Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Posts tagged ‘Gluten’

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.



1 in 133 Campaign Stands Up to FDA

Wedding cake, birthday cake, time-of-the-month cake–who doesn’t love cake for a good cause?

Gluten-free author/advocate Jules Shepard is encouraging everyone to stand up to the FDA for its blatant foot-dragging on the issue of food label standards  and gluten-free products.  The solution? Kill ’em with cake.

Shapard has spearheaded an organization and event dubbed “1 in 133” (the number of Americans with Celiac Disease) has been created to encourage the FDA to finalize these standards, which have been in the works since 2007.  Currently, U.S. food manufacturers can claim “gluten-free” on product labels without appropriately informing consumers if a product is truly free of all potentially harmful ingredients.

The 1 in 133 website writes:

To draw attention to the FDA’s inaction, and to galvanize the burgeoning gluten-free community, leading members of this community will host Capitol Hill legislators, noted celiac disease researchers, gluten-free community leaders and food corporations to the first Gluten Free Food Labeling Summit, in Washington, D.C. on May 4th, 2011. Coinciding with the newly recognized National Celiac Awareness Month, the event will also feature the world’s largest gluten-free cake – symbolizing the big deal that clear, accurate, reliable labeling plays in the lives of people dependent on labeling for their health.

The campaign encourages you to donate $11.33 (clever) to the cause for each person in your home who eats gluten-free.  The site also allows you to sign a petition and/or write to the FDA.

Read the full press release for more info.

“Chef” Damian Cardone Likes Poisoning His Patrons with Gluten?

I woke up this morning to find the gluten-free world in an outrage over a 40-word Facebook update a chef had posted about gluten-free patrons.   Then I actually read the update:

Gluten free is bullshit!! Flour and bread have been a staple of life for thousands, THOUSANDS of years. People who claim to be gluten intolorent dont realize that its all in there disturbed liitle heads. People ask me for gluten free pasta in my restaurant all the time, I tell em sure, Then I serve serve em our pasta, Which I make from scratch with high gluten flour. And you know what? nothing, NOTHING! ever happens! People leave talking about how good they feel gluten free and guess what, They just had a full dose! Idiots!

Pretty sickening, yeah?  I don’t want to imagine how those people felt later that night or the next day, and for days after that.

The Gluten Free Life has written an open letter to Cardone, which he probably won’t read since he considers the gluten-free diet to be a passing fad diet, but it’s a lot nicer than anything I’d probably say to him right now.

I just can’t imagine what would possess a chef – who has cooked for celebrities and worked at the now-defunct but once-famous Tavern on the Green – to not only take such derisive action against these patrons, but to also brag about it openly on the biggest social networking site in the world.   Has he ever heard of a lawsuit?  A simple, “We don’t have gluten-free pasta” would suffice.

Cardone has claimed that he understands there are “a few” people with a legitimate disorder, but “most people are jumping on the bandwagon.” How does he tell the difference between these so-called bandwagoners?

I’d hate to think that he’s not the only chef out there who takes joy in essentially poisoning the people who pay to taste his food.  But that would certainly explain how crappy I felt after trying “gluten-free” pasta at Olive Garden.


Huffington Post Talks Gluten-free Diet

Celiac Disease has been on a pretty serious media tour lately, with the New York Times, Nightline and the Today Show all running features about it and its kid brother, gluten intolerance.  But you know CD has really hit the big time when Arianna and her gang over at the Huff Post put their own spin on in, opting to tackle the “Is gluten-free really healthier” argument.  (By the way, numerous organizations have beat them to the punch and concluded that “no, it is not” for people without gluten issues.)

I’m a fan of the Huffington Post and its often controversial/snarky/decidedly liberal fare, but I found nothing new in this article.  I realize it would be hard for someone who considers herself to be somewhat of an expert on a subject to find something new, but what I mean is, it offered nothing I haven’t heard from the other aforementioned outlets.

Maybe they’re toning down as a result of that AOL buyout.

Here was the one bit of information I found intriguing, as I’ve heard many people who try the GF diet out of curiosity attest to feeling better, but it’s not for the reason they think:

Many who go on a gluten-free diet may lose weight and feel better, but it has nothing to do with avoiding gluten. Just cutting out starchy, processed forms of carbohydrate or limiting carbohydrate intake helps with lowering insulin resistance, which leads to weight loss and improved energy.

Let’s all let out a collective, “Ohhh.”

Writer Susan B. Dopart concludes, “For the rest of us, there’s no need to follow the trends of what is currently in vogue with food manufacturers. Eating simple, unprocessed foods according to what your body can tolerate is the best way of eating.”

I, for one, hope that GF stays “in vogue” with food manufacturers for years to come, lest I go back to eating rice cakes every meal of every day.  I’ve always hated rice cakes.


Boucherie Nola is Gluten-free Friendly

Happy Saturday, everyone.

A representative of Boucherie in New Orleans, James Denio, was a couple days late in getting back to me about their gluten-free options, but when he did he was more that willing to be of help.  From what I heard, this place is a must-try and I will definitely make time for it if ever I go back to the Crescent City.  It turns out they were closed around Mardi Gras time anyway – so I wouldn’t have been able to go even if I had heard back in time.   Still,  I thought I’d share his helpful information for anyone planning a gluten-free Nola trip:

Hey Taylor,
Sorry about the lateness of my reply.  We do have a gluten free menu. What I do is I go through our current menu (we change it monthly) and highlight all the ingredients that contain gluten.  It turns out to be a very friendly menu for the population with Gluten allergies.  I hope this finds you well, and if indeed you are in the city still don’t hesitate when we arrive at the restaurant to ask our server about gluten free options; our chef is well versed in such matters.

So there you go. I found that most servers in the city were happy to help if they could.  The only problem was when they weren’t sure what contained wheat and what didn’t.  I did have to assure one woman I could eat rice.

Bon appetit!


An Interview with: The Prego Celiac

Although I’m 24 and single, my mind does occasionally wander to a time when I have children (of the non-cat variety.)  I think every girl thinks about baby names long before the time comes to choose one, just as she thinks of her future wedding day, where it will be, what the cake will be like, long before she meets her future husband.  When I was diagnosed with Celiac, it wasn’t long before my musings of the future drifted in the direction of my new gluten-free life.  What would my gluten-free wedding cake be like?  And then, more seriously, what would being pregnant be like if I couldn’t give in to the often-glutenful cravings of the typical pregnant woman?  Would my children be limited to a gluten-free diet, too?

The books I perused, Celiac Disease for Dummies and The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free, offered brief paragraphs, mostly about how un-diagnosed Celiac can cause infertility and an increased risk of miscarriage.  That was weird, I thought, since those reading these books would most likely already be diagnosed.   The forums gave a little bit of true insight, but the comments seemed to conflict with each other.   Eventually, I gave up the search, figuring I’d learn all I needed to know when the time came, years down the road.

Then, last year, a friend of a friend, Jennifer DeLuca, who happens to have Celiac Disease, became pregnant.  She being one of the only other people in Gainesville I knew to be gluten-free, we struck up somewhat of a digital friendship in the midst of our mutual plight–we were both new to the GF lifestyle.  Naturally, I saw her pregnancy as the opportunity to hound her about all those questions I’d asked myself those first few gluten-free months.

Jenny is about 2 weeks from having a little girl, and was kind enough to let me interview her about celiac pregnancy and beyond.

Jennifer DeLuca, gluten-free mommy to be

Are there any risks associated with Celiac Disease and pregnancy?

There’s actually a larger risk of miscarriage if you don’t know you have Celiac Disease, but having managed Celiac Disease is usually not an issue.  I researched a little when we first found out we were pregnant, and the articles I found said that it was safe for most people to conceive if they had been following the gluten free diet for a year or longer to give your intestines time to heal and absorb nutrients properly.

For me, the biggest concern I’ve had is eating enough when I’m busy – most gluten free “fast food” is pretty low in calories and gluten free cereals aren’t fortified like mainstream cereals are.  In the first trimester, it was a struggle to eat enough fiber and whole grains.

What are some tips your doctor gave you – eating even though you’re nauseous and things like that? Do you have to take extra vitamins?

In the first trimester, eating even when you’re nauseous was a recommendation, but the doctor would tell me things like keep Saltine crackers by my bed.  I haven’t found a gluten free cracker that I like enough to eat on it’s own, so I had to make my husband make me a lot of toast with peanut butter and I ate a lot of rice cakes.

I take a prenatal vitamin – New Chapter Organic Perfect Prenatal.  The bottle says it’s gluten-free, but it does contain oats.  I have felt so much better from taking it that my little sister has started taking it to help with her Celiac Disease and she’s seen improvement as well.

The only other thing I have to watch out for is exercising enough and eating a healthy diet.  It’s easy for someone with Celiac Disease to go a few days eating nothing but ice cream and fruit.

Are there special precautions you have to take, other than the usual – staying away from gluten, cross contamination, etc.

I have had trouble gaining weight consistently throughout the pregnancy.  For example, during one five-week period I gained 12 pounds, but the next three weeks I only gained 2 and the subsequent three weeks I gained nothing.  Because of that, my doctor sent me to see a nutritionist last week.  I have this huge list of foods, and I am supposed to eat a protein, a healthy fat and a fiber at every meal.  I’m also supposed to eat every three hours and eat a second dinner right before bed since I keep waking up hungry at 5 a.m.  Other than eating as much as possible, I just have to do the usual gluten avoiding things.

There was one other thing that made me nervous.  I have Rh- blood, and they wanted me to take a shot called Rhogam.  My husband follows a much more natural lifestyle than I do, so he didn’t want me to take it just because he doesn’t like using medicine as a precaution, and when I researched it there was some mention of immunity issues.  After a discussion with my OB/GYN she called a local gastroenterologist to check if Rhogam had any special adverse side effects for Celiac Disease patients, and he said there weren’t any problems.  As a result, I finally have a GI Doctor that I feel like knows more about Celiac Disease than I do!

What are some of your favorite gluten-free craving busters? I can imagine sometimes you just want a big slice of pizza or a huge piece of cake.

I live across a courtyard from a pizza place and have been to so many weddings since pregnancy that those are two major problems!

I actually bring cookies or some other dessert to weddings and parties so I don’t get sad about the cake, and I have to make a lot of food I wouldn’t normally bother making.  The pregnancy cravings for me are more about being easily influenced by what other people are eating or what I see on commercials.  So after an IHOP commercial I have to get out the expensive King Arthur GF pancake mix and I spent an entire weekend trying unsuccessfully to replicate corn nuggets after a visit to a southern BBQ restaurant.

On a regular basis, I keep Bora Bora bars, walnuts mixed with craisins, apples, and/or little chocolates in my purse to help ward off hunger.

Has your doctor told you the likelihood of your child also having Celiac? If so, what are your immediate plans for dealing with that?

The risk of my daughter having Celiac Disease is 1 in 22, according to  At home, we eat almost completely gluten-free already; my husband only has his own cereals and occasionally cookies.

I did use Celiac Disease as a way to help interview potential pediatricians.  My first question was, “What do you know about Celiac Disease and how to test for it in young children?”  We’re going to treat it like any other possible allergen.  After we start her eating other solid foods, we’re going to introduce wheat cereal and watch her closely for about a week without introducing any other new foods.

If she seems to stay the same we’ll continue her on wheat.  If she has any problems, we’ll stop and I might try again when she’s older so that she can have the blood test done and we’ll know for sure.

Now that I can stop wondering about events that haven’t even begun to begin to take place, I can turn my attention to more immediate worries, like what to have for lunch!


Yummy and Unique: Chocoflan pleases all

My, what a happy week it’s been! I celebrated my 24th birthday Wednesday with  a completely gluten-free meal from Bonefish Grill that concluded a deliciously decadent GF macadamia nut brownie and a huge dollop of vanilla ice cream, followed by some low-key dancing to Motown hits at my favorite Gainesville gathering place, the Atlantic.

Then, Friday friends and I had a party, where my dear friend Miriam presented me with one of the most amazing things I had ever seen.  It was a flan.  It was a cake. It was a flancake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The  cake portion was made from Betty Crocker’s chocolate cake mix, but the rest was carefully and meticulously homemade, a lovely birthday surprise.  Naturally I asked Miriam to share the recipe with me so that its splendor could be shared by all.  It’s essentially making two desserts at the same time, one on top of the other, their individual flavors and textures blending to perfection in your mouth.

Here are Miriam’s instructions in her own words.  You’ll want to use a Bundt pan for this recipe, and have a roasting pan handy for the ensuing water bath.

Preheat oven to 325 (or whatever the back of the cake box recommends)

For the flan mixture, blend the following ingredients together:

1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1.5 tsp vanilla
1tsp ground cinnamon
4 eggs

To prepare nonstick mold:

Put 2/3 Cup sugar in a small sauce pan, heat and stir until a caramel is achieved (do not burn!).

Pour the caramel in the mold and immediately with wooden spoon make sure the walls of the mold are covered with the caramel, which quickly hardens as it cools down.

Place the mold in a roasting pan (will use for water bath while baking)

To Prepare Chocolate Cake Layer

Prepare one box of gluten free box cake as indicated in the package, and pour into the prepared mold, even out the batter in the mold (it was kind of thick- regular box cake mixes are much more watery). Then, on top of the cake batter pour the flan mixture and cover with foil.


Place roasting pan in the preheated oven, and add hot water to cover at least half of the cake mold. Bake for 40 min and remove foil. Then bake for another 30 min or so until toothpick comes out clean.

Make sure it cools down well before attempting to take it out of the mold.

Miriam, who was born and raised in Mexico, says, “We call it Chocoflan or ‘pastel imposible’  and of course you can make exactly the same steps with regular box cake.   Always use the temperature recommended by the box.”

Happy Birthday to me, indeed.


Tag Cloud