Recently I had the good fortune to try Reason to Bake's "cookies with heart." These are gluten free, made-from-scratch, artisan cookies available only through the company's website. That's because they are baked and shipped fresh, without preservatives like most cookies you find on store shelves. The best thing about Reason to Bake is that they are a company with a heart-warming mission: to hire and train intellectually disabled adults...and foster entrepreneurship among them. The company was founded by Elise Sampson and her daughter Carolyn in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. There are currently 3 varieties of cookies: Chocolate Chip, Cranberry Oatmeal, and Spicy Ginger (my favorite...like ginger snaps or gingerbread). They also occasionally offer other seasonal varieties, and you can order gift boxes and variety packs. My husband, son, and I absolutely LOVED these cookies. They were so fresh, were the perfect consistency, and each variety had an amazing flavor. If you did a "blind" taste test, you'd never know they were gluten free. They are a very high quality product, too. Reason to Bake cookies are all natural and non-GMO. They ship anywhere in the U.S., so you have no excuse not to try them! I can't... Read more →


I've been working with Lesley Hayden-Hock at Travel Leaders for about a decade now. I've used her personally to plan many of our family's trips (domestic, international, and cruises), and I've referred countless gluten free families to her over the years. Lesley has mastered the questions to ask resorts and cruises when booking clients who have special dietary needs, whether they be gluten free, dairy free, or have other sensitivities. She works with the Food and Beverage Directors directly and has developed great working relationships with a wide range of high-end resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean where service is top-notch. Many of these resorts are also what's called "gourmet all-inclusive." Lesley's clients always get special VIP treatment. The resorts understand how to keep gluten free diners safe, and they aim to please. They even go so far as arranging for new dedicated gluten free toasters -- and bake a special cake or cupcakes for a gluten free child's Birthday. It ends up being a vacation for everyone! After all, in today's "do it yourself" world, we all often try to juggle too much. If you're like me, you may find there just aren't always enough hours in the day... Read more →


Our family is lucky to have some good options in the Washington, DC metro area when it comes to gluten free dining. Whether we're venturing into DC for a show, game, or a day at museums -- or staying closer to home out in the Virginia suburbs -- there are a good number restaurant chains, as well as many independent restaurants, that "get it" when it comes to preparing delicious and safe gluten free meals. Not Your Average Joe's is one such restaurant chain (with locations in 8 states) that we've relied on over the years. We hadn't been there for a while, so we chose it for my mom's birthday celebration last weekend. The challenge is always finding someplace that pleases adults and teenagers...and where our son can have some interesting choices from a well-thought-out gluten free menu. Not Your Average Joe's, as the name would suggest, meets those criteria. Nothing is average or bland here. Their menu is huge, and you'll find there are tons of gluten free options, listed under their "Fit-For-You" part of the menu, which denotes gluten free, vegetarian, kept, paleo, vegan, and "Signature Joe" items. (When you click on their Menu page, you first... Read more →


Well, we're a month into the New Year...a challenging time for many of us who had good intentions to once again eat healthier this year, only to find preparing healthy gluten free meals is easier said than done on most nights. Whether you're rushing home from work, taking the kids to a practice, or attending a meeting in your community, dinner plans can get squeezed. You may find you don't always have time to plan and shop for your menus, much less prepare a variety of nutritious gluten free meals each week. And if you're trying to lose weight or achieve other health goals (build lean muscle, reduce body fat, lower blood pressure), you're probably wondering how you should change your dietary habits to achieve your various goals. It can be frustrating, but believe me, you’re not alone. Sticking to a healthy, gluten free eating plan isn’t always easy. But the good news is that, no matter where you live, you can now access the help of a trained professional who can remotely guide you in your health, fitness, and dietary goals. The Follow My Nutrition Plan lets you work remotely with a trained professional to create a custom meal... Read more →


Speaking from experience, London is one of the most fun -- and most gluten-free friendly -- cities for families. Our own family visited there over Christmas 2013. Even though our boys were only 10 and 12 years old at the time, they really got a lot out of the experience and still talk about the things we did while there. So I was especially excited to hear that one of our travel partners -- Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us -- was planning a 6-day small group tour of London in July 2020, especially geared to gluten free families. She handles all the details, so you won't have to stress about planning anything -- either before the trip or while you're there. And if for some reason you aren't interested in traveling with a group (or the date doesn't work for you), Ellen can certainly plan the same trip for you at another time of your choosing. As with any of her itineraries, you can customize it according to your family's interests and preferences, budget, and time frame. If you plan to go on your own (not the group trip), you will have your choice of either a high-end hotel... Read more →


We hosted some friends of ours for dinner on New Year's Eve, and I was looking to make a dessert that was a bit out-of-the-ordinary...something a step up from the usual tried-and-true favorites. So I looked through my dessert recipe binder, where I store the dozens -- maybe hundreds -- of dessert recipes I've collected over the years. I ran across one for Chocolate Bread Pudding, something I've enjoyed at restaurants but never made myself. I don't know where this recipe is originally from, as it's from a page I ripped out of a magazine years ago. In order for our Celiac son to be able to enjoy it, I tailored the recipe to be gluten free. This was easy, as all ingredients called for are naturally gluten free, minus the main ingredient, bread. For the bread, I simply substituted Canyon Bakehouse's 100% Whole Grain Country White Bread. Here is the recipe. I was so happy with how it turned out. It is not overly sweet but has a wonderful chocolate flavor. It's also quite easy and can be made earlier in the day and kept at room temperature. Ingredients: Butter for pan 4 eggs, plus 4 additional egg yolks... Read more →


Iceland has become the most popular destination of the Nordic countries over the past 5 years, due to its stunning landscape and the unique experiences to be had. Imagine walking on glaciers, viewing geothermal hot spots and lava fields, bathing in geothermal healing waters, standing on the "Bridge Betweeen the Continents" connecting the American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and visiting volcanic craters, gorgeous waterfalls, black sand beaches, and the house where Reagan and Gorbachev met to begin the process of ending the Cold War. And, of course, there is charming Reykjavik to explore at your leisure, with all of its shops, cafes, and nightclubs. This itinerary has been put together by Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us, in conjunction with an owner of the travel company Nordic Destinations, who also happens to be gluten free. As always, working with Ellen will ensure all your gluten free needs are taken care of, both at the hotel where you will stay (breakfast is included each day) and at the restaurants that she will recommend to you. Keep in mind that, although you get the benefit of "group pricing," this is not a group tour. You can travel whenever you want and with... Read more →