Monthly Archives: January 2011

Prevent Celiac Disease? New Study Explores Potential Early Intervention

Much to my grandmother’s chagrin, I’m nowhere close to having children.

cookie sandwiches, the new baby food?

Much to my chagrin, this new study on the prevention of celiac disease won’t be finished before my prime child-bearing years are over.

Study to prevent celiac disease, you ask? Indeed. A new Dutch study is taking a look at the so-called “window of opportunity,” in which it might (might might might) be possible to keep celiac disease from taking hold in an infant.

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Gluten-free Vending Machines Coming to a School Near You?

Quiz time!

You’re about to sit through your niece’s high school play. It’s been a few hours since you’ve eaten and your next meal is nowhere in sight, so you set off in search of a snack.

Lo and behold, a lone vending machine casts its fluorescent gleam on the linoleum of an otherwise empty corridor. You approach and see a standard array of less-than-healthy snacks, their ingredient lists hidden from view. You spy a few that might be gluten-free; you have exactly $1.00 in your pocket.

Snacks, snacks everywhere, but not a bite to eat...

Do you:

  • A) Whip out your gluten-free grocery guide to identify a safe snack.
  • B) Gamble on the snack most likely to be gluten-free, and hope the ingredients are safe.
  • C) Skip the snack, and remind yourself to smile when you see your thespian niece.

Have you been in this situation before? Whichever answer you chose (bonus points for A!), things are about to get easier.

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At the Edge of Civilization: The Gluten-Free Market Niche in Unincorporated America

Mama Bear Shoppe

Mama Bear Shoppe in Three Lakes, WI

Don’t get me wrong – sometimes there’s nothing better that hearing the silence of the stars and the chirp of a fishfinder echoing over a frozen lake.  When the rush and clutter of the city really grinds on me, I revert to a nostalgia for the summer home of my childhood: a place where the guy in the ice cream store remembers my name and the main street runs along ten storefronts on either side of town before veering off into an endless winding exploration of the forest beyond.

Building business relationships in these small American towns is a very different experience from the bustle of urban interactions.  Here, there is no room for superfluous business.  You have your doctor, your barber, and your grocer.  The local grocery store carries the basics, because nobody is going to purchase foie gras in a town where the general population prefers beer and Friday Night Fish Frys.

This all sounds somewhat disheartening for the gluten-free individuals living in these towns.  The good news, however, is that the push for eco-living and local produce has encouraged small business owners to stock their pantries with local jams and gluten-free products.

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The Value of a Gluten-free Dollar: Celiac Diners, Take Heart!

Do you ever feel like a less-valued customer at a restaurant, just because you’re gluten-free?

If so, today’s post features a nice bit of math that proves revenge is a dish best served cold. Or that he who laughs last eats best. Or something.

seriously, how hard do you have to fight for safe food?

In the past I’ve complained about the celiac tax: feeling some major sticker shock from some gluten-free foods. Your comments showed that I wasn’t alone, although we also heard a sound defense from several gluten-free manufacturers.

Anyway. Today’s complaint is the opposite: sometimes it seems like a restaurant can’t be bothered to pay attention to my questions, leaving me unsure about the risk I may be exposing myself to.

You know the feeling? Where you just want to shake your server by the shoulders and shout, “Hey! It’s not fun for me either!”?

Instead of shaking them, here are some statistics to throw out there:

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Subway Goes Gluten-Free? New Menu Tries out Texas

Up until now, a gluten-free diet has meant that Subway is pretty much off limits – except for soda and chips.

This might, might, might change – starting today.

are these your new best friends?

are these your new best friends?

If you live in the Dallas or Tyler, Texas area, your local Subway might have some new menu options. According to QSRweb, Subway’s gluten-free menu is being tested in these two markets. If it’s successful, expect a national roll-out to eventually follow.

So what can we expect to see from this popular purveyor of bread-bread-bread?

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Quinoa: Gluten-free Grain Gives Opportunity to Farmers

Do you know where your quinoa comes from?quinoa

We talk about quinoa a lot on this blog. Not only is it tasty – it’s nutritious as well (amino acids, protein, fiber, some vital minerals, you know the score). And gluten-free, natch.

But, as a recent article in The Washington Post points out, quinoa isn’t just changing the lives of the gluten-free. It’s also changing the lives of the Bolivians and Pervians who have grown it for years.

The wholesale price of quinoa today is seven times the price in 2000, and that kind of money talks: prices are so compelling that many quinoa farmers now sell all their quinoa and feed their children the comparably less-nutritious rice and wheat. Unsurprisingly, the children are showing signs of malnutrition.

The gluten-free community arguably benefits from quinoa more than the rest of the population: flip through the pages of your gluten-free grocery guide looking for pasta and your fingers will run straight into plenty of quinoa flour.

Accordingly, we’ve got an extra incentive to make sure that the quinoa we purchase is coming to us without any added baggage.

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The Many Gluten-Free Joys of Mayonnaise

Image courtesy of www.tipnut.com.

Image courtesy of www.tipnut.com.

Maybe it’s my southern roots, but I adore mayonnaise to the point where I can’t even eat “dry” sandwiches anymore. Many brands are gluten free, the basic ingredients being eggs, oil, and vinegar. (Distilled vinegar is a touchy subject in the gluten-free world, but it is generally regarded as safe for most people with Celiac.)

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GF Frozen Vegetables are a Bright Spot in Cold Winter

Yesterday I made the mistake of buying a tomato from the supermarket. I forgot that it’s January, aka the opposite of tomato season. Predictably, what I had was mealy and bland and not at all what I wanted: a juicy August tomato.

Those of us stuck in colder climes generally just have to wait it out when it comes to certain produce. However, we have one trick up our sleeves: the freezer aisle.

frozen veggies

Sometimes I forget just how wonderful the freezer aisle really is. Not only are the vegetables there generally well-priced, but they’re picked at peak freshness and they will hang out in your freezer until you’re ready for them. Plus, most varieties are naturally gluten-free (you can check your grocery guide for some confirmed safe brands).

For better or worse, frozen vegetables behave slightly differently from their fresh counterparts. They work better in some dishes than in others – I wouldn’t much care for a salad topped with thawed frozen carrots, for example. Here are some of my favorite sources for gluten-free recipes featuring frozen vegetables, and some of the dishes I most like to whip up:

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The Gluten-Free Glories of Spain: Tortilla de Patata and Sangria

You may never have heard of Andalusia, a word that – to me, anyway – sounds like the name of a fairy-tale land rather than an actual region, but I guarantee it is part of Spain most familiar to you. Under Francisco Franco’s long regime (1936-1975), the attempt to create a uniform national image resulted in the nationalization and exportation of Andalusia’s culture. Andalusia is the southern region of Spain, where Spain’s two best-known cultural icons, flamenco and bull-fighting, originated. The lady in the fluffy red dress and the sparkling torero (matador) are, in fact, more Andaluz than Spanish. The Alhambra, a giant palace and fortress, is the most frequented tourist destination in Spain and sits squarely in Granada, one of the largest cities in Andalusia.

Photo courtesy of www.planetsave.com.

Photo courtesy of www.thesunblog.com.

The food of Andalusia lives up to its region’s reputation. Two dishes I’d like to share are ubiquitous in Spain but are very common in Andaluz tapas bars. Both these naturally gluten-free recipes come from Peter S. Feibleman’s 1970 The Cooking of Spain and Portugal.

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New Years Resolutions: Getting Excited about a Gluten-free Year

The thing I love most about adulthood and January is that none of us believe that we will keep our resolutions – but we all still continue to make them. There’s simply something in the air that lends itself to drawing up lists and plans.

Of all my schemes, there’s only one I feel confident about keeping, and that’s because I’ve already started it: in 2011, I will become a better gluten-free cook.
don't forget
It’s the same resolution I had going into 2010, and 2009, and 2008. I’ll be using it again next year, and the year after that too (assuming the world doesn’t end in 2012).

The beauty of a gluten intolerance is that it forces us to reevaluate our food and our kitchen. Being able to feed ourselves well takes on new significance, whether we’re adapting recipes to cut out the wheat or just throwing a salad together.
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