating Closer to the Vine in the Mountains of North Carolina

This summer has been a much needed respite from the road. Occasionally that yearning to be somewhere tugs at me or I feel a little restless and that’s when we make a short trip through the mountains to the next town over and do some exploring. But, for the most part it has been nice to immerse ourselves in just being here in the beauty of Appalachia.

Black Raspberries aka Black Caps

The rambling vines of black raspberries reaching for the sun in my yard have been anticipated for weeks now and we finally got to pick their sweet tartness for the past few days. There are more than enough even in our small patch for both us and the birds. The mountains are full of wild flowers and other delicacies that grow wild in the summer like honeysuckle and Muscadine grapes left from someone who let them take over. One of my favorite memories as a kid was eating wild warm Muscadines, so now I pass that legacy onto Doodle whenever I can.

There has also been a little more time to get to know some of the local producers of fine products that steadily flow into the local farmer’s market in Ashe county. These people passionately love their craftsmanship and the pleasure it brings you as a customer and neighbor. It is part of the reason I knew I was home the minute we moved into our house.

Here are just a few you might want to know about:
Rose Mountain Farm and Butcher Shoppe - Pasture raised Berkshire pork, beef, and rabbit are all found in this quaint little butcher shop along with a wide variety of local products. Seriously, the best sausage I have ever tasted comes from Ann Rose who farms and runs the local butcher shop to West Jefferson.

The Garnet Rose Soap Company - Hand-made soaps that are made from essential oils, Shea butter, coconut oil and olive oil. Nothing but the best ingredients including local goat's milk in some of their options.

Heritage Homestead - Goats milk Chevre Cheese products that are as yummy as they are healthy. Be it spreadable Chevre or wedges of cheese, you will love their flavors and how much they care about their goats.

High Country Farm Tour - You can find all of the above businesses as well as a whole bunch more of these amazing farmers who may just need your business to continue making quality products. Please check out the Farm tour page and plan a visit if in North Carolina.

We have also been working on getting all organic hair products that are also allergen free into the hair salon I work in part-time, Bee Natural Organic Salon. The exciting news is we are planning on selling some of these Appalachian local organic products at each of the upcoming Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Events too! (The next one is in Raleigh on August 15) I can’t wait to share some of the products from people I have gotten to know this year. So stop into our booth and get some genuine quality items to try at home.

Until next time...Keep truckin' on and making positive changes to your allergy-free life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Paranoia Can Destroy You But A Little Precaution is the Recipe for Success

When I first came into the world of gluten-free/allergen-free and celiac disease, I wondered why so many of the community were distrustful of outsiders. I can remember thinking that paranoia was rampant - That was before I spent eight years planning events and running support groups. The truth is that you and I are a captive audience to those who can think of ways to manipulate for financial benefit.

I have learned a whole lot from experience and am now not as trusting of a soul as I once was, obviously. The following will perhaps open your eyes and hopefully will keep you from falling victim to a price tag you can't afford:

1. Anyone on the planet can claim they are a "leader in the knowledge of celiac disease or auto-immune related disorders". There is no legal ramification to doing so unless they claim a slew of fake credential letters beside their name. I have known many speakers who try to claim so on social media and web sites. Some chiropractors have been known for doing so, not that there are not chiropractors who actually do make it their mission to be knowledgeable and provide scientifically based information because they do exist. But, we all know there is a fine line between scientific factual information and non-factual.
How To Avoid: Check the credentials presented to you thoroughly and/or look for peer reviewed journals written by anyone who claims bits of information and the title of "leader" or "expert". Current and past patients are an excellent way of getting great info on a medical reference. Do Google searches as they will give you the good and bad in reviews so you make an informed decision.

2. Anyone can run a webinar or self publish a book. Heck, I even run webinars! Just because someone does so does not make them an expert. I have also been a part of planning events with someone who I did not know was a sham artist, until I have done the event and felt the blow-back. Therefore don't always assume that if a panel has only one real expert that the expert is aware the rest of the "experts" are charlatans. They just used the real expert to make their product viable to you.
How To Avoid:  Seek out information, events, classes, and books which are backed by well-known organizations and professionals in the business. Do background checks on a presenter or author and always double check information given to you and don't take it at face value.

3. Buyer Beware: If you visit a web site full of alarmist statements or promises of cures and every three inches there is a "Buy Me" button to sell you information which is readily available elsewhere, you may want to exit stage left. There are a slew of these web sites now and navigating them makes my skin crawl.
How to Avoid: Just click out of that site immediately and don't give your contact information or they will hound you with alarmist emails to sway you into re-thinking your decision. Doing searches on information that makes you pause to question its accuracy is also advised.

4. Just because a restaurant has a gluten-free menu does not mean your meal could not be cross-contaminated. This rule is especially true with chain restaurants. I have worked with lots of restaurants all over the country who do take making your food very seriously, but for every one I find that does, there are at least a dozen who do not. Lastly, be leery of those that provide a menu without pricing in case they up-charge for special requests and if there is a disclaimer, find out what pre-cautions they do take.
How to Avoid: Talk to your food producers and establishments. If you get the feeling that tugs at your gut and says you can't trust it, 9 times out of 10 you are right. Eating out is a risk assessment we are left to make because they are not regulated by an outside entity to make sure their food is safe.

5. Speaker fees are running amok these days in our community, so if you are planning events/meetings/webinars, be sure to get the facts straight before agreeing to a speaker who may try to charge you an exorbitant price. If they are only speaking for 30 minutes, at what point does their fee become too much? $1500.00? $10,000.00? $25,000.00? Believe it or not, I have seen all of the pricing listed in email requests. So, if you wonder why some events charge a large ticket fee to attend, this could be why.
How to Avoid: Discuss with the speaker realistically what your budget is. Weigh out how well-known the speaker is and if they are going to bring enough attendees to your event to offset their expenses and fees. See if they can solicit any sponsorship to cover the fees. If not, tap into your local professionals and see if you can't avoid these fees altogether and keep your event affordable for attendees to attend.

I hope you have enjoyed this run down of some of the pitfalls that can happen when people or companies are trying to make a little money by selling to you. If even one tip helps one person, then I think it was worth it.

Until next time, keep on truckin' and keeping your allergen-free life as stress free and positive as possible.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gluten-Free in the Gateway Arch city of St Louis

We took a little break after the show in St Louis and had time to finally try all the amazing goodies that were there so I could write up a summation of them and share with you. St Louis is one of my favorite places to visit because the people remind me so much of the people here in NC, warm, pleasant, and welcoming. Being that I forget Missouri is still considered part of the South, the previous statement makes perfect sense.

My daughter and I finished our long drive by stopping into one of our favorite places, New Day Gluten-Free. They don't even allow gluten into their door and have dairy-free options to purchase. You can dine inside, buy items to take home like soup, lasagna, rolls, pizza, cupcakes, and strawberry shortcake, or order specialty cakes/cupcakes. We opted for a sandwich to eat there and a bag of goodies to travel with us. You won't be disappointed.

New Day Gluten Free: California melt sandwich and potato salad

Now onto some of the delicious items at the event...

Think. Eat. Live. - One of the most innovative companies with mixes to make goodies from their highly nutritional SunFlour. The samples were delicious and it was very refreshing to hear how nutritious of a punch each mix packed into it's sunny bags. Four times the nutrition naturally with protein and fiber covers many concerns we all have in this community. We have made their brownies and power bars with huge success at home and my kid loves them. They also carry pancake/waffle mix, muffin mix, and straight SunFlour. Definitely worth a buy online to try them out.

Think.Eat.Live brownie mix

Andrea's Gluten Free - We have loved Andrea's Gluten Free since we met them last year at the first event in St Louis and continue to use their products at home. They sell pre-made treats as well as mixes and you may soon see them in your stores even on the East coast as they expand. Andrea's gluten-free and nut-free fine flour is my favorite to use as all-purpose. They also have great pancake mix and I had my first taste of Gooey Cake at their booth. They recently have added pasta to their line up and after tasting two dishes that were lovingly prepared at the show, I loved their pasta texture and taste.

Andrea's Gluten Free blueberry pancakes made with NC blueberries

Feed Your Vitality - This local St. Louis company delivers anti-inflammatory Paleo, low carb, gluten-free meals that are also free of  soy, corn, dairy, legumes, high sodium, unhealthy fats and refined sugars, and yet they are still delicious! We stopped at their booth several times during the day to sample soups and dishes that were better than any other take out food you can possibly conveniently order and stay Paleo or healthier for that matter.

Feed Your Vitality offers delivery or pick up 

5 Gen Salsa & Sauces - I loved this family owned local company so much that I bought the three items they had for sale at the show: Ketchup, Salsa, and Bloody Mary Mix. The recipes have been passed down for five generations, hence their name. These are items with a kick to them and not at all like the processed ones bought in a store. The ketchup was amazing with shrimp one night. The salsa didn't even make it back home after a snack on the road.

Huga Bars - A new local company with delicious nutritious bars designed to mimic world renowned desserts that are naturally sweetened with things like honey and fruit and made with quinoa, flax seed and other healthy ingredients. You have to love a bar that does all that and offers us a chance to reminisce on treats like Dolce De Leche, Torte di Nocciole, and Turron.

Cowboy Chris' BBQ Sauce - We loved meeting a real mid-western cowboy in the hat and the works, and that is for sure what Cowboy Chris is. Although I am partial to Carolina BBQ, which is vinegar based and less saucy, I have to admit his sauces were yummy. Their company is local based to St Louis and definitely worth a try in your next BBQ dinner

There is so much more we could write about including the amazing dinner we had at Ya Ya's Euro Bistro, but you'll just have to join us in St Louis in 2016 to try all the abundantly good food! Until then, keep truckin' and making your allergy-free life better.

Grilled Hamachi at Ya Ya's Euro Bistro St Louis

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gluten Free In Vegas, Baby!

Since I have been on the road and busy having shows, I didn't have a lot of time to take you on our adventures. Time to catch up...
We have had two incredible events since we last posted a review and there are some products that I must introduce you to as the favorites and new picks of choice. It's a great opportunity to feature the local picks as a way to highlight some of the lesser known companies who are out there trying to change the face of their communities with innovative products and services.

Las Vegas - I had the pleasure of experiencing some of the best of what the West Coast has to offer with our event held at the Suncoast Casino on April 18. Being that it was my first time in the gambling capital, I was excited to visit. Landing in a bowl of geographical land surrounded by stunning mountains wasn't quite what I had thought it would look like. So, I got my rental car and ventured out into Sin City.

There are all kinds of gluten-free options and menus in town, but I quickly learned that not all of them take it seriously and if it is a serious allergy, the options quickly diminish in most places. However, the service ethic where we visited was good and eating out wasn't a problem overall.
Some places we ate included: Jacques Cafe, Texas de Brazil, Great Grubbing Cafe, and a Chipotle.
But onto the vendors...

Moody Orchards was one of our most fascinating finds and introduced us to the ancient jewel of a product, mesquite flour. To the left you will see the pods that are ground into the flour and some eggs which Mark Moody says are the product his chickens make because they eat his mesquite flour as well.

Native American Indians have known about this nutritional powerhouse of a flour for eons, but it is a must try for those who are eating gluten free and want a product worthy of foodie status.

You can find a multitude of mesquite flour recipes on Pinterest. It has a sweet almost nutty and earthy flavor that works well in desserts, pancakes, and as seasoning in coating for your meats. Contact Moody Orchards and order some today!

The distinct pleasure was ours in meeting and trying Opa Helmut's Pure Organic Seasonings and Rubs. They were tasty, distinct, and a huge help when trying to spice up your food with something fresh and new. This family cares about the products they are producing and can be purchased online. It is with great urging that we encourage you to give them a go - You will thank us later:)

They also carry seasonings to make dips that are amazing in taste and all organic, just another reason they impress.

Brazi Bites are just too delicious to pass on. I think we all ate our weight in them and still wanted more! This cheesy Brazilian bread is light and fluffy pillows of gluten-free yumminess. They had garlic, bacon, and jalapeno flavored choices which were my faves. Look for them in your local stores if on the East coast, because they are coming!
The picture to left is one of their recipe ideas on their web site - get some Brazi inspiration when ordering.

Great Grubbing Cafe sells muffins that are filled with protein and one of the healthier products we have seen in a bakery. They focus on healthy meals, baked treats, cheesecake, and other items so that you can indulge with a whole lot less guilt. Their Kung Pao Chicken knocked my socks off with a clean spiciness without MSG and sugar. It is a must try when in Vegas, baby!

Did you miss Madelines? Well, have no fear because you may have gluten-free ones from UR Sweet Madness in Las Vegas. Yes, you may also have them shipped to you so please do yourself a favor and give yourself a treat by looking them up.

That's all for our Vegas adventure. In the next post, we travel to the city with the huge Arch - St Louis, MO. See you next time, right here, on Allergy Free Back Roads.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Free Webcast St Louis Part II - Helping School Nurses Detect Celiac Signs and Symptoms, Manufacturing Allergy Free, and Being a Teen While Gluten Free

My apologies for last week's missed webcast. A week of the flu with an upper respiratory infection kept me down for the count all week. We are working on rescheduling last weeks webcast and will make an announcement soon when we can find a date that fits everyone's schedule.

But, the count down is on until the St Louis Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event on May 16 - Only 5 days to go! This week's webcast we will speak with: Debbie Simpson, Andrea Kosinski, and Sema Dibooglu on Helping School Nurses Detect Celiac Signs and Symptoms, Manufacturing Allergy Free, and Being a Teen While Gluten Free

We hope you will join us and be watching our social media this week for chances to win free tickets to the event this Saturday! Our Twitter accounts are @GFirresistibly and @GFAFWellness #GFAFEvent. You can find us on FB at

This week's webcast will take place, this Thursday, May 14 at 7:30 pm CST while we are on the road traveling to St Louis. By my guesstimate, we will be somewhere in Kentucky when we chat next. See ya then!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

FREE Webcast St Louis Part I - Being a Teen on Gluten-Free, Advocating for Gluten-Free, & Does Grain Free Make a Difference?

It's almost time for the St Louis Gluten & Allergen-Free Wellness Event on May 16 at Holiday Inn SW Route 66 from 10 am - 3 pm! Last year was their first event, and they made me fall in love with this mid-western but Southern town in a big way. The people are so nice in Missouri, they remind me of people here in Carolina. And the local resources they have are quite tremendous when you put them all together in one place. Which is why you have to come check it out! 

Even if you can't come to the show, or if you are a little curious about what types of information you will find, then please stick around and join us here for the pre-event webcasts May 7 and 14. Once again, we have so many speakers that there will be two parts to the web casts.
You can view our esteemed speaker presentation schedule for the day of the event here: 

As usual, you may listen in live or anytime after the date of the show.
Each webcast will have the following speakers on dates given:

Sema Dibooglu Eat Without Gluten
Brynne Cramer Gluten Free Hungry Gal
Jennifer Cuevas The Gluten and Grain Free Gourmet

May 14
Andrea Kosinski Andrea's Gluten Free
Debbie Simpson Debbie Simpson Books
Rachel Fasnacht Family Friendly Farm

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gluten and Allergen Free Birthday Wishes to the One Who Started It All - We Celebrate Your Life

My daughter, Erin, is 14 years old today. This isn't national news, but if it weren't for her, I would not have known about the gluten-free lifestyle to begin with and Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Events would not be in existence. Her celiac disease diagnosis in 2008 sent us hurtling into an unknown void of special dietary requirements. Because of her struggles, I became a R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids) leader in 2009. Because she missed so many foods, we started doing expos in Charlotte NC and now all over the United States.

As she grows into a young woman, she takes on the role of advocate and helper to her younger fellow celiacs and others who attend the events. Being that her school has only 175 students enrolled, she is a trail blazer for them to understand dietary needs and most of the time she gets through it without emotional issues. But, she has endured her share of being forgotten in planning, snide comments from school mates, and feeling different as all of our kids do. Despite it all, she is an honor student, enjoys traveling to do events a whole bunch, has aspirations to become an artist, and is already a musician - Pretty amazing stuff for a 14 year old to have accomplished.

Thousands of people all over this nation are glad you are who you are Erin.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Free Webcast Las Vegas Part II April 14 - Gluten Free On A Budget, Healthy Gluten Free Living, & Gluten Free vs. Grain Free

As I mentioned before, you all have Chandice Probst from Gluten Free on a Budget and Gluten Free Frenzy to thank for bringing us to Las Vegas on April 18 and she will be in this week's pre-event webcast on April 14 at 7:30 pm PST. This webcast will be full of amazing usable information and fun!

Part II - April 14th, 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm PST

Jen Cuevas - Bridging the Divide:  From Gluten Free to Grain Free

Chandice Probst - Gluten Free On A Budget

Kirsten Berman - Healthy Gluten Free Living 

Holly Orgill - Part 2 doTerra Essential Oil Wellness

Tracy Hill of Delightfully Free

& Learn about Mesquite Flour, from Mark Moody of Moody Orchards