Saturday, May 19, 2012

R.O.C.K. Highlights: How To Be A Gluten Free Kid

Designed by Jennifer Yandle

A few months ago Shirley of Gluten Free Easily started sharing online reports about each meeting of her local gluten free support group. I thought it might be a neat idea to do something similar here on my blog. I think it will be an interesting contrast to see the different topics and ideas shared at another type of gluten free support group.

I started my local gluten free support group in January 2010. It took six months for me to have the courage and enough people to put together a meeting, but we did it! We had 6 people at our first meeting and that included myself, my husband, and my fearless mother-in-law! Our first meeting focused on local gluten free resources and restaurants who could cater to a gluten free diet. We began having monthly meetings and eventually added what we call "coffee breaks" several times a month. The coffee breaks were more informal times just to get together and chat, have coffee, and talk about all things gluten free in our area.

As the group has morphed and changed over the past two years we now have bi-monthly meetings and once-a-month coffee breaks. We now have about 25 active members who come to our meetings and over 45 members we connect with locally through email and facebook. Recently our group became affiliated with Danna Korn's R.O.C.K. (raising our celiac kids) support group. I chose for our group to join this organization over other national groups because the premise of the group 1) is to have a positive attitude towards being gluten free! Life is good! And even though being gluten free can be a challenge, it doesn't have to be a sad or negative experience! I love Danna's philosophy on this!

Secondly, this organization will meet the needs of many in our area who are raising gluten free kids! I felt there was a primary need for us to make sure that kids felt included and welcomed in our gluten free support group!

"Mommy, What is Celiac Disease" by Katie Chalmers

The focus of our ROCK Party last Saturday was How to Be a Gluten Free Kid! We really felt like we needed an introductory meeting to truly welcome parents and kids into our local group since we became a ROCK group. This meeting was simple and straightforward. Two members of our group Erin P. and Nancy C. helped me to plan out this meeting. We decided to have games out for children, have a local face painter to paint faces and hands (she kindly volunteered to come and help us for free!), and have lots of delicious gluten free food and snacks for the kids.

Barrett's Unusual Ice Cream Party By Michelle King

To begin the meeting I just shared new announcements, introduced myself, and then welcomed people to try all the delicious gluten free foods we had available.

The focus of the meeting was the reading of two children's books: "Mommy, What is Celiac Disease" by Katie Chalmers and "Barrett's Unusual Ice-Cream Party" by Michelle King.

After reading the stories to the children (and parents) in our group we spoke with author Katie Chalmers through a SKYPE interview. Mrs. Chalmers answered questions for our parents especially regarding how to handle kids being gluten free in school and how to inform other parents and teachers. She shared with us why she wrote the book, lunches she made for her children, how she handled going out to eat etc...She was a delightful person to speak with!

The rest of our meeting was a laid back question and answer session among the adults of the group, while the children played with balloons, games, and enjoyed the gluten free food that was shared.

GF Grilled chicken nuggets from Chick Fil A

Erin P. asked our local Harris Teeter (a grocery store which sells many gluten free foods for us!) to donate helium-filled balloons for our kids. Nancy C. & her husband Merle spoke with a manager at our local Chick Fil A, who volunteered to send a huge tray of gluten-free grilled chicken nuggets to our group. (Many, MANY thanks to our local Chick Fil A! We love you guys! We often meet at our local Chick Fil A for our monthly coffee breaks because the kids can play and we can all eat safe gluten free grilled chicken, waffle fries (dedicated fryer!), fruit, and salads!)

Gluten Free KIND Snack Bars! YUM!

Primarily for the blog, I was contacted by KIND Snacks, Inc. and Gallo Lea Organics of Asheville NC if I would like to try samples of their gluten free food. We shared these foods with our group and they were a HUGE hit!

We were sent 4 different varieties of the KIND bars to try, along with a cute giveaway package that included KIND gluten free granola and different varieties of the bars! We used this as a door prize for parents! KIND Healthy Snacks was founded in 2003 and all of their bar varieties are gluten free! They contain all natural ingredients that you can actually see in each bar and can easily pronounce! The philosophy of the KIND Snacks company is that they choose healthy, tasty, convenient, wholesome, economically sustainable, and socially impactful products to share with consumers.

These bars were a hit with the kids and adults of our group. We gave away tons of samples of the bars and included them in goody bags that we gave to our kids.

Gluten Free Homemade Pizza Kits from Gallo Lea Organics -- Great for your pantry!

Gallo Lea Organics out of Asheville, NC (love working with local companies!) sent us 3 pizza kits to use at our gluten free support group! I went to the church early (where we meet) to make the pizzas before the meeting. I didn't realize how FAST and easy these pizzas would be to make! It literally good less than 30 minutes to put these pizzas together and bake them! The mix uses all natural gluten free ingredients with whole grains, NO gums, yeast, salt, and citrus acid (vitamin C) to help preserve it. All you do is mix the dry ingredients with warm water, pat out onto a pan lined with the parchment paper (that's included in the kit) and bake. You prebake the crust for about 5-10 minutes and then add toppings (the sauce is included!) and bake for another 5-8 minutes until the toppings are heated through. That's it! Safe, delicious, gluten free pizza is served in less than 30 minutes! I made one pizza with regular cheese, one with cheese & gluten free pepporoni, and one with daiya vegan cheese (I had to eat pizza too! lol).

Seriously easy to make and our group really loved the flavor of the crust! One member mentioned that he thought it tasted similarly to a "whole wheat" pizza crust. All the kids ate the pizza and loved it! I'll never forget the reaction of one of our newest members, a young boy with a wheat allergy. When it was time to eat he came up to the food table and I told him he could eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING on the table. His little face just lit up with sheer delight that there were no restrictions at this table! It was a wonderful moment I'll never forget! We had absolutely NO pizza leftovers! All the ingredients are organic and you can purchase the mix directly from Gallo Lea's website.

Michael's Favorite (Gluten Free & Dairy Free) Chocolate Chip Cookies

Several of our members made gluten-free snacks to share with everyone! I made my husband's favorite chocolate chip cookies. Erin P. made gluten free cake pops using my gluten free yellow cake mix. She put them on lollypop sticks, covered them in melted white chocolate and sprinkles and placed them decoratively in a pink basket! Super cute! Nancy C. made her favorite chex snack mix and gluten free banana bread. I also brought fresh fruit (apples & grapes) to remind kids about naturally gluten free, super healthy food choices!

Here are the recipes Nancy used that she shared with our group: 

In place of flour, Nancy uses her own gluten free flour mix for the flour in this recipe:
2 cups white rice flour + 1 cup sorghum flour + 1/3 cup tapioca starch/flour
Then add 2 teaspoons xanthan gum and you're all set. 

My husband Michael made goody bags for all the kids. He placed a KIND bar in each bag along with popular gluten free candies such as Tootsie Rolls, Starburst, and Jolly Ranchers.

This turned out to be one of my favorite gluten free support group meetings we've ever had! We had both children and adults really having fun, laughing, enjoying gluten free pizza and grilled nuggets. Sharing stories, talking, and just feeling good about being gluten free! And honestly, I think that's what a support group is all about! Our ROCK party in July will hopefully be a gluten free cookout at a local ballpark. I'll be sure to share all the details with you about how we put that together and how well it goes!

MANY, MANY thanks to the vendors and children's book authors who provided their products and materials for our May ROCK Party! We had a great time and loved these products!

GLG Disclosure: 
The companies and authors listed in the above post provided samples of their products and books for the purpose of providing a review, if I chose to do so
This is not a sponsored post and I did not receive compensation. 
The opinions in this post are my own and those of my local gluten free support group. 

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  1. Thank you Carrie will share this on my page as many of my fans are gluten free. Amee

    1. Amee - Thank you so much! Thrilled you shared the information! Thanks for reading!

  2. Thank you sooo much for this post, Carrie! ...My daughter has been married for 5 years now. Her thoughts are turning toward having children, but the other day she was musing that perhaps she shouldn't bring another child into the world if it would be celiac. Of course, that made me sad. I will share this with her. My mother, she and myself are all celiac, so I know my daughter is thinking her kid(s) will be as well. Maybe! ...but maybe not! And even if that is so--it's not the "end of the world" now, is it! :)

    Also, I've been gluten free for about 4 and 1/2 years now. I've never been part of gf support group, but I sure would like to be a part of your email group! My hubby is not gf... My daughter has finally been sticking with a gf diet for about 3 months. YAY! But, my adult son does not seem to be able to stick with a gf diet. I'm pretty sure he is celiac, too.

    Thanks, again, for your blog and great online support!


    1. Margaret -- YOU are so welcome!! And I will add you to our email listserv as well! You can be a virtual member with us! If you ever visit eastern NC we'll have a special coffee break just for you! As you know, I always appreciate your comments and I'm so thankful you are a supportive reader of my blog! I think the world of you! :-)

    2. Dear Carrie,

      ...oh! thank YOU! My gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free/soy-free/corn-free/anything-artificial-free journey has been a difficult road to follow, but rewarding in many ways as well. You have no idea how happy I am that I can still eat eggs :)

      Also, I recently thought about the fact that I don't have to deal with being afraid my child (or I) will die from eating a peanut. Wow...some people have way harder things to deal with than I do!

      I wish I had found you at the beginning of my journey, but at least I found you now! Thanks for adding me to your group! There have been days when I sat and cried at my computer desk, because many times I did feel alone.

      Lately, the online support I've gotten from finding and reading a few gluten-free blogs has been a tremendous help to me. But, I must say, yours has been the most personal. Thank you so much! ...and thanks for the offer of a special coffee break. That would be so lovely and worthy of a trip across our great country! ...If only the airlines gave out tickets like companies give out gluten-free samples. That would be awesome.

  3. Great post. I am quite impressed with the evolution of your support group, possibly even more impressed that your mother-in-law and husband were there for you at that first meeting. Sounds like he's still a great support.

    1. pamela -- HUBS comes to every single meeting! I call him my tech support and he always sets up the meetings for us! I'm so thankful for him! And it was really awesome of my MIL to also support us for our first few meetings! She's wonderful!! The group has been really fun and I can't wait to see how it continues to evolve!

  4. It sounds like you have created a wonderful and fun resource. You're such a rock star! (sorry, feeling punny)

    1. lololol I keep telling myself that Cheryl (I'm a ROCK STAR!)!! haha! Thank you! I'm really proud of our group!

  5. Great post Carrie! You do so much for the local gluten free community. It's awesome to see all your hard work paying off!

    1. Thank you so much Jenn! I really appreciate hearing that! And I cannot thank you enough for all the help you've been with designing posters for us and just being a sounding board for me!!

  6. I was really excited about Chik Fil A's chicken choice since we are gluten, dairy and sugar free and I love the play place for the kids, but I just went on their website and was pretty surprised that they use msg and anti-caking agents and preservatives in their chicken. I'm really bummed bc msg just seems like a no brainer. Anyway, great blog. I saw it recommended all over : )

    1. I agree Katie! I do wish they would just use CHICKEN instead of all the other stuff... but they are an easy option for me when we are traveling, which means I love them! :-)