Gluten Free Labeling

I wrote the other day about the Nabisco brand rice cracker I’d found. Although the label said gluten free – and I could find no gluten ingredients – the label did not say the product was made in a gluten free facility. So, I wrote to them to ask about it. It only took a couple of days, so for that I’m pleased.

It’s a good answer, because it explains for us how to approach Nabisco product labeling:

“We understand that consumers with gluten sensitivity are concerned about the potential carryover of gluten between products that are manufactured on shared equipment.

Most of our production lines are designed to be convertible to other products. If a product is made on shared equipment, every reasonable precaution, including stringent cleaning and sanitation practices, is taken to prevent cross-contact with the eight major allergens (eggs, fish,shellfish, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and wheat).

When contact with one of these allergens is unavoidable, then the product is labeled appropriately with a cross-contact statement.

There are some products that put the information on the packaging itself – a practice I believe is the better one, both for the consumer and the manufacturer. Perhaps Nabisco will move in that direction.

By the way, in trying to find out where to send my request, I discovered that Nabisco is now a part of the Mondelez Internation food conglomeration. They seem to have a monopoly on the snack market. As a matter of fact, if you put nabisco.com into your browser’s address bard, you’ll end up at www.snackworks.com. Not much there for gluten free consumers, though. They don’t yet even have the rice crackers listed. Just a little aside about what’s happening in the corporate food world.

You still always need to be diligent about your label reading, but now you know the code for Nabisco.

New Source for Rice Crackers

My sister and I discovered rice crackers a few years ago at Costco. I’m talking about the round crackers that come in a tray, not the rice cracker mix products. It was a great find for my sister, because now she could have a gluten free option for snacking. It was a great find for me, because I fell in love with the taste.

For quite a while, Costco (generally only shopped when you need a boatload of other stuff), Asian markets (necessitating a special trip), or online, where you had to wait to get the product delivered. Local supermarkets were hit or miss as to whether the crackers were stocked. If I was really desperate, I could trek to the natural/healthy food store, some distance away and quite some more expensive.

Then, a few days ago I was in our local Safeway and, lo and behold, found that Nabisco is now marketing Rice Thins. And they taste good. Well, at least the original flavor. I also bought a box of their sea salt and pepper variation, which, to me at least, is not quite as successful. I understand there’s a white cheddar variety, and I’m anxious to try that.

Here’s what the box looks like, along with the nutrition panel.

rice thins 001

It says the crackers are manufactured on equipment “that processes soy, sesame seed, tree nuts,” but there isn’t anything about being made in a plant that doesn’t have wheat processing as well. I’ve asked about that through the web site, so we’ll see.

In the meantime, if you’re not totally intolerant of gluten, these might be worth a try. I know there are varying levels of tolerance, and if there is any little bit of contamination, for some folks that’s a big problem. If that’s not you, the fact that this is a Nabisco product means it’s more likely to be more widely available.

Gluten Free Information Resources

I was looking around the web to see what’s new with gluten free information, and I found  this:

http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac_ez/

That’s a link to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse article about Celiac Disease. It’s a fairly lengthy article about what you need to know about Celiac with these topics covered:

There are also a couple of charts with information about what does and doesn’t contain gluten, although it’s more general information than product specific. It is a good starting place for understanding gluten intolerance, though. And it’s from the U.S. Department of Health.

For some more entertaining information, watch this:

 

 

 

 

New Gluten Free Cookbook

kindle cover to match create space

I’ve been busy finishing my newest cookbook for Amazon Kindle: The Gluten Free Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. You can look at it through the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F21X1U8/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00F21X1U8&linkCode=as2&tag=chefjudiskitc-20

I know it’s long and ugly, but it’s late right now, and I at least wanted to let you know about it and why I’ve been absent for so long.

If you do go to Amazon to take a look at it, you can use the “Look Inside” feature to see the kinds of recipes I’ve included, and read a bit of the introduction.

It’s going to be published as a paperback on Create Space soon, and that will also be offered through amazon.com, so you can see why my time’s been so effectively taken up.

 

 

Gluten Free Makeup – Another Celiac Concern

My niece, who has a pretty severe case of Celiac disease, and I had a conversation a few years ago about whether the glutens found in makeup should be a concern. Since any little bit in her diet can make her immediately sick, we thought it worth some research.

I’d forgotten that conversation until the other day when she told me about a new liner she’d found. When I went online to see more about it, I was surprised to see that part of the sales copy included that this product was gluten free. It’s also vegan, but that’s for somebody else to talk about.

Hmmm, perhaps it’s time to revisit the research.

When we first talked about this, there wasn’t much available online. Actually, there wasn’t a lot online about gluten free in general. This, obviously, was well before there was much awareness of celiac, before the testing became easier, and before going gluten free became a huge fad and commercial opportunity.

A google search for gluten free makeup returns more than 4 million entries. Better, there are a dozen paid ads (the first few entries on the top of the page and all of the ones on the right side are from folks who pay google for that ad placement). This means that manufacturers are paying attention – heavy attention – to this market for gluten free makeup. And the 4+ million returns mean there are plenty of sites wanting to give you information.

Reading through some of the information, I see that there are a LOT of cosmetic companies I’ve never heard of. Not completely surprising, since I haven’t exactly made it my life’s work to know about such things, but still… Researching for reviews would be something I would think would be beneficial if you don’t recognize the brand.

Also, here’s an interesting article from US News & World Report on celiac and makeup:

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/09/11/are-gluten-free-cosmetics-necessary

Another search, this time for specific products, also brought plenty of information. For example, my search “is maybelline gluten free” returns 387,000 places to look. In fact, as soon as I typed “is maybelline,” the dropdown suggested gluten free as a popular search.

By the way, the eyeliner my niece has is from Blinc. She likes it a lot. They’re marketed through, among others, Sephora. For me, this means I have an identifiable marketer who has a concern about selling things that please customers.

Now if you don’t have celiac but have given up gluten because you feel better without it, this is probably not a concern. The amount of gluten that you ingest or the possibility of irritation from eye makeup is probably not enough to cause a worry.

On the other hand, if you’re celiac and have noticed some symptoms you can’t identify, perhaps taking a look at your makeup would be a good thing.

Just sayin’.

Gluten Free Make-UpGluten Free Make-Up
Today I will go over how I successfully swapped out my gluten filled beauty products to all gluten free make-up, hair care and body lotion. Gluten Free Food/…

 

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Finally US Regulations About Gluten-Free Labeling

In case you missed it, on August 2, 2013, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration finally issued rules about gluten-free labeling of food.

The ruling has been a long time coming. In 2004 an allergen labeling rule was passed that called for a 2 year study and then rule issuance to deal with gluten free labeling issues. With legislative and guideline/agency foot dragging, it has taken this long for everyone to agree and issue the rule.

At least it did get issued.

The regulations state:

The final rule defines the term “gluten-free” to mean that the food bearing the claim does not contain an ingredient that is a gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat); an ingredient that is derived from a gluten-containing grain and that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or an ingredient that is derived from a gluten-containing grain and that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food (i.e., 20 milligrams (mg) or more gluten per kilogram (kg) of food); or inherently does not contain gluten; and that any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food is below 20 ppm gluten (i.e., below 20 mg gluten per kg of food).

Interesting reading, no?

I don’t know quite what to do with the 20 parts per million thing. The rationality of setting that level appears to be that most available tests can’t detect levels of gluten in products any lower than this.

I don’t know if there are different levels of celiac disease being diagnosed. I do know that my niece is much more likely to get ill or have a more serious reaction than her mother, from whom she apparently inherited the disease.

There is another label to look for: the Gluten Intolerance Group has a Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) which is said to check foods down to 10 parts per million of gluten. I’ve just learned of them, so I’ll be doing some checking and try to find out how that labeling works.

I think the new regulations will help folks who are simply trying to eliminate most gluten from their lives.

For celiac sufferers, I still think it’s critically important to carefully check labels, if you’re buying prepared foods. Learn to make better use of non-gluten naturally kinds of foods and products – fresh vegetables, rice products (flours, breads, and pastas). Unfortunately, you just have to be super diligent in protecting yourself, no matter what the label says.

Companies have been given a year to comply with the new regulations for labeling their products as gluten free.

 

 

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Tips for Eating out Gluten-free

 

Gluten Free Thursday: Ricotta Pecan Spinach Salad

Gluten Free Thursday: Ricotta Pecan Spinach Salad (Photo credit: Love.Sasha.Lynn)

It is much easier to eat out if you are dining out near or close to home. You can always ask a friend or neighbor for restaurant recommendations of gluten-free establishments. Looking online at a menu before you go is easy, as well. Moreover, once you have gotten accustomed to a particular eatery, you can always return if you are satisfied.

 

However, eating gluten-free when you are traveling may provide a bit of a challenge. You can do several things however, before traveling on a trip if you are eating gluten-free.

Contact the hotel where you are staying. Contacting the hotel where you are staying is one of the best ways to gather information about potential gluten-free restaurants and eateries nearby. If the hotel is not familiar with any establishments, chances are more than likely that they will gather that information for you.

  1. Do a computer search for locations nearby where you will be staying for gluten-free restaurants and eateries. Sometimes there will be a gluten-free store where you can purchase muffins and lunch items. If your hotel offers a mini fridge or microwave, you may want to pay a few extra dollars for these amenities so that you can purchase some gluten-free foods and heat them up or refrigerate them.
  2. Call the restaurants and find out if they are truly 100 percent gluten-free. Restaurant owners and managers are always willing to go above and beyond for customers with special needs.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hidden Sources of Gluten

Gluten can hide in many places that you may not think about looking at which makes it even more difficult for those that are on a strict gluten-free lifestyle. It’s important to know where to look for hidden gluten so you don’t harm yourself and then wonder what you ate to cause a reaction. Hidden gluten can be found when multiple things are put together to make one food. This makes it difficult when you’re reading the label, but if you know what to look for, you’ll know what you can have and what you can’t have.

Not only is gluten in foods, but it’s also in other items we would ingest or come in contact with, so it’s important to pay attention to everything you purchase and read all labels on things you would put in your mouth or on your skin. Here is a short list of some of the items you must read labels for each time you purchase.

1. Soups prepared by a restaurant or in a can could contain gluten. Often times soup base is made from flour and unless you’re for sure it’s a gluten-free soup, it’s not a good idea to even try eating it. The only way it’s sure to be safe is if you make it 100% yourself and from scratch.

2. You’d think cooked vegetables would be safe, but that’s not the case when they’re made by someone else. Some butters contain gluten, so that’s the first thing to watch, but cross contamination can also occur if the vegetables are steamed in the same water or pan that was used for the pasta it would normally go on. Cross contamination doesn’t affect everyone, but if it does you, it’s important to make sure the pan is thoroughly washed before the vegetables are cooked.

3. Handmade potato chips or tortilla chips can also have cross contamination when cooked in a fryer that was used to cook breaded foods like fish or chicken. This happens a lot in restaurants because they don’t have the time or room to dedicate one fryer to gluten-free items only.

4. Meatloaf is another food that has hidden gluten in it. Most times this meal is prepared with crackers or breadcrumbs and those contain gluten. It’s best to make your own using gluten-free oats or crushed nuts.

5. Certain vitamins contain wheat and not many people think about looking at the label for gluten. You ingest these vitamins so it’s important to watch the label and only purchase ones that are gluten-free.

6. Medications are another area you must be careful with because there are some on the market that contain gluten. These could cause problems you may not think would be from them, so you may take the time searching for the food that caused it, when it was really the medication you were taking.

7. Makeup is another item you must look into when it comes to gluten. They may be natural, but may also contain wheat or other gluten ingredients. It’s best to read the label or contact the manufacturer just to be safe.

Gluten is in a lot of the products we use daily. It may be hiding so to speak because of other ingredients used to make them. This is why it’s important to read labels for all things you’d ingest or may come in contact with your skin. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Here are some other specific things to watch for:

As I’ve said a lot here, it is very important to pay attention to the ingredients in everything! You can never assume you know that something is safe until you’ve thoroughly read the label and done some investigating.

 

Preparing Your Own Gluten-free Foods

You do not necessarily have to shop in a specialty store that only sells gluten-free products. Many gluten-free foods today can be found in supermarket aisles and the frozen section of many health food stores. Items such as pancake mix, muffin mix, bread mix, cereals, desserts, snacks and even frozen breakfast, lunch and dinner meals can easily be picked up at most supermarkets and health stores.

If you’re planning on traveling for an extended time, be sure to visit the gluten-free section of your local supermarket and stock up on snacks. This will ensure you are prepared any delays at the airport, in traffic or in the event that where you are traveling to does not have a gluten-free section within the local stores. If you are headed out for a day trip, consider packing a lunch in a cooler so you can have a ready-made meal when you want.

Preparing gluten-free meals really starts with understanding your grains and starches. You should read up on which grains and starches you can and cannot have as well as what you can use as a substitute. While you’re reading, make a list of items you want to look for during your next shopping trip. Keep this list handy so you can take it with you and make notes if you find a brand you particularly like.

Always try small packages of mixes before buying a larger portion. You will find that some gluten-free flours make great muffins but not so great pancakes. Others might do well with biscuits but fall flat with a cake. So test out several to find which brands you like best for each food you make.

If you are planning to be 100% gluten-free, you should be aware of cross-contamination. Always store your gluten-free products separate from everything else. Before using any utensil, make sure it is free of gluten residue. If you can afford it, purchase a new toaster and other appliances that you can use strictly for your gluten meals.

Preparing your own gluten-free products from scratch is similar to batch cooking as you would with normal meals. You can prepare gluten-free pancakes and freeze the batter in separate, smaller containers for the future. Baking breads and muffins in batch form is also a great idea for your workweek. In addition, then there is always the option of preparing gluten-free wraps and filling them with ham and eggs or potatoes and vegetables for a yummy quick breakfast or lunch.

Another awesome idea is to make a gluten-free quiche for dinner and combine it with a salad. This will fill you up, give you vital vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, and keep you gluten-free and satisfied. Many individuals find that freezing individual slices of quiche make for a great breakfast starter or even lunch.

Some Notes about Gluten-free Baking

Be prepared. It is very important to be prepared when undertaking gluten-free baking. It is an art that needs to be learned and learned by the old adage of if you do not succeed at first, try, try, and then try again.

Be patient. Baking gluten-free takes some time and some practice. More than likely your first experience with gluten-free baking will not result in something that is just waiting to be photographed and placed in a magazine. It is a trial and error type of endeavor.

Reap the rewards. Once you have begun the process of trying gluten-free baking, you will notice that you will learn many nuances of gluten-free baking. You will find what works for you, in what amount, and how many ingredients. Stick with it and you will be pleasantly surprised that it will not only taste good to bake gluten-free, but it will feel good, as well.

You can use several different flour bases for your gluten-free baking:

  • White rice flour
  • Brown rice flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Almond flour

While the white rice and brown rice flour are a bit more traditional, the coconut and almond flours will add more sweetness and flavor to your base recipe.

Sweet rice flour may have a more starch-oriented base and can add a bit more moisture to your baking.

Buckwheat or quinoa flour will have a thicker and heavier component for your baking base.

As far as starches are concerned, potato starch and cornstarch are good choices for gluten-free baking.

If you are new to gluten-free baking, you will probably have to get used to baking with the additive known as xanthan gum. This is an added ingredient which will increase the thickness of your baking and have it stick together better. You will note as you first set out that baking gluten-free has the tendency to make your baked goods fall apart. The addition of xanthan gum, used sparingly, seems to alleviate this problem.

The nice thing, however, about gluten-free baking is that you can whip up a big batch of flour and dry ingredients and store it for later use. Adding things like yogurt, nuts (of course if no one is allergic), bananas, and raisins will all make for delicious tasty baked gluten-free goods.

That all being said, there are a number of prepared flours available for gluten free cooking, with, it seems, more being offered each day. They can be expensive, but for some it’s worth taking the time and some money to find a prepared flour mix that is palatible. This is particularly so if you live in an area where the components for gluten free are hard to come by.

One of the best my sister and I have found is Domata Gluten Free Flour that is available on Amazon.com. I’ve successfully used it in recipes by simply substituting the same amount of Domata as the regular flour called for.  It is expensive, but we’ve found it well worth the price.

Bob’s Red Mill also makes an acceptable gluten free flour, and it’s quite a bit cheaper. I haven’t tried it for fine baking, though. And for you Bisquick fans, they do make a gluten free product, as well. In fact, Betty Crocker seems to be making a point of getting into the gluten free market.

As with everything gluten free, you’re going to need more time and effort to successfully bake goodies, but it can certainly be worth it! Check these out for some ideas.

http://triathlon.competitor.com/2013/06/nutrition/gluten-free-peach-flax-upside-down-muffins-recipe_78596

http://triathlon.competitor.com/2013/06/nutrition/gluten-free-peach-flax-upside-down-muffins-recipe_78596

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2013/05/gluten-free-baking-and-substitutions/

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Nutrition and a Gluten Free Diet

There are a number of publications, articles, and web sites touting the benefits and and all around wonderfulness of going gluten free. If your exploration of the gluten free way of life is not medically mandated, you really should spend some time on research. Here is a video I found that talks about an aspect of switching from gluten grains to non-glutens ones that you probably haven’t thought about.

You must be careful and diligent in your research before diving head first into a gluten free life.

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