Monthly Archives: July 2009

Raw Restaurant Meets GF Needs

I don’t know how many of our readers live in Maine, but this Portland, ME restaurant, GRO, exemplifies the potential of colliding restricted diets. GRO (Grass Roots Organic Juice Bar and Café) is 90% gluten-free, but the menu doesn’t advertise that fact, although GRO offers GF bread. The gluten-free aspect is a lucky coincidence that grew out of the vegan, organic, and raw focus of the restaurant; GRO’s Chef Andrew Borne also buys local when possible, and that’s just the beginning. Employees fetch local spring water daily. The restaurant staff also grow most of their own sprouts plus their own tomatoes and mushrooms; GRO recycles, composts, reuses, and reduces. GRO composts all of its plastic, which is made from corn. Menus are printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based ink. The wall paint contains no synthetic toxins. Renewable, fast-growing bamboo provides the flooring.

If you’re seeking a shining example of the über-healthy, ultra-natural, sustainable food movement, it’s GRO. And those who avoid gluten should keep in mind that there is a place for them in this movement. So the next time you pass a raw or ecologically-minded restaurant, check out the menu; you may find it differs from the standard gluten-heavy Western diet and favors your diet.

To learn more about over 5,000 other (non-raw) gluten free restaurants, don’t forget to check out our gluten free restaurant guide.

Mayo Clinic's Fascinating Finding on Celiac Disease Prevalence

Gluten-free is very close to hitting the mainstream. From profiles on Celiac Disease and gluten-free food hitting The View, CNN, and tons of local outlets, awareness is growing.  And we may be able to chalk this up to more than spreading awareness.  There may actually be MORE Celiacs than ever before. Check out this study by the prestigious Mayo Clinic.  Or, watch this short video by the study’s lead, Dr. Joseph Murray.  By the way, if you love accents like me, Dr. Murray’s accent is mild, but it is Irish.  Dr. Murray received his medical training at the National University of Ireland.  (And if you’re thinking, why does this woman even care, like I said, I’m nuts about accents!  And just a little nuts in general…)

Mayo Clinic\’s Dr. Joseph Murray

In early May, Starbucks introduced its Valencia Orange Cake to great fanfare in the gluten-free community. Despite what appears to be strong support from the gluten-free community and continued demand for the product (our local Starbucks has told us that the product sells quickly), they’ve pulled the plug on this gluten-free treat.

It’s so hard to find good, safe gluten-free options. Having a gluten-free treat at Starbucks was an enormous win for the community. It’s sad to see it disappear such a short time later, without any real explanation.

We’ve put this petition together to convince Starbucks to bring the Valencia Orange Cake back. We’re going to collect 5,000 signatures and present the petition to Starbucks.

Click here to sign the petition.

Gluten Free English Muffins

Sure, you could just melt butter on your English muffins and enjoy a toasty cold-weather treat. But it’s summertime. If you’re going to the trouble of making yourself fresh GF English muffins, why not top them with freshly made nut butters and fruit from the farmer’s market? Or spread them with berry preserves and serve with sun-steeped iced tea. Ahhh.

Pardon? You don’t know how to make GF English muffins? These bloggers do:

  • Karina whips ’em up with sorghum flour, potato flour, millet flour, and xantham gum.
  • Karen the Gluten Free Sox Fan adapted a recipe and made hers with with sorghum flour, corn starch, tapioca flour, potato starch, and xantham gum. Check the comments section of this recipe for Ellen Allard’s variation using brown and white rice flours instead of some of the sorghum flour. I Am Gluten Free then adapted Ellen Allard’s variation!
  • Gluten Free Naturally invented cinnamon raisin English muffins for her kids—check out her yumtastic picture above—with sorghum flour and potato, tapioca, and corn starches, plus some xantham gum.
  • Rasjane made a trial run and shared the results with us. She used millet flour, tapioca starch, and guar gum.

Share with us your results!

Starbucks Tweet: Valencia Orange Cake Discontinued

Gluten Freeway reported last night that Starbucks has discontinued its delicious, sticky, and gluten-free Valencia Orange Cake in favor of Kind Bars, a gluten-free dried nut and fruit bar. Starbucks’ Twitter said the decision was made because people felt the Orange Cake was “too much of a treat, and not a nutritious snack.”

We’ve contacted Starbucks, and we hope to find out more information soon. We’ll be sure to post any responses right here on our blog.

Until then, we’d love to hear what you all think of this decision. Please comment!

Gluten-Free Sunscreen

Summer is well underway and I hope you’re all slathering on the sunscreen. Gluten-free sunscreen, that is. Sunscreen may not taste good, but if you get it on your fingers it’s quite easy to get it into your mouth. Here’s a list of some GF sunscreens that we’ve heard about to get you browning, not grilling. Just make sure to double check the ingredients list to be safe.

Taste Test: Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice

Tangy, sour, tart, and sweet, Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice dances on your tongue with every sip. Its flavor makes you want to purse your lips and cringe and at the same time smack your lips and say “Ahhh” after every refreshing sip.

It’s a drink with split tastes. Cranberry juice most similarly relates, but Pom kicks your tongue just that much harder. But yet you still keep drinking it. It’s as though the intensity of the juice, its fierce assault on your tongue forces you to drink more. And more. Until that distinctive figure-8-shaped bottle is all empty.

Pom claims its juice provides number of health benefits. Among them – increased blood flow to the heart, decrease in arterial plaque, improved prostate health, improved erectile function, and high antioxidant potency.

A graph in the documentation sent to us along with samples from the company illustrates that Pom Wonderful contains even more antioxidants than red wine, whose health benefits have been long touted. Nonetheless, these health claims should be taken with a grain of salt – antioxidant supplements have shown few health benefits in clinical trials, leading some researchers to believe that the increases in life span and drops in cancer rates seen from eating fruits and vegetables may be due to other nutrients. Nonetheless, in spite of this doubt about the role of antioxidants, the nutritional benefits from consuming fruits such as pomegranates are backed by substantial research, as evidenced here.

The price of the beverage also seemed a bit high – our local grocery stores sold the juice in 16 ounce bottles for $3.99, or roughly 25 cents per ounce. But this high price is likely due to the fact that manufacturing 100% pomegranate juice is often an excruciating process, as each individual pomegranate yields only small amounts of juice.

Nonetheless, this product is a delicious beverage with a unique, astringent taste that’s as refreshing as any juice we’ve tested.

Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice is listed in the most recent edition in our Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide. As always, we are never paid to review a product, but we did receive a free sample of the juice from Pom.

Have any of you tried Pom? What did you think of it? Let us know!

Avid Athlete Abstains (from Gluten)

Sports Fans will enjoy a blog I stumbled upon the other day: Gluten-Free Triathlon Training Tips for Triathletes. The blog, written by award-winning triathlete John Martin Forberger, helps aspiring triathletes train for swimming, biking, and running. Forberger punctuates his exercise suggestions with tips for chowing down celiac style. Quick preview: he recommends eggs.

Forberger wants you to know that eating gluten-free won’t slow you down:

I have participated in several races and won several triathlons while maintaining a full gluten-free diet. I ventured into the triathlon world as a former high school track & field runner and just a decent swimmer. I had zero biking experience. The bottom line – it is possible to eat a gluten-free diet and compete in endurance sports.

A blunt tone—”He didn’t become one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive by sitting on the couch all day eating chocolate Haagen-Dazs”—and an entertaining variety of topics turn this blog into an addictive pleasure. Follow the link and you will learn exercises for toning your shoulders, the pros and cons of various kinds of bikes, which triathlete is sponsored by which company, advice for how to impress your spouse, and a review of GF protein powder.  Have a good time reading and then, as I’m sure Forberger would agree, get off your butt!

Blogger of the Month: Melissa McLean Jory

I feel so excited but nervous about signing up for a CSA (community-supported agriculture). CSA is a system that allows a farmer to sell “shares” of her farm produce to local consumers, typically in a weekly box of fruit and vegetables. If you haven’t yet jumped on the farm-share bandwagon, consider the pros as listed by

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

Furthermore, CSA produce (as far as I can tell) is naturally gluten-free. Our blogger of the month, Melissa, takes advantage of her GF farm produce to blog all the recipes that she invents so as to deal with her farm-share vegetables. The biggest problem with CSA is that consumers tend to receive a huge amount of a few types of vegetables for a long period of time, and taste buds can tire of turnips after a month of not much else! Thank goodness, then, that celiacs have a place in the blog community that helps them find a GF use for all their produce.

Melissa’s blog, Gluten Free For Good, has recently offered recipes for beet cupcakes, rhubarb blueberry sherbet, matchstick salad, kohlrabi and spinach salad, kale chard and mushroom lasagna, garlic scape pesto, green smoothie, parsley dill and tomato pasta, beet coconut chocolate chip ice cream, and beet and spinach salad. If you’d like to eat at her house, you’re not alone. Everything sounds scrumptious and is inspired by her Colorado CSA.

Melissa writes:

“It is a shame to be caught up in something that does not make you tremble with joy.”

That quote is from legendary culinary queen, Julia Childs, but the thing I love most about it is that applies to so many aspects of my life. It’s a personal mantra of sorts, from farm-fresh food to outdoor adventure to family and friends. Yes, life should be all about trembling with joy!

I don’t advertise on this blog, but I do advocate healthy living and a huge part of that is a focus on nutrient-dense foods. Because I have celiac disease and want to avoid the pit-falls that often accompany autoimmune conditions, I choose high-quality, organic foods and steer clear of the vitality-zapping junk that makes up the Standard American Diet (very SAD indeed).

Those of you who have been following this blog know I support my farmer friends at Grant Family Farms. I thrive on their organic fruits, veggies and pastured eggs and as a nutrition therapist, I know exactly why. It’s my medicine (lucky me). Nothing like fresh garlic scapes sautéed with summer squash, served with wild rice and a few ounces of wild-caught salmon for a dose of healing flavor. Or fresh, omega-rich eggs that look and taste much better then their store-bought counterparts. There’s no comparison.

So, while I don’t advertise on my blog, I won’t hesitate to encourage you to jump on the “eat healthy and eat local” bandwagon.

In her other life, Melissa works as a Nutritional Therapist, a yoga instructor, and an exercise expert—exactly the sort of person you want writing your CSA cookbook! Thank you, Melissa, for helping celiacs go healthy, local…and ultra-tasty.

Amusement Park Turns GF-friendly

An amusement park is not a gourmet experience. Ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza dominate the menus. What’s a thrill-seeking celiac to do?

Visit Lake Compounce, the nation’s oldest amusement park, in Bristol, Connecticut. Lake Compounce has gone celiac and allergy friendly, which is a definite step up from celiac-impossible. According to the Bristol Press:

Jonathan Vigue, assistant general manager at Lake Compounce, said the park was getting an increasing number of inquiries about how they handled special diets at the food stands.

So if you want more places to serve gluten-free options, advocate for yourselves. Lake Compounce receives two phone calls per day about food allergy/ gluten-free accomodation at the park, and this customer feedback makes a difference. For gluten-free options at the park, a celiac can enjoy the ice cream stand, the hamburgers (without buns), and fried potatoes. It’s not much, but it’s a promising start. Lake Compounce has received more calls about peanut allergies, and because of that the park has made even more efforts to remove peanuts from their food products.

“Gluten we struggle with,” said Vigue. “It’s a tough one to accommodate.” For those people with severe restrictions, said Vigue, the park will allow them to bring in their own food, with advance notice.…Lake Compounce does not allow picnicking, said Vigue, but if a customer calls ahead of time and explains the situation, the park will allow that person to bring in their own food.

So give your local amusement park a call, or call Lake Compounce at 860-583-3300 because unfortunately their website still has no information for people with food restrictions. And we would love to hear all about your experiences surviving amusement parks, gluten-free.