Monday, July 25, 2011


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Is Gluten Free just a Fad?

Check out this article written by Dr. David Katz regarding the gluten free trend.

I think it's interesting that he points out that about 12,000 yrs ago is when gluten began to enter our diets and that it is not a natural food for humans to eat. This goes along with my own personal theory of Celiac Disease and why it is becoming more prominent- we were not created to eat grains like we do so now our bodies are rejecting the grain. But, those are just my own thoughts.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Iowa State Celiac Conference

As I've said before in previous postings, one of the most important things to do when you're gluten free is to find others! Luckily for you, there's a conference coming up soon in Iowa (not too far from the Twin Cities).

Details of the Conference:

It is held on October 1, 2011at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Okoboji, Iowa. Dr. Joseph Murray from Mayo Clinic and Hospitals in Rochester, MN will be the keynote speaker (he's VERY educated on Celiac Disease and has some great videos on Youtube). They will have a Registered Dietitiean, a session for parents with celiac children and will talk about preparing for emergencies and safely eating out. This year they will also have a food fair featuring vendors from across the country.

The website for the event is located here.

Thanks to Mary Jo Brunner of the St. Croix Valley Celiacs and Lona Lende for the heads up on this conference. I plan on attending and am excited to hear Dr. Joseph Murray from Mayo Clinic speak. I've utilized some of his videos to help others become educated on what Celiac Disease is and answer basic questions.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Tiff with Target

One of the best things that can happen to a Celiac is when they walk into a conventional grocery store, just looking to pickup some basics (milk, eggs meat) and they stumble across gluten free products hidden within other sections. This happened to me last year at the Target in Roseville, MN. A relative told me that she saw some GF cake mix at that location and was completely surprised by it. I stopped in, looked around and picked up some Tinkyada noodles (my favorite). I took note to remember that this location had GF options but noted that they did NOT have Xanthan Gum (that’s a whole other rant). As we gluten free bakers know, xanthan gum is essential to any GF baked good.

Anyway, I generally try to pickup my bread, bagels, crackers and pasta from locally owned stores that support the GF lifestyle in the Twin Cities so I never really paid attention to what Target or Rainbow were stocking. I personally enjoy Fresh and Natural Foods, The Wedge Co-op or Tailor Made Nutrition.

Last week, however, I desperately needed some bread. If you’re anything like me, your prime grocery shopping time is approximately 10:30 p.m. when you’re finally on your way home after a day full of work and other commitments. So I swung into that same Target in Roseville knowing that they supply some GF products. What I didn’t realize, was that they do not stock all of the GOOD GF products. They had one type of bread (name not be mentioned) and it was one of the breads that I used to eat in the days of mail-ordering gluten free products from Canada. Needless to say, I was desperate so I bought it. Upon arriving home and making a sandwich I immediately regretted my purchase and have vowed to buy bread in bulk from now on from brands I enjoy.

The biggest disappointment of this whole adventure is that this Target is making an effort to supply GF products to their customers but they’re not choosing the best options available. In turn, people will stop purchasing those products (such as myself) and Target will stop carrying any GF products because they aren’t selling well. This isn’t just happening in Target, I’m sure it happens in any corporate store that tries to bring in GF product.

I plan to contact the Target Grocery Manager about this as to actually make something happen. We don’t need any other stores saying that there is “no demand for GF product”. We’re here and we need options!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Banana Bread Chronicles

Last weekend I was invited over to a friend’s house for a “Cheese Making and Bread Baking Party”. All of my friends in attendance are not gluten free and were planning on baking conventional breads. I, however, had to plan out what type of bread I would make and what flour it would require. I somehow managed to NEVER get to the store last week and ended up just bringing over my Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix. It wasn’t my best option, but I just rolled with it. On the back of the package there is a recipe for Banana Bread so I thought I’d give it a go. It was either that or sit around watching everyone else eat bread, which sounds like the worst idea ever. It seemed like a pretty simply recipe that didn’t require too much effort on my part. The recipe called for:

4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar or honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup banana, mashed
1-3/4 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

As I’m blending together the ingredients (slowly) and trying to unfreeze the bananas, I really just wanted to eat the raw dough. P.S. mashing frozen bananas is really hard. How do people resist eating the dough? Whenever I bake anything I swear I’ve lost half of my end product due to my prior consumption of raw dough. It’s so sugary and delicious…yum. I try not to though because I’ve grown up being lectured by mother about eating raw eggs and developing diseases (not even sure what those diseases are now).

I ended up baking it for over an hour because it wasn’t completely done yet when the recipe called for it to be taken out. When I took it out of the oven and let it cool it smelled so good. Rarely do I actually bake anything gluten free because I’m so busy, so when I do it’s a wonderful little treat that only I know the true value of. After letting it cool, I cut into it and was thoroughly disappointed. The bread was crumbly- so crumbly that the slice would split in half in my hand. It tasted just like good ol’ fashioned banana bread, but just didn’t quite make the cut for being stable. After having it for a few days, the bread has just become even more crumbly. I cut it into quarters to make sure that I don’t end up with crumbs all over my hands.

I’m not sure if it was the lack of Xanthan Gum in the recipe- the flour already contains it. I hope that Pamela’s can clue us into what exactly went wrong with this recipe as it’s one that they advertise on their product. I love utilizing their all purpose flour and just invested over $15 into a big bag of flour for my baking adventures.

My next mission is to find a better banana bread recipe and share it with followers. Please comment with any other experiences that you’ve had with on-package recipes or an AWESOME banana bread recipe.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Gluten Free Girl with Zero Cooking Motivation

One of the most widely distributed pieces of advice when diagnosed with Celiac Disease is to learn how to cook and bake with different grains. What if, like me, you don't have the time or motivation to cook?

As a recent college grad, I've just lived in a time period when between classes, work, volunteering and seeing friends there genuinely was no time to cook. I know how frustrating it is to come home from a long day of hard work knowing that there is almost nothing edible in your fridge other than string cheese ( a personal favorite).

Here are my tips to eating GF in a simple and convenient way:

1. Map out your week's meals ahead of time

This is also another common piece of advice given when you are changing eating habits but can be done somewhat easily. Just glance through your agenda and see what meals you definitely need to plan for and prepare ahead of time. Sunday nights were generally the nights when I cooked mass amounts of food for my lunches at work or school. This was the easiest for me because as soon as Monday morning hit, I never seemed to find the time to fit in an hour or two solely dedicated to cooking. This is also an excellent time to scope out your fridge and take inventory of what you need to stock for the week.

2. Buy a Rice Cooker

Last Christmas I was lucky enough to receive an unwarranted rice cooker as a gift. I went for several months without using it, but then decided to take the challenge of learning how to operate it with my roommates. After one use we were hooked! You can cook over six cups of rice at a time in a crockpot style manner that does not require you to sit watching boiling water. You add the rice and water and walk away- it turns off automatically. I cooked as many cups of rice as possible (white or brown) and then stored it in the fridge for the week, taking some for lunch with me everyday.

While this option might become bland after a while, it's definitely something to keep in mind for every 2 to 3 weeks. You can change the basic rice into a great dish simply by addding spices, sauces, meats and vegetables.

3. Prepare your dishes ahead of time

After mapping out the meals you need to prepare ahead of time, you need to follow through with actually preparing the meals. If you know you're going to have a chicken caesar salad for lunch one day, actually bake the chicken in advance. I generally cooked vegetables and meats while also chopping up other vegetables and fruits on Sundays. If I didn't do this ahead of time, I would usually avoid it for the rest of the week.

4. Simple High Protein Breakfasts

Some of my favorite breakfast dishes include: greek yogurt, hardboiled eggs and oatmeal. If you haven't tried greek yogurt yet, you're missing out on an amazing breakfast option. You can purchase individual grab-n-go containers to take out the door or larger tubs if you have time to sit down and eat. Either way, greek yogurt has more protein than conventional yogurt and has a custard consistency that I find more enjoyable.

Hardboiled eggs are harder to eat on the go, but the preparation is easy. I usually just throw 7 or 8 eggs  into boiling water on Sunday evenings and eat them throughout the week for breakfasts. If I don't eat them all by Friday morning, I try to incorporate them into a salad or another dish. These are another great source of protein for someone with Celiac.

5. Keep up with Planning and Preparation

As everyone else, you might go through time periods where planning just doesn't happen. Don't let this get you down, just pick up where you can and plan from there. If you think you might eat a food item in the next few days, just cook it and throw it in the fridge or freezer as an air of precaution. Chances are, if you're busy and it's previously prepared, you'll end up eating it for a meal.

What are some of your tips for eating GF on the go?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Favorite Twin Cities GF Restaurants

After living in MPLS for over 3 years, I have a place for Pizza Luce in my heart. They were one of the first reliable and safe GF places that I found to get GF pizza and it tastes AMAZING! They not only have GF pizza, but also provide a menu of plentiful GF options. There are appetizers, salads, pastas, pizzas, desserts and beer that are all GF. Their menu is available here:

Along with having a thorough menu, the service is always dependable. In my experience, servers are in the know about what it means to be a GF customer and always willing to answer questions or investigate options. They genuinely create a safe GF dining environment for all.

In my time with Students for Gluten Free Awareness at the University of Minnesota we were fortunate to have the Pizza Luce Seward location donate gift certificates to our members. Pizza Luce has served as a backbone in the developing GF community in the Twin Cities and makes a killer pizza. Try it out if you haven't yet!

What are your favorite Gluten Free Dining options in the Twin Cities?