For years now the word gluten has been a daily part of my daily vocabulary. When I first heard it muttered by my doctor six years ago, I imagined it as this long, drawn out and terribly blah-sounding word.


Since I say it so regularly now, I’m a bit immune to the heavy and unappealing sound of it. And now that it’s become a part of our daily vocabulary (pretty much world-wide), the awareness of a gluten allergy and sensitivity has risen, along with the danger of it not being taken seriously, since it’s often perceived as a fad.

Why the fad? Several reasons, really. Celebrities and public figures are claiming it to be a great way to ‘cleanse’ the body, and lose weight. And there’s the  growing popularity of Primal and Paleo diets, which shun gluten for it’s lack of nutritional benefits, and it’s negative effects on the body, regardless of an allergy or sensitivity to it. All of which is true by the way.  And products from soda water to maple syrup labeling themselves as gluten-free. So again, not that I think any of this is bad on it’s own; we’ve created a movement, an awareness of the importance of eating healthy, whole foods and of how key nutrition is to your overall health. But it’s also created a mindset that everyone is going gluten-free because it’s the latest and greatest diet fad. Try it, you’ll lose weight and feel great… which is probably true, but not helpful to those of us who truly suffer from an immune repose when we eat it.

Several years ago, I would talk to a restaurant employee who would take it very seriously, never asking whether it was a personal choice or an allergy. They would usually send the manager over to the table, who would discuss my options with me and educate me on how the kitchen handles food so I was aware of any potential cross-contamination issues. I could then make an educated decision based on what’s best for my health.

Fast forward to today, when ‘gluten-free’ is the rage, and restaurants are handing out gluten-free menus and the staff is often-times unaware of the severity behind the issue. In fact, recently while at a popular local chain here in Austin, I was told they no longer offer a gluten-free menu because they realized that using the same fryer for breaded items, and claiming to be gluten-free, wasn’t OK. If you think about it, some of the breading from the foods fried stays in the fryer, and attaches to the non breaded foods being fried next. So even though the foods they were calling gluten-free weren’t breaded, they were still mingling with plenty of residual breading left behind. Dangerous for those of us who need to only ingest a small amount of gluten to have an allergic reaction.

And by the way, did you know that US law allows for something to be labeled gluten-free if it contains less than 20 parts per million (PPM)? That means there may be slight amounts of gluten in the foods you’re eating, and assuming are OK. I was recently talking to someone who was complaining that she went gluten-free, but she’s still having migraines, fatigue, body aches and brain fog and couldn’t figure out why. When I explained that the replacement foods she’s eating are allowed to have trace amounts of gluten in them she was angry. Can’t say that I blame her.

To be clear, I’m grateful for the USDA’s movement to properly address a very serious health condition, and try to help us avoid foods that we’re allergic to, but I do wish they would realize that even the smallest amount of gluten, for some of us, can cause an allergic reaction. There are so many factors at play here, that I typically recommend someone just starting to eliminate gluten avoid replacement foods all together, so they can allow their body to truly heal. Once healed, they may be better able to handle the little bits of gluten from cross contamination or reduced PPM here and there.

I know there’s some confusion on what gluten actually does to the body, and why it seems like this is such a big thing now. I’ve heard it called a “rich person’s disease” and honesty, I get it. It does seem like its everywhere these days.

There’s a lot of talk online about why the rates of allergies have risen so dramatically since we started manipulating our food supply, and why we can’t handle eating foods we’ve eaten for generations. If you want to learn more, simply follow Robin O’brien for what I deem the most non-biased, grass-roots effort to help stop the contamination of our foods and require labelling of GMOs. She helps us understand why we’re suddenly seeing so many more cases of gluten sensitivities and Celiac disease. And by following her I’ve been able to piece together a few key points in my life.

The first is that I was always sick. I never really felt good, and my mom was taking me to doctors as young as 8 to help figure out what was wrong. I had chronic migraines, fatigue, social anxiety, weight fluctuations and more. I also had terrible gastric issues, which they labelled as IBS when I was 10. I now understand issues that my grandmother and great-grandmother had as well. They’re Italian, and so I grew up eating pasta and bread. With every meal. No wonder I was sick all the time. As I grew up, I realized that my friends and family were directly affected by my poor health and weakened immune system. I struggled through my teens and twenties with relationships that were affected by my fatigue and mood swings. And it’s nearly impossible to imagine explaining to a date why you have to spend 20 minutes in the bathroom after you eat. I went on a lot of first dates that were never followed by a second one. Not like I didn’t understand why, but it was definitely frustrating.

Last year I wrote about Jennifer Esposito being fired from CBS’ Blue Bloods. She collapsed due to health complications from Celiac Disease, and was fired. For those of us who have it, we get it. It’s not a fad, it’s not a trend – it’s a serious, life threatening condition that can lead to some pretty heavy things that we’d rather not think about.

Last year, Rachael Ray who is clearly someone who doesn’t worry much about the healthy aspects of her meals, promoted a recipe in her magazine as being gluten-free. Not only was it potentially not gluten-free (she used corn flakes in the recipe, the largest reseller of which is Kellogs, and their main ingredient is malt-flavoring — not gluten-free), but she used this line to address why she was prepping some gluten-free recipes…


When did we all get so picky, she asks? As if having a gluten allergy is something we choose.

So while it’s great to have so much awareness tied into gluten allergies, we have to be even more diligent with our health thanks to the belief that it’s the latest craze. And while I love that some people are using their public voice to raise awareness to our cause, I cringe when I see it being presented as an opportunity to simply replace all your former gluten-full goodies with gluten-free ones.

Here’s one of the bigger culprits of that – Elizabeth Hasselback on the View, sharing her experience with going gluten-free after a Celiac diagnosis. Watch her broadly sweeping her arm across a table filled with some of the many gluten-free products that are on the market. She smiles and chirps her way through the segment declaring how these gluten-free products have made going gluten-free a tasty breeze.


I’m thrilled that Elizabeth Hasselback might be able to indulge in gluten-free cookies, pretzels, cakes and more without a reaction. But myself, and plenty of gluten-sensitive folks that I know,  aren’t so lucky.

And here’s why.

Cross reactive foods – that’s when your body can’t tell the difference between gluten and the most commonly used items in gluten-free foods such as tapioca, quinoa, millet, sorghum, potato and more. We eat them – we react just as if we ate gluten.

Cross Contamination – since many of these products labeled gluten-free are processed on equipment that processes wheat, the chances of cross-contamination are high, making it potentially just as bad for you to eat if you’re allergic/sensitive as an actual gluten-full food.

And let’s not forget that many of the gluten-free products out there are filled with sugar, and are truly no better for us than their gluten-full processed counterparts.

USDA Labelling laws: by law, a product is allowed to have trace amount s of gluten in it, and still be labelled as gluten-free. 20 parts per million, to be exact.

Beauty products – these guys are often times unsafe, having wheat and/or a by-product of gluten in their ingredients. Remember that most of what you put on your body, goes into your body, so the safest bet is to focus on products that are labelled gluten-free. Remember, double check the ingredients as well and watch for the most common hidden ingredients list. 

So the lesson here is buyer beware. Be cautious of a gluten-free label. Get to know your local restaurants. Check with the local Gluten Intolerance Group in your area and find out which restaurants are certified as gluten-free safe. You can also see a list here, though I haven’t updated in a while so it may be missing some of their latest updates.

Be mindful, be careful and be your own advocate. Don’t assume that just because something is labeled gluten-free, that it is. Eat clean, prep your own food as much as possible and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Only then can you truly protect your health.

Be well!



gluten-free products

Living a gluten-free life can be frustrating. Five years ago we had very little choices at the grocery store, and today it feels like we’re overwhelmed with options. And none of these options are cheap, so how do you avoid blowing your weekly budget on overly sugary, or bad tasting versions of the gluten-full counterparts that you once loved?

Read labels before you buy

Gluten-intolerance or not, it’s important to understand how to read the product labels and ingredient lists on the foods you buy. If you don’t see “gluten-free” clearly written on the item you’re looking to buy, either call the manufacturer’s customer service line to get clarification or avoid the item all together. Knowing how to read the list of ingredients is also very important when you have any type of intolerance. If there’s a specific type of ingredient you’re unsure of, do the research so you know if it’s something that could harm you or not.

Check your pantry

Gluten can hide in some of your favorite food-staples, which is why it’s important to do a sweep of all of the items in your fridge and pantry to make sure you eliminate those you can’t have. Be prepared to have to let go of soy sauce, malt, and anything containing maltodextrin, a food additive which often contains gluten.

Avoid processed foods

Unless otherwise labeled, most processed food products will contain additives with gluten. Processed foods can be harmful to your body given the unnatural ingredients they contain, so if you’re looking out for your health, aside from being gluten-free, eliminating processed foods from your diet can make a huge difference.

Search for gluten-free restaurants

Believe it or not, restaurants have transitioned over well to appease those with a gluten-intolerance, adding multiple menu options as simple as gluten free pasta to as complicated as adding an entire menu section specifically for those eating gluten-free. Surprisingly, there are several mainstream chain restaurants, such as PF Chang’s and Outback Steakhouse that now offer gluten free menu items to help accommodate patrons with food allergies. You can check out our list of gluten-free chains here.

Order online

If your local grocery store doesn’t have the gluten-free items you’re looking for or need, don’t sweat it. Many stores actually stock their online based stores with anything from gluten-free sauces, pasta, cookies, pizzas and snacks to provide those with a gluten-intolerance an easy shopping experience. Another option we love is Vitacost. We buy organic, gluten-free and minimally processed foods here, and with free shipping over $49 it’s a great away to stock up on the essentials. Plus they offer $10 off an order over $30 if you use the link here.

Watch your calories

A big misconception a lot of people have with a gluten-free lifestyle is that it helps you lose weight because there are fewer calories in gluten-free foods. in fact, many of these gluten-free options are higher in sugar and calories, so be careful to read the nutrition labels before you load up on crackers, cookies and other processed gltuen-free foods. Having options are great, but just keep in mind that other than omitting gluten, these guys are still packed with calories, sugar and fat like their gluten-ful counterparts. To truly make this a healthy lifestyle, shun as many pf the processed foods as you can, and stick to a diet of more naturally occurring foods, like fresh fruits and veggies, meats, fish, nuts and seeds.

If you simply can’t do without your favorite products and want to know what foods to eat, check out our product reviews here.

paleo sauces

Whether you’re new to a low sugar, gluten-free or Paleo diet or been at it for a while, figuring out how to spice up your dishes can be a daunting task. Sometimes we get bored or lazy when prepping food, or we simply just forget about those we loved. So to keep it all in one place, here are some of our favorites that we’ve discovered over the last few years.

These were modified from various cookbooks and online sites to fit our specific needs, so remember to always adjust seasoning to taste and adapt these to suit your needs and tastes as well. I often take them with me when we eat out, so be sure to invest in some good small containers to store individual servings in. Also, remember that these recipes won’t last as long as their store-bought versions since they’re preservative-free and will only last for a few weeks.

Enjoy! paleo sauces


Paleo Mayonnaise 

Paleo gluten, dairy, soy and preservative free mayonnaise recipe.
Makes 1 Cup
1 egg
1 TBSP Fesh lemon juice
1/4 Tsp Dry mustard
1/2 Cup Olive oil
1/2 Cup Flaxseed oil

Blend egg, lemon and mustard in blender for 3-5 seconds. Continue blending as you add oils. Blend till thick.
Store in air tight container for up to 5-7 days.


If you’ve been following the news over the last year about the success of crowd funding sites, you know how life changing they have been for so many people. From the school bus monitor (bullied by some obnoxious middle schoolers), who was shocked when the country pitched in to raise more than $750,000 for her to go on vacation, to web developers, coffee shops, filmmakers and more, crowd funding has taken the small business and consumer grant-a-wish world by storm.

So while it might seem like a piece of cake to launch a crowd funding program, I spent a lot of time researching what makes a program successful. Why would someone want to support my cause? Would my message be clear, concise and compelling? Would you even care? Maybe you wouldn’t love it as much as we do?

Insert a bit of anxiety.

But then I realized that was all silly crap I was creating in my mind, and I decided to just go for it. So we set up a Gofundme acct to help grow our little company, Happybelly Box! Our goal is to grow the business so customers all across the country can have access to yummy, allergy-friendly foods. No more food deserts or areas without access to safe allergy-free foods if we can grow this thing.

Here’s where we need your help. We need to cover the cost of packaging design, buying the inventory, paying dedicated staffers to help ship the goods and to spread the word.

You can visit our funding page here and if you’re inclined to help, I’ll love ya forever 🙂

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Here are 5 Steps for starting a gluten-free life from our friends at GIG, the Gluten Intolerance Group. They are an AMAZING resource for those of us living without gluten, so head over to their site for more helpful info. They’ve also supplied us with a list of GIG approved/gluten-free certified restaurants across the US, which are those which meet their strict standards for handling and prepping gluten-free foods to ensure a minimized risk of gluten cross contamination.
1. Omit obvious gluten-containing foods from your diet, such as cereals, breads, and pasta.
Try eggs, cream of rice, or fruit for breakfast. Substitute rice cakes, rice, potatoes, or corn tortillas for breads and pastas.
Have sherbet or fruit for dessert.
Use vinegar and oil on salads instead of pre-made, bottled dressings. Drink milk, 100 percent fruit juice, coffee, or teas.
2. Read food labels for less-obvious sources of gluten and learn what to watch out for.
Avoid anything you think is suspect.
Be patient as you learn the terminology and look at food and food preparation in a new way. To remain positive and focused, stay
connected with someone at a local GIG support group.
3. Try calling or writing to a food manufacturer.
In doing this, make sure you use the proper terms and be very specific in what you are asking.
4. Look at products you may have never thought of as containing gluten: medicines, chewing gum, and toothpaste.
Consider cross-contamination issues such as sharing toasters and foods like mayonnaise, margarine, and jam that may get contaminated through use.
5.  Explore new foods that are naturally gluten-free.
There are many gluten-free grains you may not have tried before, like sorghum, quinoa, teff, and buckwheat.
Often when some doors close, others open. Look at your gluten-free diet as an opportunity to discover new healthy foods and exotic cuisines.

And remember, diligence is key to your health! Read labels, and be weary of those which claim to be Gluten-free, but state that they’re made on equipment which also processes wheat and gluten-containing products. You can read more about that in a recent post here.

This is a chance for you to take control of your health and feel better than you probably ever have in your life so far. Follow these steps closely, and try to skip processed foods as much as possible. Keep your gluten-free snacks to a minimum and focus on the basics: fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, fish and meats and start exploring the many wonderful recipes online. We have some here, and there are plenty more to discover along your new gluten-free journey.

Here’s a Gluten free deal to take advantage of, and on behalf of products we love too!

Enjoy an almost 50% savings off Hail Merry’s Macaroons (these little guys are fave around here and a sure fire way to satisfy your sweet cravings without totally reversing all the good you’ve done on a healthy eating path). They’re RAW, Gluten Free and Low Glycemic – woot!

Plus they’re certified by the Non GMO Project. Just another reason to love these guys 🙂


The Fine Print

Limit 1 deal per customer.
Valid for residents in all 50 states.
Cannot be combined with any other promotions from Hail Merry.
This is an exclusive voucherless deal, so you can sit back and relax while your Hail Merry macaroons are shipped directly to your door!
All orders will be shipped 3 business days after purchased.






Gluten free goodies sure to please adults and kids alike!

My son’s favorite are the Almond Pecan Crunch which are a gluten and dairy free cluster of almonds, pecans and cashews sweetened with a touch of sugar and brown rice syrup. Due to the use of rice syrup they aren’t grain free, but they’re gluten and dairy free, vegan and contain no preservatives.

Here’s a copy of their nutritional info pulled from their site:

Ingredients: Almonds, Brown Rice Syrup, Pecans, Cashews, Organic Sugar, Sea Salt, and Sunflower Oil.


Nut Cluster Varieties:

There are several other varieties of nut clusters, including a chocolate drizzled version which is still gluten free, but contains milk chocolate. You can link to their nutritional info here and read about their other varieties including  TRUENORTH – Chocolate Nut Crunch, TRUENORTH – Cashew Crunch (dairy free) and TRUENORTH – Peanut Crunch (also dairy free).

Click the image below to check out their site and find out where you can buy them and be sure to check out more reviews here.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave your comments below!


If you’re looking for a way to try some delicious gluten-free goodies at a discount, then head on over to Gluten-free saver today and save 40% of Enjoy Life’s Variety Pack of their BRAND NEW Plentils! This is a great way to try something new and save some cash while doing so.

Here are some quick highlights of the deal, and you can click the image below to head on over to Gluten-free Saver and buy your deal.


The unique recipe results in a protein-packed, crunchy experience that’s bursting with flavor.  Plus, these great-tasting “better-for-you” chips contain 40% less fat than the average potato chip!

Plentils are free of the 8 most common allergens and are made in a dedicated gluten and nut-free facility, which means you can have the added confidence that you and your family can eat Enjoy Life products without worries of cross-contamination.

Receive one large, 4 oz. bag and one .8 oz snack-sized bag of the following Plentil flavors:

checkmark Light Sea Salt Plentils
checkmark Dill & Sour Cream Plentils
checkmark Garlic Parmesan Plentils
checkmark Margherita Pizza Plentils
checkmark FREE Shipping
checkmark Added Bonus: Get 2 Plentils Chip Clips


What do you get when you cross a fuel saving hybrid with a large plastic banana? A bananamobile of course!

If you live in the Austin or Dallas Fort Worth areas, and you aren’t yet buying from Greenling, you’re missing out on some of the freshest and best tasting local produce, delivered to your door! Currently, Greenling delivers to Austin and San Antonio with plans for Houston on the horizon, and according to the founder, Mason Arnold, they don’t plan to stop there.  Ultimately, he would like to expand the service nationwide.

“We’ve developed a system that’s a just-in-time inventory, so it reduces the time it takes for food to get from the farm to the table by more than half,” Arnold says. “We’re delivering a more nutritious product, and we’re able to deliver it much faster. We think everyone in the nation should have this available.”

But Greenling is not just about local produce. In fact, they are about fresh, healthy and delicious food. Period.

From their Local Box, which is delivered weekly and packed with the freshest local produce you can imagine, to their fully stocked online shop, you can browse from hundreds of products, including many gluten-free options! I’ve sampled some of their brands, and will follow up with product reviews this week, so until then, here are some quick tips on how to start taking advantage of their amazing services.  And remember, everything Greenling sells is either Certified Organic, or locally sourced and sustainably grown. So you can feel good about the food you’re eating, thanks to Greenling.


Connecting you with local farmers, every week!

With their Local Box, Greenling connects you with the freshest, best produce you can find. Local Boxes are delivered either weekly or twice monthly, bringing you farm fresh foods, delivered to your door, for about the same price as you would pay in the grocery store. And the best part? Your dollars stay local and help farmers continue to farm Organically, helping you to feel better and keeping all the harmful side effects of non-organic farming away from your table.

Greenling’s partner farmers are all local, Organic Texas farmers. Check out their list of featured local farmers  here.


In a hurry, or not much of a chef? Let Greenling do the work for you!


Be sure to check out their prepackaged meal plans;  listed  as “Recipe Kits”, these little guys are super handy and include apps, 1 Meal, 2 Meal, juicing, breakfast kits and more. Greenling has done a fantastic job of covering many special dietary needs, and they don’t disappoint to that effect with their Recipe Kits either. You can browse the ingredients on their kits here, and while they don’t currently have it broken down by gluten-free options, I’m  happy to say that they have plans to build a criteria to search by ‘gluten-free” items soon!

Healthy, allergy-free friendly Shop

Looking for healthy, fresh and delicious foods from local companies? Once again, Greenling doesn’t disappoint! With hundreds of products lovingly made by local companies, Greenling features some of the tastiest homemade products we’ve tried. With Vegan, gluten-free bread that my son devoured, to a gluten-free brownie that my husband swore was the best he’s tried yet, their products are fresh, healthy and delicious.

Browse their gluten-free items in the shop here; be sure to choose “Shop” then “Grocery” and you will see the image for gluten free items on the next page.

Here’s a snapshot of the menu option listing their gluten-free items:

So head on over to Greenling now, and sign up to view their amazing local and delicious selections today! Note that the Local Boxes are delivered on either a weekly or bi-weely schedule, but you can shop any of their other items as often as you like.

Here’s a quick video of Greenling’s founder, Mason Arnold sharing why he founded Greenling, and what shopping with Greenling does to help ensure better health, better farming practices, and safer food conditions.


Still have questions? Check out these quick tips on Greenling’s Local Box from their site:

What is a Local Box, anyway?

Our Local Box is a weekly changing selection of seasonal, sustainably grown produce, fresh from local farms! You’ll receive 8-10 different local fruits and veggies, along with a list of where they came from and suggestions on how to use them. More on the Local Box here.

What if we don’t deliver to your zip code?

Oh noes! We’re sorry about that. We track every zip code entered so we can gauge interest when we are ready to expand our delivery area. Perhaps try a friend or family member’s address that might be able to accept the order for you?

When will I get my Local Box?

Your delivery day is determined by your zip code – in order to route as sustainably as possible, we visit each area of town once per week. Once you create your account, we’ll let you know your next available delivery day, and you can choose a later date if you’d like. More on delivery specifics here.


Hopefully you’ve already stopped reading this and headed over to Greenling by now, but if not, please go now – you will thank me for it later!


This relatively new Gluten-free resource hit the market running; it’s owned by General Mills and is their means for distributing information about their variety of gluten-free products which they’ve launched over the last couple years. In fact, in the last three years, General Mills — best known for Cheerios, Betty Crocker and that wheat-filled Pillsbury Doughboy — has put gluten-free labels on more than 300 products already made without gluten, reformulated the recipes of five Chex cereals and introduced gluten-free dessert and pancake mixes. Happy days for those of us raising allergic children!

And as many people continue to wonder, why has the rate of gluten allergies and sensitivities been on the rise? 

“It’s not just that we’re better at finding it,” says Dr. Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “It truly has become more common.”

Comparing blood samples from the 1950s to the 1990s, Murray found that young people today are nearly five times as likely to have celiac disease, for reasons he and others researchers cannot explain. And it’s on the rise not only in the U.S. but also in other places where the disease was once considered rare, like Mexico and India. “We don’t know where it’s going to end,” Murray says. “Celiac disease has public health consequences.” And therefore, it has a market.

And that market is growing. According to a recent Nielsen report on consumer trends, the volume of gluten-free products sold in the past year is up 37 percent. Spins, a market-research-and-consulting firm for the natural-products industry, says the gluten-free market is a $6.3 billion industry and growing, up 33 percent since 2009.
So what do I like about Glutenfreely? Well, for one, they’ve placed a focus on providing delicious, gluten-free products for those with Celiac and/or Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and have repurposed their recipes to make them available. While I myself avoid all grains, I’m raising a gluten-free 8 year old who is grateful for gluten-free cereals, protein bars and snacks that go into his lunch box occasionally. If you follow my blog, you know I don’t promote packaged foods, but for the purpose of raising an allergic child, I do think it’s important to keep a sense of normalcy in their lives so that they continue the path of living an allergy-free life. If you ostracize them all the time, they are less likely to follow the diet that will keep them safe and healthy for a lifetime. 

So check out Glutenfreely’s shop here and see what they’re doing to shake up the competition; or rather, to help sell the competition’s products. Yep, believe it or not, General Mills who owns Glutenfreely offers their competitors products in their shop as well. I LOVE that; have to admit – it’s a smart move on their part and I’m sure they are seeing more sales on their GF products in large part to their willingness to align with their competition and offer a comprehensive place for GF eating. In fact, it reminds me of a little idea I’m working on for Inspiredeats as well 🙂

So go ahead, browse and shop with confidence at but remember – don’t make these GF items a simple replacement for your gluten-full foods. Stick to the perimeters and eat non-packaged foods as much as possible. And when those moments hit, and  you crave a little something reminiscent of your youth, General Mills has made it clear they will be there with you along the ride to ensure healthy, gluten-free options.