Meet the newest addition to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)’s Athletes for Awareness, Kendra Nielsam. Kendra was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. Almost a year before her diagnosis she signed up to compete in the November 7th 2009 Ironman. After discovering she had celiac disease she decided to swim, bike and run to raise awareness and funding for celiac disease. The money she is raising is going to the NFCA.
Kendra chose the NFCA because in addition to the goal of securing diagnosis for one million people over the next five years, we are also working to double the size of the gluten-free marketplace. Both of these goals are achieved through raising awareness and helping the general public, medical community, and food industry see how many celiacs are out here and what they need.
Kendra is heading to Florida for the 2009 Ironman competition this Friday, October 30th. Before she leaves she will receive a send off at the NFCA’s San Francisco Gluten Free Cooking Spree. In addition to enjoying gluten-free hors d’oeuvres, desserts, beer and wine; getting a chance to meet outstanding members of the celiac and gluten-free community like Kendra; attendees will also have a chance to win a gift basket filled with some of Kendra’s favorite gluten-free products.
Kendra took some time out of her busy work and training schedule to review some of the products that will be in the gift basket and Gluten Free Specialty Market owned by Melanie Weir who is generously donating the gift basket.
Lara Bars (cashew cookie & lemon)
Lara Bars are a great snack bar to keep with you when you’re traveling, or out running errands when you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to find gluten free foods to eat. They’re made with very few ingredients and make you feel like you’re eating real food even though it came in a wrapper. The Cashew Cookie bar (made of just cashews and dates!) has a 1 to 4 ratio of protein to carbs, which is great for a post-workout recovery snack. I always eat a Cashew Cookie bar after a tough workout if I’m not going to be able to have a real meal for awhile. I even bring them with me to triathlons to eat as soon as I finish the race, since I usually can’t eat any of the post-race food. The Lemon Bar (dates, almonds, cashews, and lemon) is a little tart so it is different from most snack bars, and variety is always good. It really reminds me of the lemon bars my mom makes.
No Oatmeal Cookies
When I first went GF I thought I was mostly going to miss oatmeal cookies. In addition to having to avoid gluten, my doctor advised me to avoid oats. The No Oatmeal cookie is a good prepackaged treat when you’ve really earned a big cookie. They’re not exactly the same as oatmeal cookies, of course, but overall they leave me with the same happy feeling.
Bob’s Red Mill Creamy Rice Cereal
I love eating a hot breakfast every day, even in the summer. When I had to give up oatmeal, I wasn’t sure what to do. Creamy rice hot cereal is a perfect substitute. I cook it up with some protein powder and a banana and a little cinnamon and a splash of milk. It smells and tastes like banana bread. It’s warm and comforting and it’s a great source of iron too.
Buckwheat is so much fun to eat. Who’d have thought it wasn’t actually related to wheat? This gluten free grain is rounder and bigger than rice and it cooks quickly too. A good source of protein and fiber. I like this buckwheat better than toasted buckwheat (kasha) which has a stronger flavor. Eden’s buckwheat is mild and works well as a side dish with just about anything.
Justin’s Almond Butter Packets
Justin’s prepackaged individual servings of almond butter and peanut butter are great to bring on long bike rides (or car rides). It’s real food and a good source of protein and fat. You can eat it by squeezing it right out of the package into your mouth, or squeeze it onto some Corn Thins for an on-the-go sandwich.
Mary’s Gone Crackers Sticks and Twigs
Mary’s Gone Crackers are amazingly delicious – and not just in that “this are good, for being gluten free” way. I love the curry flavored ones, and so did everyone in my family who got to try them before the bag got devoured. Unless you’ve got serious willpower, you might want to make sure someone else is around to share the bag with you, or you may end up eating them all at once! The sticks and twigs shapes leave each bite with a slightly different texture/shape in your mouth which make them fun to eat too.
Corn Thins are the new rice cake. Just 11 calories each! My non GF friends eat them too. Packed with fiber, they are the perfect complement to some nut butter, or just a great snack by themselves when you want something carb-y to eat. They work well as a low-cal chip substitute with salsa and guacamole too.
Lundberg Brown Rice Spaghetti
As an athlete, pasta is a nice meal when I’m worn out from a long workout, or just a long day at work. Lundberg’s brown rice spaghetti is a good source of protein and fiber. It cooks well and is perfect for anything you’d use old fashion spaghetti for. Throw some veggies on it, or just some tomato sauce. Very versatile.
Gluten Free Specialty Market
Melanie Weir’s GF shop in midtown Sacramento is the place to go for all your GF needs. She listens to customer suggestions, which is always a good trait of a small shop owner, but more importantly she answers customers’ questions about the gluten free diet or about celiac disease and makes the newbies feel normal again. The shop is full of fabulous GF items that you can’t find anywhere else. Cereals, whole grains, snack bars, cookies, pastas, salad dressings, frozen goods– you name it, it’s there. The shop has a good variety of each GF item too – you won’t find just one brand of a pie crust mix for example. Melanie will help you figure out which one you want. Depending on what you like, Melanie will direct you to what else she thinks you’ll like best. GF Specialty Market also supports two local GF kitchens by stocking their items (Azna Gluten Free and Davis Natural Food Works) which is especially handy for folks who aren’t able to get to either of those kitchens on a regular basis. The GF Specialty Market makes gluten free living so much easier and more manageable. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to walk into a shop and buy anything you want without worrying about whether gluten is hidden in the product. The shop also caters to other food allergies as well.
The next two items will not be included in the basket, but deserve a review and would help out the other two local GF kitchens that I mentioned above!
Azna Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls
Azna’s cinnamon rolls are amazingly delicious — both GF and vegan. They’re sold both as regular size rolls and as minis. I like to buy the box of minis and eat two at a time. I can’t believe each one only has 60 calories. I keep them frozen and microwave them for a few seconds and then magically they have that fresh out of the oven taste. The frosting is fabulous and perfectly complements the roll.
Natural Food Works Brownie
This is a wonderful brownie that doesn’t taste GF at all. It’s moist and so chocolaty. It’s the perfect texture — a little cakey and a little fudgey. Nobody will believe they’re gluten free.
Even if you cannot attend the event, you still can help raise awareness of Celiac Disease. Follow the links below to learn how you can help.
Follow her progress on her blog and on twitter @ironkendra.
Make a donation through the Janus Charity Challenge.
Spread the word to help Kendra Nielsam raise awareness of celiac disease and support her in the November 7th Ironman Florida!