Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Establish a Gluten-free School Lunch Program (a recap)

I wrote this blog post last year, and in case you haven't seen it, here are some tips on how to participate in your school lunch program at school :).
You have three options for school lunch:
1. Bring from home
2. Starve
3. Eat lunch prepared by the school.
I bet you are looking at option three and raising an eyebrow in confusion. But, federal law requires public school to substitute meals for students with life-threatening food allergies and celiac disease.
Many of the meal options at your school might already be naturally gluten-free. Sometimes all that's needed to be done is use GF breads and exchange the cookie with a fruit cocktail. Food handling procedures, however, will have to be in place in order to ensure there are no cross-contamination issues.
Some examples of possible gluten-free lunches offerings can be:  
1. Beefy GF Tacos, Mexican Rice, Buttered Corn and Fruit Cocktail + choice of milk
2. Stuffed baked Potato, Mexican Salad, Carrot & Celery Sticks and Pudding + choice of milk.
3. Hamburger with GF bun/without , Potato Smiles, Corn and Chilled Pineapple choice of milk
4. Hamburger, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Applesauce/Apple/Orange + choice of milk
5. GF pizza, Garden Salad w/light ranch, orange wedges, chocolate pudding + choice of milk.
6. GF pasta, salad, corn, pears + choice of milk.
7. GF blueberry muffins, corn, warm sliced apples choice of + choice of milk.
6. Salad, Mexican Rice, Carrot and Celery, Fruit Cocktail + choice of milk.
You can enjoy all these meals at school thanks to food labels and food handling procedures! So stop starving; this might be the right option for you!
NCFA provides great information on how to request a gluten free school lunch in your school district. check out the information: 
Training and education of foods service personal is extremely important! 
Here is a link to a great training option that your school district might want to consider pursuing:
So, what are you waiting for?  There are so many options out there for you!!
Enjoy!
-Sema

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Easy Egg Dinner

I have been seriously under the weather for the past few days, so I really didn't want to think too much when it came to dinner today. So, I toasted some Udi's bread and fried an egg. But I wanted to take it to a whole new level, so I sautéed a little onion and tomato, added it to the sandwich with some chopped up cucumbers. I then added a little salt and pepper, and voila, I had dinner.
On the side I had homegrown grapes!! The tomato, cucumber, and onion are also homegrown!

Enjoy!
-Sema

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Living Around Gluten-free

This blog is geared towards people on the gluten-free diet, but what about everyone around them? As I have mentioned before, going gluten-free is a lifestyle change, so this does not only affect the person on the gluten-free diet, but everyone around them as well.

Not everyone in my family is gluten-free (my mom and brother are not), so how do we deal with it?
 1. My brother has his own small pantry with snacks for school and bread for sandwiches.
2. We have a small "gluten zone" in our kitchen where my mom and brother prepare their sandwiches.
3. We label all our spreads with either my brother's name or my name so that we avoid cross contamination.
4. All dinners are gluten-free so that we don't need to prepare separate portions.
5. We have two different toasters- one that's gluten-free and one that is not.

Living around gluten-free is not hard at all!
-Sema :)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Traveling on the Gluten-free Diet

So two weeks ago I went to Texas to visit family and film for my upcoming music video (I am also a singer/songwriter)! Visiting people and traveling while on the diet can pose challenges, but they are easily overcome.


1. My family already had an extra toaster waiting for me (because they are super awesome!), but if there is no extra toaster where you are going, then use toaster bags. These have saved me numerous times at hotels!

2. Always, always, ALWAYS have an emergency snack with you! There have been times where I thought I'd be able to buy a snack, but couldn't find anything to eat! There are even "lunchable-like" snacks by Go Picnic!

3. Check the plane's peanut packages. Now I know this might sound silly, but I checked the ingredients once and there was malt in it. Malt does seem to hide in the strangest places ;).

4. Call ahead when you are going out to eat! My cousin and I made a few phone calls to see what was on the menus, and this allowed me to make up my mind on what I wanted to eat before I got there. (Sometimes it's hard to make decisions, because everything looks so good!)

5. If you are going to stay with either family or friends, talk to them about setting up a designated area for you to prepare your sandwiches (this avoids the dreaded cross-contamination.) When I visited my aunt, uncle, and cousins, they made sure I had an area with its own cutting board and toaster.

Honestly it was a breeze traveling and visiting my family in Texas! A special thanks to my Aunt Belinda, Uncle Morten, and cousins Therese, Marius, and Vibeke (it is always so much fun visiting them.)

Here's a bonus tip :) On the plane, I actually had a cooler with me where I stored snacks. This was a good idea, because my flight was delayed! In the cooler, I had almonds, chips, a sandwich, clementines, and some mints!

-Sema

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gluten-free Labeling!

All foods labeled gluten-free on or after August 5, 2014 (which is today) must meet all requirements of the gluten-free labeling final rule. This is great news for all of us who have to be on a gluten free diet! Here are some of the FAQ’s that are posted on the FDA’s webpage.  :)
 
1. How is “gluten-free” defined in the rule?
In general, foods may be labeled “gluten-free” if they meet the definition and otherwise comply with the final rule’s requirements. More specifically, the final rule defines "gluten-free" as meaning that the food either is inherently gluten free; or does not contain an ingredient that is: 1) a gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat); 2) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or 3) derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food. Also, any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 ppm.
 
2. Why is the FDA regulating gluten labeling on food?
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) directed HHS to define and permit the use of the term "gluten-free" in the labeling of foods. FDA published a proposed rule in January 2007. The proposal defined the term "gluten-free" and announced FDA's intent to conduct a safety assessment for gluten exposure for people with celiac disease. In August 2011, FDA reopened the comment period on the proposal, and announced the availability of the gluten safety assessment, as well as its tentative conclusion to follow the approach in the proposed rule.
 
3. What products are covered by the final rule? 
The final rule applies to all FDA-regulated packaged foods, including dietary supplements. The rule excludes those foods whose labeling is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Generally, USDA regulates the labeling of meats, poultry, and certain egg products (FDA regulates the labeling of shell eggs). TTB regulates the labeling of most alcoholic beverages, including all distilled spirits, wines that contain 7 percent or more alcohol by volume, and malted beverages that are made with both malted barley and hops.
 
For more information go to: www.fda.gov/gluten-freelabeling
 -Sema 

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Gluten-free Consumer World

Now I know statistics is math, and it's summer, but I thought this was so interesting! GlutenAway shared it (go check out his blog), and it's quite an informative poster on what's going on now in the consumer world :). Gluten-free has gone much more mainstream since I was diagnosed (9 years ago!) It's nice to be able to go to a grocery store and see plenty of gluten-free items to choose from!

-Sema

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gooseberry Jam!


It's the season for berry jam, and one of my favorite berries is the gooseberry. It grows in our backyard, so whenever it's gooseberry season, we always have a good supply of it. We had so many that we didn't really know what to do with all of it. That's when we decided to make jam! My mom and I found that this recipe was actually super easy, so it can be enjoyed by many!

Gooseberry Jam Recipe
6 cup gooseberries (¾ ripe (red), ¼ under ripe (green)
1 ½ cups water
4 cups sugar

1. Wash berries, place in saucepan with water, and bring to boiling.
2. Reduce heat and simmer until gooseberries are soft, approximately 15 minutes. 
3. Remove from heat and measure pulp (about 4 cups) add sugar and boil 7-9 minutes. 
4. Remove from stove, skim off foam and pour into hot, sterilized jars.
5. Seal with two-piece canning lids and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Enjoy!
-Sema

Friday, July 11, 2014

One Year Anniversary as a Gluten-free Blogger!

This week marks the one year anniversary of my blog! My blog's goal is to make sure that whether you are a teenager or an adult, you navigate the gluten-free lifestyle easily. Going gluten-free does not just mean eliminating something from your diet, it is also a lifestyle change. I'm here for recipes and information and I'm also your gluten-free friend. There are so many alternatives out there, and I want to make sure you find them.

Thank you to all my readers and supporters, I honestly could not have come so far without you :').

Thursday, July 3, 2014

4th of July Treats!


Well, tomorrow is the 4th of July. You know what that means? FOOD. When I think of the 4th of July, I think of barbecues. I of course wanted to make my food patriotic, so I found two VERY simple desserts that you can make.

The first dessert is my favorite: spice cupcakes. The Namaste spice cake mix is one of the best cake mixes that I know of.
 
1. Add 4 eggs, 2/3 cup oil, and 3/4 cup water to a bowl, and mix it together.
2. Add the Namaste spice cake mix, and mix it all together until it turns into a liquid-like mixture.
3.  Add the mixture to a cupcake pan (which should be lined with cupcake liners.
4. Now here's the fun part! DECORATING :D. Add red, white, and blue icing to make it patriotic!

Now this second dessert is a bit healthier! All you're going to need is plain greek yogurt (store bought or homemade), strawberries, and blueberries. You must have a pretty-looking glass to put it all in, as that always 'spices' your food up. 
1. Add the plain greek yogurt to the bottom of the glass, about half-way full.
2. Cut the strawberries in thin slices, and gently lay them on top of the plan yogurt.
3. Add the blueberries on top of the strawberries.
4. Voila, you have a dessert that is patriotic and healthy!

To add to the patriotic feel, I went to Michaels and got some glittery star-thingies!

Enjoy!
-Sema

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dempsey Bakery

When you go to a bakery, you will see pastries lined up, modeling for the hungry eye. You'll see them decorated oh so carefully, but you just turn away, as you know you won't be able to eat them. Honestly, I've gotten used to it. Despite this, I still want the experience of going to a bakery and knowing that I can eat EVERYTHING.  Nikki Everett first introduced me to a great milk cake when she came to St. Louis, and she said it came from a place called the Dempsey Bakery that's located in Little Rock, AR. I shrugged and took a bite of the milk cake, and it was as if my taste buds decided to take a trip to heaven. I honestly have NEVER tasted a cake with that consistency. So, I may have eaten almost the entire cake in one day (hey I'm human right?). The funny thing is that if I hadn't come to Little Rock for the GFAF Wellness Event, I would have probably taken the trip just to go to the bakery.

The Dempsey bakery is an entirely gluten-free bakery, where you can browse many different selections knowing that you can eat EVERYTHING. It is also nut and soy free! I honestly felt so at home when I walked into the bakery. Mrs. Dempsey is the sweetest person, and she reminds everyone of a grandma you can go to when you are hungry :). She is honestly so welcoming, and I love the layout of her bakery- you will want to spend time there.
The blogger dinner for the GFAF Wellness event was at the Dempsey bakery, and I went to sleep that night with a VERY happy tummy.
Please 'like' her on Facebook, and be sure to stop by her bakery! When you do so, please say hello from me!
Doesn't she make you want to go visit her? (By the way her milk cake is amazing, please try some.)

-Sema



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

GFAF Wellness Event in Little Rock, AR Recap

I had a great time at the GFAF Wellness Event in Little Rock, AR on Saturday! Thank you to everyone who made it out to the event, as I got to speak to so many great people!

Here's the recap:




Friday, June 20, 2014

GFAF Wellness Event in Little Rock, AR


Are you in the Little Rock, AR area? If so, come out to the GFAF Wellness Event in Little Rock, AR to sample delicious treats, and hear fabulous people talk. The good news is that I'm one of those fabulous people. I went to the event in St. Louis, and LOVED it, so come on out! The event is going to take place on June 21 from 10 am to 3 pm (come and go as you please), and will be at the Metroplex (Clear Channel Building.) Tickets are $10 for adults, and children enter for free.

Click here for more information about the event in Little Rock.
Click here to go to the event's homepage.
Click here to go to the event's Facebook page.

I hope to see you all there :)
-Sema

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dinner and a Movie with Friends


Yesterday, I went to see The Fault in Our Stars with a few friends! *tears* I have to admit I did shed a few tears while watching it, so the tissues came in handy :). But before the movie, we had a DELIGHTFUL dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. We all decided to share, so we got two gluten-free pizzas and a salad. We ordered the Waldorf salad, a barbecue chicken pizza, and a margherita pizza. Personally, I loved the Waldorf salad and the margarita pizza the best, but that's just because I'm not much of a barbecue pizza kind of girl :).


 -Sema

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Quick Fix Spaghetti Casserole

 I was really tired and not in the mood to cook today, but I managed to make this super easy spaghetti casserole that tasted marvelous (so I really had to share it with all of you.)


Ingredients:
Pasta (I used brown rice pasta)
3 mushrooms
A quarter of an onion 
Canned tomatoes (we canned our own)
Olive oil
Herbs like rosemary and parsley flakes

Procedure: 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cook the pasta and add a dash of salt as it boils. (I cooked the pasta for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.)

3. After you drain the pasta, add a dash of olive oil and stir it around to make sure the spaghetti doesn't clump up.

4. For the sauce, sautee the onion and the mushrooms.

5. Add the canned tomatoes, (dash of) parsley flakes, and (dash of) rosemary, and let it sit for about 12 minutes with the lid on. 

6. Mix the spaghetti and the sauce and add it to a baking pan. 

7. Sprinkle shredded cheese and sausage pieces on top, and add it to the oven.

8. Take it out when the cheese is completely melted and your house smells heavenly.

 Enjoy!
-Sema

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Perfect Soft Boiled Egg


The other day, my family and I were watching America's Test Kitchen on pbs, (obviously drooling) and we learned the foolproof method to make the perfect soft boiled egg. I turned to my mom and said, "pfft I'm sure that doesn't work." So the next day I tried it for breakfast, still not entirely sure if it would work. But lo and behold it did!
Here is the foolproof method for making soft boiled eggs:

Procedure:
1. In a pot, cover the bottom of the pan with one inch of water.
2. Bring it to a boil, and then add as many eggs as you'd like.
3. Cover the pot with a lid and then wait 6 and a half minutes.
4. Drain the hot water, and rinse the eggs with cold water.

Voila, you have a foolproof method of making soft boiled eggs. And the best part of this method is is that you can use as many eggs as you want, and the amount of water and the time it takes remains the same! Note that I couldn't find those egg holder thingies, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it!

Enjoy!
-Sema

Sunday, June 1, 2014

GFAF Wellness Event Recap


So yesterday was the GFAF Wellness Event, and it was a blast! I met so many new people and vendors and tasted so many delicious items!!
Here's the recap:
Andrea had so many delicious cakes and breads!
You NEED to try Ellbee's garlic spreads. It spiced up bread for sure!
I never knew that coconut tasted so good!
Gluten-free for Men taught me that you can use barbecue sauce as a dip!
I got to meet Gluten-free Hungry Girl!
You need to go to The Nest to try their cookies!
Here's my booth! I got to meet the fabulous Huong Dishian, and she has an AMAZING cookbook: Living Free Solutions that is worth checking out!

I also had the pleasure of meeting GF Mom Certified and I'm a Celiac!

If you are in the Little Rock, AR area, come see me speak at the next GFAF Wellness Event on June 21!
-Sema


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Gluten and Allergy Free Wellness Event


Woohoo! I'm starting the countdown to the Gluten and Allergy Free Wellness that's going to take place in St. Louis! I am so excited that I'm going to be speaking there! The event is going to take place on May 31, from 10 am to 3 pm at Orlando's Garden (admission is $10 for adults and children are free), and there are going to be many speakers and food samples (yum.)

I may be speaking in your area in the following months! Here are the dates and cities I will speak at:
-Little Rock, AR on June 21
-Raleigh/Durham, NC on August 9

Click here for more information about the event in St. Louis.
Click here to go to the event's homepage.
Click here to go to the event's Facebook page.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Quick Mother's Day Dinner: Shepherd's Pie


My finals/AP tests are coming up, so I am QUITE stressed and busy studying. Tomorrow is mother's day, so I am going to take a break from studying to make a special dinner for her. But I was thinking, my goodness, what can I make that is quick and easy and doesn't take up much time? So I came across this shepherd's pie recipe, and LOVED it :).
The good news is that it is naturally gluten-free, so you can make it with "regular" ingredients!
*Note that I didn't add wine to the recipe :)

Happy (Early) Mother's day!
-Sema