Sweet Valentine

candy-3936989_1920By Rachel Sircy

Well, just like Halloween, Valentine’s Day presents a special challenge to the gluten-free eater. For those of you out there with children with celiac or who may have classmates or friends with food allergies, this can be an especially challenging time of year. Valentine’s Day can be fun, but being left out of the celebration can be heartbreaking for school children. There are metric tons of candy on virtually every store shelf in the country but figuring out which ones are actually safe for celiacs to eat is so difficult that it’s almost depressing.

Many major brands (like Hershey’s and Nestle, etc.) have certain candies and chocolate bars which are only gluten free in certain seasons and in certain shapes and sizes. For instance, Hershey’s milk chocolate bars are gluten free ONLY in the 1.55 oz size – all other sizes, shapes and varieties of the Hershey’s plain milk chocolate are NOT gluten free. The same applies with Nestle’s Butterfingers. The regular and fun size bars proudly proclaim that they’re gluten free, but all other sizes, shapes, and varieties are not gluten free. Hershey’s and Nestle aren’t alone. Jelly Belly Jellybeans are all technically gluten free, HOWEVER, they are sometimes packaged by different companies, and the Jelly Belly corporation cannot vouch for these other companies. They tell you that you must look closely at each individual package of Jelly Bellys and call the packaging facility on the back to find out if this particular package is gluten free or not. Honestly, I feel like I need a flow chart, a food scale, a calculator, and possibly a Ph.D. to keep up with some of these candy companies.

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It’s really important in light of all of the confusion to teach your celiac (or allergic) children to resist temptation. Easier said than done, right? Temptation often gets the better of adults, let alone kids. The best way to ensure that your child stays safe while unsafe candy and wheat-based cupcakes are free-flowing is to make sure that they have their own safe-to-eat treats. I wrote in the summer about the Be a PAL program. PAL stands for Protect A Life. This program teaches children how to be a safe friend for others with food allergies by helping to make sure that these other children stay safe from dangerous foods and also from food-allergy bullying. Even if your child doesn’t have food allergies, you can help protect and reach out to other children who do have potentially dangerous allergies by being intentional when purchasing candy and treats for school parties.

I’ve said all that to say this: I am going to provide a list of companies who strive to make products that are safe for everyone:

  • Enjoy Life Foods: Hands down, this is the absolute best company for food allergy sufferers. ALL of the products made by this company are allergy friendly. They are free from all of the 8 major allergens (including gluten of course), and they are delicious. I have been a loyal customer since the early days of my diagnosis. They are expanding their repertoire lately, and they have Valentine’s candy packs which would be perfect for parties at your child’s school. They also have baking mixes,
    snack bars, cookies, you name it.

https://enjoylifefoods.com/our-foods/valentine-chocolate-minis/

  • Yum Earth: The gummy candies and lollipops from this company are organic, free from nuts, chemical dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and are vegan. They also come in fun heart-shapes for Valentine’s Day.

https://shop.yumearth.com/Organic-Valentines-Day-Gummy-Hearts/p/YUM-018334&c=YumEarth@Valentines

  • Glutino: One of my primary go-to gluten free brands. I love their pre-packaged cookies AND their cake mixes AND their crackers AND their chocolate covered pretzels…the list could go on for a while. If you’re thinking of making gluten free cupcakes for your kid’s school, I would suggest you use the mix from this brand. The downside of Glutino products is that they are not necessarily free of the 8 major allergens. HOWEVER, their website does state that the ingredients label on the package that you’re purchasing should have all possible allergy contaminants listed in the ingredients section.

http://www.glutino.com/products/

  • Schar: Okay, so as far as gluten free convenience food goes, I’ve saved the company with the tastiest stuff for last. I have actually eaten myself sick on both their Chocolate Dipped Cookies and their Honeygrams. Actually, their Honeygrams are so delicious that whenever we have a family cookout with s’mores, even the non-gluten-sensitive people ask for them. If you get put in charge of bringing the graham crackers to your kid’s school, try this brand. You can find them at Walmart, and even though they’re a bit pricier than regular graham crackers, they’re totally worth it. They also have a very intensely specific FAQ section on their website. FYI: this company focuses on celiac disease, not necessarily other allergens.

https://www.schaer.com/

Well, I hope this list of gluten-free (and some allergen free) candy, etc. helps out with your child’s Valentine’s Day! Happy February!

Free Therapy Anyone?

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Marianna:

By Marianna Boyce

What is a blog?  Before March, 2018, I really didn’t know.  My very unique definition is as follows:

Blog (noun) – A public forum shared on the Internet where people can release pent-up frustration about living with daily chronic pain.  In sharing with others, feelings and emotions can be placed on the outside of oneself instead of bottling them up on the inside.

I had been suffering from intense pain related to an “undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis,” best classified as Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Writing would be the release I needed to bring me back from the alternate universe I had been living.  In a nutshell, blogging would be my free therapy. 

My name is Marianna Boyce and I’m sure you’ve already guessed that I deal with daily chronic pain.Marianna

I am 50 years old and recently celebrated my 31st wedding anniversary with my remarkable husband Gerry.

My daughter Tiffany is 38 and she is married to Bill.  They have three girls. Our two older grandchildren are adopted. Abby will soon be 13 and her sister Emma is 11.  Avery is 5 and she was a fantastic surprise!  That’s a whole story in itself!

If you do the math, you will figure out quickly that Tiffany is my bonus daughter.  Although I did not give birth to her, I consider her my daughter and will refer to her as such in future posts.  We have been through a lot together.  There was a reason for it all.

Our son Cody is 30.  He is a middle school teacher in Lexington School District One.

Parenting is one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding jobs a woman can have!  With Tiffany and Cody both “grown and gone,” our reward is now seeing them thrive and pursue their chosen careers. We’ve been blessed with two driven and goal-oriented children.

Another great reward is being “GiGi” to our three grandchildren.  I was effortlessly navigating my new season of life…until the unimaginable happened!

I vividly recall the moment my unusual journey began.  The onset of my mysterious symptoms would instantly change my life.  I would be tested in dramatic fashion.  Some days I would pass the test, but many days I would fail miserably.

Coping with prolonged, intense pain brings forth a wide range of emotions.  I experienced many victories and defeats along the way.  I will offer you a glance inside my little corner of the world, past and present.  I promise you this blog will not be all gloom and doom.  Although our lives are very different, I’m sure you deal with similar emotions on a daily basis.

I am thrilled to be a voice for Lexington Medical Center’s Every Woman Blog!  I sincerely look forward to sharing my unique story with you!  Your comments and feedback are always appreciated.

No one has a perfect life, but life itself…It is a gift.  God gives me breath, therefore I breathe, therefore I live!  I will live life to the fullest!

flowers

Saying Goodbye (Or Maybe See You Later)

By Chaunte McClure

Have you ever felt like it was time to leave a job or stop serving on a ministry, but there was an internal tug-of-war between your love or appreciation for what you do and the need to let go? I was speaking with someone earlier who believes God is unctioning her to join a new ministry, which requires her to leave what she’s known most of her life to go to unfamiliar territory. My advice to her was to obey God because she was tugging with the thoughts of what others might say and how she’ll be perceived. Trusting God means putting aside the what ifs for His (unknown) plan.

Sometimes it’s easier to give advice rather than take your own, for I had a tug of war in effect too. I’ve been thinking about this moment for about a year now, after it seemed I had too many balls in the air, juggling home, work, church, school and depression (again). Before long, I was losing my spark for writing and it became a burden rather than an outlet from my day-to-day routines. It occurred to me that maybe, just maybe my season for blogging is ending. I said, but I know women who enjoy reading my posts, God. I really love sharing that I’m an Every Woman blogger, I rebutted. Even before I started typing these words, I told myself that I wanted to make one more contribution prior to saying goodbye. Then I heard, let it go, so I am.

After four years of inviting you into my personal life, inspiring you and taking you back to Grandma’s house during my nostalgic moments, I’m saying goodbye or maybe see you later. There may be times when I’ll have something burning inside that I want to share and if I’m allowed, I will.goodbye

I’ve shared this platform with some phenomenal women, great writers who share some fabulous experiences. I know many of you look forward to me sharing posts on my Facebook pages, but I encourage you to follow the Every Woman blog for personal stories, recipes, advice and more.

It’s been a wonderful journey with you and I thank you for taking the time read, share and comment on my posts. Thank you for encouraging me because even during times when I wasn’t up for writing, because of you, I pounded on keys late at night creating content I hoped you would appreciate. Breaking up is really hard to do, but sometimes it’s necessary.

I’ve asked God, what’s next? I still don’t have an answer, but I’ll trust His plan.

In case you missed any of my previous posts, you can find all 90 of them here. If you are a woman without a relationship with your biological father, please follow my personal ministry blog, Say That, Girl.

Signing off for now,

Chaunte McClure