Thursday, October 20, 2016

Celiacs Unite!

Since my diagnosis in 2014, I have been wanting to connect with other local Celiacs.  Shortly after my diagnosis I had searched the internet for a local support group, but I didn't find anything.  I wasn't sure where to look or who to ask. 

This past year I have been fortunate enough to connect with some amazing people in the local gluten free community.  People such as Mike and Brenda Orlando from Gud n Free (as you'll recall from an earlier post, in which I reviewed their new restaurant, two of their three young daughters have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and they are a gluten free family).  I've also been fortunate to meet Tina Meseck from Better For You Bakery (I also reviewed Tina's new gluten free mixes which are available for purchase through her website  Through the local Farmers Market I have met and have had several good and informative conversations with Alafia and Marije Wright, makers of wonderful skin care products under their original label of God's Green Earth.  Keep an eye out for a review of their products, coming soon!

This afternoon, my husband, Dave, asked me if I'd want to dine at Gud n Free tonight.  Having been sick for the past week (regular sick, not food/gluten related), it has been a couple of weeks since I've eaten there, so I jumped at that offer!!  On a side note, when we got there, Mike had noticed that I hadn't been in for awhile.  They'd been wondering if everything was ok or if something was wrong.  Now, how much of a personal, caring touch is that?!  More evidence that these people truly care about their patrons as people and not just dollars coming in.  They are there to serve and meet a very specific need and they care about the people they serve! 

Okay, back to the reason for my post - when we were finishing our meal, a group of people began arriving.  It didn't take me long to find out that this group was the Siouxland Celiac Support Group (no relation to this blog, my Facebook page or Instagram profile) led by nutritionist, Corrinna from the Sioux City Hamilton Blvd Hy-Vee Food Store.  Dave, knowing that I wanted to stay from the moment I found out who the group was, agreed to stick around so that I could participate.  While the group members were filing in and placing their orders, I excused myself to use the restroom before everything got started.  Dave spoke to the group leader and told her a little bit about me and that I would like to stay and join in with their group.  When I came out, I introduced myself to Corrinna and everyone got settled in for the meeting.

It was great to meet with not only other local Celiacs, but also some with other gluten related issues.  The meeting was very informative and we enjoyed good discussion and planned for the next meeting in November.  I'm very excited to get to know these fellow Celiacs and their spouses.  I'm normally not the kind of person who does well in a group of people that I don't know.  I get kind of shy, quiet and tend to be more of an observer than an active particpant.  I felt no trepidation at all tonight with these wonderful people.  I was comfortable and felt like I was among friends.  These people know what I'm living with and going through because they're living it, too.  Finally - my PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*Meetings held the third Thursday of each month (unless it is a holiday) at the Hamilton Blvd Hy-Vee Food Store (2827 Hamilton Blvd) in Sioux City, Iowa from 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm.  The next meeting will be November 17, 2016.  For more information visit the Hamilton Blvd page at 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

For the Record

This week I had the honor of being interviewed by Pam Clark, who writes the "What's Cooking?" section of my town's weekly newspaper, "The Moville Record".  I was so surprised when my mom told me that Pam wanted to do an article about me.  My mom had been telling Pam and some other ladies at the Senior Center about the mixes from Better For You Bakery that I had tested and written a review for.  I was very grateful that Pam wanted to bring attention to Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and what it truly means to be gluten free (it's not a fad!!).  Pam wrote a wonderful article that I am going to share here.

Along with this wonderful article, Pam asked me to share a favorite gluten free recipe.  I chose a quiche recipe that I had adapted from my Great-Aunt Jean's original recipe.  Since I do have some issues with dairy and try to be dairy free for the most part (no, I'm not 100% dairy free, but I know I can not tolerate dairy in large doses), I decided to not only adapt this recipe to be gluten free, but also, dairy free.  Here is the adapted recipe.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Gluten Free/Dairy Free Quiche:

You will need:
3 large eggs
1 1/2 C milk substitute (I use unsweetened cashew milk and it works wonderfully)
1/2 C Gluten Free Bisquick
5 T Canola Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVVO)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 lb gluten free bacon, fried & crumbled to bite-sized pieces
1 C Daiya brand shredded cheddar-style, dairy free cheese (or another dairy free brand of your choosing)
1 C fresh, uncooked broccoli, chopped
1 small red onion, minced
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 350°.  Use a teaspoon of oil to lightly coat 9" pie pan.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine eggs, non-dairy milk substitute, Gluten Free Bisquick, Canola oil, salt and pepper.  Mix with a wire whisk until blended together.  (The batter will be a little lumpy)

Place chopped broccoli, minced onion and garlic in oiled pie pan to cover bottom of pan.

Pour egg mixture over the broccoli, onion and garlic.

Sprinkle top with bacon pieces and non-dairy cheese substitute.

Place on center rack of oven and bake for 45 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean of egg (the cheese will stick to the knife a little).  Serve immediately with your favorite toasted gluten free bread and enjoy!

I enjoyed my quiche with toasted GF Multi Grain bread made from
a mix by Better For You Bakery

I spoke with Pam about having tested the mixes from Better For You Bakery as well as about what it means to me to have the new Gud n Free restaurant open in Sioux City.  I was very happy to be able to share this article with them and to promote the wonderful gluten free food that they each have to offer our area.  The response I've gotten from people who've read this article has been amazing!  This is a small town weekly newspaper, yet, it has an impact on people, too.  Thank you, Pam and The Moville Record for this wonderful opportunity to share a little of my story and a fun, delicious recipe with your readers!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Better For You Bakery

Happy Monday!  I'm really excited about tonight's post!!  However, I have to be completely honest and tell you how intimidated I have been these past couple of years by the thought of gluten free baking.  I haven't had trouble adjusting to gluten free cooking, but gluten free baking is another animal altogether!  This weekend I had the opportunity to turn my kitchen into a test kitchen for some new gluten free mixes on the market and was reminded how much I love to bake.  Not only am I excited because they were delicious and easy to make, but I am REALLY excited because they are made and marketed by a local, dedicated gluten free commercial bakery called, Better For You Bakery LLC.  Owned and operated by Tina Meseck, Better For You Bakery is located in Jefferson, Iowa.  The recipes and products have all been developed by Tina, herself.  

Tina Meseck (used with her permission)

I'll give you some more information about Tina's business and her new website later in this post.  First, let's talk about food - a favorite subject of mine, as my waistline will attest.

I received the four mixes Tina currently is marketing, French Bread, English Muffin, Multi-Grain Bread and Chocolate Cake - all 100% gluten free!  While Tina, herself, does not have Celiac Disease, she states that she does have a food allergy and preservative/chemical sensitivity, thus, her products are also free from preservatives, which is another major plus in my book.  Tina is a firm believer in *"offering products that include more gluten free whole grains and flours versus all starches, very little whole grains or a lot of sugar."

I invited my mom over to help me on Saturday and it brought back good memories having the two of us working in the kitchen together.  We started out with the French Bread mix.  I don't have a traditional French bread loaf pan, but that's not a problem, because you can use regular loaf pans - or the dough can be used for pizza on a round pizza pan!  I love the versatility of her mixes.  This isn't the only mix that can be used multiple ways.  All of the mixes were really easy and fun to make.  I actually had almost all of the extra needed ingredients in my own kitchen already!  The texture of the French bread was a bit more dense than what I think of French bread being, but the taste was exquisite!  I used a packet of gluten free dry Italian dressing seasoning (yes, Italian in French bread!) with the mix and the flavor exploded in my mouth!  Very good served warm with a tab of real butter.

Next up was the one I was looking forward to the most - the English Muffin mix!  I LOVE English Muffins!!  I couldn't believe that there was a gluten free English Muffin mix available!  Tina told me that she did some checking and hers is the only gluten free English Muffin mix on the market.  There are frozen gluten free English Muffins available, but hers is the only mix.  It can be made into English muffins or baked in a loaf pan.  I chose to try to make them into muffins.  I don't have an English Muffin pan, so I made them according to the directions on baking parchment paper on cookie sheets.  This worked just fine.  The taste and texture of these English Muffins did not disappoint at all!  They were perfect!  I've been eating them every morning for breakfast since I made them - almost gone :-(  Looks like I'll have to get some more!  Next time I'm going to try adding cinnamon and raisins!  Mmmmmm...

 I used some homemade jam that I bought at our local Farmer's Market from my favorite booth - C. Brown Gardens
Don't you wish you had some???

My stand mixer has a short in the cord and doesn't work very well, so we had to use my hand mixer for everything.  The Multi-grain was not easy to do this with, as it is a thicker dough that needs mixed for a longer time - Mom and I took turns to get it completely mixed together as needed.  The result was so worth the effort!  This gluten free multi-grain bread is so soft and the flavor has a mild sweetness due to the added ingredient of honey.  Oh my!  I've been eating it without even putting anything (not even butter) on it - the flavor is that good!

After all that baking on Saturday, I decided to take a break and finish it off on Sunday with the Chocolate Cake mix.  Tina is a woman after my own heart!  One of the added ingredients for this mix - COFFEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh yeah!  This girl is a happy camper!  The additional ingredients also included unsweetened applesauce. Per Tina's suggestion, I also added coffee to the frosting I made to go with the cake (frosting ingredients are not included in the mix - you make your own, or - maybe don't!  The cake is that moist and good!)  My non-GF hubby (who doesn't even care that much for chocolate cake, unless it is German Chocolate) enjoyed a slice last night.  He said it was really good.  That's saying a lot for him!  :-)  I took the rest of the cake (after a slice for me, my mom and another friend) to share with my co-workers today.  I also took samples of the French Bread and Multi-Grain Bread for them.  The cake was gone!  It was a big hit with my non-GF co-workers, who also enjoyed the two breads.  No, I did not share any of my English Muffins - mine!  All mine!!!!

I'll never win any cake decorating contest, but when the cake tastes like this - who cares?!

I asked Tina for some information about her goals with Better For You Bakery LLC.  She told me, "All the mixes are made from NON GMO sourced suppliers, however not every ingredient in my bakery is non GMO, just every ingredient in the mixes."  She went on to say, "I'm a dedicated gluten free facility.  My business is not a traditional retail storefront because commercial locations in our town are not a viable or sensible investment when I was looking and still aren't so I bought a house and it's my bakery location only I don't live there.  I use a lot more gf whole grains in my baking and make changes to traditional sugars and fats to adjust the amount to less and swap out other options.  I wan't people to be able to eat gluten free in a better and more inclusive way so when they take something of mine or make one of my mixes their gluten loving friends are still as excited about sharing it with them as they would if it were gluten version."  That certainly was my experience today when I shared with my co-workers.

Tina has been working on getting online shopping cart ordering available on her website.  She is hoping to have this up and running by Sept. 1st.  However, at this time, you can browse her "made to order" options, learn more about how she got started, get great gluten free baking tips and more.  Remember, Better For You Bakery is not a "stop and shop" storefront.  You need to place your order for pick up ahead of time.  You can learn more about Tina and Better For You Bakery at or you can contact Tina to place your order by calling 515-391-9549  You can also follow Better For You Bakery LLC on Facebook at  

Happy Baking and Eating!

Tina in her bakery (used with her permission)

*From the "About" section of

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gud n Free in Sioux City

Gud n Free
3120 Floyd Blvd
Sioux City, IA 51108

A little over five weeks ago, the first 100% Gluten Free restaurant opened in Sioux City, Iowa!  This restaurant has been sorely needed in this area.  Not only is it Gluten Free, but it is also Nut Free, Fish Free and has Dairy and Soy Free options, as well. The food is not only a hit with Celiacs, people with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and people with other food allergies, but with non-gluten free people, also!  If you haven't been there, yet, what are you waiting for??  This restaurant is definitely not "fast food" - it is so much more and better than that!!  I've had the privilege of having several conversations with the owners, Mike and Brenda Orlando.  Recently, I asked Brenda to tell me their story.  Here is that conversation:

Siouxland Celiac: What led up to you learning about your oldest daughter having Celiac Disease and how long did it take to get a correct diagnosis. Many Celiacs, including myself, take years of misdiagnosis and wrong treatments before finally getting a correct diagnosis.
Brenda: Our youngest daughter had several symptoms if not all of them at age 2. We believe looking back her symptoms started as an infant with reflux. The Dr. that assisted us in getting Alyssa diagnosed was super amazing, we are forever thankful for her help. We were so relieved to have an answer. When she was diagnosed Mike and I and our oldest daughter all got tested. That is then we found out our oldest had asymptomatic celiac disease. They are 19 months apart and they had less than 2% difference in damage. We were in shock. We had a 2 and almost 4 year old with celiac disease. What do we feed them and how to we teach others to care for them? Through support of family, we figured it out. Our lives now are much better 5 years later. We have learned so much and we are still learning everyday about the gluten free life style. Our girls are very good at following their diet. We are very proud of them and their ability to care for their health. 

Mike Orlando helping a customer

SC: I am the fourth person in my extended family to be diagnosed with Celiac Disease and we've recently learned of another in the extended family who was diagnosed in the past year. Since it is a hereditary disease, do you know of anyone else in either of your families who has been diagnosed or who may have non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?
 Brenda: We do not have any identified family members in our immediate families with celiac disease. We have a couple of distant family members with celiac. 

SC: I was diagnosed as an adult and know how hard living GF and with Celiac can be for an adult, but I can't imagine what a child goes through. How does having Celiac Disease affect your daughters at school and with their friends? I'd guess they are very well educated about their health issues - more than most would be at their ages.
Brenda: Our daughters take all their own food to school each day. Honestly, they do a wonderful job at remembering given their young ages. We have only had to take a forgotten lunch box up to school a couple times over the years. They also don’t use public drinking fountains. They take their own water bottles to ensure safety of cross contamination (suggested by their school). We provide all their snacks at school and when it comes to birthday treats and specials at school. We have had some wonderful teachers over the years that have gotten snacks after consulting with us. Snack time and birthdays is how we began making our own cupcakes. We wanted our girls to be included and have a safe treat. Cake was always so hard for others to provide gluten free without cross contamination.  Many of their classmate’s parents to do check with us and provide gluten free snacks. We are grateful for anyone that thinks of our girls. 
Fresh Fruit Cup

SC: Besides two of your daughters having been diagnosed and your family living gluten free, what other motivation did you have for opening Gud n Free?
Brenda: We both enjoy helping others. We have felt this struggle for the past 5 years. We just wanted to have options for ourselves and to create options for others. We wanted to have crispy chicken, sub sandwiches, cupcakes, etc. Things we weren’t readily available here in Siouxland. We are grateful for the couple of safe options we found in the area, we know how difficult it is to create options free of cross contamination when you serve gluten. That is why we wanted our place to be free of gluten completely!
Sioux City Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting

SC: When did the process begin to really take shape and become more than just a dream?
Brenda: About a year ago, Mike and I seriously started talking about it and we began to research. We had discussed it off and on for the past 2-3 years. We just kept thinking there have to be other people out there that think and feel like we do. If there was such a place that existed others would come.  

 House Burger with Cheese Balls and Marinara
Chicken Strips

SC: How have your children reacted to having a 100% safe restaurant at which to be able to dine out?
Brenda: They love it! They are very proud of their parents. Both of them made homemade cards for us on the first day of business.

SC: What has been their favorite food (or foods) from the Gud n Free menu?
Brenda: The girls love chicken strips, the fresh fruit cup and cupcakes!  I love the Cobb Salad, chicken strips, and new vegan falafel! Mike enjoys the Crispy chicken sandwich and cheeseballs. 

 Cobb Salad
Mushroom Falafel

SC: You are also serious about being as free from other common food allergens as possible, not just gluten. What else do you offer for people who have other food sensitivities or allergies?
Brenda: We do not have any nuts, tree nuts, fish or shell fish in our facility. We also have soy and dairy free options. We have separate fryer and grill for dairy items. We do not use soybean oil in our fryers to stay soy free there. We have recently created a couple of vegan/vegetarian options as well. We have been thinking of ways to make egg free options happen very soon. We want to be able to cater to other specific dietary needs such as grain free, low carb and low sugar. It will take time. We want to provide quality safe foods and we can’t do everything at once. Our goal is to serve as many as we can. We also welcome those without allergies or intolerances to enjoy are tasty food. We have gotten great reviews across the board. 

SC: How has the response been, so far, from the local Celiac and food allergy community as well as overall?
Brenda: Amazing! We did not know that there were so many celiacs, gluten free folks and those with food allergies here in Siouxland. It has been truly amazing to witness people eating safe foods that they have never eaten or have not eaten since being diagnosed. We have seen smiles and tears of joy! We love it! 

 Crispy Chicken Sandwich
House Burger on a lettuce wrap

SC: What has been your most popular menu item so far? My vote is the amazing cheese balls and marinara and my non-GF husband would definitely say the chicken strips. He says they are the best he's ever had! Have younger Celiacs been drawn to any one particular item over the others because they can't get it anywhere else or because they've never been able to have that food safely before?
Brenda: Well so far our cheeseballs is our top seller with, cupcakes and house burger on a bun falling close behind. It has been our experience that it is so hard to find these types of items when dining out. 

SC: What would you like people to know about Gud n Free and what you have to offer here?
Brenda: Gud n Free is here for the people. We want to provide for our community. We are a business and we want to thrive. Everyone that visits our establishment is helping those that have allergies and intolerances have Gud n Free as a safe option. We have seen people travel near and far, from in state to out of state as well as make their travel plans around being able to stop and eat at Gud n Free. All to experience safe allergy free dining. Mike and I know firsthand that food plays a huge role in our daily lives, from nurturing our bodies to socializing while dining out with friends and family. We make it safe for those will allergies and intolerances to do this.

Gud n Free's owners, Mike & Brenda Orlando and their girls
You can follow Gud n Free on Facebook at:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Have Gluten Free Snacks - Will Travel!

Hello from the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, CO!  My husband and I are in the middle of a wonderful Colorado vacation!  I have been documenting our trip on instagram ( by posting a lot of meal photos.  LOL.  I promise you, I have not just been spending all of my time eating! 

Traveling when you have Celiac Disease is a challenge, to say the least.  I ALWAYS pack a ton of gluten free goodies to take on the road with me, "just in case".  However, unlike last year, I've got a bit more experience with this trip!  Last year's Colorado vacation came just 6 months after my Celiac diagnosis.  I was so lost and ate mostly salads the entire time because I didn't know enough yet about how to find/make safe choices for myself.  I also was terrible about asking questions for fear of "putting anyone out".  I've gotten MUCH better about that - even if it still bugs me.  At least I understand the seriousness of needing to ask the right questions and require things a certain way so that I can be safe from cross contamination or being accidentally glutened.  We've been able to enjoy our travel so much better than last year!
I love this bag I received awhile back in my monthly box of G-Free goodies from G-Free Foodie!  It holds a LOT of gluten free goodness!!!!!
So, here is our trip, so far, in pictures.  Well before leaving for our trip, I did my research so I wasn't going into things blindly.  There are so many resources available online, through smart phone apps, etc.  I searched on Find Me Gluten Free app on my phone for the specific areas where we would be, as well as online for gluten free restaurants in specific towns.  I was able to find a listing online for Boulder Celiacs, which offered a wonderful and extensive list of gluten free restaurants/options in the Boulder area as put together by Celiacs who live in the area.  How awesome is that?!  Don't go into things blind.  Do the research up front.  It will make your trip a lot less stressful and so much more enjoyable!  But - DON'T let your guard down just because you are on vacation!  You still have to stay vigilant.  YOU are your number one advocate!  Don't ever forget that!
 Ruby Tuesday in North Platte, NE has an extensive GF menu and is very Celiac Friendly.  I loved my grilled salmon, baked potato and steamed broccoli!

 We had a wonderful evening in North Platte with my husband's cousin, Gary and his sweetie, Jan.

 Breakfast at the Hampton Inn in North Platte wasn't much, but it was gluten free and delicious!

 For lunch in Loveland the next day, my husband's Aunt Joyce took us to Blocky's Eatery that offers gluten free pizza and pasta (only 1 pasta dish, ravioli - they were out, but the pizza was divine!)

 Dave and his Aunt Joyce.

 Yesterday's breakfast was this wonderful gluten free raspberry scone from the Inkwell & Brew in Downtown Estes Park, CO.  YUM!

 We met up with another friend at the Rock Inn in Estes Park last night.  They also have an extensive gluten free/vegan & vegetarian menu available.

 My meal at the Rock Inn - lean buffalo burger on gluten free bread (the best I've had to date!) with yummy quinoa on the side.  Soooooo good!

 Me and my friend, Karen at the Rock Inn.

This morning's breakfast at our hotel in Estes Park, the Rocky Mountain Park Inn.  This was in their restaurant, Longz Grill.  Delicious!  Happy Friday!  Be good and stay #GlutenFree4Life

Sunday, September 13, 2015

National Celiac Awareness Day

September 13th is National Celiac Awareness Day.  My mom and I wore the new t-shirts I just bought for us recently through Vista Print in honor of this day.  My two biggest supporters since my Celiac diagnosis in January, 2014 have been my husband and my mom.  Both of them have worked very hard to find out what Celiac is, how it affects me and what I can and cannot eat.  I'm so blessed to have not only these two amazing people in my corner, advocating for me, but I've got some fantastic and understanding extended family, friends, church family (shout out to my New Hope family!!!  You're the best!  #newhopemovement ) and co-workers. 
My co-workers and boss have been with me through my health issues of the past few years about as much as my husband and mom have.  All the time I am more and more humbled and amazed by how my co-workers are trying to learn about my disease and they have been so patient, understanding and caring.  They have seen first hand what I've gone through in the several years leading up to my diagnosis.  They've had to cover for me during times that my disease (before and after diagnosis) has gotten the best of me and shut me down for a time.  They've patiently listened to me talk about it and continue to ask questions to better understand it.  I'm always so touched when one of them brings a treat to the office and saves the packaging so that I can read the ingredients and see if it is something that I can have.  Not only my co-workers, but our new receptionist at work has been asking lots of questions, as well.  Her sister is gluten free due to Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.  She asked me for some gluten free recipes so that when she makes her birthday treat this month, she can have something available that is safe for me to eat, as well.  To know how much they truly care about me touches my heart more than I can express.  #whatyouneedwhenyouneedit #bomgaars
At church, I've had a similar experience.  These people truly are my church "family".  They have shown me as much kindness, caring, support and encouragement as my family has!  In fact, it was because of several members of my New Hope family that I began this blog in the first place.  Many of them have continued to ask me questions about Celiac Disease and about my health.  Some have put me in touch with friends of theirs who've either been more recently diagnosed than me, or those who think they may have Celiac or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.  That is why I started this blog - to help others in their journeys with Celiac.  A while back one of the elders (who likes to be called a "younger" because he's just 30) had shared something that really resonated with me.  It is something I fully believe, myself.  He said that he just couldn't believe that everything happens for a purpose, but he DOES believe that God can bring purpose out of everything that happens.  I fully agree with that.  I don't believe that there is a purpose for anyone to have Celiac Disease (or any disease, for that matter) or for the innumerable horrors that happen all around the world on a daily basis.  But, I do believe that God can bring a purpose to everything we go through.  In my case, not only with having Celiac Disease, but also the past I've had growing up in a single parent home, being a domestic abuse survivor, having miscarried my only biological child - there is no purpose to me having experienced any of that if I don't use my experiences to help others.  That is my goal.  To help others learn about Celiac Disease by sharing my story and to encourage and support others in the Celiac community in their journeys.  #celiacawarenessday #glutenfree4life
Part of this weekend of Celiac Awareness my mom and I spent by visiting our local Farmer's Market and doing some planning for the booth that we are going to do next Summer for the Farmer's Market.  We even got to talk to a couple of people about Celiac Disease and about our plans for a Siouxland Celiac booth offering nothing but homemade gluten free cookies, bars and breads.  Pretty exciting to be able to share!  I had some fun taking photos while we were there, too.  It was such a wonderful and fun day.  #naturallyglutenfree #siouxcityfarmersmarket