Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Posts tagged ‘GF’

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

Gluten-free Tennis Pro Attributes Success to Diet

The Wall Street Journal called him “the world’s best athlete of 2011.”  He’s beaten Nadal four times straight.  His first name sounds like a last name.

His name is Novak Djokovic and if you’ve heard of him you’re at least one of the following:

1. A dude.

2. A dude who watches ESPN exclusively even when the “good” sports are off-season.

3. Rich.

4. Over 40.

If you haven’t, you’ll hear of him soon because he’s unstoppable on the tennis court. And I’m thinking his nutritionist got a big raise

See, Djokovic’s nutritionist discovered last year that he has a gluten allergy, and since he dropped it from his diet, his life on and off court has taken a turn. Says the journal,

Djokovic’s serve, sloppy as recently as last season, is now precise, fluid and, at times, devastating. His forehand used to break down in tense moments; now he hits winners that seem to subscribe to undiscovered laws of physics. His backhand, always solid, is now impenetrable, even with Nadal’s famously high-bouncing forehand.

The one change in his life? Deleting the wheat.

Even if Djokovic’s newfound confidence stems from going gluten-free only because he told himself it’s the cause (as the WSJ article suggests), one can’t deny the results.  Or the good press for GF dieters and undiagnosed celiacs everywhere–especially the dudes.  The more men who hear the words “gluten-free” and “gluten intolerance” and see the positive effects the diet can have, the more likely they’ll be to get diagnosed, instead of toughing it out in favor of “appearing weak.”

Results may vary.  Going gluten-free may not make you Superman, or the best tennis player the world has ever seen, but it will make you feel better.

-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

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

Food Labels Clearer but not Standardized

I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise.  I defended my Master’s Project (which involves this very blog!) on Monday, meaning I get to graduate from J-School here at UF in just a few short weeks. It’s amazing how an event like that can suck the motivation out of you right quick and replace it with an acute but bearable sense of panic.

Aaaanyway, after a couple days of relaxing and job searching and seemingly endless grading, I’m back in happy blogger mode.

First, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out the 1 in 133 campaign – aiming to standardize food labels once and for all. And since we’re on the subject of food labels, I thought I’d share an article I read from the Bellingham Herald in Bellingham, Wash. (home of the formerly fantastic indie band Death Cab for Cutie).  The original article ran in the Detroit Free Press, which I actually thought had folded. More good news!

The article approaches the topic of labeling laws in a way that we haven’t seen a lot lately, reminding us that labels are actually a lot clearer than  they used to be.

Food labeling is becoming more understandable, partly because federal law now mandates that the most common allergens be clearly listed.

The reporter, Robin Erb brings up the point that such clear labels are good for business, essentially saying, the bigger the “Gluten-free” banner, the more likely we are to buy. I can’t tell you how many friends and family members have called or texted to tell me they saw the big “gluten-free” wordage on the front of a box of Chex. On one hand it’d be great if all gluten-free foods were so loud because I (more importantly, anyone cooking for me) wouldn’t have to peer so closely down the aisles to find them. On the other hand, I’d be getting a lot more calls and texts.

But if only good comes out of these clear labels,  then why the snail’s pace when it comes to standardizing them? A string of instances in the news recently about bakers falsely labeling their products as gluten-free as me on edge as to who I can trust. Even Chex accidentally sneaks in a “Wheat” morsel from time to time.

So yes, it’s great that so many products are clearly labeled as gluten-free or, more importantly, not.  Now we need the legislation to ensure that what claims to be safe for Celiacs actually is.

-Taylor

Black Bean Pasta Packs Protein Punch

I was concerned about the black noodles emerging from the now-cloudy, gray water.

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It looked cool, plated, with the colorful peppers and broccoli sitting atop the blue-black mound of spaghetti, but I couldn’t imagine what black bean pasta could possible taste like.

I was pleasantly surprised.  It was earthy, somewhat comforting and altogether not beany.

And man was it filling.  A typical serving of pasta typically has between 5 and 8 grams of protein.  This pasta, Explore Asian’s Organic Black Bean spaghetti, packs in a whopping 20.8 grams per serving.

It’s not typical top-with-red sauce spaghetti.  You’re better off stir-frying it in sesame oil with your favorite brightly colored veggies, some chicken or tofu and a little soy sauce and sriracha.  It’s even better for lunch the next day as a cold pasta salad with a ginger vinaigrette. I’m told it’s also good with chorizo.

Because it packs so much protein, your eyes may lead you to believe you can eat more than you can – one bag served me and a friend for dinner, and then me for lunch for 3 more days. And this girl can eat.

It’s black hue may be off-putting. It may also be intriguing.   In any case, it’s sure to provide some conversation fodder in your kitchen.

-Taylor

(PS: Sorry for the blurred pictures.  Hot pasta is not easy to photograph.)

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