Monthly Archives: April 2010

Celiac Awareness Events – May and June

gfstff05027v5_150x150_Front_Color-BlackWhiteMay is celiac awareness month. At one time, there was a debate about October being the month to promote celiac awareness but it seems that May won out in the end. I actually feel like every day offers us a chance to promote celiac awareness. You can do this by dining out gluten-free or even by asking a store employee for help locating a gluten-free product. While we can’t imagine that every person in America hasn’t heard the words gluten-free and celiac, I continue to meet people that have no idea what either term means – if they have even heard them.

The news about gluten-free Bisquick and Hamburger Helper being served up at the Celiac Disease Foundation Conference on May 15th is pretty exciting! I’m planning to go through my husband’s family cookbook and look up recipes that call for Bisquick. There are many fun things for attendees to experience at the annual CDF Conference and Food Faire so be sure and check it out if you’re in the Los Angeles area. Today is the last day to receive the early registration discount.

Folks in the Chicago area might want to attend the fancy Spring Flours event hosted by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center on May 14th. When I received my gluten-free food basket from that organization, I felt like I might be able to handle this weird gluten-free life. People with a biopsy proven celiac diagnosis qualify to get the fabulous gluten-free box of goodies. The special night will surely offer a spectacular meal and the proceeds help fund the gift basket program. It’s a win-win for all!

The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (aka GIG) 2010 Annual Education Conference is really a wonderful weekend long event. It happens in June actually. This year’s event is June 3-5 in Minneapolis, MN. There is a lot going on that weekend, including a gluten-free pajama party! Attendees are sure to learn a lot while having tons of fun. You can find out more information about this conference here. The name of the event this year says it all “Savor the Flavor of a Healthy Gluten-free Life”. That’s something I try to do every day – literally.

If you can’t get to one of these conferences, there is another fun way to promote celiac awareness. Café Press has many “gluten-free shops”. They’re not selling food but shirts, hats, mugs, buttons, tote bags and even a doggie shirt with gluten-free and celiac slogans. I love wearing my ladies baseball jersey (shown in photo) from my own shop, Make Mine Gluten Free. When I first got the shirt, people almost always asked me what the slogan meant. These days, it’s more likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger about how someone they know has celiac, is being tested for it or can’t eat gluten for one reason or another.

Celiac Chicks have a darling Cafe Press shop and many other gluten-free bloggers do as well. Just search the term “gluten-free” or “celiac” in the search box on Café Press and you’ll have countless merchandise options to consider. The website owners – not the shop owners – are making most of the money from the sales, but it’s a fun and easy way for anyone interested in promoting awareness with their own slogans and/or artwork.

One of the reasons that celiac awareness barely existed twenty years ago is that there was no internet to connect us all. Also, some people were embarrassed to talk about their symptoms – even to their own doctors. Thankfully, that’s changed for the most part and our community is one of the most well connected around. Sometimes when I tell glutenoid friends some exciting (to me) gluten-free news, they say “you people are taking over the world”. And even though that’s not really true, we are a definitely a force to be reckoned with these days!

*Don’t forget our own celiac awareness campaign runs through May 31st! Add the Triumph Dining badge to your own website today!

Gluten-free Bisquick and Hamburger Helper

May is Celiac awareness month and there are several big events going on in both May and early June. We’ll go over those on Friday, but one of the events brings overly exciting news that just can’t wait! General Mills will test drive their new gluten-free Bisquick at the Celiac Disease Foundation Annual Education Conference. Yes, gluten-free Bisquick and Hamburger Helper is on the horizon. It will be several months before the items roll out nationwide, but they are on the way!

Here is some info from the CDF website -

Join us at the Celiac Disease Foundation Annual Education Conference & Food Faire for a hot breakfast first thing Saturday morning, May 15, 8:00 a.m.- 9:00 a.m. and be among the first to try the new Gluten-Free Bisquick pancakes with gluten-free syrup. Since it was first introduced in 1931, Bisquick pancake and baking mix has been known for making tender, delicious pancakes. Now, they are introducing a new gluten-free Bisquick that will once again bring smiles to everyone's face at the breakfast table whether you are gluten-free or not. New Gluten-Free Bisquick mix will be in stores
late this summer.

Also debuting will be the new gluten-free Hamburger Helper. Be among the first to try new gluten-free Hamburger Helper varieties at the brand's booth at the CDF Conference. This great dinner solution will be available this summer in three gluten-free flavors: Chicken Fried Rice, Cheesy Hashbrowns and Beef Fried Rice. Remember to always check labels for gluten-free wording.

hamburgerhelper2People drive to Atlanta from AL, SC and even TN to shop for gluten-free food. Now, everyone should be able to  pop into their local grocery store and buy gluten-free Bisquick and Hamburger Helper. With the new gluten-free Bisquick, it will finally be possible for people in more rural areas to make gluten-free pancakes without having to drive twenty miles (or more) or order a mix online. I am very appreciative when any of the Big 5 food companies cater to our market. My guess is that both items will be a big hit and I for one and really excited to see General Mills continuing to expand our options. What’s next – Pillsbury pop and bake cinnamon rolls?

General Mills has expressed that they care about what items we are looking for. If you want your voice to count – leave a comment below and let them know what they should be working on next!

*Per the request of my General Mills contact, the company wants to remind everyone that these new items are NOT available yet. Therefore, please make sure and read the labels of any products from the company to make sure they are gluten-free versions. The roll out of the Hamburger Helper is slated for early June and the Bisquick hits later this summer. While you’re waiting for the Hamburger Helper, the Grocery Guide has nearly thirty brands who sell ready-made meals and meal starters.

New Flavors of Bhuja Gluten-free Snacks!

packs_usaOne day while browsing my local health food store, I came across a new snack labeled gluten-free made by Bhuja. However, the ingredients included soy sauce and unlike other gluten-free items, it did not state the  soy sauce was gluten-free. I was going to put the bag back on the shelf until I saw that is was made in Australia – a country known to be way ahead of the U.S. regarding celiac disease and gluten intolerance. I bought the bag and contacted the company via their website to verify the soy sauce in the product was gluten-free. It took them a day to reply but the product was confirmed to be gluten-free. So I’ve been addicted to the delicious Indian inspired snack mix since then!

Back then, there were four flavors of the snack mix, but I really only love the Cracker Mix. The other three flavors are the Nut Mix, Friut Mix and Orignial Mix. All the products in the line are gluten-free, made from 100% all natural ingredients and have a good amount of protein in them. They are also made in a gluten-free facility, testing at 15 ppm or less. As snacks go, they are fairly healthy and quite addictive. Even so, eating just a small amount of the snack will fill you up faster than you’d imagine. The snack is quite unlike corn or potato chips in that way. A little really goes a long way, which is nice since the price is on the high side. They are being shipped in from Australia, after all.

Excerpt from the Bhuja website:

Spice up your life with Majans Bhuja – the tasty, wholesome snack that’s great for a nibble anytime. An Indian family favorite, the origin of Bhuja mixes and spices dates back many, many years and each household has its own recipe – including Majans. In Australia, Majans was the first company to manufacture Bhuja commercially and make it available nationwide.

BJA_200g_Peas_r1_v1 (2)There are now four new flavors of snacks from Bhuja. The full page ad on the back of the current Delight gluten-free magazine shows the four new flavors. They include Seasoned Peanuts, Seasoned Almonds, Seasoned Cashews and Crunchy Seasoned Peas. The latter is the one I really want to try if I can find it. There are crunchy peas in the Cracker Mix and they are my favorite part! The items are sold at Whole Foods and many health food stores. To find out if they are available in your area, check the website “where to buy” link.  They can also be purchased online from various websites, including Amazon.com. I ususally stock up on these when they are on sale for $3 at Whole Foods. The normal price here is $3.99 so at least I save 25% by doing that.

One thing I love using the Bhuja snacks for is when I go out to eat out somewhere that might not offer any gluten-free appetizers. I take a small baggie of the mix in my purse and then ask for a small bowl to put it in if I have to wait for others to eat appetizers I can’t have. I find that by doing this, I don’t feel like eating the tablecloth before my meal finally arrives. There is something about watching other people eat that makes me feel hungrier than I really am. With handy Bhuja snack mixes available, I can curb my hunger by eating just a little of this tasty crunchy treat!

Review: Multi Grain Gluten-free Pasta

multigrain_penne_rigateSeveral years ago I discovered gluten-free products from the Italian company Schär. Their gluten-free pasta is excellent and they make a decent buttery cracker among other things. Their tagliatelle pasta is probably my favorite item from the line. The wide noodle is similar to what you’d find in a high end restaurant that offers fresh pasta. We use it in place of fettucinni because we’ve not found a gluten-free fettucinni we like. We’ve tried all the major brands, but only really liked the version from Celiac Specialties, which has since been discontinued.

Recently, I found a new (to me) gluten-free pasta from Schär. It’s called Multi-Grain Penne Rigate and it’s made from corn, rice and buckwheat flours. I was glad to see a pasta made with a healthy grain like buckwheat. I don’t like the taste of plain buckwheat noodles at all, but I could tell by the color of the Schär pasta it was not going to taste like buckwheat pasta. It is the last ingredient in the multi-grain pasta, after all. The pasta was rather yellow in color – not bright yellow like pure corn pasta. It’s not gray like pure buckwheat pasta, but there are actually tiny specks of gray in the pasta.

We had some ricotta cheese in the fridge that needed to be used up so I decided to whip together a quick version of baked ziti – or rather baked penne. I used Shelton’s ground turkey for the meat, Ragu for the sauce (doctored up with Italian Spice from Alchemy Spice), ricotta cheese and low fat shredded mozzarella cheese. I didn’t follow a recipe but just eyed everything. I had a pound of meat and maybe three cups of the meat/sauce mixture. I had about a cup and a half of the ricotta cheese and three cups of the mozzarella.

After cooking and draining the entire box of pasta, I added the meat/sauce mixture and all of the ricotta and half the mozzarella cheese to the pan. Using the pan I cooked the pasta in kept me from having to clean a mixing bowl. I mixed everything together and poured it into a lightly greased 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. I then  sprinkled the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top. I baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. You could use spinach instead of meat or just add it to make the dish more healthy. You could use shredded chicken or ground beef, of course. The possibilities are endless really. Here are many baked ziti recipes from Recipe Zaar. Just remember to use all gluten-free ingredients. In this previous post, we rounded up a few pasta recipes from the gluten-free blogosphere.

The result of my quick baked penne experimient was a great tasting – though quite heavy – pasta entree. The pasta was excellent, with a perfect texture. I’d love to find more Schär pastas made with this combination of grains. It tastes even better than the tagliatelle and has more of both fiber and protein. Italians know how to do pasta right and with this item, Schär really hit a home run!

Excerpt from the Schär website:

Schär products and a lecture by Anne Lee were featured as part of a gluten-free meal served at the American Culinary Federation of Chef’s meeting in Milwaukee, March 22, 2010. In addition to the delicious gluten- free meal, New Grist’s gluten-free beer was served along with a wonderful pairing of wines and desserts.

Now that is impressive! Maybe it’s the start of more chefs becoming aware that we expect to be served delicious gluten-free food. And if something is good enough to serve us, it can be served to glutenoids as well. Just don’t tell them it’s gluten-free. At least, not until after they rave about how wonderful it is!


Gluten-free Labeled Soda and Juice

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Maine Root Sodas

Even though many drinks are gluten-free, it’s not that commmon to find the term gluten-free on them. Most sodas sold in the U.S. are gluten-free, but to date, I’ve never seen a Coke bottle labeled gluten-free. When Pizza Fusion opened in Atlanta last year, we tried Boylan’s sodas for the first time. According to the company, all their natural sodas are gluten-free. The first sip of the Root Beer from the line took me back in time. It tasted like the Root Beer from my youth and nothing like most other root beers that contain corn syrup. It is simply a delicious drink and as soda’s go, it’s pretty healthy.

Just over a year ago, we went to a private concert that offered a light buffet afterwards. Since the people hosting the event were all gluten-free, most of the catered food served was gluten-free – and quite delicious as well. There was a ginger-lime flavored punch served that was made with Ginger Beer soda. I’m not sure what brand it was, but it was gluten-free. It’s also a non alcoholic beverage, despite the name. I later found the brand Maine Root at my local health food store and picked up the Ginger Beer. If you like very strong ginger flavor, you might enjoy this drink. I use it as a mixer because it’s too strong for me to drink plain.

lemonlime_lgRecently, some friends brought over the Blue Berry soda made by Maine Root. It’s a bit sweet for me but my husband quite enjoys it.  The Lemon Lime and Root Beer flavors are more up my alley. The entire Maine Root product line is gluten-free and the packages are marked as such currently. The website is being updated and will soon state that the products are gluten-free. For reasons that have nothing to do with ingredients, the package label is changing and gluten-free will no longer be listed on the carton. However, the founders of the company have people with celiac in their family. So needless to say, they are quite concerned with making safe products for people who can’t tolerate gluten to consume.

There is a new bottled drink that is labeled gluten-free, but it’s a juice – of sorts – instead of a soda.  The Organic Source drinks are interesting and quite different than other drinks I’ve tried. There are three flavors and by far, the Pomegranate Acia is my favorite. The products are also organic and Kosher. The drinks contain sparkling (carbonated) water and real fruit juice and don’t contain added sugar.

For kids, the Juicy Juice sparkling juice drinks offer a nice alternative from corn syrup laden sodas. Nestle makes the sparkling juice beverages which are gluten-free.  On the FAQ page on the Juicy Juice website, question # 11 answers the question about gluten. “Gluten-free” is on the cans as well. The ingredients are all natural and no sugars, sweeteners or preservatives have been added to the juice. The natural fructose in the juice concentrate is what makes the drinks very sweet. The apple flavor tastes a bit like sour apple jolly rancher candy. In my opinion, the orange flavor is the least sweet tasting of the three flavors.

We are big water drinkers at our house and have been for many years. However, sometimes you want something sweet and fizzy to drink. It’s nice that more companies are making products for people who like soda, but aren’t crazy about drinking products full of high fructose corn syrup. The products listed above are sold at some health food stores and at some locations of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Boylan’s sodas can be purchased online through Amazon.com and Maine Root products will be available there soon as well.

Gluten-free Travel Sans Dining Out

saraseakitchenTraveling is something many people on restricted diets avoid doing at all costs. They change jobs if work requires frequent business trips, stop attending family reunions and give up family vacations. Even if people don’t feel comfortable eating out anymore, there is no reason for them to give up travel for good. Gluten-free travel is easier than ever these days. Like anything else we do that involves food, it does take extra work in order to do it safely.

In the past, we always chose travel destinations that had great dining options. So now we just choose places that have great gluten-free dining options. Since so many people living gluten-free don’t care to eat out anyway, they might want to focus on traveling to places that have stores with abundant gluten-free product offerings. That way they don’t have to pack everything but the kitchen sink in order to eat safely when away from home.

Larger metro areas are likely to have a Whole Foods and/or a Trader Joe’s and both retailers offer many trusted gluten-free products. However, many smaller markets now have health food and even mainstream grocery stores with gluten-free food sections. For most people in the U.S., the days of having to visit five stores in order to grocery shop are over. Here is a general rule of thumb about gluten-free shopping. If there is not a gluten-free or celiac support group in the area, there might be limited shopping opportunities for gluten-free products. The larger the gluten-free community, the better the shopping options there.

We tend to travel by car many times a year and never leave home without a cooler. It’s usually  a large one because I rarely go somewhere without finding new gluten-free products I’ve not seen in our stores before. And it’s tough for me to pass such items up, if I find them intriguing. I found the best gluten-free biscotti, made by Sorella’s Bakery, at a store in FL. Since then, we rarely travel without the travel friendly snack. Since most “free” breakfasts tend to be heavy on the gluten, I can always have coffee, fruit and my own terrific biscotti. If you keep these “Italian cookies” in an air tight container, they will stay fresh for many months!

People who aren’t going to eat out during trips can rent a fully equipped condo or rental property. Most such places tend to have stainless steel cookware so there is no reason to worry about what’s been cooked in it previously. Washing the items thoroughly before using them will keep you from having to pack your own pots and pans. Having to do that would take some of the fun out of vacationing, no doubt. I always pack handy Toast-It bags as well, so that I can safely use toasters no matter where we go. The amazing bags are reusable which makes them well worth the investment.

Usually, the first thing we do after unpacking the car and unloading the cooler (with any cold food we packed) is head to the nearest store to stock up on supplies for the trip. We buy fresh fruit and whatever other staples we need. Because I’m always concerned that I’ll end up without gluten-free crackers to snack on, I take my own whenever we travel anywhere. One can live without gluten-free crackers, but we tend to dine out every night and are huge fans of gourmet cheese plates. More often than not, I have to go without crackers or bread unless I take my own. Small thin crackers are much less conspicuous to pack in a handbag than a bulky roll or pieces of bread.

People who prefer to cook their own meals on vacation can find fresh meats, starches, eggs, veggies and fruit at any grocery store in this country. Even though we don’t eat dinner in while vacationing, we rarely eat breakfast out. Most breakfast places don’t offer gluten-free toast, waffles or even a gluten-free muffin. For me, eating just eggs and hash browns or grits for breakfast gets old after a couple of days. Therefore, we pack things like Udi’s muffins and buy other breakfast staples upon arrival at our destination.

No one should eat out if they don’t want to, but staying close to home all the time isn’t really necessary these days. Gluten-free travel is not only possible – even if you don’t eat out – it can actually be fabulously fun. Order some gluten-free meals from Go Picnic, pack some safe snacks and hit the road. Don’t let being gluten-free keep you from enjoying the things you enjoy – even if it’s traveling the world!

Remember to pack our grocery guide to help with food shopping. If you decide to venture out to eat (in the U.S.), the restaurant guide can help with that as well.

New Redbridge Beer Rolling Out to Stores Now!

other_middle_bgMany People from different parts of the country have been complaining for a couple of months that they can’t find Redbridge beer in stores anymore. In some cases, that is due to the fact that the local distributor dropped the beer from it’s line up. In the case of Publix stores, the grocery chain dropped the only gluten-free beer they carry system wide, even though their local distributors still sell it. Reportedly, this was due to poor sales. They got rid of poor performing gluten beers as well.

Rumors about Anheuser-Busch discontinuing the only mass produced gluten-free beer in the U.S. have run rampant for a while now. Finally, last week the company admitted that the beer might not be available temporarily because it was being reformulated. However, no estimated time line was given for the reformulated Redbridge. That news wasn’t comforting for fans of the beer – or the people who drink it because it’s the only gluten-free beer option in their area.

Finally, someone from the corporate communications office of Anheuser-Busch contacted me with good news for Redbridge fans. The newly reformulated, slightly lower alcohol content version of Redbridge has rolled out of production facilities and is on the way to a store near you. At least, it has if your distributor carries it. Even if your distributor stopped carrying it, you might want to contact them and suggest they give the new beer a try. It is said to have a smoother taste that might appeal to more beer lovers. According to the AB representative I spoke to, the beer is still gluten-free and safe for people who can’t tolerate gluten. It can also be sold in more states now that the alcohol content has been slightly lowered.

Since all major sports stadiums that offer gluten-free beer sell Anheuser-Busch products, there should not be any shortages for Redbridge for the MLB season this year. If your local stadium does not sell Redbridge yet, they should be offering it soon. At many parks, you have to find out where the beer is sold because it’s not stocked at every beer cart. Calling to get this information before you head out to a ball game is encouraged. Many people told me that there was no Redbridge at Turner Field last year, even after it was stocked there at several locations. You have to know where to find it and can’t count on a seasonal employee at a beer cart to know where that is.

Who knows? If the new Redbridge performs better than the old version, maybe Publix will add Redbridge back to their beer schematic for 2011!

Other companies making gluten-free beers include Bard’s Tale Beer, Green’s, Lakefront Brewery, and Sprecher Brewing Company.

Review and Give-away: New Gluten-Free Cookbook

cook51SoHkxTsKL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_Next week, a new gluten-free cookbook by Vanessa Maltin will be available. Fans of her first book “Beyond Rice Cakes”  will be blown away by this elegant, more sophisticated and perfectly delightful cookbook “The Gloriously Gluten-free Cookbook : Spicing up Life with Italian, Asian and Mexican Recipes“. Vanessa started her gluten-free career working with the NFCA and is now the Food & Lifestyle Editor at Delight gluten-free magazine.

When my review copy of Vanessa’s new book arrived, I immediately noticed that it is quite a different publication than “Beyond Rice Cakes”, which is geared more for young adults on the gluten-free journey. The beautiful new cookbook is definitely for gluten-free cooks of all ages. Heidi Collins, previously of CNN, wrote the forward, which is quite touching. The Doctor’s Note that follows the forward was penned by Dr. Aline Charabaty from Georgetown University Hospital.

The book chapters are divided by different types of cuisines, including Italian, Asian and Mexican, as the title implies. There is also a chapter just for desserts! In each cuisine section, there is a list of ingredients that are most often used in dishes from that region. Additionally, suggestions about what product lines offer gluten-free pasta and soy sauce are mentioned.  Gluten-free flours are covered and oats are explained.

Also, in the different cuisine sections, a “Chef’s Note” is included. Keith Brunel, Executive Chef of Maggiano’s Little  Italy, wrote the Italian note.  Katie Chin of Thai Kitchen wrote the “Chef’s Note” in the Asian section and and Edgar Steele of Cafe Atlantico took care of the same in the Mexican section. Each Chef takes time to truly explain this history of the cuisine. It’s a quite enlightening  part of each cuisine section and gets the reader excited to try some of the book’s fabulous recipes!

Here are just a few recipes in the book, listed in no particular order:

  • Artichoke Parmesan Salad with Dijon Mustard Dressing
  • Grilled Chicken with Asparagus and Cheddar Risotto
  • Crunchy Vietnamese Spring Rolls
  • Gluten-free Potstickers
  • Mango Chicken Quesadillas
  • Carne Asada and Creamy Potato Puree
  • White Chocolate-Mango Cheesecake
  • Apple Fried Ice Cream

Staples like various pasta sauces, enchiladas and egg drop soup recipes are also included in the creative cookbook. While some of the recipes are more involved than others, most of them are really easy to understand and implement. In other words, most of the recipes don’t have 15-20 instructions, but about 6 or so. The easier the better is my motto about cooking of any kind. This book proves you can follow that rule and also enjoy incredible gourmet restaurant quality gluten-free meals!

In addition to the array of interesting recipes in the book, Vanessa also explains what celiac disease is and how she learned to make lemonade out of the sour lemons that many perceive a celiac diagnosis to be. She talks about various celiac testing methods, including the new finger prick test from Biocard – now approved in parts of Europe and Canada. That test, or something similar, might make diagnosing celiac easier than ever one day.

If you are in search of a gluten-free cookbook to spice up your kitchen, please leave a comment below for your chance to win one of three copies being offered to our readers by Wiley, the publisher. Deadline to enter a comment is April 20th. Winners will be posted on April 21st. *Shipping address for books must be in one of the 48 contiguous U.S. states.

UPDATE 4-21-10: Congrats to Katie Hartsell, elicia and Steve Wilbur who won the fab new cookbook from Vanessa Maltin!

Jason’s Considers Offering Gluten-Free Sandwiches

glutenfreegraphicOne of the things most people living gluten-free can’t order when dining out is a sandwich. People in NYC can have gluten-free deli sandwiches at several places and the zpizza locations in Atlanta now have gluten-free sandwiches. In Denver, Udi’s Cafes offer gluten-free sandwiches and so does The Little Aussie Bakery in San Antonio. Other cities have various options as well, but generally speaking, gluten-free sandwich options in restaurants are far and few between.

Jason’s Deli is a national chain with locations all over the U.S. The company uses healthy products in their restaurants and none of their deli meats contain MSG. Jason’s Deli is always striving to offer even more healthy options and recently began investigating the option of bringing in gluten-free bread for sandwiches. We’ve never been to a Jason’s Deli before but if a location near us offered gluten-free sandwiches, I’d certainly check it out!

The following information is from the Jason’s Deli website -

At Jason’s Deli, we’re all about healthy food. We’ve even been named “One of the 10 Best Restaurants in America!” in the July 2009 issue of Parents Magazine. You won’t find high fructose corn syrup, trans fats or MSG in any of our food – just healthy, fresh and even organic foods. From sandwiches to salads, Jason’s Deli offers healthy food that everyone can feel good about. And it’s not only healthy food – it’s delicious food.

The people in our area who have eaten at Jason’s Deli report that the gluten-free options are presently pretty limited. Even so, they also report that managers really seem concerned with making sure that gluten-free meals are safely prepared. This is not always the case at this price point restaurant, regardless of the existence of a gluten-free menu. Like I always tell people – the most important part of the Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide to me is the section explaining how to dine out safely.

So, here is our chance to be heard by a company that is carefully considering getting into the gluten-free market. Jason’s Deli is asking potential gluten-free customers to weigh in on their decision about offering gluten-free sandwiches. Please take a moment to vote on this poll. It takes less than a minute and the actions of our community might greatly impact the decision that the powers-that-be at Jason’s Deli ultimately make. Not many mainstream companies ask for our feedback before they enter the gluten-free market place so we need to take full advantage of this great opportunity being offered by Jason’s Deli. Make your voice count and vote now if you haven’t already. What a great way to start the week!

GIG Confirms Contract with Snyder’s of Hanover

gfco2There has been a lot of buzz about the new gluten-free pretzels from Snyder’s of Hanover. If you missed the buzz, please take a moment to read this interesting post about the new Snyder’s pretzels from Teri over at About.com. News of the gluten pretzel king of mainstream food companies getting into the gluten-free market should be good news, of course. However, the company took a while to finally decide that the new product should be certified gluten-free. The good news is that the ink is finally dry on the contract between the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America and Snyder’s of Hanover. You can read the press release here.

Snyder’s of Hanover has been in negotiations with GIG since September 2009. However, they have not had a signed contract since then. As Cynthia Kupper, GIG’s Executive Director, explained to me “as you know contract negotiations take time and during the process sometimes people walk away from the negotiations to do further research. At times this process can take months. We are thrilled that Snyder’s has certified their new gluten-free pretzels and is helping this community live healthier.”

Snyder’s checked into different certification programs that were available and chose to go with GIG’s extensive GFCO program. It’s really exciting news that the pretzels were able to be confirmed gluten-free, since they are made on lines that also process wheat. It’s a myth that products not made in a dedicated gluten-free facility can’t truly be gluten-free. As always, people can make up their own minds about what to eat or avoid. I am certainly going to look for the new Snyder’s item when it hits the Whole Foods stores in mid May.

Snyder’s of Hanover hopes to roll out their new gluten-free products to mainstream grocery stores, that already carry their other snacks, in mid summer 2010. The company might also introduce some “no gluten ingredients” snacks, which will not be certified gluten-free. It’s unclear why consumers would buy such a product but there are trendy shoppers out there that might pick up something marked gluten-free to try something different.

Though I’ve personally tried some items labeled “no gluten ingredients” before, they were from companies like Amy’s that does test products for safety. Several gluten-free companies when through a phase where they changed their labeling while waiting for the magic FDA labeling law that never materialized. Maybe if the certified gluten-free pretzels sell really well, Snyder’s will consider having some of their “no gluten ingredients” products tested for gluten as well.