Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gluten-Free Carolans Irish Cream Liqueur : Excellent!

Carolans Irish Cream : Gluten-Free
(picture source : their corporate website)
If you have Celiac Disease and enjoy Irish Cream liqueurs, you may want to give Carolans Irish Cream Liqueur a try.  Their website clearly states on their FAQ page [note: last checked in 2016-SEPT, and still clearly gluten-free! The following quote is from 2010, where now it simply states that the product is gluten-free]:
"Carolans is suitable for Celiacs and is both gluten and wheat free."
I have long been a fan of Bailey's Irish Cream, but I decided to try Carolans Irish Cream after my daughter tried it and thought it to be superior to Bailey's, and after I verified that Carolans Irish Cream is Gluten-Free.   I picked up a bottle at Costco' liquor store for a mere $9.99 (for a 750ml bottle in a gift-pack that included a couple glasses too).  This was certainly cheaper than the Bailey's, and I was skeptical as to whether my daughter's "review" was going to be matched by my own product review.

Taste-Test: Wonderful!  And, a Bargain!
I was delighted with the flavor of this gluten-free Irish Cream liqueur from Carolans.  I agree with my daughter: this Irish Cream is indeed better than Bailey's, at least from my perspective.  The hints of honey in the recipe, coupled with Irish spirits, whiskey, and  rich double cream yield a superior taste in the resulting subtle blend of flavors.  The honey adds a delicate overtone that complements the Irish Cream quite nicely.

Simple "Real" Egg-Nog using Carolans...
This gluten-free Irish Cream recipe as delivered by Carolans quickly led me to experiment with another drink that I have had been enjoying for the Christmas / New Years holidays: Egg Nog.  I just recently reviewed an awesome gluten-free egg nog by Organic Valley (brand), and wondered how the two products would combine (to form an alcoholic version of egg-nog).

The results were quite tasty!  I tried a couple versions of my blended Egg Nog (using Carolans gluten-free Irish Cream with that Organic Valley gluten-free egg nog), and rather enjoyed the results whether I used a 1:1 formula or a lesser-alcohol 2:1 (egg-nog : Irish Cream) formula or even as little as 4 parts nog to 1 part Irish Cream.  It was all good! :)

Sure, all this cream may not be "good for you", but it sure does taste good and it is one of those once/year seasons where I indulge (not to mention it seems to be the only time of the year I can find good egg nog at the store: I am not going to make my own).  And, I consider this a "gluten-free dessert" since it is as rich and satisfying as a dessert -- just in liquid form (and not for children).

Bottom line: my daughter was right and this Celiac-safe Irish Cream is great both on its own and mixed into other drinks (like egg nog, coffees, hot chocolate, and so forth).

Happy New Years everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gluten-Free Eggnog : Organic Valley Brand

This organic gluten-free eggnog is fantastic!

Every year around the Christmas holiday season, I get the urge to have some eggnog, but I usually do not get any further than looking at a few brands and giving up without ever buying any.  The first thing that I want to make sure of is that whatever egg nog I find is safe for me gluten-free diet, and I need to find information to support that either: 1) on the carton directly, or 2) on a company's website or such.  Next, I totally avoid all the "eggnogs" that are nothing more than artificial flavors and thickeners -- those are not true egg nog (in my opinion) and just will not do...

I want REAL EGGNOG (made with the same ingredients I would make homemade eggnog with).

Organic Valley Eggnog: High-Quality Ingredients, Great Taste, and GF
This year I was lucky and found this Organic Valley Family of Farms organic eggnog at the local store, and was able to quickly locate the gluten-free status of this nog at the Organic Valley website GF page.  And, their ingredient list is essentially what you would expect to put in your own homemade gluten-free eggnog (and, all organic items in this case):

  • Milk
  • Cane Sugar
  • Cream
  • Eggs
  • Egg Yolks
  • Nonfat Milk
  • Vanilla
  • Nutmeg
  • Carrageenan (I wish they left that out, but it is a simple seaweed-based thickener and last on the list of ingredients - should not be much of it in there if lower than Nutmeg on the list)
These ingredients add up to one thing: DELICIOUS EGG NOG!
This has to be the best eggnog I have ever purchased. It had an authentic taste and was rich and creamy and not overly sweet. The subtle nutmeg and vanilla flavors were just right.  

And, to make things better, I happened to find the quart containers on a clearance sale (since best-by date was approaching in a week) for $2.00, which was roughly 50% off.  So, I have had my quart of gluten-free eggnog for the year, and I feel quite satisfied after not having any eggnog for at least 5 years now.  I look forward to purchasing this same brand for all of my upcoming Christmas seasons as long as it remains available, gluten-free, and the same awesome quality formula.  yummy!

Now, the only down-side is that real eggnog has quite a bit of saturated fats in it, but such is... it is a once/year thing and it is worth enjoying regardless :)

By the way, does eggnog qualify as a gluten-free DESSERT or DRINK?  As rich as it tastes, I placed it in the former category. Got me.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Amazon Kindle Gluten-Free Desserts Book

eBook-version of GF Dessert Recipes available...

Last week I finally completed the Kindle-reader version of our Gluten-Free & Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts Recipe book and have it published on Amazon's Kindle eBook store.  Until now, we have had the full-color printed book for sale only on our own website (, but we decided to join the electronic-publishing crowd since devices like the iPad, Kindle Reader, and others have been gaining popularity and momentum.  We were receiving more and more inquiries about whether we offered a Kindle/eBook version, and now we can finally say "yes".

Sorry, but all Print-Edition Books are sold, and we have also since stopped selling the Kindle version, as we prefer to simply offer our recipes online, at our website, for all to view: high-quality gluten-free recipes available for free online (link). Thank you for your support!

We thank everyone that has supported us over the past few years since we first created, published, and brought to market our Gluten-Free & Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts Recipes book.  We had even since released a Kindle (e-Book) version of our printed book as we were no longer planning to produce, inventory, and sell further print versions of this full-color, high-quality cookbook as of 2012, once our initial first-edition (a few thousand copies) were soldWe have since made the further decision to move our recipes online as time permits, making them available on the book's website. 

Gluten-Free & Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts Cookbook
by Mike Eberhart (

Thank you to everyone that made the print version such a great success and the Kindle version a popular and top-rated (5.0 out of 5.0 stars possible) alternative to print! 

Thank You to all our cookbook buyers for such Great Positive Feedback

We greatly appreciate your feedback and comments about our cookbook!  Our 100% 5-out-of-5-Star Rating on Amazon absolutely thrilled us!  Having a 5-star rated gluten-free recipes book is all I could have ever wished for when I first started writing this, and when my wife first started creating and baking so many of the recipes.  

Thank you!

Kindle Books can be Viewed on...
  • Kindle Devices (i.e., dedicated reader device) - see page for details and various models (WiFi, WiFi+3G, etc).
  • Kindle for Mac (FREE Reader Software)
  • Kindle for PC (FREE Reader Software)
  • Kindle for iPad/iPhone (FREE Reader Software)
  • Kindle for BlackBerry (FREE Reader Software)
  • Kindle for Android (FREE Reader Software)

Gluten-Free Recipes book for Kindle Reader Device/Software
So, if you are one of those people that have been waiting for the electronic version of our Gluten-Free Desserts book, thank you for the patience and we hope you enjoy the eBook.  I personally like having the printed book with me when baking my desserts, but there are times it would be nice to just carry all my favorite recipes with me along with my other business documents and various books; and, with the little Kindle reader device and our new E-book, I can do just that.

Even though (as of this writing) the Kindle Reader hardware devices are gray-scale display devices, we published the Kindle version of our book in the same full-color format with beautiful pictures of each and every finished gluten-free recipe... it is the same content as the physical printed edition, but available as an "E-Book".   I purchased the latest version of the Kindle for testing the book on, and the pictures look very good in the multi-toned high-resolution gray-scale native to the device.  Because we published in full-color, viewing the eBook with a color-capable book-reader/viewer (like Amazon Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac or an iPad Kindle-capable reader) software will be visually just like leafing through our printed version.

Links to Our Book on
Our Gluten-Free Desserts eBook is available at at these links:

  • Also, the notes below accurately enumerate the types of recipes we offer.

What's in our book...
For those of you wondering what types of recipes are in the book, here is a list of the 100% gluten-free recipes:

  • Gluten-Free Cakes (great for gluten-free birthday cake recipes, wedding cake recipes, special events and much more!): Carrot Cake, Chocolate Ganache Cake, Tiramisu,Chocolate Layer Cake, Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake, Chocolate Cheesecake, Potato Citrus Nut Cake, Turtle Cheesecake, Black Forest Bundt Cake, Boston Cream Pie, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Yellow Cake, Coconut Dream Cheesecake, Chocolate Cheesecake with Cinnamon Crust, Almond Cake, Date-Nut Cake, Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake,Strawberry Cream Cake, Chocolate Almond Buckwheat Torte,Cappuccino Cheesecake,Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes, Bittersweet Chocolate Torte, Lemon Angel Food Cake
  • Gluten-Free Pies and Tarts: Standard Pie Crust, Berry Pie, Banana Cream Pie, Apple Pie, Peach-Strawberry Pie, Peanut Butter Pie, Frozen Chocolate Cream Pie, Rhubarb Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Mocha Tart, Creme de Menthe Tart, Mini Nut Tarts, Blueberry Lemon Tart, Pecan Pie / Tart, Chocolate Hazelnut Tart, Cheese Tart with BlueBerry Topping, Fruit Tart
  • Gluten-Free Cookies, Brownies, Bars, Biscotti: GF Peanut Butter Cookies (best ever with unique flour blend that maximizes PB flavor), Almond GF Biscotti, Soft Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, Almond Snowball Cookies, Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, Crispy Rice and Marshmallow Bars, Coconut Macaroons, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Spongy Chocolate Orange Cookies, Italian Lemon Cookies, Lemon Cookies plus Variations, Apricot Chocolate Chip Cookies,Chocolate Strawberry Cookie, Double-Chocolate Cookies, Everything Cookies, Jelly Squares, Lemon Bars, Chewy Fudge Brownies with Hazelnuts, Double-Chocolate Jelly-Accent Brownies, Chocolate Caramel Brownies, Chocolate Orange Macadamia Biscotti
  • Gluten-Free Breads (sweeter dessert/snack-type breads): Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy Seed Bread, Pumpkin-Nut Bread,Ginger Bread, Chocolate Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread, Orange Carrot Bread, Chocolate Cranberry Nut Bread,Banana Bread
  • Gluten-Free Cream Puffs, Puddings, Souffle', Parfaits, and other desserts: Chocolate Souffle, Lemon-Raspberry Souffle, Citrus Rice Pudding, Chocolate Cream Cheese Flan, Cinnamon Mascarpone Flan, Lemon Blueberry Parfait, Chocolate Parfait with Cake and Strawberries, Chocolate Coconut Parfait,Chocolate Pudding, Cinnamon Vanilla Pudding, Roasted Caramel Pears and Vanilla Pudding, Hearty Pearl Tapioca Pudding, Fruit Cup, Mocha Milkshake, Gluten-Free Cream Puffs you will hardly believe possible!
  • Gluten-Free Candy and various other sweet creations: Pistachio Brittle, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Caramel Apples, English Toffee, Chocolate Haystacks, Maple-Walnut Fudge; 
  • AND, a few bonus items like Biscuits and GF Beer-Battered Onion Rings.

Any future books I write will definitely be electronic-only, and having the experience of publishing our primary gluten-free recipe book to the Kindle will definitely make that work easier.  I must say, I am looking forward to no longer having to inventory many TONS of books at my location!

The End of Printed Books
As I have hinted on this blog before, we will only maintain physical-inventory (i.e., *printed* GF Desserts books) for perhaps two years longer now that we have the eBook on the market.   The end of print version is near.  [UPDATE: ALL ARE LONG SINCE SOLD. THANK YOU]

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do you suffer "Gluten-Brain"? The neurological manifestation of Celiac Disease exposed...

If you ever needed confirmation that Gluten can lead to a lack of proper brain-functioning and/or other nervous-system disorders and symptoms thereof (without the presence of gastrointestinal manifestations as well), an article by David Perlmutter, M.D (a Board-Certified Neurologist) that I read today is sure to be enlightening.

The article discussed the case history of a 9-year old child that was previously undiagnosed (with Celiac Disease) and suffered from no particular symptoms that would make one immediately think: "Celiac!"; there was no history of the typical abdominal symptoms that doctors first associate with Celiac Disease, but rather a variable amount of cognitive impairment manifesting as difficulty thinking, memory issues, and general academic performance decline.

What caught the attention of Dr. Perlmutter was the fact that although "...she [the 9-year old patient] had no significant medical problems in her past and her overall physical, as well as neurological examinations were entirely normal...", [...] "...her problems were not constant, indicating that basically her brain was intact but something seemed to be detrimentally influencing her from time to time, causing her to have these significant issues with respect to how her brain functioned."  Dr. Perlmutter recognized the possibility that DIET was perhaps the culprit (due to the fluctuating cognitive impairment), and ran blood tests that confirmed a profound sensitivity to gluten in this girl.

Within just a couple weeks of implementing a strict gluten-free diet for this young patient, the girl experienced a remarkable change in her cognitive function (for the better), and this improvement in symptoms continued over the next several months as the gluten-free diet was maintained.  Her parents reported the following:
"Karen is completing third grade this year. Prior to removing gluten from her diet, academics, especially math, were difficult. As you can see, she is now soaring in math. Based upon this test, entering the fourth grade next year, she would be at the top of her class. The teacher indicated that if she skipped fourth grade and went to fifth grade, she would be in the middle of her class. What an accomplishment!"
WOW! Gluten was knocking this girl's brain for a loop, and once it was removed from her diet, she quickly returned to normal functioning!  This is certainly more evidence for why we need to maintain a STRICT GLUTEN-FREE DIET if we want to live life to the fullest and function normally. 

I personally can tell the difference gluten makes (with regards to my thinking process) if I am accidentally exposed to it these days, and I have other friends (with gluten sensitivity / gluten intolerance) that have repeatedly experienced "gluten brain" whereby they find it difficult to think, formulate thoughts, and even articulate themselves in a coherent fashion.  This condition is not one to be taken lightly, and we need to avoid gluten 100%.

Hopefully the medical community at large will begin to receive further education into the devastating effects of Celiac Disease -- effects that go beyond the GI tract and into our gray matter.  Like the author (Dr. Perlmuter) states:
Standard medical text books typically describe celiac disease (gluten sensitivity) as being primarily a gastrointestinal problem. I recall in medical school being taught that celiac disease was characterized by abdominal pain, abdominal distention with bloating and gas, decreased appetite, diarrhea, nausea, unexplained weight loss and growth delay in children. Newer research indicates that celiac disease can have a profound effect on the nervous system.
And, if that quote is not enough, when you start seeing the words TOXIC and BRAIN in the same sentence discussing a condition you have (Celiac), it is time to really snap to attention and take notice:
Dr. Maios Hadjivassiliou of the United Kingdom, a recognized world authority on gluten sensitivity, has reported in the journal, The Lancet, that "gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times, exclusively a neurological disease." That is, people can manifest gluten sensitivity by having issues with brain function without any gastrointestinal problems whatsoever. Dr. Hadjivassiliou indicates that the antibodies that a person has when they are gluten sensitive can be directly and uniquely toxic to the brain.
EEK!  I do not want any brain-toxins in MY body, thank you!  This type of article may make me even more paranoid about my desire to remain free of gluten, though it seems my concern stems from substantial scientific basis.  I take quite a few precautions to keep (wheat, rye, barley) gluten out of my diet, and I will maintain vigilance with regards to this task as I go through life.   This is an allergy not to be taken lightly.

I do not want to suffer "gluten brain" ever again!  Although the article focused on the manifestation of what I call "gluten brain" (i.e., cognitive impairment) in children affected with gluten-sensitivity, the fact is this condition affects ADULTS as well.  I personally experienced severe bouts of cognitive impairment and neurological manifestations prior to discovering I had Celiac Disease.  It was a terrible period in my life, and I never want to end up like that again.  This disease nearly killed me before I knew what it was that was destroying me (i.e., gluten), and it took years for some of the symptoms to abate and/or disappear completely.  The periods of being dizzy all the time, living with parathesia (rather badly) in my feet, being unable to think clearly, and more... that is gone, along with the gluten.  Doctors I dealt with during that time of my life had, quite literally, no experience with Celiac Disease and never even considered it... luckily my brain was functioning (on "good days") enough to perform my own research discover Celiac Disease before it was too late.  It would have been nice if someone else (e.g., doctors) would have considered this prior to all those tests: MRI, CT, EKG, EEG, and a boatload of others I just assume forget.  I wonder if today those same doctors I dealt with a mere 7 or 8 years ago are now educated in spotting the neurological symptoms of Celiac Disease? They had better be... if this information is out there on the Internet for the average person to learn about, I expect medical professionals to get up to speed as well.

I hope Dr. Perlmutter's article, and additional emerging research, prevents others from ever having to go through this, or at the very least I hope it helps medical professionals (and the population at large) develop an awareness that leads to very early identification of the condition before Celiac Disease / Gluten substantially reduce the quality of life for anyone else.  

NOTE: The original article I referenced herein appears on the Huffington Post website: Gluten Impacts the Brain

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gluten-Free: in Houston, Texas

After spending our entire lives in Ohio prior to 2010, my wife and I are both now officially Texans!  Our house in Ohio, which we really liked and will probably never be able to replace, sold quickly after we essentially put it on the market at "fire sale" pricing once we came to the conclusion that the logistics of two-State living was going to be really difficult to maintain, if not impossible.

Now that were are both in Texas full time, we are getting a feel for the Gluten-Free diet scene here in the Houston area, and so far so good.

Houston, TX : Gluten-Free Benefit #1 :
Citrus in the back yard

This lovely grapefruit tree is within just a few feet of our back window.  It is actually quite a large tree -  around 25' high by 30' wide - and although it is technically the neighbor's tree, it hangs over the fence into our yard area a good 10 feet or more, so there are plenty of tasty grapefruit hanging into our yard for easy picking.

And, if grapefruit were not enough to enjoy, there is another orange tree nearby also hanging into the yard.  So, fresh citrus is always a great thing in my book!  mmmm!  Makes up for the summertime heat and humidity in Houston, TX perhaps :)

Houston, TX : Gluten-Free Benefit #2 :
Some Nice Restaurant Options
Having only been in Houston, TX for a short time, my experience with gluten-free restaurants in the area is limited, but it is growing as I find out what is in the region and "safe" for Celiac persons.  Earlier this year, we went out with a group of people to a Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chao, which although pricier than I would prefer, had quite a nice selection of meats that are supposed to be gluten-free, as well as a fantastic "salad bar" (much more than salad on it) with a wide variety of gluten-free items too.  I found the meat to be fantastic quality cuts that were quite tasty, but it was all much too salty to be my ideal (that fact alone will keep me from eating there regularly).

A much preferred gluten-free friendly restaurant for regular attendance in Houston is a restaurant with fantastic and rather healthy Tex-Mex options : Taco Milagro restaurant on the corner of Kirby and Westheimer.  Everything we have tried at Taco Milagro is AMAZING, and we now suffer from gluten-free Tex-Mex cravings on a regular basis... cravings that this restaurant alone can satisfy!  Highly recommended!  I must issue a well-deserved THANK YOU to Heather of who emailed me welcoming us to Houston, and who also wrote a great review of Taco Milagro's gluten-free diet menu items.  Her review had us sold before we ever went, and it only got better with first-hand experience!

On the more mainstream side of things, there is always P.F. Chang's China Bistro within 15 minutes drive, though I am sure I will be spending much, much more time at Taco Milagro than PF Changs.  I like Asian food quite a bit, and though I like some of the gluten-free menu items at Changs, I find there food to be a bit "generic" for me and also overly salty (like most restaurant food).

Houston, TX : Gluten-Free Benefit #3 :
Decent Access to Gluten-Free Items

As one may expect of any major city, Houston offers a pretty decent array of stores that cater to the gluten-free diet : be it ingredients or finished products.  There is easy access to CostCo for much of our fresh produce, and even an occasional Rotisserie chicken (they make a decent roasted chicken that is gluten-free according to the package; bit salty, but nice flavor).  We also have Whole Foods Markets in the area, and a chain of stores called H.E.B. (Here Everything's Better) and their associated "Central Market" store(s), and other more specialized diet stores too.

I have been pleased with HEB gluten-free selections, including some of their own branded HEB products - like their pasta sauces - which clearly state "Gluten-Free" on the label, and these self-branded items have been quite reasonable.  HEB impressed me with their wide selection of products in general.  This is the store where I first encountered the awesome gluten-free yogurt from Cultural Revolution (which is in the midst of being re-branded as "Kalona SuperNatural").  The store has a lot of Schar brand gluten-free items (pasta, crackers, cookies, and more) in addition to a wide range of others.  I generally do not buy pre-made gluten-free desserts and snacks (we tend to make our own), but it is nice knowing there are options close by if "needed".

Houston, TX : Gluten-Free Future...
I will certainly have much more Houston, Texas gluten-free insight after being here full time for more than a couple weeks.  My wife and I have plans to get out and check into more restaurants, shopping, and the gluten-free scene in general to see what this region has to offer those with Celiac Disease.

As we find more wheat-free and gluten-free diet-worthy notables in the region, I will certainly blog about them.

And last, if anyone in the Houston, TX region wants a copy of our Gluten-Free & Wheat-Free Gourmet Dessert Recipes book and wants to avoid the shipping charge, just contact me and I can arrange for you to stop by and get one without the added shipping. (send email to me at: my-first-and-last-name-appended-together AT

Note: this is likely going to be the last batch of printed books, as we are nearing a release of an "e-Book" (Amazon Kindle) version of our gluten-free cookbook, since our new Houston residence does not have the room for storing thousands of books at a time like we used to be able to do.  So, if you prefer hard-copy, now is the time to get one while we still have some remaining from our most recent printing (note to local GF merchants: if you want to retail our book, just contact me to work out details. Thanks).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blueberries : Fight Atherosclerosis, Gluten-Free

It is always nice to read about gluten-free diet items that are great tasting and versatile while also offering the promise of even better health. In the case of blueberries, it looks as though these gluten-free wonders also hold the promise of fighting atherosclerosis (i.e., "hardening of the arteries"), at lease according to a recent study funded by the USDA.

The results of using blueberries to counteract atherosclerosis were quite promising, if even just observed in mice at this point.  As the study concluded:
"The research provides the first direct evidence that blueberries can help prevent harmful plaques or lesions, symptomatic of atherosclerosis, from increasing in size in arteries."
Now wouldn't that be nice if we could just all consume blueberries and prevent a major cause of cardiovascular disease!?  I personally did not need to read this study to have a reason to consume blueberries in my gluten-free diet: I already love blueberries!  I try to mix them into my morning pancakes on a regular basis, or into my yogurt or smoothies, and I really like blueberry pie and other gluten-free desserts featuring blueberries (gee, I wonder if they will counteract the butter and sugar in those desserts? he he he)  Certainly a healthy fruit-salad featuring blueberries must be good for me, even if the blueberry-topped cheesecake is not :)

The details of the study findings showed that:
"The study compared the size, or area, of atherosclerotic lesions in 30 young laboratory mice. Half of the animals were fed diets spiked with freeze-dried blueberry powder for 20 weeks; the diet of the other mice did not contain the berry powder.
Lesion size, measured at two sites on aorta (arteries leading from the heart), was 39 and 58 percent less than that of lesions in mice whose diet did not contain blueberry powder.
The blueberry-spiked diet contained 1 percent blueberry powder, the equivalent of about a half-cup of fresh blueberries."
Now, my only concern is that if they fed the equivalent of a half-cup of fresh blueberries to a mouse in order to achieve these results, would that imply that I need to eat 1000-time that much to get the same results?  If so, then this is obviously unachievable for both financial and food-volume reasons.  Perhaps someone will find a way to create a blueberry powder concentrate (or synthesized version) that achieves similar results with less volume and a reasonable price.

Either way, I will continue to include blueberries in my gluten-free diet.  Knowing they may give me a bit of a defense against artery disease is just an added "bonus" in my book: I was going to eat them anyhow!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sorghum Bran : Gluten-Free Antioxidant Diet Booster

We gluten-free diet people may be enjoying an antioxidant boost thanks to sorghum flour used in some of our baking.  I came across a recent scientific study by the University of Georgia that examined varieties of Sorghum Bran and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers each possessed  The study concluded that select varieties of sorghum bran have greater antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than well-known foods such as blueberries and pomegranates.

That is rather impressive!  It is especially noteworthy that sorghum may ultimately provide a very rich and cheap source of polyphenolic compounds (the antioxidants particularly studied in the sorghum; compounds which occur naturally in plants to help fight against pests and disease).  These polyphenolic compounds were found in the highest concentrations in the black and sumac varieties of sorghum (high-tannin sorghums), which, not too surprisingly, are varieties not currently cultivated widely nor available on a widespread basis in stores, though some products are supposedly making their way into stores now.

The following quote really helps one see how much more potent these gluten-free sorghum products are when compared to common well-known antioxidant sources like blueberries and pomegranates (the select sorghum brans were as much as 10 to 30-times higher potency than even some "super-fruits"):
The authors found that levels of polyphenolic compounds in the high-tannin sorghum varieties ranged from 23 to 62 mg of polyphenols per gram. For comparison, blueberries contain approximately 5 mg of polyphenolics per gram, while pomegranate juice contains 2 to 3.5 mg per gram.
Well, I for one hope this study generates enough interest for sorghum producers to start planting more of the high-powered (high antioxidant value) varieties.  And, this is not just for gluten-free folks.  We just happen to probably use more sorghum flour and/or bran than others since we use alternative flours nearly daily.  And, some of us may use sorghum "molasses" (i.e., sweet sorghum syrup, which although not true molasses -- "real" molasses is made from sugar cane or sugar beets -- looks a lot like it); in fact, I purchase sorghum syrup at a local country store down the road from me.

The potential of this anti-inflammatory / antioxidant product is perhaps immense (especially as a cheap food-additive to boost healthful aspects of otherwise less beneficial foods), as the researchers point out:
The researchers said they hope to generate interest in sorghum bran or its extract as an additive to food and beverages. Sorghum bran extract could be added to a variety of foods and beverages as a liquid concentrate or dried powder. The Great Plains area of the U.S. is the largest worldwide producer of sorghum, and the researchers said that the combination of its low price and high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties will make it widely useful as an inexpensive and nutritional food additive.
So, perhaps you are wondering how gluten-free diets that can safely include sorghum bran will fare compared to their "normal" (i.e., mainstream) wheat-based diets:
Study co-author James Hargrove, associate professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, added that high-tannin sorghum has more antioxidant phytochemicals than other brans such as rice, wheat and oats, whose phenolic content and antioxidant values are low. He and Hartle said that the use of sorghum can become a way to reintroduce a quality food to many products that now use bleached, refined flour.
Clearly there are some advantages to a variety of grains in our diet, and I hope to be able to get hold of some of this "super-grain" high-tannin sorghum when I can, and incorporate it into my gluten-free diet.  Like another member of the study team says:

"We're hoping that some company decides to extract this bran and pull these chemicals out and put the extract into a beverage that can help you fight disease rather than promote disease," Hartle said.
All that went through my mind when I read that was the whole high-fructose corn-syrup thing and how it makes blood-sugar spike quickly and significantly (an aside here: if you have been watching the high-fructose corn-syrup industry, they are launching a wide-scale well-funded re-branding strategy to rename that high-fructose stuff to just "corn sugar", and dispel claims of health-issues resulting from its use; yeah, whatever guys... same old, same old; I will opt for other options thank you.)  I would so welcome a healthful addition instead.

So, the next quote pretty much summarizes it all:
"Sorghum bran not only provides the fiber but gives you a real medicinal punch at the same time because it delivers a lot of other chemicals that a berry would give you," Hartle said.

I'm sold!  Now, time to go find some and start incorporating it into my gluten-free dessert recipes and other gluten-free baked goods.  I just hope it ends up being *affordable* as production and availability increase.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gluten-Free Milk-Free Milkshake : Healthy Diet Recipe / Method

No Milk or Ice-Cream, No Problem...
Sometimes I find myself craving a nice cold milkshake, especially in the Summer months, but at the same time I find myself not wanting all the calories and/or dairy products in my diet.  In general, I do not even keep milk in the house unless there are plans to bake something that calls for it, so that gives me further reason to search for alternatives to milk when fulfilling my "milkshake" cravings.  And, if milk is rarely kept in the house, ice cream is even more rare.  So, what to do?

I now have a solution that I can keep ready for any short-notice "milkshake" desires...

Frozen Watermelon to the Rescue
My wife had recently been called away to an out of town business meeting on short notice, and there was a large watermelon, already cut open, in the fridge that was bound to go bad before her return.  She decided that the quickest way to temporarily avoid the issue of what to do with the melon was to simply chop the edible pink portion out and place those chunks in the freezer to deal with later.

A week or two later, after her return, along I come with my cravings for a nice cold milkshake to take the edge off the Summer heat.  I'm searching the kitchen for whatever "recipe" components I can find (I tend to innovate each time, so "recipe" is used loosely here).  I start retrieving some of the regular constituent items: cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon, and whatever else I can find that sounds yummy at the time (including a bit of Kahlua)!

But, the question remained: what will the "core" components of the recipe be this time in order to get that nice, creamy, milkshake consistency that I want, but without any ice-cream or milk available.  I start digging through the fridge, and then the freezer... I spot this container full of an unknown substance that I soon identify as frozen watermelon.  My wife is on hand to tell the story of how it got there to begin with; she then decides it shall be her time to experiment and help me create a milk-free and ice-cream-free milkshake, using this frozen watermelon as the basis for the drink.

So, into the blender went: a frozen banana (also stored in the freezer), some ice cubes, and a pile of frozen watermelon chunks...

I am quite used to experimentation when it comes to my gluten-free diet, as I am always looking for new ways to improve the taste and texture of foods I consume, but when I saw all that watermelon headed for the blender, my first thought was: "uh,... wow,... I wanted a chocolate milkshake, and I am going to get a watermelon smoothie". :)

But, with the addition of the remaining components -- cocoa, and LOTS of it; some Agave Nectar and/or Honey; a bit of Vanilla; some Rice Milk; and optionally, a bit of Gluten-Free Isolated Whey Protein -- things were looking more promising.

The Results : Great Milkshake without Milk or Ice-Cream

The frozen watermelon really does the job when it comes to making the milk-free and ice-cream-free "milkshake".  The flavor of the watermelon easily disappears into the milkshake behind the cocoa; I was at first concerned it would dominate the taste, but on the contrary, I can not even taste the watermelon.

The watermelon has some proteins and fiber in it that really help thicken up the "shake" in a way that is just not going to happen with ice-cubes alone.  Adding a bit of whey-protein can further thicken the shake up if you choose, but that would make it technically not dairy-free if that is a huge concern for you (though it will introduce no additional fat calories, as it is pure protein).

In the end, this "milkshake" is not only delicious, but it has a great consistency that is thick and convincingly like the real thing.  In addition, it is rather nutritious.

The only source of fat in the drink is from the little bit that is introduced with the cocoa powder.  And, speaking of cocoa : it adds a nice amount of fiber to the drink (not to mention flavor!), while also being rather good for you because of the antioxidants and flavanols (see my previous Gluten-Free Blog entry: Dark Chocolate / Cocoa Lowers Blood Pressure).  The watermelon brings a load of Vitamin-C and Vitamin-A with it, as well as being a rather plentiful source of Potassium.  This milkless milkshake will also contain essentially zero sodium.

I have featured some other dairy-free milkshakes / frozen drinks here on the Gluten-Free Blog before that also bring similar health-friendly nutrition with them, but this watermelon-based formula is perhaps one of the simplest recipes to play around with.  We also have used Chia-Seed and Pumpkin, as featured in this recipe: Gluten-Free & Wheat-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Diet-Milkshake Recipe from a while back.  I enjoy that one quite a bit too, but it takes planning (I need to keep my frozen chia cubes handy, which I sometimes forget to make).

The Recipe - Varied, but something like this... 
First of all, what a great way to avoid throwing any extra watermelon away.  If you have a large watermelon and know you will not be able to consume it all before it starts to go bad, simply freeze part of it.  For ease of use later, cut the watermelon into small enough pieces to 1) fit in your blender and grind easily enough, and 2) to actually be able to get any pieces apart (if they freeze together).

Perhaps the best way to freeze the watermelon would be to place the individual pieces on a cookie tray or such, and freeze them, and then move them into a more condensed space.  But, we have just placed all the chunks of fresh watermelon in a large plastic container in the freezer, and then carefully used a strong knife to pry/chisel them back out as needed (this method is quicker initially, but takes longer to get the pieces loose when you are ready to use them).

The "recipe" will vary as you choose, but to give you an example of what went into this particular (pictured) milkshake, it was approximately as follows:

  • 9 ice cubes
  • about the same amount of frozen watermelon cubes as ice cubes
  • a frozen banana (peeled; we freeze our bananas whole, then trim off the frozen peel before placing it in the blender)
  • a nice pile of cocoa (1/3 - 1/2 cup; choose what level suits your tastes)
  • Some honey and/or Agave nectar (sweeten to taste)
  • Rice Milk : an amount sufficient to allow blender to handle the job and result in the desired thickness of milkshake.
  • A bit of vanilla or other accent you like (perhaps mocha, via coffee or coffee liquor e.g.). 

Blend away!
We have a Vitamix blender that makes short work of this job.  We also have a standard blender that we test things in, and it was able to handle the job too, though it took somewhat longer.

And, serve!

We have taste-tested this "milkshake" even on all sorts of people including unsuspecting children, and it has been a nearly unanimous success.  With kids, the key has been to not let them see what is going into it; the only one that "detected" watermelon was one that watched it being made. :)

Well, I hope you enjoy this latest gluten-free recipe.  I count milkshakes as a gluten-free dessert as well as simply a nice gluten-free snack during the Summer.  And, I quit counting how many of these I have consumed this year already, as I have lost track.  I have made all sorts of variations by experimenting with additional fruits and ingredients, with only a few less-than-ideal flavors; I am hooked, and we now have a container of frozen watermelon in the freezer at all times!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Dark Chocolate Lowers Blood Pressure

What if you could obtain the same blood-pressure lowering results exercise provides, but by skipping the exercise and eating dark chocolate?

For all you gluten-free chocolate lovers out there, this is the news you have been waiting for:
all that dark chocolate you consume can actually lower your blood pressure! I personally need no excuse to consume vast amounts of chocolate, but now I can do so knowing there is a rather beneficial side-effect to doing so (presuming I burn off the calories that came with the chocolate).

Researchers combined the results of 15 studies into the effects of flavanols on blood pressure (flavanols being the compounds in chocolate which cause dilation of blood vessels), and in aggregate, the study results pointed to a definite blood-pressure reduction in those individuals with high blood-pressure (no effect on normal blood pressure was found).

The findings were significant, and tie back to my opening question about exercise vs. chocolate consumption:
The pressure reduction seen in the combined results for people with hypertension, 5mm Hg systolic, may be clinically relevant -- it is comparable to the known effects of 30 daily minutes of physical activity (4-9mm Hg) and could theoretically reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by about 20% over five years.
That is quite interesting! To think that the compounds in cocoa (and thus, chocolate), could have such a beneficial effect on blood pressure that it would compare favorably to exercise. I personally would suggest BOTH (i.e., don't give up exercise for chocolate; lower blood pressure is just ONE benefit of exercise).

The researchers went on to question the application of cocoa (flavanols) to blood pressure due to the fact it implies eating lots of chocolate (sounds easy enough to me), stating :
"The practicability of chocolate or cocoa drinks as long-term treatment is questionable," said Dr Ried.
Well, I would say that Dr. Ried does not fully understand how much chocolate some of us (me personally for example) can consume :)

In our gluten-free desserts recipe book, there are plenty of cocoa (and/or chocolate) containing recipes. I love them all, and now have further reason (aka: excuse!) to eat them:
  • gluten-free chocolate cakes
  • gluten-free chocolate cheesecakes
  • gluten-free puddings
  • gluten-free milkshakes and frozen drinks
In fact, there are a few gluten-free recipes featuring plenty of cocoa and/or chocolate on our Online Free Gluten-Free Recipes Library, including:
To me, further proof that cocoa and dark chocolate is good for our health (blood pressure in this case) is great news. I still expect that the *best* way to get the benefits of those flavanols is to essentially eat plain cocoa and/or 99%-cocoa baking-chocolate, but that sounds a bit rough. So, I will get my cocoa in other ways, and the more the better. But, even if cocoa flavanols can produce an exercise-like benefit, I will still stick with regular exercise in addition - so as to burn off the calories that come with the chocolate.

Now, just in time for this news, my wife has also created some interesting ice-cream-free and milk-free "milkshakes" that are loaded with cocoa. I hope to get the recipe for those up online soon. She basically uses frozen fruit as the base, and lots of cocoa... and, it tastes just like a chocolate milkshake when finished. I've enjoyed between 3 and 4 dozen of these low-cal chocolate "milkshakes" already this summer (mmm!), and it may well be a great way to get the benefits of cocoa without all the usual accompanying calories. Stay tuned, and happy chocolate-eating!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peak Heart Rate for Women : New Formula

Though not particularly related to my normal Gluten-Free topics, I thought this news would be interesting to all you women out there that may be exercising as part of your overall gluten-free diet and wellbeing strategy; or perhaps you have an aerobic activity "stress test" to take as part of a health-evaluation.

A research headline about how to calculate peak heart rate (and thus how to calculate target heart rate) for women caught my attention just as my wife was approaching her gym's annual fitness-evaluation session. As part of many physical fitness evaluations and exercise plans, one must know what their ideal "peak hear rate" (aka, maximum safe heart rate, or HR-max) is for their age. This is calculated with a formula that begins with a rather high number, and then adjusts downward based on age.

According to the latest research from Northwestern Medicine, it turns out that the existing peak hear-rate formula being used for women -- the same one that was used for men -- does not fit reality: women truly are different from men! :)

Here is an excerpt that summarizes the findings, and the new peak heart rate calculation formula for women, arrived at after a rather large study (nearly 5500 women):

"Women are not small men," Gulati added. "There is a gender difference in exercise capacity a woman can achieve. Different physiologic responses can occur. " Gulati was the first to define the normal exercise capacity or fitness level for women in a 2005 study.

The old formula -- 220 minus age -- used for almost four decades, is based on studies of men. The new formula for women, based on the new research, is 206 minus 88 percent of age.

The difference in the calculation results can be substantial.
And, keep in mind, this peak heart rate is what is most often used to calculate your ideal "target heart rate" for achieving aerobic exercise (i.e., generally 65% - 85% of peak heart rate). So, the ideal workout target heart rate calculation for women needs to start with the newly adjusted peak heart rate number. Since working out with a peak heart rate above your target zone will lead to anaerobic results, it is important to stay within your target zone (short of "hardcore training" practices and such).

What is most concerning perhaps is that women may have been pushed to reach an otherwise unobtainable heart-rate during stress tests and exercise. Perhaps now the "targets" are not just obtainable, but also safer and ideal for women:
"Before, many women couldn't meet their target heart rate," Gulati said. "Now, with the new formula, they are actually meeting their age-defined heart rate."
So, here's hoping this news helps all the female readers of the Gluten-Free Blog stay in even better health and gain a better understanding of their ideal heart rates. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Black Raspberries in Season

Fresh black raspberries: awesome gluten-free treat!

I just started picking the ripening black raspberries a few days ago here at our home in Northeast Ohio, where we were lucky enough to have purchased a property that has these wild black raspberries plants growing nearly all around its perimeter.

After just 10 minutes of picking, I secured the first quart of these fresh black raspberries, which were quickly rinsed off, bagged, and put into the fridge for later. They did not last long though, as they make a wonderful gluten-free snack that is full of flavor, antioxidants, and fiber too. And, fresh = best.

The pace of the black raspberries ripening as they become fully in-season should increase now, and I am looking forward to a bountiful harvest. Last year, we were able to collect well over 6 quarts before the season ended, and they held up nicely in the fridge (and we froze some for later too).

The plants seem to spread like wildfire from birds redistributing seeds. This year there are new black raspberry bushes growing up around the deck outside our living room, and they were not there last year. And, there are bushes lining the edge of the nearby field. At this pace, there should gallons coming over the next few years. Excellent!

One thing I look forward too once enough berries have been collected is a favorite gluten-free dessert: black raspberry pie! mmmmmm! Counting down as the pie baking date approaches!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Improved Gluten-Free Bread

I was just reading a science article about how researchers at Teagasc (the agriculture and food development authority in Ireland) are working to improve the taste, texture, and consistency of gluten-free breads through the use of the "pseudocereal" grains in gluten-free bread recipes. Their findings, not surprisingly, are that using pseodocereals (including amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat) results in a tastier, more nutritious gluten-free bread for coeliac disease sufferers as compared to "traditional" heavily starch-based gluten-free/wheat-free bread recipes (that almost exclusively use starches such as rice, potato and corn flours/starches -- each of which offers nearly zero nutritional value beyond carbs).

Here is some of the material quoted from the report I was reading, that is interesting, but rather widely known already (or so I thought):
Although gluten-free alternatives are readily available in the market, these products are often characterised by a crumbly, brittle texture, and are perceived as being of inferior quality compared to the wheat products they are intended to replace. In addition to quality defects, gluten-free foods are also characterised by an inferior nutritional quality. They have been reported to contain lower levels of essential nutrients such as B vitamins, iron and fibre, than are contained in wheat products. This is mainly due to the fact that gluten-free products are generally formulated with starches and refined flours, and are not usually fortified.
It [Teagasc] has focused on using the so-called 'pseudocereals' amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat to replace wheat in bread formulations. These cereals are gluten-free, and are also rich in nutrients; therefore, their incorporation in the gluten-free diet could not only add variety but also improve nutritional quality.
"Other characteristics of these [pseudocereal] seeds, such as their high protein, fibre and mineral content, as well as the presence of many bioactive components (compounds with beneficial effects on the body), make them attractive alternatives to traditional gluten-free ingredients (such as rice, potato and corn flours/starches) in the production of high quality, healthy gluten-free product,"...

What I found surprising is not the result of their research, but why they need to do "research" at all. Many of us have known for a long time that gluten-free bread recipes that use buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth and the like produce a much higher quality and more "real" bread. In fact, I'd say these researchers at Teagasc need to just start looking at some of the recipes on this Gluten-Free Blog and other such blogs, to perhaps make some further observations about improving gluten-free bread recipes, like:
  • using even more of these nutritious grains and seeds; like Teff, Millet, Sorghum, Flax, Chia and such
  • consider using some bean-flours perhaps
  • experiment with including whey protein in their gluten-free baking to simulate the effects of Gluten (without Gluten)
  • consider Cinnamon, Cocoa, and other spices as potential "flours" since they are high in fiber plus other beneficial attributes like antioxidants and such
  • include things like pumpkin pulp and other squash and vegetable puree that can add moisture, fiber, and improve the overall consistency
  • and other creative things we experienced Celiac sufferers have come up with in our recipes

Although we have not published all of our favorite bread recipes on our Gluten-Free Recipe Library and/or here on this Gluten-Free Blog in the past, we have quite a few posted that make use of some interesting mixes of grains, including:

The gluten-free recipes above still contain some of the basic "starch" type flours, but they all also include additional higher-nutrition grains like quinoa, buckwheat, teff, and such. Each recipes varies in its formulation, as each was created with different objectives. E.g., the Gluten-Free High-Fiber Multi-Grain Bread was pretty much all about getting as much fiber and nutrition into a gluten-free bread recipe as possible, while also getting great texture and taste.

Next: Making a Dairy-Based "Gluten"...
The next thing in the report that I found somewhat interesting was this quote: "Teagasc food researchers working at Ashtown and Moorepark are investigating the conditions required to produce a dairy-based ingredient with properties similar to gluten in a gluten-free dough system".

Well, guess what... again, I think these researchers should look around the Internet gluten-free blogs and such to gain some insight into what is already known to work. We have been using isolated whey protein in gluten-free baking to simulate "gluten", since before writing about it here on the Gluten-Free Blog back in 2007. If used properly (i.e., determining the right proportion to use per-recipe), it really can create that binding-power that is similar to gluten, while still being gluten-free. And, I am sure others have used various dairy-derivations to create some gluten-like binding power in their recipes too.

Oh well... maybe the researchers just have a pile of cash or a grant or something they need to find a way to spend. But, even if that is the case, it'd be nice if they started with what is already known and see if they can extend it even further. Like all Celiac / gluten-free / wheat-free persons, I welcome any further improvements to my gluten-free bread recipes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cultural Revolution Yogurt : Gluten-Free and Awesome!

UPDATE / F.Y.I: "Cultural Revolution" is now re-braned as "Kalona SuperNatural" from Kalona Organics (11/2010)

"Cultural Revolution" brand organic yogurt from Kalona Organics is my current favorite gluten-free yogurt for a variety of reasons, especially the fact that it is has a richness and natural creamy consistency that is outstanding, and this texture is complemented by really wonderful taste : all in a yogurt that is both Low Sugar and Low Carb (and low sodium too)! As I enjoy this yogurt for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner, I feel that the nutrition and beneficial live active cultures are contributing positively to my overall health without introducing unnecessary sugar and sodium.

A quick aside here: Cultural Revolution currently does not specifically label their yogurts gluten-free, so I contacted the company and they provided a statement from the creamery that produces the Cultural Revolution yogurt (Westby Cooperative Creamery, Westby, WI) which indicates the yogurts are definitely gluten-free (see image below). Another bit of good news is that they are currently working to update their labeling to clearly indicate which of their products are gluten-free.

Cultural Revolution Ingredients
(Complete 5% Vanilla Organic Yogurt)
This yogurt really reminds me of some great European yogurts I encountered while in the United Kingdom a couple years ago, with its thick cream-top and gently marbled texture. It is made with organic whole milk and includes the rich, creamy butterfat that naturally contains vitamins A&D too. The ingredients are simply: Organic Cultured Grade-A Milk, Organic Cream, Organic and Natural Vanilla Flavors (Organic Vanilla, Evaporated Organic Cane Juice, Pectin, and Organic Lemon Juice) -- and the Live Active Cultures that include s.thermophilus, l.acidophilus, bifidus, and l.bulgaris (bottom line: an array of "beneficial bacterium" / probiotics to help improve your GI health!)

Cultural Revolution Organic yogurt is available in six flavors in both 2 percent (low fat) and 5 percent. Six ounce flavors include blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, peach, vanilla, and plain. Vanilla and plain also are available in 24 oz sizes. Cultural Revolution is the newest product from Kalona Organics. This true, European-style, organic yogurt uses only the freshest, most natural ingredients, and—here’s the revolutionary part—it delivers naturally sweet, creamy taste without all the sugar, carbs, calories and sodium contained in most other yogurts. In fact, Cultural Revolution has as much as 1/3 less sugar than other yogurts.

Yogurt Comparison:
Cascade Fresh vs. Cultural Revolution

Before encountering the Cultural Revolution brand yogurt, I was consuming Cascade Fresh (Feb-2017: now "Cascade Culture") Fat-Free Vanilla Gluten-Free Yogurt, which was pretty decent yogurt, though I found the sugar/carb content a bit higher than I would have liked. Cascade Fresh is not organic, but is simply labeled "all natural". Cascade has a simple ingredient-list and is full of those probiotics too: Grade A Nonfat Milk (with active cultures s.thermophilus, l.acidophilus, b.bifidum, l. casei, b. longum, b.infantis, and l.bulgaris), Fruit Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Natural Vanilla Flavor. Cascade Fresh actually have a wider-variety of probiotic strains, though I do not know what the difference for your GI tract will be with either brand.

Perhaps it is not a fair comparison from a taste-and-texture standpoint since I am comparing a full-fat yogurt from Cultural Revolution to a fat-free variety from Cascade Fresh, but they just happen to both be yogurts I have consumed and enjoy. For me, the Cultural Revolution Vanilla Organic Yogurt is a hands-down winner over Cascade Fresh Fat Free Vanilla Yogurt, but I cannot always locate the brand at stores near me. In fact, this seems a problem in general with non-mainstream brands... I cannot always locate Cascade Fresh either. But, when I can find it, I will definitely be consuming the Cultural Revolution brand for reasons stated herein.

Nutrition / Statistics
One of my biggest complaints with many (especially "big name" brand) yogurts on the market is the over abundance of added sugars. And the type of sugar is equally important: I absolutely refuse to consume any yogurt that contains high-fructose corn syrup : an ingredient that is blood-sugar unfriendly (to say the least) and absolutely unnecessary. Also, a yogurt MUST have live active cultures in it for me to consider it - otherwise I might as well be eating pudding. Both brands I compared meet my criteria for active cultures and no high-fructose corn syrup, and also has Cultural Revolution presenting with substantially lower sugar levels.

When performing my comparison, I normalized the nutritional-information for the two brands to a 6-ounce serving-size, since Cascade Fresh considers their serving size to be an 8-ounce serving while Cultural Revolution considered their serving size to be 6-ounces.

Cultural Revolution Vanilla 5% ButterfatCascade Fresh Vanilla
Fat (g):80
Total Carbs (g)
Sugars (g):1016.5
Protein (g)
Vitamin-A (%):80
Iron (%)
Calcium (%):2226
Potassium (mg)
not indicated
My Subjective Rating of Taste/Texture
(1-10 Scale : 10 being highest)

I have made this Cultural Revolution Gluten-Free yogurt an integral part of my gluten-free diet lately, as I find it not just pleasing to taste and consume, but it also seems to satisfy me for a nice long period of time after I eat it, and preventing me from feeling hungry and snacking when I should not. These are not just "empty" calories from my experience, but are rather a nice balance of proteins, carbs, and fats. And, the fact that it really tastes great just furthers my reasons for eating it regularly. I highly recommend the product, and hope you have a chance to try it yourself and enjoy it.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Probiotics to Cure Celiac?

Could probiotics and prebiotics lead to a cure for Celiac Disease? It turns out that scientists from the National Spanish Research Council in Valencia, Spain are researching whether dietary changes that include probiotics and/or prebiotics may help alleviate the severity of celiac disease for some patients.

I was just reading a summary news article about this Celiac research, and found it quite interesting how the researchers were essentially simulating, outside of the body, the human intestinal environment / mucosa - and the effects of gluten exposure on that environment with and without the presence of probiotic bifidobacteria (for a source of such probiotic bacterium, consider any yogurts with active cultures -- and, probiotic bacteria are naturally present in your intestinal tract and aid with digestion).

The summary findings of the study were as follows:
"According to a new research study appearing in the May 2010 print issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, differing intestinal bacteria in celiac patients could influence inflammation to varying degrees. This suggests that manipulating the intestinal microbiota with dietary strategies such as probiotics and prebiotics, could improve the quality of life for celiac patients, as well as patients with associated diseases such as type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders."
This conclusion was arrived at after observations noted that bifidobacteria up-regulated the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines (which is a good thing -- reducing inflammation). It was also noted that this evidence could be the first step toward changing how celiac disease is treated and possibly prevented, but that (as always, and as we would expect of any real treatment possibilities), human clinical trials are necessary.

I have wondered for quite some time whether consuming yogurts with active cultures (like bifidus, acidophilus, bulgaricus, thermophilus, lactobacillus, etc.) would be helpful. Many persons with Celiac Disease, gluten-intolerance, or wheat-allergies, may also have some intolerance to dairy products - including yogurt. But, perhaps the dairy intolerance is due to an intestinal tract lacking sufficient levels of probiotic bacteria? If so, restoring that symbiotic relationship with these beneficial "bugs" in our intestines may help bring some positive outcomes with regard to minimizing the impact and damage of Celiac Disease.

Time will tell, and personal experiences will certainly vary... but, I found this research quite interesting. It is rather widely accepted that probiotics and prebiotics (like inulin e.g., - which we use in our high-fiber gluten-free bread recipes) already are helpful in many ways and with regards to many conditions (even diabetes), and if Celiac Disease can benefit from pro-biotics, count me in on the yogurt eating!