What’s With The Gluten Free Label Craze?

June 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Products

People who don’t understand what gluten does to the human body are bothered by the Gluten Free label craze. If you don’t understand and don’t care to know, don’t worry about it. These products were always gluten free. It just means they were not made with white enriched wheat flour, barley, or rye. It’s just like labeling something as Dairy Free or Vegan. It doesn’t mean anything except for what ingredients are in it and what ingredients are not in it.

For people who must eat gluten free for their mental and physical well-being, the Gluten Free label is a way to quickly go food shopping without having to read all the ingredients every time, which is time consuming.

It is a strange feeling to be the odd ball out all your life, and then all the sudden, you are the cool kid.

That’s how it feels suffering from Celiac Disease before it was in the public conscious. Thirty years of extreme pain and awful symptoms… with doctors, family, and associates calling you a crazy hypochondriac… and now everyone wants to be in the Gluten Free club?

What happened in the past few years to cause this gluten free explosion? I don’t know. I guess the Internet. With everyone comparing notes, I can only guess that people figured out their gluten intolerance on their own, without doctors, but from the Internet. I happen to figure it out the old fashioned way, from a health magazine.

As a kid, not aware of how to eat healthy, naturally I gravitated towards sugary things that tasted good and so did my mother.

I have to admit that Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles were of my favorite childhood cereals. To walk down the grocery aisle and see them labeled with an enormous blue tag GLUTEN FREE this month, I nearly fell over… and bought them, of course.

Like many products, Pebbles have always been Gluten Free, but now they are labeling it to get the Gluten Free market.

What is shocking to me is that for huge food companies to be changing their labels, that means millions of people around the world have been suffering in silence, just like me. That is heavy. When you suffer some unknown ailment, you feel very alone and alienated.

Physically, mentally, and socially, eating gluten caused the kind of suffering that makes a person want to die, and there were millions of people who felt this way, apparently, millions of people who probably still feel this way because they are unaware of their sensitivity to gluten? That’s just crazy to me.

As the food markets clearly have become hip to the problem, I wonder, have the doctors????

Many mock the gluten free thing when they themselves are suffering, like members of my own family.

By the harassment I still get from the public in casual conversation, I know that the public does not understand how seriously people are affected by gluten, how it is not just a fad but a serious life threatening condition, like cancer or being allergic to bee stings or nuts or intolerant to dairy. People don’t get it yet.

To be honest, even I used to mock people’s various strange eating habits. Back in the day, before I understood my problem, I met many people who ate wheat free. They never explained it to me in a way that made sense to me. They pretty much only said that wheat made them feel tired. Feeling tired didn’t seem like a good enough reason to change one’s entire diet, so I disregarded something that would have changed my life.

There are so many products coming out with Gluten Free labels, it is just astounding. To me, that screams that this is a huge global health problem that lots of people are suffering from gluten.

These old products coming out with Gluten Free labels, I just want you to know, they haven’t changed their recipes. These are products like Cocoa Pebbles were always gluten free. They are just trying to make sure that Celiac Auto-Immune Disease sufferers and gluten intolerant people know they are gluten free and keep buying their products.

Avoiding gluten is one issue. That prevents the stomach aches, the diarrea, the constipation, and all the crazy headtrips that come along with malnutrition.

Avoiding sugar and processed foods is an entirely different thing. Sugars and processed foods like cereals cause blood sugar problems that can also make you crazy, cause anger, irritation, disorientation, fatigue, and diabetes, to name a few.

Eating things like Cocoa Pebbles occasionally won’t kill you. But if you eat them every single day for breakfast, gluten free or otherwise, the sugar and preservatives are not good for your long term health.

My personal goal is to eat as healthy as possible. Part of being healthy is to not completely deprive myself from things that also make me happy. Happiness goes a long way in health. Strive for natural organic whole foods, but if you want something not healthy sometimes, don’t make a big deal about it. Just do it and go back to the regular healthy routine, organic greens and natural proteins.

 

Thai Rice Noodles Fast Easy Gluten Free Soup

May 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Products

This is my lazy meal. I’m tired. I just need to eat. Before I knew I had to eat gluten free, I was already using this fast and easy soup recipe.

Before companies started labeling their food products as Gluten Free, I had to read the ingredients and figure it out for myself. These Thai Noodle soups have always been made with rice and tapioca flour, they have always been gluten free.

Now Thai Kitchen has altered their packaging to make it absolutely clear that this is a gluten free meal, which is really cool of them.

Obviously, water, spices, and noodles might fill you up, but it is not nutritious on its own, so you really ought to add some food to it, which is fast and easy.

Use 1 pack per person.

For a VEGAN meal, just cut whatever vegetables you like to small bite sizes, add to boiling water and spices before you add the noodles. The noodles soften in just one minute. Any longer and they become kind of gross. So don’t cook the noodles until you are satisfied with the texture of your vegetables. Of course put in your hardest vegetables first and soft things like spinach very last, so as to not over cook.

If you are not vegan, you can add chicken, fish, or thin beef slices if you want. Make sure it is boiled all the way through before adding the noodles.

The more food or water you add to this soup, the more you may want to add some salt and pepper.

Just 5 minutes and your meal is ready to eat!

My favorite flavor of Thai Kitchen’s Instant Rice Noodle Soups are this one pictured, the Thai Lemongrass & Chili. They have several other flavors as well.

This is super easy, very tasty, low cost, and depending on what you put in it, can be healthy too!

 

Beers Booze & Beverages Gluten Free Alcohol

April 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Products

When a young adult transitions to eating gluten free, one of the first questions is: What alcohol can I drink? Which alcohols are gluten free?

Here is a comprehensive list of gluten free alcohols.

GLTUEN FREE AT THE BAR: Hard apple ciders and wine are gluten free. Shots of tequila and rum are gluten free.

GLUTEN FREE MIXED DRINKS: The Mojito and Caipirinha are gluten free cocktails. A Screwdriver is orange juice and vodka, but those vodkas are not gluten free at the bar, so ask for orange juice and tequila instead. When looking at a cocktail list of specialty drinks, select the drink that has rum or tequila as the alcohol ingredient, all the rest may be made from grains like wheat, barley, rye that have gluten.

Before I knew about eating gluten free, I had already started drinking hard alcohol instead of beer because regular beer wreaked the worst havoc on my stomach, causing great distress, pain, and gas.

GLUTEN FREE ALCOHOL AT THE GROCERY STORE AND LIQUOR MARKETS:

Most stores now carry cider which is made from apples or pears, sometimes other fruits. Cider is a great alternative to beer and all brands taste pretty good. Do beware of its high sugar content.

My favorite casual beverage, refreshing like a soda on a hot day or night, not too sweet, not too strong, are the Fox Barrel pear ciders. They have a few different interesting flavors: blackberry, apricot, ginger and blackcurrant.

The Crispin and Ace apple ciders are much stronger tasting.

If you want gluten free beer, one good simple light tasting beer that I cover in depth is the Budweiser of gluten free beers, Redbridge.

If you like stronger tasting beers, you should try one of each gluten free beer to see what you like. Pictured above is a sample of what gluten free alcohol beverages are carried at WholeFoods, although it is constantly changing, week to week, depending on what customers buy. I have tried other beers, but they are too strong flavored for my delicate taste buds.

Made from grapes, all wine is gluten free, red and white.

**Anything made from wheat, barley, or rye is NOT 100% gluten free. These are most beers and many alcohols.**

In the old days, vodka was made with potatoes, which is ok for Celiac Disease sufferers, but these days, most vodkas are made from grains like wheat, which is bad for gluten intolerant people.

My favorite vodka for price, taste, and being gluten free (made with potatoes) is Monopolowa sold at Trader Joe’s and BevMo. Monopolowa is so far the best gluten free vodka I have found. With it, we make Lemon Drops with fresh picked lemons from my tree, organic sugar, ice, and vodka. For a faster drink, we use fresh squeezed  orange juice, also available at Trader Joe’s. Pretty much any juice tastes great with this vodka, pomegranate, cranberry, or any mixed fruit juice.

Tequila is made from the blue agave plant and is gluten free. What’s also great about Tequila, I find, is that it is good ToKillA belly ache caused by gluten. If I don’t have Pepto Bismal, Tequila also helps to make my stomach feel better when I have ingested gluten, or at least my head thinks so.

With tequila, it seems the more money you spend, the better tasting the tequila. I prefer gold colored tequila, which I think is aged longer, than the clear tequila. Some good tequila brands are Jose Cuervo Tequila for the any man (or woman) on a budget or Patron Tequila is great and has all kinds of amazing flavors if you have some extra bucks to spend. I am constantly trying new and different tequilas; the tastes differ dramatically. I would guess Mexico (from where tequila comes) probably has some special tequilas, so if you are visiting there, you might want to stock up on that.

I find Tequila tastes best either straight, or with orange juice, or tropical juices like pineapple.

Gosh, this just keeps going on and on. And people say it is hard to go gluten free! Hmmff! No it’s not.

Rum is gluten free and is made from sugar. I don’t buy rum so I don’t have any recommendations on brands.

If I am out celebrating something at a restaurant or bar, rum is the ingredient in my favorite two lime juice cocktails: the Brazilian national drink Caipirinha made from cachaca (the Brazilian equivalent to rum) and the Cuban drink Mojito.  The Caipirinha has lime, sugar, and cachaca. The Mojito has lime, soda water, rum, sugar, and fresh crushed mint leaves!

** Although rice is gluten free, Japanese Rice Beers like are Asahi and Kirin are not gluten free because they are made with Barley which has gluten. Sake, Japanese wine is made from Rice, Water, Yeast, and Koji mold; in general, sake (or saki) should be gluten free, but sometimes it is made with Barley. **

With all that, I think you have a good start to understanding how you can enjoy your gluten free alcohol!

As always, drink in moderation and never drive or ride a bike.  ;-)

Need a New Gluten Free Addiction? Trader Joe’s 70% Cacao with Toffee is the Best!

April 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Desserts

On Valentine’s Day, I received this Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar elegantly inlayed with tiny bits of toffee, walnuts, and pecans. The house has been stocked with it ever since by the mystery chocolate elf.

The 70% cacao chocolate bar is smooth with salty crunchy niblets. They write, “The beauty of caramelized sugar reveals itself in flying colors when mixed with butter and artisanal sea salt to create rich toffee…” True, true.

When you have to eat gluten free and are on the go, but desperately need to fulfill a sweet tooth craving, dark chocolate is often a safe gluten free option and healthier than processed treats high in flour and sugar.

Always read the label. This one says “No Gluten Ingredients Used” and I have no negative reactions to it.

List of Gluten Free Products at Costco

March 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Products

Costco is understanding and embracing the gluten free diet. To see such a major food institution support healthier and niche market foods makes me so happy.

To recap, eating gluten free is not for weight loss or social issues, it is to resolve severe abdominal pain and to give clarity to one’s muddled mind caused by an intolerance of gluten (the modern strains of wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes soy and oats found in processed foods).

Here are some of my favorite gluten free foods I like to buy in bulk at Costco.

  • Hormel Corned Beef Hash has few ingredients and is my guiltiest carnivorous gluten free pleasure.
  • Lundberg Short Grain Brown Rice is gluten free, non-GMO, organic and 12 pounds lasts many servings.
  • Sabra Hummus gluten free is a great snack with a quick boost of protein and brain power.
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers are gluten free and organic; tastes good with hummus.
  • Kirkland Turkey Burgers are gluten free.

Other gluten free products we get at Costco are Organic Fair Trade Coffee Beans, Chicken Taquitos, Tuna, Pistachios, Gallo Salame, Turkey Dogs, Organic Tomato Sauce, Sausages, Wine, Tequila, and Toilet Paper (ha)!

Most cheeses are gluten free; I prefer Kerrygold Dubliner and Monterrey Jack which come in big blocks that last a long time.

You can also buy FRESH bulk Costco gluten free simple whole foods without ingredients like Fruits, Vegetables, Milk, Orange Juice, Eggs, Chicken, and Meat.

Always read the label and ingredients on packaged products to make sure it is gluten free. Products that are now labeling themselves as Gluten Free are really helpful and make shopping go a lot quicker.

Celebrating Oreo’s 100th Birthday With Gluten Free Cookies

March 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Desserts

Let’s celebrate Oreo’s 100th birthday, one of my all time favorite cookies!

Are Oreos gluten free? Sadly, no; Oreo cookies have wheat gluten in them. But there is an equally tasty substitute.

Eating gluten free, doesn’t mean having to give up Oreos.

Since Kraft-Nabisco didn’t jump on the opportunity (yet), the gluten free brand Glutino came out with their own Oreo style cookie: the Chocolate Vanilla Crème Cookies!

Glutino’s gluten free cookies are dangerously delicious and test your will power because you will want to eat the whole package they are so good! These are the best gluten free cookies. They are slightly lighter and airier than the original Oreo.

After opening the package, I put the cookies in an air tight glass jar so I can enjoy them over a long period of time and not get sick from eating them all in one sitting.

Save Your Glass Jars!

December 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Products

One thing I do to live healthier and save a lot of money is I save glass containers. Any item that comes in a glass jar with a lid — after I have consumed the product — I soak the jar, remove the label, wash it thoroughly, and then save it.

Glass has been made for thousands of years by melting sand or quartz and reshaping it.

Although glass holds up nicely as an ancient artifact, it also can easily break down like rocks, and will eventually return to its original state of being.

Plastics have been most popularized in the 1950s, and due to how plastics are made, their durability and pliability, they don’t break down naturally like other substances and products, and therefore are terrible for the environment.

There is purportedly a plastic trash island the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean, and plastic debris among all the sea, especially in the north Pacific and collecting along many beach coasts.

Plastic with additives is toxic and carcinogenic (cancer-causing), so I like to get my food products out of their plastic wrappers as quickly as possible and switched to glass. Also, as plastic particles seep into the food, it ruins the flavor. You can’t heat up food (safely) in plastic, but glass is ideal!

Think about saving, collecting, and reusing nice glass jars and bottles.

From where do my glass jars usually come? (These are all gluten-free products.)

  • Drinks (coffee and juices)
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Dips
  • Salsa
  • Olives
  • Honey
  • Spices

If I don’t know the difference in taste between brand names, and the price and contents seem equal, I choose the food or beverage that has a nicely styled re-usable glass jar.

What gluten-free products do I put in my glass jars?

  • Glutenfree flours made from tapioca, corn, rice, sweet potato, etc.
  • Coffee, Spices, Herbs, Sugars, Cocoa powder…
  • Dried Foods like nuts, fruits, veggie chips.
  • Candy & Chocolate like gramma used to! All the colors look colorfully artistic in a clear glass jar.
  • Dog food looks more appealing, easily transportable, healthier.
  • Left-overs from take-out food, home meals, & unused portions of canned goods: tastes better, saves longer with seal-tight lid.
  • Beverages like water, cocktails, or coffee that I mix and make at home, lasts long, tastes great!
  • Soups, you can make a huge batch and have lots of safely kept meals all week, or freeze for longer, or for the cupboard if you know how to seal jars safely.
  • Gifts, when you put treats or drinks in a glass jar, they look a lot nicer and taste a lot better than plastic; my friends love my homemade lattes and mochas that they can take home with them from my house; it’s a glass I don’t need back.
  • Hair Accessories like rubber bands, barrettes, clips.
  • Lotion & Bath Products
  • Cups & Jugs, glass jars are really fun to use as drinking cups and people can break them if they want, who cares!

YES! I love glass jars.

WANT TO SEE SOME SHOCKING FOOTAGE that might set you straight? Watch this amazing comprehensive explanatory video Sailing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch about Plastic Island, and also LA TIMES beautiful heart-wrenching coverage Altered Oceans, and here is a short video just to give you an idea of what the ocean looks like in places.

Switch back to glass. When possible, choose glass, recycled paper, or other biodegradable packaging options. With your money, you have power. It sends a message and will, on the long haul, help to make the world a healthier place for all.

 

New Gluten Free Shortbread Cookies

September 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Desserts

“You have to try this,” I said to my friend, handing him a gluten free shortbread cookie from Amy’s Kitchen.

I exaggerate not when I tell you that his eyes rolled back in his head and he sighed, “Mmmmm,” which I have never seen him do before.

These airy crumbling shortbread cookies are delicious!

When I go out to a restaurant or buy a grocery prepared food product, I like to spend money on food that I don’t make at home. I want something special.

I have tried to make shortbread cookies myself. A friend’s mother in England sent me her delightful shortbread cookies recipe, but I failed miserably at the attempt to make them. Shortbread cookies take just the exact right amount of each ingredient, which is not my baking style. I am more of a throw-everything-in the bowl kind of chef. I need wiggle room for error or revelation.

Amy’s shortbread cookies are excellently made and affordable.

The ingredients are: organic almond flour, grade AA butter, organic whole grain brown rice flour, and organic evaporated cane juice. They offer classic style shortbread or with almonds or with chocolate chips.

It has probably been a while since you have been able to host a proper English style biscuits and tea party. Put Amy’s Shortbread Cookies on your shopping list, Earl Grey with Bergamot Tea, and round up some of your favorite chums. Your gossip will be greatly fueled.

Gluten Free Tater Tots from Heinz Ore Ida

September 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Products

I ain’t goin’ to lie folks, I eat shit like Tater Tots and love it. Probably not the healthiest thing, but this site is dedicated primarily to gluten-free eating with a secondary effort at being healthy. Organic and green is better, but let’s shake it up a little, right?

Not all tater tots are created equal. Some actually do have white wheat flour in them, so make sure to read the ingredients on the label.

Ore Ida has kindly gone so far as to include us Celiac folks when considering its new labels with its old fashioned tried and true branding. It now says on their bag, “Gluten Free” near the ingredients. No Trans Fats either.

The gluten-free bag of Ore Ida Tater Tots pictured here is a ginormous 8 pound bag of Tater Tots that you can find cheap at Costco in the frozen section. Tater tots are a nice companion for breakfast, lunch, or dinner — basically, it’s just potatoes and some extra stuff. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

You can prepare the tater tots a number of ways. Today, because I am in a hurry, I put a little butter in the frying pan and heated the frozen taters on low. The least healthy way to cook them is in oil in a frying pan. I find the best flavor and healthiest is to bake them.

Don’t write articles and make lunch at the same time: the house is filling up with smoke and I am burning my taters.

Gluten Free Frozen Waffles by Van’s

August 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Products

Van’s gluten-free waffles with berries are sweet with some butter and pure maple syrup or alone with nothing.

The waffles are so light and fluffy, you would have to eat the whole box to fill satisfied, but for a quick prepared gluten-free snack and just to put something yummy in your mouth and get going, Van’s waffles are great!

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