It's been some time since I last penned a blog entry. The truth is this...our family has had one hell of a year due to our parents' near-fatal car accident a number of months ago. It's changed everything in ways that none of us could have possibly imagined, and has caused me to grow in ways that I didn't realize were possible.
The gift of course, is that our parents are alive and moving forward. We are immensely blessed because without the miracle they received, truly, they wouldn't be with us this Thanksgiving or at all. We're still shaking our heads as to how they did survive, but trust me, we're not going to ask too many questions but rather, love the heck out of our parents even more now, and with all of our hearts.
What's astonishing to me is that when trauma hits, we all (as humans) react and respond so differently, don't we? Everyone steps up or is forced to push themselves beyond what they dreamed was possible when the Universe asks us to. I'll say this...through the long dark days of fear and then recovery, I'd never felt such a state of calm and the knowing that something much greater than I was feeding me energy and substance. It's hard to put into words, but it was real. As real as sitting here writing these words.
As time has moved on, our family has found great comfort in remembering and using the gift of humor we all seem to have been given. Even in the toughest moments, we leaned in and laughed with one another. I imagine that as the years pass and our family reflects back on the accident and it's meaning or significance to each of us, what we'll remember the most is the profound love we have for one another and our gift of humor.
Now, even the fall light looks different to me this year...I continue snapping photos of precious moments when the suns' rays reflect abundantly upon vibrant red tree leaves. I'm stopped in my tracks during long runs through my neighborhood and can't help but try to capture the beauty before it's gone.
In spite of the accident, life's abundance has continued to arrive and I've had some terrific experiences related to my work as a freelance food writer, along with the joys that come from an expanded network of celiac advocacy work...which I'll be writing about this month and beyond. Life truly does "bloom" where you're planted if you recognize it and say "yes" to all that shows up.
When we sit down at the table this coming week for Thanksgiving, our focus will be on the tremendous thanks we share as a family that is still intact, and mostly for the monumental blessing of our parents' lives.
What they say in song is really true, in the end, it really does all come down to love.
WE HAVE A FEDERAL STANDARD FOR GLUTEN FREE LABELING!
Celiacs have some big news to celebrate and share today! Today, after nearly 10 years of debate, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released final rules for gluten-free labeling, stating that products containing fewer than 20 parts per million will be allowed to carry a "gluten-free" designation. Here's today's latest news from Jennifer Iscol, President of the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California discussing not only the overall importance of this ruling, but how it will also affect those of us celiacs living and eating in the Bay Area.
NEW FEDERAL STANDARD
LABELING IMPACTS BAY AREA FOOD
AND CELIAC DISEASE COMMUNITY
Long-Awaited Regulation Will Make It Easier for Americans
Follow a Gluten-Free Diet
CA – August 2, 2013 - The Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California, a
nonprofit organization serving the greater Bay Area and Sacramento region,
today commended the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for establishing a
federal standard for gluten-free labeling. The long-awaited regulation will
help to ensure that individuals with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten
sensitivity have the basic information necessary to manage their health.
rule will impact dozens of gluten-free food manufacturers in the Bay Area, who
must comply with the new regulation by August 2, 2014, and thousands of local
residents, who will find it easier to follow a medically prescribed gluten-free
To comply with the new
rule, products labeled gluten-free must contain less than 20 parts per million
(ppm) gluten. Until now, there has been no federal regulation of the term
“gluten-free” on packaged foods. Gluten is the common name for the protein found in
wheat, rye and barley, and it is harmful to people with celiac disease and
gluten sensitivity. The only treatment for celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune
condition, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity is to follow a strict gluten-free
fall, the president of the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California
(CCFNC), Jennifer Iscol, created a White House petition calling for the finalization
of the long-overdue rule. The petition reached the required signature threshold
for a response from the administration, which is expected soon, and its success
renewed calls for action on the rule.
“The new regulation will make it far easier
for people on a gluten-free diet to make safe choices at the grocery store,”
Ms. Iscol stated. “This is huge news for people with celiac disease and
non-celiac gluten sensitivity, who can become very ill by consuming just a
microscopic speck of gluten. Having to analyze gluten-free ingredient labels in
the absence of federal regulation has been very difficult for consumers. It’s a
huge relief to move forward.”
“Patients need accurate
labeling to safely manage their diets,” said Amy Burkhart, MD, RD, who
specializes in celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity and serves on
the board of the CCFNC. “For this patient population, ongoing exposure to
gluten, even in small quantities, can cause major health problems. The FDA’s
work is a significant contribution to their health.”
gluten-free labeling rule is the result of a decade-long effort led by the
American Celiac Disease Alliance, the national advocacy organization for celiac
disease, working together with the FDA, patient support groups, medical
experts, scientists and food manufacturers.
Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 required the
Secretary of Health and Human Services to set labeling standards by August of
2008 to aid the estimated three million Americans with celiac disease. It has
taken the FDA an additional five years to establish the definition for
gluten-free. “It has been a long wait, but in the end, we feel that the FDA
based its work on an incredibly thorough, science-based assessment that serves
the needs of both consumers and manufacturers,” Ms. Iscol said.
year FALCPA was signed into law, sales of gluten-free products were $560
million, and they rose to $4.2 billion last year. By 2017, the sales of
gluten-free foods and beverages are expected to exceed $6.6 billion. The skyrocketing
growth in the market increased the need for FDA’s action to set a national
About the Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California
The Celiac Community Foundation of Northern California
provides evidence-based support to those with celiac disease and non-celiac
gluten sensitivity in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento region.
We carry out this mission by heightening awareness; educating the medical
community, food purveyors and the general public; administering Camp Celiac in
partnership with The Taylor Family Foundation; and by offering group and
Nothing says "it's summer" more than walking through your local farmer's market and seeing a gorgeous table filled with bright, shiny, crimson-colored freshly picked cherries! They are as delicious as they are beautiful and I can't enough of the deep and robust colors that each little jewel puts on display, nor the deliciousness of their perfectly tart/sweet juices that burst when bitten in to. My maternal grandfather, Pedro Laca, used to always eat bags of cherries, or "cherr-etxas"...as he would say. His funny way of saying the word in "Basque slang."I can't EVER eat a cherry without hearing him say that word in my head...a sweet memory, to be sure.
I took a long gander through the quaint and robust Burlingame farmer's market this morning and was pleasantly surprised at just how much amazing produce and products were for sale. My only issue with these markets is the co$t of organic produce and while I'm completely a believer in buying and eating locally grown foods, there's no getting around the fact that it's incredibly easy to drop $100 bucks in 15 minutes flat!! These are the days when I long to be back in Europe where every market IS a farmers market and produce, rare mushrooms, exotic cheeses, you name it are priced affordably and "organic" is the norm not the exception.
On this lazy Sunday, a phrase I never use until temperatures become scorching, as they have this weekend for all of us in the west, I've spent a bit of time perusing some of my newly favorite gluten free cookbooks and stumbled across a recipe for gluten free cherry-ginger oatmeal cookies - Yum! In spite of record temps, I turned on my oven and decided to bake up a batch using some of the fresh and gorgeous cherries I purchased at the market. What can I say...colors and food inspire me!
The cookbook I found this recipe in is Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Gluten Free, written by Kristine Kidd, previous food editor of Bon Appetit magazine for over 20 years. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of the book via a gluten free publisher/contact and it was such a terrific surprise and since the first moment I cracked the seams, I've been talking this book up to friends near and far. Kristine put together a very beautiful, practical cookbook that's loaded with easy yet flavorful and unique recipes that are sure to become favorites. If you're an egg lover, as I am, you must try the potato pancakes, poached egg, and green onion sauce on page 56 - it's truly egg-a-licious!!!
Back to cherries!
Cherry-Ginger Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 48 cookies
- 1/4 Cup, unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3/4 Cup, brown sugar packed
- 3/4 Cup, granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 Cup, toasted almond butter
- 3 Cups, gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/2 Cup, crystalized ginger chopped
- 2/3 Cup chopped, well drained cherries (calls for dried but I went with fresh)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter cookie sheets. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until well mixed. Add the eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth. Add the almond butter and beat until smooth. Mix in the oats, ginger and cherries.
2. Spoon the dough by rounded teaspoons and place on the prepared sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are light brown around the edges, about 12 minutes. Let them cool on the pans for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Enjoy this little summer treat and please eat REAL FOOD!!
Prominent Bay Area Gluten-Free Baking Company Teams Up to
Help Find a Cure for Celiac Disease
Baking and The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center
Celiac Disease Awareness Month in May
Mariposa Baking of
Oakland is partnering with The University
of Chicago Celiac Disease Center for National Celiac Disease Awareness
Month in May. This unique partnership, formed through a strong desire to
generate more awareness of celiac disease on the west coast, brings together
the Bay Area’s preeminent 100% dedicated gluten-free bakery and a world leader
in celiac disease research.
Throughout the month of
May, Mariposa Baking’s retail locations and online shop will offer their
customers the opportunity to participate in this fundraiser. By purchasing a
designated sweet or savory gluten-free baked good, a portion of the sale will
go directly towards funding the work of The University of Chicago Celiac
Disease Center. Mariposa Baking has chosen its two
most popular items; their sandwich bread and cinnamon rolls, both of which can
be purchased in their retail locations and online store.
“Mariposa is committed to the long-term health of our customers
and The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is doing great research to
improve the lives of people with celiac disease,” said Patti Furey Crane, founder of
Mariposa Baking. “We’re happy to
support the work of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and to
enable our customers to participate in this fundraising effort as well. We look
forward to great success.”
May is National
Celiac Disease Awareness Month. The focus is to
raise awareness about celiac disease and non-celiac
gluten sensitivity (NCSG). Approximately 3 million Americanshave celiac
disease. There is no evidence-based data to indicate how many have non-celiac
“We are delighted to be partnering
with Mariposa, a company that not only delivers delicious gluten-free products
to those who require the diet, but also demonstrates their commitment to the
community with substantial efforts to help raise much-needed awareness and
funds,” said Carol M. Shilson, executive director at The University of Chicago
Celiac Disease Center. “Our programs and services educate thousands of
consumers and medical professionals across the country each year and our
research is truly leading the way to a cure.”
Event Details: May 1 – 31, 2013
Locations: Mariposa’s Bakeshops:
Bakeshop: 5427 Telegraph Ave., D3, Oakland, CA 94609
oSF Bakeshop: 1 Ferry
Building Plaza, Shop 32, San Francisco, CA 94111
For more information about this
event, details about this partnership or celiac disease, please visit: www.mariposabaking.com. For
information about The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, please
University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center:
The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is an
international center of excellence providing comprehensive patient and
professional education, expert diagnosis and treatment for both children and
adults, groundbreaking bench and clinical research, and active leadership in
advocacy efforts. The Celiac Disease Center is part of the University of
Chicago, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Our start was simple.Patti Furey Crane, Mariposa’s founder, craved
high-quality sweets while pregnant with her first child. Finding few options at
the time, she set out baking them herself. And so, in 2004, Mariposa was
hatched. Mariposa’s mission – create wholesome, hand-crafted food using the
finest natural ingredients. Our certified green bakery also houses our first
retail bakeshop. We have two storefront locations, uor Oakland Bakeshop and our
new SF Bakeshop, est. 2012 and located inside the Ferry Building, where we’re
able to bring daily bread and hand-crafted sweets to San Francisco’s
gluten-free community. We have an online store for customers outside of the Bay
Area, distribution to natural foods stores on the West Coast and we service
many local restaurants with our artisan breads and pizza crusts. We have a
passion for- the baked goods we make, the creative journey we’re on, and the
communities we serve.
In last week's blog post I posted in black and white that I was setting out on a 'cooking quest' of sorts, to create a new meal each week using a different recipe(s) from my plethora of lovely cookbooks that sit in my kitchen looking so pretty and collecting dust. I realized after I posted that lofty statement this could be quite a commitment and one that might be challenging to live up to, however, a great chance to be inspired and learn some new "moves" in the kitchen!
I decided on Wednesday that I was going to cook something from Cristina Ceccatelli Cook's third and newest cookbook titled, "Cristina's of Sun Valley - Con Gusto!" It's a beautiful book loaded with her native Italian recipes and beautiful photos. In this book she's also includes many gluten free recipes, which I'd like to think were written just for me considering I'm a loyal customer of hers, but I'm seriously doubting that I was her inspiration. The irony of choosing one of her recipes, having only received her new book in the mail the week prior, was that Cristina actually called me this same day! It's not often that your phone rings and the caller ID states, "Cristina - Sun Valley" calling. Ironically, I had called her restaurant the day before to place an order of gluten free focaccia bread and a few other items. (If I haven't mentioned before, Cristina's in Sun Valley makes the best GF bread I've ever eaten!) Because Cristina is an amazing business woman and fastidious over attention to detail, she personally called me back to double-check my order and chat about a possible gluten free article I'd interviewed her for a while back. It's always such a pleasure to speak with her. She has a vivacious personality backed with kindness and yes, amazing talents in the kitchen. During our phone conversation I was also able to congratulate her on such a beautiful third cookbook telling her that I'd be preparing one of her dishes for my blog post.
The choice for this post was easy - it's the first week of spring and I wanted to create a meal that was lighter yet loaded with nutrition, flavors, and color. I was stopped in my tracks on page 125 when I saw this gorgeous photo of black cod in a salsa verde - perfectly seared and resting on the most lovely white plate. That's it, I proclaimed! Then I moved onto find a typical Italian recipe for sautéed spinach, chard and kale...three of my absolute leafy greens. And finally, who can resist the nutty and rich flavor of quinoa with chopped green onions for a zip and some color.
There it is ...my menu for this week's spring blog post!
I really wanted to do Cristina's beautiful recipes justice...my only shortfall came in the cooking of the cod. Why is it that cod prepared in a restaurant always stays in ONE PIECE, never falling to pieces as it does every time I've cooked it at home?! Can someone please answer this for me? Sorry Cristina...I did my best, but the flavors were terrific.
Black Cod in Salsa Verde ~
Serves 6 (feel free to modify depending upon needed servings)
- 2 Pounds black cod, cut in 6 pieces
- 2 Cups Italian parsley leaves
- 2 Cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp. capers, plus 1 tsp. caper juice
- 1 Oil-packed anchovy
- 2 Tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1/2 Cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 6 lemon wedges
Rince the cod and set aside to dry while you make the salsa verde.
On a cutting board, finely chop the parsley with the garlic, capers and anchovy. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the caper juice and vinegar. Stir in 7 tablespoons of the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
In bowl, toss the cod with 2 tablespoons of salsa verde.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the cod, skin up, and cook over high heat 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the fish and cook 3 minutes, or until the cod flakes.
Transfer the cod to a warm serving plate, spoon a little salsa verde over the fish, and sprinkle the lemon zest. Serve with lemon wedges.
Sautéed Spinach, Chard & Kale ~
- 2 Pounds spinach, chard or kale (I cooked all three)
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Clove garlic, thinly sliced
- A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Blanch greens in boiling, salted water 2 to 3 minutes for spinach, 8 to 10 minutes for chard and kale. Drain and squeeze out water, and sauté with olive oil and garlic 1 minute. Add a little lemon juice before serving.
If you are not going to use all of your greens immediately, squeeze into balls and refrigerate until later...but I'm betting that you'll eat them all.
The finished product was really lovely and the flavors all worked well together. Though the fish prep seems a big lengthy, it's really an easy meal to put together. For more amazing recipes that you will absolutely devour, pick up one of Cristina's beautiful cookbooks - you'll be very pleased that you did.
As these long and dark winter days quickly slip by making way for spring that's just around the corner...literally, I've decided to post one final winter recipe that's perfect for a cozy night in.
Lentils always conjure up the idea of flavorful, heartier meals and they are so darn versatile. I love them...almost as much as quinoa...not that they are in competition, however. They actually go quite well together in colder salads, but that's another recipe. For this dish I decided to utilize everything I had in my fridge that would compliment lentils and add some good flavors. I found some fresh, organic zucchini, some red peppers, a shallot and ohhhh yum, some delicious sausages that added just the right amount of smokey flavor and some robustness to the dish. This is how I cook most days...always keeping fresh essentials stocked in the 'crisper' but usually making dishes up on the fly, seasoning as I go along and experimenting with flavors. Of course, this adds to the risk factor of cooking something that could turn out to be disastrous or mis-measured, etc. but I kind of enjoy taking my chances. However, with that statement made...I have some new news!
Beginning next week my blog is going to become the "testing ground" and post for a recipe a week...meaning, I'm going to do my best to choose a new recipe every Thursday or Friday evening from the plethora of cookbooks I have in my library (that look so pretty, yet are rarely utilized!), and feature the results here...along with photos and discussion around the cookbooks themselves! Fun and a big undertaking, but as I was trekking my way around the reservoir this afternoon the idea hit me...and it's sticking. I'm excited!
Back to the lentil and sausage with sautéed veggies...I ended up cooking an insane amount of lentils which lasted me for several days, but you can certainly cut down or add to this recipe very easily.
- 2 cups freshly cooked French lentils, 1 cup cooking liquid reserved
- 2 organic spiced sausage (of your choice - pre-cooked)
- 1/2 cup organic gluten-free vegetarian broth
- 2 organice medium zucchini
- 1 cup red and yellow peppers (marinated are best)
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 2 Tbsp. feta cheese
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. organic garlic salt
- sea salt and pepper to taste
Keep lentils warming in a separate pot (add the broth in with the lentils) while you sauté the shallots in olive oil until tender. Then add in thinly sliced zucchini and peppers. Sauté all ingredients until al dente, then add in the sliced sausages adding with them the red pepper, garlic salt along with salt and pepper (to taste). Cook all for 6-8 minutes on medium flame to meld flavors.
Serve cooked lentils on bottom of the plate and then gently add the sausage and vegetable mix over the lentils, as desired. Allow to cool for a minute then add the feta cheese. Given the heartiness of this dish, I chose to forgo any starches and instead, paired with a lovely glass of merlot. A sliced pear was the perfect dessert.
I was asked by Karen Broussard, Founder of GlutenFreeTravelSite.com to review restaurants in London, while meeting up there with my best friend, to be featured on her amazingly unique and resourceful website. Have a read and definitely try these terrific restaurants when you're visiting one of the world's most international AND gluten-free friendly cities!
If you're an American looking for a fun international travel destination -- where there's no language barrier (except for the great accents!) -- and where maintaining a gluten free diet is relatively easy, you'll want to consider London.
As our Featured Reviewer on GlutenFreeTravelSite this month will attest, shopping for gluten free grocery items is easy (items are well-labeled so you can readily tell what's gluten free). And dining out during her recent trip to London over New Year's went even better than Aimee anticipated. She found that many restaurants had Gluten Free Menus, and others were knowledgeable and able to communicate exactly which menu items were safe too eat -- and tailor certain offerings to make them gluten free, if needed.
Aimee shares three of her favorite "gluten free friendly" restaurant discoveries in our Featured Review this month, starting with an elegant restaurant between Chelsea and South Kensington (and not far from great shopping in Knightsbridge or on King's Road). Whether you dine there for lunch or dinner, you'll find the wait staff friendly and their knowledge of gluten free options impressive. Aimee enjoyed a perfect Italian dinner consisting of a wonderful endive, pear and Gorgonzola salad, followed by an exquisite rissotto, and capped off with a decadent panna cotta.
Aimee found two other restaurants particularly noteworthy on her trip: a restaurant well-known by locals and named after Princess Margaret, who used to be a frequent guest. This West London restaurant evokes the feeling of a farmhouse kitchen in the English countryside. Huge wooden tables display candles dripping wax down old wine bottle candelabras, and the atmosphere, food, service, and affordable prices left Aimee wanting to return.
Since no trip to London is complete without seeking out some of the wide variety of cuisines from around the world, Aimee highlighted a particular favorite find of hers: a small Lebanese restaurant that was packed at lunchtime...but worth the wait for one of the tables. Located on a tiny cobblestone street, this unexpected discovery was one of the culinary highlights of Aimee's trip. The fresh, flavorful food -- most of which was gluten free to cater to the restaurant's many GF diners -- was an absolute delight. (You can read more details about all three of these restaurants on our Featured Review page.)
Aimee left London feeling great about her gluten free experiences -- and happy to confirm that this exciting, vibrant city can be a very safe place for Celiacs to travel and dine like Kings or Queens!
Have you been to London? What were some of your favorite restaurants? Feel free to click the Comments button below and share your recommendations -- or submit a quick review to GlutenFreeTravelSite so that others visiting or living in London can benefit from your recommendations!
Have another favorite "gluten free friendly" destination -- in Europe or someplace else around the globe? We'd love to hear about your experience!