5 ways to make your g-free kid feel like a superstar

When children are first diagnosed with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy, their lives will change. So will yours as a parent. That is inevitable. Food is such a huge part of our lives, and being on a g-free diet means that you can no longer just go to any restaurant or party or social occasion without first planning ahead. Spontaneity may take a back seat for a while, but just until you learn the ropes and gain confidence.

The great part, though, is that how you view those changes is entirely up to you. You can either act like you feel sorry for your child and talk incessantly to anyone who will listen about how hard the diet is and how expensive the food is — or, you can make your child feel lucky and blessed to have been diagnosed, and show gratitude for all of the awesome choices of g-free foods that are now available. The #1 thing you can do for your child, right from the beginning, is to introduce them to their new best friend: a positive attitude. It is absolutely essential. If you haven’t shown one yourself, forgive yourself and just move on to helping boost your child’s morale and feelings about being g-free.

Here are some great ways to help your g-free kid feel like a superstar:

Start a “#1 Supporter” contest. Enlist all of your child’s supporters to help. Have them read about how vital they are to your child and start a contest to see who can win the #1 Supporter prize (whatever you deem the prize to be: a hand-painted t-shirt, a certificate, blue ribbon
or whatever). This gives supporters the chance — and extra incentive — to show how much they care by the positive words that they use around your child, and by
the actions that they take, like: writing the child a letter of encouragement, buying them a g-free treat, taking them out to dinner at a restaurant with a gluten-free menu, making them a gluten-free dish (with your assistance)
and other ideas listed at the bottom of this article. Through this contest your child will feel so loved and cherished. Set a time limit on the contest (a month maybe?) and then encourage everyone to keep the support coming even after it’s over!

Try to find gluten-free replacements for all of their old favorite foods and celebrate each new discovery. I honestly can’t think of one type of food that we haven’t yet found a g-free version of. (Here are some examples: To replace Cheezits, try Wellaby’s Mini Cheddar Crackers; to replace fish crackers, try Schar’s Cheese Bites; to replace chicken nuggets, try Ian’s brand or Wegmans’ version if you are in the NE; to replace pizza crusts & breadsticks, try Chebe mixes; to recreate old favorite baked goods, substitute regular flour with a GF all-purpose flour like Jules.) With each success, celebrate with your child by giving a loud “woo-hoo!” and high fives (or however you want to express yourselves) and make sure you include the rest of the family in the celebration, too.
It feels so good for kids to know that their whole family cares about them and is happy for their successes — plus, their acceptance of the diet
will grow, knowing there are great-tasting GF alternatives to old favorites.

Let them be included in the g-free kids online photo album. Many kids feel like they’re the only ones in the world on the g-free diet — so let them know they’re not!  They will take pride in seeing their own face in the album, knowing that they are part of an ever-growing group of g-free kids from around the world. Imagine their face lighting up as they look around at all of the other happy faces, see where everyone is from and read about what they enjoy doing. They will begin to feel a sense of camaraderie and kinship with other kids who eat the same way they do and will feel included in something special.

Arrange to have your child be “star of the day” at school. Make plans with your child’s teacher for a special day of learning in his or her classroom. If your child is very young, bring in a children’s book to read to the class. If your child would rather do it solo, send a book in for your teacher (or your child if they’re able) to read aloud. If you can be present, allow time for Q&A afterwards, emphasizing how lucky your child is to be diagnosed, how it isn’t contagious, how it differs from an allergy (if applicable), and that
his or her foods taste great, too. If your child is older (and comfortable with the idea) let him field the questions himself — as long as you know he is relatively prepared. Then let the class enjoy whatever delicious GF treat (giant cookie cake, cupcakes, brownies, etc.) you made and sent in, so that they can see how good your child’s food tastes, too. Your child will enjoy being the center of attention that day, and will feel good knowing that his peers now better understand and accept his diet.

Put your g-free kid front and center in a photo frame. Here is a printable frame that I designed for your g-free kid. You can download, print it and tape your child’s 4×6″ photo from behind. Buy one of those inexpensive clear, plastic magnetic document holders for your fridge and put your child’s photo in the middle. Every time he sees it, the words on the frame — “gluten-free is good for me” … “I’m a g-free kid” … “proud to be gluten-free” — will start to stick with him and grow his sense of pride. Plus it’ll remind everyone to be careful to avoid cross-contamination as well. Hope you and your child enjoy it!

. . . . . . . . . .

Before I close, let me just say that, as a parent, I am not one to spoil my children or let them act as if they are the center of the universe. But, if your child is struggling with being gluten-free or is newly diagnosed, I think it’s a fine time to boost up their self-esteem and do whatever you can to help them feel better about themselves. These 5 ideas should go a long way in helping your g-free kid gain confidence and begin to embrace the gluten-free diet and the changes that come along with it.

Have you tried any of these ideas already?  What effect did they have on your child?
Feel free to comment below about any of these ideas and add more of your own for other families as well. Thanks!

Raising Awareness with Team Gluten Free: Inspiration from a Fellow G-Free Mom

•  •  Team Gluten Free and How it Works  •  •

One of the best parts of starting this website is all of the amazing Moms I have met online so far. Many parents have already emailed me photos of their children for the online photo album of g-free kids, and, along the way, one-on-one conversations have sprung up between a handful of Moms and me. These women all have stories to tell about their child’s diagnosis and experience, and always seem inspired to help spread the word about gluten-free issues. You can just tell that they are wonderful advocates for their gluten-free kids and outspoken ambassadors of gluten-free living — which is the best kind of Mom a g-free kid can have!

One of these Moms is Kimberly Woody (pictured here on the left.) In one of her emails, she mentioned that she ran a race for Team Gluten Free, and, after hearing about her experience, I asked if she’d be willing to share.

What she had to say:

“Team Gluten Free: It’s REALLY cool and very easy to use. Since there are very few organized races dedicated solely to raising funds for Celiac disease (I only know of Making Tracks for Celiacs) this is a great way to organize small teams within other races. (Especially if you don’t live near a Making Tracks for Celiacs annual race.)

The process is so simple. You sign up ($25) and receive a t-shirt to wear on race day. I also purchased several more for family members, spectators and my running partner. Not every participant needs to buy a shirt, though. It just looks cohesive and the bright color attracts attention — plus all proceeds from
the shirts go towards fundraising. What is even better is that once you buy the shirt you are free to register for as many races as you like, at no additional charge. You simply email them and they will reset your fundraising goal and you’re off! (As long as you still have the shirt.)

In addition, you have access to this GREAT website – you can click my personal link to see how it looks. It’s VERY simple to set up and allows for secure credit card transactions. Online you can track donations, develop/organize mailing lists, etc. I think the site looks great and required little effort on my part!
You can either organize a team or just set it up as an individual. I did not register each person, as the bulk of the fundraising was done by me.

Our first Team Gluten Free experience:

The race we ran in was the Atlanta 13.1 on October 2nd, 2011. It was an incredible day.
My daughters and their grandmother competed
in the 5-K while I ran the half marathon. During
the run I was literally answering questions the whole race. I love this because the more we talk about Celiac the more the myths and misinformation subside. The shirt is a  real conversation piece. So even though I plan to raise money in one race per year, I always wear my shirt in other races.

I think the program is TERRIFIC and would love to see more people get involved. It’s wonderful bonding for the family, good exercise, and, great for awareness — since you will be bombarded with questions. Especially when people see the little runners! I really felt like we did some good that day. It’s so easy! AND it’s a great excuse to get out there and exercise with your family!”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

• Want to learn more?     • Where does all the money go?

(From their website):
Team Gluten-Free™ is a fundraising program that provides a simple way for runners, walkers, cyclists and triathletes to raise awareness and funds for Celiac disease.
The money raised by Team Gluten-Free™ participants goes directly towards summer camp scholarships for children on the gluten-free diet as well as Celiac disease research, support and awareness programs. Team Gluten-Free™ is a fundraising arm of the Celiac Disease Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, public benefit corporation dedicated to the education of patients, families and health care professionals.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Help inspire others!  This is the first post (Thanks Kimberly!) in a new series called “Inspiration from a Fellow G-Free Mom”, although I’d love to receive information from Dads and other supporters as well.  🙂  If you would like to submit an article and photos of how YOU spread awareness, please email me at kachalmers2@gmail.com.  It’s up to you which information you would like to be made public, and I can send a preview for you to check before I post anything online.


As we like to say,
“Celiac disease isn’t contagious,
but awareness is.
Please help spread it!”

Come back soon to learn how to get involved in Making Tracks for Celiacs. Thanks! ~Katie

Cupcake templates: a mini giveaway for your gluten-free kid, plus a fun awareness idea!

A few months ago I picked up a handful of “baking templates” which I had found at a local Michael’s store. Since most of us are making gluten-free cupcakes for our g-free kids, I figured we could all use something new to decorate them with…

Does your g-free kid love cupcakes? Are you looking for a way to help spread awareness? Then here is the perfect answer: host a cupcake party!  The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and Pamela’s Products have collaborated on this idea, so find out more, be inspired and get out there and make a difference!

Decorating cupcakes with these templates is something your g-free kid can definitely help with. She can begin by holding the template flat while you show her how to sprinkle in the sugar (or nonpariels) evenly to fill up the template. Then, once she understands how it works, you can hold the template while she does the sprinkling. Wait until you see her pride and excitement when you take the template off and show her the final shape!

Tips: these templates work best on flat frosted surfaces, so if your cupcake it too rounded on top, slice off some of the cake part to make it flatter. Then put your frosting on as flat as you can, with more around the edges to build a more even surface. Also,
try these on frosted brownies, cookie cakes or regular cakes.

7 lucky winners will receive (for their g-free kids) a set of 3 different cupcake templates as shown in the first photo above, along with a personalized note from a children’s book author and illustrator. (me)  🙂

I like to keep my giveaways simple by just requiring a comment below (instead of making you “like” me on Facebook and twitter for extra entries). However, I would appreciate more followers on social media (this will only help this site get bigger and better) and for you to help me spread the word about gfreekid.com. So, if you like what you see here, please tell people about it. Thanks!  🙂

That being said, this giveaway is still simple:  All you have to do is comment below, answering these questions: What does your family do to help spread awareness, and which cupcake or cake mix/brand/recipe is your favorite?

Giveaway will end Monday, March 19th at midnight. Winners will be randomly chosen and emailed with notification. If I don’t hear back within 48 hours, other winners will be chosen to replace them. GOOD LUCK!  🙂   -Katie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Psssst:  Have you seen the photo album of g-free kids and g-free kids’ stuff page yet?
For much more in between posts, follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies: Variations on a Theme

Here it is…the original recipe — given to me over five years ago by my friend, Lori — named as such because you need “a cuppa peanut butter and a cuppa sugar.” (plus an egg!)  🙂 This recipe makes (what many think are) the best peanut butter cookies ever — whether you can eat gluten or not!  I was hooked on these even before I had to go gluten-free, and I’ve never bothered to try a new recipe since then…

Whenever someone eats these cookies, they inevitably ask for the recipe, and are baffled to hear how easy they are to make, and that an egg can actually hold the peanut butter and sugar together. They are always amazed at how moist these cookies are, how well they hold up and just how good they taste!

The photos below will give you an idea of how versatile this recipe is…I usually double or triple the recipe, and freeze some afterwards. Yes, they even freeze well!

As shown here, I often add m&m’s or peanut m&m’s into the mix before baking…

Candy corns and Hershey’s Kisses work well, too!  Just press candy on top of the cookies immediately after they have finished baking.

Below you will see the amount of cookies you can make when you triple the recipe. For most of these cookies, I pressed 3 m&m’s onto the tops before they baked. Just make sure you watch them — if they’re in too long the m&m’s might crack. Others I left plain and others had m&m’s mixed in with the dough.

And I bet you’re wondering about those peanut butter cups in the back row… These are my latest creation, and one which I will make again for sure. I pressed some of the dough into 8 greased mini cupcake openings (it was a trial so I only made a few) and forked the edges a little. Then after they were baked (for 8 minutes) I spooned Nutella into the openings. After they had cooled for a while, they twisted out of the cupcake tin very nicely — all except one. That one, I discovered, had too-thick dough at the bottom which hadn’t cooked all the way through like the other ones. That being said, make sure your bottom is just as thick as your sides, and you’ll be all set. Instead of Nutella, you can also try filling the opening with melting chocolate, chocolate chips, a Hershey’s Kiss — or better yet: chocolate frosting as another friend just suggested. No matter how you fill them, they are the perfect kid-size peanut butter cups!  🙂

Some final tips:  (1) Let your kids help! You couldn’t find an easier recipe and the dough is very workable and isn’t sticky at all. (2) As I wrote in pencil on the recipe above, I don’t recommend forking them. Whenever I do this, they turn out too flat. Keeping your dough balls as round and high as possible when you put them on the cookie sheet to bake will give them the best shape. (3) Keep an eye on the bottom of your cookies so they don’t burn (mine are usually done in 7-8 minutes), and (4) let them cool on the cookie sheet before you try to move them. This helps solidify them so they won’t break apart. If you follow these tips, you should have excellent results!

Really — you must try these — even if you just do a single batch. You will be blown away by how good they are…  And, if you try any other variations with this recipe, let me know!

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

5 ways to make your gluten-free kid feel like a superstar

When children are first diagnosed with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy, their lives will change. So will yours as a parent. That is inevitable. Food is such a huge part of our lives, and being on a g-free diet means that you can no longer just go to any restaurant or party or social occasion without first planning ahead. Spontaneity may take a back seat for a while, but just until you learn the ropes and gain confidence.

The great part, though, is that how you view those changes is entirely up to you. You can either act like you feel sorry for your child and talk incessantly to anyone who will listen about how hard the diet is and how expensive the food is — or, you can make your child feel lucky and blessed to have been diagnosed, and show gratitude for all of the awesome choices of g-free foods that are now available. The #1 thing you can do for your child, right from the beginning, is to introduce them to their new best friend: a positive attitude. It is absolutely essential. If you haven’t shown one yourself, forgive yourself and just move on to helping boost your child’s morale and feelings about being g-free.

Here are some great ways to help your g-free kid feel like a superstar:

Start a “#1 Supporter” contest. Enlist all of your child’s supporters to help. Have them read about how vital they are to your child and start a contest to see who can win the #1 Supporter prize (whatever you deem the prize to be: a hand-painted t-shirt, a certificate, blue ribbon
or whatever). This gives supporters the chance — and extra incentive — to show how much they care by the positive words that they use around your child, and by
the actions that they take, like: writing the child a letter of encouragement, buying them a g-free treat, taking them out to dinner at a restaurant with a gluten-free menu, making them a gluten-free dish (with your assistance)
and other ideas listed in this article. Through this contest your child will feel so loved and cherished. Set a time limit on the contest (a month maybe?) and then encourage everyone to keep the support coming even after it’s over!

Try to find gluten-free replacements for all of their old favorite foods and celebrate each new discovery. I honestly can’t think of one type of food that we haven’t yet found a g-free version of. (Here are some examples: To replace Cheezits, try Wellaby’s Mini Cheddar Crackers; to replace fish crackers, try Schar’s Cheese Bites; to replace chicken nuggets, try Ian’s brand or Wegmans’ version if you are in the NE; to replace pizza crusts & breadsticks, try Chebe mixes; to recreate old favorite baked goods, substitute regular flour with a GF all-purpose flour like Jules.) With each success, celebrate with your child by giving a loud “woo-hoo!” and high fives (or however you want to express yourselves) and make sure you include the rest of the family in the celebration, too.
It feels so good for kids to know that their whole family cares about them and is happy for their successes — plus, their acceptance of the diet
will grow, knowing there are great-tasting GF alternatives to old favorites.

Let them be included in the g-free kids online photo album. Many kids feel like they’re the only ones in the world on the g-free diet — so let them know they’re not!  They will take pride in seeing their own face in the album, knowing that they are part of an ever-growing group of g-free kids from around the world. Imagine their face lighting up as they look around at all of the other happy faces, see where everyone is from and read about what they enjoy doing. They will begin to feel a sense of camaraderie and kinship with other kids who eat the same way they do and will feel included in something special.

Arrange to have your child be “star of the day” at school. Make plans with your child’s teacher for a special day of learning in his or her classroom. If your child is very young, bring in a children’s book to read to the class. If your child would rather do it solo, send a book in for your teacher (or your child if they are able) to read aloud. If you can be present, allow time for Q&A afterwards, emphasizing how lucky your child is to be diagnosed, how it isn’t contagious, how it differs from an allergy (if applicable), and that
his or her foods taste great, too. If your child is older (and comfortable with the idea) let him field the questions himself — as long as you know he is relatively prepared. Then let the class enjoy whatever delicious GF treat (giant cookie cake, cupcakes, brownies, etc.) you made and sent in, so that they can see how good your child’s food tastes, too. Your child will enjoy being the center of attention that day, and will feel good knowing that his peers now better understand and accept his diet.

Put your g-free kid front and center in a photo frame. Here is a printable frame that I designed for your g-free kid. You can download, print it and tape your child’s 4×6″ photo from behind. Buy one of those inexpensive clear, plastic magnetic document holders for your fridge and put your child’s photo in the middle. Every time he sees it, the words on the frame — “gluten-free is good for me” … “I’m a g-free kid” … “proud to be gluten-free” — will start to stick with him and grow his sense of pride. Plus it’ll remind everyone to be careful to avoid cross-contamination as well. Hope you and your child enjoy it!

. . . . . . . . . .

Before I close, let me just say that, as a parent, I am not one to spoil my children or let them act as if they are the center of the universe. But, if your child is struggling with being gluten-free or is newly diagnosed, I think it’s a fine time to boost up their self-esteem and do whatever you can to help them feel better about themselves. These 5 ideas should go a long way in helping your g-free kid gain confidence and begin to embrace the gluten-free diet and the changes that come along with it.

Have you tried any of these ideas already?  What effect did they have on your child?
Feel free to comment below about any of these ideas and add more of your own for other families as well. Thanks!

Welcome

Welcome to g-free kid!

I am the author/illustrator of the children’s book, Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?
My twin daughters and I are gluten-free for life because of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. I am excited to have this vehicle to share my thoughts and ideas to make your child’s gluten-free journey happy and healthy. Up until now there have been way too many things floating around in my mind with no real place to share them.

As this blog grows and evolves, you will find plenty of helpful topics here, all intended to help your gluten-free child thrive — not just survive. I will be posting all things related to bringing up a g-free kid and will try to divulge everything my family has learned in the past five years, along with easy recipes, book & food reviews (complete with kids’ opinions, too, of course), giveaways and other surprise features along the way.
I’ll also be sharing craft and play ideas, too, as I believe gluten-free kids just need to feel and act normal instead of being overly-focused on their diet and condition.

What you won’t find on this site (at least from me) is: whining, complaining, feeling sorry for ourselves, wishing things were different, swearing, blaming and bad attitudes.  Please join me by helping — with your comments — to keep the tone of this blog as positive as we should all be for our g-free kids. Thanks, and enjoy!

Sincerely,
Katie Chalmers