Monthly Archives: June 2008

Kiss My Gluten Free Grits!

While wheat may be hidden in many products, some breakfast cereals passionately trumpet this ingredient, not only in their labels but in their names as well. Wheaties? Cream of Wheat? Come on, we get it already – you’re made of wheat! Perhaps this is ultimately helpful for the gf dieter, but it also seems like a taunt.

Maybe the fact that so many cereals are bursting at the box corners with wheat has driven several gf bloggers to take on the subject of gluten-free cereal. If you’re in the mood for a cold cereal that’s met with a gf blogger’s stamp of approval, check out The Gluten Free Blog’s review of New Morning’s Cocoa Crispy Rice or Allergic Girl’s thoughts on Erewhon’s Crispy Rice. Or even take a look at our previous posts on Rice Chex and EnviroKidz cereal.

But on the few cool June mornings that are left, sometimes a bowl of cold cereal just won’t cut it. You want something with a bit of heat, that will warm up your insides and be a satisfying beginning to your day. Afraid of gluten found in many hot cereals? Tell Cream of Wheat to ‘kiss my gf grits!’ because there are gf hot cereal options out there just waiting to be heated up.

I did a comparison of two rice cream cereals: Lundberg’s Purely Organic Hot’n Creamy Rice Cereal and Erewhon’s Brown Rice Cream. There are many similarities between the two: both are low fat, organic, obviously gluten free, and taste somewhat similar. However, while both advertise that they are whole-grain and made with brown rice, I think it’s Lundberg’s “oven-roasted organic whole grain California brown rice” that gives it a little extra something.

Also, Lundberg’s has microwave instructions, which does make it somewhat easier and faster to make for the completely cooking incompetent like myself (improv’ing your own microwave instructions for Erewhon’s, however, is completely possible – I did it). Although made for the stove, Erewhon’s hot cereal instructions also include an intriguing apple juice instead of water suggestion to give your cereal an added sweetness.

A word of advice when eating whichever cereal you choose: while I enjoyed my gf hot cereal sampler breakfast (adding some blueberries to give it a healthy but sweet kick), it is a heavy, stick-to-your ribs meal, so be aware. I’ve been eating lightly in the mornings for the last couple months and my stomach was in a bit of a shock at my breakfast change.

Update: I initially planned on doing a three way comparison of gf hot cereals so here it is! The third and final hot cereal I tried was Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Farina. While similar to the other two I tried in taste and contents, the Farina cereal has a unique quality: it’s texture. For those wishing to relive the days of grits, this cereal will let you do that. It’s grains of rice are less fine in texture and while you can alter the thickness and thinness of the overall cereal with how much you cook it (there are microwave instructions! yes!) the cereal is generally grainy. If a spoon full of rice grits in the morning is what you’ve been missing, try some and see if you have a new favorite breakfast.

Cluing in to Gluten free

It might not perfectly reflect the Pacific blue, but gluten-free living is indeed a vast, mysterious ocean for those growing in their knowledge of celiac disease and its many faces.

From its variety of symptoms, namely gastroenterological ailments to its core cures, chiefly the gluten-free diet, this conundrum of a chronic digestive disaster gives its sufferer’s much to learn.

The good news is that once celiacs learn the ropes of their diets, the sufferer label melts away–it recedes along with cramping and integestion. Cookbooks like Danna Korn and Connie Sarros’ Gluten-free Cooking for Dummies , helps to accelerate the celiac learning curve.

According the the Daily Gazette blog’s food forum, Korn and Sarros provide a chatty, easy-going, but informative primer on how people with wheat allergies can still enjoy a good meal. Their 150 recipe ideas include flatbread, waffles, spinach pie, cookies, cakes, lasagna and more.

Check out buy.com, amazon.com, and overstock.com for comparative prices.

Say Yes to Yogurt

Stonyfield Farm yogurtIf you haven’t noticed while browsing the shelves at your local grocery store, Stonyfield Farm is proudly proclaiming its recent gluten-free certification by GFCO on their yogurt tops.  While some of its products are still off limits, many others, like my sister’s favorite lowfat organic yogurt, have been given the green light for gluten-free dieters.  Since it was already in my refrigerator, I decided to reach for a spoon.

I’m rather picky about my yogurt, especially when it comes to texture.  I prefer those that call themselves ‘creamy’ or ‘whipped’ and have no smooth-defying fruit chunks.  Stonyfield Farm’s lowfat yogurts are made up of fruit, located at the bottom of the container, and plain yogurt on top.  If you have a chunky yogurt phobia like me, this is somewhat helpful; you can mix the yogurt to fit your desire.  However, I’m partial to zero fruit chunks so for me, the texture was okay but not great.

Out of Stonyfield Farm’s ten lowfat flavors, I’ve tried four: blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, and ‘Just Peachy.’  Each has a subtle and tasty flavor that I attribute mostly to the plain yogurt itself; while I usually pass if it’s plain, the unmixed yogurt tasted good just by itself!  And whether you’re dieting or indulging, Stonyfield Farm allows you to stick to your desired diet with their fat free, lowfat, and whole milk yogurt options.

If yogurt by itself doesn’t spark your interest, Stonyfield Farm has a database of recipes from pastas to desserts that use yogurt.  Either search for gluten-free recipes or try your hand at converting dishes into celiac-friendly delights.   (To be on the safe side, I’d make sure the gf recipes really are gf.)  And if none of these look good, check out Dianne at Gluten Free Journey’s tasting looking yogurt, honey, and walnut snack.  It’s looks both simple to make and like a good way to satisfy a sweet tooth.

If Stonyfield Farm’s flavors, calories, and fruit-lined bottom sound good, check out their store locator to find some yogurt near you.  And keep an eye out for more gf items from this company in the future.  While their yogurt, smoothies, and soy-yogurt  have been deemed gluten-free by the GFCO, other Stonyfield Farm products are in the process of certification.

A Gluten-Free Economy

With surging gas prices deepening those ever gaping holes in our fraying, blue jean pockets, it’s comforting to know that the economy retains some bright patches.

According to the news site, eNews 2.0, the market for food allergy and intolerance products is enjoying an uptick, with gluten-free items contributing to the rising tide.

The market might exceed $3.9 billion this year with gluten-free beverages and munchies topping off at $1.3 billion before decade’s end. This figure is up from $700 million in 2006.

New York based National Association for the Specialty Food Trade predicts that more than 250 of its 2,800 participants provide at least 7,000 no-allergenic products. Five short years go only about 50 members did.

So, while this news brief might do little to solve your gas woes, it garners yet another gold star for gluten-free living.

Let Them Eat Gluten Free Cake

Like chocolate bunnies on Easter or champagne on New Year’s Eve, cake is the treat of choice for birthdays.  Don’t let a fear of what’s in your local grocer’s cake mix make you deprive yourself of this classic dessert.

If you want to do it yourself, gluten-free cake mixes are available from brands such as Kinnikinnick and Cherrybrook Kitchen.  With Cherrybrook Kitchen’s frosting mixes, how to add finishing touches to your gluten-free cake shouldn’t be a worry either.  If you know your way around a kitchen and want something a bit more elaborate than a chocolate or vanilla cake, check out this equisite Praline Rooibos Opera Cake prepared by gluten-freer, Sheltie Girl.  But if you’re like me and are cooking-challenged, there are bakeries across the country that can supply gluten-free eaters with a delicious dessert on their birthdays.

I was lucky enough to sample some gluten-free desserts from Buzz, a bakery and cafe located in Alexandria, Virginia.  Their vanilla and chocolate cupcakes are delightfully sweet treats whether you are celebrating your birthday or simply having an afternoon snack.  Buzz can also make gluten-free chocolate, vanilla and German chocolate cakes from 6 to 16 inches, but make sure to call and order them 48 hours ahead of time.

My personal favorite Buzz treat, however, is their gluten-free bird brownie.  If you want to throw tradition to the wind and treat yourself to a birthday brownie, you won’t be disappointed.  They are both rich and moist, satisfying even my ravenous sweet tooth!  If you are both a chocolate lover and a nut lover like me, you’ll enjoy this brownie as well.  It contains both toasted almonds and walnuts and the additional ingredient of Illy espresso gives it a little extra something.  Make sure to call and place your order at Buzz ahead of time to ensure you get the cupcakes or brownies you want, when you want them.

As friends and loved ones’ birthdays roll around this year, give the gift of cake!  Whether your want to get it store-made or make it yourself, birthday cake (as well as other desserts) can go back on the menu for all those with celiac disease.

The Pill Possibility

The temptation waits for you. It’s there. It’s ready. It’s hungry. Fast food chains, which offer what none of us needs, whether we live gluten-free or not, advertise celiac untouchables. Smells, chock full of cholesterol, waif through Pizza Hutand Subway sandwich doors. Rightly, you ignore these scents because you know alternatives exist, some as good or even better than what the fast food chains offer.

Just take a second to imagine a different scenario. See yourself eating such grain filled, white flour containing treats as deep dish pizza and double fudge brownies without fear of stomach cramps, weight loss or bloating.

According to a recent article published on ABC’s Phoenix affiliate’s website, an experimental new drug seeks to halt celiac symptoms before they begin. The pill, developed by Dr. Alessio Fasano, inhibits Zonulin, a protein that regulates the absorption of nutrients in the gut. It simultaneously widens and tightens spaces between closely packed cells that line the small intestine, thus admitting vital nutrients while effectively shunning harmful proteins like gluten.

Doctor Anthony DiMarino, M.D, currently heads a study on the new drug, which is tentatively titled a-t-1001.

The study’s results have been largely positive.

“It seems to be blocking the things you want it to block,” Dr. DiMarino notes in the article. “Patients seem to be able to tolerate the gluten with minimal or no side effects.”

If successful, the new pill might effectively replace the gluten-free diet as the number one solvent for celiac disease, or at least give it a little competition.

We’ll just have to wait and see, cause I don’t know about anyone else, but I quite like gluten-free munchies, and am not quite ready to say goodbye to Glutino pretzels.