Friday, September 28, 2012

Gluten-Free Yom Kippur

We observed Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, earlier this week. By tradition, a day of fast is followed by a "break the fast" meal designed to fill your stomach without overwhelming it.

This is the first Yom Kippur my daughter has been home in four years since she had been away at college. But now she has graduated and is working nearby so she returned to the Yom Kippur table.

That meant I had to keep her gluten-free diet in mind as I decided what to serve. After the years away, she had a few special requests, too.  I have to admit I was surprised by how easy it was to fill those requests and allow her to eat the same dishes as everyone else even if a few had to be separately prepared.

It's a reflection of tremendous change in the availability and quality of ready-made gluten-free foods over the past four years. Meanwhile it also shows how much more comfortable I am switching up recipes to make them completely gluten free.

On the first point, I no longer have to make her bagels from scratch. That used to be a multi-step process not for the faint of heart. You had to make the dough, let it rise, boil the bagels and then bake them. I wish I could say they were so terrific it was worth all the effort. Now I can easily choose from a variety of gluten-free bagels right in the supermarket freezer.

I was also easily able to find gluten-free noodles just like the wheat-based noodles used in the apricot noodle pudding I always make. Again I just picked them up at the grocery. I did not make the whole recipe gluten free because I was not sure how well the noodles would hold up being boiled and then baked. Instead I reserved a bit of the sauce (naturally gluten free) and mixed the gluten-free serving in a small ramekin. Next year, the whole dish can be gluten free.

The carrot pudding my daughter wanted most of all was easy to convert to a gluten-free dish by simply substituting gluten-free flour for the exact amount called for in the recipe. This rather unusual recipe, which is more bread than pudding, tastes exactly the same as it did when I used to use wheat flour.

Homemade chicken soup is a favorite with my whole family and naturally gluten free, as is the chicken salad I make from the chicken used to cook the soup.

But matzo balls are another story. In the past I've had a lot of failures -- think a pot of mush when the balls don't hold together -- and a few successes. So I was excited this year to find a recipe on the Gluten Free A-Z Blog complete with photos of matzo balls that look just like the "regular" kind. One of the reasons they work is the use of Glutino gluten-free bread crumbs that look more like matzo meal than anything I have ever seen. (They are made from milled corn). Happy to say the matzo balls turned out perfectly.

With all the holidays that will come sneaking up faster than you can imagine, I hope you will find that it's easier than ever to make a wider assortment of gluten-free dishes. There's nothing better than a celebratory table where everyone gathered around feels included in the meal and part of the joy and conversation.

Our next issue of Gluten-Free Living is all about the Winter holidays and is full of advice and recipes to help you enjoy the wonderful foods of the season. It will be mailed to our subscribers about mid October and will be on newsstands across the country beginning Oct. 30. That will give you plenty of time to plan holiday meals and treats that are perfect for everyone.

Amy Ratner

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gluten-Free Living on Pinterest!

The spice of life is continual learning, trying new things and being open minded to different experiences.  And so it goes with my introduction to Pinterest.

I’ve learned how to blog, post and tweet, but things move and evolve in the blink of an eye and I was asked to leap into Pinterest…this is what my desk looks like.  I am busy!!!!  Now I have to snap photos of my gluten-free food and find links and cool pictures and tweet it out AND have a contest? 

But, here is what happened…I LOVE Pinterest!  For a visual and creative person, this is the coolest social media tool ever.  It goes beyond eye candy; this is a sea of creativity. 

Through our inaugural Pinterest lunch box contest, I learned that a cucumber could be a vehicle for a “cucumber hero” sandwich.  Or that a muffin tin is a great place to make pizza muffins, which is the perfect portion size for a lunch box.  I learned that there are a lot of people who are taking waste free lunches very seriously and are literally creating GF bento style box lunches for their kids every single day.  
I saw gluten-free bread creations that went well beyond cutting off the crusts…there were owl, flower and house shaped sandwiches. 

This is a place that is teaming with fantastic, original and completely helpful ideas.  I am so grateful that our contest entrants shared their lunch box ideas with Gluten-Free Living. 
Pinterest is a place where mom and dad-preneurs who think up something really fun for their gluten-free kids can share their idea so that others don’t have to reinvent the wheel.   This might be the place for creative chefs to get the next great business idea!  Maybe this will inspire a child to take matters into his or her own hands and create something original and gluten-free.

That is my hope, I would love our Gluten-Free Living Pinterest boards become a place for sharing inventive ways of preparing gluten-free food.  To that end, we will invite guest pinners who will share their great ideas and recipes.   We will also run contests on monthly basis using a special theme for the season.

October is a huge apple harvesting month, how many people go apple picking this time of year?   Contest instructions will follow in the next blog, but start thinking about great apple ideas…apple cider toddies, apple cinnamon tarts, muffins, pies, cakes, baked apples, apples in a savory dish…
Please join our Gluten-Free Living Pinterest community!  Contest winners will receive a one year complimentary subscription to Gluten-Free Living magazine.

Kendall Egan 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sweet 16 Party

First the numbers: 18 girls, 2 celiacs and 1 dairy intolerance!

Throwing a party these days is very different than the parties my parents threw for me. On Friday night I had my daughter's sweet 16 party at one of our favorite BBQ restaurants. I was a little bit relieved that none of her friends are vegetarians as this was not the menu for vegetarians.  I knew this would be a hungry bunch of high school athletes all coming from either soccer, field hockey, tennis, volleyball and swim practices or games.

Two of my daughter’s friends are celiacs and I have known that fact about each girl long before either became friends with my daughter. Many years ago I had received a phone call from each girl's mother with the question, "do you think I should test my daughter for celiac disease?" In both cases my advice was simple; this test might be the answer to what is making her sick, why not test for it?

I went in to the restaurant a week before the party and found out the ingredients of the things we had chosen and made sure that we had enough entrées and sides that would work for the gluten intolerant gals. The dairy allergy was covered too, although not as easily as gluten intolerance.

For the desserts, I ordered a gorgeous cake, two bowls of vanilla ice cream and a dish of baked apples...all bases covered there too!

Restaurant management and chefs have come a long way, not one person batted an eyelash when I launched into the number of food issues I needed to work around at this dinner party.

With knowledge of the food issues ahead of time and pre-planning with the restaurant manager, the girls had a wonderful evening.  They sat in the restaurant loft and I sat downstairs listening to the ebullient chatter and loud laughter that spilled over the balcony.  Best part about it was a happy teenager, but the doggy bag of gluten-free goodies that I had for lunch on Saturday was also pretty sweet!

Kendall Egan

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ode to Beets

The beet is one of my favorite vegetables.  The purplish-burgundy color is the most magnificent, naturally occurring hue of pink on this earth.  The funny thing is the unanimity of my family’s opinion of beets, they find them absolutely skeevy.  “I hate the smell of them.”  “They taste like dirt.” “Ewww, beets and goat cheese, what could be more disgusting?”

Right now they are also plentiful at my farmer’s market and I tend to buy them every week.  I like to roast them at a really high heat until a knife slips through it like a knife through butter.  I like all of my root vegetables roasted on high heat because it’s quick to cook them and it really concentrates the flavors.  I read somewhere that roasting at a high temperature does good things to the sugars in root vegetables.
The skin peels off effortlessly after the beets cool and the side effect of that effort is very ghoulish looking fingers!  I don’t know who to credit for this salad but I make a really tangy Dijon Mustard vinaigrette and toss that onto cubed roasted beets.  Thinly sliced red onion and cubed Granny Smith apples are the final two ingredients added to the salad.

It’s better on day two, after the apples and onions have sucked up all the color of the beets and the flavors of the vinaigrette. 

This is my favorite time of year, when vegetables are so abundant that you just have to eat them with every meal.  I’m going to be focusing on my favorite ways to enjoy the gluten-free bounty of the fall!
Kendall Egan

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

We're On Pinterest + The Back-To-School Pin It To Win It Contest

Need a little gluten-free PINspiration in the kitchen? Good news: Gluten-Free Living is now on, the popular online bulletin board. Follow our boards to stay up-to-date with our favorite recipes and gluten-free news, plus helpful and fun information for living a happy, healthy gluten-free life. You can even re-pin your favorite links for quick reference. All you have to do is find us at and click the "Follow" button. 

Pin It to Win It Back-to-School Contest

It's back-to-school season again and it's time to think about how you'll help your gluten-free child enjoy a healthy, varied lunch. There are many gluten-free options for your child's lunchbox or your own if you're brown-bagging it, but the same old sandwich and plain fruit can get boring quickly. Why not get inspired to pack a fun, tasty and creative lunch every day by pinning lunchbox ideas to a board on Pinterest? Do it and you could win big in our Pin It to Win It Back-To-School Lunchbox contest.

Create a Pinterest board and fill it with your favorite tasty and creative gluten-free lunchbox ideas. Then, head over to our Facebook page and share a link to your board for others to see until September 24, 2012. Our staff will judge each board and choose a favorite, and that Pinner will win a free one-year subscription to Gluten-Free Living and will be our featured Pinner on our blog and in our newsletters. Here's how to enter:

1. Follow Gluten Free Living on Pinterest at
2. Create a Pinterest board with your favorite gluten-free lunchbox ideas.
3. Post a link to your board on our Facebook wall for a chance to win!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pancake Snafu

Like many other families, we were traveling over the Labor Day weekend and we were visiting a place where we spend at least three or four weekends per year.  I think breakfast is the hardest meal of the day for a celiac, so when you find a place that serves great food and gluten-free pancakes, you tend to return.

There are those days when, after twenty minutes with nobody coming by your table to take a drink order, that you know it’s not going to be smooth sailing.   I have no intention of outing our location or the restaurant because our server just had a really bad morning.
I only lasted one week waiting tables in college, so I took a deep zen breath as I chased a bus boy down for coffee, and then again thirty minutes later for refills.  And then again to ask someone to take our order, and then to flag down someone to check on our order after forty minutes, and then to remind the server that we had been sitting for an hour with no food….

Our server got “slammed.”  She had a table of 16 in the back of the restaurant and then a bunch of other tables throughout the restaurant.  Our order was totally muffed and that is what freaked me out.
I ordered gluten-free pancakes with blueberries and bananas and whipped cream…they came with strawberries and blueberries, but at that point who cares.   My husband, son and celiac son ordered the same (disgusting) peanut butter, chocolate and banana concoction, but two were regular and one was gluten free.

Mine was differentiated by the berries and whipped cream, but the other three came out and they were all on the same style of plates and they all looked exactly the same.    

“Are you 100% sure this is the gluten-free breakfast?  Other slip ups I can tolerate but this I cannot.”  I was locked eye ball to eye ball with our flustered server and she said she was absolutely, unequivocally sure that this was the gluten-free peanut butter, chocolate and banana pancakes…
What do you do next?  It is just one of those situations where all you can do is HOPE that even if everything else had gone wrong with the meal that you can trust them to get the gluten-free breakfast to the gluten-free customer.  

I was very, very nervous.  This is the part of celiac disease that is challenging.  You try so hard to live a normal life and make sure what you are eating is safe…but when the food preparation is out of your hands, you have to rely on hope and trust. 

We made it to our river cruise and to our football game that day, everyone was fine…and stuffed…from breakfast.   She did the right thing, apologized for everything and refused to let us pay for anything.  I felt really bad for her and left her a good tip because she was so upset, we were not the only table that had a sub par morning!
I’ll go back, it’s a quirky spot with great food and they really understand the importance of gluten-free safety.  Now if they can figure out how to better coordinate their servers with the floor plan, they will have even more satisfied customers.

Kendall Egan