Judy’s Saturday Lunch Favorite


Noodles and Company sign

Every Saturday my mom and I run errands and go shopping. We like to stop to get some lunch so it’s usually Noodles and Company. I don’t really like different types of pasta sauces; I really just prefer butter.  I am so happy they can accommodate my needs and tastes. When we are there I always get gluten-free fusilli noodles with shrimp, butter, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning. It’s so delicious!

noodles and company gf fusilli buttered noodles


Delicious Da Luciano


We had a wonderful birthday celebration for Jennie at one of the best restaurants that cater to the gluten-free world. Da Luciano, an Italian restaurant located in River Grove, Illinois, has an extensive gluten-free menu. It has a lovely atmosphere and the food is delicious. It is very rare that we can find decent-tasting Italian food, but Da Luciano has mastered the art of cooking Italian specialties gluten-free.

We ordered a variety of appetizers: fried calamari, pizza bread, and fried mozzarella wedges. I personally do not like calamari and therefore did not try it, however all the calamari-eaters at the table loved it. Judy and I enjoyed the pizza bread and the fried mozzarella wedges. You would never have known you were eating gluten-free appetizers; they were cooked to perfection and tasted amazing.

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There were nine of us at the table and five of us ordered  off of the gluten-free menu for our main entrees. We first ate salads. I enjoyed the gluten-free creamy garlic dressing, it was quite tasty. My sister and Mary G. ordered eggplant parmigiana, Judy ordered pepperoni pizza, Katie ordered spaghetti with meat sauce and I ordered veal parmigiana. I tasted some of Jennie’s eggplant parmigiana and I have to say that both the eggplant and the veal were incredible. They were served with gluten-free rotini noodles on the side with marinara sauce. The server brought the girls gluten-free garlic bread to eat with their meals and they were so happy. The dinner was outstanding.
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For dessert, I tried the Italian spumoni, Jennie had a birthday homemade cannoli, Judy and Katie both ordered cream puffs, and Mary G. sampled the tiramisu. It was a quiet dessert time as everyone thoroughly enjoyed these delicious desserts. The smiles on the faces of Mary G., Judy, and Katie were truly priceless as soon as the server brought them their gluten-free desserts. They were in “gluten-free heaven”.
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I highly suggest dining at Da Luciano. You will not be disappointed; you will leave wondering when the next time you will return. Thank you Da Luciano…thank you for the amazing gluten-free birthday celebration that all could enjoy.

Happy birthday Jennie! 🙂

Birthday Memories

Mom and Dad


Today is my birthday. I have never been one to hide my age or worry about getting older. My parents both died way too young, so my family celebrates every year!

Birthdays are a time of reflection.  I remember the wonderful birthdays I had as a kid.  Mom always made our favorite meal for dinner.  My favorite – both then and now – is pizza. Mary and I were born in rural Georgia, and at the time it was not easy to find good pizza.  My parents took my request on as a challenge.  Over the years, they perfected homemade pizza.  They made the dough and let it rise perfectly and cooked delicious sauce all day (pork sausage in the sauce is the key!).  Dad topped the pizzas with vegetables he grew all summer in his garden.

I appreciate the pizza they made me more now as a parent myself than I ever did as a kid. To think they simmered, stirred, kneaded, and baked all day in the hot early September kitchen amazes me.  It was an act of pure love.

Since my parents are sadly gone, I have tried to follow their recipe.  I laugh every time I get to the part my Mom wrote down that says, “This is a big mess, but well worth the trouble.”  I have to admit, it is tough.  They were pros.  Now that my children have Celiac Disease, making the dough gluten-free is challenging, but one of these days I will get it! Until then, my children enjoy their grandparent’s delicious sauce made from scratch and store bought gluten-free dough.

Each and every time I make homemade pizzas I fondly remember my childhood birthdays.

What are your birthday traditions?

Chef Mickey’s Breakfast Review

Here is a guest review Mary originally wrote for Alexis Salerno’s  wonderful blog, Gluten Free in Orlando.


We went to Chef Mickey’s for a fun-filled breakfast with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and,  Pluto.  I traveled with my sister and her children; there were 2 adults and 5 children ranging from ages 7 – 14.  My daughter and my nieces have Celiac Disease and my sister and I choose a gluten- free diet by choice, so there were 5 eating gluten-free from our table.

Chef Merle came to our table and brought me to the buffet to show me the variety of gluten-free foods our family could eat.  My daughter and nieces all go to the same pediatric gastroenterologist and he has recommended that the girls do not eat from buffets due to the chances of cross-contamination and their chances of getting seriously ill.  Chef Merle made all their food separately and brought it to our table.  He was so incredibly kind and truly cared about their dietary needs.  He brought the children everything they asked for- hard boiled eggs, sunny side-up eggs, fried potatoes, fruit, bacon, sausage, and kabasa sausage.  Their favorite was the gluten-free Mickey Mouse waffles which put the biggest smiles on their faces.  My sister and I shared a very tasty bacon, cheddar, tomato and spinach omelet.  The children were a little disappointed as Chef Mickey’s does not have gluten-free pancakes, and pancakes are a big hit in my house.  The food was delicious and everyone at the table was truly happy and loved their breakfast.  My daughter is normally not a waffle fan and LOVED the Mickey Mouse waffles; I tried them as well and they were the best waffles I have ever had in my life.  My daughter describes the waffles as “awesome” and has asked to return to Chef Mickey’s the next time we go to Disney World.

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Chef Merle brought out two different types of gluten-free cupcakes for the table; chocolate and carrot cake both with white frosting and sprinkles.  The girls loved the chocolate cupcakes but did not like the carrot cake ones; I think because they are partial to chocolate and vanilla.  Chef Mickey’s has a soft serve ice cream bar and the ice cream is gluten-free.  There are three options; chocolate, vanilla, and swirl.  Of course the ice cream was a big hit!  The girls chose swirl and I chose chocolate; it was a nice tasty treat.  We did not add any toppings from the ice cream bar due to contamination but we all were thrilled to have soft serve ice cream.

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Chef Mickey’s was a wonderful dining experience where the children (and adults) could meet the characters, get their autographs, and take pictures.  It is a lively experience and it was a great way to start our day’s adventure on our magical trip.  Chef Merle spread lots of pixie dust and poured his heart into bringing smiles on all our faces.  Thanks Chef Merle!

Back to School!

Jennie and Mary

Welcome to The Celiac Pack! This is our very first blog entry. 🙂

It is the first day of school for many children across the country. This can be a hard time for many children and many parents, especially those children with dietary restrictions and in our case, Celiac Disease. In addition to purchasing school supplies, clothes and shoes, we are also shopping for kid-friendly, gluten- free lunch box items. We stroll the grocery store and pass the cookie aisle, pass the bread aisle, and pass the snack-sized cracker aisle (Goldfish and Cheez-Its) and there is an immediate sadness that we feel when we know our children cannot eat all those fun things. It is funny the things they miss. Mary would do anything to eat Twizzlers, even though they were never her favorite before she was diagnosed. Katie loved Cheez-It crackers and still drools as we pass the cracker aisle. And oh Judy just loved those chocolate-chip mini muffins!

It is a definitely a challenge, however, thankfully over the last several years more gluten-free (GF) products have come out and the lunch-making process is easier. We have to really plan out our children’s lunches to make sure all the right GF products are available in the pantry. Our children do eat quite healthy with plenty of fruits and veggies, but it is a daily goal to make these lunches fun. We are constantly on a mission for kid-friendly GF food! We always incorporate a small piece of chocolate or candy, because we know they are looking across the lunchroom and see their friends eating their old favorites. It’s amazing what a couple of Hersey kisses in their own lunch boxes will do…

We are so blessed with these beautiful girls. We are lucky they were diagnosed when they were younger and live healthy lives. They are all very active with sports, school, and in their communities. As moms, we constantly think about what could have happened had they had not been diagnosed. Undiagnosed Celiac Disease can have harmful long-term complications. We accept our lunch-box woes as a challenge knowing that gluten-free foods are the “medicine” our children need.

Happy Back to School everyone! Enjoy your year! 🙂

Welcome to The Celiac Pack!

Welcome to The Celiac Pack!  We are here to promote gluten free living.  We hope you enjoy our blog!

***Everything on this blog expresses our own opinions and thoughts.  We are not medical professionals.  We are just sharing our experiences living the daily gluten free lifestyle through the eyes of moms of children with Celiac Disease and a teen and two tweens with Celiac Disease.  Always consult your physician if you have any questions.  All posts written by Mary G., Judy, and Katie are written with parental consent. ***