Back to school for gluten-free and casein-free kids brings up another important point: Art projects!

Some art supplies, such as play dough, glue, and paint, contain gluten. I wouldn’t worry so much about getting gluten on the skin, but every kid I know tends to stick their hands in their mouths at times. For this reason, play dough can be their worst enemy! Most play doughs are made from wheat flour, which means GLUTEN! Brands to watch out for are Play Doh, Crayola, Ross, and Rose Art.

Crayola Model Magic, however, is gluten-free and casein-free. Be very careful that you do not get Crayola Play Dough instead! Silly Putty is another product that is gluten-free. To avoid any problems at school, I suggest making your own play dough and providing it to your child’s teacher for use at school. Here’s the recipe:


1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tsp cooking oil
food coloring

Put all ingredients in a cooking pan and cook on low heat, stirring constantly until a ball is formed. Remove from heat. When cool, pat until smooth. Store in a baggie.


Beware of teachers using paste made of wheat flour and water. Gluten-free/casein-free certified options are:

• Elmers Glue and Glue Sticks
• Ross Glue products


Many sticker and tape products contain gluten. Here are some that are certified gluten-free:

• 3M-brand tapes, including Scotch Tape and Post-It Notes
• Rose Art-brand stickers
• Sandylion-brand stickers
• Smilemakers-brand stickers
• Mrs. Grossman’s-brand stickers


Elmers and Ross brands of paints are NOT gluten-free. Instead, look for:

• Crayola – all paints, including finger paints
• Palmer – all paints
• Prang – all paints
• Ross – except finger paints
• Elmers – except finger paints


• All common brands of pencils, pens, crayons, and markers are GF/CF
• When using milk cartons for art projects, rinse thoroughly first
• Food items used for projects, such as Cheetos, pretzels, and candy, are available in gluten-free brands
• Corn or rice macaroni is available in regular grocery stores

If there is still a worry about the products being used, have children wear latex or rubber gloves. For peace of mind, volunteer to help. And remember that communication with the teacher is the MOST IMPORTANT thing!



Since I was a child, I’ve LOVED everything made from lemons! I think back to those boxes of Lemonheads, that were once 10 cents at 7-Eleven! Other kids would buy Red Hots, Sugar Babies or Milk Duds. I LOVED the wonderful way a tangy lemon candy magically transformed my mouth!

Then there were the lemonade stands. Didn’t every kid have them? I’m sure our lemonade was actually Kool-Aid brand Lemonade, and not the real thing. My little brother and I would do this about once a year, and include No Bake Cookies, and even make a funny box with slots to stick your hands in (into slimy spaghetti) or that would produce a drawing through a slot. Kids actually paid to play with our silly box!

As I grew up, I LOVED the Lemon Meringue Pie that my mom or my grandma made! Once in a while I really got a surprise, when my daddy would give in and buy me a Hostess Lemon Pie! I’ve even been known to eat lemons, cut in slices!

When I go to family dinners or other social events, I like to take Aunt Larraine’s Lemon Fruit Salad. It’s always a favorite!

Now, I’m eating gluten-free. At first I though my lemon days were over. Then my big sis bought me a package of gluten-free lemon cookies from a gluten-free shop. I ate the whole package in one day!

Now, I’ve been creating various things that I really crave. This new recipe for lemon cake is just delicious! Lemon Zinger Cake. If you’re a lemon lover like me – and eat gluten free (and even casein-free), you’ve got to try it!

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When I was in the hospital in January of 2007, and learned about my diagnosis of Celiac Disease, I spent several days without eating anything. I was given nourishment through a PICC line, which is short for peripherally inserted central catheter. The nurses referred to my TPN (total parenteral nutrition) as my “milkshake” that was fed through the PICC line.

Along with the TPN, I was given several other things each day. Potassium, iron, even a couple of bags of blood. The nurses referred to my IV pole as my “Christmas Tree.” There were so many bags and IVs!

I’d talked with a dietitian and was looking forward to the time when I’d be well enough to be at home, and I began daydreaming about the first meal I would prepare for myself.

I thought about frying sliced potatoes in olive oil and flavoring them with seasoning salt. I also planned to have a grilled chicken breast, with fresh squeezed lemon on it. I thought of the veggies many restaurants serve, including broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, done just right – not too cooked; not too crispy.

When I was well enough to be released from the hospital, I DID go home and fix that exact meal for my first dinner.

While recovering in the hospital I had time to think of many ideas about the foods that I would be able to eat, on a gluten-free diet. I was excited for the chance to live a better, more healthy life, in a gluten-free world!

I’m so happy to be able to create foods that I can eat, and also help others with similar problems, by creating my gluten-free recipes. My life IS SO MUCH BETTER, and yours can be too!



princes pizza pie












Pizza is such a huge part of our American culture. We order in for special occasions such as sports events on TV, birthdays, holidays, watching DVD movies and even just a quiet Sunday night at home. We go out to pizza following fun occasions, or just because of our cravings!

The gluten-free world puts a damper on our regular pizza habits. I remember craving pizza from my hospital bed, after my celiac diagnosis! One of my hospital roommates had kids who would sneak in fast foods and pizza for her to eat. That was just CRAZY for me to deal with!

I did learn to buy rice pizza shells from specialty/organic stores, and make my own individual pizzas. Or make my own crust. Larraine’s Pizza Pie My love for pizza goes on… and I keep trying new things. This pizza pie has been a hit with my own family! They love the flavor of the crust, and the way the different toppings add to the over-all pizza! Have cheese or no cheese, depending on whether you are eating casein free or not.

Just because we live in a gluten-free world, it doesn’t mean we have to go without foods we love!


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When my kids got their school forms and fees package in the mail each summer, I just wanted to crawl in a hole and ignore the whole thing! Getting ready for a new school year, and new teachers is not fun!

For a child who requires extra attention because of being gluten-free and/or casein free can cause more stress! Here I’m going to try to make this Back to School process a little bit easier!

The key to making your child’s needs work is COMMUNICATION!

Start with writing a letter to the teacher. I will give you a sample form letter you may use, or to give you and idea of what to write to the teacher.apple-jacket-multicoloured-300x225

Dear Teacher,

My child has some dietary restrictions and special needs. Please share this information with anyone who will be working with my child in your classroom.

[Child] has a gluten-free, casein-free diet, which means no foods or snacks that include grains, including wheat, barley, rye and oats, as well as milk-based (cows or goats) dairy products. For more information, the best resource for this diet is http://www.gfcfdiet.com/. They have a good list of acceptable items.

We will provide all snacks for [child], as well as any birthday or holiday treats. We will also provide substitutes for Play Doh and any food that is needed for art and craft projects. We request at least two day’s notice so we can prepare what is needed.

If you would like to keep something on hand that [child] can have, here are some suggestions:

• Any fresh fruits except strawberries
• Skittles or Gummies
• 100% juice bars or popsicles
• Envirokids Berry cereal bars
• Marshmallows
• Corn or Rice pasta for crafts

For drinks we prefer water, but also use 100% fruit juice. Rice and almond milk are also good substitutes.

We would appreciate you making our child’s dietary restrictions known to the other students in the classroom, and emphasize the importance of not sharing their food with [child]. For any questions or concerns please contact us. [Insert personal contact information here.] We are looking forward to working with you this school year.

Labels: You can make or buy labels, stickers and patches that say “gluten-free,” “casein-free,” and other things such as “egg-free.” A good place to look is at Jeeto!. . . Put labels on lunchboxes, backpacks, and even coats and jackets. You can laminate them and use a ring to attatch them.

Your Child and Awareness: Make sure your children understand their diet restrictions. My granddaughter asks everyone who offers her food or candy, “Is it gluten-free?” Since not everyone knows what that means, she is also trained to explain that it’s wheat, or anything with flour. As she learns more, she adds to her conversations about the food that she is offered. It’s amazing how fast other kids catch on too. There have been times when she is offered something, and her friends say “No! She can’t eat that!”

That’s it – for my Back to School posts! Wishing you all a very happy and safe school year