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 →


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 →