Monthly Archives: February 2010

Gluten-free Soup Options

Kettle Cuisine Chicken Chili

Kettle Cuisine Chicken Chili

Trouble finding gluten free soup? When someone first starts the gluten-free diet, something that usually surprises them is the fact that most mainstream soups contain gluten in the form of wheat. At one time Campbell’s said about five of their soups were gluten-free, but these days they won’t confirm the few that are made without gluten ingredients are gluten-free, due to the way they are made. Some Swanson broths (made by Campbell’s) are gluten-free. If you would like to see some gluten-free soups offered by Campbell’s, consider calling the company to let them know. The toll free number is 1-800-257-8443.  You can also contact them via their website here.

Up until recently, many Progresso soups also contained gluten, thought that seems to be changing since the company introduced their new Live Gluten Freely website a while back. The growing list of gluten-free soups is now up to 14. The Chicken with Rice and Vegetables is wonderful and the delicious Chicken Cheese Enchilada soup is very versatile. The Creamy Mushroom soup from Progresso has been gluten-free for a long time and now it’s finally labeled as such.

Here are some of the product lines that make gluten-free soup. Some are labeled as such and some are not. As always, people need to choose the products that they feel comfortable consuming. I’ve had gluten-free offerings from all the lines and am thrilled to have so many soup options these days.

  • Amy’s Kitchen - gluten-free options are labeled as such.
  • Bear Creekmanufacturer does not label gluten-free options but at last check.
  • Fantastic World Foodssome soup cups from this line are labeled gluten-free.
  • Frontier Soupsgluten-free options are labeled as such
  • Imaginegluten-free options are labeled as such; over 20 gluten-free soups/broths available from this line.
  • Kettle Cuisine – ALL 10 soups in the line are gluten-free; some are also dairy-free.
  • Pacific Natural Foods – gluten-free options are labeled as such; over 30 gluten-free soups/broths available from this line.
  • Progresso – gluten-free options are labeled as such.
  • Thai Kitchen – gluten-free options are labeled as such; company makes instant rice noodle soup mixes and many are also dairy-free.

Fantastic World Foods makes soup cups which are great for travel, though there are only a few that are gluten-free. The Potato Leek soup cup is pretty good and all you need is a microwave, water and a spoon to have hot soup in about five minutes. The Kettle Cuisine soups are in the freezer and take 4-6 minutes to cook in the microwave. The Chicken Chili is my favorite from that line. The gluten-free soups and broths from Progresso are clearly labeled now and there is no added MSG in the products either.

For the more ambitious people out there who like to make their own home made soups, here are a few interesting soup recipes we found in the gluten-free blogosphere:

Even though we enjoyed temperatures of over 60 degrees last weekend, the cold weather has returned and it’s likely we have a good month (or more) before soup season is over here. While soup can be enjoyed all year long, when it’s 95 in Hotlanta with 80% humidity – and it’s not raining – the last thing I’m interested in eating is piping hot soup.

UPDATE: Thanks to Brook for sending us this information about Health Valley Soups. It appears the manufacturer no longer states some of their soups are gluten-free. Therefore I have removed them for the safe soup list above. It sure would be nice if we had a gluten-free labeling law in this country! Alert from Clan Thompson’s website: http://www.celiacsite.com/res_news_alerts.php3

There are almost 30 companies that make gluten-free soup, soup mixes and stews listed in the Triumph Dining Gluten-Free Grocery Guide. Let us know if your favorite soup isn’t listed above.

Gluten-free Greek Yogurt

Reading labels is important. Companies often change their recipes or manufacturing methods. It’s a sad day indeed when something we thought was gluten-free turns out to contain gluten.

oikosBut then there are those occasions where the opposite occurs, like with Oikos yogurt from Stoneyfield. At press time for the third edition of the Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide, Stoneyfield’s gluten-free list stated it was NOT GF. (Our editors suspect it was GF all along. Perhaps they did not want to state as such until they had time to complete GF testing, but we were unable to get the complete scoop from the company.) But now the results of testing are in and, as many customers in the dairy section have been happy to find, we now know that Oikos does not contain gluten! But with all of the yogurts out there, how does Oikos compare?

I’m a bit of a yogurt fiend, so I was happy to investigate for Triumph Dining when Stoneyfield offered us samples.

Oikos is a Greek yogurt, so don’t expect the semi-liquid texture of the average American yogurt. This stuff has a thick, almost chunky texture similar to cream cheese. Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurts and is very healthy. Oikos is also fat-free.

I tend to prefer plain yogurts, and I was happy to find that even the flavored options (like blueberry, honey and vanilla) let the yogurt taste shine through. For a fantastic breakfast, exercise recovery snack, or dessert option, I recommend mixing in your favorite gluten-free cereal, chunks of fruit, or some dark chocolate chips.

But Oikos yogurt can be the star at dinner as well. Add garlic, mint, and grated cucumber to plain Oikos, and you’ve got gluten-free Tzatziki sauce. Make it a gyro night with gluten-free pita bread and your choice of meat and toppings. Who needs take out?

Another great gluten-free Greek-style yogurt is Chobani. Kay buys hers at Costco for less than a $1 a package.

Granted, both brands are a little pricer than regular yogurts, but the high-protein content makes it a cheap, filling snack.

Redbridge Beer Dropped from Publix Shelves

other_middle_bgRedbridge gluten-free beer is made by Anheuser-Busch. It was introduced in late 2006 in certain markets and available nationwide in the Spring of 2007. In most markets, Redbridge was the only gluten-free beer game in town and therefore was fairly well received by the gluten-free consumer market in the U.S. Bard’s Tale gluten-free beer captured a much smaller percentage of the market but that’s mostly due to the fact that unlike Redbridge, Bard’s Tale was not widely available. In late 2008, Bard’s Tale became available in the Atlanta market and sales really took off. Bard’s Tale is sold in Whole Foods stores in the area and served at several Atlanta area restaurants.

Last month rumors started up about the possibility that Redbridge was being discontinued, but Anheuser-Busch stated (and continues to state) that there are no plans to discontinue the beer at this time. Please note that historically, Anheuser-Busch has not shouted from the rooftops when they have chosen to discontinue any products. No companies do that because they want all the existing products to sell out of the market and much product is often in the market place long after a product has been discontinued. Only time will tell what the real deal is with Redbridge. Maybe it’s here to stay and maybe not.

In the Southeast, Publix is a major player in the mainstream grocery store business, with over 1000 stores in five states. Each January, the company redesigns the massive beer display in their stores and the 2010 line up does not include Redbridge. The sales were not there to support the shelf space so Redbridge, the only gluten-free beer sold at Publix, didn’t make the grade. Once Bard’s Tale was available here, many people spent the extra money to buy it over Redbridge, even though most people live closer to a Publix than a Whole Foods store – currently the only place to purchase Bard’s Tale except for restuarants. On average, a six-pack of Bard’s Tale costs $2.50 more than Redbridge.

After not being able to find Redbridge at any Publix in my area for almost two months, and hearing complaints that others could not find it either, I finally spoke to the manager of a store near me to find out exactly what the deal was. As I expected, he confirmed that Redbridge did not sell well enough to continue to be kept on the shelf at Publix. This is a corporate wide decision – no Publix stores are stocking Redbridge with chilled beer now. However, customers can contact the manager of their store and request the product be brought in just for them. That is, it can be brought in as long as the local distributor carries it and the manufacturer makes it. Publix carries Woodchuck cider and all the flavors in that line are gluten-free.

Whole Foods stores here sell Bard’s Tale, Greens (from Belgium) and New Grist gluten-free beer. Kroger reports that they carry Redbridge in their stores presently. No company should continue making a product that they aren’t making money on, and no store should have to sell something that’s not profitable for them. Companies are not making gluten-free products to “be nice” to gluten-free consumers. Like any business, manufacturers are only interested in making profitable products. Retailers are interested in selling products they can make a decent profit on and the products have to turn quickly enough to justify the shelf space they take up.

Unfortunately, Redbridge might end up falling into the category of failed gluten-free products. Redbridge is considered by some people to be the “Budweiser” of all gluten-free beers, but it’s the only one available in many markets. For that reason, it will really be unfortunate if the product ends up disappearing from all store shelves eventually. Let us know if you like Redbridge, or if you prefer other gluten-free beer brands.

Whole Foods Gluten-free Mix Substitutions

Gluten-Free Naturals Pizza

Gluten-Free Naturals Pizza Crust

The news that Whole Foods decided to discontinue their 365 brand of gluten-free mixes wasn’t very welcomed by people who shop at Whole Foods. Gluten-Free Philly broke the story last week and Twitter was all abuzz about it. The article over at Peanut Allergy offers an interesting comment about the possible over saturation of the gluten-free market. It’s not understandable that mainstream consumers have gluten mixes produced by only three companies and the gluten-free market has over 100. Not all mixes are in all stores, areas or cities and many lines are sold only online. However, in the Atlanta area, we can buy products from almost 30 different gluten-free mix product lines.

We only used the brownie mix from the 365 line regularly, but when I noticed the ingredients in the Whole Foods and Betty Crocker mix were essentially the same, I used the Betty Crocker brownie mix with the instructions from the Whole Foods mix. Actually, instead of using 7 tablespoons of butter, I use 6. The result was that the brownies tasted like the Whole Foods version, but had longer shelf life after they were baked. The Gluten-Free Naturals brownie mix makes a wonderful flaky top brownie, in case you haven’t tried that one yet. 123 Gluten Free also makes an exceptional brownie mix, as does Pamela’s Products.

The Whole Foods gluten-free All-Purpose Baking Mix can easily be replaced with the Gluten-Free Pantry mix since the ingredients in each are white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, guar gum and salt. The ingredients are listed in the exactly same order on both products. Each product “might contain soy” as well. Interesting since the Gluten-Free Pantry line is what Whole Foods corporate is suggesting customers buy instead of the 365 line. Other fabulous baking mixes are the Pancake & Baking mix from Pamela’s and the all purpose flour from Jules Gluten Free.

An exceptional alternative pizza crust to the 365 mix is the one from Gluten-Free Naturals. This dough is the easiest to work with that I’ve found to date, though it’s not a traditional type dough that requires rolling out. The taste of the crust is really excellent – better than some gluten crust mixes. Bob’s Red Mill pizza crust is a good crust that’s fairly healthy due to the bean flour in it. It makes a hearty crust that will stand up to the heaviest toppings you can think to use. Tracy’s Treats make a great pizza crust mix as well and it’s also easy to work with.

There are many great gluten-free cornbread mixes on the market. Again, Gluten-Free Naturals makes a wonderful mix that can be made sweet if desired. It’s good old fashioned cornbread that browns up beautifully in a cast iron skillet (not required for great taste). Pamela’s makes a great Cornbread & Corn Muffin Mix and the Pancake & Baking mix from the line makes a great version as well. The recipe on the Pamela’s website and calls for corn meal, which isn’t always easy to find gluten-free. Several brands are listed in the gluten-free Grocery Guide. Enriched cornmeal will almost always contain gluten in the form of wheat flour.

Tracey's Treats Muffins

Tracey's Treats Muffins

The 365 brand muffin mix can be replaced with the same from Tracy’s Treats, 123 Gluten Free, Island Gluten Free Bakery and Namaste. Good options for bread mixes are Breads by Anna, Gluten-Free Naturals, Island Gluten Free Bakery, Pamela’s Products and Tracy’s Treats. The new Sandwich Bread flour mix from Gluten-Free Naturals makes a killer foccacia bread as well! These brands and tons of others are all listed, along with all their individual gluten-free products, in the Grocery Guide.

Rumors persist that Gluten-free Pantry makes both the Betty Crocker and Whole Foods gluten-free mixes. If true, non disclosure statements would keep the involved parties from discussing it. I asked a Betty Crocker representative who made the mixes for them and my contact told me they did not know. Whole Foods prices tend to be high on most everything labeled gluten-free – except for these mixes that they are now dropping. It might be that there was not enough of a profit margin in the 365 mix line for the giant chain to bother with. Let us know what you think about the decision to drop this product line by Whole Foods. If you use other mixes not listed above, please leave a comment as well.

UPDATE – Press release from King Arthur Flour:

Available March 1 at kingarthurflour.com and soon at food retailers nationwide, King Arthur Flour’s gluten-free line includes GlutenFree Multi-Purpose Flour for scratch baking, along with seven convenience mixes: GlutenFree Bread, Pizza Crust, Cookie, Brownie, Chocolate Cake, Muffin, and Pancake mixes. Suggested retail prices range from $4.99 to $6.99. The new line is supported with recipes for gluten-free baking available at kingarthurflour.com, as well as several additional gluten-free ingredients.

It looks like we’ve really hit the big time now!!!! King Arthur? I can hardly believe my eyes. This is the best news I’ve had on a Monday in a very long time!

Gluten-free Events and Book Give-Away

allergenfree51sQTcNmG9L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_If any of our readers are in the Southeast FL area, they might want to check out the gluten-free vendor fair in Delray Beach on February 27th. The Gluten-Free Food Expo is hosting over 70 vendors and looks like fun time for gluten-free folks of all ages. There is a Kids Corner at the show. There is no charge for admission and parking is free. This group sponsors a local gluten-free food assistance program, the first of its kind in the country.

On March 6th, yours truly will be in Asheville, NC at the famous Posana Café. We’re meeting in the back room at 10 am and we’ll be giving away tasty door prizes to several lucky attendees. After the Q&A session, we’ll have the Triumph Dining Restaurant Guide, Grocery Guide and Dining Cards for sale. In case you didn’t know it – Posana Café is a gluten-free restaurant and has amazing sticky buns, scones, coffee cake and muffins every day – while they last! You can read the review of our first amazing visit to the restaurant here.

The windy city of Chicago is home to the 2010 Gluten-Free Cooking Expo on April 17th and 18th. Actually, the show in in Lisle, IL, which is just outside Chicago. Jen Cafferty puts this great event together and there are many ticket packages to choose from. Attendess can also choose to go only to the vendor fair part of the show for $15. This year the event has a lot of new exciting things going on. Kim Koeller of Gluten-Free Passport and Lee Tobin of Whole Foods are part of the show’s impressive line-up.

One of the most anticipated gluten-free events each year is the GIG Conference. This year the exciting show is in Minneapolis, MN on June 4-5. I love the show’s title - Savor the Flavor of a Healthy Gluten Free Life. That is what I try to do every day – literally. As always, the GIG Conference will be jam packed with helpful information to help people learn to enjoy their gluten-free lives. Much fun will be had as well – including a pajama party! I was personally tickled to see that Jen Cafferty is part of the GIG Conference this year. She is doing something called the Teen Cook Off which sounds like tons of fun for kids of all ages. GIG (aka Gluten Intolerance Group) has some exciting programs including, but not limited to, GFRAP (restaurant training program) and the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.

It’s great news when gluten-free cooks or authors are featured on mainstream TV shows. Therefore, its very exciting that Cybele Pascal, author of the Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook, is going to be on the Martha Stewart show on March 1st. If you’re gluten-free only – or gluten, dairy, soy, egg and nut free and you love baking, Cybele’s book is for you. When my copy of the book arrived, I was seriously shocked at how many allergen foods Cybele has been able to avoid while still enjoying incredible food! If you only avoid gluten, you can just use real eggs, milk, nuts or whatever else you want in the recipes. There are 100 vegan recipes in the book. Cybele is sponsoring a book give-away for one of our readers. For your chance to win, please enter a comment below. The book must ship to one of the lower 48 states and the deadline to enter is February 25th. Good luck!

Update 2-26-10: Congrats to Betsy who won Cybele’s great cookbook! Don’t forget to watch Cybele on the Martha Stewart show on Monday, March 1st!

Special thanks to Cybele Pascal for sponsoring this give-away for our readers!

Celiac Disease Insights from Shelley Case – Part 2

Gluten-Free7smIn September of 2009, a very important Celiac Conference took place and Shelley Case was the only dietitian asked to speak. She was kind enough to speak with me and share a lot of eye opening information about the road blocks celiac patients still face.  Last week, we talked about negative aspects of the celiac blood tests. Assuming one gets past that hurdle and moves on to the all important endoscopy, even more problems can arise.

For many years, the gold standard for a celiac diagnosis has been the biopsy, via an endoscopy. Finally, many celiac experts are considering the fact that the “gold standard” test might look more like tarnished silver these days. In fact, those words were used in the title of one of the conference sessions. Shelley Case shared with me some of the many problems discussed about the test during the conference. While it’s excellent that this information is finally coming out into the open in the medical field, the many problems can certainly not be corrected overnight. For that reason, the false negatives and “inconclusive test results” will likely be handed out to patients for a while.

First off, many doctors do not take a sufficient number of biopsy samples from the intestine when looking for evidence of celiac disease. Experts recommend a minimum of 4 to 6 samples and some doctors take as many as 8-10.  An insufficient number of samples being taken can result in false negative test results if the samples are only taken from healthy villi. Experts now know that it’s also important to take a sample from the duodenal bulb. It’s possible that the damaged villi might show up only in this area which means if no sample it taken from the duodenal bulb, a patient could be told they don’t have celiac even though they do.

Other issues plague the road to a biopsy proven celiac diagnosis. The biopsy samples may not be cut and stained properly, which can also result in inconclusive (or false negative) results. As many of us know, inconclusive results often lead to patients being told to eat whatever they want to because they don’t have celiac disease. Another problem is the not all pathologists interpret the biopsy samples the same way. Some believe that only totally flattened villi can result in the conclusion that the patient has celiac. However, there are varying degrees of damaged villi. Due to the many obstacles current celiac testing methods present, it’s believed that as many of 20% of endoscopies looking for evidence of celiac result in a missed (or wrong) diagnosis. IBS seems to be the most commonly given mis-diagnosis when a patient actually has celiac disease. No surprise there, of course.

I’ve got to backtrack to the celiac blood tests for a moment. At the Chicago conference, Peter H. Green, MD, discussed the fact that there is something called inter-lab variation going on, which is a big problem. This was proven when the same blood panels were sent to different labs and in turn, different results were given by the lab techs interpreting the panels. That is why Dr. Cynthia Rudert in Atlanta (and many celiac experts) will only send celiac panels to a few trusted labs, including but not limited to, Prometheus Labs.

It’s all coming together now, right? Many people who did have biopsies (that I’ve personally met) were told they did not have celiac went on the gluten-free diet anyway. Many found out that being gluten-free resolved most, if not all, of their health issues. The most understandable explanation for this is that they either have celiac and the biopsy was done incorrectly, or they have gluten intolerance. Either way, the treatment is avoiding gluten.

Celiac experts are in agreement that many road blocks still exist in getting some people properly diagnosed with celiac disease. Fortunately, there is much more awareness and education in the medical community about the condition now, than just a few years ago. From my own personal experience, doctors typically do not like to admit that they are wrong. So, my hat is off to the celiac experts who are telling it like it is in an effort to actually improve the situation. The experts also agree that family doctors, dentists and dietitians are in great need of being thoroughly educated abut celiac disease. After all, what does it matter if the blood tests and biopsies are not being done – or interpreted – properly if a patient never gets to those stages of testing?

The latest edition of Shelley’s book The Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide is now available for those who are interested in educating themselves about what is and is not gluten-free. The book covers proper nutrition guidelines for people following the gluten-free diet. Oh, and the fun stuff is in the book too – like where all the gluten-free bakeries (in North America) are and a listing of over 3100 specialty gluten-free foods. If you thought there was no such thing as a gluten-free Cheeze-It (type) cracker, think again!

Special thanks to Shelley Case for her meticulous note taking during the conference. She got into some things that I can’t understand myself enough to explain here. It was a conference for doctors and not patients for a reason. Next week we’ll talk about gluten intolerance and the introduction of gluten to infants.

Gluten-free Blogger of the Month: Erin Smith

profileSince the first time I visited NYC over ten years ago, I’ve loved it. When I went in 2008, well into my gtuten-free journey, I wondered how much engineering work was there, in case I could convince my husband to move there. If there was such a thing as a gluten-free NYC tourism board, people would think I was on their payroll due to all the shout outs I give the gluten-free options in the Big Apple. Part of the reason that NYC has so many fabulous options is that the NYC Celiac Meetup.com Group is very active in affecting change in the city. Erin Smith runs that group along with some other volunteer helpers.

In addition to being gluten-free for most of her life and running the Meetup.com group, Erin finds time to write the blog, Gluten-Free Fun. I’m not sure where she gets all the energy to do so much but I’m sure glad she does what she does. No trip to NYC is complete without checking out Erin’s blog for all the latest and greatest gluten-free news.  Recently, this gluten-free super hero took some time to answer some questions I had about how she has grown her Meetup.com into such an impressive size.

TJ: Erin, your group is now 1000 members strong. I’m sure organizers of similar groups would love to know how you’ve grown your group to such an impressive size. What are your tips – or secrets – that others might be able to use to improve their own groups?

ES: The rapid growth of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group is something that surprises me every week. As the organizer, I receive an email every time a new member joins the group. Not a day goes by that we don’t get a new member. I really contribute most of our growth to search engines on the Internet. If you type in “New York City” and “Celiac Disease” we are the very first link that comes up and I believe this is how most people find us. On the Meetup.com website, I can choose topics that closely align to our group. Our current Meetup topics include Celiac Disease, allergies, and gluten-free. These keywords on our website also help others to find our group on the Internet. With the increase of social media over the past few years, I have also tried to connect our groups across various websites. Our Meetup group has a Facebook page and I am always promoting our group events on my blog, Gluten-Free Fun. Additionally, many of our group members have Twitter accounts and they post about our upcoming events. All of this publicity helps our NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group grow each week. I think any group, whether on Meetup.com or not, should have a webpage or blog. This puts your name out there into the digital world and helps others find your group.

TJ: Is it true that when the group first started, the meetings were held at place that didn’t offer anything safe for you to eat?

ES: The NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group was founded in October 2003. The very first Meetup I went to was in the summer of 2004 and attended by less than 5 people. The meeting was held at a bakery in lower Manhattan where we could not eat anything! Originally, Meetup.com organized the venues which is why we went to a place we couldn’t really enjoy due to the gluten-filled menu. The others in the group were nice, but I was kind of turned off from the group due to my disappointment with the location. I started actively going to events later that year once the group got an official organizer and the events were much more gluten-free friendly. Shortly after I rejoined the group, I volunteered to help organize events and the rest is history!

TJ: I’ve noticed that many places in NYC are certified GFRAP establishments. Is that seal of approval from GIG important to most of your members?

ES: Although many of our events take place at GFRAP establishments, not all of them do. We are lucky in New York City to have so many gluten-free options, so I like to plan events that expose our members to a variety of cuisines and locations. A small portion of our group members choose to only attend events at restaurants that do have the GIG seal of approval, but that is the minority.

TJ: How often does your group “meetup” and what type of activities are planned besides dinners?

ES: We try to have one or two organized events each month. Sometimes members plan to meet with each other outside of organized events via our message board. In addition, we often advertise other support group and Meetup events on our website. Besides gluten-free dinners, happy hours, and dessert outings, we have had many different kinds of events. We recently had two successful Whole Foods tours that focused on shopping for gluten-free products. We have attended open houses at both Joan’s Gluten-Free Great Bakes on Long Island and Everybody Eats in Brooklyn, NY. In March, we are helping to promote a fundraiser for the Celiac Disease Center at a modern dance performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Last year, we had an information session with a representative from GIG about the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP). I try to make our events as appealing to the widest audience possible. I really do wish I could hold more events, but I volunteer as the organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group and my full-time job takes priority.

Wow! Just look at the progress this group has made in a fairly short amount of time, relatively speaking. Like I always say, three people a group makes – then it will grow from there. I so hope this information inspires someone to start their own such group.

Special thanks to Erin for your time, not only for this interview, but for all you do in the gluten-free world. You’re appreciated in more ways than you’ll ever know!

Your group

is now 1000 members strong. I’m sure other organizers would love to know how you’ve grown your group to such an impressive size. What are your tips – or secrets – that others might be able to use to improve their own groups?

The rapid growth of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group is something that surprises me every week. As the organizer, I receive an email every time a new member joins the group. Not a day goes by that we don’t get a new member. I really contribute most of our growth to search engines on the Internet. If you type in “New York City” and “Celiac Disease” we are the very first link that comes up and I believe this is how most people find us. On the Meetup.com website, I can choose topics that closely align to our group. Our current Meetup topics include Celiac Disease, allergies, and gluten-free. These keywords on our website also help others to find our group on the Internet. With the increase of social media over the past few years, I have also tried to connect our groups across various websites. Our Meetup group has a Facebook page and I am always promoting our group events on my blog, Gluten-Free Fun. Additionally, many of our group members have Twitter accounts and they post about our upcoming events. All of this publicity helps our NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group grow each week. I think any group, whether on Meetup.com or not, should have a webpage or blog. This puts your name out there into the digital world and helps others find your group.
Is it true that when the group first started, the meetings were held at place that didn’t offer anything safe for you to eat?
The NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group was founded in October 2003. The very first Meetup I went to was in the summer of 2004 and attended by less than 5 people. The meeting was held at a bakery in lower Manhattan where we could not eat anything! Originally, Meetup.com organized the venues which is why we went to a place we couldn’t really enjoy due to the gluten-filled menu. The others in the group were nice, but I was kind of turned off from the group due to my disappointment with the location. I started actively going to events later that year once the group got an official organizer and the events were much more gluten-free friendly. Shortly after I rejoined the group, I volunteered to help organize events and the rest is history!
I’ve noticed that many places in NYC are certified GFRAP establishments. Is that seal of approval from GIG important to most of your members?
Although many of our events take place at GFRAP establishments, not all of them do. We are lucky in New York City to have so many gluten-free options, so I like to plan events that expose our members to a variety of cuisines and locations. A small portion of our group members choose to only attend events at restaurants that do have the GIG seal of approval, but that is the minority.
How often does your group “meetup” and what type of activities are planned besides dinners?
We try to have one or two organized events each month. Sometimes members plan to meet with each other outside of organized events via our message board. In addition, we often advertise other support group and Meetup events on our website. Besides gluten-free dinners, happy hours, and dessert outings, we have had many different kinds of events. We recently had two successful Whole Foods tours that focused on shopping for gluten-free products. We have attended open houses at both Joan’s Gluten-Free Great Bakes on Long Island and Everybody Eats in Brooklyn, NY. In March, we are helping to promote a fundraiser for the Celiac Disease Center at a modern dance performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Last year, we had an information session with a representative from GIG about the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP). I really try to make our events as appealing to the widest audience possible. I really do wish I could hold more events, but I volunteer as the organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group and my full-time job takes priority.

Versatile Gluten-free Sandwich Petals

Gluten-free Sandwich Petals from Raquelita’s are one of the most exciting things to hit the gluten-free market in a while. The items are made with ten gluten-free gains, heart healthy Omega 3′s and probiotics.The Sandwich Petals are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and nut-free. I was sent a box containing all three flavors by the company and reviewed them here, but every week I’m finding new ways to use these great wraps!
One of the most remarkable things about these wraps (as I call them) is that they are shelf stable for a month. No freezing or refrigeration required! This actually sounded too good to be true to me, so I tested the promise. We finished up the last wraps 28 days after the shipment arrived – not quite a month but close enough. The result was that the wraps were as good this week as they were four weeks ago. It’s quite shocking to think something this good, that is also good for you can sit out on the counter or in the pantry for so long and not go stale. Below are some of the ways we’ve put this fabulous wraps to use.
Breakfast burrito – scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese
Enchiladas – ground turkey, sauce and Mexican blend cheese
Wrap sandwiches – Peachtree Pimento, tuna salad, smoked salmon
To use the wraps not as wraps, we made a delicious chicken dish with the wraps, chicken breasts and a can of Progresso Three Cheese Enchilada soup. For this simply dish, just layer the wraps on the bottom of a baking pan, spread a little soup on them and add uncooked chicken breasts (use cut up pieces for quicker cook time) and then pour more soup over the chicken. Top with more wraps and add more soup. Bake at 375 degrees until done – 15 to 25 minutes depending on what chicken you use. Breasts take longer than pieces. It’s a tasty, easy to make gluten-free dinner. Serve over rice if desired and add a green salad for a nice meal.
One of the most fun uses for the wrap – not as a wrap – is making pizzas with them. I heated a wrap in a 400 degree oven for about ten minutes and then pulled it out to add the toppings. One of my favorite type of pizzas chicken pesto so I used pesto sauce, cooked chicken, artichoke hearts, cheese and black olives. I put the flatbread pizza back into the oven for about ten more minutes. Seriously, the pizza was fabulous, even though the crust was anything but conventional. I also use large gluten-free tortillas to make this type of pizza but those are too large for one person. For a quick small pizza for one, these sandwich petals are the perfect size.
Chicken Pesto Sandwich Petal Pizza

Chicken Pesto Sandwich Petal Pizza

Gluten-free Sandwich Petals (aka flatbreads) from Raquelita’s are one of the most exciting things to hit the gluten-free market in a while. The items are made with ten gluten-free gains, heart healthy Omega 3′s and probiotics. The Sandwich Petals are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free peanut-free, egg-free and nut-free. I was sent a box containing all three flavors by the company to review last month, but every week I’m finding new ways to use these great oval shaped “petals”!

One of the most remarkable things about these wraps (as I call them) is that they are shelf stable for a month. No freezing or refrigeration required! This actually sounded too good to be true to me, so I tested the claim. We finished up the last wraps 27 days after the shipment arrived – not quite a month but close enough. The result was that the wraps were as good this week as they were four weeks ago. It’s quite shocking to think something this good, that is also good for you and only has 90 calories can sit out on the counter or in the pantry for so long and not go stale. Below are some of the ways we’ve put this fabulous wraps to use.

  • Breakfast burrito – scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese
  • Enchiladas – ground turkey, sauce and Mexican blend cheese
  • Quesadillas – chicken, cheese and veggies
  • Wrap sandwichesPeachtree Pimento, tuna salad, smoked salmon & cream cheese, bbq pork
  • Roll-up – chive cream cheese

To use the wraps not as wraps, we made a delicious chicken dish with chicken breasts and a can of Progresso Three Cheese Enchilada soup. For this simple dish, just layer the wraps on the bottom of a baking pan, spread a little soup on them and add uncooked chicken breasts (use cut up pieces for quicker cook time) and then pour more soup over the chicken. Top with more wraps and add more soup. Bake at 375 degrees until done – 15 to 25 minutes depending on what size chicken you use. Chicken breasts take longer to cook than pieces do. It’s a tasty, easy to make gluten-free dinner. Serve over rice if desired and add a green salad for a nice meal.

One of the most fun uses for the wrap is making pizzas with them. I heated a wrap brushed with a little olive oil in a 400 degree oven for about ten minutes and then pulled it out to add the toppings. One of my favorite type of pizzas is chicken pesto so I used pesto sauce, cooked chicken, artichoke hearts, cheese and black olives for the pizza shown above. After adding sauce and toppings, I put the flatbread pizza back into the oven for about ten more minutes. Seriously, the pizza was fabulous, even though the crust was anything but conventional. I also use large gluten-free tortillas to make this type of pizza but those are too large for one person. For a quick small super thin crust pizza for one, these sandwich petals are the perfect size. There are more recipe ideas on the Sandwich Petals website.

The three Sandwich Petal flavors are Agave Grain, Spinach Garlic and Chimayo Red Chile. The Agave petals are not sweet at all, despite the name. The other two flavors are definitely more flavorful than the Agave which is similar to a basic wheat tortilla. As with many gluten-free replacement foods, the petals need to be heated for best texture and flavor.

Now that we are completely out of Sandwich Petals, we’ll take advantage of the 2 for 1 deal currently being offered on Mondays only from Sandwich Petals.  Normally, for $25 you get 36 petals (12 of each flavor) and free shipping. On Mondays, you get 72 petals (24 of each flavor) for only $25. That runs about $.35 per petal and that  is what I call a serious gluten-free deal!

Gluten-free News Roundup

Gluten-free News Roundup
It seems like everywhere you turn these days, gluten-free news is popping up. Of course, if likely only seems that way to those of us who are living a gluten-free lifestyle. Some people don’t like that term, but being on the gluten-free diet is way more involved than simply following a diet. If being gluten-free during every meal (or snack) of every day, week, month and year was easy, family members of people with celiac would not avoid being tested for celiac. Doctors would not avoid testing patients for celiac. Following the gluten-free diet successfully requires a lot of time and even a little skill at times. One has to be a label reader, ingredients expert and product investigator – among other things. There is so much to keep up with that at times, my head is spinning from all the gluten-free news coming at me. Here are a few stories that might interest some of our readers.
Late in December 2009, we found out that having celiac disease is “in” for 2010.  Interesting that a disease can be considered “in”, I think. Here is the Washington Post article in case you missed it.
In January, a rumor about Redbridge beer being discontinued sprouted, but to date, Anheiser-Busch that makes the beer, reports that there are no plans to stop making Redbridge. The representative I spoke to stated that some beverage distributors are choosing not to purchase the gluten-free beer, and suggested people contact their local distributor with questions. Two Publix stores near us have been out of Redbridge for over a month. However, Wildfire (in Atlanta) had it two weeks ago. Here is what Gluten-Free Living found out about the situation.
Zach over at Gluten-Free Raleigh broke a big story that is quite upsetting, but also comforting to know that charletons can’t fraudently sell gluten containing foods as gluten-free and get away with it. At least they can not do this in the state of North Carolina. Zach will continue to cover the details of this unfolding story, which we should all appreciate very much. How this case turns out will no doubt, have an effect on our community at large.
Twitter was abuzz a while back about the fact that Honeybaked Hams are now gluten-free. However, since they have been gluten-free for over two years in my market, I had no idea that was news to some people. Just like Butterball did with their gravy packets, Honeybaked Ham removed wheat from their glaze. Honeybaked Ham and Turkey are gluten-free and the company feels that none of the older products (with gluten in them) are in the market at this time.

It seems like everywhere you turn these days, gluten-free news is popping up. Of course, it likely only seems that way to those of us who are living a gluten-free lifestyle. Some people don’t like that term, but being gluten-free is way more involved than simply following a diet. If being gluten-free during every meal (or snack) of every day, week, month and year was easy, family members of people with celiac would not avoid being tested for celiac. Doctors would not avoid testing patients for celiac and tell people that “you don’t want to have celiac”, as if people had a choice in the matter.

Following the gluten-free diet successfully requires a lot of time, planning and even some skill at times. One has to be a label reader, ingredients expert and product investigator – among other things. There is so much to keep up with that at times, my head is spinning from all the gluten-free news coming at me. Here are a few stories that might interest some of our readers.

  • Late in December 2009, we found out that having celiac disease is “in” for 2010. Interesting that a disease can be considered “in”, I think. Here is the Washington Post article in case you missed it.
  • In January, a rumor about Redbridge gluten-free beer being discontinued sprouted, but to date, Anheiser-Busch that makes the beer, reports that there are no plans to stop making Redbridge. The representative I spoke to stated that some beverage distributors are choosing not to purchase the gluten-free beer, and suggested people contact their local distributor with questions. Two Publix stores near us have been out of Redbridge for over a month. However, Wildfire (in Atlanta) had it two weeks ago. The folks over at Gluten-Free Living were given the same information that I got from Anheiser-Busch.
  • Zach over at Gluten-Free Raleigh broke a big story that is quite upsetting, but also comforting to know that charlatans can’t fraudulently sell gluten containing foods as gluten-free and get away with it. At least they can not do it in the state of North Carolina. Zach will continue to cover the details of this unfolding story about Great Specialty Products, which we should all appreciate very much. How this case turns out will no doubt, have an effect on our community at large.
  • Twitter was abuzz a while back about the fact that Honeybaked Hams are now gluten-free. However, since they have been gluten-free for over two years in my market, I had no idea that was news to some people. Just like Butterball did with their gravy packets, Honeybaked Ham removed wheat from their glaze. Honeybaked Ham and Turkey are gluten-free and the company believes that none of the older products (with gluten in them) are in the market at this time. However, just as with the Butterball gravy, read the ingredients. If you don’t see wheat (the only form of gluten in either item before) listed, the item is gluten-free.
  • Jens Gluten Free blog posted an interesting L.A. Times story about how gluten-free is still a huge buzz word in the grocery trends. It seems clear that the gluten-free market will continue to expand for a long while. Keep in mind that less than 90% with celiac in the U.S. know they have the condition.
  • Just this week, the news from Gluten-Free Philly about Whole Foods discontinuing their gluten-free baking mixes came as a bit of a surprise to some of us. The mixes were not being made by Whole Foods and were rumored to be Gluten-Free Pantry mixes. However, neither company would confirm who was making (or buying what) from whom. There are such things as non disclosure agreements, after all.

If you enjoyed the Whole Foods brownie mix, buy the Betty Crocker gluten-free brownie mix and use 6-7 tablespoons of butter instead of 4. The ingredients are the same – the difference in the taste has to do with the amount of butter called for in each mix. If your local distributor drops Redbridge from their line-up, check out Bard’s Tale, which is now more available than it was when Redbrdige was introduced.  If you don’t like the fact that the U.S. has no gluten-free labeling laws yet (which allowed the NC scenario to happen), please complain directly to the FDA. The toll free number is 1-888-463-6332.

Congrats to the iPhone App Contest Winners!

jennifer 2/8/10
Jessica Coleman
Lisa 2/2/10
Matt Spo
Beth Oswitch
Becky 1.28.10
Mehgan Howell
Sharon 1/31
Roki
Brita StottGFGroceriesHR_products10 10

We’ve chosen 10 winners at random for our new gluten-free iPhone app contest.  Congratulations Jennifer, Jessica Coleman, Lisa, Matt Spo, Beth Oswitch, Becky, Mehgan Howell, Sharon, Roki and Brita Stott. You’ll be contacted via email next week for instructions on how to claim your prize. Why next week? Because it’s  “Snowmageddon” here in Northern Virginia, and we’re currently digging ourself out from under 30 inches of snow and getting ready to dig out of another 16 !

This new App is the iPhone version of our popular gluten free grocery guide. Like the print edition, it lists over 30,000 gluten free foods, making it the largest gluten free product listing available anywhere.

And, for the iPhone version, we worked with one of the most talented iPhone developers in the business. The result is a very fast, powerful App that’s really easy to use. One of the coolest features that we haven’t seen elsewhere is the search function – it actually updates your search results real time, as you type each letter of your query, making it easier to find what you’re looking for fast.

Go check it out on your iTunes! (This link will open up your iTunes program and take you to our app page.)