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Friday, February 26, 2016
Save the Date: Gluten-Free Fun with the Santa Cruz Socialites
One of my biggest worries about moving out of NYC to California was losing my gluten-free network and friends. I worked years to build a strong gluten-free community both in person and online and I was concerned that leaving New York would break those bonds. But then I realized so much of my support system is through this website and my social media channels, making me quite location independent. My readers (YOU) all sent so many kind words and I received a ton of encouragement through my NYC Celiac Meetup group. Soon I had Friends introducing me to friends, gluten-free locals making suggestions of where to eat, and so many of you giving me the motivation I needed after my cross country move!

For those of you who know me personally, you won't be surprised to hear that I dove head first into networking here in Santa Cruz, CA. I knew if I sat idle, I would have been even more homesick than I was. (Yes, it happened/happens. I miss NY!). I joined the Santa Cruz Challenge, a 12-week boot camp that lets me explore the beautiful west coast, meet others, and get a hardcore daily workout on the beach. One of the very first people I met through the Challenge was Monica Karst, the founder of Santa Cruz Socialites. The name alone struck me as very "Housewives of Santa Cruz" but it is the exact opposite. The Santa Cruz Socialites is a community and online directory of prominent and powerful female business owners across Santa Cruz County. Monica's mission with the Santa Cruz Socialites is to "bring the diverse women in our [Santa Cruz] community together, creating an empowering network of resources, education and inspiration." I left thinking I might have met my new West Coast people!

A few weeks after I initially met Monica, I met up with her again after one of my bootcamps. Covered in sand and sitting in the sun (yes, this is how I take my meetings now), I told Monica all about GlutenFreelancer, my gluten-free consulting business. I also told her about my years of living with celiac disease, my Gluten-Free Fun and Gluten-Free Globetrotter websites, and my gluten-free adventures. Immediately, she felt like I would be a good fit for the Santa Cruz Socialites community.

Each Tuesday morning, the Santa Cruz Socialites hold a "Take Away Tuesday" phone call full of information, inspiration, and motivation for entrepreneurs to use in life and business. I am thrilled to announce I am the guest host next Tuesday, March 1, 2016. I will share my gluten-free expertise and lifelong celiac experiences with the Santa Cruz Socialites community. I am so excited to introduce myself to the Santa Cruz Socialites network and hopefully make some new business connections here in Santa Cruz County!

The best news? You don't have to be a Santa Cruz Socialite to join in! You can dial in at 9am PST on Tuesday if you want to hear me make my Santa Cruz Gluten-Free Debut!

Santa Cruz Socialites 
TakeAwayTuesday with Erin Smith
9:00am PST 
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Dial in number: (712) 775-7031 
Meeting ID: 572-832-217

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Win It Wednesday: Lawless Jerky

Last summer, I discovered Lawless Jerky at an event at McCarren Park in Brooklyn, NY. I usually just breeze by tables that I think are full of gluten, but something lured me to the Lawless Jerky table. I was not disappointed, especially when I discovered it said GLUTEN-FREE right across the packaging. Sunny day, Brooklyn park, gluten-free snack! I was definitely winning that day.

Jerky is one of those foods I never even tried until I was an adult. That is probably because it used to be rare to find gluten-free jerky. Now, I tend to try any (gluten-free) jerky or meat snacks I can get my hands It is a great high-protein snack to carry with you and a nice alternative to the usual crackers/chips/bars/carbs celiacs usually snack on. Lawless Jerky also comes in a convenient resealable bag which makes it a great travel snack to throw in a carry-on bag.

Lawless Jerky offers "seven world-inspired flavors, including Sweet Sriracha (beef), Aloha Teriyaki (beef), BBQ Spare Rib (pork), Honey Chipotle (beef), Mango Habanero (beef), [Pho (beef) beware: not gluten-free], and Japanese Curry (beef). All flavors are thoughtfully handmade with consciously raised meats, including 100% grass-fed beef and hormone-free, antibiotic-free pork." Please note the only non-gluten-free flavor they have is the Pho on account of the wheat ingredient in the plum sauce. My personal favorite is the Honey Chipotle!

Lawless Jerky is for sale across the whole country with heavy distribution in both New York and California. Looking for a store near you? Check here. You can read a full list of ingredients and nutritional information as well as purchase Lawless Jerky at their website.

Want to win a sample pack of Lawless Jerky? Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Win It Wednesday: Garden Lites

Gluten-Free? Check
Easy to prepare? CHECK
Health ingredients? CHECK

Garden Lites have been a favorite product of mine for a while now. These veggie-based products are super easy to make, taste delicious, and are chock full of vegetables. According to Garden Lites, they are "on a mission to create DELICIOUS foods that are truly healthy because every one of [their] products is veggie-rich with vegetables as its first ingredient." 

The Garden Lites product line includes muffins, bakes, veggie bites, and entrees. There is a wide variety of flavors to please every palette. My personal favorites are the roasted vegetable souffle and the chocolate muffins. Who doesn't like a sweet dessert that has a serving of veggies? (Trust me, they taste much better than you might think a veggie muffin would taste!) 

NOTE: Not all of the Garden Lites products are gluten-free so be sure to read all ingredients before you make your purchase! Garden Lites states: 
Currently, we offer many gluten free products including Muffins, Souffles, and some Bakes. We recently introduced a Mac & Cheese that does contain gluten. Please refer to the Allergy Statement on all products. In order to maintain the gluten free status on the respective items, we only use dedicated lines and regularly test both our machinery and products. Garden Lites ranks in the top 1% of the country with our HAACP Level 2 Safety Certificate and we make it our top priority to ensure food safety in all of our products.

The New York-based company is now available nationally so I was super excited to learn I could find them in the stores near me in California. Use the Garden Lites store locator to find a store near you! 

Want to try Garden Lites products? Now is your chance! I am giving away three sets of coupons for free and discounted products. Enter below using the Rafflecopter widget. You can get a bonus entry by leaving a comment below telling me which is your favorite Garden Lites product. Three winners will be chosen at random on Sunday, February 21. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 15, 2016
Breaking the Udi's Bag Tag Code
Did you ever pick up a package of Udi's Gluten-Free Bread and look all over the package for a "good until" date only to never find one? This recently happened to me at the discount store Grocery Outlet in Santa Cruz. I found an EXCELLENT deal on the large loaves of Udi's bread but had no clue if it was still good or not. That is until I called Udi's/Boulder Brands customer service and was told how to "break the code"!

This was one of the first times that I ever took my phone out and called a manufacturer right from the store. I know other people with celiac disease who eat gluten-free do this all the time, but not me. I just couldn't let the deal pass me by so I was eager to get some information on the fly.

According to Udi's:

"We use a Julian Calendar to reflect our production date. It will be a five to six digit number on the bread clip for bagged goods and on the packaging for our other products. The first two digits are the year (15 for 2015 or 16 for 2016) and the next three digits reflect the day’s number in the year (ex 015 will be January 15th since it is the 15th day of the year). The last digit is simply for production and doesn’t mean anything regarding the date. 

Our products, unlike our competitors, can be left at room temperature so it can be eaten soft without being toasted. Some of our vendors now sell our bread and baked goods in the bakery rather than in the frozen section. The bakery department should re-date the product to reflect the 7 day use-by-date (just like gluten-filled breads). 

Here is the recommended shelf life for our products: 
• At room temperature: 5-7 days
• In refrigerator: 21 days (the refrigerator will prolong the life of the product,but since it’s a baked good, it may dry out) 

• In freezer: 6 months 

Please note our breads do not spoil, as with any other bread products, it will mold. So as long as it's not moldy, you can refreeze or refrigerate the product. 

Based on the Udi's tag code and the information from customer service, my bread was baked on September 28, 2015. I bought it in the beginning February 2016 so the loaf was about 4 1/2 months old. It was frozen and appeared to be in good condition, so I decided to buy it. I was not disappointed, the bread was totally fine and I had more money in my wallet from the money I saved.  Now that I understand the codes on the bag tags, I will use this information for future shopping trips!

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Friday, February 12, 2016
Refractory Celiac Disease Clicincal Trial Participants Needed
Do you have refractory celiac disease and not respond at all to a gluten-free diet? This medical trial might be for you. Please use the contact information below for more information.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota is seeking individuals diagnosed with Refractory Celiac Disease.

While most people can treat celiac disease with a strict gluten-free diet, a small number of patients fail to respond to a gluten-free diet and continue to have significant and severe symptoms. This is called refractory celiac disease and can increase the risk of mortality and developing lymphoma.

  • Currently, there are no established treatments for refractory celiac disease 
  • The goal is to study a new treatment for refractory celiac disease 
  • The drug targets the effects of a signal (IL-15) in the body that is believed to cause much of the damage in the intestine
  • It is hoped that this drug will lessen the damage in the intestine and/or lessen the severity of refractory celiac disease 
  • The study involves multiple trips to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; Travel and lodging expenses qualify for reimbursement for required visits 

If you are interested or want more information, please contact: Carol Van Dyke by telephone at (507)-266-7842 or email

Source: Beyond Celiac

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Win It Wednesday: Enjoy Life Foods Valentine's Day Gift

Yes, my posting over the past two months has been sporadic, but it doesn't mean I love and appreciate all of my readers. In order to share my appreciation for you all, I am kicking off a new series called "Win It Wednesday." I have done giveaways in the past and they are always super popular. Now, this is going to be a regular feature on my website!

The first Win It Wednesday gift is a Valentine’s Day Sweet Freely Box stocked with Enjoy Life Foods Pancake & Waffle Mix, Dark Chocolate Morsels, a FREE product coupon and a heart-shaped pancake stencil! Enjoy Life products are free of the top 8 allergens and made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. This prize pack is the perfect way to show your love for your favorite gluten-free person!

You can enter by tagging @enjoylifefoods with your favorite allergy-friendly Valentine’s Day treat using #SweetFreely on  Instagram. Enter by 2/14 at 11:59 PM PST.

You can also enter through my Gluten-Free Fun Rafflecopter widget below. A winner will be chose on Valentine's Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, February 1, 2016
Happy Gluten-Free Funuary
Whew... it's been a really crazy few weeks (months, really). I moved to California. Yes, this life long New Yawker packed up her bags and headed west. I had a wonderful cross-country road trip with my boyfriend Victor that showed me beautiful parts of this country that I've never seen before. I also ate my way across this country and have lots to report back on from gluten-free bakeries to not-so-gluten-free-friendly truck stops. Can't a girl get a banana!?!

Now that is February and I am almost settled into a permanent place to live in gorgeous Santa Cruz, California, it is time to get back on track. I have product reviews, personal stories, how-to information, and so much more for you. But I also want to know what do you want more of? Do you want to know where/what to eat? Do you want to hear personal "wins" in the gluten-free world? Do you want recipes. TELL ME! I want to know what my readers want and I want to bring back this blog from a slow end of 2015 and almost non-existent start to 2016. Please leave a comment below and tell me what you want what you really really want. (Sorry, may or may not have listened to some Spice Girls on the way from NYC to Cali!)

In addition to this blog, you can also find me at Gluten-Free Globetrotter, my gluten-free travel blog. I am also Gluten-Free Fun on Twitter and Facebook. Stop by, leave a comment, and let me know you are still reading or if you are a new reader. Thanks!

I live here now. Um, WHAT????? Still in shock! 
A photo posted by Erin Smith (@glutenfreeglobetrotter) on

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