Celiac students rejoice!

Recently, a group of students at Massachusetts’ Lesley University sued the institution over their lack of food options for students with celiac disease. In a press release issued December 20th, 2012, the Department of Justice announced that the university is legally required to provide students with celiac disease and/or food allergies with appropriate meal plans and food services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Nora is only 8, going on 18, but we have struggled with the lack of gluten-free food offered through the cafeteria at her elementary school. They do have a couple of options, but I’ve been asked to send emails to the cafeteria manager the morning of or the WEEK BEFORE she intends to order so that the cafeteria staff can prepare for her request. This seems ridiculous to me. Seriously? I don’t know a week ahead of time when she’s going to want to order lunch. And given the number of students at her school with a wide assortment of food allergies, I’m surprised there is not a more comprehensive food allergy/celiac nutritional plan in place. I’m relieved to know that the colleges and universities are stepping up to the plate now. By the time she gets to college, hopefully this will all be old news and she’ll have a world of possibilities open to her.

I’m now left wondering how many other schools still need to follow suit. Will the Department of Justice have to step in on a case by case, school by school basis? Or will other schools that are lagging behind step up to the plate before they are too are sued?

Thank you to those Lesley University students for blazing the path and providing a better future for all the college students to-be.

Read the full press release!

And thanks to The Gluten Dude for sharing the story today on Twitter.

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So good gluten-free sugar cookies

Six years ago, we left all our family and moved to a state where we knew no one. Over the years, we have been lucky enough to have found some wonderful friends in our own backyard. With them, we have created a new family, with our own set of traditions.

Although I was a bit apprehensive about it at first, there is one neighborhood tradition that stands out as my favorite. It’s something you don’t see (or hear) too often anymore — caroling. That’s right, I said caroling.Caroling

There’s really only a small window of time where such an activity would be deemed acceptable by your child — let’s say from age 3 – 12, before it becomes a dreaded, forced activity of embarrassment.

CarolingMy older daughter is 10, and I know that it won’t be long before she decides she has outgrown the activity. This year was more spectacular than most, as there was an inch of crisp white snow on the ground, with more falling lightly as we went from house to house.

And in light of last Friday’s horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, I couldn’t help but pay extra attention to the beauty of the night, the excitement in their voices, and the joy that we brought to our neighbors,  particularly some of our oldest residents, as our group of 9 kids belted Feliz Navidad at the top of their lungs.

What does this have to do with sugar cookies? Every year, before we venture out, the kids always make a craft at a neighbor’s house and delight in a festival of gluten with pizza and cookies. This year, I brought a frozen gluten-free pizza (which was a bit of a flop) for Nora, and tried my hand at gluten-free sugar cookies, based on a recipe from Nicole Hunn at glutenfreeonashoestring.com. I only made some minor changes to the recipe, so this is more of a recipe review, but I included my changes in the recipe below, as well as the link to the original, so you can decide which one you’d like to try.

On to the review — maybe I’m just starting to become immune to the taste and texture of some gluten-free foods, but I thought these cookies were just what she promised — amazingly close to what you’d find at the bakery in the local grocery store.

Just like with chocolate chip cookies, there are two camps of sugar cookie lovers — those that love an uber-buttery crispy cookie and those that prefer the softer side of Sears. Oh sorry, I meant sugar cookies. I think I’ve had too much sugar. Anyway, I usually lean toward the crispier side, but when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. All in all, these got a lot of smiles, and compliments from non-celiacs.

Gluten-free sugar cookiesgluten-free sugar cookie
Makes 24 cookies
Adapted from Gluten-Free Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies at Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

Ingredients:
1 cup gluten-free flour mix
1 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBSPs confectioners’ sugar
10 TBSPs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra large egg at room temperature, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Gluten-free colored sugars

Directions:
• Preheat your oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat, or spray with gluten-free nonstick spray.
• In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar.
• Mix in the butter, egg, and vanilla.
• Mix on medium speed.
Note: My dough started out looking very crumbly, so I added another two TBSP of butter to what the original recipe called for (grand total of 10 TBSPs), and let the mixer run for about 5 minutes. Have patience–the dough will come together.
• Separate the dough into two balls.
• Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on your clean countertop and dust rolling pin. Roll the dough out to 1/3-inch thickness.
• Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Sprinkle with gluten-free colored sugar and place on baking sheet.
• Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies begin to look golden.
• Transfer cookies to cooling rack.

Enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk.

I’m not a huge fan of frosting on my cookies, but in case you are, the frosting posted on the original recipe at Gluten Free on a Shoestring looks quick, easy, and delicious.

Also, I have a feeling that I could make these even better next time by pulsing the flours in the food processor for minute, or maybe even just sifting them.

Share the love: I can never get enough cookies. Which ones top your list?

Introductions

Welcome to my little experiment. This is my first blog and I still have a lot to learn, so bear with me as I figure out what works, what doesn’t work, what people want to hear, and what they could care less about.

Growing up gluten-free is exactly what our family is now facing. In February 2012, our younger daughter, Nora, was diagnosed with celiac disease. This is our story. Walk, run, and stumble with us as we navigate the gluten-free world and I take a stab at gluten-free cooking and baking. I promise to share with you all that we learn, from the product and restaurant reviews, to recipes, tips, and more.

Now for some site navigation.

Want to learn more about who we are and the nitty gritty on how our celiac story unfolded? Click on About us.

Want to learn more about celiac, gluten intolerance, and gluten allergies? Click on Learn more.

Need some gluten-free recipes that have received a thumbs up from a REAL family with picky eaters? Click on Gluten-free recipes.

Share the love!

I’m so new to gluten-free cooking and baking that I could always use new ideas. Have a recipe that you think is the bomb? Email me your recipe, and if it gets a thumbs up from our family, I will post it here!

Enjoy and check back soon for my first recipe!

Estelle