If you're a lover of Italy but have already visited some of the bustling cities like Rome, Florence, Venice, or Milan, you owe it to yourself to consider a trip that's more "off the beaten path," but still just as enjoyable and fascinating. Some of you may remember me mentioning a travel opportunity to the Umbria region of Italy a few months ago. A yoga instructor ( http://goyogichef.com ) who is also a Le Cordon Bleu classically trained chef (and gluten free herself) had organized a group for a Food and Wine Tour of Umbria, escorted by Marcello and Raffaella, owners of Bluone Tours. Although I didn't initially think I could swing the trip, given various commitments with my kids and their busy school schedules, my husband graciously offered to "hold down the fort" at home, which allow an old college friend and me to embark on this unforgettable journey. Italy already held the title of "absolute favorite destination" in my mind, but I had never had the opportunity to explore the beautiful countryside made famous by films such as Under the Tuscan Sun. It was the prospect of exploring medieval hilltop towns frozen in time that appealed to me...getting... Read more →


Travelers these days are looking for different and unique experiences. With so much turmoil affecting traditionally popular travel destinations right now, people are thinking "outside-the-box." One destination worth considering -- even in the winter months, or ESPECIALLY in the winter months -- is northern Norway and the Arctic. Yes, according to Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us, this is a very popular spot from mid-October through late March for viewing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). In fact, Northern Norway, above the Arctic Circle, is one of the best places in the world to observe this phenomenon. This area is also free of "light pollution," providing an ideal viewing experience. Because of the long periods of darkness and the frequency of clear nights, winter is the best time for a visit. Ellen has recently worked with a local travel company in Norway to make this fantastic travel opportunity available to her gluten free clients. Her suggested itinerary comprises a 5-night journey, in which you will stay in two different hotels, each vetted for its ability to provide safe, gluten free meals for its guests. The two places you will visit are Tromso, known as the "Gateway to the Arctic," and Senja... Read more →


In my opinion, it's okay to get help from some store bought products to short-cut your nightly dinner prep. After all, who has the time to make a from-scratch meal every night? I'm just happy to get a good-tasting, healthy, gluten free dinner on the table for my family most nights. Judging from the multitude of "cheat" and "hack" recipes out there, I'm in good company! So here's a quick and easy down-home Southern dinner that you can make in about an hour, with a little help from Aleia's, Bisquick, and Gillian's -- and a recipe found on the Internet that I adapted to be gluten free. Having been a fan of Aleia's gluten free cookies, stuffing, and pre-made breadcrumbs and Panko coating for a long time, I was thrilled to recently find their "extra crispy" Coat & Crunch mix (similar to Shake-n-Bake) to use on meat. So I set out to make a dinner with this healthier version of "fried" chicken, baked in the oven. And what's the perfect companion to crispy chicken? Why, biscuits, of course! I can't say I've tasted a better gluten free biscuit than the ones I've made using the recipe on Bisquick's own gluten... Read more →


I'm often asked about best destinations for gluten free travelers. In fact, just yesterday, I responded to someone's inquiry about finding a GF-friendly all-inclusive resort in a warm climate. It used to be that answering these questions was difficult...or at least, it was a short answer! Now, however, our family's own Bucket List of where we want to travel is incredibly long. That's because, from a gluten free perspective, we now can travel safely to so many places. The choices are almost endless. So whatever your type of travel, I have recommendations for you. 1.) Favorite stand-by: All-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean or Mexico have been forever popular with travelers. It probably has something to do with the warm climate, endless food, and no worries about being nickeled-and-dimed for everything you eat, drink, or do. We get a good number of reviews coming in for resorts on our website, and one that recently stands out is Dreams Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. In fact, after getting back-to-back favorable reviews from families that spent the holidays there last year, we decided to showcase this resort on our Featured Review page back in February. I always recommend calling Lesley Hayden-Hock first,... Read more →


Let me start by saying that dining at Il Canale Italian restaurant in Georgetown made me feel like I was back in Italy, where our family had the opportunity to travel last summer. Part of the reason for this is that they are known for their authentic Neapolitan-style thin crust pizza, cooked in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy. It's also got that lively vibe and friendly service you find at Italian trattorias. Add to that other tradtional Italian specialties on their menu -- fresh and just like you'd find in Italy -- and you've got all the makings of a great night out! To be clear, Il Canale does not offer gluten free Neapolitan-style pizza (at least not cooked in the wood-fired oven, due to cross contamination concerns). But they use an Udi's non-GMO gluten free pizza crust as a base for all their wonderful toppings like fresh Buffalo mozzarella, basil, prosciutto, olives, and more. Then they cook it in a separate conventional oven, so there's no worry about cross contamination if you have Celiac. Il Canale also offers gluten free pasta, an organic variety imported from Italy and made from a blend of rice and corn flour. All... Read more →


If you asked me to combine three of my favorite things (Italy, good gluten free food, and yoga), what you'd have is this incredible journey that recently came to my attention. Janice Veech (a.k.a. Go Yogi Chef) is a classically trained chef and certified yoga instructor who is leading her second gluten free journey to Umbria, Italy, an incredibly beautiful area of northern Italy known for its medieval villages, vineyards, and rich history. She partners with a local guide to deliver an authentic Italian experience. This gluten free Culinary Travel Adventure , scheduled for October 14-21, 2017, takes advantage of a time when there will be fewer crowds and ideal weather. Umbria's authentic Italian culture gives it a "frozen in time" appeal, and you'll stay in a private agriturismo in the countryside overlooking Assisi for the seven-day trip. Each morning, you'll have the opportunity to start your day with yoga (which, at the very least, will allow you to give yourself permission to enjoy all the glorious food later in the day!). Each day will be a journey to explore the region's history during Etruscan and Roman times, as well as its modern day culture. Activities include trips to charming... Read more →


Machu Picchu is high on many people's "Bucket Lists." The problem is...traveling to other countries, especially remote areas, can leave you feeling vulnerable from a dietary perspective. Will you be able to communicate your gluten free needs in another language? Will locals even understand what "gluten free" means? Even if they can offer a meal with gluten free ingredients, will they have the ability to keep your meal from getting cross contaminated during preparation? Will the tours you take even be able to accommodate special dietary needs? Will you be stuck eating fruit and snack bars brought from home for many of your meals? These are the questions that swirl through our minds as we dream of those exotic destinations we want to visit someday. Well, now "someday" is here. Our latest "gluten free getaway," designed by gluten free travel specialist Ellen Morse, covers the highlights of Peru, along with Machu Picchu. You'll spend a week touring Cuzco, Lima, UNESCO World Heritage Site Machu Picchu -- along with other ancient and colonial towns in Peru. This is a spectacular itinerary! Best of all, Ellen and her local partners in Peru have vetted the hotels and restaurants where you will stay... Read more →


The package says "Super Food Bites," and these cookies can indeed be classified as healthy in my book. Available in six flavors (Dark Cocoa, Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Lemon Ginger, and Raspberry), Emmy's Organics new coconut-based, macaroon-type "cookies" are not only gluten free but organic, vegan, and non-GMO. The company's focus is on clean ingredients. Best of all, they taste amazing. Surprisingly, I think my favorite is the Raspberry. It reminds me of those Hostess "Zingers" (raspberry and coconut coated snack cakes) that I occasionally ate as a kid decades ago. Literally, with my first bite into one of Emmy's Organics raspberry cookies, I was taken back to the 70s...but this little cookie manages to deliver all the taste, without all the chemicals! The Lemon Ginger cookies were a close second for me. All you'll find in Emmy's Organics cookies are pure, natural, and organic ingredients...things like coconut, agave nectar, almond flour, extra-virgin coconut oil, and other natural ingredients for flavor (lemon juice powder, ground ginger, fair trade cocoa, and vanilla extract), Where can you get these little yummies? They're available online and at thousands of retail locations nationwide, including Starbucks. (I found the Cocoa and Vanilla ones... Read more →


It's been a few months since I've shared a recipe, so I thought it was time for another family favorite. I first came across this recipe for Lemon Thyme Pasta way back in 1998. I think a friend passed it along...it's from Country Home magazine, which is no longer published. It was a recipe I made regularly when my husband and I were first married, and I often made it for friends as well. Because all the ingredients are gluten free, with the exception of the pasta, it was easy to adapt once our son's Celiac diagnosis necessitated a gluten free diet. Last night, I made it with RP's Pasta gluten free fettuccine (I mixed one package of the regular variety with one package of the spinach). RP's is a favorite of ours, and because it's fresh pasta (found in the refrigerated section -- at stores listed on their website), it cooks up in only about 3 minutes. However, you can use any gluten free pasta. Our other favorite is Jovial Foods gluten free capellini (or other shapes). Jovial is a line of brown rice-based pastas made in Italy. Their pastas are extremely low in levels of arsenic, which, as... Read more →


For over 12 years, Picazzo's Healthy Italian Kitchen, with 5 locations in Arizona has been continuously raising the bar for high quality dining, especially for those that are gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan. Year after year, they have added new menu items that combine healthy ingredients, new flavor combinations, and interesting takes on traditional favorites. Most of all, they continue to deliver on quality and TASTE. My secret wish is that Picazzo's would expand nationwide. We need one of these restaurants in every neighborhood! In the meantime, it's worth a visit to Arizona just to dine at Picazzo's (for every meal of your stay -- after all, with all their tempting menu items, you'd never get bored!). Here are 10 Things to LOVE About Picazzo's: 1.) They're the New Times "Best of Phoenix" Readers's Choice Winner for Best Gluten Free Restaurant in 2015 and 2016. Take it from your fellow gluten free diners...this place is awesome! 2.) Their ENTIRE MENU, full of starters (like the Caprese salad with homemade GF focaccia and pesto above), soups, salads, entrees, pizza, and pastas is GLUTEN FREE, with the exception of 2 of their pizza crust options (Organic Original and Organic Whole Grain). But... Read more →


We're a decade into the growth of the gluten free "marketplace," thanks to increased awareness of Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity -- and improving rates of diagnosis. Not only has "gluten free" become a household term, in many cases it's become a dietary "trend." For those of us personally affected by Celiac or gluten sensitivity, this is a mixed blessing -- as many have discussed in recent years. While demand for gluten free meals in restaurants eventually gives us more choice, the situation does come with pitfalls. First and foremost is the need to ensure that any restaurant with a gluten free menu knows not just what ingredients are used in their recipes...but how to safely prepare the meal without putting you at risk from gluten cross contamination. Another less serious -- but still frustrating -- challenge is being able to separate those restaurants that make the most basic (and often less-than-appetizing) substitutions or omissions to claim that a menu item is gluten free from restaurants that work hard to surprise and delight their gluten free diners with well-thought-out, flavorful offerings. (Check out the creative layered Beet Salad, with goat cheese, candied walnuts, and caramelized onions from Burtons Grill, below.)... Read more →


Well, we have another amazing travel adventure to entice you with...a visit to Iceland, the land of extreme contrasts. You'll have a chance to visit all the unique natural wonders of this island country, from geothermal baths to icy glaciers. It's another itinerary put together -- with all the gluten free details researched for you -- by Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us. She is constantly on the lookout for ways to combine the most popular travel destinations with a safe gluten free experience. This time, she worked with the owner of a travel company in Iceland who also happens to be gluten free. All breakfasts are included at the hotel she will recommend, and the vetting has been done to ensure you'll be food-safe. In addition, she has restaurants she will recommend for your other meals. With all the work done for you, you can relax and enjoy the journey, experiencing the warm hospitality of the Icelandic people and all their country has to offer. Iceland affords such a rich and unique experience, with sights you won't find elsewhere...at least not all in one place! Its stunning topography includes geothermal hot spots, lava fields, volcanic craters, black sand beaches,... Read more →