Spring Reading

Posted in reading, Uncategorized on March 13th, 2012 by Betsy – 4 Comments

Thanks to a wonderful spring break trip to Miami, I had a little time to do some good reading.  I’m trying to take advantage of quiet moments, without a crying baby that needs my attention.  Word on the street is that life changes a lot once baby enters the world.

The President and the Assassin, Scott Miller: This biography documents the lives of President William McKinley and the relatively unknown anarchist who assassinated him, Leon Czolgosz.  If you were a fan of Erik Larson’s writing style in In the Garden of Beasts, then you will enjoy this read.  I love feeling like I’m reading a story but unknowingly digesting a big chunk of history.  McKinley is a president that we don’t hear about all that often and tend to brush over in U.S. History classrooms, but under his leadership, U.S. foreign policy changed entirely, as we became actively involved in China, Hawaii, Cuba and other foreign countries.  Also, the theory of anarchism is fascinating and Miller does a nice job explaining the ideas behind the anarchist leaders at the time and painting the picture of the clash between unions and big business at the turn of the 20th century.  All you history lovers should pick this one up!

Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Before we moved to Atlanta, I taught African Studies in D.C. and Baltimore.  This historically rich continent often goes unnoticed in our classrooms, yet there is so much to learn about it.  This novel takes place in a politically unstable Nigeria and is told through the perspective of a 15-year old girl named Kambili.  While this book is fiction, Purple Hibiscus offers a personal illustration of the long term effects of colonialism on many different aspects of an individual’s life, including religion, politics, business and wealth.  Even if you don’t know anything about Nigeria, this book is an easy read, full of beautiful prose and unique characters.  If you read Things Fall Apart in high school, check out Purple Hibiscus for another representation of the western world being haphazardly transplanted onto the continent of Africa.

I am the Messenger, Markus Zusak: I chose this young adult book because I recently devoured and loved The Book Thief, written by the same author. While The Book Thief was one of my favorite books of the last year, I am the Messenger was not as brilliant to me.  (I have now vowed not to pick up a book by the same author immediately after reading one of his/her other books.  I think it sets me up for disappointment.)  I found the story to be a bit far fetched, the main character being a 19-year old cab driver, who, after witnessing a bank robbery, is ordered by an anonymous person to do things for other people.  I just had a little trouble believing this one or suspending disbelief.  An interesting read, with a thoughtful message, but not at the top of my list.

Do you have any recommendations for me?  Of course I’m already putting together my (pre-July 3rd) summer reads wish list!  My sister-in-law, Alden, sent me Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing up Bebe, so that’s next on my list.  It’s the first child-raising book I’ve dared to read and it’s very amusing and useful.  (Of course, the snob in me, loves the fact that she used to write for the Wall Street Journal.)

Gluten Free College Experiences

Posted in Uncategorized on March 2nd, 2012 by Betsy – 1 Comment

I need your help!  I’m writing an article for Living Without Magazine about being gluten-free in college.  Since I was not GF when I was in college, I would love both parents’ and students’ thoughts and anecdotes about their own personal experiences.

  • How did you choose your college/university?
  • How did you investigate beforehand?
  • Which school did you pick and how has it lived up to your expectations?
  • How have you been surprised?  Disappointed?
  • Is there anything that has changed since you’ve been at school?
  • What are your favorite dorm snacks?
  • Parents, how did you best support your child while not being overbearing?

Thanks for your help!  Feel free to leave your insights in the comment section on the blog or email me directly at betsymetcalf@gmail.com.


Yummy Spoonfuls Baby Food…yes, I’m writing about baby food

Posted in Atlanta, GF product, pregnancy, vegetarian on March 1st, 2012 by Betsy – 4 Comments

I’ve never thought much about baby food before but now that I am going to be bringing a life into this world, I guess it’s something I need to think about.  I worry about what I put into my body so it’s only fitting that I should be concerned with what my baby gets in her body.

When I heard from the folks at Yummy Spoonfuls, I thought this could be a great opportunity to learn a little more about baby food.  (It’s a thrilling topic, I know.)

Yummy Spoonfuls makes organic baby food in 25 flavors and is committed to, “providing premium, organic, nutritious and fresh baby food that tastes good to even the most finicky baby.”  Each container of their food is made from scratch with all natural ingredients. Their products are free from salt, preservatives, gluten, dairy, additives, sugars and/or fillers. Sounds pretty healthy to me.  But will the little ones like it???

Connor pondering over how he feels about this new food.

Since my daughter is not yet here, I asked my friend, Meredith if she would be willing to try out Yummy Spoonfuls on her 7-month old son, Connor.

Here’s what Meredith had to say about Yummy Spoonfuls: Out of the three flavors (apple, pear, and butternut squash), Connor loved and gobbled down all of them, but I’d say he had a special liking for the butternut squash and was squealing for more after each bite.  I tasted all of them too and hands down they taste better than Gerber organic or earth’s best…definitely more flavor and less watery tasting.

Success! Connor wants more!

Looks like Yummy Spoonfuls isn’t just healthy but also appealing to little ones’ taste buds.  Have any of you fed Yummy Spoonfuls to your child?  What was their reaction?  Click here to find where you can get your hands on some Yummy Spoonfuls.

*Special thanks to Meredith, Scott and Connor for sampling and documenting Yummy Spoonfuls!

Perfect Weeknight Supper: Kettle Cuisine Soups

Posted in GF product, Uncategorized, vegetarian on February 22nd, 2012 by Betsy – 4 Comments

Recently I had the opportunity to try some delicious soups made by the folks at Kettle Cuisine.  I love making soups and stews in my own kitchen but there are times when the husband’s out of town, or I’m getting home late from a lacrosse game, that I just want an easy dinner that involves minimal work on my part.

Kettle Cuisine makes yummy, hearty soups, in many varieties, that only need to be heated before serving.  Perfect for a solo weeknight dinner or a Saturday lunch.  Most of Kettle Cuisine’s soups are high in fiber and lower in calories than your typical frozen dinner.  More importantly, ALL varieties (including their chicken noodle soup) are gluten-free!  Kettle Cuisine’s founder, Jerry Shafir, started producing entirely gluten-free soups in 2006.  Jerry’s daughter, Kate, was diagnosed with Celiac 20 years ago so he knows how hard it can be to find tasty, healthy, frozen meals that are gluten free.

Some of my Kettle favorites include the chicken soup with rice noodles, chicken chili with white beans, and Thai curry chicken soup.  These soups are filling and won’t leave you hungry. They don’t skimp on the good stuff, like meat, veggies and beans.  When eating one, you don’t feel like you have a bowl of broth in front of you.  I let David try the New England Clam Chowder and he devoured every bite.  He said it was one of the best clam chowders he has ever tasted.  (I’ll have to take his word because I’m not a huge clam chowder fan.)

Kettle Cuisine’s soups can be found all over the country.  Click here to find a location near you.  In Atlanta, you can find them at Whole Foods, Return to Eden, and even at the Kroger on Howell Mill Road.  Check them out for yourself!  You won’t regret sampling this perfect weeknight dinner.  (Warning: These meals will make you wonder why you’ve spent so much time in the past making soups from scratch.)

Revolutionary Soup (Charlottesville)

Posted in travel on February 3rd, 2012 by Betsy – 2 Comments

One of my favorite (re)discoveries last fall was Revolutionary Soup in Charlottesville.  As a college student, this was one of my favorite lunch spots on the Downtown Mall.  Ten years later, they now have a location on the Corner, closer to Grounds, and they are great about labeling allergens in their various items.

When David and I visited Charlottesville this fall, (pre-morning sickness), we ate twice at Rev Soup.  It was a cold and rainy weekend, so their hearty soups were a perfect lunch for us. The lamb curry soup was deliciously spicy and meaty and the salad rounded out the meal nicely.  On our second stop I enjoyed the peanut tofu soup, one that I surprisingly loved.  The best part is they let you sample the different soups so you know which one you really want.  Rev Soup also labels soups that are vegan and vegetarian.

What are your favorites at Rev Soup?  Sadly, the grilled cheese is not gluten free.

Peanut Tofu Soup...delicious!

Revolutionary Soup:

108 2nd Street SW (Downtown Mall Location)
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 296-SOUP (7687)

104 14th Street Northwest (Corner Location)
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 979-9988



Fall & Winter Reading…sort of

Posted in favorite things, pregnancy, reading on January 30th, 2012 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

During my four months of morning sickness, I also developed an aversion to reading.  This was perhaps one of the saddest parts of those months for me.  I was afraid I would never want to read again.  Slowly and steadily over the last 17 weeks, I made my way through three books.  I thought I’d share my most recent reads with you:

Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling: If you enjoyed the humor of Bossypants, you should check out this memoir written by Kaling, a writer, producer and actor on The Office. (She plays the hysterically self centered and petty, Kelly, on the show.)  Kaling makes clear from the beginning that she is not trying to be like Tina Fey nor will she ever be as funny as Tina Fey.  I thought she came pretty darn close.  Any woman in her 20s and 30s can identify with Kaling’s thoughts, rambles, battles with weight, and other random concerns.  My personal favorite story was when she auditioned for the musical Bombay Dreams without any dance background.  While it took me a month to read this one, it should be a fast read for anyone who’s a normally functioning human being.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman: Written about a fictional boy named Harrison Opoku, who emigrated from Ghana to the London projects, this story deals with a range of topics, from the simple to the complex.  Opoku loves pigeons and spends much time trying to catch them, but a great deal of his life is spent trying to catch a murderer and avoiding run ins with a local gang.  It took me awhile to get into this one, but I love the message I took away from it, that childhood can be so simple yet many children are forced to come face to face with harsh uncontrollable realities that are better suited for someone way beyond their years.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: Beautiful, poignant and moving, this book blew me away.  I read the entire book in about a week and enjoyed every sentence.  I’ve never seen words fit so beautifully on a page.  While The Book Thief is classified as “young adult fiction,” this should not deter you from reading.  The story of a girl named Liesel, who moves in with a foster family outside of Munich during World War II, this is the story of her journey and life and the people around her.  She is not Jewish and this is not The Diary of Anne Frank. In an interview, Zusak said he wanted his characters to be unforgettable and they truly are.  I wept, smiled, and connected with these characters, both adults and children.  I don’t want to share too much of the story because The Book Thief is so complex and so special.  One unique note that might intrigue you: death is the narrator.

So what did I do while I wasn’t reading? Um, I became addicted to the Ellen Degeneres Show. I slept. I played lots of Settlers of Catan which is an awesome board game and iPad game if you have never heard of it.

Bye bye Oprah, hello Ellen! Ellen grilling Bachelor Ben on his choice in women.

PS: I promise this will not become a baby blog.  I promise.

What I ate…

Posted in advice, favorite things, GF product, pregnancy on January 26th, 2012 by Betsy – 10 Comments

The first trimester of pregnancy can be a little rough.  At least it was for me.  That’s what I get for thinking morning sickness doesn’t really exist.  I had to learn the hard way that yes, in fact morning sickness is real.  As you know from my last three years of posts, I love vegetables, whole grains, freshly baked desserts, and fresh food.  During my first 16 weeks of pregnancy, however, my routine eating habits were thrown out the window, due to constant nausea, exhaustion and a general apathy towards cooking.

Most of the foods one “craves” during morning sickness tend to be bread, crackers, and other gluten-filled items.  With my new taste buds, I had to entirely rethink my trips to the grocery store and alter my grocery lists.

Here’s a list of what I semi-successfully ate for the first 16 weeks of morning sickness:

Udi’s plain bagels and cream cheese: Normally I’m a cereal girl but Baby Metcalf did not appreciate my morning cereal routine.  Fortunately, I found a good substitute.  Udi’s bagels taste so similar to the real thing.  Toasted, they are delicious with cream cheese.  I think I’ve had at least one every day for the last four months.  I even traveled with my own bagel stash over Christmas.

Chik-fil-a French fries: Chik-Fil-A uses a separate fryer for the fries so I don’t have to worry about contamination.  Their waffle fries are delicious and could serve as an entire meal for me.  Warning: don’t try to steal any off my tray.  (David learned this the hard way.)

Ruffles potato chips: How did I not know before how darn good these chips are?  Deliciously salty, with amazing texture I’ve been converted from kettle cooked to ruffle.  I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.

Lucy’s Cookies: These were the only sweet thing I had any desire to eat besides fruity candy during my first trimester.  I think I liked them because they weren’t too sweet and I could nibble on them throughout the day.  I bought the variety pack on amazon on a very regular basis.

Mike & Ikes: I normally enjoy all things minty: brushing my teeth, chewing gum or enjoying a mint.  Well, mint flavored anything just made me throw up so I resorted to Mike & Ike’s to get bad tastes out of my mouth.  I know.  It’s disgusting.

Spaghetti: I couldn’t eat bagels and chips for every meal so I found that my body really liked spaghetti.  (Thanks to my sister-in-law, Heidi, for that suggestion!)

Canada Dry Ginger Ale: No longer did I want a glass of cabernet at the end of a long day but a fizzy, sugary soda to ease my stomach.  Canada Dry is definitely gluten free.  I’ve had mixed findings in researching other brands.

Fruit: This was the one healthy thing that I could eat.  I loved blueberries, strawberries, pineapple and grapes.  I also drank a lot of orange juice which I’ve never been a big fan of before. (I would get the OJ with extra calcium since I wasn’t really getting it anywhere else.)

The good news is that everyone is right: morning sickness goes away.  I’m thrilled to be (sort of) back to my old ways.  I’m still not cooking up a storm in the kitchen, and I find myself toasting a bagel every morning for breakfast but I have had salad in the last week.  Baby steps, right?

For those of you gluten-free moms out there: what did you eat when you were battling morning sickness.  I never found a gluten-free cracker that tasted good to me.  I tried Glutinos for awhile but got tired of them.  Would love your thoughts.


Exciting Changes in 2012

Posted in Uncategorized on January 23rd, 2012 by Betsy – 11 Comments

Hi Friends!  Hope the new year is treating you well.  Life has been busy for us, hence the absence of posts.  I wanted to share with you a little news.  (Hopefully this explains my lack of posts a little better.)

Needless to say, we’re very excited about 2012!


Highlights of 2011

Posted in event, favorite things on January 6th, 2012 by Betsy – 3 Comments

This year was quite a year for me.  Lots of travel, adventure and really calling Atlanta home.  There are many highlights so I thought I’d take a little walk down memory lane (clearly in no particular order)…

Bachelor Brad won, and broke, Emily’s heart.

Richard Blais brought home the “W” in Top Chef All-Stars

Articles published on my travel tips for Wyoming/Montana, Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville

Surviving an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, while also getting to spend such a special time with my brother, sister-in-law and nephews.  (I really wouldn’t take back the trip, even if I could.  I promise.)

Dinner at Bacchanalia…always makes the highlight list!

An amazing trip to NYC full of gluten-free yumminess.

Ashley lived up to expectations as a disappointing Bachelorette (but we still watched)!

Rice Krispies went gluten free!

A trip to Nashville to meet my new niece, Anna

A week in Laguna Beach with the love of my life…so awesome.

Rob, Alden and boys visit us in Atlanta

Filming a “Sizzle-Reel” for a TV show pilot in Vail, Colorado

Wow!  What a year!  While it’s sad to say goodbye to 2011, there are many good things to come in 2012.  Thanks for all of your support and continuing to read Gluten Freedom.  Apologies for nearly two months of being MIA.  Let’s just say I needed a little rest…

Help Send a Child with Celiac to a Gluten-Free Summer Camp!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 19th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Hi Readers!  I must apologize for being MIA for way too long.  It’s been a busy time of year here and I really hope 2012 involves more time for blogging.  In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a great opportunity to give!

The holiday season is the perfect time for you to give back to the community.

In the spirit of the giving season, I want to bring your attention to a fundraiser I’m helping promote this week for a great gluten-free cause.

This week only, giving just $2 of your hard-earned money will go toward providing scholarships for children to attend a gluten-free summer camp hosted by the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) next summer in Southern California.

But this week, donating $2 doesn’t mean you’re just donating $2…

This week through Sunday, December 25, Gluten-Free Saver has partnered with Van’s Natural Foods to raise money to send children to next summer’s CDF-sponsored summer camp, and Van’s is matching all donations up to $1,000!

The goal is to raise $2,000 – and when you donate $2, you’re really contributing $4.

You can read more about the fundraiser here: www.glutenfreesaver.com.

The summer camp will be held in San Bernardino in Southern California from July 30 to August 3, 2012, and it’s open to all 7-15 year old gluten intolerant and gluten-sensitive children – not just those diagnosed with celiac disease.

Sure, receiving gifts this time of year is always fun, but the feeling of knowing that your generous donation of just $2 can bring a tremendous amount of joy to a young child… well, now that’s priceless.

Please help reach the goal of donating $2,000 to the Celiac Disease Foundation this week. Every $2 helps.

YES! I want to help send a child to a gluten-free summer camp and donate $2 right now!

P.S. 100% of all donations will go directly to CDF.

P.P.S. If you’re feeling extra generous this holiday season, you aren’t limited to donating just $2 – you can give as much money as your heart desires!