Friday, July 29, 2011

New gluten-free bread from UK landing in US this week

Genius bread available in Canada (left) and
soon available in the US (right)
 We are really busy right now working on our next news-filled issue. But I had to take a minute - just a minute - to tell you that Genius Bread is supposed to start showing up on stores shelves in the US this week.

What's the big, hold the presses for a minute, deal?

If you've ever had the pleasure of enjoying this bread in the UK, you'll be as excited about this development as you were about the royal wedding.

I only know this because my daughter spent last semester studying abroad in London and could not stop raving about this bread. On top of that, she was able to get it in Starbucks there, where it's used to make a gluten-free sandwich.

The bread, which comes in white and multi-grain, is being distributed by Glutino, a well-known gluten-free brand with a wide distribution system. On its Facebook page, the company says the bread will soon be available in the gluten-free frozen foods sections of Food Lion stores in  the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. In some places it may take a few weeks for the bread to be available. Other supermarket chains will also begin carrying it soon, Glutino says.

Lucky Canadians are already reporting being able to find it. And some are saying the bread is so good you don't have to toast it, usually a must for gluten-free bread.

 Glutino will be selling it online at once it arrives in the warehouse for those who can't find it locally.

The ready-made gluten-free bread scene has improved dramatically in the past year or so as tasty bread from Udi's and Rudi's hit supermarket and health food shelves. And the addition of Genius bread only makes things better.

Amy Ratner

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Ants Go Marching…

Two things have been constant since the end of June. The first is that my sons have had a baseball game almost every single night since June 18th. The second is that we have been under siege this summer by little black ants.

How do these two things go together and how do they relate to a gluten-free diet? Those are both excellent questions and there is an explanation!

Because I have been traveling all over Westchester County to watch baseball, I have been grocery shopping all over Westchester County. I am popping into stores for essentials that are not my normal shopping places. My youngest had a game at a field in Ardsley, so I made a pit stop at DeCicco’s Food Market on the way home to pick up food for the weekend. They also have an impressive section of gluten-free items so I am always happy to have a game in Ardsley.

I picked up a package of regular store baked cupcakes and a frozen package of The Grainless Baker’s gluten-free cupcakes for dessert treats that evening.

When I got home, we ate a light supper and I left three cupcakes defrosting on the counter for later. I’m not sure they were fully defrosted before my celiac wolfed down two. I wanted to enjoy my cupcake at room temperature so I left it there.

Here is where the ants come in…I walked back into the kitchen about an hour later and there was my cupcake in a full swarm of little black ants. They had never been up on the counter like that, ever. The dog food bowl, yes. The garbage container, yes. But, never, ever, ever swarming all over something left on the counter.

I don’t know if I was more grossed out or dismayed. I really was looking forward to that cupcake with its pretty white frosting and sprinkles. The ants had shimmied their way into the wrapper, they were doing the backstroke in the frosting and they seemed to be calling to all the ants in the neighborhood to come join in the gluten-free feast.

It’s not like I could pick off an ant and pretend it didn’t really eat much, there was no way I could eat this cupcake without chewing on some ants. I threw it out and put a glop of poison ant gel down for a more deadly snack for these stupid pests.

The next day I was at a meeting in the office in Hastings-on-Hudson and I stopped in at By The Way Bakery and bought two cupcakes, a lemon cupcake and a carrot cake cupcake. The owner put them in a pretty box and I took them out to my car, opened up the box and ate them right there. I don’t know if ants have a preference for gluten-free food, but I wasn’t taking any more chances on losing my gluten-free cupcakes to little black ants!

Kendall Egan

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Our new addition

We have some exciting news to report. We've just launched our new ezine, glutenfreeliving express.

This newest Gluten-Free Living product is available free just by subscribing at the bottom of our homepage.  It will be delivered directly to your email in-box and is designed to keep us in touch with the gluten-free community between issues of our print magazine, Gluten-Free Living.

Each issue will feature a gluten-free news story unique to glutenfreeliving express. The ezine will be interactive, seeking your input on our hot topic question. Plus it will link you to our information-packed blog and our popular ingredients question and answer page, called On Your Plate.

The inaugural issue of glutenfreeliving express features a story on the first  completely gluten-free in-supermarket deli, with details on future plans if the concept is successful. And we ask you an important question about your dealings at the deli counter. Almost as soon as the ezine was sent to early subscribers, we started receiving answers to our question. We'll include some responses in the next issue.

Gluten-Free Living was the first publication devoted to gluten-free issues when Ann Whelan, editor and publisher, started it as an eight-page black-and-white newsletter 15 years ago. Since then we've made many changes to keep up with the changing gluten-free lives of our readers. The magazine has grown substantially, to 60 pages full of original reporting and writing, and our cover and photos are all in color.

We've had a website for many years that includes reliable information for those new to the gluten-free diet as well as veterans. Several years ago, we added this blog with posts that share our personal experience and insight on the gluten-free diet and lifestyle. And recently we made back issues available as digital downloads. We're also very active on Twitter, as gfliving, where we share and comment on gluten-free developments, 140 characters at time. You will also find us on Facebook, where we communicate with our fans regularly. All of which says we are always looking for new, exciting ways to  actively engage with everyone in the gluten-free community.

Our  new ezine is another step in that direction.  Our goal is to give you useful news, ask thought-provoking questions with answers that will be helpful to everyone who is gluten free and make it quick and easy for you access our blog posts and ingredient information.

So subscribe. Take a look and let us know what you think. We hope you end up as excited about glutenfree express as we are. 

Amy Ratner

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Pairs Nicely with Sand?

Over the years I have probably packed hundreds of beach picnics. During that time, I have discovered what pairs nicely with sand.

Our meals have evolved as the kids were less likely to drop whatever I handed them right into the sand or come charging up to the picnic basket spraying everything with sand. It used to be just a stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which were easy to tear apart and refresh if the seam of PB & J hit the sand.

Watermelon was always a popular choice, but if a piece of melon was dropped…it was toast. Grapes, on the other hand, could be cleaned off with a water bottle! Potato chips always tasted good, even if they had a little extra crunch.

As the kids have grown up, we have changed the way we go to the beach. The big girls don’t necessarily like to come with us anymore since their peers are a lot more appealing than their parents. On a typical Saturday in the summer, at least one of my boys will have a morning baseball practice and that just ruins the early start to the day in terms of beating the crowds. Plus, that puts us at the beach all day in the heat of the day.

We now leave around 2pm for the beach and stay through dinner and that has changed my picnic basket considerably as well.

On Saturday evening, we had some chipotle hummus with carrots and celery as a starter, followed by a pineapple salsa with tortilla chips. We had a selection of ham & cheese or turkey & cheese on rolls (Udi’s Hamburger buns for the GFree crowd). We had a tub of pub cheese and rice crackers, which is everyone’s favorite cracker for spreadable cheese. We had olives and almonds for little nibbles. I also brought potato salad, which was overkill because as we worked our way through most of the appetizers over the course of the afternoon into evening, no one was really hungry for potato salad.

The kids had lemonade or soda and we had a nice, light, summery rose. The only thing that got sand in it was my Solo cup with the wine in it! I was the klutz who dropped it in the sand, not any of my kids!

No matter what, a beach meal always has just a little extra crunch. No worries, a common sense judgment would say that sand is gluten free.

Kendall Egan

Friday, July 1, 2011

Are charcoal briquettes gluten free?

I just got an email from a reader who wondered about gluten in charcoal after attending a conference where it was mentioned as a possible source of cross contamination.

As I was replying it hit me that she was asking such a timely question that the answer might be interesting to many more gluten-free folks with the 4th of July holiday weekend beginning.

Charcoal briquettes are almost always made with corn starch. Kingsford, the largest manufacturer of briquettes in the US only uses corn starch. Even if wheat starch is used, which is rare, we could not find any evidence that it would contaminate foods with gluten. Charcoal is made with 90 percent hardwood and coal. The other 10 percent is made from minor ingredients – binders, an accelerant and an ash-whitening lime to let you know the briquettes are hot enough. The starch binder is only a very small part of the charcoal and in the rare case where wheat starch is used, gluten protein would only be a tiny portion of the starch.

Mark Kantor, PhD, an associate professor of food sciences and nutrition at the University of Maryland said since the briquettes should not come in contact with the food it is very unlikely that food would be contaminated with trace amounts of gluten in the starch. He said when the briquettes are burned it is unlikely that the smoke would contain any significant amount of intact gluten because the protein would be denatured or incinerated.

We also asked Steve Taylor, PhD, co-director of the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska and he said that although he is not familiar with any studies on gluten in charcoal briquettes, he doubts that the smoke would contain any detectable gluten.

So the evidence really stacks up against worrying about gluten in charcoal.

You could face some risk of cross contamination at your holiday barbecue from gluten-containing foods prepared on the same grill. If, for example, buns were toasted on the grill before your burger was placed on it some crumbs might remain. You should ask that your food be prepared before anything that might contain gluten. (Although many marinades are gluten free, some could contain soy sauce or malt vinegar, and could also contaminate a grill. Remember distilled vinegar is gluten free and the only kind you have to worry about is malt vinegar, which is usually made from barley.)

Everyone at Gluten-Free Living hopes this information takes some of the worry out of your weekend. And we wish a happy and safe 4th to everyone!

Amy Ratner