In today's do-it-yourself world, many people don't see a need for help with planning a trip. They figure they can hop online and book something on their own. However, there are a few potential pitfalls with this strategy. Let's start with the most obvious: it can take a while to gather the information you need before making a decision. You may sit down at your computer, only to find that, hours later, you're overwhelmed with the choices and no further along in making a decision. Another pitfall is that booking hotels, resorts, and apartments site unseen can often result in disappointment, even if you read online reviews. And beware that deals that sound too good to be true usually are. A promotion from a reputable hotel chain to a popular tropical locale that was offered to my mother last year sounded like a great deal. However, upon further digging, we found out that it was in a less-than-desirable area of the popular resort town -- and the resort itself was under major renovation, with construction equipment everywhere. Good thing we did our research, because if we had booked this trip, it likely would have been a disaster. The whole experience... Read more →


If you have a child with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, you may think that a traditional overnight summer camp would never be an option. How could you trust that your child would be safe with someone else preparing their meals for the week? What if they got sick? Well, I'm here to assure you that there are plenty of safe options for you to consider if your son or daughter has been begging to attend an overnight summer camp. Just as many restaurants -- both chains and independent -- have put processes in place to accommodate gluten free diners, many camps have also realized the importance of welcoming gluten free campers AND keeping them safe. Now located in virtually all regions of the country, these camps have been accommodating gluten free campers for years. Many have separate gluten free kitchens, others have a special area of the kitchen reserved for gluten free meal preparation, and still others are completely gluten free for certain weeks -- or even the whole summer. There are even some camps that can accommodate more than just gluten free needs. Check out the listing below for camps that cater to many other dietary restrictions (dairy... Read more →


There is often confusion among Christians, and Catholics in particular, about how to fully participate in communion while keeping themselves safely free of the gluten contained in communion wafers/hosts. Certainly, one option is to only take the consecrated wine from the chalice, if that is an option in your parish. The other option -- finding a safe communion wafer -- had always been more of a challenge. That's because the Catholic Church in particular is rooted in Scripture and Tradition and believes that Jesus used wheaten bread at the Last Supper. Therefore, they require that breads used for communion be made with wheat and contain gluten. Fortunately, thanks to the research of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, a company was found that produces wheat starch, which is wheat that has had most of its gluten removed. Miraculously, after much trial-and-error, the Benedictine Sisters were able to make low-gluten bread out of this special wheat starch and water. These wafers meet both the strongest requirements of the Catholic Church as well as the requirements of the gluten-free community, as confirmed by data from the Center for Celiac Research. These wafers contain less than .001% or 10 parts per million of... Read more →


Fortunately, over the past 10 years, it's gotten a bit easier to request a gluten free meal on an airline. I don't like to count on getting it -- or putting too much faith in the airline getting it completely right. So we always make sure our son packs a fair number of back-up snacks for the flight, especially if it's more than a couple hours long. (Plus, you never know when your flight may be delayed from taking off for several hours...that's happened to us twice...once by about 5 hours and once until the next day!) But it is nice when it all comes together and you can get a decent (and safely gluten free) meal on a plane. I always check the policy of the airline and then either put the notation in the system when booking the flight -- or call the airline directly to make the request. It doesn't hurt to do both -- and confirm about a week before the flight that they have the information correct. Here is a list (by no means exhaustive, I am sure) of some major airlines and their policies (or lack of) for offering gluten free meals, along with... Read more →


This year I've made a bit of time for Holiday baking, and I resurrected an old favorite recipe from a friend, making some adaptations of my own. These gluten free Three Layer Chocolate Mint Brownies are a huge hit with my husband and kids -- and, frankly, anyone who tries them. So they make a great hostess gift if you're invited to a Holiday party, whether your host or hostess is gluten free or not! They are not hard to make, but they do require a bit of time between steps as each layer cools and "sets." First, here are the ingredients you will need, by layer: Cake Layer 1 cup gluten free flour (this time I used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour, but any good gluten free baking flour that can be substituted cup for cup for regular flour is fine) 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter, softened 4 eggs 1 1/2 cup (12 oz) Hershey's syrup Creamy Mint Layer 2 cups confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup butter, softened 1 Tbsp water 3/4 tsp peppermint extract (I like Flavorganics Organic Peppermint Extract, which is both gluten free and non-GMO) Chocolate Top Layer 6 Tbsp butter 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate... Read more →


Some Celiac and gluten sensitive individuals get spooked thinking about travel. In fact, some of you may avoid travel at all costs. You may be concerned about the safety of meals you'll eat -- and have a hard time trusting that people who will be making your meals three times per day know what they are doing! Others of you may travel...but prefer to stick with domestic locales. To be sure, having a language barrier -- and being unsure of a country's knowledge of the intricacies of a gluten free diet -- can be daunting. While each one of us needs to work within our own comfort zone, I will say that there are so many resources available today to help ensure that you'll have a good chance of success staying gluten free almost anywhere you travel. Of course, it takes a bit of planning, but that's where you can also get help. Ellen Morse, who you have heard me talk about before, is a travel specialist with decades of experience planning trips for both domestic and international clients. Plus, she has been both gluten free AND dairy free herself since childhood. Here is someone who will take your concerns... Read more →


One of my favorite baked goods growing up were the Seven Layer Bars my mom used to make. I don't remember if she necessarily made them just around the Holidays -- or at other times of year. But every so often I get a craving, despite being the only one in my house that's a big fan of them. This past weekend I decided to make a big batch, which I then cut into squares and froze for future Holiday events we'll either be hosting or attending. It is SO easy to adapt the traditional Seven Layer Bar recipe to be gluten free. One ingredient that can present a problem is, of course, the graham cracker crust. But not to worry, as there are now many brands of gluten free graham crackers to choose from. This time, I used Pamela's GF graham crackers, but you can also use Kinnikinnick's S'morables graham crackers or Schar's variety. (These are all great for making traditional cheesecake crusts, too.) The other ingredient that you should be careful about when selecting a brand is butterscotch chips. Nestle's are NOT gluten free. I was fortunate to find Guittard brand at our local Whole Foods store, and... Read more →