Jan 3, 2019

Alert: Mama Lucia Meatballs Removes Gluten-Free from Packaging

We love Mama Lucia All Beef Meatballs found in the frozen foods section of Safeway and Giant. They are delicious with pasta and in open-faced meatball subs with Udi’s Gluten Free hot dog buns. When I went to buy Mama Lucia Meatballs last night, I was shocked to see that gluten-free has been removed from the front of the All Beef package. I searched the package, and gluten-free is nowhere on the new package! 

Are Mama Lucia Meatballs still gluten-free? Here are the three email replies I received today from a conversation with a Quaker Maid Consumer Affairs representative, with the most recent reply last.
Thank you for contacting us regarding the Mama Lucia All Beef Italian Style Meatballs. Your comments are appreciated. The “Gluten-Free” notation has been removed from the new packaging, however, the formulation and ingredients are the same. This all beef meatball is still gluten-free. Please accept my apology for the confusion.” 
I understand that such packaging notation are very important and I’m sorry for any stress this has caused you. The change was made when the package sizes were updated and with the idea that new items may be added to the meatball facility sometime in the future. There has not been any manufacturing change at this point. Because this might mean the facility will no longer be strictly gluten-free, they considered this change very carefully and did not come to this decision lightly. At this time and in the near future you can be assured that all Mama Lucia Meatballs are gluten-free including the All Beef variety. It will be important to watch the BACK of the package where allergens are listed.” 
Yes they are tested. Nothing is changing! Be assured that the meatballs you have are gluten-free, we are still producing all meatballs that are gluten-free.”
While I would like to trust the company that the product is still gluten-free, my 12 years of eating gluten-free tells me otherwise. Why would you take gluten-free off the package if your product is still gluten-free now? I can’t help but wonder if there is more they aren’t saying. Is it safe for celiac disease? They are clearly saying that their manufacturing may change in the near future when they introduce gluten products, so even if they are gluten-free now, they likely will not be in the near future due to cross-contamination. 

I asked multiple times if gluten-free is being removed from all of their meatball products or only the All Beef ones, but I did not receive a response. None of the photos on their website have gluten-free on any of the packages anymore. Their website FAQ now says, “There are no wheat or gluten ingredients in the products.”

My recommendation is to continue always reading ingredients and start searching for a different brand of gluten-free frozen meatballs. For brands, if you value your gluten-free consumers, don’t remove gluten-free from the package and expect them to keep buying it!

May 30, 2017

Celebrating 10 Years of Gluten-Free: 10 Things I’m Thankful For

As Celiac Awareness Month ends, this is the perfect time to reflect on how gluten-free life has improved in the past 10 years. It was 2007 when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease. At the time, I remember how hard it was to find gluten-free products in local stores, let alone delicious tasting ones. I remember family members helping me to research online about celiac disease and buying products for me to try.

In December 2008, I started my blog to focus on the positive side of gluten-free life. I never could have imagined then that starting my blog would ultimately lead to a new career for me in social media. You may remember the reviews my daughter did of gluten-free books for kids when she was in elementary school. Now, she is a freshman in high school and has her own blog where she reviews books for teens! 

10 Things I’m Thankful For
1. Being Diagnosed with Celiac Disease – That’s right, I’m thankful that I was diagnosed with celiac disease. After five years of health problems and countless doctor visits, it is great to finally have a diagnosis and treatment that resulted in improved health! 

2. FDA Standard for Gluten-Free – It is fabulous to finally have a standard for gluten-free labeling and to see many more products labeled gluten-free as a result. 

3. More Celiac Disease Awareness – I remember how exciting it was years ago to simply see a news story about celiac disease or a mention of gluten-free on TV shows, like Emeril or Cupcake Wars. Now we even have Olympic athletes with celiac disease!

4. More Gluten-Free Products in Local Stores – While I still shop at many different stores, it is great to be able to do my weekly grocery shopping at one major chain.

5. Generic OTC Meds Labeled as Gluten-Free – I remember how happy I was when I could finally buy a gluten-free generic pain reliever. No more paying for brand names!

6. Udi’s Gluten Free – Before Udi’s Gluten Free was even available on the East Coast, they sent me a big box of their delicious products to review. I still remember the first time I saw Udi’s in a local store, and now they are everywhere! We especially love their hamburger buns and cookies.

7. Wegmans – I’m so thankful that Wegmans finally opened in my county, as it truly is a gluten-free mecca. I have discovered many new gluten-free products there, but my favorite is the Wegmans generic gluten-free Rice Krispies. When Kellogg’s first announced gluten-free Rice Krispies, I immediately blogged about it, and it became one of my most popular blog posts. Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived as Kellogg’s eventually discontinued them, and I desperately sought a replacement for what had become a staple cereal for me. Thank you Wegmans!

8. Not Your Average Joe’s – This restaurant chain has one of the largest gluten-free menus I have seen, featuring a variety of delicious entrees and even a gluten-free bread basket! 

9. Gluten-Free Bloggers – It is truly fantastic to now see so many passionate gluten-free bloggers spreading celiac awareness and sharing gluten-free reviews and news! I fondly remember the gluten-free bloggers that supported me when I first started blogging.

10. My Job at NuGo Nutrition – Teaching myself gluten-free blogging and social media led to my wonderful job as a social media specialist at NuGo Nutrition. When I first started working for NuGo six years ago, they made less than 10 gluten-free bars. Now, they make 27 certified gluten-free protein bars. While I eat several NuGo Dark, NuGo Slim, and NuGo Family flavors, my favorite is NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip, which tastes like Thin Mints! 

I can’t wait to see the gluten-free and celiac disease advancements in the next 10 years!

May 3, 2016

60 Easy Ways to Raise Celiac Awareness

Join me in celebrating Celiac Awareness Month this May. Beyond Celiac, formerly known as the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, has put together a super list of 60 ways to raise celiac awareness. This year’s campaign is focused on raising awareness in 60 seconds (#60forCeliac), and I’m happy to be part of their blogger force. Here are five of my favorite ideas from the campaign. 

1. Watch and share this one minute video.

2. Tell a restaurant worker you have celiac disease instead of only asking for the gluten-free menu. 

3. Talk to one new person about celiac disease. 

4. Help someone in the gluten-free aisle at the grocery store. 

5. Ask your grocery store or supermarket to add gluten-free products.

Visit Beyond Celiac to see all 60 ways! What will you do to spread celiac awareness this May and all year?

Mar 17, 2016

Review: Wegmans Gluten-Free Crispy Rice Cereal

Ever since Kellogg’s discontinued gluten-free Rice Krispies in 2015, I haven’t had any luck finding a good replacement. Recently, I heard in social media that Wegmans Crispy Rice cereal is now gluten-free. I was very excited to try it and hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Not only does Wegmans gluten-free Crispy Rice cereal taste very similar to Kellogg’s, but it is actually even better! The oven toasted rice is a bit fluffier and airier, giving it even more of a Snap, Krackle, and Pop. Not to mention the incredibly cheap price for a 12 ounce box of gluten-free and lactose-free enriched cereal – only $1.99! 

If I hadn’t heard in social media that it was gluten-free, I would have completely missed it at Wegmans. It is in the regular cereal aisle on the bottom shelf, and the only indication that it is gluten-free is the tiny orange circle with the letter G on the front of the box. I highly recommend that they also put this cereal in the gluten-free section. Wegmans has succeeded in creating the best tasting gluten-free Crispy Rice cereal. Now, they just need to make sure people with celiac disease can find it!

Jul 29, 2015

Review: New Gluten-Free Cheerios

For the last few months, I have been walking down the cereal aisle every week in hopes of spotting the new gluten-free Cheerios. Last night, I finally found them at Giant! In fact, I almost missed them since the front of the new gluten-free boxes is almost identical to the old ones, except for the gluten-free stamp on the bottom right. Plus, there were many old boxes mixed with the new ones. 

For the majority of my life before celiac disease, one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast was a bowl of Cheerios mixed with Rice Krispies. When I heard last spring that Kellogg’s was discontinuing gluten-free Rice Krispies, I immediately stocked up and set aside several boxes to enjoy with the new gluten-free Cheerios. So last night for dinner, I enjoyed a bowl of gluten-free Rice Krispies mixed with the gluten-free Cheerios! 

When I opened the yellow Cheerios box, I instantly recognized its distinct aroma. The Cheerios were delicious! It is funny that I don’t remember them becoming so soggy in milk. I guess that really stood out to me since the texture is unlike any gluten-free cereal I have eaten in the last eight years, but in a good way. This morning for breakfast, I had a bowl of the gluten-free Multigrain Cheerios, which I loved! Wheat and barley were removed from the Multigrain Cheerios, and they added sorghum and millet instead. All the other Cheerios have the exact same taste as before. 

Instead of using certified gluten-free oats, General Mills has come up with “a way to sort the other grains out of our oats.” Part of this process is explained on the back of the new box. I must admit it is odd to buy a product that shows a pile of oats as “what we put in” and then three piles of what is removed: wheat, rye, and barley. However, I trust General Mills when it comes to gluten-free, and I didn’t have any problems from eating the Cheerios. For more about their process, watch this video. I read on the Cheerios website that “every batch of gluten-free oats is tested to make sure it has less than 20 parts per million of other grains.”

Now, if Kellogg’s would bring back gluten-free Rice Krispies, it would be gluten-free cereal nirvana for all! I look forward to trying gluten-free Honey Nut Cheerios next. They are also available in gluten-free Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and Frosted Cheerios. I am excited to stock up the next time there is a Cheerios sale!

Update August 14, 2015: The Gluten-Free Watchdog has expressed significant concerns over the safety of gluten-free Cheerios for people with celiac disease. Please read her position, so you can make an informed decision for yourself. At the time of my review, I was unaware of these concerns. I ate many bowls, especially of Multigrain Cheerios, and did not experience any problems.

Jun 28, 2015

The Best Gluten-Free Waffles

I have tried nearly every brand of frozen gluten-free waffles, including the new gluten-free Kellogg's Eggo waffles. The texture of some brands leaves a lot to be desired. Sometimes, frozen waffles don’t hold up to spreading toppings or eating them as sandwiches. I regularly buy Van’s gluten-free waffles simply because they are sold at my local grocery store, but have been disappointed with their lack of consistency. Occasionally, I purchase Nature’s Path gluten-free waffles.

The best frozen gluten-free waffles are definitely Wegmans brand, and they are also the cheapest! For only $1.79, you can enjoy a box of eight waffles in comparison to other gluten-free brands that cost significantly more and contain only six waffles. While the Homestyle flavor is good, I absolutely love the Wegmans blueberry waffles! With Wegmans vegan and gluten-free waffles, you know you will get a delicious waffle that comes out toasted perfectly each time – no inconsistency! They are slightly sweet, and hold up perfectly to spreading cream cheese or butter.

It is well worth the 30-minute drive each way to Wegmans just for their waffles! My teen daughter, who isn’t gluten-free, loves them too and is always asking for them for lunch. I must admit I am not a fair sharer when it comes to these. I stock up when I go to Wegmans every few months and save them mostly for myself. That is the true measure of a great product – when you need to hide them for yourself instead of sharing!

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May 8, 2014

My Top 5 Celiac Disease Facts

Share these facts for Celiac Disease Awareness Month this May, and leave a comment with what facts you would add to this list. Let’s fight the countless gluten-free myths and insensitive jokes by sharing the facts! 

1. I have an autoimmune disease, not a food allergy.

2. A 100% gluten-free diet is medically necessary for me. It is not a fad, weight loss diet, celebrity trend, or a joke. 

3. Please get tested for celiac disease before experimenting with eating gluten-free.

4. If “gluten-free” food comes in any contact with gluten while cooking or serving, it is not safe for me to eat. 

5. I love that there are tons of delicious certified gluten-free products. I am not deprived or suffering!

Apr 29, 2014

Review: Russo’s Frozen Gluten-Free Mozzarella Sticks

On a recent trip to Wegmans, I was pleasantly surprised to find Russo’s frozen gluten-free mozzarella sticks. I was so excited to eat mozzarella sticks for the first time in seven years! These gluten-free mozzarella sticks cost $6.99 and were in the gluten-free Nature’s Marketplace freezers at Wegmans, right next to another great gluten-free find, Tonya’s gluten-free soft pretzels. They are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility.

After heating the mozzarella sticks in the oven for eight minutes, they were absolutely fantastic dipped in marinara sauce. They satisfied my craving for mozzarella sticks. Despite the calories and the fact that there are only three serving in the package, I will certainly be buying them again! It is definitely worth driving for 30 minutes to Wegmans to buy them and other gluten-free products.


Mar 24, 2013

My 10 Favorite Gluten-Free Foods

After six years of eating gluten-free, a long house hunt, finally becoming a homeowner again, and recently moving, this is the perfect time to share my current list of ten favorite gluten-free foods. These foods, in random order, were essential during my recent move and most are staples that I usually have on hand. While I was packing to move, I found a list from six years ago of gluten-free products I tried and rated as good or bad. It sure was slim pickings back then compared to the plethora of gluten-free options available today!

1. Moo Goo Gai Pan at P.F. Chang’s – Is there anything better than a gluten-free meal at PF Chang’s of Egg Drop Soup, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and the Chocolate Dome? I always say light on the sauce when ordering, which significantly cuts back on the sodium content.

2. NuGo Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Protein Bars – Yes, I work for the company, but this is one of several NuGo Dark and NuGo Slim flavors that I regularly buy. REAL Dark Chocolate plus protein equals a yummy satisfying snack!

3. Blue Diamond Almonds – A perfect low glycemic snack or addition to any meal.

4. Wegmans Blueberry Waffles

5. Udi’s Whole Grain Buns – These are a staple for quick dinners with Sunshine veggie burgers or Trader Joe’s or Jennie-O turkey burgers.

6. Amy’s frozen entrees – Sometimes you just need something quick to nuke, so Amy’s mac and cheese or veggie lasagna are our favorites.

7. Uncle Ben’s Instant Brown Rice – Combine with frozen veggies for a quick Meatless Monday meal.

8.  Smart Flour Foods Pizza Crust - This is our favorite crust for adding our own toppings. It is sold at Whole Foods in a pack of two for a reasonable price.

9. Conte’s Cheese Ravioli – These ravioli are so yummy, it is hard to believe they are frozen in a bag, ready so quick, and lower in sodium than similar products. 

10. Chobani Greek Yogurt – Pineapple, Blueberry, Black Cherry – I can’t pick a favorite, so I get them all!

This list was updated in June 2015.

Oct 3, 2012

Celiac and Emeril: New Cookbook from Gluten-Free Daughters

Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse has two adult daughters who are gluten-free! Jilly has celiac disease and was diagnosed in 2004, while her sister Jessie was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity in 2001. The Lagasse girls have a brand new cookbook, The Gluten-Free Table: The Lagasse Girls Share Their Favorite Meals. Emeril wrote the forward to their book and makes gluten-free gumbo for his daughters.
Remember how exciting it was too see gluten-free episodes of Emeril Green in 2008? Now, we know why Emeril had a special interest in doing these shows. Is a gluten-free cooking show from the Lagasse girls coming soon?