Monthly Archives: February 2011

Cooking with (Gluten-free) Beer: A Safe Twist on Old Favorites

“Ugh!” you’re probably saying, “Enough with the vegetable recipes!”

It’s true that we’ve gone a little green lately – gluten-free ways to cook kale, artichoke, cabbagey slaw, etc. Today we’ll go in the opposite direction: back to beer.

We talk a lot about beer, because it seems to be the stumbling block for a lot of celiacs diagnosed in adulthood. There are gluten-free beers, and they’re available in an increasing number of restaurants, bars and grocery stores.

But beer isn’t just for drinking. It’s also for eating. Well, sort of. There are lots of recipes that call for beer, and they can be easily modified to fit a gluten-free crowd.

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Tortilla! Tortilla! Gluten-Free Tortillas

Tortillas are an essential staple in Mexican cuisine and they date back to 10,000 BC when they were originally made by Aztecs and Mayans. They’re also extremely versatile in the modern kitchen and can be prepared in a number of deliciously gluten-free ways. While wheat tortillas are off-limits to those with gluten intolerance, many brands of corn tortillas are made without any gluten-containing ingredients (although some brands have a risk of cross-contamination). However, if you are craving a true wheat-style tortilla, there are some gluten-free brands to be found.

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Canadian Labeling Debate Ends with a Victorious Beer Industry

The other week, Caty posted here about the Canadian debate over whether or not beer should be labeled as containing gluten.

I side with those of you who commented: better safe than sorry. Even if most of us know that beer is not safe for people with celiac disease – there are always newly diagnosed people who might not be so sure. Why take the risk?

Painted labels like these went a long way towards the beer industry's victory


As for the argument that it’s like requiring ketchup to have a “Contains Tomatoes” warning – well, to-go coffee cups have a “Hot Contents” warning, so why not?

Unfortunately, the powers that be didn’t agree with us. The Canadian beer industry has won the fight – for now.

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Safeway Rolls Out "SimpleNutrition" Labels, "Gluten Free" is One of Them

bag of groceries

Image via InsideSocial

Safeway, North America’s third-largest supermarket chain, has been working hard over the last few years to build a reputation as a “healthy” grocery store – my boyfriend calls it “Whole Foods lite” – and it looks like it’s starting to pay off. In 2008, this CNN study named Safeway the second healthiest grocery store in America, beating out Trader Joe’s and coming in second only to – yep – Whole Foods itself.

Safeway’s newest initiative is SimpleNutrition, a program designed to alert shoppers to the best, most nutritious aspect of a given food. Safeway’s shelves are now covered in colorful stickers that say things like “Sugar Free,” “Low Fat,” “Good Source of Calcium,” and “Good Source of Iron.” Safeway breaks down the categories this way:

There are 22 benefit messages included in the program encompassing two groups of messages: those that meet lifestyle or dietary needs and those that meet specific nutrition or ingredient criteria.

There are 18 types of the latter “benefit message” – things like “Lean Protein” and “100% Juice” – and only 4 lifestyle benefit messages. Guess which lifestyle made the cut?

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Another Easy Veggie Boost: Gluten-free Slaw

I’ve been getting really into slaw lately.

Maybe it’s because cole slaw is often the “safe” choice of sides when I’m out to eat, so I’ve developed some strict parameters for tasty slaw.

Maybe it’s this Gluten-free Girl winter slaw recipe, which lodged itself in a corner of my brain a long time ago. And was knocked back into center stage by the radish salad a friend of mine whipped up last month.

this was lunch, along with some gf tomato soup

Maybe it’s because cabbage is cheap and I’m on a budget.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been slawing up a gluten-free storm. It’s one of those flexible dishes that stretches and contracts to maximize whatever you’ve got in your fridge, is generally gluten-free by default, and can easily be shifted to accommodate vegans or über-carnivores alike.

But what’s the key to a good, gluten-free slaw?

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2-for-1 Fridays: Garden of Eatin' Recall and Celiac as a Cause of Bad Behavior?

Another 2-in-1 post today.

First things first: a recall.

Prime Choice Foods has issued a recall for certain lots of Garden of Eatin’® chips, which may contain undeclared wheat and soy. Check the list of recalled chips on celiac.com’s website to see which lots of the Multi Grain Sea Salt Tortilla Chips, Multi Grain Everything Tortilla Chips and Multi Grain Blues Sea Salt Tortilla Chips to stay away from.

Second things second: file this one under, “Really?”

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Finding a Local Gluten-Free Community

cartoon of a woman at a computer in her robe

Yeah, you might have to get dressed for this one (photo via smurby at Photobucket)

Have you ever noticed that when people argue about the pros and cons of the internet, they’re often able to use the same facts to prove opposite points? For example, an internet lover might point out that the internet allows people from very niche interest groups – Trekkies Who Love Animals is my favorite example – to find peers and discover that they’re not alone. Anti-internet folks might point out that the internet allows people from dangerously niche interest groups to find peers and discover that they’re not alone, giving them a power and a voice that is disproportionate to their size.

The power of the internet to build communities is a double-edged sword, and that holds true for the GF community as well. On the one hand, it’s a beautiful thing to read all the informative, supportive comments that you all leave here on this blog. When we read through our comments every evening, we see little-known facts exchanged, myths debunked, even friendships born and cultivated. And because you are the reason we’re in business, we love being able to speak directly to you, to hear what you have to say, and to create services and products that fit your specific needs. None of that would really be possible if we didn’t have this virtual space in which to come together.

On the other hand, it’s possible that the greatness of this virtual space has made us a little…well, lazy. If you didn’t have this resource and these folks with whom to sympathize, empathize, debate, etc, what would you do? If you want to be pessimistic about it, you might say, “Well, I wouldn’t do anything. I would have no idea where to find the information I need and I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to about the specific challenges that come along with this diet.” And that may very well be true. But I might argue this: maybe you would be forced to create the community you needed. You might start a weekly GF get-together by posting notices all over your neighborhood, maybe even going door-to-door. And maybe that little get-together would morph into a cooking club, or even a book club. Your kids might meet each other and be able to have GF playdates. Your non-GF neighbors might smell the deliciousness coming from your house and pop in to ask for a sample. Maybe the little get-together you were forced to create would morph into a neighborhood-wide GF movement!

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Schär begins construction on their first US bakery; celiacs rejoice

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I like to talk about how important the gluten-free community is to the larger US economy.

Well, Americans are also important to the larger, international gluten-free economy – and today I am pleased to share concrete proof!

Schär is one of the world’s oldest and largest gluten-free baking companies. I’m particularly fond of their gluten-free crispbread, but they make quite a large variety of sweets and savories (all gluten-free, of course). This is probably old news to you; Schär was nominated for four of Triumph Dining’s Best of Gluten-free Awards last year, and they’re all over the gluten-free grocery guide.

They’ve had a US office since 2007, but all the products have come from their baking facilities in Europe.

The champagne bottle’s been broken, though: construction has started on Schär’s first stateside production facility.

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Naturally Gluten-Free: The Underappreciated Artichoke

picture of two artichokes

photo via Nourish Family Nutrition

Growing up flat broke in L.A., my health-conscious parents were often caught in that all-too-common dilemma: how to nourish two little girls with no money and no time. Dad worked days and Mom worked nights, making meal time even more complicated. They often solved this problem by making entire meals out of a single vegetable: steamed broccoli with sour cream with a was a pretty common choice, and one my sister and I happily devoured. But by far the best single-veggie meal was a big, fat, boiled artichoke, with leaves dipped in lemony mayonnaise. Kid heaven.

So imagine my shock when we moved to the East Coast and I discovered that some people had never had one.

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Cheap and Easy: Gluten-free Kale Chips

I got to chatting the other day about gluten-free foods that aren’t any good. The lackluster ones aren’t worth the digital ink it would take to talk about them.

My co-chatter agreed, citing a particularly heinous kale chip she’d eaten and tried to forget.

And I was flabbergasted. Well, ok, that word is a bit strong. But I was at the least surprised. Now, I’ve never had store-bought kale chips – but that’s only because they’re so easy to make at home that I could never justify the price. The thought that they might be not only expensive, but untasty?

A travesty. The homemade kale chip is a minor deity in my gluten-free pantheon, and I’d like to take today and evangelize a little bit.

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