Weedy Ways

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Back to School and Dining Out ( 3 articles )


 What’s for Dinner?  Dining out Gluten Free –

Dining out doesn’t have to be a huge struggle.  Choose what is best suited for your taste palate, your mood and your allotted time.  If you’re not in the mood to cook where do you go and what do you order?

For grilled meats opt for a restaurant that has a separate grill for their meats.  Ask what their seasonings are if they use more than salt and pepper, when in doubt or unsure about the seasoning simply ask them to not put it on the meat and grill the meat upon foil using separate tongs/flipper, for your protection.  French fries are not normally safe at a steak-house style restaurant since they also offer onion rings, chicken fingers, etc. cooked in the same fryer(s), opt for an uncut baked potato or sweet potato. Why uncut? To avoid cross contamination of the knife possibly used on bread and then transferred to your potato.

Hungry for Chinese?  Choose dishes with steamed veggies and meat, white rice or rice noodles. Ask about the sauces or ask to see the bottle if communication is an issue to be able to read the ingredients for yourself. Steer clear of fried rice and other items made with soy sauce. There are Chinese restaurants that offer gluten free menus, our local restaurants do not, yet, but my experience has shown they have knowledgeable servers that understand gluten free and/or will ask the kitchen if they are unsure. 

What about pizza? There are restaurants that offer gluten free pizza, some with gluten free crusts and some are ‘crustless’, either with your choice of toppings. 

In the mood to go south of the border? Many Mexican dishes are naturally gluten free including toppings like salsa and guacamole. Ask about the corn chips, if they are made in the restaurant they may not be safe unless they are fried in a separate fryer than the chimichangas and other deep fried items. 

What about a crisp, fresh salad? Greens and lettuces are gluten free, veggies are gluten free and many of the dressings are gluten free, oil and vinegar or lemon wedges are always an option if you are unsure.  If the restaurant offers an in-house homemade dressing, ask about the ingredients, most of the time they use the same items you would use at home and it could even offer more flavor than a pre-bottled option.

The key to eating out safely is asking questions.  As you ask questions you’re educating the public around you and raising awareness by explaining your diet and the importance of no cross-contamination.  One person you talk to may be the key to easier dining for you, the next time, or another who needs to eat gluten free and isn’t as knowledgeable as you are.  Do some research on the internet, especially if you are choosing a chain restaurant which many offer gluten free menus.  Call ahead, again, ask questions.  Check with your local Celiac Support and Information Group at Dunlap Community Hospital, a wide array of newsletters are posted on the site for your convenience.

For additional information contact Lynn McGinnis on-line at www.WeedyWays.com, on facebook http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000699545774   via email WeedyWays@yahoo.com or by phone at 330-347-8231.  

Happy & Safe Eating!



 Gluten Free and Back to School

A topic that raises concern, anxiety and confusion to many parents and children, as well.  Be sure you discuss your child's needs in detail, including the degree of illness he/she will endure if they consume even the slightest bit or crumb of gluten with the school they attend. Depending on your child's age it be necessary to speak to their teacher(s), classroom aide(s), nurse, lunch line people, principal and/or superintendent.  Don't hesitate to go to the top if you are not being understood or taken seriously, your child only has one life, as a parent I know you want it to be the best!

Just like dining away from home, it's risky to try to eat cafeteria foods.  Now, I have been away from the school setting for what seems like a eon, however, the risk of cross contamination is high.  Packing a special lunch for your child is a sure way to keep them safe and nutritionally balanced too, provided they are of the age they can understand why they are packing and know not to 'trade' with the child next to them (especially when pressured).

Younger children may take a bit more time and continuation of your efforts to enforce a gluten free school zone due to miscellaneous projects such as play-dough, paper mache, snack time, etc. Watch your child's schedule closely, ask about classroom projects and the approximate dates they'll begin so you can be prepared with a backup plan and/or an alternate gluten free ingredient for your child to work with and/or eat. Be diligent, be strong and be safe!

Older children can still raise higher concerns even if they understand why they cannot eat gluten and know how sick it makes them.  Once they are at a certain age they will want to have play dates, sleep overs and various group outings ... these can be accomplished successfully if you are able to talk to the other parents, include the other children in your child's gluten free teachings and/or prepare the foods they'll be eating all the same and safe for your child.

High school teens, unless newly diagnosed, should have a grasp on what is safe and what is not, where to eat and where they cannot, so it begins to get a little easier.  Newly diagnosed Gluten Free teens need to have extra encouragement and additional time learning about their new diet with friends, so they all understand what is gluten and what is not including cross-contamination.  

Once again, it comes down to the amount of Gluten Free Education we can give and share with those around us, our friends and families, those we come in contact with, especially on a daily basis and those we may only see once (such as at restaurants).  What you explain to someone about your child's dietary needs is crucial to ensure their safety and may be the spark another needs to understand and help us all eat safely.

Find out more or to continue this discussion and talk with others with the same struggles on my Facebook page and stay up to date on other gluten free tips n tricks, specials and local finds that are safe for our gluten free lifestyle. What age is your child? What do you do to keep them safe? What are your largest hurdles/struggles with Gluten free and School?  Find me on Facebook by either of the following pages: Weedy Ways (Lynn McGinnis) or www.WeedyWays.com. If you're not on Facebook, send me an email with your question, thought or encouragement that you'd like to share, WeedyWays@yahoo.com.  

Happy & Safe Eating!



Gluten Free On the Run ~ Lunches on the go

Packing meals on the go needs to be quick and easy as we are all normally in a hurry to get going. Packing gluten free doesn’t have to be tricky no matter how old we are or where we're heading; , try these ideas: fresh fruit or veggies, juices, jello, pudding, fruit bars/granola bars, cookies, dry cereal, chips, pretzels, nuts, dried fruit –remember, ALWAYS read the labels if using prepackaged items to ensure your foods are gluten free!!

For sandwiches - be sure to use gluten free lunch meats, read the labels well --- Kreshmar meats are gluten free and if you're local to a Buehler's store their store brand lunch meats are gluten free. Many pre-packaged lunch meats are safe, be sure to ALWAYS read the labels. When cooking dinners, make a little extra to have leftovers to pack, this works especially well with chicken and roasts (beef or pork). What to use for bread? Homemade or pre-packaged breads, lettuce, corn rice or teff tortillas, the lunchmeat itself ... use your imagination and your tastebuds to find the best fit to you!

The top 2 items from Dunlap’s Celiac Information/Support Group’s July meeting that Gluten Free eaters carry with them regularly are PureFit bars and Enjoy Life bars.  What else do Gluten Free eaters put in their lunches .... yogurt, cheese sticks, veggies, fruit, ham - egg- chicken – tuna salad with lettuce to wrap, Gluten Free crackers, chips or pretzels ... Here's a tip,  don’t  take the chance your yogurt will spoil or get to warm before lunch - store it in the freezer - by the time lunch comes around it'll be thawed out to eat and while waiting it'll keep your other items cool!!

Several candies are gluten free as well for a quick treat such as Starburst, M&M’s, 3 Musketeers, Peanut Butter Cups, Skittles, Hershey’s Kisses, Snickers, York Peppermint Patties – Read the Labels, a reminder you will hear me say over and over again to keep us all safe! A word of caution on candy though, as the normal bar or offering changes shape for the holidays more ingredients are added to it that are not safe!  For example, as the Peanut Butter Cups change to eggs at Easter time or trees at Christmas the ingredients do change and gluten is added making it NOT safe for us to eat, be sure to read the labels or stick to the standard offering.

What age are your school kids ... How do you keep them Gluten Free safely ... What's your biggest hurdle? There are so many parents struggling with how to keep them safe and who to talk to in their schools, any details you are able to share will serve as advice and encouragement to others.

The following is a template of sorts you can utilize to your situation in order to give some guideance and direction to the school/teacher(s) of your child:

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My child, ___________ ______________ has Gluten Intolerance (Celiac Disease) and can not eat the school food.  Please serve snacks and lunch from ____________’s special supply and/or lunch bag. 

Thank you for your cooperation in creating a gluten free (no wheat/barley/rye) environment for him/her.

There are informational flyers in his/her folder, or ask his/her parent if you have any additional questions.

•Please have anyone including my child wash their hands before preparing or before he/she begins eating or use the wipes I've provided.

•Keep his/her eating area free from crumbs of unsafe foods to lessen chance of cross-contamination. Wipe table with wipes provided.

•When serving food, serve ______________ first, with clean, washed hands and before touching other wheat-filled food to lessen chance of cross-contamination.

•Never give ________________ treats, snacks, food without first verifying his gluten free snack/candy list or with parent(s).

•Not all Brands of food are created equally, sometimes we only need to find a different Brand of food that’s safe to eat.

•Playdoh is NOT gluten free. Crayola Model Magic clay is a safe alternative.

•Papier Maché is NOT gluten free. Please ask parent for alternative recipes.

•________________ can NOT be around flour, especially in a room where flour may be floating in the air. (Kitchen/bakery/art project)

•When creating art with noodles, please ask parent to provide rice noodles from home.

•For parties or birthdays, please alert parent ahead of time to bring in special treat so _________________ won’t be left out.

•Parent can provide a box of safe treats for teacher to store for surprise treat occasions.

•The wrong food will cause severe GI symptoms and health issues. Please let parent know when this happens immediately. Call __________________ at ___________________  if you have any questions. Thank you!

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Is there an item you’d like to cook or bake gluten free? Is there a recipe you’ve been hungry for and aren’t sure how to do it?  Do you have questions about gluten free living or Celiac Disease?  Together there is strength, together there is knowledge and awareness – Celiac Disease shouldn’t be a struggle and together we can make it easier for you, a friend or family member!

For additional information contact Lynn McGinnis on-line at www.WeedyWays.com, via email WeedyWays@yahoo.com, on facebook as Weedy Ways (Lynn McGinnis) or by phone at 330-347-8231. 

Happy & Safe Eating!