Friday, 30 September 2011

Note to Starbucks: Bring it!

I recently emailed Starbucks Customer Service to find out which drinks are gluten free:

I am on a strict gluten free diet, even trace amounts of wheat, rye, oats or barley can make me sick. Could you tell me if there are any drinks at Starbucks that are completely gluten free? This information would be very helpful to me!

The response that I received was disappointing:

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

Starbucks is unable to guarantee a "gluten-free" environment in our retail locations due to the potential for cross contamination with gluten-containing products. The open environment and operating procedures of our store locations may present additional risk for gluten-sensitive customers aside from the gluten-containing ingredients themselves. "Gluten-free" is a claim with specific requirements defined by government agencies and industry standards. We are unable to make this claim on a product unless the item is specifically formulated and manufactured to meet the definition of the claim

If you have any further questions or concerns that I was unable to address, please feel free to let me know.

I feel that Starbucks can do better, and in different words I'm basically asking Starbucks to "Bring it!". Come on Starbucks, you can do better than that!

Thank you for your response.

Are there any plans in place to modify your operating procedures so that Starbucks drinks could be a safe option for those who are on gluten free diets? I have no first-hand barista experience, but from the customer side it seems like it would be fairly straight-forward to make safe drinks.

Lattes: If your beans are gluten free, everything that goes through your espresso machine is safe. I believe your steamers are only used to steam milk (you would have to verify that your soy milk or other milk alternatives are gluten free), so your steaming equipment is safe. Then you have your syrups - if you could identify which syrups are gluten free we have ourselves a gluten free latte!

Blended ice drinks and smoothies: If you can verify which ingredients are gluten free, and ensure that good cleaning practices are in place, this could provide many safe options.

Bottled drinks: Do you know which bottled drinks are gluten free? The teas? The frappuccinos? Juices? Even this is helpful.

We all realize that there are risks to consuming anything that is not produced in a gluten free environment, but if we are very careful and if the staff are properly trained, it is extremely feasible to produce safe products. Food can be quite tricky, but drinks are especially straight-forward.

By taking a "unable to guarantee a "gluten-free" environment" stance Starbucks is greatly limiting their customer base. There are over 3 million Americans with celiac disease and many more who are gluten intolerant. We would love to know that we have options at Starbucks, as eating on the go is very challenging.

I would love to know if Starbucks has any plans to become more accommodating to people restricted to a gluten free diet! Thanks for your help.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response...

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

I am truly sorry to hear about your Gluten inquiry.

I want you to know that we take feedback from our loyal customers seriously. Because you know better than anyone else what you want from Starbucks, I will share this with the appropriate department here in our corporate office.

We have made a promise to our customers to provide outstanding products and service. I know that this is a primary reason why you visit Starbucks and I understand how disappointing it is when we let you down.

Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to improve what we do.

If you have any further questions or concerns that I was unable to address, please feel free to let me know.

I am typically very accepting when a company indicates that it's products are not safe for those who cannot have gluten, but in this case I thought it was a bit silly of them to not even try. Starbucks seems to be everywhere, and it would be so nice to be able to travel and know that there is such an easy-to-find coffee shop to grab a safe latte.

If you feel the same way I am sure Starbucks would love to hear from you! info(at)starbucks(dot)com Pass along the message to anyone you know who would support gluten free drinks at Starbucks!

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Wednesday, 28 September 2011


Gluten Free Chickie (fellow Canadian!) just posted a gluten free list for Saputo's products :) You can view the details here.

The list includes the following brands:

Dairyland Plus
Des Coteaux
Du Village
Faith Farms
Fraser Valley
International Delight
Laits Go
Nature's Treat
Saputo Lite
Sunny D
Ultimate Neilson

Thanks Gluten Free Chickie!

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Here is a helpful gluten / cross-contamination statement from Blistex:

Thank you for your interest in Blistex products and wanting to know if they are gluten free. We are pleased to inform you that all of our Blistex lip care products are gluten free meaning that they are free from wheat, rye, barley, and oats.

In reference to cross contamination: we clean our processing equipment in a manner that meets the highest standards in our industry. However, we are unable to certify the absolute removal of all gluten residues.

I have found that Blistex Lip Medex is the best product for dry lips in the winter, so I'm happy to hear that it is safe!

And what goes better with the cold weather than an incredible cup of hot chocolate? This is the best hot chocolate recipe EVER!

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Kinnikinnick Foods Pancake and Waffle Mix (and more)

The first time I tried Kinnikinnick Foods Pancake and Waffle Mix I was ready with one of my two typical responses for gluten free foods...either "That is terrible." or "That is edible!". I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that the Kinnikinnick pancakes were delicious - as delicious, or more delicious, than any gluten-containing pancake I had eaten in the past. These are THE BEST pancakes I have ever had. I ordered some mix on the spot, being concerned that if I let the opportunity pass I would never see them again.

Since then I have tried Kinnikinnick Foods' Cinnamon Sugar Donuts (great!), Personal Size Pizza Crust (a sweet, chewy crust able to win anyone over), White Sandwich Bread (a great option), KinniToos Chocolate Vanilla Sandwich Cookies (I love being able to give BoyBee a "normal" treat that other kids can eat, and he loves them), and Kinnikinnick Original Homestyle Waffles (these first gave me hope that gluten free waffles could be good!).

Kinnikinnick certainly knows how to make gluten free taste good, and I would like to thank them for bringing many classic gluten-containing foods back into our household. Kinnikinnick has filled much of the void so that we don't feel like we are "living without". In addition, all Kinnikinnick products are nut free, and most of them are casein free, opening up their potential customer base to quite a large number of people. If stores near you do not carry Kinnikinnick products don't be scared to place an order online - you won't be disappointed!

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Sunday, 25 September 2011


Nestle has a great labelling policy - add it to your list of "just read the label" companies! Hrm...perhaps I should make a "just read the label" tag for my posts...Here is what Nestle has to say about gluten labelling:
Thank you for taking the time to contact Nestlé® regarding our labeling policy when it comes to gluten. We welcome questions and comments from loyal consumers such as yourself and appreciate this opportunity to assist you.

In regards to your inquiry labeling regulations require that all ingredients added to products be listed in the ingredient statement. We’d like you to know that for the eight major allergens including gluten, Nestlé ensures that they are labeled, regardless of the amount or whether a supplier may have added it to their ingredient. It is the responsibility of Nestlé to ensure that these ingredients are properly labeled by their common or usual name in the ingredient statement.

We want to help our consumers avoid inadvertent ingestion of their specific allergens of concern by accurately informing them about the product ingredients and by following Good Manufacturing Practices in our factories. All factories using a critical allergen as an ingredient must take all reasonable precautions to avoid cross-contact of products that do not normally contain these allergens and products that do not carry a specific mention in the ingredient statement. These precautionary measures include efficient cleaning of production lines and equipment and strict separation of materials that may contain critical allergens. If an allergen does not appear on the ingredient statement, then it has not been added to the product and the likelihood of cross-contact potential is so extremely low that the risk is insignificant. If there would be any ingredient containing gluten our labels would mark it on the label. As well if there were any possibility for cross contact this would also be marked on the label.

We would like you to know that along with this email we are enclosing our most recent copy of products that are gluten free. We hope this information is helpful.

We appreciate your interest in our products and hope you will visit our website often for the latest information on our products and promotions.

And here are many of the products they produce:

After Eight
Big Turk
Carnation Breakfast Essentials
Carnation Hot Chocolate
Coffee Crisp
Del Monte
Kit Kat
Lean Cuisine
Mackintosh's Mack Toffee
Nestle Baby
Nestle Crunch
Nestle Waters
Quality Street
Read Dairy
Saute Sensations
Skinny Cow
Stouffer's Bistro

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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Orange Olive Oil Cake Recipe

Let me start out by saying, I will not post mediocre recipes and call them amazing. I have tried a lot of terrible gluten free recipes for baked-goods, and at one point I conceded and said, "If it is edible I consider it a success.". Thankfully I started finding fantastic recipes. Now for me to consider it "amazing" it has to be as good or better than a gluten-containing recipe. No more concessions just because we're gluten free. My standards for good food are now as high, or higher, than they were before. I am celebrating being gluten free because it forced me to try a lot of different foods, and have made some great discoveries.

The Cake.

I am very much a chocolate-loving kind of girl. But the Gluten Free Orange Olive Oil Cake from Blackbird Bakery won me over. PapaBee, who has been very skeptical of my gluten free baking experiments, was taken aback. He could not believe that I could produce such an incredible cake...AND it was gluten free! I skipped the minnelo tangelo (I don't even know what that is...a mandarin maybe?), but kept the rest of the recipe the same. The cake was light, moist, and simply delicately-sweet orangey goodness. Go ahead and give it a try - you won't be sorry.

Time for another piece!

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Friday, 23 September 2011

ConAgra Foods

I recently contacted ConAgra Foods to inquire about their labelling policy and they sent me quite a detailed response...

Thank you for your email concerning gluten in our ConAgra Foods products.

The following gluten labeling information applies to all ConAgra products. To see which brands and products ConAgra has in Canada, we invite you to visit our Canadian web site at There you will see not only the brands and products we have available, but also nutritional information (including ingredients) and delicious recipes and meal ideas.

We understand how important it is for people who have been medically diagnosed with gluten sensitivity to obtain accurate information about our food to help plan their meals and diets. And we continue to look for ways to meet the dietary needs of our consumers.

Since wheat is a major food allergen, if it is used in the product it would be listed in the contains statement following the ingredients list. The flour used in many of our products is wheat flour and you should avoid these products if you have gluten sensitivities. If any ingredient in the product includes rye or barley, it will be listed in parentheses immediately following the ingredient. Oats do not contain gluten, but they frequently have been exposed to wheat or barley and are not recommended for celiac patients. If Natural Flavors, Artificial Flavors, or Spices listed in the ingredients list contain wheat, rye, barley, or oats these ingredients would be listed in parenthesis immediately following the ingredient. Some fermented or distilled products such as vinegar may be derived from wheat. Most of the vinegar in our products is distilled and through the distilling process protein gluten is removed.

For your convenience the below is a list of products that we carry that do not contain gluten:

Products That Do Not Contain Gluten*


· Cocoa: Swiss Miss all varieties

· Hebrew National: all items except Franks in a Blanket

· Wesson oils: all varieties

· Peter Pan Peanut Butter: all varieties

· Popcorn: **Act II microwave, **Orville Redenbacher jar and microwave (excluding Crunch ‘n Munch or Poppycock)

· Pudding: Swiss Miss & **Snack Pack, excludes those containing Tapioca

· Spreads: Parkay, Blue Bonnet, Fleischmann's and Move Over Butter

· David Seeds: all varieties

· **Tomato Sauces: Hunt's tomato paste and sauces excluding pasta sauces

· **Tomatoes: Hunt's all varieties

· Ketchup: Hunt's all varieties

· Egg Beaters-all varieties

· Reddi-Wip: all varieties

**VH Sauces-none of the VH Sauces currently has any gluten, but we advise you to always check the ingredients label in case of reformulation or possible cross-contamination.

*These items have been identified as not containing gluten. They are not currently routinely testing to affirm they contain less than 20ppm gluten for a ‘gluten free' claim.

**These products are available in Canada.

We always advise consumers who may have sensitivities to recheck the ingredient list on each package. Products are oftentimes reformulated and the ingredients may change. If you have additional questions about your personal dietary needs, please consult your doctor or a registered dietician.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We hope this information is helpful in selecting our products

Once again, a great labelling policy!

Although some of these statements are specific to Canada, knowing that the company is very aware of the needs of people with Celiac disease and gluten intolerance is reassuring. It is a good starting point, and if you are in the US (or another country), you can find the contact information for ConAgra in your country to verify that the same policy is in place.

Someone on recently posted a response from ConAgra which looks like it might be a US-specific response.

Thank you ConAgra, for making it easier for us to shop!

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Allan Candy

I contacted Allan Candy to find out which of their products are safe for celiacs to consume, and what their labelling policy is. Here is what they said:

Thank you for inquiring into our products, your loyalty is most appreciated.

We are not certified as Gluten Free facility. However, we have good manufacturing practices in place to avoid cross-contamination.

Our products are produced in facilities that do handle starches and their derivatives as ingredients in production.

If an allergen is present, we do declare all allergens in our ingredient lists. We also put a “may contain” allergen warning on our labels.

You will find detailed information on our website at under each specific products Nutritional Information tab.

At this time we offer our ALLAN DUM DUM Pops and our Seasonal Candy Canes which are Gluten Free.

Should you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

My follow up:

Thank you very much for your reply...There is one thing I just wanted to clarify...when you say you put a "may contain" allergen warning on your labels, does that include wheat, rye, oats or barley? Some companies include wheat but not the others.

And their response:

Yes this would include the below.

Wheat, triticale and/or their derivatives, e.g., flour, starches and brans etc. Includes other wheat varieties such as spelt, durum, kamut, emmer etc....

Should you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

My conclusion from this that you can go ahead and read their labels to determine if the product is safe or not. Go ahead and browse in the stores, or take a peek at the nutritional information for each item on their website.

Here are a few of the safe items I have found:

Allan Mini Red Berries
Allan Big Foot
Allan Sour Watermelon Slices
Allan Peach Slices
Allan Hot Lips
Allan Jumbo Gummi Bears

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Phase 5 - Removing Other Hidden Sources of Gluten

"How many phases are there???" you may be asking. Well this is the last step in removing all gluten from your home, and I am going to include a final phase which is a little more on the fun side...gluten free baked goods. We're almost there.

We have already covered eliminating gluten from the kitchen quite extensively in Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 4. Now let's take care of unfinished business...gluten in the rest of the house.

Crumbs, crumbs, addition to making sure your floors are clean, be sure to vacuum underneath the cushions of your sofa and/or upholstered chairs. This is really important if you have little ones crawling around that you need to protect from gluten, but even if you don't, why not make your house really safe for yourself? Then you don't have to worry if you drop a chip on the floor and want to use the two second rule...or, if you're looking for change in the cushions you won't have to make sure to wash gluten crumbs off of your hands before start chewing on your nails or have a snack.

Toiletries and cleaning supplies...gluten is not absorbed through the skin - the molecules are too big. But some celiacs with Dermatitis Herpetiformis have external reactions when their skin comes into contact with gluten. We are careful to select gluten free toiletries and cleaning supplies because BoyBee is so young. He helps to put the tabs in the dishwasher. He swallows the toothpaste. He may not rinse his hands very well after washing them. He sometimes even drinks the bath water. But even if you're older than two, wouldn't it be nice not to have to be paranoid about getting glutened in your own home?

There are a number of specialty companies out there who produce gluten free household items. Although it is typically more expensive to purchase specialty products there is a level of comfort with reading "gluten free" on the label (or finding it in the gluten free section of the company's website). Green Beaver is great for gluten free products. I did a search for "gluten free" on their site and 62 items were returned - toothpaste, deodorant, facial cleanser and moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner, hand soap, and more. Kiss My Face and Tom's of Maine also have a number of gluten free items.

As far as mainstream products go we tend to stick to Vim for cleaning (we really should find something more natural), Sunlight for dish detergent, Finish dishwasher tabs, Vaseline moisturizer and Dove soap, shampoo and conditioner.

Medications and vitamins: many medications and vitamins now come labelled gluten free if you look very closely. Others you, or your pharmacist, will have to contact the company to find out about. I recently came across a great article called How to Protect Yourself from Hidden Gluten in Medications. The article offers some great advice and I encourage you to take the time to read through it.

Miscellaneous: the only other thing I can think of is pet food. Yes, you can buy gluten free pet food!

It is a lot of work to go completely gluten free. Congratulations if you have made it this far!

Phase 1 - Start Eating
Phase 2 - Remove the Obvious Gluten
Phase 3 - Try Some Gluten Free Grains
Phase 4 - Eliminating Cross Contamination in the Kitchen
Phase 6 - Scour the Stores and Start Baking!

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Second Cup

Last week I emailed Second Cup to find out which of their drinks are gluten free. Here's their response:

Thank you for taking the time to send us your question. I am happy to report that all of our drinks made in café are gluten free. chocolate here I come :)

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Book Review - Cooking for Isaiah

I was drawn to Silvana Nardone's cookbook "Cooking for Isaiah" because it is both gluten free and dairy free, and BoyBee seems to have an issue with both. We had so much dairy in our diet that we had a hard time coming up with meal ideas that were suitable for everyone. Silvana created this book after finding out that her son was both gluten and dairy intolerant, and the recipes are "kid-friendly". I was sold right there.

The first recipe I tried from this book was Cinnamon-Toasted Belgian Waffles on page 34. Jackpot! Oh my goodness these are AMAZING!!! I cannot stress that enough. AMAZING!!! These waffles are better than any gluten-containing waffle I have ever tasted. They make a mess of the waffle maker, especially if you are making a double batch, but it is worth it. My gluten-eating-mother-in-law LOVED them, and she is by far the pickiest eater I have ever met. She didn't even put maple syrup on them, she loved them as is and even went back for more. I often make them without the cinnamon-sugar topping, just to save on cleanup time, and they are still amazing. I always make extra and freeze them...just throw them in the toaster and you're good to go.

Next up was Honey-Nut-and-Banana Crepes on page 35. I discovered that I am not a big fan of warm bananas, but I use this basic crepe recipe on it's own and add my own filling. My family's favorite filling is Nutella, followed by strawberry jelly. I am going to start using these crepes to wrap other foods in, like scrambled eggs or maybe even some roasted veggies (peppers, onion, mushroom) with goat cheese. The possibilities are endless. Again, I always make extra and throw them in the freezer between sheets of parchment paper. Like the waffles, these crepes are better than their gluten-containing counterparts. Incredible.

I regularly make Mom's Banana Bread on page 113. I made the mistake of adding an extra banana the first time and it came out a bit gooey. Follow the recipe and you get a fantastic loaf. You can't tell it is gluten free, which is a great measure of success. Mom's Banana Bread is part of a larger recipe...Griddled Banana Bread Sandwiches with Nut Butter, Bacon and Honey. I have not ventured to try it yet but it sounds incredible!

The meatloaf from Meatloaf Sandwiches on Sun-Dried Tomato Waffle Bread on pages 110 and 111 is great. It is moist, flavorful and perfect for little mouths that are just learning to chew. Although I haven't tried it in the waffle sandwich I am anxious to. What a great idea :)

We really enjoyed Grilled Vegetable Pesto Pizza on page 132/133. I used a store bought frozen crust, and store bought pesto (I'm a busy MamaBee!), but otherwise followed the recipe. It was really fun to grill a pizza on the barbeque and it all came together quite quickly in the end. PapaBee was disappointed that there wasn't any cheese on the pizza, but he quickly forget what he was missing once he tasted it. Although BoyBee isn't all that interested in pizza I grilled some extra veggies to go with his dinner. This is a really unique and delicious pizza.

The Roasted Sugar Snap Peas on page 186 were simple and delicious. I was only making a small batch so I actually pan fried them but they made a great snack.

There are so many more recipes I am looking forward to trying...

I only have great things to say about this book. Silvana has done an amazing job putting it together. PapaBee bought this book around the time that I had just about given up on trying to make my own gluten free baked goods and it has, possibly single-handedly, restored my motivation to keep trying new recipes. I am getting much better at identifying a good gluten free recipe when I see one, but I know that with "Cooking for Isaiah" I can't go wrong!

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Unilever - Another Great Company

I love companies that voluntarily identify gluten ingredients and cross-contamination risks on their labels. Another great company for this is Unilever. As stated on their FAQ
If our ingredients contain even trace amounts of peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, milk, eggs, fish, soy, sulfites or wheat (and ingredients that may contain gluten), it will be stated on the label.
Unilever products cover a large number of brands covering food, home care, and personal care products.

Food Brands

Ben & Jerry's
Blue Bonnet
Brooke Bond
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
Lipton Tea
Red Rose
Slim Fast

Home Care Brands


Personal Care Brands

Dove Men+Care
Lever 2000
St Ives

Thank you Unilever!

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Monday, 19 September 2011

Corn-Quinoa Salad Recipe

Quinoa salad is such a versatile dish. You can put just about anything in it, eat it warm or cold, make it ahead of time, take it on picnics, or pack it in your lunch. I like to make a big quinoa salad on the weekend, take it for a lunch once or twice during the week, and serve it as a main dish on a busy weeknight.

I found my all-time favorite quinoa salad recipe, Corn-Quinoa Salad, in an issue of Vegetarian Times last year. Adjust the recipe to what you have available, and your taste preferences.


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GoGo Quinoa 3 Grains Pancake Mix

Today I made Gogo Quinoa 3 Grains Pancake Mix at lunch...Although they are not my favorite gluten free pancakes, they were quite good and their nutritional value blew me away. That is worth a lot in my household.

I try to find a balance between taste and nutrition. It is difficult to find something that tastes amazing, but that is also good for you. These pancakes still tasted good (BoyBee gobbled them up like he would any other pancake) and I will definitely be keeping this mix stocked in my house. It feels great to feed my family something so nutritious. Take a look:

I also love that there are only four ingredients in the mix: Organic brown rice flour, organic quinoa flour, organic buckwheat flour, organic red and/or white quinoa flakes. Nice and simple.

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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Phase 4 - Eliminating Cross Contamination in the Kitchen

As I explained in an earlier post, we haven't done this half way. We have gotten rid of every speck (I hope) of gluten in our house. If you are trying a hybrid method you can decide on the logistics that work best for you. If you're playing it safe, read on.

Sugar: If there's a chance that you once measured flour in a measuring cup and then reused it to measure out your sugar, your sugar may be contaminated. It's safest to start over.

Spices: Consider the cross contamination risk for spices that you may have double-dipped in.

Salt and pepper: Are you certain that your salt and pepper are gluten free? If you have a pepper grinder, was it always used with gluten free pepper?

Condiments: Any condiments that you already had while gluten was in your house may be contaminated. With squeeze bottles that is unlikely, but beware of containers that you have to dip into. Think peanut butter, Nutella, butter, jam, mayo, mustard, honey...

Oven mitts: Throw all your oven mitts in the wash to make sure they're not holding onto any gluten residue.

Towels and dishcloths: Make sure these are fresh as well.

Dish detergent and dishwasher tabs: We use All in One FINISH Powerball Tabs and Sunlight dish soap.

Small appliances: Consider the crevices that gluten could get into in your blender, food processor, bread maker etc. and decide whether you think it's possible to decontaminate them completely. If you are in doubt, throw it out (better yet, give it away). You definitely need to get a dedicated gluten free toaster.

Knife block: If you don't always wash your bread knife well after cutting bread, crumbs could be lingering in your knife block.

Grills: The grills inside your oven and on your barbeque may be hosting gluten. We kept our oven grills and just never put food directly on them, but we replaced our barbeque grills. I'm not entirely sure that this is necessary, but gluten is still gluten whether it is burnt to a crisp or not.

Baking sheets and muffin pans: You could use your old sheets and line them with parchment paper when you use them, or play it safe and get new ones (I still line them for easy cleanup).

Cast iron pots and pans: These are expensive to replace. Some people say that you can put them in your over on self-clean to scorch them and then you'll just have to re-season them...This is a tough call. Ours were barely used and they weren't scratched up, so we cleaned them really well, and really well again. I *think* we'll be ok with this...

Plastic plates and containers: Plastic plates, and cheaper plastic containers, tend to get cut marks all over them, which are perfect little grooves for gluten to cling to and there's no guarantee your dishwasher will get it all off.

Serrated knives: Another nice place for gluten to cling to.

Drawers and shelves: Crumbs, flour etc. tend to hang around the bottom of drawer and shelves for years (am I the only one who doesn't wipe these areas down regularly?). Clean them all out.

Microwave: Throughly wash out your microwave, and any food cover you might use in there.

Non-stick frying pans, colanders, cutting boards: I covered these in Phase 1, but wanted to mention them here as well.

Going gluten free requires a major shift in how you think. We were catching ourselves almost making mistakes with grocery shopping a year into it, and it took us about that long to identify all of the items on this list and completely decontaminate. As a side benefit we felt much cleaner knowing that we had decontaminated so thoroughly.

The places that gluten can hide are not always obvious. I wish I had a list like this to help me out when we were making the transition. I hope this list helps someone out there! Please let me know if I have forgotten anything :) Please pass this along to anyone you know who is on a gluten free diet incase they have missed something or have something to add!

Phase 1 - Start Eating
Phase 2 - Remove the Obvious Gluten
Phase 3 - Try Some Gluten Free Grains
Phase 5 - Removing Other Hidden Sources of Gluten
Phase 6 - Scour the Stores and Start Baking!

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Buckwheat Muffin Recipe (with a vegan option)

Another recipe I'd like to share with you comes from she let them eat Buckwheat muffins. These muffins taste great, and they're full of nutrients. Buckwheat, carrot, banana...mmmmm...As with the recipe I posted yesterday for buckwheat pancakes, there are no specialty flours, starches or gums required for this one either. My family gobbled these up - I don't think they realized they were eating veggies!

They also freeze well, if they last long enough to make it to the freezer ;)

These muffins are now a staple in our household. I have found that going gluten free has been a great opportunity for me to branch out and try foods that I never would have bothered with before. I am so glad that I gave buckwheat a chance!

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Friday, 16 September 2011

Buckwheat Pancake Recipe

I found going gluten free very restrictive at first. It felt like absolutely everything had gluten in it and I didn't know of any good alternatives for the typical gluten-based foods. Breads, pancakes, waffles, cookies...all the speciality items I bought from the stores were terrible, and to top it all off they were expensive. After a lot of disappointment (and almost giving up) I finally started to find some great recipes and some great products.

Buckwheat pancakes are a recent discovery for me. I love the recipe posted by Wrightfood because it is so natural. There are no specialty flours, starches or gums. The ingredient list is simple and the pancakes are delicious. They have a very wholesome taste, so if you are looking for the smooth taste of traditional pancakes you will not find them here. These pancakes are on the rustic side, and are quite healthful. BoyBee would eat pancakes every day if it were up to him, and with a recipe like this I don't mind one bit. I make them into mini pancakes - perfect sizes for little hands. Make a double batch and freeze the extras for quick dinners during the week.

If this description hasn't lured you in yet, just take a look at this beautiful photo and see if you can resist...

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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Is Going Gluten Free a Fad Diet?

Huffington Post posted a great article today explaining why is it not just people with Celiac Disease who benefit from a gluten free diet. Here are some highlights:

It may seem like a fad, but I've been taking patients off of gluten for years, and I honestly can't think of anything in my practice that makes as dramatic a difference in health and wellness as following a gluten-free diet.

Celiac disease has been around for thousands of years, but research is now showing us that gluten sensitivity is a distinct and very real diagnosis, separate from celiac. It's estimated that 6 percent of our population has a sensitivity to gluten. That's about 18 million people. [3] But from what I see, I believe this number is a lot higher.

If you're serious about your health and curious about the effects of gluten, I urge you to try a gluten-free diet for one month (you can do anything for a month!) and pay attention to how you feel. I'm willing to bet you'll see a difference.

The common symptoms of gluten sensitivity actually occur primarily outside the gut: low energy, brain fog, skin rashes, numbness in the extremities, fibromyalgia, abdominal pain, headaches, muscle and joint pain, as well as problems with coordination.

We also consume much more wheat than we did 100 years ago, and when the body sees too much of the same food, it is more apt to develop sensitivities or allergies to it. We evolved to eat a richly varied diet. Our genetics simply haven't caught up to a modern American diet that includes large quantities of wheat, dairy, soy and corn.

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Udi's Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Gluten free breads (and bagels) are notorious for being heavy, dense, and crumbly. They typically need to be very well toasted in order to taste ok, and even then you would probably want to slather them with peanut butter or jam to cover the taste. I have tried gluten free bagels from a number of companies and, while they aren't all crumbly, the other stereotypes certainly apply.

Today I tried Udi's Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. Lightly toasted, spread with some butter.

It was so delicious! I couldn't even tell that the gluten was missing. I LOVED it! BoyBee LOVED it!!! It was the complete opposite of the gluten free stereotype. I didn't eat a lot of bagels before going gluten free, but I really enjoyed them when I had them. As soon as I couldn't have them anymore I wanted them so badly. I no longer feel like I am missing out.

Udi's: Thank you SO MUCH for filling that void in my life! Your bagels are incredible!

I think I know what I'm having for a snack before bed tonight ;)

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Phase 3 - Try Some Gluten Free Grains

In an earlier post I suggested eliminating gluten from your diet, and letting your body get used to that for a few weeks, and then start introducing gluten free grains. These are major dietary changes and I think it is best to take it slow.

The first two grains I am suggesting you try are quinoa and buckwheat. Before I was introduced to the gluten free world I had never heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and I thought buckwheat was something only hippies ate. Now they are two staples in our household and I am loving them! They're very versatile and easy to digest. And if you have recently gone gluten free you probably want to be eating foods that are easy to digest.

You can usually find quinoa and buckwheat in the health food section of your grocery store. Natural food stores sell them too. Make sure the brand you buy is gluten free.

I usually buy Eden Organic Quinoa or GoGo Quinoa. Bob's Red Mill produces gluten free quinoa as well. If you go with Bob's Red Mill make sure you look carefully for the gluten free symbol. Many of their products come in gluten free versions and non-gluten free versions. You can use quinoa in place of rice or couscous in your recipes, or make a delicious quinoa salad (I will be posting my favorite quinoa salad recipe soon). Quinoa is a very healthful grain, high in fiber and iron among other nutrients.

When it comes to buckwheat you can buy buckwheat groats and make a hot cereal out of them (I have never tried this), or you can buy buckwheat flour and use it in place of regular gluten flour. In most recipes you can't substitute gluten flour with straight buckwheat flour - you would normally need a combination of starches and flours. However, I've been making some delicious buckwheat pancakes lately and buckwheat flour is the only special ingredient you need. I have been using Cuisine Soleil Buckwheat Flour but Bob's Red Mill makes it as well (again, look for that gluten free symbol just to make sure). I'll be sure to post my recipe for buckwheat pancakes soon too!

Also, see my other posts:

Phase 1 - Start Eating
Phase 2 - Remove the Obvious Gluten
Phase 4 - Eliminating Cross Contamination in the Kitchen
Phase 5 - Removing Other Hidden Sources of Gluten
Phase 6 - Scour the Stores and Start Baking!

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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Kraft Brands

I love Kraft because they label properly for gluten AND they own a lot of brands.

Here is an excerpt from their website regarding labeling:

Carefully read the ingredient statements on all food labels each time you make food selections. This enables you to obtain the most accurate ingredient information for the specific products you select. It also allows you to get the most current information since ingredients in products may change over time. The ingredient information on labels of Kraft products is very specific to help you make accurate and informed choices. If a Kraft product has an ingredient that is a source of gluten, the specific grain will be listed in the ingredient statement, no matter how small the amount. For labeling purposes, Kraft products will always state the names ‘wheat, barley, rye and/or oats’ when they are added to a product either directly as an ingredient or as part of an ingredient.

And here is a list of their largest brands, which I find very helpful when I'm shopping for groceries:

Alpen Gold


Cadbury Creme Egg
Cadbury Dairy Milk
Capri Sun
Carte Noire
Cheeze Whiz
Chips Ahoy!
Club Social
Cool Whip
Côte d'Or
Cracker Barrel
Crystal Light



General Foods International
Grand Mere
Green & Black

Hollywood Gum
Honey Maid




Maxwell House
Miracle Whip

Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs
The Natural Confectionery Company
Nutter Butter

Oscar Mayer
Oscar Mayer Lunchables



Stove Top



Wheat Thins

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Gluten Free Baked Goods at Whole Foods

I had heard that Whole Foods Market carries a lot of gluten free foods but I hadn't realized that they have a Gluten Free Bakehouse and produce such a wide variety of gluten free baked goods! Wow!

There are a large number of Whole Foods Markets open in the United States, a few in Canada and a few in the United Kingdom.

I don't have a Whole Foods in my neighbourhood but I will certainly be making a detour to scope it out on my next trip. I will have to leave some room in my suitcase so I can fill it with the bounty! I can't wait! Is it odd that I am so excited about this?

Whole Foods: please come to my city!

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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Contacting Companies

The quickest way to find out if a product is truly gluten free is to phone the manufacturer. Many manufacturers provide informative answers over email as well, but it may take a while to hear from them, and some may not respond at all. Manufacturing procedures are subject to change at any time so it's ideal to contact the company every time you purchase the product. For this reason I don't recommend relying on forums or blogs for answers, though they do provide a great starting point. What may be safe one day may be cross contaminated the next. Always find out for yourself.

Following are some sample phrases you might use on the phone:

"I am calling to find out if one of your products contains gluten, or if it is processed on any of the same equipment that processes gluten."

"What procedures are in place to prevent cross-contamination?"

"Would it be possible for you to find out and phone me back?"

"Do you have a list available of all of the company's gluten free products?"

"What is your labelling policy when it comes to gluten?"

You have to decide what threshold you are comfortable with. We are very strict when it comes to cross-contamination, yet if a company is able to answer my questions in a confident and informative way, and assure me that they thoroughly clean and sterilize their equipment between runs, we give it the green light. Red flags are words like "think", "believe", "probably", and "unlikely". If a company tells me that they clean the lines between runs but that there may still be residue on the line, it's a no-go for us.

A sample email might go something like this (feel free to copy and paste):

Dear Company X,

I am writing to find out more details about potential allergens in one of the X products.

I recently found out that I have Celiac Disease and must adhere to a strict gluten free diet. Even trace amounts of gluten (wheat, rye, oats, or barley) can make me sick. I would like to find out if product X contains any gluten, or if there is any risk of gluten cross-contamination in the product.

In addition, if you happen to have a list of all of your gluten free items I would greatly appreciate if you would forward me a copy.

Any information you can provide would be very helpful.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

The process of finding out whether every pre-packaged food in your house is truly gluten free can be very time consuming and overwhelming. Prioritize. Check on the foods that are staples in your household. Contact one or two companies a day. To save time, be sure to ask about multiple items that you have from the same manufacturer.

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Art Supplies

Last month Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom posted a current list of gluten free art supplies. I am so relived to see this. We have been focussing our efforts on food and toiletries up until recently, and that has been enough to keep us on our toes. We knew that Crayola crayons and markers are gluten free, and we've made our own play dough, but BoyBee will soon be old enough to start creating some more advanced artwork.

Thank you for posting!

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Monday, 12 September 2011

Phase 2 - Remove the Obvious Gluten

Phase 1 was all about setting you up to eat safely right away - we've all gotta eat! Now that the basics are covered let's move on to some more serious work.

The next step is to remove the obvious gluten from your house. Clean off a nice big space on your kitchen counter and start going through your cupboards. Clean out all of the gluten pasta, flours, cereals, breadcrumbs etc. Look at every item. Read labels. If you see "wheat", "rye", "oats", or "barley" on the ingredient list or may contains statement, out it goes. If there is no label and you're just not sure, out it goes. Throw out, give away or donate all of your gluten as soon as you can.

Once you've cleared out some space in the cupboards, move all of your processed foods to one section (possible cross contamination) and leave another section free for foods that you confirm are safe.

Follow the same process for all of your fridge and freezer foods, your pantry or cold-storage room.

Once you have the obvious gluten out of the house start contacting companies to find out if the processed foods that you have left are safe or not. Removing the obvious gluten from your house is a big enough task for one day though. We'll talk about contacting companies in an upcoming post!

Phase 1 - Start Eating
Phase 3 - Try Some Gluten Free Grains
Phase 4 - Eliminating Cross Contamination in the Kitchen
Phase 5 - Removing Other Hidden Sources of Gluten
Phase 6 - Scour the Stores and Start Baking!

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Booster Juice

One of the hardest things about being gluten free is eating out. We really need to plan ahead to make sure we never end up stuck in a situation where we are hungry and don't have easy access to gluten free food. I always make sure I have a gluten free snack in my purse, but it is also really helpful to have an awareness of which products are gluten free at various chains.

I recently looked into which products are Booster Juice are gluten free. In their FAQ document they state:

All of our Booster Juice Smoothies and Juices are gluten free. However, the Fiber Booster, Fusion
Booster and Wilderness Booster have gluten products in them and should be avoided.

Always let the staff know of your concerns and make sure that the blender they're using has been cleaned well. We visited Booster Juice this morning for the first time since going gluten free and the staff were very helpful. They assured me that there would be no cross contamination and that the blenders are all cleaned and sanitized immediately after use.

We enjoyed a Mango Hurricane Smoothie...delicious!

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Sunday, 11 September 2011

School Letter

Celiac Family recently posted an excellent letter to send to your child's school to help explain their dietary restrictions. You can check it out here.

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Saturday, 10 September 2011


William-Sonoma is starting to carry gluten free products. They currently have listed a gluten free flour mix and mixes for cookies, brownies, pancakes and waffles.

I am so excited to see gluten free products popping up all over the place!

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Frito Lay Canada and US

There seems to be a common misconception that Frito Lay products that do not contain gluten ingredients are safe. Frito publishes a list on their website of all of their Products Not Containing Gluten Ingredients, but states that these products share equipment with gluten and residue may be left behind when the lines are cleaned between runs. The only product that they vouch for being completely gluten free is LAYS STAX Crisps. For my extremely sensitive BoyBee we are not willing to take the risk.

Frito Lay products in the US are tested for gluten content and a list of Gluten Free Products is published on their site. These are products that that have been tested and contain less than 20 ppm of gluten (considered to be gluten free).

We'll keep our fingers crossed that Frito Lay Canada starts manufacturing more products on gluten free lines or starts testing their products for gluten! In the mean time I don't think we'll have much trouble finding gluten free junk food ;)

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Thursday, 8 September 2011

Phase 1 - Start Eating

Ready to go gluten free? Before you go out and rack up your credit card bill on gluten free specialty foods from your local health food store…read on.

Grocery Shopping

Keep things simple when you start out. Go back to basics and stick to foods that are naturally gluten free. Whole fruits, vegetables, meats, milk, eggs…make sure that the foods you are eating haven't been processed in any way. While it is unlikely that those pre-sliced mushrooms and the 1/4 watermelon are cross contaminated you don't actually know. That roasted pork? You're better off to roast your own for now. Rice *should* be gluten free, but you still have to check with the manufacturer unless the package is labelled gluten free. Lundberg makes (and labels) a lot of gluten free products, including rice.

A great rule of thumb to help you out with grocery shopping is to stick with Kraft. Kraft will properly label all of their products. If there is any risk of gluten cross contamination it will clearly be stated on their ingredients list as wheat, rye, oats, or barley. If you don't see any of these words on a Kraft product then you're safe. Kraft makes a lot of condiments so start reading labels on for salad dressing, Miracle Whip, peanut butter etc.

I don't recommend trying gluten free bread or flours right from the start. It might be more of a change than your body is ready for. It's best to introduce these foods slowly.

Kitchen Tools

Buy yourself a new cutting board and designate it as gluten free. Or if you already have a glass cutting board you can continue using it. Gluten is sneaky stuff and is impossible to get off of wooden or plastic cutting boards. Same goes for wooden spoons, colanders and scratched up frying pans. Buy yourself new ones if you need them. Stay away from those knives with the tiny serrations - those little grooves are a great place for gluten to grip onto.

I will be making some great product recommendations in upcoming posts.

Phase 2 - Remove the Obvious Gluten
Phase 3 - Try Some Gluten Free Grains
Phase 4 - Eliminating Cross Contamination in the Kitchen
Phase 5 - Removing Other Hidden Sources of Gluten
Phase 6 - Scour the Stores and Start Baking!

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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Why We're Extreme

When we first suspected that BoyBee had an issue with gluten we tried keeping him on a gluten free diet while the rest of us ate gluten. We were careful about crumbs and were meticulous about washing the counters and floors if we did any baking. Over time we learned that if it was in the house we wouldn't be able to keep him 100% gluten free, no matter how hard we tried. Keep in mind that he was less than a year old when we started.

Over the course of about 6 months we went from "being careful" with gluten in the house, to eating our baguettes and cheese outside after BoyBee was in bed, to not bringing it into our house or yard at all. Not only was it too difficult to keep it completely separate, we wanted our son to know that our home was a safe place for him. We wanted him to be able to open the cupboards or fridge to search for a snack and not worry about gluten. We wanted him to be able to use the two-second rule like all the other children. We use every opportunity to teach him how to stay gluten free outside of the house, but at home he can relax.

All this to say…we are a bit extreme with some of the measures we have taken in the transition to gluten free. We tried doing it half way and it just wasn't good enough. You must decide how far you are willing to go. For Boy Bee we did, and still do, everything we can.

On this blog I will guide you through the process we followed. It can be an overwhelming task to go gluten free but I will break it down into phases. You can tackle it all at once or you can work on it over time. You can go all out, or you can stick to basics, depending on your situation.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a link to How to Go Gluten-Free by gluten-free goddess. It is a very comprehensive guide and the one that I found most helpful when I was getting started. Grab a cup of gluten free tea before you get start reading - she covers A LOT of information in the article.

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Arizona Tea and Juice

According to the Arizona website all of their tea and juice beverages are gluten free.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Campbell Canada Gluten Free List

I just noticed that Campbell Canada has a list of their gluten free foods on their website. They specifically state that these foods are safe for those with celiac disease and are even going to add a gluten free logo in the near future.

I am happy to see Pace Salsa listed as gluten free. I have been looking for a mainstream salsa, and while you would expect all salsa to be gluten free many companies won't guarantee it. If you are shopping outside of Canada be sure to check the label and call the company to make sure it's safe.

Thanks Campbell Canada for making it easier for us!

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Welcome to Gluten Free Bumble Bee!

I am starting this blog to share my experiences with others. I found that cutting gluten out of  my life was a very daunting task and through this blog I hope to make it easier for at least one person. I have been a part of the gluten free world for the past year and a half and finally feel like I have a good grasp of it.

My son, we'll call him BoyBee, started reacting to gluten the first time he was exposed to it at 6 months of age. It took us a while to piece all of the clues together but through trial and error, and keen observation, we are very confident that he has a severe gluten intolerance, and quite possibly celiac disease. Those first few bites of oat cereal were enough to turn him off of eating for a month and he lost quite a bit of weight. Given his strong reaction to small amounts of gluten PapaBee and I are not comfortable putting him through a gluten challenge at this young of an age. He is now two years old and has been on a strict gluten free diet for the past year.

As soon as "celiac disease" or "gluten intolerance" come up in conversation (which is surprisingly frequent) people are always asking me for more information. Co-workers have been asking, friends have been asking, and I'm sure there are many of you out there who are searching for more information. I will be posting loads of information on this blog about how to convert to gluten free living, reviewing gluten free foods, making book recommendations, and sharing recipes (many of which are even better than their gluten counterparts).

So stay tuned!

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