Celiac Awareness Month

May is National Celiac Awareness Month and sadly it is coming to a close in just a few days. There have been so many great people raising awareness this month including, but definitely not limited to, Erica of Celiac and the Beast, Brandy Wendler (Mrs. Northwest) of A Spoonful of Wellness, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Rebecca of Pretty Little Celiac, Mr. Dude of Gluten Dude, and EA of The Spicy RD. Again these are just a few of the wonderful bloggers and organizations out there that have shared delicious recipes, informative posts, and have been advocates for Celiac Disease not just during the month of May but all year-long.

There is so much that I wanted to accomplish on CCGF this month but sadly, life got in the way. I finished up another trimester of school and now only have one year left! I was awarded The Feinstein “Enriching America Award” for the community service that I completed while doing my internship and AmeriCorps, from The Feinstein Community Service Department at JWU. Our club, Sans Gluten was awarded Best New Club of the Year – there were 11 new clubs this year, and we have over 60 members with bi-weekly production meetings that consist of recipe research and development. I also completed my AmeriCoprs Scholarship For Service and in addition to that was awarded the Founders Award from JWU (with a lovely 5,000.00 scholarship!!!), and was inducted into the Alpha Beta Kappa National Honor Society. Plus, B graduated from law school!! So on top of final exams, the award ceremonies, and family in town for his graduation this month just got away from me. With that said, I do have some wonderful products and cookbooks that I will be reviewing and posting about soon – I promise!

Every year I stress out so much on how I am going to pay for school for the following year but thankfully I don’t have to do that this year. I was awarded over $20,000.00 in scholarships and grants for next year alone! This is possible by some very generous people and my hard work and dedication. Some of my favorite quotes that have gotten me through all the stress, long hours, and sacrifices (not seeing family much) are:

“Your dream is not big enough if it doesn’t scare you.” (Matthias Schmelz)

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. “(E. Roosevelt)

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” (Harriet van Horne)

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” (Buddha)

With all of that going on, I still wanted to raise awareness this month especially as an Udi’s Campus Ambassador. In order to do so I had to incorporate it into my school schedule so for my term projects for Anatomy & Physiology and Technical Writing, I presented about…you guessed it…Celiac Disease! Both projects included a written paper and a PowerPoint presentation. In one PowerPoint I included an amazing infographic on celiac disease symptoms that Gluten Dude posted – everyone in the class thought it was great (well done Gluten Dude!). For the A&P project we had to research a disorder, discuss which systems of the body it affected, signs, symptoms, treatments, etc. and then do a 5 minute PowerPoint presentation to the class. My Technical Writing project was a bit more intense. My project was on Celiac Disease vs. Wheat Allergy. The final project was a total of 37 pages and included 2 appendices one of which was a sample menu to be used in our culinary labs on campus that lists the top eight major allergens plus gluten and also included resources for substitutions.  In addition to the 37 written pages I also had to present a 15 minute PowerPoint Presentation to the class. I also handed out samples of Udi’s Gluten Free Granola and Red Apple Lipstick to my classmates.

I will also be volunteering at Hasbro Children’s Hospital with one of my professors in the Allergy and GI clinic. My professor asked for me to send her my research report on Celiac Disease vs. Wheat allergy and we will be going over it and refining it over the summer while we are working together.

Also, back in April I was asked along with the former President of our Sans Gluten Club and one of our Chef Advisers to film some gluten-free segments for the cooking show that JWU does called Cooking With Class (Check your local listings). I was BEYOND nervous to do this and on top of it my seasonal allergies kicked in and I had almost no voice but I did it anyway. You can view it online (please ignore the credit information – it is incorrect and they were supposed to be fixing this. This is my original recipe that I shared). Below are the links to all five our of segments for Celiac Week which aired the first week of May. Chef Lavornia does not have Celiac Disease however his wife and children do and has been creating delicious gluten-free recipes for years. We hope to do more videos for next year’s awareness month and will be hosting cooking demos for local families who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Island Coconut Shrimp by Chef Michelle: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22171946/island-coconut-shrimp

Sweet and Spicy Chicken by Chef Jenny: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22171995/sweet-and-spicy-chicken

Raspberry Crumble Bars by Chef Lavornia: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22172217/raspberry-crumble-bars

Lemon Pound Cake by Chef Lavornia: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22172258/lemon-pound-cake

Dinner Rolls by Chef Lavornia: http://www.turnto10.com/story/22172063/gluten-free-dinner-rolls

You can also view my video below (Thanks to B for putting my site on there):

Cooking with Class from Jenny Manseau on Vimeo.

What have you done this month? Please feel free to share your stories below!

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Art of the French Macaron

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Last night the Sans Gluten JWU club was privileged to have Chef Lumi, master of French Macarons  share her vast knowledge and experiences of making these delicate little treats.

Chef Lumi is originally from Transylvania, Romania and moved to the United States in 2001. When first moving to the United States, she lived in Chicago where she enrolled in Culinary School at Kendell College. She earned her Associate’s Degree in Baking & Pastry in 2008. Over the years she gained much experience in the field of baking & pastry arts, and we are fortunate to have her as a Chef at Johnson & Wales and learn from such an amazing and accomplished Chef.

Below are some photographs I took last nights demo and production of French Macarons. This was the first time I had ever tried a French Macaron and oh my goodness these little gems are delicious! Still kind of nervous to make them at home, mostly because I don’t want to be dissapointed in the final product!

Thank you Chef for taking the time to share your tips and knowledge with us, it is truly appreciated.

Help me expand the Johnson & Wales Culinary Library with Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Cookbooks!

As you all may know by now, I am a student at Johnson & Wales University in Providence RI. I am currently finishing up my Associates of Arts degree in Culinary Arts, and also starting my Bachelors of Arts degree in Culinary Nutrition with concentrations in Clinical/Dietetics, Culinary Food Science (Product Research and Development), Leadership Studies, and Biological Studies. Johnson & Wales University has been my dream school since high school, and some days it is still hard for me to believe that I am here fulfilling my dream.  Most people look at me funny when I say I have Celiac Disease and I am in Culinary School, but honestly this was a great decision. Not only am I learning but my fellow classmates and my chefs are learning more and more about Celiac Disease, cross contamination, and alternative ways to prepare dishes.The last year and a half-year or so of school has been great, and I have learned so much being here. Not just about culinary, but also about myself. I have realized that I am actually a good student…I currently hold a 3.95/4.0 gpa. Which for me is a HUGE accomplishment. It’s not as thought I was a horrible student in high school but my “guidance” counselor told me I shouldn’t bother applying to college, nice huh? So I just didn’t try much after that.

So here I am 30 years old, starting my bachelors degree at my dream school and trying to find a way to leave my mark. According to some people I missed out on the “whole college experience” but not attending while I was younger, living on campus, and being more involved with organizations, clubs, etc. I think if I did attend when I was younger I would not have achieved what I have to date. Being where I am right now in life, I know what I want, and I know what I need to do to get there. For me at least, this was a smart decision – and I know this doesn’t apply to everyone. The one regret that I do have  and will have when I graduate and move on is the lack of being involved with my campus. The way my school is set up makes it difficult for me to join clubs, and be involved. All meetings are at 8:00 at night and living where we do, it just doesn’t work out…ever.

So I have come up with another way to leave my mark, by helping Johnson & Wales expand their allergy friendly section in the culinary library. Currently there is a VERY limited selection of books, most of which are quite old and a lot has changed in allergy awareness, allergy cookbooks, especially gluten-free cookbooks. The culinary library is awesome! It’s every chef or cooks dream library, so many amazing cookbooks, books, journals, magazines, etc. there for you to drool over. How cool would it be to have a fantastic allergy/gluten section as a resource to the students, chefs, and staff members of Johnson & Wales Providence Campus? I know this may seem small, but in the long run this is huge. It is not only a resource but also another way to bring more awareness of allergies especially in a Culinary School!! How great would it be to leave a “gluten-free mark”?

Will help me expand the culinary library?

Are you a cookbook author that specializes in allergy friendly/free recipes: egg free, dairy free, soy free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, nutrition, Celiac Disease etc.

Are you a publisher that distributes books specializing in allergy friendly/free recipes: egg free, dairy free, soy free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, nutrition, Celiac Disease, etc.

Do you have multiples of certain cookbooks that fit into these categories? allergy friendly/free recipes: egg free, dairy free, soy free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, nutrition, Celiac Disease, etc.

Looking for cookbooks that include: baking and pastry recipes, entrees, sides, appetizers, soups, and are nutritionally sound/based, etc.

Any and all donations are greatly appreciated!! If you are interested in helping me build this library and leave a gluten-free and allergy friendly mark at Johnson & Wales Providence,  please send me an e-mail at CreativeCookingGF@Gmail.Com

I am asking that all donations be sent directly to myself so I can bring them in group to present to the library. If you do have a donation I will provide you with my mailing address in a personal e-mail. A few months ago one blogger and author donated two copies of her book and the library was extremely happy to receive them and to expand their current selections!!

PLEASE feel free to share this with anyone you know that may be interested in helping! Thank you. ~ Jenny

Gluten Free Culinary Student

A few days ago I posted about my visit to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI for the Culinary Arts/Culinary Nutrition program.  I had applied earlier that week and during the visit I was told they were just waiting for my previous college transcripts, but my application file was on someone’s desk waiting to be reviewed.  I called on Tuesday to make sure they had received my transcripts and was told that they had and would be doing an evaluation worksheet on them to see if any of my previous courses would transfer in.  Before hanging up I asked when I should expect to hear an admissions decision and was told “Actually you were admitted yesterday, Congratulations!”  To my shock and surprise I have been admitted to my dream school.  I’m still kind of numb from it I think, don’t get me wrong I am beyond excited and I know that this program is going to be difficult, tiring, long hours, lots of hard courses (especially for the culinary nutrition aspect of it).

My Passion

Growing up I have had several real passions, cooking (thanks to my grandmother), photography (thanks to my dad) and pathology (again, thanks to my dad who every Christmas gave me presents revolved around it: dissection kits, anatomy coloring book, which I still have, and amazing anatomy pop up books).

Like I mentioned above, my Grandma Lu has had a huge influence on my love of cooking.  A few months ago I wrote a post about her (you can read it here).  She is truly an amazing woman who I will forever be grateful for. Ever since I was little she has been a huge encourager in my life.  My Grandma Lu is a rock in our family, always keeping her children and grandchildren a priority no matter what is going on.  She is a sweet little Italian lady who doesn’t have a problem telling you how it is.  She hasn’t has the easiest of lives but she is one tough cookie, with a positive attitude.  I have so many fond memories of her. If you don’t mind I want to share a few memories and little things about my grandmother:

  • When I was younger she taught me how to make chicken soup from scratch – I was about five or six and she pulled a chair up to the stove next to her and taught me how to cut veggies and make a soup with what you had on hand.
  • When my parents divorced she gave me a little card with the “Serenity Prayer” on it and I still have it to this day.
  • No matter how bad things got she would say “This too shall pass”
  • When I was born she came to the hospital with a crocheted santa and I still have it – actually in a few weeks that santa will be 29 years old.
  • I have always been told that I am a mini-me of her and to me that is one of the best compliments that anyone could ever give me.
  • She is a fantastic cook – she used to cook for the Priests at her church and when I lived with her I would often go and help her.

Seeing as she was so willing to help me when I first started to look at JWU 12 years ago I figured she would be excited for me now.  The hard part is she has Alzheimer’s.  I called her yesterday to tell her the good news and she was so excited for me and kept saying, “Wow you are going to be a chef!” “Oh that is a great school” “I have Alzheimer’s and I don’t like that I have it”, and then would continue to repeat the conversation over and over again.

I haven’t been around for five years so her progression is a bit hard for me.  My other family members are a bit more used to it but I am not.  I cried like a baby after getting off the phone with her.  I know she is proud of me and I just wish I could express to her and share with her how much of an impact she has had on me and this passion of mine.  I tried to explain it a bit yesterday and she kept saying she has some recipes and cookbooks to give me. She was looking for her brown folder of recipes – which are coveted by many.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her coveted collection of recipes has been given to my Aunt Lisa (her youngest daughter). I so badly wish I could take her Alzheimer’s away, but nothing will ever take the love I have for her away.

She is definitely a huge influence for me. And I told Bryan last night that when times get tough in school please remind me that I am doing this partially for her.

My journey

I have been dreaming on and off about JWU for the past twelve years.  While in high school this was where I wanted to go, but when I hurt my left shoulder at the beginning of my senior year, when I fell down/off stairs that had no railing, I gave up my dream.  My grandmother really wanted to me to go and even offered to help me if I changed my mind, but at the point I couldn’t lift anything more than five pounds.  After many doctor visits, physical therapy and an MRI I was told that it was nothing just some tendonitis.  A little more than a year later I was still in physical therapy and one day they had me do this one stretch called the “superman” and that was it, tears streaming down my face, couldn’t talk, couldn’t put my arm down or up.  They called my mom to come get me and she made a phone call to Dr. Peace who performed a surgery on her torn rotator cuff a few years earlier.  I got an appointment the next day and sure enough, he took one look at the MRI and saw the tear right away.  I had torn my rotator cuff a year or so before and apparently had torn it even more the day before.  Not long after I had my surgery and started the recovery process, however my left should will never be 100%.

Instead of pursuing my dream of culinary arts I changed plans and attended a local college and changed my major about five times (I’m not joking).  After a semester of attending classes full time and working part time at the school I was offered a full time job there and started taking classes part time.  Four years later I left there and enrolled in a Photography school in California.  Working at a school I was that obnoxious prospective student, calling and emailing them a million and one questions before I accepted the offer.  I packed up two suitcases and my camera bag and flew across the country to tackle this goal of becoming a photographer.  Three months into school I was told that they were under investigation for falsifying admissions information (I had asked them about this issue before enrolling and was ensured they were not involved). Needless to say I left after that and moved to central California where I lived and worked (again, in higher education) for five years.

During all of this, I never gave up my love of food and cooking.  Over the years I’ve made some amazing friends who also love food, cooking and experimenting. It is also during this time that I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  At first for someone who loves food, especially pasta and bread this new life style was a bit depressing and scary.  “What was I going to eat?” Thankfully though I approached this new lifestyle and diet like another adventure.  I cleaned out my cabinets of all food that contained gluten and went shopping for some new goodies to try.  I started this blog to help myself and hopefully help others.  My big thing was I didn’t want to be that person that says “Oh I had to give up everything I love”, so instead I started taking my favorite recipes and adapting them to be gluten free.  It has turned out rather well, there isn’t much that I miss or can’t have.

Then Bryan came along…well actually we have known each other for six years now.  Every few months over the five years that I was in California we would exchange e-mails to see how the other was doing etc.  I went to visit him last summer for a week and that started it all.  After not seeing him for five years it was like we never missed a beat.  He truly is my best friend.  After he got accepted to law school in Rhode Island we started talking about me moving back east to be with him and to be closer to our families.  In July I moved to New Jersey and then we moved to Rhode Island in August.  After searching for jobs and not finding anything I decided I should start looking at going back to school.  I was looking for nutrition programs because ultimately I want to work with families who have food allergies.  During my search I found that JWU offers a Culinary Nutrition Program.  I about fell over – Culinary Arts and Nutrition combined, it couldn’t be real, could it? So Bryan and I started talking about it and decided that we will go to their open house and check it out.  Bryan said I should request my transcripts and apply before we went so I did.  He has been beyond supportive of this desire of mine and I can’t thank him enough.

I feel even more in love with the school after visiting it.  I asked as many questions as I could about doing the programs and having Celiac Disease.  Everyone I talked to were very encouraging about it and there have been several students who have done this.  And now here we are…starting in March I will be a Culinary Arts/Culinary Nutrition student at my dream school – Johnson & Wales University. Best part is, I’ll be doing this Gluten-Free (as best I can!)  Needless to say once school starts I’m sure the blog will change a bit, I’ll be posting about my experiences as a gluten-free culinary arts student in a not so gluten-free environment, some recipes etc.

So Grandma Lu this is for you – I love you more than words can express, thank you for instilling in me the love of food and being creative with what you have and making something wonderful out of nothing.

Gluten Free Culinary Student-We’ll See

A few of you may have noticed my recent posts about possibly going back to school but not just any school, my dream school from when I was in high school, Johnson and Wales University.  I have been looking at schools for a little while now for a nutrition program but there really isn’t much around us in that field.  One day when searching I noticed that Johnson and Wales has started a Culinary Nutrition program. This program blends my two goals. Below is a little blurb about the program and JWU.

Developed in response to industry and consumer concerns about food allergies, food intolerance and food-intake related diseases, the Culinary Nutrition bachelor’s degree is designed to produce chefs who know how to make nutritious food, and nutritionists who know how to cook. It is the first of its kind to receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association.

As a student in the program, you’ll learn to develop sensory evaluation techniques, nutritional diagnostic skills and innovative food products. Through the completion of an internship in your senior year, you’ll apply your practical knowledge in a professional setting of your choice. Qualified students may have the opportunity to replace their internship with a summer term abroad.

As a graduate, you will be positioned to work in major test kitchens, health care facilities, cruise ships, spas, resorts and the personal chef industry, where an emphasis on nutrition is fundamental.

I called a few weeks ago to see how realistic it would be for me, having Celiac Disease to do a culinary arts program there.  To my delight they said it is extremely possible to do and they have several students with Celiac Disease and a few other food allergies, such as nut and citrus not only complete the culinary arts degree but they have also successfully completed the baking and pastry arts degree. So today Bryan and I went to Providence to check out the campus, facilities and program.  The facilities are incredible! To read more about them, click here.

When we arrived, I checked in at the table to register and was asked if I was a high school senior, no lie – some of you will laugh at this but I am 28 years old and will be turning 29 in a few weeks, and still to this day I will get offered the kids menu and crayons at some restaurants.  It took everything in side of myself and Bryan not to laugh out loud and not look at each other. I really don’t mind people thinking I’m very young, it works in my favor, or at least I hope it will in about twenty years.  When the first information session ended and we are about to go on our tour, I look around and started to realized that I am probably the oldest or one of the oldest people there that is actually looking at the school for myself and no my child!

While on the tour today we (well Bryan) got to test out some tasty foods. We learned out some really fascinating courses that they offer-Skills of Meat-cutting, International Cuisine, How Baking Works (the professor of this course is releasing a Gluten-Free cookbook next year), Mixology and so much more.  I asked as many questions as I could think of and was informed that gluten-free cooking is well received and encouraged.  For example in the “healthy desserts” course I was told that the students are broken up into groups and they decided on a recipe such as, chocolate chip cookies and one group will make a recipe that is for diabetics, one group will make one for those with celiac disease and another group will pick another food intolerance, allergy or medical condition that needs an alternative diet.

At the end of the tour we got to walk through the Culinary Arts Museum which had an exhibit of some of their more famous graduates, which include Sarah Moulton, Thomas Keller, Martin Yan and Emeril Lagasse!

I know that this program is going to be extremely difficult, tiring, exciting, humbling and everything in between. However, I think I could do this if I actually get admitted…seeing as there are no guarantees my fingers are crossed.  My ultimate goal is to get my A.S. in Culinary Arts, my B.S. in Culinary Nutrition, get an internship and then sit for the Registered Dietitian exam.  Once all that is done, have the ability to work in either a hospital and/or work with families that are newly diagnosed and do cooking lessons with them, to show them that just because you have an allergy you don’t have to miss out on healthy and delicious food. Overall it was a great day and a great school.

Below are a few photos that I took with my phone today, so I apologize for the bad quality.

Steak crostini with horseradish cream, roasted red pepper and micro greens

French Onion Soup

Students getting ready for NY Food week

Students preparing cafe diablo

Bananas Foster

One of the two things I could taste today – really good!

Student sugar sculpture projects

Close up of the sugar sculpture

Close up of Hansel and Gretel bread sculpture

Hansel and Gretel student bread sculpture

Yummy smelling bread that I couldn’t eat

Brioche with cream filling – Bryan really enjoyed this.

Our last demo, Culinary Nutrition.  Some fantastic Squash soup was made for us.

Culinary Nutrition food lab

Culinary Nutrition food lab (2) – 8 mixers and 8 ovens

Culinary Arts Museum

Culinary Arts Museum – Sarah Moulton

Culinary Arts Museum – Thomas Keller

Also don’t forget there is a great giveaway going on at Creative Cooking Gluten Free – click HERE to read more about it.