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Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Gluten-Free Labeling Update
6:45am, October 30, 2012: I wrote this post yesterday before things got really bad here in NYC. I am devastated as I wake up this morning and see the reports of what Hurricane Sandy has done to NYC, Long Island, and all up and down the East Coast. I am ok, but waiting to see what daylight brings. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Sandy. More updates to come, but for now here is my post from yesterday. 

While I am sitting here in the middle of Hurricane Sandy, I received an email that actually made me smile. This is an email from not one, but FOUR national Celiac associations in the United States. I think an email like this is unprecedented. All four major Celiac organizations are urging you to sign the petition to help urge the government to complete the gluten-free food labeling rules. The deadline for this petition is this THURSDAY!! If you have not signed this petition yet, I encourage you to do so. If not for me, then do it for yourself. Thank you to the four national Celiac associations that are helping to spread the word about this labeling law.

Dear Friends, 
In 2004, the historic Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) was passed, making life significantly easier for individuals with food allergies to manage their potentially life-threatening health condition. The celiac disease community worked for those requirements understanding that the benefits would flow to them as well. 
Today, only one provision of FALCPA remains to be implemented - setting a standard for gluten-free food labeling rules. 
To help educate decision-makers about the need for this standard, the celiac disease community is taking advantage of a new forum to make sure its voice is heard loud and clear. 
A "We the People" petition was launched earlier this month, urging government officials to complete the gluten-free food labeling rules. Located on the White House website, it has already garnered 16,000 signatures, and officials will be required to respond if 25,000 signatures are gathered by Thursday, November 1st. 
We are reaching out to all stakeholders who serve the needs of those with gluten-related disorders, including patients and their families, healthcare providers and gluten-free businesses, to join us in this important effort. By adding your name, you will help to reinforce the strength of our unified voice. We aim for officials to understand that gluten-free labeling rules matter in the lives of thousands of Americans. You can help to support the government in its ruling process by signing the petition today. 
With the storm on the East coast this week, our thoughts and prayers are with our community members who are in emergency conditions. The rest of the national community will redouble efforts to shoulder the petition effort in support, and seek ways to help after the storm. 
We hope that you will take a few minutes to read and sign the petition. Once you have signed your name, we invite you to share the message with others who are committed to ensuring that individuals with celiac disease have safe gluten-free food options. Additional background can be found here.

Thank you in advance for supporting the needs of the gluten-free community and helping its members achieve optimal health.

National Foundation for Celiac AwarenessAmerican Celiac Disease AllianceCeliac Disease FoundationGluten Intolerance Group

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012
In My Gluten-Free Kitchen: Erin of Gluten-Free Fun
Last year was a really rough year for me. After realizing my apartment was making me sick, I had to move out of my apartment of 6.5 years. This was my first apartment that I lived in on my own so it had special meaning, but I had to let it go. I moved out quickly because my health was literally at stake. I looked at over 50 apartments in the Astoria, NY area before finding a great apartment. And do you know what was a huge selling point for me??? My kitchen. Now a little over a year later, I am happier than ever in my apartment and I still love the kitchen. My previous apartment was a typical pre-war building with a strange layout. I had to walk through the bathroom to get to my kitchen. Not exactly a sanitary way to entertain, but I had no choice and this wasn't unusual for strange New York City apartment layouts. 

Now, my apartment is open to my living area/dining area and makes for a great place to congregate when having friends and family over. There is a countertop separating the kitchen from the room that I turned into the dining room. It is bright, airy, and really just a much cheerier place than my old kitchen. I love that I can cook and easily chat with friends while in the kitchen. 

Looking into my kitchen from my dining area

As someone living with Celiac Disease for more than 30 years, I am proud to say my kitchen is 100% gluten-free. There has never been gluten in my house since I moved in 13 months ago. Friends know better than to bring gluten here and the only food I buy is gluten-free. All of my utensils, cutting boards, and dishware are also gluten-free. 

I am a cereal fiend. I eat cereal for breakfast 4 or 5 days a week. I am always running late in the morning so while I am making a smoothie (see berries below) I am usually pouring a bowl of cereal. My favorites are Gluten-Free Rice Krispies and Rice Chex. A big part of NYC living is being creative with your space. I had this weird space between my fridge and the corner wall which used to be a dumb waiter in our building's hallway. With a simple piece of wood and a shelf left behind by the previous tenant, I made my toaster/cereal shelf. Check it out:

Ignore the microwave.
It's not dirty, it is a burn from an old roommate. :-)

A huge perk of living in a really diverse neighborhood like Astoria, Queens, NYC is the availability of fresh produce which are all naturally gluten-free. I have tons of wonderful fruit stands and veggie markets within a couple of blocks of my house. For those of you that don't know Astoria, it is the most diverse county in all of the United States! (Don't believe me?? Check out this National Geographic study!)  This makes for some really interesting food at these markets and I could spend a few hours each weekend just looking around and learning about new fruits and vegetables. Just last week I saw a market selling bok choy and nopales within feet of each other and turtles (yikes!), chicken feet, and tripe all at the butcher counter. Gotta love Queens!

Typical weekend shopping trip. All naturally gluten-free!
Tip: buy berries in bulk and freeze them for smoothies

While I really enjoy to cook, I am usually short on time during the week. Besides writing Gluten-Free Fun and Gluten-Free Globetrotter, running the NYC Celiac Meetup group and trying to maintain some sort of social life in NYC, I also have a full time job as a manager at an education software company. Whew! Tired??? Yeah, me too. I usually get home after 8pm every night and like to make quick dinners or defrost something I made over the weekend. Most Sundays you can find me rocking out to my iPod (my dock is that strange semi-circle thing on the corner of my counter) and cooking for hours. I usually make 2 or 3 different dishes and freeze things for the week. I will then eat those meals for lunch or dinner through my busy weeks. My freezer isn't organized and isn't pretty but it is usually jam packed with gluten-free food like Brown Rice Fiesta Salad, Lazy Girl Eggplant Parm, or one of my all time favorites, Impossibly Easy Bacon Pie

Don't judge the messy and frosty freezer! 

A great gluten-free staple to have on hand are San-J gluten-free sauces. I use these sauces with chicken, pork, beef,  veggies, quinoa, and so on. They are really versatile and really tasty. I can throw together a delicious dish in no time when I have these sauces nearby.

Can you tell I am a fan? 

While not necessarily in my kitchen, I have a HUGE collection of gluten-free cookbooks and books about Celiac in my next room over. One of the perks of being a blogger is reviewing cookbooks so my bookshelves are stocked with amazing recipes! 

See that green book on the bottom shelf? Good Food, Gluten Free? That book was printed in 1976 and was the cookbook that got my mom through the early years of having a celiac daughter in the 1980s. I'd like to think that is one of the first gluten-free cookbooks ever and probably worth something. I'm hanging on to that gluten-free relic!

A year ago, I was in a bad place both physically and emotionally. My home was making me sick and I needed to get out as soon as possible. This was really hard to deal with at the time, but looking back I had been sick in that old apartment for a very long time. Thirteen months later, I am happier than ever in my lovely apartment. My gluten-free kitchen is truly the heart of my apartment and I am excited to share it with you. Thanks for stopping by! 

Erin Smith, That's me!
Gluten-Free Fun
Gluten-Free Globetrotter

Originally posted on the Celiacs in the House blog in August 2012. 

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Monday, October 22, 2012
Gluten-Free Fun 800th Post
Dynamic Glitter Text Generator at

It blows my mind that I have been writing this blog long enough to write 800 posts. Never would I have imagined I would reach this day when I started this blog in 2007. I never thought I would still be writing this blog almost 6 years later and have this many posts completed. This blog is a labor of love. I have made some amazing friends in the gluten-free community through this blog, have attended wonderful events over the years, and have really learned so much through research and reader feedback. Although I get really tired at times and want to give this blog a break, I still feel super invested in sharing my gluten-free tips with the world. I want to thank each and every one of you for encouraging me along the way with your fabulous comments, emails, and Tweets. I truly appreciate this from the bottom of my heart!

Here are some fun stats about Gluten-Free Fun

Total posts: 800
Age of blog5 years, 9 months, 22 days
Frequency of new posts: approximately every 2.65 days
Average monthly visits: 5,000

Number of Facebook fans: 1,773
Number of Twitter followers: 2,692

Published comments: 1,121 (I don't publish spam)

Top 5 most popular posts:
Gluten-Free Skinnygirl Margarita
McDonald's Fries are NOT gluten-free
Gluten-Free Icing from Betty Crocker
Have your beer -- and drink it gluten-free too
Gluten-Free at Dairy Queen

Most controversial post: McDonald's Fries are NOT gluten-free

Top 10 reader countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, United Arab Emirates

Top keywords that lead people to my site: gluten free icing

Number of spin-off blogs: 1
Shameless self-promotion for my gluten-free travel website: Gluten-Free Globetrotter

Thank you all for your continued support and readership of Gluten-Free Fun!

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Thursday, October 18, 2012
Team Gluten-Free NYC 2012 Marathon Pledge-a-thon
My NYC Celiac Meetup group is having a virtual fundraiser. Read on for more details. Please email me if you have any questions.

Join Team Gluten-Free at the 2012 ING NYC Marathon and help raise more money than ever before. On Sunday November 5th, five athletes will be running for Team Gluten-Free to help promote Celiac and gluten-free awareness. This online pledge-a-thon is to help raise money for Team Gluten-Free. 

Please support the runners on this year's Team Gluten-Free at the 2012 NYC ING Marathon. Your RSVP and donation will go directly to Team Gluten-Free.
You have two ways to donate:
  1. If you would like to donate $24.99 or less, please do so using this link:
  2. If you would like to donate $25.00, please RSVP on the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup event page using PayPal. All $25 donations and RSVPs on this page will get a t-shirt.

Meet the runners:

Since its inception in 1990, Celiac Disease Foundation has been at the forefront of Celiac disease education, information, awareness, advocacy and support services to both the lay as well as the health professional communities. Charting a territory not ventured by any other official Celiac disease organization, CDF was instrumental in bringing attention to the disease at a time when the word Celiac, much less knowledge about it, was far from most people's consciousness. In the two decades since, CDF stands as the "go to" resource organization for anything and everything Celiac.

CDF Team Gluten-Free™ is a fundraising program that provides a simple way for athletes and non-athletes alike to raise awareness and funds for celiac disease and non-celiac disease gluten sensitivity. Fundraising efforts may include any event from marathons to triathlons, or even bar mitzvahs, wedding favors and virtual fundraisers! The money raised by CDF Team Gluten-Free™ participants goes directly towards summer camp scholarships for children on the gluten-free diet as well as celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity research, support and awareness programs. CDF Team Gluten-Free™ is a fundraising arm of the Celiac Disease Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, public benefit corporation. Visit the website for more information.

Please remember, if you would like a t-shirt you must make your $25 donation through the Meetup event page by RSVPing YES. Once you have made this $25 donation, I will contact you for your mailing address and t-shirt size.

Any donation helps Team Gluten-Free and the Celiac Disease Foundation. Thank you in advance! 
Any question, please email email me at gfreefun @ gmail .com 

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Über Trapeze with Larabar
As a gluten-free blogger living in New York City, I am very lucky to get invitations to some amazing events. Over the past five and a half years of blogging, I have attended book launch parties, private dinners, and event black-tie galas all promoting Celiac awareness and supporting the gluten-free lifestyle. I am beyond flattered every time I get one of these invitations and feel like my hard work both on this blog and with leading the NYC Celiac Meetup group are not going unnoticed. I really do appreciate attending these events and only wish I could blog as fast as I attend sometimes.

It is hard to pick a favorite, but I honestly think this past Friday was my favorite gluten-free event EVER! I was invited to attend a class at the Trapeze School of New York at the South Street Seaport courtesy of LÄRABAR. I felt like my passions were coming together and my gluten-free stars were aligning when this invitation popped into my inbox. I first fell in love with trapeze at Club Med Turkoise in 2010. My coworkers then bought me a gift certificate for one free class at the Trapeze School of NY. Once again I was hooked and loving life, this time high above the streets of NYC. I took a few more classes and then busy life just took over and I hadn't gone in almost a year. Fast forward to this September, when I get this invitation from Larabar. Not only was I invited to take this trapeze class, but I was invited to meet THE Lara! Lara Merriken is the founder of LÄRABAR and she would be at the class as well. I nearly jumped out of my office chair with giddiness when I responded to this email to say YES YES YES I would be there.

My favorite!
Larabar was holding this trapeze event to celebrate their new Über bars. These bars are gluten-free, come in four flavors, and are just around 200 calories each. I've always been a big fan of LÄRABAR and I am excited to now at the Über bars to the mix. I seriously have a bar in my bag at all times and it has definitely gotten me out of some hunger jams over the years.

I was thrilled to meet Lara and talk to her about her company and philosophy behind making her bars. It is obvious that she is really passionate about making healthy snacks for people on the go. As we were munching on the Über bars between flying sessions, the event just made sense to me. There were 12 busy New York women from all different backgrounds: nutritionists, Fitness magazine editors, bloggers, and journalists, who are all constantly on the go. Über bars were a perfect match for our on-the-go personalities.

Overall it was an awesome, adrenaline-filled afternoon. The only way to really share this event with you is through pictures and video. Although I didn't catch my straddle whip, I accomplished three knee hangs with a somersault dismount and the straddle whip while meeting some really amazing women. I am definitely going back to TSNY in the spring when the outdoor rigs reopen. Here are some awesome pictures from the day:

TSNY trapeze rig at the South Street Seaport

Me with Lara Merriken, the founder of LARABAR

That's me!!
Lots of LARABAR swag including stickers, t-shirts, and the new Uber bars

Getting ready for my next trick

The amazing sunset at the Seaport after our class

As their new t-shirts say, Über is defined as "super duper, wicked awesome, seriously epic." I think trapeze classes at the Seaport fits that bill. With lots of free samples of Über bars, lots of LÄRABAR swag, and oh yeah... did I mention trapeze???, it certainly was an Über day.

Thank you so much to LÄRABAR and the amazing Lara Merriken for holding such a wonderful event and inviting me!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Grandpa's Gluten-Free Gourmet
About a month ago, I was sent a free sample of Grandpa's Gluten-Free Gourmet "Garlic Parmesan Chicken Encrusting." I have to admit, I was a little reluctant to try this sample at first because of the name. Chicken Encrusting?!? This does NOT sound appetizing. But I didn't judge the food by it's packaging or branding and I opened up the bag to basically find enhanced breadcrumbs. Simple as that. Yesterday, I finished the rest of the bag. This encrusting stuff is GOOD!

Made from corn meal, Parmesan cheese, almonds, and spices, these breadcrumbs give your chicken a great flavor. I did not follow the recipe on the bag which seemed overly complicated. All I have been doing is dipping chicken into beaten eggs and then dipping into the Grandpa's Gourmet which coats evenly and keeps the chicken moist when baked in the oven. I really like the flavor the Grandpa's Gourmet gives to the chicken and I would definitely use this product again. I was actually disappointed that I finished the bag so soon.

Right now, the easiest way to buy the Grandpa's Gluten-Free Gourmet "Garlic Parmesan Chicken Encrusting" is through their online web store unless you live in Colorado where this product is available in a few locations. While the product itself is reasonably priced at $5.00 a bag, the $9.95 shipping and handling charge adds to the overall price of your order. Unfortunately, this is often the problem with gluten-free mail-ordered products.

Organic Corn Meal (Organic Corn Meal, Organic Grape and/or Pear Juice Concentrate, Sea Salt), Parmesan Cheese (Pasteurized Part-Skim Milk, Salt, Less than 2% of Enzymes, Cheese Culture, Potassium Sorbate [to protect flavor]), Almonds, Spices.

Nutritional Info

Thank you Grandpa's Gourmet!  

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Friday, October 5, 2012
Finalize Standards for GLUTEN-FREE Labeling

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act required Health and Human Services to set a gluten-free labeling rule by 2008 to aid people with celiac disease, a life-threatening autoimmune condition. The only known treatment is a strict gluten-free diet.
An estimated 3 million Americans have celiac and even more may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Without adequate labeling, those on a medically prescribed gluten-free diet struggle to make safe food choices and stay well.
Children with celiac cannot participate in the National School Lunch Program when food service staff cannot determine if products are gluten-free.
Congress did its part by passing the law. It is up to the White House to protect the health of millions of adults and children by finalizing the rule NOW.

Signatures needed by November 1, 2012: 25,000
Sign the petition today:


Thursday, October 4, 2012
Thai Kitchen Noodle Recipe
Thai Kitchen has recently added three new gluten-free Stir-Fry Rice Noodles to their product line. When the NFCA asked me to try the new noodles and check out an Alternative Appetites gluten-free recipe from Dan Koller, I was excited at the opportunity. Here's Dan and his video for Thai Kitchen Vietnamese Noodle Salad.

I made lots of substitutions and changes to Dan's recipe based on what I had in my kitchen and due to a shrimp allergy. But using the new and versatile Stir-Fry Rice Noodles I was able to get creative in my kitchen. I used new Red Rice noodles in my recipe and I was pleasantly surprised by the individual serving-size packages in the box. I tend to make too much food for dinner, but this definitely helps with portion control.  Here's what I came up with:

Gluten-Free Fun Thai Noodles

2 large pieces of bok choy
1 baked chicken cutlet, chopped
1 cup of snow peas
2 packages of Thai Kitchen Red Rice Noodles
1/2 cup of gluten-free red chili sauce (not pictured)

The back of the box

With the new Thai Kitchen noodle packages.
There are four to a box

The base of the bok choy always look like cute little flowers to me!

Boil a pot of water and turn off.
Throw the Thai Kitchen noodles in for about 6 minutes. Drain
Throw remaining ingredients back in noodle pan and stir for about 6-8 minutes
until all ingredients are mixed and warmed through.

Enter to win a gluten-free prize pack from Thai Kitchen now through Friday, October 12.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012
2012 WEGO Health Activist Awards Nominee
I was thrilled to learn this morning that I was nominated for a 2012 WEGO Health Activist Award. This year, I was nominated for "Best in Show: Community/Forum - Awarded to someone who exemplifies the use of a community or forum to raise awareness and make connections."

As you have read many times on this blog, I was totally lacking a gluten-free community growing up. I didn't even meet a fellow Celiac until I was a teenager. This made my gluten-free world very lonely at times. When I started organizing events for the NYC Celiac Meetup group in 2005 and writing this blog in 2007, I felt like I was giving back to the gluten-free community. At the same time, I realized that I still longed for this connections with others living with Celiac.

Being nominated for this Best in Show award makes me feel that all of my hard work and dedication to our community has not gone unnoticed. I do not know who nominated me but if you are reading this THANK YOU! This nomination means so much to me!

You can help endorse my nomination by entering your email address below. It would mean the world to me to win. Thank you in advance!

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