Category Archives: Gluten Free Life

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.

 

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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Some Pros and Cons of a Gluten Free Diet

The Benefits of a Gluten-free Diet

If you are a celiac sufferer, the benefits of going gluten-free are obvious. You get to alleviate some serious side effects to gluten including saving the lining of your small intestine from being under constant attack. Gas, bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea is side effects of gluten intolerance, as well.

If you are not a celiac sufferer, but instead are seeking the benefits of going gluten-free for the simple reason that it is the talk of town, you can still find many benefits from this change in diet. They include, but are not limited to:

  1. Mental clarity may be a benefit. After removing gluten from their diets, many      individuals report having more mental clarity. These individuals say that      after months or years of “being in a fog” that the fog dissipates for them      after being on a gluten-free diet. They also suggest that their memory      loss and forgetfulness seem improves.
  2. Fatigue seems to decrease.      Consumers of a gluten-free diet may find that his or her issues with sleep      will improve once they remove gluten from their dietary intake. A better      night’s sleep and feeling less drowsy during the day may be good enough      reasons for the sleep deprived to give the gluten-free lifestyle a try.
  3. Maintaining weight is a desired goal. Losing weight and maintaining the weight      loss is a desired goal for millions of people. Many people report that      they were finally able to lose weight and keep it off after they changed      their diet to be gluten-free.
  4. Gluten could be life threatening. While mental clarity, fatigue and weight loss are      all good reasons to give this diet a try, if you have celiac disease, going      gluten-free can save your life.

For celiac suffers, even a tiny amount may have an adverse effect on the body. It can cause iron deficiency and anemia as well as Osteoporosis. Gluten can also set off a very serious reaction for some folks, including anaphylactic shock which can be fatal.

While many other individuals praise the fact that they are on gluten-free diets and tout benefits such as an overall feeling of well-being, energy increase, and alertness, none of these attributes have been conclusive in persons with only a small sensitivity to gluten.

For all of the good that a gluten-free diet does, it isn’t without its faults.

The Downfalls of a Gluten-free Lifestyle

Whole grains and wheat products have been a staple for the human diet for ages, and with good reason. By opting for a gluten-free lifestyle you might be unnecessarily eliminating vital nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Four such nutrients include:

Niacin – Niacin helps to keep your skin, hair and eyes healthy. It assists with maintaining a healthy nervous and digestive system. Niacin also helps convert carbohydrate into energy which is important if part of your goal for a gluten-free diet is to lose weight.

Iron – Iron has so many important jobs in our body. It carries oxygen to cells and carbon dioxide from them. It helps produce energy and hormones. Iron even plays a role in fighting against infections.

Vitamin B – Vitamin B has many parts and each part provides its own set of benefits. Generally speaking vitamin B is instrumental in maintaining a healthy immune & nervous system.

Zinc – Zinc may not be something you think about often, but its job is as important as any other nutrient. Zinc assists our immune system with responding to threats. It also plays a role in brain function and reproduction.
If you choose to seek out a gluten-free diet, you should consult with your primary care doctor before taking on this new lifestyle. In addition, you should be prepared to take a daily supplement to make up for any lost nutrients.

Nutrients may not be the only thing lacking in a gluten-free diet. Many people complain about the lack of variety available and taste in gluten-free foods. Gluten-free products definitely have a distinct taste and once you have eaten a certain variety of pasta for several years, you may never get used to the gluten-free kind.

Cost is another downside to this diet. Gluten-free products are very costly. Although you may be able to find gluten-free products on the shelves of supermarkets, they will still typically be expensive, especially while gluten-free continues to be the ‘in fad’ in the eyes of consumers.

Be prepared to become a label reading guru if you choose to go gluten-free. Gluten is found in many unsuspecting foods such as spaghetti sauce, soy sauce, and in some packaged products, as well. You will need to extremely wary of labels and plan to spend extra time shopping, at least in the beginning stages, if you are going totally gluten-free.

Cooking at home is less expensive than purchasing prepared products; however, this can be time consuming and cumbersome. You can certainly buy gluten-free pancake mixes, muffin mixes, cake mixes, and bread mixes, but be prepared for a little bit of mess and some extra time involved in preparing your own gluten-free menus, especially if you start from scratch.

Dining out, eating at another person’s home and vacationing can all be extremely difficult while trying to maintain the gluten-free lifestyle. You will need to make certain that your wait staff, hotel staff, and hosts are all aware of your lifestyle choices. If they won’t indulge you, you may have to skip the event or prepare your own meal ahead of time and take it with you.

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