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. This second trip -- to the beautiful Umbria region in central Italy -- immediately follows the week in Puglia (so you could do both, if you are so inclined!). The dates of the Umbria small group tour 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... 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 →


Many of you are familiar with my Gluten-Free in ITALY e-book, available on Amazon. In it, I give advice on finding the best spots dining gluten free in Rome, Florence, and Venice (yes, there is amazing gluten free pizza and pasta to be safely enjoyed, but you need to know where to go!). Just a few months ago, I added a section on Umbria, the “landlocked” region of central Italy bordering Tuscany to the southeast. It was here that I was fortunate to experience a less touristy side of Italy…medieval towns, rolling hills, historical sites dating back to Roman and Etruscan eras, important religious sites, vineyards and olive oil producers, and wonderfully simple and fresh Italian culinary specialties. Unlike our family’s previous trip to Italy, which we did on our own after having help from fantastic (and gluten free) travel agent Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us, this trip to Umbria was with a small group. A college friend and I traveled with Bluone Tours, a “boutique” travel company specializing in small group tours of the many regions of Italy. While their focus is on the food and wine of the different regions, their tours encompass so much more. For... Read more →


Multi-generational travel has become increasingly popular in recent years, and cruise ships provide the perfect venue for bringing travelers of all ages together. In fact, it's something to consider for a family reunion! Let's face it, it's hard to please every traveler on a trip, but cruise ships sure come close. There's really something for everyone, whether you like relaxing by the pool, trying out a zip line or simulated surfing, scheduling a spa visit or time in the gym, hanging out in the casino, taking in the entertainment on board, heading to the teen center, or playing mini golf. And the ports of call offer a range of options for differing tastes as well. Plus, on a cruise ship you have the option of spending some time together -- and some apart. Best of all, there are dining options for every taste, and cruise ships typically offer plenty of choices for gluten free folks -- and even travelers with other dietary restrictions. The post below was reprinted with permission from Travel Leaders agency, where one of our favorite gluten free travel specialists works. Lesley Hayden-Hock, reachable at 800-487-6110 or Lhayden@travelleaders.com, knows the best cruise lines for gluten free dining... Read more →


Are you thinking about visiting London? Maybe you even already have a trip planned for the spring or summer.... London continues to rank high on travelers' Bucket Lists, and it offers something for everyone...no matter what your age or what your interests. When we took our sons there, we had such a fantastic time. Between the range of tourist sites, world-class museums, and fascinating history, we were captivated. And any fears we had about finding restaurants that could serve our son safe gluten free meals were quickly dispelled. That's because I'd done my homework. As always, the hours of advance research had paid off. While we can all probably agree that there's not a lot of spontaneity when following a gluten free diet when traveling, researching and planning where you'll eat in advance saves you from having to scramble each day. The more planning you can do, the more seamless your trip will be. If you have a plan, you'll be able to relax and focus on enjoying the experiences -- without scrambling at mealtime to find restaurants nearby that might offer gluten free options. I put all the knowledge we acquired in our 10-day stay into an e-book called... Read more →