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Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Gluten-Free Travel: Cafe Flora (Seattle, WA)
In September, I took my first vacation to the Pacific Northwest. I wanted to far away from NYC and to a place I had never been before. I decided on a week in Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC. As with all of my vacations, I did my research on gluten-free restaurants and stores in the cities I was vising before I left. I had high hopes for Seattle, but was slightly disappointed with the gluten-free places I visited. I was also slightly disappointed with Seattle in general, but that is another story.

My first gluten-free stop in Seattle was dinner at Cafe Flora with my cousin Emily and her boyfriend Chris. They are both vegan and I am gluten-free (obv) so Cafe Flora seemed like the perfect choice.

GF Seattle mosaic 1

We started our meal with yam fries, which were gone before I even got to take a picture. For an entree, I had Oaxaca tacos. These were interesting and not really what I was expecting. I knew there were potatoes in the tacos, but I guess I didn't realize it was literally just a rolled taco with potato and not much more. The menu said "Roasted corn tortillas filled with mashed potatoes, Cheddar & smoky Mozzarella cheeses with lime creme fraiche, Cotija cheese, black bean stew, pico de gallo and wilted greens." The tacos weren't bad at all, but I just expected a bit more flavor.

Emily had a vegan black bean burger which was "Chipotle black bean burger with cayenne aioli and pineapple relish on a soft potato bun with wild greens." Chris had a vegan heirloom tomato pizza which consisted of "roasted garlic pesto, local sweet corn, tofu "ricotta", and Billy’s farm heirloom tomatoes tossed with fresh dill & basil." Both Emily and Chris seemed to enjoy their meals, but I think they had similar feelings that I did. We all wanted a bit more flavor.

Dessert is what brought smiles to the table. I had a delicious chocolate tartlet with chocolate “creme” filling and raspberry sauce. This was both vegan and gluten free and looked especially pretty on my plate. Emily and Chris shared vegan raspberry layer cake with limoncello, vanilla bean frosting, and raspberry anglaise.

Although it wasn't the best meal ever, but it was definitely a great welcome to Seattle, WA that both a gluten-free diner and two vegans could enjoy.

Outside the Mediterranean Inn

Cafe Flora
2901 E Madison St
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 325-9100

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Happy Gluten-Free Anniversary, KD
Two years back, I was "introduced" to a family member's extended family member via phone and email. We had met many years ago at a family wedding, but she was newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease and our mutual family member suggested that we speak with each other. That first phone call was over one hour long and now, two years later, we continue to email on a regular basis. This reader & friend has always given me wonderful praise and words of encouragement for my blog and my gluten-free lifestyle. She dove into her gluten-free lifestyle with gusto and has really learned a tremendous amount of information over the past two years. I am always impressed with how much she knows about gluten-free products and Celiac Disease. It took me over 25 years to learn all I know and here is a newbie teaching me. :-)

Today, I got a lovely email from "KD" in honor of her two year anniversary of being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I am honored to be able to share this email (with her permission, of course) with my readers. I am also honored to wish KD a big:


From KD:

"You do such a great job as ambassador with attitude for GF. You have made it habit to be GF ... and it can be easy but one has to be mindful, watchful.

You made such a nice difference, significantly, when I started out on my GF [Gluten-Free] adventurous lifestyle. With your positive input and my determination, I have never looked back. I wanted to be healthy again. So I am! This past week, [A.] and I celebrated my 2nd anniversary, Happy Birthday Gluten-Free Celiac diagnosis.

I think attitude for any positive adjustment one wants to be successful in starts with a positive attitude, a can-do one which should include a want-to approach. One must see the benefit of new choice as a discipline outweighing all else which must change. I see only what I can, never what I can't. I am empowered by watching vigilantly with what I fill my environment and my senses ... touch, inhale, taste, ingest, even my eyes. I can't think of much with gluten to put into my ears, except possibly a banana, but you get the idea.

I see how GF strengthens me. I don't ever think, "I miss ___ " because I know too well what ___ did to me. I choose not to have a repeat of that performance, if I can help it. We traveled this summer and met several Celiacs who said, "I only eat plain bread ... only a few pieces a day ... I can't ... I don't know who to ask ... it's too much trouble to ..." etc. I understand full well that there is no denial involved. I wouldn't care if 80% of the world eats gluten, I know it is not for me. I not only "can't" have it, I "won't" I choose not to ask my body to kill itself. After all, that's me I'd be choosing to kill. I love Life and intend to be here a long time and make the best of the time I have. Picture, if you will, a fine instrument of any kind ... car, turbine, ink pen, a fire. Now choose the proper fuel or ingredients to make it run well, efficiently. That's how I see these GF choices we constantly make.

It's a bit like deciding to quit smoking or any other habit. "Something" needs changing. It is my choice. It is up to me to change "it" not "it" to change me ... for the better, now. I see what is gained by being GF, not what I might have been used to. When change is due ... and nothing brings that on like a gluten intolerance diet ... you gotta go whole hog, full steam ahead! There is nothing to be missed when you change for the better. You don't keep poisoning yourself [with gluten, smoking] [just a little bit won't hurt, huh?] when you know [gluten, smoking] is unhealthy for you ... if you care about yourself and those relying on you. Who aims for 75% health or to only hit 75% of any target? 75% toward the bull's eye doesn't win anything. I am rewarded with my health with each positive decision I make, daily, constantly.

It is essential to see the change one makes is one's choice for improvement, change, and not a matter of giving up anything. There's nothing to give up. There is much to embrace! It consists of "going to" a goal and is not an "avoidance tactic." If one doesn't see the benefit, there's no use trying to explain health beyond that point. Let's see, I choose ... Life, not killing myself slowly. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

GF, I get to indulge in all sorts of products and grains, healthy for anyone, which most people haven't heard of, much less sampled. I am luckier than most. GF people's diet is much more varied than the "average individual" because it includes more healthy choices. It is rich, colorful many times, fresh, organic, flavorful, full of texture, contains exactly what I need to run well, to use a few descriptive words.

Too bad the "rest" of the world is so slow on the uptake.

Yup, I am Gluten-Free and dang proud of it!"


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Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Celiac Disease Blood Screening at U-Chicago
As originally reported on Gluten-Free Fun on August 20, 2007, The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is hosting its annual celiac blood screening day on October 18, 2008.

Every fall The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center holds a free, celiac blood screening day to test people who are at risk for celiac disease. Each year they test nearly 500 participants, who come to the University of Chicago from all over the country. Many of the participants would not otherwise have had access to celiac disease testing, either because their doctors refused to carry out the tests, their insurance would not cover the cost or they were uninsured altogether.

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center will host its annual free blood screening on Saturday, October 18, 2008 from 8:30 am until Noon.

They will also host many exhibitors and an interactive panel of experts for Q&A at 10:30am.

Pre-Registration for the screening is required.

Exhibits and the Q&A is open to the public.

Please call 773-702-7593 to register.

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Monday, October 13, 2008
Gluten-Free Fun is back in business
After a few weeks of a weird layout on my blog, my friend Nick (also gluten-free) was able to tell me I was missing a "div" tag. It was so simple but was totally screwing up the page. Thanks to Ben and Kathleen for pointing out the issues, taking screen shots, and telling me their browser and computers. This helped us pinpoint the issue.

Please let me know if you are still having problems viewing my page.

Gluten-Free Fun is back and hopefully better than ever. Look for more (and readable) postings soon!


Friday, October 10, 2008
Celiac Disease NY Time Article: A Debilitating Disease That Is Often Unknown
From the NY Times Sports Section on October 9, 2008

A Debilitating Disease That Is Often Unknown

Mimi Winsberg never knew that the energy bars and pasta that sustained her during endurance training were also making her ill. She had completed dozens of triathlons and marathons, but four years ago, when she was in her late 30s, her health and athletic performances rapidly and inexplicably spiraled downward.

Winsberg, a psychiatrist in San Francisco, said she and a string of physicians had attributed her slower times and overwhelming fatigue to aging, new motherhood and chronic anemia. She began to follow an iron-rich diet, took iron supplements and received iron intravenously. Still, her health continued to deteriorate.

When a physician friend convinced Winsberg that her body was not absorbing the iron, she researched the problem online. She read about the symptoms of celiac disease, a genetic auto-immune disorder caused by eating the gluten protein in wheat and other grains like barley, rye and oats.

Winsberg said her first thought was, “This is what has been happening to me my whole life, and I just never put it all together before.”

Ingesting even small quantities of gluten causes the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine in celiacs, hampering the absorption of vital nutrients like iron, calcium and fat. Untreated, it can lead to a wide range of problems including anemia, infertility, osteoporosis and cancer.

“Celiac is grossly underdiagnosed in this country,” said Dr. Peter H. R. Green, a professor at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia and director of the university’s Celiac Disease Center. He said that at least 1 percent of the population had the disease but that only a fraction of the cases were diagnosed.

The only known treatment is a gluten-free diet. Winsberg began reading labels vigilantly and avoiding everything containing gluten, including cereal, bread and beer as well as many seasonings, food additives and nonfood items like some vitamins and toothpastes.

“You can’t even take a sip from someone else’s water bottle, because they might have been eating a Powerbar and left a trace of it on the spout,” she said.

Within days, Winsberg’s chronic gastrointestinal problems abated. Gradually her energy, weight, iron stores and oxygen-carrying hemoglobin levels rebounded.

“It was like doping,” Winsberg, 42, said. “Suddenly I was running six-minute miles instead of nine-minute miles. Before I had placed in the bottom third in triathlons. Four weeks gluten free, and I placed second in a triathlon. It was like reverse aging. I went from feeling 38 to 28 to 18.”

Winsberg’s transformation did not surprise Dr. John Reasoner, a medical director with the United States Olympic Committee.

“In six to eight weeks, if they’ve followed the diet, it’s night and day,” he said.

Reasoner said that symptoms of celiac disease were often subtle but came at a high cost for athletes who expected maximum performance. Dave Hahn, who has reached the Mount Everest summit 10 times, said he found he had the disease after he became “inexplicably weak” on his second trip to the peak in 1999.

Hahn was the climbing leader on a search expedition for the remains of the Everest pioneer George Mallory, who had disappeared on the mountain in 1924. The search was successful, but Hahn struggled. Then 37, he had become anemic. Perilously weak and short of breath on summit day, he had to depend on his climbing partner to make it off the summit alive.

“It was a huge source of shame which made me feel like I had to get to the bottom of the health problems that I’d been ignoring for so long,” Hahn said.

He returned to the doctor he had seen eight years before for chronic gastrointestinal problems, common in celiacs, and this time she diagnosed the disease.

Hahn said he had difficulty adjusting to the gluten-free diet.

“I got stronger again without question, and you don’t really expect that in your late 30s,” he said. “I had gotten to the point up high and in the cold where I completely ran out of gas.”

Hahn, now 46, continues to guide high-altitude expeditions all over the world.

“I could have lived out my life without knowing I have celiac,” Hahn said. “But I wouldn’t have lived the best part of my life.”

Green said that most doctors had a limited understanding of celiac and often believed it was a childhood disease that people outgrew.

“I get calls from gastroenterologists, specialists in the field, and they don’t even know how to diagnose the disease,” he said.

Celiac disease is diagnosed through an inexpensive panel of blood tests.

Green said the current “lack of pharmaceutical backing for the disease” — the fact that it is controlled by diet, not drugs — was behind the scant research, medical education and public awareness. Doctors frequently miss the pattern within telltale symptoms of celiac, as happened to Winsberg and Hahn, Green said.

Winsberg reached a peak in her athletic career this summer. She qualified for the Ironman World Championship Triathlon to be contested on Saturday in Hawaii. She will compete in the 2.4-mile ocean swim, the 112-mile bike ride across volcanic desert and the 26.2-mile coastal run — a prestigious event she could not have dreamed of racing before her self-diagnosis.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Gluten-Free Grand Opening: Opus
I am always pleased when the mainstream media cover gluten-free events and review gluten-free products. Both New York Magazine and The Strong Buzz are excited about the opening of Opus tonight.

Gluten-free pasta and pizza!
Gluten-Free Gnocchi!
Homemade Gelato!
Open until 5am!

What's not to be excited about?!?!

1574 Second Ave.
New York, NY 10028
Near 82nd St.

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Monday, October 6, 2008
Gluten-Free Cooking on Emeril Lagasse's Show "Emeril Green"
I got this message in my inbox earlier today. Tune in tomorrow for the show. I don't have cable TV, but maybe I can catch it online after it airs tomorrow evening.

Mark your calendar and set your DVR boxes!! On Tuesday October 7th at 8:30pm EST, NFCA's Vanessa Maltin will appear on the Emeril Green cooking show!

Date: Tuesday October 7th
Time: 8:30pm EST
Channel: Discovery Green

During this episode Emeril will help a newlywed couple learn to cook delicious gluten-free food. The wife was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and wants to make sure she can cook awesome food for her new husband! Emeril takes the couple on a shopping trip through the new Whole Foods store in Virginia and just happens to bump into Vanessa in the bakery! Vanessa will share tips for gluten-free cooking and baking and offer advice on various gluten-free grains and flours.

In the episode you'll learn to make Pizza, Gazpacho, Italian Salad, and a delicious Pasta dish.

So be sure to tune in to Emeril Green... Tuesday October 7th at 8:30pm!! If you have questions, please contact Vanessa directly at

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