Tag Archives: Gluten-free diet

A Candy-Free Halloween


As someone who’s been gluten-free for a while now, I should know better. But yesterday I “glutenated” myself with a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Ok, so it was obviously more than one. It’s a well known fact that no one can eat just one.) I really used to love those things, but I now know all too well just how bad they really are. I also noticed a weird chemical after taste that I don’t remember ever existing before. And of course, being highly sensitive to whatever is in these little cups besides peanut butter, I was sick for the rest of the night.
Which brings me to my Halloween decision for this year — a candy-free Halloween! I’m not being a revolutionary deciding this, as there are clearly lots of families who’ve given up the candy idea for healthier, more fun options. I read a fun blog post, “Real Food Tips: 20 Ways to do Halloween without candy” listing all kinds of alternatives to handing out candy along with some great ideas on what to do with all the masses of candy your kid will collect on his or her Trick or Treating outing. I personally love the idea of handing out the glow sticks. And as I read through the comments on the post, one person mentioned decorating clementines like little jack-o-lanterns with a Sharpie! Love that idea, too.


So, if you want to kick the GMO candy habit and go for something fun and healthy, use a little imagination and come up with something creative on your own. Or use one of the many fun ideas floating around on Pinterest and several blogs out there by super crafty moms. There’s nothing wrong with sharing a great idea and keeping all the nasty, GMO-laced candy out of our kiddos this Halloween. Or all the candy-filled holidays to come, for that matter. There’s no better time to start building healthy habits for our children than right now.

And just in case you aren’t familiar with all the GMO candies out there, here’s a great list.

Incidentally, GMOs are not the only reason to forego the candy at all the holidays, of course, but they happen to be completely unchecked in 90% of the candy out on the market that our kids just love to beg for. If you happen to live in California, you can help make a huge difference in the fight to get GMOs labeled in ALL foods, including all the candy within your child’s reach at every check out counter on the planet. California residents please VOTE YES to PROP 37!! We all have a right to know what’s in our food, especially the food our children love to eat!

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A bowl full of fun surprises…stickers, dracula teeth, scary finger tips, whistles…none of which contain GMOs or contribute to sugar overload. Win-win!

Have a safe and healthy Halloween!

To a happier, healthier and longer life.

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Gluten-Free Ain’t All Bad…Learning Through Mistakes


So, I’ve been going through the trials and tribulations of learning to go gluten-free. I’ve made some mistakes along the way (who knew wheat was the number two ingredient in soy sauce?) but I’ve also made some very wonderful discoveries that will definitely help me in the future. Without mistakes, there is no learning. Right? Right!

One thing I have learned is what my initial symptom, or my tell, is when I’ve been glutened. And I think this is extremely important as it lets me know right away when gluten has been surreptitiously slipped into my food without my knowledge. And I can easily pinpoint the culprit so as not to make the same mistake twice. Finding your initial reaction (for me, it’s the onset of acid reflux) is critical in finding your way in a gluten-free world. So, the next time you go to a restaurant and ask for gluten-free pasta, you’ll know if  your request was honored or if you had some self-righteous chef in the back who thinks he knows better than you. (Yes, it happens!) So, learn your tell!

I also discovered that being gluten-free doesn’t mean I can’t eat wonderful foods that I grew up loving – comfort foods! Just this week I decided it was high time to pull out my crock pot and get it stoked for the fall season.

First I made beef stew, chock full of wonderful veggies, potatoes and beef chunks. I used some gluten-free beef stock (Progresso stocks are actually labeled gluten-free) to add that little extra flavor. YUM! Next, I wanted to get more work done so I thought the crock pot could be my savior again. So, chilli was on the menu – ground turkey, pinto beans, fresh tomatoes and some green chilies, along with fresh-cut onions and garlic. Delish! Worcestershire sauce and the previously mentioned beef stock added plenty of extra flavor along with some tomato sauce – gluten-free, of course.

I discovered that you have to pay special attention to your seasonings. My spice rack, as it turns out, is full of monosodium glutamateMSG. It took me a few bouts of acid reflux to figure this one out when I should have picked up on it right away.

A lot of blends (season salts, Everglades – my husband’s favorite, etc.) contain MSG, so you need to make sure to check their labels. Also, be aware of the seasonings that are manufactured in plants that also process products containing wheat. Tastefully Simple, for example, puts it right on their label that they use facilities that process wheat products. So, check your seasonings – some of the best, most popular blends contain MSG and this stuff, if you react the way I do, will cause serious pain. Ouch!

But I’ve discovered how lovely the Mrs. Dash seasoning blends really are. So many varieties, no gluten and no salt – what’s not to love about them? I use them quite liberally on practically everything from eggs to salads to the chilli I made for dinner last night. You just can’t go wrong with them.

It seems for every mistake I make, I learn something new and exciting to make up for the acid reflux pain. And that’s quite alright with me. The great news overall is I’m learning to live this gluten-free life and have been able to control my acid reflux, which has plagued me for several years, without medication. I’ve officially gone off of the Nexium I’ve been taking forever. And that makes me quite happy.

So, get out there and make some mistakes! You never learn anything without them.

To a healthier, happier and longer life.


Is Flavored Coffee Gluten-Free?


All coffee, regular and decaf, is naturally gluten-free. However, when it comes to the ingredients (usually hidden with words like “natural and artificial flavors“) used to created the flavor, these are usually not gluten-free. I personally love flavored coffee and do not think adding a flavored creamer is the same. So, I sent an email to my favorite coffee company to inquire.

This is the email I received in return:

Dear Ms. Cordell,

Thank you for contacting The J.M. Smucker Company regarding our Millstone® coffee products. For over 110 years, consumer safety and product quality have been of paramount importance to our company.


Coffee is not a source of gluten and our Millstone® roast and ground coffee items are produced in a dedicated facility where no other types of agricultural crops are handled or processed. However, due to the use of common equipment within the agricultural community to harvest, store and transport crops, our roast and ground products may contain trace amounts of grain-based ingredients.

Additionally, our flavored coffee products may contain added ingredients that are not gluten free.

Thank you again for your interest. We hope that you will continue to enjoy our products for years to come. If you should have further questions or need additional information, please visit us at http://www.millstone.com or contact us at 800-522-7894, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.


Sincerely,

Jake

Consumer Relations Representative

Most responses from other coffee manufacturers will be the same – they mention the agricultural practices and cross contamination, which generally isn’t a problem but keeps them from being able to claim their product is gluten-free. The real problem with the flavored coffees is the ingredients used to create the flavors. Until we are made aware of what those ingredients are and can verify if they are gluten-free or not, we have to assume they are not safe.

If you have Celiac, you should avoid flavored coffees unless they state on their package they are gluten-free.

Bummer.

To a healthier, happier and longer life.

Beginning A New Way Of Life…Going Gluten-Free


As I mentioned in my previous post, I have only just, at the age of 41, discovered I have an Intolerance for wheat gluten. I have been living gluten-free in the months since. It’s only been two months so far – I feel incredible, but I am feeling the pangs of loss.

For bread.

And pasta.

I haven’t had wheat bread or pasta since the end of the summer. (sigh)

I know there are lots of people out there who have Celiac or wheat gluten intolerance or an allergy and I’m not an isolated case. Those people do not feel sorry for me at all. Some people have never really been able to enjoy wheat or pasta, or cereal, or cookies, or cakes…there are many things that contain wheat gluten out there. And I don’t feel sorry for me either.

I shouldn’t.

And I won’t ever be tempted to eat it, either. Because I know the consequences if I ever do.

Before I discovered my issue with wheat, I felt horrible all the time. The worst part is I didn’t realize how sick I felt until I got better. I honestly thought it was my age creeping up on me and that it would only get worse as I got older. That part made me sad and I was trying everything to keep it from happening. I was working out several times a week, probably pushing myself more than I needed to leaving myself open for injuries. I was always on some new diet to help keep my weight down, which was nearly impossible since my insulin and leptin levels were out of whack.

And nothing was helping. I hurt all the time. I felt lethargic and chronically fatigued. I lacked motivation constantly and had to really mentally overcome it every day. It was a daily struggle. Can you believe I thought this was normal?

One week after going off the gluten (all grains, in fact) I had a complete, unexpected turn around in my overall health. It was amazing! I talked to my doctor about it and he told me I didn’t need a test to verify what I already know. Plus, I would actually have to go back on gluten for four weeks in order to do the blood test for Celiac. But, I wasn’t willing to go back.

Today I’m pain free and have had a complete recovery of my energy. I don’t feel lethargic all the time anymore. I had an itchy, red rash on my scalp that has cleared up, too. Changing my lifestyle and making the bread sacrifice has been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m curious to see what other ailments are related to my gluten intolerance and if they will be alleviated as well over time.

There are many different symptoms of Celiac disease, wheat allergies and a general intolerance for wheat gluten. My symptoms represent only a handful of symptoms which also include chronic diarrhea, malnutrition, weight loss and anemia. If you think you may have Celiac or a wheat sensitivity, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to rule out Celiac first.

Unfortunately there is no test for any wheat intolerance except for Celiac, which presents with damage to the villi in the intestines. A biopsy is the only way to confirm Celiac disease. If you test negative for Celiac, it doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from an elimination of wheat gluten from your diet. You may still have wheat sensitivity and a diet devoid of gluten may be a good treatment for your symptoms.

If you have any symptoms and suspect you may have a wheat sensitivity of any kind, talk to your doctor about your options.

I still can’t believe the difference going gluten-free has made in my life. I feel better than I have in the past 10 years – I have plenty of energy, I don’t feel swollen or puffy any more, I don’t feel pain any more. I feel like I’ve just gained back 10 years of my life.

But I still miss bread and pasta. What can I say?

To a healthier, happier and longer life.