Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gluten-Free Living in a store near you

Gluten-Free Living has been sold in Borders book stores in various locations around the country for almost a year. And this summer Barnes & Noble started carrying our issues.

But I hadn't been able to find a copy in my local Barnes & Noble. Until now.

I was productively spending time in the store recently (Read waiting for my son's high school sport's practice to end!) when I decided to check for Gluten-Free Living once again. I rummaged around in the health section of the huge magazine display. Lo and behold there it was.

I have to admit I really had to look. The only part of the magazine that was visible was a tiny strip of color that I thought I recognized. The health magazines are packed so tightly on the rack, you can't really see the full cover of any but the one of top. I was really excited to find the magazine I write for being sold right in my own town.

For many years, Gluten-Free Living was available strictly through subscription. And we still continue to sell most copies that way. But our marketing manager Kendall Egan was determined to get us onto the shelves of the big bookstores and she succeeded. In addition to the book stores, some Whole Foods and about 40 Wegmans also sell Gluten-Free Living.

As of today, you'll be able to find the store closest to you by going to our homepage, and scrolling through the list. We're also available at many smaller health food stores, some of which are also included in the list.

When you look for Gluten-Free Living in a store, don't be discouraged if you don't see us right away. Look through the health, nutrition or special diet section, and you'll probably be able to find us. And if you don't, ask the store manager. Also, don't wait too long after a new issue comes out because we might be sold out! Of course you can always subscribe by going to our website.

I have to confess that even though I already had an issue at home, I couldn't resist the thrill of going up to the Barnes & Noble register and buying another for myself. The feeling was like a singer hearing his song played on the radio for the first time or a small company finding its gluten-free product on the mainstream supermarket shelf. Priceless.


Monday, September 21, 2009

The Gluten-Free Trifecta

We had a big family reunion this summer in Santa Barbara, CA. I spent many long weekends there as a child and kept seeing places here and there that I distinctly remembered. It is such a beach town and despite a lot of morning fog, it was a gorgeous week.

As a celiac, one day in particular stands out. My Dad is the first one up and he goes out to the local places for a cup of coffee, the newspapers and treats for the kids. He walked in one morning with muffins—including a bag of these gorgeous gluten-free blueberry and cranberry muffins. This gourmet grocery store, Lazy Acre’s, had a wonderful selection of gluten-free products and their muffins were very tasty.

We organized after breakfast and toured the Mission of Santa Barbara, which escaped fire damage in May of this year. All that history stirs up the appetite and the whole gang piled into cars for lunch at In and Out Burgers. Once you get all the crazy ordering lingo down, you can order a burger “protein style” and it comes all wrapped up in lettuce….with any of the fixings you desire. While it’s not exactly lo-cal or something that you want to eat every day, they really are the best burgers and fries I’ve ever eaten.

For our dinners, each family took a turn cooking and my sister served up a big taco and burrito fest. As a Mom of two gluten-free kids, she finds some interesting and tasty products. In California they have these teff tortillas and they were just outstanding. You could really roll them up and make a burrito. I must find these on the east coast.

I have my memories and my collection of shells on my desk from that vacation and if anyone knows where I can find those teff tortillas, let me know!
Kendall Egan

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Update on Hardee's gluten-free menu

Sorry to report Hardee's does not use a dedicated fryer for its fries. Even though the regular fries do not have any gluten-containing ingredients, it's highly likely use of the same oil for onion rings and other gluten-containing menu items would result in cross contamination.

I still think it would be a great idea for the company to make the move to dedicated fryers, especially since they have reached out to the gluten-free community. I am trying to get in touch with a company rep to talk about that possibility.

Meanwhile, the burger, the breakfast bowl, and the salad, as well as a few other items, are gluten free. You can download special gluten-free coupons at that will give you a free Coke or Dasani bottled water with the purchase of the breakfast bowl and a free salad with the purchase of a burger and a Coke.

One positive way to look at this is that the salad is better for you than the fries anyway.

Will let you know if I make any progress on the dedicated fryer.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eat, Eat, Eat

I attended the Gluten Free Culinary Summit at the Culinary Institute of America this past weekend. What a feast! A typical day consists a full breakfast at which more food than you could possibly eat is served followed by several cooking demonstrations each of which include a sample of the food demonstrated. Then you are treated to a full lunch, also consisting of more food than you can possibly eat, several more demonstrations in the afternoon, a break and then a very fancy dinner complete with wine and all the trimmings. It’s like an Olympian eating event and the only way to survive is to pace yourself carefully.

It’s also quite delightful, even for someone like me who does not enjoy cooking nor do I fall into the “foodie” category. Still I had a wonderful time and my take on all this is that those people who like to cook, who even go to school to study food preparation and service, are a special bunch of individuals who are always nice to be around and who like to provide enjoyable experiences for others. That the GF Culinary Summit focuses on, of course, gluten-free food makes it all the more astounding.

As it happens, there are two summits this year. The “western” summit will be held at Johnson and Wales University in Denver on October 3 and 4th. You’ll find full information at Check it out. It would be a fine vacation/learning experience.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Hardee's Gluten-Free Menu

It looks like Hardee's, a fast food restaurant with locations in 42 states, is making a push for gluten-free customers.
The chain got in touch with me through Twitter today to let me know it offers several gluten-free menu items. It also got in touch with the other gluten-free publications and bloggers on Twitter to spread the word.
According to the Hardee's website, you can get almost any burger wrapped in fresh, whole leaf iceberg lettuce, ala California's In -N-Out Burger chain. The fries and the breakfast bowl are also gluten free. The website warns you to stay away from the onion rings and chicken, which both contain gluten.
In fact the website has an ingredient and allergen guide that tells you what's in every menu item and conveniently marks those that contain wheat and wheat gluten with a
The charbroiled chicken breast has a W
because it seasoned and glazed with wheat-containing soy sauce. And the country potatoes and the crispy curls contain wheat flour. But the mashed potatoes, coleslaw and most of the ice cream are among the items that appear to be gluten-free.
The one downside is that allergen guide notes that the restaurant does not have an allergen-free environment in the kitchen.
I'm not sure if that means the regular fries are made in the same oil as gluten-containing items or not. I contacted Hardee's and will let you know what the story is when they get back to me. It would be nice if they already make the fries in separate oil. But if dedicated fryers are not used, perhaps the company would be willing to show just how serious it is about meeting gluten-free needs by switching to them.
Meanwhile, it's nice to see yet another company reach out to the gluten-free community. Just remember even when it's gluten free, fast food should not be a substitute for a healthy gluten-free diet. It's nice in a pinch or as an occasional treat or convenience, but you should mainly be eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat protein.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Another use for gluten-free soy sauce

The night before last, I went to a Golden Anniversary celebration for Lotus Tours, which is the company Bob and Ruth’s Travel and Dining Club works with for their gluten-free trips. Mike Kong, the owner, has been very supportive of the gluten-free community so I was glad to participate in his celebration.
The party was in Chinatown and if you know lower Manhattan at all, you know it’s a maze of streets that I suspect even those who live there don’t totally understand. Surely the many passers by I had to ask for directions were clueless. So getting there was a challenge.
However, the restaurant was charming, the music soothing and the company delightful. The food, you ask? Well, it was limited in terms of gluten free, so I ate two plates full of rice that contained peas and carrots and was delicious. When I went to congratulate Mike, he presented me with a bottle of gluten-free soy sauce. It was sweet and a little bit funny and we both enjoyed the gesture.
When I got back to the table, I joked that if I was mugged on the way home, I would reach into my purse for my gluten-free soy sauce and menace my attacker. We decided it would be a formidable weapon. Fortunately New York City is now a whole lot safer than it has been in years past so the soy sauce and I got home in one piece.’
It was a good deal easier getting back since I knew where I was going. Once home, I sat down to listen to President Obama talk about health care, secure in the knowledge that come what may, I had gluten-free protection – in more ways than one!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Miss Roben's gluten-free products coming back

When I heard Miss Roben's had gone out of business a few months ago I was surprised and saddened.

Jay Berger, who with her husband owned and ran the company, was genuinely concerned about the welfare of her gluten- and allergen-free customers and the safety of the food she was selling to them.

So I am happy to let you know Miss Roben's/The Allergy Grocer will soon be back in business. The company was recently bought by Glenn Molin, a chiropractor and owner of a medical imaging center in Maryland. He says the company's new website should be up and running in about two weeks. We'll let you know exactly when on Twitter, where you can find us as gfliving.

Many of Miss Roben's mixes will return and some new products under that brand name will be introduced. "We are very excited about the Miss Roben's brand. We hope to build on that," Molin says.

Prices have been recalculated and some will go up, while others will go down. "None will go up more than 10 percent and some will go down by four to five percent," Molin says. In response to customer comments that shipping costs were too high, the company will not charge any handling fees. Postage will equal the exact amount it costs to ship a product using the cheapest available method that allows an order to arrive in the time frame specified by the customer.

Miss Roben's commitment to provide specialty mixes for customers with multiple allergies will also continue. "We will still be in the forefront of that effort," Molin says. "We will still do what we can to meet specific needs." While Molin does not have celiac disease, he is extremely allergic to shellfish so understands a little about eating restrictions.

In addition to about 55 Miss Roben's mixes, including the Bette Hagman flour blend the company has the rights to produce, the Allergy Grocer website will sell about 600 products made by other companies.

If you're wondering what happened to Miss Roben's/The Allergy Grocer in the first place, Molin says the company faced significant financial burdens it could not overcome, including tight credit, decreased sales and increased costs. After 17 years, it could no longer stay in business.

While Molin says it is difficult to re-start a business that has already closed, he is confident the company can smooth out production and make the business more current and efficient.

Miss Roben's mixes will also be available in some grocery stores and on websites that sell a variety of gluten-free products. The company is looking at cutting back on sugar and fats and improving the nutritional content of its products, while aiming for better taste and texture.

With all these plans for the future, Molin also counts the value of Miss Roben's past. Berger is available as an advisor. Several long-time employees have stayed on. Most important, though, are all those consumers who relied on Miss Roben's for years.

As Molin puts it, "We hope to earn her customers back."