The Tasty Meditation Gluten Free Holiday Gift Guide: 2021 Edition

Disclaimer: I was not paid nor given free products in exchange for writing this post. I have special relationships with some of these companies and may have been given samples in the past. This post contains a few affiliate links in which I get a small commission that helps maintain the cost of this site (there is no added cost to you). All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I genuinely love. As always, double check labels and product information. Ingredients, allergen policies, and facilities can change at any time.

The Tasty Meditation Gluten Free Holiday Gift Guide: 2021 Edition is here! It’s more important than ever to support small businesses, so you’ll find many of my favorites listed below.

For the chocolate & sweets lover:

• See’s Candy – Gluten free chocolate truffles! Most of their chocolates do not contain gluten, but be sure to visit the allergen information page of their website for the most up to date information.

• LA Burdick hot chocolate – Kris introduced me to their hot chocolate on our first date. “I hope you brought another pair of socks…because yours are about to be knocked off.” Lucky for me – it happened to be gluten free! Their drinking chocolates are prepared in a dedicated gluten free kitchen.

• Yum Earth – Certified gluten free treats, even licorice!

• Goodie Girl Cookies – If you’re thinking that “Mint Slims” sounds almost exactly like a certain Girl Scout cookie, you are correct. So good, you’ll be tempted to eat an entire box in one sitting.

For kids (or kids at heart):

• Little GF Chefs baking kits – Absolutely adorable, creative and fun baking projects for people of all ages! The founder, Jereann Zann, is on a mission to empower kids, build confidence, and encourage a positive relationship with food. Every baking kit is made in a dedicated gluten free and top 8 allergen free facility and comes with just about everything you need to make the fun treats. Individual kits and subscriptions are available. I loved their rainbow donut kit!

• Cat-shaped cookie cutters – (affiliate link) Visit @howtocoeliac on instagram to learn how to make these perfect calico cookies!

For the experienced cook:

• Nuts.com gift certificate – (affiliate link) My favorite source for gluten free flours, nuts and dried fruit. They have a huge selection of gluten free items, and everything is clearly marked.

• Guittard Chocolate Chips – My absolute favorite chocolate to bake with. Most of their products are made in a dedicated facility and will say so on the label.

• Jovial olive oil – I didn’t know what I was missing until I tried their olive oil from Italy. Wonderfully flavorful and perfect for dipping bread and drizzling on top of pizza.

• Digital Kitchen Scale – Digital scales are essential for measuring gluten free flour accurately! So far my favorite scale is by Escali. I use it nearly every day, and years later it’s still working perfectly.

• The No Gluten, No Problem Pizza Cookbook by Kelli and Peter Bronski – (affiliate link) This book is seriously life-changing, and I make their pizzas at least three times a week. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this cookbook The recipes rival my favorite pizzas in Italy.

• Ultimate pizza-making equipment bundle – (affiliate link) I’ve compiled a collection of everything you need to make my favorite No Gluten, No Problem pizzas! The cookbook, baking steel, storage-conscious pizza peel, digital kitchen scale, and food thermometer.

• Pasta machine – (affiliate link) There’s nothing like fresh pasta! Be sure to check out my video tutorial and recipes for gluten free fettuccine, ravioli, and tortellini!

For those who enjoy easy cooking projects:

• Charlie’s Table fresh pasta – Once you try fresh pasta you’ll never want to go back to dried. Certified gluten free and made in a dedicated facility, Charlie’s Table offers pasta shapes that are difficult to find gluten free – bucatini, rigatoni, garganelli, gemelli, and tagliatelle.

• Still Riding Foods pizza crusts – One of my favorite pre-made crusts. Certified gluten free, dedicated gluten free facility, dairy free, egg free, soy free, nut free, vegan and kosher.

For the makeup lover:

• Red Apple Lipstick gift certificate – (affiliate link) Amazing allergen-friendly makeup with a wide variety of stunning lipstick colors. The Rallye Balm is a lifesaver for chapped/dry lips during the colder months. My personal favorite colors include Vogue and Ooh La La. Get 22% off orders of $50+ with the code “TastyMeditation”.

Gluten free bakeries – All of these 100% gluten free bakeries ship across the US (for residents of Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories please inquire with the bakeries directly), and several offer gift cards:

• Bread Srsly sourdough (affiliate link) – Seriously the best gluten free sourdough (and my favorite gluten free bread, in general) on the market! Made in the Bay Area, this bread nails that traditional sourdough taste. Free from gluten, wheat, egg, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, potatoes, sesame, refined sugar, and chickpeas. The last day to order for the holidays is December 12th, but I recommend ordering early because they sell out. Use code “TASTYHOLIDAY” for 10% off your order through 12/12/21!

• Krumville Bakeshop – Delicious cookies, cakes, muffins, and bread – everything that comes out of the Krumville kitchen is incredible! I recently made it my mission to try all of their layered cakes (spoiler alert – they’re all wonderful). If I had to choose one favorite, it would be three – chocolate raspberry, lemon & berries, gingerbread & cranberry. Feel free to send me a message if you’re looking for a personalize recommendation.

• Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery – This bakery holds a very special place in my heart. My favorite items include panini bread, burger buns, almond ricotta orange cake, lemon mascarpone almond muffins, shortbread cookies, and pecan snowball cookies. After years of visiting this bakery, I recently tried the cookies for the first time. Normally when I visit in person I opt for the pastries, but wow was I missing out! Their cookies are truly magical.

• Modern Bread & Bagel – You’re not dreaming, these are real New York style bagels! When I was diagnosed with celiac disease I never thought I would experience this joy again. Infinitely grateful to Modern Bread for making this magic happen.

• Meredith’s Bread – A family-run bakery located in Kingston, NY, Meredith’s Bread is well known for selling products at farmers markets around NYC. They have two lines of products (wheat-based and gluten free – look for that GF label!), and their gluten free baked goods are made in a separate/dedicated facility. Excellent pricing. I love their rustic farmhouse breads, black and white cookies, and biscotti.

• Izzi B’s Allergen Free Bakery – So many free-from statements! This bakery is free of gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, nuts, casein, preservatives, trans-fats, refined sugar, and more! Located in Connecticut. Try the yellow cake, it’s my favorite!

• Everybody Eats – Mention Everybody Eats to a gluten free New Yorker, and they’ll immediately start talking about how kind and wonderful the owner, Pedro, is. Check out their instagram for delightful videos of Pedro singing in his bakery, and you might spot a certain special guest (spoiler alert – it’s me!). Highly recommend their gluten free baguette.

• Mariposa Baking Co – Located in San Francisco, so shipping rates are more affordable for friends on the west coast. I highly recommend their cinnamon rolls and flaky pastries. One of the few bakeries I’ve found that makes gluten free croissants!

• The Karma Baker – 100% vegan and gluten free in LA. I highly recommend their donuts.

For the bar:

• Tito’s Vodka – Certified gluten free, corn-based vodka. You might want to get some for yourself, too. I’ve found that you save more money in the long run if you buy the bigger bottle (wink).

• Barr Hill Gin – Lightly sweetened with local honey, so every batch is a little different. Labeled gluten free.

• Deep Eddy Vodka – Flavored vodka that’s labeled gluten free. Cranberry, peach, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, and sweet tea flavors.

• Bright Cellars – (referral link) A fun subscription box with wine tailored to your preferences. Each box comes with fun cards to help you learn about the wine you receive. The more you rate your wines, the more the algorithm learns about what you love.

• Wolffer rose cider – Our favorite cider in the Tasty Meditation kitchen, and naturally gluten free!

• Pallini Limoncello – A taste of Italy! Kris and I tried various different limoncello brands during our gluten free honeymoon in Rome, and this was by far our favorite.

Gluten free resources:

• Gluten Free Watchdog subscription – GFW is one of the most incredible advocates in the celiac disease/gluten free community, and her website is a wealth of information. Subscribers get special access to products reports (selected items are tested for gluten in a laboratory setting) and support her overall efforts.

• Gluten Dude app subscription – An excellent resource with restaurant/bakery lists, product recommendations, and moderated message boards created by celiac disease advocate Gluten Dude. See you on the app!

Happy Holidays!

Thyme & Tonic – NYC Restaurant Review

Disclaimer: I was not paid nor given complimentary product in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend restaurants and products that I truly enjoy. Please always call a restaurant before visiting to verify that it is appropriate for your needs, as policies and menus can change any time.

I have a new favorite 100% gluten free restaurant, and I can’t believe it took me so long to try it. I visited Thyme & Tonic on the Upper West Side earlier this year for cocktails and appetizers. I was incredibly impressed and excited to eventually return to try the entrees and desserts (and more cocktails, of course). In short, I was blown away.

Chipotle Pineapple Margarita

We started the evening off with a round of cocktails. Kris was instantly a fan of the Chipotle Pineapple Margarita. I opted for my favorite cocktail from my previous visit – Besos Calientes (Spanish for “hot kisses”). Featuring vodka, lime, passion fruit, and a cerano ice cube, the concept of this cocktail was so smart. It was on the sweeter side (which I like), but as the cerano ice cube melted, it changed the flavor profile of the drink. And it got spicy quickly!

Besos Calientes – Vodka, Lime Juice, Passion Fruit, Cerano Ice Cube

I normally feel very confident in my gluten free restaurant research, but when this salmon burger arrived at my table I thought, “Oh no, I’ve made a terrible mistake. Am I at the right restaurant? Did I read something wrong? Look at that bun! The height, the color! Is it gluten free?” And yes, of course the restaurant is 100% gluten free. They just do magical things in their kitchen. The burger and fries were simply amazing.

Salmon Burger, Watercress, Avocado, Horseradish Aioli

Lucky us, our reservation happened to coincide with their final ice cream special of the summer. The mini lemon donut ice cream sandwich was heavenly. I’m looking forward to seeing what desserts specials Thyme & Tonic will offer in the fall/winter, but I’ll be on the lookout for anything they make with lemon because this dessert was perfect.

Chocolate & Lemon Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches

Overall, I adored my experience at Thyme & Tonic. The service, atmosphere, food and cocktails were all top notch, and it has quickly become one of my very favorite restaurants in NYC. Book your reservation now. You don’t want to miss out.

Thyme & Tonic is a 100% gluten free, mostly vegan, and certified Kosher restaurant located at 474 Columbus Avenue (near 83rd St). Open for brunch (in collaboration with Modern Bread & Bagel next door) and dinner.

Supporting Small Businesses – NYC Gluten Free Bakeries

Disclaimer – I was not paid or asked to write this post. I am friends with or have a special relationship with some of these bakery owners. I’ve received free samples in the past, but I also recently ordered products myself. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend bakeries and restaurants that I love.

As I do my best to keep track of time, I believe I am currently on my 75th day in my studio apartment in Queens. I’ve only gone out for necessary medical appointments, social distancing walks, and to do laundry/pick up packages in my building’s basement. No subway. No casual trips to Manhattan. The COVID-19 crisis presses onwards, and with no end in sight my husband and I are worried about the future of our favorite gluten free restaurants and bakeries. Unfortunately, my neighborhood has a distinct lack of safe gluten free restaurants, so takeout isn’t an option. What is an option – ordering from local gluten free bakeries and having packages shipped to us.

The following are recommendations and shout-outs for some of our favorite 100% gluten free bakeries in NYC that we ordered from recently. All ship across the continental US (most have pickup options available, as well) and are doing incredible work during this stressful time. Click on the name of the bakery to be taken to their website. In no particular order –

Krumville Bake Shop

A long time favorite very near and dear to my heart, Krumville made our beautiful wedding cake. Kris and I recently celebrated our one year anniversary with a Krumville cake. We had originally planned to order an anniversary cake every year (a great excuse to try all of their cake flavors!), but we decided that we’ll be ordering a cake every month this summer because why not? I also highly recommend their focaccia, cookies and muffins. And yes, they also ship their cakes across the country!

Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery

Always one of our favorite places to dine at in Manhattan, Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery made an incredibly fast switch in their business model and began shipping select baked goods a month ago. I’ve been obsessed with their panini bread. Their Prosciutto & Mozzarella panini was one of my favorite things to order at the cafe, so I’m thrilled that I can order their panini bread and recreate the dish at home. Senza frequently adds new items, and I’m so happy they’re now offering one of my favorites – Almond Ricotta Orange cake. I also recommend their scones and muffins. Dairy free and vegan items available.

Modern Bread & Bagel

Another restaurant that recently began shipping baked goods. Their bagels are incredible. They are truly New York style bagels, not just bread in the shape of a bagel. Tip: order as many as you can, slice them, and freeze. Defrost, toast, and enjoy! Dairy free and vegan items available.

Everybody Eats

A long time favorite of many gluten free New Yorkers, you might recognize their gluten free baguette, as it’s served in several NYC restaurants. I love their baguettes and bagels. I often use their deli rolls as humburgers buns, and they’re amazing. Nut free bakery. Dairy free and vegan items available.

To conclude, a few notes on shipping – Remember, these items are made fresh by bakeries in NYC and are not made with preservatives. They need to be shipped fast in order to arrive in good condition. Shipping may be pricy, but what you get is high quality gluten free baked goods and you support some amazing local businesses. A tip: if you have a local friend who is also gluten free, see if they would like to place an order with you and split shipping costs. Gluten Free Spartan and I are neighbors, so we recently ordered a gazillion bagels and had a hilarious social distancing drop off/pick up.

Also, always remember to follow specific storage recommendations and reheating instructions to ensure maximum enjoyment.

Have you supported any great gluten free businesses lately? Share the love and leave a comment!

Positive Quotes from Kids With Celiac

I am so excited for this post! Throughout the years I’ve chatted with several children who have Celiac Disease. Each one was bright, well spoken, and empathetic, and they inspired me to create this post. I recently sent out messages on the facebook and twitter-verse asking parents to chat with their kids about the positive side of Celiac Disease and send me what their kids had to say (thanks to everyone who participated!). These kids are the BEST. While I’m stressing about food to eat at a wedding, these kids are conquering the universe! I hope this post will be inspiring to both children and adults. It’s certainly been inspiring to me. 

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What is the best part about having Celiac Disease?

  • “You get to see your insides on pictures after the biopsy”
  • “You feel amazing!” (10 years old, diagnosed 1 month ago)
  • “The best part is you are aware and can fix the problem so you feel better.”
  • “I don’t have to be sick” (9 years old, diagnosed at age 3)
  • “My mum makes me so many different foods I don’t feel I am missing out.”
  • “At class parties everyone else gets store bought cupcakes, but I get homemade cupcakes that are way better.”
  • “I get bigger treats” (4 years old, diagnosed 8 months ago)
  • “The gluten free pizza tastes better than the pizza with gluten.” (6 years old, diagnosed 1 week ago)
  • “You don’t have to share your yummy food as most think gluten free food is not good and has no taste.”
  • “If there is a food that I really don’t want to eat at a party, I can just say – hmmm, I’m not sure if that is gluten free. Sorry I can’t eat it!”
  • “I don’t eat a lot of junk food and other foods that I know I shouldn’t eat that much.” (9 years old)
  •  “I am a kid that likes to eat” (7 years old, diagnosed at age 3)
  •  “Sometimes I get bigger treats than the other kids” (7 years old, diagnosed at 18 months)
  • “I feel special because mum makes everything at home for me, and my brother and dad have to eat the same food! hahaha”
  •  “That I’m like my mom” (8 years old, diagnosed at age 3)
  • “I love going to the Allergy Show in London with my mom every year. I like trying all the different foods – especially pizza! – and also meeting up with my mom’s Twitter friends. Also I love eating out at safe restaurants.” (11 years old, diagnosed age 5)
  • “The best part of having Coeliac Disease as a 17 year old is that I don’t have to share my food! I also love sharing my food finds on Instagram and in Facebook support groups. There’s a community that I would never have been involved in without having Coeliac Disease.”
  • “You are not like everybody else. We are different.”

What is better now that you eat gluten free?

  • “I don’t feel sick anymore” (9 years old, diagnosed at age 3)
  • “Much less pain! More people are beginning to understand what it’s like for me. The ready made food is always improving too.”
  • “I don’t really remember eating gluten containing foods. I’m learning new cooking and baking skills which I love!” (11 years old, diagnosed age 5)
  • “You don’t throw up.”
  • “Everything because I feel better and I can eat cake!”
  • “I always get to take my own food and I always know I will have food I like for lunch in school.”
  • “I’m not sick anymore! I prefer natural gluten free foods to begin with, like fruits and vegetables” (9 years old)
  • “I’m not throwing up anymore and it’s better for my body.” (6 years old, diagnosed 1 week ago)
  •  “More cheese!” (his parents are vegan) (10 years old, diagnosed 1 month ago)
  •  “That I don’t get sick” (7 years old, diagnosed at age 3)
  • “My health. I feel better all around” (4 years old, diagnosed 8 months ago)
  •  “I don’t have any more tummy aches” (8 years old, diagnosed at age 3)
  •  “I’m not so sad” (7 years old, diagnosed at 18 months)
  • “I make healthier choices because I guess I don’t have a choice. It forces me to eat better because I can’t eat the pizza and junk food that kids eat at birthday parties.”
  • “Now I eat gluten free I don’t feel ill at all, I have energy again, and I don’t feel sick constantly. I also know I’m not making my insides unhappy!”

What would you want to tell other kids your age who just got diagnosed?

  • “You are not alone. Don’t need to feel different.” (4 years old, diagnosed 8 months ago)
  • “It’s nothing but food so it’s no big deal.”
  • “You can make almost anything without gluten.”
  • “It’s a-ok and you can eat lots of things even cake and sometimes it’s even better than regular cake. Can you tell I like cake?”
  • “It’s okay, you just have to get used to eating gluten free. There’s a lot of great gluten free foods out there. I don’t feel like I miss anything.” (9 years old)
  • “It gets better! I cried at first but it’s really not bad.”
  • “That gluten free foods are good” (7 years old, diagnosed at age 3)
  •  “It feels easier the longer you have it” (8 years old, diagnosed at age 3)
  •  “You’re not the only one and there are other Celiac kids” (7 years old, diagnosed at 18 months)
  • “If someone is teasing you about the food like ‘You can’t eat gluten’ you can say ‘hey stop it!’ If they don’t stop you can tell their parents.” (6 years old, diagnosed 1 week ago)
  • “Don’t be scared, the food isn’t as bad as everyone thinks and in some cases it’s easy for your mum to make your favorite food gluten free.”
  • “Our cupcakes are way better than grocery store cake.”
  • “Don’t be worried. You’ll miss the foods you used to eat, but it will get easier. Always read labels and ask lots of questions when you eat out.” (11 years old, diagnosed age 5)
  • “As a 17 year old, you think it’s awful but honestly it’s not bad at all! There are groups that have events and provide support. Socially, your friends will understand and accommodate you but you have to stick to your guns and be gluten free because it’s what your body needs!”
  • “It’s not as hard after you get used to it” (9 years old, diagnosed at age 3)
  • “Class parties where everyone is eating cake except for you may suck at first, but in a year or so you’ll realize that it’s not a big deal at all. I don’t care now. I can eat a cupcake anytime.”
  • “The most important thing is to understand about Celiac and understanding everything you can and can’t eat so then you can educate others when they ask you questions.”
  • “It’ll be o.k.” (10 years old, diagnosed 1 month ago)

Do you have a child/teenager with Celiac who would like to contribute some positivity? Leave a comment or send me an email, and I’ll add their quotes to the list! TastyMeditation@yahoo.com


Gluten Free Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Disclaimer: I was not paid nor given free products in exchange for writing this post. Some of these companies have previously provided me with samples. This post contains a few affiliate links (always specified) in which I get a small commission that helps maintain the cost of this site (there is no added cost to you). All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love. As always, double check labels and product information. Ingredients, allergen policies, and facilities can change at any time. 

It’s that time again! – The Tasty Meditation Gluten Free Holiday Gift Guide 2017! Below you’ll find some favorite from previous years, plus a few new ones. Find the perfect gift for your gluten free loved one!

For the chocolate/sweets lover:

  • See’s Candy – I highly recommend their gold box chocolate truffles. Yes – gluten free truffles!! The perfect decadent treat.
  • Pascha Chocolate – Very allergen-friendly dark chocolate.
  • Al Nassma  Elegant camel-milk chocolates from Dubai (please see my previous post for allergen information).
  • Organic Living Superfoods  – (affiliate link) Health conscious friends will love this organic, dairy free, chocolate covered fruit. I recommend the dark chocolate covered pineapple and coconut. (Get 10% off with code “TastyMeditation10”)

For the experienced cook – Often times experienced home cooks know exactly what ingredients they need and what new kitchen gadgets they are dying to try, which makes a gift card to the right store a perfect gift.

  • Nuts.com gift certificate –Gluten free flours, nuts, and baking ingredients can get expensive, so I’m sure that any home cook would love the gift of a full pantry.
  • Guittard Chocolate Chips – My absolute favorite chocolate to bake with. Most of their products are made in a dedicated facility and will say so on the label.
  • Bed, Bath and Beyond gift card Not sure what gadget your GF friend is missing? Let them pick! I asked my followers on Facebook what was on their wish list, and cooking gadgets (bread makers, in particular) were at the top of many lists.
  • Digital Kitchen Scale – Digital scales are essential for measuring gluten free flour and making sure gluten free recipes come out the best they can be! So far my favorite scale is by Escali who provided a sample in exchange for this review. 
  • Blendtec blender with twister jar – One of the most useful gadgets in my kitchen. The twister jar is perfect for making nut butters and small servings of anything.
  • “1000 Gluten Free Recipes” by Carol Fenster – My first cookbook when I went gluten free, and boy was I glad I had it! Five years later it still has a prominent space on my bookshelf.
  • Natural Contents Cookbook Good Food For Everyone: Farm Fresh Clean Eating  – Gluten free, grain free, soy free, mostly paleo, dairy-free friendly and vegan friendly recipes. 
  • Any books by Elana Amsterdam (aka Elana’s Pantry)  Through the years Elana has proven to be my favorite source for paleo recipes. Buy some almond and coconut flour and get cooking!
  • Gluten Free Labels – (affiliate link) Fun labels, stickers, tags, and toothpick flags that will easily help distinguish the gluten-free products from the gluten-filled products in a shared kitchen.
  • A dinner at their favorite GF restaurant – Because every great cook deserves a relaxing culinary experience every so often. Great option if you know your sweetie has a favorite. Unless you’re taking them to a new 100% GF restaurant, don’t surprise them with a new place they haven’t had a chance to research.

For those who like easy baking projects:

  • Luce’s Gluten Free Artisan Bread Mix – Delicious, rustic bread mix. Just add water, mix, and bake. I recommend the sourdough and “rye” mixes (not real rye, of course), which are oat free (the other mixes contain non-purity protocol GF oats, an ingredient that I do not personally eat/recommend)
  • 123 Gluten Free Mixes – A high quality set of mixes that are extremely allergen friendly. Great for loved ones with multiple food intolerances. Over a hundred recipes on their website – you will never get tired of their mixes. The Sweet Goodness Pan Bars are a personal favorite. 
  • Better Batter Mixes – Better Batter has a beautiful mission. I urge you to visit their website and read about the family that was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, the business that sparked from it, and their dedication to various communities including individuals with autism. Very allergen friendly, and there are literally hundreds of recipes on the Better Batter website.
  • Really Great Food Company Mixes – A big hit at the recent GFAF Expo. Their coffee cake and banana bread were huge hits and personal favorites.
  • Gluten Free Prairie Oatmeal – IF you know your GF loved one can tolerate gluten free oats, they will be super impressed with Gluten Free Prairie! Unlike many GF oats on the market, Gluten Free Prairie uses gluten free purity protocol oats which are grown/harvested in dedicated fields. For more info on the purity protocol issue click here. 

Subscription Boxes

  • American Gluten Free– (affiliate link) My favorite gluten free subscription boxes on the market. AGF supports small businesses across the country, so you will taste very unique products that you might not have found otherwise. All items are made in dedicated gluten free facilities and/or are certified gluten free. They’re all dairy free, as well! You’ll find subscription options for both on-the-go snackers and experienced cooks. AGF is offers single boxes as well as their regular month-to-month plan – it’s the gift that keeps on giving! Use code “Tasty10” to get 10% off ANY subscription for LIFE – every box, every month, for as long as you are a customer. 

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For the beauty product lover:

  • Red Apple Lipstick gift certificate – (affiliate link) Amazing allergen-friendly makeup with stunning lipstick colors for all complexions. The Rallye Balm is a lifesaver for chapped/dry lips during the colder months. Favorite colors include Vogue and Wine & Dandy. Get 22% off orders of $50+ with the code “TastyMeditation”
  • Éclair Naturals – A line of beautiful handcrafted lotions, shampoos, soaps, bath salts, and more that are certified gluten free, soy free, vegan, cruelty free, and non GMO. The body butter is perfect for friends who have sensitive skin during the winter time.

For the book lover:

Fresh GF treats shipped to your door (dedicated GF bakeries):

  • Bread SRSLY Sourdough (affiliate link) “The best gluten free sourdough bread on the market,” says my San Francisco-native boyfriend. I’m a total Bread SRSLY addict. You can even eat it without toasting! $5 flat rate shipping.
  • Krumville Bake Shop – Perhaps my favorite bakery in NYC. Delicious cookies, cakes, muffins, and bread – everything that comes out of the Krumville kitchen is incredible!
  • Meredith’s Bread – Wonderful breads and the best black and white cookies you will ever eat. Their products are in farmers markets all over NYC/NJ/CT (look for the GF label! – they have a separate bakery for their wheat-based products).
  • Izzi B’s Allergen Free Bakery – Try the yellow cake. Your friends will never guess that this bakery is free of gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, all nuts, and casein, preservatives, trans-fats, and refined sugar! Located in Connecticut. 
  • Gluten Free Territory – Amazing raspberry cheesecake brownies! You won’t want to share. (Note: I recommend their oat free products. Two of their cookies contain non-purity protocol GF oats, which I do not eat/recommend). 
  • Squirrel and the Bee Goodness Grainless Granola – The most amazing granola you will ever taste! I highly recommend both the pumpkin spice and cinnamon vanilla. Also available at farmers markets in NJ.
  • Everybody Eats– My mom and I are obsessed with their baguettes, and the company is run by some of the most caring people you’ll ever meet. Pickup locally in Brooklyn or get it shipped to your door.
  • Mariposa Baking Co – Located in San Francisco, Mariposa is one of my favorite bakeries in the country. I highly recommend their cinnamon rolls – out of this world!
  • Gluten Free Gloriously – One of my top favorite bakeries! Located in NJ. I highly recommend their cookies. While many bakeries are often limited to two or three cookie variations, Gluten Free gloriously makes everything a Celiac has been missing — lintzer cookies, biscotti, rainbow cookies, holiday pies, even cannolis! Getting married? Their wedding cakes are stunning!

(Pictured above: Krumville Bake Shop cake, Bread SRSLY Sourdough, Gluten Free Territory brownies, Izzi B’s Allergen Free Bakery cupcakes, Everybody Eats baguette) 

For the alcohol lover:

  • Tito’s Vodka – Certified gluten free, corn-based vodka. You might want to get some for yourself too. I’ve found that you save more money in the long run if you buy the bigger bottle (wink).
  • Wine – When in doubt, always a good gift.

GF  Resources:

  • Gluten Free Watchdog Subscription – GFW is one of the most incredible advocates the community has. Her website is a wealth of information. Subscribers get special access to products reports (selected items are tested for gluten in a lab) and support her overall efforts. 
  • Celiac Research Donation – Donate in honor of your Celiac loved one! The Celiac Center at Columbia University is one of several organizations doing amazing research for the community, searching for better treatment and a cure.

 

Don’t forget that your loved one is not defined by Celiac. We all have other interests and hobbies – theatre, movies, music, pets, crafts, games, sports – gifts that are not food-related are also great choices. 

Please feel free to email this list to loved ones and leave a comment – what gift are YOU wishing for?

Happy Holidays!

GFAF Expo in Secaucus, NJ Oct 14/15 + Giveaway!

It’s been on my calendar for almost a year now – the GFAF Expo is coming back to NJ October 14th and 15th! I’m thrilled to be returning as one of their official bloggers. It is truly one of my favorite events of the year – a place for Celiac/gluten free folk to come together, learn, and support each other – there is so much joy in that expo hall every year!

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Do you love free samples? I do. The expo will feature dozens upon dozens of gluten free vendors, many of which are also very allergen friendly. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about new products as well as sample treats from east coast GF bakeries.

Great expo features:

  • Free samples and raffle drawings
  • Free seminars hosted by notable members of the gluten free community.
  • Opportunities to buy products directly from vendors.
  • The hall is divided into two color-coded sections. Both are gluten free, but one section is specifically nut free, as well.
  • Secaucus is about 7 minutes away from the Port Authority Bus Station in Manhattan. It’s about a $7 round trip ticket, and the bus lets you off right at the expo. www.njtransit.com/pdf/bus/T0320.pdf

I will also be there representing the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group – please leave a comment and let me know if you’re attending! I’d love to meet up. One of the best part of attending the expo is chatting with other Celiac/GF folk. 

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Need a ticket?

  1. Members of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group receive 30% off their ticket price with the code NYC30 or by clicking here. If you are not a member, check out our group at www.meetup.com/Celiac
  2. Interested in volunteering at the expo and getting a free ticket? Click here. 
  3. Ticket giveaway! I’m giving away three Adult Single Day passes. Enter via the Rafflecopter link below – giveaway ends Friday September 15th at 11:59 pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more info please visit www.gfafexpo.com/locations/2017-secaucus-nj

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this. As an official blogger for the expo I am receiving a comped ticket. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love.

Gluten Free Watchdog’s FDA Citizen Petition

Many of you are aware of Gluten Free Watchdog’s ongoing efforts to encourage the FDA to enforce their gluten free rules. She has now submitted a citizen petition to the FDA docket. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to come together as a community to help create change. Gluten free must mean gluten free. 

With her permission I have copied/pasted GFW’s recent email. Please see below and consider taking two minutes out of your day to comment/share.

Best,

Jessica

 

 

Gluten Free Watchdog’s Citizen Petition has posted to the FDA docket. Please read the petition and comment. Please ask others to comment too. The petition is available at: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FDA-2017-P-5118

Sample comment to cut and paste into the docket:

Too many products are labeled gluten-free yet contain ingredients (e.g., barley malt) not allowed in labeled gluten-free foods. I support Gluten Free Watchdog’s citizen petition asking FDA to establish new reporting and investigation processes to address facial misbranding violations under the gluten-free labeling rule.

What is facial misbranding? We are defining facial misbranding to be when a product label displays a “gluten-free” claim but the ingredients list includes an ingredient that is prohibited under FDA rules from being contained in any product labeled “gluten-free” (e.g., barley malt, barley malt extract, barley malt syrup, wheat [except in limited circumstances with clear additional markings and language]).

What is an example of facial misbranding? Chips labeled gluten-free yet containing barley malt extract are facially misbranded. And soy sauce labeled gluten-free yet containing wheat is facially misbranded.

Is facial misbranding that big of a problem? Yes. See Foods Labeled Gluten-Free Yet Containing Barley Malt Ingredients available at: https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/foods-labeled-gluten-free-yet-containing-barley-malt-ingredients/ and Products Labeled Gluten-Free Yet Containing Wheat-Based Soy Sauce available at: https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/products-labeled-gluten-free-yet-containing-wheat-based-soy-sauce/

What we are asking of FDA:

  1. Electronic Consumer Reporting

FDA should establish a reporting system on its website for consumers/consumer groups to electronically report Facial Misbranding to FDA. Because Facial Misbranding is plainly evident from the face of the label itself, the reporting would need only require the uploading of product photos that illustrate the gluten-free claim and the ingredients list (e.g., the photos attached as Attachments 1 through 6), along with a simple form for consumer input of relevant information such as product name, “Best by” or “Use by” dates and lot numbers.

  1. Warning Letters and/or a “Facial Misbranding Initiative”

In order to curtail consumer exposure to misbranded and dangerous products, FDA should routinely issue a Warning Letter based on Facial Misbranding within thirty (30) days of receipt of an electronically submitted report demonstrating Facial Misbranding has occurred.

Alternatively, FDA could implement a “Facial Misbranding Initiative” under the Gluten-Free Labeling Rule, utilizing consumer submissions and information collected through other methods of surveillance.

What you can do to help:

  • Comment on the petition
  • Ask others to comment on the petition
  • Spread the word about the petition on Facebook, Twitter, and blog posts
  • Use #EnforceGFRule & #ReclaimGF

Opinion – Not a fan of the Nima Sensor

I am not a fan of the Nima Sensor, and I’m going to tell you why.

Disclaimer – Several of my readers wrote to me expressing their own doubts and concerns about Nima and asking for my opinion. The following opinions are my own. This is meant to be a discussion, so please feel free to contribute. I own a Nima Sensor (which I paid for myself), and these are my experiences. It is not my intention to sway readers for or against Nima. I am simply discussing my opinions. Many of you know of my hero, Gluten Free Watchdog, an invaluable expert in the gluten free community. I will be referencing several of her articles about the Nima Sensor. Please also keep in mind that the FDA has defined gluten free as less than 20ppm. Some GF certification organizations require a food to be less than this. I am aware that some extremely sensitive Celiacs react to 20ppm. Nima’s chemistry is optimized for 20ppm.

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I was among a group of gluten free bloggers invited to informational events with the Nima team before the product was released. If you remember my post from two years ago – “The Nima Sensor – A Game Changer” – you’ll remember that I was incredibly excited about this product, so much so that I preordered my sensor the second it went on sale. I also loved the Nima team. The creators were kind and seemed to really want to do some good in the world.

Some facts:

The cost – $279. The capsules cost about $4.87 – $6.08 each and are not reusable. And they expire within about six months.

Nima doesn’t work on:

  • Fermented foods
  • Soy sauce
  • Pure vinegar
  • Beer
  • Alcohol
  • Xanthan and guar gum in their pure form
  • Bright colored food
  • Hard food such as uncooked pasta and dry beans
  • Nima has not been validated to test for gluten in medication or non-food products such as makeup. If tested, the Nima team cannot make claims about the accuracy of test results.

Problems with the sample size

Watch Nima not pick up cross contamination in GF crackers that came in contact with wheat

When using Nima, you only test a pea-sized sample of food. This means that if you have multiple items or components on one plate, it may be hard to get all of those into one capsule, and you’ll end up having to use multiple ones. If you use three capsules for one meal, that’s about $15-$18.

Also, because you are only testing a small amount, Nima may not find the gluten in food that has been contaminated. Remember, cross contamination is not necessarily evenly spread out throughout a dish. The Nima team recommends testing likely areas such as grill marks on a piece of chicken, but there is no guarantee that it will find a hot spot of contamination.

Example – you order a gluten free pizza and test 1/2 pea-size of crust and the other 1/2 pea-size of cheese. The Nima results in a happy face – no gluten found. Is your pizza gluten free? Who knows. All you know is that the pea-size sample you tested is.

A false sense of security 

Watch Nima test non-GF oats and a recalled box of Cherrios and result in a

happy face/”no gluten found”.

Gluten Free Watchdog also describes spotty cross contamination in gluten free oats.

I’m worried that the device is giving the community a false sense of security. Celiac Disease is highly emotional, and many of my followers have expressed that the hardest part is the social aspect. I’ve had too many occasions where I sipped water at a restaurant while everyone else ate pizza. We all want to believe (myself included) that this device will give us comfort and allow us to regain control. We want to fit in. We don’t want there to be any problems. We WANT this device to work. 

The Nima team emphasizes that it’s important to still ask questions about how food was made and where it was prepared. But will consumers end up relying too much on the device itself? 

Several people I know tested Cheerios (click here to read more about Cheerios’ questionable gluten free status). When I explained to them how spotty cross contamination can be, particularly when it comes to gluten free oats, they all replied that they would continue to eat Cheerios anyway because Nima gave them the answer they wanted to hear.

Testing under 20ppm & damaging reputations of truly gluten free businesses

Nima once said that foods under 20ppm occasionally may test positive for gluten, but that is rare. Now Nima publicly admits on their site, “For foods containing below 2ppm, Nima reported ‘gluten found’ 7.8% of the time.”

This is highly concerning to me and brings up some other important questions – What is the percentage for under 10ppm? And under 20ppm? Even though the device is “optimized for 20ppm”, logic shows that greater than 7.8% of food under 10 or 20ppm will test positive. 

Click here to see five foods that Nima detected gluten in, yet tested below the limit of detection of 1ppm when tested with the R5 ELISA method.

I worry that restaurants and companies that are doing an excellent job may have their reputations unfairly tarnished.

Imagine this – you go to your favorite restaurant and test a dish. It comes back positive for gluten. You question the manager and the chef. They swear that all of their ingredients were gluten free and they took their normal steps to prevent cross contamination. What do you do? Do you eat the dish? Do you stop going to your favorite restaurant? Did your food have 2ppm in it? 10ppm? 100ppm? There is no way of knowing because Nima cannot tell you.

And then that information gets logged into the Nima app. Other Nima-owners can see your test results, and perhaps they will start avoiding that restaurant.

I refused to bring my Nima with me to restaurants. I thought it would be irresponsible of me to potentially tarnish the reputation of a restaurant that is doing a great job because the device that I was using had no way of telling me how much gluten was actually in their food. 

Now before you say, “Any amount of gluten that it detects is too much”, let me ask you – is less than 1ppm too much gluten?

And before you say, “But so-and-so said that their Nima saved them from eating unsafe food at a restaurant,” let me also ask – did that person also send their dish to a lab to have it verify that the dish contained over 20ppm? Maybe it was gluten free and maybe it wasn’t.

And of course, I am certain that Nima has saved people from ingesting gluten – if a sample has over 20ppm Nima will most likely find it (unless it is a food that Nima cannot test for like soy sauce) – but how many times has it prevented someone from eating food that was totally safe? How many times has it damaged the reputation of an excellent company? It is a question of consistency. 

I also see a lot of social media posts of people testing certified gluten free food and getting upset when Nima says “gluten found.” Do you disregard the testing requirements of the certification bodies?

Testing a food multiple times

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At the request of other Celiacs, I tested quite a few foods including this bag of gluten free potato chips – labeled GF (company tests ingredients and finished products), the bag was new/unopened, samples gathered with a new plastic spoon that had been sealed in plastic. Nima came back with a “high gluten” result (likely over 100ppm). I tested a second sample from the same bag with a new spoon – happy face/ “no gluten found”.

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We also tested this gluten free brownie twice with the same precautions. The first test came back “low gluten”, the second test came back “no gluten found.”

What do you do? Do you eat these foods? Or do you stop trusting the companies? How many times should you test a product with Nima to feel satisfied with its answer?

So Jessica, what are you currently doing with your Nima? 

Remember I wanted Nima to be our community’s savior. However, mine is currently collecting dust in my cabinet, and I don’t plan on ordering any more capsules. My personal opinion – a costly gadget that makes my gluten free dining experience even more expensive yet still leaves me unsure as to my food’s actual gluten free status is not a gadget that is useful to me. For my needs, I don’t think the technology is there yet.

The way I see it:

“No gluten found” – No gluten was found in your pea-size sample. Is the entire dish gluten free? Nima doesn’t know.

“Gluten found” – Nima found gluten in the sample, but it might be less than 2ppm. How much gluten is in it? Nima can’t tell you.

Sure, the Nima team will emphasize that the device is another tool for your toolbox. I ask – is it a consistent/accurate tool? And does it leave you with more answers or more questions?

Click here to read more concerns from Gluten Free Watchdog.

 I know others out there may disagree with my feelings about Nima. Again I will stress that these are my opinions based on information provided by both Nima and Gluten Free Watchdog. This is meant to be a discussion, so please feel free to leave a comment – what is your opinion of Nima?

 

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review, and I did not receive any product samples. All opinions are my own.

Call to Action from Gluten Free Watchdog

Gluten in gluten free food??? The FDA appears to be doing a less-than-stellar job at holding companies accountable for complying with their regulations concerning gluten. For the safety of the Celiac and gluten free community, this needs to be taken seriously.

Many of you know about Gluten Free Watchdog, aka Tricia Thompson. GFW is an incredible resource to the gluten free community, and she believes that we all need to come together to encourage the FDA to do their job. In the link below she explains the situation and outlines her action plan.

https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/encouraging-the-fda-to-investigate-when-products-labeled-gluten-free-appear-misbranded/

They need to hear our voices! Share – retweet – make your voice heard!

To stay informed I encourage you to follow Gluten Free Watchdog on Facebook and Twitter. Also, subscribing to the valuable resources on her website is only $7/month – I’m a subscriber myself. I’ll be sharing on Facebook and retweeting articles as GFW Action Alerts are released to the public.

GFW’s first Action Alert was just posted. It describes several instances where regular wheat-containing soy sauce is stated in the ingredients list of products that were labeled gluten free. FDA – are you going to investigate???

THIS IS SO DANGEROUS. We trust the FDA to make sure that our food is safe. When they do not enforce their rules, it is our lives at stake. 

Please join me in encouraging the FDA to investigate when products labeled gluten free appear misbranded.

Everybody Eats Review & Giveaway

There is a gluten free bakery that is all the rage in NYC, and their bread seems to be everywhere. The next time you visit a gluten free restaurant in NYC and are presented with a fluffy plate of delicious gluten free baguette, ask for the name of the bakery – it might just be bread from Everybody Eats.

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Pedro Arroba (diagnosed with Celiac Disease in his twenties) and Bruce Bassman launched Everybody Eats in 2004 in hopes of bringing delicious gluten free baked goods to the Celiac community across the country. Pablo Arroba, Pedro’s son, has since joined the family business. Focusing on taste and texture, Pedro and Bruce worked tirelessly on their technique to create some of the best gluten free breads on the market.

Fast facts:

  • Gluten free facility
  • Nut free facility
  • Dairy free & vegan options
  • Soy free (except for soy lecithin in chocolate items)
  • Made by hand
  • Ships nationwide & available for pickup in Brooklyn
  • Find at restaurants across NYC, Brooklyn & Long Island

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Everybody Eats offers:

  • Dairy free ciabatta bread
  • Cinnamon Sticky Buns
  • Dairy free hot dog buns
  • Pumpernickel loaf
  • Vegan/dairy free challah
  • Old fashioned bagels
  • Dairy free deli rolls
  • Dairy free banana bread
  • Dairy free hamburger buns
  • Pizza crust
  • Panini rolls
  • Multi-grain loaf
  • Dairy free white bread
  • Baguette
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Sugar cookies
  • Specialty cakes and cupcakes made to order

Having met the Everybody Eats family on multiple occasions, I can personally say that they are some of the most wonderful and delightful people in the world. If you ever have the good fortune to meet Pedro, you’ll note the kindness in his eyes, the passion in his voice, and you’ll get a sense of how much he loves both his work and the Celiac/gluten free community. An example of their kindness – they recently hosted a free Gluten Free Panini Party with the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group, and all of the bread sales during the party were donated to the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. They are a company that cares about people.

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As for the bread itself – the moment you taste their baguette, you’ll be a fan of Everybody Eats for life. My mother and I first sampled their bread at Bistango (a favorite restaurant in NYC), and we fell in love with the taste and soft texture. Every time she visits NYC, her goal is to visit Bistango multiple times and eat as much baguette as possible. I’ll happily join every time.

Everybody Eats ships nationwide. If you are in the NYC area, their items are available for pickup at their bakery in Brooklyn (no traditional storefront). For more information and to order visit www.everybodyeats-inc.com

GIVEAWAY! Two winners will receive an Everybody Eats Backyard Grill Pack containing 2 bags of hot dog buns and 1 bag of hamburger buns. Enter via the rafflecopter link below. This giveaway is open to residents of NY, NJ, and CT only. Giveaway ends Thursday July 6th, 11:59 EST.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit my Instagram for another chance to win – two more winners will be chosen there!

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love.