Celiac Central Magazine

Here is link to my final magazine and first issue of Celiac Central.




Not just the bread on a sandwich now?

Normally, the bread on a sandwich is what turns away people on the gluten-free diet. Nowadays, multiple brands have come out with gluten free bread that can be enjoyed and easily used for a gluten free sandwich. But what if your next concern is the contents in the sandwich, including the meat, often something naturally taken as gluten free?


Plain meat happens to fall in the “yes” category for foods you can eat on the gluten-free diet, so it would seem that cold-cut sandwich meat would be no different. For the most part, cold-cut deli meat is okay, but the issue is the US Department of Agriculture does not require the same allergen ingredient and labeling disclosures as food that is monitored by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). While plain meat is safe, when seasoning or different types of fillers can be added, they no longer are safe for the gluten-free dieters.  

Additionally, our next question would then be, what exactly is in deli meat if it’s not completely plain meat? In many cases, seasonings or spices are added to the outside of the meat before it is sliced, so although there may only be a little seasoning around the edges of the sliced meat, a little can be dangerous to a person with celiac. Plain spices are normally gluten-free but seasonings can sometimes contain gluten, especially with wheat or barley in them. 

Certified Dietitian Dean Schillinger described the few issues with glutens in meat.

“Meat is gluten free, naturally. It’s when preservatives, fillers and seasonings are added that you have to be careful. Meat never really was an issue when celiac was new to a lot of people because it didn’t seem very dangerous. Its the pre-made, and pre-packaged meats you have to worry about, often found in the frozen section.”

Schillinger says though most meat products don’t contain ingredient information, if they are pre-packaged frozen meats, most likely they will have some sort of filler or preservative to make them stay good longer. 

“To be honest, most of those frozen products are fine for people with celiac. Obviously breaded meats are out, but as dietitians and doctors would say, we wouldn’t tell a person with celiac to avoid the meat counter completely,” Schillinger said. 

Schillinger recommends  if you are new to a gluten free lifestyle, either because you have to be or want to be, it’s important not to be shy when asking for ingredient information.

“I have a lot of clients who say they hate asking for a gluten-free menu at restaurants when they know they can usually find a meat meal that will work. It’s really not safe to assume what you don’t see being made for you though, because you really have no idea what seasonings or sauces they might use on the meat that you can’t see and could potentially make you sick.”

If you are unsure about any ingredient, ask your waiter or meal provider and they should be able to at least provide you with ingredient lists or allergen information of their products. 

Breaking into the Bakery: Gluten Free Bakeries Coming in Hot

Gluten free cooking is a test of character. Just ask Ali Kuhfus, the Iowa State student who tackeled bringing sweet delights to celiacs.

Kuhfus, owner of Ali’s Cupcakes in Ames, a private, in-home bakery started her bakery off of gluten-free products. With her mother and brother both having Celiac, Ali grew up eating a lot of gluten-free foods, and seemed to find no major difference between them and regular, non- gluten-free foods.

“I always loved baking, especially cupcakes, and did some research. I found very few bakeries that even had anything gluten-free, because they were worried about cross-contamination with their non-gluten-free baked goods. Since my family has always had a gluten-free oven of sorts, I figured why not start something,” Kuhfus said.

Kuhfus, a sophomore at Iowa State, is studying Education and wants to become a Home Economics teacher at the High School level.

“Even though my business is in no way “thriving,”  yet, I do have some religious customers who thank me every day for what I am doing. I want to teach that to my students someday. Not only the value of a customer, but also the idea of going out of the box with your creativity. That’s what I’m striving for with my gluten-free cupcakes,” said Kuhfus.

Though the gluten-free industry is growing by the minute, the challenges that come with having a successful gluten-free business are countless.

“Even though I’ve only really considered my business a “business” for about a year and a half, I’m already learning the hard way about the many difficulties that come with it,” Kuhfus said.

Celiac disease, levels of intolerance and allergies to wheat and gluten vary greatly between each person. While some people with a low intolerance might not react to eating a product with gluten in it, some people with high intolerance can’t even be exposed to gluten physically. The same levels vary in people with Celiac Disease.

“I have two people in my family who have Celiac, so I like to think I’m as “gluten-free” as possible when baking. But I still have to be cautious of it every day when baking and with every order. You never know when someone is going to come knocking at your door saying they ate one of your supposedly gluten-free cupcakes, and was sick for the next week over it,” said Kuhfus.

It costs her twice as much to make a cupcake, but despite the pressure on the wallet, Kuhfus is determined to make a difference.

“Oh yeah, it’s definitely expensive,” laughed Kuhfus. “The thing is, you really have to be passionate about what you’re doing when you are baking gluten-free because you probably aren’t going to profit much for awhile. The ingredients are so expensive, so unfortunately you have to charge a lot more for the cupcakes for things to even out. So that eliminates a lot of my customers who don’t HAVE to eat gluten-free, because why would they spend 2 more dollars testing out a gluten-free cupcake when they can just have a normal one for a lot cheaper?”

So why a cupcakery? Over the last several years, the growth in a selected type of bakery boomed, cupcakes taking the lead. While some people believed the industry would fade out, a recent report from Balboa Capital, a business equipment company, shows no sign of decrease in cupcakeries to happen anytime soon. In a recent blog from Balboa, they report that cupcake sales are expected to rise 20% in the next five years. The tasty treats are becoming increasingly popular for graduation parties, birthday parties, and even weddings, replacing traditional cakes.

“People love the diversity that cupcakes can bring to a party or celebration of sorts. You no longer have to serve only one flavor of cake, and have people not eating it because they don’t want that flavor. Cupcakes give you the availability to have numerous flavors at your events and everyone can be happy!” Kuhfus said.

Although the industry of only gluten-free bakeries is still on the rise, already famous cupcakeries are making the change and adding them to their menus, like this red velvet gluten-free cupcake from Sprinkles Cupcakes. Sprinkles has locations in Beverly Hills, Chicago, Dallas, Groveton, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York to name a few.

They are one of the most popular, celebrity-endorsed cupcakeries in the US serving up celebrities like Tyra Banks, Kelly Rippa, and even Martha Stewert.

Making a gluten-free cupcake has only sky-rocketed their already booming business in the big name groups, even using the cupcakes for charity fundraisers. From October 29- November 6, Sprinkles donates the profits made off of their vegan and gluten-free cupcakes to Americans for the Arts, a non-profit organization that works to serve, advance and lead the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain and support the arts in America.

With the cupcake industry booming comes the shadowed industry behind it, the gluten-free cupcake business. Though the numbers aren’t quite as big as non-gluten-free cupcakeries, the gluten-free business is making a name for itself in the best way possible, by serving the overlooked customers, who may soon become THE customers.

Ali’s Cupcakes, and other bakeries like it will continue to grow, because according to Ali, “Everyone deserves a good cupcake.”

Q & A with Dietitian, Dean Schillinger

I sat down with Hy-Vee’s Certified Dietitian in pursuit to learn more about Celiac, Gluten free

Imagefoods and how he has adapted in his career to the changes in those industries. After the Q & A session, I was given a tour of the Health Market of Hy-Vee containing sections of organic and gluten free, and other food-allergen foods. While touring, Dean informed me they are going to beginexpansion of the Health Market as they feel the increase in food allergens and healthy food choices is something that could change the grocery store industry in major ways.

Q: How did you decide on this career path?

A: I was always into running, started training for trialthalons and realized I needed to be putting the right things in my body to keep up my energy. I was 23 before I started college though so I was a non-traditional student and chose to attend the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for my Undergrad, then attended Iowa State University to complete my Dietetic internship.

Q: How often do you meet with people with gluten intolerances or people who have Celiac disease?

A: It varies. Some weeks, I may not talk to anyone with it, some weeks I may talk to 6 people. I also recommend gluten free diets to people who may be having stomach problems or problem losing weight, so it comes up in a lot of my conversations.

Q: What changes have you had to learn to adjust to in the gluten free or allergen industry?

A: Simply put, there’s a lot more people being diagnosed so a lot of changed had to be made, awareness being the biggest thing. I now go to yearly conferences and a lot of meetings in the community about celiac awareness and the gluten free lifestyle. We also have a much more accurate listing of GF ingredients and cookbooks for people since 1 in 133 people will be diagnosed.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for people with celiac to meet with a dietitian?

A: Since the statistic is so high for people who will get celiac or an intolerance, it is important for them to fully comprehend what it means to be gluten free. Also, people are diagnosed so much later in life sometimes, so people have been consuming foods their entire life that are hurting them. We are able to provide them with resources and support of how to make that lifestyle change and make them feel worlds better.

My tour with Dean can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jaum_cfFTbo&feature=youtu.be


Celiac and Food Allergen Increase in Kids Forces Day Cares to Heighten Precautions


Over the past 20 years, the amount of children diagnosed with some sort of food allergen or intolerance has close to doubled. Celiac disease, a disease with no existing cure but to eat a strict gluten-free diet has risen to a statistic today of approximately 1 in 133 people diagnosed. Though Celiac can develop in a person at any point in their life, it is most commonly diagnosed in children. A peanut allergy, one of the most common allergens occurs in 4-6% of children in the US. Other common allergens include cows milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, and soybeans.

With this increased awareness in allergens and intolerance, schools and day cares are being forced to take major precautions. Some schools are even “peanut free” with no form of peanuts allowed into the school, anywhere.

Haley Ashenfelter, the Y’s Kids Coordinator for the Waterloo YWCA Lincoln Elementary location must be extra cautious in her work with kids. With one child having a severe peanut allergy, one with an egg allergy, and one with Celiac, she says it is a daily struggle to take precautions.

“We really do have a hard time with snack time and lunches because some of their allergens are so bad, they can hardly be in the same room as the product. We have to keep their foods completely separate from all the other kids, and its hard for them at that age to fully understand why they just can’t eat what the other kids eat,” Ashenfelter said.

Though Lincoln serves as a peanut-free school, there still have been incidents of birthday treats brought in and food shared that wasn’t healthy for the child to eat.

“It’s really difficult these days to find out exactly what ingredients food contains. Something may not have wheat products in it, but it may have been processed on equipment in contact with wheat, therefore, a potential problem for our kid with celiac,” Ashenfelter stated.

Jill Holechek, a teacher in the toddler room at Blessed Beginnings Day Care also says the task is difficult.

“We have children all over our day care, in almost every room, with some sort of food allergy or Celiac. It’s crazy how common it has become,” Holechek said.

Because Blessed Beginnings is a full-day day care, meaning all meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served to children there.

“We have to be careful. The people who prepare the food and cook for the kids do their best to keep all mixing bowls, utensils, plates, etc. as separate as possible, but we tell our parents that we can’t ensure complete gluten-free or peanut-free. Most kids who have a severe case will have meals prepared by their parents before that they can bring in,” stated Holechek.

Though there are medications for some types of allergies, food allergens and intolerances tend to have no cure but to avoid that food at all costs. With a continuing increase, and no sight of that cure, these precautions taken by day care and school providers are imperative to the health of attending children.

Quinoa Revolution


It’s a protein grain that ancient mayans used as one of their main food sources. How come it is just now becoming such a staple food for some people? The answer is simple. Everyone is looking for healthier alternatives and ways to cut calories these days. Quinoa (Keen-wa) is an equivalent somewhat of a rice or pasta, but it can be used in many more ways. These three recipes, the quinoa burger, quinoa pizza bites, and breakfast quinoa are all gluten-free, easy recipes that taste good and satisfy the carb craving so many of us often get.  Here are the recipes:

Breakfast Quinoa:


Quinoa Pizza Bites:


Quinoa Burgers:


A little recognition right here at UNI


The Northern Iowan, official newspaper for the University of Northern Iowa published this article today, and I love it. It just reiterates my last blog post about how big of a thing this gluten-free stuff is becoming. Fortunately (or maybe, unfortunately…not sure which one I would use yet), when I lived in the dorms and was eating in the dining centers, I wasn’t aware I had Celiac so at the time, I ate pasta and bread like it was going out of style. I know, how unhealthy, right? Now, I can’t even imagine having all that temptation right in front of me every day for every meal in the dining center. I’m glad UNI is taking steps to recognize those food allergies and intolerances and I hope all colleges start taking that initiative to cater to our types of cuisine 🙂

I’m Gluten-free, You’re Gluten-free, We’re all Gluten-free!

I was diagnosed with Celiac disease two years ago after fighting severe Anemia for years, and after a bout of sickness that left me 20 lbs. lighter in a matter of a month. Being diagnosed in college was one of the hardest things because after nights out on the town and many cheap meals, bread, pasta, and other carbs, which were my staple foods, suddenly became completely forbidden. I was forced to find alternatives in a world surrounded by gluten “abled” people. Or so I thought.

After hundreds of pamphlets, cookbooks, and statistics were thrown at me, I found out that Celiac was a lot more common than I thought, even though I personally knew no one at the time with it. I discovered that 1 in 133 people are living with Celiac disease and unfortunately, the numbers keep growing.

What also keeps growing though, is the number of people going gluten-free who surprisingly, don’t even have Celiac! The recent growth (and in my opinion, obsession) of health, fitness, and eating right have led people to search for new resources. Cutting gluten out of your diet, not only eliminates a lot of the big carbs that lead to fat storage in your body, but it forces you to find other food you possibly weren’t getting enough of before eating gluten-free. Fruits, veggies, most dairy, meats and other proteins are naturally gluten-free.

With this rise is obviously the use of celebrity status to gain Celiac and Gluten-free lifestyles some big awareness. Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Zoey Deschanel, and Chelsea Clinton are just a few of those celebs suffering from Celiac themselves. Hey look, they are real people! I like to think that having Celiac myself makes me a little more celeb-like then….right? Ha, well not exactly. But this brings me to my next point.

There are multiple celebrities and ya know, normal people, who are going gluten-free too and do NOT have Celiac. As I mentioned above, the gluten-free diet is just that. A diet. Cutting gluten will honestly help in losing weight if that is your ultimate goal. Or maybe your goal is to simply get healthy. I promise, going gluten-free is not as hard as it seems. Though it is really difficult, you will find your body reacting in positive ways to what you are doing.

My push here is for everyone to try it. Try going gluten-free for a day, a week, a month. Take it one meal at a time, and challenge yourself. Though your stomach may take some adjusting time, you will soon begin feeling healthier, have more energy, and may surprise yourself with the pounds you could shed. With Celiac becoming a more common condition, the food industry is responding. There are numerous gluten-free brands and companies coming out with foods, even including gluten-free breads, pastas, and pastries! In my honest opinion, I think the gluten-free industry is really going to take over. Don’t be afraid to try it. Here’s something mind-blowing: Though 1 in 133 people, or about 3 million Americans if we’re talking about this lovely USA, have Celiac disease, only 1 in 4,700 is ever diagnosed. YOU COULD BE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE! So try the gluten-free thing. You may be thrown off your feet in amazement with how you feel. A little self-diagnosis never hurt anyone.