Although I have some ancestors from Sicily, I really don't know much about that part of Italy. My travels thus far have focused on what I call the "big three:" Rome, Florence, and Venice -- and a lovely week in the region of Umbria in central Italy. What I didn't know until recently is that Sicily is where the Italians themselves vacation! This is due to its wonderful climate, gorgeous beaches, and legendary food. In fact, Sicily is where Italy likely gets its reputation as a culinary dream. Since it has been at the geographical crossroads of so many different cultures over the millennia, it has blended influences into what most agree is exceptional cuisine. This is where southern Italian dishes that many American Italians grew up on originated. For example, "red gravy" (tomato sauce) has its origins here. And, as in most areas of Italy, you'll be able to find gluten free pasta offered as an option in many restaurants. Much of the food in Sicily is farm to table, so there is a freshness and quality that you don't always find in other locations. For gluten free travelers, Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us makes it even easier... Read more →


Unless you're a skier, you might be surprised to hear that Switzerland makes a great destination ANY time of the year, even in the Winter. While Summer offers the most comfortable temperatures, it can also be the most crowded, with Summer tourism affecting popular sites (but, of course, that's no different than in other places in Europe!). You may want to consider a trip in the Fall or Spring, when the cooler weather is crisp but pleasant -- and you'll encounter fewer crowds. Of course, Winter sports enthusiasts will love the colder months when they can enjoy Alpine activities. And gluten free travelers will be thrilled to learn that travel agent Ellen Morse, who is Celiac herself and provides customized travel itineraries for gluten free travelers (as well as travelers without dietary restrictions), has recently created an itinerary for a 7-night trip to Switzerland. Please note: This is NOT a group tour. You can take this trip at any time you like and with whomever you like. The suggested itinerary, which Ellen can help you customize for your own specific interests, covers three perennial favorite spots: Zurich, Lucerne, and Interlaken. These towns will give you a true taste of Switzerland's... Read more →


It had been a while since I'd made scones, and since I had both buttermilk and gluten free cinnamon chips in the house (Hershey's brand is gluten free), I decided I'd whip up a quick batch earlier this week. Of course, you can customize these gluten free scones to your taste, using cinnamon chips (my favorite), chocolate chips (my husband and kids' favorite), or even blueberries or nuts. Ingredients: 1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten free baking flour (choose your favorite blend -- I've used many different kinds over the years) 1/4 cup sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 2/3 cup buttermilk 1/3 cup butter, melted 3/4 cup chocolate or cinnamon chips, berries, or nuts Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Melt the butter and then, once it cools a bit, stir in the buttermilk. Add the butter/buttermilk mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients until combined. Add the chips, berries, or nuts. Scoop 12 large spoonfuls of the batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into a scone comes out... Read more →


You've heard me talk about Italy a lot on this Blog. It's both because it's my personal favorite destination...as well as one that seems to be on top of most people's travel lists. It's no wonder, given the beautiful scenery, fascinating history, and noteworthy art and architecture. And, oh, the food and wine isn't too bad either! Speaking of which, Italy also happens to be the most gluten-free friendly place our family has ever visited. Of course, I wouldn't recommend just booking a plane ticket and winging it! No, you really need to do your research before going if you want to have the optimal experience, especially when it comes to dining on the best gluten free specialties. Delicious (and safe) gluten free pizza, pasta, bruschetta, crepes, gelato, pastries, and more can be found in both the big cities -- and even in the smaller, quaint towns that are off-the-beaten-path. But you have to do your research on sites like our GlutenFreeTravelSite to find them. I also wrote an e-book, available on Amazon, called Gluten-Free in ITALY: Your Worry-Free and Gluten-Free Guide to Italy. It's perfect if you don't have much time to research or plan a trip yourself --... Read more →


Every so often I like to share a recipe that I think will have wide appeal. This recipe, a combination of several different recipes I revised, is sure to be a hit at any summer gathering. I was a little nervous about how these Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Blondies would turn out, since I didn't follow any particular recipe exactly, but I have to say they were delicious -- and very well received by my relatives at a family get-together yesterday. As always, people were shocked they were gluten free. The blondies were made with chocolate chips (I used the new Simply Delicious ones from Nestle, which are made with only 3 ingredients and free of the 8 major allergens), but you can substitute gluten free vanilla chips, butterscotch chips, or even peanut butter chips. Always verify the gluten free status, because not all products are gluten free. Ingredients: 2 cups packed brown sugar 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted 2 large eggs, beaten 3 tsp vanilla extract 2 cups gluten free flour (I used Cup4Cup) 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 1/2 tsp finely ground sea salt 2 cups chocolate chips Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease inside... Read more →


This may be old news for some, but Starbucks has discontinued their gluten free breakfast sandwich. It's the second time in the past 9 or so years that Starbucks has launched a delicious gluten free item -- only to discontinue it. Some of you may remember the cellophane-wrapped orange almond muffin that was introduced about 9 years ago. I thought it was wonderful, and I loved the fact that is was individually wrapped to eliminate any risk of cross contamination. However, they pulled that from stores within a matter of months, without offering another alternative. About a year ago now -- or maybe closer to two years ago -- they came out with a gluten free breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese, and ham on a GF english muffin (shown above). Again, it came pre-prepared and wrapped in a paper bag that remained on for warming up. Nice, safe execution. I know many of us had enjoyed these sandwiches -- and relied on them for a safe, warm "real meal" either on the way to work or when on the road traveling. It was strange, however, that there was little if any promotion of this sandwich, especially given how many folks... Read more →


Pie Five Pizza has been on a tear...opening new locations at a fast clip all over the country. In fact, this "fast casual" concept now has about 300 locations across 20 states...and is expanding into at least 4 other states. This is a big deal because now they have not one, but two, choices for gluten free pizza crust! So perhaps you'll want to see if there's a location near where you live...or where you might be traveling. Their "original" gluten free crust, launched years ago, is particularly unique. First, it's homemade, which you don't find at many places. Secondly, it's made from ancient grains, so it has a nutritionally superior profile versus most gluten free pizza crusts. Pie Five combines teff, amaranth, and sorghum flours which deliver vitamins, minerals, fiber, and great taste! And finally, Pie Five's pizzas are ready in just five minutes (thus the name "Pie Five"...). Quality has always been a huge focus with Pie Five. They use homemade, all natural, preservative-free tomato sauce, sausage without antibiotics or hormones, and other high-quality toppings, almost all of which are gluten free. Back in April, after introducing a "limited time" pizza crust made from a blend of cauliflower... Read more →


Last week I posted about a tour of Puglia, Italy being organized by classically trained chef and yoga instructor Janice Veech (the "GoYogi Chef"), who is gluten free herself. Today I want to share another small group tour she is organizing in Italy. The dates for this Umbria small group tour to central Italy are October 12-19, 2019 (note the change of date from 2018 to 2019). Umbria is similar to Tuscany...full of rolling hills, medieval hilltop towns, vineyards, olive groves, and rich history. But it's still a bit less touristy than Tuscany has become. You'll enjoy a more "authentic" side of Italy, a far cry from the crowds of larger cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice. The itinerary is exactly the same as the tour I accompanied Janice on last October, and let me tell you, it was amazing...one of the best trips I've ever taken. (This photo of Janice and me in the hat, along with another lady from our group, was taken at the wall in Orvieto). Our trip was the perfect balance of history and a few tours, leisurely meals with local wines and wonderful food, and immersing ourselves in this less-traveled side of Italy. And... Read more →


What's better than planning a vacation to a dream destination where you'll be able to dine on fresh regional specialties -- all while staying safely gluten free? Having someone else do all the planning! That's what you have with this latest travel opportunity...a chance to visit Puglia, the sun-kissed heel of Italy, with all the details (including gluten free meals) planned for you! And this someone else isn't just anyone. It's Janice Veech, a.k.a. the "Go Yogi Chef," a classically trained chef and yoga teacher who is gluten free herself. Janice has made it her mission to plan spectacular trips where her fellow travelers can tap into the energy and authentic vibe of the region while enjoying its history, beauty, and culinary specialties. She ensures arrangements are made with restaurants in advance if any gluten free adaptations are needed for the meals. (Both gluten free and non-GF guests are welcome on her tours.) Unlike large group tours where you are served a pre-selected meal, this trip gives each guest the ability to order off the menu for each meal, selecting favorite items. Puglia is especially known for its fresh seafood, abundant vegetables, and, of course, a range of wonderful regional... Read more →


Have you heard of GliadinX? I can’t remember where and when I’d first heard about it, but the developer of this unique enzyme formulation contacted me recently, and I was intrigued to learn more. Like with many products and services, necessity was the mother of invention with GliadinX. Founder Dr. Albert Zickmann has two children diagnosed with celiac disease, and he was concerned about cross contamination and accidental gluten exposure when dining out, traveling, and sending his kids to birthday parties and camps. Having a medical background himself, he began researching studies on enzymes that digest gliadin (the damaging component of gluten) in the stomach. Dr. Zickmann took an extensively researched enzyme proven to break down gluten in clinical and laboratory studies and combined it with a food grade acid to further increase the efficacy of the enzyme. Essentially, this combination breaks down the gliadin molecule, cutting it into harmless fragments before the gluten can cause an inflammatory reaction in the small intestine. Let me stress that this is not a product that is intended to replace a strict gluten free diet, as it states explicitly on the bottle. It is for times when you suspect cross contamination may be... Read more →


Have you ever dreamed of visiting the Greek Islands and actually standing atop this hill you see in so many photographs? Would you love to tour the Acropolis in Athens and marvel at the Parthenon? What about meandering among the ancient ruins on an uninhabited island full of archaeological treasures? If these things have been on your own Bucket List, it's no wonder. Greece has always been a favorite destination -- for all these reasons. In addition to the natural beauty that surrounds you and the amazing history and architectural wonders, Greece's citizens are so warm and hospitable. Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us (and gluten free for decades herself) recently had some gluten free clients request an itinerary for Greece, and based on the success in setting up the trip, she is offering a similar itinerary to other clients. Of course, as with any of Ellen's itineraries, you are the "captain of your own boat" and can tailor it to your interests and desired length of stay. And because it is NOT a group tour, you can take it any time of the year (although Ellen highly recommends April through October as being ideal). This particular itinerary hits on... Read more →


I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for REAL buttercream icing made with real butter. I hardly ever buy store-bought icing, unless I'm in an extreme time-crunch. I feel that real buttercream icing takes even the most average cake to delectable heights. Therefore, I want to share this old family recipe with you. There's nothing particularly special about it. It's probably similar to many buttercream icing recipes out there, but this is the one handed down to me by my mom decades ago. In fact, I have it typed up in an old (and lovingly chocolate-stained) booklet of recipes I put together for a Home Ec project in junior high! This is one recipe I have turned to again and again over the years (especially now that I have kids!). It's so good, you can make a batch just to dip cookies in. Or, use it to frost your favorite cake or cupcakes (or even as frosting inside whoopie pies). All it takes is one bowl and 5 ingredients (all of which you probably have on hand). Our younger son is gluten free due to Celiac, so I typically use it atop gluten free cakes, cupcakes, or whoopie pies (which I,... Read more →