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Gluten and Date Night: A Battle Story

14 Jun

It has been a while since I’ve posted. This is a good thing! My lack of posts is a sign that I am living life gluten-free without too many challenges or obstacles to warrant a post! However, this is no more. After all these years (almost a decade!) I have a gluten-free battle story for the ages.

My fiance took me out for date night in Little Italy, San Diego. The plan was to grab dinner before heading to a Corinne Bailey Rae concert. We used Find Me Gluten Free (my absolute favorite gluten-free tool! I could not function without it) to find a restaurant in Little Italy with gluten-free pasta.

Because I just started my third year of medical school – a year with incredibly demanding hours – I wanted to be extra careful about making sure my meal was gluten-free. I don’t have the time to be out sick! Before ordering I asked our waiter if their gluten-free pasta was cooked in separate water from the regular pasta on the menu. He told me that it was not.

If the “gluten-free pasta” is boiled in the same water as the regular pasta, then it is not gluten-free. Have you ever come across a lone rigatoni noodle in your penne pasta? That is because Italian restaurants often use and re-use the same boiling water to prep several orders. They use a strainer with a handle to scoop out the pasta instead of pouring out the boiling water so they can re-use it. 

I asked if the kitchen could boil water separately to prepare the gluten-free pasta for me. He said they were too busy and could not spare the burner.  Pushing my annoyance about falsely advertising GF options aside, I asked if there were any items on the menu that they could prepare gluten-free. He advised that I consider ordering one of their chicken of fish dishes.

I ordered a chicken dish in mushroom sauce. I asked the waiter to double check that it was gluten-free and reminded him that sometimes restaurants coat chicken in flour to get a good sear before adding sauces to the pan. He comes back and confirms the dish is gluten-free.

About fifteen minutes later he brings out our dinner. I take one look at that thick beautiful sauce and immediately have doubts. When he puts the plate down in front of me I say, “Are you 100% sure this is gluten-free? The sauce looks suspiciously delicious!” He laughs politely at my joke and confirms that the dish is GF.

Then one of my most common recurrent nightmares unfolds in real life. I am 5 bites into my amazing savory dish when I see our waiter walk out of the kitchen looking panicked. Please don’t walk over to me. Please don’t walk over to me. Please don’t walk over to me.

He walks over to our table.

“Ma’am, did you need the whole dish to be gluten-free? I think that our demi-glace sauce has a small amount of wheat in it. But not a lot”

Ok, first off, what the fuck is demi-glace and why does it have wheat in it?? Secondly, I asked multiple times if this dish was for sure gluten-free. When I ordered it, I even prefaced my order by saying that I literally did not care which protein dish I ordered so long as it was gluten-free. If I wasn’t down for pasta that shared the same water as wheat products, why would I be ok with glutenous demi-glace??

Demi-glace is “a rich brown sauce in French cuisine used by itself or as a base for other sauces.” 

I could feel myself starting to get upset, panicked, frustrated, mad. Thank goodness I had my amazing fiance there to help navigate the conversation. He reminded me that this waiter really tried and it was the system that failed. This helped calm the storm that was brewing in my head. The waiter did make sure that the chefs/cooks didn’t flour the chicken before pan searing BUT the restaurant buys their demi-glace (not made from scratch) and, because of my intense questioning about gluten, our waiter thought to himself “Wait, maybe I should check the ingredients on demi-glace the restaurant buys.” Sure enough it was a wheat product.

How was this a system failure? Well, the gluten-free pasta protocol actually DOES prepare the pasta separately from regular menu items according to the manager. Our waiter did not know this but the manager and chefs did. Our waiter marked the ticket as gluten-free. The chefs took note and did not dredge the chicken in flour. The issue arouse due to the use of restaurant made ingredients! An overlooked step in making sure menu items are GF. 

Our waiter flagged down the manager. This added attention did not ease my stress level. The last thing I wanted for this situation to cause any more of a scene.  The manager kept asking me what she could do, what did I want, anything on the menu could be mine…but I didn’t have much of an appetite. Her persistent questioning started to draw some attention from the people next to us. I really wanted to leave but…I also really wanted to go to this Corinne concert and did not want to go on a mostly empty, slightly glutened stomach.

I told the manager that I was fine with anything so long as it was gluten-free. For real this time. She says, “Absolutely.” Meanwhile, my fiance’s spaghetti was definitely getting cold. Just in the nick of time, our waiter returns with a full bottle of wine. Strong move. A few minutes later (unreasonably fast) two people come storming out the the kitchen each carrying a dish. They made me a LOT of food.

My fiance and I started to eat but it was hard to shake off what had happened. I felt so panicked. I only had 4-5 bites and the ingredient wasn’t a major component of the dish. I would probably be fine…

One of the difficult parts about living with celiac is the constant fear that you will be glutened. Pretty much any time I eat at a restaurant, I can feel my stomach drop any time I see a waiter/waitress walk over to our table after I’ve started eating. I am so scared I will be halfway through a dish and then be told, in front of people, that it wasn’t gluten-free. Won’t everyone feel awkward? (Yes) Isn’t there a chance I get really sick? (Yes) Will everything be ok? (Yes!).

So far, I haven’t gotten sick since the glutening. I did notice a small patch of DH on my arm starting to form this morning but if that is the worst of it, that is fine by me!

I try really hard to be gluten-free but even a decade into it occasionally find myself in situations like this. I am so grateful I had such a wonderful, supportive person with me when it happened. I can’t believe how quickly I felt tears fill my eyes during this encounter and am relieved I had a wingman to help with the situation.

Being gluten-free isn’t so bad but there are certainly days when it is not easy! I am writing this so that my readers know that it is ok to get upset about bad experiences, to be frustrated with celiac life, to cry a bit, but – MOST IMPORTANTLY – that it is ok to pick yourself up, assume it will be ok, and even enjoy the rest of your evening despite a bad GF experience and a lot of unwanted attention.


❤ CC


PS Mom, I know you are reading this and I promise I am fine ❤ ❤

Lifelong Living with Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Diet

3 Nov


I know those of you who follow me on Twitter or read my blog have been wondering where I have been the past few months. I have been a very active, vocal, and frequent contributor to the gluten-free/celiac blogosphere for the past four years but, a few months ago, something changed.

I started CC Gluten Freed as a way to take ownership of my diagnosis and turn something negative into something positive, productive and enjoyable. I used blogging as a way to make eating gluten-free feel like more of a choice instead of as a burden. Blogging made things like explaining celiac disease to new people, attempting to cook gluten-free versions of recipes, and trying new strategies for dining out something I was “doing for my blog” instead of something nerve-racking and uncomfortable that I had to do for my diagnosis. In addition, my blog opened a lot of doors for me professionally and academically. I was able to turn my diagnosis into something productive that helped me grow professionally through my writing and advocacy work. I have attended conferences as a speaker, had my own table at gluten-free events across the country, been published in several magazines, gotten over 20,000 views on my celiac awareness Youtube video called “That Girl,” and offered internships and volunteer positions from many organizations all based on my work with this website. Most importantly, my social media work related to celiac disease played a large part in my applications to medical school. Given all of these positives, why did I take a hiatus from writing?

In short, my blog had served its purpose. Writing helped me transition into the gluten-free world. It made me feel that asking for gluten-free food options everywhere I went made me an advocate, it made me special, and most importantly, it did NOT make me feel like a nuisance. Being an active person in the gluten-free community gave me confidence that helped me overcome the nervousness and embarrassment that sometimes goes along with trying to dine gluten-free. After four years of blogging, I felt like I had fully acclimatized to being gluten-free. I felt healthy and confident, all of my friends and family were on board and totally competent with gluten-free dining and living gluten-free seemed easier than ever before. The daily demands and constant vigilance associated with being gluten-free did not feel like a burden but, ironically, my blog was starting to. The blog had served as my shield but now, no longer in a battle adjusting to gluten-free eating, felt like unnecessary weight so…I stopped writing.

For six months I felt great about my decision to step away from writing and I had fully embraced just living life gluten-free without making celiac disease such a huge part of every aspect of my life; then my environment changed and once again things felt new, uncomfortable, and nerve-racking and I realized that the sense of “normalcy” I had been experiencing was gone.

I moved from Washington DC to San Diego, California to attend medical school and found myself in a brand new environment with new colleagues, new friends, new restaurants, and a new lifestyle. After years of not ever needing to explain the gluten-free diet and celiac disease I was suddenly in a place where I was starting from scratch and, not all, but some of those feelings I had when first diagnosed came rushing back. My new friends don’t know me as the “gluten-free blogger” or as a celiac advocate because I haven’t really shared that part of my story. At first, I enjoyed not being publicly gluten-free but after a couple weeks noticed that I was starting to feel less confident, less like an advocate, and less able to quickly and smoothly explain the gluten-free diet, why it matters, and how to easily accommodate and include people with celiac in social settings where food is being served. My short hiatus from writing taught me a few things about living with celiac disease:

First, I was reminded that celiac disease is a lifelong diagnosis and the gluten-free diet, despite what some magazines say, is not a fad but a lifestyle that is here to stay for millions of people. You can take a hiatus from writing but not from living gluten-free and being a part of the celiac community.

The other lessons? I realized what a huge impact the work of gluten-free/celiac writers and advocates have on people trying to be gluten-free. For the past six months I have relied on the advocacy of others and was startled by what a difference all social media efforts make in terms of awareness.

The most important take away point is that, your relationship with celiac disease and the gluten-free diet will likely evolve and change over time and that is ok. Let yourself change, embrace new attitudes, experiment with new ways of coping with and managing celiac disease. I am glad I took a break from blogging because that is what my relationship with my diagnosis was at the time and, now, I am happy to be back to writing and look forward to exploring how often and on what topics I will write as I continue with gluten-free living. At the very least, I have some fabulous Fall gluten-free recipes that I have to share with you all! Ultimately my point with this post is that you should allow yourself to evolve, adapt, and revert when needed to continue living a happy healthy gluten-free life.

I want to end with a link to my first blog post that explains why I created this blog, where the name comes from, and why I became an advocate for people with celiac disease and living on a gluten-free diet.

Until next time!

– CC

Gluten-Free Food Network Fan?

1 Dec

Is it possible to truly be a fan of the Food Network when living gluten-free? The short answer is yes!

I learned a large portion of my culinary skills and kitchen tricks from watching Chopped on the Food Network. Although the shows on Food Network do not often highlight gluten-free recipes, dishes or restaurants,I find their shows, recipes and cooking advice fairly easy to adapt to suit my gluten-free needs. I enjoy watching the shows, browsing their recipes online and following their chefs on Twitter and Facebook. The one aspect of being a Food Network fan I was uncertain of was whether or not I could dine at the restaurants of the chefs who had taught me so much about cooking!

This Fall I took a trip up to New York to test out the restaurants of two of my favorite Food Network Stars: Iron Chef and Chopped Judge Alex Guarnaschelli and Iron Chef and Chopped Judge Geoffrey Zakarian.


First stop: Butter Midtown, Alex Guarnaschelli’s, restaurant for a lovely dinner with my significant other

For our first course we ordered from the Raw menu, opting for the Hawaiian Yellowtail. Beautifully plated, this dish consisted of raw yellowtail fish with olive oil, birdseye chillies and lime. Each bite was both refreshing and velvety. When I took a picture of my dish and tweeted it Alex Guarnaschelli tweeted back at me! This was absolutely the highlight of my night!

IMG_5206 IMG_5205 For my main course I ordered the Long Island Duck Breast A L’Orange. I had just seen Chef CJ Jacobson make Duck A L’Orange on Top Chef Duels the week before my trip to New York and was curious what it would taste like. Chef Guarnaschelli’s dish did not disappoint!


The duck was the perfect mix of crispy and succulent. The sauce provided just the right amount of sweetness to balance the zesty orange flavors. It was served with a puree of buttered Northshire rutabaga, reminiscent of side of mashed potatoes but with more flare.

Of course, I couldn’t help but order dessert and ordered the Crem Brulee (sans lavender shortbread cookie)IMG_5225

This dish was a bit too savory for my taste but was still a nice end to a wonderful meal. The creme brulee desserts I have previously experienced were very sweet with a vanilla flavor. Guanraschelli’s version was a bit more tame with a very subtle corn custard capped with caramelized sugar.

After a great night in New York I had certainly worked up an appetite by the time brunch rolled around on Sunday morning. My friends and I went to Geoffrey Zakarian’s restaurant, The National Bar and Dining Room. Greeted by a beautiful decor I was ready to try out another Food Network Star’s culinary creations.

IMG_5231 NATIONAL-Rockwell-6


I ordered the Bacon and Mushroom Omelet served with spinach, cremini mushrooms and asiago. I am a huge fan of breakfast coming with side salad so I was pleasantly surprised when my dish arrived with a plateful of fresh greens! I also ordered a side of the cheese grits which had an intense savory cheese flavor countered by the subtle flavor of the grits that just left me going in for bite after bite. 
IMG_5239 IMG_5241

Ultimately, the trip to New York was a success! I found that if you want to be a hardcore Food Network fan and travel to the restaurants of the stars then by all means don’t let being gluten-free stop you! Although both menus were incredibly tasty, refined and delicious, Alex Guarnaschelli’s restaurant definitely beat out Zakarian’s when it came to hospitality. Guarnaschelli’s staff was not only well informed about the gluten-free options on the menu but they were also courteous, friendly and helpful. Zakarian’s restaurant, though offering great food, had a waitstaff that was somewhat unhelpful and difficult to interact with for both gluten-free and non gluten-free diners.  That being said I had a great time in New York and look forward to my next gluten-free food adventure in the Big Apple!


Gluten-Free Crumble Cake Recipe

30 May

Last weekend I made 6 sandwiches using Udi’s gluten-free whole grain bread for a picnic with friends. One of my friends mid-meal asked “CC, how are you eating this?!” When I explained the bread was gluten-free, she was shocked! Although there are a ton of great gluten-free options out there, sometimes I find myself craving something from back in my gluten-eating days that I just can’t satisfy with gluten-free alternatives. What do you do when you crave something that doesn’t have a gluten-free equivalent?

 You make it happen!

 Before going gluten-free one of my favorite pastries was the Crumble Cake at Starbucks. I haven’t seen any pre-made products out there that even come close to this glorious baked delicacy. Last weekend I decided to try and make it and to my surprise, it turned out to be a totally satisfying gluten-free replica! Starbucks-Crumb-Cake-540x432 Here is my recipe for gluten-free crumble cake. Enjoy! Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (1.5 for cake, 0.5 for crumble)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1½ sticks) cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Phase 1: The cake

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees, butter a 9×12 inch pan with canola oil Step 2: Whisk egg, milk, canola oil and vanilla extract Step 3: In a separate bowl mix together GF flour, sugar, baking powder and salt

    Use a sifter for easy and complete mixing

Step 4: Fold dry ingredients into liquid mixture

    I used my Kitchen Aid mixer!


Step 5: Spread batter evenly in the baking pan ny-crumb-cake-5_thumb

Phase 2: The crumble

Step 1: Mix together brown sugar, ½ cup of GF flour and cinnamon

    I used the bowl I used to mix the dry ingredients earlier

Step 2: Combine melted butter and sugar/flour mix. Use a spatula to mix the dry ingreidnets with butter until clumps start to form

    I used my hands to mix together instead of a spatula

Step: 3 Sprinkle sugar crumbs over the cake batter

You can control how sweet/sugary your dessert is by adding more/less crumb topping to your pan – the picture below is on the heavier side in terms of sugar:cake ratio 


Phase 3: Bake!

Let the Crumble Cake bake for 20 minutes then let it cool before serving!

vanilla-crumb-cake-cl-l Enjoy! This crumble cake makes a great addition to a brunch or can serve as a dessert!     -CC

5 Great Things To Do With KIND Bars

26 Jun

Gluten free, great-tasting yet filling snacks can be hard to come by. Luckily, KIND Healthy Snacks offers fruit and nut bars that hit the spot every time.  When you are living gluten free, being hungry is a common and frequent concern.  If you miss lunch at the office, you can’t exactly ask around to see if anyone has anything in the office for you to snack on because chances are it wont be gluten free! There are a thousand other scenarios where being hungry yet out of reach of anything GF can come up; KIND Bars may be your answer!

Here are 5 great things to do with KIND Bars:

1. Put a few bars in your desk drawer

There is nothing worse than that creeping feeling of hunger that sometimes strikes at around 4:00pm. You have to stay at the office for at least two more hours but your stomach just isn’t having it. If you have a store of KIND Bars you can easily snack on one of these nutritious and filing bars while you finish out the day.


Bar suggestion: Almond Cashew + Flax (Omega-3). This bar has a lot of nutritional value and is very filling. It is lower in sugar so it won’t leave you craving more. The flax seeds in the bar give you a nice dose of omega-3s that you might not otherwise fit into your diet during the day.

2. Keep them in your car

Keeping a few KIND bars in the car can be a real life saver. Whether you have a gluten free kid and always need to be able to send him off with a snack or you just get hungry while stuck in traffic, having healthy and filling GF snacks available is always a plus.  Winner’s tip: don’t keep the bars with chocolate in them in your because they will melt and be very messy!


Bar suggestion: Blueberry vanilla cashew bars are great for the car because they are not very messy and, when heated by the sun, are actually pretty delicious and reminiscent of blueberry pie.

3. Emergency Kits

In my emergency kit at home I have gluten free emergency food.  I have a mix of protein bars and KIND Bars. In DC, roads were blocked and my neighborhood lost power a few times this year due to inclement weather. It was comforting knowing I had a store of pretty yummy emergency food in my closet!

Bar suggestion: Almond Walnut Macadamia with Peanuts + Protein. This bar has 10 grams of protein (the highest protein count for a KIND Bar) which will keep you full and give you some energy back to weather out a storm.

4. Substitute for a candy bar to curb a craving

Ever crave a candy bar but dread the nutritionally challenged calories? KIND Bars offer several varieties of fruit and nut bars that incorporate chocolate. They are great because they taste like candy but have nutritional value!  You get to curb your craving while eating a nourishing snack.  Better yet, while some candy bars can leave you craving more food, KIND Bars have protein and fiber (among other nutrients) in them which will help you feel full and energized.


Bar suggestion: Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew bars are insanely delicious and chewy. In addition to actually tasting like a candy bar they are high in potassium, fiber and protein!

5. Store them at your relatives’ homes

Are you the only GF person in your family? Ever get hungry at family dinners or events?  Next time you head to the in-laws bring a box of KIND bars to keep in their pantry. It will be a relief during future visits knowing that you don’t have to worry about bringing snacks to the house. If you have a gluten free kid it is really important to make sure that family members’ houses are stocked with gluten free options because we don’t want the child to feel left out or hungry.  The last thing grandpa and grandma need when they offer to babysit for you is a hungry kid on their hands without any GF food to fix it so just make it a point to drop off GF snacks the next time you go over.


Bar suggestion: Apple Cinnamon and Pecan. This bar is great at any time of day. It kind of has a breakfast vibe going on but really can be enjoyed any time.  Whether you are visiting family for Sunday brunch of Christmas dinner, having some bars on hand can never hurt!

Flying Gluten Free: an experience of note

14 Feb

With the recent announcement of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways, it seemed a good time to discuss how to be gluten free while traveling.  Based on my customer service experience, it honestly might be preferable if US Airways didn’t save American from their financial crisis.  Being gluten free is challenging even with the many dining options we have on land. If one restaurant doesn’t work, you can always hop in your car and try another. Take us up 30,000 feet into the air and we may be in for what will feel like a very long trip with very few options, if any at all.

Does being gluten free change the way I travel? Absolutely.  There are some things you should take into consideration before hopping on your next 757 to make sure you are prepared. The lesson I learned from traveling with American Airlines? Pack some snacks or starve.


I found that the flight attendants were inequpped to deal with gluten free needs.  Here was my experience with American Airlines on a flight from LAX to DCA on December 29, 2012:

I arrived at the airport at 6:30am. In an attempt to sleep as much as possible the day of the flight, I decided to forgo eating breakfast and sleep for an extra ten minutes instead.  I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I was on the plane and my stomach started to growl angrily at me.  When the flight attendant came around with the drink cart I knew this was my chance: “Excuse me, do you sell food on this flight?” The attendant responded by handing me a menu of overpriced items I could purchase. Over priced or not, it was still food and I was hungry. Every option had gluten. The one thing I saw that could potentially work was a bag of potato chips. All I needed was to read the ingredients and I might be in the clear. I asked if I could read the ingredients on the bag because I have food allergies (a colloquialism I adopt to avoid lengthy conversations about the immune system and molecular biology when trying to place a simple order). The attendant told me she was all out of chips. Plan B: ask if the fruit and cheese plate came with crackers wrapped separately or touching the food already.  When I asked the attendant about the crackers she starting laughing and rolling her eyes at me and said “Why would I know if the crackers are wrapped up?” I asked her if I could see the cheese plate and she said “Well, are you going to buy it?” while begrudgingly taking out the cheese plate from the cart drawers. The crackers were in separate packaging from the fruit and cheese (yay!).  I handed her my Visa card feeling torn about whether or not I should say something about her chair-side manner.

The last time I didn’t speak up for myself I ended up eating a bowl of spaghetti (gluten spaghetti). As someone who proudly wears a CC Gluten Freed bracelet stating “OWN IT” on the back, I reminded myself who I am and what my charge is: make this world more gluten free friendly. I knew I needed to say something. Not wanting to be overly confrontational (a common problem for an advocate) I added in a “ma’am” to show respect.

“Ma’am, in the future, please don’t make it hard for customers to ask questions about allergens because our interaction made me feel very uncomfortable about making sure the food was safe for me. It would be awful if someone stopped asking questions because of the way you react to them and wound up gttting sick or going into anaphylactic shock on your flight.”


 The attendant seemed very offended by what I said and started arguing.“I didn’t say anything. There is nothing I can do about the fact that you have your allergies. You asked me a question and I didn’t know. I have people always tell me they are allergic to peanuts and try to get me to tell the person next to them not to eat peanuts and I always tell them there is nothing I can do about that. I can’t do anything about food allergies and you asked me something I couldn’t answer.”

Not to beat a dead horse because I know all of my readers would be appalled by this reaction, but I just want to point out a few things:

  1. Who said anything about asking other customers not to eat peanuts? More importantly, who said anything about peanuts??
  2. There IS something you can do if someone with a peanut allergy asks for assistance. Talk to the customer with the peanut product, protect the people on your flight and advocate for your customers (that is your job b.t.w.)!  How hard is it to say “Ma’am (or sir), I am sorry but is it possible to eat a different snack because we have a peanut allergy on board.”
  3. I did not ask her a question she couldn’t answer. In fact I didn’t even need an answer from her. I just wanted to see the cheese plate before purchasing it.


Anyways, back to the story: I told the flight attendant that I wasn’t accusing her of anything, I just wanted to help avoid a problem with future customers. By the end of the peanut-rant her voice was raised and I wanted to end the conversation with dignity. I said “I appreciate your work here and am glad we could spread awareness about this issue today. Good day!” For the record, “Good day!” sounded cooler and more dismissive in my head than it did when it awkwardly came out of my mouth, but what can you do?! 

Advocating for yourself is not easy.  I have never shied away from a good debate but, advocating for yourself can be so challenging. After that flight attendant walked away I felt all shaky and uncomfortable.  It didn’t help that planes are so confined that I had a built in audience for this encounter.   I think the uncomfortable feeling I was left with is much preferable to the gnawing sense of guilt I would have felt had I not spoken up about the issue. I think bloggers should absolutely practice what they preach!  I take promoting gluten free awareness so personally. This blog is a testament to my passion for helping us, all of us, be safe, healthy and as stress free as possible. 

Moral of the story? Always speak up for yourself because it isn’t just about you, it is about all people with food allergies (dairy, peanut, wheat, whatever), or intolerances or Celiac Disease.  At the very least, I hope my confrontation was uncomfortable enough for the attendant that she thinks twice about scoffing at people with food allergies, if not for the right reasons, then at least to avoid an uncomfortable conversation.   Other moral? If you pack snacks you won’t have to give the gluten speech, plus, your snacks are probably much tastier than what the airline carrier can offer.

And, of course, I will be sending a letter to American Airlines as I always encourage my readers to whenever they have a negative gluten free customer service experience.


Let’s hope the merger with US Airways brings about financial success for both airlines, more flights for customers and much better customer service!



CC Gluten Freed’s Best of 2012

5 Jan

As the nation reviews the employment, or rather unemployment, data from December 2012, I too feel inclined to take a look at some numbers. CC Gluten Freed had a fantastic year when quantified in terms of hits and viewer traffic! Now, asking a blogger for the number of hits per year/day/whatever is similar to asking a woman her age: it is simply impolite. I will happily reveal some of my aggregate data and post CC Gluten Freed’s top hits of 2012! Just as NPR reviews the best podcasts, I will be reviewing my top posts of this year for you to share with friends or just enjoy for a second read through.


#1 Post of 2012

So you want to take a cooking class…

This post offers advice for taking mainstream cooking classes while being gluten free.  The cooking classes advertised as “gluten free” are usually special courses offered sporadically at cooking schools, local markets and local stores.  Gluten free people need to be able to cook for themselves since restaurants always pose a risk and bringing a dish to dinner parties is always a must.  How are we supposed to become master cooks when the only classes we attend teach gluten free baking and/or are hyper-specific classes eg a specific type of cuisine.

I wanted to take a cooking series that covered all the basics of cooking: knife skills, sauces, meats and poultry, baking, grains etc. Check out the top post of 2012 to find out how I managed to make my experience a gluten free on. 

#2 Post of 2012

The Domino’s Effect

Remember when Domino’s thought they were being gluten free? This post looks at the situation critically and examines both sides of the issue: was Domino’s position on gluten free pizza a valid one? Spoiler alert! I conclude that it was an absolutely abhorrent decision on Domino’s part.

In this post I applaud the NFCA for making sure that Domino’s did not falsely advertise their pizza. GREAT Kitchens was able to evaluate the kitchen practices that Domino’s intended to implement and concluded that their kitchen practices are not safe for Celiacs.

In addition, I point out the negative implications of such careless actions on Domino’s part.  Do the decisions of big companies have a domino effect?  Read to find out!

#3 Post of 2012

The Importance of Letters

The third favorite of 2012 is “The Importance of Letters.” I am glad that this post ranked so high in terms of traffic because this was one of my founding pieces for CC Gluten Freed.  The whole idea behind this blog is to spread awareness and teach my readers how to advocate for themselves and other people living with Celiac Disease.   This post discusses the what, when, where, why and how of writing letters to restaurants about gluten free customer experiences.

Check out how you can make a difference by spreading the word.

#4 Post of 2012

The Unsuspecting Celiac: Five Things That May Be Getting You

I am also glad that this post had so many views because it is a great resource for people who are gluten free but are still feeling symptomatic. In some cases, people let bits of gluten slip into their diet from some unexpected sources!  This post looks at five foods that a lot of gluten free people continue to eat even though they shouldn’t.

My favorite part of this post is the very end. I tell you five things you may be surprised to realize that you CAN eat!

#5 Post of 2012

Recipe: Quinoa with Cucumber and Mint – White Sea Bass with Orange-Tarragon Relish 

Coming in at #5 we have my recipe for cucumber mint quinoa!  This recipe is absolutely delicious!  It is a great dish to serve in the summer time because it is filling yet refreshing. I include little changes you can make to this recipe to keep things interesting. You can use this versatile recipe in so many contexts.

One tip: the Quinoa dish is perfect for bringing to a dinner party as a gift for the host.  It is filling enough so that if there isn’t anything you can eat your plate will still be full (as well as your stomach) but the dish is light enough that it won’t steal the show from whatever main entree your dinner host is serving.

Check out this post for the recipe!



Here’s to another year of great posts and many readers!



Cc’s GF Holiday Gift Ideas

5 Dec

The GF blogosphere is well stocked with gift ideas!  Most of what I have read advises that people put together gluten free food gift baskets for their GF friends and family, either by baking GF goodies, buying GF goodies or finding premade GF gift baskets online.  While this will show that you went out of your way to get a gift and demonstrate that you understand your Celiac friend’s needs, I advise against this approach.  Why?

1. It’s a stressful gift – I am so touched when my friends bake gluten free for me but I also have a residual and unrelenting fear that they may have chosen incorrect ingredients or cross-contaminated while using their kitchen.  I don’t want to ask a million questions about how and where they baked the goodie, I mean, it is a gift after all!  If the gift is a bought/packaged food product, I can always read the label but I still feel nervous about trying new products.

2. Uncertainty of quality – When you buy premade food gift baskets, there is a chance that not all of this company’s products are  very good. Why take the risk?

3. Creatures of habit – most Celiacs I know, myself included, are creatures of habit.  We know what we like and what is safe and like to just stick to those products.   I am always willing to try new things but I like to do so at my own pace and only after I have the chance to do some research on whatever the new food or product is.

Of course, these 3 factors probably do not apply to everyone so if your heart is set on baking or buying GF goods don’t scratch it off your list per se!  These are just some things I think you should consider before buying a gift for a GF buddy.

Here are my 2011 Holiday GF Gift Suggestions for various types of GF people (coworkers, family members, friends, parents etc)!

For a coworker: A mouse pad for the office is a great and professional gift you can give to a GF coworker that will definitely make them smile.  You can order one online from Zazzle.  Here is the link for this GF mousepad

Stocking Stuffers: This is a very cute little magnet that inverts the “FG” of the alphabet to say “GF”
Click here to see where you can order this magnet.
Triumph dining cards make dining gluten free much simpler.  These cards explain the dietary needs of a Celiac in multiple languages so that you can safely eat any type of cuisine.  These cards are equally useful for new and seasoned Celiacs.
Click here for ordering information for triumph dining cards.
Toaster bags are a must for Celiacs sharing a kitchen with non-gluten free people.  These sleeves protect GF bread from cross-contamination in the toaster.  Personally, my toaster is designated gluten free but not everyone has this luxury.  This is a great small gift for someone heading off to college, living with roommates for the first time.
Click here for ordering information for toaster bags.
For any GF person: Great coffee mug, one of’s many great GF logo creations.  Check out their website for ordering information and browse around for other GF coffee mug designs.

This license plate frame is a great gift for a gluten free friend!  It is something that your GF friends probably haven’t come across before and is a great way to spread awareness.  Click here for ordering information.

For your friend with the GF kid: this shirt is very cute and practical.  Make sure your friend’s kid is young enough that they won’t be embarrassed by this shirt!  I bet this will save a lot of moms and dads from worrying when their super young Celiac heads out for their first sleepover.
Click here for ordering information!
Gluten Free Parents: Although my dad does not have Celiacs, he adheres to a strict gluten free diet just to be supportive.  If you have a parent like this I am sure they would be touched by this gift (I know my dad was)!
Click here to order for a GF Mom.      Click here to order for a GF Dad.
For your friend who loves to bake: These are cupcake holders that say “gluten free” on them.  This is a great gift for anyone who loves to bake.  For example, one of my best friends is not Celiac but loves to bake gluten free (for me!) and I know this gift would not only be fun and cute but downright practical.  I know that whenever I bake and bring cupcakes to a party I always put a sign out so that people know they are GF, with these cupcake holders I won’t need to do that anymore.
Click here for ordering information.
Have a great and gluten free Holiday season!

A Little Bit About…

30 Nov

Cc Gluten Freed is a blog dedicated to stream lining the gluten free lifestyle.  This blog provides readers with insights into the social implications of the gluten free diet, reviews restaurants and products and features gluten free recipes.

Unlike other gluten free blogs, Cc Gluten Freed highlights ways that you can make a difference in the gluten free community. On this site, you will find sample letters to restaurant managers and owners that have successfully changed several restaurants across the country.

In addition to promoting and providing tools for activism, this blog aims to provide readers with a guide for navigating a gluten-filled world.  The complex social implications of the gluten free diet are not easy to manage on your own.  This blog seeks to eliminate the need to learn by trial and error and provides nuanced advice about how to successfully be gluten free in any and all situations.

Cc Gluten Freed seeks to empower readers to take control and take ownership of their lifestyle. It is time to put your health first and learn how to effectively advocate for yourself.  Cc Gluten Freed should serve as both a source of information and inspiration because all of the information found here is based on the true life of Cc and her journey to being a gluten free activist.



What you can expect from Cc Gluten Freed

11 Nov

This blog is both a personal narrative and a source of information and support for people living the gluten free lifestyle.

First, a little bit about me: my name is Cc Bonaduce and I have been gluten free since 2008.  Though I am still a relatively young Celiac, only 3 years since I was diagnosed, I have learned so much about the gluten free lifestyle by being active in the community.  I began volunteering for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness shortly after my diagnosis.  I have met and learned from so many gluten free people. Hearing their stories and reading many of the gluten free blogs out there, I realized our gluten free community needs to hear more about the social factors associated with the gluten free diet.  For me, the biggest challenge I face is learning how to effectively advocate for myself.  I wanted to create a blog dedicated to describing how I continue to find ways to be an advocate and, hopefully, inspire readers to feel that they can do the same.

Have you ever gotten wrong information from waitstaff at a restaurant or experienced cross-contamination despite your best efforts to be clear with the chef?  Despite being a veteran gluten free-er and activist in the gluten free community, I still struggle to dine safely.  I started taking actions to correct this problem: every time I have a bad experience at a restaurant I write a letter (yes, snail mail) to both the manager and owner of the restaurant in question explaining what went wrong and why it matters.  On Cc Gluten Freed you will have access to the letters I have sent in the past, what went wrong initially and how to avoid it in the future and more general letter templates that you can use if you have a bad experience at a restaurant.

I find that most of the gluten free literature out there neglects the social implications of the gluten free diet.  One of the greatest challenges of being gluten free is learning to navigate the nongluten free world.  Two simple facts: most social events center around food and most foods contain gluten. This is our reality. How do you, as a gluten free person, navigate these complicated social situations? Birthday parties, professional lunch meetings, conferences, sleepovers, Superbowl parties, dinner parties and the like all require special accommodations for gluten free diners. This blog has personal stories about these situations and how I dealt with them.

In addition, Cc Gluten Freed will review restaurants and products.  Being gluten free becomes much easier when you have a source you can trust telling you what products are great and worth your time.  I will also post recipes that I come across over time that I think other GF people should try out!

Please follow this blog and comment frequently!



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