Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gluten-Free Halloween Items and Party Recipe Ideas

Some Festive Gluten-Free Halloween Party Ideas


Dressing up some favorite GF party items for Halloween

Have you been contemplating what foods to make for a Halloween holiday party — whether appetizers, desserts, or other snack items? Kate, one of our gluten-free blog contributors, put together a sampling of her own ideas for some simple to make, and simple to convert from everyday fair into Halloween themed variations, gluten-free recipes that fit the occasion nicely.  She served these up this weekend to a group of people that found the items rather delightful.

I think you will all agree, these playful holiday treats should be quite easy to replicate using your favorite recipes.  She created things ranging from a pumpkin that is performing some Exorcist-type expulsion of green goo (in this case a tasty guacamole!), to some lovely one-eyed (cyclops) chocolate-dipped strawberries, to some gluten-free cupcakes covered with spiders!

Other items at her party included "bloodshot-eye" deviled eggs and other adventuresome and creative treats.  Here's hoping these all provide inspiration for a great GF holiday spread.  In addition to being gluten-free and wheat-free, she was able to accommodate the dairy-free / vegan / vegetarian crowd very nicely too.

(pictures all credit: Kate)

"Guacamole-Barfing-Jack-o-Lantern"

Cyclops-eyed Chocolate-covered Strawberries 

Oh my... Gluten-Free Cupcakes crawling with spiders!
Gluten-Free Halloween Party Treats Ideas

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 Collection where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Probiotic Amounts in Kefir and Yogurt : Billions, perhaps Trillions

How Many Billion Probiotics are in your Yogurt / Kefir?


Probiotic Pills Prices are Ridiculous Compared to just consuming Kefir / Yogurt

[Note: this is a followup to my last closely-related article where I consider Healthy Gut Microbes May Prevent Celiac (beneficial bacteria as a defense, perhaps)]
Probiotics are those "beneficial bugs" that exist in vast quantities in healthy gastrointestinal tracts.  I have written other blogs here including a recent one about how Healthy Gut Microbes May Prevent Celiac (and other autoimmune diseases).

With scientific studies, like the one mentioned in that blog, providing further evidence that a healthy digestive tract — aided by probiotics —  may help us avoid and/or improve outcomes for various conditions and diseases, we may find ourselves asking: where can I get the most probiotics for the buck?

The answer is simple: kefirs or yogurts are definitely the most cost-effective probiotic source around, and here's why... (and yes, I am aware that some people may have digestive issues that make "dairy" not sound like a solution they can tolerate... but, read on first and reconsider that point after you see the numbers).

Probiotics in Kefir / Yogurt: Billions (and TRILLIONS) of Probiotics

Redwood Hill Farm Gluten-Free Goat Kefir
Redwood Hill Farm Gluten-Free Goat Kefir

To the left I included a picture courtesy of Redwood Hill Farms (brand) Goat-Milk Kefir.  This is a perfect example of a product that is utterly loaded with Probiotics!  From the Redwood Hill Farms web page discussing the "Health Benefits of Goat Milk Kefir", we can obtain information about how many billion priobiotics are in an ounce of Kefir, by extrapolating from this quoted material:
Laboratory testing shows that Redwood Hill Farm brand kefir containing our proprietary blend of probiotics, “Flourish®”  averages 2.6 billion live probiotics per gram!  We use an average as batches can vary slightly and the number of probiotics at the beginning of our products ‘life’ can be slightly more or less than at the end of the products life.
WOW! 2.6 billion probiotics per gram of Kefir!  Did you catch the "per gram" part? Yes, PER GRAM!  That is a TINY amount of Kefir with a HUGE number of probiotics. Keep in mind, there are just over 28 grams per ounce.  Therefore, there are nearly 75 BILLION probiotics per ounce of this Kefir! And, that means that an 8-ounce serving would have nearly 600 BILLION probiotics in it, an a quart container would contain around 2.4 TRILLION probiotics.

Now, compare that to all the probiotic pills on the market!  How many pills would you have to take to equal the amount in an 8-ounce serving of Kefir?  Better yet, what would it cost?! 
A quart of this specialty (Goat milk) Kefir cost somewhere around $6.00 at Whole Foods recently, which means an 8-ounce serving of Goat Milk Kefir cost $1.50 and provides 600 BILLION probiotics with it.

Even if you may have issues with dairy products, are you really sure your body could not handle an occasional ¼ Teaspoon of Goat Kefir that would provide around 3 billion probiotics? There are Twenty-Four (24) ¼ Teaspoon servings per ounce... or, 768 of these ¼ Teaspoon servings of 3-billion-probiotics each per quart!  How much would 768 "3 billion count" probiotic pills cost by comparison?

Probiotic Pills : Billions of Probiotics, at what cost?

Most probiotic pills I have seen at health-food stores and/or online are just ridiculously expensive for the amount of probiotics in each pill / tablet.  One of the better priced ones I have encountered is the gluten-free NOW Foods (brand) Probiotic-10 V-caps with 25 Billion probiotics per capsule and 50 capsules per bottle that sell for somewhere in the range of $16 -$17 on Amazon currently.

This particular NOW Foods gluten-free product has 10 strains of healthful  bacteria (including: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus salivarious, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, Streptococcus thermophilus ), which is similar to what you would find in many yogurt cultures.

A bottle of these will (theoretically) get you 1.25 TRILLION probiotics in total,  which is about the same amount as you'd get in ½ a quart bottle of that Goat Milk Kefir.  The difference: the Kefir equivalent will cost you only $3.00 versus the $16-17 for the pills.  So, you can save 80%+ by going the Kefir route and just eating a tiny 2 Teaspoons of Goat Kefir per day to get that 25 Billion organisms.

Now, if you absolutely cannot handle any form of dairy (or are a dairy-free / vegan by choice), the NOW Brand pills may be a decent option.  But, remember... keep any pills refrigerated to maintain high potency. THIS IS IMPORTANT, as exposure to heat can kill the beneficial bugs.  And, in fact, this is a reason for concern: if anywhere along the distribution channel (e.g., during shipment, trucking, shelf-stocking, transport, etc) those pills were exposed to a high enough temperature for a long enough period of time, the probiotics that you paid all that hard-earned cash for could be DEAD!  If the probiotic bacteria dies during transport/storage, then you have just paid a fortune for nothingness.


Are your Billions of Probiotics still alive (and effective)?

If you didn't already realize this, there is an easy way to test for whether probiotic bacteria organisms are alive and well.  With yogurt or kefir, this is simple enough... just place a Tablespoon of the yogurt or kefir into a quart of milk and sit that in your oven overnight with ONLY the oven-light on (for the slightest heat-source)... the bacteria should do their job and multiply like crazy and transform the milk into kefir, essentially.  In effect, you are cloning the bacteria in mass numbers, and you can make your own yogurt this way (same principle as a "starter" for sourdough breads).

So, in theory, if the probiotics in your pills/capsules are actually alive and functioning, you could add the (powdered) contents of a probiotic capsule to some quantity of milk and achieve the same outcome (i.e., produce kefir / yogurt).  I cannot say I have personally tried this, not for lack of curiosity, but for the simple fact I prefer getting my probiotics by way of kefir / yogurt instead of costly supplements.  If anyone tries it and wants to post their results here, I'd welcome hearing about your observations.

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Healthy Gut Microbes May Prevent Celiac?

Intestinal Microbes Health Help YOUR Health


Those Beneficial "Bugs" In the News Again

I was just reading an article discussing studies by Oregon State University researchers into how gut microbes are closely linked to proper immune system function and other health issues. This may not be "news" to many readers, but it is further confirmation of the importance of maintaining a healthy GI tract — and it sure makes me wonder even more about the potential ill effects of using antibiotics to treat conditions, especially when not needed (since, antibiotics kill off the "good" bacteria in your gut as well as the "bad" bacteria in your body).
[Note: my next closely-related article is about Probiotic Levels in Yogurt and Kefir (billions and trillions of those beneficial bugs!)]
I have written here in the past about other studies connecting antibiotics and celiac disease, and this latest study deepens my concern. As quoted from the article I am referring to,
"In a healthy person, these microbes in the gut stimulate the immune system as needed, and it in turn talks back," Shulzhenko said. "There's an increasing disruption of these microbes from modern lifestyle, diet, overuse of antibiotics and other issues. With that disruption, the conversation [the "crosstalk" between gut microbes and our immune system and metabolic processes] is breaking down."
And, it is not just antibiotics that are brought into question in this study.  How about dirt... or, should I say our lack of exposure to dirt?  Yes, we (modern humans) are probably making things worse by being TOO "clean":
"Appropriate sanitation such as clean water and sewers are good. But some erroneous lessons in health care may need to be unlearned -- leaving behind the fear of dirt, the love of antimicrobial cleansers, and the outdated notion that an antibiotic is always a good idea. We live in a world of "germs" and many of them are good for us."
Our immune systems have developed over the course of human history to function optimally by adapting to natural exposures to varied bacteria (in things like dirt) that modern sanitizing products wipe out (externally).  And, antibiotics are essentially "sanitizers" that wipe out internally-present bacteria (including the plethora of "good" ones that we need to function properly).

Celiac and Other Conditions : the Role of Gut Microbes

The article mentioned Celiac Disease (i.e., autoimmune gluten allergy that requires us to be on a gluten-free diet) as well as other conditions where there is an interplay of gut-microbe-crosstalk and our bodies:
"An explosion of research in the field of genomic sequencing is for the first time allowing researchers to understand some of this conversation [between gut microbes and our immune / metabolic systems] and appreciate its significance, Shulzhenko said. The results are surprising, with links that lead to a range of diseases, including celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Obesity may be related. And some studies have found relevance to depression, late-onset autism, allergies, asthma and cancer."
Seems like more and more evidence is piling up that should make us want to avoid things that destroy the optimal natural internal gut-microbe balance.  And, perhaps (my opinion), we can improve things in the near-term by introducing probiotics into our gluten-free diets and avoiding anything that will further negatively impact our systems.

I like how the article concludes with forward-looking thoughts about probiotics and such:
Once researchers have a better idea of what constitutes healthy microbiota in the gut, they may be able to personalize therapies to restore that balance. It should also be possible to identify and use new types of probiotics to mitigate the impact of antibiotics, when such drugs are necessary and must be used. 
Such approaches are "an exciting target for therapeutic interventions" to treat health problems in the future, the researchers concluded.
Sounds like a good course of research to me!  And, while these people study their "bugs", I will personally continue to avoid antibiotics and antimicrobial products while at the same time enjoying my "bug-filled" (probiotics) in things like kefir, yogurt, etc.  In addition, I think my beneficial bugs much prefer a highly vegetable-laden diet :)

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.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Gluten-Free Health Warrior Chia Bar Review

Health Warrior Brand Gluten-Free Chia Bars Review


Chia Seeds meet Snack Bars : a great combination!

For any of you that have read my blog for any length of time, you have noticed I have written a few articles about recipes and baking with chia seed and/or product containing chia.  And now I am writing about a nice snack bar product line — each simply labeled "Chia Bar" of various flavors —  from a company called Health Warrior.

Health Warrior brand gluten-free chia bars
Health Warrior (HealthWarrior.com) Chia Bars

I have been a fan of chia seed (salvia hispanica) for years now, having used them quite regularly since 2008, as chia sees have a wonderful nutritional profile in addition to making a great gluten-free baking ingredient. Chia seeds provide a nice balance of fiber, healthy fats (Omega 3's), and protein. I am used to using them in their hydrated form in my various homemade drinks and recipes, but this time I am enjoying them in as they appear in these commercially-available Health Warrior Chia Bars.

Health Warrior brand gluten-free acai berry chia bar
Health Warrior brand gluten-free acai berry chia bar (close-up and full of chia!)

Pleasing Taste and Texture from Innovative Ingredients

The first bite into the acai berry chia bar variety instantly reminded me of some favorite sesame-seed snacks I have had in the past — the texture was quite similar, and I am not quite sure how much of that is from non-hydrated chia.  As you can see in the close-up photo, it sure looks like sesame-seeds in a way too, and I am not sure if what I am seeing is perhaps all due to white-chia-seeds, or if some of what I see is also the gluten-free-oats used in the formula (yes, they contain oats); sure seems like it is mostly chia seeds I feel and see.  They also employ cashew-butter in the base-formula shared across all the bar varieties from what I see on the labels too.

The oats almost prevented me from trying this product, since I have not had oats (even "certified gluten-free" ones) in years; I have found I can tolerate small amounts on occasion, but generally just avoid them.  But, I decided to make an (oats) exception and try this interesting chia bar product, and I am glad I did.

My wife and I both enjoyed it and found that the flavor was pleasing as was the texture: it was not too sweet, not artificial tasting in any way, but just about spot-on with regards to the berry-centric flavor and the sweetness (sugar level) was just about where I like it (not too sweet, and a reasonable net carbohydrate load reflects this in the nutritional facts printed on the label: 15g total carbs of which 4g are fiber and 5g sugar).  I can definitely detect some nutty flavor from the cashews, but it too blends quite nicely with the other flavor-contributors in the recipe: things like cranberries and strawberries (of which there are certainly more of than of than the featured "acai berry" highlighted on the label for its buzz-factor and popularity) and vanilla.

The bars are rather small (just under 1 ounce), and that is one reason I actually gave them a try even with the GF oats included (I figured it would be a very small dose of oats for me); and, I am delighted to report, the oats had no ill-effects on me either.  Regardless, the size is about right for a quick small snack while keeping the carbohydrate intake down (and, getting 3g of protein thrown in along with Omega 3's for good measure).  I think these bars will come in handy when out for a long bike ride or walk where I want a nice nutritionally balanced snack with me that also tastes good and transports well.

Bottom line: my impression is that this is a quality snack product with a taste and texture I quite enjoyed and can enjoy more in the future.  It was a nice alternative to many of the much sweeter date-based bars, and it is also soy-free and 100% vegan (given I eat ZERO soy, this was a great fit for me too!)  I still need to try the other varieties (as shown in the picture), but I expect they will be similarly enjoyable and welcome in my gluten-free diet snack-repertoire.

A related thought: I would welcome a sugar-free version of these bar if Health Warrior could create a stevia-sweetened version and replace the brown-rice-syrup.  This bar, due to its diminutive size, has a reasonably low-carb / low-sugar profile, but it has the potential to be a very-low-sugar option with some minor tweaks.  I have my own ideas for a recipe that could perhaps yield my desired super-bar outcome: use stevia and perhaps (though breaking with the dairy-free status) use some whey-protein as a "binder" of sorts (perhaps in combo with some hydrated chia); this idea may not work commercially, but I plan to play with the idea for kicks since I enjoy recipes and baking quite a bit.

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

Monday, August 12, 2013

USA Gluten-Free Food Ingredients Labels Law 2013 Updates

New USA Gluten-Free Label Rules for 2013 / 2014 —Clear Definition of "Gluten-Free" at 20PPM MAX


When do these new Gluten-Free Labeling Standards Take Effect?

I placed this paragraph before all others because it is very important to make sure you realize that these regulations and standards are NOT immediate — we have just a short one-year wait (unless something changes yet).

We have all been waiting anxiously (many years for many of us) for such standards to come about. And, finally, we have the ruling that becomes effective on September 4, 2013 (although, NOTE: the all-important [gluten-free products labeling] compliance date of this final rule is August 5, 2014).

Finally, Standards for Gluten-Free Products / Ingredients Labels!

This topic of United States gluten-free labeling laws has gotten quite a bit of attention lately now that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published their final ruling on the matter in the very detailed 26-page PDF document: 47154 Federal Register/ Vol. 78, No. 150 / Monday, August 5, 2013 / Rules and Regulations — section 21 CFR Part 101 [Docket No. FDA–2005–N–0404] RIN 0910–AG84 Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods.

I have included the quoted summary-text of the ruling (see below).  But, feel free to read that ruling in its entirety if you have time... it is interesting, and seems to really make a good attempt at preventing GF product manufacturers from "gaming the system" by playing with label wording and so forth; such attempts will lead to a product being deemed "misbranded", and presumably enforcement action will ensue quickly to minimize our risk of exposure to gluten.

What Counts as Truly "Gluten-Free" under new Standards?

Thankfully, the HHS / FDA ruling has made this about as simple as possible for everyone with Celiac Disease.  In short, a product labeled as "gluten-free" MUST test at less than 20 parts-per-million (20ppm / 20 ppm)!  That is really about it.  And, this of course means that, in practice, there can be essentially zero traces of grains like wheat, rye, barley and hybridized / derivative / related grains like spelt, kamut, triticale, and so forth in your foods, or that 20ppm would be exceeded for sure.

20 ppm means that you cannot have over 20milligrams of gluten per kilogram of food. Keep in mind that a milligram is 1/1000th (a thousandth!) of a gram, and a gram is approximately what a small paper-clip weighs —  so this is saying that a full kilogram of food (2.2 pounds of food) cannot contain more than 1/50th-of-a-small-paperclip's weight in gluten within in!  That is a rather small amount (chop a small paperclip into 50 pieces to see) across a rather large pile of food (eating a kilogram of food at once is quite a bit, unless it is nearly all liquid).

What About "Gluten-Free" Oats?

The HHS / FDA made gluten-free oats an acceptable gluten-free product label using the same standards: i.e., oats labeled as "gluten-free" MUST test at less than 20 ppm gluten in order to be considered gluten-free.  Again, simple.  You don't have to eat the GF oats if you still feel unsafe doing so, but at least you will know how much gluten is in such "gluten-free" oats if you choose to consume them  — the same percentage of gluten as any other "gluten-free" labeled diet products.

The Ruling: HHS / FDA Summary Text

Quoted from that PDF:
SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is issuing a final rule to define the term ‘‘gluten- free’’ for voluntary use in the labeling of foods. The final rule defines the term ‘‘gluten-free’’ to mean that the food bearing the claim does not contain an ingredient that is a gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat); an ingredient that is derived from a gluten-containing grain and that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or an ingredient that is derived from a gluten- containing grain and that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food (i.e., 20 milligrams (mg) or more gluten per kilogram (kg) of food); or inherently does not contain gluten; and that any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food is below 20 ppm gluten (i.e., below 20 mg gluten per kg of food). A food that bears the claim ‘‘no gluten,’’ ‘‘free of gluten,’’ or ‘‘without gluten’’ in its labeling and fails to meet the requirements for a ‘‘gluten-free’’ claim will be deemed to be misbranded. In addition, a food whose labeling includes the term ‘‘wheat’’ in the ingredient list or in a separate ‘‘Contains wheat’’ statement as required by a section of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) and also bears the claim ‘‘gluten-free’’ will be deemed to be misbranded unless its labeling also bears additional language clarifying that the wheat has been processed to allow the food to meet FDA requirements for a ‘‘gluten-free’’ claim. Establishing a definition of the term ‘‘gluten-free’’ and uniform conditions for its use in food labeling will help ensure that individuals with celiac disease are not misled and are provided with truthful and accurate information with respect to foods so labeled. We are issuing the final rule under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA). 
DATES: Effective date: The final rule becomes effective on September 4, 2013. Compliance date: The compliance date of this final rule is August 5, 2014. See section II.B.4 (comment 35 and response 35) for an additional explanation of the compliance date and implementation of this final rule.

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

Monday, August 05, 2013

Celiac Disease & Cancer Risk (Lymphoma) : New Study Confirms Increased Risk

Lymphoma Risk Elevated in Persons with Celiac Disease

Latest Scientific Study Confirms Elevated Risk

I was just reading newly released study findings about Celiac Disease and an associated risk of Lymphoma (a type of blood cancer) and lymphoproliferative malignancy.  Headlines like this are always concerning for those of us facing a lifetime with Celiac Disease and this one definitely gave me further incentive to do everything in my power to maintain a 100% gluten-free diet.  In summary, as quoted from the article:
"Patients with celiac disease have an elevated risk for lymphoproliferative malignancies, particularly if they have persistent villous atrophy, a population-based cohort study found."
Well, that sure does not sound very cool!  And, it is a bit frightening to see the words lymphoma / cancer associated with Celiac Disease.  I have seen other associations in the past, but this latest study really made clear the raw risk "multiplier" that we CD persons face vs. the "average population" or whatever.

You have Celiac Disease. Should you be concerned?

A key phrase to pay special attention to in that quote is: "...particularly if they have persistent villous atrophy".  Persistent villous atrophy is the state your intestinal villi are much more likely to be in if you do not adhere to a permanent strict 100% gluten-free diet.

Say no more: I will do everything possible to avoid getting gluten in my diet. Heck, I was already "paranoid" (by some accounts), and now I am probably going to be ever more extreme in my caution.  As best as is possible and within my control, it seems foolish for me not to try to maintain 100%-GF status when there are substantial consequences for not doing so.

The numbers (from the study) now:  basically, your risk of lymphoma (as a person with Celiac Disease) is going to be a full FIFTY PERCENT HIGHER (+50%) than the celiac-disease cohort mean-value IF you present with persistent villous atrophy over a long period (in this study, 9 years was the period discussed in the following quote), as would be much more likely if you do not remain 100% "clean" (i.e., strict gluten-free diet):
"During a median follow-up time of 9 years after the second biopsy, 53 patients (0.7%) were diagnosed with a lymphoproliferative malignancy. The incidence in the overall group was 67.9 per 100,000 patient-years
In contrast, the incidence in those with ongoing villous atrophy was 102.4 per 100,000, the researchers reported."
I arrived at the "FIFTY PERCENT" figure through simply math (102 / 68 = 1.5, or, 50% greater).  I consider that a substantial and noteworthy increase in risk.

But, the study did not even stop there, as they went on to assign "hazard ratios" to more detailed sub-groups within the study population, and at specific times within the study (e.g., 12 months after second biopsy still showing atrophy).  Basically, the hazard-ratio is the increased likelihood, expressed as a multiplier, of something happening that you don't want to happen.  Some very specific hazard-ratios went rather high (up to NINE+ TIMES the baseline rate), as stated in these quotes:
"Among these patients with persistent villous atrophy, the higher risk was most prominent during the first 12 months after the follow-up biopsy, with a hazard ratio of 3.67 (95% CI 0.80-16.86), decreasing to 1.99 (95% CI 0.79-4.97) after 5 years.
[...]
An additional factor that was associated with greater risk was biopsy evidence of total or subtotal villous atrophy (HR 3.96, 95% CI 1.65-9.50), which was particularly pronounced in patients with T-cell lymphoma, who had nine times the risk (HR 9.23, 95% CI 1.66-51.34)."

And, basically the takeaway I am getting from all this is that, yes, if you have CD and present with persistent villous atrophy, you should be somewhat concerned.  First of all, you have to consider whether you are doing everything in your power to maintain a truly "clean" diet (gluten-free diet), since that is first and foremost the best thing you can do to minimize the villi issues.

Hopefully we can all manage to minimize mucosal damage (and especially persistent damage) to our intestinal villi through a strict gluten-free diet!  Yes, some of us will face a very difficult  time recovering from exposure to gluten (especially since it is so darn difficult to avoid the occasional accidental cross-contamination and so forth), but we must do our utmost to TRY to maintain our strict diets.  

Luckily, the Federal USA government is stepping into the scene with regards to gluten-free labeling laws and all (was big news this past week -- which I plan to summarize and blog about soon), as this should help make it easier for us to know (with a higher degree of certainty) what is truly "gluten free" on the store shelves.  But, even with that, there is a lot of vigilance and diligence required on our part to stay GF all the time.

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Costco Gluten-Free Bargains 2013 - Part I

Costco Gluten-Free Bargains, Deals, and Money-Saving Products 2013


It has been a while since I updated my blog with some of the money-saving gluten-free Costco products (late 2011 post) that I purchase, so I figured it was time to start posting a more current list of GF items and their prices.  These items are what I am seeing at our regional (Houston, TX) Costco locations, and I expect a fair percentage of these gluten-free items will be available nationally (I hope so).

Low-Price, High-Protein, Greek Yogurt

I definitely have a weakness for dairy products, and I especially like Greek yogurt.  I find Greek yogurt to be so often too expensive for what it is, especially in smaller containers and "brand name" products at other stores.  Luckily, Costco provides some nice options in this regard.  Yes, they still sell the Fage Total 0% brand-name yogurt (in 1 kilo / liter size) for less than nearly anywhere else, but in addition Costco offers their own Kirkland Signature (KS) brand Greek Yogurt at $6.99 for two 1-quart containers!  This is a great price for high-protein Greek Yogurt!


Costco : Kirkland Greek Yogurt Package

CostCo : Kirkland Greek Yogurt (Quart)
Costco : Kirkland Greek Yogurt (Nutrition)
Check out that 24 grams of protein per 1 Cup serving!  That is one way to get 1/2 your daily recommended amount of protein in a hurry.  And, the carbs (from milk sugars) are relatively low at 10g/serving.

Egg Whites in Bulk

I recently came across these Kirkland brand liquid egg whites, and though I do not see any "gluten free" label on them, there is no cross-contamination statement on the package and they are made in the USA and have as a sole ingredient "100% Liquid Egg Whites".  A package of six (6) of these 16-ounce containers was only $8.99, or $1.50 per pint / pound of liquid egg whites.  Seemed like a deal to me, and sure saves time when I want to make an omelet with a higher egg-whites-to-egg-yolks ratio.

These things help me make fantastic pancakes in a hurry!  Now, in case you were considering using them for meringues, don't... since, as the package states "Due to pasteurization, these liquid egg whites will not whip and are not recommended for meringees and angel food cakes".  But, from my own experience, they sure help my pancakes rise to incredible heights whether they whip or not.

Costco - Kirkland Egg Whites
 
Costco - Kirkland Egg Whites Nu

Costco Gluten-Free Pasta Deal

This is a product I just recently noticed Costco carrying: truRoots Penne Pasta in a 1-kilo (2.2 pound) bag for $7.49 (i.e., $3.40 per pound).  It is made from brown rice, corn, quinoa, and amaranth, and I thought it cooked up nicely and made for a pleasing gluten-free pasta.

The price is pretty decent compared to a lot of other gluten-free pasta.  E.g., I priced out one of our other favorite gluten-free pastas (Schar penne pasta) on Amazon, and a 5-box (12oz per box, 60-ounce total, or 3.75 pounds) costs $18.75 currently there, which is exactly $5.00 per pound, and that is about the cheapest place to get the stuff from experience.  So, this truRoots gluten-free penne pasta at Costco is a deal by comparison!

Costco: truRoots Gluten-Free Pasta - kilo
Costco: truRoots Gluten-Free Pasta - Nutrition

Tasty Bite Madras Lentils

These are one of my favorite pre-made meal items!  And, this gluten-free lentils, red beans, and spices goes wonderfully over cauliflower or on a baked potato and so forth.  And, this price is unbeatable: a box of four (4) 10-ounce packets is only $7.59 (which, is half the price or less of what Whole Foods wants -- Whole Foods sells by-the-packet).
Tasty Bite Madras Lentils on Sale at Costco - Multipack

More Costco Gluten-Free Deals

Keep a watch for more updates to this list.  Plus, I plan to edit this post and include link(s) to follow-on blogs with more Costco GF products.  In addition, use the "labels" Blogger-feature to find other "Costco" postings I have done (labels are on right-side of this page).  E.g., I have recently posted a review of some lovely Hail Merry Chocolate Mini Tarts at Costco.  There are a LOT of gluten-free deals to be found at this wholesale warehouse club, and I hope to get time to list a lot more examples here... ranging from fruits and vegetables to drinks, pre-made meal items, and more.


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, June 20, 2013

Gluten-Free Doughnuts : Dunkin' Donuts on Sale Soon in USA

Gluten-Free Dunkin' Donuts 2013


Gluten-free Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnuts and Blueberry Muffins

Dunkin Donuts is getting into the Gluten-Free doughnut market in a big way by introducing the fast-food industry’s first gluten-free pastries nationwide (USA).  As reported in, and quoted from, a Bloomberg article:
The coffee and breakfast chain owned by Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc (DNKN) will sell gluten-free cinnamon-sugar doughnuts and blueberry muffins across its U.S. stores this year, Stan Frankenthaler, the company’s executive chef, said in an e-mail. 
“We recognize the importance of providing our guests with many options, including alternative choices for people with food and dietary restrictions,” he said. The pastries, to be sold at participating shops, are packaged separately to avoid contamination from other foods that contain wheat flour.
Very interesting news indeed, particularly if you have Celiac Disease and miss the ability to simply walk into a doughnut store, see a doughnut for sale that you want to try, but it, and eat it.  This is something so many people take for granted, but an option us wheat-free / gluten-free diet people do not typically have.

The suggested prices are $1.89 for Dunkin’s gluten-free doughnuts and $2.39 for muffins.

Gluten-free Treats Still have (substantial) Calories!

According to that Bloomberg article, Dunkin's new GF donuts actually have more calories per donut than a "normal" (glazed, gluten-containing version), whereas the new GF muffin has a bit fewer calories than its "normal" counterpart:
The new items aren’t always lower in calories than other baked goods sold by Canton, Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Brands. The wheat-free doughnut has 320 calories, while a glazed doughnut has 260 calories. And the gluten-free blueberry muffin has 400 calories versus 460 for the standard version and 410 for a reduced-fat one.
But hey, if we are seeking out a doughnut, I doubt we care TOO much about calories anyhow!

Will You Try Dunkin's New Gluten-Free Doughnuts?

I cannot remember the last time I even had a doughnut, but I am sure it has been at least a few years now.  And, even though I know "doughnuts are bad for you" (at least I have been so told over the years), they sure smell delicious every time I walk past a doughnut shop!  So, I will surely have to try at least one of the new Dunkin' Gluten-Free options and see how it stacks up to what I remember a "real" doughnut tasting like.  I do like cinnamon-sugar donuts! So, that sounds yummy.

With luck, Dunkin' will have developed a tasty treat that I can get once in a while if I decide I have a craving where I just "need" a doughnut.   I doubt there is much chance I will find myself craving donuts that much (given how I have made it many years without them now), but either way, it sounds like one more bit of normalcy that can be brought to those of us on a gluten-free diet.

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Silver Hills Bakery Gluten-Free Bread Review

Silver Hills Bakery Gluten Free Chia / Flax Breads

Finally, GUM-FREE Gluten-Free commercial Bread options!

I have rarely eaten bread in recent years for the simple reason that nearly all commercial gluten-free breads contain various gums and thickening/binding agents that my GI tract dislikes — e.g., Xanthan Gum, Carageenan, Guar Gum, and so forth.  But, finally, I found a brand of gluten-free bread that is organic and contains no added gums and has an enjoyable taste and texture: Silver Hills Bakery.
[2017 UPDATE: some years after I originally wrote this, Silver Springs Bakery changed their name to "Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery", and also renamed their various bread varieties (now pictured below). Also, for gluten-free bread comparisons, check out my blog about the wonderful Genius Gluten-Free Breads brand (Spiced Fruit Loaf / Seeded varieties are awesome!), and the underlying food-technology from Dow (plant-based stabilizers: Walocel, Wellence, etc) that makes some of these modern GF breads so amazingly like normal breads.]
Silver Hills Bakery Bread / Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery Breads
Silver Hills Bakery Bread (courtesy of SilverHillsBakery.com website, 2017)

Gluten-Free Silver Hills Bread : Taste, Texture, Nutrtion

I have thus far tried the "Gluten-Free Chia Chia" and "Gluten-Free Omega Flax" Silver Hills Bakery varieties, and I like them both.  These breads are available frozen, Each slice of bread has 5g of fiber, 1g of fat and only 70 calories (12-13g net carbs), but I must note here that a "slice" of bread is not like a full-sized slice of bread that the masses of gluten-eaters get in a loaf of commercial bread: these are rather small slices that measure only 2.5 inches wide x 2.75 inches tall by 3/8-inch thick (17 slices per loaf, 20-ounce loaf in total).  It is thus a rather dense bread, and not a "fluffy" or "airy" bread like most commercial gluten-laden breads.

As with most gluten-free breads, I prefer mine toasted, as pictured here.
Silver Hills Bakery Gluten-Free Bread

Silver Hills Bakery Gluten-Free Bread
As I said, the bread is quite dense, but will get a nice crunch to the crust when toasted like this.  As such, it holds up nice when I eat it with a bit of olive-oil on it, or peanut-butter, or even my egg-salad.   I have tried the bread un-toasted, but I prefer the texture that toasting brings to the equation.

The non-GMO vegan gluten-free Chia Chia ingredients are: Water, organic whole sorghum, organic whole ground chia seeds, organic cane sugar, organic whole psyllium husks, yeast, organic rice flour, organic vinegar, sea salt; the gluten-free Omega Flax non-GMO vegan ingredients are: Water, organic whole sorghum, organic whole ground chia seeds, organic cane sugar, organic brown flax seeds, organic whole psyllium husks, yeast, organic rice flour, organic vinegar, sea salt.

These ingredients produce a predictable pleasant taste as imparted by the underlying core grains used in each.  Sorghum prevails as the prominent taste, but the yeast and vinegar bring forth a bit more complexity in the flavor and results in a nice balance.  Again, my preference for toasting comes into play with regards to taste, since the sugars will caramelize a bit during the toasting and further develop the overall flavor combination in a good way.

I'd say that Silver Hills has done a nice job with their gluten-free breads, especially given the fact they have taken the bold step of doing bread "right" (my opinion at least) by omitting the all-to-common gums and additives so many gluten-free breads contain.  They have created these wheat-free, vegan, gluten-free breads while remaining true baking like "homemade" and using the basic organic grains and ingredients I am looking for in a bread.  I enjoy this, and I hope others will too.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free and wheat-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

Monday, June 10, 2013

Gluten-Free Mug-Cake Review : Shirly J brand Chocolate Brownie MugCake

"Shirley J" (brand) Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownie Mug-Cake Review

[by Kate — guest gluten-free blog author] (minor edits by Mike)
Shirley J brand Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownie Mug Cake

Overall Impression

Overall I recommend the mug cake, specifically the Chocolate Brownie Mug Cake, mix from Shirley J.

The cake is quick, it's so easy, requires no specialized equipment (except a microwave) and little to no skill to make. Even those of you who hate cooking and baking or who fear you're no good at it can make this gluten-free mug cake from Shirley J with great ease and great results. Seriously. A great, single-portion cake in a little over a minute. What's not to like about that?

I also think it's a boon to those of you out there who don't have celiac disease yourselves, but who have family or friends that do. You'll really make your family member / friend/ co-worker with celiac a happy camper if you can make or gift them their own individual, GF cake so that they can enjoy dessert along with everybody else!

Shirly J Mug Cake (gift kit)

Pros

So fast, so easy: Takes only about two minutes to open the package, whisk in the water and add the chocolate chips. Cooks in 90 seconds in the microwave.

Low energy requirements: Requires only 90 seconds in the microwave versus much longer baking time in a conventional oven. This is especially nice if you're in a hot climate and are paying to cool your home -- turning the oven on is always painful in that situation.

No special equipment required: All you need is the mix, additional chocolate chips, a fork, water, a tablespoon, a microwave, and microwaveable mug. These are all very common household items, even for people without full or well equipped kitchens (like college students).

Taste and texture: The gluten-free cake is very moist and the chocolate flavor is there.

Versatility: The flavor profile of the mix could easily be slightly varied with a dash of vanilla, cinnamon, orange oil, or espresso powder. You could also probably easily add walnuts or pecans, marshmallows, or coconut to the mix in small proportions. You can also serve the cake with frosting, ice cream, or whipped cream. Or, you can do like me and eat it with a big mug -- yes another mug -- of almond milk.

Individual Portioning: Individual portioning makes it easy to satisfy your sweet tooth without getting sucked into eating or getting rid of a multi-portion sized cake. Great

Gift Idea: The gluten-free mugging kit, which includes a microwaveable mug and 1 pack of mug-cake costs around $15. The mugging kit would make a great gift for a GF friend, co-worker, or relative and is in a good price range for moderate to low-cost gifting.

Cons

Additional Ingredients: 1/4 cup chocolate chips called for by mix is NOT included (be sure to choose a "safe" / gluten-free brand of chips).

Texture: Nice and moist, but has a grainier mouth-feel than a traditional cake. The same is true of almond-flour based cakes and some others using non-traditional flours. This is really a mild "con," as the texture is merely slightly different rather than poor or unappetizing.

Cost: If you buy 1 packet of Shirley J's gluten-free mug cake the mix runs you about $3. The more economical way to buy is to purchase a 5-pack of a single flavor for $12.95.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of wheat-free, 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

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Hail Merry Gluten-Free Miracle Tart Review : Fantastic! (and Costco has them)

Delicious Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Indulgence


Seriously Good Chocolate Mini-Tarts with Ingredients done Right!

We were out at Costco today and came across these fantastic little "Hail Merry" (brand) "Miracle Tart" Chocolate Minis, and I can tell you they are fantastic because within minutes of getting home, I had opened the package and sampled one.  They are simply superb!  At room temperature (served per suggestion), the centers are just buttery smooth and creamy, and there is a deep rich chocolate flavor with a hint of almond and coconut that comes through the chocolate. But, it is definitely chocolate and will satisfy a serious chocolate craving.

I admire the fact that the company has created these delicious tarts using ingredients that include just organic maple syrup, Fair Trade dark cocoa, natural raw almond flour, organic extra virgin coconut oil, and sea salt.  That's it.  Nothing else.  Thank you Hail Merry, since I constantly bypass similar dessert offerings by companies that add all sorts of preservatives, gums, and other junk I refuse to eat.  Hail Merry has done this right and with the right ingredients!

I added a few fresh raspberries to the equation (also from Costco today), and the combination was also excellent! (as pictured)

Also of note: a single tart has only 90 calories! (if you can limit your chocolate desires to one at a time)

Get them at Costco Wholesale in 2013


Hopefully Costco will continue to stock these. We discovered them today in the chilled foods aisles, and I was excited to see that not only are they a delicious chocolate gluten-free dessert, but thanks to Costco's bulk-buying and packaging, the price was reasonable enough to consider. I have seen these types of things at other stores (e.g., Whole Foods, etc.), but I refuse to pay $2.00 per tart and such!

Luckily, Costco made this delicious treat affordable with the price for a package of 12 gluten-free mini-tarts being $8.99 (or, 75 cents per tart!) Now that is more like it! Above this price, I will just make my own. I certainly appreciate being able to go to Costco and pickup a nice decadent chocolate treat instead of having to make it myself, so I sure hope they continue to carry these and keep the price reasonable enough that I don't simply walk past them.

Sadly, I took a look at the pricing on the Hail Merry website and about fell over.  They sell a 12-pack of larger (3 ounce) tarts (thus, 36 ounce total) for ... get ready... 100 DOLLARS (which does apparently include overnight shipping)!  But still,...OUCH!!!  That works out to the equivalent price of $2.77 per ounce (vs. 92-cents per ounce for these mini-tarts at Costco) : or, 3 TIMES THE PRICE TO PURCHASED DIRECT online vs buying at Costco.  So, please Costco, give this company a continued distribution channel that will make these gluten-free dessert treats an affordable luxury for the masses of gluten-free, wheat-free, vegan, and Celiac Disease crowd.  thank you!

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 30, 2013

Sugar Free Diet? Sucralose (aka, Splenda®) may still impact your Blood-Sugar and Insulin Levels

Sucralose (aka, Splenda®) / sugar-substitutes may alter blood-sugar response

Sugar-Free Diets using artificial-sweeteners may still impact blood glucose and insulin levels

I was just reading about a new small study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis where study results showed that a popular artificial sweetener (Sucralose, or Splenda® by its common brand name) can modify how the body handles sugar. This is certainly worth further research, as many of us using sugar-alternative for calorie-reduction or an otherwise sugar-free-diet may be making assumptions about the products, and their potential impact on our blood-glucose and/or insulin levels, that may turn out to not be 100% correct.

I think the first thing to mention of note about this study was the size of the study: it was a VERY small study group and involved only 17 persons, and the participants were severely obese.  But, the evidence obtained from it sure looks to alter the conventional wisdom that this sugar-substitute (sucralose) is completely incapable of affecting our blood-sugar and/or insulin levels or response curves.  As quoted from the article I read:
"When study participants drank sucralose, their blood sugar peaked at a higher level than when they drank only water before consuming glucose," [...]. "Insulin levels also rose about 20 percent higher. So the artificial sweetener was related to an enhanced blood insulin and glucose response."
That is indeed of interest.  Like the authors later noted, such response makes one consider the progressive nature of Type-2 diabetes and how when we routinely secrete more insulin, we can become resistant to its effects, thus leading us down the path to type 2 diabetes.  That is a bit scary.  But, I still have to believe products like sucralose are going to slow that march toward Type-2 as compared to ingesting the usual sugars: glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc.

I have used Splenda® in various baked products over the years, and more recently I tend to use stevia-based sweeteners.  And, when it comes to stevia, I personally use a LOT of it in my daily life (generally pure powdered stevia and/or PureVia® brand sweeter), from my morning home-made low-sugar greek-yogurt creations to my no-added-sugar smoothies to many other things.  All of these products are certainly wonderful options for people that want to reduce sugar (and/or carbohydrates in general) in their baked goods or other sweetened foods -- gluten-free or otherwise.  I have some gluten-free recipes where I rely almost entirely on such artificial sweeteners (including my own "low-carb cheesecakes" that I still need to post the recipes for on my library), and I have to believe recipes using these sugar-replacers are still much better at attenuating blood-sugar response when consuming the resulting foods (as compared to if I had used conventional high-sugar sweeteners like white sugar, brown sugar, and so forth).

I would personally like to see larger-scale studies done on sucralose as well as other favored sugar-substitutes like: stevia / Reb-a / rebaudiana, Eryithritol (pretty common in conjunction with stevia - e.g., Truvía® brand sweeter uses this combo), and Xylitol too.  I have done my own research over the years, by way of reading available published scholarly material on stevia and eryithritol, and I currently feel they are most likely going to have little if any affect on blood sugar, but I sure wouldn't mind wide-scale studies that confirm this.

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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Medical Bills in the USA

American Medical Bills: Out of Control

Time Magazine Explores the Issue in Depth

We can only hope never to need healthcare treatment in the USA beyond whatever our insurance we may be lucky enough to have at the time will cover. Luckily, years ago when I first encountered Celiac Disease as a result of many visits to the ER, various doctor visits, and a wide variety of medical tests and procedures, I was fortunate enough to have health insurance that picked up the majority of the cost!

After reading the new Feb-20-2013 Time Magazine cover story titled "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us", I feel more fortunate than ever!  WOW!  That very detailed (10 pages, 24000 words) article about the out-of-control health-care pricing practices in the USA made me think about how something as "simple" as diagnosing Celiac Disease, gluten-intolerance, or a food allergy could bankrupt many people.

Figuring out I had a dietary condition that manifested itself through all sorts of strange symptoms required me to undergo more tests and procedures than I care to remember.  Perhaps that is the first obvious issue: doctors had not even considered CD when contemplating my symptoms.  So, over the period of a year or more came the various GI tests, scans, cardiac monitoring, blood tests for all sorts of thing (of course, none were for gluten-antibodies), and so on.  And, I knew all that testing must be expensive, but I was lucky: my health-insurance covered most everything aside from some rather reasonable co-pays at the time.

Since then, I have become much more knowledgeable about the actual charges hospitals and practitioners assess, especially upon those that can least afford them: people without health insurance and not eligible for Medicare/Medicaid.  Those unfortunate people that can least afford the bills will be the ones to get slapped with an insanely-high rather arbitrary "list price" for every little service, supply, procedure, etc the hospital / practitioners provide, according to the "chargemaster" (the name for a hospital’s internal price list).

With this knowledge in hand, and as reinforced by this new and very good Time Magazine article on the subject, I realize that the various exams, diagnostic procedures, and "treatments" I endured while trying to simply figure out what was wrong with me (due to Celiac Disease as I now know) would cost a fortune if I had to pay per the "chargemaster" (list price) pricing!!  WOW!  Read the article and you will start to understand how close everyone in the USA is to being bankrupted by the roll of the medical dice.

For now, unless you have access to Medicare or great private Health Insurance, you are just one sickness away from bankruptcy.  Thinking about how something like Celiac Disease -- which is nothing you can "prevent" -- may ensnare you in this medical-billing financial hellhole should be enough to really make us all stand up and say: enough is enough!  But, that apparently is not going to happen until this rather obvious USA health-care "bubble" bursts completely.  So, you best eat well, exercise a lot, stay in the best shape you can, and hope that all this preventive action you undertake is not instantly rendered nearly pointless (from a financial sense at least) by something as simple as an unavoidable condition or disease not of your making.

To that end, I am adhering to a strict gluten-free diet, exercising regularly, and doing my best to avoid the USA "medical system" if at all possible.  I have tried to become as educated as possible and rather familiar with medical terminology, common conditions, and relevant symptoms too... all in hope that I can rely on my own judgement to help identify conditions and avoid unnecessary treatments, doctor visits, and so forth.  There is a wealth of freely available information to help us now (though, one has to "filter" what is out there for legitimacy, especially online), and there are all sorts of somewhat affordable home medical-tech for simple biometrics monitoring (e.g., blood pressure, blood sugar, diet tracking, etc).

I hope to never encounter the "chargemaster" hell, or any medical billing hell, as described in that Time article!  I am too young for Medicare and must contemplate the fact that I will need to somehow afford and maintain (generous) private health insurance between now and Medicare-eligibility-age, all while medical costs and medical-insurance costs are spiraling out of control in the USA.  The obvious solution is to simply have Medicare eligibility start at age zero (birth) for all, but then how dare we join the ranks of every single other developed country in the world that will not let their citizens go bankrupt over insane healthcare pricing?  So, read the Time article and decide if this "free market" is delivering anything that resembles the benefits of a "free market" and decide if you can afford to ever be without (very generous) health-insurance in the USA -- and read why "generous" means more insurance than you are likely to have.


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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Gluten-Free Recipe for Vegetarian "Hot Wings" (tastes like chicken?)

Gluten-Free Vegetarian "Hot Wings" (click for larger view); photo by Kate

Cauliflower "Hot Wing" and Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

[by Kate — guest gluten-free blog author

A tasty alternative to Chicken Hot Wings ("Buffalo Wings") :
now Gluten Free, Vegetarian, and Low Carb

[mike's intro]: Kate has created yet another delicious gluten-free diet recipe that is bound to be interesting to anyone that is vegetarian but yet gets cravings for things from the pre-vegetarian days: in this instance, the subject of such cravings would be Buffalo-style chicken "hot wings".  

Kate tackles the task of satisfying such cravings using a combination of low-carb, gluten-free, flavor-packed ingredients that should help quell those desires for chicken hot wings with an innovative alternative.  Enjoy! [m] 


Vegetarian, Low-Carb, Gluten-Free "Buffalo-Style Wings"; photo by Kate
I have been a vegetarian for a long, long time. And, I have my Dad to thank for this--ever swift to point out inconsistencies between what people profess and how they behave. My Dad, relatively early in my life, pointed out the disconnect between the way I vocalized my responsibilities toward animals and my actual behavior--namely, my propensity to eat them. And, though it was a struggle early on to change eating habits, my vegetarianism has persisted into adulthood and I don't imagine ever giving it up.

If anything, I'm thankful for my vegetarianism: it has made me creative. I sort of have to be creative, because there are meaty things that I crave--foods that I used to enjoy very much--that I like the challenge of making anew. I try to re-create them in vegetarian form. And, this post is about one such attempt to re-create a beloved meat dish, the hot wing, to fit my vegetarian lifestyle. And, it was a successful attempt!

Blending the hot wing sauce, blue cheese dressing, and celery traditional to the hot wing meal, my Cauliflower "Hot Wing" and Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing is an amazingly satisfying nod to the beloved hot wings of my carnivorous past.

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower, 1 head chopped into florets 
  • Hot Wing Sauce (I used a mix of Paula Deen's mild and hot hot wing sauces***); approx 1 cup 
  • Approx. 1/3 cup Garbanzo Bean Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill brand) 
  • Approx. 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast (I use Bob's Red Mill brand) 
  • Pepper, to taste 
  • Smoked Sea Salt, to taste 
  • Liquid Smoke, a dash or to taste 
  • Baby Spinach 
  • Celery, chopped 
  • Tomato, chopped (use to taste) 
  • Red Onion, diced (use to taste) 
  • Carrot, shredded (use to taste) 
  • Avocado, sliced (use to taste) 
  • Yogurt-based Blue Cheese Dressing 
  • Queso Fresco, cubed (optional)
*** Paula Deen's wing sauces do not list wheat in their ingredients lists. However, they are not clearly labeled Gluten Free. If you have celiac disease or a strong wheat intolerance than you may consider searching out a brand that explicitly labels their hot wing sauce Gluten Free.

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; prepare baking sheet with aluminum foil. 
    2. Clean and chop cauliflower into florets. Dip cauliflower into hot wing sauce combined with liquid smoke. 
    3. Coat dipped cauliflower in mixture of garbanzo bean flour, nutritional yeast, pepper and smoked sea salt. 
    4. Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. followed by an additional 3-5 minutes on broil. 
    5. Meanwhile, assemble salad fixings, including: spinach; tomato; celery; carrot; avocado; red onion; queso fresco (optional); Blue Cheese dressing 
    6. Remove Cauliflower "Hot Wings" from oven. Let cool a few minutes before tossing in leftover hot sauce and placing on top of salad. 
    7. Serve & enjoy!
    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