Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Posts tagged ‘Coeliac’

A Humble Apology from Me to You

Dear Readers,

I feel I may owe you an apology, as I may have led you down the wrong path concerning gluten-free food at California Pizza Kitchen. I wrote a couple months ago an entry about my pleasant back-to-back experiences eating gluten-free at a West Palm Beach California Pizza Kitchen. Well apparently my experience was a lucky one, as many people have been sickened due to cross contamination at the chain restaurant all over the country; so much so that CPK has pulled the gluten-free crust from its menu.

The last thing I ever want to do is make anyone sick over a recommendation I gave on this blog, and I hope this post will right that wrong. The staff at the location at which I dined seemed very knowledgeable, but I now know that to have been an anomaly.

A Celiac.com article alerted me of CPK’s lack of training for its chefs and workers on the importance of preventing cross-contamination, writing:

…The company itself acknowledged that their preparation process allowed possible cross-contamination from their standard pizza crusts.

Ideally, California Pizza Kitchen will learn and grow from this experience, and return from the drawing board with a plan to deliver safe, gluten-free versions of their unique and much-loved pizzas.

We can only hope.

Happy reading and pleasant eating,

-Taylor

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Fine Dining – Sans the Gluten

When you go to a really nice restaurant, you can usually expect that the food isn’t all going to be deep fried and off limits for Celiacs. But that doesn’t mean they won’t use flour to beef up their sauces or garnish their food with gourmet fried onions. So it’s nice to be able to go to a high-end restaurant, like Roy’s, and be presented with the prettiest gluten-free menu I’ve ever seen.

Naturally I expected a place like Roy’s, which I went to and loved prior to my dietary awakening, to hyper aware of the needs of its food-restricted patrons, regardless of whether the food on the menu is naturally gluten-free.  Roy’s takes steps to make parts of its kitchen completely free of the risks of cross-contamination, and knowing that makes a huge difference in the dining experience.

Another great aspect of the GF menu was that it was available in prix fixe format, so I got an appetizer, an entree and a dessert at a slightly reduced price from what it would be if ordered separately, and  I got to choose from anything on the gluten-free menu.

Roy’s is known for its pacific rim-style fare, so or my appetizer I ordered their version of a California roll, which I was delighted to have because cali rolls (one of my favorites) are usually off limits due to the fake crab (krab) used at many sushi restaurants. No filler here! Just sweet, succulent crab complemented by delicious and creamy avocado.

I stuck with the theme for my entree, ordering pan seared mahi mahi  with sweet corn, shiitakes, English peas, cherry tomatoes, and a Dijon lemon sauce.  It was light, summery, perfect.

Last was a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate souffle that burnt off the top of my mouth as I dug into its molten center with my spoon. It was a little rich compare to the rest of the meal, but I’ll take souffle any day.

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Roy’s has many locations throughout the country now, and you can find out on the website if the one nearest you offers the GF menu. I would highly recommend it for any special occasion.

Happy eating!

 

-Taylor

Frontier Soups Makes Weeknights Easy

Finding a full-time job is tough and a little bit soul-sucking.  I apologize for my continued lack of tri-weekly updating.  I plan to get back into at least bi-weekly posts next week. I’ve also been spending a lot of my time on my second project.  Click it. Click it!

Onward…

About six months ago, my mom picked up and presented me with two packages of “soup mix” she’d found at one of those specialty shops in small historic  towns.  I was skeptical.  It just looked like dried herbs and corn, and the packaging was a little cheesy.

Then one Sunday night I was super lazy and tried one of them.  I added a pound of ground beef and some soup stock (as well as a couple of other required ingredients) and like 30 minutes later – Goulash.  The brand was Frontier Soups and it was delicious. And simple.

So even though they run at about $6 a pop, I tracked them down at my local Fresh Market and picked up some more.  This time I added bay scallops, shrimp and cream to the “Florida Sunshine” Red Pepper and Corn Chowder and we gobbled it down, briefly pondering how excellent the addition of BACON would have been.

And if you think $6 is a lot for a soup mix, think about the fact that it serves 4-6, which lasts me about a solid week when I don’t feel like sharing.  Plus if it’s not available in your area you can order directly from the site.  Win.

-Taylor

Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month

It’s May 1, which means your rent is due.

But more importantly, it’s Celiac Disease Awareness month, and in just three days, 1 in 133 will stand up to the FDA about their laziness in setting the standard for gluten-free labels.

Wish I was going to be there to snag a slice of that enormous gluten-free cake.

This WaPo article lays out why exactly this month and this event is so important. The main reason? You could be buying “gluten-free” goods that contain more than just untraceable amounts of gluten.  Canada, Brazil and Australia are already way ahead of us on this – having set the standard at 20 parts per million, meaning a food can be labeled gluten-free if it contains less than 0.0007 of an ounce of gluten for every 2.2 pounds of food. That’s the minimum amount of gluten that can be reliably detected.

And as much as I’m the kind of person who believes people will do the right thing, there’s always someone out there trying to prove me wrong.

In North Carolina two weeks ago, a man was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he was found guilty of buying regular breads and rolls and repackaging them as gluten-free under the name Great Specialty Products. Dozens of people complained of illness after eating the baked goods, including a woman who gave birth to a 31 / 2 pound baby prematurely, a complication that can result from celiac disease.

“We thought it was fantastic because it tasted just like real bread,” said Rebecca Fernandez of Raleigh, who gave it to her son, Malachy, who has celiac disease.

Within days, an angry rash covered the then-2-year-old’s body. “We thought maybe it was chickenpox,” Fernandez said. He ate the bread for two weeks, as the rash intensified and turned bloody, until Fernandez realized the problem and stopped giving him the bread. Malachy suffered from diarrhea for four more weeks.

And that’s why it’s time to make a decision.

-Taylor

Celiac Disease Causes Canker Sores

Did you know canker sores are a symptom of Celiac Disease? Me neither. When I found out (earlier today while reading an article about other dental issues caused by CD and continuing to procrastinate making that dentist appointment), I couldn’t make myself be surprised. Canker sores have long been a nuisance in my life. I mean, like most people I like to eat, so pretty much any time I get a canker sore (which is all the time lately), it’s a huge pain. (Really though, they hurt!)

But enough parenthetical remarks.

Celiac.com says canker sores might be the sole symptom of about 1 in 20 people with CD, so it’s worth getting tested or trying the GF diet just to see, especially because the people who participated in the study didn’t respond to canker sore medications.

And I know that those little monsters, which I’ve had a lot of lately, can also be caused by too much citrus and too much stress, both of which I’ve also had a lot of in my life lately. But I also wonder if my recurring canker sores are a sign that I may be glutening myself more than I know. So I’m trying my own elimination diet.

Eliminate the citrus? Done.

Eliminate the stress? Working on it.

If the inside of my mouth is still full of these burning white mounds of evil (okay, it’s just two a time, but still)  by my Master’s graduation on Friday, it’s time to stop eating out for a while.

We shall see!

-Taylor

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara with Veggies and (you guessed it!) Bacon

Squashghetti Carbonara

If you follow this blog at all, you  may know that I’ve become a big proponent of bacon lately.  This is largely due to my friend Dennis, who bought bacon for a seafood dish a few weeks ago and has been striving to use it up ever since.  The other night he hit a home run in bacon and gluten-free pasta alternatives in his creation of spaghetti squash carbonara, which I gobbled up, the butter and egg and bacon filling my tummy faster than you can say Alex Trebek.

(We often watch Jeopardy during dinner like septogenarians).

And it only took about 5 ingredients.

What you’ll need:

-1 spaghetti squash

– 3-4 strips of bacon

-assorted vegetables of your choice (we used broccoli)

– 1 egg, beaten with a whisk or fork

-2 tbsp. butter

What you’ll do:

Preheat your oven to 375

-Poke holes into the spaghetti squash all around so it doesn’t burst while baking.  You need only to make little notches in the skin of the squash to accomplish this.

-Bake the spaghetti squash for 1 hour.

-Remove spaghetti squash from oven and let cool for a few minutes.  Gently cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon.  Use a fork to to remove the spaghetti-like flesh and set aside.

For the carbonara:

-Crisp up the bacon to your liking, and remove excess grease (as much or as little as you want . The rest of this dish is all veggie so live a little!).

– Steam the veggies any way you like (if you’re like me,  and by that I mean cheap and resourceful,  you put it in a saute pan with a little  bit of water and slap a pot cover on top of it)

– Add the spaghetti and veggies to the bacon and stir it around, making sure to coat that stuff with bacon grease. Go ahead and add a tbsp. of butter and salt/pepper to taste.

– Then, when everything is done, turn off the heat and stir the beaten egg quickly as you pour it slowly.  The residual heat will cook it some, so no need to worry about raw egg issues.  But if you are worried, you can put it on low head and leave it on after stirring for a little while.  The egg, along with a little EVOO and butter, serves as the sauce for this dish, and boy is it tasty.

-Taylor

Paul Seelig’s Shady Dealings Represent a Big Problem

Yesterday, the News Observer reported that Paul Seelig, the Durham man who sold glutenous bread labeled “gluten-free” to hundreds of customers at street fairs and online was sentenced to 11 years in prison for 23 counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

Seven of the reported two dozen customers who were sickened by Seelig’s goods, which were tested and found to contain high amounts of gluten, testified against him at the trial.

According to the News Observer,

Seelig’s company, Great Specialty Products, sold baked items that he claimed were homemade. Instead, witnesses including a former employee testified, he bought bread from a commercial baker in New Jersey and bagels from retailers such as Costco. He then repackaged them in his home kitchen and sold them at the State Fair, street fairs and by home delivery.

The compassionate person in me hears 11 years and thinks of that as an awfully long time for a man who sickened 24 customers that may well have been sickened any night of the week at any restaurant in town.  If we’re being honest, we all know we get sick more than we need to by taking chances.  But then I read the report that he just bought the stuff at Costco and repackaged it and I think, “That’s a crime whether you’re sickening people or not.”

It kind of reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where they refuse to believe the delicious frozen yogurt restaurant doesn’t serve fat free fro-yo like they advertise and they go to a bunch of trouble to have it tested because they’ve all gained weight.  Remember?

Anyway, the thing I think we should all take from this is that it might have been prevented had there been federal laws in place to further prevent Seelig from printing “gluten-free” on his entirely glutenful products. Does Man Who Sold Fake Gluten-free Bread Deserve 11 Years Time?

Gluten-free products sell at premium prices, but there is no federal standard for them, so Seelig’s conviction was an unusual courtroom victory for celiac sufferers, who have to rely on the honesty of food companies and restaurants that claim to produce products without gluten.

 

Would that have stopped him? Maybe not. But it might have made him think twice.

Having said that, please remember to support the 1 in 133 campaign so things like this can hopefully stop happening.

-Taylor

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