Dec 31, 2009

Review: Bionaturae Gluten-Free Pasta

To kick off the new decade, we decided to create some New Year’s Eve traditions. My daughter had the idea that we would say our New Year’s Resolutions while eating dinner. This morning, I woke up with the idea that we should eat something new on New Year’s Eve. Luckily, earlier this week I purchased a different pasta, Bionaturae, at Whole Foods.

After reading the glowing review from Karen Fine at Mom Cooks Gluten Free, I decided to splurge and spend $4.39 for this organic gluten-free spaghetti made in Italy in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Here are two quotes from the Bionaturae website describing their pasta.

It took over a year of experimenting to create the recipe for our gluten free pasta. The pasta is made with organic rice flour, organic rice starch, organic potato starch and organic soy flour. It cooks like traditional pasta to an "al dente" texture and there is no need to rinse it before adding your favorite condiment.

The manufacturer is one of a select few in Italy who are authorized by the Italian Ministry of Health to produce gluten free pasta. The factory tests for the presence of gluten during each production cycle. Independent testing is also done at a laboratory in the United States on each lot before the products are distributed in this country.

We liked the pasta. The recommended cooking time is six minutes, but since we prefer softer pasta, I cooked it a bit longer. The texture and taste was good, and I would buy it again. However, my new favorite pasta is two dollars cheaper than Bionaturae – Deboles corn pasta.

Happy New Year to you and your family! May the New Year bring you joy, good health, and the patience and persistence to achieve your New Year’s Resolutions!

Dec 28, 2009

Invitation to the General Mills Gluten-Free Twitter Party

I am so pleased to announce that I was selected to be a panelist at the General Mills gluten-free twitter party on January 14, 2010 at 7pm EST. "The first 50 people to RSVP will receive a coupon to try the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Dessert Mixes for free!" There will also be prizes during the party! Chat with other panel members, including Gluten-Free Dee and two General Mills employees.

"Gluten Free in the New Year: Even Easier than Before

Ring in the New Year with a little help from your friends!

Join us for our latest Twitter Party as we discuss living gluten free. We’ll cover a host of topics including how to find great gluten free foods, new and exciting gluten free recipes and products, and how living gluten free is easier than ever!

View the party invitation and RSVP now! Don't miss the great new General Mills gluten-free website.

Dec 21, 2009

Review: Jessica’s Granola

Jessica’s Natural Foods makes three flavors of gluten-free granola: almond cherry, vanilla maple, and chocolate chip. The granola does not contain trans fat, cholesterol, artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives, or highly-refined sweeteners.

Our granola is made with certified gluten-free oats and is loaded with delicious, healthy ingredients like ground flax, coconut, honey and pure maple syrup.”

I was sent three free bags to review. My favorite flavor was the almond cherry, which contains large chewy Michigan dried cherries. The vanilla maple was a little bland compared to the almond cherry, but I enjoyed eating both flavors with Rice Chex. The chocolate chip granola is loaded with rich chocolate chips and the chips are in the granola clusters, not just added to the bag. It would be great as a snack, but too sweet for me to mix with cereal.

Most of the granola is small and medium clusters. However, the size of the clusters varied greatly in each bag and a few clusters were simply too large to add to cereal or yogurt without first breaking. I would prefer to see the granola have a more uniform consistency, but that didn’t prevent me from eating it. My daughter liked the chocolate chip granola and was also surprised to see how much the size varied. What is even more surprising, is that she thought the chocolate chip granola had too many chocolate chips.

The granola is currently only sold in stores in Michigan. Jessica’s has a flat rate shipping of $5 within the United States and is offering a gluten-free sampler pack special until December 31. The price is $21.97 for three 12 oz. bags, one of each flavor. All other granola prices are for six bags and range in price from $41.94 to $47.94.

Dec 16, 2009

Review: Zing Bars

Zing bars, created by four registered dietitians, are gluten-free and some flavors are also dairy-free and soy-free. Each bar contains between 10 and 13 grams of protein and 210 calories. Zing bars are low glycemic, made from 100% natural ingredients, and are tested for gluten.

Furthermore, we routinely subject all Zing flavors to gliadin analysis at an independent laboratory to verify their gluten free status. All Zing flavors test below 5ppm gliadin, which is the lowest amount detectable with current technology. In addition, the dairy free Cranberry Orange and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavors are routinely tested for milk protein. Let us know if you'd like to see copies of these laboratory tests.

All five flavors are good, but my favorites were oatmeal chocolate chip and peanut butter chocolate chip. However, I am not sure these are the best names for these flavors since the oatmeal bar had very few chocolate chips and tasted like an oatmeal cookie. The peanut butter chocolate chip had lots of chips, but little peanut butter taste. Despite this, I enjoyed both flavors and would certainly buy them. The almond blueberry and cranberry orange were pleasantly flavorful.

The chocolate peanut butter is completely different from the other bars. It resembles a candy bar. It has a dark chocolate coating filled with peanut butter and crisps. The taste is fantastic, but it is more chewy than the other flavors.

I like several gluten-free protein bars. Zing bars are similar in size to ANDI bars, more filling than a Balance Pure bar, and less filling than a PureFit bar.

This review is based on a free Zing sampler pack I was sent to review. The Zing sampler pack for $13.95 is a great way to try each flavor or you can order the mixed box of Zing bars. All Zing boxes contain 12 bars and are regularly $31.95. They are on sale until December 25 for $29.95 and free holiday gift wrapping is available. Register to receive the Zing newsletter and coupons. Zing’s slogan is “Deliciously Different” and it is a very fitting slogan for these tasty bars!

Dec 12, 2009

Gluten Alert: Health Valley Soups

The following gluten alert was posted on Clan Thompson's celiac site on December 11, 2009.

"Health Valley organic cream of chicken, cream of celery and cream of mushroom soups are no longer gluten free, according to the manufacturer who states that the products may contain traces of gluten in the natural flavoring."

Dec 11, 2009

10 Important Facts about Celiac Disease and a Gluten-Free Diet

1. Do not start a gluten-free diet until you have been tested for celiac disease (celiac panel blood test and endoscopy if necessary). Testing will not be accurate if you are already eating gluten-free. An endoscopy is necessary to confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease and sometimes to help interpret the results of the celiac panel blood test, which is not always accurate.

2. Many people who test negative for celiac disease are gluten sensitive and find that symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet.

3. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, not an allergy. It is not part of food allergy testing. Eating gluten damages the villi of the small intestine, preventing nutrients from being properly absorbed. If left untreated, celiac can lead to osteoporosis and cancer, among other things.

4. The only treatment for celiac disease is a 100% gluten-free diet.

5. Symptoms of celiac disease vary greatly and some people have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, like migraines or fatigue. Symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed as other conditions and there is a lot of misinformation about celiac disease. In fact, 97% of people with celiac disease don’t know they have it, and it can take years and many doctors for people to be correctly diagnosed.

6. Celiac disease is genetic. If one family member has it, others should be tested.

7. Gene testing for celiac disease does not tell you if you have celiac disease. If you do not have any of the genes associated with celiac disease, then you can rule out celiac disease. If you do have some of genes, all it means is that you may develop celiac, but many people with the genes never develop it.

8. While there are countless great gluten-free foods and many restaurants have gluten-free menus, cross-contamination is the biggest challenge for most people with celiac disease. Gluten crumbs in a condiment jar, a cooking utensil or serving spoon that has been used on gluten, and even airborne wheat flour, can all cause a person with celiac disease to have a severe reaction, which can last for days.

9. Eating gluten-free is not a weight loss diet. Many gluten-free breads and other baked goods are not only expensive, but high in fat and calories. Many people with celiac disease gain weight on a gluten-free diet as the body heals and begins properly absorbing nutrients. Eating foods that are naturally gluten-free is cheaper and healthier than processed gluten-free foods.

10. While wheat is a top eight allergen required to be listed on food labels in the United States, gluten is not. Gluten (wheat, rye, barley, and contaminated oats) is found in many products and some products are unsafe for people with celiac disease as a result of cross-contamination. Only oats that are certified gluten-free may be consumed on a gluten-free diet and some people with celiac disease are unable to even tolerate oats that are certified gluten-free.

For more information about celiac disease:

Celiac disease: Have you been tested?

Celiac disease videos, articles, and resources to share

Celiac disease statistics, video, and a gluten-free care package

Gluten-free 101: How can I better understand food labeling?

Don’t miss the numerous useful links on my sidebar in two sections: Newly Diagnosed Resources and Celiac Links.

Dec 10, 2009

Student Wins Science Fair for Celiac Project

Lea Giambruno won the Best of Fair award in the senior division at the Shelter Island School Fair for her project called “Got Gluten?”. She is in 9th grade and the projects were judged by 16 judges from the community, including judges from research and educational facilities.

Her topic was celiac disease, a toxic reaction to gluten found in rye, wheat and barley, and her hypothesis, borne out by her data, was that gluten-free foods produced in a factory that also produces food containing gluten, will have traces of gluten, while foods produced in gluten-free plants will not.

The top projects in each division will be selected later for entry in the Long Island Science Congress, which is held in the spring.”

She likely used home gluten test kits to test various products. Doing a science fair project about celiac disease is also a good way to increase celiac disease awareness. If you are looking for a gluten-free science fair project, read Gluten-Free Science Fair Projects, which has been a very popular article on my blog.

Dec 9, 2009

Review: Gluten-Free Brownies and Blondies from Freedgoods

I received two free brownies and one blondie from Freedgoodsco to review. Their gluten-free and yeast-free products are sold in Connecticut and can also be ordered online. Each flavor is available online as a box of four for $14 or two flavors can be selected in a box of 8 for $25. They are made in a shared facility with wheat, and they “take all possible steps to eliminate cross-contamination”. The brownies and blondies are thick and large, perfect for sharing.

I tried the chocolate original and chocolate walnut. Both flavors were very fudgy, moist, rich, and dense. My daughter and I loved them! The blondie contains large chocolate chips and some coconut. It was extremely moist, fluffy, and the coconut taste was evident, but not strong. If you love coconut, then try the chocolate coconut brownie. They also make a chocolate peanut butter brownie, which I am eager to try.

The brownies are made from a flour mix that contains garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and fava bean flour. Despite the use of bean flours, there is absolutely no unpleasant after-taste, and they taste better than most gluten brownies. In fact, the taste is so good that you will cherish every bite!

Freedgoodco was founded by Stephanie, a former corporate lawyer. She donates 5% of the profits to infertility research, education, and treatment. Infertility is a complication of undiagnosed celiac disease. Read Stephanie’s story here. If you are looking for a delicious gift for others or yourself, order from Freedgoods!

Dec 7, 2009

Recall: College Inn Chicken Broth

Select cans of College Inn Chicken Broth are mislabeled and do not list wheat in the ingredients. The cans also incorrectly say "No MSG". College Inn Chicken Broth normally contains hydrolyzed wheat gluten in the ingredients statement.

The recall is for all dates of the College Inn No MSG Chicken Broth 14 ½ oz cans. Only four College Inn products are gluten-free.

More Gluten-Free Labels on Store Brand Pharmaceutical Products

Many store brand over-the-counter pharmaceutical products are manufactured by Perrigo. According to a press release, in January 2010, Perrigo will begin labeling over 200 gluten-free over-the-counter pharmaceutical products. Their dietary supplements are already labeled gluten-free. Perrigo is assuring that the products contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. The most interesting statement in Perrigo’s press release is below.

“Perrigo initiated the labeling program specifically in response to an increasing market demand for gluten-free products. Questions from consumers regarding the gluten content of Perrigo-manufactured products have recently ranked among the company's top call center inquiries.”

Store brands are considerably cheaper than brand name products, so this is great news from the world’s largest manufacturer of store brand OTC products!

Dec 5, 2009

Exciting Gluten-Free News: Dr. Oz Show,, and General Mills

According to a message posted on the celiac listserv from the Celiac Disease Foundation, Dr. Oz will be airing a show about celiac disease on Thursday, December 10. The episode will feature:

  • Amy Geibelson, newly diagnosed with celiac disease
  • Dr. Peter Green, Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University
  • Elisabeth Hasselbeck is featuring holiday recipes from the Gluten-Free Girl and the Gluten-Free Chef.

General Mills recently launched their new gluten-free website with a gluten-free product list. Mark you calendars for Thursday, January 14 at 7pm EST - General Mills is having a gluten-free twitter party and announcing new gluten-free products!

If you are not on twitter, join now. The amazing gluten-free community on twitter is growing daily. There are so many gluten-free companies on twitter, sharing information, discounts, news, and seeking customer feedback. Two great ones are Kinnikinnick (GF_Insider) and Enjoy Life Foods (ELFCeo). Checkout my twitter list of 89 gluten-free bloggers and follow me - MarylandCeliac.