Helpful info from the NFCA

3 Things You Should Know Before Filing for a Gluten-Free Food Tax Deduction
It’s no secret that gluten-free food packaged food is oftentimes more expensive than its gluten-containing counterparts, but did you know you might be eligible for a tax deduction to help make up the difference?
If you have never filed for a tax deduction for your gluten-free food purchases, there are some important things you should know before you do:
1. You Need an Official Diagnosis to be Eligible
Many people are eating gluten-free for a variety of reasons, but only those with an official diagnosis with a gluten-related disorder will be eligible for a tax deduction. You’ll need a prescription from your doctor for a gluten-free diet as your treatment option as well.
2. Keep Track of Your Food Purchases the Entire

Year In order to receive the tax deduction, you’ll have to calculate the difference between the cost of gluten-free alternatives vs. the cost of gluten-containing foods. For example, if you purchase gluten-free crackers for $4.50 and traditional crackers cost $2.50, you’ll only be able to claim the difference: $2
This will need to be done throughout the year as you purchase gluten-free food. Since you will have a lot of purchases to keep track of, some have recommended using a spreadsheet to help keep track of all of the figures.
Everyone rule has exceptions! Visit the Tax Deduction Guide for Gluten-Free Products from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to see which types of gluten-free food are eligible for a full refund.
3. Refunds are Only Given if Medical Expenses Exceed 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income

IRS rules dictate that refunds for medical expenses will be granted only if they are over 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) (the total gross income, minus specific reductions). Turbo Tax gives a great example for determining if your medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your AGI.
Once you figure out if you’re eligible for a tax deduction, the last step is moving forward and filing your claim. NFCA’s Tax Deduction Guide for Gluten-Free Products also provides more information on the specific IRS tax forms, rulings and publication reference numbers you’ll need to file

Orange Marmalade

Everyone knows I love to put things into jars especially jam. The idea that you can make it at home without putting any of bad artificial stuff in it is great. Making anything in a jar may be time consuming but once you taste the difference you will never go back to the stuff.

It went will orange marmalade this time because I love to use it in many recipes especially in a salad with lemon and oil for a great dressing. And the ingredients are super cheap so you can make a ton and give some away. I used the preserving process as my blueberry jelly from a few weeks ago but with different ingredients.

The trick with the orange is to determine the level at tartness you would like before you start. Orange marmalade can be very tart or very sweet and it truly depends on your taste. I prefer more tart but I will explain how to adjust.

Ingredients:

Four Large Seedless Oranges
2 Cups Sugar
3 Cups Water
1 Lemon

Start by washing And drying oranges well. If you prefer a more tart result leave ALL the peels on which is what I prefer and more recipes recommend. But if you would prefer to take the peel of one or two then you can do it now. Next you slice the whole orange in super thin rounds. A mandolin whould be great I used a knife with no issues. Slice the rounds in to quarters and place in a bowl. Slice the lemon in half and remove seeds. Slice half the lemon the same way with peel on and add it to the bowl along with the juice of the other half of the lemon. The next step is the most IMPORTANT. Add the three cups of water to the bowl and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This will make the peel soft and more sweet. Believe me, I learned my lesson on this one.
The next day pour the oranges and all the water in a big pot, add the sugar and cook for about 45 minutes until it reduces and slowly runs off the back of spoon in large stain glass like clumps. Once finished allow it to cook for a few minutes before continuing the preserving process.
What I like about jelly making over pickling is that you can taste the final product while preparing. You can always adjust the sugar as you go to get it exactly where you would like.

I copy and pasted my preserving process below.

This recipe was a small batch and made 3 small jars worth. Start with the three pot set up below:

Pot 1 – Medium size pot non-reactive surface to make the jam. Continue to stir and watch the mixture so that it continues to bubble but not burn or boil over. You must stir it every few minutes. Your goal is for the mixture to become thick. It should get to the point that it wont create droplets or run easily off a cold spoon. You are looking for a consistency that slowly forms large clumps that look almost like glass forming on the spoon. Many recipes say this will take 10-15 minutes. It took me about 45 minutes but weather plays huge factor.

Pot 2- The next pot should be small with hot water for cleaning the lids. When you preserve anything in jars, the metal circle part of the lid is not re-usable. Each time you must use new lids.This is because they have a rubber lining that helps form a seal but it only works once. The jar and twisty top are good for many uses but not the flat part of the lid. In order to active the new flat top you must heat the lids to help soften the rubber. Do this by putting just the flat part of the lid in the pot with very hot water but not boiling and allow it to sit for about ten minutes before processing.

Pot 3 – Place water into the pot high enough to cover the jars with a little extra water because water will evaporate. You should use the biggest pot you own for this one like a lobster pot. Place a small towel in the bottom of the pot. This acts like a pillow to avoid the jars from breaking in the pot. Place the jars and lids in the pot and bring water to boil. Boil for ten minutes and then keep the jars in the hot water until your ready to fill.

Once the jelly cooks down and is ready to go, shut the heat off and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Remove jars from hot water and drip dry. Fill each jar with jelly about one half inch from top. Clean the tops of the jar well with a clean towel to insure that you will make a good seal between the jar and lid. Place the lids on jars. Its important not to twist the lid on to tight because you want air to escape. A good rule is to make it finger tight.

Next, place the complete jars in the big pot of water on high heat for ten minutes. Once the water is boiling you may want to lower it a bit to keep the jars from moving to much. After ten minutes CAREFULLY remove the the jars with tongs from pot and place on counter. Its important not to put the jars on a cold surface because the sudden change in temp from the hot water to the cold counter can break the glass.

The final step is my favorite. I call it the canning musical. Once jars are out of the water you want to hear each lid make a pop sound. This insures a good seal. The sound is like the what you hear when you open a glass juice bottle. This can take up to 15 minutes depending on room temp. If you don’t hear the pop or see an indent on the top of the lid then you should keep that jar in the fridge and use it first.

Jam can stay shelf stable for up to a year but once opened should be stored in fridge. Enjoy!!!

Update Recipe:

I re- made the recipe trying to make a double batch and a little less tart.

8 Seedless Oranges ( Cut like above but removing skin from two)
Juice of two lemons
6 Cups Water
4 Cups Sugar

Place oranges, lemon juice and water in big pot and bring to boil. Allow to simmer for 5 min and then shut of heat. Allow to sit for 18-24 hours preferable in the fridge. The next day bring to boil and add sugar. Boil for about 30 minutes until the correct constancy is achieved. Then follow the canning process the same way as before.

This recipe gave me 6+ 8oz jars.

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We Bee Brother Honey

I am always looking for great new products the are gluten free, guilt free and worth being noticed. I have always believed in the health benefits of honey and regularly useing it in my cooking. While looking for ingredients for my next show I stumbled on We Bee Brothers Raw Honey.
They are a great local family own and run company. They are retrieving bee’s from around the area and making some great honey. They also like to get creative and make fun flavor’s.
Honey is great as a drink sweetener, cooking, addition to any cheese plate, ice cream topping and many medical benefits.
I will be using their honey on NBC tomorrow along with a bunch of recipes I will be posting soon. Tune in to check it out.

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Tomato Bistro

As much as I love to cook, I also love to eat out and explore every restaurant that offers true gluten-free menus. I have been in search for a good slice of pizza, one that makes me question if they are a true gluten-free establishment. Well folks, I have found a treasure. The Tomato Bistro located in Roxborough is worth the trip. When my boyfriend can share a pizza with me and not make a remark about missing the “real” thing then I know that it must be good. The crust is homemade, thin, crisp and big. The toppings go from basic margherita to duck with apple butter.
Even better, the menu is more than just pizza. Tomato Bistro offers great gluten-free soups, salads, entries and dessert. I had the chance to sample some stuff not on the menu yet and it’s clear that they are continuing to grow the menu into something special. The whole menu is affordable and they offer tons of deals and daily specials.
The restaurant has a pizzaria feel to the bottum floor and a really fun sit-down restaurant upstairs. The staff is super friendly and will do anything to make your experience something special. Since its a few miles from Center City, you may need a car but they have plenty of free parking.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. I am hoping to do some stuff with them very soon so please give me some feedback.

http://thetomatobistro.com/

102 RECTOR STREET
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19127

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Sweet Christine’s Gluten Free Bakery

Sweet Christine’s Gluten Free Bakery is officially the best gluten free bakery I have ever found. I never thought I would have had a real cookie or hamburger bun ever again. From donuts to pizza she is producing products that will shock anyone. The best part is that this stuff is not a secret, you can buy it online, in the stores, at major sport stadiums and in a lot of what I do. No matter how big this company is getting the products are all made of love. Christine’s baking is a success because her purpose is not to let any one that is gluten free feel deprived. She is always trying to create and build on what she has and to make it widely available. Everything she makes is all natural with nothing artificial. She makes it all as nutritious as possible. I am always watching my calorie intake and to have a great pizza crust coming in at 100 calories is like a work of magic. This place is a must try.

If you’re local, take a trip to her store. It’s in a great little town with fun shops, wineries and of course gluten free restaurants. Give them a try and let them know Laura sent you.

http://www.sweetchristinesglutenfree.com

Sweet Christine’s Bakery
132 West State Street,
Kennett Square, PA 19348
t. 610-444-5542

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Life Changing Every Day!

It’s been about four weeks since the final show aired. My life has officially become a roller coaster ride. Every 12 hours some new opportunity or connection happens. Dreaming big and working as hard as I can is really paying off. I am spending any free time I have getting as much experience as possible. I am interning at a Steven Stat restaurant and learning from some super talented chefs. I am also about to start working with my chef idol Peter McAndrews. Peter has opened a few very well know restaurants in and around Philly but what many people don’t know is that he makes at least 80% of his menu gluten free and or adjustable. I am really excited to learn from both his artistic approach and gluten free cooking.
In addition, I am officially running a gluten free tour of the Italian Market. It will start in July and reservations are highly recommended. The tour will take visitors to many special areas in the countries oldest Italian market. I wrote the tour to show people places that are commonly missed by tourists. Most important, the tour will focus on gluten free food stops. Come hungry!!!!
Many more things are in the works. My new segments on NBC start in late July. I am writing some great recipes and connecting with many gluten free vendors in the area. I am hoping to expose people to some great gluten free products that are being produced.

Not sure what’s next but possibly a book ;).

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Food Tour

UPDATE:

It was requested and now its going to happen!!!  Check out the write up and stay tuned for the offical start date 🙂

Italian Market Food Tour with

Laura Hanh –coming soon

Each tour stops at 4-5 scrumptious food shops that serve up incredibly delicious and inexpensive food served in portions that can be easily divided and shared or singularly devoured.  Our guides make recommendations and facilitate ordering, but you have the final say.  You choose your own food and pay for it directly.  In between the food stops, you’ll have time to digest your food as well as digest the history of the neighborhood, as told to you by our entertaining and knowledgeable guides.

So come see the sights and try some bites on one of our food tours.  Don’t forget to bring an appetite!  Check out our current tours above.

http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/philadelphia/philadelphia-food-tours.asp

It seem like my gluten free life is a hit. Would anyone be interested in a Gluten Free Food tour of the city? Tasting, history and some fun along the way. Two hours eating philly with me 🙂

What do think?

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Italian Festival

As much as I love to cook and share my recipes, I also have a love for eating everything that Philly has to offer. As you have seen from the show, I have traveled them world in search for good eats but I truly believe Philly is home to the best food in the world. From the gourmet restaurants, sandwich shops, markets and trucks, we have it all. Many of my friends know that you can give me an area of the city and a price range and I am sure to give you a great recommendation.
At the heart of the city between Catherine Street and Washington Ave. is the Italian Market. This three blocks of paradise is where I live and call home. My weekends are spent hunting for the newest additions and most exotic finds. Once a year, the market hosts a festival that brings in crowds of people to tastes sauces, sandwiches, cheese and best of all the cannoli. For years, I have always planned my route and made sure to get my favorites early. This year it’s a little different, my recent gluten intolerance diagnosis makes my splurging at little harder. Luckily, Philly is always quickly adapting to new trends and when it comes to food, more places adapt to any diet.
The Italian Market has made many changes this year and for a gluten free foodie it’s a dream come true. This includes great new restaurants that cater to gluten free dishes like Monsum which has the best brunch in the city, never a line and always BYOB. They will adjust almost any dish to be gluten free, even the pasta and gnocchi. Chef McAndrew is a master at everything he does and he is sure to be attracting a large following. Not only is his brunch and dinner a must try but he has also opened a few sandwich shops in the city that can’t be missed. If you come to the City of Brotherly Love for a real cheese steak from Pat’s or Geno’s, think again! Paesano’s I and II are the real Philly experience from the classic Italian hoagie, spicy chicken or my favorite – the lamb sausage. The juicy meat and outstanding combo of flavors will leave you wanting to try it all. Best of all, they make everything gluten free by request. That’s right, gluten free hoagie rolls. Truly something almost impossible to find anywhere! The bread they use comes from a great little shop across the way in the market. It’s called Taffet (originally TOTE). They make gluten free pizza dough, cupcakes, cannoli, various breads, cookies and are always open to new ideas. The smells of the freshly baked goodies from this shop in the market will pull you in looking for a treat. Taffets’ success alone proves that gluten free options are not just a trend but are here to stay.

These places I mentioned are only what’s in the Italian Market. Overall, Philly has a gluten free lifestyle that is continuing to expand rapidly. I live to try it all and promise to make the Guilt Free Foodie Cutie not only a source for recipes but a place to follow my gluten free adventures.

If you have a place or product I should try, please let me know!

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