Tasty Halloween Treats

With Halloween less than a week away, you’ve likely started thinking about all the candy your kids are going to get and how to sneak some of the gluten free halloween candy out of their pile and into yours.  What you also are starting to think about is the tasty desserts that will abound after dinner, and how you’ll make them gluten free.

Our friends over at Udi’s Gluten Free (and really, any Celiac sufferer’s friend) were thinking the same thing.  So they sent us over a little care package of gluten free goodies to see what we’d come up with for great tasting desserts.  Unfortunately, the stuff was just too tasty and none of the items lasted long enough to become desserts, but we had some great ideas anyways!

Udi's Halloween Treats

The treats in our Udi’s Halloween Treats package

As you can see on the right, we got pretty spoiled with good stuff.  There’s a loaf of Udi’s Cinnamon Raisin bread, a box of Udi’s Chocolate Chia Muffin Tops, a bag of Udi’s Vanilla Granola, a box of Udi’s Snicker Doodle cookies, and a box of Udi’s Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites.

Some of our favorite ideas were to make a nice bread pudding out of the bread.  Cinnamon and raisins are staples in bread pudding, so that was the first idea that popped into my head.  Udi’s has a nice recipe for a Maple Raisin Bread Pudding on their site.  It’s not commonly thought of as a dessert, but I think you could make some very good french toast dipping sticks with these.  A nice dusting of powdered sugar, and some syrup or sweet whipped cream to dip them in.

Udi’s granola is a pretty versatile staple in our house.  We use it all the time mixed into a cup of yogurt, but I think it would make an excellent topping for a fruit crumble.  A little brown sugar, melted butter, and some Udi’s granola sprinkled liberally over your favorite crumble recipe.  Yum.  A simpler use might be just putting it directly onto ice cream or frozen yogurt.

The dark chocolate brownie bites are a pretty tasty dessert by themselves, but I really want to try them warmed up at the bottom of a bowl of ice cream with some fudge drizzled over the top.  They’re just the right size for making the popular cake pops with as well.

Snicker Doodle cookies are a pretty universal treat.  They’re good as is, but they can be used in all kinds of desserts.  Crumbled, they make a great crust for a cheesecake, or pumpkin pie.  They go well with ice cream and are one of the key ingredients, along with the Chocolate Chia muffin tops, in Udi’s recipe for Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Chocolate Whoopie Sandwiches.  Which brings us to the muffin tops.  As I just mentioned, they lend themselves really well to whoopie pie sandwiches.  Frosted orange, they become pumpkins.

With the abundance of gluten free products on the market now, eating gluten free isn’t the bland wasteland that it used to be.  Companies like Udi’s are pioneers in making gluten free food that tastes as good, or better, than it’s wheat based brethren.  Whatever your plans for Halloween, make it a safe one.  Not only on the streets, but in the kitchen as well.

Immune System Response to Quinoa

A recent study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tested 15 different cultivars of Quinoa for both gluten and for any immune system response to the Quinoa in Celiac patients.  The results:

Fifteen quinoa cultivars were tested: 4 cultivars had quantifiable concentrations of celiac-toxic epitopes, but they were below the maximum permitted for a gluten-free food. Cultivars Ayacuchana and Pasankalla stimulated T cell lines at levels similar to those for gliadin and caused secretion of cytokines from cultured biopsy samples at levels comparable with those for gliadin.

What does that mean? Well, really not much.  4 of the cultivars had testable levels of gluten, meaning their test had results.  However, all of those that returned those results were below the 20ppm which is used as an acceptable level of gluten to be called gluten free.  Further, of the 4 that had testable levels of gluten, only two of them caused any sort of reaction at all in the patients.

They conclude by saying that more testing needs to be done.

Obviously, I don’t think the results of this study are anything to panic about.  Of the 15 cultivars tested, all had below 20ppm results.  I’m not sure if there’s a way to avoid the 2 cultivars that cause some reaction.  As the NFCA noted in their article (here) on the same study, it serves as a good reminder to check the labels of anything that you’re planning on eating to make sure that the ingredients are gluten free, and have had as few chances of cross-contamination as possible.

Green Banana Pasta?

Huffington Post is reporting on a study that was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics where they used green banana flour to make pasta with some surprising results.

For the study, researchers had study participants (50 of them without celiac disease, and 25 with celiac disease) compare whole wheat pasta made with eggs, with pasta made from green banana flour, egg whites, gums and water.

Both the testers with celiac disease and without celiac disease said that the banana flour pasta was overall better than the whole wheat pasta.

Gluten free pasta that tastes as good or better than wheat pasta?  Sounds yummy!  As a non-celiac, I’ve found that I prefer the rice pastas to the wheat pastas anyways, but I can’t help but think that the green banana pasta would be even healthier for you.

Now, how long before this stuff hits the shelf, do you think?  The research was done in Brazil, so it could still be awhile before it hits U.S. stores.  Things just take longer here, it seems.  Would you give it a try?

Sign Petition to Ditch NFCA’s Amber Designation

If you’re not aware, the pizza maker, Dominos released what they are claiming as a gluten-free crust about a week ago. Part of the release is an endorsement from the NFCA. It also comes with a huge disclaimer about the potential for cross contamination and states that people who have Celiac or who are eating a gluten free diet should not eat the crust because of that cross contamination. The endorsement by the NFCA is an “Amber” endorsement. Basically, an endorsement that it might be ok for people who are slightly gluten intolerant to try it. And an endorsement of the fact that Dominos tried.

The group behind the 1in133 organization says yes, they tried.  They tried to dupe a whole bunch of people who have to eat gluten free into trying to eat a pizza that they claim is gluten free.  They tried to dupe a whole bunch of people out of money and make them sick at the same time.  1in133 has started a petition to ask NFCA to stop using the Amber endorsement altogether.  In short, they want an endorsement from a gluten free advocate to actually mean that the food is gluten free and isn’t just a good try.

I’m signing it.  And you can too.

Sign the petition and tell NFCA to ditch the Amber endorsement.

Betty Crocker Announces Grand Price Gluten Free Recipe

Not that long ago, Betty Crocker announced a contest for the best Gluten Free recipe.  The contest came with some nice perks.  Most notably, a $5000 cash prize.  They’ve taken in all the recipes and picked a winner.  Here’s the press release:

Minneapolis, MN – November 2, 2011 – Holly Phillips of Stow, Ohio has cooked up some competition with her gluten free recipe as she has been named the grand prize winner of the Betty Crocker Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest. In addition to taking home the grand prize of $5,000, Stow’s winning recipe for Apple Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Walnuts will be featured on GlutenFreely.com and BettyCrocker.com, and in a future Betty Crocker digital or print publication.

Determined to make delicious gluten free recipes, Holly Phillips did not let anything deter her pursuit of tasty foods upon her diagnosis of Celiac disease. With her decadent Apple Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Walnuts, she submitted a treat that came just in time for the autumn weather and upcoming holidays. By putting a spin on a variety of typical fall flavors, Phillips explained that she wanted to make a cupcake that “captured the essence of Thanksgiving.” Contest judges agreed it surpassed the other candidates particularly because it was simple to make and had an elegant presentation.

Upon discovering that she had been declared as the grand prize winner, Phillips stated, “After my Celiac diagnosis six years ago, I made it my mission to develop gluten free recipes that tasted just as good or better than the desserts I grew up loving. Opening a bakery will literally be my dream come true,” she further explained, “and with the help of the money from the contest, I get to do what I love and make others happy in the process!”

“We’re excited to announce Holly as the winner of our first-ever Betty Crocker Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest,” said Alison Miller, Marketing Manager, Betty Crocker Dessert Mixes. “We commend her for her gluten free baking efforts. Her recipe is a great example that a gluten free lifestyle can certainly be delicious!”

The contest resulted in numerous delicious gluten free recipe ideas. In addition to being gluten free, submitted recipes were judged on five key categories including taste, creativity, ease of preparation, consumer appeal and appearance.

To view Holly’s winning recipe, and for more gluten-free recipe inspiration and information about the Betty Crocker Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest, visit bakerschallenge.com.

About Betty Crocker

Since her creation in 1921, Betty Crocker has enjoyed a distinguished history as a multimedia superstar. Featured in radio, TV, print and now online, this cultural icon has rightfully earned her reputation as the “Original First Lady of Food.”

Since first published in 1942, over 75 million Betty Crocker cookbooks have been sold. BettyCrocker.com is one of the top websites in the food category and Betty Crocker’s Facebook community has more than 1 million fans. Betty Crocker branded products garner over $1 billion in sales annually. For more information, visit www.bettycrocker.com.

About General Mills

General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries. Its consumer brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant and Old El Paso. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2011 net sales of US$14.9 billion.

Very nice!  And the cupcakes look pretty darn tasty!

Get $1 Off Genius Bread at GlutenFree.com

Genius bread has just recently become available in the U.S.A, but it’s been receiving rave reviews in the U.K.   As far as I can tell, the only place you can buy it currently (in the U.S.A.) is at GlutenFree.com.  Not only that, but they’re running a special through the end of the month that will give you $1 off each loaf of Genius bread (SKU# 102051M or 102050M) at their store.

Use the code TRYNOW to reduce the price of each loaf from $5.39 to $4.39.  That’s a pretty good price for gluten free bread.  Shipping might pose a bit of an add-on, but shouldn’t be bad.  And, really, does it matter?  It is the only place you can get it currently,  after all.  Click here to start loading up the shopping cart.  Coupon expires on the 30th of September.

I think we might pick up a loaf or two to give it a try.

Gluten Free Food Manufacturer Glutino Purchased by Smart Balance

According to this press release from the Smart Balance website, they’ve just purchased Glutino.

Commenting on the announcement, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hughes
stated, “We are truly excited about adding the Glutino Food Group to our portfolio of health
and wellness brands. Glutino has increased its sales approximately 30% annually over the past
three years, and we are confident about its growth prospects and contribution to Smart
Balance. The demand for gluten‐free products is significant, and is now a category of over $2
billion in retail sales. We are bullish on the continuation of the category’s 10% compound
annual growth rate due to increased awareness and diagnosis of gluten‐induced ailments,
including celiac disease, gluten intolerance and wheat allergies.”

That’s pretty interesting.  It could be really good for the Glutino brand as well.  They get a large U.S. company with a large U.S. distribution chain to push their product.

Another interesting factoid in there is the fact that the gluten-free product category of food is an over $2 billion market.  No wonder there are so many manufacturers jumping into the game.

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Bakers Challenge

Betty Crocker has, lately, been one of the shining stars of the corporate food manufacturers for their gluten free push.  Their mixes are amazing, and they make every effort to clearly mark their product if it is gluten free.  It’s smart on their part, for sure, but it is a godsend for those who have to struggle through the supermarket trying to find food that is safe for them.  Now, they’ve announced a Bakers Challenge:

Betty Crocker Bakers ChallengeBetty Crocker® Announces the Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest

Minneapolis, MN – May 24, 2011 – Hold the gluten, grab your aprons, and start your ovens! The Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest, Betty Crocker’s first-ever gluten-free recipe contest, is open for entries Wednesday, June 1st. Through June 30, 2011, gluten-free bakers from across the country can enter online at www.glutenfreely.com/bakerschallenge for the chance to win a Grand Prize of $5,000 and the chance to be featured on a Betty Crocker® Gluten Free dessert mix or Bisquick® Gluten Free baking mix package and/or be featured in a Betty Crocker publication. Entrants will be challenged to create an original gluten free holiday-themed appetizer, bread or dessert recipe, using any Betty Crocker Gluten Free dessert mix or Bisquick Gluten Free baking mix.

Submitted recipes must be entirely gluten free and will be judged on five key categories: taste, creativity, ease of preparation, consumer appeal and appearance. On or about September 20, 2011, Betty Crocker will announce the 10 selected finalists, who will each receive a Betty Crocker Gluten Free Baking gift basket filled with baking items and Betty Crocker Gluten Free mixes (estimated retail value of $119). The finalists’ recipes will be voted on by the public on www.glutenfreely.com/bakerschallenge, and the finalist whose recipe receives the most votes will be announced as the winner on or around November 1, 2011.

“We’re excited to offer this opportunity to the gluten free community,” said Allison Miller, Marketing Manager, Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Mixes. “The Betty Crocker Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest is a great way for gluten free bakers to share their innovative creations and show the world how delicious living gluten freely can be.”

For gluten-free recipe inspiration and more information about the Betty Crocker Baker’s Challenge Gluten Free Recipe Contest, visit www.glutenfreely.com today. In addition, through the end of June, save 20% on the purchase of any of the five of the Betty Crocker Gluten Free mixes at www.glutenfreely.com/ourstore.
###

Contest Abbreviated Rules
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open only to legal residents of the United States, 18 years of age or older. Submit your entry online. Entries must be received by June 30, 2011, Void where prohibited. See Official Rules for details. Sponsored by General Mills Sales, Inc., One General Mills Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55426.

It’s an incredible thing.  I can’t wait to see some of the recipes that are going to come out of this!  Have you got a super duper recipe that you make from a pre-mix?  It might be worth $5000 in this challenge!

Educating the Community

In light of the Damian Cardone fiasco, I thought it was time we revisit the education part of The Gluten Free Life.  One of the most important things that a newly diagnosed Celiac can do is to educate himself/herself on what that really means.  There’s a great deal to learn about what you can and cannot eat, and all the funny names that gluten can hide behind. But, no matter how much you educate yourself, it’s clear that you still have a lot to watch out for.  And, even then, you end up getting gluten’d by people like Damian Cardone.  Which is why your education efforts don’t end with yourself, or even your friends and family.  You’ve got to attempt to educate your entire community.

Let’s start at the beginning.  You’re planning on going out to eat at a local restaurant. Don’t wait until you get to the restaurant to find out if it will be safe for you.  If you can, do it days ahead of time. Not every trip will be scheduled that far in advance, but, try to give yourself at least an hour or two.

  • Start by looking online to see if they have a website.  If they do, see if you can find any information on allergy/dietary needs or (if you’re really lucky) a gluten free menu.
  • If they don’t have any info online, call ahead, before they’re busy and discuss your visit with the chef.  You’ll likely get some wonderful advice on what you can and can’t have while visiting the restaurant.  Avoiding discussing it at the table while everyone else is trying to order will help avoid any annoyance on the part of the wait staff, and the chef.
  • If you have days before the event, offer to stop in and visit with the Chef.  You may be surprised with how many times you’ll get taken up on the offer.

Taking steps to keep yourself safe, while doing it ahead of time, and in a respectful way, can help other celiac sufferers too.  The more positive experiences that chefs have with gluten free diners, the less likely it is that they will develop an attitude towards gluten free diners like that of Damian Cardone.  Another thing to keep in mind is that if the restaurant that you’ll be visiting is one that is local to you and that you will likely be revisiting again, the more important it is to develop a relationship with the chef and staff of that restaurant.  Putting in a little time here and there to help educate them can give you a safe haven dining spot where you know that, not only is the staff attempting to deliver food that is safe for you, but that, because of the education help they’ve received from you, they likely will deliver food that is safe for you.

Additionally, many of the gluten free and celiac organizations offer educational materials and classes to help educate people, and the staff of food service companies like restaurants.

Celiac learning is an offering by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.  They have great courses for both food service professionals and medical professionals.

http://www.celiaclearning.com/

The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) also has a wealth of information on their website, including a training/education program specifically for restaurant workers.

http://www.gluten.net/gfrap.php

 

Controversial Post on Facebook by Chef

Many of us who have Celiac, or live with those that who do, know the importance of avoiding gluten at all costs.  Many times, finding a restaurant or cafe that has a gluten free menu and takes the time to make sure it doesn’t get contaminated is a source of great excitement.  And, sometimes, gluten gets in there anyways.  This post by a chef on facebook makes me wonder how often it isn’t a mistake…

Damian J Cardone

Damian J Cardone calls Gluten Free Diners Idiots

I really just don’t understand how anyone can make a claim like that. Maybe he’s looking for the more immediate reaction that, say, a peanut or shellfish allergy would bring? Somebody needs to educate this fellow. And until then, he should not be serving anyone anything at all. Unbelievable.  Anyone from Glenwood Springs, CO that knows where this guy works? UPDATE: Based on a few photos from his facebook page, I think he may work at an Italian restaurant called Florindo’s in Glenwood Springs, CO.  If you are gluten free and find yourself there, you might ask if he’s cooking first.

Here’s a direct link to the facebook post on his wall. (for as long as it stays there. Maybe he’ll get smart and delete it. UPDATE (3/30/11 3:58 Eastern): It looks like his entire facebook account is gone.  Glad I got a screenprint…)

Also, here’s where I first heard about this: Celiac Handbook on Facebook

ADDED: In another post, he says “May god help the Liberal hippie idiot whos going to ask for gluten free pasta this weekend.

ADDED: A really well written post as an open letter to the chef at Injera and Chocolate Gravy

UPDATE (3/31/11 12:07 am): It made the news in Glenwood Springs on the 30th.  Here’s a link to it: KJCT 8 covers Damian Cardone story

UPDATE (3/31/11 12:36 pm): The local newspaper, The Post Independent, ran an article about as well: Former Glenwood Chef’s Facebook comment angers celiac sufferers (note: it’s kind of a sloppy piece, but it gets the job done. For instance, Shauna Ahern didn’t break the story.  The first place I saw it was on the Celiac Handbook facebook page, and it likely was on Celiac.com as well, way before either Shauna or myself broke it.)

UPDATE (3/31/11 10:19 pm): I finally found the link to the second television spot: 9news: Chef’s gluten free secret

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