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Karen Broussard
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Recently I had the good fortune to try Reason to Bake's "cookies with heart." These are gluten free, made-from-scratch, artisan cookies available only through the company's website. That's because they are baked and shipped fresh, without preservatives like most cookies you find on store shelves. The best thing about Reason to Bake is that they are a company with a heart-warming mission: to hire and train intellectually disabled adults...and foster entrepreneurship among them. The company was founded by Elise Sampson and her daughter Carolyn in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. There are currently 3 varieties of cookies: Chocolate Chip, Cranberry Oatmeal, and Spicy Ginger (my favorite...like ginger snaps or gingerbread). They also occasionally offer other seasonal varieties, and you can order gift boxes and variety packs. My husband, son, and I absolutely LOVED these cookies. They were so fresh, were the perfect consistency, and each variety had an amazing flavor. If you did a "blind" taste test, you'd never know they were gluten free. They are a very high quality product, too. Reason to Bake cookies are all natural and non-GMO. They ship anywhere in the U.S., so you have no excuse not to try them! I can't... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2020 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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I've been working with Lesley Hayden-Hock at Travel Leaders for about a decade now. I've used her personally to plan many of our family's trips (domestic, international, and cruises), and I've referred countless gluten free families to her over the years. Lesley has mastered the questions to ask resorts and cruises when booking clients who have special dietary needs, whether they be gluten free, dairy free, or have other sensitivities. She works with the Food and Beverage Directors directly and has developed great working relationships with a wide range of high-end resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean where service is top-notch. Many of these resorts are also what's called "gourmet all-inclusive." Lesley's clients always get special VIP treatment. The resorts understand how to keep gluten free diners safe, and they aim to please. They even go so far as arranging for new dedicated gluten free toasters -- and bake a special cake or cupcakes for a gluten free child's Birthday. It ends up being a vacation for everyone! After all, in today's "do it yourself" world, we all often try to juggle too much. If you're like me, you may find there just aren't always enough hours in the day... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2020 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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Our family is lucky to have some good options in the Washington, DC metro area when it comes to gluten free dining. Whether we're venturing into DC for a show, game, or a day at museums -- or staying closer to home out in the Virginia suburbs -- there are a good number restaurant chains, as well as many independent restaurants, that "get it" when it comes to preparing delicious and safe gluten free meals. Not Your Average Joe's is one such restaurant chain (with locations in 8 states) that we've relied on over the years. We hadn't been there for a while, so we chose it for my mom's birthday celebration last weekend. The challenge is always finding someplace that pleases adults and teenagers...and where our son can have some interesting choices from a well-thought-out gluten free menu. Not Your Average Joe's, as the name would suggest, meets those criteria. Nothing is average or bland here. Their menu is huge, and you'll find there are tons of gluten free options, listed under their "Fit-For-You" part of the menu, which denotes gluten free, vegetarian, kept, paleo, vegan, and "Signature Joe" items. (When you click on their Menu page, you first... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2020 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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Well, we're a month into the New Year...a challenging time for many of us who had good intentions to once again eat healthier this year, only to find preparing healthy gluten free meals is easier said than done on most nights. Whether you're rushing home from work, taking the kids to a practice, or attending a meeting in your community, dinner plans can get squeezed. You may find you don't always have time to plan and shop for your menus, much less prepare a variety of nutritious gluten free meals each week. And if you're trying to lose weight or achieve other health goals (build lean muscle, reduce body fat, lower blood pressure), you're probably wondering how you should change your dietary habits to achieve your various goals. It can be frustrating, but believe me, you’re not alone. Sticking to a healthy, gluten free eating plan isn’t always easy. But the good news is that, no matter where you live, you can now access the help of a trained professional who can remotely guide you in your health, fitness, and dietary goals. The Follow My Nutrition Plan lets you work remotely with a trained professional to create a custom meal... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2020 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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Speaking from experience, London is one of the most fun -- and most gluten-free friendly -- cities for families. Our own family visited there over Christmas 2013. Even though our boys were only 10 and 12 years old at the time, they really got a lot out of the experience and still talk about the things we did while there. So I was especially excited to hear that one of our travel partners -- Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us -- was planning a 6-day small group tour of London in July 2020, especially geared to gluten free families. She handles all the details, so you won't have to stress about planning anything -- either before the trip or while you're there. And if for some reason you aren't interested in traveling with a group (or the date doesn't work for you), Ellen can certainly plan the same trip for you at another time of your choosing. As with any of her itineraries, you can customize it according to your family's interests and preferences, budget, and time frame. If you plan to go on your own (not the group trip), you will have your choice of either a high-end hotel... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2020 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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We hosted some friends of ours for dinner on New Year's Eve, and I was looking to make a dessert that was a bit out-of-the-ordinary...something a step up from the usual tried-and-true favorites. So I looked through my dessert recipe binder, where I store the dozens -- maybe hundreds -- of dessert recipes I've collected over the years. I ran across one for Chocolate Bread Pudding, something I've enjoyed at restaurants but never made myself. I don't know where this recipe is originally from, as it's from a page I ripped out of a magazine years ago. In order for our Celiac son to be able to enjoy it, I tailored the recipe to be gluten free. This was easy, as all ingredients called for are naturally gluten free, minus the main ingredient, bread. For the bread, I simply substituted Canyon Bakehouse's 100% Whole Grain Country White Bread. Here is the recipe. I was so happy with how it turned out. It is not overly sweet but has a wonderful chocolate flavor. It's also quite easy and can be made earlier in the day and kept at room temperature. Ingredients: Butter for pan 4 eggs, plus 4 additional egg yolks... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2020 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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Iceland has become the most popular destination of the Nordic countries over the past 5 years, due to its stunning landscape and the unique experiences to be had. Imagine walking on glaciers, viewing geothermal hot spots and lava fields, bathing in geothermal healing waters, standing on the "Bridge Betweeen the Continents" connecting the American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and visiting volcanic craters, gorgeous waterfalls, black sand beaches, and the house where Reagan and Gorbachev met to begin the process of ending the Cold War. And, of course, there is charming Reykjavik to explore at your leisure, with all of its shops, cafes, and nightclubs. This itinerary has been put together by Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us, in conjunction with an owner of the travel company Nordic Destinations, who also happens to be gluten free. As always, working with Ellen will ensure all your gluten free needs are taken care of, both at the hotel where you will stay (breakfast is included each day) and at the restaurants that she will recommend to you. Keep in mind that, although you get the benefit of "group pricing," this is not a group tour. You can travel whenever you want and with... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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It's not often you run across a completely gluten free resort, but alas, there's one nestled in a prime spot in Costa Rica. Anamaya is a completely gluten free resort specializing in yoga retreats, surfing, scuba diving, or just relaxing! They welcome everyone from complete beginners to more experienced yogis and surfers. (Or you can opt to just enjoy a beach vacation there -- full of snorkeling and local exploring.) "Anamaya" is Sanskrit for "good health," an ideal the resort's staff works very hard to promote through healthy meals, relaxation, exercise, and lots of fun. Anamaya offers weekly yoga retreats, yoga teacher trainings, a variety of workshops, gourmet organic meals, luxurious spa services and array of retreat vacation packages, all situated atop a cliff edge with one of the best ocean views in Costa Rica. There are also optional excursions to popular spots in Costa Rica and an optional scuba certification program. The resort is located in the tropical beach town Montezuma, just 25 minutes from Santa Teresa and its famous surf spots. Anamaya Resort has been 100% gluten-free for years now. The resort was inspired to become gluten-free after Chef Jeff Horton joined the staff. Chef Jeff made it... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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Our school system always gives kids a 4-day weekend in late October/early November at the end of the first quarter, and it affords families a nice opportunity to take a short trip when other areas of the country aren't on break. Therefore, you can travel at an off time when you can enjoy fewer crowds and better prices, no matter where you go! Our son, a junior in high school, wanted to visit the Georgia Tech campus, so this gave us an excuse to visit Atlanta -- a town we hadn't traveled to in 20 years. It was great visiting in early November, when the weather is a bit cooler! We stayed with some good friends in the area and also got to visit relatives. Of course, we managed to squeeze in some sightseeing, scooter riding, and wonderful gluten free meals, to boot! Within an hour of landing and renting a car, we stopped at Hell Yeah Gluten Free Bakery, near Inman Park. It's a good thing we swung by here when we did (just before lunchtime), as they were already running out of some of their more popular items. Their specialty is fresh-made donuts, so we got an assortment... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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If you love Italy but have already been to some of the popular tourist destinations like Rome, Florence, and Venice, you may want to consider a more "off the beaten path" tour of one of Italy's many beautiful and less touristy areas. This is Bluone Tours' specialty: guided, small group tours to many of the regions of Italy known for their history, medieval hilltop towns, religious sites, vineyards, olive groves, beaches, scenic vistas, and, of course, regional food and wine specialties. Fortunately, Italian restauranteurs are typically very well-versed about Celiac Disease and how to prepare safe gluten free meals for diners that require them. However, in some of these "less traveled" areas outside the big cities, it's smart to have an Italian-speaking guide who can make arrangements with the restauranteurs in advance -- and act as an advocate and liaison when arriving at the restaurant. After all, English is not always spoken as fluently by restaurant workers in these more provincial areas as it is in the big cities. But all of this is no worry when you travel with Bluone Tours. Marcello and Raffaella Tori, the couple that owns Bluone Tours, accompany all tour groups and have experience with... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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It has been quite a ride over the past 12 years serving the gluten free community. When I first launched GlutenFreeTravelSite back in April 2008, "Celiac" and "gluten free" weren't yet household terms. Many people weren't even aware of what they meant...not to mention how someone avoiding gluten would be able to dine out, travel, and attend social events involving food. That's why I launched the website, just a few short years after our own son was diagnosed with Celiac at age two. I felt the need to educate those recently diagnosed and to provide hope that, yes, there were indeed places we could all go and get a safe and delicious meal. It just took a bit of effort to find them.... So that's what GlutenFreeTravelSite -- and later our Dine Gluten Free mobile app -- set out to do. We gave the gluten free community a way to share their experiences dining out and traveling with others who needed to be sure they wouldn't get sick when venturing out. We made it easy to find and read peer reviews of places in the U.S. and all over the world that took gluten free dining seriously. We were the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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VISIT THIS DREAM DESTINATION AND STAY SAFELY GLUTEN FREE South Africa has long been a popular destination, but many gluten free travelers have been hesitant to visit Cape Town or go on safari out of concern that they wouldn't be able to safely follow their gluten free diet. Now, thanks to travel agent Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us, who has Celiac herself, this destination is a possibility for anyone following a strict gluten free diet. Ellen has worked with SITA World Tours, a top travel company based in South Africa. Together, they have thoroughly vetted hotels, safari camps, and restaurants in order to find the safest possibilities for gluten free clients. Ellen will take care of all your gluten free needs while also getting you the most advantageous pricing available through SITA World Tours. This is not a group tour, however. Like all Ellen's suggested itineraries for amazing destinations around the world, you can travel at any time, choose your desired length of stay, and customize the trip based on your interests. You'll visit Cape Town and see the harbor, Table Mountain, the downtown area and central business district, the Castle of Good Hope, and scenic vistas...and also take... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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Brazil has long been a popular destination for Europeans, and they still flock there for the gorgeous beaches and amazing sights such as Corcovado. It is a great option for Americans, as there is little if any issue with time zone adjustments, and the exchange rate is in our favor right now. (Also, please note that the Amazon fires are way off in a different part of the country than what you'd be seeing, so there are no issues regarding that.) This is a unique itinerary you won't find elsewhere. Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us (gluten free herself for decades) has worked with Condor Tours and Travel and local suppliers to ensure a safe gluten free experience. No one else is offering this ability to see the highlights outlined below with the vetting that Ellen and Condor have done. And, as always, this is NOT a group tour, but it can be taken any time and adjusted to your individual timing and travel preferences. You'll start your journey in Rio de Janeiro, whose inhabitants call it the “Marvelous City.” Located on the Bay of Guanabara, Rio has a mountainous landscape that contrasts with an intensely blue sea. Here the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
Karen Broussard has shared their blog Gluten Free Travel Blog
Sep 20, 2019
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For the first time in years, our family visited The Melting Pot to celebrate my Birthday a couple weeks ago. It was my choice as a venue...I wanted to go someplace festive -- and that we hadn't been for some time. I'm a big fondue fan, and the place has somewhat of a relaxed and celebratory feel to it. We knew they offered plenty of gluten free choices, but we brought our own gluten free bread for our Celiac son to dip in the cheese fondue appetizer -- and a gluten free brownie for dipping in the chocolate dessert fondue. We had remembered that when we had been there years ago, they only had veggies and apples for gluten free folks to dip in the cheese fondue...and fruit and marshmallows for the chocolate fondue. Well, we were pleasantly surprised to find out when we arrived that our "supplemental" food we had brought wasn't even needed. At some point since our last visit many years ago, they added gluten free bread for their GF patrons to dip into the cheese fondue -- as well as gluten free chocolate brownies and pound cake for the dessert fondue. The Melting Pot locations are... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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A family-friendly itinerary for London, organized by gluten free travel specialist Ellen Morse of Gluten Free Travel-Us, in conjunction with Kensington Tours. Travelers will enjoy dining gluten free at restaurants near all the top tourist sites. Not a group tour, but can be taken any time. Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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We are now well over a decade into the gluten free awakening in our country. By "awakening" I mean when "gluten free" became part of our lexicon, and more people became aware of gluten's affects on individuals with Celiac and gluten sensitivity. Whether you were one of those getting a diagnosis -- or if it was a family member or friend -- "gluten free" was something that was now on your radar. And of course, there have also been plenty of people who have chosen to adopt a gluten free diet, for various other reasons. The point is, the demand for gluten free meals has really taken off over the past decade, and many restaurants have worked hard to help those with Celiac and gluten sensitivity enjoy a safe and thoughtfully prepared meal. Of course, we all know that other restaurants have simply "hopped on the bandwagon" for business reasons, slapping "GF" notations on menu items without much regard for the proper training of "front of house" staff (servers, managers) and "back of house" staff (kitchen). That is a continual challenge for those of us dining out. The more research you can do about a restaurant before setting foot in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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Our older son will be choosing a college soon and embarking on the next chapter of his life in the Fall. While he does not have Celiac -- and no dietary restrictions that we know of -- our younger son (currently a sophomore) does. While it is still over two years from the start of college for him, we all know how quickly the time goes, and before we know it, he will be in the throes of evaluating what colleges to apply to. My hope has always been that he would be able to go to any of the colleges he is accepted into -- without worrying about the gluten free scene on campus. While I'm not sure we are completely "there" yet, I am encouraged by the progress colleges across the country have made regarding providing gluten free options for their Celiac and gluten sensitive students. (The settlement agreement between the United States of America and Lesley University in Massachusetts back in 2012 regarding students with food allergies, helped. The Justice Department expanded the definition of "disability" to include food allergies, and said all students must enjoy reasonable access to dining facilities trained on allergen and food safety... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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In addition to searching reviews on our website, GlutenFreeTravelSite, for informative first-hand travel and dining feedback from others on gluten free diets, it's a good idea to contact a support group in the area you plan to travel. Many times they will be able to provide you with a list of Celiac-friendly restaurants and grocery stores that offer gluten free foods. Here's a list of the well-known Celiac associations, both in the U.S. and worldwide...their websites have contact information and often list support groups/chapters. National Celiac Association: Incorporating the former Celiac Support Association, NCA provides educational materials, works with industry and the government to improve labeling practices, and offers a Recognition Seal certifying products as Gluten Free. Beyond Celiac: In addition to promoting awareness and having numerous valuable resources for Celiacs on their site, this U.S.-based foundation has a very helpful list of Celiac Disease support groups around the world. Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG): They are involved in advocacy as well as GF certification and accredidation for products, food services, and restaurants. They include contact information for their local chapters in the United States. Canadian Celiac Association (CCA): Provides information on sources of gluten free food, fosters research, and encourages... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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In today's do-it-yourself world, many people don't see a need for help with planning a trip. They figure they can hop online and book something on their own. However, there are a few potential pitfalls with this strategy. Let's start with the most obvious: it can take a while to gather the information you need before making a decision. You may sit down at your computer, only to find that, hours later, you're overwhelmed with the choices and no further along in making a decision. Another pitfall is that booking hotels, resorts, and apartments site unseen can often result in disappointment, even if you read online reviews. And beware that deals that sound too good to be true usually are. A promotion from a reputable hotel chain to a popular tropical locale that was offered to my mother last year sounded like a great deal. However, upon further digging, we found out that it was in a less-than-desirable area of the popular resort town -- and the resort itself was under major renovation, with construction equipment everywhere. Good thing we did our research, because if we had booked this trip, it likely would have been a disaster. The whole experience... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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If you have a child with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, you may think that a traditional overnight summer camp would never be an option. How could you trust that your child would be safe with someone else preparing their meals for the week? What if they got sick? Well, I'm here to assure you that there are plenty of safe options for you to consider if your son or daughter has been begging to attend an overnight summer camp. Just as many restaurants -- both chains and independent -- have put processes in place to accommodate gluten free diners, many camps have also realized the importance of welcoming gluten free campers AND keeping them safe. Now located in virtually all regions of the country, these camps have been accommodating gluten free campers for years. Many have separate gluten free kitchens, others have a special area of the kitchen reserved for gluten free meal preparation, and still others are completely gluten free for certain weeks -- or even the whole summer. There are even some camps that can accommodate more than just gluten free needs. Check out the listing below for camps that cater to many other dietary restrictions (dairy... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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There is often confusion among Christians, and Catholics in particular, about how to fully participate in communion while keeping themselves safely free of the gluten contained in communion wafers/hosts. Certainly, one option is to only take the consecrated wine from the chalice, if that is an option in your parish. The other option -- finding a safe communion wafer -- had always been more of a challenge. That's because the Catholic Church in particular is rooted in Scripture and Tradition and believes that Jesus used wheaten bread at the Last Supper. Therefore, they require that breads used for communion be made with wheat and contain gluten. Fortunately, thanks to the research of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, a company was found that produces wheat starch, which is wheat that has had most of its gluten removed. Miraculously, after much trial-and-error, the Benedictine Sisters were able to make low-gluten bread out of this special wheat starch and water. These wafers meet both the strongest requirements of the Catholic Church as well as the requirements of the gluten-free community, as confirmed by data from the Center for Celiac Research. These wafers contain less than .001% or 10 parts per million of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
Maxine, I apologize for not making that more clear in the list of ingredients. I have now gone into the ingredient listing within the post to clarify that the graham cracker crumbs should be gluten free. If you had read the post in its entirety, you would have seen that the entire second paragraph is devoted to explaining that it is easy to substitute gluten free graham cracker crumbs in the recipe -- and that there are many different brands of good gluten free ones. I mentioned the brand that I used -- and the box is pictured in the photo at the top of the post, with "Gluten Free" clearly marked on the box. If you try this recipe, please also note what I said about butterscotch chips. The brand I recommended is gluten free, but some other brands are not.
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Fortunately, over the past 10 years, it's gotten a bit easier to request a gluten free meal on an airline. I don't like to count on getting it -- or putting too much faith in the airline getting it completely right. So we always make sure our son packs a fair number of back-up snacks for the flight, especially if it's more than a couple hours long. (Plus, you never know when your flight may be delayed from taking off for several hours...that's happened to us twice...once by about 5 hours and once until the next day!) But it is nice when it all comes together and you can get a decent (and safely gluten free) meal on a plane. I always check the policy of the airline and then either put the notation in the system when booking the flight -- or call the airline directly to make the request. It doesn't hurt to do both -- and confirm about a week before the flight that they have the information correct. Here is a list (by no means exhaustive, I am sure) of some major airlines and their policies (or lack of) for offering gluten free meals, along with... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2019 at Gluten Free Travel Blog
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This year I've made a bit of time for Holiday baking, and I resurrected an old favorite recipe from a friend, making some adaptations of my own. These gluten free Three Layer Chocolate Mint Brownies are a huge hit with my husband and kids -- and, frankly, anyone who tries them. So they make a great hostess gift if you're invited to a Holiday party, whether your host or hostess is gluten free or not! They are not hard to make, but they do require a bit of time between steps as each layer cools and "sets." First, here are the ingredients you will need, by layer: Cake Layer 1 cup gluten free flour (this time I used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour, but any good gluten free baking flour that can be substituted cup for cup for regular flour is fine) 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter, softened 4 eggs 1 1/2 cup (12 oz) Hershey's syrup Creamy Mint Layer 2 cups confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup butter, softened 1 Tbsp water 3/4 tsp peppermint extract (I like Flavorganics Organic Peppermint Extract, which is both gluten free and non-GMO) Chocolate Top Layer 6 Tbsp butter 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2018 at Gluten Free Travel Blog