Jan 30, 2010

Epicurious Brownie Taste Test

Epicurious performed a blind taste test of 21 brownie mixes. Many gluten-free brownie mixes were tested along with gluten mixes. The winner, which beat Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, Ghirardelli, and Pillsbury classic gluten brownies was Betty Crocker gluten-free brownies! Note the price listed for the Betty Crocker gluten-free brownies is incorrect. The actual suggested retail price is $4.49.

The gluten-free brownie first runner up was the brownie mix from the Really Great Food Company. Although it is expensive and not crunchy, the judges liked that it was fluffy and chewy. Below is a list of all the brownies that were tested and their ranking.

"The 21 varieties of brownie mix we tasted are available nationwide in supermarkets or online. They included the following, listed from highest to lowest score achieved in our taste test: Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix, Archer Farms Chocolate Overload Brownie Mix, The Really Great Food Company Gluten Free Brownie Mix , Duncan Hines Family-Style Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix, Cherrybrook Kitchen Fudge Brownie Mix With Chocolate Chips,* Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Dreams Fudge Brownie Mix,* Hol-Grain Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownie Mix,* Pillsbury Milk Chocolate Brownie Mix, Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix, Stonewall Kitchen Triple Fudge Brownie Mix, Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge Brownie Mix,* Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix,* Namaste Foods Gluten Free Brownie Mix, Marie Callender's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, Dr. Oetker Organic Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, Trader Joe's Gluten Free Brownie Mix, Arrowhead Mills Organic Bake With Me Brownie Mix, Pamela's Products Chocolate Brownie Mix, Jiffy Fudge Brownie Mix, Now Foods Gluten Free Whey Too Good Brownie Mix. (* The asterisk denotes brands that tied for the same score.)"

Book Review - The GF Kid: A Celiac Disease Survival Guide

This book was written in 2005. The GF Kid is for ages 8 and up and teenagers would like it too. The girl in the book is named Paris and she is 11-years-old. I am 8-years-old, and I could easily read almost all the words. I read it by myself and only had a few questions about the book because my mom has celiac disease and I know a lot about it. I would recommend that if you are 8-years-old and you only know a few things about celiac disease, then you should read it with a grown up.

The only thing that upset me was that the author made up a few words like “glutenfied” and “gluteny”. I was happy that there was a list of gluten-free companies with phone numbers and a list of candy. I also like that it had recipes in the back of the book to use as a cookbook and that it listed restaurants and stores.

I think this book would be really helpful for kids that are newly diagnosed and would help parents too. I especially like that it mentioned that celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, not an allergy, and that it is not contagious! This book had several details about cross-contamination. We got this book from our public library. Also read my other book review called Eating Gluten-Free with Emily.

Jan 27, 2010

Review: Speedy-Bake Mixes from Gluten-Free Essentials

Speedy-Bake is a line of six gluten-free mixes for kids that can be baked in an Easy Bake Oven or a regular oven. Since we don’t have an Easy Bake Oven, we baked them in a regular oven. I received two free mixes through Gluten-Free Dee. The mixes are also nut-free and dairy-free, if you use dairy-free butter. All Gluten-Free Essentials products are made in a 100% dedicated gluten-free facility.

We made the fudge brownies and the Yella-Vanilla cake. Both mixes required a ½ stick butter, 1/3 cup applesauce, and one egg. We used Musselman’s Natural applesauce and found that 1/3 cup is almost an entire applesauce snack cup, which makes it easy for kids to measure. Both the cake and brownies were extremely moist! They stayed moist for several days when stored on the counter in a Ziploc bag.

The brownies tasted like chocolate cake and had large chocolate chips. While certainly they weren’t as good as Betty Crocker gluten-free brownies, they were still good. More chocolate chips would make them even better. The vanilla cake smelled like cake, looked like cake, but tasted like a pancake, not cake. In fact, the Spice-is-Nice cake mix can be used to make pancakes by adding extra liquid. Regardless, kids would enjoy baking and eating these mixes, and parents would enjoy eating the brownies too.

There are additional instructions on the website for making a portion of the mix for use in an Easy Bake Oven. Each package will yield approximately five batches in an Easy Bake Oven. Speedy-Bake mixes cost $3.99. For more quick baking products, Gluten-Free Essentials sells Hug in a Mug, an instant microwave cake in a mug, and some varieties are even “diabetic friendly”!

Jan 26, 2010

Today Show Video: Is Dairy or Gluten Making You Sick?

Watch this video of Joy Bauer discussing lactose and gluten intolerance on the Today Show this morning. About half way into the video, the gluten-free portion begins. She explained celiac disease as an autoimmune disease, mentioned the blood test, and listed several gluten-free products she recommends. She also mentioned osteoporosis and anemia. Joy is the nutritionist and diet editor on the Today Show.

Jan 22, 2010

Review: Glutenfreeda Granola

Glutenfreeda sent me free boxes of their new gluten-free granola to review. The granola is made with certified gluten-free oats, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, honey, and no artificial ingredients. There are three varieties - Apple Almond, Cranberry Cashew, and Raisin Almond.

Each box contains four individual packs, which makes it easy to eat on the go if you have a spoon and cup or bowl. However, individual isn’t exactly the right word for the packs as each pack contains 2.5 servings, so calculate the calories and fat before eating an entire pack.

The granola is good! The clusters are small and similar in size to the Enjoy Life granola, but it would be difficult to eat with your hands. It tastes like traditional granola - not sweet, except for the dried fruit. It is a little crunchy, but I would prefer a bit more crunch and more dried fruit. (The granola made by Enjoy Life is too sweet and crunchy for me.) My favorite Glutenfreeda granola flavor is the Cranberry Cashew, with large pieces of cashews, and I would buy it!

One box is $6.95 at the Gluten Free Mall, but is currently on sale for $5.56. Currently, eight boxes can be purchased on Amazon for $30.77, instead of the list price of $40.00, which is a great deal. The granola has a shelf life of approximately one year.

Jan 21, 2010

Get a Free KIND Bar at Starbucks

On Friday, February 5, Starbucks will be providing free KIND bars at their 7,000 locations. Sample either the Fruit and Nut Delight or Cranberry Almond plus antioxidants. In addition to several new gluten-free snack options, including Lucy's cookies, Starbucks now carries four KIND bars:

1. Fruit and Nut Delight
2. Cranberry Almond plus antioxidants
3. Almond Cashew plus omega 3 (added last week)
4. Mango Macadamia plus calcium

According to the KIND website,

"Our products are tested for gluten and meet FDA’s proposed requirement of 20ppm (0.002%) of gluten. Our manufacturing plant is dedicated gluten free and has a strict allergen control program."

Jan 17, 2010

Book Review: Eating Gluten-Free with Emily

I am in second grade, and I do not have celiac disease. I found Eating Gluten-Free with Emily at my school library, and my mom asked me if I wanted to do a review on her blog. This book is for ages three to seven and was written in 2003. I think it left out some stuff and didn’t really give enough detail, but overall it was a good book. I think it should have added that not everyone has to go to the hospital to find out they have celiac disease. It said gluten is wheat, rye, and barley, but it didn’t say anything about oats. Oats have gluten in them unless they are certified gluten-free. I didn’t like that it didn’t say much about cross-contamination.

I did like that it mentioned how to order food in restaurants. The book said when you order a hotdog, you say "Hot dog, no bun please…What kind of ketchup? Are your fries fried with anything?" It says you should ask questions in restaurants. The book is right! You must always make sure what you are ordering is gluten-free. Check your library before buying Eating Gluten-Free with Emily!

McNeil Recall: Many Lots of Tylenol, Motrin, Rolaids, and More

Gather all the Tylenol, Motrin, Rolaids, Benadryl, St. Joseph Aspirin, and Simply Sleep in your house and check this list or use the McNeil search to determine if they are part of this large McNeil recall. For refund or replacement instructions, contact McNeil customer service at 1-888-222-6036.

The company is initiating this recall following an investigation of consumer reports of an unusual moldy, musty, or mildew-like odor that, in a small number of cases, was associated with temporary and non-serious gastrointestinal events. These include nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. This precautionary action is voluntary and has been taken in consultation with the FDA.

Based on this investigation, McNeil Consumer Healthcare has determined that the reported uncharacteristic smell is caused by the presence of trace amounts of a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA). This can result from the breakdown of a chemical that is sometimes applied to wood that is used to build wood pallets that transport and store product packaging materials. The health effects of this chemical have not been well studied but no serious events have been documented in the medical literature. A small number of the product lots being recalled were associated with the complaints of an unusual moldy, musty, or mildew-like odor, and some of these lots were found to contain trace amounts of TBA.”

The Extra Strength Tylenol I purchased recently was not affected, but I do have two bottles of children’s Motrin that were recalled. Print the list to bring with you when buying new bottles of these products.

Jan 15, 2010

Recap: General Mills Gluten-Free Twitter Party

It was wonderful seeing so many people at the General Mills gluten-free Twitter party last night, especially people newly diagnosed with celiac disease and those new to twitter. The party was organized by @foodallergybuzz and @bestallergysite for General Mills. I enjoyed being a panelist, along with @glutenfreedee and the two General Mills employees.

In addition to many bloggers, @larabar and @BettyCrocker attended. There were also international guests: @GFLifeIreland and several people in Canada, including @AllergicLiving magazine. GF Life magazine, the first gluten-free magazine in Ireland, will be launching in February 2010. When I tweeted that I like the new peanut butter and jelly Larabar, about ten people tweeted that they also like it. Larabar said it is a favorite at their office.

Over 100 people RSVP’d for the party. There were approximately 1,300 tweets during the party, which lasted for about two hours, instead of the scheduled one hour. During that time, I surprisingly did 131 tweets. All of the tweets from the #glutenfreely party can still be read on Twapper Keeper. I use Tweet Grid during twitter parties and find it generally works well. It automatically adds the party hashtag to tweets.

Most people probably didn’t realize that General Mills provided me with several of the conversation questions that I asked during the party. It is great to know that General Mills cares about us sharing gluten-free tips on a variety of topics and wants to know what new products we would like to see. There were many great ideas, including eggrolls, carrot cake mix, sugar cookie mix, ready to bake cinnamon rolls, croissants, biscuits, Bisquick, frozen pot stickers, tasty lower calorie food, petit fours, and wonton soup. General Mills also provided trivia questions, and five prize packs were given away.

General Mills announced that more products will be added to their Live Gluten Freely website in the middle of February. "Look for frosting and soup, green giant vegetables and more yoplait!" There is a General Mills gluten-free product locator and a new recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookie cheesecake on the Betty Crocker website. Subscribe to the General Mills gluten-free newsletter and join their Facebook fan page.

Follow me on Twitter and follow my Twitter list of 110 gluten-free bloggers and Examiners.

Jan 9, 2010

Domata Living Flour is Used by Several Brands

In response to my post, Top 10 Gluten-Free Brands, a few people on Twitter shared with me that Domata Living gluten-free all purpose flour is their favorite. I was unfamiliar with the brand, but did some research.

Domata products are Kosher and some are casein-free. Domata is the flour used by Bella Monica, Caesar’s Pasta, Conte’s Pasta, Dutch County Soft Pretzels, and more processors. In addition to the all purpose flour, they sell seasoned flour and pizza crust mix.

Gluten-free pizza crusts made from their flour are sold at HY-VEE, the Mellow Mushroom, and select Sam’s Clubs in the Northeast and Midwest. Domata also sells gluten-free pasta, boneless wings, and frozen cookie dough through major distributors. Their new video scores points for creativity. For more information, checkout the Domata Living Flour website.

Jan 6, 2010

Top 10 Gluten-Free Brands

This list is based on my opinions as well as many positive reviews I read on other gluten-free blogs and on twitter. While people may disagree on the rankings, most people who eat gluten-free will agree that these brands make some great products.

1. Jules Gluten Free
2. Udi’s Gluten Free
3. Bob’s Red Mill
4. Kinnikinnick
5. Foods by George
6. Amy’s Kitchen
7. Glutino
8. Enjoy Life Foods
9. General Mills
10. Glutenfreeda

Honorable Mentions: Bell and Evans (best chicken tenders), San-J (cooking sauces), Nature’s Path (cereals and Envirokidz line), Schar, Tinkyada, Pamela’s Products, Van’s, and Gillians Foods

Gluten-Free in Israel: New Gluten Labeling System

Beginning this year, all food manufacturers in Israel are required to use one of the following labels on their products: no gluten, low gluten, or high gluten. Read the entire article here.

Apparently, this labeling is already required in many European countries. Last year, the European Union defined gluten-free as less than 20ppm, but manufacturers have until January 1, 2012 to comply.