Monthly Archives: June 2009

General Mills Removes Gluten-Containing Ingredients from Kix Cereal

General Mills, it appears, is on a roll. First it released its gluten-free Chex, then it unveiled those Betty Crocker gluten-free Baking Mixes, next it expanded its line of gluten-free Chex to include six flavors and now, as Gluten-Free Philly first reported Saturday, gluten-free Kix?

Well, almost,  a customer service representative told me today. Kix has been reformulated so that it no longer contains oats. However, the company has decided not to specifically label Kix gluten free nor claim it to be so, as cross-contamination is still a possibility. I’ve contacted a media representative for more information, particularly about whether production lines are washed between runs of gluten-containing and gluten-free products. This type of practice is pretty standard with a large company like General Mills, and it would most likely allow many on a gluten-free diet to add Kix to their breakfast cereal options. Expect more updates in the next few days, and while you’re waiting to know for sure, you can already eat gluten-free cereals from 20+ brands, according to the Grocery Guide.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Time for a pizza party! Summer is in full swing and we feel like celebrating all season long, American style. Break out your gluten free beer, your gluten free banjo, and your gluten free pizza crust… uh oh. Uno’s may not deliver, but there’s a better option: do it yourself! Our gluten-free blogging community has made sure that you’ll have no problem whipping up a golden, chewy crust that your family can top with their favorite ingredients. As the pizza bakes, the whole house will smell delicious.

  • Laura at SureTalent Books suggests a gluten free pizza crust made with teff, millet flour, white rice flour, cornstarch, and xantham gum.
  • Gluten Free Girl begs to differ with sweet rice, quinoa, and tapioca flours (pictured above) for her gluten free pizza crust.
  • Gluten Free Mommy takes the middle ground with millet, sweet rice, white rice, and tapioca flours, also adding arrowroot starch and xantham gum.
  • Gluten Free Cooking school breaks out the corn with masa harina, corn starch, brown rice flour, and soy flour.
  • Gluten Free in the Greens can get along just fine without flour, thank you very much.  This crust is made of quinoa, eggs, parmesan, and nutritional yeast.
  • Lydia posts at Karina’s Kitchen about her crust of potato starch and white rice, brown rice, and tapioca flours. She adds xantham gum for chewiness but gives alternative options.

Which gluten free pizza crust are you going to make?

Gluten-Free Cooking Class in Massachusetts

The Andover Senior Center in Andover, MA offers a gluten-free cooking class June 30th at 1:30 p.m. for $5. The senior center welcomes “elders and their families” in the Andover community. Senior Center chef Frank Melendez will preside. This is a great opportunity for older people with celiac disease to learn in a supportive environment from a person experienced in cooking for the elderly. According to the advertisement in the Andover Townsman:

Wheat free entrees and desserts can still be on your menus. Bring a little appetite and come taste without worry. This workshop will be appropriate for those with celiac disease or anyone wishing to learn more about gluten free eating and cooking. Frank, our senior center chef, will show you how you can still have a broad and appealing selection of food in your diet.

You need to pre-register for this class, so call ahead. Contact information:

Andover Senior Center
36 Bartlet Street
Rear of Town Offices
(Whittier Court)
Andover, MA 01810
TEL 978-623-8321

There are several other fun activities for seniors and families scheduled that Tuesday; read up on the Senior Center newsletter at:

http://www.andoverseniorcenter.org/ASCNews.htm

Gluten-Free Cupcakes that are "Actually" Delicious

“It’s like an ice cream shop, only better,” one friend told me.

“I know you hate cupcakes, Rodger, but these… these are different,” said another.

“They will actually change your life.”

It all started one Friday evening. We were at Chipotle, a favorite gluten-free hotspot of mine. My friends were all clamoring over a new dessert place that just opened across the street. Cupcakes Actually is what it’s called, and it’s one of two specialty cupcake places that recently opened in Northern Virginia.

After licking clean my burrito bowl, I lumbered across the street to the tiny shop in Fairfax Corner, an upscale Northern Virginia shopping center.

Inside the store, a long display case stretched from wall-to-wall, with ten varieties of cupcakes sitting on neat pedestals perched delicately behind the glass. And, much to my surprise, one variety read “Flourless Chocolate” on the label. I had to ask – “So is the flourless chocolate cupcake gluten-free?” The lady behind the counter hesitated, eradiating that aura of discomfort that so many restaurant staff seem to display when asked about all things gluten. “Yes, yes it is,” she said. I asked more questions, and she had all the answers.

“Well, then I’ll have two.”

My total for this escapade? Seven (7) dollars. For cupcakes. My wallet felt a little stung by the transaction. “This place must be making a killing,” my friend Phoebe commented after she saw the shock on my face upon seeing the total.

But nonetheless, I paid, and, for someone who doesn’t like cupcakes, who feels a little unclean after spending so much on something so small and delicate, it took quite a bit for this dessert to win me over. But win me over it did. Each bite was as soft and satisfying as the next. Nothing irks me like frosting with no taste but that of pure sugar. But this frosting was perfect – an ideal blend of creaminess and sweetness, it cooled my taste buds and delighted them, all at once. And most importantly, these cupcakes lived up to the hype, which is a lot to say, especially coming from a former cupcake skeptic.

The next week in the office, I told Kay about my find, and we took an excursion out to the shop. We bought both the regular chocolate and the gluten-free chocolate, to see which one had more taste. And undoubtedly, the gluten-free cupcake was still the favorite. It felt richer, both in taste and texture. At times, it seemed almost like biting into a piece of fudge, rather than cake, as the store undoubtedly added quite a bit more chocolate to make up for the tendency of many gluten-free baked goods to flake and fall apart like sand.

I talked more with the shop’s staff, and they said they change their flavors every week, but they usually have at least one gluten-free variety. Past gluten-free flavors have included both banana and peanut butter, which I’m looking forward to getting the chance to try.

Elana’s Pantry just posted a great recipe for a gluten-free chocolate cupcake for all you bakers out there. Does anyone else have a favorite cupcake spot that offers gluten-free?

Taste Test: Food Should Taste Good Chips

We posted earlier about the delicious and creamy Red Mango Frozen Yogurt, which is one of the latest brands to have been certified as gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). We’ve since been moving through the GFCO certified list, and our most recent acquisition, Food Should Taste Good chips, matches Red Mango’s superb taste while balancing its more healthful qualities.

Wrapped in a black bag with a design that reminds you more of an elegant steakhouse dinner than a quick snack, these chips aren’t for your typical Lay’s fanatic. The name of the brand, Food Should Taste Good, perhaps suggests that healthy food should taste good, as these delicious chips contain a high amount of flaxseed and are low in sodium, which certainly goes against the conventional wisdom of your run-in-the-mill snack-happy chip.

And be advised – we don’t always recommend these chips be eaten straight out of the bag. They still taste delicious, mind you, but when dipped in a savory gluten-free sour cream and onion dip (our Grocery Guide lists at least five varieties) these chips satisfy like few other gluten-free snacks. The coolness of the dip blends perfectly with the chips’ dry, salty texture. And like Lay’s, you can’t eat just one; Annette and I went through our two bags in no time at all.

Available in eleven different flavors (we sampled Multigrain as well as Potato and Chive), the chips have received a fair amount of media attention since their creation in 2006. They’ve been featured multiple times on the Rachel Ray show and even evoked an endorsement on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends, whose correspondents passed around different varieties of the chips during a recent show (clip available on Food Should Taste Good’s Media Site).

This sort of press attention certainly is a sign that these chips have caught the public eye, and this delicious gluten-free treat is set to take off.

Delightfully Gluten-Free has a helpful rundown of some quick thoughts about a few of the varieties.

A Gluten Free Guide reviewed the chips and claimed to enjoy the Chocolate flavor considerably – we have yet to try that particular kind, and we’re a bit skeptical that salt and chocolate could mix to create a palatable snack. But we’re curious to see what you think. Has anyone else tried the chocolate chips? What about other varieties of Food Should Taste Good Chips? Which ones are your favorites?

Volunteer for a Celiac study in Chicago!

The Rush University Medical Center’s Section of Gastroenterology and Nutrition is currently seeking volunteers for two separate studies related to celiac disease. If you live in Chicago, you could volunteer for these trials and make a difference for future people diagnosed with celiac disease.

The first clinical trial, run by Dr. Sunana Sohi,  is Celiac Disease and Mind/ Body Medicine. According to the Center:

The purpose of this study is to determine whether participation in one of two mind/body courses has an impact on adherence to a gluten-free diet in patients with celiac disease.

You are eligible for this trial if:

  • Have received a diagnosis of celiac disease in the past four weeks or within two weeks of starting a gluten-free diet
  • Are over 18 years of age
  • Have not previously attempted a gluten-free diet

For more information or to sign up, call (312) 942-1559 and ask to speak with Dr. Suhail Salem.

The second trial, Economic Impact of Celiac Disease, is run by Dr. Ece Mutlu. According to the Center:

The purpose of this study is to find out more information about the total costs of celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue or gluten enteropathy… We are inviting people with celiac disease and people without celiac disease to participate in this research study. This project will last for approximately four weeks. If you agree to participate, you will need to come to the hospital once. The study will require you to fill out a questionnaire and keep a food diary and collect receipts for food items that you purchased and ate over a period of four weeks.

To participate in this trial, you must:

  • Be a single patient buying groceries only for yourself or are willing to separate out  food bills from others living in the same household
  • Have no symptoms frequently associated with celiac disease such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas or bloating, weight loss, constipation or any other gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Have no medical history of celiac disease-associated disorders such as type 1 diabetes mellitus, Down syndrome or autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Have no past medical history that includes a disease needing a specific diet such as diabetes, end-stage renal disease or congestive heart failure

For more information or to sign up, contact GI Clinical Trials at (312) 942-3466.


Snack Attack: Snikiddy Pizza Puffs

When grazing gluten-free, sometimes you crave what the Gluties eat without thinking about it. You want neither the haute-cuisine of money-burning gourmets nor mother’s home cookin’. But you’d say yes to the vending machine snack a doctor snags in between patients and the powder-yellow puffballs teenagers wolf down after school. You want junk.

You are having a Snack Attack.

If you miss cheese-flavored snacks, you’re in luck. Because Snikiddy Pizza Puffs have the texture of Cheetos and the gluten of an apple. They have a mild, cheesey flavor with a gentle aftertaste of pizza sauce. One taste tester thought they were better than Cheetos, but like Cheetos that cheese stuff gets all over your hands for an authentic junk food experience.  Luckily you don’t have to worry about trans fat, cholesterol, or hydrogenated oils. A serving is a generous fourth of the bag.

A 4 ounce bag cost $3.00 at my local Stop and Shop so check them out and tell us what you think. Can they compete with your favorite GF snack?

Fancy Dinner in Chicago for You!

Mark your calenders, everyone! Thanks to Safe and Sound Dinners, June 29th you (and your special someone) can safely and luxuriously dine out at Carnivale in Chicago. For $50 per person, you will be treated to appetizers, entrées, and dessert that are completely free of of gluten, eggs, soy, shellfish, dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts. Carnivale revels in “Authentic Nuevo Latino cuisine” so your menu will be bursting with flavor:

  • Appetizers—Guacamole and chips, Ropa Vieja (sweet plaintains, braised beef, spicy mayo)
  • Entrees—Arrachera (grilled marinated skirt steak, black beans and rice, sweet onions, chimichurri), Pollo (Guatemalan-style chicken, jalapeno-parsley mojo, potatoes, olives, green beans), or Pernil (rum glazed pork shoulder, Puerto Rican rice and beans, fried plantains)
  • Dessert—by Swirlz cupcakes

Carnivale has garnered glowing reviews from Bon Apétit, Chicago, and many other culinary magazines. But at Safe and Sound dinners, you can do more than scarf down delicious food; according to Lisa Williams of LisaCooksAllergenFree.com:

The Safe and Sound Dinner series was designed to be a town square for Chicago’s food allergy community. Members gather at Chicagoland’s hottest restaurant and sample the finest in allergen-free dining. We’ll also discover how to safely cook, dine and shop.

Each Safe and Sound Dinner guest will enjoy:

  • A family-style menu that gives diners the opportunity to savor allergen-free fare from some of Chicago’s most popular restaurants, like Carnivale and Da Luciano;
  • An opportunity to meet the restaurant’s chef and learn how a kitchen can be transformed into a  successful allergen-free operation;
  • A gift bag stuffed with tasty, allergen-free treats from the finest names in the business, such as Whole Foods, Peanut Free Planet, and Breads from Anna.

So go here and register, or call (773) 665-0430.

NPR's Morning Edition Reports on Gluten-Free

On June 15, NPR’s Morning Edition did a story about thirteen-year-old Jacob Rosenblum and his bout with celiac. It details the changes in his diet and family life and also delves into some of the finer specifics of the disease. We certainly feel many families can relate to this story, and we’re glad to see a major news outlet like NPR help get the word out!

Click here for the full story plus audio.

New Gluten Guidelines in Europe

This is very welcome news for celiacs in Europe. According to the European Union’s Food Standards Agency (FSA):

Under the new European Union regulations, only foods that contain less than 20 parts of gluten in a million will be allowed to use the term ‘gluten-free’ on their packaging. Recent evidence has shown that this extremely low level offers better protection for people with an intolerance to gluten. Previously, a food labelled ‘gluten free’ could have contained up to ten times more than this.

In addition, some foods made using cereals that have been specially processed to remove most of the gluten, but which contain less than 100 parts of gluten in a million, will be able to make the claim ‘very low gluten’ on the packaging. These include substitutes of certain staple foods such as bread.

These new guidelines do not go into effect until January 1st, 2012. To read the FSA’s web pages on coeliac disease, go here and here.