Mixing it Up With Gluten-Free Bread Mixes

Gluten free bread

The warm wafting aroma of fresh bread baking is one of the most comforting scents in the world. Breadmaking can be an exacting and time-consuming process and gluten-free breadmaking is especially so because of the lack of the gluten protein to give the bread bind and elasticity. I have several times experienced opening my bread machine in anticipation, only to find a lump of dense undercooked gluten-free bread. While a bread machine with a gluten-free specific cycle makes the work of gluten-free breadmaking much easier, pre-bought gluten-free bread mixes make the task even less daunting. There is a huge selection of gluten-free bread mixes out there, so we’ve collected Continue reading “Mixing it Up With Gluten-Free Bread Mixes”

New Theories on Why Celiac Disease is on the Rise

It’s generally accepted as fact that the increasing global diagnoses of celiac disease are not solely due to better doctor awareness; there are also more people with an inability to safely ingest gluten than ever before.

Why are rates of celiac disease increasing? Well, there many theories that explain some or all of the increase – and some with more scientific rigor than others. Continue reading “New Theories on Why Celiac Disease is on the Rise”

Gluten-full Guests in a Gluten-Free House

I was tickled pink — fluorescent, bubble gum, little girl pink — to welcome a dear old friend into my gluten-free home for a few days last week. She was passing through town for work and between her schedule and mine we didn’t get to see too much of each other, but I still wanted to make sure she had a comfortable stay. For not the first time since I moved into my own apartment, I found myself facing an unusual etiquette question:

What should a gluten-free host do about gluten-full guests?

Some questions are easier than others. If I am preparing a meal, I prepare a gluten-free meal – and I’ve never had anyone even hint at a desire to add some gluten to their plate. Of course, I have only excellent house-guests, which helps.

But what about quick, on-the-go breakfasts, or snacks? If you know a guest loves the bagels from that one bagel shop, do you bring a few into your home? If your guests might like to have some toast with breakfast do you get what they’d eat normally, or do you go ahead and get a gluten-free loaf? Not to mention the fact that some guests travel with their own food (whether to share with you, or just for them. I hear about this more with people’s visiting family members than their visiting friends)…
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ImmusanT begins global celiac vaccine trials

We first chatted about ImmusanT’s vaccine to eliminate celiac disease, Nexvax2, in March of last year. That May we wrote again, with promising news from the vaccine’s first human trials. And then again in February of this year, when the company began producing several thousand doses for a new trial.

It's Monday. Vaccines are ugly. Here's a baby panda in a basket instead.

Well, that new trial is now underway, according to a press release. Hooray!

The trial is taking place in New Zealand, Australia, and the US (where ImmusanT is based). According to the release, the New Zealand / Australia study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 1 b study. They hope to have 84 patients across four locations and to study the safety, tolerability, and pharacokinetics of the vaccine.

The American study is also randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controled, but is a phase 1 (not b) study. The plan is to collect data from 30 patients across four sites.

Both studies will be done on patients with celiac disease who are on a gluten-free diet. The patients will all carry the gene HLA-DQ2, which as many of 90% of celiac patients have (a genetic test is often the first step in establishing whether or not someone may have celiac disease, and in that test this is the gene they look for).

How does the vaccine work? I think the release says it more succinctly than I can:

Nexvax2 is a therapeutic vaccine that combines three proprietary peptides that elicit an immune response in patients with celiac disease who carry the immune recognition gene HLA-DQ2. In an approach similar to treatments for allergies to cats and dust mites, Nexvax2 is designed to reprogramme gluten-specific T cells triggered by the patient’s immune response to the protein. The goal is for Nexvax2 to restore celiac patients’ immune tolerance to gluten, reduce inflammation in the nutrient-absorbing villi that line the small intestine, return the intestine to a healthy state, and allow patients to eat a normal diet.

In our past posts on the vaccine, commenters have wondered whether or not the vaccine would work for people who have a gluten sensitivity but test negative for celiac disease, and whether it will only work for people with the HLA-DQ2 gene. Although the press release does not mention people with a sensitivity, it would seem to me (and I am NOT a medical professional) that the vaccine is really being developed with an eye towards celiac patients / towards those people whose immune systems are displaying clear signals of “attack!” — but that whichever gene is indicated, an immune response is an immune response is an immune response. As doctors and researchers learn more about non-celiac gluten sensitivity, I imagine we’ll know more about how many of the people on the gluten-free spectrum can potentially be helped by a vaccine.

Michigan Girl Scouts Introduce Gluten-Free Snack Bites

You remember way back when last year when we shared news of one mom’s petition to get a gluten-free Girl Scout Cookie with you?

Well, that petition may or may not have influenced the decision-makers at the heart of today’s story – but they certainly are related.

The Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, one of five regional Girl Scouts of America councils with some/all of its territory within the state of Michigan, recently announced a gluten-free snack has joined its roster.

Notice that I’m calling it a snack, not a cookie – the treat is not a part of the famed Girl Scout Cookie lineup. Instead, the aptly named Chocolate Chip Snack Bites have been made available at the council’s local center in Kalamazoo as well as at last week’s Jamboree and Pow Wow. The snack pack, which is $5, join the council’s fall lineup of magazines and nuts as a fundraising option. At the moment, though, they’re completely sold out!
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