Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kids Corner

Birthday Treats At School

If you have kids, I know you've received the acceptable birthday item list that kids can bring into the class to celebrate their birthday with their classmates.  Most of the items are not gluten free, so when my son had his last birthday, I asked the teacher if it'd be ok if we made up our own goody bags to bring in.  It was a great way to bring in all of his favorite items, and to have him share some knowledge with his friends that he can in fact eat awesome stuff too...just not some of the same things they can. 

In case you aren't aware, most schools have peanut allergies, so you do need to be careful not to include candy that contains nuts, but here are some options that you can pack up into little baggies and give away:

M&Ms (not the Krispy kind)
Dove Chocolate bars
Hershey Kisses & Bars
Three Musketeers

It's a great way to have your child feel like he is the one handing out great goody bags instead of the one that can never have anything other people bring in.

Susan :)
The Celiac Shack
Making gluten free fun one day at a time!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Travel & Leisure


As always, I've been checking out what events are coming up in the gluten free world, and I wanted to share with all of you that there is a gluten free vendor fair taking place in the Chicago area in Lisle, IL.

It looks like there is going to be 50 different vendors with education tables for adults and children.  Also, there will be a Kid's area with lots of fun activities and treats.  Sounds like a great time if you're going to be in the Chicago area or want to take a road trip!
 Below is the information and the link in case you have any further questions:

Don’t miss the largest Gluten Free Vendor Fair in the Chicago area.

50+ vendors
Children’s Gluten Free Area with Activities, Education and Treats
Sample and Purchase Gluten Free Products, Books and Services
Ask the Doctor Table
Ask the Nutritionist Table
Ask the Chef Table

The Wyndham Hotel, 30000 Warrenville Road, Lisle, IL
Open to the public April 17, 2010, from 9am-12pm
Open to the public April 18, 2010, from 11am-3pm
Purchase Tickets at the Door
Adults $15
Children under 12 are free

We're always looking for more great gluten free events to post, so if you know of any, shoot us an email and we'll spread the word! 

Best wishes for a happy gluten free day!

The Celiac Shack
Making gluten free fun one day at a time!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ready to take off your gloves?

The gloves are off and I'm ready to rumble!

Up until now, I've been really politically correct with my blogs. I've tried to see what the general consensus is among our members, but now I'm ready to let my words fly! Watch out...I apologize in advance if I offend anyone, but honestly the only people I could be offending are the people that deserve to be offended. So stiffen up sissy butts and let the opinions of Susan roll! I think I've gained some trust among many of you and it's time we start tackling the tough issues that ARE the 400 lb. elephant in the room. Today, I'm beginning my new blog format with my complete and honest opinions. As all of you know, I am the mother of four amazing kids, a wife, and a generally liked and respected woman, but first and foremost, I'm an educated individual with many issues and a desire to make changes in my life and the world in general. I've decided it's time to open the flood gates and begin a series of discussions among all of you, and hopefully, we can come up with some solutions instead of regurgitating the same old poop over and over again. Ya ready? GOOD!

I'm hearing some frustration regarding Doctors and the way most of them practice well-being and health. I believe that Doctors are just now starting to view people as a whole instead of treating symptoms. If you're anything like me, you have plenty of symptoms, but not enough support to dissect those symptoms. I've been on countless medications since I've been 21. I'm only 37 now and I feel like I'm 90! I got tired of hearing the same old answers every time I went to a new Dr. I always left feeling like most of my problems were in my head and self induced. Or worse yet, I had issues that just had no resolve, and I would just have to find a way to grin and bear them. My husband's worried since my warrenty has expired and he didn't purchase the extendo plan! ;)

I began investigating gluten and the effects of it when I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I've had psoriasis since I was 21 and it was getting worse with each passing year. I had red, itchy splotches over 90% of my body, I was in constant pain because my skin always felt like it was going to literally break apart. My self esteem was lower than it had ever been, and to top all of this off, I began gaining weight and always felt bloated and exhausted. Nice combo for anyone to have to deal with.
I was on thyroid medication for my hypothyroidism, was constantly rubbing prescribed steroid creams all over myself to ease the discomfort of psoriasis, and was constantly having joint pain. I got to the point where I couldn't even pick up my own baby girl anymore because of the pain I was enduring. I finally had to go see a Rheumatologist who placed me on Humira. I am going to tell you that Humira is a wonderful drug that eased my joint pain, and also cleared up my skin 99%. I was delighted with this injectable, but at the end of the day, it is still a drug that was lowering my immune system and putting me at risk for illness. There had to be a better way to solve these symptoms!

See what I mean here? Not once did any of my Doctors acknowledge that perhaps I had an allergy that was the root cause of my problems. Not once did any of them even think to run blood tests except to allow me to begin a new medication. Not once did I ever hear that perhaps all of my symptoms were related as all three are autoimmune disorders. Not once did I ever get any positive answers or solutions. All I ever received were prescriptions for more drugs! I grew tired of Doctors telling me that most of my symptoms were in my head and if I tried yet another medication, I would feel better. My last Doctor actually placed me on an anti-depressant to help me deal with my issues. Are you kidding me?? ENOUGH! My cupboard looks like a pharmacy for Pete's sake! This is not even including all of my ointments, lotions, and herbal concoctions. Nor is it including the fees that I spent on acupuncture based on a suggestion from one of my many Dr.s It was worth a try, right? No, it wasn't!

Okay, okay...enough of my personal ramblings about the lack of holistic practices from the medical community in general. I guess medicine is a big money maker, and it is in a lot of people's best interest to keep patients coming back for refills, check-ups, and constant ineffective care. I just am at a loss for any other reason why most health care providers would continue such practices if it isn't for the big green buck!

I truly believe as patients, we need to speak up to our Doctors and insist that they listen to us. I'm firm on my position that YOU know your body better than anyone else. YOU know when you don't feel right, and YOU know what is right for you. We're our own best advocate and we need to stand up against modern medicine and the drug companies. Wake up people...Pfizer doesn't have your best interest in mind.

We need get back to basics as a country and it all begins at home. I know, I know, actually taking your own health and diet on is a lot of hard work. Teaching your children about nutrition is hard work. Cooking nutritious meals is hard work. Shouting out to the food manufacturers that you no longer want their crap is hard work. It's all soooo hard! Well, nothing worth while is easy in this world, so get working! Everyday that I spend reviewing products, reading labels, teaching and working with my children in the kitchen, and eliminating gluten from my diet is one day closer to being the change that I wish to see in our lives. Everyday that I veto McDonalds and show my children how many awful things that kind of food contains is one step closer to the life I want for them. Every week that passes that I don't need my Humira injection is one step closer to me telling my Doctor that I don't agree with his practices, once step closer to the drug company not making money off of me when their medicine is unnecessary, and one step closer to my insurance company not having to pay for a completely wasteful trip to my pharmacy. (I have MANY views on insurance companies, but that is an all day sucker! Perhaps for next weeks blog ha-ha) Who knows?? Maybe in a perfect world, I can control my psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, hypothyroidism, fatigue, weight, and hair loss all with MY diet and what I choose to NOT put into my body!!!! *GASP* What a concept! Are you Doctors out there listening?? Pull your script pads out and start taking notes! (I know that was sassy, but it's something I've always wanted to say to my old Doctor!)

I just got a comment on my blog from one of our awesome followers, ("Hello Georgie!"), who's Doctor told her that she should try yoga for her bloated tummy. I'm all for yoga, but seriously? Is yoga going to cure your ailments? To quote Georgie, "*sigh* Um, noooo!!" Still giggling from that...thanks Georgie! (And before I get that comment that tells me yoga has many health benefits, I know! I do yoga...but as a form of exercise, not as a replacement for correct diagnosis!)

Enough is enough people. When are we going to take the wheel of our lives and begin telling our health care providers to stop with the drugs and unnecessary treatments? I used to feel very intimidated with my Doctors. I would always sit there and listen to them and not speak up. Why? I have no idea! I was somehow taught that speaking up against an "authority figure" was rude. This happened until I realized that doctors pull on their pants the same way I do it doesn't matter how many years of medical school they've been to....they're not an authority figure. They work for US! Without US, they would be out of business, so it's our duty to be diligent about our own health. If your Doctor doesn't treat you with respect and make you feel like it is their privilege to work with YOU, kick them to the curb and get another doctor. Trust me, you'll save yourself many headaches!
I have many areas of interest that I will be covering in my upcoming blogs, so stay tuned! In conclusion, I want your comments! I value your opinions, good, bad and ugly. Let's shake it up and see if we can't come up with some solutions. Maybe we can be quicker and more efficient than our Government! Ha-Ha

Peace out for now ~ Susan
The Celiac Shack
Making gluten free fun one day at a time!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kids Corner

Easy Gluten Free Kid's Dinner

I was in a pinch for a quick and easy dinner the other night, and I came up with a casserole that knocked my kids' socks off! It was easy, pretty nutritious, and my kids actually asked for it again! Not too bad for a casserole!! ha-ha

Here is my concoction:

Gluten Free Hot Dog/Mac & Cheese Casserole

1 pack of Jennie O Turkey Hot Dogs
1 box of Gluten free noodles
2 packs of gluten free cheese sauce (I used our Full Flavor Foods Cheese Sauce)
2 cups Gluten free crackers crushed
1/2 stick melted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional if you use the spinach)
1 package of frozen spinach (optional)

Boil the hotdogs just until warm - slice or chop into bite sized pieces.
Cook the gluten free pasta according to the package
Cook the cheese sauce according to the directions.
In the meantime, I pureed the spinach in the food processor or blender with the olive oil.
Grease an 11x13 casserole dish
Place the pasta in the dish
Layer the hotdogs on top of the pasta
Mix the spinach into the cheese sauce
Pour the cheese/spinach mixture over the pasta and hotdogs

Mix the melted butter with the gluten free crackers and spread evenly on top of the whole mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until bubbly and the crackers begin to slightly brown.

I'm all about easy recipes, and this is a really good one when you're short on time and want to get a home cooked meal into your kids!

The Celiac Shack
Making gluten free fun one day at a time!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Health & Wellness

Going the Distance Fundraiser

I heard about The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center through an acquaintance. She had received a Celiac Care Package from them when her son was diagnosed, and I began researching them online. I think they offer such a positive message for all of us, and I wanted to share some info about them and their annual fund raiser, which is so important as they are a non-profit organization.

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is dedicated to raising awareness and diagnosis rates nationwide and meeting the critical needs of people affected by celiac disease through education, research and advocacy. The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is the first center of its kind in the nation, offering a comprehensive approach to the disease: including reliable and accurate patient and professional education, expert diagnosis and treatment for both children and adults, ground-breaking bench and clinical research and active leadership in advocacy efforts. The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is a 501-c3 non-profit organization, completely funded by donor contributions.

Going The Distant Fund Raiser Info

Going the Distance for Celiac Disease is easy...this is a do-it-yourself fundraiser! Just sign up for an organized event or make up your own. Walk, run, swim, bike, jump rope--whatever your fancy-- to help support the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and raise funds for Celiac Disease Education, Research and Advocacy! Download your "Fundraising Kit" here to get started or for more information, call 773-702-7593

It's a really great cause and something fun to do with your kids. Teaching your kids not only how to eat gluten free, but also how to be active and to how to give back to the community is the best wisdom you can offer up. Check it out and let me know what you're going to do for your activity. We should start a contest to see who can raise the most money - wouldn't that be fun??

The Celiac Shack
Making gluten free fun one day at a time!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shack Attack

A Change is Gonna' Come

I was blogging yesterday and it took everything I had to do so. I'm not sure if it's the Michigan Winter weather or just a lack of motivation. I have been blogging on almost a daily basis since May of 2009 and I just came to a realization...I'm full of crap. Though some of my blogs have been thoughtful executed, I have been doing nothing more than echoing what the gluten-free community already knows or spits out on a rigorous daily pace. The information being churned out is mostly carbon copies of blogs past. This is obviously done to stay fresh in everyone's heart and minds and to keep their name churning in the machine of all the large search engines. My information included.

Today I put my foot down and say no more! I want people to stay in touch and visit our website, but at what cost? Does anyone really need another brownie recipe or a shout out about the horrors of gluten? I think not and I'm going to do something about it. My son and I are gluten intolerant but still have yet to make the transition to a lifestyle totally void of it. Why have we not done so as of yet? The two biggest reasons are money and laziness. I am a mother of 4 and sometimes take the easy route for dinner. Though we have seen an improvement in our health, it's time to kick into overdrive.

Starting in February (or close to it) lol, I intend to blog about my families descent into the gluten free jungle. It's going to take my husband and other three children that long to eat the remaining gluten in our home and for me to do a restock of the kitchen.

I hope you will continue to follow us as we make this transition. I want as much 1st hand knowledge as possible so that I may serve my customers with honesty and integrity. So please stay tuned and you will see a marginal cooker reveal her gluten free adventures. I hope you will enjoy our new format and honesty. It's not going to be easy folks!

If you would like to submit a sample or product to our cause, please e-mail me at theceliacshack@yahoo.com. We will work it into our diet, blog about it, and possibly add it to our inventory at http://www.theceliacshack.net/ if the Jones Gang gives it the big thumbs up.

Thank You,

Susan Jones
The Celiac Shack
"Making gluten-free fun one day at a time!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gluten Free Product Info

To Teff Or Not To Teff...That Is My Question

I've been hearing so many great things about Teff lately that I decided to read up on this "miracle" grain. Being the "average" Mom that I am, I haven't purchased Teff before, much less worked with it. I just spoke with a physician yesterday that swears Teff is the ultimate solution to gluten free living. He said Teff is versatile, easy to work with, comes in flour and grain form, and produces amazing products. Well, sign me up!!

After researching Teff, I've come up with some general information that I thought I'd share.

Teff's history goes back thousands of years to the ancient civilizations of Abyssinia. It was a reliable support to our ancestors basic survival. Teff is a fine grain, about the size of a poppy seed that comes in a variety of colors, from white and red to dark brown. Teff thrives even in unpredictable and difficult climates because of it's ability withstand high heat and bright light.

Professional athletes and individuals on special diets are attracted to its delicious taste, gluten-free physiology, and nutritional advantage. Teff grows predominantly in Ethiopia and Eritrea. As such, teff comprises the staple grain of their cuisines.

Teff is also now grown in the United States, primarily in Idaho. Ground into flour, teff is used to make the traditional bread, injera - a flat, pancake-like, slightly sour bread that complements the exotic spices found in the food of the Sub-Saharan region. Teff flour is delicious in pancakes, pastries, or as a thickener in soups and gravy.

Ethiopian Injera Bread!!! One of my favorite things in the world! For those of you who haven't tried this delicacy, please please please go out and find a place get some! There is also a link for making your own Injera Bread, which I'm going to try as soon as I get some Teff!!

Teff is a delicious grain with high quality complex carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and fiber. Teff grain can be eaten as cereal or polenta. Brown Maskal Teff is rich in flavor with a subtle nutty aftertaste. Ivory teff is milder in taste, but equally nutritious.Teff grain constitutes one of the best natural combinations of nutrients and taste to promote endurance, performance, and good health.
I'm going to get a hold of some Teff and work with it in my daily recipes. I'll let everyone know what I think and how it works. Very exciting to bring a new product into my house and kitchen!

If you have any comments, opinions or suggestions about Teff, please let us all hear them.

The Celiac Shack
Making gluten free fun one day at a time!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Health & Wellness


My husband recently landed a new job after about 11 months of searching. I know a lot of you can feel our pain. There are far to many people suffering financial problems these days. Like most new positions, we had to go through all the forms and hoops to obtain insurance. Finally after a few weeks, everything was in place and we could finally take advantage of our plan. Proper insurance was void from our lives for most of 2009. Thank God nobody in the Jonesgang become seriously sick or injured. Like most plans, you have to pick primary doctors. The kids all stayed with their previous doctors, but my husband and I decided to switch and find someone closer to home. Our last doctor was alright, just more of a healer of things presently wrong without the insight into the future. People, I am falling apart and I need to know what's going to be breaking down in the next five years so I can brace myself! lol

I recently had this cough that I could not shake. Countless over the counter meds and a three weeks of suffering made me pick up the phone and give in. Though we have insurance, I still hate the co-pays. I made an appointment that was sandwiched between the usual going-ons. This new doctor is located in downtown Northville, MI not far from our house. I figured in and out with a script in hand and I'm on the road to recovery. This was not the case. The wait for this doctor was lengthy and not very impressive. If I ran any longer, my preschooler would be at the curb with her thumb out. So after getting a bit upset after watching the clock, I approached someone. After puffing my chest, I quickly deflated when I found out the reason the doctor was running late was that she had to deliver some devastating news to the patient in the next room. Boy did my scheduling issues seem unimportant as I almost fell to tears.

Finally the doctor came in and apologized. I explained that it was no problem and maybe I should just reschedule to have more time with her. She said no, lets look at what going on and give me a brief history of yourself. So I went on for only five minutes when the doctor stopped me. She said, listen I am going to give you a script for your chest, you may have a slight infection. But I would like you to reschedule so I can have more time to spend with you. The next words that came from her mouth I have never heard from a doctor. She said, " Susan, have you ever heard of gluten intolerance?" Holy crap, did she just say what I thought she said? I quickly said, yeah I may know a thing or two about it. lol

This was the first doctor I have ever met that didn't see gluten intolerance issues like some kind of jungle medicine. She actually thought that the majority of my ailments were derived from gluten. She likes to treat her patients whole package instead of waiting for fires and putting them out like Smokey the Bear. I am now scheduling a visit to discuss my issues in depth. She actually has an entire program put together to treat people with gluten intolerance issues. So I start 2010 with a sigh of relief and a hope in my heart. I think a few people in the medical world are starting to take us seriously. Yippy!

If you would like this doctors information, send me a message or e-mail and I will gladly give you her information.


Susan Jones
The Celiac Shack
"Making gluten-free fun one day at a time!"

Friday, January 8, 2010

Travel & Leisure

Gluten Free Cancun Trip!

It is the middle of winter and I have cabin fever!  I was looking back at some of the great gluten free travel sites that we've blogged about, and came across Bob & Ruth's Gluten-free Dining & Travel Club again.  I was looking at their gluten free getaways, and there is one coming up SOON! I am soo jealous fo the people going on this trip and I would love to know if any of you are going! 

Dates: February 6 - 13, 2010

Get your suitcases out and go have some gluten free fun! 

Sitting in Snow in Michigan!! 
Susan :)
The Celiac Shack
Making gluten free fun one day at a time!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shack Attack!

The Opportunities Are Endless!

2010 is proving to be a fantastic year for The Celiac Shack! We were featured in an article in The Free Press last Sunday, and that article has brought about so many exciting opportunities for us. I've received numerous calls from local physicians and businesses that want to work with us, and we'll be meeting with all of them to see how we can reach our dream of helping even more gluten free families.

The Celiac Shack's mission is to provide real time and in-the-trenches advice, information, recipes and products for living gluten free.

We want to help you live your life with your condition, NOT let your condition live your life!

Updates to follow...

Susan ~ The Celiac Shack
Making gluten free fun one day at a time!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gluten Free Products


I was in a pinch for time last night, so I went into my freezer to see what I could pull out for dinner and I saw my box of Ore Ida Frozen Hash Brown Patties. I immediately got a craving for homemade hash! I usually shred my own potatoes, but these tasty morsels really worked for a quick alternative!

This is a quick and easy way to make homemade gluten free hash that your whole family will love. I have four picky kids and they all cleaned their plates.

Easy Homemade Gluten Free Hash
Frozen hash browns (I've also used frozen tater tots, they work well)
1 Large onion
1 Green pepper
2 tablespoons Olive oil
2 cups of Diced Ham
2 Chicken Breasts (Optional)
8 Eggs (optional)
4-6 Green onions
Sour cream to garnish
Salt, Pepper & Garlic powder to taste

Thaw your hash or gluten free tater tots
Cube the chicken breast into tiny pieces
In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoon olive oil, cook the cubed chicken half way (I add my garlic powder to the chicken at this point for maximum flavor). Add diced ham and diced green peppers to this pan and sauté on low until the peppers are soft and the chicken is fully cooked.
Remove this chicken/ham/green pepper mixture from the pan and place in a covered bowl
Using the same pan (I'm all about one pan dinners!) sauté the chopped onions until translucent.
Using your hands, break apart the hash browns or tater tots* and add to the onions.
(*TIP: This is a really great task for your kids to help you with since it's one thing they can't mess up...they LOVE breaking apart the potatoes and it lets them participate in cooking gluten free meals. Teaching our kids to cook for themselves is so important and even the smallest task gives them a huge sense of accomplishment!)
Add salt & pepper and let this mixture cook over medium heat until the bottom is slightly crispy. Turn this mixture and let the other side crisp up.
In the meantime, I fry up my eggs over medium so the yolks are just slightly runny.
Once everything is cooked, I plate the potato mixture covered with the chicken/ham mixture. I throw some chopped green onions on top and add a dollop of sour cream to the plate.
Easy, gluten free and delicious! Saves you the time of having to shred potatoes, and you'd never know the difference.
From my kitchen to yours, I wish you a happy gluten free day!

The Celiac Shack
Making gluten free fun one day at a time!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Health & Wellness


I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and now you're back in the swing of things...I know I'm trying! 

I was thinking about all of the events that are coming up in the next few months, and the one at the top of my list is taxes!  I know it's a painful word to some, but I have some really great news for all of you gluten free people.  I was surprised to find out that we can deduct certain items from our taxes with a Dr.s note and if you follow the tax guidelines.  Below is a link that I think will prove most helpful as you begin to prepare your taxes this year.  

Give it a read and as always, if you have any questions that I may be able to help you with, send them my way! 

Making gluten free fun one day at a time!