Saturday, October 18, 2014

Gluten-free Halloween Lollipops!

Hello everyone! Halloween is coming up, so that means: themed snacks!! I found this kit at Walmart, and I noticed that I had to supply the cookie part, so I figured I could make it gluten-free!  It was quite simple, although the bag I used to put in the candy coating did break. But that obstacle did not deter me from making these really cute gluten-free Halloween Lollipops.

Ingredients:
1Wilton Halloween Candy Melt Kit.
1 pack of gluten-free oreo-like cookies (I used KinniToos)

Procedure:
1. Add the candy melts into the provided baggy, and loosely close the end.
2. Put it in the microwave and heat it for a minute. Knead the bag. 3.Put it in for intervals of 30 seconds, and knead it until it's fully melted.
4. Cut the tip of the baggy.
5. Insert the lollipop stick into the middle of the cookie.
6. Squeeze the candy melt into the mold, about 2/3 full. (make sure you don't put in too much)
7. Smooth it out with a spoon or your finger.
8. Insert the cookie into the mold, and allow it to go up over the sides.
9. Let it sit while you finish the rest, you can either leave it out or put it in the fridge for a bit. (I just let it sit out, and it hardened just fine.)
10. Use the leftover melted candy like a glue, and put on the candy face accessories.
11. Package it, or just leave it out! I used the name tags to make it personable.

Voila! You have a gluten-free snack that wasn't even made to be gluten-free :) 
-Sema






Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's a S'mores Kind of Day!

I woke up this morning to see a gloomy mist settling over everything. I immediately decided that today I needed to make something cheerful (yes, food can be cheerful)! Looking through the pantry I stumbled over a pack of gluten-free graham crackers, some chocolate, and a pack of marshmallows. Thus sparked the idea of making s'mores!
It was really easy you see,  all I needed was three ingredients. I found that I needed to slice the marshmallow in half, as it overflowed when I tried it the first time around. I paired it with coffee that contained the Coffee-Mate Hazelnut Creamer!

Ingredients
Gluten-free Graham Crackers: Do not be fooled by the packaging, they are in fact very small.
Marshmallows
A bar of chocolate
Procedure
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Break the graham crackers in half
3. Add the chocolate and HALF a marshmallow (one whole marshmallow is too much) on separate pieces of graham cracker.
4. Bake it for 3-5 minutes.
5. With a knife, put the chocolate half on the marshmallow half, and press them together to create a gooey piece of goodness.
Voila! You have s'mores on a dreary day!
Enjoy!
-Sema

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Atlanta Recap: How I Dealt With My Gluten Free Diet While Traveling

So as you all probably know, I went to Atlanta, GA last week :)! Here's a recap of how I dealt with my diet traveling on a school trip:

Lunch: On our way there, we stopped by Panera Bread! I ordered the Asian Sesame Chicken salad without wonton strips, and the creamy tomato soup without croutons!

Dinner: We stopped by Mellow Mushroom in Atlanta, GA! Unfortunately, there was a slight mix-up with the toppings on my pizza, but they fixed a new one right up for me! I packaged some extra pizza to take with me as emergency food for the next day.

Breakfast the next day: I was of course in contact with the hotel when it came to my diet before we stayed at the Marriot Marquis in Atlanta. The staff was very understanding and made sure that the omelette and hashbrowns were fried in a designated pan, and that there wouldn't be any cross contamination.

After breakfast we stopped by the aquarium. It was beautiful and worth a visit if you ever plan on visiting Atlanta! My lunch was enjoyed at a restaurant close to the aquarium. The chef made sure that I got a burger that had never touched a bun. I also ordered a side salad :).

That night, before our performance, we were to get a sandwich buffet for dinner. The event manager had been notified that I was on a gf diet and that my bread had to be wrapped separately and also have my name on it, so that I could be sure it was safe for me to eat.   But bread was not wrapped up with my name on it, as promised. I also had cross contamination concerns. We notified the manager, who was very apologetic and understanding. Instead of insisting that the food was safe for me to eat he offered a delicious vegetable medley with a baked potato! It was delicious. Lesson learnt: It's always a good idea to talk to someone whenever you notice a mishap, because you don't want to get sick just because you didn't speak up!

On our way home on Sunday we stopped by Chipotle:)! All I had to do there was to ask the server to change her gloves, and voila, I could eat the same thing as my friends! Loved it!

All in all, it was a great trip. I ate out a lot and it went really well!. There was some planning ahead in all, but it was a breeze when I was actually on the trip! I of course had a lot of snacks with me, so I never went hungry either :).



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Planning Ahead for Gluten-free on a Roadtrip


Tomorrow I will be embarking on a 3 day school orchestra trip to Atlanta, GA. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about how I handle going on school trips while being on the gluten-free diet!

In the last week, I have been slowly but surely preparing for this trip. My mom communicated with the teachers to make sure that all the stops on the bus we made would have gluten-free options! In addition to this, we called the hotel to make sure that I would be able to eat a hearty gluten-free breakfast in the mornings. I put together many snacks that I will bring along with me in case of traffic delays or genuine hunger.


Here is what I'm bringing:
1. Wellaby's Cheese Ups
2. Wellaby's Classic Cheese Crackers
3. Schar's Cocoa Wafers
4. Gluten-free Crisp Bread
5. Gluten-free Snyder's of Hanover Honey Mustard and Onion Pretzels
6. Gluten-free Snyder's of Hanover Regular Mini Pretzels
7. Fruit Snacks
8. Jif to go Peanut Butter Cups
9. Nature's Valley Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Bars
10. Fruit
11. Gingermints (perfect for car sickness)
12. Lifesavor Mints
13. Hand Wipes
14. Toaster Bags
15. Carrots
16. Hand Soap (for those times when there is no soap available)
17. Trash bags (no need for trash to lay around)



Stay tuned next week for a recap of my trip!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Have you ever tried making your own homemade yogurt? We do it all the time in our house, and it is DELICIOUS! It tastes so much better than store-bought yogurt, and it is honestly super easy to make :)! (Plus when you tell people you make your own yogurt, you get automatic cool points.) To make it into a healthy dessert, I add frozen fruit and sugar!

Ingredients 
I/4 gallon of milk
1/4 cup of store-bought regular Greek yogurt (add 3 tbs of water, and mix it)

Procedure
  • 1. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring and scraping bottom of pan often with a heatproof spatula (for a smooth yogurt, make sure there aren't a lot of air bubbles), until the temperature is 185° Fahrenheit.
  • 2. Cool the milk down to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. 

    3. Add 1/4 cup of store-bought yogurt to the milk. 
  • 4. Pour mixture into a 32-ounce jar. Cover jar and place in a warm spot in kitchen for 6 hours or until the milk gets the consistency of yogurt. 

    Voila! You have your own delicious naturally gluten-free yogurt!
    Enjoy!
    -Sema

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Hint of Fall

It's getting a bit chilly in my neck of the woods (although the weather is still unstable; I'm not sure if I should totally pack away my summer clothes yet.) My absolute FAVORITE treat for the cold(ish) weather would have to be applesauce! Packed with cinnamon, this delightful treat makes the house simply smell like fall! To celebrate this colder weather, let's take a look at my applesauce recipe, which will surely make your mouth water :).


Enjoy!
-Sema

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Celebration Dinner!

Wow, it has honestly been a super exciting week for me! I got to meet Magnus Carlsen, the world chess champion, released my second music video, and released my third single 'The One' on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify!
To celebrate this great week, we went to Stir Crazy for a delicious dinner! I chose to order off the menu, but as they have a "make-your-own-stir-fry station," my brother opted to make his own gluten-free stir fry. The waiter forgot to note that the noodles were to be gluten-free! When my brother's food came out, I noticed that the noodles were round, and suspected they were the wheat noodles. Lesson learnt: Always make sure that the food is gf, I should have asked to speak to the chef..........When I told the waiter what had happened, he was very understanding and allowed us to order a new meal for free, and also added a dessert on the house!

I ate the gluten-free chicken Szechwan dish, and for dessert had mochi ice cream! Here's a link to their menu.

Make sure to check out my music video on YouTube!
All in all it's been a great week!
-Sema

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Shepard's Salad

On Labor Day while my mom prepared some hamburgers for dinner she asked me to make something that would complement the dinner. Now we had run out of lettuce, so I decided to make Shepard's salad! This salad is SUPER easy to make, and is very delicious!

Ingredients
A few cucumbers
One avocado
Three tomatoes
Half an onion
Three tablespoons of olive oil
Salt to taste

Procedure
1. Take a few cucumbers (as many as you'd like), peel them,
and chop them into small bits.
2. Cut the avocado, tomatoes, onion and pepper about the same size.
3. Add about three tablespoons of olive oil, and salt to taste!
Voila! You have a delicious yet simple salad in which you didn't even have to use lettuce!
Enjoy!
-Sema

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: