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!!

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!


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!


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: