Monthly Archives: May 2012

Varying Shades of Gluten-Free in 4 Major Restaurants

By Zach

Gluten-free eaters come in all shapes, sizes and carrying themselves with their own behaviors, which is an umbrella statement that can also be applied to stores and restaurants that service gluten-free foods. Here’s why: it’s hard to deny and not notice the emergence of new gluten-free options popping up each day, whether it’s in big grocery stores, small fast food joints or dine-in restaurants, but not all servicers of gluten-free menu options abide by the same protocol.

Some reports estimate that the gluten-free industry is worth $6.3 billion per year and is continuing on an upswing. This demand was propelled by gluten-free enthusiasts toward large businesses like Dominos and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro to small business like Fresh Brothers in an effort to join progressive forces throughout the gluten-free industry.

Though as some of you might know, Dominos and other newcomers that offer gluten-free alternatives conduct their gluten-free processes in a liberal manner that is not safe for people with Celiac disease due to high chances of cross-contamination. But there are places that are doing it in a more kosher manner.

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Flaxseed Meal Packs a Healthy, Gluten-free Punch!

By Bridget

As with most undiagnosed sufferers of gluten intolerance, my major symptom was digestive issues. Initially, I was instructed to add more fiber to my diet, which, to me, meant eating wheat bran and fiber one cereal (only feeding the flame of my discomfort). In the months immediately following my diagnosis, I became increasingly interested in the world of nutrition, and how one food can do something for our body that another cannot. Quickly, I discovered the power of flaxseed meal.

Flaxseed, as its name suggests is a whole seed, with a structure similar to any other seed or grain. The health benefits cannot be derived from the whole seed itself (it will just go straight through your system), so you need to consume it in the ground up form.

In terms of health benefits, they are innumerable for both celiac sufferers and gluten indulgers alike.

In terms of the benefit I was initially most seeking, flaxseeds contain a mucilage, or gum, content. This refers to the water-soluble, gel-forming fiber that supports healthy digestion. Unique to flaxseed meal, however, is that these gums help prevent the excessively rapid emptying of stomach contents into our small intestine, which helps to improve our body’s own ability to absorb certain nutrients, which is a problem common to most people new to their gluten intolerances. Click to continue reading »

Gluten-Free Options On-The-Fly

By Zach

There’s always some kind of gluten-free news around the corner that deserves to be shared, and this time we’ve got gluten-free travel plans since travel season is about to be underway. If you’ve ever been hungry in an airport, you have probably realized the insufficient amount of options for gluten-sensitive individuals. Sure, you’ve usually got a store like Starbucks which sells fruit cups, but you’re essentially stuck between a hard place and a rock trying to find substantial gluten-free grub that’s going to tide you over throughout your wait, layover and/or flight.

It comes as no surprise why diet-restrictive (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low-card, etc.) options are sparse in and around airports – non-restrictive foods are the cheapest and most desired fast-food items. Catering to these non-restrictive diets is always going to peak the interest of businesses because it generates the most money with the least amount of effort.

However, there are scattered restaurants throughout small and large airports that offer gluten-free food items, and some are even willing to prepare cook-to-order meals for gluten-intolerant travelers. We thought we should share a few major airports that have a few gluten-free pit stops, which include:

JFK – New York

Starbucks (Terminal 1-3, and 7) – prepackaged gluten free cookies, chips, dried fruits, bars

Jamba Juice (Terminal 5) – all

French Meadow Bakery Café (Terminal 2) – vegan and gluten-free menu

The Grove (Terminal 5 and 7) – raw snacks

 

LAX – Los Angeles

Daily Grill (Food Court) – cook to order

On the Border (Terminal 4) – Fajitas, street tacos, grilled chicken, veggies, beans, rice, steak, carnitas, NOT chips

Starbucks (Terminal 1-4, and 6)same as above

Wolfgang Puck Express (2 and 7) – salads, sides, rotisserie chicken and many items by request

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ORD – Chicago

Wolfgang Puck (Terminal 1 and 3) – gluten-free meals by request

Starbucks (Terminal 1, 2 and 3) – same as above

Macaroni Grill (Terminal 3) – made to order / by request

 

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Chevys Fresh Mex Introduces Gluten-Free Menu

You may have thought all the Celiac Awareness Month fun was over, well have we got news for you. And, if you live near one of the 42 Chevys Fresh Mex restaurants dotted around the US, then today’s announcement might be particularly exciting: Chevys has joined the growing list of restaurants with a gluten-free menu.

Now, let’s get right to it and manage expectations: the menu comes with a disclaimer, and according to the press release

Preparation facilities vary by location and all guests with gluten-related disorders should inform their server beforehand to ensure that preparation and ingredients align with dietary requirements.

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NFCA Suspends Amber Designation for Gluten-Free Menus

If you’ve been following the news regarding Domino’s foray into gluten-free and the NFCA’s Amber Designation for their pizzas — and judging by the comments and shares on our post about it, many of you have — then it will come as no surprise to you that the NFCA decided to act.

In light of the uproar, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has opted to suspend the designation; Amber was supposed to indicate that a restaurant had completed, “Ingredient Verification and Basic Server Training, but kitchen practices may vary widely.” The NFCA has removed the program from their website and issued a press release indicating that they will review the, “most effective and clearest way to warn the community of the risk of cross-contamination and the use of the phrase ‘Gluten Free.’”
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A Guide to Gluten-Free Sunscreens for Summer

By Zach

If you all haven’t already noticed, the sun is getting brighter, the heat index is rising and the UV rays are relentlessly raining down even stronger – three sure signs that summer is approaching and that awful smelling stuff we call sunscreen will be applied more and more as the days drift on.

What’s worst for gluten-intolerant people when it comes to sunscreen isn’t necessarily the smell (or even the white blotches that don’t rub into the skin), but rather the contact of gluten on their skin, or even worse, ingested into their body. This issue isn’t new to the gluten-free community, but it does raise the questions about what gluten-free sunscreen options there are available on the market that will help provide you with optimal protection.

As a quick disclaimer, you should always double check the sunscreen bottle’s ingredients to make sure that it is actually gluten-free. If you find a gluten-free sunscreen in your online research it could possibly be from an old article and the company may have changed their formula and started using gluten or some form of wheat. Click to continue reading »

The Key to a Safe Gluten-Free Memorial Day BBQ

By Bridget

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, everyone across the country is dusting off their white shoes and barbecues. The smell of a fired up grill always brings me right into summer mode. Between the grilled chicken, burgers, and veggies, outdoor cooking is synonymous with warm weather vacation. Unfortunately for gluten-free eaters, there is gluten lurking in many of these summertime favorites. So how do we still enjoy the weekend without fearing the hidden sources of gluten? Here are some simple ways to keep your eyes open to what does (and doesn’t!) have gluten!

  1. Beware of marinated chicken. Sadly, barbecue sauce has caramel food coloring in it, one of the trigger phrases for potential gluten threat. Instead of marinating your chicken in BBQ sauce, try making your own dressing and marinate the chicken overnight. My favorite recipe, (called “Newport Chicken,” which probably screams beach to people from New England to Southern California!) consists of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, basil, garlic, and pepper to taste. Just be sure that your balsamic vinegar is just that, and doesn’t contain any other fillers or isn’t confused with “malt vinegar.” This recipe is one of the easiest to mix up, and gives chicken a great and light “summery” taste!
  2. Double-check those burgers! Unless you’re buying freshly ground beef, a lot of companies include breadcrumbs in their patties to help fill them out and keep the flavor palatable. Veggie burgers often do this too, containing hidden trace amounts of gluten that can certainly ruin your summer feast. If you’re not looking to buy fresh beef and form your own burgers (or just want to try the veggie version), check out Dr. Praeger’s line of frozen foods. They have a huge line of dedicated gluten-free products, and don’t use any “fake foods,” so you’re sure what’s in your burger! Click to continue reading »

Frito-Lay Announces Gluten-Free Labeling

By Zach

Continuing in the spirit of National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, we’ve got another billion-dollar corporation looking to hop on the bandwagon in support of a gluten-free lifestyle. This week’s multi-national advocate goes by the name of Frito-Lays, which is owned by the global food and beverage tycoon, PepsiCo. The Celiac efforts that Frito-Lays (North American branch) is putting forth, as of last week, is “an initiative to validate and label products as gluten-free.”

Due to a majority of Frito-Lays products already being naturally made without gluten ingredients, this initiative by the PepsiCo. branch is not a process to extract gluten from their products, but rather a process to identify and label all of their products which can be ratified as gluten-free by the standard set by the FDA’s 2007 Proposed Rule For Gluten-Free Labeling.

Many Frito-Lay snack and munchies originally don’t have gluten in them and are generally considered safe. This initiative to label their products as gluten-free will satisfy the below 20 parts per million principle – making them gluten-free worthy by FDA standards.

Kari Hecker Ryan, PhD, RD, works for Frito-Lay North America as a group manager of nutrition science and regulatory affairs. She went on the record stating, “We understand that living with gluten sensitivities can present some challenges, and when you or a loved one is diagnosed it can be overwhelming and confusing. We are doing our due diligence to ensure that our validated products comply with the proposed standards by testing ingredients and finished products, so the shopper can trust our gluten free claim.”

Another nutritional representative of the Frito-Lay North America, Danielle Dalheim, elaborated on Frito-Lay’s partnerships during this process by saying, “We are also proud to be partnering with Celiac Disease Foundation and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, as the work they do is so important to those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities as well as their support systems.”

This announcement from Frito-Lays seems to be another push in the right direction for the gluten-free community. The fact that they’ve launched a validation process and are actively testing their products is great news. They’re also promoting Celiac awareness by labeling their products, and they’re abiding by gluten-free guidelines – a combination that is sure to bring convenience to many gluten-intolerant consumers.

 

Michelob Launches New Gluten-Free ULTRA Cider

For today, an interesting take on the gluten-free beer market from Michelob: ULTRA Light Cider.

This is the first cider Anheuser-Busch is distributing in the US, and according to the press release it, ” is ideal for year-round enjoyment and provides adult drinkers a light, refreshing alternative to white wine, champagne and heavier ciders.”

The cider is also gluten-free, and is lower in calories than other ciders (120 calories to the 12 oz. bottle, compared to 180 in non-light ciders, and 4% alchohol).
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Untreated Gluten Sensitivity in Mother May Link to Schizophrenia in Child

We all know that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are insidious creatures with far-reaching consequences for our health. We are warned that letting our gluten issues go untreated (by a gluten-free diet) can lead to anything and everything from cancer to osteoporosis to depression.

Scarily enough, a new study indicates that the effects of maintaining a gluten-full diet for people who should be avoiding gluten can be even more far reaching than that. In a nutshell, according to PsychCentral:

Babies whose mothers had abnormally high levels of antibodies to the wheat protein gluten had almost double the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life, compared to children with normal levels of gluten antibodies.

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