Monthly Archives: February 2013

A Mother Helps her Daughter Live Gluten Free

Gerri Magsam is adevoted and busy mother of five. What makes her life even busier is dealing with her daughter, Rose, who lives a gluten free life due to Celiac Disease. A few years ago when she found out her daughter’s life would have to change, she knew hers would drastically change as well. She has done everything she can to help her daughter get through everything and keep up with a gluten free lifestyle. She has learned along with her daughter what living gluten free (or helping someone live gluten free) really means.

Q: How did you and Rose find out your lives would have to change by her going gluten free?

A: “I found out my daughter needed to eat gluten free about three years ago. She had severe fatigue, had trouble concentrating, muscle spasms, but no stomach symptoms. After a whole year of tests for many things, an endocrinologist at CHOP tested her for Celiac Disease and it came out positive. We did not know at the time what that really meant or entailed, but we definitely have come a long way since then. When we found out though, I knew my life would have to change along with hers.”

Q: What specifically do you do to help her keep up with a gluten free diet?

A: “I do everything. The biggest thing is preparing her meals without gluten. If the family is eating a meal with gluten, I will make her something separate. I also shop for all of her food. I shop carefully, cook carefully, and try to buy her items that taste good! She has her own section of our pantry and freezer or gluten free foods. Also, I read the ingredient list on everything! Marinades, sauces, cereal, rices, etc. Even vitamins can contain gluten. I always make sure that everything is safe for her.”

Q: How do you deal with cross contamination of the food you cook?

A: “I try to cook mostly everything for everyone gluten free if I can. For example, we only use cornstarch now, no flour. If we are making sandwiches or pizza, we make hers first on clean surfaces. We never mix utensils. We even scrub our hands after handling crackers, bread, etc, before touching her food. And like I said earlier, she has her own section in the pantry so nothing mixes there.”

Q: What is the hardest part of cooking and shopping gluten free?

A: “The hardest part is finding and adapting foods and recipes that taste good. Many gluten free foods in the supermarket just taste awful!  And, gluten free food is very expensive. For example, a very small loaf of bread is $6.00. A small box of cookies is $4.00 to $5.00. Everything about it is just hard but you learn where to shop and how to cook as you go along.”

Q: You have other non gluten free kids, how do you deal with keeping everything separate? 

A: “It’s hard. We don’t buy Dunkin Donuts doughnuts anymore because she can’t have them and that is just mean to put them out there. There are some recipes that are gluten free that everyone likes, but to feed all of us gluten free would be too costly. So, many times, we have two dinners prepared.”

Q: Has cooking and shopping gluten free become easier throughout the years?

A: “Definitely. When we first found out, there was nothing out there. But every time I go to the supermarket there are more products to try. Restaurants are also becoming a lot better with their gluten free menus so that is a big plus as well. One thing that has not been getting better, however, is the taste of many gluten free premade products. A lot of cookies or cakes premade do not taste good at all. But there have been mixes (like Betty Crocker) created that I can make on my own which makes it a lot easier.”

When a person goes gluten free, it really does not only change his or her life, but everyone’s life around them. Rose and her mother Gerri are a perfect example of this. A mother’s love goes a long way, and it definitely shows here with how Gerri changed her life for her daughter’s sake.

Image Here is a recent picture of Gerri!

How to Dine Out While Gluten Free

Take it from someone who is gluten free but loves dining out- it is hard! Just living a gluten free lifestyle in general is tough, from managing what you can and cannot eat, to where to buy your food, and who to trust to cook it is all a lot to handle. But throw in going to an unfamiliar restaurant and trusting a stranger to cook you food that could potentially make you sick is a very uneasy feeling. However, being gluten free does not mean you have to stop doing things you love, like going out to eat. It just means you have to know what you’re dealing with and prepare before hand.

There are a few things I would recommend doing before venturing out to a restaurant to eat a gluten free meal. The first thing I would do is to get familiar with the menu of the restaurant you plan to attend. This of course means making sure the restaurant has a gluten free menu to begin with. Yes, there are some places that do not but you can find gluten free options, but it makes the dining experience a lot easier if they do. A few of my personal favorites, On The Border and PF Chang’s have amazing gluten free menus. PF Chang’s in particular is my favorite restaurant, and according to a general manager of the Martlon, N.J. location, George Terston, the gluten free menu has been around for about five years. This is a good amount of time to get established and perfect everything, and it shows in their food. Because it has been around so long, people trust it. “You have to have a blind faith the first time you come to the restaurant and after you have had that one good experience, you feel more confidant,” says Terston about PF Changs.

Once you have gotten familiar with the menu, and maybe even talked to an employee about it, I would suggest getting further info about how the restaurant prepares their food. A big issue with eating out gluten free is cross contamination. Restaurants nowadays are very aware of this. Many restaurants, like On The Border, zones everything by allergy to make sure nothing mixes. “Here we have different colors for allergies for cutting boards, knives, everything that we cook with to make sure nothing happens. We even do spot checks throughout the day to make sure everything is perfect,” says Brian Sheghnessy, a general manager at On The Border in Mount Laurel, N.J. If a restaurant is that specific with everything, I would say it is pretty trustworthy.

The final thing I would suggest is to be careful, but have fun! Try not to stress too much about everything. Eating out, even while being gluten free, should still be enjoyable. If you prepare ahead of time, your dining experience should be as normal as it can be.

Stay Tuned for These!

Hey everyone! As you can all tell, this blog is very new and a little empty. But no worries, there will be some new and interesting posts in the near future for you all to look forward to!

On Feb. 23, I will be posting about dining out while gluten free. One of the biggest challenges of living a gluten free lifestyle is trying to find places to eat that offer safe gluten free options. These are hard to come by and a lot of thinking and research goes into it. Dining out is very rarely a spur of the moment thing for gluten free individuals and I hope to focus on how to make it easy and fun. I will hopefully be talking to some managers of restaurants that offer gluten free options in South Jersey, specifically PF Changs and On The Border. I will speak to them about what they offer and how they handle gluten free customers. I have personally been to both of these restaurants and have never had a problem so it will be interesting for me to learn how they do it so well. I hope you all find it interesting too!

Next, in two weeks, I will be posting a Q&A I did with one of my gluten free friend’s mom, Gerri Magsam. Her daughter has been gluten free for about three years now and she has been very involved and helpful in her daughter’s gluten free journey. I will be speaking to her about what she does to help her daughter, like cooking meals or grocery shopping. When her daughter’s life changed, hers did as well and she would love to share her views with me. It should be a good look at how going gluten free is a whole lifestyle and not just a diet and if affects everyone around you.

Finally, in three weeks I will be doing a photo gallery of a gluten free grocery shopping trip. I will be going to a local supermarket, ShopRite, along with one of my gluten free friends and will share what grocery shopping for gluten free food entails.  I will definitely have a lot of pictures to walk you through the process (it’s more complicated than you may think!). Hopefully I will be talking to a manager and get some good information about when the store started carrying gluten free products, how popular they are, and why they feel it is important to carry them.

If any of these sound interesting to you make sure to keep your eye out for them!

Learn Almost Everything About Being Gluten Free From These Websites!

Years ago, it would be very hard for you to find any websites or blogs about living a gluten free lifestyle. But now that celiac disease and gluten free foods are becoming more recognized and well known, there are a countless number of websites out there. I have visited probably hundreds of websites about gluten free living since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease almost 4 years ago, and these are the ones I have found to be the best:

1. www.celiac.com

Within the past few months, going on a gluten free diet has become somewhat of a trend. However, people do not realize that for some it is not a choice, but a necessity. For those who have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body cannot process the protein gluten, it is necessary to go on a gluten free diet. If not, it could lead to other diseases and would just make you feel overall very uncomfortable. A really good website on celiac disease, is www.celiac.com. On this website, you can read about the disease and get a lot of information, as well as get some good gluten free recipes, reviews on gluten free food, and a lot of other really helpful information. It also has links to recent articles on celiac disease and gluten free foods. My favorite part of the website it its post on allergy vs intolerance, which is really good for those to learn the difference and learn why people live gluten free.

2. Glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

No matter how long you have been living gluten free and how many gluten free recipes you have tried, it is always refreshing to see some new ideas. One of the best gluten free blogs to find these ideas is “Gluten Free Goddess,” which is a popular blog run by a woman named Karina. One thing I love about this blog is the pictures of all the food that comes out of the recipes. It all just looks so mouth watering that you will instantly want to try them all. The recipes are also really easy to follow, which is very helpful. Not only does the blog feature recipes, but it also has a page just dedicated to questions that newcomers to the gluten free diet frequently ask. Definitely check her blog out!

3. www.naturallydahling.com

When people first go gluten free, they do not necessarily realize what being entirely gluten free entails. It not only means eating everything gluten free, but also using all gluten free products for everything that goes in or on your body (besides clothes of course). This includes everything from lotions, shampoos, eye drops, and most importantly, cosmetics. It is forgotten that the skin is the biggest organ in your body. It is porous and absorbs everything. So if you truly want to go gluten free, definitely change cosmetics, which this blog can help you with! The woman who runs this blog, Kristen, comes off as very passionate about healthy cosmetics. She has a lot of cosmetic products listed on her site that are entirely gluten free. They are not just random products either, they are quality items that she has tested herself. The fact that she has used them herself makes me trust her recommendations even more. I will definitely be trying out some of her other recommendations, and you should too!

This is an example of the "Afterglow Organic Foundation" featured on naturallydahling.com. the picture was taken from afterglowcosmetics.com
This is an example of the “Afterglow Organic Foundation” featured on naturallydahling.com. the picture was taken from afterglowcosmetics.com

4. http://www.glutenfreefrenzy.com

One website that I have recently really gotten into is “Gluten Free Frenzy.” It is listed as the number one gluten free giveaway site- and who doesn’t love a giveaway?! Frequently, the blog features ’25 days of giveaways’ for different occasions, like the New Year and Christmas. So for 25 days, the site gave away different gluten free items to lucky winners. The site does not only do giveaways, but also releases posts about being gluten free and also gluten free recipes. There is also a whole section of this website that is dedicated to ‘frenzy favorites,’ which are the favorite products of the blog runner. Every time I visit this blog, I find a new product I was not familiar with before or see a new recipe I would like to try out. The layout is also very colorful and friendly and makes you want to stay on the page longer. It is definitely one of my favorite gluten free websites right now!

5. www.glutendude.com

And finally… my new favorite gluten free blog- “The Gluten Dude.” I just recently discovered “The Dude’s” blog while researching other gluten free blogs before creating my own. Once I started reading the posts, I was instantly hooked. I don’t know if it is the content he talks about, or his sincere voice in his posts, but something about his writing makes it feel personal. In his blog, he covers everything from gluten free celebrities, doctors, his readers’ personals stories, as well as his own tales. Recently, he has asked his readers to share their gluten-free love stories. What has come of that are heart touching stories about couples and families helping each other live their gluten free lives. I would highly recommend checking out his blog.

Welcome!

Hello WordPress! My name is Bridget Comber and I am a Public Relations and Journalism student at Rowan University. This blog will focus on young adults living a gluten free lifestyle in South Jersey. I hope to cover everything you need to know about this lifestyle and how to live it yourself! I will be writing about gluten free recipes, restaurants in the South Jersey area that have gluten free menus, and also where you can locally buy fresh and tasty gluten free foods. I also hope to inform my readers of little things about the lifestyle that may be unknown and furthermore educate people about why others choose to or are forced to live this lifestyle. Enjoy!