Sep 30, 2009

Soy-Yer Dough on Shark Tank

Sawyer Sparks was on "Shark Tank" last night. He invented gluten-free Soy-Yer Dough and was trying to strike a deal with the sharks to expand his business and open a factory in his community to create jobs. He currently makes Soy-Yer Dough in his mom’s kitchen along with his girlfriend. They can only make 12 containers every 10 minutes.

When asked what percent of children have this aversion to wheat, Sawyer said “1 in 8 children”. I am not sure if this statistic is accurate. He also said celiac disease is an allergy to wheat. Celiac disease is not an allergy.

If you missed the show, episode seven can be viewed on the ABC website. Sawyer begins at 30:37. You can also read a detailed recap of the episode. This was a great opportunity for Sawyer Sparks and his community. It was also good awareness, despite some inaccurate information.

Sep 29, 2009

Gluten Free Gratefully Review: Delicious Cookie Gifts

In April 2009, Cookies from Home started a line of gluten-free gifts, Gluten Free, Gratefully. While the gluten-free cookies are not made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, they are made on dedicated equipment. When one of the owners, Barry Brooks, wanted to send me a free box of these gourmet cookies, he provided me with more information about the “stringent steps” they take to prevent cross-contamination.

We have a separate mixer used exclusively for our gf cookies in our mixing room that we keep covered at all times unless in use. We always make these mixes first and place the dough in special color coded pails which are kept separately in our walk in cooler from the other cookie batches. As soon as this mixer is finished being used, we cover it and begin our other cookie mixes. We mix every other day, so any airborne particulates have settled in the almost 48 hour period. When baking the gf cookies, we have separate sheet pans, oven mitts, and specially designated oven that is used specifically for this product. After the cookies come out of the oven they are put in separate Tupperware-like containers which are tightly sealed. All of the utensils and containers mentioned previously including the spatulas are color coded to separate their use on or with our other cookies.”

The cookie gifts are normally shipped FedEx two day from the bakery in Tempe, Arizona and are guaranteed to be received within 48 hours of baking. The shipping cost is around $10.95, but it could be more depending on the gift and location. The diameter of the cookies is approximately 2.5 inches. Some of the ingredients are rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, and Xanthan Gum.

All five flavors are very good, sweet, and soft, so it is hard to pick a favorite. My two favorites are the Triple Treats (chocolate chips, walnuts, and plump raisins) and Mac the Nut (white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts). The chocolate chip cookies were extremely soft and moist.

The company recommends storing them in an air-tight container. On the third day of storing these cookies on the counter in a Ziploc bag, they were almost as soft as the first day. On the third day, I put the remaining two cookies in the refrigerator and then heated them in the microwave for 10 seconds before eating on the fourth day. They were still very fresh.

Here is a quote from my eight-year-old daughter, who eats gluten.

These cookies taste like gluten. My two favorites are the Fudgies (chocolate cookies with chocolate chips) and the chocolate chip. The chocolate chip cookies are better than the ones at my school cafeteria.”

We both agreed on two things that would make these cookies even better: more chocolate chips in the chocolate chip cookies and more peanut butter in the Peanut-n-Butter cookies. We would both happily eat all the flavors again!

If you are interested in trying these cookies without a gift box, the best deal is only available by phone – 22 cookies for $14.50. The cheapest cookie gift box on the website is the sampler of 13 cookies for $22. There are several gifts of 12 cookies for $23 and 22 cookies for $37. The Happy Birthday tin contains 39 cookies and the price is $53.50. The Walking on Sunshine gift box is appropriate for any occasion and is available in several sizes. These would be the perfect gift to send to gluten-free kids at college.

Update 9/29/09
- After reading my review, Barry Brooks told me they will be adding more chocolate chips and peanut butter like we suggested!

Sep 24, 2009

Four New Kinnikinnick Products

Kinnikinnick announced today on twitter the following information about their new products.

"The 4 new Kinnikinnick products are now or will be available over the next few weeks direct from us and in stores in 2-4 months"

"Kinnikinnick is introducing Chocolate KinniKritters, Graham Style KinniKritters, Fudge KinniTOOS & Panko Style Breadcrumbs"

The Fudge KinniTOOS were recently announced on the Kinnikinnick blog, and announcements for the other three new products will be posted soon.

Sep 16, 2009

My Article in Gluten-Free Living

The new issue of Gluten-Free Living magazine is packed with great information, including a very useful food testing guide. The article about testing food at home to see if it is really gluten-free enables readers to make an informed decision before purchasing the home test kits. The article on disaster planning is very interesting.

My last word article is on page 50. I wrote about how when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I explained it to my young daughter, addressed her concerns, and helped her to develop a positive attitude about the gluten-free diet. The issue also has information on a new children's book about celiac disease.

I highly encourage you to subscribe to Gluten-Free Living. Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with celiac disease for years, you will learn things from every issue. I hear the next issue will be a very special one.

Gluten-Free Living is sold at select Whole Foods, Wegmans, Borders, and health food stores. You can keep up with all the latest information between the quarterly issues by following gfliving on twitter (where I met Amy Ratner, associate editor) and by reading the Gluten-Free Living blog.

Sep 12, 2009

CSA Contests: Photo, Student Essay, and Recipe

The Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) compiled a very detailed packet to promote Celiac Disease Awareness Month in October and National Celiac Disease Awareness Day (September 13). Starting on page 24, information and entry forms can be found for the photo contest, student essay contest, and recipe contest. The deadline for all three contests is December 1, 2009. The student essay contest is open to students from kindergarten through college.

The packet also contains great awareness ideas, fact sheets, and a press release template. The awareness month theme is "2.5 born every minute" since "every minute 2.5 persons are born with the genetic predisposition for celiac disease".

Sep 8, 2009

The Emotional Cost of Undiagnosed Celiac Disease

The health and financial costs associated with undiagnosed celiac disease are well documented, but what about the emotional cost? Many people who lived for years with undiagnosed celiac disease know this emotional cost all too well. Here is my story.

My celiac disease symptoms seemed to be triggered by pregnancy and became worse over the next five years. My knees hurt so bad that it was difficult to sit on the floor and play with my daughter. Kneeling for bath time was impossible. Daily headaches and facial pain made attending a toddler playgroup or music class a challenge. Chronic insomnia made my body ache and my knee and head pain worse. Medicines to treat the insomnia left me feeling drowsy, dizzy, and foggy. I was so exhausted that there were days where I was unable to drive my daughter to preschool, and other days she was late because of Mommy being stuck in the bathroom yet again.

On a good day, I could read, spend some time on the computer, and do a little shopping, but those days were not frequent. Fortunately, I was able to be a stay at home mom. Simple daily living tasks were hard work for me. Most evenings, the pain was so severe and I was too fatigued to cook dinner.

My health problems definitely affected my marriage. By the time I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007, we were already in marriage therapy, but it was too late. Our divorce was final earlier this year. I wonder if we would still be married if I had been diagnosed with celiac disease when I first started showing symptoms or even after only a few years. The answer is maybe. Of course, a marriage is complicated and involves many issues. However, I know that we would have both been able to cope more effectively with our problems at the time without the stress of my health.

Yes, there was a negative emotional cost to my celiac disease. However, it led to greater emotional strength as my health improved significantly. Sleeping well and being able to think clearly without pain enables a world of possibilities. I certainly was not an optimist five years ago. Now, my entire outlook has changed. My ex-husband and I are good friends. Today, I am truly living. While undiagnosed with celiac disease, I merely existed.

Sep 2, 2009

Kinnikinnnick Video - Decontamination of Waffle Equipment

Should I eat food made on equipment shared with wheat? Can I eat food processed in a shared facility with wheat? These are common questions for people with celiac disease. The answer: it depends on many factors and it is ultimately, a personal choice. This video is extremely enlightening about the importance of dedicated facilities.