Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thoughts on cross-contamination...

All of the books warn you of cross-contamination. This happens when gluten-free food is prepared with utensils and in a kitchen where gluten-filled food is also prepared, so the chances of having bits of gluten get into a dish increases.

Well...from the beginning this has been the scariest thought because you think you are ordering something safe off the g-free menu and end up getting sick anyway. However...I haven't gotten sick in a couple months and this is the easiest thing to become a little lazy about.

So, going to restaurants I've been a little more chill with the wait staff and not as demanding about making sure they clean all of the utensils that they use for my dish a second and third time. Of course I still can't have bits of bread plop onto my food but if it went through the dishwasher at least one I'm confident that it'll be okay.

The problem with this is that the moment I let my guard down I fear that a butter knife will slice through some warm bread and then be used to cut my veggies! Therefore, I will never be able to completely ignore it and a mishap will be sure to instill the fear in me once again.

In conclusion, it's a weight lifted off to worry about one less least for now. To all of my friends and family don't think this gets you off the hook when I come over ;)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Soup Pot - Hometown Ohio Hero!

So my mom, the great researcher that she is, found that the Soup Pot in Solon, OH not only has dine in gluten-free items but they ship them nationwide. You can get bread, muffins, scones and cookies shipped from their main store...and I am anxiously awaiting mine!

Although I know you can get these things in Austin (we're an oddity) this is for my Ohio readers and anyone else who likes to collect these great resources:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cleveland Plain Dealer Article: Celiac Disease Hard to Diagnose

My hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, is definitely not a mecca for healthy eating or diet trends...but they did take time to publish this and a few other articles in their health section a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for making this a mainstream read!

Celiac disease hard to diagnose
Celiac disease is often overlooked as a possible cause of anemia, intestinal discomfort and a host of other ills because its symptoms are similar to other ailments, experts say. 

It is an autoimmune digestive disease set off by consumption of gluten found in wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats. Unchecked, this genetic disease damages the villi of the small intestine and ultimately interferes with the body's ability to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. 

"The disease doesn't just stop at malabsorption and malnutrition," says Trisha Lyons, a licensed and registered dietitian at MetroHealth Medical Center. Other complications can include autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, infertility, thyroid disease, migraines, cancer and more, she says. 

Celiac disease may not come up in conversation at the doctor's office, probably because it can have as many as 300 widely varying symptoms -- including abdominal pain, diarrhea, depression and irritability -- common to other disorders. 

Lyons says people should not self-diagnose when it comes to celiac disease.
"There's no way to know you have the disease unless you are tested for it," Lyons says, which includes a blood test and an intestinal biopsy. 

She advises people who suspect they have celiac disease to get tested before they eliminate foods from their diet. "In order to be tested, you have to be consuming the offensive grains. 

"This is a life-altering diagnosis," says Lyons, which should be done by a doctor. Without a proper diagnosis, patients may be taken less seriously by their physicians, families and friends. 

Experts caution that while gluten-free eating is critical for those with celiac disease, it's not necessarily healthy for others. 

"I can't imagine anyone who would want to follow this diet if it's not necessary," Lyons says. "It's extremely expensive, significantly lower in fiber, lower in B vitamins and iron, and inconvenient." Additionally, she says, gluten-free products generally are higher in calories, fat and carbohydrates. 

"When the gluten is removed, more oil, eggs and sugar have to be added to make the product palatable," Lyons says. 

Lyons, who works exclusively with people diagnosed with celiac disease, advises clients to make an effort to include fresh fruits, vegetables, lean dairy and high-fiber grains, such as flaxseed meal and quinoa, in their daily diets.
-- Ellen Jan Kleinerman

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Off the Menu: Red's Porch

Although the waitstaff still needs a lesson on what gluten-free means, the menu is pretty extensive. The food there is good and it's a favorite of my co-workers and friends so I'm relieved to have options there!

RED's Queso
Big Bowl of Guacamole
Chips and Salsa

Greens (can add grilled chicken or shrimp to any):
Garden Salad
Greek Salad
Ship Wreck Iceberg Salad
**Dressings: adobo buttermilk, bleu cheese, citrus oregano, red wine vinaigrette, cayenne brown sugar vinaigrette

Mexicano (NO rice, can choose from charro, black or refried beans):
Shredded Pork Tacos
Carne Asada Tacos
Smoked Brisket Tacos
Chicken Ahumado Enchiladas
Veggie Veggie Enchiladas

Handlers (without bun):
Bird Puller - grilled chicken w/house smoked bacon, cheddar and avocado
Manimal Burger - burger with grilled onions, cheddar, Swiss and 1000 island
Smokey Goat - burger with goat cheese and bacon (must omit fried onions)
Fancy SOB - burger with smoked mozzarella, onions and balsamic mushrooms
Border Burger - burger w/cilantro mayo, roasted serranos and pepper jack cheese

Voo Doo Pork Chop - omit the glace

Green Beans (these were awesome)
Creamed Spinach (without breadcrumbs)
Charro Beans
Small Garden Salad


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Off the Menu: Mighty Fine

So, I was convinced that I could not eat at Mighty Fine, but I was so wrong! I found a blog post from another Celiac in Round Rock with some menu options but decided to go there for lunch today and find out for myself. They told me that everything is gluten-free except for the buns and the chili. Therefore, the chili dogs are out, but you can still get a regular hot dog. Here are the options:

Hamburger/Jr. Hamburger (no bun)
Cheeseburger/Jr. Cheeseburger (no bun)
 - Bacon
 - Jalapenos
 Fresh-Cut Crinkle Fries
Hand Dipped Shakes (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, lemonade)

It's a simple menu, but not too expensive and fries that are gluten-free are always a good find!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Birthday Eating Success!! 3 Great Days of Food...

My birthday is an extension of the holidays. Turning 27 I wanted to make sure, as every year, that I got to celebrate with everyone I care about. So, I planned 3 different birthday celebrations and feel so great about all of the great food I got to eat!

Tuesday: Dinner with Mike - cooking in. We went to Whole Foods and went crazy getting ingredients and vegetables for stir-fry. With a base of rice noodles we got peppers, carrots, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, baby corn and onions to create a fantastic combination of colors. From there we found a fantastic asian stir fry sauce (they have a lot of gluten free at WF). Adding spices and a jalapeno was the icing on top of the cake and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wednesday: Lunch with MyEdu at Cantina Laredo. Big excitement = queso and chips!! I was able to get their skinny margarita, chips and queso and choose from a number of entrees. Their fajitas, tacos and camerones are all gluten-free along with all beans and rice as side dishes. I forgot to take a snap shot of the menu for "Off the Menu" but will next time.

Thursday: Dinner with friends at The Grove Wine Bar. This is probably my favorite place to eat out because it's a wine bar (duh) and they are very aware of gluten insensitivity. The owner came out to our table and made a special cheese plate with gluten free crackers for snacking. From there I ordered the gorgonzola and rosemary chicken pasta and it was FANTASTIC. To finish it off, little did I know, that my mom had contacted them earlier in the day to let them know that a gluten-free dessert would really make the night, so I got g-free brownies with whipped cream and strawberries on top. It was great :)

It has been a rough year going through the tests to find out about my Celiac Disease and adjusting to the changes. I feel that I am finally getting a good grasp on how to handle everything and am looking forward to this year being a bit smoother.

Work Weekend in San Diego

So I was told that San Diego was a great city for Celiacs....unfortunately I had a little more trouble than expected when trying to find a gluten-free location for dinners. There is a website called but unfortunately it doesn't have a map! So....since I didn't know the neighborhoods or locations it took a lot of Googling and clicking back and forth to find something that would suffice.

Finally I found a restaurant chain called Sammy's Woodfire Grill. It is a very casual pizza-type place but I ate there both Saturday and Sunday because they had the best hummus and great g-free pizza crust. Their menu can be found here: for anyone who wants to look it over.

This trip definitely proved to me what all of the books talk about, that being the desire to stay in your comfort zone of food (Austin) where you know what restaurants are OK, where they are and who will cooperate with my special dietary needs.

It also made me realize there is a huge need in our market for a company who creates websites such as BUT utilizes more web features such as mapping, directions and menu postings. If I knew that I could go to any major city and have that at my fingertips it would be a huge relief. I know most of you are reading this and saying "what about Yelp or Urbanspoon?" Those are great but they are not written and collaborative with Celiac patients, therefore, they are not providing information from a point of view that truly understands the frustration. So...if anyone is looking for a great start-up idea there it is!

I have to say that moving forward research is key. Instead of being starving and desperate to find something good to eat I would hit up Google, blogs and maps before leaving!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Subway testing gluten-free options

Although Subway is not the best of the best, being able to get something quick and cheap is always a plus!

The Subway restaurant chain is currently testing two gluten-free menu items in the Dallas and Tyler, Texas markets. The trial options roll out Jan. 10.
According to,  the gluten-free rolls and brownies will come prepackaged and individually wrapped. Sandwich Artists in those two markets will be trained on how to cut the roll with a pre-wrapped knife for one use only.
Also, to further avoid cross-contamination, that same Sandwich Artist will prepare the order from beginning to end, ensuring a 100-percent gluten-free meal.
Subway has long offered items and information for allergen-sensitive customers, and includes a comprehensive chart on its website outlining ideal options for those who stick to a celiac diet.
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance requires a strict gluten-free diet to repair digestive problems caused when wheat, barley, oats or rye is ingested. The gluten protein in these products destroy villi in the intestines, which ultimately breaks down the ability to properly digest. It can lead to malnourishment and osteoporosis, among other health issues.
Many quick-service chains are embracing gluten-free menu options in light of a growing awareness of this disease. In early 2010, for example, Burger King Corp. released a “Gluten-Sensitive List” which features food on the chain’s menu that doesn’t contain wheat, barley, oats or rye.
The increased rollout of gluten-free items not only appeals to a broader consumer base, it may also be a necessity, as lawsuits have been filed against chains for not disclosing gluten’s presence in products.
Ultimately, having a gluten-free component decreases the risk of making some customers sick, which is why it continues to be listed as a restaurant trend to watch for in 2011, according to Technomic research

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Article: Frito-Lay’s Natural Push, a Natural Win for the Gluten-free

From Triumph Dining Blog: - Good news for snackers!!

Silly me, I thought Post was doing something special when they announced that they would be officially certifying their Pebbles cereal as gluten-free (and cutting the sugar, to boot).
Turns out they aren’t the only ones ringing in the new year with a healthy, gluten-free leaf.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Frito-Lay will be eliminating the artificial flavors, artificial preservatives or MSG from about half of their products. The change will result in a significantly lower sodium content for many of the products, as well.


Of course this is good news, but how is it really related to the gluten-free community? I think our gluten-eating neighbors owe us a pat on the back and a thank-you, quite frankly. Frito-Lay’s spokeswoman made a point of referencing the increased number of people checking their website for information about which products suit their diet — and I bet a lot of those people were us.

It’s a great example of the way that our small (but growing!) community can have an outsize impact simply by being vocal about our needs. Every time you contact a company looking for information about gluten, you’re helping push food manufacturers towards a place that’s better for all of us.

Accordingly, the Frito-Lay website has a helpful and frequently updated list of gluten-free products, which you’ll also find in our grocery guide. We posted about it earlier this year, when they updated the list, but it’s such a good example of thorough reporting by a large company that it’s worth talking about again.

The website differentiates between gluten-free products, which are tested to be below the 20 PPM threshold, and products that don’t contain gluten ingredients but aren’t tested and may risk cross-contamination. Interestingly, the website also differentiates between Canadian and US products, and there’s less available in the Canadian market: useful to know if you’re traveling north.