Monthly Archives: November 2009

Butterball Now Offers Gluten-Free Gravy!

turkeyWhile doing research for an article about gluten-free turkeys, I called the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line just to make sure their turkeys were still gluten-free as long as you threw out the gravy packet that comes with their frozen and fresh whole turkeys. Both the fresh and frozen whole turkeys are gluten-free, by the way. They make a stuffed turkey that is not. But the big news is that the Butterball gravy concentrate packets were recently reformulated to be gluten-free! The representative explained that some gluten packets are likely still in the stores so you have to read the ingredient label before using  the gravy packet.

It’s my bet that there might be a lot of gluten gravy packets out there and we might have a situation like we did a couple of years ago when Honeybaked Hams changed their glaze to be gluten-free. It took well over six months for all the existing gluten glazed products to be sold. In fact, it was a bit of a PR nightmare for the corporate office. So, please don’t rush out and expect that all the gravy packets that come with some Butterball turkeys are going to be the new gluten-free gravy version. That is likely not the case.

The gluten-free gravy concentrate ingredients include rice flour instead of wheat flour. There is no rye, barley or oats in the new formulation and the company considers it to be gluten-free. But this new gravy item is not available in the old fashioned frozen Butterball turkeys, according to the Turkey Talk-Line representative I spoke to at length about it.

The woman I spoke to made it clear that this new gravy concentrate is only available in some of the Butterball specialty items like Ready to Roast turkeys, ‘Lil Butterball turkeys and whole turkey breasts. You would think the company would include this item in the traditional frozen whole turkeys, but for now they are not doing so – unless the person I spoke to was confused. I let her know that this information is nowhere to be found on the Butterball website, nor is there a press release about it. She explained that this is very new information.

After confirming this information with two other calls to the Turkey Talk-Line, I called Butterball’s Consumer Affairs office as well. The person I spoke to in that department gave me the new gluten free gravy ingredients over the phone but I did finally locate them on the Butterball website (with the stuffed turkey ingredients).

NEW Butterball gluten-free gravy ingredients:

Modified Corn Starch, Maltodextrin, Salt, Rice Flour, Cooked Turkey, Onion Powder, Caramel Color (yes, it is gluten-free), Garlic Powder, Spices.

The consumer affairs representative also said that many of the old formulation gravy packets are in stores so we MUST read the ingredient list before consuming any gravy related items from Butterball. Additionally, she told me the new packet is included with the stuffed whole turkeys. That’s right - a gluten turkey with a gluten-free gravy packet. There is a learning curve for companies too when it comes to the gluten-free diet.  I give them credit for trying. When I mentioned that they might want to offer the gravy with a whole turkey that is not stuffed, the representative explained that if the response to this gravy is positive, that might be something the company will do later.

I’m familiar with the ‘Lil Butterball turkey but have never seen the Ready-to-Roast version. You can bet I’ll be looking for it on my next trip to the grocery store, even though I don’t care that much for gravy. I just want to check it out because I can. For me it’s kind of like the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ – make gluten-free gravy and they will come!

The Turkey Talk-Line toll free number is 1-800-BUTTERBALL, in case you have questions or just want to thank the company for making gluten-free gravy.  I am very thankful that a company like Butterball is paying attention to the gluten-free market and this is the season to give thanks, after all.

If you want to make your own gravy from scratch, you might want to check out the gluten free gravy recipe that Kay secretly serves to glutenoids!

Kim Koeller Appearing on TV This Week!

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When I was diagnosed with celiac several years ago, Kim Koeller’s book Let’s Eat Out! was one of the first gluten-free books I purchased. I needed to learn how to eat out in Europe and that book taught me how to do exactly that. It was not until I returned from that trip that I found out about and purchased The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide and excellent dining cards from Triumph Dining. Those tools helped me learn how to eat out in the U.S. – and most importantly, where to do so.

Kim Koeller has multiple food intolerances and avoids much more than just gluten. Due to her job, she had to learn how to eat out all types of cuisines all over the world. If she could do that successfully, I figured that I could learn how to do this ‘gluten-free thing’. Today Kim works with the hospitality industry, striving to affect change in how they handle their customers, many of whom have at least one food allergy or intolerance.

According to a recent press release, Kim Koeller will appear on the TV show The 700 Club this Wednesday (Nov. 11th) at 10am EST on the ABC Family channel. Kim will be discussing how to ensure worry-free dining while managing special diets. Specific gluten and allergen-free eating out advice will be given as well. Kim is an internationally recognized expert on safe dining & travel with special diets and award-winning author of Let’s Eat Out with Celiac / Coeliac and Food Allergies!

Below is part of an interview I did with Kim a couple of months ago. Though we’ve come a long way in the U.S. regarding gluten-free and allergen dining, we still have a long way to go.

TJ: Most European countries are years ahead of the U.S. regarding celiac and gluten-free knowledge as well as food intolerances and allergies. Slowly but surely it’s getting better here. What can people in the allergen communities do to drive even faster change here at home?

KK: Overall, our market research indicates that the quality of life for hundreds of millions of Americans as well as their extended social networks (ie. family, friends, schoolmates, children’s’ playmates and business colleagues) can be enhanced by:
1- Increased public awareness
2- Widespread understanding of special dietary needs
3- Expanded gluten and allergen-free offerings, products and services

At the same time, empirical data illustrates that hospitality, food service, manufacturing and health care industries are missing opportunities to address this ever-rising yet under-represented market segment leading to greater financial return. It is time for companies to develop the right capabilities to ensure that gluten and allergen-free customer requirements are consistently addressed with quality service.

Special diet consumers must feel safe eating both inside and outside their own homes in order for organizations to realize increased revenues from this extremely loyal, repeat and profitable market. In order to capitalize on these tremendous opportunities, the primary next steps are to:
1- Train hospitality and food service on ingredients, food preparation and cross-contamination considerations which ultimately decreases the current gaps in understanding special diets
2- Increase the safety and comfort level associated with gluten & allergen-free diets thereby increasing the number of consumers eating out and traveling
3- Educate medical professionals including physicians, dietitians, pharmacists and hospital staff on special dietary needs and expectations
4- Develop and manufacture great tasting foods representing wider selection, enhanced labeling, greater availability and expanded distribution channels

The next steps are clear: We, as gluten and allergen-free customers, need to work with businesses, government and the general public to further understand, accept and support special diets through awareness programs and educational initiatives throughout the US and the global marketplace.

Be sure to set your TIVO or VCR to record Kim’s appearance on Wednesday. I’m betting that she will inspire you to be part of the change you want to see in the world. She certainly did that for me. Together, we can most definitely make a difference!

Triumph's Thanksgiving Tips: Part 3, Gluten-Free Pie Crusts

pecanpiePecan pie is the only kind of pie I ever made before my celiac diagnosis. I used my Grandmothers recipe, which turned out to be the one on the bottle of Karo Syrup. It was written on an index card so I thought it was her secret recipe – who knew?! Every year since I was a teen, for Thanksgiving and Christmas I made Pecan pies. It was the only time of year I cooked for the most part since my husband used to be a chef. He did almost all the cooking for the first 16 years of our marriage.

Once I started eating gluten-free, I started dabbling in the kitchen and found out that I actually loved cooking! All those years I’d avoiding doing much in our kitchen but buying pretty things to put in the cabinets – I’m a dish and glassware freak of sorts. Anyway, once I was gluten-free I even started gluten-free baking. It was like an alien had taken over my body. My husband wondered where his wife had gone, no doubt!

So, back to my beloved Pecan pie. I always used a Pet Ritz pie crust for them. I know now that is not a very good crust but I really didn’t know it at the time. It was not until I had excellent gluten-free crusts that I knew how bad the frozen gluten one really was. Even a relative asked why the gluten-free crust was better than the ones I used to make. Now you know it’s really bad when a glutenoid thinks your gluten crust was bad.

My first gluten-free holiday season I used the pie crust mix from Gluten-Free Pantry and it turned out fine. The taste was good but the texture was just a tiny bit ‘sandy’ for me. I use that mix just for savory crusts now and love it for quiche! The next crust I made was from Breads by Anna. That crust contains no rice flour and it is out of this world delicious! It’s super easy to make and you can get two crusts from one bag. I freeze left over dough if I need to and use it up to a month later without issue. The last time I made a pie crust I used the Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix. The Pie Crust recipe on the website was easy to make, easy to handle and delicious!

You can make your own pie crust with your own flour blend, of course. But life is short and even though I love cooking and baking, I don’t want to be tied to the kitchen any more than necessary. I use mixes whenever I can and find that doing so is not much more expensive than using a home made flour mix. If you live where prices are sky high, you can probably save a good deal of money making your own flour. Here, it’s almost impossible to do that. Whether you make your own crust or use a mix, you might find this previous post about pie crusts helpful as well. Enjoy your holiday pies this season and make sure to share them with the glutenoids in your life!

Stay tuned for the next Thanksgiving tip, everyone’s favorite, stuffing!

Triumph's Thanksgiving Tips: Part 2, Gluten-Free Gravy

Okay, I’m going to tell you a something that only my husband knows…for the past 4 years, I’ve secretly been feeding my in-laws gluten-free gravy for Thanksgiving. Not only do they love it, but there are never any leftovers. In this post, I’m going to share the recipe to a gluten-free gravy everyone (not just you and the dog) will love.

Sweet Rice Flour. Of course, the problem with traditional gravy is that it’s thickened with wheat flour. I’ve experimented with all sorts of alternatives, from patented gluten-free flour mixes to far out starches from my local health food store. The clear winner in my opinion is the humble sweet rice flour. It’s not only cheap (around $1.29 per pound), but pretty easy to find. Oh, and by the way, it’s not actually sweet. It has a neutral taste. In fact, I actually prefer the rice flour to wheat flour, which can have a “floury” taste. The sweet rice flour is more neutral and the texture is right on.

NOTE: Rice flour is not the same as sweet rice flour.  The sweet rice flour is from a different rice variety and has a superior thickening ability, plus it’s more finely milled. If you use a regular rice flour, you may find your gravy a bit grainy. (By the same token, don’t use sweet rice flour for traditional gluten-free baking, it’s much too fine and will render your baked goods super chewy, almost like gum. Stick to plain old rice flour for your baking needs.)

I really like Mochiko brand sweet rice flour. It’s more finely milled than some other brands I’ve tried. It’s also pretty easy to find. Check the Asian aisle in your local supermarket. Or, check out your local Asian grocery store.

Other Thickeners. If you can’t find sweet rice flour, here are some recipes that use alternative flours. Just a quick caveat about one of the starches mentioned, cornstarch… in my experience, if you use even a little too much, the gravy can get an almost gelatinous feel. Gravy gelatin. Yuck, no thanks.  You might want to try using 3/4 of the amount of cornstarch the recipe calls for, and then adding the rest only if you really need it. I haven’t had this problem with other starches or flours.

  • Here’s a recipe that uses cornstarch, which is probably the most readily available starch. You can find cornstarch in any supermarket baking aisle. Check out the Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide for a list of gluten-free cornstarch brands. (If you haven’t already, check out the Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide to help make your holiday cooking easier. The guide lists grocery brands and products that are gluten-free.) The most easy to find brand listed in the guide is Argo cornstarch. Bob’s Red Mill is also listed in the guide as making a GF cornstarch.
  • One of our favorite food bloggers, Elana, has a gravy recipe using kudzu starch.
  • eHow has a recipe calling for tapioca starch.
  • And for our vegetarian readers, Rachel’s Recipe Box has an animal-friendly gravy recipe.

But if you do find some sweet rice flour, check out my recipe below and let me know what you think!

Triumph Family’s Gluten-Free Gravy Recipe

Pan Drippings from Turkey

Chicken Stock, amount varies but a 32 oz. carton should do

Butter, 2T

Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour, 2.5-4T

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

  1. Pour pan drippings into a gravy separator. Or, if you don’t have one, pour drippings into a large measuring cup and let it sit for 2 minutes, or until the fat rises to the top. Use a baster or spoon to separate the juices from the fat.
  2. Reserve just 2T of fat in a separate container and discard the rest of the fat. Now you should be left with just the juices that separated from the fat.
  3. Pour juices into a measuring cup and add enough chicken stock so that the total amount of liquids (juices + stock) equals 4 cups. I prefer Kitchen Basics chicken stock, but any gluten-free stock or broth will do.
  4. Over medium-low, melt 2T butter in a heavy-bottomed pan large enough to hold 4 cups of liquid.
  5. Add 2T of the turkey fat you reserved and slowly sprinkle in 2.5T of the Mochiko rice flour. (You’ll probably need to add more later, but it’s always to start with less and add more later.) Stir the “roux” until it starts to clump together. Do NOT brown the flour like you would a wheat flour roux.
  6. While whisking vigorously, slowly add in the 4 cups of liquid.
  7. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, all the while whisking to dissolve any lumps.
  8. Allow it to boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat slightly until it’s simmering at a brisk pace.
  9. Cook about 15 minutes until it’s reduced to the texture you want, whisking frequently to keep the gravy smooth. You may need to add up more Mochiko during the reducing process. In general, I find that 4T is about right for my family (they like gravy on the thinner side), but you may find you need up to 6T, and not just because it’s a matter of taste. Thickening sauces is not an exact science – some crops of flour have more moisture, and some less. So sometimes you’ll need to use lots of flour, and sometimes less. You’ll have to eyeball the amount of flour that’s right for you. Just remember, the gravy will continue to thicken a little after you take it off the heat, so it’s perfect when it’s just a shade thinner than what you’d normally serve. And don’t worry, if you add too much flour, just add a little more chicken stock.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 10…well, if they really love gravy like my family does!

Variations

Depending on your family’s taste, you may want to add some dry rosemary, thyme or a bay leaf while the gravy is reducing. Or, cook some shallots or garlic in the fat, before you add the flour, until fragrant, for an even more savory gravy.

(By the way, you may be wondering why I don’t just tell my family that the gravy is gluten-free. Well, probably like a lot of you out there, people who are not GF have very, very low expectations of GF foods. I once made the mistake of announcing a casserole was GF, and before anyone even tried it, everyone at the table made a face and insisted we go out for dinner. They didn’t even want to try it because it was GF. Isn’t that crazy? So, I just don’t tell them when something’s GF anymore. It’s been working pretty great so far!)

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there with a gluten-free turkey recipe. What about you? What works for you and what doesn’t – please do share. And stay tuned for our next tip on Gluten-Free Pie Crusts!

Triumph's Thanksgiving Tips: Part 1, Giving Thanks for What's Already GF

Dreading Thanksgiving? Skeptical about whether gluten-free gravy and stuffing can really measure up to the “real” thing? Worried about negotiating a “mixed” Thanksgiving with GF and non-GF family members? Well, it’s time to stop worrying. (And don’t even think about eating some sad, dry turkey with no gravy, while everyone else chows down on all the fixings!)

You CAN make delicious gluten-free gravy, stuffing and desserts that everyone will love. In fact, I’ve been making Thanksgiving gluten-free since 2004…for nine people members who are not gluten-free. Now, these people are all family – close, outspoken and super-critical. But guess what? No one misses the gluten.

Besides, in a lot of cases, there is no gluten to miss! Let’s start this series of tips off on a positive note and go over what IS most likely gluten-free.

Turkey. If you buy an all-natural turkey with no additives, it is gluten-free. But be aware that some turkeys, especially the “self-basting” varieties are injected with flavors. (For the culinary curious among you, some companies inject the turkey to make it juicier and more flavorful.) Check with the manufacturer to make sure that your turkey is gluten-free. It probably is, but a quick phone takes just a couple minutes.

And for all of you with family members who like to stuff the turkey with non-GF stuffing, tell them to cut it out! It’s not safe for you, and if not done properly, it can be unsafe, period. Plus, unstuffed turkeys cook more quickly and are just as yummy. Check out this neat article on the topic, and scroll down to the question: “Does stuffing cooked inside the turkey taste better?”

Cranberry Sauce. Page 100 of our Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide lists cranberry sauce brands that are GF. For those of you who don’t own the guide, consider getting a copy. It’s a fabulous resource on what brands are and are not gluten-free. The most popular brand of cranberry sauce listed is Ocean Spray. And it is gluten-free. Or, if you want to make your own, it’s as easy as buying a bag of cranberries and cooking it down with some sugar and water, or orange juice (if you really want to get creative). We made our own sauce one year, but frankly, we found the canned version is just as good and a lot less work. After all, you’ve got a turkey to tend to!

Mashed Potatoes. Potatoes, milk, cream, salt and butter. All these ingredients are very unlikely to contain gluten. Just be sure to use a fresh stick of butter, especially if you have non-GF family members who might be using a contaminated butter knife.

Next in the Series. Feeling better? Remember, you don’t have to change EVERYTHING around to make a fabulous GF Thanksgiving. Next in the series we’ll tackle what’s likely NOT gluten-free…the gravy…and how to make a GF version everyone (not just you and the dog) will love!

Meanwhile, check out Tiffany’s awesome article on the more inter-personal aspects of navigating the gluten-free diet.

Campbell's Announces Gluten-free Website

Campbell’s now has a new website, Campbell’s Without Gluten, which lists all their gluten-free products. The site has been up for a while but I kept thinking they were going to add some soups to the list. They used to have about five or so, that did not contain gluten at one time. The new gluten-free product list does not have any soups listed, just in case you have the old list that listed a few of those as gluten-free. The company representative I spoke to said it is possible that some soups might be added to the gluten-free list eventually, as they are under evaulation.

The good news is that all the products listed as gluten-free are now confirmed to be gluten-free. There is no guessing or assuming going on by Campbell’s regarding what is and is not gluten-free in their product lines. We posted an update from Campbell’s about this issue earlier this year.

Some of you might remember that there was a lot of controversy a while back about products from this company. Items in question at the time were certain Pace and Prego products. In fact, quite a ruckus ensued in the gluten-free community over this issue, but it turns out that Campbell’s just wanted to make sure they relayed the most accurate information to consumers. It seems that the company did not know exactly what was gluten-free for a while, so they removed items from their gluten-free listing until they could figure things out.  The company chose to make sure what was and was not gluten-free before sharing the information with consumers. The last thing any company needs to do is guess whether or not something contains gluten – or any other allergen for that matter.

There  are gluten-free items in the following categories:

Campbell’s Tomato Juice / VS Splash Drinks / VS Diet Splash Drinks / V8 Vegetable Juice / V8 V Fusion Drinks / V8 Fusion Smoothies / Swanson Broths and Stocks / Prego Sauces

Here is an excerpt from new website, explaining new company procedures for gluten-free items:

We analyze gluten-free products to ensure compliance with our strict gluten-free standards at the time of initial production. We perform ongoing testing on finished products on a frequency of at least once every six months to assure continued compliance with our gluten-free policy.

We should applaud Campbell’s efforts to take the time to get things right, even though the process took a while. But I’m still waiting for a gluten-free line of soups to be introduced from this company. I just feel sure that gluten-free soups in the red and white cans are on the way! And in the meantime, 25 store brands already sell gluten-free soup and soup mixes, according to the Grocery Guide.

Getting Through the Holidays Gluten-free Style!

Treats at Gluten Free Goodie Swap

Treats at Gluten-Free Goodie Swap

The holidays at the end of the year can be quite stressful for anyone. Add a food intolerance to the mix and things can go either way. Things might go perfectly smoothly or they might be horrible during your first gluten-free holiday season. Keep in mind that your attitude about following the gluten-free diet will affect how those around you react to it.

Try to be positive even when you don’t feel that way, at least in the beginning. If family members get the feeling, based on your actions, that being gluten-free is a death sentence, they are much less likely to ever get tested for celiac themselves. Remember, if someone is related to you, they are more at risk of having or developing celiac than the general population.

People who start a gluten-free diet in March are likely to have a smoother time during the holidays than people diagnosed in October for instance. The learning curve for the diet is 6-12 months, depending on the person. That means that a month or two after beginning it, you won’t really have a handle of all the intricacies of the diet. It’s second nature once you learn it, but learning everything you need to know is extremely daunting in the beginning of your gluten-free journey.

Most people fear when they start eating gluten-free, that they will never fully understand what they need to do to remain safe on a daily basis. The chaos that can accompany the holiday season only adds to those insecurities. You can either make all your own food to assure your safety, or trust others to cook for you.

If you don’t want to ask family members about every single ingredient that went into their dishes, you might want to pass on their offerings for your first gluten-free holiday get together. Doing so will enable you to relax and know that your food is safe, making for a less anxious meal all around. You’ll then have have a
whole year to train those interested in learning, how to cook for you next holiday season.

Hopefully some of the recipes and recipe sites we’ve included here can be of help to you this year. Everyone deserves to enjoy the holidays, even if they can’t eat gluten. When it comes to gluten-free holiday recipes and websites where they can be found, the possibilities seem endless. At least this list can get your started.

Karina over at Gluten-Free Goddess is always coming up with something interesting and delicious, as she does here with this pumpkin pie bread recipe. The recipes on this site never disappoint!

About.com has a whole bunch of gluten-free cookie and candy recipesto make your goodie swaps a little more fun. Your glutenoid friends will never know the gluten is missing!

These rum balls looks pretty tasty, and seem fairly simple to make. As always, Recipe Zaar has more gluten-free recipes than you could ever read through!

Glutenfreeda has many terrific gluten-free recipes which range from sweets to savory treats. What I like about their site is that they have a rating system explaining the degree of difficulty for each recipe. This is nice for novice cooks like myself. If something is not marked “easy”, I move right along!

Finally, Alison over at Sure Living Foods has a collection of some great holiday recipes from various locals on the net. Many are for people with multiple allergens as well!

Even though it takes extra planning on your part, this time of year can be as delicious and fun as you make it. You can’t control the world full of gluten that we all live in, but you can control your own attitude. Eat gluten-free - enjoy - repeat!