Category Archives: General

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I’m Back!

Did you forget about me? Hopefully not!

Sorry I’ve been gone for quite some time. Life got in the way. I finished up my junior year of college (what?!) and spent my summer taking a required course and working. Now I am half way through the first semester of my SENIOR year in college (I repeat…what?!). Yep, I’m graduating in May (hint hint to any PR/marketing firms who want to hire me). Crazy, right?

Now that I’ve gotten into somewhat of a schedule I hope to start blogging again. What do you guys want to hear about? More restaurant reviews? Recipes? Rant stories? Let me know!

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My Time Here Is Done (But Not Really)

As some of you may know, I started this blog for my online journalism class at Rowan University. And since it is almost summer, my semester and the class is ending.

When I started blogging as the “Gluten Free Guru,” it seemed like a chore. I had been assigned topics and had to have them in at a certain time on a certain date. But after a while, I got used to it, and stared to enjoy writing, especially about something that hits close to home.

That being said, just because the semester is ending, I will continue writing for this blog. I will most likely focus more on restaurant outings and reviews rather than interviews with others. But other blog post requests are always welcome.

As I reflect back on my semester writing, I realized that even though I’m a blogging beginner, I think I have grown a lot. I am less afraid to approach others and ask questions to get a good story. I think a few of my posts turned out particularly good. Here are my 5 favorites:

5. “Gluten Free Restaurant Review: Outback Steakhouse”

I love going out to eat, so being able to write about it was really cool. Outback is one of my favorite restaurants and telling other gluten free people how they are made me feel like I am helping someone. I also had a good experience there, like always, so it made writing this post easy.

4. “The Cake Mix Doctor Heals Your Stomach Cravings”

This post was about a gluten free cookbook, titled “Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten Free.” You don’t even know how many times I have used this book for recipes. It keeps me from going crazy over bland gluten free foods. I hope others read the post, bought the book, and are enjoying it now.

3. “An Outing To A Gluten Free Restaurant Gone Wrong”

This post was an interesting one for me to write about. As you all could tell, I did NOT have a good gluten free experience at Uno’s. But being about to vent about it made me feel better. I know I am not the only gluten free person who has been ‘glutened’ at a restaurant, and we all like to share when we are so others can avoid it. Once again, I feel like my experiences could help others.

2. “A Mother Helps Her Daughter Live Gluten Free”

Talking to Gerri was very nice. She reminds me so much of my real mother, it was easy to get a conversation going with her. She is a really sweet woman with a lot of knowledge on being gluten free, which made for a perfect Q&A.

1. “A Gluten Free Grocery Shopping Trip”

This was definitely my favorite post. I usually dread going food shopping, but taking pictures of everything made it more enjoyable. I liked how the pictures turned out and I got positive feedback on it, so I felt good about my amateur photography skills. Maybe there will be another photo post in the future!

 

I sincerely thank you all that have visited and read my blog over the past few months. I hope you keep coming back.

 

 

Map of Grocery Stores With Gluten Free Products

Gluten free products are sometimes hard to come by. Most food stores either do not have a great selection or have none at all. So once you find one that does, you stick to it. But variety is always good, so it is also a good idea to venture out and try other stores that many have new and different products. I personally really like grocery shopping, as you may have known from my previous photo post. Below is a map I made of grocery stores in the South Jersey area that are my favorites for gluten free grocery shopping!

Here are the stores I included:

Check some of them out!

Reasons Why People Go Gluten Free: Health Issues, Love, Fads

“Gluten free.” These words are everywhere in today’s world. This is because almost 29 percent of people in the United States are trying to avoid gluten in their diet. But why is this? Well, there are many reasons why people are going gluten free. It could be anything from something medical to just keeping up with the latest fad diet. There are endless possibilities about why people are eating this way. I’m here to fill you in on some of those reasons.

Autoimmune Disorders

The main reason people go gluten free is because they have some sort of autoimmune disorder that makes it necessary. The most popular one is Celiac Disease, which is a disease in which gluten destroys the villi of the small intestine, making it impossible to absorb nutrients. One in every 133 people are affected by Celiac Disease. Someone who has this disease has to be on a gluten free diet in order to survive, and feel better. “I have Celiac Disease, and once I went on a gluten free diet I felt like a completely new person. It was amazing!” says Megan Tradife, an 18-year-old with Celiac Disease.

Another autoimmune disorder that makes people go gluten free is Chron’s Disease. This disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Many doctors tell patients with Chron’s Disease to eat gluten free to avoid any unnecessary inflammation.

Autism

One lesser-known reason for going gluten is for Autism Spectrum Disorders, which affect children’s ability to interact socially. It has been shown that going on a gluten free and casein free diet can improve their condition.

Love/Moral Support

Going gluten free not only affects your own life, but the lives around you as well. For this reason, family members and loved ones of people on gluten free diets go on gluten free diets themselves. They do it for moral support, or just for an easier life. For example, say you live with your significant other who eats gluten free but you do not yourself. Cooking two different meals everyday can be hard and expensive, and sometimes it is easier to join forces and both eat gluten free. “My boyfriend eats gluten free, so I try to as well so I can give him some support,” says Ashlee Morawski.

Trends

Finally, the biggest reason why people are going gluten free right now is that it is a trend. There are numerous celebrities that claim to be on a gluten free diet, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, and Zooey Deschanel. People want to emulate their favorite celebrities, and if they hear they are on a new diet, they want to try it too.

Although I think healthy dieting is a good thing, I am not too happy about gluten free diets being a trend. I personally think it minimizes the actual medical need to be gluten free. In my experience, when I go to a restaurant and ask for a gluten free menu, the waiter or waitress always thinks I am just trying to be trendy, and therefore is not as careful with my food. However, there is a plus side. There is definitely more gluten free options out there now that everyone wants to eat like it.

If you are thinking of going gluten free, I highly suggest you see a doctor or dietician first. They will guide you to the right foods and help you keep all of your vitamins and nutrients in check. It is a hard lifestyle to live, but if you feel that it would make you feel better or healthier, go for it!

Also, if you decide to go gluten free, check out my map of food stores in South Jersey that have gluten free products!

A Look Into a Gluten Free Household Featuring Paul McKean

Have you ever wondered what it is like to live with someone who is gluten free when you are not gluten free yourself? Well that’s the reality that 22-year-old Paul McKean is living right now. A year ago, he moved in with his girlfriend, Emma, who has to live gluten free due to Celiac Disease. So when he moved in with her, he changed his life. Love goes a long way, doesn’t it?

In the video, you’ll see Paul talking about how he had to change his life living in a gluten free household and how it has been an adjustment. You’ll also see clips of how Paul and Emma separate all of their food in the fridge, pantry, etc. Check it out to learn more!

 

 

Map of Best Gluten Free Restaurants in Southern NJ

Hey all! I know firsthand finding good gluten free restaurants is hard. It takes a while to find good ones that you can continuously go to and not have problems with. We all know it is a struggle and a journey to find your favorites, which we all have. I’ve even made a google map of my own favorites, which is below. Check it out and maybe you’ll see one that you have never tried!

Here are the restaurants I included:

Enjoy!

An Outing To A Gluten Free Restaurant Gone Wrong

Within the past few months, there has been a lot of talk in the gluten free community about Uno Chicago Grill and their gluten free menu. Other gluten free people I know were saying good things about it, and it received positive press. Hearing so many good things made me want to check it out myself. I just happened to be at the Deptford Mall recently, and there is an Uno’s close by, so I decided to stop by and try it. This was probably one of the worst decisions I have made in a while. I am still paying for it days later.

Even though it was a spur of the moment decision, I did do my research before going to the restaurant. I looked at the menu online, and their nutritional information. It did say on the website that the company cannot guarantee that everything gluten free will really be gluten free due to cross contamination. This should have been my first sign.

When I arrived, I was greeted by a friendly hostess and quickly seated. The staff was very nice and my waiter did know a lot about the gluten free foods. I informed him of my gluten allergy and he assured me everything would turn out okay. After looking at the menu, I decided on the gluten free veggie pizza. I was very excited to eat it seeing as how I haven’t really had pizza from a restaurant for the past four years.

The pizza arrived quickly and looked pretty appetizing. However, it was a little cold and had onions on it, which I told my waiter to leave off. And when I bit into it, I was not impressed. It was way too doughy and lacked taste. I could have made a better gluten free pizza by the frozen dough you can buy at the supermarket. Even though I was unimpressed by the pizza, I was not to mad about it. I had a good time out with friends and tried something new. However, right after I left I started to feel sick.

When a person with Celiac Disease or a gluten allergy consumes gluten, his or hers body goes crazy. It rejects the gluten, which can cause many things to happen, including many gross symptoms that I will spare you the details of. After i left the restaurant, I started experiencing some symptoms, so I automatically knew that the pizza I ate was not completely gluten free. It also takes days, and sometimes even weeks, for these symptoms to wear off. So here I am, days later, still sick. I think it is safe to say I was very disappointed with my Uno’s experience and will not be returning in the future.

Coming Up: Restaurant Review, Interview With A Young Celiac, & A Day In A Gluten Free Household

Hey everyone! Thank you all for visiting The Gluten Free Guru. I hope everyone is enjoying my blogging. Over the next few weeks I will be posting a few new things that you can look out for.

By April 7th, I will be posting an audio post of an interview I did with 16-year-old Danielle Kitzinger. She will speak about what it is like being gluten free at such a young age.

A week after that I will be reviewing another gluten free restaurant, Uno Chicago Grill. I just recently found out they have a gluten free menu, which includes gluten free pizza and burgers (with gluten free buns!). It will be my first time going there, so it should be interesting.

Finally, by April 21st I will be posting a video with Paul McKean. He is a recent college grad who changed his own life when he moved in with his girlfriend, who lives a gluten free life. I plan on following him throughout a day to see how he adjusts to her lifestyle and how he helps her.

A Gluten Free Grocery Shopping Trip

Gluten free grocery shopping can be tough- and very expensive. Most would think to go to speciality stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. However, many local grocery stores, like the Glassboro ShopRite I went to, are building up their gluten free sections more and more. And of course, to eat gluten free you do not have to buy foods labeled ‘gluten free.’ You can just shop for things that are natural, like fruits, vegetables, and meats. Below is a slideshow of my shopping trip!

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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!