Celiac Awareness Month Round-up {Awareness, NFCA PSA, and New Product Spotlight}

Celiac Awareness Month Round-up

I apologize now for an extremely long post but I wanted to make sure I covered all my bases for this round-up including spreading awareness to current and future dietitians, PSA from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and new gluten-free products.

Raising Awareness

For the last several years I have celebrated Celiac Awareness Month and raising awareness of Celiac Disease by hosting giveaways on this site. This year however, I wanted to do something different. While giveaways are awesome, fun, and it gets people involved I wanted to focus more on the awareness aspect of this month and help educate those around me. As many of you know I am currently pursuing my dream of becoming a Registered Dietitian and am honored to be completing my internship at NewYork-Presbyterian. In case you didn’t know, NYP is one of top six hospitals in the country and number one in New York. NYP is connected to two incredible medical colleges; Columbia University and Cornell University. Columbia is also home of one of the best Celiac Research Centers in this country, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. While my awareness event has no direct connection to the center, it is amazing to be in connection with them through the hospital.

I debated on offering giveaways for quite a while leading up to this month and finally decided that I think it would be more beneficial to spread awareness and knowledge to those around me…current and future dietitians. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t have a dietitian available to me and my doctor wasn’t the most knowledgeable in the area of celiac – she saw my results, said what I had, and said no more pasta or bread. That was all. Everything I learned, I learned on my own by way of Google, books, and some amazing bloggers out there. They were the ones that kick started my desire to start Creative Cooking Gluten Free and then to pursue the filed of Dietetics. I wanted to help people understand they can have these items, just more creatively. I also have the desire to help not only those with celiac but with other gastrointestinal disorders, food allergies, etc. I love the challenge of creating meal plans and recipes for those with multiple food allergies. My degrees in Culinary Arts and Culinary Nutrition go hand in hand with my studies in Dietetics…you can’t have one with out the other (at least that is my philosophy). I wanted to share with those pursing this field and also have a desire and passion for helping people gluten-free resources including educational materials and samples for them to try and be able to give a 100% honest feed back to a patient when they ask “do you have any suggestions on products?” “what is the best gluten-free…on the market”. We need to know these things because despite what some say, celiac disease is real, not a fad, and not going away.

Each month in our internship we have a Class Day, where all 32 of the interns come together and we have various sessions on topics in dietetics. May being celiac awareness month was the perfect month for me to share with this captive audience. I reached out to about 50 gluten-free companies, explaining what I wanted to do and who my targeted audience was, and asked if they would be willing to send some samples to be included in the “swag bags” that would be given to the current and future dietitians. Several responded that they had received too many requests, which is no surprise being that it was celiac awareness month, however the responses I received were overwhelmingly generous! I received samples, full sized products, educational materials, coupons, and more. This celiac community and their desire to help educate and raise awareness continually blow me away.

I recruited some help from a few of the other interns to help me put the “swag bags” together – we made a total of fifty to share with the current interns, our directors, and current dietitians at the hospital. The response was overwhelmingly positive and many great conversations were started because of this.

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(Celiac Awareness Month Swag Bags – ready to be handed out to current and future RD’s)

IMG_5777(NYP’s 90th & 91st Class of Dietetic Interns)

Thank you to all who helped make this event possible – I couldn’t have done this with out you and your extreme generosity.

Check out these mail deliveries I received! I seriously couldn’t even sleep in my room after the last shipment arrived.

It is always a pleasure to work with all of you on my blog over these last several years and I love that I have had the privilege to meet many of you at the last two Gluten Free and Allergy Free Expos in Secaucus, NJ. Looking forward to working with all of you again, and hopefully seeing you soon. Without you, none of this is possible!

Seriously, Celiac Disease – PSA from National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

Celiac Disease is serious…seriously it is! It is an Autoimmune Disease, not just a diet. It is not a fad diet created by Hollywood to make you lose weight. The gluten-free diet is the ONLY treatment for those with Celiac Disease. There is not cure. There is no magic pill to take. This is real life.

Do you have celiac disease and trying to figure out how to talk to your family members about being tested? Head on over to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’ site for important information, tips, and talking points and watch their PSA called Seriously, Celiac Disease HERE.

talk. tell. test.

New Gluten Free Product Spotlight

Here are some new gluten-free items worth checking out:

New from I Heart Keenwah: Quinoa Puffs (featured below, Aged Cheddar and Sweet Chili) – delicious little bits of goodness and loaded with 5 grams of protein per serving.

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Snyder’s of Berlin: Variety of Gluten-Free Chips – great for all the summer BBQ’s that are coming up.

Walkers – Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies. I remember this brand of shortbread cookies from when I was little. Learning a few months ago that they had come out with a gluten-free line of them, I was rather excited as it brought back some childhood memories of a hot cup of tea and shortbread cookies with my grandmother. The gluten-free line comes in three flavors: Chocolate Chip, Ginger & Lemon (sounds amazing to me!), and Pure Butter (below).

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Luna & Clif Bars – in case you missed it ALL Luna bars are now Gluten-Free!! Check out the new offerings from both companies below…the dark chocolate almond from Clif is so delicious and perfectly fits in my lab coat pocket!

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Udi’s Gluten Free Eat, Drink, Be Merry!

Over the years, I have worked with Udi’s to promote many of their products and even though the sponsor many of the posts I do for them, I do truly buy their products! They offer such a wide range of products for families including bread items, oatmeal, cookies, tortillas, frozen entrees, and more. This year Udi’s wants to celebrate with not only myself and other bloggers but you as well! Their #EatDrinkBeMerry promotion is a HUGE giveaway with incredible prizes! Look at what I received for being part of this event and helping spread the word:

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Our freezer is full of these awesome products! Bryan and I were torn on what to try first because many of these items were new to us. So We each heated up one of the non-breakfast burritos and then split them. Yummm. Such good flavor and spice in these. We were both impressed. Next up was the baguette – I brought these up to my dad’s house for an early Christmas celebration and made homemade meatballs subs on them (with some delicious Cabot Cheese) – just heat them up in the oven while still frozen and they held up great with the meatballs and sauce (not something you get very often with gluten-free products).

 

Don’t forget to enter HERE for your chance to win a #EatDrinkBeMerry prize pack from Udi’s!

Here are my favorite ways to EAT, DRINK, and BE MERRY:

EAT – Savory items over sweet! Cheese, olives, prosciutto, and warm bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

DRINK – A glass of really good Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, OR

BE MERRY – Taking time to relax and enjoy those around me

What are your favorite ways to EAT, DRINK, and BE MERRY?

Click HERE to enter for your chance to win some awesome prizes from Udi’s Gluten Free! You don’t want to miss out on this!

 

Stuffed Carnival Squash

I picked up a grapefruit sized carnival squash yesterday while at Trader Joe’s. I’ve never cooked or even had a carnival squash before but, it is a winter squash and similar shape and size to acorn squash so I figured it would be similar in texture and taste as well…and it is. I’m already crazy Thanksgiving food and knew I wanted to bake and stuff this little carnival squash (it was about the size of a very large grapefruit) so I picked up some ground turkey, dried cranberries, and a big bag of kale to go with ingredients I already had back at the Annex.

This is a really simple recipe that can be adapted to whatever your diet restriction might be – dairy free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian, low sodium, etc. It is very customizable, you just have to be creative in your stuffing fillings. My stuffing was pretty simple, but so delicious. There was no added salt to this either (except what small amount is in the spice blend I used). The flavors are that of Thanksgiving and perfect to make with leftovers, or if you are just craving a little bit of Thanksgiving throughout the year.

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Stuffed Carnival Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 medium carnival squash – cut in half and seeds removed/discarded (you can roast these as well!)
  • 1/2 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 cup chicken stock (low sodium, or no sodium added)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup diced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons Spiceologist Greek Freak Seasoning, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped kale
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cabot Cheese – Alpine Cheddar

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Place cut and cleaned squash face down in a baking dish, add about 1/4 inch of water and cover with aluminum foil
  3. Roast squash for 30-45 minutes until fork tender, remove from oven and drain water
  4. In a small pot, bring brown rice and chicken stock to a boil, and cook according to rice specifications
  5. In a saute pan, add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil, add kale and cover for five minutes until kale is tender.
  6. Drain water, and place kale on a paper towel to drain (you want to remove as much excess water that you can)
  7. In the same saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and heat pan to medium heat
  8. Add mushrooms, green onions, and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mixture, saute until mushrooms are lightly browned and tender
  9. Add mushrooms and green onions to the kale that has been set aside
  10. In the same saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat pan to medium heat
  11. Add ground turkey and remaining 1 tablespoon of seasoning mixture
  12. Brown turkey and add in pine nuts to toast during the last few minutes of cooking
  13. Once the turkey is cooked throughout, add in the cooked brown rice, dried cranberries, kale, mushrooms, and green onions, stir to combine
  14. Remove from heat and stuff cooked squash halves (you may have a little extra filling, but you can use that for another meal or snack)
  15. Top stuffed squash halves with shredded cheese and return to the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes
  16. Remove from oven, and enjoy!