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!)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Has your child attended any of these gluten-free camps before?  Please feel free to comment below about their experience. Thanks!

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Sandwiches

IMG_1101If you have followed my Facebook page and this blog the past month, you already know I have a thing for candy canes. I’ve posted countless recipes using them and have visions of candy canes dancing in my head when I consider all the possibilities…

One of the few things I really miss as a Celiac is a good ice cream sandwich. Sure, we’ve all squished some ice cream between two round, gluten-free cookies, but I miss that rectangular shape and flat, soft, thin pieces of cookie bars that come on the originals….

Pillsbury-Gluten-Free-Dough-Cookie-DoughSo when I finally picked up a tub of Pillsbury Gluten Free Cookie Dough,
I knew just what to make with it… a Christmassy version of an ice cream sandwich, perfect for this most wonderful time of the year.

Before I get into the recipe and how easy (albeit a bit messy) these were to make, let me just say that this product is perfect to share with supporters of your g-free kid, because now they can make GF cookies with much less risk of cross contamination than they would using dry mixes. This comes ready to use right out of the tub — just scoop it out, plop it down and bake. Supporters can just make a few cookies on tin foil and keep the rest in the tub for another time. Keep this in mind for grandma’s house, church coffee hour, or other get-together where it would be nice (and super thoughtful) to have a few sweet things on hand for the resident g-free kids…

Now, how to make them:
The directions on the tub only tell you how to make regular cookies, but this dough is apparently much more versatile than the package gives it credit for. Thankfully, Pillsbury has this comprehensive collection of recipes using their gluten-free doughs which proved to me that it can be used in many ways.

When I first started scooping out the dough in small pieces and dropping & flattening them down into a (greased) 9″ x 13″ metal baking dish, I wasn’t sure it would cover the whole bottom. It made a pretty thin layer which puffed back up nicely as it baked. I made it at night and covered it loosely with tin foil before I went to bed, and in the morning I easily got it out of the pan and cut it into pieces.

Of course I had to sample some, and all I have to say is, “Wow.” I was taken back to my pre-GF days of old and that classic chocolate chip cookie taste of a soft baked cookie. My husband could NOT believe these are gluten-free. Luckily we stopped eating them and managed to save some to make the recipe with…

So, anyhow, after you flatten the dough onto a greased baking dish, you just bake it for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, take it out and let it cool completely.

IMG_0836Then you cut it into whatever size and shape pieces you want (square, rectangle or use a cookie cutter), making pairs of the same shape and size as you go. I went with a variety of rectangles for old times’ sake.

IMG_0837Then I pressed them together a bit and put them into the freezer on wax paper to stiffen up enough to put the ice cream on.

IMG_0840

While the bars are stiffening up in the freezer, start melting your ice cream (any flavor, really, if you’re not a peppermint fan)…

IMG_1058Just mush the ice cream  between 2 matching pieces…

IMG_1064Pop ‘em back into the freezer onto wax paper, as soon as each one is put together…

IMG_1079Let the ice cream harden up a bit, then clean off & straighten the edges with a knife…

IMG_1090Dip edges into a plate of crushed peppermint or sprinkles and refreeze…

IMG_1094When you feel like surprising your g-free kids with a special treat, get ready to watch their eyes light up as they bite easily into the soft Pillsbury GF cookie ice cream sandwich and realize they will want you to make these again, in whatever flavor you can get them to agree on…  ;)

IMG_1114See what else you can make with all of these gluten-free doughs at the Pillsbury Pinterest board.

Are any of these gluten-free doughs available near you? Find out with the product locator.

Disclaimer: Pillsbury sent me a free product coupon for this dough and is sponsoring this post, but as always, I only post positive reviews like this when my g-free girls and I actually love a product. And we did.

Snyder’s of Hanover New Flavors Review and Giveaway

IMG_0567When Snyder’s of Hanover contacted me about sampling some of their newest pretzel flavors, I was all over it. I’m a Snyder’s pretzel lover from way back in 1989 when my husband and I were first dating and used to dip pretzels into salsa for a late night snack. Once I was diagnosed w/ Celiac in 2007, I discovered Snyder’s gluten-free pretzel sticks and have been eating them ever since, plus their twists which were recently introduced. But I never dreamed I’d be once again eating flavorful seasoned pretzels like the flavors they just came out with!

IMG_0574IMG_0551My girls & I LOVE the new Honey Mustard & Onion flavored sticks. What an awesome flavor combination! My girls ask for these all the time, but we stick with eating them at home. That way their bad breath won’t be making other kids back away at school.  :)  We think these are the perfect pretzel to make “The Big Game Chex Mix” with, using all GF Chex cereals, of course…

We liked the Hot Buffalo Wing flavor, too, although it was a tad spicy for us wimps at first….but once we dipped them into blue cheese (or ranch) dressing, that was the ticket. It cools them off nicely and the combination of the two flavors & textures is sure to be a hit. These would be great to use in the “Buffalo Chex mix“, also substituting GF cheese crackers, using all GF cereals and omitting the hot sauce since these will already be adding a certain amount of spiciness.

IMG_0625Another way we used these pretzels is crushing them up, adding a little parmesan cheese and coating chicken with them. They are the best eaten right away while the pretzel pieces are still crunchy. We crushed both flavors separately and dipped them into blue cheese dressing (or honey mustard or ranch dressing or whatever your g-free kid prefers)….what a simple and convenient way to make a flavorful meal.

I ask you:  Who better than Snyder’s of Hanover to make these great new flavors for g-free pretzels? Which other company makes gluten-free pretzels right here in the good ol’ U. S. of A?  None that I know of — other brands are imported. The fact that they are Certified Gluten Free (with that sight-for-sore-eyes logo printed right on the bags) is a huge plus, too, and I commend them on making the effort.

Have you seen these new flavors in stores yet?  Below is a list of the retailers that have approved placement so far. If your favorite store isn’t on the list, contact them to ask them to carry these awesome pretzels…

Wal Mart • Weis • Tops • Shoprite • Shop N Save • Price Cutter • Piggly Wiggly • Mars • Lowes • Harris Teeter • Ingles • Giant Eagle • Great A & P Tea Co • Albersons
Also available through Snyder’s online store.

By the way, please be sure to tell your child’s supporters how readily available and inexpensive (plain ones are $2.99 for an 8 oz. bag at my Wegmans) Snyder’s gluten-free pretzels are. I don’t know how many times my kids have been to parties where regular pretzels are sitting out as a snack, when (had the host known about Snyder’s GF) maybe they would have been willing to just put GF ones out instead. It’s a simple way to make g-free kids feel “thought of” and included.  :)  I even know some non-GF kids who prefer GF Snyder’s over regular pretzels, believe it or not!

Below, my pretzel hounds are putting on their serious faces, to show that they are pulling for Snyder’s to make gluten-free pretzel rods next!  (hint, hint)

IMG_0588

Now for the giveaway: Snyder’s of Hanover has generously agreed to give away 1 full-size (8 oz.) bag OF BOTH FLAVORS to TEN lucky, randomly-drawn winners. All you have to do is comment below, saying why you and your g-free kid are so excited about these new flavors and what you plan to do with them if you’re a winner. Let’s share some ideas and inspiration — and if you’re already a Snyder’s fan, feel free to add reasons why you prefer their pretzels over other brands. Giveaway ends at midnight on Monday, December 9th. If any winners don’t respond by Tues. December 10th, new winners will be picked to replace them. Good luck!  -Katie

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

[ Disclaimer: Snyder's sent me free samples of their new pretzels, as I could not find them available in stores at the time. The opinions I expressed are my own, honest feelings about their products and I was not coerced into writing a positive review.  :) ]

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For much more in between posts, follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

22 Gluten Free Summer Camps for 2013

I rounded up this list of 22 summer camps 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 everyone 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. I have heard that a few camps only allow diagnosed-Celiac kids, so make sure you double check that they also allow kids with gluten allergy and/or non-celiac gluten sensitivity as well. (I can’t imagine telling my one daughter she couldn’t attend because her gluten-free condition was not deemed as worthy as her sister’s!)  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, and a lot of my memories revolved around foods that we ate there. If I would have known I was a Celiac when I was a child, I most likely wouldn’t have been able to attend. Now, with these 21 summer camps providing the opportunities that they do, hundreds of gluten-free children are now able to enjoy camp activities — 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. Celiac summer camps  (in no particular order)

#1 & #2:  New Jersey Y Camps: Nah Jee Wah & Cedar Lake
When:  Gluten Free Family Weekend May 31 – June 2, 2013
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 21 – 27, 2013
Where:  Camp Waluhili on scenic Fort Gibson Lake, 45 min. from Tulsa, OK
For more info:  click here

#4:  “Free To Be” Camp at Camp Westminster
When:  June 16 – 22 , 2013
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:  June 23 – 28, 2013
Where:  Camp Twin Lakes Will-A-Way in Winder, GA
For more info:  click here

#6:  Camp Gluten Freedom
When: June 25 – 28, 2013
Where: Camp Jameson, Indianapolis, IN
For more info: click here

#7:  Gluten-Free Camp
When:  June 30 – July 5, 2013
Where:  Camp Manitou-Lin on Ol’ Lake Barlow in Middleville, MI
For more info: click here

#8:  The Great Gluten Escape at Camp Gilmont
When:  June 16 – 21, 2013
Where:  Camp Gilmont in Gilmer, TX
For more info:  click here

#9:  Gluten Detective Day Camp
When: July 23 – 25, 2013  •  9am – 3pm daily
Where: Bloomington, MN
For more info: click here
Celiac and all gluten-intolerant kids welcome, as well as their siblings

#10:  Camp Celiac at Camp Arroyo
When: July 23 – 27; July 27 – 31, 2013
Where: Camp Arroyo, Livermore, CA
For more info: click here

#11:  Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) Camp Gluten Free
When: July 15 – 19, 2013
Where: Camp Nawakwa, CA
For more info: click here

#12: GIG Kids Camp West
When: July 31 – Aug. 5 ; Aug. 6 – 9; July 31 – Aug. 9, 2013
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

#13: Gluten-free week at Camp Kanata (GIG Kids Camp East)
When:  August 4 – 10, 2013
Where:  Camp Kanata, Wake Forest, NC
For more info: click here and here

#14: Camp Celiac
When:  August 11 – 16, 2013
Where:  Camp Aldersgate, North Scituate, RI
For more info: click here

#15: Gluten-Free Fun Camp
When:  July 14 – 19, 2013
Where:  Camp New Hope in McGregor, MN
For more info: click here

#16: Camp Eagle Hill
Where: Elizaville, NY
For more info: click here and here
New for 2012: dedicated GF kitchen. Meals are GF versions of other campers’ meals

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

#18 and #19: 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)

#20: 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.

#21: 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.

#22: 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.

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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!)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Has your child attended any of these gluten-free camps before?  Please feel free to comment below about their experience. Thanks!

Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park: Gluten-Free for Cheapskates

flowersIt’s been almost a year since our trip to Disney Magic Kingdom in Orlando, and realizing many families are about to venture there for spring break,
I thought I’d finally take the time to finally tell you about our experience…

My husband and I were basically talked into taking our girls to Disney… Our ideal vacation spot is OBX in the off-season, where you can have an entire beach to yourself — not standing in line at a crowded theme park. Yet even so, we succumbed to the pressure of family and friends advising us to take our girls “at least once”….and actually ended up having a great time — and thanking them for the push!  :)

First of all, we knew we would have to keep it on the cheap side. Thankfully we had friends who were renting a condo about half an hour away from Disney, so we stayed there to avoid hotel fees. Obviously we lucked out with that part. Secondly, we actually drove the 1,200 miles it took us to get there to avoid air fare!  Third, we decided to just spend one day at the Magic Kingdom, and be there from the minute it opened until closing time at night to get our money’s worth. We got recommendations ahead of time from friends who have been there multiple times, asking which attractions were “musts” for 8 year old girls and what they liked about them. We found a map and planned to go to the most highly recommended rides first before the lines got long, then ad lib the rest of the day after we did our “must-sees”.

Another thing I did beforehand was ask people for gluten-free tips on my Facebook page. Thanks to the awesome group of parents on there, I received a bunch of advice and recommendations as to where to eat g-free, which was a huge help…

IMG_5798I’m pretty sure we covered the entire park that day — enjoyed a few GF meals, the evening parade, fireworks and everything else on our list. We knew it would be our only chance to cover it all, so that kept us energized and refusing to quit early. Obviously that’s not going to work for families with various aged kids, but our girls were almost 9 at the time and we were all physically well and able to make it through such a full day.

As far as gluten-free food goes, we did bring some of our own energy bars to snack on in the morning, but we also ate at two restaurants within the Magic Kingdom that day and bought a few other GF treats here and there. (FYI, you are allowed to bring your own cooler and food if you’d like to save even more money that way.)

IMG_0397For lunch we ate at “Cosmic Ray’s” in Tomorrow Land. My girls both had a hotdog with a gluten-free bun (quite possibly the only GF hotdog bun they’ve ever had — we usually just eat them plain) and I had a big angus burger with a gluten-free bun. This picture at left shows my burger…

The bun looked like it was going to be rock-hard when it first came out, but it was totally soft and delicious, as were the girls’ hotdog buns, also shown below… I don’t remember exact prices at this point, but I believe each meal was somewhere around $10 for hotdog, fries and a drink.

IMG_0401For dinner we ate at the “Pinocchio Village Haus” restaurant, which is in Fantasy Land.
We were drenched from an unexpected thunderstorm (I highly advise bringing ponchos!) so we came in to warm up inside and enjoy some food. We split two g-free pizzas (priced the same — $9.95 each — as the regular personal sized pizzas that were only half the size!) which were very tasty and filling, along with some oven-baked fries.

IMG_5802At both places a “Coordinator” took our order, gave us a check with “ALLERGY” stamped on it in red, a buzzer for when it was ready, and that same person followed the order all the way through, even handing it to us himself when it was ready. No confusion, no attitude, no problems….

IMG_0452They really went above and beyond to make us feel confident about our meals and the prices weren’t any higher than regular food. Both restaurants were a great experience. Disney recommends advance notification for sit-down restaurants, but the quick service places (like we went to) are ready to roll with set GF options. It couldn’t be easier! Just tell them you need your meal gluten-free and they take care of everything.

We also cooled off by enjoying their rainbow pops and splurged on (just a few) Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and fruit slushies over the course of the day!  :)

IMG_0418legosAs we were leaving the park that night, someone told us about “Downtown Disney” which is close to the Magic Kingdom — with free admission and free parking! Of course we just had to check it out the next day!  After tooling around the Lego Store and checking out the huge Lego sculptures all around us, we ventured over to Babycakes, which is in the same building as Pollo Campero and Fresh-A-Peel. Their little bakery was in one corner and it felt so good to be able to tell my girls that they could get whatever they wanted

IMG_5821Morgan chose a lemon cupcake, Lindsey picked a brownie cupcake with mint frosting, and I enjoyed a cookie sandwich, all of which were heavenly.

IMG_5824There was also another window (not shown) that had all kinds of other baked goods in it: doughnuts, banana bread, and much more. We boxed our desserts up and had them after lunch…(after sampling each one first, of course…)

trexextOne of the attractions within Downtown Disney was T-Rex Restaurant, our family’s favorite dining experience of all time, recommended by a fellow Mom, Angel, who is a big supporter of the g-free kid Facebook page

We had THE most fabulous lunch there. It is the most incredible place — huge, realistic-looking & sounding, moving dinosaurs, giant fish tanks, fossils on the walls, volcanoes, color-changing ice cave, meteor showers every 20 minutes — you name it. Besides an amazing atmosphere, the food was outstanding…

trex3Our waitress sent out the Chef, who was super nice. He went through both the kid’s menu and the adult menu with us, telling us exactly how he could make things GF for us. The girls had pasta with white cheddar sauce plus cinnamon apples as a side, and also rotisserie chicken and chips. We split both meals between them so they could both try double the amount of GF foods. I ordered an amazing salad with rotisserie chicken and lots of other stuff on it.
The Chef said he would make
everything himself to assure no cross-contamination, and he also came back out once we started eating to make sure that everything was to our satisfaction, which it totally was.

icecaveI didn’t take any pictures of our food at T-Rex, only because we were just soaking everything in and didn’t want to take anything away from that by worrying about pictures, as I’m sure you can understand. Trust me, though…it was excellent!

beachThe rest of our days in Florida were spent beachcombing, body surfing and just relaxing in the pool…keeping it as cheap as possible. Our indulgences at Downtown Disney may seem like a splurge for cheapskates, but it was so worth it to have such delicious GF food without having to worry about anything. Our girls still talk about it and I know it was an experience we’ll all remember for a very long time….and I truly hope yours is as well. Hopefully this information (and much more at the links below) will give you that “push” you may need to give your g-free kid a memorable experience that you’ll never forget — at Disney… where gluten-free dreams come true… :)

To help you plan your trip to Disney, here are fifteen valuable links:

Obviously, in my post, I only touched on a few ways to show your g-free kids a great time in Disney. Please comment below with your own personal experiences at Disney and share more tips and recommendations for other families — thanks!

Snikiddy Review and Giveaway

This post is long overdue…  Snikiddy has been a favorite brand name in our house for the past few years when we first picked up a bag. What kid doesn’t love super-crunchy snacks they can both eat and play with?  We’ve tried a few Snikiddy varieties, but my daughters’ favorite is their grilled cheese puffs, which are little, cheddar-cheese flavored, crunchy balls of gluten-free goodness. They never get sick of them, and if we are buying a bag of Snikiddy, that is the kind they always choose.

IMG_5381Here are the ingredients for the cheese puffs: CORNMEAL, RICE FLOUR, SUNFLOWER AND/OR SAFFLOWER OIL, CHEDDAR CHEESE (CULTURED PASTEURIZED MILK, SALT, ENZYMES), NONFAT MILK, WHEY, SALT, NATURAL FLAVOR.

You won’t see chemicals or artificial colors in these babies. Snikiddy products contain no corn syrup, no hydrogenated oils, no trans fat, no preservatives, are low in saturated fat and are wheat and gluten free.  It’s a healthier alternative to so many other similar snacks.

We have also tried (and enjoyed) Snikiddy mac n’ cheese puffs, and sea salt and bbq baked fries, but the grilled cheese puffs remain #1 in my girls’ eyes — and in mine. Something about that combination of flavor, texture, size and shape just do it for us I guess… We have yet to try their “Eat Your Vegetables” varieties, but I am hearing good things so far…

Just for fun: My one daughter enjoyed making this origami basketball hoop (below) to toss her cheese balls into. Even if you don’t like your kids to play with their food, this is still something they could easily learn to make. Of course my daughter had to make a whole park to go along with hers!  :)  Instructions for a simple hoop are on this video.

IMG_5430For more information about Snikiddy, please take a moment to visit their website:  You can find out more about the company & its people at: http://snikiddy.com/about and you can read more about their products here: http://snikiddy.com/products.

So — I’ve got a simple giveaway for you… Snikiddy was kind enough to send me some free product coupons which is what I’ll be giving away.  There will be 3 random winners, each receiving a “free full size product” coupon and a $1 off coupon, which they can redeem themselves at a local retailer.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below, letting me know which Snikiddy snack your child would most like to try if you were to win these coupons.

Giveaway ends at midnight on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Then the 3 winners will be notified, and will have 24 hours to get back to me, otherwise new names will be chosen. U.S. and Canadian residents only please. Thanks for your understanding…

Disclaimer: Snikiddy sent me free product coupons for this giveaway.  I only promised an honest review and was not compensated in any other way. Opinions are my daughters’ and my own.

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

5 superfood snacks for g-free kids: healthy ideas from a RD

Here is a real treat for all of you fellow parents of g-free kids:  A guest post from Megan at www.thehappybellyproject.com who is a registered dietitian with a 4-year old daughter with celiac disease. I believe all of our children can benefit from her healthy superfood ideas. Enjoy! 

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Creating fun, kid-friendly snacks is a great way to get your little one to try new foods. Check out these ideas that all include superfoods—foods that provide a significant health benefit when you add them to your diet. Often as a dietitian I am telling people what not to eat. I love having the opportunity to encourage people to eat more delicious foods!

“Super-Nutritious Trail Mix”

    • Popcorn
    • Dark chocolate chips
    • Almonds
    • Gluten-free pretzels
    • Dried fruit

Mix all together and serve. Think outside the bowl! For a fun and portable snack pull out those plastic Easter eggs or other fun container.

What they know: Kids feel like they are getting a special treat just by getting to pick out which color egg they want their snack to be in!

What you know: Dark chocolate is full of good nutrients and antioxidants that help your brain, heart, and mood! Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. Almonds contain phytosterols, which promote lower cholesterol levels in addition to providing protein—a plus if your child is not a big meat eater.

“Yogurt Face”

  • Vanilla yogurt
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Mangos or other fruit
  • Gluten-free pretzel sticks

Create a circle of yogurt on a plate. Use the fruit to create your own silly face, or a cat face, or even to abandon the face idea altogether and simply spell out numbers and letters for your little learner.

What they know: They won’t get in trouble for playing with their food. They get to create a masterpiece and then eat it.

What you know: Superfoods yogurt and blueberries make this a nutritious and delicious snack. Yogurt provides protein, calcium and probiotics, which are important for keeping young (and old) GI tracts healthy. Blueberries have been touted as one of the healthiest foods you could possibly eat; they’re full of antioxidants protective against many cancers.

“Magic Princess Wands”

  • Skewers
  • Mangos or other fruit
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cheese cubes

Skewer the fruit and cheese. Add a strawberry as the topper. (I think Starfruit would also be a great topper; however, you’ll usually need to wait until it’s in season to find it at your local store.) With a 4-year-old daughter and a trip planned to Disney this year, Princesses are everywhere in our house! If you can relate, why not have them on your table, too?

What they know: Anytime little girls get to play “Princess,” it’s a good thing!

What you know: Cantaloupe is full of vitamin C, folate, and caratenoids, antioxidants that give cantaloupe its yellow-orange color and are important for eye health and immunity. All the fruits provide needed fiber, and you can sneak in a little protein with the cheese.

“Through the Forest

  • Broccoli
  • Cheese
  • Celery
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried cranberries or raisins

Create a forest with trees and logs with ants crawling on them! Let your kids get creative. What other animals can they imagine in the forest?

What they know: Their imaginations will run wild creating a story to go with their forest. Once one of the most feared dinnertime vegetables, suddenly eating broccoli that is a “tree” while pretending to be a giraffe sounds like a great idea!

What you know: Broccoli is a fiber-rich vegetable that has high levels of vitamin C (which helps the body absorb iron) and potassium (which helps ensure the nervous system, including the brain, is functioning optimally), and has even been found to inhibit many cancer cells. Protein found in peanut butter is a great way to keep those little tummies full until the next meal!

“Sweet Potato Power Chips”

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and sliced thinly. (The smaller and thinner you slice them the better! Only the small, thin ones really get the “crunch” like chips.)
  • Olive oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar

Coat thinly sliced potatoes with olive oil and season with cinnamon and sugar. (A large plastic kitchen storage bag works great to ensure all pieces get evenly coated.) Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Broil for 5 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn! Bonus: Baking these makes your house smell wonderful!

What they know: Chips are like junk food, right?

What you know: Sweet potatoes: Like the cantaloupe, the orange color indicates they are full of carotenoids, the precursor to vitamin A in our body. Carotenoids help boost our immunity, are strong antioxidants, and help protect our eyesight. Olive oil is a great source of mono-unsaturated fat, or “healthy fat” that may help protect our hearts and ward off the “bad cholesterol” LDL. It is also a good source of Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.

Fellow parents: Do you have any other healthy snack ideas? If so, please comment below…thanks!

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Megan is a registered dietitian and mom to a 4-year old daughter with celiac disease. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, daughter and son where she works with patients with kidney disease. She blogs weekly at www.thehappybellyproject.com on all things related to living, loving and learning about the gluten-free diet and celiac disease.

When gluten-free play (and dreams) become reality

“Welcome to the Chalmers Gluten Free Bakery and Restaurant. How can I help you?” was the most popular quote around our back yard playhouse this past fall. My daughters (both gluten-free) had set up their playhouse to play their pretend game, complete with menus, notebook & pen to take orders, and a whole slew of pretend plastic food and kitchenware.

One day I just had to take a break from my yard work to go play. I came to the “drive-thru” window around back, under the pine trees, and I asked, “Is everything here gluten-free?” and the both exclaimed,
“Of course!” like I was crazy or something for even asking.

In their pretend world, every luscious-looking baked good and “Happy Meal” is gluten-free — “where food always tastes good” as they wrote on their menu.

I love it. They came up with this game all on their own, which makes me love it even more. It’s so cool to see them having fun with gluten-free, and it’s great to see them taking pride in playing games like this. It is a wonderful sound to overhear your children just having fun imagining, creating, decorating, pretending…and dreaming — totally unplugged.

The first time I really remember them playing “gluten-free bakery” was Christmas 2010 when they received a bunch of pretend play food. The next day they had set up their play closet as a bakery (below) with a centerpiece, tables, menus and ice cream, too.

They invited their cousins over. They invited parents, grandparents and anyone else who visited our house. After a few weeks they moved on to something else, and the closet was transformed into some other kind of fort, but they sure enjoyed this game while it lasted.

Last month we were on vacation in the Orlando area and went, one day, to Downtown Disney, upon recommendations from some of the awesome Moms who have come together on my Facebook page. They had told me about BabyCakes being there — an all gluten-free bakery. (In fact, I believe most everything they offered was gluten-free, plus dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free). You can imagine how excited my girls were to see this place. I’ll admit: I had them expecting a little too much (I had said we’d be walking into a big bakery and they’d be able pick out whatever they wanted) but they were still super excited to even see a small all-gluten-free bakery in the corner of a restaurant.

We each picked out a dessert and took it “to go” to eat after our lunch at T-Rex Restaurant next door. It was hard to wait (and our to-go box was opened repeatedly for sniffing noses and sneaky licking fingers) but we thoroughly enjoyed everything. Morgan chose a lemon-frosted cupcake, Lindsey picked a mint-frosted brownie cupcake and I decided on a cookie sandwich (2 large, thin chocolate chip cookies with frosting in between). Besides the goodies shown below, there was another area with banana breads, donuts, and other sweet treats. They had never seen so many gluten-free goodies together in one place before and you could tell that they thought it was a very cool place.

Since that vacation, their gluten-free bakery has been re-established in the playhouse since we’ve been having an unseasonably warm Spring. It’s much the same except for a new sign, menu and decorations. It’s wonderful how some things just never get old!
Has your g-free kid had any gluten-free dreams become reality? Are you lucky enough to live near one of these all-gluten-free bakeries?  As always, feel free to post a picture on my Facebook page and/or comment below. Thanks!

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Jello experiments for g-free kids

Here’s an idea you can let your kids try if you have a lazy day at home: layered jello hearts from Family Fun. You’ll need several hours to complete all the layers, but you only need to spend a few minutes about every half hour to pour the layers and let them set.

My kids enjoyed pouring each highest layer of liquid over a spatula (good for coordination — see photo below) so that it evenly covered the layer underneath, and they thought it was pretty cool to see the jello dissolve in hot water, then go from a liquid to a firmer state in the fridge.

Unfortunately, even though my husband’s family used to own the Chalmers’ Gelatine Factory in the 1800s (every cent was lost long ago) a love for gelatin is another thing our family never inherited…  :)

The girls ate one bowl each (of the many scraps left over from around the cut-out hearts) and the rest we gave away to grandparents. Still, it was a learning experience for my daughters, it looked pretty, and the ingredients were nice and cheap.

If I were to do it again, I would just cut them into cubes like below (we used to call these “Knox Blox” when I was little) which turned out way better than the hearts, were much easier to cut, and would not leave “scraps” behind like the hearts did. I might also keep these in mind for a St. Patrick’s Day party using green (lime) jello instead of red.

If your family happens to loves jello, here are some other fun things to do with it, including frozen jello pops, a jello aquarium, jello cones and jello rainbow cake. And here is a really festive idea which would be great with heart-shaped molds as well: cherry jello jigglers from Living Locurto. Another idea shows you how to do something cool (“Crazy Jello” from Reading Confetti) with your jello waste (or scraps as I call them). And if you feel like going all out with jello colors, try these rainbow jello parfaits from Glorious Treats!

Do your kids enjoy jello?  Or not really?  Please comment below if you have any other experimental recipes for kids using the wiggly stuff.  Thanks!

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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