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Gluten Free Easter Baskets

Do you remember the pre-prepared Easter Baskets that you can buy in the department and grocery stores?  You know, the ones with cookies, a toy, sunglasses, candy, all wrapped up in cellophane?  Well, sure enough, Amazon now sells some that are labeled as gluten free.  The online seller I found was selling baskets pre-packed with a variety of gluten free items, such as GF gummy pandas, GF modeling compound (think GF Play Doh), Gluten Krispy Bite, and a bunny.  Interesting to see…view it here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002BB9FMU?tag=glufreprolis-20&camp=213381&creative=390973&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=B002BB9FMU&adid=1QZ9TE04PJ53R38VWTCA&

Another Easter Staple–Peeps!

Purple Peeps

Chillin' With My Gluten Free Peeps

Looks like the packaging on Marshmellow Peeps and all Just Born products (Mike N Ikes, Red Hot Dollars, etc) will soon change to reflect gluten free directly on the packaging.  Peeps and Mike n Ikes have been gluten free, but now the Just Born company wants to more distinctly show that on the packaging.  From their website:

The modified food starch that we use in our jelly bean type candies is corn starch.  We are in the process of updating our package labels to reflect products that are gluten free.  This information pertains to all Just Born candies that we make and package at our two manufacturing locations (Bethlehem, PA and Philadelphia, PA) and are in their original packaging.

Image:

More Easter Candy–Cadbury

Cadbury Creme Egg

Cadbury's Creme Eggs--Gluten Free!

Creme Eggs an Easter staple!  No doubt many of you spent many times washing your hands after devouring the Creme Egg and it’s sticky, slimy inside.  A Creme Egg is basically an egg-shaped piece of chocolate with a liquidish simulated egg inside.  I remember them being more liquidy growing up, and now more solid, but still a yummy treat.

According to Hershey’s website:

Ingredient Notification: Mini Crème Eggs have been reformulated and now contain egg whites. During the transition period, both the original and reformulated products will be in the marketplace. The label accurately reflects the ingredients in the product so read the labels carefully. This product also contains an allergy statement for peanuts and tree nuts.

So, definitely check the labels, but it appears that Creme Eggs are a go for Celiacs!  You will not just have to watch the clucking bunny commercial, but can actually eat some of this delicious treat!

Easter Jelly Beans

Jelly Beans

Guarding Some Gluten Free Jelly Beans...

If only we could get our children to eat regular beans so easily!  Yes, it’s that time when they want beans, lots and lots of beans, only the jelly type.  With so many varieties and brands, this proves a difficult area for Celiacs.  Many of the jelly beans are indeed gluten free, but some contain gluten.  And what about those eggs our children find with loose jelly beans?  See our previous post for that, but we do want to share our top gf beans with you.

As always, take our advice and any blog’s advice with a grain of salt.  We trust the accuracy of other websites and blogs for what they post, but recipes do change and information can be wrong.  As in all cases, consult the packaging and manufacturer’s website for a second opinion about a product’s gluten-free ness.  With that being said, here are our favorite gluten free jelly beans:

1. Jelly Belly.  Even with all those flavors (Honey bean is the newest flavor), their website (http://www.jellybelly.com/news_and_events/news_clip_4.aspx) does state their jelly beans do not contain gluten.

2. Jolly Rancher.  Some different flavors for jelly beans, but definitely yummy!  Their packaging provides the usual ‘this food made on equipment’ warning, but the allergens are not wheat.

3. Starburst Jelly Beans.  Our overall favorite.  All the flavor of Starbursts, but without those hard ones you get sometimes.  You can visit their site to see the gluten free label at http://www.wrigley.com/global/brands/starburst.aspx

Image used under Creative Commons license

Easter Egg Hunts for the Celiacs

Easter Basket

Does Your Easter Bunny Keep a Gluten Free List?

Easter and Spring are definitely here in the Raleigh area.  After a weekend of days in the 70s, it looks like we will see some unstable weather move in for the week.  Definitely Spring.  With Spring brings a large holiday on the kid calendar: Easter.  Easter can be really easy for Celiac children, but parents definitely need to keep a few things in mind.  We’ll try to share some different things over the next couple posts.

Today we want to discuss the time honored tradition of the Easter egg hunt.  Nothing says Easter like running around someone’s backyard (usually a grandparent’s!) looking for eggs to put in a basket.  Our Celiacs need some support even in this area, though, so keep the following tips in mind:

  • When you prepare the ‘eggs,’ and put candy in them, make sure the candy is individually wrapped.  Remember, especially if the you use the same eggs year after year (or the Easter Bunny does…), you risk cross-contamination if you put loose candy inside.  Sure, the jelly beans you put in this year could definitely be gluten free, but what about the non-gluten jelly beans from last year or the marshmellow eggs with the hard outer layer?  Yup, both of those contain gluten.
  • In the same light as the first tip, watch out for candy wrapped in foil.  Sure, the gluten filled Nestle Crunch eggs are individually wrapped, but there is definitely a chance that some malt from them could get into a gluten free egg for the next hunt.  Best to avoid that risk.
  • When participating in community/church hunts, make sure you have some extra gf candy to exchange with your child(ren) immediately after the hunt.  They’re kids, so of course they want to eat their candy right after.  If you do an exchange, similar to the Halloween Trick or Treat exchange, they can get their candy and you can feel confident that it’s gluten free.
  • Avoid any ‘off brand’ candy.  Stick with the popular names made by Hershey’s, Nestle, Mars, Just Born, etc.  If you cannot find a good ‘gluten free’ label or a website, then avoid it.  The larger companies clearly state whether things contain wheat/gluten or not.

Just some simple, common sense tips to help you host a successful hunt for all children.  Now where’s my basket?

Cel-Kids Google Maps

Cel Kids Google Map

A Small Portion of the GF Options in Raleigh

Most of us know by now Raleigh serves the Celiac community pretty well.  From restaurants offering gluten free items like fries (Red Robin, Chick-Fil-A) to those with GF pizzas (Bella Monica, Z-Pizza, and soon Mellow Mushroom) to stores catering to the gluten free set (Earth Farm, Harmony Farms, Whole Foods), you can find a lot right here without ever needing to place an order online.

Finding these places can pose difficult sometimes though, which is why Raleigh Cel Kids uses a Google Map.  By visiting the Cel Kids Google Map (link always on the sidebar or here: http://preview.tinyurl.com/ycnyj4f). At the Google Map, we keep it up to date with all the stores, restaurants, companies, and even gas stations where you can find gluten free products and information.  Need directions to a place?  It is as simple as clicking on of the icons (shopping basket, gas pump, hamburger/shake) and entering in your address.  Google Maps will provide you turn by turn directions.  You can also find information on each place when you click it.  We usually provide a phone number, address, website, and what gluten free products you can expect to find there.

Trader Joe Google Map

Some of the Info Available in the Cel Kids Google Map

We use the Google Map routinely, especially now that we can use it on our phones.  We will continue to add more places as they become available.  We really hope soon to be able to add Mellow Mushroom.  For those not in the ‘know,’ soon they will offer a gluten free crust!

Earth Fare’s New Cookie Line

During our recent Raleigh Cel-Kids event at Earth Fare, Maria shared with us their new line of branded gluten free cookies.  Earth Fare now carries their own brand of gluten free ginger snaps, vanilla sandwich cookies, and a few more.  After the event, we picked up a bag of the vanilla sandwich cookies and thought they were the best of any vanilla cookies we ever ate.  The cookie did not have the typical gritty taste, and the filling was soft, fresh and thick.  Glad to see Earth Fare also start selling their own line of products.  It also helped that they were selling them 2 for $5.00, a good deal on gluten free items.

On their website, you can also find a gluten free handout that lists all their gluten free items.  The list is not current with their cookies and some other new things, but this will help those of you new to Celiac.  You can download the handout here: http://www.earthfare.com/HealthyLiving/SpecialDiets/~/media/Files/EF_GF_Brochure_2009-final.pdf .

Luck o’ the Irish

Irish Soda Bread

GF Irish Soda Bread, used under CC license by flickr user my_ami

So, just because you’re Celiac does not mean you need to ignore holidays. I think we’ve proven that with all the Christmas and Valentines treats.  So now St. Patrick’s Day approaches.  What can a Celiac do?  Lots!!  For instance:

Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Granola

Trader Joe Granola

Gluten Free Granola From Trader Joe's

Made a trip recently to the new Trader Joe’s on Wake Forest Road, just in side the Beltline the other day.  This marks the second Raleigh area store, with the first opened in Cary about a year ago.  You can find both Trader Joe’s on our Raleigh Cel-Kids Google Map here: http://bit.ly/bbOc3T.  For those not familiar with a Trader Joe, think a Whole Foods or Earth Fare, a little smaller, a little brighter, and with a jungle theme.  No, seriously!  Trader Joe’s also carries many gluten-free items and marks them with a clear ‘G’ on the shelf, similar to how Earth Fare puts GF items on a ‘wood’ shelf (see blog here: http://www.raleighcelkids.com/?p=489).    In addition to the GF items, we enjoy their various packaged fresh nuts, like blister peanuts and almonds, both gluten free by nature.

Recently, we discovered their gluten free granola.  Yum!  It appears to contain a variety of nuts, berries, and sweetened corn chips.  The girls both like, especially in their yogurt.  We do as well!  I can see this definitely as a versatile treat in lunches, on ice cream, or in desserts.  Another great find!

Annie’s Bunny Cookies

Annie's Bunny Cookies

Finally--Gluten Free Bunny Cookies

When we attended the Cel-Kids event last weekend at Earth Fare, Maria showed us a new product that will surely thrill many of you: Annie’s Bunny Cookies!  Yes, the same Annie’s that makes what our girls call ‘Bunny Noodles’ (think gf mac and cheese).  A great find, as you can get a variety of cookies, but none in animal shapes.  Now we can get cocoa and vanilla bunny cookies!  Definitely helps with school lunches and snacks!