Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Fries Recipe by Jennifer Fugo

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Fries
Gluten Free Sweet Potato Fries

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Fries

Jennifer Fugo, CHC
Enjoying the roasted savory sweetness that makes up sweet potato fries isn’t a very difficult task to handle. I love them for any meal of the day and even the occasional snack!  Sweet potatoes are downright awesome for you and they can complement almost any meal perfectly.
Plus sweet potato fries are naturally gluten-free and better for you than traditional white potato fries.  As a result, they are perfect for a healthy, low-sugar, gluten-free and even paleo diet.  This recipe is one of many that’s approved for clients that do my Gluten-Free Sugar Cleanse.What makes my recipe different from others out there is that I use a variety of spicing combos.  I’ll share with you my five favorite options and each has no more  than 5 ingredients.  Make sure that the spices you choose are gluten-free (Frontier Natural Spices are always gluten-free) and have fun!
There are two tricks to cooking fries in your oven.  The first is to cut your ‘fries’ to about the same size.  Small fries will cook way too fast (and then burn) while the larger, beefy looking fries will stay soggy.  Do your best to keep them relatively the same.The second trick is to lay all the fries out in one layer.  Don’t pile them or they won’t cook correctly.Here’s the ‘thing’ with spicing… there’s no magic bullet for amounts of how much to use.  I like to make sure that everything is evenly coated with both oil and the spices.  I don’t worry so much about the salt because you can always add more salt to taste once they’re done baking.  Plus no sweet potato is ever the same size, so the amount of fries you’ll get will vary.  That’s why I’ll generally do about 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil, if you can tolerate it) and then add a nice light coating of spice.  Combine them well.  If the fries aren’t evenly coated with oil, they’ll dry out and burn.  So add a bit more to the bowl and stir if needed.

Remember… you can always add more, but it’s difficult to take back too much spice.  I don’t say this to scare you off if you’re someone who needs an exact roadmap to follow for cooking, however even with an exact amount, you could still find the flavor overpowering.  That’s why I’ve taken photos (see above and click to enlarge the tray image) and you can get a sense from looking at them how yours should look!

Spicing Options

White Pepper & Sea Salt

Chili Powder & Sea Salt

Dried Rosemary & Sea Salt

Garlic powder, Black Pepper & Sea Salt

Smoked Paprika & Sea Salt

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato(s), peeled & cut into 3″ long sticks
Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
Spices (pick from list above)

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.  Cover at least 1 baking sheet with foil (if you need more, then cover them as well since piling fries will not get you the results you’re hoping for).

Add your cut sweet potato fries into a mixing bowl.  Start by adding about 1 tbsp of oil.  Sprinkle a few pinches of salt and add a light, but even sprinkle of your spices of choice.  Combine well making sure that the sweet potatoes are coated (they will dry out if you don’t). If you feel that you want more spice, add a bit more and mix again.  Repeat this until everything is lightly coated to your desire.  (See my photo above for how much my fries were spiced before going in the oven)

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes and then flip fries over.  Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until fries are nicely browned or are the consistency you like.  Keep in mind that you won’t get that crisp “out of the fryer” feel that regular processed white potato fries get.

Enjoy immediately!

Also, you can save them in the fridge, but they will be more soggy at that point if you don’t mind.

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Fugo is the founder of Gluten Free School, a website dedicated to teaching gluten-sensitive individuals commonsense, simple and powerful steps to get healthy.  She’s a certified Health Coach named a “Gluten Free Guru” by Philadelphia Magazine who co-hosts the popular “Gluten-Free Sugar Cleanse” that teaches gluten-free folks how to kick their sugar addiction, regain control of their diet and feel awesome again.

Jennifer is sought after speaker and expert for news contributions who has been featured on Yahoo! News, eHow, CNN, and Philadelphia Magazine.

Gluten and Dairy Free Ice Cream Sandwich Recipe Guest Post

Well, I’m off to Hilton Head on vacation and have some wonderful guest posts lined up for you this week while I’m gone. The first comes from Tiffany Hinton with her fabulous gluten and dairy free ice cream sandwiches!
Enjoy!

Gluten and Dairy Free Ice Cream Sandwich Recipe Guest Post

Tiffany Hinton bio 
Tiffany Hinton is a Super Mom, Business Owner, Best Selling Author, and Gluten-free lifestyle expert!  Tiffany started writing several years ago, while going through treatments for infertility. Tiffany learned in 2009 she was gluten intolerant along with being lactose intolerant, turning her life up side down. Not know where to start and pre-made gluten-free items being too pricey. She started to experiment and explore cooking and baking; still wanting family favors to eat. With research and practice Tiffany can now turn any desirable recipe into gluten and dairy free, without sacrificing the taste.

Do you remember those hot summer days as a child where an ice cream sandwich brought the taste of chocolate and cold ice cream in an easy to hold treat… This was the first time my girls got to experience this wonderful memory from my childhood. As a Mom with 2 little girls who have gluten allergies and one who can not have dairy, it is always an adventure.

Do you remember those hot summer days as a child where an ice cream sandwich brought the taste of chocolate and cold ice cream in an easy to hold treat…
This was the first time my girls got to experience this wonderful memory from my childhood. As a Mom with 2 little girls who have gluten allergies and one who can not have dairy, it is always an adventure.

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Nummy, Nummy and Franki’s new word tasty!  The repeated request for chocolate and I knew these were a huge hit.
To make your own you will need the Brownie Bite Recipe from Gluten Free Mom Certified and the Dairy Free Ice Cream from Summer Thyme.  (both are fabulous cookbooks of mine)
Here is a link to the Ice Cream Recipe
and a short video with instructions

Guest Blog by Gluten Away – I Am… Cards!

Celiac
Gluten Away – I Am…Cards

It’s no secret I’ve been a fan of Taylor Miller’s since the first time I virtually met him. This 16-year old is so inspiring and I love what he’s done with his brand and promoting awareness for living the gluten-free lifestyle. He is just amazing.

When I saw his I Am… Cards – I thought – “What an ingenious idea!”

But, I’ll let him explain more…

Even though I’m 16 years old and you may be much older than me, I always found that there was one thing that everyone with a food allergy had in common … dining out. Every time I’d dine out I would either be paranoid that my food is somehow going to contain gluten or the staff may not understand the seriousness of my allergies. Every time, I would go out to eat I would have to explain my issues and ask many questions to assure that my meal is free of gluten and dairy since that is what I’m allergic to. But even after explaining all this there would still be times where I would end up getting sick anyways. I’m sure you’ve all dealt with this before and that’s why I created these cards to hopefully make your dining experience easier and safer again.

These cards are to be given to the waiter and kitchen staff as a visual representation of what allergies your meal should be free of. These cards clearly state what your allergies are and have spaces for your name and table number along with multiple allergies if you are more than gluten-free. I’m hopeful that this can shorten the time it takes to explain your allergies to the waiter, since I know how much it can feel like a hassle. For now I am selling these to individuals but I one day hope to have these in restaurants everywhere so there can be a system already in place to keep people with food allergies safe once and for all.

If you are interested in picking up some cards, you can do so over at Taylor’s Shop.

5 Tips for Trying New Gluten-Free Products – Guest post by G-Free Laura!

5 Tips for Trying New Gluten-Free Products

One of the difficult things about the gluten-free diet is testing out new gluten-free foods and brands. There have been many times when I’ve gotten excited about a new product on the shelf at the grocery store and purchased the product, only to get home and find out that it tastes like junk.

So how can you prevent yourself from wasting money on gluten-free products that aren’t worth it? The below 5 tips will help you to happily try new products without any regret!

Tip 1: Ask the Blogosphere

The online gluten-free community is HUGE. It is an invaluable resource for those on the gluten-free diet. There are tons of gluten-free blogs out there that are run by people just like you! Everyone is in the same boat when it comes to trying new products: we don’t know how it will taste until we taste it, and we don’t have the money to waste on things that taste like cardboard.

Before you pick up your next box of new gluten-free crackers, or a loaf of gluten-free bread from an unfamiliar brand, go home and Google the product to see what people have to say. Chances are that someone has written a review on the product. Utilize this online ‘support group’ before you commit a new product to your pocketbook.

Tip 2: Go on Twitter or Facebook

Odds are if you’re gluten-free and semi-in tune with the whole social media thing, you follow a few gluten-free people on Facebook or Twitter. If you have a question about a product and want to find out if your favorite blogger or social influencer has tried it, just ask them!

The great thing about normal, down-to-earth people with gluten-free blog-personalities is that they are right there with you. If someone sends me a message, or asks a question on Twitter, I respond as quickly as possible and to the best of my ability. If I don’t know the answer to their question, I try to figure it out, or point them in the right direction. I don’t want my followers wasting their time or money on products that aren’t worth it!

If you’re wondering whether or not to spend the $6.99 on those frozen gluten-free pizza crusts, or the $4.99 for that box of gluten-free crackers, ask someone if you should!

Tip #3: Utilize New Resources

Another great way to try new products is to literally get them delivered to your door step. There are new gluten-free companies popping up left and right that want to help the gluten-free community with their journey. I’m not going to lie, I’m jealous they weren’t around when I went gluten-free! It would have made the process slightly easier.

I recently learned about a company called Taste Guru that sends monthly boxes filled with gluten-free products. How awesome is that? A box delivered to your doorstep filled with gluten-free goodies. I so wish I had this service when I went gluten-free four years ago – It would have been the highlight of my month!

The BEST thing about utilizing resources like Taste Guru is that you get a lot more bang for your buck! The cost of one month’s box is $24.99, yet the value of the box is between $75 -$100. That’s like gluten-free gold. The company also prides itself on the fact that the boxes don’t just contain gluten-free food, but they contain GOOD gluten-free food. There’s none of that hard, questionable looking, bird-food stuff.

Tip #4: Keep a List

Have you ever tried a product, fell in love with it, then when you went to buy it again, you couldn’t remember the brand name for the life of you?!

When my family first went gluten-free, we would tear off the name on the box of crackers, or keep the bag it came in, so we would not only know the name, but also what the packaging looked like. We ended up having a somewhat large stack of package scraps but it sure was worth it! I’d rather have a pile of brand names to spark my memory than lose the chance to have my favorite product again.

A more efficient method than ours might be to start an excel spreadsheet (yes, the nerd in me is coming out now). Have a column for food type, brand name, link to website, and where you purchased the product at. This can help you to stay organized, know which store carries which brand, and make your shopping experience more efficient!

Tip #5: Believe in the Little Guy

Sometimes the best products are from start-up companies. Why? Because these people have a passion for gluten-free living and they oftentimes create the product for themselves or a loved one to eat. Who doesn’t want to eat food that is literally baked with love?

So give the ma and pa shops a little g-free love when you see them promoting themselves at the gluten-free expo, Celiac tour, or just at your local grocery store! I bet you won’t be sorry!

Laura Hanley, known as G-Free Laura, has been gluten-free since 2009 and reviews products, restaurants, posts simple recipes, and writes about gluten-free experiences on www.gfreelaura.com. Laura’s passion for spreading g-free love has led her to become a contributor for sites such as the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Rudi’s Gluten-Free ‘Baked on the Bright Side‘ blog, and SwimUtopia. Visit Laura on FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedIn, and Google+.

Managing a Family Full of Allergies – One Parent’s Super Mom Story!

I’ve been looking for an amazing guest blogger that could tell the story of living with children suffering from celiac disease and/or other allergies and I found Jen Lane! Her story amazed me and I thought it needed to be shared for everyone to hear. While I do not have children yet, I do realize the difficulties that a family must face! I have a hard enough time with just myself.
Anyway, I’ll let Jen tell you her story….
I have three children, ages 10, 7 ½, and 5 ½.  All three kids and I suffer from some form of gluten, dairy , and soy allergy or intolerance, plus many others.

Mandie

     Mandie was diagnosed with her dairy allergy at 6 weeks old, by our family doctor and IBCLC.  She’d had the symptoms since birth, however.  By age 1 she was also allergic to shellfish and mollusks, and was diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease. Age two saw the inclusion of strawberries, grass, lanolin, wool, adhesives, cats, dogs, cottonwood trees, and several weeds and trees. Age three saw the addition of severe allergies to palm and coconut (in all forms), chamomile, ragweed, sunflower, safflower, wheat, and her celiac diagnosis. She outgrew her strawberry allergy.  At age 4 she added honey, almonds, sesame, latex, lidocaine, all molds, dustmites, candida, & more weeds. At age 5 (this past July) she added a severe corn allergy, as well as chocolate, gluten free oats, olive, mustard, banana, grain dust, dandelions, even more molds and candida.  Due to the genetic nature of the disease, Mandie and her brothers are Malignant Hyperthermia Susceptible, which is an allergy to general anesthesia.
Living with allergies since her birth, Mandie has grown up knowing that she cannot eat what everyone else eats. As a toddler we’d just tell her that she was allergic to milk and it would make her sick, but I was nursing her and we brought our own food everywhere, so it was not an issue.  As she got older and added allergies, we have told her the same thing, but with more detail. Most of the allergies were discovered via reaction, and even at age 3 she’d had enough severe reactions that she would tell us she never wanted to get sick from allergies again.    At just over 5 1/2, Mandie can recite all of her allergies, explain what happens in an allergic reaction and tells people when and how to use the epi pens she carries around her waist.  She knows that she has celiac disease, and that it means that she can not eat or touch anything containing gluten.   She has been good at always asking adults (especially at church) to check package labels, often telling them what to look for. When she started school this fall, she sat in on the 504 meeting with her soon to be step-dad and I, and had many intelligent things to contribute.
Mandie is amazingly resilient as far as living with her allergies goes. She has an amazing attitude, and knows that I will always at least attempt to make whatever she is craving or missing safe for her. I think a huge part of this is the fact that I have always made sure to make our home a safe haven where she is free to eat without fear. She is also fairly matter of fact about living with allergies since she has done it since birth.    I have bought lots of books for children with allergies that we read whenever she wants, as well as the Alexander the Elephant video from www.foodallergy.org.  Sometimes she gets very down and upset about having so many allergies and not being like other kids.  I tell her that it is perfectly normal to get angry, or cry, or feel sad about her allergies and that I understand.  I also tell her that maybe someday she will outgrow some of her allergies, but if not she is very healthy and will learn how to cook amazing things! Occasionally she gets upset at wearing her epi belt when she is wearing a dress, but she got a pretty purse that she can carry in those occasions (when I am with her).

Hunter

My middle child, Hunter (7 1/2), was diagnosed with celiac disease 18 months after his sister. He was also diagnosed with dairy allergy at the same time. Growing up with his sister’s allergies, it was very easy to explain to him what it meant and what he had to avoid.  At the time of diagnosis Hunter was so sick with what we at first assumed to be appendicitis that we had him in the emergency room, so he made his own decision not to eat any more gluten or dairy. Hunter carries epi pens for bee stings, diagnosed at age 2 after being stung twice, and is severely allergic to latex.
   Hunter does not care what anyone thinks about his food at lunch, and is one of those kids who make eating different seem cool.  He is very matter of fact about eating gluten and dairy free since he was so sick at diagnosis.  Hunter is the child who tells everyone how much healthier his food is and how good it tastes, and has everyone wanting to taste some!  He is also good about his bee sting allergy, and tells all of his friends about it so they help keep him safe.  He is fantastic about wearing his epi pouch at all times, and makes sure they are up to date and that he has Benadryl and bandaids with him.

Truman

    Truman is my oldest, turning 10 this month. As a toddler he had severe allergy to spider and mosquito bites, which would swell his eyes shut if he got bit anywhere from his shoulders up to the top of his head.  He finally outgrew those allergies at age 5, but proved to be very sensitive to dairy, soy, and gluten – reacting with behavior issues, bed wetting, and a deep asthma-like cough when he ate dairy.  Truman is also very very sensitive to sulfites, and is malignant hyperthermia susceptible like his siblings.  Truman also has asthma.
    Truman is often sensitive to what people at school think of his “different” lunches.  His siblings and I keep telling him how much healthier he is, and he agrees that “Mom makes the best food!” Most of the time he agrees that at least his allergies aren’t nearly as bad as his sister’s, and that he has a bunch more freedom than she does.
As a parent, the allergies can be all consuming at times.  My oldest son Truman (10 in Jan.) is intolerant to soy, gluten, and dairy. I am anaphylactic to dairy and chaomoile, likely celiac (never been tested, but my family doc and Mandie’s allergist say yes based on symptoms and two kids with the disease), allergic to soy & share many of Mandie’s other allergies.  Because of our sensitivity, we must avoid all foods made in the same facility with dairy, gluten, & corn.  The scope of Mandie’s allergies means we do not allow any gluten, dairy, shellfish, mollusks, chamomile, palm (including soaps) or soy products into our home, and only limited coconut, sunflower, safflower, olive oil, & corn.  I used to keep our entire home free of Mandie’s allergens, but the list is so insanely long now that it is not feasible.  The boys know to wash up after eating, or Mandie reminds them. She is not airborne or contact allergic to peanuts, almonds, honey, chocolate, banana, & oats, so the rest of us eat those with caution.  We make sure all soaps in the house are Mandie-safe, as well as all cleaning products. I make dinners that are safe for all of us, though everyone else can use salad dressings or Daiya cheese, or almonds on our salads.  Breakfast is usually cereal of some type – very few cold cereals are Mandie-safe, so she eats the ones that are, or I make her hot cereal using fruit, quinoa flakes, millet, cream of rice or cream of buckwheat.  I make all of our bread to be Mandie-safe, and at lunch we all eat our favorite sandwiches (Mandie eats homemade cashew butter with homemade jellies and apple, pear, or pumpkin butter) and chips (Mandie’s are homemade).  Mandie also loves to snack on toasted pumpkin seeds or chickpeas instead of chips.
      Every single decision I make has to be filtered through our allergies.  We don’t often take Mandie with us to stores, and anyplace we go we bring all of our own food, table coverings, safe wipes – plus each of our Epi bags with our epi pens, Benadryl, inhalers, latex-free bandaids, and lavender oil.  I spend several hours each day researching how to make or buy safe soaps, cleaners, toothpaste, ketchup, mayonnaise, pickles, barbecue sauce, etc.  At school, Mandie uses Avon’s Silicone Glove lotion whenever she is not in her classroom, sits at a special table at lunch, has her own snacks, lunch from home, and uses a placemat at lunch and snack time at school. All of her class washes hands upon entering the classroom, after bathroom breaks, snacks, and lunch. Every table is wiped down with Clorox wipes after lunches and snacks, and students have been taught not to touch her skin after lunch until they wash up.  Even so, every day I pray that I won’t get a call of a severe reaction while she’s at school.
    I am a member of numerous allergy groups on yahoo groups and facebook, and would like to start a local group in my town to bring other moms together.  It is VERY important to have other moms to vent to, bounce ideas off of, cry with, and curse about the difficulties and stresses of this life we live. It is too overwhelming to think of the consequences of not doing what all I do keep us all safe.
Most of the time I am on a bit of an autopilot as we go through our routine, thinking about what needs to be done and why, but not really feeling it. When I do think about all of the details, such as writing it all down or talking to the allergist, or coping with a reaction, the severity hits home and I break down and cry with my fiancé, talk to friends, and think about how blessed we truly are as I have friends who face far worse challenges than we do.  Through it all, I just pray every day that they will outgrow at least some of their allergies.  This is also why I walk in the FAAN (now FARE) WALK for Food Allergies in Chicago each year.  Connecting with other allergy parents and children, hearing the latest research, and raising money to help fund a cure is a very empowering way to deal with all of the myriad emotions that come with living this kind of life.

13 Reasons Living Gluten-Free will make this the best year yet

I finally met Laura in person at the Celiac Awareness Tour in Cleveland, Ohio in 2012 and I just simply adore her! We have similar stories and passion for sharing information and awareness about celiac and gluten free living. I thought what a better way to do this than by cross promoting our blogs. So here is her guest blog!

Enjoy…

Rebecca

GFreeLaura_Header

13 Reasons Living Gluten-Free will make this the best year yet

If I could describe the month of January in three words it would be motivated, success, and failure. Yeah, you didn’t read the last word incorrectly, I meant to say failure. Why? Because two weeks in to this wintry month, resolutions turn into dreams, and results turn into that thing you will never obtain. Well folks, it’s time to change your failures into life changes! It’s time to be happy, healthy, and no longer support your bad habits and so-called addictions.

Have you been toying with the idea of going gluten-free? Did you doctor recommend this diet for you, but it seems so…difficult? Were you recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease and you just can’t seem to pull the final gluten plug?

Throw all of the things holding you back out the gosh darn window people!

Here are 13 reasons why going gluten-free in 2013 will make this the BEST year yet:

1. Stop being so tired!
Many suffer extreme fatigue as a symptom of Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance. Think of all the times you say, “If I only had more energy I would be able to do more”, well here’s your chance! Going gluten-free can help you feel less sluggish so you will have the ability to do more of the things you love.

2. No more gas
Yuck, I know. But it’s reality, isn’t it? I tooted my own horn way too often before I went gluten-free, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Just days after going gluten-free my flatulence subsided. I no longer had deadly gas brewing, but instead I felt, dare I say, normal!

3. Sayonara, Bloated Stomach!
Do you ever feel like you’re a hot air balloon on the verge of popping? The culprit may be gluten. Before I went gluten-free, I would eat a slice of bread and look 6 months preggers just an hour later. The bloating side-effect may not seem like a huge deal, but once you no longer have to experience it, it is truly a wonderful thing!

4. See ya, Constipation!
Yeah, no one likes to talk about it, but it happens. One of the most uncomfortable things to experience is constipation. Some people that should be on a gluten-free diet experience constipation as a side-effect (while others experience the opposite). Both can be horrible. But, going gluten-free may take away all of your toilet troubles.

5. Vominos, Vomitting!
Although I didn’t personally experience this symptom, my sister did. She seemed to constantly be vomiting. What was mistaken in college for “drinking too much” has since been diagnosed as a side-effect of the gluten she was ingesting. If you experience the vomiting symptom regularly, think of how good life would be without it…

6. Stop being so Irritable
Tell your husband/wife/sister/friend that it’s not your fault you’re so irritable (well, to a certain extent). Many experience extreme irritability as a result of gluten in their diet. Imagine a life in which you aren’t so…wound up. Now go achieve it!

7. Get your ‘bean-stalk’ on
Many children suffering from Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance experience delayed growth before going on a gluten-free diet. If your child seems like they aren’t growing as they should be, gluten could be the common denominator. See what happens to your child’s height when they go on a gluten-free diet. You might have a weed on your hands after that!

8. Finally Gain the Weight
Some may call you crazy for explaining your weight loss as ‘unwanted’, but we understand. If you’re on a gluten-filled diet that doesn’t agree with your body, the result could be unexplained and unwanted weight loss. You simply are not absorbing the nutrients you need. Going gluten-free might be the answer to your problems.

9. Itchy Skin Resolution!
One of the most annoying things that can come from eating gluten is dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy skin rash that looks like eczema or poison ivy. This is one symptom that everyone can see. People can hide stomach pain, diarrhea, and flatulence, but you can’t hide unattractive skin rashes. Think of how beautiful life would be if you didn’t have to deal with this issue!

10. Feelings of Depression may Subside
There might be a reason you always feel down in the dumps. What could be better than testing out a gluten-free diet and seeing not only a change in your body, but also change in your mood?! By going gluten-free this year, you just might change a lot of negatives into positives!

11. Finally Hitting Puberty
All you teenagers and parents reading this – there may be an explanation for you or your child’s delayed puberty. I personally experienced delayed puberty that I attribute to my gluten-filled diet growing up. This is a symptom of Celiac Disease and could be remedied with a gluten-free diet.

12. Become ‘Regular’
Ladies, some women experience erratic menstrual periods as a result from their gluten-filled diet. This may seem trivial to some, but I know it can be mighty annoying when you’re the one dealing with it. Imagine a world where you become regular. Maybe a gluten-free diet can help you achieve that!

13. Be Healthy!
The number one thing a gluten-free diet can do for you in 2013 is help you to become healthy. Being healthy isn’t achieving just one thing; it is an all-encompassing term. A gluten-free diet may help you to alleviate several symptoms, enabling you to be healthy in your mind, spirit, and body. All three of these contribute to a happy life.

If you’re struggling to start a gluten-free diet this year, remember the above reasons why it can help you. You can also join the online gluten-free community for help and support through this confusing time.
It is also important to consult your doctor before going on a gluten-free diet.

 

Guest Post: Maggie McKay – My Pretty Little Assistant

Hi! My name is Maggie and I’m Rebecca’s assistant. I have had the pleasure of knowing this wonderful woman for almost a year now and she has had the most incredible impact on me. This is why I decided to share with you what separates Rebecca Black from every other fitness expert, blogger, and boss. I have aligned how I feel with the mantra of her business, Bexa Body Fitness.

…a strong mind is the key to a strong body

As many of you know, Rebecca struggled with depression after receiving her celiac diagnosis. Having witnessed the dramatic shift in her attitude and her struggles first hand, I now fully empathize and understand what a struggle it is to live with celiac disease. Having overcome many struggles in her young adult life, Rebecca has kept an unbelievably positive attitude through it all which has motivated me to keep a healthy mind in my own personal struggles.

…life challenges are positive things- the provide motivation to dig deep and push hard

She herself has been on her own personal weight-loss journey along with her journey to understand and cope with her diagnosis. I’m sure many who struggle with their celiac diagnosis know how much better it is to get advice from someone who has been there and fought the same battle. Those with celiac disease can really relate to Rebecca’s story. She is so incredibly honest because she wants to give a sense of comfort to those who are dealing with things she has had to tackle herself. You don’t want someone without celiac disease telling how you should feel; those who don’t suffer probably have no real idea (me included).

…what you do both in and out of the gym matter

She practices what she preaches, and not just in the gym! Rebecca follows the same advice that she’ll give you. She’s quick to correct any behavior that she wouldn’t tell her clients or anyone seeking advice from her. This summer I had the pleasure of being her third roommate (just another example of how wonderful Rebecca is) and I witnessed firsthand how Rebecca and Aaron cut snack food from their house. She knows that with doing work from home comes the temptation to snack. So they got rid of it! You won’t find a single bag of chips in their pantry. They also stopped drinking crystal light because of all of the unhealthy additives. Instead they buy natural juice and mix it with water to create what we like to call “juice water”. If you have the pleasure of receiving fitness or health advice from Rebecca, you should know that she’s following that exact same advice. She put it best by asking us, “Are you ready to change your life for the last time? I did and I am NEVER looking back”.

…a strong mind is the key to a strong body

She’s SO ambitious. Rebecca’s ambition is the key to her success. She used that drive first to lose the weight, to compete, to open her own business, and now to become an incredibly successful celiac blogger and speaker. Bexa Body Fitness embodies everything that Rebecca stands for. Bexa is an unbelievably positive environment full of people with REAL goals. The clients of Bexa aren’t there because they want to look like Victoria’s Secret models, they are there because they want their own after picture. Rebecca is constantly throwing out big ideas for her business. She never stops showing us what she’s capable of and what she knows her business if capable of. Weekly lunch meetings with her are hour long conversations about all of her projects. I am constantly impressed with the amount of work she takes on. She holds her staff to high standards because Rebecca doesn’t accept anything but the best her clients.

Thank you for listening to me for a bit! I hope you all take what I said to heart and have an even greater understanding of and appreciation for this woman

Yours truly,

My wife is the Pretty Little Celiac and this is our Celiac Journey…

The Trophy Husband

Diaries of the Pretty Little Celiac’s Husband

“Watch the cart” This is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Rebecca and her relationship with food. There are too many times to count when we would be speeding home from a night of eating out, screaming at me to go faster or she was going to “bleep her pants”. One time in particular, I had marks on my shoulder when she was grinding her nails into my shoulder as I was turning the corner, coming into our sub-division. We were forced to stop behind a car of an elderly couple who seem to be lost and to my dismay going under 10 miles per hour. I can’t even count how many times this happened. For a while, we would go to the grocery store immediately after eating out. Within 5 minutes of arrival, somewhere between the produce and bakery (rather ironically), she would eventually tell me to “watch the cart’, and she quickly walked to the restroom to ‘check out the facilities’. What was tough for me to understand was the relationship between what she was eating and her sometimes explosive reaction to the food. She would have what we thought was a very healthy dinner, chicken, veggies, whole wheat bread… explosion.. Then we would eat something that would be considered bad or greasy, like cheese fries or nachos loaded with cheese, and nothing. It was like trying to dodge land mines, but they were invisible or at least mis-labeled.

I Have Allergies too!
To give this some perspective,I have always had an allergy to nuts, more specifically, tree nuts. I have been to the emergency room about a dozen times in 30 years. If I have something with nuts in it, I have an immediate reaction. My reaction is much more severe than what Rebecca has with gluten. Certain nuts, if I ingest enough of them, will swell me up to the point where I will not be able to breathe, and die within minutes. Other nuts will give me hives so bad that I become almost unrecognizable. That being said, I find my allergy much more manageable than having celiac. Why? I pretty much know what food has nuts and what doesn’t. Nut allergies are well established in the manufacturing industry the labels on food are done in a way where there is no ambiguity, which I think has to do with the severity of the allergy. If someone eats a product that has nuts but it was not on the label, and dies, the lawyers come in. In the case of Gluten, if gluten is in a product and it says it is ‘Gluten Free’ and it irritates my stomach, it is pretty hard to sue for that. How could you prove it? I can’t even picture how that would play out in court!

In restaurants, it is very easy to find out what has nuts and what doesn’t, most of the time you can see them and there are well established foods that I know to stay away from.. IE Chinese (cooking in nut oils), desserts with walnuts, pecans , cashews…. For gluten, it’s not that straight forward, even to the most veteran celiac. We typically get looks of confusion if Rebecca asks if an item has gluten or not. Sometimes the quick response of “no’. That is even more concerning, since it is hard to determine if the waiter waitress is truly understanding the question. Lastly, the reaction to the gluten is not as automatic as the nut allergy. I am so sensitive to the nuts, I can of just smell them in the food and know. One bite (not even swallowing) and I immediately know. With gluten, sometimes it happens hours later or at times…days…so there is no immediate feedback. The gluten reaction can also be days in length, and can be one of many things for Rebecca. Mostly notably multiple trips to the bathroom. I know way more about her poop then I would ever care to admit.

More than that, it negatively affects her mood, her joints and at times our relationship. Damn you gluten!

The Experiments
Now that she has found out, initially there was a sense of relief. However, quickly a hard realization. Things that she loved to eat were slowly poisoning her. It has been tough. It is tough for me to find the correct way to support her in these struggles. I am a problem solver at work, however, in my experience with Rebecca, it is best to give her unconditional support and someone to listen to ,as opposed to offering any solutions. I don’t have to live with this condition, and I am learning along with her. I don’t have to live with the mistakes or mis-steps that happen along the way. The first few months she stuck to the four of five things she liked and could eat…but those would quickly come and go… Chipotle for a month, then Noodles and Company… then Annie’s Gluten free Mac and Cheese. Trips to gluten-free bakeries, gluten-free bagels, pizza.. some of it will disintegrate in your month… some of it was actually better than the gluten-free product, but you always pay 2x as much for it. We continue to find things we like, and don’t. Rebecca is very vocal either way.. no ambiguity.

How it affected me and my own weight struggles…
One unintended side effect of the discovery that Rebecca had gluten, was that it had positive effects on my health. To be supportive, and also because  I didn’t want to make two different meals (yes, I am the cook in the house), I began eating mostly gluten-free. I have struggled with keeping my weight down, and in the past I combated that with working out more and eating less of the foods I really enjoy! I was smack dab in the middle of one of my most ambitious cycles to get in shape. I was working out, sometime 2x a day, and I was actually gaining weight. The I had started to eat the gluten-free diet, again, the reason of convenience and sanity. I first noticed more energy in the afternoon while I was at work.

Before this, energy from caffeine was the only way I could get through the afternoon. But after eliminating the majority of the gluten in my diet, I was feeling more energetic and didn’t feel I needed caffeine in the afternoons. I began to feel as if there was something to this. I have now embraced eating this way, as well as more small improvements, and have lost 27 pounds in 12 weeks. I am working out less than once a week and not counting calories! My body seems to respond better to not having gluten, and I have never felt better and more energetic.

How I am trying to help…
I listen, I empathize and I learn. As mentioned before, I was not familiar with Celiac disease and gluten. In fact, my knowledge of truly good nutrition was greatly out of date. I have spent the past 5 months researching nutrition and in particular how it affects us on a daily basis. There are great resources on the internet. I particularly like some podcasts I have found on iTunes (search the ‘Health’ category). I listen to these on my to work or when I have the time. Rebecca and I have listened to them on the way to and from some our trips and we have found information that is consistent with what she is experiencing. Cooking for Rebecca continues to be a learning experience. We are constantly trying to find ways to cook the foods we like in a gluten-free manner. Sometimes is works, sometime it doesn’t, and we have to eat the failures. I know immediately if Rebecca doesn’t like it, and we now have at least a few things we can eat consistently. For the most part, we don’t eat out, and when we do there are specific restaurants we target.

What’s next?
We continue to try to find ways to have a lifestyle that we both enjoy. We have had many ups and downs.. mentally, emotionally, physically.. those won’t stop, at least not in the short-term. We are doing it together, but we stumble. She has to live with her body and it’s crankiness, but I see it getting better, although some days there are setbacks. We now celebrate eating out and not getting sick, we celebrate finding a pizza crust that is close to what she used to experience. We celebrate normal bowl movements… yes I said it.

Rebecca started her blog to help people find those little celebrations, to dodge the pitfalls she has found, and to inspire those who have this disease. She is also are looking to collaborate and learn from those who are fighting to maintain a normal and happy life. One day at a time, one meal at a time, we will get there.

Aaron

 

 

  • Becky

    It was as if you were writing about my life! Thank you.

     

    • PrettyLittleCeliac

      You are so welcome! Thank you for stopping by and I just plan on posting more and more…. Stay tuned and let me know if you’d like any specific blog posts…
      Rebecca

       

  • Victoria Rutigliano

    I have a VERY similar story as well. It took years for me to get diagnoised. So great that you are spreading the word to help others. This is a great website.

     

    • PrettyLittleCeliac

      Thank you Victoria for stopping by and I’m thrilled you enjoyed my website. That was the whole point in doing it to educate people. Did they say you had irritable bowel syndrome too?