Easiest S’mores Treat Ever

IMG_3637I‘ve had s’mores on the brain lately for some reason. Maybe it’s the fact that summer is finally rolling around after an extremely long winter, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve posted a few similar ideas on Facebook recently… Whatever the reason, I’ve been in the mood for s’mores, and found a super simple (yet dangerous for my waistline) way to get a fix…and you don’t even need a campfire…

Here’s what you do:

Get these 3 ingredients:  GF sugar cones, marshmallows & Hershey’s chocolate bars. (Personally, we don’t care too much for dry, crumbly graham crackers and much prefer using crisp, tasty sugar cones instead)…

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Note: Each treat uses 1 cone, 1 marshmallow & 3 Hershey’s chocolate rectangles.
You just take a cone, drop in one piece of chocolate, and a marshmallow on top of that. Break the other 2 pieces of chocolate in half and tuck them around the marshmallow.

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Sit each cone upright in some kind of cup and pop it in the microwave for about 10-12 seconds. Stay there and watch it, as the marshmallow really expands when heated. Tuck everything back into the cone if it starts popping out, let cool for a few seconds, grab a napkin and enjoy.

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And, yeah, your kids will love them, too!  ;)

IMG_3656Happy summer!

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Gluten-free Mini Easter Baskets

Easter is coming soon so I wanted to give you this idea for something fun and easy to make with your g-free kids. I have shared this before, but it’s a favorite of my girls, so I’m putting it out there again for new followers since it’s such a keeper!  :)

To make them, you will need:
– gluten-free ice cream cones with flat bottoms
– sugared gummy worms
– gluten-free frosting (we used Pillsbury)
– regular size marshmallows
– gluten-free jelly beans
– sweetened coconut
– food coloring

And here is how you make them…

The first thing you do (to make the shorter baskets shown above) is to take a sharp knife and cut off the top portion of the cone, so that it looks like the photo below. It doesn’t need to be perfect since the frosting and coconut will cover the edges… Then you pop a regular sized marshmallow inside the cone and tuck a sugared gummy worm in around the edges, as shown below. This gives you a surface to frost on and keeps the “handle” of the basket snugly in place…

After that, you just frost the top with vanilla frosting (plus a drop or two of food coloring) and then add coconut and three jelly beans. We made four different frosting colors and four matching coconut colors (sweetened coconut with a drop or two of food coloring mixed in) so they were coordinated.

We also discovered something fun afterwards, when we mixed the remaining coconut colors together: rainbow-colored coconut!  Here it is on a full-sized basket, without the top cut off, in case you choose to do it that way. (I just think the shorter ones look more proportional, and this one needs 2 marshmallows inside the cone). As you also may notice, the gummy worm’s pattern makes it look even more like a basket handle when the lined side is facing out like this:

Either way (short or tall) these Easter baskets are sure to be a hit — whether you make just a few for your family, or make a lot for a school party or church brunch. We kept them in an air-tight container and they tasted great even days later.

For more sweet ideas, check out our Chocolate Peeps Eggshells and Muddy Bunnies at this link.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!  ~Katie

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and be sure to check out the online photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page.

Book Review and Giveaway: “Cilie Yack is Under Attack”

IMG_1757What a fun book.  Cilie Yack is Under Attack, written and illustrated by Caryn Talty is a hilarious chapter book for gluten-free kids. I read the entire thing, myself, for a few days in a row over lunch and actually looked forward to it each day!  My daughters read it together in the car on a road trip, as well… they laughed and read favorite parts of it out loud to us often.  Here are our collective thoughts on the book:

In a nutshell, we all loved it. We won this book through a contest a few years ago and waited a bit for my girls to grow into being able to read it. It’s the only chapter book about Celiac that I know of for older kids, so it definitely fills a need — in a great way.

IMG_1766It’s written from the perspective of a spunky 9 year old boy living in Ireland named Cilie (pronounced “silly”). The book begins with, “This is the story of how one boy turned his problems into a triumph, and how you can, too!” From there the story is told from the point of view of Cilie, and the next 15 chapters are filled with good humor, Irish sayings (explained), cute cartoony illustrations, sidebars (like explanations of Irish football) age-appropriate explanations of Celiac, and off-topic ramblings that are perfect for kids around this age group. You really get an excellent sense of this boy’s character and he is a fun-loving, sometimes misunderstood but totally likeable kid. He never “talks down to you” and kids will love his honesty and openness about feelings of embarrassment, disappointment, excitement and pride.

IMG_1759In the beginning Cilie tells how as a baby his Mum said he was very cranky and “topped both my brothers combined in poop production by the time I was three.” As a young boy he used to act out as class clown and troublemaker, acted wild and out of control whenever he ate gluten, and was mean to his little brothers. His stomach was often upset and he didn’t like to eat, except for his one favorite food “goody” which was bread, milk and sugar. In the chapter called, “Poop Talk” he confesses to all kinds of pooping problems, even a few embarrassing accidents. At age 5, his doctor runs some tests on him and they finally realize it’s Celiac which means a life-long gluten-free diet for him. Once he gets over his initial shock about not being able to eat “goody” anymore, he realizes he’s beginning to feel better and act better as well.

IMG_1760After a while, he writes a great report on Celiac (which is included on 3 pages of the book along with an illustration) by explaining it in his own words, earning himself his first accolades at school. Eventually he starts to feel jealous of not being able to eat certain foods and sneaks some chocolate cake at a party, not long before he “pukes it back up.”

IMG_1758After that his Mum takes him to a special store where they buy lots of gluten-free ingredients to experiment with, and after many flops, finally starts to make some amazing creations in the kitchen. His confidence soars as he figures out new things to eat, and he creates and masters the perfect recipe for carrot cake, which sells out at his football team’s bake sale.

I’ll leave the ending as a surprise, since I’ve already divulged so much, but rest assured your g-free kid will love this book. If he or she is not ready or able to read this alone, I urge you to read it aloud with them so you can share in the laughs.

A word from the author, Caryn Talty:  “This book is written at a 4th grade level as far as vocabulary and readability goes. But the content is geared toward younger kids. I encourage parents to read the book out loud with their kids and talk about what happens to Cilie in the story. I read it out loud with my youngest son at age 5 when he began having digestive problems and was being tested for celiac. He understood the story and celiac disease very well when we finished. We gave donation copies to our kids’ school library and I’ve had kids of all ages come to me to tell me they’ve read the book and enjoyed it. The story is based on some very real experiences my oldest son had before he was diagnosed, but of course Cilie’s story is much more humorous and exaggerated. At the time when my son was sick and symptomatic we did not find much to laugh about. That’s why I decided a few years later that a book like this was important to create. I wanted kids with celiac to relax, understand that they are not alone and it will get better. I also wanted to create a hero out of a kid who seemingly has a lot of weaknesses, or so he thinks. Sometimes being different is magical, especially when you have the right attitude and a little bit of willpower.”

One more note from me:  I took these pictures late at night in a warmly lit room which is why the pages look yellow. However, they are actually white.  :)

Now for the giveaway: The author has generously agreed to give away 2 copies of this book to 2 lucky winners!  All you have to do is comment below with how your g-free kid might be able to relate to Cilie’s story in this book. Giveaway ends at midnight on Friday, March 7th. Randomly chosen winners will be notified and given 24 hours to respond, or other winners will be chosen to replace them.  U.S. residents only please. Good luck!

If you don’t win, I hope you’ll still buy this book for your g-free kid. It’s currently only $8.09 on Amazon.com and shipping is free if you have Amazon Prime.

Caryn Talty runs the Healthy Family blog which supports “organic living for a healthy family”. Also inspired by this book is the Cilie Yack’s Sous Chef Club.  Check it out!

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[ Disclaimer: We won this book in a contest a few years ago. The opinions I expressed are my own, honest feelings about the book, as well as my daughters'.  ]

Keep coming back for more things for g-free kids, and don’t forget to check out the photo album and kids’ stuff page!

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Favorite Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

pieWe made our favorite peanut butter pie again for family game night at Aunt Kate’s last night. We thought we’d send the Olympics off in (our own casual) style by making the 5 Olympic rings out of M&M’s on our pie. I just found a jar lid that would work in size and lightly marked where the rings should be, then stuck in M&M’s sideways instead of laying them flat. It was surprisingly easy! I was just going to post it on Facebook and link to the recipe, when I realized that I have yet to post it other than on our recipe PDF. So, here you go!  Recipe is below, followed by photos of a few different ways we have topped our pies. These are a local hit with lots of friends and family making this same recipe, most of them not even gluten-free themselves. Enjoy!

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Rx for a Sick G-Free Kid

sickieAh, cold and
flu season….
You’d think that
the lack of global warming keeping us in this deep freeze this winter would kill off some germs, wouldn’t you?

Well, alas, our g-free kids might still catch some viruses before springtime rolls around…

Just in case, here are some tips collected from parents like us on what we can do to help a sick kid feel better, even when
he or she is on a gluten-free diet.

I recently posted the question “What do you do for your g-free kid when they are sick?” on Facebook and here are the top responses. These tips apply to kids with stomach bugs, as well as kids whose appetites just aren’t up to par due to other mild wintertime illnesses.

Tips from fellow parents:

  • If still in vomiting stage, just give them tiny ice chips & sips of water
  • Ginger Ale (flat, so there aren’t any bubbles) helps settle the stomach
  • Homemade chicken broth (some say just the broth)
  • Steamed, plain rice
  • Chicken soup with rice or just broth with rice
  • Rice cooked in chicken stock with ground chicken
  • Bone broth
  • Chicken pho with rice noodles
  • Homemade chicken noodle soup: GF broth, GF spaghetti noodles (cut up) and shredded chicken, maybe w/ some soft cooked veggies, too
  • The BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, GF toast)
  • GF Rice Krispies (dry)
  • Plain, dry cereal or toast
  • Glutino and Schar both have plain table crackers that are similar to soda crackers
  • One mom swears by this: apple cinnamon rice cakes & Mountain Dew
  • Gluten-free pretzels or plain tortilla chips to nibble on
  • GF canned soups by: Amy’s, Gluten Free Cafe, Progresso
  • ice pops
  • Pedialyte liters and Pedialyte freezer pops (download PDF here on stomach bugs)
  • Set your child up with a hot water bottle on his or her tummy
  • Tummy rubs and head rubs
  • TLC (tender loving care — a g-free kid is still a regular kid who needs love, after all)  :)

*Please note:  This is not professional medical advice. These tips are from parents just like us who have shared their personal advice for how to help sick g-free kids feel better…. Please seek real medical advice from your own family’s doctor for anything out of the ordinary.

If anyone wants to add other tips or advice to this list, please comment below. Thanks!

24 Gluten Free Summer Camps for 2014

I rounded up this list of 24 summer camps (the last 4 are new to this list) which give gluten-free campers the chance to enjoy traditional camp activities without having to worry about what they will eat. It’s the perfect summertime escape from feeling left out or different because they can’t eat what everyone else is having. At these camp sessions, kids’ meals are gluten-free and carefully prepared so that there will be no need for them to ask or to wonder, “Is this safe for me to eat?”

In researching the below list of camps it was interesting to see the various approaches to gluten-free campers. Some camp philosophies celebrate that the kids are gluten-free, while others focus on treating all campers the same except for which meals they receive. Some camps intermingle gluten-free and non-gluten-free kids while other camps have only gluten-free campers and gluten-free food for that particular session. A few camps only allow diagnosed-Celiac kids, so make sure you double check that they also allow kids with wheat allergy and/or non-celiac gluten sensitivity as well. Learn more at the camp links below…

Regardless of how these camps are set up, they all seem like excellent environments for gluten-free kids. The directors and food staff seem very knowledgeable about food preparation safety, and some can even accommodate other special diets such as nut-free, casein-free, etc. They all seem to understand the importance of making kids feel “normal” and making sure their campers enjoy themselves without having to think about their diet.

I remember going to summer camp a few times as a child, and a lot of my memories revolved around foods that we ate there. If I would have known then that I was a Celiac,
I most likely wouldn’t have been able to attend. Now, with these 24 summer camps providing the opportunities that they do, hundreds of
gluten-free children are now
able to enjoy camp activitie
s — horseback riding, canoeing, archery, swimming and countless other activities — free from worrying about their diet. It is exciting to know that the number of camps like these continues to grow, which means even more choices when the time comes for my own daughters to attend one.

So, why not check out the below links and treat your child to an unforgettable adventure this summer!? Registration has already begun for some of these camps, so sign your child up before it’s too late!  Age, cost and registration requirements will vary. Scholarship opportunities and waiting lists are available at some camps.

U.S. gluten-free summer camps  (in no particular order)

 

#1 & #2:  New Jersey Y Camps:
(Nah Jee Wah, Cedar Lake, Teen Camp, and Round Lake)
When:  Gluten Free Family Weekend May 30 – June 1, 2014
Where:  Milford, PA (about 2 hrs from NYC)
For more info:  click here
*These mainstream neighboring camps share a dedicated gluten-free kitchen,
and can accommodate campers on gluten-free diets at any of their mainstream sessions.
These camps have partnered with Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

#3:  Camp Fire USA Gluten-Free camp session
When:  July 13 –18, 2014
Where:  Camp Waluhili on scenic Fort Gibson Lake, 45 min. from Tulsa, OK
For more info:  click here and here

#4:  “Free To Be” Camp at Camp Westminster
When:  June 15 – 21, 2014
Where:  Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake in Roscommon, MI
For more info: click here
*Can accommodate the avoidance of other food allergens
such as casein, soy, egg and nuts
.

#5:  Summer Camp Weekaneatit
When:  July 13-18, 2014
Where:  Camp Twin Lakes- Camp Dream in Warm Springs, GA
For more info:  click here

#6:  Gluten-Free Camp
When:  June 29 – July 3, 2014
Where:  Camp Manitou-Lin on Ol’ Lake Barlow in Middleville, MI
For more info: click here and here and here

#7:  The Great Gluten Escape at Camp Gilmont
When:  June 15 – 20, 2014
Where:  Camp Gilmont in Gilmer, TX
For more info:  click here

#8:  Gluten Detective Day Camp
When: July 22 – 24, 2014  •  9am – 3pm daily
Where: Bloomington, MN
For more info: click here
Celiac and all gluten-intolerant kids welcome, as well as their siblings

#9:  Camp Celiac at Camp Arroyo
When: July 21 – 24; July 24 – 27, 2014
Where: Camp Arroyo, Livermore, CA
For more info: click here

#10: GIG Kids Camp West (at Camp Sealth)
When: August 4 – 9, 2014
Where:  Camp Sealth, Vashon Island, WA
For more info: click here and here
*Can accommodate children with both gluten intolerance & diabetes.
*Camp Sealth is peanut-free

#11: GIG Kids Camp East (at Camp Kanata)
When:  July 27 – August 2, 2014
Where:  Camp Kanata, Wake Forest, NC
For more info: click here and here and here

#12: Camp Celiac
When:  August 10 – 15, 2014
Where:  Camp Aldersgate, North Scituate, RI
For more info: click here

#13: Gluten-Free Fun Camp
When:  July 20 – 25, 2014
Where:  Camp Courage in Annandale, MN
For more info: click here

#14: Camp Eagle Hill
Where: Elizaville, NY
For more info: click here and here
Dedicated GF kitchen. Meals are GF versions of other campers’ meals

#15: International Sports Training Camp
Where: Stroudsburg, PA
For more info: Call 570-620-2267 or click here and here
Executive Chef is Celiac and completed Great Kitchens Camps program through NFCA

#16 and #17: Camp Danbee & Camp Taconic
Where: Hinsdale, MA
These two mainstream camps cater to celiac/gluten-intolerant kids during any session.
For more info:  Camp Danbee (girls) or Camp Taconic (boys)

#18: Appel Farm Arts Camp
Where: Elmer, NJ
For more info:  Call 856-358-2472 or click here
Camp chef is certified in gluten-free meal-planning, and gluten-free food is available.

#19: Camp Emerson
Where: Hinsdale, MA
For more info:
  Call 800-782-3395 or click here and here.
Accommodates food-allergic/intolerant and Celiac kids during any session. Separate GF Kitchen Area. Registered Dietician on staff to review menu with each family. Professional Chefs trained in food allergy management and gluten-free meal planning.

#20: Hidden Valley 4-H Camp
Where: Watkins Glen, NY
For more info: http://hiddenvalley4hcamp.org or 607-535-7161
This camp caters to food allergies and other dietary restrictions.

#21: Celiac Strong Camp
When: August 1 – 3, 2014
Where: Comstock Camp, Ithaca, NY
For more info: Email sabrina40154@yahoo.com or click here 
Worry-free weekend for boys & girls ages 8-15. Accommodates both gluten-free and lactose-free diets.

#22: Emma Kaufmann Camp
Where: Morgantown, WV
For more info: click here
Gluten-free meals available at all sessions

#23: Camp Schodack
Where: Nassau, NY
For more info: click here
Gluten-free meals available at all sessions

#24: Camp Wekeela
Where: Hartford, Maine
For more info: click here
Gluten-free meals available at all sessions

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A special “thank you” goes out to all of the people who work so hard to offer these amazing camping opportunities to kids like ours!

Click here to read how gluten-free camps help improve a Celiac child’s well-being, self-perception and emotional outlook:
(Study Shows Special Camp Improves Self-Perception of Children on Restricted Diets)

Click here to read a great article on camps from Living Without (April/May 2011): Postcards from Allergy-Friendly Camp

(Bloggers: please note: this took quite a while to compile. Please be considerate and link back to my site if you’d like to post this resource, instead of copying & pasting this info. Thank you!)
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Has your child attended any of these gluten-free camps before?  Please feel free to comment below about their experience. Thanks!

A Sweet Gluten-Free Giveaway

IMG_1628I was diagnosed with celiac in 2007 so it’s been a while since I’ve had real licorice.  It’s been almost as long for my daughters, so we were all excited to try the gluten-free varieties from Candy Tree with their adorable packaging…

Screen shot 2014-02-04 at 8.27.24 AMIn addition to making their gluten-free licorice taste good, Candy Tree has also managed to make it organic, vegan, kosher and dye-free. Their licorice is available in four delicious flavors (traditional black, strawberry, cherry and raspberry) in 4 different forms: bites, twists, lariats and laces.

My girls were not huge fans of the black licorice (I liked it, but I think it’s an acquired taste for some kids) but they did love the red flavors, especially cherry and strawberry. This licorice is chewier than Twizzlers but the taste is very close. We all preferred the texture of the twists and bites the most, but if your g-free kid loves to create in the kitchen, he or she will be thrilled to once again be able to make recipes like these with licorice laces:

Candy Tree also makes wonderful organic lollipops, which my girls may have enjoyed even more than the licorice. They said these lollipops tasted just like real lemonade, real oranges and real strawberries. They’re naturally flavored and dye-free, so my daughters’ mouths, tongues and lips were still the original color when they were all finished —
imagine that!  ;)

You can order Candy Tree candies for your g-free kid from these websites
(in no particular order) :

Now for our giveaway:  The candies in the photo below (click to enlarge) will be equally split between two winners, so 2 people will each get 3 bags of red licorice, 2 bags of black and 1 bag of lollipops…

IMG_1577IMG_1592And to further sweeten the deal, I am throwing in 2 copies of Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? so both winners will receive a copy of this special children’s book as well.

To enter, please leave a comment saying why your child would love to win these prizes. Giveaway ends on Sunday, February 9th at midnight. Randomly chosen winners will be notified and given 24 hours to get back to me with their address. Sorry this isn’t a very long-running contest, but I want the winners to receive their prizes by Valentine’s Day. This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

Disclaimer: Candy Tree sent me free products to review and more for the giveaway, but as always, I only post positive reviews like this when my g-free girls and I actually like a product. And we did.