NOTICE: This blog is no longer being updated, so medical information may no longer be accurate.

Gluten-Free Easily and a Menu Plan

Originally, I was going to forgo publishing a menu plan this week as we are cleaning out our deep freezer to make rooms for the holidays (I’m little afraid to see what’s buried in that arctic abyss!), but the lovely Erin gave me a wonderful idea when she shared on my Facebook page that she also has a sister who was recently diagnosed with celiac disease.

Well, what are sisters and girlfriends for, if not for friendship and support? 😀

So, for this week’s menu plan, I will be sharing some simple “just gluten-free” recipes that can easily fit into any busy lifestyle.

But first, I want to share my number #1 recommended resource for the newly gluten-free: Shirley Braden over at Gluten-Free Easily.  Note the name of her blog: Gluten Free Easily.

Gluten free since June 2003, Shirley leads a celiac/gluten intolerance group in Virginia.  Her passion is educating folks on gluten issues and showing how eating gluten free can be easy if you focus on “real” foods versus processed and specialty foods.  read more about Shirley and her GFE Approach here.

Shirley is the quintessential gluten-free mom: warm, cozy comfort waiting with arms wide open for those of us stuck in the dark shadows of despair and confusion over this brave new gluten-free world.  Shirley was my saving grace three years ago when I finally decided to quit cheating.  I can vividly recall the first time I came across her blog and the wealth of information she shares.  I would spend hours pouring over her blog and slowly but surely, I began to feel as though everything would be okay afterall.  In fact, it was better than okay…I can now say with utmost certainty that I am blessed to be gluten-free and I will never go back to eating the way I used to, not even if a scientific cure for celiac is discovered.  I already have my cure and it’s called Real Food.

I love you Shirley and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do. 😀

So I have a few easy homework assignments for gluten-free newbies this week – I promise, it’ll be painless:

Homework Assignment #1: Read Shirley’s article, Top 10 Reasons to Live GFE

Homework Assignment #2:  Download the following tip sheets from Shirley and print them out, they’re real brain-savers for the newly gluten-free!

Top 20 Things You Should Know About Gluten

50+ Gluten-Free Foods You Can Eat Today

50+ Meals that are GFE

50+ GFE Sweet Treats

The GFE Pantry

Homework Assignment #3: Shirley doesn’t just share recipes on her website, she also shows her readers how to live this lifestyle to the fullest.  She does this not only by inviting us along on her worldly travels, but through some of the most helpful discussions.  Case in point, Shirley just published a fantastic post, HONOR your Body: How to Recover After Being “Glutened” (definitely read that post, including the comment section, great stuff!).

This photo of Shirley was taken on the way to Oceanside, California last month for our gluten-free girls weekend.

Homework Assignment #4: Watch Food, Inc. if you haven’t already done so.  I’m not kidding when I say this, that documentary singlehandedly and forever changed the way I view food and in many ways, it changed how I view celiac disease too (I STILL can’t go into a “normal” grocery store without hearing the film’s introductory music in my head, LOL!).

Monday: Chicken and Rice Casserole

Tuesday: Slowcooker Sloppy Joes (I recommend Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns)

Wednesday: Spaghetti (I recommend Tinkyada Gluten-Free Pastas for great taste and texture.  All of Classico’s Red and White Sauces are gluten-free)

Thursday: Garlic Lime Chicken

Friday:  Loaded Bacon and Cheddar Baked Potato Soup and Salad

Saturday: Chicken (or Turkey) Enchilada Casserole

Sunday: Blackeye Pea, Ham and Chicken Soup

*For more easy and delicious recipe ideas, check out the full GFE Recipe Index!

Lastly, I want to let you know that Shirley is hosting a fun holiday event this year called Home for the Holidays, Gluten-Free Style.  I can’t even describe how hard it is for me to keep my flapper zipped on a few of the very exciting giveaways right now (details coming soon), but I will say this…you will not want to miss it! 😀

Connect with the lovely Shirley:

By Subscribing to Gluten Free Easily

Follow GFE on Twitter

Like GFE on Facebook

Do you have a special story about Shirley and her approach to living gluten free easily?  Or perhaps a question that you’d appreciate Shirley’s take on?  If so, please leave a comment – I believe that sharing our stories and engaging in helpful discussions are two of the most powerful tools we can utilize when Grieving Gluten and Moving Through the Stages of Grief Process (yes, it does happen and it’s completely normal).

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  1. Classico's is gluten free?????? I did NOT realize this!! We buy ONLY that brand!!!! Interesting!!!!! The reason we buy ONLY that brand is because it doesn't give me a tummy ache. LOL. I haven't gotten tested for gluten sensitivity….I really should! Once I became Primal I thought it a miracle that my stomach problems vanished. the ONLY time I have issues is when I stray from that diet.

  2. Michelle Olejar says

    I LOVE both you and Shirley!!! I consider you both friends and I hope that doesn't sound stalker weird. I want to share something with both of you. Recently I had a friend who is going through a medical nightmare inquire about my gluten free lifestyle that I often post about on FB. I don't blog but my life is an open book to my friends whom I choose very carefully on the social network. She is pouring over the information I forwarded her (your website, Shirley's and many others) and she literally feels it is going to save her life and a couple of family members. How does it feel to know you saved someone? It isn't just one person, it is a hundredfold. That is what we do every time we pay it forward and share our story with others. We plant the seed of knowledge and we water by just living our life and sharing our stories. I am grateful to all those who have paved the way previously, planted the seed and watered. How can you help but call those people friends? How can you not love them from the bottom of your heart. I am not capable of blogging at this point in my life and I am not sure I even have the gift. But I plan on being passionate about paying it forward everyday of my life. With much love and thanks to my angels Heidi and Shirley xoxo.

    • Michelle, Michelle…I hope you know what an absolute angel you are.

      And I agree with you on the pay it forward concept. I did not just wake up one day and start comprehending the medical research I was reading. I have been very fortunate to have had some renowned experts spend a great deal of time talking with me and answering my questions until it all began to finally make sense. Dr. Ron Hoggan (author of Dangerous Grains), Dr. Rodney Ford, Dr. Vikki Petersen (just to name a few). My hope is to pay their generosity forward by sharing what they've taught me. I remember those years when NOTHING made sense to me and when I don't understand something, well, I have a hard time getting behind it (as evidenced by my cheating). I did not understand how gluten was causing me harm – especially since it didn't make me feel sick when I ate it – but now that I know…

      When you know better, you do better. And I really, truly believe that from the depths of my being, which is a big reason why I'm so passionate about information and education. And I suspect that's a big part of why we all do what we do, be it on a blog, via social networking, writing a book, etc., etc. That, and once you start to finally become the "real you," when you begin to heal and are able to connect with your own body…you want everyone to feel the exact same way.

      You and I really are kindred spirits. "Planting seeds" is what I say every singe day. 😀

      Forever your friend,
      Heidi xo

    • Michelle, you are a doll and clearly someone who is changing lives, too. Like I said in my reply to Heidi, it takes ALL of us. And I love that expression "planting seeds"! Planting seeds is so much more effective than trying to clobber someone over the head, isn't it? 😉 All of us need to come to living gluten free, eating real food, etc. on our terms, so giving others the info and letting them walk their own path is key. Most often in life, we have to learn our lessons ourselves to really benefit from them. Our moms and dads, friends, etc. can tell us that something works a certain way, but we have to make the mistakes, see the results, and find better solutions (often with their help, but largely on our own) to really "get them." Thanks for all you are doing, dear, and for being such a fantastic friend/advocate/seed planter!

      Many xo!


  3. Love, love love, Shirley and everything you say is true. She is the greatest resource. But I have to add that you are one of my go to resources too. You have such a quick and inquisitive mind and never stop until you get an answer. You are one of the best advocates in the gluten-free world–right there next to dear Shirley. Good luck with that arctic abyss.

    • Aw shucks Wendy, are you trying to make me blush? 😉

      And missie, you are a rock star gluten-free advocate yourself, you simply amaze me in all that you do! How are the kids doing at college, is it getting easier for them to navigate the food situations?


    • Thank you many times over, Wendy! So glad I'm part of this gf blogging network with you, Heidi, and all the others who share each and every day with such love and compassion. 🙂 Celiacs in the House and all your other community outreach efforts for gluten-free awareness and real food promotion are really making a difference to me and countless others!



  4. Hi There Heidi~

    What a great way to honor Shirley. I completely agree…she is such a considerate, kind person and sets a wonderful example for bloggers. She is warm, caring and supportive. She has also been very kind to me and I will always remember that! We need more bloggers like Shirley out there who respond to emails and take the time to really listen to readers. She's my favorite! But like Wendy said, you are also such a fantastic resource for the gluten-free population. Thank you both for your dedication to health and education. Keep up the great work!!

    Be Well,


    • Hi Amber!

      Shirley does set a wonderful example for bloggers, I just wish I could keep up with her. Truly, I don't know how she does it all, but I'm sure glad she does. 😀


    • Thank you so much, Amber! You always make me feel incredibly special with your kind words. I'm grateful to have you as a friend and a fellow gluten-free blogger at The Tasty Alternative. 🙂



  5. I still can't believe you wrote this post about me and my approach, Heidi. You have made me blush and click away after reading a bit and starting to comment with my thanks many times over. You are way, way too generous, my dear, and I thank you for your beyond sweet words and for sharing my gfe approach with your readers! You humble me. Truly. But I totally agree with Wendy's thoughts on your role in our gluten-free blogging world, Heidi. When my eyes have long ago glazed over from looking at the technical stuff in medical data, you are still there not only reading that material, but "eating it up." Then you kindly summarize the info or rewrite it so the rest of us can "get it". And you do it all in a fun and compelling way … that's so critical if the material is going to be read and digested (pun intended)! I believe that all of us who are gluten-free bloggers and readers/commenters are doing a very important job and complement each other well in our areas of interest and expertise and our own personal styles. Now what time will the Chicken and Rice casserole be ready tonight? That's such amazing comfort food and I haven't served it in a good while. 😉



  6. Well, this is one total and complete LOVE FEST!! Absolutely everything you wrote about Shirley is spot on the nose, Heidi. She has been my role model, my friend, my grammar and spell-checker, and my biggest inspiration since the beginning. She made me feel a part of this community before I even was. BUT, I have to agree with everyone else too. YOU are also one of the most amazing advocates I know as well. You are making big changes in the gluten free world and you do not even realize it. You are changing lives every single day. Feel proud of yourself as well, Heidi. You too deserve the accolades, just like the Stupendous Shirley!

    Love both of you crazy gals and so proud to call both of you my great friends!

    xoxoxoxox to the moon and back.



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