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Monday, July 21, 2014
Gluten-Free at NYC Restaurant Week 2014

Today starts the beginning of New York City's Restaurant Week. This is actually more like a restaurant month where you can enjoy $25 lunches and $38 dinners in top restaurants across New York City. In the past, I have avoided Restaurant Week because there were limited gluten-free options. This year, I decided to do my research and was floored by how many gluten-free options are now on the menus. I have compiled a list of more than thirty restaurants that have decent gluten-free options on their prix fixe menus over the next month. The only problem I see is not having enough time or money to eat at all of these great restaurants!

Click here to access the complete list of gluten-free options at NYC Restaurant Week. Bookmark the page. I will be updating it throughout the month as I learn of even more gluten-free menu options! 

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014
What's Up with Udi's Holey Gluten-Free Bread?
I was so excited to find the large loaves of Udi's Multi Grain gluten-free bread at Costco a few weeks ago. I spent $6.99, which I thought was a bargain at the time, for the big loaf. It was only when I got home did I realize that HALF THE LOAF was broken! It wasn't even really salvageable because not only were these slices broken, but there was a huge hole down the middle of these 10 slices... if I can even call them that! They were more like a broken bag of soft croutons. There was no full slice to be seen in this section of the loaf. 


Here is what Udi's had to say in response to me posting the picture above on my Instagram page.



I was frustrated by this response. This was now going to be my THIRD time that I am contacting Udi's about a problem with their products. I've had problems with holey bread. I've had problems with hole-less bagels. When I pay anywhere from $4.99-$7.99 for bread or bagels, I expect higher quality. I did exactly what Suzanne suggested above and contacted Udi's with the picture of the Costco loaf along with these pictures from previous negative experiences.






As I did more digging, I realized I had posted multiple Udi's fails to my social media before.


This is getting downright frustrating. I post the most obvious product failures, but it is becoming too many to count. On my first two emails to Udi's, I was sent free coupons for future products. Great. I can try more broken products but appreciated the gesture. I was hoping my third email with photo evidence of the faulty products would bring about more of a response as well as a solution to the problem. No such luck!

Here is what Udi's/Boulder Brands had to say just last week:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us here at Udi's. We always appreciate hearing from consumers who care enough to reach out to us with their comments or questions.
We regret that you had a negative experience with our Udi's Whole Grain Bread. Thank you for providing the packaging coding and photo so our Quality Control Department can look into this further. 
We are passionate about offering the highest quality gluten free products that bring joy to our customers. The holes in our loaves of bread can be caused by a natural enzyme reaction with gluten free ingredients, we’ve invested in new equipment and just moved into a brand new facility to help address this. We thank you for your patience while we continue to strive for the best product possible. 
We sincerely apologize and hope you will give us another chance. We are sending you two coupons for free UDI's product of your choice. As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we're also sharing your comments with the appropriate departments within our organization. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us.

Great, more coupons for a crappy product. I refuse to buy anymore Udi's until they fix this problem. In the meantime, I will use the free coupons. Hey, what's free is FREE! Let's hope this next loaf is usable for sandwiches and not a really expensive bag of gluten-free bird seed/bread crumbs. I do hope that Udi's new facility helps address this issue and that the holey bread goes away real fast.

What do you think? Do you still buy Udi's gluten-free products? Are you getting fed up too? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!




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Monday, July 14, 2014
Good News about Aldi's Gluten-Free Products


I was really excited when I spotted the LiveGFree products at Aldi's back in May. I was visiting my sister in Wisconsin and since we are both Celiac, we made a special trip to Aldi's. As with many of my vacations near and far, I brought home lots of gluten-free food as my souvenirs. This past weekend, I was pleased to see more of the LiveGFree line at my local Aldi's in Rego Park, New York. Again, I stocked up on the gluten-free products, bringing home baking mixes, frozen pizzas, bars, and more. I find all of the products to be very reasonably priced and they taste good too!

The Aldi's labeling has always been really clear and it's easy to spot the "gluten-free" icons on the packaging. With the LiveGFree line, there is no question. The ingredients are all gluten-free. Many of the products are also familiar. Aldi's and Trader Joe's are owned by the same parent company, so many of the Aldi's products (like the Snickerdoodles) taste, look, and feel exactly the same as the TJ's ones. The other products also remind me of Enjoy Life products. Not sure if there is any relation though!  

Over the past few months, I have read about some Aldi's stores across the country selling out of the gluten-free products and the shelves not being restocked. There appears to be high-demand for these good quality, low-priced gluten-free products so I reached out to Aldi's to find out if the products are here to stay. Here's what Aldi's had to say:

Thank you for contacting us regarding the availability of our LiveGfree products.   
Select test stores in the Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and New York areas will continue to carry a variety of LiveGfree products for the remainder of the year.  A companywide roll out of the most popular items is scheduled for later this year.  
Thank you for being an ALDI shopper! Sincerely,  
ALDI Customer Service 

WOOHOO! It sounds like Aldi's realizes the demand for gluten-free products and the LiveGFree line is going to stay around for a while. I encourage you to contact Aldi's through their corporate offices and tell them you are a fan of their LiveGFree line and you want it to stay. https://www.aldi.us/en/contact-us


LiveGFree Mac and Cheese

Pasta, soft-baked cookies, and brownie mix

Aisle of gluten-free products

Frozen pizzas and gluten-free "hot pockets"

Gluten-free Chicken Nuggets

Soft, pliable wraps! 

The Live GFree label

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Happy 33 Years of Celiac Disease to Me!
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1981. I do not remember the exact date of diagnosis because I was just a toddler. My parents didn't remember the exact date either because I think they chose to block out how sick I was back in 1981. I was in the hospital for about a week before I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease being poked, prodded, and tested for everything imaginable. By the end of my week at the hospital, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and told to go 100% gluten-free forever. I was told that it was a disease that I would not grow out of at any point. I truly believe this diagnosis and my move to a permanent, life-long gluten-free diet saved my life! Too many people I've met were diagnosed as children and told they would outgrow Celiac. If you are diagnosed with this disease, you will NOT outgrow it. Do NOT believe a doctor who tells you otherwise.

Since I don't have an exact date, I am using today as my Celiac anniversary. While at my mom's house a few months ago, I came across my medical records from my childhood. This was one thick folder! As I was flipping through the pages, two entries caught my eye. Both of these entries were from July 1981 and both documented my Celiac Disease for the first time. I believe somewhere in early 1981 I was in the hospital when I got the actual diagnosis. I was between 2.5 and 3 years old at the time of diagnosis. My pediatrician did not diagnosis me, a specialized pediatric gastrointerologist named Dr. James Markowitz diagnosed me with Celiac Disease. At the time, he was a resident and younger than my parents. He did tell my parents this was a rare disease and the only "cure" was a gluten-free diet. Thirty-three years ago, this man knew more than many doctors know today!

It was exactly thirty-three years ago today, that Celiac Disease was written for the first time in my medical charts. Let that sink in for a minute people.

I HAVE BEEN LIVING WITH CELIAC DISEASE FOR 33 YEARS!

People often think their lives are over when they are diagnosed with Celiac Disease. But I was just around 3 years old and my life was just beginning. I was going to grow up with this disease. There was no avoiding it.

My medical records from 1981.
Click on the image to zoom in. 

I am not sure why, but seeing these documents made me feel emotional. I guess seeing my diagnosis in writing from so many years ago made me feel like I really have Celiac Disease. I mean, I always have known that I am living with Celiac, but I don't remember my actual diagnosis. I was too young and I am sure the whole process was very traumatic to me at such a young age so I blocked it out. Growing up with Celiac Disease, I do not remember anything but living a gluten-free life. This is me. This is all I know.

Celiac Disease has defined who I am for almost my entire life and not in a bad way. I have always been an advocate. I created brochures about Celiac Disease in second grade. While I shied away from talking about Celiac in my teens, I grew out of that embarrassed stage. I started gluten-free blogging in my 20s with Gluten-Free Fun. I also became a support group leader in my 20s when I became the lead organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease meetup group. And as if I wasn't busy enough in my leadership and blogging, I launched a second blog called Gluten-Free Globetrotter in my early 30s. I realized that Celiac Disease was with me for life so I chose to embrace it instead of hiding it. I had a lot to contribute to the Celiac community as someone who grew up with this disease. I wanted to show people that life could and will go on post-diagnosis. Today, I am a strong advocate in this celiac community and this makes me very proud!

Celiac Advocacy from 1986! 


If you know me either in person or from reading this blog, you know that I do not let Celiac Disease stop me from doing anything. I travel extensively. I dine out. I am in a relationship. I have friends and family that love me very much. I go to work every day and travel for this job 6 time a year. While I have been glutened like the best of us, I still live my life the best way I can every single day. I just happen to have Celiac Disease.

I do not use Celiac Disease as an excuse. I try not to blame Celiac for every little ailment I have although I realize it is probably part of the reason that my immune system is sometimes compromised. I am not threatened by this disease. I see food as my medicine, not my enemy. I am not isolated by my diagnosis. I do not fear life. I embrace life, my Celiac Disease just happens to be part of that life. 

I am who I am and much of what has defined me in life is due to my Celiac Disease. I am no longer ashamed. I hope through my leadership, advocacy, and blogging, I can encourage even just one person that life can go on after a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. I believe I have been successful with the numerous emails, tweets, and in-person thanks over the past 7.5 years of blogging.

Thank you all for your continued readership, support, and friendship. It really does mean the world to me! Please share this post with others, especially those who were recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I would be so happy to connect with them and give them encouragement!

Happy Celiac Disease anniversary to me! 

Now who is going to give me some gluten-free cake to celebrate? :-)




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Tuesday, July 8, 2014
NYC Celebrate Celiac Awareness Day with the NY Yankees!



Somehow I missed posting about this event. It's probably all of the traveling I've been doing lately. Checking emails from airports, taxis, and late nights in hotels doesn't make for a very clear brain. My apologies for the last minute notice.

NYC Celebrate Celiac Awareness Day with the NY Yankees
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Time: TBD

Please purchase before midnight EST on Tuesday, July 8th! TODAY!!!

You must buy your tickets here:
http://www.glutenfreecalendar.com/shop/ny-yankees-vs-toronto-blue-jays/ 

Join the Gluten-Free Calendar for an exciting night of baseball at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees take on the Toronto Blue Jays. Tickets will be available at Will Call the night of the game, just show your photo ID. $35.00 per ticket (regularly $55) and $7.50 per ticket will be donated to the National Celiac Disease Society, a 501c3 non-profit organization (formally Kicking 4 Celiac) The seats will be in sections 232A-234. Come out for one of Derek Jeter’s last games and support celiac disease!!

Section 232A-234 for $35.00 per ticket

You must buy your tickets here:
http://www.glutenfreecalendar.com/shop/ny-yankees-vs-toronto-blue-jays/ 

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014
It's Finally Here: The GlutenAway Virtual Expo Starts Today!


Today is the day! The GlutenAway Virtual Expo is here. This expo is perfect for all of you who have always wanted to attend a gluten-free expo, but haven't been able to find one in your area. This is also for those of you who love expos, samples, and connecting with gluten-free vendors.

According to the GlutenAway Expo website, A" virtual expo is an interactive online event where companies can display their goods & services just like a physical trade show. Attendees can visit online booths and enter into giveaways, receive free product samples, chat with company reps, learn about new products and so much more."

You can do this all from the comfort of your own home. How cool is that?

The GlutenAway Virtual Expo runs through July 21, 2014 so don't delay. Sign up and start sampling and connecting today!

http://www.glutenawayexpo.com/


Update: Check me out in the Gluten-Free Bloggers Booth! 

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