Monthly Archives: January 2011

Tips for a Schmaltz-Free, Gluten-Free Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. It’s not exactly my favorite holiday, but every time I go to the pharmacy or the grocery store I’m reminded that luvvvv is in the air, or at least that it’s supposed to be.

(This is why I prefer the much-less-commercialized Talk Like a Pirate Day.)

Even though I’m not much for Feb 14, I recognize that it’s unavoidable. Accordingly, here’s a list of tips, tricks, and did-you-knows for a lovely, gluten-free Valentine’s Day:

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Product Review: Liz Lovely Gluten-Free Cookies

There are lots of reasons why my favorite local coffeeshop is my favorite. The coffee is good, I always get a seat near the window, the cute boy who works at the gym down the street always smiles at me when he comes in for some caffeine…but that’s not all.

This is also where I first encountered Liz Lovely cookies, in a basket with a big GLUTEN-FREE sign. I got hungry, I got some cookies, and then I wrote an email to the folks at Liz Lovely and asked them to send me some more – all in the name of research, of course.

Nice people that they are, Liz & co sent me a beautiful box filled with their fair-trade, organic, vegan, gluten-free cookies.

“All those adjectives, and the cookies were still good?” you ask.

Oh yes. They were. Let me tell you:

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Labeling Debate Brewin' Up North

picture of beer bottle caps

Image via Maggie Hoffman at Serious Eats

Canada is joining the ranks of countries who are amping up their recognition of gluten-intolerance – and for some industries, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

There’s a debate raging in the Great White North over new labeling regulations proposed by the Canadian Celiac Association and Health Canada, the Canadian federal health department. These new regulations are designed to help people with food allergies identify dangerous ingredients more readily and reliably, and are similar the standards we already have in place in the U.S. The plan has been in the works for about a decade, but now that it’s ready to be implemented, one industry is mounting a last-ditch resistance.

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Call to Action: GF Labeling and the FDA

A little bit of hump-day activism, from our friends at the American Celiac Disease Alliance:

...all those letters really do add up.

Because of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), top allergens are now clearly labeled on foods. I’m sure I’m not the only one who sends a big mental “Thanks!” to the FDA every time I can easily see if a food has wheat in it.

But, as we all know, wheat and gluten have a square-rectangle relationship: all wheat has gluten, but not all gluten comes from wheat. FALCPA had another component, specifically to address this:

It was supposed to finish standardizing labeling requirements for gluten-free foods. By 2008. Which was 3 years ago.

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Losing Pounds by Losing Gluten? A Look at the Growing Gluten-Free Diet Craze

woman's feet on scale

Image via Instanta News Blog

A few days ago we asked our Facebook followers to weigh in (terrible pun intended) on the rising trend of going gluten-free to lose weight. This trend can be traced, at least in part, to celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow, who sang the praises of a gluten-free cleanse in her January newsletter, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, whose gluten-free recipe book claims weight loss as one of the many benefits of her “g-free” diet.  Even Oprah got in on the gluten-free game, eliminating gluten (among other foods) in a 21-day cleanse back in 2008.

Looking at the growing number of gluten-free celebrities who also happen to be thin and smile-y, you can see why this trend would appeal to those of us who have tried everything to shed unwanted pounds. But there’s a pretty significant flip side: the American Dietetics Association does not endorse the gluten-free diet as a means to losing weight.

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Stuck on Sticky Rice, a Gluten-free Treat

I spent last weekend in Washington DC, eating a lot of rice.

Of course, eating a lot of rice isn’t all that uncommon for someone who eats gluten-free – it’s versatile, cheap, satisfyingly starchy….

traditional gluten-free sticky rice in a banana leaf

Sometimes all that versatility makes me forget one or another way that I used to enjoy eating rice, though. This weekend I was reminded of an old favorite, and one I plan to bring back into rotation as soon as I can get myself to the grocery store: sticky rice.

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It’s All Gravy: Boston Market Goes Gluten-free

Chalk up one more victory for the, “Does there REALLY have to be gluten in there?” brigade.

Boston Market has a good selection of gluten-free choices, which you already know if you’ve perused the back section of your gluten-free restaurant guide.

In my pre-diagnosis, pre-teen years we often stopped at Boston Market for a snack between school and evening extra-curriculars. I loved the macaroni and cheese, and of course like any kid I was a big fan of white meat chicken topped with gravy.

Now the mac and cheese is obviously not gluten-free, and the chicken’s been fine for celiacs all along. But the gravy? Remember when we talked about all the foods that taste better without gluten, and we called out gravy specifically?

Boston Market finally agreed.

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Gluten's Growing Rap Sheet: Gluten Intolerance Without Celiac Disease

picture of sources of gluten

Gluten strikes again!

Last week we had a great post about a new Swedish study that could (to paraphrase Emily K, could could could) give us new information on preventing celiac disease, which is a huge step that most of us probably wish had happened a long time ago. In the last couple of days, some news has come out that examines the flip side of the gluten-free coin: a recent Australian study strongly suggests that gluten can be the culprit in moderate and even severe gastrointestinal issues even in people who have tested negative for celiac disease.

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La Vida Delicioso: Gluten-free Spain

Sarah’s post on gluten-free Spanish food the other day reminded me of something very important: I haven’t yet talked about how easy it was to eat gluten-free in Spain! And for goodness’ sake, if there’s one thing I love to do, it’s talk about eating.

My experience was limited to two cities – Madrid and Seville – and my Spanish was limited to a few choice phrases and what was printed on my gluten-free dining card. Unsurprisingly, I managed just fine; both cities are popular with students, tourists and ex-pats and there were plenty of English-speakers to help me out when I got confused.

In fact, harder than finding safe foods to eat was getting used to Spanish timing: it takes a while to get accustomed to a 10pm dinner. Happily, there were plenty of places to snack and plenty of tasty things to try as I bided my time until then.

So what’s a girl to eat, when the café con leche just won’t suffice?
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And Now For Something Completely Different: Can "Panera Cares" Cafes Level the Gluten-Free Cost Playing Field?

Panera Bread Community Cafes

Image curtesy of USA TODAY. Panera founder Ron Shaich in a "Panera Cares" cafe location.

One of last week’s blog posts focused on the cost of eating gluten-free and the potential benefit for restaurants to support their gluten-intolerant customers.  Much of the outcry surrounding the gluten-free community revolves around the expense of products.  And let’s face it – paying up to three times as much for a loaf of bread could get anybody in the wrong mood.

What if I told you that in three select locations in America, you could pay no more than any other person eating at the same restaurant?  That’s right: Dearborn, Michigan, Clayton, Missouri, and Portland, Oregon all have special community Panera Breads where the customers can choose how much they pay for their meal.

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